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Socialism in Europe and The Russian Revolution

Tutormate > CBSE Syllabus-Class 9th History > Socialism in Europe and The Russian Revolution

08 Socialism in Europe and The Russian Revolution

The Age of Social Change


  • Liberals argued for a representative, elected parliamentary government, subject to laws interpreted by a well-trained judiciary that was independent of rulers and officials.


  • The radicals wanted a nation in which government was based on the majority of a country’s population.


  • They believed that the past had to be respected and change had to be brought about through a slow process.

Industrial Society and Social Change:

  • Some nationalists, liberals and radicals wanted revolutions to put an end to the kind of governments established in Europe in 1815.
  • In France, Italy, Germany and Russia, became revolutionaries and worked to overthrow existing monarchs.

The Coming of Socialism to Europe:

  • Robert Owen sought to build a cooperative community called New Harmony in Indiana.
  • In France, Louis Blanc wanted the government to encourage cooperatives and replace capitalist enterprises.
  • Karl Marx argued that industrial society was ‘capitalist’.

Support for Socialism:

  • Workers in England and Germany began forming associations to fight for better living and working conditions.
  • In Germany, these associations worked closely with the Social Democratic Party and helped it win parliamentary seats.
  • By 1905, socialists and trade unionists formed a Labour Party in Britain and a Socialist Party in France.

The Russian Revolution

  • The fall of monarchy in February 1917 and the events of October are normally called the Russian Revolution.

The Russian Empire in 1914:

  • The Russian empire included Moscow, current-day Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, parts of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus.
  • It stretched to the Pacific and comprised today’s Central Asian states, as well as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Economy and Society:

  • There was a shift from farming to industries.
  • Worker’s society was divided.
  • Cultivators were unhappy.

Socialism in Russia:

  • The Socialist Revolutionary Party was formed in 1900 demanding peasants’ rights.

A Turbulent Time: The 1905 Revolution

  • Liberals worked with peasants and workers during the revolution of 1905 to demand a constitution.
  • They were supported by nationalists and jadidists who wanted modernised Islam to lead their societies.

The First World War and the Russian Empire

  • In 1914, the First World War broke out between Germany, Austria and Turkey and France, Britain and Russia.
  • Russian armies lost badly in Germany and Austria between 1914 and 1916.

The February Revolution in Petrograd

  • In February 1917, food shortages were deeply felt in the workers’ quarters as the winter was very cold.
  • Petrograd had led the February Revolution that brought down the monarchy in February 1917.

After February

  • Army officials, landowners and industrialists as well as the liberals and the socialists worked towards an elected government.
  • Lenin declared the war to be brought to a close, land be transferred to the peasants, and banks be nationalised.

The Revolution of October 1917

  • On 16 October 1917, Lenin persuaded the Petrograd Soviet and the Bolshevik Party to agree to a socialist seizure of power.
  • The uprising began on 24th October.

What Changed after October?

  • In cities, Bolsheviks enforced the partition of large houses according to family requirements.
  • The Bolshevik Party was renamed the Russian Communist Party.
  • In the November 1917 elections to the Constituent Assembly, the Bolsheviks failed to gain majority support.
  • In January 1918, the Assembly rejected Bolshevik measures and Lenin dismissed the Assembly.
  • In March 1918, the Bolsheviks made peace with Germany at Brest Litovsk despite opposition by their political allies.

The Civil War

  • By January 1920, the Bolsheviks controlled most of the former Russian empire.
  • Bolsheviks gave most of the non-Russian nationalities political autonomy in the USSR.

Making a Socialist Society

  • During the civil war, the Bolsheviks kept industries and banks nationalised.
  • Officials assessed how the economy could work and set targets for a five-year period and made the Five Year Plans.
  • Industrial production increased between 1929 and 1933 by 100 per cent.

Stalinism and Collectivisation

  • Stalin, who headed the party after the death of Lenin, introduced firm emergency measures.
  • Although Stalin’s government allowed some independent cultivation, the cultivator’s were treated unsympathetically.
  • Owing to the bad harvests of 1930 – 1933, Soviet faced its most devastating famines in history where over 4 million died.

The Global Influence of the Russian Revolution and the USSR

  • By the time the Second World War broke out, the USSR had given socialism a global face and world stature.
  • By the 1950s it was realised that the style of government in the USSR was not in keeping with the ideals of the Russian Revolution.
  • By the end of the twentieth century, the international reputation of the USSR as a socialist country had declined.

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