How significant was the work of reforming leaders in changing the nature of Russian government and society in the period from 1856 to 1964?
It is debatable whether or not the work of some reforming leaders changed the nature of Russia, as rulers such as Nicholas II had done little to reform, and only tried in an attempt to strengthen his own autocratic rule, whereas rulers such as Lenin completely changed the structure of Russian government and society, leaving significant impacts still recognised today in modern Russia.
Looking at the debate from a structuralist view point, it is plain to see that other factors, such as war, famine and peasant revolution played a heavy part in changing the nature of Russian society and government, as peasants grew more tiresome and the ‘Intelligencia’s’ western ideals began to influence peasants more than the ‘slavophiles’ once had.
In my personal opinion, Alexander II became the catalyst for reforms as he made the biggest social and government changes since the reign of Peter the Great, though it can be argued that the reforms are more symbolic than practical.
Alexander II’s ‘great reforms’ stand out among the most significant events in the nineteenth century of Russian History, earning him the title of ‘The Great Reformer’ although Alexander II’s reign is described to be ‘marked with contrasts’
Crowned in the midst of a devastating military conflict, the reforms, I believe, are a direct response to the Crimean War defeat, which is argued by structuralist historians such as E. H. Carr to be the reason for the reforms, as without the war defeat the need for change would not of been clearly evidenced, and were intended to improve the efficiency of the army and the economy. He made reforms to areas such as the emancipation of the serfs, the army, censorship and the press, law and order, education and local government. The two most significant reforms made, in my opinion, were the emancipation of the serfs and education.
The Provisional Government was only able to satisfy the demanding needs of the Russian people to a small extend. The Provisional Government was not an effective representation of the Russian people, and was nearly as out of touch as the Czar had been, which might explain why it seemed incapable of satisfying the Russian people. The great expectations of Russian people of all different walks of ...
The Emancipation of the serfs manifesto, released in 1861, had major impacts on Russian society. Addressed as the ‘principal handicap to Russia’s development' it became undeniable that serfdom needed to be abolished in order for Russia to develop industrially and become equal to other European powers, such as Great Britain.
Land reforms made alongside the Emancipation proved deleterious to the finances of the state, a sign of this was the growing amount of redemption and poll tax arrears, which would be a feature for the next 20 years, as the land reforms proved damaging to the entire structure of Russia by creating deficits, impacting society greatly as it placed the peasant farmers at the mercy of their landlords and leaving them with unreliable crops, causing mass civil unrest in all but one provinces affected by this reform.
It is argued by Historians such as Carl Peter Watts that ‘the real significance of the abolition of serfdom was the impetus that it gave to further reforms'. In my own opinion, the significance of the Emancipation was that it highlighted the peasants ‘inability to limit their demands and hopes' showing that reforming leaders needed to make change to the exact standards of the Russian peasants.
Other key reforms were made to education, which were ‘notable in the reign of Alexander II’. University students were free to study abroad for a year so had access to passports. This allowed them to experience Western Europe and constitutional governments, making comparisons between countries such as Great Britain and Russia. The students soon became aware of the backwardness of Russia and the need for change. A constitutional government rapidly became desirable in Russian society, but due to the belief that the autocratic rule of the Tsar was a God given right to the Romanov family, the reform would not come effortlessly.
... 1905 Revolution on Russian government and society at the time? The 1905 Revolution was significant to Russian government in long run ... to reform Russia. He failed to realize the importance of constitutional element toward the stability of Russia. This ... Father”, thus provoked resistance towards Tsardom. So from this aspect, in long term, the 1905 Revolution was significant to Russian government ...
The assassination of Alexander II had a traumatic effect on the reign of Alexander III, as he was ‘deeply suspicious of the direction in which his father had taken Russia' as he was aware that the reforms made had ultimately led to his father’s death. Abandoning his father’s plans to grant a Constitutional government, he declared that ‘only “absolute autocracy” in the form it was practiced during Peter I and Nicholas I could fight the revolutionary movement'
Because of this, it came as no surprise that the only reforms made during the reign of Alexander III were to strengthen the autocratic rule, and fight opposition, having significant impacts not only on Russian government, but society as well.
To fight the ‘terror', Alexander III introduced harsh security measures, which to some extent can be seen as reforms, to ‘correct what he considered as the too liberal tendencies of the previous reign’
Police oppression was tightened and censorship was increased, this impacted Russian society greatly as peasants and students had now lost their new found freedom, and hopes of a Constitutional government were stamped down, causing resentment towards the Tsars autocratic rule and Russian government.
After his death in 1894, his heir, Nicholas II, was left with his fathers’ unfinished work and unprepared. Nicholas II showed early on that he had no intentions of reforming, as he was documented saying that he ‘will preserve the principles of autocracy as firmly and unswervingly as my late father of imperishable memory' showing that he truly believed, like his father, that autocracy was for the good of the Russian people, yet was incapable of running the vast Russian Empire alone.
Looking at the reign of Nicholas II from a structuralist point of view, it could be said that other factors had made more of a significant change to Russian government and society, such as the outbreak of World War One in 1914. Although it did temporarily strengthen the monarchy, Russia suffered after the war, as there was high inflation and food shortages ‘which compounded the grinding poverty most Russians already endured.’ The impact of society was critical, as peasants grew tiresome of the autocratic rule of the Tsars, and the desire for a constitutional government intensified.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN HUMAN SOCIETY? Be the government a dictorcratic, autocratic or democratic, all these have one thing in common and that is to rule the citizens under its power as established by the ruling citizens and or parties. Any government form will fight to preserve its sovereignty from both foreign and domestic enemies. Based on all wants and needs of the governing party ...
The Provisional government, headed by Prince George Lvov, immediately introduced numerous reforms, but these reforms were ‘Weak and unpopular, the provisional government drew criticism from both the right and left’. The most significant, for me personally, was the amnesty of all political prisoners and exiles, as this allowed Bolshevik party member Lenin to enter Russian society, which would lead to the downfall of the Provisional government.
But, when looking at the short rule of the Provisional government from a structuralist point of view, it is clearly evidenced that other factors, such as war and revolts had more of a significant impact in changing the nature of Russian government and society.
Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Lenin and the new Communist government initiated numerous reforms.
Lenin adopted the Soviet system as Russia’s political structure, workers and the ‘proletariats’ sent representatives to the All Russian Congress of Soviets, which then elected the Central Executive Committee, which then elected the Council of Commissar’s.
This vast change impacted Russian government and society greatly, as a constitutional government which had been desired since the reign of Alexander II had now appeared to be established. But, argued by historian Christopher Read, ‘Lenin acted as much as a dictator as Stalin was to become in future years’, showing that the impact Lenin made on Russian government was only to an extent, as he still had an autocratic rule which was not far from the reign of Nicholas II.
Soviet authorities introduced “Prodrazvyorstka”– food apportionment, this ‘communist experiment’ soon led to food shortages in villages, leaving many starving. The impact this had on society was highly significant, as it highlighted to the peasants that their government was always going to struggle with reforms, whether an autocratic Tsar, or a revolutionary dictator. This ultimately led to the 1921 Famine, 40 million peasants were starving and reports of cannibalism shocked the League of Nations. The impact on government has small significance, as Bolshevik representatives were murdered by peasants, the Prodrazvyorstka continued.
Joseph Stalin, originally Ios if Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, is one of the most hated man in history because of his Communist rule over Russia and his massacre of millions of people. Stalin life began on December 21, 1879 in Gori, Georgia. His family was very poor shoemaker who drank heavily and beat Stalin frequently. At the age of fourteen Stalin's father died and Stalin was sent to a seminary ...
But, urgent measures had to be taken due to the crumbling economy, Prodrazvyorstka was soon abolished and free trade was legalised again, leaving a small significant impact, as a new class of wealthy peasants, known as ‘Kulaks’, was created.
After Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin joined forces with Grigory Zinovyev and Leon Kamenev to lead the country, ‘Through skillful manipulation and special interpretations of Lenin’s precepts, Stalin eventually turned his rivals against each other, while he himself reached the top.’ By 1929 Stalin had established himself as Lenin’s recognised leader and sole leader of the Soviet government.
As head of the ‘Politburo’ Stalin consolidated near-absolute power by a ‘Great Purge’, as Lenin had done previously, of the party, which he justified ‘as being necessary to expel “opportunists” and “counter-revolutionaries.”. This impacted government significantly as those targeted were then sent to ‘Gulags’ or were immediately executed by the ‘NKVD’, leading to a removal of near all opposition to Stalin within the government.
Mass operations of the NKVD also targeted ‘national contingents’, and a total of ‘350,000 people were arrested and 247,157 executed’ and many others deported, this, again, was another development of what Lenin had done in 1922.
Social reforms were introduced, such as Collectivisation, which ‘brought about social changes not seen since the abolition of serfdom in 1861’. Industrial production was expected to increase by 200% and agricultural production by 50%, but these targets were never met, this failure was blamed on the Kulaks, leading to another mass social purge.
Archives have shown that an estimated 20,021 were executed in 1930, in the year of ‘Dekulakization’.
This, surprisingly, did not impact society significantly, as the mass death was kept secret from the majority of the public until recently. Propaganda successfully kept up the image of Stalin being a protective father figure, which in comparison is not far from the view once felt of the Romanov Tsars.
The origins of the Russian Revolution can be explained in terms of the peasant consciousness of land which can be traced back to 1861. Russia had been the last country in Europe to abolish serfdom; nevertheless, Alexander II’s emancipation edict of 1861 though earning him the title Czar Liberator, had left peasants feeling cheated. The Russian Revolution of 1905 failed to solve the land issue, ...
Following Stalin’s death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev’s ‘leadership marked a dramatic change in the Soviet Union.’
Kicking off a campaign of ‘De-Stalinisation’ in 1956, denouncing Stalin’s dictatorial rule, the so-called ‘Khrushchev’s Thaw’ followed, impacting government and society significantly as the terror had now ceased and more political freedom was allowed.
Khrushchev’s De-Stalinisation set off major social change, the very way in which Russian peasants thought was changing. Information of the purges was released, and the truth of Stalin’s terror was public knowledge, and for many Russians was no longer the father figure of Russia. The cult of personality Stalin had established was now, to an extent, eradicated.
In conclusion, the work of reforming leaders did significantly impact Russian government and society throughout the years 1856 to 1964.
The reforms of Alexander II became the catalyst of future change, whether to continue or eliminate his work. His son and grandson, Nicholas II and Alexander III had done little to impact Russian government and society through their reforms, but rather other factors such as World War One played a heavier part in the change.
The most significant impact made to Russian government and society, in my personal opinion, had to be through the work of Communist Party leader, Lenin. Drastically reforming the structure of Russian government had immense impacts, and a similar structure is still seen today almost 100 years later.
 Alan Kimball – University of Oregon
 Radzinsky, – Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar
 Nicolason, Nick – The Tsar Liberator http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/AlexIIbio.html
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To first assess what the question really asks, we have to extrapolate on the meanings of the word "liberator." The official definition of the word "liberate" is "to set at liberty: free; "i. We are then drawn to the meaning of the word "free." This can have many meanings. But, in my opinion, the most important are those that follow: it can mean having the legal and political rights of a citizen, ...
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