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How Far Do You Agree That A Study Of Russia In The Period From 1855 To 1956 Suggests That Change Was Always Imposed From Above?

1048 words - 5 pages

How far do you agree that a study of Russia in the period from 1855 to 1956 suggests that change was always imposed from above?

Throughout the period 1855-1956, it’s clear that with both the Tsars and the Bolsheviks, change was, often implemented from both the leaders and the people, However, under both Tsars and the Bolsheviks, they were ruthlessly prevented from striking, having trade unions or really having any control over the future.
The most fundamental change which occurred under the Tsars was the emancipation of the Serfs in 1861, under Alexander II, the ‘Tsar liberator’, and this was mostly caused by Alexander II’s desire to modernise Russia; Serfdom was increasingly ...view middle of the document...

However, after the good harvest of 1930, collectivisation began afresh, and by 1937 the figure reached 93% of farmers, which clearly shows that whilst the government may have appeared to change their laws according to the people, this clearly wasn’t the case.
However, Nicholas II was forced to appoint Russia’s first Prime Minister, Count Witte, and announce his October Manifesto due to mass revolts; peasants were throwing the gentry out of their land and burning their homes and their was a great strike in the cities. This was something Nicholas had not genuinely wanted to do (he was advised against it numerous times by his wife), however he was forced to by mass opposition to his reign, and the peasant revolts.
Furthermore, his abdication in 1917 is a clear example of change not from above, but instigated by the people themselves. Nicholas II believed in absolute monarchy, however he was still forced to resign. During WW1, from 1915 onwards Nicholas II left for the front leaving Russia in chaos, and though the Duma formed a Provisional Government to try to restore order it was impossible to turn the tide of revolutionary change. Already the Duma and the Soviet had formed the Provisional Government and decided that Nicholas must abdicate. Faced with this demand and with his family firmly in the hands of the Provisional Government and fearful of unleashing civil war and opening the way for German conquest, Nicholas had no choice but to submit, which is a clear example of the people controlling Russia, rather then control being above.
Overall, both Lenin and Alexander II were liberal, which was mostly due to the fact they had to be or they would have lost power. Alexander II, in face of massive strikes, he was even about to sign Russia’s first constitution. Lenin also had to concede to public will his ‘smychka’, in the NEP, where he ended requisitioning and also legalised small businesses and some free trade, stating: “Let the peasants have their little piece of capitalism”. The idea of...

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