How important was the Bolshevik threat to Tsardom in the reign of Nicholas II?

Nick Oliver

In order to form an opinion of how important the Bolshevik threat, there is a need to identify the factors that affected the strength of Tsar Nicholas II and his autocratic reign.   The factors to be considered will include: the impact of Nineteenth Century reform, the consequence of industrialisation, the ramifications of involvement in the First World War and the personality and attitude of Nicholas II.   Further development of the main theme, questions are asked of Bolshevik activity during this chronology.

Initially it is useful to concentrate on Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War in 1856 and the subsequent reforms undertaken by Alexander II (Nicholas II’s Grandfather).   The war highlighted serious issues in Russia’s industrial, financial and communication’s structures and therefore became the catalyst for Alexander II to implement social reforms.   The Emancipation of the Serfs in 1861 encouraged negative effects on the continuation of Tsardom, releasing peasants from slavery and creating a stronger upper lower class in the form of ‘Kulaks’.   These reforms alienated the landowning Bourgeoisie, which had profited from serfdom. Evidence would suggest that peasants struggled to repay redemption costs and feed members of the ‘mir’.   The reliable view of a radical landowner from Nikolskoye at the time of emancipation would confirm this, ‘They knew perfectly well how difficult it would be to repay the redemption tax for the land’, (cited in Murphy & Morris, 2008 p.36).   These social changes and a famine in 1891-92, led to disenchantment with Russia’s Tsarist rulers, however this new freedom for peasants facilitated a period of rapid industrialisation in Russia.

The consolidation of migrant workers into urban areas as a result of industrialisation, led by the policies of Ivan Vyshnegradsky and then Sergei Witte, increased despondency among the proletariat....