The Revolutionary Masses
Revolution of 1905 the dissent in the milieu of the gentry and
intellectuals had existed alongside the popular risings of the
discontented masses but they had never really come together in one
powerful anti-autocratic movement. Earlier
intellectuals-revolutionaries, like the Decembrists, for example,
were concerned about the unpredictability and violence of a
spontaneous popular revolt. The inability of the educated members of
society to find a common language with the ‘people’, as well as the
peasants’ natural distrust of ‘squires’ had ensured that for decades
the revolutionary intelligentsia and the masses had been unable to
overcome mutual suspicion and misunderstanding.
the turn of the nineteenth century socialist and liberal-democratic
doctrines began to filter into the popular movement. The influence
of various social-political organizations and parties of the
intelligentsia among the worker and peasant masses started to grow.
This combination of radical ideas with revolutionary energies of the
masses produced an explosive mix that totally transformed the
situation in the country. At the start of the twentieth century
popular discontent began to assume all-Russian proportions. The
numbers of strikers, rebels and dissenters multiplied dramatically.
Calls for a violent overthrow of autocracy were becoming ever
louder, imparting an increasingly revolutionary character to popular
The result was
an unprecedented rise of popular discontent which erupted into three
revolutions in a space of twelve years. The Revolution of 1905-7,
and the February and October Revolutions of 1917 were the three
great peaks and the culmination of popular movements in Russia. They
had a momentous effect not just on Russia’s future but on the course
of world-wide developments in the twentieth century.
revolutions were in many ways different from the earlier revolutions
in the West and from the revolutions in the East at the start of the
twentieth century. Their singularity was in the way in which the
struggle against the survivals of the antiquated feudal system was
combined with the protest against capitalist exploitation, in the
way in which various currents of rural and urban unrest blended in
one democratic movement, in the way in which the working class and
the radically-minded intelligentsia spearheaded revolutionary
action, and in the way in which socialist ideas caught the
imagination of the masses.