Segment descriptions
Countries of the World Series:
Russia, Part 1

         Description: Karl Marx

  Russia, Part 1    
 sampler  3-39        (60 lecture)

In 1860s Russia, how does the political opposition Nihilists based on hopelessness contrast with the emerging political opposition based on the ideas of Karl Marx?

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Czarist Russia



Scope of Russia.  Its massive size, population, varied past, social and economic changes.  European Russia and Asian Russia.  Early history.  Its various rulers, its wars against the Mongols. 

Russia becomes a Christian country with the Eastern Orthodox religion. 
The Czars are reminiscent of the Roman emperors.  Infighting about who rules.  Violent uprisings by the peasants violently put down. Romanoff Dynasty.  Lasts from the early 1600s until 1918.  Ivan the Terrible is extremely brutal.  Europe sees Russia as a backward, Asiatic country.  Peter the Great at the end of 1600s tries to Europeanize Russia, brings in craftsmen, founds Petersburg, but the brutality continues.  Ruling power comes from inheritance even if it falls into incompetent hands.  Catherine the Great continues a harsh rule, is expansionist, divides Poland between Russia and Austria and Prussia.  Influenced by the French Enlightenment, Catherine is an enlightened despot, but becomes reactionary when threatened.




Impact of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror in the early 1800s. Russia feels threatened by the rise of the peasants and the city people. 




Napoleon.  In 1812 Napoleon invades Russia, is met with scorched earth, is unprepared for the Russian winter which defeats him.  He retreats westward, his army all but wiped out, and has a final defeat at Waterloo. 




Absolute divine right monarchy continues.  Alexander of Russia vows to fight any revolution anywhere, rules to 1820s.  Nicholas I rules until 1850s, promotes modernization.  Alexander II is a moderate reformer.  Serfdom is abolished in 1860s as backward.  Serfs now become peasants, legally free but their daily life remains repressive. 




Opposition.  Russian secret police effectively crush opposition.  The Nihilist Movement sees no hope for future improvement, has no program, spawns terrorism based on hopelessness.  The Czar is targeted and is ultimately killed. 
Alexander III now rules, brings a more repressive regime.




Marxism and 19th Century




Marxist beliefs.  Marxism is based on the belief that capitalism must reach the peak of its development at which time the proletariat takes over and distributes its products more equitably.  Underground Marxist Party is a vanguard for change. The Mensheviks and Bolsheviks.  A split occurs with the Mensheviks (minority) believing that revolution is in the future after a long term struggle.  Bolsheviks (majority) led by Lenin believe that Russia's backwardness is irrelevant for its goal to make its revolution as quickly as possible.  They are a small, tight knit professional revolutionary party.  Their decision making is based on free and open debate with majority rules, after which they then must all abide by its decision.  In later practice, the membership follows Lenin's decisions in a curtailed process. 




Society and culture.  Music and literature have a more national identity, with a rising nationalistic awareness.  A cultural flowering despite repression.  Great literature is always a resistance art. 




Capitalism.  Absolute divine right monarchy still exists until early 20th century.  The beginnings of capitalism and modernism, resisted by the nobles, is slow to develop. 



Europe's view of Russia.  England and France form alliance with Russia as a way of boxing in Germany. 



Russo-Japanese War.  Japan rises as a significant power in the 1890s.  Tension between Japan and Russia over a Pacific territorial splinter.  Japan wins an easy victory.




Russian Revolution




The 1905 revolution.  The Czar quickly grants the Duma.  The army is loyal to the Czar and the revolution fails.  Most of the population rarely blames the Czar after the palace guards fire on the demonstrators, revering him as a father figure. 




World War I.  In the summer of 1914 Archduke Ferdinand of Austria is assassinated.  Austria is allied with Germany.  Russia mobilizes troops on the German border.  Germany declares war on Russia.  England declares war on Germany.  The war begins.  Paris is not taken.  Trench warfare becomes a war of attrition with officers ordering suicidal attacks against machine guns.  The Russian army is poorly prepared and is defeated.  While the Czar is at the front, his wife Czarina Alexandra runs the government and falls under the spell of Rasputin, further undermining the government.  The first revolution breaks out early in 1917.