Political Reaction 1881-1904

Social and Economic change

Alexander III and Nicholas II

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Why did Witte promote industrialisation in Russia?

  • Witte knew the key to Russia's future greatness lay in industrialisation
  • He began a coherent programme of state capitalism to promote economic growth through private enterprise
  • He invited foreign investors to participate in the Russian economy, this provided the vital capital for investment
  • Witte realised industrial growth could safeguard the government again social unrest by providing higher wages and cheaper goods
  • The industry would fuel the economy and therefore the tsar would be pleased, having more money to improve the strength of the armed forces
  • An effective railway system would help develop the rest of the economy by transporting stock and the armed forces
  • Trans-Siberian railway, constructed between 1891 and 1902, 3750 miles from Moscow to Vladivostok
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RSD Party- Bolsheviks/Mensheviks 1903

  • This split had the huge consequences for the future of Russia
  • Mensheviks awaited the bourgeois revolution while the Bolsheviks believed that it could occur simultaneously with the proletarian revolution
  • Bolsheviks wanted to educate and lead workers through the revolution
  • Mensheviks felt the need to revolution had to come from the workers themselves
  • Bolsheviks were a restricted group avoiding police notice
  • Mensheviks insisted that membership was open to all and worked with trade unions to spread the word
  • Mensheviks wanted to follow democratic procedures and feared the Bolsheviks way of doing things would lead to a dictatorship
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Economic reform - 1894-1904

  • Vyshnegradsky finance minister 1887-1892- Raised import duties to 33%, put pressure on the peasants, grain exports increased by 18% = worst famine of the nineteenth century. "We ourselves shall not eat, but we shall export,"
  • Witte took over 1892-1903- indentified three main issues = insufficient capital, lack of technical and managerial expertise and insufficient manpower in the right places.
  • Without economic reform Russia would have failed to catch up with the rest of europe and no longer be known as one of europe's 'great powers'
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Alexander III reactionary measures

  • Alexander III began his reign with the public hanging of his fathers assassins - there was little or no activity among opposition groups throughout his reign
  • Alexander's manifesto 'reassert the principles of autocracy' confirmed fears that he was no where near a constitution like his father may have been
  • Konstantin Pobedonostev advised Alexander III, "A third of all Jews in Russia must die, a third emigrate and a third assimilate." - incredibly anti-semantic
  • Also suggested - freedom of the press = 'among the falsest institutions of our time'
  • And - democracy = 'among the falsest of political principles'
  • In 1889 Land Captains were introduced with the power to overturn Zemstva elections and impose their own punishments
  • Peasants votes were reduced after ammendments to the zemstva
  • Policies of reform were refused but things but Vyshnegradsky and Witte were still allowed to promoste industrilisation and modernisation (as long as it didn't affect tsarist power)
  • Policy of Russification introduced - russia in language, culture, religion, legal system and ruling elite
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