1905 marked the culmination of the process that began in 1856. Discuss.

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Aarani Narendran                 10/11/08

Mr. Evans

1905 marked the culmination of the process that began in 1856. Discuss.

The 1905 revolution in Russia was seen by some, namely Alan Woods and Lenin, as a dress rehearsal for the Russian Revolution of 1917; “It was a dress rehearsal, without which the final victory of the proletariat in October 1917 would have been impossible”. The attempted revolution in 1905 did, however, highlight the changes needed in Russia, economically, politically and socially, for her to be able to function properly as a World power. Whether the revolution in 1905 was directly linked to the events leading from 1856 is questionable, but theorists such as Karl Marx believed it to be just that. The inevitability of the revolution is stemmed from the ‘theory of progression’ and is used by theorists such as Leo Trotsky and Lenin; Trotsky comparing its inevitability to the inevitability of the rising sun – “The Russian revolution is inevitable and it is as inevitable as the inevitable rising of the sun”.

The Marxist theory of progression states that the revolution of 1905 was the culmination of the process that began in 1856 and was inevitable. The events following the Moscow Speech and the Russian defeat in the Crimean War all supposedly led up to the inevitable revolution in 1905. The humiliation Russia suffered after their defeat by Britain, France and Turkey and the incompetence if the Russian military indicated the need for change and was acknowledged by Alexander II in the Moscow Speech of the same year. Alexander’s speech before the gentry highlighted Russia’s need for economic recovery; recovery that could only be possible by further domestic reform for the nation. He proposed the idea of the emancipation of the serfs, stating that “It is better to abolish Serfdom from above than to wait for the time when it will begin to abolish itself from below”. The emancipation of the serfs was another event in the ‘process’ leading up to the revolution in 1905. Though this reform was initially thought to be significant for the Serf’s growth in society, it merely placed the Serfs under the control of the Mir rather than the Nobles. While the reasons for emancipating the serfs were pragmatic, Russia saw a great dip in its productivity and much of the country’s governing had to be modified to embrace the change.

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The introduction of further reforms, including those which affected the military, education and society, as well as the relaxation of censorship would be seen by Marxist theorists as another event in the process leading up to the revolution in 1905. For the growth of formidable opposition to occur, education needs to be a readily available resource. Alexander’s education reforms allowed children of all classes the right to education and a direct consequence of this was the exposure to political indoctrination via contemporary literature. The open criticism of the autocracy by political writers and intellectuals led to a radical growth in opposition which ...

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