I'm not a historian but I've always been intrigued by modern Russian history, from the socialist revolution to the present. I'm thinking of reading more on the subject and want to know how far back in time the socialist movement dates and what the circumstances leading up to the revolution were like. How far back does the Russian socialist movement go?

(Perhaps you can suggest a book: I'd like to find a book which maybe covers the socialist movement starting by developing a background of Russian politics, the formation of the movement, discusses ideologies & philosophies of the key sides/people involved, the revolution, the world wars, the cold war, the iron curtain, the soviet union, and how Russia has progressed to its current state).

  • 1
    While the first part of the question is very answerable here, the second part isn't. We don't do recommendations. But let's take this as an appeal that people cite their answers :). Jul 30 '14 at 10:09
  • @SamuelRussell Yes, I realized book recommendations were not on topic (seemingly it varies between SE sites) - as you say, I thought maybe the person answering the question might also have a good idea of which texts cover the whole period.
    – rg255
    Jul 30 '14 at 10:14

According to this Wikipedia page on the Revolution of 1905 (Bloody Sunday), socialism became important politically in Russia shortly after the accession of Tsar Alexander II in the 1860's and 1870's. A few reasons are offered:

  1. Agricultural policy. The Tsar ended serfdom making a class of tax-paying peasants. The taxes were too high and the amount of land given to each peasant too small however to allow them make a living and in many cases even feed their families. A famine began in the 1890's.
  2. Industrial policy. The Tsar spent great sums on new infrastructure projects and gave money to industrialists to build factories in Russia. Peasants moved to work in these factories where they came in contact with new socialist ideas, such as striking for better working conditions. Striking was illegal, however, sending the peasants to organize with more radical elements.
  3. Education policy. University education and disciplinary requirements were loosened and schools became breeding grounds for socialist ideas. Half of arrests of socialists in the 1860s and 70s were students.
  4. Socialism was aided by ethnic minority groups threatened by Russification efforts

Influential early "utopian" Russian socialist thinkers include Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin.


I would say shortly after Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto he began to influence the modern form of communism.


You can look further back in history to see other examples of Communistic societies. There was the French Commune during the Franco-Prussian War.


Even in early US history some of the colonies, such as Jamestown, experimented with Communism.


Karl Marx argues that private property is used as leverage against the proletariat and without private property and classes society would function on a more equal footing.

The reason communism was able to thrive in Russia was due loss of confidence in the Monarchy. You had the massacre know as Bloody Sunday.


You had the Russians who lost to the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese war. The final blow was when the Russian Czar mismanaged WWI. Also, the serfs in Russia had had nothing to show for their life's work for hundreds of years. They were receptive to hearing life would be better with no private property, no classes and equality for all. However, they were duped and as one yoke was thrown off the yoke of the Bolsheviks replaced it.

  • Marx did not invent Socialism, it was a force earlier in the 19th Century. While Marxism/Leninism won out, you need to go back farther to see if Socialists influenced the Anarchists who blew up a Tsar or so in that time.
    – Oldcat
    Jul 31 '14 at 23:20
  • Never said he did invent anything... only that he influenced the modern form of communism. Which pertains to what form of Communism affected Russia and what were the conditions that lead to its success in Russia (Taking power anyways). Communism in Jamestown occurred in the 17th Century. Plus early forms of Christianity, Ancient Greek philosophers even hunter gatherers in the Paleolithic Era practiced or preached socialism. Yes Socialism predates Marx. Aug 1 '14 at 0:28
  • 1
    The question is about socialism, not Communism affected Russia. So without information about how earlier forms Socialism did or did not affect Russia, your answer is incomplete.
    – Oldcat
    Aug 1 '14 at 0:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.