Russia Essays and Papers

This essay has a total of 3654 words and 16 pages.


1. Catherine II (the Great). The successor of the sickly Peter III, Catherine II was his
wife until his suspected murder and she took the throne in 1762. Although she made no
great reforms in Russian society, she gathered many friends by her death in 1796.

Catherine had to keep the nobility pleased at all times because if she didn’t she could be
dethroned easily. Because of this she carried out very few social reforms. Russia
continued to follow an economic growth that Peter that Great had started. She tried to
remove trade barriers, and assisted in expanding the middle class, which helped trade.
Catherine II’s great addition to Russia was the land she gained, she was able to add more
territory to Russia than had been in nearly a century before her.

While nothing very important was achieved during Catherine’s rule, she acquired valuable
friends that proved to be useful in the future of Russia.

Alexander I. The successor of Paul I and the grandson of Catherine the Great, Alexander I
spent the early part of his rule attempting to reform the administering body of the
government. The reforms he initiated here brought about a much better trained group of

After the Napoleonic Wars, Alexander I was in charge of the reconstruction of much of the
land along the route to the French invasion, this caused a expansion in the textile
business, which boosted the economy.

The major flaw of Alexander I was the way that he put down the attempt for freedom by
society. After the wars, many of the people had become self-confident in their beliefs,
and when peacetime came, they began to express them. Because of this, Alexander I placed
even more restrictions on society’s freedom, and ended up sparking the creation of
numerous secret societies, which were against the government.

Nicho las I. Nicholas I, the successor of Alexander I, came into power directly after an
attempted insurrection of the government, and ruled as a reactive body.

His rule was a time of excellent Russian literary works from authors such as Dostoyevsky
and Tolstoi, despite the policies of censorship and control that he put into place,.

During his reign many technical institutes were founded. By the end of his rule, there
were a large number of trained professionals in Russia. His government also successfully
completed the codification of laws, which led to better economic development, the
stabilization of the currency, and the creation of protective tariffs.

The main flaw of Nicholas I’s rule was the timidness exhibited by him and his government.
Fearing peasant revolts and the constantly distrusting nobility, the government never
took any serious steps towards abolishing the serf system and reforming their backward
agrarian economy.

Alexande r II. The son of Nicholas I, Alexander I took the throne after his father’s
death in 1855. Alexander I’s rule was during the time when the people expected much from
their leader, and he responded by reforming the country. The main reform of his rule was
that of the abolishment of serfdom. Because of this Russia was at last on its way towards
joining the world in becoming a modern society. Alexander II also introduced elected
institutions of local government, the zemstvos, they handled education, health, welfare,
and made changes in the legal system that allowed for fairer trials by jury.

With the reforms he initiated a wake of revolution followed. Industrial and capitalist
revolutions caused problems with urbanization, proletarianization, and an agrarian crisis.
These issues continued to grow towards the end of his rule, and he was eventually
assassinated by a terrorist group called the “People’s Will”

2) The rules of Alexander III and Nicholas II were vastly different from those of their
predecessors. The previous rulers had all realized that some kind of social reform was
necessary for Russia to survive, these two rulers apparently did not believe that, and
showed this in their leadership. Neither of them made any attempts for reform to better
Russia, but rather they further divided society. In the case of their predecessors, who
had the constant push of the nobility on their back that slowed down any reforms that they
tried to create. But these new rulers had the apparent power to see more changes followed
through upon, that could have bettered the nation, but they chose not to act on them.

3) There was much revolutionary activity against the tsar during the
19th century by Russian intellectuals. Intellects worked with the peasants to reach the
common goal of having a good quality of life for all Russian citizens. After initial
reforms by Alexander II failed to work students and other revolutionaries started what was
called the Populism. Students went to live with the peasants in the country to show that
they were working for them, trying to get them better lives. They were trying to change
the government so that the peasants would be represented instead of a tsar controlling the
country. But this plan did not work out and the confused peasants turned many of the
students into the police.

Terrorism was the next move for the revolutionaries and they decided to attack the tsarist
regime directly. Several government officials were assassinated at the hands of
revolutionaries. The People’s Will, a terrorist organization was formed. They successfully
assassinated the tsar after several failed attempts. Alexander II passed few meaningful
reforms which further convinced Russians that their country would never be able to move
forward without the abolishment of the tsarist government. During the rule of Alexander
III freedom of the press was greatly restricted and the secret police were strengthened.
This only further infuriated the intellectual revolutionaries who now saw that Russia
would never be able to survive the upcoming 20th century with a tsar in control of the

4) Narodnichesto means “to the people”. Since most of the people in Russia are peasants
it means going to the peasants. This idea was originated by Alexander Herzen in the 1840’s
and 1850’s. Herzen was a critic of the tsarist regime. He lived in exile. When he was
in London he published a newspaper called the The Bell, in which he set forth reformist

The philosophy Herzen presents is a very contradictory "blend," of and radical thought.
The radical strain of his writing can be seen very clearly in his attack on the middle
classes, which he thought were overly orthodox in their views. Herzen approved of Russian
communal organization, yet contested . He thought that in a communist state the power of
the mass majority would be overwhelming and something to be feared; in addition, the
willingness of revolutionaries to destroy freedom raised Herzen's ideas towards them. He
opposed any such ideology calling for absolute sacrifice in the name of an abstract
principle, utopian concept, or historical destiny. Men were essentially free within
certain limits, and life was generally open. In the case of morality, Herzen believed in
the free will of men to make decisions as to what moral law was to be followed. In the
least, men who are involved in some supposed "higher cause" should not make such
judgments. He was also skeptical of idealism, believing that there could be some dangers
in that as well. To Herzen, civilized values and individual liberties were of great

The main tenants of Narodnichesto are one, the existing order is doomed and must be
overthrown by a socialist revolution, two, the historical development of Russia is
different from other countries. This makes it possible to have a direct transition to
socialism without the intermediate state of capitalism. Three, communal land tenure and
the associations of workingmen and craftsmen are compatibe with socialism, and four, the
peasants are communist by instinct and tradition. This makes them the real force behind
the revolution. One radical Russian activist who made a contribution to the
development of Russian populism, the Narodnichesto, in the 1870’s. As a contemporary of
Marx he played an almost independent role in the early development of European Marxism.
Being one of the founders of the First International in 1864, he also helped to break it
up since he was in direct disagreement with Marx’s ideas. The international expelled him
in the year 1872. Before that he had been a proponent of the Slavic federation, revealing
some hidden Slavophil tendencies. He was mainly known for being the father of
revolutionary anarchism, an idea based on Proudhon’s negation of the state combined with
Marxist ideas about collective ownership of property.

Bakun in rejects the value of the centralized state and organized religion, calling them
false and referring to them as products of myth and superstition. Bakunin also advocated
communal autonomy, or freedom of action independent of government at the local community
level. Believing that power was rightfully exercised from the bottom up rather than in a
hierarchical and centralized manner as was traditionally done. Bakunin stated that "labor
must be the sole base of human right and the economic organization of the state." It was
because of the current government's entrenched position and reluctance to give up power
that social revolution could not be accomplished peacefully, for such a government
required a violent and sudden end to be eliminated. He believed that amidst the ruins of
the old government would form a new society in which anarchy would reign peacefully, which
he implied in the famous anarchist saying: "The urge to destroy is a also a creative

Alexander Kerensky was a moderate socialist. Kerensky announced two goals, one, offensive
against the Central Powers and two, a democratic reorganization of the military command.
His “Declaration of Soldiers Rights” included the appointment of commissars in the army to
handle soldiers’ councils, but the councils issued orders contradicting the commanders and
thus undermined the officer corps. Literature was distributed on a massive scale by
radical socialists and Bolshevik agents and fraternization with the enemy hit the military
ranks hard.

5) The attempted revolutions in 1905 began for many reasons. Russia had just lost a war
with the Japan after the Japanese captured Port Arthur. The government was going through a
crisis, the war was started to unite Russia but it only served to further divide them.

In January several hundred workers went to the tsar with a petition to improve industrial
conditions. But as they came to the palace the guards opened fire on them, almost 100
innocent protesters were killed in cold blood. Over the next year many other disturbances
plagued Russia including: peasant revolts, mutinies, assassinations, and strikes.

In late 1905 Russia was promised a constitutional government by the October Manifesto
which was issued by Nicholas II. In this “new” government Nicholas II was in charge of
ministerial appointment, financial polocy, foreign affairs, and military matters. This
revolution did not exactly change the people in power but just changed their titles. The
Duma was to represent the people of Russia and was formed in 1905 after the revolution. It
was a representative body that was elected into power. But the elections in April put many
radicals into power and the tsar disbanded that Duma. He then disbanded the one after that
too, in turn he formed a much more conservative Duma that was mostly under his control. He
had regained all of the power that he had lost due to the revolution of 1905.

6) The March Revolution: Food riots broke out in Petrograd, and when the Czar ordered the
Duma to dissolve and they did not obey. Soldiers were not able to stop rioting in the
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