russia midterm essay - Peter Walters Rise of Modern Russia...

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Peter Walters Rise of Modern Russia Essay Due: 3/14/08 Essay Question #6 The revolutionary intelligentsia was important because, despite having little impact initially on rousing the peasant masses, they were the first to go beyond theory and actually take revolutionary action. For the first time in the history of Russia, there existed an influential group in society that held an ideal for the Russian state that was distinct and separate from the Tsarist autocracy. The revolutionary intelligentsia essentially planted the seeds for the Revolution of 1905, and were the initial catalyst that awoke the placid Russian masses from centuries of oppression and forced serfdom. When considering the impact of the revolutionary intelligentsia it is important to first consider their history. There were essentially two periods that changed the role and scope of the intelligentsia in Russia: that is, prior to the Emancipation of the Serfs in 1861, and after. Before the Great Reforms under Alexander II, the Russian Intelligentsia was a small, elite group of educated university students whose collective moral code was to “work for the people .” While the Russian intelligentsia came up with the most extreme and radical teachings, never did they seriously prepare themselves for the vital testing of these teachings and intend on taking action. After graduating from university, almost ninety-five percent of students took jobs in law, medicine, education and civil service for the State. But as science, social/cultural and human understanding developed, a small section of the intelligentsia began to truly empathize with the peasants and began a quest to stop the exploitation of the working class and peasantry, and ultimately bring about social change. These intellectually elite students went beyond simply reading Marxist
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theory and “understanding” notions of the collective society that Marx believed we should strive for. The class struggles and enormous sociopolitical problems were plaguing the Russian peasantry -- and as a result the entire Russian State. After the Emancipation of the Serfs reform in 1861, intellectuals like Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Alexander Kerensky committed themselves absolutely and completely to leading revolutionary movements to overthrown the Tsarist government, and ultimately implement a Communist/Socialist Party system. Ironically, it was the intellectuals Lenin and Trotsky who put forth the idea that the intelligentsia was not even a real class at all, but rather a bourgeoisie minority of lazy “elite thinkers.” Lenin was once quoted as saying that “the intelligentsia is not the ‘brain of the nation,’ it is the ‘shit of the nation.’” Despite Lenin’s hypocritical remarks, the feeling among these students was that the Tsar had betrayed the people with the Emancipation Reform, and it was now their moral obligation to finally do something. It was clear to the revolutionaries that with the majority of the country’s population was uneducated and unmotivated/unable to
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This note was uploaded on 05/05/2008 for the course HIST 308 taught by Professor Kassow during the Spring '08 term at Trinity College, Hartford.

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russia midterm essay - Peter Walters Rise of Modern Russia...

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