ABSTRACT

Nineteenth-century Russia, it has been said, most closely resembled not a country, but a vast military academy. In garrisons and outposts over the vastness of the Romanov Empire the relationship of officers and men mirrored the paternalistic structure of the State as a whole. The military and civil spheres were never entirely distinct or entirely independent. The connection between them was dangerously close. A failure in one was immediately reflected in the other. Herzen, describing Tsardom, was able to say: ‘It is a military and civil dictatorship with far more resemblance to the Caesarism of Rome than to a feudal monarchy.’ 1 Parvus-Helphand, the Marxist theorist who was later to master-mind the German attempts to foment revolution in Russia during the First World War, called the Russian state ‘an Asian absolutism buttressed by a European type of army’. 2