Steps Towards The Russian Revolution

The quotation, "‘I shall maintain the principle of autocracy just as firmly and
unflinchingly as it was preserved by my unforgettable dead father.\' (Nicholas II) In spite of
the Czar\'s decrees and declarations, Russia, by the beginning of the 20th century, was
overripe for revolution," is supported by political and socioeconomic conditions late
monarchial Russia.

Nicholas II was the Czar of Russia from 1896-1917, and his rule was the brute of
political disarray. An autocrat, Nicholas II had continued the divine-right monarchy held by
the Romanovs for many generations. From the day Russia coronated Nicholas II as
Emperor, problems arose with the people. As was tradition at coronations, the Emperor
would leave presents for the peasants outside Moscow. The people madly rushed to grab
the gifts, and they trampled thousands in the bedlam.
As an autocrat, no other monarch in Europe claimed such large powers or stood
so high above his subjects as Nicholas II. Autocracy was traditionally impatient and short-
tempered. He wielded his power through his bureaucracy, which contained the most
knowledgeable and skilled members of Russian high society. Like the Czar, the
bureaucracy, or chinovniki, stood above the people and were always in danger of being
poisoned by their own power.
When Sergei Witte acted as Russia\'s Minister of Finance from 1892 to 1903,
attempted to solve Russia\'s "riddle of backwardness" in its governmental system. He is
considered more of a forerunner of Stalin rather than a contemporary of Nicholas II. In
1900, Witte wrote a memorandum to Nicholas II, underscoring the necessity of
industrialization in Russia. After the government implemented Witte\'s plan, Russia had an
industrial upsurge. All of Russia, however, shared a deep-seated resentment of the sudden
jump into an uncongenial way of life. Witte realized that Nicholas II was not meant to carry
the burden of leading Russia to an industrial nation as a Great Power. Nicholas II\'s
weakness was even obvious to himself, when he said, "I always give in and in the end am
made the fool, without will, without character." At this time, the Czar did not lead, his
ministers bickered amongst themselves, and cliques and special-interest groups interfered
with the conduct of government. Nicholas II never took interest in public opinion, and
seemed oblivious to what was happening around him. He was still convinced he could
handle Russia himself.
By 1902, the peasants had revolted against Witte\'s industrialization movements,
which were marked by a raise in taxes as Russia spent more than it ever had. Russia was
struggling in the European and Asian markets, and with much domestic unrest, Nicholas II
did not want foreign affairs muddled as well. Nicholas II dismissed Witte from the Minister
of Finance in August 1903.
January 22, 1905, commonly known as Bloody Sunday, was a revolutionary
event only because of what followed, not of what actually happened on that day. A group
of workers and their families set out, with the backing of several officials, to present a
petition to the Czar. As they approached the Winter Palace, rifles sprayed them with
bullets. This cruel act by the Czar shattered what smidgen of faith the workers and
peasants still held for Nicholas II, and sparked the quickly-aborted "October Revolution."
Peasants and workers revolted in an elemental and anarchic rebellion, ultimately turning a
large-scale strike and bringing the government, economy, and all public services to a
complete halt. By October 1905, the relations between the Czar and his subjects had
come to a complete breakdown.
The October Manifesto, created in 1905, caused two things. First, it granted
basic civil liberties to all, despite religion or nationality; it even legalized political parties.
This concession was capped by the creation of an elected legislative body, the Imperial
Duma. Second, it split the revolutionary front, reconciling the most cautious elements
among the moderates, who had no heart for violence, with a government which promised
to end the abuses of autocracy. This formed the political party called Octobrist, which lead
the Duma.
Peter Stolypin was Chair of the Soviet of Ministers (1907-1911). Stolypin\'s goal
was to seal the rift between the government and the public. His scheme was a moderate
one, based largely on Witte\'s earlier suggestions. Its essence was the creation of a
prosperous and conservative element in the countryside composed of "the strong