Hardship And Misery Prevailed In Pre Revolutionary Russia.

1165 words - 5 pages

Each of the social classes in pre-revolutionary Russia all endured extremely different lifestyles, some living prosperously and contently, but a majority living in horrible circumstances, deprived of basic human rights. For this reason, the proposition “Hardship and misery prevailed in pre-revolutionary societies” is accurate to a high extent, as prior to the revolution, most of the population, particularly the peasants and urban workers, suffered immensely due to the embedded inequality of the autocratic system. The peasants and urban workers often lived in inhumane conditions where food was limited, work was difficult and laborious, and taxes were extremely high. The comparison of peasants and urban workers to the nobility, a very small portion of the entire population, further exposes the inequality of most Russian citizens under Tsarism, showing that despite a small amount of the population living with less hardship and misery, overall these aspects prevailed throughout pre-revolutionary Russia.

Despite living an often lavish life free from hardship and misery, the nobility and aristocracy accounted for only 2% of the population (Fiehn,1996, pg. 6), so cannot be used to accurately determine whether hardship and misery prevailed in pre-revolutionary Russian society. The peasants however, accounted for the largest portion of the population, and lived in horrible conditions where misery and hardship were extremely prevalent. Peasants often had little to eat, especially when harvests were bad, as the only way they could afford to farm at all was to engage in strip farming. Each family usually had around 20 to 30 strips, (Fiehn, 1996, pg. 6) which costed so much that they could usually not afford proper tools or animals to plough the fields, meaning they would have to do so themselves. As a result, most peasant families would merely produce enough food to even feed themselves. The extent to which hardship was prevalent in the peasant class is shown in the testimony of a Russian peasant, who stated “We have sold our last horses, cows and sheep, we have pawned all our winter clothing: we have nothing left to sell. We eat once a day” (Robottom, 1985). In spite of this, some peasants’ lives were made somewhat better through Stolypin’s land reforms created in 1906, which allowed and encouraged peasants to buy more land, ultimately creating a small group of more prosperous peasants, the Kulaks. Through these reforms, designed to create a peasant class in favour of Tsarism, a small amount of people lived with less hardship and misery, as they were able to buy more land, grow more crops, and live more comfortably as a result. For a majority of peasants, who accounted for over 84% of the Russian population (Fiehn, 1996, pg. 6), life was one filled with hardship and misery, as food supply was limited, strip farming was laborious, and most could not afford basic necessities.

Similarly, hardship and misery also prevailed within the urban working class,...

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