The Forms of Youth: Twentieth-Century Poetry and Adolescence

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According to Sidney Harcave, author of The Russian Revolution of , four problems in Russian society contributed to the revolution. Newly emancipated peasants earned too little and were not allowed to sell or mortgage their allotted land. Ethnic minorities resented the government because of its "Russification", discrimination and repression, such as banning them from voting, serving in the Imperial Guard or Navy, and limiting their attendance in schools.

A nascent industrial working class resented the government for doing too little to protect them, as it banned strikes and labor unions. Finally, radical ideas fomented and spread after a relaxing of discipline in universities allowed a new consciousness to grow among students. Taken individually, these issues might not have affected the course of Russian history, but together they created the conditions for a potential revolution.

Because the Russian economy was tied to European finances, the contraction of Western money markets in — plunged Russian industry into a deep and prolonged crisis; it outlasted the dip in European industrial production. This setback aggravated social unrest during the five years preceding the revolution of The government finally recognized these problems, albeit in a shortsighted and narrow-minded way. The minister of interior Plehve said in that, after the agrarian problem, the most serious issues plaguing the country were those of the Jews, the schools, and the workers, in that order.

One of the major contributing factors that changed Russia from a country in unrest to a country in revolt was "Bloody Sunday". Loyalty to the tsar Nicholas II was lost when his soldiers fired upon people led by Georgy Gapon on 22 January , who were attempting to present a petition to the tsar. Every year, thousands of nobles in debt mortgaged their estates to the noble land bank or sold them to municipalities, merchants, or peasants. By the time of the revolution, the nobility had sold off one-third of its land and mortgaged another third. The government hoped to make peasants—freed by the Emancipation reform of —a politically conservative, land-holding class by enacting laws to enable them to buy land from nobility and pay small installments over many decades.

The land, known as "allotment land", would not be owned by individual peasants, but by the community of peasants; individual peasants would have rights to strips of land that were assigned to them under the open field system. Unfortunately, a peasant could not sell or mortgage his land, so in practice he could not renounce his rights to his land and thus he would be required to pay his share of redemption dues to the village commune.

However, the peasants were not given enough land to provide for their needs. By their total arrears in payments of taxes and dues was million rubles. Masses of hungry peasants roamed the countryside looking for work and sometimes walked hundreds of kilometres to find it. Desperate peasants proved capable of violence.

These violent outbreaks caught the attention of the government, so it created many committees to investigate their causes. Russia was a multi-ethnic empire. Nineteenth-century Russians saw cultures and religions in a clear hierarchy. Non-Russian cultures were tolerated in the empire but were not necessarily respected. For generations, Russian Jews had been considered a special problem.

The government's treatment of Jews, although considered its own issue, was similar to its policies in dealing with all national and religious minorities. There was growing impatience with their inferior status and resentment against "Russification". Besides the imposition of a uniform Russian culture throughout the empire, the government's pursuit of Russification, especially during the second half of the nineteenth century, had political motives.

After the emancipation of the serfs in , the Russian state was compelled to take into account public opinion, but the government failed to gain the public's support. Unlike other minority nationalities, the Poles, in the eyes of the Tsar, were a direct threat to the empire's stability. After the rebellion was crushed, the government implemented policies to reduce Polish cultural influences. The Russian government felt that the unification of Germany would upset the power balance among the great powers of Europe and that Germany would use its strength against Russia.

The government thought that the borders would be defended better if the borderland were more "Russian" in character.


The economic situation in Russia before the revolution presented a grim picture. The government had experimented with laissez-faire capitalist policies, but this strategy largely failed to gain traction within the Russian economy until the s. War and military preparations continued to consume government revenues. At the same time, the peasant taxpayers' ability to pay was strained to the utmost, leading to widespread famine in In the s, under Finance Minister Sergei Witte , a crash governmental programme was proposed to promote industrialization.

His policies included heavy government expenditures for railroad building and operations, subsidies and supporting services for private industrialists, high protective tariffs for Russian industries especially heavy industry , an increase in exports, currency stabilization, and encouragement of foreign investments.

American Revolution

Railroad mileage grew from a very substantial base by 40 percent between and The "peasant worker" saw his labour in the factory as the means to consolidate his family's economic position in the village and played a role in determining the social consciousness of the urban proletariat. The new concentrations and flows of peasants spread urban ideas to the countryside, breaking down isolation of peasants on communes.

Industrial workers began to feel dissatisfaction with the Tsarist government despite the protective labour laws the government decreed. Some of those laws included the prohibition of children under 12 from working, with the exception of night work in glass factories. Employment of children aged 12 to 15 was prohibited on Sundays and holidays. Workers had to be paid in cash at least once a month, and limits were placed on the size and bases of fines for workers who were tardy.

Employers were prohibited from charging workers for the cost of lighting of the shops and plants. At the start of the 20th century, Russian industrial workers worked on average an hour day 10 hours on Saturday , factory conditions were perceived as grueling and often unsafe, and attempts at independent unions were often not accepted.

Others were still subject to arbitrary and excessive fines for tardiness, mistakes in their work, or absence. Although the cost of living in Russia was low, "the average worker's 16 rubles per month could not buy the equal of what the French worker's francs would buy for him. Dissatisfaction turned into despair for many impoverished workers, which made them more sympathetic to radical ideas.

The government responded by arresting labour agitators and enacting more "paternalistic" legislation. In —, the period of industrial depression caused many firm bankruptcies and a reduction in the employment rate.

Societal Impacts of the American Revolution []

Employees were restive: they would join legal organizations but turn the organizations toward an end that the organizations' sponsors did not intend. Workers used legitimate means to organize strikes or to draw support for striking workers outside these groups. The government responded by closing all legal organizations by the end of The Minister of the Interior, Plehve, designated schools as a pressing problem for the government, but he did not realize it was only a symptom of antigovernment feelings among the educated class.

Students of universities, other schools of higher learning, and occasionally of secondary schools and theological seminaries were part of this group.

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Student radicalism began around the time Tsar Alexander II came to power. Alexander abolished serfdom and enacted fundamental reforms in the legal and administrative structure of the Russian empire, which were revolutionary for their time. This ushered in a new freedom in the content and reading lists of academic courses. The s was a time when the emergence of a new public sphere was created in social life and professional groups.

This created the idea of their right to have an independent opinion. The government was alarmed by these communities, and in tightened restrictions on admission and prohibited student organizations; these restrictions resulted in the first ever student demonstration, held in St. Petersburg, which led to a two-year closure of the university. The atmosphere of the early s gave rise to political engagement by students outside universities that became a tenet of student radicalism by the s. Student radicals described "the special duty and mission of the student as such to spread the new word of liberty.

Students were called upon to extend their freedoms into society, to repay the privilege of learning by serving the people, and to become in Nikolai Ogarev's phrase 'apostles of knowledge'. Prosecution records from the s and s show that more than half of all political offences were committed by students despite being a minute proportion of the population.

Sensing that neither the university administrations nor the government any longer possessed the will or authority to enforce regulations, radicals simply went ahead with their plans to turn the schools into centres of political activity for students and non students alike. They took up problems that were unrelated to their "proper employment", and displayed defiance and radicalism by boycotting examinations, rioting, arranging marches in sympathy with strikers and political prisoners, circulating petitions, and writing anti-government propaganda.

The American Revolution - OverSimplified (Part 1)

This disturbed the government, but it believed the cause was lack of training in patriotism and religion. Therefore, the curriculum was "toughened up" to emphasize classical language and mathematics in secondary schools, but defiance continued. The events of were preceded by a Progressive and academic agitation for more political democracy and limits to Tsarist rule in Russia, and an increase in strikes by workers against employers for radical economic demands and union recognition, especially in southern Russia. Many socialists view this as a period when the rising revolutionary movement was met with rising reactionary movements.

As Rosa Luxemburg stated in The Mass Strike , when collective strike activity was met with what is perceived as repression from an autocratic state, economic and political demands grew into and reinforced each other.

12. Societal Impacts of the American Revolution

Russian progressives formed the Union of Zemstvo Constitutionalists in and the Union of Liberation in , which called for a constitutional monarchy. In the autumn of , liberals started a series of banquets celebrating the 40th anniversary of the liberal court statutes and calling for political reforms and a constitution.

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Similar resolutions and appeals from other city dumas and zemstvo councils followed. The crucial demand of representative national legislature was missing in the manifesto. Worker strikes in Caucasus broke out in March and strikes on the railway originating from pay disputes took on other issues and drew in other industries, culminating in a general strike at Rostov-on-Don in November. Daily meetings of 15, to 20, heard openly revolutionary appeals for the first time, before a massacre defeated the strikes.

But reaction to the massacres brought political demands to purely economic ones. Luxemburg described the situation in by saying: "the whole of South Russia in May, June and July was aflame", [33] including Baku where separate wage struggles culminated in a citywide general strike, and Tiflis, where commercial workers gained a reduction in the working day, and were joined by factory workers. This all set the stage for the strikes in St. Petersburg in December to January seen as the first step in the revolution. In December , a strike occurred at the Putilov plant a railway and artillery supplier in St.

Sympathy strikes in other parts of the city raised the number of strikers to , workers in factories. All public areas were declared closed.

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The troops guarding the Palace were ordered to tell the demonstrators not to pass a certain point, according to Sergei Witte , and at some point, troops opened fire on the demonstrators, causing between according to Witte and deaths. The event became known as Bloody Sunday , and is considered by many scholars as the start of the active phase of the revolution. The events in St.