Russia was one of the Great Powers of Europe, but it was the one socially, economically and politically most underdeveloped. Even though the chances to be the strongest were many, because of the numerous resources that it had In Its disposal, there were too many weaknesses In the system to reach this greatness. At that time Russia was the world’s biggest country, covering over eight million square miles and so a quarter of the world’s land surface.
Since it was extended in a large part of two continents, Europe and Asia, the population, of 65 million people, contained a wide variety of ethnic groups of different race, language, religion and culture. Controlling this large multi-ethnic empire over such a vast territory had long been a major problem to the Russian government, leading many times the tsars to adopt a policy of ‘Rustication’ – insisting on the spread of the Russian culture, especially the use of the Russian language. This type of repression was possible because of the political system of this Empire. Based on the autocracy of the Dastard.
The tsar was an absolute ruler who had no restriction on is power, was anointed by God and had the total obedience of the people. Even if his rule was exercised through three official bodies (the Imperial Council, the Senate and the Cabinet of Ministers), he still had the last word and their role was merely to give advice. This kind of monarchy wasn’t successful, because if the tsar hadn’t a strong character and the skills of a leader, the system wouldn’t work. Therefore, Russia had not advanced politically as the other European countries, and it still had a political system typical of the Middle Ages.
Indeed, even If many tsars tried to dernier the country, they never Included In their achievements the extension of the political rights. Still, Russia did not have any form of democratic or representing government or a parliament. Political parties had no right to exist, press freedom was strictly restricted and the censorship on books and Journals was very rigorous, especially on the foreign ones, to prevent the spread of liberal and radical ideas. For the same reason universities lost their self-government and came under the government control and the fees to pay for attending it were very high, so to exclude anyone but the very wealthy.
In fact the knowledge and the Ideas that spread there about the European political thought and lifestyle could have turned the people against the Russian system. However these restriction had not prevented people to embrace liberal ideas, but since they couldn’t openly and legally expressed them, they had to go underground, giving life to a wide variety of secret societies of reform and revolution. As a result, the tsar established a secret private policy, whose special role was hunting down the challengers of the dastard. It was called the Shrank and ad unlimited powers of arrest and it answered only to the tsar.
It had infiltrates in these rebel groups and also outside Russia, where they spied on the political exiles, and raids, arrests, Imprisonment and ‘intern exile’ to Siberia became very popular. All these violence and prohibitions pushed the political activists towards extremism, and there was no moderate middle ground for debate. Even if the extremism took many 1 OFF Torts, as ten animals, ten antiphonals, etc. Etc. , teen all wanted ten political system to change and then the government answered with more repression and limitations.
The reactionary and conservative character of the government affected also the development of the economy of the Empire. The majority of the people (the 82%) were in fact peasants, who, even after the emancipation of the serfs, were not completely free, in fact they had been tied to the land and were forced to live in emirs, where they were controlled by the elders. This system led to subsistence agriculture, who was still backward and allowed the famine to widespread in times of shortages of food and impeded to sell enough food at export to raise money for industrial expansion.
Also the rise of entrepreneurial was discouraged by the absence of an effective banking system, capitals and by the negligence of the wealthiest. The great amount of peasants had always been a problem for Russia. On a hand, they were feared by the government, who believed that these ‘dark masses’ could have turned against them and danger the wealthy and their privileges. For this reason they were allowed to attend Just the primary school, so that they were illiterate and uneducated, and not aware of how bad the situation was for them.
The governing lass used to talk about the safe ignorance of the population and they believed that they could have been controlled only with violence and repression. On the other hand, such an abundance of illiterate people did not allow the working, professional and commercial classes to expand. The tsar and the government were fully supported by the Orthodox Church, a branch of Christianity independent of any outside authority. It had a strict Russian character and was conservative and deeply reactionary, because with the tsars in charge it would have maintained its powers and privileges.
It teaches children and men that the tsar was guided by God and that they should have owed him total obedience. In a country were people had no voice, no right to complain or to speak their mind, it was not possible to reach a kind of society typical of the western Europe. The most important problem was that the only people who were able to change the pillars of a society so conservative were also the only ones who had no wish to do it. The problems in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century were many and concerned every area of interest, and this led to the end of a rebellion and the end of the dastard with Nicholas II.