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Anti-autocratic Opposition


By the start of the twentieth century, as a result of the government-sponsored modernization which had created a demand for experts of many kinds, the intelligentsia, represented by doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals, had increased enormously. Many nobles had been forced to take up intellectual work of various kinds.  



Anti-autocratic Forces



Revolutionary Camp


Social-Democrats (Marxists) Bolsheviks
Socialist-Revolutionaries                          (Neo-Narodniks)


Liberal Camp


New Liberals

Constitutional Democrats (Kadets)

Zemstvo Liberals

However, the predominant place in the composition of the intelligentsia was now firmly occupied by the men of mixed ranks, the raznochintsy. Poorly paid, excluded from participation in the affairs of state, they had few reasons to preserve an unquestioning loyalty to the regime. Some felt so alienated that they became revolutionaries, imparting to the Russian anti-autocratic movement its characteristic democratic spirit and radicalism. In contrast to their working-class followers, members of the intelligentsia were better educated and therefore had a clearer understanding of how the tsarist system worked. They provided most of the leaders of the revolutionary movement and of the left-wing of Russian Liberalism.

Despite their shared opposition to the autocracy, different groups within Russias educated classes fought for different visions of their countrys future and had conflicting ideas about how to achieve them. Down with autocracy! was the only slogan they were unanimous about. As for the rest, divisions between different factions of the intelligentsia seemed to be insurmountable. To begin with, the intelligentsia was divided into a liberal and a socialist camp. The liberals were further split into supporters of constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or republic. Some of them advocated gradual reforms, others were in favor of more radical, rapid changes. Socialists were equally disunited, separated into neo-Narodniks and Marxists. The latter were further split into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. The significance of the division within Russian Marxists was not yet obvious at the time of the Revolution of 1905-1907. Its dire consequences would be revealed only several years later, in 1917, when it would become one of the chief reasons why the autocracy, after a short period of constitutional monarchy and an even shorter interlude of democracy, was swept away by a communist tyranny, in comparison with which the tsarist regime looked like a realm of freedom and justice.

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The Revolution of 1905-7


Tsarist Russia

Pre-Petrine Russia
Peter the Great
Catherine the Great
Alexander I
Nicholas I
Alexander II
The Revolutionary Movement
Appearance of Marxism
The Last Romanovs
The Birth of Bolshevism
The Revolution of 1905-7
Between Revolutions
The Revolutions of 1917
Interpretations of 1917
The End of an Empire
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