10 Germany and Russia in the Belle Epoque: -- Part 4
The Russian Social Democratic Workers Party was founded in 1898.
Russia's stage of industrialization was much behind that of Germany and had so far produced relatively small numbers of proletarians that it was different from the SPD in a number of aspects.
The Russian party had a period of semi-legal status between 1878 and 1890, but it was also deceptive since millions of workers in Germany retained their right to vote.
The first stages of the Russian party were dominated by leaders and few followers, with little more than a band of intellectuals living in exile and lacking regular or close contact with the lower classes of the Russian Empire.
The creation of the party was crippled by intensefactionalism.
Russian Marxists debated what Marx really meant more than Marxists in western Europe.
Within a few years, personal rivalries and other issues led to the formation of separate parties, known as the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, that were hostile to one another.
The Black Partition, a group of narodniks who claimed that the peasants had a right to all, is associated with the debates within the Russian party.
The debates of Russian Marxist exiles had remarkable levels of subtlety.
The position of Ulyanov eventually stood out from the debates.
He was better known by his revolutionary name, Lenin.
It was necessary for a party of professional revolutionaries to bring revolutionary consciousness to the working class in order to guide them in seizing power, establishing a proletarian dictatorship, and introducing socialism, argued Lenin.
With echoes of Nechaev, that commitment was all-consuming for Lenin.
The nature of the revolution in Russia in 1917 was complicated by the differences between the Bolshevik and Menshevik groups.
The Russian version of Marxism is called leninism.
Critics considered the opposite of an updated Marxism, in that Lenin inserted retrograde Russian-anarchist elements into it.
The Marxism of Marx had been drained of its revolutionary content by men like Bernstein and the trade-union leaders of western Europe, according to Lenin.
The idea of revolutionary elitism was one of the things that was considered peculiarly Russian by his western critics.
The ideas of Blanqui were one of the western antecedents to Leninist elitism.
The way in which Blanqui's theories meshed Marxist analysis of capitalism with revolutionary elitism and voluntarism was more modern than the way in which Lenin's theories meshed Marxist analysis of capitalism with revolutionary elitism and voluntarism.
Russia's narodnik tradition influenced Lenin.
Alexander was sentenced to death for his part in a narodnik conspiracy to kill Alexander III.
The young Lenin concluded that his brother's way was not the correct one, but he still admired the courage and dedication of the narodniks.
The movement came from.
In 1863, the narodnik Nikolai Chernyshevsky wrote a novel with that title, and he was an ardent fan of it.
Rakhmetov was a revolutionary who sacrificed everything for the good of the people.
He saw class conflict as a motor of progress and considered the toiling masses, not great men, to be the makers of history.
Marxists in the west were more concerned with how revolution was to be led than they were with the idea of revolutionary leadership.
As the German social-democratic movement grew to attract millions of new members, many of its leaders expressed exasperation with workers as being intellectually lazy, concerned mostly with immediate pleasures, and inclined to alternate from apathy to violentness.
The leaders concluded that the working class, even in a modern industrial context, needed strong leadership, but of a different sort than was proposed by Lenin.
Many of the leaders believed that the only way the social-democratic movement could aspire to majority support was to abandon its association with Marxism.
The skilled and well paid were put off by Marxist theory because they feared mob rule and the indiscipline of the unskilled.
The leaders of the working class in the west needed to oppose the revolution.
Around the turn of the century, other groups began to organize in Russia.
The narodniks came back to life in the Socialist Revolutionary Party, still counting on the Russian peasant to support them.
The formation of these Russian parties gives a sense of how Russia was moving away from the law.
Russia's imperial ambitions were similar to those of France and Britain, but the spread into Siberia and central Asia was far back in Russian history.
The 1904 war between Russia and Japan was a turning point in Russian history.
More troops than any other time in human history were involved in the battle of Mukden, which took place in February-March 1905.
Military observers from around the world came to watch the huge clash of the Russian and Japanese forces.
Approximately 200,000 casualties and a third of them deaths were the result of the battle at Mukden, which was formally a victory for the Japanese.
Many Europeans were surprised by Japan's victory.
There would be more surprises.
The Russian military incompetence was on full display to the world.
Nicholas II was inclined to refer to the Japanese as "monkeys" but he soon realized that they had mastered the techniques of modern warfare.
The Japanese navy destroyed the Russian Baltic fleet at the Straits of Tsushima in May 1905.
The humiliating defeats set in motion a series of shocks, helping to spread revolution inside Russia and notifying the world of Japan's rising power.