Centralization

In Memoirs of a Revolutionist, a Russian Radical, Vera Figner writes about the Populist-Socialist organization’s intentions, the Will of the People. (Figner, 74)The Will of the People was a radical terrorist organization that believed in starting a peasant revolution to create a Russian government that would serve the people. Figner and other organization members believed that the government was too centralized and controlled all of the economic and political power. (Figner, 72) Before a peasant revolt could begin, the organization believed that political activity was needed first. Therefore, the organization assassinated Alexander II because they were hoping it would spark a revolt. (Figner, 73-74) To achieve their goals, the Will of the People believed that revolutionary activity needed to be controlled by a centralized executive committee that would have power and control over all other revolutionary groups and societies. For instance, Figner stated, “The local groups were obliged to obey this centre, to surrender to it their members and resources upon demand.” Thus, Figner believed that it was justifiable for the executive committee to dominate all local groups because it was for the people’s best interests. Also, Figner stated, “In conformity with the demands of intensive warfare against our mighty antagonist, the plan of organisation of the Will of the People was designed along lines of strict centralisation and an all-Russian scale.” (Figner, 74) The Will of the People believed in defeating their oppressive enemy, the Russian government, by adopting a similar centralized structure that would enable them to demand as many resources as they want from others for the greater good. How is the belief of the centralization of revolutionary activity hypocritical? How can this belief lead to the replacement of a corrupt government with an even more corrupt government? 

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