In these circumstances it was evident that the headstrong Minister of Finance could maintain his position only so long as he enjoyed the energetic support of the Emperor, and this support, for reasons which I have indicated above, failed him at the critical moment. When his work was still unfinished he was suddenly compelled, by the Emperor’s command, to relinquish his post and accept a position in which, it was supposed, he would cease to have any influence in the administration.
Thus fell the Russian Colbert-Turgot, or whatever else he may be called. Whether financial difficulties in the future will lead to his reinstatement as Minister of Finance remains to be seen; but in any case his work cannot be undone. He has increased manufacturing industry to an unprecedented extent, and, as M. Plehve perceived, the industrial proletariat which manufacturing industry on capitalist lines always creates has provided a new field of activity for the revolutionists. I return, therefore, to the evolution of the revolutionary movement in order to describe its present phase, the first-fruits of which have been revealed in the labour disturbances in St. Petersburg and other industrial centres.
THE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT IN ITS LATEST PHASE
Influence of Capitalism and Proletariat on the Revolutionary
Movement—What is to be Done?—Reply of Plekhanof—A New Departure—Karl
Marx’s Theories Applied to Russia—Beginnings of a Social Democratic
Movement—The Labour Troubles of 1894-96 in St. Petersburg—The Social
Democrats’ Plan of Campaign—Schism in the Party—Trade-unionism and
Political Agitation—The Labour Troubles of 1902—How the Revolutionary
Groups are Differentiated from Each Other—Social Democracy and
Constitutionalism—Terrorism—The Socialist Revolutionaries—The
Militant Organisation—Attitude of the Government—Factory
Legislation—Government’s Scheme for Undermining Social
Democracy—Father Gapon and His Labour Association—The Great Strike in
St. Petersburg—Father Gapon goes over to the Revolutionaries.
The development of manufacturing industry on capitalist lines, and the consequent formation of a large industrial proletariat, produced great disappointment in all the theorising sections of the educated classes. The thousands of men and women who had, since the accession of the Tsar-Emancipator in 1855, taken a keen, enthusiastic interest in the progress of their native country, all had believed firmly that in some way or other Russia would escape “the festering sores of Western civilisation.” Now experience had proved that the belief was an illusion, and those who had tried to check the natural course of industrial progress were constrained to confess that their efforts had been futile. Big factories were increasing in size and numbers, while cottage industries were disappearing