A History of Bolshevism: From Marx to the First Five Years' Plan

By Arthur Rosenberg; Ian F. D. Morrow | Go to book overview
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V
MARCH TO OCTOBER 1917

AFTER two years of war the economic life of Tsarist Russia was completely destroyed, the authority of the ruling caste undermined, and the revolution inevitable. The State finances had been disorganized by the enormous war expenditure and the country was drowning in a flood of paper roubles. Millions of workmen and peasants were continually being withdrawn from their factory benches and fields to make good the wastage in the armies. Food supplies steadily diminished. Rolling stock on the railroads was destroyed through excessive usage and gradually became unobtainable. Despite the assistance received from the Entente Powers, Russian industry was in a far less developed state than that of other countries and was scarcely in a position to keep the armies at the Front supplied with munitions. In the factories, as on the railroads, raw materials were used up carelessly and extravagantly. Shortage of supplies and difficulties of transport brought starvation and lack of fuel to the great cities. The peasantry were war-weary and desperate; and the feeling engendered in the villages gradually infected the millions of peasants composing the army.

The support of the majority of the army had enabled the Tsarist Government in 1905 to stamp out the revolutionary movement. Now hardly a single regiment remained loyal to the Tsar and his Government. The populace was resolved on revolution for the purpose of making an end simultaneously of Tsarism and the war. The propertied middle class were also prepared to revolt for an exactly contrary reason. The middle class recognized that the corrupt and incapable Tsarist régime was leading Russia to a catastrophe. The defeats and set-backs of the first three years of war aroused in them the fear that Russia would collapse entirely if Nicholas II and his courtiers remained in control of affairs. Even the reactionary clique surrounding the Tsar gradually came to see that a continuance of the war meant the destruction of all Conservative and traditional authority in Russia.

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