Posted by: gdevi | October 15, 2013

English 499: Historical Timeline of pre-revolutionary Russia

Imperial and pre-revolutionary Russia in the Nineteenth Century plus early Twentieth Century – Historical timeline for Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons

1801-1825 – Imperial Russia under Tsar Alexander I; Tsar autocratically ruled over nobles who autocratically ruled over landlords/ gentry who ruled over serfs (bonded laborers from the peasant class; almost like slaves without the racial component)

1812 – French emperor Napoleon’s invasion of Russia; Napoleon’s defeat by Tsar Alexander I in 1814.

1814-1876 – Birth and Death of Mikhail Bakunin; anarchist and libertarian socialist; the only other thinker equal in status or fame to Karl Marx in the 19th century; Bakunin advocated state-less societies; initially a friend to Marx, later a critic; Bakunin disagreed with Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat,” the idea that a party representing the proletariat would be fair rulers.

1825-1855 – Death of Tsar Alexander I; Ascension by Tsar Nicholas I; Decembrist revolt of 1825—liberal western-minded nobles, army officers, intellectuals against Nicholas I; uprising violently crushed by Nicholas Ist; persecution of revolutionaries, liberals and west looking intellectuals; Nicholas I put an end to the west-modeled modernization program set in motion by Peter the Great in the 18th century. Russia the most backward and least modernized of European countries in mid nineteenth century.

1855 – Death of Nicholas I; Alexander II succeeds to the throne

1861 – Alexander II signs the Emancipation Proclamation (two years before the American proclamation) of Serfs; freed up labor; migration from the country to the city; growth of industries; growth of the middle class; growth matched with uneven and unequal distribution of land between serfs and landlords; moreover, serfs have to pay taxes to work in the fields; worst lands given to the serfs; setting up of village peasant communes or mirs theoretically (but not in practice) with agricultural land to be shared by peasants equally; quiet uprising of the radical elements in Russian society, the Nihilists who deemed all Russian social, political, and philosophical institutions inhuman, tyrannical and corrupt. (This is the setting of Fathers and Sons)

1860s Nihilist Movements: Nihilists argued that all existing Russian institutions were corrupt and advocated wholesale, bottom-up overthrowing of monarchy and all associated institutions through violence, if necessary. Nihilists were divided in the role of the peasants and the serfs in their struggle; one side seeing the future of a more equitable Russia in the peasant body, and the other side, seeing the peasants already on their way to becoming like their masters.

1867 – Publication of Karl Marx, Das Kapital: Kritik der Politischen Okonomie (The Capital: A Critique of Political Economy—first systematic study of the workings of capitalism; dialectical materialism)

1881 – In 1881, the Nihilists assassinated Tsar Alexander II. His son Alexander III succeeded him, and unlike his father, showed little interest in programs of social reform. Alexander III initiated brutal suppression of dissent in Russia, and attempted to bar all kinds of western influences in Russia,including the persecution and incarceration of writers, artists, and intellectuals.

1887 – Lenin’s brother Aleksander Ulyanov is hanged for allegedly plotting to kill Alexander III

1895-1898 – Lenin arrested and held in solitary confinement and exiled to Siberia for three years

1894-1917 – Nicholas II succeeds Alexander III. Large scale industrialization of Russia. Growing anarchy and social unrest in the cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow, and the countryside. Prominent opposition parties include the National Democratic Party, the Socialist Revolutionary Party, and the Social Democratic Labor Party, the most influential and the most liberal, affirming Marxist ideologies and inviting the participation of the working class and that later split into two groups, the Mensheviks (minority) and the Bolsheviks (majority). Mensheviks advocated a peaceful collaboration with the bourgeois and gradual establishment of social equality and reforms. Return of Lenin to Petrograd from exile. The Bolsheviks, under Vladimir Illych Ulyanov Lenin, advocated the overthrowing of the Tsar, by force, and a far more radical approach to the pursuit of social and economic equality.

1905Bloody Sunday; populist uprising from the failure of the Russo-Japanese war violently crushed by Nicholas II; Nicholas II proclaims the October Manifesto; the creation of the DUMA—civil liberties and an elected parliament

1914 – WW I

1917 – Nicholas II forced to abdicate; October Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution seizes power in Russia; Lenin becomes the de facto leader of the Bolshevik Revolution; land, industry and business are nationalized; peasants forced to turn in surplus to the government

1918 – Nicholas II and his family executed; the Bolshevik party renames itself as the Communist Party of Russia

1922-1991 – Creation of the Soviet Union by the leaders of the Communist Party: Four republics- Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Transcaucasian; creation of the Red Army, Cheka (soviet secret police), Lenin’s New Economic Plan (NEP) – state has the license to destroy “enemy of the people”; abolition of official religion; deportation and exile of priests; materialism and atheism; incorporation of minority groups and minority rights; greater freedom, education and rights of women; equality in medical rights and access to social services; government controlled all aspects of banking, industry, transportation and education

1929 – 1939 – Josef Stalin succeeds Lenin as leader; Lenin’s NEP replaced with Stalin’s Five Year plan; massive industrialization; collectivization of the rural peasantry into government projects; government managed agriculture and farming; millions of peasants forced off lands confiscated by the government; acute famine in Russia; millions of dissidents and “enemies of the state” sent to “gulags”; strict limits on the manufacturing and consumption of consumer goods; Stalin’s “purge” with the help of the NKVD (soviet secret police)—the execution of political and military leaders, dissidents, and intellectuals; the establishment of labor camps in Siberia; over 18 million Russians sent to gulags, and 15 million or more sent to other forms of concentration camps


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