The Decembrists
The Decembrists

The Decembrists

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  • Pages: 6 (3001 words)
  • Published: January 21, 2019
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Russia has had a huge history as a country most of that history has been spread with a vast range of revolutionary activity, aimed at over throwing the autocratic governments of Russia. For the most part, the early revolts were provoked by the common folk who lacked functional knowledge of politics and economic to implement reforms had the revolutionaries had succeeded. In the early nineteenth century, however, the tides changed directions as revolutionary ideas began to build in the hearts and minds of young noblemen if Russia, who having witness the benefits of delivered by the constitutional governments to the countries in western Europe. The young noble men after having the idea implanted in there heads decided it would be good idea to free the motherland of its tyrannical iron fisted autocratic oppression. These men were named after the unsuccessful uprising of December 14, 1825, these men from now on would be written down in the history books as Decembrists (Venturi 2). Although the Decembrist mutiny completely failed, it was none the less the first attempt in modern Russian history to overthrow the absolutory rule The small group of leader had in mind specific political goals for there motherland: a reorganization of the government and abolition of serfdom. For the first time in the entire history of Russia, there existed an influential group of society that held the conception of Russian state as distinct and separate from the ruler and his administrative institution.Intoxicated with the progressive ideas of Western Enlightenment, these young men undertook an onerous task of eradicating the absolutist regime and backwardness of their c

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ountry. In the process wrote themselves in to the history book as the fathers of the revolutionary time in Russia weather they knew it or not.

Socially, nineteenth century Russia developed along the lines very different from those of Western Europe. General backwardness of the Russian society, particularly evident in the dominance of agriculture and enslavement of the peasantry, contrasts sharply with the rise of modern urban capitalistic state in the countries of Western Europe. The impact of the delayed progress was not as sadly perceived until the War of 1812 and subsequent exposure to the Western culture soaked with sentiments of individual rights and freedoms and fashioned in the manner of a modern industrial state. During the victorious march of the troops across Europe, many of the latter-day Decembrists became familiar with ideas of Enlightenment as well as a lifestyle devoid of autocratic repression and degrading institution of serfdom.Upon their return, however, they were thrust back into the totalitarian Russian society. A wave of resentment and humiliation began to boil over the troops in response to the unjust treatment of the people at the hands of Alexander I, who earlier summoned his subjects to repulse “Napoleonic despotism yet imposed a regime more tyrannical than Napoleon had been.” (Zetlin 35) Mikhail Fonvizin reflects on the powerful impression produced by the Western culture on the minds of his cohorts and the desire to transform Russian into a liberal, progressive state:

“During the campaigns through Germany and France our young men became acquainted with European civilization, which produced

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upon them the strongest impression. They were able to compare all that they had seen abroad with what confronted them at every step at home: slavery of the majority of Russians, cruel treatment of subordinates by superiors, all sorts of government abuses, and general tyranny. All this stirred intelligent Russians and provoked patriotic sentiment.” (Mazour 55)

Politically, Russia was pushed to the back burner due to its staunch adherence to autocratic government structure long abolished by the modernized, constitutional European countries. While the progressive ideas of Enlightenment were dramatically changing social and political order of European society, Russia remained firmly unshakable in the ancient principles of absolutism partly due to tradition and partly due to isolation of the intellectual strata from the state affairs. Under the traditionally overbearing Russian monarchs, the nobles were victimized by the arbitrary display of monarch power as much as the peasants since their social and economic well-being depends on the unusual goodwill of the czar who controls the economic status of the nobility through regulation of their estates. As members of nobility began to claim their independence from the czar, a schism developed between the state and the aristocracy (Raeff, Origins 78). Failure of the monarchy to take nobility into its confidence resulted in estrangement of the latter from state affairs producing an irremediable gap between the czar and the nobles. However, the widening gap between the monarchical and the aristocratic band allowed for the birth of a new social group within the Russian society known as intelligentsia (Venturi 109). Comprised of the most intellectually advanced people of the time, intelligentsia issued its the first challenge to the absolutist authority in the form of the Decembrist uprising.

Masonic lodges served as a springboard for many Decembrists into a deeper pool of political action (Ulam 6). Although many of them joined the lodges seeking a place to vent their liberalism, their interest in the establishments quickly soured as Masonry proved too narrow a field for the politically ambitious young men. Dissatisfied with philanthropic formulae of the Masons, Alexander Muraviev organized the Union of Welfare that attracted the most prominent figures of the movement–Pavel Pestel, Sergei Trubetskoi and Nikita Muraviev (Mazour 66). Denial of freedom of speech as well as the perpetual suspicion with which the state viewed any efforts of nobility to consolidate necessitated establishment of the Union as a secret organization for whereas the government tolerated mild activities of the Masons, it would not permit an openly operating political party. The chief goals of the Union consisted of political reorganization of the government and abolition of serfdom. However, the difficulty to establish organizational and programmatic continuity within the Union resulted in cripplingly underdeveloped platforms that are rooted more in political theory than reality of Russian society and lead to the Union’s dissolution in 1820, followed by establishment of separate political camps in the North and in the South (Mazour 76-77). Unlike, their French and English revolutionary counterparts, who basked in the political tradition of participation in the government through assemblies of the Estates General and Parliamentary meetings, the Decembrists were terribly removed from the political arena and

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