Populism and radical opposition under Alexander II

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Populism and radical opposition under Alexander II

During the reign of Alexander II their were two main opposition groups; the intelligensia and the populists.

The Intelligensia: formed a relatively small proportiion of Russian society and were educated. Now that travel abroad was permitted and there were forums for debate it allowed new Western ideas such as Marxism to filter into Russian society through the intelligensia. This group wanted to spread these ideas to the peasantry and create a more equal, westernised society.

Key figures:

Mikhail Bakunin: a socialist who believed in peasant superiority and collective land ownership.

Alexander Herzen: Wanted a system focused around the Mir. He outlined his ideas in a book called ''The Bell''.

Nicholas Chernyshevsky: Believed peasants were the revolutionary class. His book was called 'What is to be done?'. They all believed that the existing system needed to be changed and in individual freedoms.


A group of roughly 2000 people drawn from the ranks of the nobility and the intelligensia known as the narodniks sfter the Russian 'v narod' meaning 'to the people' or in English, Populists. They aimed to stir up the peasant class to revolution by causing resentment over the lack of the land and the extortionate taxes. They were disappointed. They were prevented from…


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