- Tolstoy (Minister of Education) blamed university curriculums for the spread of revolutionary ideas.
- Subjects with “independent thought” history, science, even Russian were replaced with math, Latin, Greek, and Church history.
- Radical left-wing publications were shut down.
- Schools were divided into gimnaziya which focused on a classical education and “real schools” which focused on modern subjects. Only those who went to gimnaziya could progress to universities, the rest went to technical schools.
- Did increase the number of teacher training colleges and (although he was against it) he was forced to allow Moscow University to accept women.
- Gimnazii numbers tripled from 1863-1881 and 79 “real schools” had been set up by 1881.
- Students moved to Switzerland to study a broader curriculum and listen to professional revolutionaries.
- Some were expelled from university for revolutionary activities and some were forced to return home as a result of Russification.
- Increase in the number of disenchanted intelligentsia.
- Conservative with a military and police background, hard opposed Alexander’s reforms in the 1860s.
- Brought other reactionaries into office who supported rule by decree, military courts for political attacks, censorship/banning of some periodicals/student groups.
- Some liberals remained in office like Milyutin
“I endure much unpleasantness annoyance and failure. The intrigue began long ago against me…everything is done under the exclusive influence of count Shuvalov who had terrified the emperor with his daily reports of frightful dangers to which allegedly the state and sovereign himself are exposed…everything is pulling backwards.”
- Revolutionary activity increased between 1873 and 1877 and 1611 Populists (15% women) were arrested. Trial of the 50 and Trial of 193 held, “mild” sentences passed down so the regime exiled the defendants to Siberia.
- 1877-1878 trials. 30% noble, 13% official, 21% priest 25% worker/peasant.
Signs of relaxation of repression 1880
- Shuvalov was appointed as ambassador to London in 1874 which removed the main reactionary associated with repression.
- Conservatives were replaced with semi-liberals such as Loris-Melikov. He headed a special committee in 1880 which considered reforms to meet the revolutionary challenge and he abolished the Third Section and transferred its power to police.
- Melikov realized that the zemstva expected reform and proposed a plan with limited involvement of elected persons based on an administrative and financial commission composed of experts.
- Alexander was assassinated before they could be published and revolutionary hopes that the regime would collapse after his death were not realized.
- Never a crisis as the bureaucracy, police, and army remained loyal. Only when the army withdrew support (1905 and 1917) did revolution become possible.
- Expanded into central Asia.
- Alexander hoped it would restore Russia’s military and political prestige after the Crimean War but it brought Russia into conflict with Britain.
- Strained through France’s support of the Polish revolt of 1863. Intensified by Alexander’s support of Prussia, France’s enemy.
- Alexander ignored French appeals for help in the case of a Prussian invasion.
- Alexander hoped that a Franco-Prussian war would make France reopen the Dardanelle and Bosporus straights to his warships.
- Personal and family ties with the King of Prussia, his uncle.
- Russia remained neutral during the Franco-Prussian War but sent officers, doctors, and field hospitals to help the German army.
- Alexander did not recognize the threat of a strong militarized neighbor.
- Reconciliation was achieved and Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary formed the Three Emperor’s League in 1873.
- Pan-Slavism became identified with Russian nationalism and expansionism. It promised security and the brotherhood of equal Slav nations.
- According to Alexander and his advisors relations with the Slav minorities of the declining Turkish Empire was more cautious and conservative.
- Russia continued to want to expand in Constantinople and the Black Sea region as well as encourage nationalities to oppose Turkish rule.
- 1875 revolts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia intervened in 1877 on their behalf. Russia gained a lot from the first treaty of San Stefano
- Turkey would lose of its territory in Europe,
- Big Bulgaria would be created going from Danube to the Aegean
- Armenia and Bessarabia would be given to Russia
- Austria got Bosnia & Herzegovina. independent Serbia and Montenegro
Britain refused because Bulgaria would have been under Russian influence
- Referred to a conference in Berlin in 1878 though most issued were settled secretly between Britain, Russia, Austria, and Turkey before the conference.
- Conference was dominated by Disraeli (Britian) who opposed any increase in Russian power.
- Big Bulgaria divided into 3, 2/3 back to Turkey, 1/3 Russian influence
- Britain got Cyprus
- Russia kept gains in Bessarabia.
- Bosnia Herzegovina continued to be under Austrian administration
- Serbia and Montenegro still independent but lost some land
- Britain successfully propped up the Turkish Empire. War again in 1912 and then eventually World War One though.
- Laid foundations for hostility between Russia and Austria and suspicion between Germany and Russia.
- Russian gains were hugely reduced. Diplomatic defeat increased difficulties at home. Upsurge in Slavic patriotism only temporarily silenced critics, terror returned and Tsar became the target.
- Chernukha “limited, unfit ruler whose personality dominated the statesman in him” with policies doomed from the start and who pushed Russia towards 1917.
- Known as the “Little Bulldog” in his family and when his older brother died Grand Duchess Helena suggested the crown pass to his younger brother.
- Unlike his father he had not been prepared to rule. Not intelligent, slow to learn, very little knowledge of history, literature, economy, and law.
- Interested in the military and was a colonel and hetman or leader of all of the Cossacks by the time he became heir.
- At 20 his education had been taken over by extreme conservative Konstantin Pobedonostsev (among others) who called democracy an “insupportable dictatorship of vulgar crowd.”
- Before his ascension Alexander III represented the nationalist opposition of the political right. Although not in public he frequently opposed his father’s reforms
- Disagreed on the treatment of Russia’s nationalities (especially Poles). Opposed reconciliation or considering European opinion. Russification.
- Supported constant presence of ministers who wanted repressive measures against extremists, Alexander II tried to keep them out of state affairs during times when the country was peaceful.
- Supported nobles who opposed Milyutin’s liberalization of the army and changes in recruitment in 1874.
- In the “party of action” previous to the Russo-Turkish war while Alexander tried to prevent Russ-Turkish conflict.
- Stressed positive features of Russia’s past Alexander II had worked to end and pledged to reverse judicial reforms once he became Tsar.
- Made it clear from the beginning that he would never permit limitations on autocratic rule.
- Father’s assassination confirmed hostility to reform, determined to stamp out political opposition.
- Rejected suggestions of western-style parliamentary institutions in the belief that they were foreign to Russia and that the peasants did not want them.
- Felt he had a mystical bond with the Russian peasant, some populism.
- Strong supporter of nationalism and Pan-Slavism and was determined to reverse his father’s and grandfather’s pro-German policy.
- Small modernizing element but the state-led industry he began was motivated more out of his concern to preserve autocracy and build Russian power.
- Intolerant of other religions and nationalities, parliamentary government “great lie of our time.” Liberals were a threat to tsarist authority, repressive police state.
Main features of “counter-reform” 1881-1885
- Began reign by publically hanging the 5 People’s Will who assassinated his father.
- Repression touched judicial organization, the government, and the education of Jews and nationalities.
- Emancipation stayed but peasants came under increasing state control.
- Deep hatred of Alexander by Jews, Germans, revolutionaries, nationalities, and those who broke from the Orthodox Church.
- Preserved peace throughout his reign except for minor fighting in Central Asia) but laid the foundations for the 1917 revolution.
Central government and internal security
- 1881 defeat of proposals for constitutional reform after conferences
- Indication that he had no intention of completing Alexander II’s reforms
- Reform-minded ministers resign
- 1881 Statute Concerning measures for the Protection of State Security or, more generally, the Law on Exceptional Measures gave the government far-reaching powers to interfere with civil liberties
- Formation of the Okhrana
- Revolutionary groups weakened and many forced into exile.
- Alexander’s reign appeared to be peaceful and stable. Due to a more rigid system of repression, instead of ending revolutionary activity by addressing their grievances he executed them and sent them to Siberia. Temporary.
Local government and internal security
- Publications critical of regime suspended indefinitely and publishers banned from publishing anything else.
- 1884 Kakhanov Report recommended that volosts (lower courts) be responsible for all classes but was rejected.
- 1887 student assassination attempt, Lenin’s brother executed among others.
- 1889 volost Justice of the Peace (minor crimes) abolished, duties transferred to (Ministry of Justice appointed) city judges in cities and shared between the uezd member of the provincial assembly and the Land Captain in rural areas (control).
- Land Captain was a local noble who was elected by the provincial governor and subject to the approval of the Minister of Interior. Rural extension of state control.
- 1890 Zemstva Act changed the way members were elected. Determined by 3 electoral colleges dominated by landowners and peasant representation was reduced and made indirect. Zemstva came under Ministry of the Interior’s control.
- 1892 Municipal Government Act restricted (and thus reduced) the urban electorate to owners of immovable property over a certain amount.
- Nobility continued to decline despite the introduction of the Land Captain.
- Peasantry resented the Land Captain and supervision of the Ministry of the Interior. Halted development of self government and weakened Mir.
- Local self-government continued but was subject to the constant interference of central government, stifled local initiative and improvement in local welfare
- Increase in bureaucratic control and number of officials.
- Zemstva concentrated on local services such as roads, fire fighting, and education.
- Slow improvements in main cities confined to main streets and outlying parts were neglected.
- Increase in the number of trained experts (doctors, teachers, engineers) employed by zemstva and cities. Mostly young idealists (most liberal or socialist) who wanted to bring improvements despite being poorly paid.
- These professionals cultivated a professional identity which was manifested by their formation of professional organizations. Regarded themselves as intelligentsia rather than government officials.
- 1882 higher courses for women to be gradually closed.
- 1884 University Statute replaced that of 1863, brought universities under state control again in an attempt to stamp out riots as those in St Petersburg in 1882.
- 1886 final closure of courses for women.
- 1887 increase in university fees to exclude all but the wealthy.
- 1887 gimnazii fees raised to exclude lower social ranks. Delianov “Cooks’ Circular” exclude “children of coachmen, servants, cooks, small shopkeepers…”
- 1890 new gimnazii curriculum reduced time spent studying Latin and Greek.
- Church given more power over primary education and encouraged to set up parish schools.
- Increase in the power of government appointed inspectors.
- University rectors, deans, and lecturers appointed by Minister of Education.
- Students banned from belonging to student groups.
- Peace in universities until 1887 and new rioting (increase in fees).
- Students continued to organize themselves into unofficial regional societies, by the late 1890s individuals active in illegal political activity used them for unrest.
- 1892 to 1895 2000 less university student, nobles/officials from 47 to 56%. “real schools” rose to 26000. Church schools 4000 to almost 32000. 1897 21% literacy.
- Government believed peasants should receive a minimum amount of education as education encouraged dangerous ideas.
- 1887 Minister of Justice given the power to hold trials in camera to protect “the dignity of state power.”
- 1887 term on volost courts (lower courts) increased to 3 years.
- 1889 crimes against state officials were to be heard in special courts without a jury.
- 1889 volost justices abolished and responsibilities transferred to Land Captain.
- 1889 Minister of Justice could appoint town justices instead of justices.
- Alexander II’s legal reforms were greatly, but not completely, reversed.
- Increase in government interference in courts of law.
- Judges became liable to dismissal.
- Trial by jury undermined.
- 1883 dissenters not allowed to build new centers of worship and wear religious clothes or carry out religious propaganda outside the church.
- Anyone attempting to convert a member of the Orthodox Church was liable to exile to Siberia.
- 1894 Stundism (from the Ukraine) declared “an especially dangerous sect” and its prayer meetings were banned.
- Pobedonostsev policies to enforce Orthodoxy became associated with Alexander’s policy of Russification.
- Resentment and nationalist movements grew.
Alexander III’s reforms
- 1882 Kakhanov Commission set up to consider administrative reform at volost and village levels but was abolished in 1885.
- Proposed to reconvene a zemsky sobor Assembly of the Land, from the 16th and 17th century. Nobility/high officials, clergy, and businesspeople would participate
- Zemstva continued to carry out improvements at village level.
- Rejection of the prospect of constitutional government.
- Some growth in the provision of primary education (probably from zemstva).
- 1881 Law ended “temporary obligation.” Prepared by Loris-Melikov.
- 1883 Peasants’ Land Bank gave cheap credit, could cause indebtedness, overall percentage of land owned by peasants increased substantially.
- 1883-1886 Poll tax abolished.
- Inheritance tax placed a large share of the financial burden on the wealthy.
- Village authority over peasants decreased with the right to appeal to higher courts.
- 1882 Child labor regulated and working hours reduced.
- 1882-1890 Laws made education compulsory for young factory workers.
- Factory inspectors were appointed to enforce legislation and supervise workers’ living and working conditions.
- Reduction in hours women worked at night and payment in kind.
- 1885 Nobles’ Land Bank.
- 1881 Serfdom law as only applied to 37 “internal provinces” and only affected about 15% of former serfs. Allotments made compulsory and redemption reduced.
Limitations for workers
- Rapid increase in population increased the number of poor.
- Corruption meant laws were not fully applied.
- Introduction of Land Captain (restored provincial nobility’s control over peasants) and increase in indirect taxes slowed rural progress.
- Development in industry led to poor living conditions, houses were built quickly and cheaply but there was still a shortage.
- Large sleeping halls where drunkenness and filth were commonplace, no privacy.
- Poor health from town living and long hours. 1897 life expectancy of 32.
- Whole families worked in factories and children’s care and education were neglected.
- 1883 dissenters (except skoptsky) allowed to have passports, engage in commercial and industrial activities, hold meetings in homes and minor office.
- 1893 Priests were paid their salary by the state.
Alexander III and Russification
- Apparent in the 1870s but became official policies under Alexander III as the advisors he appointed were proponents. Continued by Nicholas II.
- Aim was for 55% of Russia’s population to lose all trace of their identity and become Russian in terms of language, culture, religion, legal system, and elite.
- Education especially was geared towards making nationalities loyal subjects. This included conscription.
- Supported by
- Bureaucrats from noble landowning families who wanted order and uniformity.
- Soldiers concerned with security issues. Especially in the Baltic, Bessarabia, and Transcaucasia.
- Orthodox priests, especially Pobedonostsev, out of religious intolerance.
- Reflected growth in an increasingly aggressive national consciousness reinforced by a more reactionary branch of Slavophilism.
Factors pushing for aggressive Russification
- “Polish syndrome” Polish revolts of 1830 and 1863 made Alexander disillusioned with the earlier liberal policy of peaceful integration. Believed only a firm approach would guarantee survival of a united state.
- Widespread emergence of national liberation movements in the 1860s. The government hoped it could end them by taking a firm line.
- Succeeded among young nations but among the Finns, Poles, Lithuanians, Armenians, and Muslims on the Middle Volga this only strengthened revolutionary independence movements.
- Non-Russians played a disproportionate part in revolutionary activity. Latvians 7.45 times more active than Russians.
Treatment of Russia’s Jewish population
- At the start of Alexander’s reign there were 5 million Jews confined to the Pale (Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and White Russia).
- Repeated persecution and violence because of resentment towards their commercial and financial activities.
- There had been some relaxation during Alexander II’s liberal phase, allowed Jews who paid over 1000 rubles in tax each year, university graduates, and skilled craftsmen to settle anywhere. Reversed after 1863 Polish revolt.
- Some blamed Jews for the revolt and anti-Semitic literature appeared (some was even government financed).
- Hostility increased in the 1870s as Jewish schools were closed and restrictions were placed on Jews’ civil rights. Could not be mayor and town council membership reduced to 1/3.
Initial moves under Alexander III
- Presence of Jews in revolutionary and nationalist groups as well as talk of their involvement in Alexander II’s assassination sealed their fate. Savage persecution.
- Pogroms broke out in 12 cities in 1881 and 4 more in 1883. Organized by the extreme nationalist Holy League supported by Pobedonostsev among others.
- Armed gangs burned, looted, beat, raped, and killed. Claimed to be spontaneous but were well prepared.
- The rioters were often provided with plenty of alcohol and transported by train. Local authorities rarely took action as rioters had the blessing of the government.
- Alexander III did not approve of the Holy League and banned it in 1882.
1882 Provisional or Temporary Rules
- Banned Jews from
- Settling in rural areas (even in the Pale) and owning or managing land.
- Holding administrative office of becoming lawyers.
- Running schools or printing books in Hebrew.
- Marrying a Christian unless Judaism was given up.
- Having the right to appeal any court sentence.
- Meant to be temporary but continued to 1917. Alexander believed that Jews’ condition was “preordained by the Gospels” few except Reutern challenged him.
- Commission set up in 1883 to examine Jews’ status in Russian society and recommend a way to revise laws against them. Advised that they should be treated as Russians and that “emancipatory and equalizing laws” be enacted.
- These recommendations were ignored.
Further moves under Alexander III
- Anti-Semitism was firmly established in areas with large Jewish populations (like the Ukraine and Lithuania) which led to escalation in policies 1887 to 1893.
- 1887 Numerus clausus set down quotas for Jews attending university.
- 1889 “Non-Christian persuasion” could only practice law with the consent of the Minister of Justice; consent was not granted in the following 10 years.
- 1890 Deportation of foreign Jews and Russian Jews from outside the Pale.
- 1891 Law of 1865 allowing Jewish craftsmen to settle beyond the Pale repealed, 2000 deported from Moscow.
- 1892 Municipal reform restricted representation of Jews in town councils in the Pale to no more than 10%.
- 1894 Jews banned from selling spirits (few remaining sources of income for many Jews) which became a State monopoly.
- Jewish businesses in rural areas had to be sold at low prices and in the cities there was some decline in their trade and thus profits.
- Pogroms became a regular feature of Russian life and even provoked criticism from the US and Britain. Took a deep hatred of Tsardom with them.
- Large number of remaining Jews was from the intelligentsia and became increasingly attracted to socialist and revolutionary ideas. Many Populists.
- 1890s shifted towards Marxism ad its ideas of class warfare and the inevitability of revolution which would end tsarism.
- General Union of Jewish Workers, the Bund, formed in 1897. Important in the development of a social democratic movement and organized strikes, demonstrations, and disseminated the idea of revolution among the people.
Economic changes and their social implications
Factors promoting Russia’s economic development
- Railways were developed to colonize and develop iron and coal industry in the Ukraine as well as to aid oil production in the Baku.
- Railways allowed the textile industry to be developed by opening up new areas for cultivation and new markets in Asia and more extensive cultivation of the Black Soil Region.
- Need for a money economy had been limited prior to emancipation. After emancipation rural society was forced to develop a cash-based economy.
- This led to social change as relationships previously based on status and custom gave way to those based on contract and law.
Main features of industrialization prior to the 1890s
No clear strategy before the 1890s and Sergei Witte. Three types of industry
- State, “proprietary factories.” Produced goods essential to national security (arms, saltpeter, sailcloth) and labor was drawn from peasants on State and Crown lands. They were often attached to the factory for life together with POWs, criminals, orphans. Raw materials collected instead of taxes. Low quality.
- “Estate factories.” Developed by nobles who used the labor of their serfs, those without factories could sell or rent out their serfs. Emancipation ended the work in these nobles’ factories and many were sold or died out although cotton and distillation remained.
- “Domestic” industries. Developed alongside the estate factories. Peasants taught the craft skills acquired in the estate factories to family members who remained home. Often a winter occupation in weaving, spinning, etc. Some even formed co-operative organizations and workshops in wood, bone, and leather. Some became merchant manufacturers and added to the growing middle class.
- Private enterprise existed only in the cotton industry. River Volga was used to transport raw cotton from the Levant and Persia. 1860 800000 peasants took part in domestic industry, 860000 in factories.
- Worked in the railway and published a book on railways tariffs which launched him as an expert on railways. 1889 responsible for new railways department.
- Hugh Steton-Watson ”a brilliant organizer and a man of broad ideas.”
- Firm supporter of autocracy and admired Alexander III yet had critics among thr aristocracy which contributed to his dismissal in 1903.
- Recognized urgency of modernization and supported the 1905 movement for political and constitutional reform which he saw as the compliment to his economic modernization.
- Argued that if Russia did not modernize it ran the risk of becoming a colony like China.
- Believed that the state should provide the means (transport, markets, money) but that private business should take responsibility for trade and industrial growth.
Witte’s economic policies
- Home industries protected from foreign competition by import duties (up to 33% on some items). Metal and Moscow textiles benefitted most while St Petersburg textile found it had to pay more for its supplied by sea. Government revenue up.
- Foreign industrial investment (especially French and Belgian) encouraged.
- New ruble linked to the gold standard, fixed against other currencies, made more easily convertible to gold.
- Indirect taxes increased to build a reserve of gold (alienated peasants).
- Railways constructed to ease access to raw materials and new markets. Trans-Siberian Railway (Moscow-Vladivostok) and Chinese Eastern Railway. Led to development of Western Siberia and a government sponsored plan to encourage peasant migration from overpopulated areas. Attractive to enterprising peasants, supplies of grain, meat, and butter increased.
Effects of Witte’s economic policies
- Increase in foreign investment 26% 1890 41% 1915. 1900 20% of expenditure was servicing debt (2% went to education). Overdependence on foreign money.
- Railways lowered transport costs and stimulated trade (mostly Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands). China supplied tea and the US raw cotton. Freight charges and passenger fares also generated government revenues.
- Existing industries expanded & new ones developed. Coal, iron, and steel in the Ukraine, oil wells in the Caucasus. St Petersburg declined vs Moscow & Poland.
- Average growth rate 50% 1894-1913. France 52%, Germany 58% Britain 70%.
- Industrialization increased cooperation between industrialists themselves and industrialists and the government.
- Industries began to be more concentrated in few large factories rather than many small ones. Except for sugar factories and vodka distilleries.
- Merging of rural and urban lifestyles, common for peasants to work outside the village from 20 to 40 and then retire to their land allotments and families.
- Increase in import duties and indirect taxes reduced already low standards of living after 1891 famine (1.5m dead).
- Working conditions remained unhealthy/dangerous despite an 1897 law to shorten the working day, protection by an inspectorate (around 250 inspectors in all of Russia), and sometimes medical care.
- Brutal factory order. Fireman could pay, punish, disciple, and sack workers. Workers resented low pay and poor conditions.
- Housing varied but was universally bad. Up to 7 families crammed into wooden barracks with little ventilation. One room was often divided into cubicles which were separated by boards.
- Urban poor had little sense of belonging and were easily converted to the ideas of the revolutionaries.
- Witte was aware of these hardships but hoped that industrialization would lead to improved living standards before workers/peasants rejected them completely.
Alexander III 1881-1894
Reasons for being reactionary
- Father’s assassination added to his conservative nature, he was appalled at the terrorist’s disloyalty to the Tsar. Blamed father’s death on the reforms he had carried out. Conservatism as response to assassination.
- Pobedonostsev was a big influence, he argued that Western liberalism was foreign to Russia and offered the people only illusory freedom. Believed in crushing of opposition and control of the Press. Felt that Russia and Orthodoxy were superior to foreign countries (or nationalities) and dissenting religions.
- Chaotic nature after the assassination suggested the need for a strong leader. Russia was still administratively primitive and economically weak, Russia had always been led by strongmen and Alexander was not willing to risk Russia’s future on a democratic gamble.
Evidence suggesting his being a conservative reactionary
- Began his reign with a strong statement, the execution of the revolutionaries involved in his father’s murder and 10000 arrests. Censorship was reintroduced and the plans for further reform were all scrapped.
- Formally declared in the Manifesto of Unshakable Autocracy in early 1881. Written by Pobedonostsev and rejected democracy and further reform and expressed his “full faith in the justice and strength of the autocracy” (divine right and duty to rule). Adopted Nicholas I’s motto “autocracy, orthodoxy, nationality”
- Unpopular with liberal Westernized intelligentsia and many liberal ministers (including Loris-Melikov) resigned in response to his initial actions.
1881-1894 made conservative adjustments to father’s reforms
- Plans to destroy zemstva completely were dropped but the introduction of Land Captains (total authority, could overrule zemstva decisions) and changed in the voting system (electorate reduced by 2/3 in St Petersburg) strengthened autocracy and noble’s control over the country side while weakening peasant control.
Peasantry and Social Policy
- Land Captains and repression was so severe that some feared a return to serfdom. 1893 peasants were banned from leaving the Mir (shows extent & will to control). Placed a complete restriction on freedom of movement and increased power of the Mir over individual peasants.
State power and Repression
- 1881 Statute of State Security gave government powers to pursue revolutionaries. Also gave the power to declare any part of the country under “extraordinary protection” which meant it could ban public gatherings, close schools and universities, and charge individuals for political crimes. Secret Police powers were also extended to allow imprisonment without trial and conditions in prisons were made more severe.
- Attempts to limit the circulation of “harmful ideas.” Education came under further government control to limit opposition and spreading of revolutionary ideas. Universities lost independence they had received under Alexander II and school fees were raised to deliberately keep poor children out of primary and secondary education. Pobedonostsev believed education the poor was a waste of time when they could be spent helping at home and a waste of resources since they would go into agriculture anyway.
Russification and Anti-Semitism
- Influenced by Pobedonostsev, suppressed local cultures and encouraged Russian characteristics (language, religion, etc). Not new but extra strongly enforced. Jews banned from the civil service, their educational opportunities were reduced, and they were forced to live in the Pale. Government also encouraged pogroms as a means of diverting public discontent.
Evidence that opposes his being a conservative reactionary
- Aware of the need to modernize the Russian economy (Sergei Witte). Resisted reform when possible but didn’t completely reject reform, some of his economic policies built on his father’s.
- Minister of Finance Nikolai Bunge was a reformer. Crated the Peasant’s Land Bank in 1882 to help peasants purchase farms of their own (by 1904 peasants had bought 33% of nobility’s land). Abolished the poll tax in 1886 (reduced burden).
- Expansion of cities and increase in strikes led Bunge to try to reduce socialism’s appeal through limited concessions such as laws to protect their right to work. 1883 to 1885 he introduced reforms to improve working conditions for women and children and in 1886 there was legislation regarding payment and dismissal. Having only 300 inspectors made it hard to enforce laws, making them ineffective.
- 1887 Bunge replaced by Ivan Vyshnegradsky who was less interest in workers’ welfare and focused on industrialization at any cost. Launched huge export drive of grain and secured a French loan to fund his industrialization measures. 1892 the Russian state had a budget surplus for the first time (massive social cost). 1881 to 1894 coal output almost doubled and pig iron more than doubled.
Broad results and consequences of Alexander III
- Supporters, created a period of stability in which the state could be strengthened and Russian prestige restored. Lack of revolutionary disturbances seen as evidence of his repression’s success. Celebrated as peacemaker.
- Peace in the short term but a fragile illusion in the long term. Repression caused growth of further and more extreme opposition to the Tsarist regime. Execution of Lenin’s brother drove him towards radicalism and revolutionary Marxism.
- Economic improvements at massive social cost. Vyshnegradsky said “we must go hungry but export” 1891-1892 famine 1.5-2m deaths. Government failure to respond effectively to famine encouraged support for opposition. Zemstva played important part in relief effort, showed effectiveness of “responsible” opposition to Tsarism, increased push towards democratic system.
Conclusion on Alexander III
- Reforms strengthened traditional leaders (nobility) and undermined his father’s reforms which appeased conservatives. Repression and reaction were present but any ruler would have worked to stabilize the state after an assassination. Strengthened autocracy allowed for a strengthening of its international position.
- Not only reactionary, economic policies brought economic progress. Economically Alexander III could be just as liberal as Alexander II socially and politically.
- Greatest failure was his refusal to modernize socially and politically to match Russia’s change towards a modern, industrialized nation. Economic progress should have led to a shift in political setup. Alexander clung to Tsarism, a system of rule to be used with a state of illiterate peasants. This failure would push the country towards crisis as people expected a new system for a changing Russia.
- Left the idealized legacy of the unflinching immovable autocrat to Nicholas II.
Comparing and contrasting Alexander II and Alexander III
- Alexander II can be seen as just as reactionary as his son (motivations for reforms, limitations of his reforms, disillusioned response to reforms, imprisonment of opponents). Can be said that both pursued similar aims, strengthening and maintaining autocracy and improving Russia’s international position.
- Alexander III did undermine some of Alexander II’s reforms but the economic progress of the 1880s and 1890s were important steps towards modernization. Alexander III could be seen as the reformer and Alexander II as the reactionary to a limited extent.
Nicholas II 1894-1917
Personality and training
- Did not posses the commanding character of his father or grandfather. Possessed great personal charm but hated conflict. Stubborn, poorly organized, unwilling to make decisions, engage in political issues, or read political reports.
- Pobedonostsev considered Nicholas to the capable of evaluating “the importance of a fact only in isolation, without relation to the rest, without any link to the total of other facts, events, and tendencies.”
- Hans Rogger “Nicholas knew nothing of the world of men.”
- Not prepared to be Tsar, wrote in his diary “I am not prepared to be the Tsar. I never wanted to become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling.”
- Trotsky said he was “not fit to run a village post office.”
Attitude as Tsar
- Firmly committed to Tsarist conservatism from Alexander III and Pobedonostsev. Believed Tsardom was Russia’s God-given political structure.
- Shared many of Alexander III and Pobedonostsev’s views. Started reign with the intention of strictly following Alexander III’s policies rather than pursuing policies of his own. Although did push for expansion in the Far and Middle East.
- Believed that he had the divine right and duty to rule and that the existing system was already essential to Russia’s general welfare.
- Dismissed calls for popular representation and a united government. Made clear in his coronation speech he was just as committed to maintaining autocracy as his father had been. Dismissed democracy as “senseless dreams.”
- Refusal to adapt to a socially and politically changing Russia reinforced by the Tsarina Alexandra’s strong belief in autocracy and her constant persuasion not to listen to moderates who suggested concessions were need to save Tsarism.
- Interfered in the running of the country (and command of World War One) and dismissed his ministers’ sound advice.
- Failure to keep his promises that led to his downfall.
Key problems facing Nicholas II
- Backwards economy and the need to modernize/industrialize to remain a Great Power. Strong industry was needed to be military powerful and thus an effort was needed to move away from backwards agriculture.
- National Poverty- Backwardness of agriculture struggled to feed a growing population (let alone a surplus for national security). Land hunger, debt, and starvation could lead to uprisings which threatened the stability of the regime.
- Economic and social forces released by modernization- Challenge regime and increase political opposition. Development of proletariat and educated workforce increased push for political changes. How to reap the benefits of economic modernization and minimize political concessions to maintain status quo?
Key dates and events
1857 Alexander Herzen sets up The Bell censorship-free newspaper
1863 What is to be done? Socialist pamphlet published and Polish Revolt
1866 first attempt on Alexander II’s life by a disgruntled noble student
1873-1874 Narodniks (Populists) “go to the people”
1876 More radical Land and Liberty formed under Plekhanov
1879 Still more extreme People’s Will (Narodnaya Volya) formed as Land and Liberty splits into those who support violence to achieve their goals and those who do not.
1881 Alexander II assassinated by the People’s Will
1886 Alexander Ulyanov is executed for the planned assassination of Alexander III.
What were the opposition’s motivations?
- 1863 Polish revolt. Desire for land reform and reestablishing Polish nationhood led to demonstrations killing 200. Planned conscription of Poles into the Russian Army led to armed rebellion in 1863 which lasted a year and was put down by granting land reform.
- Showed that non-Russian aspirations within the empire were not possible and contributed to the adoption of Russification which would spark discontent.
Ideological rejection of the regime
- Nihilists rejected all existing institutions and moral values and wanted unlimited individual freedom. Turgenov said a nihilist was a man “who did not bow before any authorities, who did not accept a single principal of trust.” Bakunin supported total overthrow of the government and replacing it with self-government in the form of peasant communes.
Slavophile argument against Western capitalism
- Ideological rejection of industrial development along Western lines and increased central state control. Wanted to maintain the traditional Russian tradition of the Mir. Populist.
- Demands for a written constitution and national government to limit autocracy and give the people a greater political role.
Emancipation of the serfs
- Nobility resented loss of 1/3 of their land (compensation usually went towards paying old debts) and social influence and prestige. Peasants resented loss of land and the burden of redemption payments. 647 peasant uprisings.
- To liberals Alexander II’s reforms had not gone far enough and were incapable of meeting ordinary Russians’ needs.
Nature of the opposition
- Intellectual, exclusive and secretive- educated middle classes.
- University students and idealists- populists of the 1870s for example.
- Unorganized peasant uprisings- 647 uprisings 4 months after emancipation.
Aims of acts of key opposition
- Middle and upper classes, from Slavophilism (Herzen). Disliked Tsarism and wanted to replace it with the Mir (Russian local democracy). Agrarian socialists which idolized the peasants and rejected capitalism and industrialization as destroyers of peasant communities. Mir model for socialist future.
- Disagreed about how revolution was to be achieved. Lavrov and moderated argued for educating the peasants so that when Tsarism withered away the Mir could take its place. Chernyshevsky and extremists pushed for more direct action to begin the revolution. Mirrored later Bolshevik debates on timing.
Going to the People 1873-1874
- Following Herzen thousands of intellectuals went out to spread revolutionary ideas. Little was achieved as the movement lacked central organization and had diverse aims (some wanted to distribute propaganda while some wanted to live closer to the peasants and learn their ways).
- Peasants did not welcome them and often reported them to the police leading to hundreds of arrests. Peasants did not possess a “revolutionary consciousness” to see revolution as the way forward, like Marx and later Lenin said.
Land and Liberty
- “Going to the people’s” failure discredited many moderate populists and led to increased support for terrorism. Vera Zasulich shot and wounded the governor of St Petersburg but managed to be found “not guilty” Alexander II was shocked and this pushed him to hold such political cases behind closed doors.
People’s Will Narodna Volya 1879
- Even more extreme and developed after Land and Liberty broke up. Argued that social revolution wouldn’t be possible without a political one first.
- Aimed to rescue Russia from autocracy and wanted a national constitution, universal suffrage, freedom of speech and press, local self-government, and self determination. Peaked with Alexander II’s assignation but this gave Alexander III and excuse for a crackdown and many of its leading figures were imprisoned.
- Their violent methods increased Tsarist repression and persecution of them.
Extent and effectiveness of opposition
- Opposition had to be secretive so it is hard to assess it. Membership ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand depending on the group.
- When you compare the aims they hoped to achieve the opposition can be seen as ineffective. Killed Alexander II but achieved little with regards to reducing autocratic power or gaining peasant support for an anti-state uprising.
- Significant because they “laid the groundwork” for future revolutions and raised central issues that needed to be addressed such as whether the peasants were ready for a revolution, whether violence should be used, and who should lead it (Chernyshevsky).
Why was it not more successful?
- Secretive nature meant it could not mobilize peasant discontent (greatest threat to stability).
- Did not offer a viable alternative to autocracy. Lack of political tradition in Russia meant that much thinking was too utopian rather than rooted in realities of governing a state.
- No clear united front of opposition, different groups worked for different and sometimes conflicting objectives. Didn’t agree on “what is to be done.”
- Conservative vested interests were too strong, even if the nobility was angry at Alexander they would never have rose up against him in a revolution.
- People’s Will (Narodna Volya) succeeded in killing Alexander II but this did not lead to a general revolution it only hardened the State’s (and Alexander III’s) resolve in clamping down on opposition as can be seen from the repression of opposition during Alexander III.
Backwardness and Witte’s modernization 1890-1905
Indicators of backwardness
- Inefficient agriculture- Peasants used medieval tools and farming methods. Output per acre lower than the US or UK. Mir and lack of agricultural investment.
- Low industrial output- Increased during AII and AIII but still low compared to Europe and the US. Partially because of an underdeveloped banking system and serfdom tying up a potential source of workers for new industries.
- Backward communications and transport- Transport of raw materials and finished goods almost impossible. 1860 Russia 1600km and Britain 15000km. Increased by around 5000km by 1890 but Russia was still way behind.
Witte and the answer to Russia’s problems
- Minister of Finance from 1892 to 1903.
- Believed that Russia’s Great Power status rested on its ability undergo forced rapid industrialization development of industry would prevent Russia becoming dependant on other states and help build a strong modern state.
- Based on four-fold program for funding
- Import tariffs to protect domestic industry from European competition.
- Attracting foreign loan capital especially from France.
- Putting ruble on gold standard to attract more foreign investment.
- Squeeze peasantry and workers low wages, high taxes, exporting grain
Witte’s industrial successes
- Large increase in foreign investment 200m rubles in1890 900m in 1900.
- Industrial output advanced overall 400% growth 1890-1910 (esp. heavy ind)
- Development of railways Witte saw it as a way of improving communication and stimulating industrial demand for goods and services to build it. Trans-Siberian linked Moscow and Vladivostok. 1890 7000km 1905 65000km
Limitations of Witte’s policies
- Still far behind Europe despite impressive advances.
- Overall rail coverage was minimal when compared to the US. Trans-Siberian was mostly symbolic, only 1 track. Others (roads shipping) lagged behind.
- Dependency on foreign capital meant huge interest payments had to be paid, 20% of government expenditure went to servicing debt. Opponents criticized him as being unpatriotic when he courted foreign capitalists.
- Increase in peasant uprisings because of famine (1900 and 1902) as a result of the squeezing of peasants for grain and taxes during bad harvests. Focus on industry overlooked agriculture problems which affected most Russians directly.
- Only 2% of Russians were industrial workers but low wages, long hours, and poor living conditions led to calls for more political power for workers.
Overall assessment of Witte
- Policies strengthened Russia leading up to WWI Considerable industrial and railway developments brought clear economic and military benefits. Successful considering the low base from which it started, not to be exaggerated though.
- Tension caused by lack of political reforms to accompany the economic ones. Growth of disgruntled urban workers provided fertile ground for revolutionaries to sow radical opposition.
- Failed to address Russia’s fundamental agricultural backwardness. Failed to address the basic problems of the average Russian, missed opportunity for support.
- 1903 lost influential position because of conservative/landed gentry criticism Nicholas II transferred him to Chairman of the Committees which was a largely symbolic position. Would come back after Russo-Japanese War in 1905.
- Hugh Steton-Watson not alone when he says Witte was “one of the outstanding statesmen of the 19th century.”
Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905
- Determination not to be left out of Europe’s colonial scramble Russia had shown long-term interest in expansion to the East through the building of the Trans-Siberian railway 1891 and railways across Manchuria 1897.
- Friction with Japan especially after the 25 year lease of Port Arthur 1898. Japan was also growing in power and wished to exploit a collapsing China. Russia’s expansion into Manchuria conflicted with Japanese nationalist pride.
- Tension increased as Russia did not remove “temporary troops” from Manchuria in 1903. Russian apathy meant that there was no peaceful negotiation of spheres of influence in the region. Began after surprise Japanese naval attack on Port Arthur after a dispute over trade and territory in Korea.
- Encouraged by the German Kaiser and domestic political situation. The Kaiser wanted to distract Russia in the East and Nicholas II thought it would draw attention away from the die situation in Russia (starvation, high prices, unemployment, strikes and peasant riots). Interior Minister Phleve “to stem the tide of revolution we need a successful little war.”
Course of the war
- Encircled and cut off Port Arthur in 1904 eventually Russia surrendered and lost the Port in 1905. Russia attempted to win back the port but failed at the battle of Mukden (involved around 600000 troops. Humiliating.
- Naval campaign was decisive as Japan’s success depended on its ability to reinforce its troops on the mainland. Took the Russian fleet a year to arrive and it was then crushed at the Battle of Tsushima. 35 Russian ships 20 sunk 5 captured minimal losses for the Japanese.
Why did Russia lose?
- Russia assumed a fast and easy victory Presumed Great power against “yellow peril”
- Japan enjoyed strategic advantages easier access to the war (short sea route versus Russia’s 1 rail line), more troops (180000 which could easily be reinforced versus Russia’s 100000), fanatical nationalist troops, Russia weak because of competing generals and its chaotic command structure.
Consequences for Nicholas II
- Forced to accept humiliating Treaty of Portsmouth. Russia believed it was racially superior so it was embarrassing (especially in the eyes of Europe’s Great Powers). Terms were lenient (Witte negotiated hard and Russia would pay no reparations and keep Manchuria) but Russia had been militarily defeated.
- Huge mistake and catalyst for the 1905 revolution. Government seen as incompetent, discontent and calls for reforms increased.
- Worsened plight of citizens, food and fuel shortages and high prices. Plekhanov (socialist leader) said the war “promises to shatter to its foundations the regime.”
Causes of the Revolution
- Bloody Sunday (spark). Peaceful march of 150000 hoping to bring a petition (mostly about hard working conditions and high taxes) to the Tsar. Led by Father Gapon (police socialist). Non-violent and loyal to the Tsar, last time the people approached him as “father” of the people.” Protesters were fired on 1000 dead. Regime had turned upon its workers and Nicholas II held directly to blame.
- Richard Charques Bloody Sunday “did more than perhaps anything else during the whole of the reign to undermine the allegiance of the common people to the throne.”
- Japanese defeat (catalyst) and Nicholas seen as incompetent. Worsened long-term problems (food shortages, high prices, etc). These factors motivated many to march on the Winter Palace resulting in Bloody Sunday.
- Long term social and economic problems from Witte’s industrialization. Pressure on workers from high taxes and low wages hurt longstanding problems.
- Long term political problems Refusal to make concessions or reduce repression.
Nature of the revolution: Course of 1905
- 400000 on strike in St Petersburg after Bloody Sunday, strikes spread.
- Potemkin Mutiny Sailors refused captains orders to shoot protesting sailors and took control of the ship. Spread to other units in the army and navy but most remained loyal.
- Local peasant disturbances spread. 3000 needed the army to put down and around 30m rubles of damage were caused.
- Railways workers almost brought the economy to a standstill 2.7m workers had been on strike by the end of 1905.
- Nationalities called for greater independence including Ukranians, Finns and Poles.
- Politically, many though the time had come to force change on the autocracy. Middle class liberals (many active in the zemstva) formed Kadets demanding universal suffrage to a national assembly. Trotsky and the Mensheviks established the St. Petersburg Workers Soviet and 50 other sprung up by 1906.
Why was the Tsar able to survive 1905?
- Army remained loyal. Able to use instruments of repression (police, army, strikebreakers) to restore order. Trotsky was arrested and strikes or riots were brutally put down. A strike in Moscow was crushed killing 1000.
- Rebels lacked authority and direction. Peasants, workers, and liberals all wanted different things (liberals afraid of workers cries for revolution). Most wanted concessions from the Tsar, not revolution. Left lacked leadership Lenin was in London, Stalin was in Siberia, action uncoordinated.
- Concessions to peasants and liberals divided opposition. October Manifesto promised a legislative Duma and liberal freedom of expression. Split moderates from revolutionaries and gained moderates’ support. Concessions to peasants by cancelling redemption payments.
Consequences of the 1905 Revolution
- Bloody Sunday severed the bond between the Tsar and the people. Nicholas II lost popular support.
- National Duma had been established this brought a brief period of parliamentary rule (though concessions were considerably moderated in 1906). Represented possibility of a move towards limited monarchy
- St. Petersburg Soviet established. Impressive show of working class solidarity which would provide an example in the future. Importance shouldn’t be overstated. Dress rehearsal for 1917 according to Soviet historians. Only lasted 50 days as the second strike it called failed utterly.
Stolypin and Land Reform 1906-1914
- Like Witte is seen as one of the few who could have saved the regime if Nicholas had been prepared to follow him more carefully.
- Derevolutionize the peasantry by removing most glaring grievances
- Restored order and crushed opposition after 1905 and introduced some reforming measures which led to the relative stability up to 1914.
“By the left…dismissed as a savage butcher who hanged peasants and workers…extreme right…reform and attempt to work with the Duma were a threat to autocracy. Admirers, wisest statesman that Russia ever had who could…have saved Russia for war and revolt.”
Stolypin and reactionary counter-terror
- Well-prepared to use violence to address opposition. Ruthless provisional governor before joining the Duma.
- Increasing radical violence in 1907 (3000 dead) Stolypin carried out 1000 death sentences and pressured newspapers and trade unions. Seems to have worked, many fewer political assassinations in 1908.
Stolypin and agricultural reform
- Aware that beyond violent repression reform was essential. Witte had look to industry so Stolypin looked to solve the deep-rooted problems of agriculture.
- Underlying idea that the way to maintain support for the regime was to create a class of prosperous peasants. Key problems to be addressed were:
- Mir’s negative effect on modernization
- Ineffective land usage in the village leading to inefficient agriculture
- Land hunger
- Redemption payments cancelled this gave the peasants free land ownership and the option to leave the Mir and become individual landowners.
- Peasants’ Bank gave cheap loans which enterprising peasants could use to buy their neighbors’ land and consolidate into larger more efficient holdings. Kulaks would then withdraw from the village to be more independent.
- Peasants who sold their land could become wage laborers, move to new cities, or take a government grant to farm in uncultivated Siberia.
- Agricultural production increased record harvest in 1913. Some claim this was due to the weather rather than reforms and still low compared to West.
- By 1916 24% of households in European Russia owned their land. By 1914 1/3 of peasants had left the Mir.
- 1.5m+ migrated to Siberia 1907 to 1909, this broadened Russia’s agricultural base.
- Best land still owned by tsar and gentry, only 10% had consolidated their land into a lager farm by 1914.
- Didn’t address overpopulation and land hunger.
- Produced class of alienated and poor peasants, some went to cities, some became farm laborers. Lacked material wealth/stability, susceptible to revolution.
- Attempts to construct a middle ground of “enlightened conservatism” produced enemies on both sides of the political spectrum. Assassinated in 1911 by a socialist with connections to the secret police.
- Said 20 years of peace needed, only had 7. Had to say whether he would have successfully solved Russia’s agricultural problems by creating a class of independent peasants as World War One and the 1917 Revolution ended them.
- Optimists (Western and non-Marxist) say it was an era of hope and possibility, agriculture and industry progressing, limited political reform, possible modern or liberal Russia would have been possible. Positive reformer who could have saved Tsarist autocracy
- Pessimists little political or economic progress, reforms still left poverty-stricken peasants and increased urban workers, both contributed to instability.
- Soviets/Marxists any attempt to save Tsarism doomed to failure as revolution was the only possible outcome of the social and economic forces at work.
The Dumas 1906-1917
Initial promises withdrawn 1906 Constitution
- Fundamental Laws of 1906 went back on some of the October Manifesto’s concessions. Reasserted supreme power of Tsar as autocrat which contradicted the manifesto.
- Limited the Duma’s power before it started by stating that the Tsar (not the Duma) would appoint ministers, conduct foreign affairs, and have the right to rule by decree when the Duma was not in session.
- Tsar’s agreement needed to pass laws making the Duma dependant on his approval.
Composition of the Dumas
- First Duma 1906 made up of mostly liberals and centrists (Kadets and Octobrists) as left-wing groups refused to participate. Hostile to the government and made major demands regarding land reforms and release of prisoners. Dissolved after 73 days.
- Second Duma 1907 was more representative because it included members of extreme right and left. Extremists used it for propaganda causing a loud and disruptive session. 3.5 months before government closed it down.
- Further retreat from October Manifesto after 1907 Tsar and Stolypin had recovered from 1905. Elections rigged to favor conservative landowners (50% of the vote landowners 2% workers) much more conservative Dumas. Third and fourth Dumas hovered between reform and reaction. Some social reform success despite Nicholas’ reservations about working with the Duma.
- Refused active role for Duma in WWI. Virtual alternative government emerged and the Duma plotted to overthrow the Tsar. Nicholas’ rejection of the Progressive Bloc’s proposal for a new government in 1915 encouraged liberals to oppose Tsarist rule and politically isolated Alexander in the lead up to the February Revolution.
Evaluating the Dumas
Important constitutional step forward because
- Political parties legally established for the first time even though Nicholas didn’t listen to them open political debate was tolerated and in the press.
- Some social legislation 1908 universal primary education (50% done by 1914) 1912 compulsory insurance for industrial workers.
Cannot be seen as a step forward because
- Fundamentally, Nicholas still regarded the Duma with contempt and not something he should have to cooperate with. Still autocratic worldview.
- Government and Nicholas could still block legislative proposals they opposed.
- Representative nature of the Dumas limited though the 1906 Fundamental Laws and the 1907 change in the electoral laws. Conservatives overrepresented and peasants and especially industrial workers underrepresented.
Strengthen Nicholas’ position after 1905 or contribute to 1917?
How far did the Dumas solve long-term political problems?
- Put the Tsar in a stronger position Duma provided a place where the opposition (SD, SR, liberals, etc) could argue and become more divided.
- Coupled with Stolypin’s violent suppression of opposition this marginalized opponents after 1905
- Tsar’s negative attitude towards the Duma (Fundamental Law, 1907 electoral changes, lack of cooperation in WWI) caused disastrous long-term effects.
- Lack of commitment to a constitutional government meant that the opposition and the Tsar continued to be unreconciled.
- Nicholas’ stubborn and reactionary commitment to autocracy prevented progress to a more modern Russia which would contribute to the February Revolution.
Impact of World War One 1914-1917
Crucial role in the Tsar’s downfall, how?
- Initially popular and patriotic support but there were heavy military defeats (Tannenberg & Masurian Lakes) and high casualties inflicted on Russia’s relatively untrained peasant conscript army.
- Hindenburg “sometimes in our battles with the Russians we had to move the mounds of enemy corpses from before out trenches in order to get a clear field of fire against fresh assaulting waves.”
- Morale was low and there was a lack of supplies (sharpened sticks). Leadership drawn heavily from the inexperienced intelligentsia.
- Nicholas allowed exemptions for the educated, the wealthy, and skilled workers. Most soldiers were peasants who became increasingly responsive to revolution.
- 1917 mass surrenders and desertions.
- Nicholas assumed control at the front in 1915 which made him personally to blame for defeats.
- 30% drop in government revenue
- Germany had been Russia’s main trading partner causing a decline in foreign trade export of grain stopped as the Dardanelles Straight was closed.
- Banned alcohol, government’s main revenue source. People produced vodka illegally which circumvented the ban and didn’t bring any revenue.
- Inflation workers wages had increased by 100% but prices had increased 300% on average.
Impact on living conditions
- No ideology or political ideas that caused the 1917 revolution but the everyday suffering of the average Russian.
- Agricultural workers conscripted, trains used for war so food to the cities reduced, sale of vodka ended, workers pulled to cities for war production. Harvests remained normal and exports had ended, distribution was the problem. Cities got 25% of grain harvests in 1914 15% in 1917.
- Food, fuel, and goods shortage, high prices, inflation, unemployment. Workers opposed regime, peasants opposed loss of men. Kulaks profited through all of this
Tsarina and Rasputin
- Left in charge of the government which further decreased support by doing such a bad job (replaced competent ministers with incompetent “our men”).
- Tsarina less ready to work with the Duma than Nicholas. Mocked by powerful opponents and the Tsar was blamed for leaving them in charge.
- Rasputin murdered in 1916 by someone hoping to reduce damage to Tsar.
- Support from the army and high society faded, few willing to defend him in 1917.
Failure to continue political reforms and compromise
- Allowing the Progressive Bloc more input in running the country might have reduced the pressure for Russia to become a constitutional monarchy.
- Duma and zemstva set up their own organizations for the war effort and aiding those affected by the war.
- “Dogmatic devotion to autocracy” prevented a greater role for representative bodies, Alexander to answer personally for Russia’s state.
- Kadets, Octobrists, right-wing deputies with a majority in the Duma.
- Campaigned for traditional liberal demands such as representative government and had the support of the public.
- Wanted a ministry formed with majority groups in the Duma to include Kerensky (Trudovik), Milyukov (Kadet leader), and Guchkov (Octobrist leader)
- Nicholas rejected their proposal and removed ministers who had shown liberal tendencies or that had opposed his taking of command in 1915. Their replacements were not prepared to impose advice on Nicholas.
- Opponents focused criticism on Alexandra and Rasputin.
- 1916 Guchkov and young cavalry officers began to plan the disposal of Nicholas and a takeover by another Romanov. Supported by some generals but unwilling to commit themselves in advance.
February Revolution 1917
What led to his downfall?
- Russia was big an diverse making it hard to govern
- Russia was run by a vast, unresponsive, inefficient bureaucracy
- Tsar’s repressive measures did not prevent opposition from forming.
- Nicholas was weak and could not cope with modernizing Russia while maintaining autocratic rule
- Modernization was something even the most able leader would struggle with
- Nicholas ignored the warning of 1905 and refused to follow his concessions with reforms to put Russia on a more representative track.
- First World War put the regime under immense pressure.
- 40000 from the Putilov engineering works in Petrograd went on strike for higher wages. Next day was International Women’s Day and they joined the workers. Thousands joined in during the next days. Tsar ordered the use of force. Rodzianko, head of the Duma, sent Nicholas a telegram but Nicholas ignored it.
- Soldiers in Petrograd refused to fire on crowds and some shot officers and joined the demonstrations. Key difference between 1905 and 1917.
- Nicholas tried to get back to Petrograd but railway workers stopped his train. He abdicated in favor of his brother Michael but autocracy was over.
Provisional Government and Dual Power
Key issues to be addressed
- Should Russia sue for immediate peace despite the humiliation and loss of territory that would certainly follow? If not, should Russia fight a defensive war (only protect its own territory)? Or should it continue to fight and hope to win more territory with the Allies?
- Should it be taken from big landowners and immediately given to the peasants to be divided amongst them? Or should such a big issue wait to be solved by an elected government to organize it in a more controlled way?
- Greater power in the workplace, better working and living conditions, etc.
- How quickly should these reforms be implemented and how far should they go?
- How can the situation be improved? Especially food and fuel supplies.
- Many groups (Finns, Poles, Ukrainians) pushing for independence and self-government now that Tsarism had collapsed. Should the old empire be allowed to break up?
Formation of the Dual Alliance/Dual Power
- Provisional Government and Petrograd Soviet
- Tsarist autocracy, bureaucracy, and police were replaced by a confused mixture of bodied, all claiming to represent the people but really protecting their own sectional (and often conflicting) interests).
Members of PG
- Prince Lvov (Prime Minister)- wealthy aristocratic landowner and liberal zemstva leader. Worked to organize the war effort under the Tsar and supported the idea of a decentralized system of government.
- Milyukov (Minister of Foreign Affairs)- real force in government, originally wanted British-style constitutional monarchy but was forced out of government over disagreement over WWI and then supported a military government so save Russia from the Soviet system.
- Guchkov (Minister of War and Navy)- Resigned when his policy of continuing the war to victory was opposed by the Petrograd Soviet. Pro-Tsar White.
- Kerensky (Minister of Justice)- Former Trudovik, joined SRs during the February Revolution. Link between the PG and Petrograd Soviet.
- Remaining people were Kadets or Octobrists
- Had the support of army commanders, government officials, police, landowners, and intelligentsia. Grand Duke Mikhail surrendered power to it.
- Guchkov “Provisional government has no real force and its decrees are carried out only to the extent that is permitted by the Soviet”
- Composed of representatives from moderate socialist parties, the Mensheviks, and social revolutionaries and had the support of the working class.
- Controlled railways, post and telegraph offices, and the army. More real power than the PG. Means whereby the views of the people could be represented in the absence of political parties.
- 1600 representatives from 350 local soviets at the First All Russian Congress of Soviets in Petrograd. Negligible Bolshevik influence 40 delegates attended.
- Could have seized power as early as June but waited because
- Belief in the need for a middle-class bourgeoisie revolution before a socialist one could happen.
- Recognized that the PG was composed of men with the skill and experience to keep the economy running.
- Socialists (educated elite) shared the PG’s view that unless events were controlled there would be a worker’s revolt and anarchy would follow.
- Kerensky negotiated the Soviet’s cooperation on the condition that the PG granted a general amnesty, civil liberties, removal of legal restrictions based on class/religion/nationality, and the right of labor to strike and organize.
- Nothing new in these demands, had been included in the demands of 1905 and the Progressive Bloc’s demands.
- Agreed to, PG was happy the Soviet had not insisted on more radical changes such as the redistribution of land or state control of industry.
Provisional Government’s Policies
- Immediate amnesty for political and religious cases (terrorism for example).
- Replaced the police with a People’s Militia with elected administration under the control of local self-government.
- Introduced independent judges and trail by jury and abolished capital punishment and exile.
- Right to freedom of speech, press, union, assembly, strikes and extended political liberties to soldiers who were given civilian rights.
- Introduced local self government on the basis of general, direct, equal, and secret ballot
- Prepared for a meeting of a Constituent Assembly to draw up a constitution and introduce general, direct, equal, and secret voting.
Petrograd Soviet’s Policies
- PG had to agree that the military units which had taken part in the revolution would not be disarmed or removed from Petrograd.
- Order Number One gave it control of the army as a result of its power to reject the military decisions of the PG.
- Company and battalion committees were chosen to represent the lower ranks. Standing at attention and saluting when not on duty was abolished.
- PG didn’t see Order Number One as a threat and didn’t see themselves in conflict with the Petrograd Soviet. Grateful that it had restored order.
Provisional Government’s attitude towards war
- Remained loyal to the allies and declared its intention to continue the war. A reason why liberals had deserted Nicholas was that they believed that a government of public confidence would be more capable of winning the war.
- Kerensky and Milyukov supported this.
- Bad decision, some officers were prepared to continue but the troops did not want to fight anymore.
- Knox “the officer at once became the enemy…type of master in military uniform. To the average Russian peasant his country was a hovel on the Volga…which he thought the Germans could never penetrate.”
Weaknesses of the Provisional Government
- To last the PG was going to have to win support among the main groups who had made the revolution . This did not happen, disappointed the groups.
- Wanted a democratic republic, action against the upper classes, a transfer of land to them, grain market regulation to benefit producers, and ending of old local control through Land Captains, police, and officers of the Tsarist bureaucracy.
- Army suppressed rural disturbances, government set up state grain monopoly and fixed prices 60% above those of Tsarist times (not linked to price rises in consumer goods though so peasants had no incentive to sell their grain).
- Retained existing administrative bodies which were democratically elected by still dominated by local landowners who were unsympathetic to peasant demands.
- Wanted improved living and working conditions, 8-hour day, wage rises, job security, and supervision of management.
- Conciliation chambers and factory committees set up but they were seen as Government attempts to maintain the status quo in factories. Government supported employer’s efforts to restore discipline, refused 8-hour work day and worker control of factories.
- Failed to stop decline in living standards and increases in unemployment.
- Peace, reform of aristocratic/privileged officers’ control (passing to officers of the same social class), peasant conscripts wanted land.
- Large offensive in June was unsuccessful against Germany. Refused to consider a separate peace, public demonstrations against the war.
- Greater self-rule and sharing in the concessions gained by Russian peasants and workers.
- Recognized independence of Poland (behind German lines) and ordered other nationalities to wait for the decisions of the Constituent Assembly.
Why did the Provisional Government fail?
- Refused to take initiative until a fully democratic assembly was elected. Torn by internal disagreements, party divisions, and personality conflicts.
- Milyukov and Guchkov resigned and were replaced by socialists from the Soviet. Caused landowners, factory owners, and army leaders to lose faith in the PG. Impossible to fulfill expectations of all groups as they were often contradictory. (owners wanted protection and social stability, workers wanted reallocation).
- Factory owners complained that falling profits and productivity were from 8h work day and factory committees. Failure to deal with rural disturbances reduced upper-class support as order broke down and property was seized and attacked.
Loss of control
- Concessions to meet the demands of the Petrograd Soviet backfired, by lifting censorship it lost its power to mould public opinion in its favor. When it decided to continue the war much anti-war propaganda was directed directly against the government.
- Lost control of the countryside when provisional governors were replaced with zemstva. Communes and Soviets developed and showed independence.
- Army discipline collapsed as soldiers elected their own Soviets which ignored officers’ orders. Decision to continue the war caused many soldiers to desert and return home incase land was redistributed. 195k 1914 to Feb 1917, 365k March to May 1917. Fraternization in the army.
- Failed to control workers in the vital war industries so supply broke down which aggravated the situation on the Eastern Front. Workers became more radical as living standards remained low and food shortages and inflation continued. 80% of strikes Apr-Oct were wage/hour related. Workers became more organized through Soviets and factory committees, sometimes becoming strong enough to undermine owners’ control despite Government approval of dismissing workers and banning committees from meeting during working hours. Class consciousness began to develop.
- Local government bodies were incapable of controlling peasants while the People’s Militia didn’t take any action. Peasants refused State demands to send their grain to the cities due to low prices, crop failure in European Russia.
- Replacement of liberals by socialists from April led many property owners to agitate for a new strong government which would maintain unity.
Lenin’s return and the April theses
- Before April the Bolsheviks and other parties had appeared to support the PG but Lenin’s return changed this. The German High Command smuggled Lenin back into Russia in the hope that he would sue for peace once in power (it was widely known that Lenin was opposed to Russian involvement in the war).
- When Lenin arrived he demanded peace and the transfer of power to the Soviets. Trotsky also returned and buried his differences with Lenin, they began to work together to overthrow the PG.
- Lenin issued the April Theses which stated
- If the workers and army rank-and-file wanted to quickly end the war they would need to overthrow capitalism. The capitalists had interests beyond the defense of the Russian people.
- PG was middle class and must not be supported; task now was to educate the workers so they could take over the revolution.
- Although the Bolsheviks were in the minority in most Soviets it was important that people shift their support from the PG to the Bolsheviks.
- Necessary to replace existing government with a system of Soviets.
- All land was to be confiscated by the state; it would then be redistributed to peasants by local Soviets.
- Bolsheviks worked to take advantage of the riots and strikes in the hope of achieving a second revolution. Helped by the PG’s failure to meet expectations and decision to launch a new offensive in June.
- Manifestation of the PG’s problems, July Days and Kornilov Revolt.
July Days 3-6 July 1917
- Debate whether they were stage-managed by the Bolsheviks who denied any involvement when they failed, or if they were spontaneous.
- Lenin was opposed because he believed it was too soon and that they should wait until the government was completely discredited by the June Offensive.
- Lenin was away from the capital when the demonstration started, quickly returned but he was too late to alter the course of events.
- Claim that the July Days were one of Lenin’s worst miscalculations which threatened the destruction of the Party.
- Failure led Bolshevik propagandist to lie about the event and say that the initiative came from the Kronstadt base and factory workers.
- PG believed the Bolsheviks were responsible and that Lenin fled to Finland to escape arrest instead of take a vacation.
- Men at Kronstadt had been influenced by the Bolsheviks and feared being sent to the front and the Bolsheviks realized that the base’s removal would deprive them of an important power base for a later seizure of power.
Course of events
- Preliminary events started when soldiers and sailors from the naval base together with workers were (disputably) called out by Petrograd Soviet activists to overthrow the PG “all power to the Soviets.”
- SR Marie Spirdonova led some of the march and although the leadership did not appear there were some rank-and-file Bolsheviks in the march.
- Rioting, looting, seizure of some railway stations, confusion, and panic.
- Lenin’s failure to intervene and the willingness of PG-loyal troops to suppress the demonstrators meant there was no general uprising.
- Lenin fled 1 day before the government issues warrants for the arrest of the Bolsheviks on the grounds that they were traitors with German support.
Results of the July Days
- Hardening of PG’s attitude towards the left, leading figures including Trotsky were jailed.
- Bolsheviks had received a setback; Lenin’s reputation was damaged from his failure to take a positive lead, Bolshevik propaganda banned from the Front, Pravda’s offices closed.
- Party continued to work at local level, mostly amongst the radical factory committees and Soviets to increase support amongst the working class.
- Prince Lvov was replaced by Kerensky who appointed Kornilov as Commander-in-Chief. Had been taken prisoner by Germany during the war but had managed to escape. He was a hero-type who had a reputation for being tough and was especially popular amongst those who opposed the Bolsheviks.
- Precondition for his acceptance the death penalty and courts marshal were reintroduced for the army to restore order and discipline.
- Regiments which had taken part in the demonstrations were disbanded and disarmed while the Kronstadt base was reduced to 100000 men.
- Kronstadt communities’ dislike and lack of trust in Kerensky grew and it became a major force in the October revolution.
Kornilov Affair May 1917
- Seen by the right and liberals as the man who was going to save Russia from the Bolsheviks who had been blamed for the July Days and introduce a strong unified government. Became focus of counter-revolutionary forces.
- Demanded that he should have control over war industries (arms and trains) raised doubts in Kerensky’s mind about Kornilov’s long-term intentions and personal ambitions.
- Kornilov said to the Extraordinary Commission of Enquiry that Kerensky had agreed with him to move a large military force to Petrograd to suppress Soviet disturbances if they occurred.
- Had the support of Milyukov, Guchkov, Rodzianko, and some industrialists and officers from the army and navy, as well as the Allies (finance and transport secretly from Britain).
- Petrograd Soviet against Kornilov’s appointment which could undermine their authority under Order Number One.
- Telegram from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Kerensky “the entire commanding staff, the overwhelming majority of officers, and the best army units will follow Kornilov.”
- Failed to gain the support of the masses and as Kornilov neared Petrograd people began to see the Red Guards (armed bands of workers) and their defense against a military counter-revolution.
- Commander of the troops outside Petrograd made peace with Kerensky (now Commander-in-Chief of the army) and Kornilov and his generals submitted to arrest and were sent to a barracks from which they later escaped to join the Whites.
- Right wing, liberals, Kadets, and the army which had all supported Kornilov at one time or another were discredited. Kerensky’s position as Prime Minister had been greatly weakened as he had lost the support of the Petrograd Soviet and army. Way to the October revolution was not open.
- In a secret letter to the Bolshevik Central Committee Lenin said to “point out to the people the weakness and vacillation of Kerensky.”
- Bolsheviks had appeared as a shield against counter-revolution and “Committees to save the Revolution” appeared throughout the country.”
- In local Duma elections Bolshevik vote increased 164% while the Kadets fell 6%, the SRs 85%, and the Mensheviks 79%.
- Kerensky released all Bolshevik prisoners (including Trotsky) at the end of August and by September the Bolsheviks had a majority in both the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets.
- Lenin decided that the time to take power to give the people “bread, peace, and land” was now.
- Not a surprise, Bolsheviks distributed leaflets and there were articles in the newspaper about it. Red Guards took control of the bridges, main telegraph office, and railways and power stations.
- Mostly, other troops melted away as the Red Guards arrived. Next day they seized more key places like the State Bank but things (factories, trams, stores) went on as usual.
- Many assumed the Bolsheviks would be crushed as soon as Kerensky arrived with troops, but Kerensky had fled in a car borrowed from the American Embassy.
- Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace (PG) that evening but only the Women’s Death Battalion and some military cadets had not fled. No resistance.
- PG surrendered and the Bolsheviks had control of Petrograd.
Causes of the October Revolution and which explain Lenin’s successful seizure of power
Long and Mid-term- Causes of the February Revolution still there
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL
- Middle classes, small but with a growing number of merchants, bankers, and industrialists as industry developed. Sought increased political participation.
- Land and agriculture: inefficient and backward (wooden ploughs and few animals and tools). Overcrowding and competition due to insufficient land and large population growth. Wanted social change.
- Urban workers and industry: 58% were literate (twice the national average) which meant they could articulate their ideas. Low wages and high death rate from accidents and health issues. Had exploded since 19th century, Russia was 4th largest producer of iron, steel, and coal by 1914. Their misery and capabilities led to instability in the towns.
- Inflation increased 400 percent from 1914 to 1917. Overcrowding, poor housing, poor living and working conditions created by Russia’s economic problems.
Continued impact of WWI
- Food, goods, and raw materials in short supply. Cities got 25% of grain supplies in 1914 but only 15% in 1917. Hundreds of factories closed making thousands unemployed
- Inflation and lack of fuel meant urban workers were cold as well as hungry. Urban workers because hostile to the PG.
- Peasants were angry because of the conscription of all young men, this in turn reduced labor available for agriculture which reduced food going to the cities.
Weaknesses and failures of the PG (political interrelated with social problems)
- Political failures undermined PG’s power and authority thus creating the circumstances for Lenin’s rise to power.
- PG’s nature, it had not been elected by the people and saw itself as a temporary body, this meant it was indecisive on big issues (land, war, etc).
- PG’s nature, only had real power over government affairs. The Soviets had the practical power over things like railways and factories in Petrograd.
- PG was divided, many factions inside it. Socialists and liberals often blocked each other’s decisions. Hurt PG’s ability to make decisions and enforce control.
- Government passed legislation that ensured freedom of speech and press and the dismantling of the secret police. Parties could now publically agitate and more easily attract members. It also became easier to rebel as the PG had no way to stop it due to the dismantling of the secret police.
- All made Lenin’s rise possible as they made the PG into a weak political body that couldn’t resist opposition.
Blunders aiding the Bolsheviks before the revolution
- All out attack to put Russia in a better position in WWI. Ended in disaster and the PG was greatly discredited. Bolsheviks and others gained support.
- Spontaneous uprising in which 500000 soldiers, workers, and sailors rebelled in Kronstadt. Marched to Petrograd to demand the overthrow of the PG.
- Failed and PG retained control over some loyal troops. Hurt reputation of the PG but also hurt the Bolsheviks as they were blamed for it.
- Fitzpatrick “damaged Bolshevik morale and Lenin’s credibility as a revolutionary leader”
- Kornilov tried to march to Petrograd to overthrow the PG because he did not agree with their handling of the war. Kerensky (PG leader) panicked and armed the Bolsheviks to aid in the defense of Petrograd.
- Kornilov never reached Petrograd as some of his soldiers mutinied and railways workers sabotaged the railways. Red Guards only disciplined group like the SA.
- PG reputation shattered and PG began to disintegrate. Bolsheviks gained support because they were seen as the defenders of Petrograd and were now armed while other political parties were not armed.
Ideological appeal of Bolshevism and Lenin’s role
- Appeal of a radical alternative, charismatic and dynamic leader, taking advantage of the crisis situation in 1917 and Russia’s ongoing problems.
- Lenin held a speech called the April theses which called for worldwide socialist revolution, land reform for peasants, an immediate end to WWI and cooperation with the PG, and urged Soviets to take power.
- Simple but effective slogans “bread, peace, and land” and “all power to the Soviets.” Attracted much support as they appealed to the workers. Provided workers with a radical solution to Russia’s problems.
- Made Bolsheviks unique as their stance on war was unique, no other party wanted an immediate end to the war.
- Revised Marx’s ideas but arguing that Russia was ready (Marx had said it wasn’t) and that the Bolsheviks had to strike now while the PG was weak. Successful and the revolution was being planned by the end of April. Without Lenin’s speech this would never have happened. Believed in a hard core of disciplined cadres.
- Lenin’s leadership inspired the masses to join the part and revolution. He made many speeches in 1917 which attracted much public support. Practical leader and could adapt his policies to the worker’s needs and wants.
Trotsky’s role in the revolution’s execution as an organizer
- Elected Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet in 1917 giving him huge practical power (bridges, railways, etc) which was a valuable asset.
- Used position as Chairman to claim that the Bolsheviks were seizing power in the name of the Soviets so workers accepted their conducting of the revolution.
- Not until Lenin closed the new parliament that they realized they had been fooled.
- Played a key role in setting up and running the Red Army as well as the actual takeover of power. Convinced Lenin to wait to October when the Bolshevik’s position had been more firmly established in the Soviets.
Historiography of the October Revolution
- Inevitable result of class struggle
- Lenin’s leadership was vital
- Popular revolution inspired and organized by the Bolsheviks (Lenin in particular)
Liberal- Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes
- Coup, Bolsheviks used PG’s weaknesses to seize power
- Successful because of Lenin and Trotsky’s leadership
- Bolsheviks had little popular support, 1917 election (52% SRs, 25% Bolsheviks)
Revisionist- Orlando Figes
- Emphasizes importance of revolution from below (popular revolution)
- Bolsheviks “hijacked” popular revolution and betrayed the people by establishing a single party state and suppressing the Soviets.
Constituent Assembly 1917-1918
- Lenin was forced to hold the general elections which had been promised by the PG, railways workers threatened to shut down the railways if he didn’t.
- Threat to Bolsheviks as the winning party would probably form a new government. Results: 52% SRs, 25% Bolsheviks, 6% Bolshevik supporters.
- Lenin sent in soldiers to permanently shut it down in January 1918.
- Marxist, believed the only way to end class struggle was to introduce worker control of the means of production. Bourgeoisie oppressed the masses by controlling the factories and didn’t compensate the workers enough.
- Necessary change would be accomplished through a revolution in which the workers would topple the bourgeoisie. A period of dictatorship of the proletariat would follow making the bourgeoisie realize the benefits of socialism.
- Society would then develop into a classless society, communism.
- Lenin added to this by developing the practical tools relating to how the working class should overthrow the bourgeoisie.
Idea of an elite Party
- 1902 “What is to be done,” tightly organized party of professional revolutionaries acting as “the proletariat’s advance guard…just as a blacksmith cannot seize the red hot iron so the proletariat cannot directly seize power.”
- Party’s lack of majority support when they seized power was not a problem according to Lenin; the proletariat was to be led into realizing the path to revolution.
- Rejected Marx’s idea of a period of capitalism and middle-class dominated parliamentary democracy before the true socialist revolution.
- Caused a split in the Russian Social Democratic party in 1903. Bolsheviks supported elite party, Mensheviks supported mass party.
- Bolsheviks were the only clear and organized party in 1917 while everything seemed to be disintegrating. Stability and order like the SA.
Fast development of capitalism into socialism
- Mensheviks and many Bolsheviks saw the February revolution as equivalent to the French Revolution (bourgeoisie toppling nobility).
- Believed that one mode of production (agriculture and feudalism) had been replaced by industrial production and thus a new elite had emerged. A period of capitalism with the bourgeoisie as the oppressing class would follow.
- This period would then be ended by a working class revolution which would finally bring the means of production into the hands of the masses.
- Lenin rejected the necessity of the capitalist period and insisted that the elite party could lead the masses in revolution before Marx and the Mensheviks had thought.
Role of the peasantry
- 1917 Lenin realized the peasants could act as a revolutionary class in spite of his ideas in “What is to be done.” Departure from Marx ideas. 80% of the population were peasants and they had begun to seize land illegally after February.
- Adapted to circumstances and accepted the peasantry, mass revolution was now.
- 1917 democratic centralism adopted.
- Party could discuss and debate matter but once a decision was arrived at by a majority vote everyone was expected to uphold the decision.
Early Reforms 1917-1918
- Large number of decrees issued to begin Russia’s transformation into a communist state.
- 8-hour workday and a system of social insurance planned to cover old age, sickness, injury, unemployment, maternity, widows, and orphans was introduced.
- Titles and class distinctions were abolished and “comrade” was adopted as the normal style of address.
- Ranks were abolished in the military and the wearing of decorations and saluting of officers were abandoned. Officers chosen by the soldiers.
- Workers took over factories and railways, banks were nationalized, private ownership of land was forbidden in the countryside, all estates were confiscated without compensation, and the land was shared among the peasants.
- All schools were taken over by the state.
- Church lands were confiscated and marriage became a civil, rather than religious, ceremony.
- Lenin called for a peace “without annexations or indemnities.” Russian soldiers were told to stop fighting although the countries remained formally at war.
- Clear possibility of civil war made Lenin realize he would need to make a formal peace with the Germans. German High Command was willing to negotiate as the war had reached a critical point and it would free up troops for the West.
- Germans imposed such severe terms that General Skalon committed suicide on the spot and another delegate, Professor Pokrovsky, cried.
- Germans retaliated by continuing their advance and then imposing harsher terms when negotiations recommenced.
- Lenin argued in favor of signing, Trotsky argued for “no peace, no war” (war declared to be ended but no treaty signed) in the hope that German and Austrian armies, demoralized by inactivity and revolutionary propaganda would revolt.
- Lenin said “the central point of world struggle is the rivalry between English and German finance capital. Let the revolution utilize this struggle for its own ends.”
- Lenin knew the Russian army was no match for the German and Trotsky himself saw that the Russian trenches were virtually empty when he crossed them on the way to Brest-Litovsk.
- Only reliable units were anti-Bolshevik and this could give left-wing opponents an opportunity to weaken the Bolsheviks hold on power.
- Russia lost 25% of its territory, 1/3 of its population, over 50% of industry, and 80% of its coalmines.
- 6 billion marks of reparations.
- Gave Russia time for consolidation at a critical stage. Economic gains of Central powers less than expected, returning German prisoners experienced revolution.
How did Lenin establish/consolidate political control?
Ended the war
- Despite the losses of Brest-Litovsk the largely-peasant army was grateful.
- The Bolsheviks had criticized the PG for delaying elections for the Constituent Assembly. They had been scheduled in November and because of their previous attitude the Bolsheviks had them in November.
- Showed that the Bolsheviks were an urban worker’s party, SRs (peasant) got 53% of the vote and the Bolsheviks got 24%. Strong evidence for the claims that the Bolsheviks lacked majority support.
- Lenin sent in Red Guards to close down the Assembly after its first meeting. He had no interest in a body in which he held a minority. Eliminated opposition.
- From an ideological point of view he saw it as Western parliamentary democracy, he wanted Soviet rule controlled by Bolsheviks and dictatorship of the proletariat.
- “Expression of the old relation of political forces” and “a republic of soviets is a higher form of democratic principle than a customary bourgeoisie republic.”
- Used terror in their political struggle.
- Victims range from 150-300000
- Trotsky concluded “We shall not enter into the kingdom of socialism in white gloves on a polished floor.”
Expulsion and opposition
- In 1918 SRs and Mensheviks were expelled from the Soviets and the Sovnarkom (Council of People’s Commissars) was set up and excluded them and ruled by decree.
- The introduction of the NEP in 1921 made the USSR into a formally single-party state.
- Elite party with restricted membership.
- Democratic centralism, Party could discuss and debate matters of policy and direction but once the majority vote had made the decision all were expected to uphold that decision.
- Lenin “freedom of discussion, unity of action” strengthened by the NEP and the 1921 ban on factionalism.
Victory in the Civil War
- Gave the Bolsheviks territorial control and neutralized many potential sources of opposition.
- Unresolved from the PG, Land Decree allowed peasants to take over estates without compensation to their old owners. Land belonged to the people now.
- Lenin was flexible to the people’s needs. Satisfied peasants but they were still opposed to the idea of land belonging to the state.
- Worker’s Control Decree, factory committees had the right to control production and oversee management.
Civil War 1918-1923
- Initially the Bolsheviks were only in control of Petrograd and Moscow, the rest of Russia was largely unaffected. Faced the threat of counterrevolution from the start, the 1917 elections (52% SRs, 25% Bolsheviks) showed a lack of mass support.
- Lenin’s dissolving the Constituent Assembly after 1 meeting showed he was willing to ignore the wishes of the people. Anti-Bolshevik PGs sprung up and the Bolsheviks set out to gain control of these.
- Brest-Litovsk was unpopular amongst generals and many disliked Bolshevik acceptance of giving up territory in the west.
- Nationalization of industry without compensation angered owners.
- Nationalities saw an opportunity to gain freedom when central power collapsed.
- Conservatives wanted to restore Tsarism.
- SRs and Mensheviks had been expelled from the Soviets in 1918 and opposed Bolshevik dictatorship.
- Western powers wanted Russia to rejoin the war and thus supported White forces, the Bolsheviks had also refused to pay back foreign loans.
Why did the Bolsheviks win?
- Strengths of the Bolsheviks, weaknesses of the Whites.
- Whites were divided in their goals and lacked a unified command. Foreign troops, tsarists, nationalities, Duma supporters, etc. Spread out over thousands of miles and didn’t coordinate their attacks.
- Reds controlled central portions of Russia and could effectively use the railway system and controlled Russia’s industrial areas.
- Whites were divided but the Bolsheviks were united and were effectively led by Trotsky (War Commissar) from a central command. Trotsky built it into a disciplined and effective force.
- Whites never had more than 650000 but Trotsky build the Red Army into a mass army. 500000 April 1919 5m June 1920.
- Even if some peasants supported the SRs, the Bolsheviks defended the peasant’s right to the land and many peasants feared that land would be given back to the nobility if the Whites won.
- Support form foreign powers was half-hearted.
- Bolsheviks could claim they were defending mother Russia against foreign intruders.
War Communism 1918-1921
- Chaotic period from mid 1918 and was in order to ensure that the Red Army had munitions and food. Nationalization to establish strong central control over all areas of production and distribution.
- Command economy influenced by the state rather than supply and demand laws.
- Acute shortages meant all factories and businesses were nationalized to be able to gear them towards war production. Workers lost their freedom and worked excessive hours without wages. Meager ration of food, clothing, and lodging.
- Grain had to be delivered to the state in rural areas. Soldiers requisitioned grain and livestock and sometimes didn’t leave enough for the peasants. Unpopular and peasants grew less and hid their crops, worsening food shortages. Unrest caused Lenin to use the Cheka, protesters were arrested and strikes treated as treason.
- Ban on private trade and rationing introduced on both food and consumer goods. Urban rationing discriminated against the bourgeoisie.
- Money lost value and barter was widely adopted, wages and salaries paid in kind. Inflation (1922 4m times 1917 prices) welcomed by supporters as “the dying out of money, the breakdown of society and its replacement by a communist society.”
- Trotsky used the Cheka to establish control and ensure loyalty of Bolshevik-controlled regions. Civilian commissars were attached to each army unit to indoctrinate soldiers and ensure their political loyalty.
- Impossible to be neutral, civilians had to be for or against one side or the other; this was mostly determined by which side controlled the area they were in.
- Many were taken hostage and there were mass executions on both sides.
- Peasants did not readily give up their crops making requisition difficult. They often disarmed those sent in for requisitioning, this was met with armed force but instead of suppressing villagers weapons were often seized.
- Peasants ruthlessly treated and decided that they would not grow much food because most of it would be requisitioned anyway (1921 50% of 1913 grain output). Caused food shortage in 1920 and famine in 1921 (7.5m dead).
- Disease (mainly typhus) due to the combination of malnutrition and the movement of lousy troops, and absence of soap, hot water, and medical supplies.
- Upset the partnership of the proletariat and peasantry as poor peasants in the towns and armed workers in the cities were sent out to extract grain from the kulaks. This antagonized middle peasants.
- Townspeople fled to the countryside where they though the famine would be less severe, this reduced the number of workers in the towns. 33% fall in the population of urban capitals from 1917 to 1920.
- Black market emerged, total industrial output fell 20% compared to 1913, strikes increased. 60% of food from requisitioning went to the army, most important.
- Strike at Petrograd Kronstadt naval base. Had been loyal supporters of the 1917 revolution so this was seen as a serious criticism and an expression of the betrayal of the values of the 1917 revolution.
Red Terror 1918-1922
Lead-up of events
- Lenin was shot after speaking at a labor rally in 1918 by a woman who claimed he was a traitor to the revolution. She had spent 11 years in a labor camp for attempting to murder a Tsarist official previously before. She was executed.
- On the same day as the assassination attempt the head of the Petrograd Cheka was murdered. A period of terror followed.
- Bourgeoisie were driven from their homes, denied rations, and forced to do degrading work. They were also sometimes indiscriminately shot.
- Felix Dzerzhinsky (Cheka’s founder) warned Lenin of the impending bloodbath and made clear that he wanted to seek out and destroy counter-revolutionaries
- Lenin began the terror campaign in 1918 against kulaks, priests, and white guards by specially chosen men loyal to the Bolsheviks. Suspicious people were detained in concentration camps.
- Peasants resisting grain requisitioning were often punished by shooting and industrial unrest was similarly crushed.
- Tsar and his family as well as their cook, chambermaid, waiter, and doctor were executed as Bolsheviks panicked as White forces closed in on where he was being held. They didn’t want him to become a rallying point.
- Pipes believes terror was vital to Bolshevism as without it the Bolsheviks would not have been able to maintain power. He argues that there is no difference between Leninism and Stalinism; the Red Terror was just a warm-up.
- Essential to maintaining order so the Civil War could be won.
- Lenin ended the terror and began the NEP when the Civil War was over because it was no longer needed. 1922 to 1928 the GPU reports over 3000 strikes but only 6 in which authorities arrested striking workers. Prison population only exceeded 100000 in 1925 with a tiny minority of that for political offenses. Political offenders get special treatment
- Konstadt mutiny was brutally suppressed but was a blow since it had been seen as a Bolshevik stronghold since the July Days.
- Lenin said the mutiny “illuminated reality like a flash of lightning” and explained that a temporary policy would be adopted because “Life has exposed our errors…There was a need of a series of transitional stages to communism.”
- New tax system was introduced at a lower level.
- New currency introduced.
- Food requisitioning brought to an end.
- Peasants could sell surplus, encouraged to produce more.
- Small & medium factories could be privately owned. Large factories and industry still state-run. “Commanding heights of the economy” remained state-owned
- 1922 88% of enterprises privately run but only employed 12% of the workforce. Bulk still in state-run major industries. Agriculture not included in this.
- Land was still formally state property but the Bolsheviks realized that support was needed and thus allowed peasants to farm it privately.
- Economy gradually recovered and industrial output reached 1914 level in 1928, recovery had been faster in the agricultural sector.
- Many Bolsheviks were horrified by this step back to pseudo-capitalism and considered it an economic Brest-Litovsk since Lenin’s Russia was now dominated by an agricultural sector run by private owning peasants and private enterprises were growing in number.
- Impossible for the government to legislate against natural disasters such as drought in the south, blizzards, and plagues of locusts.
- Despite a slow start (first corn harvests requisitioned to provide seeds for other areas) Russia began to recover by late 1922.
- 14m hectare increase in cultivation in 1922, 19m ton increase in grain harvests 1921 to 1923, increase in overall industrial output, urban worker’s average monthly wage increased from 10.2 to 15.9 rubles from 1921 to 1923.
- Nepmen benefitted while workers faced high unemployment.
- Industry didn’t keep pace with agricultural growth, Scissors Crisis.
- Fall in agricultural prices (improved weather, increased amount of cultivated land, increase in productivity) not accompanied by a fall in industrial prices because industry was recovering more slowly. Peasants couldn’t afford industrial goods.
- On the brink of peasants reverting to sustenance farming and causing famine.
- Platform 46 (46 Party members including Trotsky) blamed the government for its lack of a coherent economic plan and tolerance of Nepmen.
- 1923 saw economic recovery reduced the price of industrial goods and brought a good harvest which prevented a potential political crisis.
- Issue of private enterprise remained unresolved at the time of Lenin’s death.