NCERT Solutions for Social Science
Chapter 2 – Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution
Activity 1. List two differences between the capitalist and socialist ideas of private property.
Answer The two differences are as follows:
(i) The capitalists believed that individuals owned private property whereas the socialists believed that all property belonged to the society as a whole, i.e., to the state.
(ii) The capitalists believed that the profits from the property should belong to the property’s owners, whereas the socialist believed that profits are due to the workers’ labour and so should be shared by them.
Activity 1. Imagine that a meeting has been called in your area to discuss the socialist idea of doing away with private property and introducing collective ownership. Write the speech you would make at the meeting if you are
(a) A poor labourer working in the fields
(b) A medium-level landowner
(c) A house owner
Answer Respective Sample speeches are given below
(a) A Poor Labourer Working in the Fields : Dear friends, nature has not done any partiality in providing resources to everyone and so some people owning more land than others is incorrect. All the profits from our crops are the result of hard work done by people like me in planting seeds, watering the crops, keeping them free from weeds and harvesting them. So, I think we labourers should share in the profits made from sale of crops, instead of of getting a subsistence wage. To enable this, private ownership of property needs to be abolished and collective ownership of the fields by all the labourers who are working on it introduced.
(b) A Medium-Level Landowner : Respected friends, I do not agree that private ownership of property should be removed. It is not rational and will reduce the crop production. You will not try to increase crop production if the whole profit is not going to you. In fact, what should be done is the equitable distribution of land to all, so that only some people do not own large tracts of land, while others have to manage with small areas of land, or are deprived completely of any land ownership. So, all should be landowners so that everybody benefits.
(c) A House Owner : Friends, I think everybody should have the basic necessities of life like food, shelter and clothing, but not at the expense of other people’s property. Those who do not have land should be given the means to earn their livelihoods in whatever manner is convenient. We have earned our property through the sincere efforts of our ancestors and so we should not be deprived of the labour and wisdom of our forefathers in acquiring land. I think this is very reasonable.
Activity 1. Why were there revolutionary disturbances in Russia in 1905? What were the demands of revolutionaries?
Answer The causes of the revolutionary disturbances in Russia in 1905 were
(i) Due to Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, prices of essential goods rose dramatically, so that real wages declined by 20 per cent.
(ii) At the Putilov Iron Works, dismissal of some workers caused a strike.During the subsequent events, a procession of workers was attacked by police in which 100 workers died. This was known as Bloody Sunday.
(iii) Subsequently, strikes took place all over the country, resulting in the creation of an elected Parliament or Duma
The revolutionaries demanded a reduction in daily working hours to eight, increase in wages and improvement in working conditions.
Activity 1. Look again at Source A and Box 1.
Alexander Shlyapnikov, a socialist worker of the time, gives us a description of how the meetings were organised: ‘Propaganda was done in the plants and shops on individual basis. There were also discussion circles… Legal meetings took place on matters concerning [official issues], but this activity was skilfully integrated into the general struggle for the liberation of the working class. Illegal meetings were… arranged on the spur of the moment but in an organised way during lunch, in evening break in front of the exit, in the yard or, in establishments with several floors, on the stairs The most alert workers would form a “plug” in the doorway, and the whole mass piled up in the exit. An agitator would get up right there on the spot. Management would contact the police on the telephone, but the speeches would have already been made and the necessary decision taken by the time they arrived ..’ Alexander Shlyapnikov, On the Eve of 1917. Reminiscences from the Revolutionary Underground.
Women in the February Revolution
Women workers, often … inspired their male co-workers .. At the Lorenz telephone factory,… Marfa Vasileva almost single handedly called a successful strike. Already that morning, in celebration of Women’s Day, women workers had presented red bows to the men … Then Marfa Vasileva, a milling machine operator stopped work and declared an impromptu strike. The workers on the floor were ready to support her … The foreman informed the management and sent her a loaf of bread, She took the bread but refused to go back to work. The administrator asked her again why she refused to work and she replied, “I cannot be the only one who is satiated when others are hungry”. Women workers from another section of the factory gathered around Marfa in support and gradually all the other women ceased working. Soon the men downed their tools as well and the entire crowd rushed onto the street.
From: Choi Chatterji, Celebrating Women (2002).
(a) List five changes in the mood of the workers.
Answer The changes in the mood of the workers were
(i) Earlier only meetings were being held in an organised manner. Now the workers just stopped work to press for their rights, like Marfa Vasileva did.
(ii) Earlier there is no mention of any women workers. But now a woman worker initiated the strike by stopping work.
(iii) Earlier there was no demonstration of unity between men and women workers. Now the women presented red bows to the men, showing the unity. Also, the men downed tools in support of the women who had gone on strike.
(iv) The mood of the workers was more determined now. They took action instead of just talking.
(v) Earlier work used to go on due to workers being afraid of some counter action from the management side, but now the work was stopped, showing the fearlessness of the workmen.
(b) Place yourself in the position of a woman who has seen both situations and write an account of what has changed.
Answer I have seen both situations and I feel that although earlier the workers gave vent to their problems by organising meetings only, now they are fearless, willing to sacrifice their job, rebellious and supporting each other’s action as well as cutting across gender differences.
Activity 1. Read the two views on the revolution in the countryside. Imagine yourself to be a witness to the events. Write a short account from the standpoint of
(a) an owner of an Estate
(b) a small peasant
Answer Sample accounts of the revolution are given below
(a) An Owner of an Estate: My property was taken over by my farm labourers. They spared me and my family, but now I am totally dependent on their mercy. They are not telling me anything about whether my property will be returned to me in the future or not.
(b) A Small Peasant : I am happy that together all of us labourers on this farm have taken it over and can now earn more by sharing the profits from the sale of the grain produced by us. Earlier the profits were all taken by the landowner without him doing any work. I salute the revolution, which has made our lives better.
(c) A Journalist : The news of the uprising has been welcomed in the rural areas by the peasants overpowering the landowners and taking over the running of the farms jointly. The orchards have been divided among the peasants who worked on them earlier, so that they can enjoy the profits from them. Surely the revolution has ushered in prosperity for the common man at the expense of the landowners.
Activity 1. Why did people in Central Asia respond to the Russian Revolution in different ways?
Answer The people in Central Asia responded enthusiastically to the February 1917, Revolution because it freed them from the oppression of the Tsar’s reign so that they were masters of their land again. They expected to regain their autonomy.
However, they responded negatively to the October Revolution, as it brought violence, pillage, extra taxes and another dictatorial power to rule over them. They feared now that their autonomy would be lost.
Activity 1. Compare the passages written by Shaukat Usmani and Rabindranath Tagore. Read them in relation to Sources C, D and E.
Dreams and Realities of a Soviet Childhood in 1933
Dear grandfather Kalinin
My family is large, there are four children. We don’t have a father – he died, fighting for the worker’s cause, and my mother… is ailing.. I want to study very much, but I cannot go to school. I had some old boots, but they are completely torn and no one can mend them. My mother is sick, we have no money and no bread, but I want to study very much… there stands before us the task of studying, studying and studying. That is what Vladimir Ilich Lenin said. ButI have to stop going to school. We have no relatives and there is no one to help us, so I have to go to work in a factory, to prevent the family from starving. Dear grandfather, I am 13, I study well and have no bad reports. I am in Class 5 .. Letter of 1933 from a 13-year-old worker to Kalinin, Soviet President
From: V. Sokolov (ed), Obshchestvo / Vlast, v 1930-ye gody (Moscow, 1997).
Official view of the opposition to collectivisation and the government response
“From the second half of February of this year, in various regions of the Ukraine… mass insurrections of the peasantry have taken place, caused by distortions of the Party’s line by a section of the lower ranks of the Party and the Soviet apparatus in the course of the introduction of collectivisation and preparatory work for the spring harvest. Within a short time, large scale activities from the above-mentioned regions carried over into neighbouring areas… and the most aggressive insurrections have taken place near the border.
The greater part of the peasant insurrections have been linked with outright demands for the return of collectivised stocks of grain, livestock and tools … Between 1st February and 15th March, 25,000 have been arrested … 656 have been executed, 3,673 have been imprisoned in labour camps and 5,580 exiled..’
Report of KM Karlson, President of the State Police Administration of the Ukraine to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, on 19 March 1930.
From: V. Sokolov (ed), Obshchestvo I Vlast, v 1930-ye gody
This is a letter written by a peasant who did not want to join the collective farm.
To the newspaper Krestianskaia Gazeta (Peasant Newspaper) .
I am a natural working peasant born in 1879.. there are 6 members in my family, my wife was born in 1881, my son is 16, two daughters 19, all three go to school, my sister is 71 From 1932, heavy taxes have been levied on me that I have found impossible. From 1935, local authorities have increased the taxes on me .. and I was unable to handle them and all my property was registered: my horse, cow, calf, sheep with lambs, all my implements, furniture and my reserve of wood for repair of buildings and they sold the lot for the taxes.In 1936, they sold two of my buildings.. the kolkhoz bought them. In 1937, of two huts I had, one was sold and one was confiscated…
Afanasi Dedorovich Frebenev, an independent cultivator.
From : V. Sokolov (ed), Obshchestvo I Vlast, v 1930-ye gody
(a) What did Indians find impressive about the USSR?
Answer At the time when both wrote these passages, India was ruled with an iron hand by the British. There were vast caste and class differences and the people were ignorant and backward. They were impressed by the fact that all persons in Russia were treated equally. In spite of them not being very prosperous, they were happily going about their work. Asians and Europeans mingled freely in Russia, whereas it was unthinkable in India at that time.
(b) What did the writers fail to notice?
Answer b What the two writers failed to notice was that essentially the people were not free to do as they liked. The Bolsheviks ruled like dictators and followed repressive policies to develop the nation quickly. The hard lives and poor working conditions of the people went unnoticed by these travellers.
Activity 1. Imagine that you are a striking worker in 1905, who is being tried in court for your act of rebellion. Draft the speech you would make in your defence. Act out your speech for your class.
Answer Your honour and respected citizens, I have not committed any crime, although I am being tried for inciting rebellion. You know how the price of bread has gone up. My wages accordingly should have been increased so that my family does not starve. Now-a-days we only eat one meal in a day, as there is no money to buy more food. So what is wrong if I demand increase in wages?
I am forced to work 12 hours a day, which is inhuman. I have demanded an eight hour working day, which is quite reasonable. Have I committed a crime in that?
Now I leave it in your hand to decide whether I am a criminal or not.
Exercise Question 1. What were the social economic and political conditions in Russia before 1905?
Answer At the beginning of the 20th century, the vast majority of Russia’s people were agriculturists. About 85 per cent of the Russian empire’s population earned their living from agriculture.
(i) Cultivators produced for the market as well as for their own needs and Russia was a major exporter of grain.
(ii) Industry was found in pockets. Prominent industrial areas were St Petersburg and Moscow.
(iii) Large factories existed alongside craft workshops.
(iv) Many factories were set up in the 1890s when Russia’s railway network was extended and foreign investment in industry increased.
(v) Most industries were the private property of industrialists. The government supervised large factories to ensure minimum wages and limited hours of work.
(vi) Workers were divided into social groups on the basis of skill. Division was also visible in dress and manners also.
(vii) Some workers formed associations to help members in times of unemployment or financial hardship.
(viii) Despite divisions, workers united themselves to strike, work when they disagreed with employers about dismissals or work conditions.
(ix) Like workers, peasants too were divided. They also had no respect for the nobility.
(x) Russian peasants wanted the land of the nobles to be given to them.
(xi) They pooled their land together periodically and their commune divided it according to the needs of individual families.
Exercise Question 2. In what ways was the working population in Russia different from other countries in Europe before 1917?
Answer Industrial Workers
The working population in Russia was different from other countries in Europe before 1917 in the following ways
(i) Many workers had settled in cities permanently but many had strong links with the villages from which they came and continued to live in villages. They went to the towns to work daily and then returned to their villages in the evenings.
(ii) Workers were a divided social group. Workers were divided by skill. Divisions among workers was visible in their dress and manners also.
(iii) Metal workers considered themselves aristocrats among workers as their occupations demanded more training and skill.
(iv) Women made up 31 per cent of the labour force by 1914, but they were paid less then men.
(v) Some workers formed associations of help in times of unemployment or financial hardship.
(vi) The workers did unite to strike work when they disagreed with the employers about dismissals or about work conditions.
(vii) Workers got low wages and they had long working hours. They had very few political rights; in short, their life was miserable.
(i) About 85 per cent of Russia’s population earned their living from agriculture but most of them were landless farmers.
(ii) Most of the land was owned by the nobility, the crown and the orthodox church.
(iii) In France, during the French Revolution in Brittany, peasants respected and fought for the landowners, but in Russia peasants wanted the land of the nobles to be given to them.
(iv) They refused to pay rent and even murdered landlords.
(v) Russian peasants were different from European peasants in another way. They pooled their land together periodically and their commune divided it according to the needs of individual families.
(vi) Like industrial workers, the condition of the agricultural workers or farmers was also very miserable because of low wages, doing free labour and paying high rent and revenue.
Exercise Question 3. Why did the Tsarist autocracy collapse in 1917?
Answer The Tsarist autocracy collapsed in 1917 due to the following reasons :
(a) Miserable Condition of the Workers
(i) The industrial workers in Russia got very low wages.
(ii) They had very long working hours, sometimes upto 15 hours.
(iii) A large number of workers were unemployed.
(iv) The workers demanded higher wages and reduction in working hours but their demands were not met and they became dissatisfied.
(b) Miserable Condition of Peasants
(i) Most of the peasants were landless and very poor.
(ii) They also had to do free labour for the landlords.
(iii) The small farmers who possessed land had to pay high land revenue, leaving very less for them to survive on.
(iv) The landless farmers demanded that the land of the nobles should be given to them.
(v) They wanted reduction of land revenue.
(vi) However, their demands were not fulfilled and they too became dissatisfied.
(c) Russia’s Defeat in the First World War
(i) Initially, the people rallied around Tsar Nicholas II; however Russian armies suffered defeats and a large number of soldiers were killed in the war.
(ii) The Russian population wanted to withdraw from the war, but the Tsar was not willing to do so. This turned the Russian people against him and encouraged them to revolt.
(d) Role of Philosophers like Karl Marx Karl Marx
Karl Marx put forward the idea that the capitalists were responsible for the misery of the workers and that the condition of workers could only improve if the land and the industries were controlled by the society. He inspired the workers to oppose the landlords and the capitalists.
(e) Rasputin’s Role
The people were also against the policies of the monk named Rasputin.
Exercise Question 4. Make two lists one with the main events and the effects of the February Revolution and the other with the main events and the effects of the October Revolution. Write a paragraph on who was involved in each. Who were the leaders and what was the impact of each on the Soviet history.
Answer Main Events and Effects
(a) February Revolution
(i) 22 February : Lockout of a factory was done on the right bank of the Neva river in Petrograd.
(ii) 23 February: Sympathy strike was done by workers in 50 factories. Demonstrating workers reached the centre of the city, surrounding the government buildings. Curfew was imposed and the demonstrators dispersed.
(iii) 24 and 25 February : Demonstrations done again by workers. Cavalry and police were called out to control them.
(iv) 25 February : Government suspended the Duma (Russian Parliament).
(v) 26 February : Demonstrators returned in force to the streets of the left bank.
(vi) 27 February : Workers ransacked the Police Headquarters. Streets were thronged with people shouting slogans demanding bread, better wages, less hours of work and democracy. Cavalry was called out once again, but they refused to fire on the demonstrators. By evening, soldiers and striking workers formed a ‘Soviet’ (council) which was called the Petrograd Soviet.
(vii) 28 February : A delegation met the Tsar. Army commanders advised him to abdicate.
(viii) 2 March : Tsar abdicates. Duma leaders and others form a provisional government.
Who was Involved; the Leaders and its Impact
Both men and women workers were involved. There were no particular leaders. The effect was that it brought down the autocratic monarchy.
(b) October Revolution
(i) 16 October : Lenin persuades the Petrograd Soviet and Bolshevik Party to agree to a socialist seizure of power. Military Revolutionary Committee to manage this operation was formed.
(ii) 24 October : Uprising starts, but government troops seize buildings of two Bolshevik newspapers. The Winter Palace and other buildings were also protected by troops. The Military Revolutionary Committee seized the government offices and arrested the ministers. The ship Aurora shelled the winter palace.By nightfall, the city was under the Committee’s control and the remaining ministers had surrendered.
Who was Involved, the Leaders and Its Impact Bolsheviks were the main people involved. Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotskii were the main leaders. The effect was that it brought the Bolsheviks to power to form a communist government for the first time in the world.
Exercise Question 5. What were the main changes brought about by the Bolsheviks immediately after the October Revolution?
Answer The main changes brought about by the Bolsheviks immediately after the October Revolution were
(i) The Bolsheviks were totally opposed to private property. Therefore most industries and banks were nationalised.
(ii) Land was declared social property and peasants were allowed to seize the land of the nobility.
(iii) In cities, Bolsheviks enforced the partition of large houses according to family requirements.
(iv) They banned the use of old titles of the aristocracy.
(v) To assert the change, new uniforms were designed for the army and officials in 1918 in which the Soviet hat, the (budeonovka) was chosen.
(vi) The Bolshevik Party was renamed the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik).
(vii) Russia became a one party state and trade unions were kept under party control.
(viii) For the first time the Bolsheviks introduced a centralised planning on the basis of which Five Year Plans were made for development of Russia.
Exercise Question 6. Write a few lines to show what you know about
(b) The Duma
(c) Women workers between 1900 and 1930
(d) The Liberals
(a) Kulaks : Kulaks were the well to do peasants of Russia. The members of the Bolshevik party raided the Kulaks and their goods were seized. It was believed that the Kulaks were exploiting the peasants and hoarding grain to earn higher profits and thus leading to grain shortages.
(b) The Duma
(i) During the 1905 Revolution, the Tsar allowed the creation of an elected consultative Parliament or Duma as it was called in Russia.
(ii) The Tsar dismissed the first Duma within 75 days and the second Duma was reelected within three months.
(iii) The third Duma was packed with conservative politicians. Liberals and revolutionaries were kept out of the Duma.
(c) Women Workers between 1900 and 1930
(i) Women made up 31 per cent of the factory labour force by 1914, but they were paid less than men.
(ii) In the February Revolution in many factories the women led the way to strikes. Thus, 22 February came to be called the International Women’s Day.
(iii) Marfa Vasileva stopped work and declared a strike, the women workers in the factory were ready to support her. Soon the men also joined them and all of them moved to the streets.
(d) The Liberals
(i) The liberals were one of the groups which wanted to change the society. The liberals wanted a nation which tolerated all religions.
(ii) At that time the European states usually discriminated in favour of one religion or another.
(iii) Liberals also opposed the uncontrolled power of dynastic rulers.They wanted to safeguard the rights of the individuals against governments.
(iv) They argued for a representative elected Parliamentary Government subject to laws interpreted by a well trained Judiciary that was independent of rulers and officials.
(v) They did not believe in universal adult franchise, i.e., the right of every citizen to vote. They felt that men of property mainly should have the right to vote. They did not want the vote for women.