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Why Did Liberalism Exercise So Little Influence In Russia In The Period 1856 To 1956?

999 words - 4 pages

There are three main reasons why Liberalism did not take root in the period. Firstly the nature of Russia itself was unsuited to Liberalism's development. Secondly war often caused extremes that Liberal government wasn't capable of handling and lastly the personalities that ruled and had major influence in Russia chose an authoritarian route.Due to the way Russia was and is to this day, to rule Russia efficiently seems to require authoritarian rather than liberal government. The 'Russian' Empire through the Tsars to the Bolsheviks was always made up of a wide range of different peoples and nationalities rareley held together by mutual love for each other. To keep this patch work of different nationalities together required force and strong government. Policies of Russification required state intervention (the banning of languages like Polish from use in public life etc) often backed up by the use of the army (Poland is another good example, which had revolts put down under the Tsars and was invaded under Stalin).Yet why didn't the people of Russia reject Russification and authoritarianism in favour of a more Liberal solution? Russia's backwardness is part of the answer. The ideas required to change authoritarian rule were slow to enter Russia. Under the Tsars illiteracy and a conservative outlook meant liberal democracy wasn't spread (like many other western ideas) among the people. The Mir and feudalism meant that socialist and authoritarian government had an embryonic existence in Russia much longer than else where in Europe. Further in the words of Vladimir Putin this year [2004] 'Russia loves a strong Tsar". Supposedly there is something in the Russian psyche that allows authoritarianism to develop. This explains why one form of authoritarianism under the Tsars transformed itself into a new kind under Lenin and Stalin. Stalin has recently been called the Red Tsar, and it is true that much of the way he ruled Russia was the same as it had been for centuries. The Stalin personality cult for example resembled that of the Tsars or 'the little father'. A majority of peasants, the bulk of the Russian population until the end of the period, genuinely looked up to their leaders in a way that many peasants around the world did centuries before; Deeply religious the Russian peasant expected to be ruled, just as God rules in heaven so the Tsar/ Vohzd rules on earth. No capitalism meant no bourgeoisie and with no middle class there could be no middle class revolution. Instead Russia skipped this stage with Lenin.Russia's backwardness meant old style authoritarianism was likely to develop but things could have been different had events in Russian History during the period gone differently.Liberalism may have had influence at the end of Alexander the second's reign for example. A liberal reformer for the most part Alexander is rumored to have been on his way to grant Russia its first constitution which would surely have been the first step to...

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