As well as this, the conservatism may have caused a ‘domino effect’ of sorts, which in turn, could have led to the foundations of all of the other causes that led up to emancipation. These other causes are social, political, and economical factors that would have led up to the emancipation of the Serfs. It is interesting to note, however, that had the Tsar taken a more liberal look on his rule, the Emancipation may never have taken place. Firstly, there are a few political causes for the emancipation, such as the bankruptcy of the Nobles in 1860. This was due to the inefficiency of Serfdom, and by this time, roughly 60% of Serfs had been mortgaged to the government.
The areas to investigate include political, economic, social and military reforms from the Russian government in order to see if they are ‘reluctant reformers’ or not. Socially, Alexander II introduced arguably the most radical reform in 1861 by emancipating the serfs and granting peasants freedom. This is by far the reform that affected the population most widely in the period – by granting this, peasants were allowed to own themselves in body and soul and could dictate their own lives as far as they could. Class bias was reduced and education was given more widely across Russia, regardless of social standing. This certainly fights against the view that Alexander II was reluctant in his reforms on the surface – however, once investigated, the limits of emancipation are clear.
It shook the serfdom in the Middle Ages and pushed the Europe to get into a modern society. At the same time, the political status of the nobles declined while the bourgeoisie kept accumulating wealthy and then held the important posts in national political power center. Opportunities were provided for bourgeoisie to get stronger and the foundation was built for the beginning of the bourgeois revolution. Because of the lack of people, the labor intensity increased, and peasants required to enhance their salaries. However, the ruling class enacted to squeeze and exploit with their political power, which sharpened the contradiction and resulted in the uprisings.
For example Alexander II was a humanitarian but Nicholas II mainly wanted modernisation for Russia. Alexander III just wanted to retain his power and keep in control to avoid the same fate as his father. Similarly, the communist rulers were not uniform either as they had different core aims, for example Khruschev’s main aim was destalinisation whereas Stalin’s was to create his own legacy. The Provisional Government and Lenin were alike in their policies in the fact that they both completely changed the system. In the case of the Provisional Government they changed it from autocratic to democratic and Lenin changed it to a one party state; although the result was different the basis was the same.
Trotsky described war as the ‘locomotive of history’. How far can it be argued that change in Russia in the period 1855-1964 was caused only by involvement in wars? During this period the biggest change that happened was the move from Tsarist autocracy to communist dictatorship as well as the short lived provisional government, which was a form of democracy. Furthermore there were changes to economic policy, which had a great impact on society. The wars that occurred did bring change but were not the only causes of change.
The fact that peasantry took part in the 1905 revolution (also known as Bloody Sunday)shows that the suspicions of the peasants changing were true and to the Tsar and his government this could have appeared to be a threat because they always feared peasantry development, the Tsar and the Empress especially. However the peasants had not planned to overthrow the Tsar as they supported Tsardom, they only demanded for some changes that would reduce the working hours to 8 hours per day, allow workers to earn minimum wage of a rouble a day and to abolish overtime. From a point of view these demands would seem to be reasonable but to the soldiers these were perverse. When the 200,000 petitioners were instructed to retreat but didn’t because of the amount of people, the soldiers took it as if they were not cooperating and decided to open fire at the peaceful demonstrators. The reason why the soldiers were at liberty to shoot the demonstrators was because the Tsar was not present at the mass demonstration because after he was informed about the potential revolution the Tsar quickly decided to leave St Petersburg with his family to avoid trouble 15 miles away in Tsarkoe Selo.
How successfully did Alexander II deal with the opposition he faced, 1855-1881? Alexander II had opposition during the years 1855-1881 as his reforms had raised hope of the intelligentsia, who wanted further modernisation specifically a constitution and as he failed to deliver they were all disillusioned and angry. Secondly he abandoned his reforms in 1866 which led to more extreme opposition. I feel Alexander II was successful in dealing with opposition as he had support from the serfs which I feel was the most successful way to deal with opposition. The emancipation of the serfs appeared to have strengthened the loyalty of most peasants to the tsarist regime leading the peasants to greet the Populists with hostility due to their loyalty to the tsar.
Witte believed the only way to modernise Russia and play catch-up with the West was through State Capitalism (control of the economy by the government). The country needed to raise capital for investment in industry, which he did in several interlinking ways: large foreign loans which brought money into the country; heavy tax and interest rates in Russia which brought more money for the government. While bringing money into the country, Witte protected the small developing industries of Russia by limiting imports (but risked other countries doing the same to Russian goods in retaliation) In 1897, he put Russian currency on Gold Standard. This created financial stability and in turn encouraged huge foreign investment in Russia. Conversely, the higher-value rouble helped increase the prices of goods.
The second outcome of the revolutions was that the countries were dramatically changed, two great powers were stopped and communist leaders eventually took over in the two countries. Russia and China both shared similar goals in that they both wanted a new form of government and leadership. Russia’s ruler was Tsar Nicholas II which ruled Russia for more than three centuries. China’s ruling dynasty was the Qing Dynasty. Tsar Nicholas II wasn’t much of a good ruler for Russia; he ignored the fact that Russia wasn’t doing so good and overlooked the industrialization and nationalism that was occurring throughout Russia.
The decline of the Romanovs and the Russian revolution occurred due to varying influences externally and internally. The social and economic state of Russia and the changes transpiring had a large impact of the fall of the Dynasty. The actions of the Tsar and the influence from figures such as Rasputin helped to create discontent in Russian society. The character of Nicholas also helped to increase the social uprising and it was seen clearly that he lacked the capacity to effectively lead a country. The introduction of revolutionary ideas assisted sealing the fate of the Tsar.