Progressive Bloc


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Progressive Bloc

 

a group composed of the bourgeois and landlord factions of the Fourth State Duma and State Council during World War I.

The Progressive Bloc was formed in August 1915, when the patriotic enthusiasm of the first months of the war had given way to patriotic alarm among the bourgeoisie, brought on by the military defeats of the spring and summer and the tsarist government’s inability to secure victory on the front and prevent the maturing revolutionary crisis in Russia.

During the summer of 1915, representatives of a number of bourgeois and landowner factions criticized the government and demanded what they termed a “government of public confidence.” Most of the State Duma’s factions and some of the State Council’s factions joined in this demand, signing a formal agreement called the Progressive Bloc. The bloc included six factions of the State Duma—the “Progressive” Nationalists, the Centrists, the Zemstvo Octobrists, the Union of October 17, the Cadets, and the Progressives—and numbered 236 out of 422 Duma members. It also included three factions of the State Council: the Centrists, the Academic Group, and the unaffiliated group. In all, the bloc had more than 300 members. The Rightists and Nationalists remained outside the bloc and supported the government unconditionally, as did the Mensheviks and Trudoviks, who, however, in actuality supported the Progressive Bloc. The Cadets held the leading position in the bloc.

A bureau of 25 men was elected to carry out the Progressive Bloc’s work; the chairman was the Octobrist member of the State Council A. N. Meller-Zakomel’skii. The bureau’s members included the Cadets P. N. Miliukov and A. N. Shingarev, the Progressive I. N. Efremov, the Octobrist S. I. Shidlovskii, and the “progressive” Nationalist V. V. Shul’gin. The Progressive Bloc’s program consisited of demands that a “government of public confidence” be formed to carry out policies of “preserving domestic peace,” partial amnesty for persons sentenced in political and religious cases, removal of certain restrictions on the rights of peasants and the national minorities, and restoration of labor unions. The content of this program was dictated by the bourgeoisie’s dread of the maturing revolution and their attempt to establish a common ground with the tsarist government based on a minimum of liberal reforms and on a wish to bring the war to a “victorious conclusion.”

The exacerbation of the political situation in Russia by the autumn of 1916 compelled the Progressive Bloc to increase its activity. During the autumn session of the State Duma, the bloc demanded the resignation of the chairman of the Council of Ministers, B. V. Shtiurmer, an avowed Germanophile and a favorite of Rasputin; it also demanded the formation of a “responsible ministry.” Although the autocracy was compelled to dismiss Shtiurmer, it continued its former policies, thus intensifying the situation further. The February bourgeois democratic Revolution of 1917 brought to an end the activity of the Progressive Bloc. Many of the bloc’s leaders became members of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma of 1917, and later of the Provisional Government.

REFERENCE

Lenin, V. I. “Porazhenie Rossii i revoliutsionnyi krizis.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27.
Burzhuaziia nakanune Fevral’skoi revoliutsii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.
“Progressivnyi blok v 1915–1917.” Krasnyi arkhiv, 1932, vols. 1–3, 1933, vol. 1.
“Kadety v dni galitsiiskogo razgroma, 1915.” Ibid., 1933, vol. 4.
Diakin, V. S. Russkaia burzhuaziia i tsarizm v gody pervoi mirovoi voiny (1914–1917). Leningrad, 1967.

A. IA. GRUNT

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