Explain why opposition to Russian Governments was so rarely successful throughout the period 1855-1964

Topics: Leon Trotsky, Marxism, Russia Pages: 5 (1646 words) Published: February 28, 2014
Explain why opposition to Russian Governments was so rarely successful in the period 1855-1954? Throughout the period 1855 to 1954, opposition to Russian governments was a common occurrence due to dissatisfaction of many civilians’ lives and the lack of development seen throughout Russia. However, as much as there were some successful movements throughout 1905 such as the Bolsheviks gaining support and eventually gaining power, there were also several failed attempts due to intense use of violence, terror and censorship by the state. It is arguable that whether opposition was successful, merely came down to the strength of the opposition group or the weakness of the government in power. All state leaders across the whole period held qualities that didn’t please the whole of the population in Russia. During the reign of Alex II, the government showed some strength with controlling opposition from the peasantry through the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. It was thought that to prevent revolt from below, this was a key movement that had to be made, and therefore prevented future unrest and opposition. However, the new liberated serfs had to deal with more laws concerning land ownership with led to further unrest and repression in the peasantry by the state. The state moreover, appeased the most vocal critics but in such a way that allowed dissenters to express themselves in the knowledge that Tsar’s decision would be final. Compared to Nicholas II’s reign, this showed a decisive leading technique, as Nicholas’s style was more conservative, and showed weakness, relying on others’ advice to fuel his decisions. A key failure throughout his period was the mixed rule attempt with the Duma introduced from 1906 to 1917, it is arguable that Nicholas II made concessions only to keep opposition temporarily at bay and that his aim was to uphold the principle of autocracy. Alex III quickly saw to a more repressive form of autocracy with his reign seeing the state not giving any concessions to opposition in Poland by the Jews, illustrating strong state leadership at some points. An increase in the number of Okrhana meant that the state played a more active role in controlling the wave of strikes from workers, and the uprising of the Populists (The People’s Will) in 1881. This opposition was ruthlessly repressed. Alexander II was obviously influenced by the nature of his father’s death which he claimed was due partly to a move towards a more liberal Russian society. Similarly, after ‘liberal’ concessions made by Nicholas II in 1905, another set of Fundamental Laws in 1906 reiterated the need for the preservation of autocracy in Russia. For example, Law 5 stated the ‘Supreme Autocratic power belongs to the Emperor of all Russia.’ This made it clear what the position of the Tsar was. The weakness of the Provisional Government made it easier for Lenin to gain support, as it had to share power with Petrograd. With the issue of war remaining untouched, the government was brought down, consequently the massive land problems brought about peasant rebellion. The economy simply wasn’t up to funding a war and feeding the people at the same time, therefore Lenin’s position was set out with his scheme ‘Peace, Bread and Land.’ Similarly to Nicholas II, Lenin’s government showed massive repression of opposition through the Kronstadt Mutiny in 1921, when huge Bolshevik opposition emerged from peasants. Trotsky’s attacks sent 50,000 Red Army Troops to recapture the island base, showing a solid state leadership. There was strong use of terror during Stalin’s government, containing show trials for those accused of plotting against the party with the belief that, to oppose Stalin and his policies was to oppose the party. To oppose the party was to oppose the state which was to be counter-revolutionary. The Great Terror and rule under the secret police and figures such as Beria did enough to crush almost all opposition. This intense atmosphere of fear...
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