Opposition to Russian governments was ineffective in the period from 1855 to 1964. How far do you agree with this view?

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“Opposition to Russian governments was ineffective in the period from 1855 to 1964”. How far do you agree with this view?

Opposition throughout the period from 1855 to 1964 can be seen as any group of people opposing, criticising or protesting against the Government. There was significant opposition to Russian governments across the period and there were several different forms of opposition. The effectiveness of these groups can be judged in terms of the outcomes of their actions.

The first type of opposition to consider is opposition from groups within Russia. In the earlier years of Alexander II’s reign opposition to the Russian government existed within the peasantry. In between 1800-1861 there had been 1467 uprisings and in 1861 alone there were 400 instances of revolt amongst the peasantry. This basic form of opposition was never truly effective as their actions were simply put down by the government partly due to their failure to unite and lack of ideology and political demands. This was, however, not the only internal opposition to Tsar Alexander II with the “Going to the People” movement emerging in 1874. Here young members of the Russia intelligentsia went to the peasants breaching to them about their ideas about how life should be lived. This proved unsuccessful, they failed to appeal to the peasantry and the regime managed to arrest members showing them to be ineffective at this point. However, the populist movement developed from here, eventually splitting into two groups; the Black Partition and the People’s Will. The latter was arguably an effective form of opposition as it was responsible for the assassination of Alexander II on the 1st March 1881. Following on from this there was no alternative to the regime on offer as the group lacked any real ideology or popular support and thus the opposition was not truly effective. What followed was the rule of Alexander III who faced almost no notable opposition form groups within Russia due to the hugely repressive nature of his rule. The lack of opposition in this sense continues into the early years of the reign of Nicholas II. However around the turn of the century groups such as the Social Democrat Party (SDP) and the Social Revolutionaries, who completely opposed the Tsarist regime, began to form. These groups are somewhat ineffective at this point though as they, like previous groups, lack popular support and unity. This is highlighted by the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks splitting into two separate parties from the SDP in 1903. However opposition was seemingly effective in 1905 under Nicholas II. Following on from the events of Bloody Sunday where a demonstrators led by Father Gapon were shot down by the police wide spread protests broke out with many groups asking for a less autocratic form of government. Hence when Nicholas II introduced the Duma in 1906 this can be suggested to be the result of effective opposition. The rest of Tsar Nicholas II’s reign saw relatively little opposition until 1917 when Russia’s involvement in the First World War was slowly bringing the country to its knees. Defeat looked inevitable and as a result the Tsar abdicated in February 1917. However, once he abdicated the Provisional Government made up from the Duma took over. As with Alexander II’s assassination there was no immediate alternative to Tsardom and the country initially operated on a similar basis. Generally under each Tsar there was little effective opposition even on the two occasions when opposition was successful (in assassinating Alexander II and forcing Nicholas II to abdicate) there was no real alternative and in this way it would seem opposition in Russia was ineffective when it came to the Tsar’s.

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The Provisional Government that took over faced widespread opposition within Russia. The Kornilov coup in August 1917 was an attempt to overthrow Alexander Kerensky’s government however the Provisional Government used the Bolsheviks to crush this opposition and this opposition was thus ineffective. However, the Provisional Government was ultimately overthrown as a result of effective opposition from the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. Opposition from groups within Russia from then on under communist leaders can ultimately be seen to be ineffective as well. Under Lenin opposition within Russia was ineffective as a result of his government stepping up repression by making ...

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