Who killed Tsar Alexander II?Opposition to Alex II, Alex III andNicholas II
At which stage was Russia during the reign of Alexander II?
Why did opposition increase?• The new openness encouraged by thereforms aroused expectations that couldnever be satisfied• Demands for a constitution and a nationalassembly were never granted
Intellectuals/LiberalsWere largely middle class poets and writers (Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy). Generallyeach side could be classed as a Slavophil or a Westerniser.Slavophil - did not like liberalism and democracy (conservative andnationalist),Westernisers - despised the Slavophils and their obsession with tradition(attacked aristocracy and defended rule of law).Both sides influenced revolutionary movements through their writings anddebates.Dostoyevsky described the new freedoms in his novel, The Devils;‘They talked of the abolition of censorship, of splitting Russia into nationalities,united in a free federation, of the abolition of the army and navy, of the peasantreforms’Turgenev described the lead character in his 1862 novel, Fathers and Sons as anihilist;‘A nihilist is a man who does not bow before any authorities, who does not accepta single principle on trust.’How might ‘nihilism’ pose a threat to the autocracy of the Tsars?
Populists• They put their faith in ordinary people, the ‘population.’• Believed in politicising the peasantry and turning them againstthe regime. These were also known as Narodniks.• Largely intelligentsia based and believed peasants should beendowed with ‘land and freedom.’• Some young people (students) attempted to becomemissionaries to ‘awaken’ the peasantry but were met withapathy and hostility.• Groups included Land and Liberty.• Had little organisation and co-ordination between groups.• Police cracked down and widespread arrests were made – manysentenced to hard-labour in Siberia.• Ultimately failed in rousing the peasants and were notconsidered a serious threat to the regime.
Anarchists• They wanted a complete overturn of society.Heavily associated with the ideas of thewriter Bakunin.• They rejected western ideas and wanted tocreate a new civilisation, built by ordinarypeople.• Did not have wide popular appeal and wasfor the most part an intellectual movement.
Terrorists• Land and Liberty developed into secret organisation in 1876.• They printed leaflets and made appeals to urban workers as much aspeasants.• Became engaged in ‘disorganisational activity.’• Chief of Police, Trepov was assassinated in 1878.• Land and Liberty split in two – Plekhanov wanted to concentrate onwinning over the workers with new Marxist ideas. Formed a groupcalled Black Repartition.• A more extreme break-away group became known as People’s Willconcentrated on terrorist tactics.• They demanded a constitution and believed you needed to fight theautocratic state by violent means.• In 1879 Alexander II appointed Temporary Governor Generals whohad sweeping powers. They could – deport suspects, suspendnewspapers, try people before military courts.• 26 August 1879 – People’s Will sentenced Alexander II to death.Eight attempts were made on his life before finally succeeding in 1881.• The conspirators were either executed or imprisoned for life. Theybecame martyrs for the revolutionary cause.
Socialist Revolutionary Party(SR’s)• Seen as a reaction to a growing industrialworking class.• Believed workers and peasants would worktogether to overthrow Tsar.• The group was largely formed out of theremaining members of the People’s Willwho had escaped punishment.
Marxists – Social Democrats• Based on the ideas of Karl Marx.• Marxism –The new industrial working class would contain the seeds ofrevolution, eventually overthrowing their capitalist masters.• Some Populist revolutionaries had converted to Marxism in 1880s.• Marxists formed the Russian Social Democratic Party to help workingclasses and ultimately replace ruling elite.• Was widely seen as movement for the future unlike populism.• The party split early on to create two distinct camps Mensheviks andBolsheviks.• Mensheviks – believed in a mass working class political party thatwould form parliamentary opposition against the regime to pushthrough reforms.• Bolsheviks – believed parliaments were a sham. They wanted apolitical revolution to lead workers towards uprising. Bolsheviks alsohad a Narodnik notion that peasants could be revolutionary. Lenin sawthe need to for a well organised, committed party focused on revolution.• Both sides had little influence immediate, leaders arrested or exiled.
Conclusion• Divisions were rife within the revolutionarycamp• Regime had little difficulty with dealing withopposition, save isolated incidents.• The long-term threat was the growingquestioning of autocracy and the regime.• Social groups were becoming more alienated.Tsar could no longer call on support ofpeasantry and nobility who had long beenloyal.
Your task• Opponents of the Tsars divided into four keygroups: the Populists, the SocialRevolutionaries, the Social Democrats and theLiberals• Explain who were members, what they hoped toachieve and their methods.• Complete the table using Lynch, p.36-44 andPowerPoint notes.• Highlight opposition groups as immediatethreats or long-term threats to the regime.
Historiography• ‘Populism stressed the uniqueness of the Russianexperience and the ancient democratic institutions of thepeasantry, while Marxism stressed universality andmodernity, wishing to see Russia re-join the Europeanmainstream. By trying to synthesise the two visions in1917, Bolshevism created an unstable amalgam of Russiannationalism and internationalism, coloured withmessianic expectations of the revolution.’Hosking, Russia, People and Empire 1552-1917.What reasons does Hosking give for Marxism having amore lasting impact than Populism?