It was in October 1905 that Prince Lvov, the liberal zemstvo man', enrolled as a member of the Kadets. The decision had not been an easy one for him to make, for Lvov, by nature, was not a 'party man'. His political outlook was essentially practical — that is what had drawn him into zemstvo affairs — and he could not easily confine himself to the political dogma of any one party. His knowledge of party politics was almost non-existent. He regularly confused the SDs with the SRs and, according to his friends, did not even know the main points of the Kadet programme. 'In all my years of acquaintance with Prince Lvov', recalled V A. Obolensky, 'I never once heard him discuss an abstract theoretical point.' The Prince was a 'sceptical Kadet', as Miliukov, the party's leader, once put it. He was always on the edge of the party's platform and rarely took part in its debates. Yet his opinions were eagerly sought by the Kadet party leaders and he himself was frequently called on to act as a mediator between them. (It was his practical common sense, his experience of local politics, and his detachment from factional squabbles, that would eventually make Lvov the favoured candidate to become the Prime Minister of the Provisional Government in March I9I7.)58
Of all the political parties which sprang up in the wake of the October Manifesto, the Constitutional Democrats, or Kadets for short, was the obvious one for Lvov to join. It was full of liberal zemstvo men who, like him, had come to the party through the Liberation Movement. The agenda of the movement was in the forefront of the Kadet party programme passed at its founding congress in October 1905. The manifesto concentrated almost exclusively on political reforms — a legislative parliament elected on the basis of universal suffrage, guarantees of civil rights, the democratization of local government, and more autonomy for Poland and Finland — not least because the left and right wings of the party were so divided on social issues, the land question above all. But perhaps this concentration was to be expected in a party so dominated by the professional intelligentsia, a party of professors, academics, lawyers, writers, journalists, teachers, doctors, officials and liberal zemstvo men. Of its estimated 100,000 members, nobles made up at least 60 per cent. Its central committee was a veritable 'faculty' of scholars: 21 of its 47 members were university professors, including its chairman, Pavel Miliukov (1859—1943), who was the outstanding historian of his day. These were the 'men of the eighties' — all now in their forties. They had a strong sense of public duty and Western-liberal values, but very little idea of mass politics. In the true tradition of the nineteenth-century intelligentsia they liked to think of themselves as the leaders of 'the people', standing above narrow party or class interests, yet they themselves made very little effort to win the people over to their cause.59 For in their hearts, as in their dinner-party conversations, they were both afraid and contemptuous of the masses.
Among the other liberal groups to emerge at this time, the most important was the Octobrist Party. It took its name from the October Manifesto of 1905, which it saw as the basis for an era of compromise and co-operation between the government and public forces and the creation of a new legal order. It attracted some 20,000 members, most of them landowners, businessmen and officials of one sort or another, who favoured moderate political reforms but opposed universal suffrage as a challenge to the monarchy, not to mention to their own positions in central and local government.60 If the Kadets were liberal-radicals', in the sense that they kept at least one foot in the democratic opposition, the Octobrists were 'conservative-liberals', in the sense that they were prepared to work for reform only within the existing order and only in order to strengthen it.
Lvov himself might have been tempted to join the Octobrists, for D. N. Shipov, his old political mentor and friend from the national zemstvo movement was one of the party's principal founders, while Alexander Guchkov, a comrade-in-arms from the relief campaign in Manchuria, became its leader. But the bitter reform struggle of the previous ten years had taught him not to trust so blindly in the willingness of the Tsar to deliver the promises he had made in his Manifesto. The Prince preferred to remain with the Kadets in a stance of scepticism and half-opposition to the government, rather than join the Octobrists in declarations of loyal support.
This was, in truth, the main dilemma that the liberals faced after the October Manifesto — whether to support or oppose the government. So far the revolution had been a broad assault by the whole nation united against the autocracy. But now the Manifesto held out the prospect of a new constitutional order in which both monarchy and society might — just might — develop along European lines. The situation was delicately balanced. There was always the danger that the Tsar might renege on his constitutional promises, or that the masses might become impatient with the gradual process of political reform and look instead to a violent social revolution. Much would depend on the role of the liberals, who had so far led the opposition movement and who were now strategically placed between the rulers and the ruled. Their task was bound to be difficult, for they had to appear both moderate (so as not to alarm the former) and at the same time radical (so as not to alienate the latter).
Witte, who was charged with forming the first cabinet government in October, offered several portfolios to the liberals. Shipov was offered the Ministry of Agriculture, Guchkov the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the liberal jurist A. F. Koni was selected for the Ministry of Justice, and E. N. Trubetskoi for Education. Prince Urusov, whom we encountered as the Governor of Bessarabia (see pages 42—5), and who sympathized with the Kadets, was considered for the all-important post of Minister of the Interior (although he was soon rejected on the grounds that, while 'decent' and even 'fairly intelligent', he 'was not a commanding personality'). Two other Kadets, Miliukov and Lvov, were also offered ministerial posts. But not one of these 'public men' agreed to join Witte's government, which in the end had to be made up of tsarist bureaucrats and appointees lacking public confidence.61
EVERYDAY LIFE UNDER THE TSARS
14 The city mayors of Russia in St Petersburg for the tercentenary in 1913.
15 The upholders of the patriarchal order in the countryside: a group of volost elders in 1912.
16 A newspaper kiosk in St Petersburg, 1910. There was a boom in newspapers and pamphlets as literacy expanded and censorship was relaxed following the 1905 Revolution.
17 A grocery store in St Petersburg, circa 1900. Note the icon in the top-left corner, a sign of the omnipresence of the Church.
18-19 A society of extreme rich and poor. Above: dinner at a ball given by Countess Shuvalov in her splendid palace on the Fontanka Canal in St Petersburg at the beginning of 1914. Below: a soup kitchen for the unemployed in pre-war St Petersburg.
20 Peasants of a northern Russian village, mid-1890s. Note the lack of shoes and the uniformity of their clothing and their houses.
21-2 Peasant women were expected to do heavy labour in addition to their domestic duties. Above: a peasant's two daughters help him thresh the wheat. Below, peasant women haul a barge on the Sura River under the eye of a labour contractor.
23 Serfdom was still within living memory. Twin brothers, former serfs, from Chernigov province, 1914.
24 A typical Russian peasant household - two brothers, one widowed, each with four children - from the Volokolamsk district, circa 1910.
25 A meeting of village elders, 1910. Most village meetings were less orderly than this.
26 A religious procession in Smolensk province. Not all the peasants were equally devoted to the Orthodox Church.
27 The living space of four Moscow workers in the Sukon-Butikovy factory dormitory before 1917.
28 Inside a Moscow engineering works, circa 1910.
It is a commonplace that by their refusal to join Witte's cabinet the liberals threw away their best chance to steer the tsarist regime towards constitutional reform. But this is unfair. The ostensible reason for the breakdown of negotiations was the liberals' refusal to work with P. N. Durnovo, a man of known rightist views and a scandalous past,* who had, it seems, been promised the post of Minister of the Interior, and who was now suddenly offered it in preference to Urusov. But the Kadets were also doubtful that Witte would be able to deliver on the promises of the October Manifesto in view of the Tsar's hostility to reform. They were afraid of compromising themselves by joining a government which might be powerless against the autocracy. Their fears were partly conditioned by their own habitual mistrust of the government and their natural predilection towards opposition. 'No enemies on the Left' — that had been their rallying cry during the struggles of 1904—5. And the triumph of October had only confirmed their commitment to the policy of mass agitation from below. Their doubts were hardly groundless. Witte himself had expressed the fear that the court might be using him as a temporary expedient, and this had come out in his conversations with the Kadets. On one occasion Miliukov had asked him point blank why he would not commit himself to a constitution: Witte had been forced to admit that he could not 'because the Tsar does not wish it'.62 Since the Premier could not guarantee that the Manifesto would be carried out, it was not unreasonable for the liberals to conclude that their energies might be better spent in opposition rather than in fruitless collaboration with the government.
In any case, it soon became clear that the 'liberal moment' would be very brief. Only hours after the declaration of the October Manifesto there was renewed fighting on the streets as the country became polarized between Left and Right. This violence was in many ways a foretaste of the conflicts of 1917. It showed that social divisions were already far too deep for a merely liberal settlement. On 18 October, the day the Manifesto was proclaimed, some of the jubilant Moscow crowds resolved to march on the city's main jail, the Butyrka, to demonstrate for the immediate release of all political prisoners. The protest passed off peacefully and 140 prisoners were released. But on their way back to the city centre the demonstrators were attacked by a large and well-armed mob carrying national flags and a portrait of the Tsar. There was a similar clash outside the Taganka jail, where one of the prisoners who had just been released, the Bolshevik activist N. E. Bauman, was beaten to death.
* In 1893, when he was working in the Department of Police, Durnovo had ordered his agents to steal the Spanish Ambassador's correspondence with his prostitute mistress, with whom Durnovo was also in love. The Ambassador complained to Alexander III, who ordered Durnovo's immediate dismissal. But after Alexander's death he somehow managed to revive his career.
For the extreme Rightists this was to be the start of a street war against the revolutionaries. Several Rightist groups had been established since the start of 1905. There was the Russian Monarchist Party, established by V A. Gringmut, the reactionary editor of Moscow News, in February, which called for the restoration of a strong autocracy, martial law, dictatorship and the suppression of the Jews, who, it was claimed, were mainly the 'instigators' of all the disorders. Then there was the Russian Assembly, led by Prince Golitsyn and made up mainly of right-wing Civil Servants and officers in St Petersburg, which opposed the introduction of Western parliamentary institutions, and espoused the old formula of Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality.
But by far the most important was the Union of the Russian People, which was established in October by two minor government officials, A. I. Dubrovin and V M. Purishkevich, as a movement to mobilize the masses against the forces of the Left. It was an early Russian version of the Fascist movement. Anti-liberal, anti-socialist and above all anti-Semitic, it spoke of the restoration of the popular autocracy which it believed had existed before Russia was taken over by the Jews and intellectuals. The Tsar and his supporters at the court, who shared this fantasy, patronized the Union, as did several leading Churchmen, including Father John of Kronstadt, a close friend of the royal family, Bishop Hermogen and the monk Iliodor. Nicholas himself wore the Union's badge and wished its leaders 'total success' in their efforts to unify the 'loyal Russians' behind the autocracy. Acting on the Tsar's instructions, the Ministry of the Interior financed its newspapers and secretly channelled arms to it. The Union itself was appalled, however, by what it saw as the Tsar's own weakness and his feeble failure to suppress the Left. It resolved to do this for him by forming paramilitary groups and confronting the revolutionaries in the street. The Black Hundreds,* as the democrats called them, marched with patriotic banners, icons, crosses and portraits of the Tsar, knives and knuckle-dusters in their pockets. By the end of 1906 there were 1,000 branches of the Union with a combined total of up to 300,000 members.63 As with the Fascist movements of inter-war Europe, most of their support came from those embittered lumpen elements who had either lost — or were afraid of losing — their petty status in the social hierarchy as a result of modernization and reform: uprooted peasants forced into the towns as casual labourers; small shopkeepers and artisans squeezed by competition from big business; low-ranking officials and policemen, the threat to whose power from the new democratic institutions rankled; and pub patriots of all kinds disturbed by the sight of 'upstart' workers, students and Jews challenging the God-given power of the Tsar. Fighting revolution in the streets was their way of revenging themselves, a means of putting the clock back and restoring the social and racial hierarchy. Their gangs were also joined by common criminals — thousands of whom had been released under the October amnesty — who saw in them an opportunity for looting and violence. Often encouraged by the police, the Black Hundreds marched through the streets beating up anyone they suspected of democratic sympathies. Sometimes they forced their victims to kneel in homage before a portrait of the Tsar, or dragged them into churches and made them kiss the imperial flag.
* The name was a derogatory one, adapted from the term 'White Hundreds', which was used in medieval Russia for the privileged caste of nobles and wealthy merchants. The lower-class types who joined the Black Hundreds were not in this class, hence their ironic nomenclature.
The worst violence was reserved for the Jews. There were 690 documented pogroms — with over 3,000 reported murders — during the two weeks following the declaration of the October Manifesto. The Rightist groups played a leading role in these pogroms, either by inciting the crowd against the Jews or by planning them from the start. The worst pogrom took place in Odessa, where 800 Jews were murdered, 5,000 wounded and more than 100,000 made homeless. An official investigation ordered by Witte revealed that the police had not only organized, armed and supplied the crowd with vodka, but had helped it root out the Jews from their hiding places and taken part in the killings. The police headquarters in St Petersburg even had its own secret printing press, which produced thousands of pamphlets accusing the Jews of trying to ruin Russia and calling upon the people to 'tear them to pieces and kill them'. Trepov, the virtual dictator of the country, had personally edited the pamphlets. Durnovo, the Minister of the Interior, subsidized them to the tune of 70,000 roubles. But when Witte called for the prosecution of the police chief responsible, the Tsar intervened to protect him. Nicholas was evidently pleased with the pogroms. He agreed with the anti-Semites that the revolution was largely the work of Jews, and naively regarded the pogroms as a justified form of revenge by his 'loyal subjects'. He made this clear in a letter to his mother on 27 October:
My Dearest Mama . . .
I'll begin by saying that the whole situation is better than it was a week ago ... In the first days after the Manifesto the subversive elements raised their heads, but a strong reaction set in quickly and a whole mass of loyal people suddenly made their power felt. The result was obvious, and what one would expect in our country. The impertinence of the socialists and revolutionaries had angered the people once more; and because nine-tenths of the trouble-makers are Jews, the people's whole anger turned against them. That's how the pogroms happened. It is amazing how they took place simultaneously in all the towns of Russia and Siberia . . . Cases as far apart as in Tomsk, Simferopol, Tver and Odessa show clearly what an infuriated mob can do: they surrounded the houses where revolutionaries had taken refuge, set fire to them and killed everybody trying to escape.64
What was emerging was the start of the counter-revolution which would culminate in the civil war. From this point on anti-Semitism became one of the principal weapons used by the court and its supporters to rally the 'loyal people' behind them in their struggle against the revolution and the emerging liberal order.
For the revolutionaries Bauman's murder was a powerful reminder of the regime's bloody habits. Overnight the Bolshevik became a martyr of the revolution. Later, under the Soviet regime, his name would be given to streets, schools, factories, and even a whole district of Moscow. But in fact Bauman was quite unworthy of such inflated honours. He was fond of practical jokes, and on one occasion had been so malicious to a sensitive party comrade, drawing a cruel cartoon of her as the Virgin Mary with a baby in her womb and a question mark asking who the baby looked like, that she was driven to hang herself. Many Social Democrats, including Martov, wanted Bauman expelled from the party. But Lenin disagreed on the grounds that he was a good party worker and that that was all that mattered in the end. The scandal continued to divide the party — it was one of the many personal clashes which came to define the ethical distinctions between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks after 1903 — until Bauman himself was arrested and imprisoned in the Taganka jail. Death cleansed Bauman of his sins. Through his martyrdom the Bolsheviks were able, for the first time, to play on the sympathies of a mass audience. For in the highly charged atmosphere of late October 1905 people from across the whole of the democratic spectrum saw in Bauman's corpse a symbol of the fate awaiting the revolution if they did not unite against reaction. And they turned out in their tens of thousands for his funeral.
If there was one thing the Bolsheviks really mastered, that was the art of burying their dead. Six herculean leather-clad comrades carried Bauman's coffin, draped in a scarlet pall, through the streets of Moscow. At their head was a Bolshevik dressed in Jesuitical-black with a palm branch in his hand which he swung from side to side in time with the music and his own slow steps. The party leaders followed with wreaths, red flags and heavy velvet banners, bearing the slogans of their struggle in ornate gold. They were flanked by an armed militia of students and workers. And behind them row upon row of mourners, some 100,000 in all, marched ten abreast in military formation. This religiouslike procession continued all day, stopping at various points in the city to pick up reinforcements. As it passed the Conservatory it was joined by a student orchestra, which played, over and over again, the funeral dirge of the revolution:
'You Fell Victim to a Fateful Struggle'. The measured heaviness of the marchers, their melancholy music and their military organization filled the streets with dark menace. As night fell, thousands of torches were lit, making the red flags glow. The graveside orations were emotional, defiant and uplifting. Bauman's widow called on the crowds to avenge her husband's death and, as they made their way back to the city centre, sporadic fighting broke out with Black Hundred gangs/15
By this stage the Bolsheviks were already planning an armed insurrection. Their resolve was stiffened by Lenin's return from Geneva at the start of November, for he was insistent on the need to launch a revolt. Since Bloody Sunday much of his correspondence from Switzerland had been dominated by detailed instructions on how to build barricades and how to fight the Cossacks using bombs and pistols. The Petersburg Soviet was also preparing for a showdown with the government. During November it supported a series of strikes which were distinguished by their militancy. Under Trotsky's leadership and the influence of the street crowds, which at least in Petersburg were starting to show signs of readiness for a socialist revolution, many of the Mensheviks moved away from their broad alliance with the liberals and embraced the idea of an armed revolt to assert the 'hegemony of the working class'. There was little prospect of success, but this was buried under all the emotion. Some of the Social Democrats were carried away by their own rhetoric of defiance — after all, it made them popular with the angry workers — and somehow talk slid into actual plans of action. Others took the view that it would be better to go down with a fight than not to try and seize power at all. In the words of one Menshevik, 'we were certain in our hearts that defeat was inevitable. But we were all young and seized with revolutionary enthusiasm and to us it seemed better to perish in a struggle than to be paralysed without even engaging in one. The honour of the Revolution was at stake'. Indeed for Lenin (the 'Jacobin') it did not even matter if the putsch should fail. 'Victory?!', he was heard to say in mid-November. That for us is not the point at all! . . . We should not harbour any illusions, we are realists, and let no one imagine that we have to win. For that we are still too weak. The point is not about victory but about giving the regime a shake and attracting the masses to the movement. That is the whole point. And to say that because we cannot win we should not stage an insurrection — that is simply the talk of cowards. And we have nothing to do with them!'66
The turning-point came on 3 December with the arrest of the Petersburg Soviet leaders. Despite their own poor preparations and the absence of any clear signs of mass support, the Moscow Social Democrats declared a general strike and began to distribute arms to the workers. There were feverish preparations — some of them quite comical. A group of Petersburg Social Democrats became involved, for example, in a hare-brained scheme to develop a 'chemical compound that, if sprinkled on a policeman, would supposedly make him lose consciousness immediately so that you could grab his weapon'. Gorky lent a hand with the preparations. He converted his Moscow apartment into the headquarters of the insurrection and, dressed in a black leather tunic and knee-high military boots, supervised the operations like a Bolshevik commissar. Bombs were made in his study and food was prepared and sent from his kitchens to the workers and students on the barricades. 'The whole of Moscow has become a battleground,' he wrote to his publisher on 10 December. 'The windows have all lost their glass. What's going on in the suburbs and factories I don't know, but from all directions there is the sound of gun-fire. No doubt the authorities will win, but their victory will be a pyrrhic one and it will teach the public an excellent lesson. It will be costly. Today we saw three wounded officers pass our windows. One of them was dead.'67
Ironically, with just a little more strategic planning, the insurgents might have taken Moscow, although in the end, given the lack of nationwide support and the collapse of the army mutinies, the authorities were bound to prevail. By 12 December the rebel militias had gained control of all the railway stations and several districts of the city. Barricades went up in the major streets. Students and well-dressed citizens, incensed by the deployment of artillery against the workers and unarmed crowds, joined in building the barricades from telegraph poles, broken fences, iron gates, overturned trams, lamp-posts, market stalls, doors ripped out of houses, and whatever else came to hand. What had started as a working-class strike was now turning into a general street war against the authorities. The police and the troops would dismantle the barricades at night, only to find them rebuilt in the morning. The outer ring of boulevards which encircles the centre of Moscow became one vast battlefield, with troops and artillery concentrated in the major squares and the rebels controlling most of the streets in between. At this moment, had they struck towards the Kremlin, the rebels might have won. But their plans were largely dictated by the goals of the workers themselves, who preferred to concentrate on the defence of their own rebel strongholds. In the Presnia district, for example, the centre of the textile industry and the home of the most militant workers, there was certainly no thought of marching on the centre. Instead the rebels turned Presnia into a workers' republic, with its own police and a revolutionary council, which in many ways anticipated the future system of the Soviets.
By 15 December the tide was already turning against the rebels. Long-awaited reinforcements from St Peterbsurg arrived in the form of the Semenovsky Regiment and began to bombard the Presnia district, shelling buildings indiscriminately. The Prokhorov cotton mill and the Schmidt furniture factory, which, thanks to their Left-inclined owners, had been turned into fortresses of the uprising in Presnia, were bombarded for two days and nights, despite Schmidt's readiness to negotiate a surrender. Much of the Presnia district was destroyed. House fires burned out of control. By the time the uprising was crushed, more than a thousand people had been killed, most of them civilians caught in the crossfire or in burning buildings. During the weeks that followed the authorities launched a brutal crackdown with mass arrests and summary executions. Workers' children were rounded up in barracks and beaten by police to 'teach them a lesson'. The prisons filled up, militant workers lost their jobs, and the socialist parties were forced underground. Slowly, through terror, order was restored.68
The Moscow uprising failed to raise the banner of social revolution, but it did act as a red rag to the bull of counter-revolution. Witte told Polovtsov in April 1906 that after the success of the Moscow repressions he lost all his influence over the Tsar and, despite his protestations, Durnovo was allowed to 'carry out a brutal and excessive, and often totally unjustified, series of repressive measures'. Throughout the country the socialists were rounded up and imprisoned, or forced into exile or underground. Semen Kanatchikov, who had played a leading part in the Bolshevik revolutionary organizations of Moscow and Petrograd during 1905, was arrested and imprisoned no fewer than three times between 1906 and 1910, whereupon he was sentenced to a life term of exile in Siberia. The newly won freedoms of the socialist parties were now lost as the old police regime was restored. Between 1906 and 1909 over 5,000 'politicals' were sentenced to death, and a further 38,000 were either imprisoned or sent into penal servitude. In the Baltic lands punitive army units went through the towns and villages. During a six-month campaign of terror, starting in December, they executed 1,200 people, destroyed tens of thousands of buildings, and flogged thousands of workers and peasants. The Tsar was delighted with the operation and praised its commanding officer for 'acting splendidly'. In Russia itself the regime did not hesitate to launch a war of terror against its own people. In the areas of peasant revolt whole villages were destroyed by the army and thousands of peasants were imprisoned. When there was no more room in the county jails, orders were given to shoot the guilty peasants instead. 'Arrests alone will not achieve our goals,' Durnovo wrote to his provincial governors in December. 'It is impossible to judge hundreds of thousands of people. I propose to shoot the rioters and in cases of resistance to burn their homes.' The regime aimed to break the spirits of the peasants by humiliating and beating them into submission. Whole communities were forced to take off their hats and scarves and prostrate themselves like serfs before the Cossack troops. Interrogating officers then rode on horses through the villagers, whipping them on the back whenever their answers displeased them, until they gave up their rebel leaders for summary execution. Liberally plied with vodka, the Cossacks committed terrible atrocities against the peasant population. Women and girls were raped in front of their menfolk. Hundreds of peasants were hanged from the trees without any pretence of a trial. In all it has been estimated that the tsarist regime executed 15,000 people, shot or wounded at least 20,000 and deported or exiled 45,000, between mid-October and the opening of the first State Duma in April 1906.69 It was hardly a promising start to the new parliamentary order.
During the suppression of the Moscow uprising Gorky's flat was raided by the Black Hundred gangs and he was forced to flee under cover to Finland. 'I am staying near a waterfall, deep in the woods on the shores of Lake Saimaa,' he wrote to his separated wife Ekaterina on 6 January. 'It's beautiful here, like a fairy tale.'70 Given the new political climate it would have been suicidal for Gorky to return to Russia. The government was doing its best to slander the writer's name. Witte even paid a correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph — a newspaper not known for its fairness to the Left — to spread the libel that Gorky was an anti-Semite. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Gorky despised the popular anti-Semitism of his day, seeing it as a symptom of Russia's backwardness. The fact that pogroms were often an expression of the people's own revolutionary impulses was to become one of his own anxieties about the revolution.
In the spring of 1906 Gorky set sail for America with his common-law wife, the actress Marya Andreeva. At first he was welcomed in the Land of the Free as a champion of the struggle against tyrannical monarchs. To the Americans, as to the French, Gorky appeared as a modern version of their own republican heroes. Cheering crowds greeted his ship as it docked in New York and Mark Twain spoke at a banquet in his honour. But the arms of the tsarist police were very long indeed, and when the American press was informed by them that the woman travelling with Gorky was not his wife there was public outrage. Newspapers accused Gorky of spreading licentious anarchism in the Land of the Righteous. Twain refused to appear with him again, and angry protesters stopped him from making any more public speeches. Returning to their hotel one evening, Gorky and Andreeva discovered that their luggage had been packed and was waiting for them in the lobby. The manager explained that he could not risk the good reputation of his establishment by giving them a bed for the night. No other hotel in Manhattan would put up the immoral couple and they were forced to find sanctuary in the home of the Martins, a broad-minded couple in Staten Island.71
* * * What were the lessons of 1905? Although the tsarist regime had been shaken, it was not brought down. The reasons for this were clear enough. First, the various opposition movements — the urban public and the workers, the peasant revolution, the mutinies in the armed services, and the national independence movements — had all followed their own separate rhythms and failed to combine politically. This would be different in February 1917, when the Duma and the Soviet performed the essential role of co-ordination. Second, the armed forces remained loyal, despite the rash of mutinies, and helped the regime to stabilize itself. This too would be different in future — for in February 1917 the crucial units of the army and the navy quickly went over to the people's side. Third, following the victory of October there was a fatal split within the revolutionary camp between the liberals and democrats, who, on the one hand, were mainly interested in political reforms, and the socialists and their followers, who wanted to push on to a social revolution. By issuing the October Manifesto the tsarist regime succeeded in driving a wedge between the liberals and the socialists. Never again would the Russian masses support the constitutional democratic movement as they did in 1905.
'The reaction is triumphant — but its victory cannot last long,' Gorky wrote to a friend before leaving for New York. And indeed, although the regime succeeded in restoring order, it could not hope to put the clock back. 1905 changed society for good. It was a formative experience for all those who had lived through it. Many of the younger comrades of 1905 were the elders of 1917. They were inspired by its memory and instructed by its lessons. The writer Boris Pasternak (1890—1960) summed up its importance for his generation in the poem '1905':
This night of guns,
By a strike.
This night —
Was our childhood
And the youth of our teachers.72
The Russian people — and many of the non-Russians too — won new political freedoms in 1905 and these could not be simply withdrawn once the regime had regained its grip on power. The boom in newspapers and journals, the convocation of the Duma, the formation of political parties and the growth of public institutions — all these ensured that politics would no longer be the state's exclusive preserve but would have to be openly discussed, even if the real levers of power remained firmly in the hands of the Tsar.
Once they had tasted these new freedoms, the mass of the people could never again put their trust in the Tsar. Fear alone kept them in their place. Bernard Pares cites a conversation he had with a Russian peasant in 1907. The Englishman had asked him what he thought had been the main change in the country during the past five years. After some thought the peasant replied: 'Five years ago there was a belief [in the Tsar] as well as fear. Now the belief is all gone and only the fear remains.'73
It was not just a change in public mood that ruled out a return to the pre-revolutionary order. Too many of the regime's own institutional supports had lost the will for power. Even the prisons, the last resort of the autocracy, were now infected by the new liberal spirit. When, in August 1905, Miliukov, the Kadet leader, was imprisoned in the Kresty jail, he found that even the prison governor showed 'all the symptoms of liberalism. He acquainted me with the prison system and discussed with me ways of organizing the prisoners' labour, entertainment and the running of the prison library.' Trotsky found the prison regime at the Peter and Paul Fortress equally lenient:
The cells were not locked during the day, and we could take our walks all together. For hours at a time we would go into raptures over playing leapfrog. My wife came to visit me twice a week. The officials on duty winked at our exchange of letters and manuscripts. One of them, a middle-aged man, was especially well disposed towards us. At his request I presented him with a copy of my book and my photograph with an inscription. 'My daughters are all college students,' he whispered delightedly, as he winked mysteriously at me. I met him later under the Soviet, and did what I could for him in those years of famine.
His jailers in this top security penitentiary allowed him to receive the latest socialist tracts, along with a pile of French and German novels, which he read with 'the same sense of physical delight that the gourmet has in sipping choice wines or in inhaling the fragrant smoke of a fine cigar'. He even managed to write a history of the Petersburg Soviet and several other pieces of revolutionary propaganda during his stay. 'I feel splendid,' he liked to joke with his visitors. 'I sit and work and feel perfectly sure that I cannot be arrested.' When he left the Fortress it was, as he later recalled, 'with a slight tinge of regret'. There is a photograph of Trotsky in his cell. Dressed in a black suit, a stiff-collared white shirt and well-polished shoes, this could have been, in the words of Isaac Deutscher, 'a prosperous western European fin-de-siecle intellectual, just about to attend a somewhat formal reception, rather than ... a revolutionary awaiting trial in the Peter and Paul Fortress. Only the austerity of the bare wall and the peephole in the door offer a hint of the real background.'74
With his usual panache Trotsky transformed the trial of the fifty-one Soviet leaders into a brilliant propaganda exercise against the tsarist regime. The trial began in October 1906. Every day the court was besieged with petitions, letters, boxes of food and flowers sent by well-wishers for the defendants. The court-room began to resemble a florists' shop. The defendants and their supporters in the public gallery wore flowers in their buttonholes and dresses. The dock was covered in blooms. The judge did not have the courage to remove this fragrant demonstration and the demoralized court attendants were obliged to cope as best they could with the growing barrage of deliveries. At one stage the defendants rose to pay homage to one of their comrades, who had been executed shortly before the trial. Even the prosecuting attorneys felt obliged to stand for a minute's silence.
Trotsky was called to speak for the defence. He turned the dock into a revolutionary tribune, sermonizing to the court on the justice of the workers' uprising and occasionally pointing an accusatory finger towards the judge behind him. His speech turned the prosecution on its head: the Soviet leaders had not misled the workers into the insurrection but had followed them to it; if they were guilty of treason then so were thousands of workers, who would also have to be tried. The political order against which they had risen was not a 'form of government', argued Trotsky, but an 'automaton for mass murder . . . And if you tell me that the pogroms, the arson and the violence . . . represent the form of government of the Russian Empire, then — yes, then I recognize, together with the prosecution, that in October and November we were arming ourselves against the form of government of the Russian Empire.'75 When he left the dock there was an outburst of emotion. The defence lawyers crowded around him wanting to shake his hand.* They had won a clear moral victory. On 2 November the jury delivered its verdict: all but fifteen of the Soviet leaders were acquitted. But Trotsky and fourteen others were exiled to the Arctic Circle.
For the peasants and the workers these new political liberties were of little direct interest. None of their own demands for social reform had been met. The experience of 1905 taught them to look to the social revolution and not to follow the political lead of the liberals. Their disillusionment became even deeper with the failures of the Duma years. There was a growing gulf, which had been exposed by the polarization of the opposition movement after the October Manifesto, between the constitutional ideals of the liberal propertied classes and the socio-economic grievances of the mass of workers and peasants: a general parting of the ways between the political and the social revolutions.
The workers returned to their factories to find that the old work regime was still in place. Having had their bosses briefly on the run, the brutal conditions must now have seemed even more intolerable to them. With the suppression of the socialist movement the working-class organizations were besieged and isolated. And yet the number of politicized workers ready and willing to join them grew with every month.
For their part, the peasants had been frustrated but not defeated in their struggle for the gentry's land. When the squires returned to their estates,
they noticed a change in the peasants' mood. Their old deference was gone, replaced by a sullen rudeness in their behaviour towards their masters. Instead of the peasants' previous courtesy, their friendliness and humility,' one landowner remarked on returning to his estate in Samara in 1906, 'there was only hatred on their faces, and the manner of their greetings was such as to underline their rudeness.' Another landowner remarked on returning to his Tula estate in 1908:
Externally everything appeared to have returned to normal. But something essential, something irreparable had occurred within the people themselves. A general feeling of fear had undermined all trust. After a lifetime of security — no one ever locked their doors and windows in the evening — the nobles concerned themselves with weapons and personally made the rounds to test their security measures.
* Among them, ironically, was A.A. Zarudny, who in 1917, as the Minister of Justice in Kerensky's government, would imprison Trotsky on charges of state treason.
Many nobles complained of a rise in peasant crime, vandalism and 'hooliganism'. They would find farm buildings and machines smashed, or would have to deal with distraught daughters who had been harassed by the villagers. This new militant assertiveness and impatience with the nobles was reflected in village songs, such as this one from 1912:
At night I strut around, And rich men don't get in my way. Just let some rich guy try, And I'll screw his head on upside-down.76
The revolution luridly exposed the peasants' deep hatred of the gentry. They resented having to give back the land they had briefly taken in the 'days of freedom'. Through hostile looks and petty acts of vandalism they were letting it be known that the land was 'theirs' and that as soon as the old regime was weakened once more they would again reclaim it.
The provincial squires, many of whom supported the liberal reform movement in 1904—5, now became, for the most part, inactive or stalwart supporters of reaction. Many of them took fright from the peasant violence and sold their estates to move back to the city: between 1906 and 1914 the gentry sold one-fifth of its land to the peasants; and in the most rebellious regions in 1905—6 the proportion was nearer one-third. But among the majority who chose to remain on the land there was a hardening resolution to defend their property rights. They called loudly for the restoration of law and order. Some local squires hired their own private armies to protect their estates from vandalism and arson. Many of the largest, in particular, joined the United Nobility and the other landowners' organizations established after 1905. This 'gentry reaction' was reflected in the changing nature of the zemstvos, which were transformed from liberal institutions into pillars of conservatism. In their liberal days the zemstvos had sought to improve conditions for the peasantry, but after 1905 they became increasingly focused on the gentry's narrowest concerns. Even the liberal-minded Prince Lvov was voted off the provincial board of the Tula zemstvo during the winter of 1905—6, and had to stand again as an urban delegate. Count Bobrinsky, the leader of the United Nobility, and ironically Lvov's brother-in-law, condemned him as a 'dangerous liberal'.77
The squires were not the only gentlemen who feared the lower classes more and more. Propertied society in general had been forced to confront the frightening reality of a violent revolution, and the prospect of it erupting again — no doubt with still more violence — filled its members with horror. The next revolution, it now seemed clear, would not be a bloodless celebration of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality. It would come as a terrible storm, a violent explosion of suppressed anger and hatred from the dispossessed, which would sweep away the old civilization. Here was the awesome vision of poets such as Blok and Belyi, who portrayed Russia after 1905 as an active and unstable volcano.
Such fears were reflected in the darkening mood of bourgeois language towards the 'mob' in the wake of 1905. In place of the earlier benign view of the urban poor as a 'colourful lot, worthy of compassion', there was now a growing fear of what Belyi called the 'many-thousand human swarm'. The boulevard press and periodicals fed on this growing bourgeois moral panic — reminiscent of our own concerns today about the rise of an 'underclass' — and editorialized on the breakdown of the social order, juvenile crime and delinquency, violent attacks on the well-to-do, disrespect towards authority, and even working-class promiscuity. All 'rough' behaviour by the lower classes was increasingly seen as aggressive and condemned as 'hooliganism' — as indeed were organized labour protests which liberal society in previous years had viewed with some sympathy. In other words, there was no longer any clear distinction in the minds of the respectable classes between criminal hooliganism and violent but justifiable protest. The Revolution of 1905 was now roundly condemned as a form of 'madness', a 'psychic epidemic', in the words of one psychologist, which had merely stirred up the 'base instincts' of the mob. There was less compassion for the poor on the part of this frightened bourgeoisie, and this was reflected in the falling rate of their contributions to charity.78
As the liberal conscience of their class, the Cadets agonized over the dilemmas which this growing threat of violence raised for their support of the revolution. On the one hand, they had been drawn into an alliance with the street, if only because there were no political alternatives. And as they themselves proclaimed, there were 'No enemies on the Left'. But, on the other hand, most of the Kadets were bourgeois, both in terms of their social status and in terms of their general world-view, and as such they were terrified of any further violence from the streets. As E. N. Trubetskoi warned in November:
The wave of anarchy that is advancing from all sides, and that at the present time threatens the legal government, would quickly sweep away any revolutionary government: the embittered masses would then turn against the real or presumed culprits; they would seek the destruction of the entire intelligentsia; they would begin indiscriminately to slaughter anyone who wears German clothes [i.e. is well-dressed].79
Most of the Kadets now came to the conclusion that they did not want a revolution after all. They were intelligent enough to realize that they themselves would be its next victims. At its second conference in February 1906 the Kadet Party condemned the strikes, the Moscow uprising and the land seizures of the previous autumn. It then breathed a sigh of relief: its dishonest marriage with the revolution had at last been brought to an end.
This turning away from the masses was nowhere more marked than within the intelligentsia. The defeat of the 1905 Revolution and the threat of a new and more violent social revolution evoked a wide range of responses from the writers and publicists who had always championed the 'people's cause'. Many became disillusioned and gave up politics for comfortable careers in law and business. They settled down, grew fat and complacent, and looked back with embarrassment at their left-wing student days. Others abandoned political debate for aesthetic pursuits, Bohemian lifestyles, discussions about language and sexuality, or esoteric mystical philosophies. This was the heyday of exotic and pretentious intellectualism. The religious idealism of Vladimir Solovyov gained a particular hold over the Symbolist poets, such as Blok, Merezhkovsky and Belyi, as well as philosophers such as S. L. Frank, Sergei Bulgakov and Berdyaev, who rejected the materialism of the Marxist intelligentsia and sought to reassert the primacy of moral and spiritual values. Common to all of these trends was a deep sense of unease about the prospects for liberal progress in Russia.
There was a general feeling that Russian civilization was doomed. In Belyi's novel Petersburg (1913) one of the characters is a bomb. Fear and loathing of the 'dark' masses lay at the root of this cultural pessimism. 'The people' had lost their abstract purity: in 1905 they had behaved as ordinary people, driven by envy, hatred and greed. One could not build a new civilization on such foundations. Even Gorky, the self-proclaimed champion of the common man, expressed his deepest fears forcefully. 'You are right 666 times over,' he wrote to a literary friend in July 1905, '[the revolution] is giving birth to real barbarians, just like those that ravaged Rome.'80 From this point on, Gorky was plagued by the fear — and after 1917 by the terrible realization — that the 'people's revolution' for which he had struggled all his life would destroy Russian civilization.
Many of these themes came together in Vekhi (Landmarks), a collection of essays published in 1909 by a group of philosophers critical of the radical intelligentsia and its role in the 1905 Revolution. The essays caused a storm of controversy — not least because their writers all had had spotless intelligentsia (i.e. politically radical) credentials — which in itself was symptomatic of the intelligentsias new mood of doubt and self-questioning. Much of the uproar was caused by their portrayal — echoed by Boris Savinkov's novel The Pale Horse (1909) — of the revolutionary as a crippled personality driven to pathological destruction, amoral violence and cruelty, and the pursuit of personal power. The cult of the revolutionary hero was so intrinsic to the intelligentsia's self-identity that such debunking was bound to throw it into existential crisis. In one of the Vekhi essays Struve condemned the intelligentsia for its failure to recognize the need to co-operate with the state in the construction of a legal order after the October Manifesto. Until the intelligentsia abandoned its habits of revolutionary opposition and sought instead to teach the masses respect for the law, the tsarist state would remain the only real protection against the threat of anarchy.
Frank and Berdyaev argued that the atheist and materialist attitudes of the intelligentsia had tempted it to subordinate absolute truths and moral values to 'the good of the people'. On this utilitarian principle the revolutionaries would end by dividing society into victims and oppressors, and out of a great love for humanity would be a born a great hatred and desire for vengeance against particular men. B. A. Kistiakovsky condemned the tendency of the radical intelligentsia to dismiss the 'formality' of law as inferior to the inner justice of 'the people'. The law, argued Kistiakovsky, was an absolute value, the only real guarantee of freedom, and any attempt to subordinate it to the interests of the revolution was bound to end in despotism. Another essayist, A. S. Izgoev, ridiculed the infantile Leftism of the students, who blamed the government for every ill, and adopted the most extreme views in the belief that it made them more 'noble'. Finally, M. O. Gershenzon summed up the duties that now confronted the endangered intelligentsia:
The intelligentsia should stop dreaming of the liberation of the people — we should fear the people more than all the executions carried out by the government, and hail this government which alone, with its bayonets and its prisons, still protects us from the fury of the masses.81
In the long run the Bolsheviks were the real victors of the 1905 Revolution. Not that they came out from it any stronger than their main rivals; in many ways they suffered relatively more from the repressions after 1905 and, but for the financial support of wealthy patrons such as Gorky, might well not have survived the next twelve years. The few openings that remained for the socialist press and the trade unions were better exploited by the Mensheviks, whose dominant right wing (the so-called Liquidators) ceased all underground activities in order to concentrate on developing legal organizations. By 1910 not a single underground newspaper was still in print in Russia. Of the 10,000 Social Democrats who remained in the country, fewer than 10 per cent were Bolsheviks. Mass arrests, the exile of its leaders and constant surveillance by the police reduced the Bolsheviks to a tiny underground sect. The Okhrana's infiltration of their party was such that several of Lenin's most trusted lieutenants turned out to be police spies, including both secretaries of the Petersburg Committee and the head of the Bolshevik faction in the Fourth Duma, Roman Malinovsky.
Nor were the Bolsheviks immune to the factional splits that crippled all the socialist parties after 1905, despite the Soviet (and anti-Soviet) myth of a unified party under Lenin's command. As with the Mensheviks and SRs, the most heated argument among the Bolsheviks concerned the use of legal and illegal methods. All Bolsheviks were agreed on the primacy of the revolutionary underground. But some, like Lenin, also wanted to exploit the available legal channels, such as the Duma and the trade unions, if only as a 'front' for their own mass agitation; whereas others, like Bogdanov, Lenin's co-founder of the Bolshevik faction, argued that this would only encourage the workers to believe in 'constitutional illusions'. The conflict was mixed up with two other issues: the Bolsheviks' controversial use of 'expropriations' (i.e. bank robberies) to finance their activities; and the desire of many Bolsheviks, especially among the rank and file, for the two Social Democratic factions to mend their differences and reunite.
Yet the consequences of 1905 were set to divide the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks even more than the Party Congress of 1903. It was only after 1905 that the rival wings of the Social Democratic movement emerged as two distinctive parties, each with its own political culture, system of ethics, philosophy and methods. Lenin's tactical shifts made all the difference. The basic tenets of the Bolshevik political philosophy had already been formed by 1903, but it was only after 1905, as Lenin digested the practical lessons of the failed revolution, that its unique strategic features began to emerge. Hence Lenin's reference, fifteen years later, to the 1905 Revolution as a 'dress rehearsal' for the Bolshevik seizure of power.82
As Lenin later came to see it, three things had been made clear by 1905: the bankruptcy of the 'bourgeoisie' and its liberal parties as a revolutionary force; the immense revolutionary potential of the peasantry; and the capacity of the nationalist movements in the borderlands to weaken the Empire fatally. He argued for a break with the orthodox Marxist assumption, held as a matter of faith by most of the Mensheviks, that a backward country like Russia would have to go through a 'bourgeois-democratic revolution', accompanied by several decades of capitalist development, before its working class would be sufficiently advanced to take power and install a socialist system. It was not true, Lenin claimed, that the workers would have to follow the lead of the liberal 'bourgeoisie' in overthrowing Tsarism, since they could form a revolutionary government of their own in alliance with the peasants and the national minorities. This concept of working-class autonomy was to become a powerful weapon in the hands of the Bolsheviks. When the workers renewed their strikes and protests after 1912 they turned increasingly to the leadership of the Bolsheviks, whose support for militant action against the 'bourgeoisie' matched their own growing sense of working-class solidarity in the wake of 1905.
Trotsky advanced a similar idea in his theory of the 'permanent revolution' which he had taken from the Marxist theoretician Parvus and developed from his analysis of the 1905 Revolution, Results and Prospects. Although still a Menshevik (pride prevented him from joining Lenin's party), Trotsky's theory fitted better with the revolutionary Bolshevism which he would espouse in 1917 than with the mainstream of Menshevism, as voiced by Plekhanov and Axelrod, which insisted that the bourgeois revolution was a prerequisite of real socialism.* The Russian bourgeoisie, Trotsky said, had shown itself to be incapable of leading the democratic revolution. And yet this feebleness of capitalism's own agents would make it possible for the working class to carry out its revolution earlier than in the more advanced countries of the West. Here was historical paradox raised to the level of strategy. To begin with, the Russian Revolution would have to win the support of the peasants, the vast majority of the population, by allowing them to seize the gentry's estates. But as the revolution moved towards socialism, and the resistance of the 'petty-bourgeois' peasantry increased, further advance would depend on the spread of revolution to the industrial countries of the West, without whose support the socialist order would not be able to sustain itself. 'Workers of the World Unite!'
In this aspect of his theory — and in this alone — Trotsky remained a Menshevik. For the one thing which united all the various strains of the Menshevik credo after 1905 was the belief that in the absence of a socialist revolution in the West the revolutionary struggle of the Russian working class was bound to fail without the support, or at least the neutrality, of the bourgeoisie. This, in the view of the Mensheviks, demanded a flexible approach to the liberal parties after 1905; it was in their mutual interests to campaign for the dismantling of the despotic state and the establishment of a democracy. The years in which the Duma operated would serve as the last test for this experiment in political reform.
* F. I. Dan and E. I. Martynov had also broken with this old Menshevik view (which went back to the 1880s). Their theory of the 'unbroken revolution', which they advanced in the newspaper Nachalo during the autumn of 1905, differed little from that of the 'permanent revolution'.