Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution Class 9 History Notes

Chapter Notes based on the CBSE Class 9 NCERT History chapter 2 “Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution.” The notes classified under different headings for proper understanding and learning through sequence in order as given in the textbook. Click here for Class 9 History study resources.

1 The Age of Social Change

Introduction to the Aftermath of the French Revolution

  • The French Revolution brought powerful ideas of freedom and equality to Europe.
  • Pre-revolution, society was divided into estates and controlled by aristocracy and the church.
  • After the revolution, there was a possibility of dramatic social change and challenging existing power structures.
  • New ideas about individual rights and social power emerged in Europe and Asia.
  • Figures like Raja Rammohan Roy and Derozio in India discussed the significance of the French Revolution, influencing the debates on societal change.

Responses to Change in Europe

  • Not everyone in Europe desired a complete transformation of society.
  • Responses varied, with some advocating for gradual shifts, while others sought radical restructuring.
  • Different political strands emerged, including conservatives, liberals, and radicals.
  • The terms “conservatives,” “liberals,” and “radicals” had varying meanings and implications depending on the context and time.

Influence of Political Traditions in the 19th Century

  • The 19th century saw the rise of several important political traditions that influenced societal change.
  • An exploration of how these traditions shaped the political landscape and their impact on society.

The Russian Revolution and the Emergence of Socialism

  • The Russian Revolution attempted a radical transformation of society.
  • Socialism became a significant and powerful idea that shaped the 20th-century society.
  • The influence of the Russian Revolution and socialism on global politics and societies.

1.1 Liberals, Radicals and Conservatives

Liberal Views on Society

  • Liberals aimed for a society that tolerated all religions, challenging the prevailing discrimination in favour of specific religions in European states.
  • They opposed uncontrolled power held by dynastic rulers and sought to protect individual rights against government interference.
  • Advocated for representative, elected parliamentary government with an independent judiciary.
  • Did not support universal adult franchise and believed that voting rights should primarily be granted to men of property, excluding women from voting.

Radical Perspectives on Government

  • Radicals sought a government based on the majority of the country’s population.
  • Supported women’s suffragette movements.
  • Opposed the privileges of wealthy landowners and factory owners, advocating for a more equitable distribution of wealth.
  • While not against private property, they criticized its concentration in the hands of a few individuals.

Conservative Stance on Change

  • Conservatives initially resisted change, particularly in the eighteenth century.
  • After the French Revolution, they acknowledged the need for some change, but preferred a gradual and respectful approach to the past.
  • Opposition to both radical and liberal ideas of rapid and radical transformation.

Clashes of Ideas during Political Turmoil

  • The aftermath of the French Revolution led to social and political unrest, where divergent ideas about societal change clashed.
  • Attempts at revolution and national transformation in the 19th century shaped the boundaries and potential of liberal, radical, and conservative political tendencies.

1.2 Industrial Society and Social Change

Industrialization and Its Social Impact

  • Industrialization brought about significant social and economic changes during this period.
  • New cities emerged, industrial regions developed, and railways expanded due to the Industrial Revolution.
  • Factory work led to long hours, low wages, and frequent unemployment for men, women, and children.
  • Rapid urbanization led to housing and sanitation issues in growing towns.

Perspectives of Liberals and Radicals on Industrial Society

  • Liberals and radicals, often property owners and employers themselves, recognized the importance of individual effort and enterprise in industries.
  • They believed that a healthy workforce and educated citizens would lead to the benefits of trade and industrial ventures.
  • Opposed to the privileges of the aristocracy, they emphasized the value of individual freedom and labour.
  • Working men and women supported liberal and radical groups in their quest for societal changes.

Revolutionaries’ Aspirations for New Governments

  • Some nationalists, liberals, and radicals sought to overthrow the existing monarchies and establish new forms of government.
  • Revolutionaries in France, Italy, Germany, and Russia aimed to put an end to the governments established in Europe after 1815.
  • Nationalists envisioned creating nations where all citizens would have equal rights.
  • Giuseppe Mazzini, an Italian nationalist, played a significant role in inspiring nationalists, including those in India, with his ideas and writings.

1.3 The Coming of Socialism to Europe

The Emergence and Ideas of Socialism

  • Socialism became a prominent body of ideas in mid-nineteenth-century Europe.
  • Socialists criticized private property, viewing it as the cause of social problems.
  • The focus on personal gain by property owners led to neglecting the welfare of workers, according to socialists.
  • Socialists campaigned for collective control of property to prioritize the interests of society as a whole.

Visions of a Socialist Society

  • Socialists had diverse visions of the future and the structure of a socialist society.
  • Some advocated for cooperative communities, exemplified by Robert Owen’s New Harmony in Indiana, USA.
  • Others believed that cooperatives required government encouragement on a broader scale, as suggested by Louis Blanc in France.
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels expanded on socialist arguments, highlighting the exploitative nature of capitalist society.

Karl Marx’s Perspective on Capitalism and Communism

  • Marx argued that industrial society was capitalist, with capitalists owning factories and workers generating profits for them.
  • Workers’ conditions could not improve under capitalism, where private capitalists accumulated profits.
  • Marx proposed that workers needed to overthrow capitalism and private property to achieve a socialist society.
  • In a communist society, all property would be socially controlled, liberating workers from capitalist exploitation.
  • Marx envisioned a future where workers would triumph over capitalists, leading to the natural progression of a communist society.

1.4 Support for Socialism

Formation of the Second International

  • In the 1870s, socialist ideas gained momentum across Europe, leading to the formation of the Second International.
  • The Second International served as a coordinating body for socialist efforts and movements.

Workers’ Associations and Demands

  • Workers in England and Germany began organizing associations to fight for improved living and working conditions.
  • These associations established funds to support members during difficult times and advocated for reduced working hours and the right to vote.

Rise of Social Democratic Parties

  • In Germany, workers’ associations collaborated closely with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and contributed to its success in winning parliamentary seats.
  • By 1905, socialist and trade unionist groups came together to form a Labour Party in Britain and a Socialist Party in France.

Challenges in Achieving Government Power

  • Despite the growing influence of socialists and their strong representation in parliamentary politics, they did not succeed in forming a government in Europe until 1914.
  • While socialist ideas shaped legislation, conservative, liberal, and radical parties continued to hold power in the governments.

2 The Russian Revolution

In one of the least industrialised of European states this situation was reversed. Socialists took over the government in Russia through the October Revolution of 1917. The fall of monarchy in February 1917 and the events of October are normally called the Russian Revolution. Let us look at Russia a few years before the revolution to see how the events unfolded.

2.1 The Russian Empire in 1914

The Russian Empire under Tsar Nicholas II

  • In 1914, the Russian Empire was ruled by Tsar Nicholas II.
  • The empire encompassed territories around Moscow and extended to current-day Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, parts of Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus.
  • It also stretched to the Pacific and included Central Asian states, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

Religious Diversity in the Russian Empire

  • The majority religion in the Russian Empire was Russian Orthodox Christianity, which had its roots in the Greek Orthodox Church.
  • Alongside Russian Orthodox Christians, the empire also included followers of Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and Buddhism.

2.2 Economy and Society

Economic Structure and Agriculture

  • At the beginning of the 20th century, the majority of Russia’s population worked in agriculture, with around 85% earning their living from farming.
  • Russia’s agricultural output was significant, making it a major exporter of grain.
  • Industrialization was concentrated in certain areas, notably St. Petersburg and Moscow, with craftsmen and large factories coexisting.
  • The 1890s saw an expansion of Russia’s railway network and increased foreign investment, leading to growth in coal, iron, and steel production.

Social Divisions among Workers

  • The industrial workforce was divided, with some workers having strong ties to their rural origins while others were permanent city dwellers.
  • Skilled workers, such as metalworkers, often held themselves in higher regard compared to other laborers.
  • Women constituted 31% of the factory labour force but were paid less than men, leading to gender-based divisions in the workforce.
  • While there were a few worker associations to aid members during hardships, divisions among workers were evident in dress, manners, and association size.

Workers’ Struggles and Strikes

  • Workers united to strike when they disagreed with employers about dismissals or working conditions.
  • Frequent strikes occurred in the textile industry during 1896-1897 and the metal industry during 1902.

Peasants and Land Ownership

  • Peasants owned and cultivated most of the land, but large properties were owned by the nobility, the crown, and the Orthodox Church.
  • Peasants were deeply religious but had little respect for the nobility, desiring the redistribution of noble-owned land.
  • Peasants often refused to pay rent and engaged in violent acts against landlords, leading to conflicts in various regions during 1902 and 1905.
  • Peasant communities practiced communal land ownership, with periodic redistribution of land based on individual family needs.

2.3 Socialism in Russia

Political Parties and Socialism in Pre-1914 Russia

  • All political parties were illegal in Russia before 1914.
  • The Russian Social Democratic Workers Party was founded in 1898 by socialists who followed Marx’s ideas but had to operate secretly due to government policing.
  • The party mobilized workers, organized strikes, and published newspapers to advance its socialist agenda.

Socialists and Peasants in Russia

  • Some Russian socialists believed that the tradition of periodic land redistribution among peasants made them natural socialists.
  • They thought that peasants, not industrial workers, would be the primary force of the revolution, allowing Russia to achieve socialism faster than other countries.
  • In 1900, the Socialist Revolutionary Party was formed, advocating for peasants’ rights and the transfer of land from nobles to peasants.
  • However, the Social Democrats, led by Lenin and the Bolshevik group, disagreed with the Socialist Revolutionaries about the role of peasants in the socialist movement.

Division Within the Socialist Party

  • Lenin believed that peasants were not a unified group; they were differentiated by wealth, occupation, and economic status, making them unsuitable for a homogeneous socialist movement.
  • This difference in views led to divisions within the socialist party.

Organizational Strategies within the Party

  • Lenin’s Bolshevik group advocated for a disciplined party that controlled the number and quality of its members, given the repressive nature of Tsarist Russia.
  • Others, known as the Mensheviks, believed in an open party that welcomed all members, similar to the approach in Germany.

Russia’s Autocratic System and Demands for a Constitution

  • Russia was an autocracy, and the Tsar held absolute power without being subject to parliament, unlike other European rulers.
  • Liberals, Social Democrats, and Socialist Revolutionaries worked together during the 1905 Revolution to demand a constitution and an end to the autocratic system.

The Catalyst: Bloody Sunday and the 1905 Revolution

  • In 1904, real wages of Russian workers declined by 20%, leading to increased membership in workers’ associations.
  • A call for industrial action after the dismissal of workers at the Putilov Iron Works resulted in over 110,000 workers in St. Petersburg going on strike.
  • The procession of workers led by Father Gapon, reaching the Winter Palace, was attacked by the police and Cossacks, resulting in the deaths of over 100 workers and 300 wounded. This incident, known as Bloody Sunday, ignited the 1905 Revolution.
  • The revolution led to strikes across the country, university walkouts, and demands for civil liberties, culminating in the establishment of the Union of Unions by middle-class workers demanding a constituent assembly.

Tsar’s Response and the Creation of the Duma

  • During the 1905 Revolution, the Tsar allowed the creation of an elected consultative Parliament or Duma to appease the revolutionary demands.
  • However, after the revolution, severe restrictions were placed on political activity, and the Tsar dismissed the first and second Dumas when they questioned his authority and power.
  • The Tsar manipulated voting laws and filled the third Duma with conservative politicians, excluding liberals and revolutionaries.

2.4 A Turbulent Time: The 1905 Revolution

Russia’s Autocratic System and Demands for a Constitution

  • Russia was an autocracy, and the Tsar held absolute power without being subject to parliament, unlike other European rulers.
  • Liberals, Social Democrats, and Socialist Revolutionaries worked together during the 1905 Revolution to demand a constitution and an end to the autocratic system.

The Catalyst: Bloody Sunday and the 1905 Revolution

  • In 1904, real wages of Russian workers declined by 20%, leading to increased membership in workers’ associations.
  • A call for industrial action after the dismissal of workers at the Putilov Iron Works resulted in over 110,000 workers in St. Petersburg going on strike.
  • The procession of workers led by Father Gapon, reaching the Winter Palace, was attacked by the police and Cossacks, resulting in the deaths of over 100 workers and 300 wounded. This incident, known as Bloody Sunday, ignited the 1905 Revolution.
  • The revolution led to strikes across the country, university walkouts, and demands for civil liberties, culminating in the establishment of the Union of Unions by middle-class workers demanding a constituent assembly.

Tsar’s Response and the Creation of the Duma

  • During the 1905 Revolution, the Tsar allowed the creation of an elected consultative Parliament or Duma to appease the revolutionary demands.
  • However, after the revolution, severe restrictions were placed on political activity, and the Tsar dismissed the first and second Dumas when they questioned his authority and power.
  • The Tsar manipulated voting laws and filled the third Duma with conservative politicians, excluding liberals and revolutionaries.

2.5 The First World War and the Russian Empire

The First World War and Russia’s Initial Support

  • The First World War began in 1914, involving two European alliances: the Central powers (Germany, Austria, and Turkey) and the Allied powers (France, Britain, and Russia, later joined by Italy and Romania).
  • Initially, the war was popular in Russia, and people rallied around Tsar Nicholas II.

Tsar Nicholas II’s Unpopular Decisions

  • As the war continued, the Tsar refused to consult with the main parties in the Duma, leading to a decline in support.
  • Anti-German sentiments grew, leading to the renaming of St. Petersburg to Petrograd.
  • The Tsarina Alexandra’s German origins and poor advisers, particularly Rasputin, contributed to the unpopularity of the autocracy.

Impact of the War on the Eastern Front

  • The Eastern Front of the war differed from the Western Front, with more movement and battles resulting in significant casualties.
  • Russia suffered severe defeats in Germany and Austria between 1914 and 1916, leading to over 7 million casualties by 1917.
  • As Russian armies retreated, they destroyed crops and buildings, creating over 3 million refugees in the country.

War’s Impact on Industry and Civilian Life

  • The war severely affected Russia’s industries, which were limited in number, and the country faced challenges in accessing industrial goods due to German control of the Baltic Sea.
  • By 1916, railway lines started to break down, and labour shortages emerged as able-bodied men were conscripted for the war effort.
  • Small workshops producing essential goods were shut down, causing scarcity of bread and flour in cities.
  • Riots at bread shops became common by the winter of 1916.

3. The February Revolution in Petrograd

Petrograd and the Divisions Among its People

  • Petrograd, the capital of Russia, had a layout that emphasized divisions among its people. Workers’ quarters and factories were located on the right bank of the River Neva, while the fashionable areas, Winter Palace, and official buildings were on the left bank.

Food Shortages and The February Revolution

  • In February 1917, food shortages were severe in the workers’ quarters of Petrograd.
  • On February 22, a lockout at a factory on the right bank triggered strikes in fifty factories, led mainly by women. This became known as International Women’s Day.
  • Demonstrators crossed from the factory quarters to the center of the city, Nevskii Prospekt, demanding better conditions.
  • The government imposed a curfew and tried to control the situation with the military but faced resistance from soldiers who refused to fire on the demonstrators.
  • By February 27, a ‘soviet’ or ‘council’ was formed with soldiers and striking workers in the same building as the Duma, known as the Petrograd Soviet.

Abdication of the Tsar and the Formation of the Provisional Government

  • On March 2, the Tsar abdicated under pressure from military commanders, and a Provisional Government was formed with representatives from the Petrograd Soviet and the Duma.
  • The Provisional Government would run the country until a constituent assembly, elected based on universal adult suffrage, could decide Russia’s future.

The Impact of the February Revolution

  • Petrograd played a central role in the February Revolution of 1917, leading to the downfall of the monarchy and the establishment of a Provisional Government.

Note: The above points provide a concise overview of the events surrounding the February Revolution in Petrograd, leading to the abdication of the Tsar and the formation of the Provisional Government. Further elaboration can include the role of the Petrograd Soviet, the challenges faced by the Provisional Government, and the continued revolutionary developments in Russia leading up to the October Revolution later in 1917.

3.1. After February Revolution

Composition and Actions of the Provisional Government

  • The Provisional Government consisted of influential figures from the army, landowners, industrialists, liberals, and socialists, working towards an elected government.
  • Restrictions on public meetings and associations were lifted, leading to the formation of ‘Soviets’ like the Petrograd Soviet across the country.

Vladimir Lenin’s Return and the April Theses

  • In April 1917, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin returned to Russia and declared the need for soviets to take over power.
  • Lenin’s April Theses demanded an end to the war, transfer of land to peasants, and nationalization of banks, reflecting the Bolshevik Party’s new radical aims.

Spread of Workers’ Movement and Bolshevik Influence

  • During the summer, the workers’ movement expanded, with factory committees and trade unions questioning the management of factories.
  • Soldiers’ committees formed in the army, and representatives from around 500 Soviets gathered at an All-Russian Congress of Soviets in June.
  • As the Provisional Government’s power weakened, it resorted to stern measures against the growing discontent, arresting leaders and repressing popular demonstrations staged by the Bolsheviks in July 1917.

Peasant Demands for Land Redistribution

  • In the countryside, peasants and their Socialist Revolutionary leaders demanded a redistribution of land.
  • Land committees were formed to manage land redistribution, and peasants seized land between July and September 1917.

Note: The above points provide an overview of the developments in Russia following the February Revolution, the emergence of the Bolsheviks under Lenin’s leadership, and the spread of the workers’ movement and peasant demands for land redistribution. Further details can be provided to explore how these developments eventually led to the October Revolution, which brought the Bolsheviks to power and marked the beginning of a new phase in Russian history.

3.2. The Revolution of October 1917

Lenin’s Fears and Planning for the Uprising

  • As the conflict between the Provisional Government and the Bolsheviks intensified, Lenin feared the government might establish a dictatorship.
  • In September 1917, Lenin initiated discussions for an uprising against the Provisional Government, bringing together Bolshevik supporters in the army, soviets, and factories.

Preparations and Secret Planning for the Uprising

  • On October 16, 1917, Lenin convinced the Petrograd Soviet and the Bolshevik Party to agree to a socialist seizure of power.
  • The Petrograd Soviet, under Leon Trotskii, appointed a Military Revolutionary Committee to organize the seizure, keeping the date of the event a secret.

The October Revolution Unfolds

  • The uprising began on October 24, with the Military Revolutionary Committee ordering its supporters to seize government offices and arrest ministers.
  • Prime Minister Kerenskii left the city to summon troops, and pro-government forces attempted to seize control of key locations in Petrograd.
  • The Military Revolutionary Committee swiftly responded, seizing control of the city, and the ship Aurora shelled the Winter Palace.
  • Other vessels took over military points, and by nightfall, Petrograd was under the committee’s control, and the ministers had surrendered.
  • The All-Russian Congress of Soviets in Petrograd approved the Bolshevik action, leading to uprisings in other cities.

Consolidation of Bolshevik Power

  • There was heavy fighting, particularly in Moscow, but by December 1917, the Bolsheviks had gained control over the Moscow-Petrograd area.

Note: The above points provide an overview of the events leading to the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks’ successful seizure of power. Further elaboration can explore the immediate aftermath of the revolution, the establishment of a new government, and the challenges faced by the newly formed Soviet state. Additionally, the impact of the October Revolution on Russia’s domestic and international affairs can be discussed in more detail.

4. What Changed after October?

Bolshevik Measures and Nationalization of Property

  • The Bolsheviks were opposed to private property and nationalized most industry and banks in November 1917.
  • Land was declared social property, and peasants were allowed to seize land from the nobility.
  • In cities, large houses were partitioned according to family needs, and the use of old aristocratic titles was banned.

Transformation into the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) and Elections

  • The Bolshevik Party was renamed the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik).
  • In November 1917, elections were held for the Constituent Assembly, but the Bolsheviks did not gain majority support.
  • In January 1918, the Assembly rejected Bolshevik measures, leading to its dismissal by Lenin.
  • The All-Russian Congress of Soviets was considered more democratic by the Bolsheviks, and they became the only party to participate in its elections, making Russia a one-party state.

Control and Repression

  • Trade unions were kept under party control, and the secret police (Cheka, later OGPU, and NKVD) punished critics of the Bolsheviks.
  • The Party attracted young writers and artists due to its socialist ideals, leading to experiments in arts and architecture.
  • However, many individuals became disillusioned due to the Party’s censorship and restrictions on creative expression.

Note: The above points provide an overview of the Bolsheviks’ actions and policies following the October Revolution, including their stance on private property, nationalization of industries, and the transformation into the Russian Communist Party. The subsequent consolidation of power, control over elections, and measures of repression are also mentioned. Further elaboration can delve into the consequences of these policies and their impact on the Russian society and culture during the early years of the Soviet state.

4.1. The Civil War

Breakdown of the Russian Army and the Emergence of Opposition

  • The Bolsheviks’ order for land redistribution led to the breakdown of the Russian army as soldiers, mostly peasants, deserted to return home for land redistribution.
  • Non-Bolshevik socialists, liberals, and supporters of autocracy opposed the Bolshevik uprising and organized troops to fight against them, leading to the emergence of the ‘greens’ (Socialist Revolutionaries) and ‘whites’ (pro-Tsarists) controlling most of the Russian empire during 1918 and 1919.
  • The ‘greens’ and ‘whites’ were backed by foreign forces from France, America, Britain, and Japan, who were concerned about the growth of socialism in Russia.

The Civil War and Its Consequences

  • The civil war resulted in widespread looting, banditry, and famine in Russia.
  • ‘White’ forces took harsh actions against peasants who had seized land, leading to the loss of popular support for the non-Bolsheviks.
  • By January 1920, the Bolsheviks managed to control most of the former Russian empire, partly due to cooperation with non-Russian nationalities and Muslim jadidists.

The Formation of the Soviet Union and Confusion among the People

  • The Bolsheviks created the Soviet Union (USSR) from the Russian empire in December 1922.
  • To address confusion about the Bolshevik government’s representation, most non-Russian nationalities were given political autonomy within the Soviet Union.
  • However, unpopular policies enforced by the Bolsheviks, such as the harsh discouragement of nomadism, limited the success of attempts to win over different nationalities in the newly formed state.

Note: The above points provide an overview of the events during the Russian Civil War and its consequences, including the emergence of opposition groups, the foreign support to the ‘greens’ and ‘whites,’ and the Bolsheviks’ eventual control of most of the Russian empire. The formation of the Soviet Union and its approach to address nationalities’ concerns is also highlighted. Further elaboration can explore the impact of the civil war on the country’s infrastructure, economy, and society, as well as the long-term consequences for the newly formed Soviet state.

4.2. Making a Socialist Society

Nationalization of Industries and Socialization of Land

  • During the civil war, the Bolsheviks nationalized industries and banks while allowing peasants to cultivate socialized land.
  • Confiscated land was used as a demonstration of collective work and the potential benefits of socialization.

Introduction of Centralized Planning and Five-Year Plans

  • The Bolsheviks introduced a process of centralized planning to assess and set targets for the economy during five-year periods.
  • The first two Five Year Plans (1927-1932 and 1933-1938) focused on promoting industrial growth by fixing all prices and achieving significant increases in industrial production, particularly in oil, coal, and steel.

Economic Growth and Industrial Development

  • Centralized planning led to significant economic growth, and new factory cities emerged.
  • However, rapid construction during this period led to poor working conditions, with workers facing hardships and frequent stoppages of work.

Social Welfare and Educational Reforms

  • An extended schooling system was established, and opportunities for factory workers and peasants to enter universities were provided.
  • Crèches were set up in factories for the children of women workers, and cheap public health care was made available.
  • Model living quarters were constructed for workers, but the impact of these reforms was uneven due to limited government resources.

Note: The above points summarize the key aspects of the Bolsheviks’ efforts to create a socialist society in the aftermath of the civil war. These efforts involved nationalization of industries, socialization of land, implementation of centralized planning, and the introduction of Five-Year Year Plans. The focus on economic growth and industrial development was accompanied by social welfare and educational reforms to improve the living conditions and well-being of the working class. However, the quick pace of construction and resource limitations presented challenges to the quality of living and working conditions for the population. Further elaboration could explore the long-term effects of these policies on the Soviet society and economy.

4.3. Stalinism and Collectivisation

Introduction of Stalin’s Collectivisation Programme

  • By 1927-1928, Soviet Russia faced acute grain shortages, with peasants refusing to sell grain at government-fixed prices.
  • Stalin introduced emergency measures to stop speculation and enforce grain collections, targeting rich peasants (kulaks) holding stocks.

The Collectivisation Programme

  • In 1929, the Party forced all peasants to cultivate in collective farms (kolkhoz).
  • Land and implements were transferred to collective farms, and peasants’ resistance led to the destruction of livestock.
  • Peasants argued that they were not against socialism but resisted working in collective farms for various reasons.

Consequences of Collectivisation

  • Production did not immediately increase after collectivisation, and bad harvests from 1930-1933 resulted in a devastating famine, causing over 4 million deaths.
  • Critics within the Party questioned the confusion in industrial production and the consequences of collectivisation.
  • Stalin and his supporters labelled these critics as conspirators against socialism, leading to accusations and mass imprisonments.

Repression and False Confessions

  • Over 2 million people were imprisoned or sent to labour camps by 1939, with many innocent individuals being falsely accused and tortured into making confessions.
  • Talented professionals and intellectuals were among those targeted and executed, leading to a loss of valuable human resources.

Note: The above points highlight the implementation and consequences of Stalin’s collectivisation programme. The forced transition to collective farms resulted in resistance, famine, and widespread repression of dissent. The suppression of criticism and false confessions during this period illustrate the oppressive nature of Stalin’s regime. Further elaboration could delve into the long-term impact of collectivisation on Soviet agriculture and society and the political repercussions of Stalin’s policies.

5. The Global Influence of the Russian Revolution and the USSR

Impact of Bolshevik Revolution on the Global Socialist Movement

Formation of Communist Parties

  • Existing socialist parties in Europe did not wholly endorse the Bolsheviks’ methods of taking and maintaining power.
  • However, the idea of a workers’ state fired people’s imagination worldwide.
  • Many communist parties were formed in various countries, such as the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Influence on Colonial Peoples

  • The Bolsheviks encouraged colonial peoples to follow their revolutionary experiment.
  • The Conference of the Peoples of the East (1920) and the Comintern facilitated international cooperation among pro-Bolshevik socialist parties.
  • Non-Russians from outside the USSR participated in these conferences and received education at the Communist University of the Workers of the East.

Global Face of Socialism

  • By the outbreak of the Second World War, the USSR had gained global stature as a socialist country.
  • Its transformation from a backward nation to a great power, with significant advancements in industry and agriculture, drew attention worldwide.
  • The USSR’s developmental projects aimed to improve the living conditions of the poor.

Decline in Reputation

  • By the 1950s, it was acknowledged within the USSR that the style of government did not align with the ideals of the Russian Revolution.
  • Repressive policies and denial of essential freedoms to citizens raised concerns.
  • The international reputation of the USSR as a socialist country declined, with growing criticism of its governance and policies.

Rethinking of Socialism

  • Socialist ideals continued to enjoy respect among the Soviet people.
  • However, both within the USSR and in the world socialist movement, rethinking of socialism’s application and interpretation occurred.
  • Different countries adopted varying approaches to socialism, reflecting their unique contexts and circumstances.

The above points highlight the mixed reactions to the Bolsheviks’ rise to power and the subsequent global impact of socialism. While existing socialist parties in Europe did not fully endorse the Bolsheviks’ methods, the establishment of a workers’ state inspired communist movements in various countries. Many communist parties were formed outside of Russia, and the Comintern played a role in encouraging colonial peoples to pursue socialist paths.

However, by the 1950s, both within the USSR and in the world socialist movement, concerns arose about the style of government in the Soviet Union. While it had transformed from a backward country to a powerful nation with developed industries and agriculture, it also imposed repressive policies that denied essential freedoms to its citizens. As a result, the international reputation of the USSR as a socialist country declined by the end of the 20th century.

Despite this decline in reputation, socialist ideals continued to be respected among the Soviet people, and socialism was rethought in different ways across various countries. This indicates that while the Soviet experiment had significant impacts on the global socialist movement, the interpretation and application of socialist ideals varied in different contexts.

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