The History of Russian Politics: From Assassination Attempts to Polarized Politics
The history of Russian politics is marked by periods of violence and repression, ineffective leadership, and polarization that ultimately culminated in the collapse of the autocratic rule and the rise of communism. This timeline begins with the assassination attempt on Governor Fyodor Fyodorovich Trepov in 1878 and traces the emergence of different revolutionary movements, political turmoil, the Russo-Japanese War, and the eventual concession of representative institutions. The influence of Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin on the tsar and his entourage, the nationalization of masses, and the growing impact of American politics are also explored.
Table of Contents
- The Divide Within the Revolutionary Movement
- Terrorist Tactics and the Growth of the SR Party
- The Emergence of the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks
- The Russo-Japanese War and the October Manifesto
- The Influence of Rasputin on Nicholas II
- Polarization and Nationalism
- The Impact of American Politics
What was the impact of the assassination attempts on Russian politics?
The assassination attempts, particularly the assassination of Alexander II, led to increased political repression under the rule of Alexander III and the creation of the Okhrana, the Tsarist secret police. This repression was aimed not only at the revolutionary movements, but also at any kind of political dissent, leading to the rise of anti-Semitism.
What were the different revolutionary movements that emerged, and what were their goals?
The two major revolutionary movements that emerged during this time were the ‘Black Partition’ and ‘The People’s Will.’ The Black Partition eschewed violence and focused on political organizing, while The People’s Will sought to realize an anarchist vision by killing the tsar. The Socialist Revolutionary Party emerged later, campaigning for peasant rights and using both political and terrorist tactics.
How did the growth of local government institutions impact politics in Russia?
The growth of local government institutions, the zemstva, provided support for liberal political ideas and the challenge of democracy. The zemstva conferences in the 1890s called for the liberalization of the political system and represented a moderate democratic reform movement.
What were the key differences between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks?
The main difference between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks was their approach to revolution. While the Mensheviks and Plekhanov argued for more flexibility and a focus on legal political and economic struggle, Lenin’s book “What Is to Be Done?” argued for a revolution by a dedicated core of professional revolutionaries led by a strong leader (himself). The Bolsheviks also rejected democracy in favor of their autocratic system of administration, legitimizing it with the doctrine of “democratic centralism.”
How did the Russo-Japanese War impact Russian politics?
The Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905 was extremely unpopular, delegitimizing the tsar’s rule and sparking massive peasant and worker protests, mutinies, and a general strike. The October Manifesto was granted by Nicholas II’s hand, conceding the election of a Parliament or Duma and the creation of a Council of Ministers on western European lines. Representative institutions expanded, censorship was shattered, party politics emerged, universities became more autonomous, and elementary education and literacy spread fast, but the country was still ruled by a small and increasingly irresponsible tsarist clique.
What was the influence of Rasputin on Nicholas II and his entourage?
The influence of Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, an illiterate peasant faith healer, on tsar Nicholas and his entourage was instrumental in the dismissal of Stolypin as Prime Minister. Scandals and rumors surrounding Rasputin included tales of sexual orgies and a liaison with Empress Alexandra, which began to undermine Nicholas’s reputation by 1912.
How did politics become polarized in Russia, and what was the impact?
Politics were polarized during this time, with the tsar repressing the legitimate opposition in the Dumas, hollowing out the moderate center. Nationalism changed from being unambiguously liberal to being more far-right and anti-democratic, pointing towards the violent rollback of democracy across Europe after the First World War. The nationalization of the masses introduced a new vehemence into political discourse, expressed in episodes such as the rise to power of figures like Pelloux and Boulanger.
What was the impact of American politics on Europe during this time?
American initiative and example were wielding a growing influence over European political culture, particularly in the issues of female emancipation and women’s suffrage. America could still appear as a land of rough-hewn pioneers or be feared for the impact of American technology on Europe. Some, however, opposed democracy and espoused nationalism, fearing and disliking the fast-paced world of urban modernity and condemning American society as the negation of the ideals of purity.
The history of Russian politics during this time was marked by political repression, ineffective leadership, polarization, and periods of violence. The emergence of different revolutionary movements, the growth of local government institutions, and the Russo-Japanese War all contributed to the eventual concession of representative institutions, but the country was still ruled by a small and increasingly irresponsible tsarist clique. The influence of Rasputin, the nationalization of the masses, and the growing impact of American politics were also central to the political discourse of the time, reflecting the changing attitudes towards liberalism and democracy across Europe.