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"The Governments of both late Tsarist Russia and early Communist Soviet Union were essentially dictatorships with similar aims on controlling the population." How far do you agree with this judgment when examining Russia, 1855 - 1953?

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Introduction

"The Governments of both late Tsarist Russia and early Communist Soviet Union were essentially dictatorships with similar aims on controlling the population." How far do you agree with this judgment when examining Russia, 1855 - 1953? The statement describes the natures of the two regimes reasonably accurately when it states that they were both "essentially dictatorships." However, in order for this to be the case, a slightly different definition of a dictatorship is required for each case. The second part of the quote is less accurate. Although both used specific devices to keep the population under tight control, their views on why and how the population should be controlled differed. The Communist regime was based on Marxist theory. It sought to overthrow capitalism through a workers' revolution and establish a system whereby the community owned all property. In this way, the Soviets hoped to create a classless society of equal economic status. For this to occur, a strong leader, such as Lenin, was necessary. The opposition from the Bourgeoisie had to be crushed throughout Lenin's rule, and when initially establishing power. Marxist theory suggested that workers in Russia had more in common with the same class of people in another country than the Russian aristocracy or elite. ...read more.

Middle

The Legal System was overseen by the senate, and was made up of the highest members of this aristocracy. However, all who served on these bodies were appointed by the Tsar, and therefore could be 'relieved of their duties' should the Tsar wish. Therefore, it could be questioned whether Tsarist Russia was a dictatorship, since the Provincial Governors and local officials actually had a lot of freedom due to the size of Russia and the difficulty of communication. However, the fact that the Tsar was responsible for all these Governors and officials directly mean Tsarist rule was essentially a dictatorship. The huge number of revolts faced by the Tsar were all dealt with in a similar way. Rather than having a divine right to rule, Lenin effectively created a dictatorship within the party, enabling him to rule Russia using dictatorial devices, although he can't actually be termed a dictator. The Cabinet became the Sovnarkom and Ministers became People's Commissars. Lenin believed only Bolsheviks could build the new world - so refused to invite other socialists into his government. He saw "political terror" as an inevitable stage in establishing the "dictatorship of the proletariat." Perhaps Lenin saw himself as a temporary dictator on the road to this ultimate goal. ...read more.

Conclusion

Between 1883 - 1903, there were 1500 revolts. Since there were only a few thousand law enforcement officers apart from the secret police, the army played a major part in maintaining law and order. The very fact that the army was central to the Tsar ruling Russia was quite dictatorial, in a similar way to the Cheka for the communists. The Cheka were not restricted by the law, and could execute people without trial (50000 people in 1918). At some point under communist rule, the Cheka, OGPU, NKVD and KGB were used to control the population. In conclusion, the initial statement is accurate. However, the Tsar's aims on controlling the population were motivated by his desire for the people to accept his divine right to rule and appreciate he was their autocratic ruler, whereas the Communists were simply forcing the population to remain submissive and accept what was happening to Russia even if they didn't like it. Similarly, it could be argued whether or not either regime was dictatorial. The Tsar was as much a dictator as any autocratic ruler. Theoretically, every later Tsar had to appease both the Reformists and the Traditionalists. However, the Westernisers desire for a constitution was never possible as it contradicted the Tsar's core beliefs. It could be argued that the Communist regime was more of a dictatorship than the Tsarist regime, both as a party ruling Russia and Lenin and Stalin as figures within the party. ...read more.

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