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Sticking it to Stolypin: Conflicting Views

Pyotr Stolypin, Served as Russia's Premier and Minister of Internal Affairs  1906-1911 Pyotr Stolypin, Served as Russia’s Premier and Minister of Internal Affairs 1906-1911

Pyotr Stolypin was a major political player during the last decade of the Russian Empire. He rose to power on the back of the Russian Revolution of 1905, and tended to side with the Octoberists, a slightly more conservative group that agreed to back down if the government followed the October Manifesto it had made during the height of the revolution (Freeze 255). Stolypin prided himself on being a reformer and of the people, but different viewpoints exist on that front.

First off, the critique of Stolypin’s time in office comes from a pro-Stalin author published in Sotsial-Demokrat in the fall of 1911, after Stolypin had been assassinated. Throughout this critique, the author focuses on Stolypin’s mishap of aligning with the landed bourgeoisie instead of with the working class. The Leninist claims Stolypin did nothing to fight the “dictatorship of the feudal landowner,” and in turn rigged the system to give the bourgeoisie an unfair majority when it came down to negotiations.

A document from 1907, detailing one of Stolypin’s reforms, seems to tell a different tale about the same man. This document is the Stolypin Agrarian Reform from November of 1906. This reform gave the peasants the ability to acquire personal ownership of land from the land communes. After specifying a few qualifications the document provides a record who applied to leave the land commune and how many actually left. From the period of 1907 until 1915, 2.7 million people applied to leave the land commune and 2 million left. That seems to be evidence of a very successful accomplishment of Stolypin’s tenure.

These two contrasting views of a major Russian figure show the conflicts that were occurring between different groups of revolutionaries following the aftermath of the 1905 Revolutions. Russian politics were becoming more and more complicated as different groups rose to power. The Lenin supporters were sure to use Stolypin’s assassination as a recruiting tool to decry the Russian government and rally people to their cause. On the other hand, its very possible this one document on the agrarian reform was one of the only things Stolypin did for the peasantry; or perhaps the reform was not what it was chalked up to be, and further impoverished the peasantry.

This is just a preview of all the fun messy revolutionary events to come.


Picture Site: http://www.rferl.org/content/podcast_vladimir_putins_historican_heroes/24562625.html

Source 1: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1911/oct/18.htm

Source 2: community.dur.ac.uk/a.k.harrington/stolypin.html

Source 3: Russia a History by Gregory L. Freeze


  1. Kelly Cooper

    It was interesting to read about the different viewpoints about Stolypin and his reforms. This certainly shows how messy the revolution became after 1905 and how groups continued to split. The October Manifesto may have appealed to certain people, such as the group identified as the Octoberists, as you pointed out. However, the manifesto certainly did not fix the tensions and conflicts that were present between groups. You also used some excellent sources to in this post!

  2. katiewells9

    I really enjoyed how you wrote this post as a comparison of different views on Stolypin. It is funny how people can have such different opinions on the same subject from around the same time. Like you said, it goes to show how messy the revolution was and would become.

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