Notes of Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution Class 9th History


The Age of Social Change

• The French Revolution opened up the possibility of creating a dramatic change in the way in which society was structured.

• Not everyone in Europe, however, wanted a complete transformation.

• Some were ‘conservatives’, while others were ‘liberals’ or ‘radicals’.

Who were Conservatives?

•  They resisted change.

• After the revolution, they started accepting change provided it was slow and had links and respected the past.

Who were Liberals?

• They wanted a nation which tolerated all religions.

• They argued for an elected parliamentary government, subject to laws interpreted by a well trained judiciary that was independent of rulers and officials.

• They were not Democrats.

Who were Radicals?

• They wanted a  nation in which government was based on the majority of a  country’s population.

• They disliked concentration of property in hands of a few, not the existence of private property.

Industrial Society and Social Change

• This was the time of economic and social change.

• Men, women and children were pushed into factories for low wages.

• Most of the factory owners were often liberals and radicals and they felt that workers’ efforts must be encouraged.

The Coming of Socialism to Europe

• Socialists were against private property.

• They had different visions of the future.

• Some believed in cooperatives.

• Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels added that industrial society was capitalist.

Support for Socialism

• By the 1870s, socialist ideas spread through Europe.

• Workers in England and Germany began forming associations to fight for better living and working conditions.

The Russian Revolution

• In 1914, Nicholas II ruled the Russian empire.

• The Russian Empire included territory around Moscow, current-day Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, parts of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus.

Economy and Society during Russian Empire

• About 85 percent of the Russian empire’s population earned their living from agriculture.

• The industry was limited in number.

• Workers were divided into groups but they did unite to strike work when they were dissatisfied.

• Peasants had no respect for nobility, very unlike the French peasant.

• Russian peasants were the only peasant community which pooled their land and their commune divided it.

Socialism in Russia

• All political parties were illegal in Russia before 1914.

• In 1900, the Russian Socialist Democratic Labour Party was formed.

→ It struggled to give peasants their rights over land that belonged to nobles.

→ As land was divided among peasants periodically and it was felt that peasants and not workers would be the main source of the revolution.

• But Lenin did not agree with this as he felt that peasants were not one social group.

→ The party was divided into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

→ Lenin led Bolshevik group.

A Turbulent Time: The 1905 Revolution

• Liberals wanted to end of the autocracy of the Tsar.

• They worked towards demanding a constitution during the Revolution of 1905.

Bloody Sunday

• In 1904, Prices of essential goods rose so quickly that real wages declined by 20 percent.

• When four members of the Putilov Iron Works were dismissed, there was a call for industrial action.

• Over 110,000 workers in St. Petersburg went on strike demanding a  reduction in working hours and increase in wages.

→ This procession was attacked by the police and Cossacks.

→ Over 100 workers were killed.

→ Strikes took place as a reaction.

→ People demanded a constituent assembly.

• The Tsar allowed the creation of an elected consultative Parliament or Duma.

→ The Tsar dismissed the first Duma within 75 days and announced the election of a second Duma.

→ Tsar constituted the third Duma with conservative politicians.

The First World War and the Russian Empire

• In Russia, the first world war was initially very popular but later the support grew thin.

• Anti-German sentiments ran high.

• Russian armies lost badly in Germany and Austria.

• The war also affected the industry.

• There was labour shortage.

• By 1916, railway lines began to break down.

• The small workshops were closed down.

• There was shortage of grain and hence of bread.

The February Revolution in Petrograd


• In the winter of 1917, Petrograd was grim.

→ There was a food shortage in the quarters of workers.

• On 22th February, a lockout took place at a factory.

→ Workers of 50 other factories joined in sympathy.

→ Women also led and participated in the strikes. This came to be called the International Women’s Day.

• The government imposed a curfew.

• On the 24th and 25th, the government called out the cavalry and police to keep an eye on them.

• On 25th February, the government suspended the Duma and politicians spoke against this measure.

• On 27th February, the police headquarters were ransacked.

→ Cavalry was called out again.

→ An officer was shot at the barracks of a regiment and other regiments mutinied, voting to join the striking workers gathered to form a Soviet or council. This was the Petrograd Soviet.

• A delegation went to meet the Tsar, military commanders advised him to abdicate.

• On 2nd March, the Tsar abdicated.

• Soviet leaders and Duma leaders formed a Provisional Government to run the country.


• Restrictions on public meetings and associations were removed.

• Soviets were set up everywhere.

• In individual areas, factory committees were formed which began questioning the way industrialists ran their factories.

→ Soldiers’ committees were formed in the army.

• The provisional government saw its power declining and Bolshevik influence grow.

→ Therefore, it decided to take stern measures against the spreading discontent.

• It resisted attempts by workers to run factories and arrested leaders.

• Peasants and the socialist revolutionary leaders pressed for a redistribution of land.

→ Land committees were formed and peasants seized land between July and September 1917.

The Revolution of October 1917


• On 16th October 1917, Lenin persuaded the Petrograd Soviet and Bolshevik Party to agree to a socialist seizure of power.

→ A Military Revolutionary Committee was appointed by the Soviet to organise seizure.

• Uprising began on 24th October.

→ Prime Minister Kerenskii left the city to summon troops.

→ Pro-government troops were sent to take over telephone and telegraph offices and protect the Winter Palace.

• In response, Military Revolutionary Committee ordered to seize government offices and arrest the ministers.

→ The ‘Aurora’ ship shelled the Winter Palace.

→ Other ships took over strategic points.

→ By night the city had been taken over and ministers had surrendered.

• All Russian Congress of Soviets in Petrograd approved the Bolshevik action.

• By December, the Bolsheviks controlled the Moscow – Petrograd area.


• Most industry and banks were nationalised in November 1917.

• The land was declared social property and peasants were allowed to seize the land of the nobility.

• Use of old titles was banned.

• New uniforms were designed for the army and officials.

• Russia became a one-party state.

• Trade unions were kept under party control.

The Civil War

• When the Bolsheviks ordered land redistribution, the Russian army began to break up.

• Non-Bolshevik socialists, liberals and supporters of autocracy condemned the Bolshevik uprising. → They were supported by French, American, British and Japanese troops.

→ All these fought a war with the Bolsheviks.

Making a Socialist Society

• The Bolsheviks kept industries and banks nationalised during the civil war.

• Rapid construction and industrialisation started.

• An extended schooling system developed.

Stalin and Collective Farming

• Stalin believed that rich peasants and traders stocked supplies to create shortage of grains. Hence, collectivisation was the need of the hour.

• Those farmers who resisted collectivisation were punished, deported or exiled.

Global Influence

• In many countries, communist parties were formed.

• By the time of the outbreak of the Second World War, the USSR had given socialism a global face and world stature.

• By the end of the twentieth century, the international reputation of the USSR as a socialist country had declined.


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