What were the social,
Question.

What were the social, economic and political conditions in Russia before 1905?


Solution:

The social, economic and political conditions in Russia before 1905 were variously beneficial and bad for the masses. 85% of Russia’s population was agriculturist, far more than France or Germany with 40-50%. Industry was existent, but sporadically. Most of this was privately owned. Workers either came from villages, or migrated to cities for employment in factories. The industrial sector had its fair share of trouble with strikes in the textiles industry in 1896-97 and the metals industry in 1902.

At this time, the peasant community was deeply religious, but did not care much about the nobility. They believed that land must be divided amongst themselves. Since this was not possible due to feudal rights, the peasants had their own unique commune wherein wealth was shared out according to each family’s needs.

Political parties were illegal before 1914. The Social Democratic Workers’ Party (1898) was hence, illegal. Interestingly, the socialists believed that the peasants were “natural socialists” in their policy of equitable distribution of wealth. However, the Bolsheviks under Lenin wanted a disciplined group, and not farmers, in the party. While the Bolsheviks believed in controlling the number and quality of its members, the Mensheviks believed that the party should be open to all.

In the field of economic conditions, 1904 was a bad year for the workers. Due to rise in prices of essential goods, real wages decreased by 20%, leading to the famous St.Petersburg strike where 110,000 workers protested, demanding reduction in work hours and increase in wages. This strike started a series of events that are together known as the 1905 Revolution. During this revolution, there were strikes all over the country, universities closed down, and various professionals and workers established the Union of Unions, demanding the establishment of a constituent assembly.

These were the socio-economic and political conditions in pre-1905 Russia.
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