Иако је Русија била велика сила, њена влада је у многочему била неефикасна, народ сиромашан, а економија неразвијена. Након победе над Наполеоном, Александар I је имао у виду уставне реформе. Иако је неке покушао да спроведе, праве промене нису ни покушане.
Релативно либералних убеђења био је [[Никола I (руски цар)]] ([].–[]. године), који је био у почетку своје владавине суочен са устанком.
The background of this revolt lay in the Napoleonic Wars, when a number of well-educated Russian officers traveled in Europe in the course of the military campaigns, where their exposure to the liberalism of Western Europe encouraged them to seek change on their return to autocratic Russia. The result was the [[ Decembrist Revolt]] ( December []), the work of a small circle of liberal nobles and army officers who wanted to install Nicholas' brother as a constitutional monarch. But the revolt was easily crushed, leading Nicholas to turn away from the Westernization program begun by Peter the Great and champion the maxim " Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Respect to the People. " Russian tsars had also to deal with uprisings in their newly acquired territories of the Polish- Lithuanian Commonwealth: the [[ November Uprising]] in 1830, the [[ January Uprising]] in 1863.
====Шизма и реакција====
The harsh retaliation for the revolt made "December Fourteenth" a day long remembered by later revolutionary movements. In order to repress further revolts, schools and universities were placed under constant surveillance and students were provided with official textbooks. Police spies were planted everywhere. Would-be revolutionaries were sent off to Siberia; under Nicholas I hundreds of thousands were sent to labor camps there.
In this setting [[Michael Bakunin]] would emerge as the father of [[anarchism]]. He left Russia in [] to Western Europe, where he became active in the socialist movement. After participating in [[May Uprising in Dresden]] of [], he was imprisoned and shipped to Siberia, but eventually escaped and made his way back to Europe. There he practically joined forces with [[Karl Marx]], despite significant ideological and tactical differences.
The question of Russia's direction had been gaining steam ever since Peter the Great's programme of Westernization. Some favored imitating Europe while others renounced the West and called for a return of the traditions of the past. The latter path was championed by [[Slavophile]]s, who heaped scorn on the "decadent" West. The Slavophiles were opponents of bureaucracy, preferred the [[collectivism]] of the [[middle ages|mediaeval]] Russian ''[[mir (social)|mir]]'', or village community, to the [[individualism]] of the West. Later, [[Communism]] in Soviet Russia would owe a debt not only to the doctrines of Karl Marx but also the long-established social pattern of the ''mir''.