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To What Extent were The Policies of the Tsars Most Responsible for Opposition to The Regime? (1881-1904)

By rosiekay123 Jan 23, 2014 1470 Words
To What Extent were The Policies of the Tsars Most Responsible for Opposition to The Regime? (1881-1904) Rosie Kay

By 1904, the people of Russia were angry with their current leaders. The Tsar, who at the time was Nicholas II, had a lot of opposition from his people for various reasons. After the assassination of his father and the growth of revolutionary groups, Nicholas tightened many laws and made life for peasant Russia considerably worse than before. This was only leading to a mighty event which could cost the Tsar’s regime its legacy, but were the Tsars policies most responsible for opposition to the regime?

The Tsar’s remodelled regime was highly opposed by the Russian people, which encouraged opposition towards their regime. The Tsars in general were majorly violent. They implemented this by the use of the Okhrana, which were the Russian secret police. They would fight out against people that did not believe in the Tsarist regime, usually killing them or sending them to Siberia, to where they would have to live in extreme conditions until their death. This meant that people were worried about their freedom in their own country and therefore disliked the leaders of their country, as they did not like the way the Tsars dealt with Russians who broke the law, or the powers they gave the Okhrana. The Tsars also believed they were chosen by God. This was because of the importance of the Christian church in the country, and by the Tsar, and this meant the Tsars believe they were valued highly by God to be born a Tsar. This infuriated the people, because of their strong Christian believes on equality “in God’s image”. This meant the Tsars had opposition from some of the Christian church because of their strong beliefs on why they were in power. The Tsar also had the problem of their knowledge of their people; the fact was they did not have much knowledge of them. The Tsar, because of the poor communication and connections throughout the country unfortunately did not know the demands or poverty that their people were living in. This was because the Tsars were based in Western Russia, and many of the lower classes lived far into the East of Russia. This meant that lower class Russians, of whom dominated the population, were not being listened to because of the Tsar’s lack of effort to learn about their people, which infuriated them, and caused opposition. The Tsar’s poor policies and ways of ruling Russia only lead to many upset and annoyed Russians, which meant it caused major opposition to the Regime.

However, the policies of the Tsars were not the only reason to cause opposition. One could argue that the revolutionary groups within Russia caused opposition to the regime before the major revolution. The Marxists were one revolutionary group who opposed the Tsar. They believed in a theory of communism, were eventually, after a social revolution, the lower classes of Russia would become of an equal status to all others in Russia. This prospect appealed to the currently suppressed peasants and lower classes, as well as a number of the intelligentsia, who likes the idea of ‘scientific history’. With growing support, the Marxists were able to offer a new insight into the governing of Russia, which benefitted them more than the current regime. This therefore increased opposition towards the Tsar. The Liberation were another political party which caused opposition towards the Tsar. The liberation believed heavily in reform, rather than revolution. They encouraged peaceful outcries about their disagreement with the country’s governing, and offered ideas for change to the Tsarist system. This appealed to many Russians, especially the intelligentsia and industrialists, which increased opposition to the current Tsarist regime because of the new alternatives they were being offered. The Popularists were another party of who opposed the Tsar. They believed in a collectivist culture, and educated the lower classes to enable them to see the dysfunctional Tsarist regime for what they believed it was. Although ironically they were not very popular at first, a minority of the party turned to terrorism to inflict fear in the Tsars, and were also partly responsible for the assassination of Alexandra II. This meant that people saw the party as a strong driving force which could have potential to disrupt the Tsarist regime, and that attracted people, of which then caused opposition to the Tsarist regime. Without these revolutionary groups, it could be said that people would not have the encouragement and determination to be against their leaders, and therefore was responsible for causing opposition to the regime.

In Russia, there was a forever growing increase in National Identity. Russification was introduced by Alexandra II, which believed in an ‘everything Russian’ concept. This meant that no other language, except from Russian, was to be spoken, all writing throughout the country should be in Russian, and non-Russian’s previous culture should be altered to fit with the Russian’s ideal. This infuriated non-Russians, and the increase of population of them only lead to a stronger opposing force to the Tsar. This meant that an increase in non-Russians meant that the country’s views and cultures were changing and the opposition to Russification only lead to opposition towards the Tsar. Non-Russians within the country also did not feel part of the Russian community, not only because of Russification but because of the racism within the country. Groups such as the Jews were persecuted, and had fewer freedoms than other cultural groups in Russia, for example they were not allowed the vote. With the growing number of these groups, more people began to be in Russia who opposed the Tsar because they were not Russian and this caused an increase of opposition. Further, the need for Russian culture was less demanded by the population because of the increase in non-Russians. The Tsarist regime was seen as a traditional part of Russia, which meant that the need for the Tsars were not recognised as before. Many non-Russians wanted a modernised Russia, and that meant a modernised government. This caused opposition to the Tsar because of the non-Russian’s desire for change, and therefore created more reason for a newly reformed governing body. For these reasons, the growing introduction of new cultures to Russia caused a vast majority of opposition to the Tsarist regime.

Russia was in poverty for a long time, leading up to 1904. Much of the Russian land was occupied by people, who were peasants or workers, however not a lot of the land was fertile or much use to the people who occupied it. In 1902 there were poor harvests, which lead to starvation and argument and disagreement over food and resources. This meant that there was a high rate of unemployment and social tension between those living in poverty. This worried the lower classes, and because they received no help from their government, eventually this lead to resentment of them. Additionally to this, the country was going through major industrial improvements of which needed money. The Tsar taxed the country heavily, which affected the peasants majorly because of their poor economic status previous to the taxation. This meant that the peasants felt targeted by the Tsar, as they had increased their levels of poverty, and therefore caused opposition to them. The fact that the whole country was in poverty meant that the country could not develop drastically in industry as the other countries in Europe were at the time, this meant that Russia was not modernising, and not as advanced as its neighbouring Nations. This was embarrassing for Russia, as they lived with outdated ways of life. The Tsars could not economically progress the country, as they could not improve their economy, which meant that people resented the Tsar, as they were the ones in power, and therefore opposed them. The poor economic state of Russia was blamed on the Tsars, and that caused a big opposing force to the regime.

In summary, one could argue that the policies of the Tsar were most responsible to the opposition to the regime to a large extent. The Tsar, especially Nicolas II, believed in very strict ways of ruling, not concentrating on the demands of the population, but the ideal Russia that the Tsars wanted, and used their regime in order to try and achieve this. Although, the fact that the country was well behind in modernisation, with a poor economy, should be recognised as making the situation in Russia worse, the Tsars did not win the support of their country with their policies, meaning Russia blamed the Tsar for the country’s disaster, and were only further encouraged by revolutionary groups and their alternate beliefs, rather than actually converted to being in oppose of the Tsarist regime.

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