Before 1917, a hereditary nobility led by the tsar ruled the Russian Empire. The vast majority (85 percent) of the population were peasants, very poor and mostly illiterate. In 1917, social tensions and an unpopular war against Germany and the Central Powers strained Russian society to the breaking point. Marxist revolutionaries rallied against inequality and exploitation, and they found many examples of these in pre-revolutionary Russia.
In the cartoon below, entitled "Trud" (or "Labor"), the propagandist populates the role of the exploiter with aristocrats, priests, capitalists, and tsarist officials. The capitalist factory owner is far from being the sole exploiter. This cartoon highlights the pervasive exploitation within capitalist society, and argues
that Socialism will effect widespread changes within society.
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