By Theofanis G. Stavrou
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Additional info for Russia Under the Last Tsar
Hugh Seton-Watson, The Decline of Imperial Russia 1855-1914 (London, New York: Praeger, 1952), p. ) 14 ARTHUR MENDEL potent with meaning and "lessons" of another kind, the kind that humanists talked about in the days before models, methods, and memory machines. As in all cases of retrospective prophecy, historians of the period are divided into pessimists and optimists. For the sanguine, these last decades of Imperial Russia display a potential, if trying, evolution toward something like a Western parliamentary government and open society, an evolution cut short by a convergence of many factors and events that was by no means ineluctable.
After all — and this relates to both Von Laue's and Haimson's positions — from the mid-1800's through the Revolution of 1905 into and including the prewar Duma period, the advance toward a liberal, open, Western society is steady and, in comparison with early similar processes in the West, remarkably rapid. One should keep in mind that men and women bora as serfs in the reign of Nicholas I were participating in elections for a central representative government under Nicholas II. Considering the years before the war, who is more the speculator, one who extrapolates a future of comparable evolution from what had already happened, or one who predicts the radically contrary conquest of power by the Tkachevs and the Bakunins?
14 ARTHUR MENDEL potent with meaning and "lessons" of another kind, the kind that humanists talked about in the days before models, methods, and memory machines. As in all cases of retrospective prophecy, historians of the period are divided into pessimists and optimists. For the sanguine, these last decades of Imperial Russia display a potential, if trying, evolution toward something like a Western parliamentary government and open society, an evolution cut short by a convergence of many factors and events that was by no means ineluctable.