Monthly Archives: September 2013

A War Without an Army


This week I will be examining the revolution in the army. The revolution in the army would help bring an end to the Romanovs rule of Russia and also change the political course of the country in a direction that will have profound effects on the later part of the 20th century. The social structure of the army will only add fuel to the fire in the February and October revolutions in 1917. These revolutions will in a way free the army soldiers who are peasants and put Russia on a collision course with communism.

The Russo-Japanese War in 1905 where Russia was badly defeated by Japan led to bad tensions between the people and the regime over political reform and eventually led to “Bloody Sunday” where troops guarding the Winter Palace gunned down unarmed demonstrators. Social unrest was starting in Russia and now blood was shed openly by the hands of the Russian army. Russia enters WWI with about seven million men in 1914 alone. More than eighteen million would serve. The bulk of the army was peasants that had left their land to fight in what many people thought would be a short war. When Russia gets steamrolled and lost nearly a million people in the German Poland offensive in 1915, the devastation of losing was almost the breaking point of the army.

As the war progressed into 1917, the February revolution kicked off an uprising within the army. Factors that helped this were the lack of the soldier’s equipment, weapons, and food.  The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies helped create what was called Order No. 1. It stated, “That in all companies, battalions, regiments, parks, batteries, squadrons, in the special services of the various military administrations, and on the vessels of the navy, committees from the elected representatives of the lower ranks of the above mentioned military units shall be chosen immediately.”  It goes on to state, “The addressing of officers with titles such as “your Excellency” was abolished and replaced by “Mister General,” “Mister Colonel.”” This is huge because this went against military code of command and basically undermined the officer in the field. By April the army was seeing desertion of between 100,000 and 150,000 soldiers, which were all peasants who wanted to return to their villages to participate in what they expected would be a division of the land. General Alekseev stated, “The army is just falling apart and cannot under the pretence system hold any military offensives.” No army can function if the leadership cannot direct the men.

The relative component to the army revolution is that it takes a class of people that lived at the bottom of society and essentially pushed them to strike back for the error of the autocracy in not appropriately equipping them for war and gave them this idea that everybody at the top does not know everything. This is driven by the upheaval politically back home, also propaganda is flooding the peasant soldier, and they are very susceptible to this. The revolution in the army helped the peasants have a force to take action with which changed the social and economic cultures of Russia forever.



Lenin Vision



In this week’s blog I will be trying to answer the question, what relationship did Lenin envision between trade unions and the revolutionary party? This question is a little complex and so is Lenin’s answer. First Lenin had an idea of revolutionary theory which, Lenin states, “Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” This idea or “theory” had to be achieved through originations and struggle. This is important because Lenin acknowledges that in countries were political liberty exists there was always a distinction between trade unions and Social-Democracy. This distinction is different in every place but he felt that they should be closed and as little complicated as possible.

Well what does this mean? It means that Lenin advocated that workers originations for economic struggle should be in the trade unions. Lenin also thought that every Social Democratic should work to assist these originations. Now even though Lenin said this and did believe it he also thought that the trade unions had a long way to go before there was proper consolidation of the two. An example of this is Lenin’s thought that trade unions had old bourgeois attitudes that came from capitalist ideas. That fits into the idea of Marxism where there must be capitalism before you can get to communism.

In short Lenin saw trade unions as non-party organizations that helped move the masses. Lenin in a way relied on the trade unions which is smart if the future of your country is going to be a worker state. Lenin saw his party take control of the unions and allowed them to be leaders of the masses. Using the trade unions allowed Lenin to move the party towards the people and keep the class struggle towards the bourgeoisie, economists, and capitalism. This will give way for socialism to rise. So Lenin saw the trade unions and the revolutionary party as being together only after the party engaged the unions and the masses.

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The Church of St. Dmitrii

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The Church of St. Dmitrii in the Russian town of Vladimir, east of Moscow, has such a great elegance and beauty about itself. The church also has a great bit of  mystery to it as well. It has carved white stone facades that have served as remarkable testimony to the anonymous medieval artisans that built it. The church was built around 1197 by Prince Vsevolod III. The church at the time of construction was considered a royal church fitting into the autocratic society that Russia had until the Soviet Union. Many churches that were being built at the time were a way for local princes to show off their power and support of the Orthodox Church. This church definitely did that for Prince Vesvolod.

The church has many masteries about itself concerning the carvings in and outside the church. There was many relief images of lions, centaurs, snow leopards, and exotic ornaments carved on the white-stone walls. There were also images of King David inside the church. The mystery lies in the fact that many of these images were non-Christian which is odd when considering that at this time Christianity was the religion in Russia. Historians still debate today on what the inspirations or meanings behind the carvings were and why they would have included them.

In 1238 the town of Vladimir would fall when the Mongols invaded Russia. The church structure would survive until Russia was united once more. The town of Vladimir never really recovered due to the invasion and also the massive growth of Moscow which left the church kind of untended especially during the Soviet Union control of Russia. This could explain why this church survived and some did not. In June of 2005 the church did reopen and is one of the best sites to visit while in Russia.

The symbolism of the church shows the very beginning of Russia and in a way how it ended up. The church symbolizes Russia’s view on society, religion, and also culture. The mystery of the church carvings really shows the uniqueness that Russia has even under the most imprisoning times. The church is a testimony to the religious continuity of Russia.

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