How effective was opposition to governments in Russia throughout the period 1855-1964? In 1855, opposition to the Tsarist Government lacked an effective unifying ideology. This remained the case throughout the 1855-1964 period, even once the communists had taken power. A key contributing factor towards this was the lack of unity opposition possessed. Opposition throughout the period came from several sources, however it was dominated by division in opinion and ideology, only fully uniting in the February revolution of 1917 which brought down Nicholas II and the Romanov dynasty.
Even then opposition still differed in opinion, however it was unified by one common cause. Throughout the period, the peasantry were providing opposition to Russian Government. However opposition was repeatedly ineffective. The Polish revolt of 1863 during Alexander II’s reign was crushed by the army in much the same way as the 1953 East German revolt and the 1956 Hungarian rebellion were crushed under Khrushchev’s tenure. A continuing feature throughout the period is the key role which the army played in limiting opposition from the peasantry, with military force frequently being deployed throughout the period.
Lenin used it in the Civil War against the Green armies of the peasantry and Stalin used a similar style of brute force in the assault on the peasantry during the collectivisation process, albeit on a much grander scale. The army was very important to the state and their loyalty to Nicholas II during the 1905 revolution was vital in ensuring he was not deposed then instead of twelve years later. The peasantry also lacked a shared ideology and there were several other factors which meant that a full scale peasant revolt was never likely to occur.
The demographic and general backwardness of Russia, whose weakness was repeatedly shown by failures in war throughout the period, meant that the peasantry were never going to unify because poor communications and transport links simply would not allow them too, even if they did share ideas. Different classes of peasant also failed to share the same goals, for example the Kulak’s generally prospered under Stolypin’s land reforms which did not have as a great a benefit for the remainder of the peasantry who remained in dire straits.
When Stalin chose to introduce collectivisation this was met with much more opposition by the prosperous Kulaks than the remainder of the peasantry, which contributed to In 1855, opposition to the Tsarist regime lacked an effective unifying ideology. This remained the case throughout the 1855-1964 period, even once the communists had seized power. The lack of unity opposition possessed was a key factor in its failure throughout the period. Division in opinion and ideology were consistent problems for opposition, which only fully united in the February revolution.
Even then there were still divisions in opinion, however there was one common cause to unite behind. Other attributing factors such as heavy repression by rulers, well timed reforms and the continuing use of military force ultimately meant that opposition to Russian Governments was rarely successful in the 1855-1964. The peasantry were consistent opponents of Russian Government throughout the period, yet were rarely successful in doing so.
One reason for this is the continuing role which the army played in limiting opposition from the peasantry, with military force frequently being deployed throughout the period. Lenin used it in the Civil War against the Green armies and Stalin used a similar style of brute force during the collectivisation process, albeit on a much grander scale. Tsars had also used military force in containing the peasantry, with Stolypin’s necktie under Nicholas II and Alexander II continually employing military force prior to the Emancipation Act.
The army was very important to the state, as the 1905 revolution demonstrated, and their continuing use of force against the peasantry is one reason why peasant opposition was rarely successful in the period. The peasantry also lacked a shared ideology and there were several other factors which meant a full scale peasant revolt was never likely to occur. The demographic and general backwardness of Russia, a weakness repeatedly shown by failures in war throughout the period, meant that the peasantry were never going to unify because poor communications and transport links would simply not allow them to, even if they did share ideas.
Different classes of peasants did not share the same goals, the Kulak’s generally prospered under Stolypin’s land reforms which did not have as great a benefit for the remainder of the peasantry who remained in dire straits. Stalin’s introduction of collectivisation was met with more opposition from the prosperous Kulaks than the remainder of the peasantry, which contributed to the Kulak purges. Despite their consistent failure, peasant opposition was not devoid Throughout the 1855-1964 period, opposition remained a constant threat to both communist and tsarist Governments.
Opposition was largely unsuccessful throughout the period, only fully uniting in the February Revolution, an important turning point in the development of the Russian state that did not occur under communist. Several other factors including loyalty of the army, the varying degrees of control and terror towards the masses meant that opponents of the Tsars were more successful than those who opposed the communist regime. The army was an integral part of the Russian state throughout the 1855-1964 period, considerable continuity can be found in how Russian rulers used the army in dealing with opponents.
When there was a rebellion in Hungary in 1955, Khrushchev sent in the army to crush it, the same course of action had been taken to crush the Polish revolt in 1861. Lenin used military force against the Green armies of the peasantry in the Civil War and the army had also been heavily employed under Alexander II, with military force being deployed 185 times between 1855-60 alone. Stalin had also used brute force in forcing through his policy of collectivisation, albeit on a much grander scale.
The army was continually used by communist and tsarist Governments, however one can point out that a reason why opponents of the tsars were more successful is due to the loyalty of the army. Bloody Sunday showed that Nicholas II remained in power due to the loyalty of the army, however by 1917 it was a completely different playing field, which allowed the February Revolution to succeed. In contrast to the communist regime who were in receipt of total loyalty from the army, mutinies were commonplace in 1917, by which stage over 1 million had deserted, as well as 1905.
This had forced Nicholas II’s hand in making concessions through the October Manifesto, and later abdicating. This was not the case under the communists which allowed their regimes to eliminate potential threats quick and painlessly. Opponents to the crown succeeded because Nicholas II had lost the support of the army, whereas Lenin was able to defend his revolution in the Civil War because the army remained loyal to him. One can also point out that opponents of the Tsars were more united