Reforms in Russia 1855-1964

Looking at social, political, economic, cultural and military reforms over the period

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  • Created by: Kate :)
  • Created on: 06-06-12 10:27

Social Reforms

  • varied widely depending on the leader as willingness differed from leader to leader
  • Alexander II made drastic social reforms e.g. emancipation of the serfs in 1861 which was the first major reform to occur under a tsar - under some pressure but not excessively so therefore not reluctantly.
  • More similar to the Communist leaders as they were all willing to reform socially - some with more beneficial reforms for the people than others
  • Provisional Government abolished capital punishment and removed restrictions on civil rights - suggesting they wanted the people to be content similar to Alexander II.
  • Khrushchev also similar as destalinisation removed all the aspects of Stalin's rule that he and the majority of the Russian people did not agree with
  • Lenin and Stalin were different to this, they were not reluctant but were reforming to strengthen their power e.g. Lenin increased censorship and introduced communism into all aspects of Russian life. Stalin continued this but on a much larger scale e.g. centralisation of education during the 1930s
  • Alexander III and Nicholas II are only leaders who were reluctant to reform socially, Alexander II imposed Russification as a counter-reform to his father's changes to try and change back to how Russia used to be and Nicholas II only reformed under pressure e.g. reduction of redemption payments to appease peasants
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Political Reforms

  • Provisional Government most willing to reform politically - changed the system completely from autrocratic tsarist system to a democratic system offering the vote for the first time in Russia. 
  • Lenin very similar to this as commpletely changed the system again so Russia became a one party state in 1917 where other parties were banned.
  • Stalin much more reluctant to reform politically as only bought in changes that would strengthen his power further e.g. a council of ministers were introduced but were soon removed through purges as soon as they posed a threat to him - people could also only vote for communist. 
  • Khrushchev similar to Lenin in his willingness to reform politically e.g. decentralisation transferred economic planning to more local levels so it could be more progressive and realistic.
  • Communists a lot more willing to reform politically than the Tsars who were very reluctant to reform politically as all wanted to uphold their autocratic position.
  • Nicholas II only tsar to make any major political reforms however this was because he had no other choice, the 1905 revolution and the creation of the Duma was a reform made reluctantly so he did not lose his position completely
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Economic Reforms

  • Majority of leaders did make economic changes throughout the period however a wide variance in reluctance to do this
  • Alexander II had no choice but to bring in economic reforms due to the instability of the Russian economy after the defeat in the Crimean War - treasury was rationalised by establishing a public budget with better auditing and an improved banking system - however government still dependent on high taxes due to the limitations of these reforms suggesting they had been made reluctantly as more effective reforms would have been bought in if Alexander II was willing.
  • Can be compared closely with Lenin after the Civil War where NEP (1921) was introduced which abolished the economic reforms he had already made e.g. War Communism and allowed private trade - going against Communist ideas so reluctantly trying to repair the Soviet economy
  • Alexander III and Nicholas II more willing to reform economically with the economy growing 8% in the 1890s. Nicholas II increased consumer goods production and achieve impressive growth
  • Very similar to Stalin although Stalin on much larger scale e.g. 5 YPS and collectivisation with high targets to catch up to the West
  • Khrushchav also willing continuing with 7YPs to increase consumer goods.
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Cultural Reforms

  • Not one of the major areas of reform throughout the period
  • Alexander III and Nicholas II very reluctant to reform culturally and few changes were made during their reigns however Alexander III did make a few changes to Russian Orthodox Church by giving priests a salary, allowing passports and allowing them to engage in commerical and industrial activities. Prov Gov similar as very few cultural changes
  • However Lenin very different as used cultural reforms such as the introduction of street theatre to spread Communist propaganda. He also ensured all medid conformed with Communist ideology suggesting he was not reluctant to reform culturally - he used cultural reforms to his advantage.
  • Stalin very similar to Lenin with all art forms being directed to serve the party and try and bring about a 'cultural revolution' in Russia
  • Khrushchev similar in his willingness but different in his aims - he relaxed all the rigid controls, introducing 'communism with a human face'. Although he did start an anti-religious campaign reducinf the number of churches from 20,000 to 8000 from 1960-4 however this was also done willingly.
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Military Reforms

  • Alexander II and III keen to make military reforms with Alexander II allowing Milyutin to reorganise conscription reducing serving time to 6 years with 9 years in reserve compared to 25 years in service previously - not done reluctantly
  • Alexander III continued these changes as keen for Russia to have a modern and effective military
  • Lenin also similar as saw that an effective army was needed e.g. the Red Army in the civil war - allowed Trotsky to be in charge
  • Provisional Government could also be said to be willing to make changes to the army as launched a German offensive in 1917 ignoring views of the Russian people
  • However Nicholas II, Stalin and Khrushchev more reluctant to reform the military as very few changes were made during their rules
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Beth Coomes


this was so helpful thanks :) 



Really helpful thanks :)

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