Assess The View That Russian Rulers Opposed Change

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Theme: Assess the view that throughout 1855-1964, Russian rulers opposed change. To assess this view it is important to consider a number of areas including the role of opposition, and backwardness and poor state of the country. Trotsky described war as a ‘locomotive of change’ and Russian involvement in war throughout the period meant that this was very much the case. Russian rulers were also to some degree reluctant reformers who were opposed to change as most changes throughout the period were forced upon them and were usually followed with restrictions, such as the Fundamental Laws reducing the impact of the Duma. This was probably due to their authoritarian ideology. It can be considered a fact that for the majority of the 1855-1964 period, the Russian citizens had little if any political freedom. Despite the legalization of political parties in 1905, this was a very short lived concession as Lenin revoked this in 1920. A similar approach was taken by Alexander III in reversing the reforms of Alexander II, including a reduction in power for the Zemstva. A recurring theme throughout the period is the regime’s desire to maintain autocracy, which Lenin’s disregard for democracy in any area and opposition shows. This point is further emphasized by Alexander III’s belief that change was a risk and not necessary, as he argued by criticizing his father and also practically demonstrated by reducing the powers of the Zemstva. Repression was increased substantially to deal with opposition and apart from Nicholas II under whom it was briefly paused, this set the basis for Russian rule in the rest of the period. Despite Khrushchev’s easing of repression, the damage had been done under his predecessors Lenin and Stalin in removing any threat posed by opposition and ensuring that their rule remained untouched, in a further demonstration of their opposition to change.
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