Alexander’s reforms launched the second great cycle of
modernization, which lasted from the 1850s to the 1980s. This was
Russia’s attempt to remain a great power in the industrial era. The
renewed process of catching up with the West, begun by the imperial
regime, was interrupted by the First World War and the 1917
revolution of 1917, starting with the collapse of tsarism in
February and culminating in the Bolshevik takeover in October, was
itself, to a large extent, engendered by the pressures of
modernization. It engaged various sections of the population,
including the bourgeoisie and the middle and working classes.
group had its own political program. Some adhered to the
collectivist principles of Russia’s traditional society; others
wished to emulate Western models of capitalism and democracy; still
others advanced utopian Communist blueprints. Yet all felt the need
to overcome the country’s backwardness and catch up with the group
of leading industrialized nations in various spheres, including
technological progress, labor productivity, general literacy of the
population, and the development of democratic institutions.
progressives belonging to all classes understood that the country’s
antiquated political system and the vestiges of feudalism in the
economy were the main obstacles to the country’s successful advance.
Under the circumstances, it was Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks
who had the upper hand.