Neva Stop the Party

The Russian Revolution of 1905 stirred a lot of change within the country. Political parties were not legal before the Revolution, but that did not stop them from existing as we know because they were the ones who stirred the Revolution pot. Under the Tsar, political parties were illegal before 1905.

The idea of political parties is not like the Western system you imagine, since they were not legal until after 1905. Since there were no elections, there was no competition for office (which is the sole purpose of Western political parties). There was no office to compete for until after the Revolution, in 1906. Instead, these parties worked mostly underground to overthrow the current government (Freeze 246). This further shows the backwardness of the Russian culture and their desire to have reform, without changing their antiquated societal ways.

The main political parties of the Revolution were the Party of Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) and two factions of the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party(RSDWP), the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.  The SRs were “high-energy, revolutionary performers” made up of mostly the working class that did not have much patience for slow-moving transition. The Bolsheviks, like the SRs had little patience for a slow-moving revolution, but pushed for growth in capitalism. The Mensheviks did not appeal to the working class, but championed for a ‘bourgeois’ revolution and also wanted to see capitalism in Russia because they believed it was the best way to achieve economic growth, eventually leading to socialism (Freeze 246-248).

The above drawing is the reflection of what caused the Russian Revolution and what was really happening. It is the Neva River which flows through the city of St. Petersburg. When looking for an image to add to this post, this one stuck out to me for a few reasons, one being that the image of the workers at first appears to be somewhat underground. Once I read on I realized it was a reflection onto the river, but it still speaks to the underground work of the parties that helped incite the Revolution. Another cool fact is that the photo comes from the 1905-1906 Russian Underground Press. Based on the research I found, it seems like the Underground Press was run by the Social Democratic Party (RSDWP) during the Revolution. Here you can take a virtual tour and learn more about the Underground Printing Museum that allows you to see where the original printing house was built. The print shop was originally in the basement of a fruit wholesale shop in Moscow. I could go on about the fun facts of the printing-house all day, so I would encourage you to explore the link!

After the Revolution, the Fundamental Law of 1906 was enacted, which stated in Chapter ll, “Russian subjects have the right to organize societies and unions for purposes not contrary to the law. Conditions for organization of societies and unions, their activity, terms and rules for acquiring legal rights as well as dosing of societies and unions, is determined by law.” This gives Russians the legal rights to organize political parties and unions, as they already were.

The photo is titled “The Treacherous Neva Reflected Everything” and was drawn by Volshebny Fonar in 1906.


Freeze Book: Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: a history. Oxford: Oxford U Press, 1997. Print.

Photo found here.

6 thoughts on “Neva Stop the Party

  1. I like how you wrote about a specific aspect of the 1905 revolution rather than the revolution as a whole. It is apparent that you took the time to research this topic & it is well written. I like the photo itself, and the description makes it all the better. Great job!


  2. Love how you addressed the backwardness of Russia through the American political perspective. The link to the Underground Press website really adds value. I like the images abstract nature. It seems as though it is symbolic of the confusion of the time. Great job!


  3. This is such an interesting post! I love that you chose a picture to reflect the party system during the revolutionary time. It was really interesting how you found information on underground printing programs and it shows how difficult it was to be a peasant in Russia during this time. Excellent job finding something interesting in the subject, and also super unique. It is also interesting to see how the sky is depicted in the picture behind the industrial setting. It definitely depicts the industrial revolutionary period well.


  4. Excellent post for many reasons! First off, your image is really powerful. I appreciate your analysis of political parties in general, not just the specific actors during the 1905 revolution. It is fascinating when you realize how many underground parties were operating in a country where their existence was illegal. Finally, your source on the Russian Underground Press is absolutely fascinating, and speaks to the secrecy of both press and political involvement at the time.


  5. That website you found of the underground printing press is amazing! (I’m also intrigued by the AP History bibliography from a Korean military academy(? did I get that right?). Anyway – lots of good insight here, and the drawing (not photo ;-)) of the “underground / invisible workers reflected (or submerged) in the Neva is very powerful. Did you notice the hanging?
    To clarify – the SR’s were agrarian socialists – so most of their followers were peasants or had close ties to the countryside.


  6. I like how you pointed out that some of the underground parties wanted to change the political ways but not necessarily the societal ways. I know sometimes we think of revolution as changing the entire system in place not just part of it. I also love the links you added! I think the images really define the movement that was going on during this time period.


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