Bruce Morrison » Revolution and Nationalism, 1900–1939

Revolution and Nationalism, 1900–1939

Political upheavals lead to the formation of a totalitarian state in Russia, civil war in China, and limited self-rule in India.


Section 1: Revolutions in Russia

Section 2: CASE STUDY: Totalitarianism

Section 3: Imperial China Collapses

Section 4: Nationalism in India and Southwest Asia


Section 1: Revolutions in Russia

Long-term social unrest in Russia explodes in revolution, and ushers in the first Communist government.


Czars Resist Change


End to Reform

  • In 1881, Alexander III becomes czar, ends reforms
  • Institutesautocratic rule, suppressing all opposition, dissent


Czars Continue Autocratic Rule

  • Governmentcensorswritten criticism; secret police monitor schools
  • Non-Russians living inRussiaare treated harshly
  • Jews become target of government-backedpogroms(mob violence)
  • In 1894, Nicholas II becomes czar, continues autocratic ways




Rapid Industrialization

  • Number of factories doubles between 1863 and 1900;Russiastill lags
  • In late 1800s, new plan boosts steel production; major railway begins


The Revolutionary Movement Grows

  • Industrialization breeds discontent over working conditions, wages
  • Growing popularity of Marxist idea that theproletariat(workers) will rule
  • Bolsheviks—Marxists who favor revolution by a small committed group
  • Lenin—Bolshevik leader—an excellent organizer, inspiring leader


Crises at Home and Abroad


The Russo-Japanese War

  • Defeat in Russo-Japanese War of early 1900s causes unrest inRussia


Bloody Sunday: The Revolution of 1905

  • In 1905, 200,000 workers march on czar’s palace to demand reforms
  • Army fires into the crowd, killing many
  • Massacre leads to widespread unrest; Nicholas forced to make reforms
  • TheDuma,Russia’s first parliament, meets in 1906
  • Czar unwilling to share power; dissolves Duma after only 10 weeks


World War I: The Final Blow

  • Heavy losses in World War I reveal government’s weakness
  • Nicholas goes to war front; Czarina Alexandra runs government
  • Czarina falls under the influence ofRasputin—mysterious “holy man”
  • Nobles fear Rasputin’s influence, murder him
  • Army losing effectiveness; people at home hungry and unhappy


The March Revolution


First Steps

  • In March 1917, strikes expand; soldiers refuse to fire on workers


The Czar Steps Down

  • March Revolution—protests become uprising; Nicholas abdicates throne
  • Duma establishes provisional, or temporary, government
  • Soviets—committees of Socialist revolutionaries—control many cities


Lenin Returns to Russia

  • In April 1917, Germans aid Lenin in returning from exile toRussia


The Bolshevik Revolution


The Provisional Government Topples

  • In November 1917, workers take control of the government


Bolsheviks in Power

  • Lenin gives land to peasants, puts workers in control of factories
  • Bolsheviks sign treaty withGermany;Russia out of World War I


Civil War Rages in Russia

  • Civil War between Bolsheviks’ Red Army and loosely allied White Army
  • Red Army wins three-year war that leaves 14 million dead


Comparing World Revolutions

  • Russian, French Revolutions similar—both attempt to remake society


Lenin Restores Order


New Economic Policy

  • In March 1921, Lenin launchesNew Economic Policy; has some capitalism
  • NEP and peace restore economy shattered by war, revolution
  • By 1928,Russia’s farms, factories are productive again


Political Reforms

  • Lenin creates self-governing republics under national government
  • In 1922, country renamed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.)
  • Communist Party—new name taken by Bolsheviks from writings of Marx


Stalin Becomes Dictator


A New Leader

  • Trotsky and Stalin compete to replace Lenin when he dies
  • Joseph Stalin—cold, hard Communist Party general secretary in 1922
  • Stalin gains power from 1922 to 1927
  • Lenin dies in 1924
  • Stalin gains complete control in 1928; Trotsky forced into exile


Section 2: Totalitarianism

CASE STUDY: Stalinist Russia  - After Lenin dies, Stalin seizes power and transforms the Soviet Unioninto a totalitarian state.


A Government of Total Control


Total, Centralized State Control

  • Totalitarianism—government that dominates every aspect of life
  • Totalitarian leader often dynamic, persuasive


Police Terror

  • Government uses police to spy on, intimidate people



  • Government shapes people’s minds through slanted education


Propaganda and Censorship

  • Government controls all mass media, crushes opposing views


Religious or Ethnic Persecution

  • Leaders brand religious, ethnic minorities “enemies of the state”


Stalin Builds a Totalitarian State


Police State

  • Stalin’s police attack opponents with public force, secret actions
  • Great Purge—terror campaign against Stalin’s perceived enemies
  • By the end of 1938, Stalin in complete control; 8–13 million dead


Russian Propaganda and Censorship

  • Government controls newspapers, radio, movies
  • Artists censored, controlled; work harnessed to glorify the Party


Education and Indoctrination

  • Government controls all education, from early grades to college
  • Children learn the virtues of the Communist Party
  • Teachers, students who challenge the Party are punished


Religious Persecution

  • Government attacks Russian Orthodox Church
  • Magnificent churches, synagogues destroyed; religious leaders killed
  • People lose all personal rights, freedoms


Stalin Seizes Control of the Economy


New Economic System

  • Command economy—government makes all economic decisions


An Industrial Revolution

  • Five-Year Plans—Stalin’s plans for developing the economy
  • Result: large growth in industrial power; shortage of consumer goods

An Agricultural Revolution

  • In 1928, government createscollective farms—large, owned by state
  • Peasants resist this change; 5–10 million die in crackdown
  • By 1938, agricultural production rising


Daily Life Under Stalin


Gains at Great Cost

  • People better educated, gain new skills
  • Limited personal freedoms; few consumer goods


Women Gain Rights

  • Communists say women are equal to men
  • Women forced to join labor force; state provides child care
  • Many women receive advanced educations, become professionals
  • Women suffer from demands of work, family


Total Control Achieved


Powerful Ruler

  • By mid-1930s, Stalin has transformedSoviet Union-totalitarian regime; industrial, political power
  • Stalin controls all aspects of Soviet life:

-unopposed as dictator, Communist Party leader

-rules by terror instead of constitutional government

-demands conformity, obedience


Section 3: Imperial China Collapses

After the fall of the Qing dynasty, nationalist and Communist movements struggle for power.


Nationalists Overthrow Qing Dynasty


A New Power

  • Kuomintang—Nationalist Party of China—calls for modernization
  • Sun Yixian—first great leader of Nationalist Party
  • In 1911, Nationalists overthrow Qing dynasty


Shaky Start for the New Republic

  • In 1912, Sun takes control as president
  • Backs three principles: nationalism, democracy, economic security
  • No national agreement on rule; civil war breaks out in 1916


World War I Spells More Problems

  • Chinaenters war against Germany hoping to gain land held by Germans
  • Treaty ofVersaillesgives German colonies in China to Japan
  • On May 4, 1919, angry students protest this agreement
  • May Fourth Movement—nationalist movement that spreads acrossChina
  • Many young nationalists turn against Sun Yixian


The Communist Party in China


Rise of a New Leader

  • Mao Zedong—helps form Chinese Communist Party in 1921


Lenin Befriends China

  • In 1923, Lenin helps Nationalists, who agree to work with Communists


Peasants Align with the Communists

  • Jiang Jieshi—Nationalist leader after Sun dies—opposes communism
  • Peasants see no gain for them in Jiang’s plans, they back Communists


Nationalists and Communists Clash

  • In 1927, Nationalists kill Communists, unionists inShanghai
  • In 1928, Jiang becomes president; Communists resist his rule


Civil War Rages in China


Hostility Becomes War

  • By 1930, civil war rages; Mao recruits a peasant, guerrilla army


The Long March

  • In 1933, Jiang’s huge army surrounds outnumbered Communists
  • Long March—Communists’ 6,000-mile journey to safety in north
  • Of 100,000 Communists, 7,000 or 8,000 survive the march


Civil War Suspended

  • Seeing chaos inChina,Japan launches all-out invasion in 1937
  • Nationalists and Communists join together to fightJapan


Section 4: Nationalism in India and Southwest Asia

Nationalism triggers independence movements to overthrow colonial powers. 


Indian Nationalism Grows


Two Parties

  • Congress Party—mostly Hindus; Muslim League—Muslims
  • Both want South Asia to be independent ofBritain


World War I Increases Nationalist Activity

  • British promise steps to self-government in return for war service
  • After war, no changes; resentment grows acrossIndia
  • Some radicals carry out acts of violence in protest
  • British pass Rowlatt Acts (1919), tough laws intended to end dissent


Amritsar Massacre

  • In spring 1919, 10,000 Hindus and Muslims go to city ofAmritsar
  • British alarmed by size of crowd, presence of nationalist leaders
  • Military commander thinks crowd is ignoring ban on public meetings
  • Troops fire on unarmed crowd; 400 killed and 1,200 wounded, news of theAmritsar Massacresparks anger


Gandhi’s Tactics of Nonviolence


Inspiring Leader

  • Mohandas K. Gandhi—becomes leader of independence movement
  • With ideas blending many religions, he becomes powerful leader



  • Gandhi urgescivil disobedience—noncooperation with British rule
  • In 1920, the Congress Party backs the idea



  • Gandhi urges boycott of British goods, schools, taxes, elections
  • Refusal to buy British cloth cuts into important textile industry


Strikes and Demonstrations

  • Civil disobedience takes an economic toll on the British
  • Thousands of striking Indians arrested; jails severely overcrowded


The Salt March

  • In 1930, Gandhi organizes protest of Salt Acts
  • These laws force Indians to buy salt from the government
  • Salt March—240-mile walk led by Gandhi to collect seawater for salt
  • British police brutalize protestors; Indians gain worldwide support


Britain Grants Limited Self-Rule


Indian Victory

  • In 1935, Parliament passes the Government of India Act
  • Act givesIndialocal self-government and some election reforms
  • Act does nothing to calm rising tension between Muslims and Hindus


Nationalism in Southwest Asia


Turkey Becomes a Republic

  • Mustafa Kemal—Turkish general who overthrows Ottoman sultan
  • In 1923, Kemal becomes president of theRepublicof Turkey
  • Splits government from religion, modernizesTurkey
  • Kemal dies in 1938; given nameAtaturk(“father of the Turks”)


Persia Becomes Iran

  • British effort to takePersiaafter World War I spurs nationalist revolt
  • In 1921, Reza Shah Pahlavi takes power and begins modernization


Saudi Arabia Keeps Islamic Traditions

  • In 1932, Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud unifies Arabia asSaudi Arabia
  • Keeps many Islamic traditions, but modernizes life in some ways
  • No effort to bring democracy


Oil Drives Development

  • Rising demand for oil leads to exploration in Southwest Asia
  • Discovery of oil in 1920s and 1930s brings new foreign investment
  • • Western nations try to dominate the region to keep control of oil