Was the October 1917 Revolution a key turning point in the modernisation of Russia?
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History Coursework – B Question
To what extent do you consider that the October 1917 Revolution was a key turning point in the development of modern Russia in the years 1856-1964?
The October 1917 Revolution is undoubtedly a momentous and extremely important event in Russia’s history, one that ousted the centuries-old Tsardom that ruled over the empire, in favour of the radical communist movement in the form of the Bolsheviks, headed by one Vladimir Iliych Lenin. However, did this sudden move from autocracy to a supposedly more progressive democracy actually bring about the modernisation of Russia industrially, agriculturally and culturally, or was it simply a rebranding of a totalitarian state that would continue to oppress the…show more content…
Russia was a country rich in raw materials that had been undisturbed by modern extraction and refining techniques until then, however, the majority of the countries resource rich areas were nowhere near any railways, with the bulk of the heavy materials such as steel, iron, coal and copper being in the Urals, almost 1,000km away from the nearest railway system in 1860. Oil, another key ingredient in industrialisation was almost 1,500km away to the south, in the Caucasus area3. This lack of transportation in a period when steam powered machines were producing the goods and steam powered trains were delivering them and leading the industrialisation in other countries like Britain, the USA and a future foe in Germany is an indicator of the distance that Russia was behind its rivals under the leadership of the Tsar. So the Tsar’s Russia was largely an agrarian one, but even in the agricultural sector Russia was lagging far behind the rest of the West in terms of the methods employed by farmers, little fertiliser was used and the labour saving machines used in countries with enormous agricultural output like the US were nowhere near as widespread in Russia. The weaknesses of the Tsar’s management of the agricultural sector were highlighted in 1891 when famine hit. Due to the heavy tax on consumer goods, peasants had been forced to sell more of their