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.