The Soviet State: A Study of Bolshevik Rule

By Bertram W. Maxwell | Go to book overview

THE SOVIET STATE

PART I
THE ORGANS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE SOVIET STATE

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

RUSSIA BEFORE THE REVOLUTION OF 1917

THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT

Before the Revolution of October 1905, Russia was an absolute monarchy. The year 1905 brought Russia a nominal constitutional monarchy wrested from the tsar by a series of revolutions and riots. The Manifesto of October 30, 1905, granted the people "the immutable foundations of civil liberty, based on real inviolability of person, freedom of conscience, speech, meetings, and associations." It enlarged the franchise of the masses for the election of the State Duma (parliament), an institution established grudgingly after the disastrous outcome of the Russo-Japanese War, in August 1905. But this action by no means abolished the autocracy. Legally and practically the autocracy lasted until 1917, when it collapsed of its own rottenness. The Fundamental Laws promulgated on April 23, 1906, served as underlying principles of Russian constitutional law. In accordance with these principles the tsar headed the empire, nominally a constitutional monarchy, practically an autocracy, as can be seen in studying the powers of the emperor. All executive authority of this vast land was concentrated in him. The appointment, dismissal, and responsibility of ministers was entirely lodged in him. There was not a fraction of political responsibility of the ministry to parliament, and in fact, any such

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