Part B example How significant was the work of reforming leaders in changing the nature of the Russian society and government in the years 1856 – 1964 ?

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How significant was the work of reforming leaders in changing the nature of the Russian society and
government in the years 1856 ­ 1964 ?
Concerning the idea of change, certain reforming leaders did change the nature of Russian society
and government, be it for better or for worse. Leaders like Witte used their governing positions, to
implement reforms that did change Russian for the better. Whereas, leaders like Stalin used their
position's to implement reforms that changed Russian greatly, albeit subjecting the people to
violence and intimidation from the government. Reforming leaders from both the Tsarist and
Communist eras have similarities, like the conservation of power, threat of revolution, and financial
motivations, as factors which influenced the work of reforming leaders and so must be regarded in
the process of change over time.
Some Communist Historians believe that half ­ hearted reforms helped the Tsarist state limp on, but
only a revolution would bring about permanent progress, following a "Marxist doctrine of change".
Some western historians adopt a structural approach, considering multiple factors as also significantly
changing Russia.
The emancipation reform can be called significant, for it stabilised the position of the Tsarist
government, at the cost of the serfs social position. Zakharova, believes it "crippled the serfs' with
debts and terrible land" (Zakharova, 2005) revealing its societal significance. Contextually the source
was written in Moscow, wherein the failings of the Tsarist government may be better documented,
allowing her to evaluate the social significance of the emancipation reform.
Zakharova's view is given credence by uprisings taking place in the Kazan province, where the serfs
were removed from their land shortly after the emancipation reform. Significantly this land was
valuable, indicating that the interests of the aristocracy had been somewhat preserved, for they
mostly kept the valuable land. This impeded the serfs' ability to survive and produce surplus goods to
sell, for little could be achieved on the allotments they were given thus, little growth was possible in
the agricultural sector. This partly hindered the government's ambition for financial growth; in this
sense the emancipation reform changed the positions of the serfs' for the worse which negatively
impacted government finances to an extent.
Considering Zakharova's mentioning of serf "debts", Alexander II significantly boosted state wealth
through redemption payments, paid by serfs to the landlords for their loss of labour. With this
income, the Landlords could pay back their state loans, and gained government bonds. Selling state
bonds also alleviated some government debt, which had grown after the Crimean war, which was
another factor influencing Alexander II's emancipation reform, so he largely worked to change
government finances for the better, albeit at the cost of the serfs' financial and social position which
suffered greatly.
It can be said that Alexander II was forced to emancipate the serfs for fear of a revolution, revealing
this as a significant factor. The threat of revolution is exemplified between 1854 and 1861, for there
was a sharp increase in the number of peasant disturbances. This threat partly forced the Tsar and
autocracy, to release a reform that the serfs thought, would largely change the country for the
better, when really it only promoted the façade of change, mostly benefiting the autocracy and
government. Thus the uprisings are less significant for the content of the emancipation act didn't
change to meet the needs of the serfs. Socially therefore, the reform can be viewed as partly
insignificant in the short term; however the reform gave Alexander II the motivation to grant more
liberal reforms, lending the emancipation reform greater significance because of the later change it
symbolised during Alexander II's reign. Nonetheless, redemption payments slightly funded the
Tsarist government for nearly half a century, aiding the positions of Alexander III and Nicholas I, to an

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How significant was the work of reforming leaders in changing the nature of the Russian society and
government in the years 1856 ­ 1964 ?
extent. With hindsight the emancipation reform prevented greater change; for these Tsars would be
largely oppose reform, so the emancipation reform can also be viewed as preventing change in the
long term.
As Financial minister, Witte encouraged industrialisation and the growth of the railways, granting him
significance, through positively changing Russia.…read more

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How significant was the work of reforming leaders in changing the nature of the Russian society and
government in the years 1856 ­ 1964 ?
between factors influencing reforms in the Tsarist and Communist state. The peasants were at first
discontented by the reform, for" a tax of 10% was imposed upon the harvest" (Acton), leading to
crop prices temporarily rising, causing a famine reminiscent of the Tsarist age, indicating little change.…read more

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How significant was the work of reforming leaders in changing the nature of the Russian society and
government in the years 1856 ­ 1964 ?
denouncing Stalin was able to usher in liberal change, letting the "harsh [ness]" die with Stalin, leaving
an image of the government as the true "protector".
One significant reform introduced by Khrushchev was the decentralization of industry, through
implementing sovnarkhozes, freely regulated areas of industrial activity.…read more

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How significant was the work of reforming leaders in changing the nature of the Russian society and
government in the years 1856 ­ 1964 ?
Zakharova, A. P. (2005). Russia in the nineteenth century : Autocracry, refrom and social change
1814 - 1914. M.E Sharpe.…read more

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