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HIS351 September 17 - History, Politics and Imperial Precedents

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Professor Bernstein

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HIS351 – September 17, 2012 1 Historiographical Overview  Carr, history is subjective because people are subjective and they are the ones to write it/record the facts  OPVL  Traditional, revisionist, post-revisionist  Soviet history is more definable by the era that they were writing in o The era had more effect than their individual biases because of the amount of information that they were allowed to have and what they were publicly allowed to publish  Post-revolutionary = relatively open because it was post-1905, there wasn't a lot of censoring o Result was good scholarly works o New information came out about pre-20th century Russia  Stalin period = propagandistic o Tool of the regime :) o Stalin is awesome and runs everything  Khrushchev = more open, new data and contacts o Stalin is awful and ruined everything o Opening of archives (sort of)  Brezhnev = some trends of openness continue, more censorship o Can use the archive but cant criticize things o Stalin is in a dark and lonely corner o Interpret and shove away or archive  Gorbachev = opening of archives, press debates o Criticize everyone!  Contemporary = normalized (more or less) Western Historiography of Soviet Russia  Cold War o "Know your enemy!" o Government funded research into the Soviet Union o McCarthyism  1st phase revisionism (60s and 70s)  2nd phase revisionism (80s)  Post-Soviet Russia before 1917 (mostly 1905 Revolution)  85% peasants  Undergoing made-up modernization HIS351 – September 17, 2012 2 o Economic and social o Undertaken by the government  Repressive government, small ruling class, small alienated intellectual elite that was anti- regime that was held out of the big ugly bureaucracy (since the 1830s)  The country was very dependent on the big ineffective bureaucratic machine  Russia was ruled by an autocracy with few rules that were arbitrary and repressive because the leader was not held accountable by anyone but himself  First Rule of the Constitutional Laws o As close to a constitution as Russia got o Tsar is absolute in all the Russias, he is as close to God on earth and you can get and therefore people should be grateful that he ruled over them  Nicholas II (1894 - 1917) o Believed in sacred duty o Devoted to family o Personally weak (i.e. Rasputin and his wife) o Showed that autocracy is weak and ridiculous because it is based on one guy and this guy sucked  Small social base that was mostly/only nobles though there were some merchants  The autocracy was convinced that Russia needed to go through economic reforms  Highly agrarian economy  Russia needed to untie the serfs from the land in order to do anything with their economy  Growing industrial sector  Peasant migration to cities o When the serfs were freed and became peasants they went from paying their owners to paying the state through their peasant communes  State funding of industry o Led by Sergei Witte, minister of finance o Came about when they realized that just freeing the serfs wouldn't be enough because the peasants were still tied (though more loosely) to the land  Heavy taxation of rural economy o Peasants were the biggest taxpayers o "Russian industrialization was floated on a sea of vodka"  Terrible poverty  Improving the lives of people wasn't the biggest goal, the goal for industrialization was to improve and increase the power of the state  The state was the backbone for economic growth because there wasn't really a commerce and industry sector like their were in other nations (i.e. England and the rest of Europe) HIS351 – September 17, 2012 3  Undermined it's own social base because the conditions created made the peasants and workers hostile to the regime  Population o Russia was divided into estates  Peasants, nobles, clergy, townspeople, merchants, "people of various ranks"  Do not reflect realities o Large numbers of peasants tied to the land o Small number of workers (3 million approximately)  There was a chain/circle (BRACELET) system of migration o They migrated depending on the season and what needed to be done in the fields  There's also squabble about the differences between workers and peasants because it's not a solid distinction o Nobility (30, 000)  Alexander III created these "land captains" who were to keep stability and control in the countryside o Small middle class o Intelligentsia
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