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Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a massive empire stretching from Poland to the Pacific. In 1914, the country was home to about one hundred and sixty-five million people, representing different languages, religions, and cultures. The decision on such a huge state was not an easy task, especially as long-term problems inside Russia undermined the Romanov monarchy. In 1917, this disintegration finally revolutionized the old system. Although the turning point of the revolution is the accepted world war, the revolution was not an inevitable by-product of the war, and long-term causes are no less important.
In 1916, a full three-quarters of the Russian population consisted of peasants who lived and grew up in small villages. Theoretically, their life improved in 1861, before which they were serfs who belonged and could be bargained by their landowners (Shukman). In 1861, the serfs were released and released with a small amount of land, but in return they had to return to the government a certain amount of money, and as a result there were many small farms in arrears. The state of agriculture in central Russia was poor (Shukman). Standard farming methods were deeply outdated, and there was little hope of real progress due to widespread illiteracy and a lack of capital. Families lived just above the subsistence level, and about fifty percent had a member who left the village to find another job which was often just in the cities (Shukman). When the central Russian population grew, the land became meager. This way of life contrasted sharply with those rich landowners who held twenty percent of the land in large estates and often were members of the upper class of Russia. The western and southern massifs of the massive Russian Empire were somewhat different, with a large number of fairly well-off peasants and large commercial farms (Shukman). The result by 1917 was the mass of dissatisfied peasants, angry at the increased attempts to control them by people who profited from the land without working directly. The overwhelming majority of the peasants were firmly against the events outside the village and the desired autonomy.
Although the overwhelming majority of the population of Russia were rural peasants and former urban peasants, the upper and middle classes knew little about real peasant life. Nevertheless, they were familiar with myths: about earthly, angelic, pure communal life (Kochan). Legally, culturally, socially, peasants in more than half a million settlements were organized by age-old communities. Worlds, self-governing peasant communities, were separated from the elite and the middle class. However, it was not a joyful, legitimate commune; it was a desperate system of struggle, fueled by the human weaknesses of rivalry, violence and theft, and the elder patriarchs ruled everywhere. Among the peasants there was a break in the deeply rooted culture of violence. The government of Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin for many years before 1917 attacked the peasant concept of family property – a remarkable custom, backed up by centuries of folk tradition.
In central Russia, the peasant population grew, and the land ran so that all eyes were on the elite, which forced the borrowed peasants to sell land for commercial use (Kochan). More and more peasants went to cities seeking work. There they urbanized and adopted a new, more cosmopolitan outlook, which often looked at the peasant way of life that they left behind. The cities were heavily crowded, unplanned, poorly paid, dangerous and not regulated. The class was formed, unlike their bosses and elites, a new urban culture was formed (Kochan). When the freedom of labor of serfs disappeared, the old elites were forced to adapt to the capitalist industrial landscape of agriculture. As a result, the panicked elite class was forced to sell its land and, in turn, refused. Some, such as Prince G. Lvov (Russia’s first democratic prime minister), have found ways to continue their agricultural activities. Lviv became the leader of the zemstvo (local community), he built roads, school hospitals and other public resources (Kochan). Alexander III was afraid of zemstvos, calling them excessively liberal. The government agreed and drafted new laws that tried to reel them (Kochan). Earth captains were sent to ensure the tsarist power and struggle against the liberals. This and other counter-reforms were conducted directly by the reformers and set the tone for a fight that the king would not necessarily win. The industrial revolution entered Russia mainly in the 1890s, with metallurgical plants, factories and adjacent elements of the industrial society.
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