Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Main Causes for Revolution

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When people choose to revolt against their leaders, there are always many different factors at hand to lead up to such an upheaval. One reason for revolution that seems always present is an unfair or incapable ruler in office. One who ignores a growing financial crisis, listens only to the needs of the upper class, spends money foolishly, etc. In the three revolutions I shall be comparing (the Yugoslavian revolution, the French revolution, and the Russian revolution) there was a cruel, unfit, or incapable ruler present. One who pushed the people of his country to rebellion.


In the Yugoslavian revolution, Slobadan Milosevic was the unfair ruler. The people of Yugoslavia rose up against him because of a broken promise to have an election where the people could choose the next president, not the government. Milosevic figured that the election would win him the votes of the people, and another term in office. However, the majority of the votes went to the leader of the opposition, Vojislav Kostunica. Milosevic refused to stand down until there was a second ballot, claiming that Kostunica had not won by an outright majority. Kostunica had 48 percent of the votes, while Milosevic had 40 percent. The constitutional court said they would allow Milosevic to finish his term in office.


The Yugoslavian people did not stand for this unjust treatment from their President. The opposition gave Milosevic a deadline of 1500 hours on October 5, 000 to stand down. Kostunica supporters from all across Serbia closed in on the city of Belgrade. When 1500 hours came and went with no news of Milosevic’s position or whereabouts, the crowds rioted. The parliament building was ransacked with parts of it being burned, and the formerly Milosevic-run television station was taken over, declaring Kostunica the new Serbian leader.


In France at the time of the Revolution, Louis XVI was not a very able ruler, and wouldn’t get rid of the regulations and social structure of the Old Regime until it was too late. When Louis XVI came to power in 1774, France was very deep in debt and its people were suffering. Past rulers had spent large amounts of money on wars, and continued borrowing funds from the banks, with the National debt growing larger and larger by the minute. Also, many peasants were unhappy because the Old Regime’s social structure still existed. This consisted of three classes or “Estates”. The majority of the French people belonged to the Third Estate and were heavily taxed and not allowed to hunt. Members of the First and Second Estates, however, had many privileges and paid very few, if any, taxes. To add to these problems, there were poor harvests in the 1770’s, Old Regime laws made trade very difficult, guilds had monopolies, and entrepreneurs could not start up new businesses.


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Louis XVI summoned the Estates General to meet in May 178 to discuss the growing economic problems and ways to solve them. The Third Estate deputies wanted all the Estates to meet together and for each deputy to have an equal vote. Before then it had always been that the three Estates had met separately with each Estate getting one vote. This way, it was simple for the First and Second Estates to outvote the Third. Louis rejected the idea of the Estates meeting together. When the Third Estate heard this, they declared themselves the National Assembly. They were then cast out from the hall where the Estates General met, so they reassembled in a local tennis court. They took an oath not to leave the tennis court until a new constitution was written for France. Louis decided that the National assembly should contain representatives from each of the estates, so he ordered the First and Second Estates to join them.


On July 14, 178, French peasants stormed the Bastille. The peasants had expected quick relief from their problems after the Estates General met. When little happened, they got worried. Louis XVI brought troops into Versailles, and the citizens feared that he planned to abolish the National Assembly. As a result, the people stormed Versailles’ largest prison, in hopes of freeing hundreds of wrongfully accused or political prisoners. There turned out to be very few, but it was the match that lit the fire of all out rebellion.


In early twentieth century Russia, Czar Nicholas II was proved a corrupt and incompetent ruler. The people of Russia were angry at Nicholas for setting troops on protesters. The commoners were living in poverty and starving after the government funds were depleted in the Russo�Japanese war. Czar Nicholas II did nothing, so people rebelled in street protests. The revolution of 105 began when government troops massacred a peaceful crowd marching to Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to petition the Czar. That day became known as “Bloody Sunday”. After World War One, Russia had even less money. There were food riots and strikes all over the country. Many soldiers refused to help put down the disorders, as they were suffering also.


Communist Vladmir Lenin returned to Russia to lead a small Bolshevik party. Nicholas II had tried unsuccessfully to dissolve the fourth Duma (a type of parliament), and was finally forced to abdicate. The Duma was appointed the provisional government, and while the majority of the people were glad to have Nicholas gone, the Duma had little support. Their power was limited by the Soviet, which was a workers and soldiers council. The Soviet demanded peace and demonstrations forced the foreign minister to resign. Lenin urged the Soviet to take power because it had a Bolshevik majority. On November 6, 117, Bolshevik workers captured government buildings and Winter Palace. The demonstration was almost bloodless, and it brought Lenin to power.


It is quite simple to see how a weak or foolish ruler can led to discontent and rebellion in society. Usually, the ruler will also ignore common peoples most basic needs in order to continue living a life of luxury themselves. This was present in the three revolutions I compared. For a revolution to take place, a ruler must not be very good, because if he were things would be under control with all classes satisfied.





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