By Michael Lynch
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- Edexcel: Russia in Revolution, 1894-1924
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Additional info for Access to History. Reaction and Revolution: Russia 1894-1924
In the pre-1914 period the numerical strength of the Bolsheviks varied between 5000 and 10,000; even in February 1917 it was no more than 25,000. Before 1917, the Mensheviks invariably outnumbered them. Numbers, of course, are not everything. Determination is arguably more important. Whatever the apparent lack of inﬂuence of Lenin’s Bolsheviks before 1917, the fact is that when a revolutionary situation developed in 1917 it was they who proved the best prepared to seize the opportunity to take over government (see page 105).
Loyal troops returned to destroy the soviets. The readiness of the liberals and the peasants to accept the government’s political and economic bribes indicated that neither of those groups was genuinely ready for revolution. It is true that the tsar appeared to grant signiﬁcant concessions in the October Manifesto, but these were expedients rather than real reforms. The duma was not intended to be, nor did it become, a limitation on the tsar’s autocratic powers. This was evident from the Fundamental Laws, which Nicholas II promulgated in April 1906: The Sovereign Emperor possesses the initiative in all legislative matters.
The Ministry’s activities arouse dissatisfaction among the broad masses who have hitherto been peaceful. Such a situation threatens Russia with untold dangers. Summary diagram: The government’s response to 1905: the dumas 1906–14 Character Achievements 1st duma 1906 Dominated by reformist parties Short lived – little achieved 2nd duma 1907 Clash between revolutionaries and right-wing parties Dissolved in disorder – little achieved 3rd duma 1907–12 Election rigged by Stolypin to produce more co-operative deputies from moderate parties Committees did achieve effective work in social reform 4th duma 1912–14 Social reform work continued, but prepared to criticise government Dominated by right-wing parties again willing to co-operate The debate on the role of the dumas Were they ever more than a talking shop?
Access to History. Reaction and Revolution: Russia 1894-1924 by Michael Lynch