1533-1584The Russian Empire, covering over one-sixth of the world, is governed by the sovereignty of Czar Ivan the Terrible. The feudalsystem oppresses every man, woman and child as the Czar releases “Tax Collectors” to maintain support for the nobles in the land. Brigands and financial extortionists persecute any lower class citizen who refuses to help contribute to the Czar’s regime. 1682-1725Under Czar Peter I (Peter the Great), the Russian Empire begins to flourish with traces of traditional social structure modifications in the country.
Observing the radical advances of western civilizations, Peter orders the modernization of the army, creation of a navy, encourages mercantilism and foreign trade, and gives women more rights. Nevertheless, the Empire remains stricken in poverty over slow reforms and the overbearing presence of feudalism. 1825-1861The feudal system begins to fail when the goals and desires of the common peasant cannot be achieved through such an archaic doctrine. Various successive Czars attempt social reforms which do not leave an impact on the country’s well-being. In December of 1825, an uprising from the populace occures when they demand changes to the economic system.
With the development of the American, French and Spanish constitutions, the serfs now demanded the abolishment of the monarchy dictatorship, communal ownership of land and many other civil and social reforms. Unfortunately, their rebellion was quicklydismantled by the Czar’s military faction and the system remained in tact. 1861-1905Czar Nicholas II finally realized that his current economic monarchy was holding back the development of the empire. He therefore created a parliamentary system in 1905 which would decrease the number of strikes and violent outbursts generating from the peasants. This representative assembly (called a Duma) was convened a total of four times during the first World War and gave legitimacy to other political factions within the empire and would hopefully increase civil rights. 1917-1924World War I led to the abdication (resignation) of the Czar as the people revolted against his useless monarchy.
Famine, disease and death were spreading like wildfire as the Russians aided France against the militia of Germany during World War I. The population lost its faith in the monarchy and installed a provisional government that would keep the country from disintegrating. However, this government refused to intervene during the fragile years of the war and lost its power to a communist party called the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Nikolai Lenin), overthrew the provisional government and implemented their style of authority to the empire. Their objectives were to lead the Russian empire into prosperity while utilizing Karl Marx’s proposed doctrine for a communal, classless environment where the workers will be using their abilities to satisfy their own needs. The Union was now born and the Communist Manifesto was finally going to be activated.
The C zar and his family were captured and executed, thus ending the oppressive autocracy that had befallen the empire for hundreds of years. Eventually, the central government was overtaken by Lenin and his military leaders, LeonTrotsky and Josef Stalin. Although a minority party, the Bolsheviks decided to implement capitalistic modifications to the fragileeconomy in order to aid the communistic backlash that would follow. The New Economic Policy (NEP) created by Lenin would allow peasants to keep a certain amount of profit for themselves, rather than having the government subsidize all of it. Unfortunately, Lenin died just as his policy had started to work.
1925-1953The two apparent heirs to Lenin’s regime were Josef Stalin and Leon Trotsky. Although Trotsky was better suited for the position (with his strong political inclinations towards reasonable social adaptability), Josef Stalin assumed controlled and subsequently ordered the exile of all apposing cabinet ministers, including Trotsky. Anyone in the Union who objected to his decisions was sent to Siberian prison camps or murdered. He now had full control without any intervention from other liberal or moderate parties.
He decided to concentrate on improving military strength and building on improving the Soviet economy, rather than follow Lenin’s revolutionary goal of dominating the world. In order to obtain the immense amount of money needed to maintain his militia, he began a series of five year programs which would force the average farmer to meet a quota by the end of the harvest and then have the state subsidize all of the production. This system, aptly named collectivization, reprimanded allof the average worker’s liberties and created great suffering during the Stalin regime. Such suffering was magnified during an anti-war treaty that Stalin had signed with Hitler’s Germany in an effort to avoid a confrontation with the Nazi military. However, Hitler violated this treaty in an effort to dominate all of Europe and was denied at the expense of millions of Soviet lives who fought for freedom against his tyranny.
Not only did this lead to millions of deaths and a severe decrease in productivity. Stalin eventually passed away in 1953, and the conservative trend would now shifted to a more liberal form. 1953-1964Nikita Krushchev, a dedicated liberal leader, managed to become the leader of the Soviet Union after a conservative mogul by the name of Malenkov could not gather enough support from the Political Bureau. Krushchev proceeded to moderately alter the rigid, despotic structure of the Union and dealt vigorously with other foreign countries. The improvement in foreign relations, outer space developments and housing/employment allowed Krushchev to improve the Soviet economy. In 1964, he became the first leader ever to lose power when the Political Bureau (Politburo) ousted him due to his extreme radical policies.
1964-1982Brezhnev had now assumed control of the Union. A rigid Stalinist with hard-line ethics, Brezhnev’s goal was to make the USSR into one of the strongest political superpowers in the world. The military was richly funded and the authoritative influence of Brezhnev could be felt in the asperity of the population. When Brezhnev died in 1982, he left behind an empire with one of the world’s strongest military sectors, but weakest population morale. The Soviet Union was an empty superpower with crumbling financial, social and political sectors.
1985-1991In the following years, the Union witnessed very little political reform in terms of enhancing social and production factors. Yuri Andropov died early before he could establish any noticeable reforms and Koneztin Chernenko was inefficient as the leader of the KGB and the Union. At age 54, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev emerged to inherit the economically devastated Union and began establishing political reforms that the world had not encountered since the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. With radical ideologies such as Glasnost (Openess) and Perestroika (long-range capitalistic restructing), along with improved foreign trade and diplomatic association with the United States (elimination of most ballistic nuclear missiles), the reformist had arrived to change the face of his dominion. Gorbachev’s economical strategies had transformed the Soviet Union from a desolate oppressed wasteland to a socially liberated jungle. Such radical policies and reforms not only encouraged the development of a revolution, but the global transformation of Europe as we know it.
As the hard-line coup was formed in early 1991, Gorbachev managed to hold on to power thanks in part to his liberal nemesis, Boris Yeltsin. In return, he had lost all popularity and support from the people and eventually witnessed the destruction of the Union and the death of communism in Russia.