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Russian Revolutions of 1917 The abdication of Emperor Nicholas II in March 1917 in conjunction with the establishment of a provisional government based on Western principles of constitutional liberalism and the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in November are the political focal points of the Russian Revolutions of 1917 The events of that momentous year must also be viewed more broadly however as an explosion of social tensions associated with rapid industrialization as a crisis of political modernization in terms of the strains placed on traditional institutions by the demands of Westernization and of World War I and as a social upheaval in the broadest sense involving a massive spontaneous expropriation of gentry land by angry peasants the destruction of traditional social patterns and values and the struggle for a new egalitarian society Looking at the revolutionary process broadly one must also include the Bolsheviks fight to keep the worlds first proletarian dictatorship in power after November first against the Germans and then in the civil war against dissident socialists anti-Bolshevik White Guards foreign intervention and anarchist peasant bands Finally one must see the psychological aspects of revolutionary change elation and hope fear and discouragement and ultimately the prolonged agony of bloodshed and privation both from war and repression and the bony hand of Tsar Hunger who strangled tens of thousands and in the end brought the revolutionary period to a close after the civil war by forcing the Bolsheviks to abandon the radical measures of War Communism in favor of a New Economic Policy NEP Throughout the events in Russia were of worldwide importance Western nations saw immutable values and institutions successfully challenged COMMUNISM emerged as a viable social and political system and Third World peoples saw the power of organized workers and peasants movements as a means of liberating themselves from bourgeois exploitation As such the Revolutions of 1917 ushered in the great social political and ideological divisions of the contemporary
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