The rout of the Russian army over summer 1915 had a marked political impact on the civil government. In practical terms, the government was compelled to negotiate with society in order to harness the country’s energies and talents to the state apparatus; at the level of public relations, the country had to be conciliated with political concessions in lieu of military victory. As the leader of the left wing of the Nationalists, Vasilii Shulgin, remarked, ‘for this defeat the government had to pay. But what with? With the only currency which was acceptable in payment — it had to settle its debt by the concession of power, however superficially, however temporarily.’ A ‘liberal phase’ which held sway during the summer of 1915 was forced upon the Russian government by the anonymous pressures of war. It owed little to Russian society and the Duma: the moderates had no power to initiate or sponsor official liberalisation; they could only jump aboard the political bandwagon once it was moving and hope to aid its acceleration by their combined weight.1


Public Organisation Moderate Minister Special Commission Military Command Liberal Phase 
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© Raymond Pearson 1977

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  • Raymond Pearson

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