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By Theodore R. Weeks

Across the innovative Divide: Russia and the USSR 1861-1945 bargains a huge interpretive account of Russian heritage from the emancipation of the serfs to the top of worldwide struggle II.<ul type="disc">* offers a coherent review of Russia's improvement from 1861 via to 1945* displays the newest scholarship via taking a thematic method of Russian historical past and bridging the ‘revolutionary divide’ of 1917* Covers political, fiscal, cultural, and way of life matters in the course of a interval of significant adjustments in Russian heritage* Addresses during the range of nationwide teams, cultures, and religions within the Russian Empire and USSR* exhibits how the unconventional guidelines followed after 1917 either replaced Russia and perpetuated an financial and political stress that keeps to steer sleek society

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Additional info for Across the Revolutionary Divide: Russia and the USSR, 1861-1945 (Blackwell History of Russia)

Sample text

The existence of serfdom, a form of unfree labor wherein peasants are not free to move and must give up a significant part of their labor and/or produce to the landowner, had long been seen as economically retrograde and morally repugnant. Liberal economists argued that serfdom (and unfree labor in general) stifled initiative and retarded economic development. Certainly industrial growth demanded a more fluid labor market than serfdom allowed. Many were disturbed by the moral implications of serfdom: arch-conservative Tsar Nicholas I (reigned 1825–55) reportedly feared divine retribution for presiding over such an immoral system, but at the same time dreaded the social upheaval that liberation might unleash.

Thus the educated middle class of 1945 was far larger than its counterpart of 1861. The industrial working class had also grown enormously. Some groups, on the other hand, had disappeared nearly completely: landowners had been expropriated decades before, no shopkeepers or capitalists remained – except perhaps as managers in the enterprises they once owned, and the clerical estate had shrunk radically. Tens of thousands of educated middle-class Russians – the flower of the intelligentsia – had fled or been forced out of the country in the first decade of Soviet power and a new, rawer but more numerous educated class had taken their place.

Stolypin was the last capable and memorable prime minister of imperial Russia. This is not to say that imperial Russia was doomed as early as autumn of 1911. But neither liberal society, on the whole, nor the industrial proletariat, nor the peasantry could firmly support the status quo. Stolypin had recognized this and pushed through a major reform aimed at creating a class of individual peasant landowners (see chapter 4, “Modernization,” pp. 127–8). Whether this reform could have fulfilled Stolypin’s hopes is impossible to gauge, as World War I intervened before the reform could make a broad impression on the Russian countryside.

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