By 1905, a revolution was immanent, Tsar’s power was to be challenged and the reasons for this are to be laid out here in this essay. Was the Tsar’s non-reformist attitude solely to blame or was the nature of Tsardom destined to destroy itself? We need to look at the foundations of the revolution in order to fully understand this and make an informed response to these questions. The foundations are laid out into five main parts, including short and long-term factors. The two main long-term factors being that the Tsar alienated many of the classes within Russia and his policy of non-reform led to repression. As these factors developed, other incidents became short-term factors. The failure in the Japanese War was a huge blow to Tsardom and undermined their ethos that Tsardom was the right regime for Russia and the political spring that came as the Tsar relaxed censorship brought an avalanche of criticism for Tsardom.
Finally, the humiliation at Port Arthur triggered the protest at the Winter Palace, which developed into Bloody Sunday and was the birth of the revolution. Investigating the first of the long-term factors causing the revolution, it seemed necessary to go back to examine the structure of Tsarist Russia pre-1905 to get a fuller picture. This period posed a problem for Nicholas II. The regime itself reinforced any class divisions from the bureaucracy to the peasants and alienated them even further.
As, “the truth is Nicholas was never in touch with the common people. He never knew what it was like to worry where the next meal was coming from. He never had to. ” He did not understand the way that Russia worked in practise. He could not, or would not, empathize with the peasants’ hardships of the land and his ideas of Russia’s troubles were laughable. Consequently, by 1905 he had estranged his subjects, including even some of the gentry’ folk that had been so loyal to Tsardom in the past.
... market and cultures. Both Russia and Japan modernized in there own unique way, Russia with revolutions and Japan with their nationalistic ... . In both nations the political power was centralized. The tsar appointed zemstvoes, or local political councils that regulated roads, ... was also a major factor of industrialization. The similarities between Russia and Japan were many. Russia and Japan were able ...
They were a class in decline and it was partly due to the Tsar’s incompetence. Owing to Russia’s economic backwardness, the landowners found it almost impossible to farm for a profit. The gentry had no market for their produce, as their target market was near penniless and thus could not afford to purchase crops from the landowners. The Tsar did little to rectify the situation and in fact took land off the gentry following the emancipation of the Serfs and issued bonds, which were effectively I. O. U’s for the value of the land, leaving them with mountainous debts to pay off and scepticism of the capability of Tsardom.
This scepticism eventually turned to hatred and complete mistrust for some by 1905 and they joined in the demonstrations and aided the revolution. However, the gentry were the least of the threat to Tsardom. Nicholas’s strong policy of industrialisation had ironically led to an established working class, and an ever-increasing educated middle-class, striving for democracy. As the number of factories and professional jobs increased, so did the amount of wealthy middle-class people, leading to even more people with access to education. The rising number of professionals led to many new theories and ideas being formulated. Granted, Nicholas had not yet relaxed censorship to the level where these ideas could be circulated legally within Russia, many fled to Switzerland and other such countries in order to gain access to libraries and the ability to publish their own works without oppression.
Some of these students formed the Nihilist movement of the 1860’s, which strove to demolish anything that could not be strictly explained by science and they thus “rejected the authority of the state, church and family. ” They were inspired by Chernyshevsky’s novel ‘What is to be done?’ that slipped through the Tsarist censor and were ordered t attack the established society, as Russia was ‘rotten,’ and thus they aided the revolution. The Will of the People, who had assassinated Nicholas’s grandfather, maintained their influence in the form of fracture groups, still with the same general goal to demolish Tsardom. Along with the new middle-class society came Liberalism, and the pressure for political freedom, from the people with educated arguments.
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The Liberals saw what was happening in the West and desired to have the same in Russia; they reasoned that an autocracy such as Tsardom did not work in Russia and that they deserved a democracy. They felt that they should have a voice in the government as Tsardom never led to ‘justice.’ Even the middle-class, who had no stake in land ownership for agricultural gain, saw that the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 was “not what the people dreamed of and need… ” The radicals Mikhail ov and Shelgunov declared this, along with claiming “we do not need a Tsar, or an emperor, or the Lord’s anointed, or a robe or ermine covering up hereditary incompetence. ” Vilification of the Tsar was snowballing, with every class adding to its momentum. Subsequent to the increase in educated professionals, Marxism was born amongst the socialists. Karl Marx, a German philosopher, declared, “In a socialist society the free development of each would be the condition of the free development of all.” The new educated class in Russia took up this ethos and man strive d to obtain this socialist society.
Within this society, the Tsar would have no place and thus the Social Democratic Party aimed to dethrone Nicholas, or at least remove his power, replacing him with a Duma. The Russian Marxists were forced to flee to Switzerland where they met Plekhanov and contemplated when the revolution would come. However, their work was not encouraging as it was revealed that Russia had not even reached the capitalist stage of development. Marx hypothesis ed that this bourgeois stage would be necessary before the socialist revolution and thus it would be decades before the time would be right, “Russia was overwhelmingly a peasant society. ” Consequently, the SDP split at its first official conference in London, forming the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks. The Mensheviks remained loyal to Marx’s theory of social progression and kept faith that eventually their time would come.
... power and wealth of the land-owning classes. The February Revolution of 1917 overthrew the Tsarist regime in Russia. The Bolshevik Party, which was ... must be in the hands of the proletariat and the peasants, and the immediate union of all the banks into a ... Lenin had used his April Theses in order to persuade people into joining his cause and setting up a communist state ...
However, the rest of the party decided that they were not willing to die without living to see the revolution and followed the Bolsheviks, under Lenin, believing that an “educated elite could speed up the process. ” Lenin, who was once a member of the Will of the People, held onto the ethos that the ‘general will’ was that, that is in their best interests. Following his study of Marx, Lenin resolved that he now knew he true ‘general will’ of the people, as Marx’s theory was ‘scientific,’ and that he would lead the Social Democrats forward to uphold this general will. Lenin’s surety that he must defend the ‘general will’ ‘for’ the people from the birth of the Bolsheviks in 1903 was a shorter-term causes of the revolution as it further increased pressure for a change to the government system.
They believed that they stood for the good of the proletariat and their policy was to be a professional party aiming to improve life for the workers. This fits in with the main ethos of the revolution, to improve the lives of ordinary Russians. The advancement of the increasingly educated middle-class also aided the working-class through the growth of socialism in general. Their need for better working and living conditions meant that they latched on to Lenin’s promise of a revolution and socialist utopia, adding momentum to his campaign. In addition to these, the alienation of the peasants also held a hand to the bringing of a revolution. The peasants felt cheated by the ’emancipation’ as it did not even come close to bringing them what they thought was rightfully theirs.
They believed that God intended the land to be farmed by those who would work it and not the landed gentry to whom it belonged. The peasants however were at first na ” ive to the failures of Tsardom and deduced that it was his cabinet making these false promises and if he knew, he would not have let them struggle with such hardship. They saw him as their “little father,” loving and caring for his subjects. However, the truth be told he was more like the pathetic, heavy-handed, “inept-father.” He was informed of the sufferings of the peasantry yet he frequently found it painless to dismiss them from his conscience, them being up to thousands of miles away. Subsequently the peasants became infuriated by their lack of aid and dreadful living conditions. Even after the emancipation they did not own all of the land and in fact, in the traditional grain growing areas where the communes remained, conditions deteriorated with raising rates and the need to give redemption payments.
... the 1917 Revolution and Civil War nationalism was relatively weak. Suny emphasizes that people believed that ... program promised immediate peace, land to the peasants and the establishment of democratic liberties. ... and its goals were to make political reforms and create a democratically elected executive and ... Tsar Nicholas II was derthrown. The new regime was an alliance between liberals and socialists ...
They had had enough and in 1902 they could be said to have stated the revolution in the form of a ‘peasant revolution of the land.’ They decided to take the land ‘back’ by force, raided the gentry, and burned down their mansions. The ideal of the ‘little father’ had begun to diminish and they were now lobbying for democracy where they could win a say to aid their indigence. Through the “Populist movement of Alexander II’s reign, ” grew the Social Revolutionaries, which included everything from bombing to Chartism. The SR’s, under Cher nov, were mainly aimed at the peasants. It incorporated Marxism into the Populist belief that “all workers and the peasants alike – what it called ‘labouring people’ – were united by their poverty and their opposition to the regime.
” This opposition grew to boiling point by 1905 and the worker’s unions, along with the peasantry, united at the Winter Palace on Bloody Sunday on the day of the beginning of the revolution. In addition, the fifth group, the non-Russian’s wanted an end to Russification and more freedom, for which they joined the revolution to overthrow the regime. The second main long-term factor to consider regarding the revolution must be the oppression of the regime itself. “The peasant problem, like that of the workers and nationalities, introduced fundamental structural weaknesses into the social system of the old regime, it did not determine its politics; and it was with politics that the problem lay.
There is no reason to say that the tsarist regime was doomed to collapse… it could have been saved. But there is the rub. For Russia’s last two Tsars lacked the will for real reform. ” Here Files depicts that the bringing about of the revolution was the product of the non-reformist attitude of Nicholas II and his father Alexander III. Taught by Pobedonostev, Nicholas believed that reform would only fuel the appetite of the people and lead to further demands for reform.
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Alexander therefore issued a manifesto in April 1881 denouncing reform and reinforcing the policy of the autocratic regime. The undoing of reforms and halting of the implementing of new reforms led resentment from the people. Censorship was tightened up so that newspapers were forced to submit issues for approval the day before publication. This led to key issues not reaching the public but also criticisms of Tsardom being limited.
However, even this did not stop talk following the famine of 1891. Subsequent to a war with Turkey 1877-1878 Russia was forced to print more paper money to pay for the armed forces, this however increased inflation to 30%. In the following years, Russia had to do something to regain a foothold on its economy and thus they increased exportation of grain supplies and heavily taxed consumer products to bring in more income. This meant that the peasants had to sell all their crops and did not have any back-up supplies in case of a bad year.
When in 1891 they were hit by an early winter, and then a long dry summer, the peasants were drawn into a famine. For months, the government censored any news of this reaching the cities to hide their embarrassment. By November, they were forced to go public and ask for support from the people to raise money to buy in emergency supplies for the peasants. With this incident in true light, many people blamed the government’s repression and its strict laws on censorship had in fact hindered the ability of any of the workers from sending supplies to help of their own accord. Three hundred and fifty thousand people died of starvation or disease in 1891 and many people blamed the government’s repression and bad judgement. These feelings of the government’s in adequacy were all added to by the failure in the Russo-Japanese war and illustrated after the slackening in censorship from Minsky.
The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 was a major disaster and utterly discredited Tsardom. Plehve said, “We need a small victorious war to stem the tide of revolution,” of the war, and how wrong could one man be. The incompetence of the Russian army was highlighted as they were defeated by a race that should have been no match for a ‘super-power.’ The Japanese blocked the Russian naval fleet in Port Arthur from ever becoming a threat and then attacked and captured the fleet before reinforcements could be brought in. As the only way for new troops to be mobilized was through the lengthy journey on the Trans-Siberian railway, the Japanese were able to defeat the opposition before any new troops were able join the battle. To add to the humiliation, the Russia was then finally defeated at sea in Tsushima in one of the most humiliating losses in modern history of war.
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The reputation of Tsardom was finally completely shattered and revolution was on the horizon. In fact as the news of the defeat at Port Arthur reached St. Petersburg a subsequent rally was arranged on January 9 th 1905, otherwise known as Bloody Sunday. The revolution was born.