I need to understand why and how Nicholas II was not able to implement political reforms in their monarchy if some other reforms have been implemented at their ancestor times. Need to understand...

I need to understand why and how Nicholas II was not able to implement political reforms in their monarchy if some other reforms have been implemented at their ancestor times. Need to understand his personal and governmental characteristics that affected his country and  whose reign saw Imperial Russia goes from being one of the foremost great powers of the world to economic and military collapse, and why the communism was able to destroy the monarchy and did not happened in other country? 

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nicholas II was not able to implement political reforms in Russia for the simple reason that he fundamentally opposed any such reforms. Nicholas II was a pure autocrat, entirely entranced with his position as “Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias.”  Not since his grandfather, Alexander II (reign: 1855-1881), had a tsar attempted meaningful political reforms, and Alexander II’s assassination at the hands of revolutionaries did not bode well for further efforts at liberalization by his offspring. Alexander III, his son, began the roll-back of Alexander II’s reforms, and by the time of Nicholas II’s coronation, the atmosphere was ripe for the very developments that would occur. 

Nicholas II’s reign was marked by tremendous bloodshed, not all of its his fault, but he certainly did the minimum necessary to try to prevent it.  His signature reform, establishment of the State Duma, or parliament, was itself the result of growing pressure from large sectors of the Russian public, led by the increasingly-ruthless revolutionary movements that were inspired by radical ideologies.  Had not the violent events of January 1905 occurred, particularly the incident known as “Bloody Sunday,” during which many dozens were killed and hundreds more wounded, it is highly questionable that Nicholas would have even taken the step of formally establishing a form of parliament. 

Not all of Nicholas II’s failings were a result of his intransigence with respect to political reforms.  The Japanese attack and initiation of the Russo-Japanese War (February 1904-September 1905), during which the Russians suffered serious territorial losses and a great level of humiliation at the hands of the Japanese Empire, weakened the Russian Government during a period when political activism was gaining strength in Russia.  Probably the final nail in Nicholas II’s political coffin was his decision to enter World War I, a protracted and bloody conflict that would cost Russia over 3 million dead and elevate the level of anti-Romanov agitation considerably.  Blame for World War I cannot be laid at Russia’s doorstep, but the nature of the conflict and the enormous number of casualties in a country already seriously divided along socioeconomic lines fatally destabilized the monarchy and made Nicholas II’s abdication more likely.

It is important to keep in mind that the Bolsheviks were not the immediate recipients of the results of the tsar’s fall. A Provisional Government led by Aleksander Kerensky was initially installed in power upon the tsar’s abdication in February 1917.  That government, however, proved no match for the organizational abilities and sheer ruthlessness of the communists who would successfully wage a second revolution later that year.

Why the communists succeeded in destroying the monarchy in Russia when it failed in other countries, then, is a bit of a misnomer. The communists were the single most effective organization involved in revolutionary activities in Russia. They were not alone, however, in overthrowing the Romanov Dynasty.  Many other factions representing less radical ideologies were involved in pushing for reforms and were instrumental in precipitating a revolution.  That the communists were ultimately successful was a product, as stated, of their organizational skills, depth of commitment, and ability to appeal to growing numbers of Russia’s huge peasantry – a category of Russian particularly angry over the personal and economic costs of participation in the world war. 

Russia represented a unique situation.  Other monarchies in Europe and Asia ruled with greater legitimacy among their populations and ruled over much wealthier and more industrialized countries.  Russia remained an economic backwater.  While leftist movements, including communists, were active in countries like Germany, they lacked the political appeal that other, especially rightest or fascist movements enjoyed.  Western European monarchies ruled over much more advanced societies than did the tsar.  Russia was fertile ground for revolution; that the communists succeeded there was a product of conditions unique to that country.

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