Soviet Russia And Its Autocratic Power Essay

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One of Tsarist Russia’s hallmarks, apart from its autocratic power, was its reliance on a bureaucracy to implement imperial policies. By nature, autocracies like Russia lacked the political interest groups a weaker, decentralized state might rely on to carry out political policies. As a result, Tsarist Russia relied on the bureaucracy to fill this void and carry out its orders. As a result, members of the bureaucracy didn’t just implement orders; they formed the country’s political elite, and were rewarded with economic privileges. The political and economic power invested in these elites was clearly described by Custine when he wrote:

“Russia is governed by a class of subaltern employees, transferred direct from the public schools to the public administration. These individuals, who are very frequently the sons of men born in foreign lands, are noble so soon as they wear a cross at their buttonhole; and it is only the emperor who gives this decoration. Invested with the magical sign, they become proprietors of estates and of men” (Custine, pg 527).

Not only did the Tsarist bureaucracy have economic privileges traditionally belonging to the aristocracies of Europe, it was even granted titles of nobility by the will of the Tsar. This meant that in theory, someone from a peasant family could have joined the Tsar’s bureaucracy and become a nobleman. The elite social and economic status accorded to these bureaucrats of lowly origins was unique among European nations.…

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