HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - Autocracy, Secret Police, Decembrist Revolt

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18 Nov 2012
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The Russian Revolution
- In order to understand 20th c - look at Russian rEV
- Russian Rev = single most important event in 20th c?
- Ideas institutionalized in state founded by Lenin and Stalin => spread
- Where had Russia begin and how did it develop (compared to other Europe)
- Fossilized state - e. Borders of prussia (poland) to pacific
- Poles, ukrainians, germans… => dozens of nationalities put together in inefficient empire
- Small professional middle class until late 19th c - concentrated in citires
- Nobilities - courtiers, soldiers, etc. => poorly-educated, loyal to czar when they felt they were
threatened
- Russian army - noble, poorly trained, no natural advancement - your rank and connections got
you senior positions
- W. Ideas were only felt until later 19th c
- Ruthless repression, state-manafed centralization
- State laborers => serfdom survived in russia until 1871
- Great fear of mass of humanity that constituted to russian land-workers => nobles and czar if
they should rise, there’s nothing to stop them
- 1825: liberal nobles and army officers - coup d’etat => death of alexander with no heir, went to
nicholas
- Decembrists 1825 - tried to institute liberalism into russian empire => czar felt threatened and
challenged when he should be unchallenged
- Return to sense of russian tradition - autocracy and repression
- Pregoress, industrialization, liberalism = outlawed, forbidden concepts (you couldn’t even say
the word)
- Only nationalism was allowed => pan-slavish movement
- Secret police established by Nicholas I (1825-1855)
- W. Ideas - pernicious, contrary to russian traditions and culture => russia = holier place, heir to
byzantine empire
- Only way to keep “holier”, “purer” idea => autocracy
- Czar - portrayed as father of children => always knew best
- All children’s duty to obey; his to act and decide
- Ssecret police - keep russia pure against dangerous ideas that could corrupt slavic people (e.g.
Liberalism, socialism, competition)
- Hostilely to w. Tradition, collapse of ottoman empire => russians were nervous: ottoman em-
pire would be filled ith foreign ideas that would corrupt the slavs
- Crimean wars = russia vs. Turks supported by british
- Russia defeated; drove russians inwards rather than out => investigating souls: if we’re so
much purer, why are we defeated
- Russia became paranoid: surrouned by non-slavic people who weren’t good, necessary for rus-
sia to act
- Alexander II (1855-1881) - czar who had to admit defeat; realized its state system couldn’t de-
liver army to defend like england and france
- He had to modernize
- Reformed country: new form of autocracy
- Russian agriculture = outdated
- 1861: russian serfs liberated => became indentured agricultural laborers (at least they had free-
dom)
- Attempt to change nature of russian gov’t so it could be more effective
- Top-down legal system - everyone under the law (but the czar) => law to operate rather than ar-
bitrary decisions by civil servants, judges
- Lawyers (dymanic, educated group) => came to cities to make sure law would operate
- Liberal, educated, progressiver urban class in russia => indigenous middle class became visible
- Army modernized, brutal practices reduced
- Military service = mandatory
- Some training of officer class
- Still difficult to rise to the top unless you knew the right people
- Recognition that economy of europe changed: built railroads, connecting empire, move goods
into markets, harbors for seaboard trade
- Russia entered european economy for the first time: exportation to the west of grain/agriculture
- W. Imported industries, manufactured goods
- 1860s-1870s - explosion of economic activity
- New classes created - oversaw by Czar
- Rapidly-grownign middle classes and even some liberal members of gentry and noility, spread-
ing education and literacy => it was only a matter of time until w. Ideas would be brought
(books, educators)
- Deep roots of pan-salvist nationalism - providing an alternative: cultural
- Writers like Tolstoy and dostoevsy - writing novels and stories reflecting nature of russian soci-
ety
- Painters - “patinign the soul of russia”
- Identify socially with tradtional russian values => part of culure
- Increased adoption of w. Ideas
- Czar and advisors belived new cultural awakenng would protect russia from western ideas; pan-
slavish that characterized how russia viewed the world (you need to know w. Ideas to know they
are wrong)
- But western ideas like liberalism and socialism = became clear that these ideas had resonance
in russia
- Dangerous situation = powerfully reinforced
- Polish rebellion 1863
- Secret police = look for pople who wanted rebellion, who talked about it, who even discussed
liberalism
- Drove educated into underground cells of revolutionaries
- 1870s - widespread, large cells
- Revolutionaries = members of new professional class, members of gentry and nobility
- When czar and advisors saw revolutionary activity, they became more and more repressive
- 1881 - Czar Alex II - assassinated
- Any talk of constitutionalism stopped
- Idea of reform stopped, social or political experimentation - illegal
- Talking/wrinting the words = illegal
- New czar: Alexander III (1881-1894)
- Strengthened police, army and turned them against the people
- No talk of reform
- Autocracy = default (if you’re threatened, go back to it)
- Alex III couldn’t stop industrialization