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Assess the view that Nicholas II survived the revolution of 1905 mainly because of the division of his opponents Paper

Geoffrey Hosking stated that “Every segment of Russian society had serious grievances but those segments could not work together”[1]. This is correct in that from the beginning there were even disagreements within particular parties; different groups had different agendas and therefore they were relatively split. An example where there was a clash of objectives within the parties is the Social Democratic Party; an extreme Marxist group looking for an overthrow of the Tsar by the urban proletariat, which, following a dispute over future direction of the group, split into the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in 1903. This is evidence of there being division amongst the parties themselves, let alone the opposition as a whole. It was clear to see those different groups and their representatives in the various political parties in society all wanted separate things; evidence of this is shown in the events of 1905. Marples supports Hosking’s statement by arguing further that “there was no unity of purpose among the groups that took to the streets in St Petersburg”[2] – Marples is accentuating the fact that there was not any common ground amongst the parties and therefore there was no hope of them cooperating. The Tsar’s regime was strengthened due to the fact that the opposition could not work collectively.It was clear that the agendas were varied; the liberals, notably the Kadets, looked for modern reforms; they did not intend to overthrow the Tsar but instead were interested in civil rights and public duty – the Kadets wanted constitutional reform as opposed to violent social revolution. In contrast to this the socialists were still strongly opposed to the Tsar;they wanted social revolution; a new start without the monarchy, and looked to achieve this with a series of rebellions. Marples goes on to argue that “The revolution collapsed ultimately because the government’s concessions divided the liberals, who were unsure of what they were fighting for”[3] This is evidence of the disorganisation of the opponents meaning that the Tsar was in a good position to use this to his advantage and it could be argued that his survival of 1905 was mainly down to him being able to divide his opponents.It was evident that the groups seeking change were a diverse and very loose coalition, if united at all; they were all behaving differently, in different parts of Russia and this accentuates the division further. The urban workers, who had increased, due to the loan from France, were unsatisfied with the duma; it did not implement changes that they so desperately wanted. They were looking to improve working conditions and receive higher pay; so in order to make an impact they went on strike in late December in Russia’s capital, led by Gapon, and soon enough it became a general strike, with 85% of the workforce getting involved by early January. The rebellion continued after the events of Bloody Sunday, causing even more strikes.Figes writes in support of the hypothesis stating that the opposition “had all followed their own separate rhythms and failed to combine politically”[4]. This is showing the extent to which they lacked unified coordination. Evidence in support of this is shown is events of 1905. All the parties had different agendas and as a result disagreed more amongst themselves than with the tsar itself; notably the liberals, Mensheviks, Bolsheviks and the Social Revolutionaries. They couldn’t agree on what was best for the people of Russia and furthermore, their methods varied when it came down to achieving their interests. The Social Revolutionary party set out to achieve their goals by means of terrorism and assassination whereas other groups weren’t as violent in their attempts to get what they wanted. It was vital for the parties to cooperate in order for an organised uprising to take place; they would have no hope getting what they wanted with such an incompetent system and the failure of the revolution was largely influenced by this.Hosking also indicated, in support of the hypothesis, that “by dividing them and mobilising its full coercive apparatus, the regime was able to overcome them”.[5] Hosking is referring to the Tsar being able to split the opponents as they attempt to form a revolution; with help from the October manifesto which Hosking also refers to as “the gesture which had been necessary to divide the opposition”[6] It is clear to see that throughout 1905 the different groups are split and focused on their own agendas; during the summer months of June, July and August the peasant, with the expectances of a solution to the land problem and the food shortages, begin an intensive uprising and take part in many disturbances such as seizing land, burning manor houses and refusing to pay taxes. Later on in 1905 the unrest amongst Labour strengthened and a small strike in Moscow called by the railway workers spread to different areas of Russia with many other workers joining it. During these months in 1905 it is evident that there was no unification when it came to rebellions; they are happening all over Russia at different times and therefore it is made easier to stop by the Tsar as a large amalgamated group would have.Furthermore, Abraham Ascher highlights the incoordination of the groups and points out that “the liberals, the workers, the peasants, and the national minorities never coordinated their campaigns against the government.”[7] This is further stressing the point that everyone was expecting a different outcome from the revolution.

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