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Mutiny on the Battleship Potemkin. By P. Strakhov 

With the defeat of the First Russian Revolution, the socialist parties entered a period of deep ideological reflection and organizational crisis. Both Social-Democrats and Socialist-Revolutionaries broke down into a number of splinter groups, currents and factions, which reflected a variety of views on the post-revolutionary political situation and advocated different party tactics. As the revolutionary mood of the masses abated and their fascination with ultra-radical slogans was replaced by disappointment in the revolutionís results, the membership of the socialist parties shrank dramatically, as many rank-and-file members deserted in droves.  

In addition, the revolutionary parties were badly damaged by the repeated and large-scale arrests of their activists. Party organizations were continually smashed by the police which was kept informed about their activities by its undercover agents who had infiltrated both central and regional party organizations. Many party leaders were arrested and languished in internal exile. Others, like the Marxists Lenin, Martov and Trotsky, or the Socialist-Revolutionary Chernov, fled abroad to escape persecution. As a result, the central committees of the revolutionary parties could now operate only outside Russia. They had to rely on an inadequate network of Ďtravelling agentsí and written correspondence to keep in touch with surviving local committees in Russia.                      

The sharp decline in the membership of the socialist parties was also an indication that despite their considerable influence and active agitation, they failed to captivate the masses completely by socialist slogans. The Socialistsí influence was particularly weak among the peasantry which made up the overwhelming majority of the countryís population. Even the Socialist-Revolutionaries, who claimed to be chief champions of peasantsí interests, relied for their main support on urban social structures. Although partially indoctrinated by socialist ideologies, the workersí and peasant movements retained much of their spontaneity and autonomy. 

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The Revolution of 1905-7


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