Russia: Catherine Ii Essay Research Paper
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 officials.
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.
Nicholas 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.
Alexander 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 country
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 positions.
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 significance.
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.
Bakunin 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 urge.”
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 cities. Workers and soldiers in Petrograd organized radical legislative bodies called Soviets. The rebellion spread throughout the country and to the troops who deserted by tens of thousands.
On March 14 the Petrograd Soviet and the Duma formed a provisional government under Prince Lvov with Alexander Kerensky. On March 17 Russia was proclaimed a Republic after the tsar left on March 15. Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders returned from exile to Petrograd in April. They had a few demands to the provincial government which were that Russia withdraw from the war and land be redistributed to the peasants and factories be controlled by the Soviets.
After a coup that failed in July Lenin and the rest fled to Finland. Prince Lvov turned over the government to Kerensky.
The October Revolution: Kerensky’s government failed to win the support of the people because of continued shortages and Russia stayed in the war against the Central Powers. Lenin returned to Petrograd with the cry of “Peace land bread.” On October 6 and 7 the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace headquarters of Kerensky’s government and seized other key centers in Petrograd. Kerensky’s provisional government fled. The congress of Soviets established a Council of People’s Commissars with Lenin as head Trotsky as a foreign minister and Stalin as nationalities minister. Over the next months the government abolished the freely elected legislative assembly and established a secret police organization the Cheka.
7) The Bolsheviks and Lenin gained control of Russia after the Revolution of 1917 with the help of the Red Army under the command of Leon Trotsky.
When an election decreed for a Constituent Assembly by the provisional
government that had taken the place of the Tsar but was overthrown by
Lenin took place it gave the majority of the seats to the Socialist Revolutionaries rather than the Bolsheviks. The next day the Red Army dispersed the Assembly and full control was given to the Bolsheviks. Radical changes were occurring in Russia. The government took control of banks the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed which removed Russia from The War. Foreign debts accumulated during the time of the Tsar were annulled. Many Russians were disgruntled the Bolshevik Party was domestically unpopular it had only 650 000 members. The basis for its power was the alliance of the proletariat which was falling apart.
When the Baltic fleet mutinied at Kronstadt Lenin decided that it was time to make some concessions. The New Economic Policy was introduced it allowed peasants to profit from their crop. This was allowing economic enterprise. This move stabilized the countryside and industrial production rose to that which it was in 1913. It was this revolution that occurred between 1918 and 1922 that helped Russia transform into what it was much of the 20th century
8) Russian leaders Stalin and Lenin had many differences and similarities.