German gains at Riga have shaken Russia, with it now looking like Petrograd itself could fall to the next German offensive. Many feel that the country’s chaotic situation is responsible for the army’s failings, as indiscipline and insubordination have spread from the home front.
Russia is indeed in an increasingly chaotic state. The cities are seeing an increase not just in industrial unrest but in crime and general lawlessness. The countryside too is a scene of violent unrest, with angry peasants turning on the squires and nobles who for so long have dominated them. The peasants have grown tired of waiting for the politicians to organise land reform and have taken matters into their own hands, burning down manor houses and redistributing land amongst themselves, sometimes killing their former masters while they are at it. Small wonder then that insubordination has spread into the army, with soldiers deserting or refusing to obey orders and sometimes turning on their officers.
So it is that some are saying that something must be done to restore order. Kerensky appointed Kornilov to head the army, hoping that he would whip it into shape and then perhaps do the same to society at large. But Kornilov has become increasingly popular with conservative elements in Russia, the people who want an end brought to this revolutionary madness. They see the general as the strongman who will save Russia and encourage him to make himself dictator.
Alexander Kerensky (Wikipedia)