19th Century Russia
I. Russia’s Peculiar and Persistent Dilemma: What is to be done?
a) long historical movement away from dogma and authority toward increasing individual autonomy (Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, Liberalism)
b) results in a dynamic society, economic expansion and powerful states
Tartar Yoke 12th to 16th centuries and
The problem of size and
The problem of defense
Results in a society in which dogma and authority are essential
Forms: Political-autocracy, Social-feudalism, Economic-manorialism, Religious-orthodoxy
The Russian “Social Contract” tsar/nobility/peasants
Western Style Change will lead to a) chaos and or b) invasion
No Western style change will lead to more backwardness
II. Dealing with the Dilemma—Part I
A. Peter the Great 1689-1725
Military necessity drove Peter to adopt some Western techniques
BUT military necessity also required that Peter increase the authority of the state
Table of Ranks
B. Catherine the Great 1762-1796
New “Social Contract” liberates the nobility from mandatory state service
Impact of the Enlightenment
BUT Pugachev Revolt 1773-1774 and French Revolution result in
C. Alexander I 1801-1825
Liberal tutors and advisors
BUT French Rev and Napoleon
III. Dealing with the Dilemma – Part 2
rise of the intelligentsia:
- Peculiar situation of reformists: they are from the noble class, yet they agitate for reform of serfdom: against their interests
Nicholas I 1825-1855
Decembrist Revolt 1825
- An amateurish farce, a little tiny blip, but the first attempt at revolution. Every revolutionary afterwards looked to the Decembrists as their forefathers
Official Ideology: “Autocracy, Orthodoxy, Nationality”
- Nicholas’ goal is to preserve the Russia that he inherited in 1825 (which defeated Napoleon). The Slavophiles think that this bureaucracy that has been imposed on them was imported from the West.
“Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationalism”: new emphasis on being Russian, so the huge numbers of ethnic minorities went through Russification.
Opposition Ideologies: Westernizer v Slavophile Reformers These people are not really radical: they are mostly debating. Their actions have little effect on Russia as a whole.
Moderate in Method
Decisive Influence: Decembrist Revolt 1825
Alexander II 1855-1881
Crimean War 1853-1856 War is lost to Britian and the Ottomans, and public opinion has begun to change towards belief that something must be done to reform the autocracy and the class hierarchy.
Emancipation of Serfs (1862)
Has Alexander II really set the serfs free?
Goal: What is to be done so that the country retains its place as a great power in its contest with industrializing enemies?
Paradox: Free the Serfs and Begin the Process of Building a Middle Class (but RiskChaos)
Maintain as Much Control as You Can and Continue to Squeeze the
Peasants for All They are Worth (The Traditional Tyrannical
Zemstvo Reforms, etc Liberals believe that this is a very good thing. They want the end of autocracy and the creation of a constitutional government of laws and institutions to stimulate economic development .
Liberal v Nihilist v Populist (radicalized)
Liberals were thrilled to see the Tsar finally emancipate the serfs, and they regarded this momentous move as a first step towards the development of a constitutional government.
MANY reformers were profoundly disappointed and decided that liberals
were in league with the tsar whose cosmetic reforms hardly addressed
the continuing injustice. A new group of radical reformers emerged,
inspired by the example of Belinsky and educated in Western Socialism.
The next generation would be characterized by their Nihilism.
believed that the present government and social structure should be
swept away completely. They did not know or care what would replace it.
Anything would be better. The Nihilists were radical
materialists. They did not believe in theories. They reject
generalizations. They thought that everything that had been created to
that point was bogus nad
needed to be overturned.
The Populists (descendants of the Slavophiles) believed that the peasants were the future of Russia and their traditional method of organizing their vilages around the concept of the mir (or commune) would provide a model for the future Russian state after the Tsar was overthrown. The Populists were anarchists. They believed that the central government should be dismantled. Power should only be held at the local level: in the village communes or emerging labor unions. As the century progressed, though, they became more and more violent.
Decisive Influence: 1848
1848: All the liberal revolutions in Europe were squelched. What is to be done? Not liberalism anymore! Many members of the intelligentsia became more skeptical about the liberal position.
Alexander III 1881-1894
Decisive Influence:Assassination of the Tsar Liberator- killed by populist terrorists,
members of the People’s Will.
Alexander III set out to complete the Russification of the empire: forcing all citizens to learn the language and adopt Russian manners. He persecuted minorities, particularly the Jews. He supported ultra-conservative political organizations, such as the anti-Semitic Black Hundreds to fight the revolutionary movement and foment nationalism. He weakened the power of the zemstvos and appointed land captains beholden only to the crown to administer the lands. Alexander III encouraged the secret police to hunt down radicals, particularly the People’s Will. In 1888 the secret police captured and executed five members of the group, including Alexander Ulyanov, the older brother of Lenin.
Major Changes: Industrialization
Under Alexander III industrialization begins to take place in Russia which changes a social structure that used to be composed of nobles and peasants, with a few goofy intelligentsia. Under the leadership of Sergi Witte, the Minister of Communications, a project commenced to link Russia with railways. Witte oversaw the development of heavy metal industries which began to tap the enormous wealth locked in Russian mineral resources. Workers began moving to the cities to work in the new factories.
A whole new class of people arises: the workers. Because they are located in the cities, this group will play a more prominent role in future unrest (because governments are located in the cities.) We also have the beginnings of a middle class start to emerge.
Opposition Ideologies: Liberal v Populist v Radical
Decisive Influence: Failure of Reform
Nicholas II 1894-1917
Conservative Modernizer → Disingenuous Liberal
Decisive Influences: Witte, Stolypin
Major Changes: Industrialization & Agricultural Reform
Major changes take place in Russia. Two ministers: Count Witte, father of major industrialization in Russia and the construction of railroads, begins to tie together the state in ways that had never been done before.
After 1905, Minister Stolypin introduces change in agricultural methods: western style agriculture. He breaks up communes and makes peasants individual landowners. The Russian peasant is finally free but he is tied by debt, tradition and vodka.
The problem for the Russian peasant, though, is that their numbers are growing dramatically due to population explosion which makes it more difficult for them to make a living as a farmer. The Liberal dream of peasant land ownership is stymied by overpopulation.
Peasant activists with slavophile scent
Nihilists and anarchists have become marxists.
Liberal Constitution is subverted by the tsar.
World War I 1914-1918
Russian Revolution 1917
Tsar is overthrown after the disaster of World War I
Monarchism v Populists & Marxism
Monarchism v Populists & Liberals