If like me, you’re tired of theists claiming that the Bolshevik revolution of Russia was an atheistic tyrannical dictatorship, but show no regard for the condition of the Russian Empire before 1917, and why the revolution happened. Russia was under tyrannical rule by the monarch, ‘Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov‘, (the last Russian Emperor), and to say that life was dreadful is an understatement. The Bolshevik revolutionaries led by ‘Vladimir Lenin‘ overthrew the Tsar because the peasants and working class Russian citizens were treated unjustly. The Russian Tsar had totalitarian control over Russia, which meant he controlled the government, the military and the church. He was renowned for being an extremely cruel leader, and the revolution was not only inevitable but necessary. The nobility of Russia treated the peasants and lower class almost like slaves, and showed barely any concern over their wellbeing, and many died of starvation throughout the cold, hard winters.
Bloody Sunday (22 January, 1905)
The revolution of 1917 wasn’t the first time the Russian common man stood up against the tyrannical Tsar, and one of the most discussed instances was known as ‘Bloody Sunday‘. Bloody Sunday ‘Крова́вое воскресе́нье‘ happened in 1905, in ‘St. Petersburg‘, when a peaceful demonstration that was to present a petition to the Tsar was fired upon by the ‘Imperial Guard‘ as they approached the ‘Winter Palace‘. The petition was to encourage the Tsar to provide better working conditions for the over-worked, and under-paid Russian labourers, and the death toll is rumoured to be around 4,000, but realistic figures put it closer to 1,000, or less, and many who were caught in the cross fire weren’t even involved in the march. The actions of the Imperial Guards had dire consequences, and unrest became widespread as workers began to strike, and this was what would become the first phase of the 1905 revolution.
Russian Revolution (1905)
Russia’s political and economic climate had been heavily criticised by the Russians, and doubt to the efficiency of the Tsar’s rule came under question, partly because of the actions of the Bloody Sunday massacre, and partly because of Russia’s defeat during the ‘Russo–Japanese War‘. The Tsars 300 year reign over Russia’s collapse had begun, and it was only a matter of time before it was toppled. Riots, strikes and protests became a regular occurrence, and the vast majority of Russia‘s population were unhappy about the conditions they were forced to live in, and famine was a huge threat every time winter arrived. The workers had any union banned, taxation was extremely high, and workers had no protection, or rights. Death was commonplace due to contaminated water, and extremely poor sanitisation. The Tsars’ opposition grew and discontentment was at an all time high, and ethnic minorities, especially Jewish people, were frequently persecuted. Political assassinations by radical revolutionists was common place, and the country was becoming desperate. A short-term revolution occurred, and the Tsar lost control of several regions of Russia, but more importantly due to the destructive nature of the government, and its disregard for its subjects, Marxism was creeping into the government in a hope to create some well needed structure.
“Comrade Workers, tear up all portraits of the blood-sucking Tsar and say to him: Be thou damned with all Thine August Reptilian Progeny!” –Georgi Gapon (1905)
The Russian Orthodox Church
The ‘1613 to 1917‘ history, and after the execution of the Romanov family for crimes against humanity, the Russian Orthodox Church declared them as ‘martyrs‘, and ‘passion bearers‘, which is a title for a saint.‘, the Russian Orthodox Church was founded some 500 years ago, and just before the revolution of 1917, there were approximately 55,000 churches, that had tremendous privilege under the rule of Tsar Nicholas II. During the Bolshevik revolution, the church was overthrown, and the first time in its existence the church had been separated from the state, yet under Soviet rule was given more freedom than they’d had in centuries, initially. The Romanov dynasty had complete control over the church, and was notorious for its cruel rule and ritual violence during its ‘
“With its sordid power struggles, violence and brutality, its cast of magnificent monsters, tragic victims and grotesque (holy men)” – Source
The ‘Okhrana‘, ‘Охранное отделение‘ was the secret police force of the Russian Empire, and operated with impunity, and were feared for the barbaric and extremely violent operation, that gained Nicholas the nickname of ‘Nicholas the Bloody‘. Historians see the Tsar’s crimes against humanity as apparent as the following Communist regime, and millions died as a result of his disregard for his subjects, and death at the hands of his military forces.
Some historians claim that the assassination of the Romanovs was a ‘ritual murder’, as the executioner, ‘Yakov Mikhailovich Yurovsky’, was of Jewish heritage, and due to the persecution of Jews and other ethnic minorities in Russia, this was a ‘revenge killing’. Obviously Jewish religious authorities deny this, as they don’t want their religion tarnished any more than it already is.
The October Revolution (1917)
On August 4th, 1914, Russia entered World War I after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by the Serbian ‘Gavrilo Princip‘ on the 28th June, who was the ‘heir–apparent‘ to the ‘Austro–Hungarian Empire‘. The Russian Orthodox Church believed it was Russia’s duty to support any Slavic nation, and the Tsar was left with no choice but to comply. Nicholas pledges to support ‘Serbia‘, and ‘Germany‘s support was firmly with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Exchanges took place between cousins Nicholas and Germany’s ‘Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm‘, but neither backed down and Germany declared war on Russia.
As the war progressed, it was apparent that Russia was unprepared for war, and the losses were staggering. The morale fell very low in the Russian military, and thus started the decline of the regime of the Romanov’s. By early 1917, an estimated 1.7,000,000 Russian troops had been killed, and countless more injured; Russia was in a state of disarray. Food prices were ridiculously high, people were dying of starvation, and the winter was incredibly cold. The police started to turn their allegiance towards the growing revolutionaries, and some of the garrisons of Imperial Guards mutinied.
The ‘February Revolution‘, the first of two revolutions in 1917 started and days later Nicholas abdicated, ending 300 years of Romanov’ tyranny, and started the ball rolling towards the birth of the Soviet Union. On the 25th, October 1917, the ‘Great October Socialist Revolution‘ began in Petrograd led by the Bolshevik revolutionaries, who’s intention was to bring down the provisional government, and in its place it was replaced by the new ‘Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic‘ government. The rest is history, as they say, and I covered the birth of the ‘Soviet Union‘ in this article, A retrospective: Joseph Stalin.
So many theists focus on the Soviet Union, and the communist government, and whilst the atrocities, and disrespect for life is apparent, it’s so often used as an argument against atheism. This is pure ignorance, as Stalin was placed in a position where the county had been in turmoil for centuries due to a tyrannical empire, that controlled the church, and treated its subjects like animals, unless they were aristocrats. The revolutions of 1917 were brought on by civil, political and social unrest, disregard for the loss of life in several military campaigns, disease, starvation and poor sanitation, high taxes and food prices, and barbaric murder by the secret police that went unchallenged. Russia was not a bed of roses before the Bolshevik revolution, and it hasn’t been for a very long time.