Baking a Russian Revolution! A step-by-step guide.
May 13, 2016
Baking a Russian Revolution – A step-by-step guide!
What’s all this fuss about the Russian Revolution, I hear you ask? Well, it was a pretty big deal in Russia because it signalled the end of Tsarism and the beginning of Communism in Russia.
The Tsar was forced out of power and a provisional government was established, then Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Party (also known as the Communists) overthrew the government in October 1917 and seized power for themselves, and that’s the simple version.
But the Russian Revolution was a little more complicated than that, and a lot of events needed to take place so that the Revolution could happen the way that it did. It can be pretty complicated trying to remember all of these events, the order they happened in, even identifying exactly which events you need to know. So we’ve decided to make it a piece of cake for you!
Baking a Russian Revolution:
Often we find that the biggest problem facing history students is not that the subject is boring, but that they are not allowed to study History in a way that makes sense to them; they are not given the opportunity to study the subject in terms that they can relate to. Instead, history becomes one long process of learning off facts and dates.
Fear not. There are techniques and tricks that you can use to break a historical event into its most important parts, making it easier for you to remember and understand. One of the techniques that students find really helpful is to compare a historical period or event to something else; to something simple such as ‘baking a cake’. This might sound ridiculous, but it does work.
So let’s try this with the Russian Revolution. Think about it: a cake needs ingredients, right? And a cake needs a baker? And a cake also needs the right temperature or climate in which it can ‘cook’ properly. When you get down to it, a cake is only a combination of separate ingredients that have been combined to make something new – a final product.
Therefore we can argue that social and political revolutions are just like baking a cake. You can definitely think about revolutions in the same terms as baking. Just like a cake, a revolution needs ingredients, a baker (someone to put the ingredients together, in the right order), and those ingredients need to be allowed to cook in the right environment for the correct amount of time before the finished product can emerge…
OK, let’s get to work.
1 x absolute ruler (with added secret police)
1 x starving and seriously angry peasant society
1 x gram of unsuccessful economic reforms
1 x tablespoon of increased food shortages
1 x cup of peasant demonstrations
1 x massacre
1 x World War and 1 x mad monk
1 x strong leader
1 x February revolution
1 x October revolution
Step 1 – Take 1 x jar of Tsarism/Absolute Monarchy and pour it into a large bowl
Tsar Nicholas II will do just fine. Give the Tsar total and absolute control of Russia and allow him to rule without a parliament. Basically, whatever the Tsar says goes. Also, the Tsar needs to have a secret police that will enforce his laws through fear. The Tsar needs to be extremely detached from his people’s needs, and he needs to be extremely unpopular. Again, Nicholas II will be perfect for this.
Step 2 – Add in approximately 125 million Russian peasants and factory workers
Make them extremely unhappy by starving them while the Tsar lives in luxury. They must also be given horrific living conditions and unbelievably low wages. Mix these ingredients together thoroughly.
Step 3 – Add 1 cup of social unrest to the mix
When the peasants are sufficiently starving and have hit rock bottom, increase food shortages: this will make the peasants even angrier with the Tsar.
Step 4 – Next, add 1 tablespoon of political and economic reforms
But be careful here. Do not allow the reforms to be successful or your revolution will never happen. Make sure that your Tsar creates a parliament then abolishes it. Basically the Tsar needs to continually mess things up. This is very important.
Step 5 – Observe your mix: it should be very unstable, which is exactly what you want
Set your oven to the year 1905. Take the starving and angry peasants you prepared earlier and make them march on the Winter Palace to demand food and a better quality of life from the Tsar.
Step 6 – Add 1 massacre
The Tsar’s troops should fire on the unarmed peasants, killing as many as possible. Call this mixture ‘Bloody Sunday, 1905’. Let this mixture sit for 10-12 years, checking it now and then to make sure that the people are still really angry at the Tsar and that the Tsar is still making a mess of things.
Step 7 – Add 1 x light sprinkling of World War 1
Make Russia perform badly in the war and blame it on the Tsar’s bad leadership. Next, add 1 mad monk (preferably Rasputin) who will effectively control Russia while the Tsar fights WW1. This will make the Tsar even more unpopular than before.
By now your mixture of social and political unrest should at boiling point. Allow the mixture to boil over. The Tsar should be losing control of his people.
Step 8 – Set your oven to February 1917: add 1 more tablespoon of food shortages and 1 more cup of peasant demonstrations
The Tsar will order his troops to fire on the protesters, but the troops will refuse and they will join the protesters. Next, the Tsar will be forced out of power and a provisional government set up.
Place this mixture in a container labelled “February Revolution, 1917”, and let it cool.
Step 9 – Increase the temperature of your oven to October 1917
Add 1 x exiled leader (Vladimir Lenin) who promises to bring people ‘Peace, Bread, Land, Freedom’. Make him a very popular leader of the Bolshevik (Communist) Party.
Step 10 – Remove the mix from the oven and pour over it 1 pint of political overthrow, then leave it to settle
The Bolsheviks and Red Guards will arrest members of the provisional government and seize power, signalling the official end of Tsarism and the arrival of Communism. Your Russian Revolution Cake is finished.
Congratulations, you have baked a Russian Revolution Cake – enjoy! But you probably won’t enjoy it… Revolutions are bloody (but sometimes necessary) processes, but sometimes they can actually be a good thing for a country. Not in Russia’s case.
After the Russian Revolution, the new ‘government’ under Lenin turned out to be just as bad, brutal, and corrupt as the Tsardom. So, even though the Russian Revolution Cake looked different to that of Tsarism, in the end they tasted just as bad as each other for the Russian public.
Wait, what about dessert?
Well, if the Russian Revolution Cake was the main course, what would the dessert have been? It has to be the Russian Civil War, right?
Using your revision notes as a guide, see if you can make a list of ingredients that summarises the main points of the Russian Civil War, then write them out in a step by step method following our recipe as an example You will be amazed at how deeply you will think about the topic, and find you understand it much better.