The Collapse of the Autocracy The collapse of the autocracy in February 1917 signified the end
product of the interaction of multiple factors relating to both
domestic and foreign issues. The traditional historiographical view of
a rapid insurrection catching the autocracy by surprise is
increasingly called into question - Hasegawa sees the abdication of
Nicholas II as the product of disillusionment with the war being
translated into popular protest. The experience of 1905 left
workers and soldiers more prepared for rebellion and the long - term
factor of war accentuated the domestic problems in Russia. The
pressure created by the war rendered the autocracy vulnerable, hence
the unrest from the 23rd of February onwards had such an impact. It
was ultimately however the loss of military discipline and loyalty in
Petrograd, coupled with liberals' decisions and autocratic choice,
which caused the regime to fall, not as a result of previous unrest,
but a fear of what rebellion may be still to come. This fear was what
dictated the nature of the revolution. It was this combination of long
and short - term factors that caused the Russian autocracy to fall. It
is pertinent to tackle this issue in a chronological form, beginning
in 1915 / '16. One must however bear in mind that unrest in Petrograd,
almost irrespective of the rest of Russia, was enough to cause the
collapse of autocracy. One cannot see the unrest in the capital as
symptomatic of a wider national movement. The movement was of a unique
scale and extremism in Petrograd.
By the end of 1915 popular fervour for war was declining, and during
1916 continuing heavy defeats left the population demoralised. It is
scarcely surprising that Russia incurred such heavy losses during the
war. Without mentioning frequent mismanagement of resources and poor
decisions by Generals, Russia was at a disadvantage before a shot was
fired, with industry never able to match the demands of her vast army.
The factors inherent in the war shall be looked at now in terms of
their effect on Russia's vulnerability to revolution. The fact that
all these factors intertwine renders them difficult to deal with
individually, however it is necessary in order to provide a clear
analysis of how they relate to the collapse of autocracy.
Russian industry was far less developed than that of its allies.
During the war heavy industry suffered from a shortfall in raw
materials, including iron amongst others. The demands of the military
could not be fully met, a contributing factor to the military failures
which shall be dealt with later. Russian industry was also not
sufficiently developed or diversified as to support a war effort of
such scale. Metallurgic, machine and petro - chemical industries...