The Zubatovshina: the russian police in the workers movement

by Khasnetdinova Yulia Ravilovna-Bachelor’s degree, faculty of History and Kamzina Alina Dzhanarovna-Candidate of Historical Sciences, Associate Professor, Department of Russian History, Faculty of History, Orenburg State Pedagogical University,Russia

At the turn of the XIX and XX centuries, the autocratic government had a number of rather serious problems. If the agrarian and national questions were already traditional at that time, the workers ‘ question turned out to be new and proved itself. Almost no one doubted that the workers would be a significant force, since the boom that occurred in the 1890s increased industrial production by an average of two to three times. In such way, the Russian Empire became close to the level of development of industrial countries, with the increased the number of new enterprises, and, accordingly, the number of workers . Despite the fact that the proportion of industrial workers from the total population of the country was small in comparison with the peasantry, it steadily grew, and by 1897 the workers had become a significant social class. It is worth noting that by 1900 there were up to 3 million factory workers. people, and together with those employed in construction, earthworks, agriculture, as laborers, movers, in handicraft and handicraft production – 14 million people (out of the 140 million population of the country) [5, p. 41]. Thus, they began to fight for better working conditions. The labor movement has become a real danger to the monarchy. The means of struggle-arrests, exiles-reinforced the protest character. In search of a way out of this situation, some civil servants are beginning to support the policy of “zubatovism”, named after the main inspirer S. V. Zubatov. Sergey Zubatov was born on April 8, 1864 in the family of an army officer. In his youth, he was no stranger to socialist hobbies. While studying at the gymnasium, S. V. Zubatov participated in illegal circles of young students. In 1882, he was even expelled from the gymnasium for unreliability. By the mid-eighties, S. V. Zubatov had already become a provocateur, a secret informant of the Moscow Okhrana. This clever and successful agent was soon noticed. In 1889, S. V. Zubatov became assistant chief of the Moscow security department, and in 1896 – head of the Okhrana. Zubatov himself recalled that by this time he was considered a “pet and favorite of St. Petersburg” and was already in “full official bloom” [7, p. 41-58]. S. V. Zubatov completely devoted himself to organizing political investigations and setting up “internal agents”, i.e. a complex system of provocations. In this case, he put a lot of imagination and work and achieved significant success. It is while serving as head of the Moscow Security Department that S. V. Zubatov proposes and implements the idea of” police socialism”, initially in Moscow and later in other cities of the Russian Empire. Sergey Vasilyevich “can rightly be called the creator of the system of political investigation in pre-revolutionary Russia” [14, p.77]. One of the last bosses wrote about this in his book P. P. Zavarzin of the Moscow Okhrana: “Zubatov was one of the few government agents who knew the revolutionary movement and investigative techniques. At that time, the political search in the Empire was so weak that many of its ranks were not familiar with the most elementary techniques of that work. Zubatov was the first to set up a search in the Empire on the model of Western Europe, introducing systematic registration, photographing, conspiracy of internal agents, etc. ” [4, p. 69]. Speaking about the historiography of the problem, it is worth noting that “zubatovshchina” aroused the close interest of researchers quite early. The most striking and well-known research can be called the work of I. H. Ozerov “Politics on the labor question in Russia in recent years”. Here the author summarizes his conversations with workers and identifies their most common demands, tries to understand how the workers came to distrust the government. Ozerov makes a decisive attempt to analyze the state policy on the working question [13]. In the work of A. Morsky ” Zubatovshchina. A page from the History of the working question in Russia”, published in 1913, S. V. Zubatov’s concept was condemned. The author saw the reason for the failure of Zubatovism in the vicious police methods used to bring this idea in the reality [11]. In the post-revolutionary period, the Bolshevik point of view began to prevail, and they also condemned Zubatov’s activities, since, in their opinion, his goal was to distract the workers from the class struggle. At the same time, researchers noted the divergence in the interests of workers and Zubatov’s ideas, as well as the “police fiction” and artificiality of the organizations of “Zubatov’s men”, which depended on the Okhrana that took care of them [12, p.7-8]. Later, the main motive of the study, “police socialism” became a struggle of revolutionists against him, not the phenomenon itself “zubatovism” as such. V. Ya Averichev, studying this issue, noted the role of discontent manufacturers in the collapse of the “zubatovism” as entrepreneurs saw the results of the “guardianship” only in the initiation of workers, and the hands of the police was terrible threat [8]. One of the most serious studies devoted to “police socialism” was conducted by A. P. Korelin. This scientist was the first to see in the concept of S. V. Zubatov an independent philosophical idea that is worthy of study. A. P. Korelin in his work “The collapse of the ideology of “Police Socialism” in Tsarist Russia” analyzed not only the ideology itself, but also the influence of S. V. Zubatov’s personality on it [6]. One of the most prominent researchers dealing with the problems of the Moscow Okhrana is Yu. F. Ovchenko, who believes that Zubatov tried to help the workers, wanted to do what, in fact, was part of the tasks of the state, but his pinpoint measures were not enough to deter the ever-growing proletariat from the revolutionary struggle. Ovchenko also analyzed and published the main sources on the history of “police socialism” and analyzed in detail the biography of S. V. Zubatov [12]. If we talk about foreign historiography, then it is worth noting the book by Jeremy Schneidermann “Sergey Zubatov and Revolutionary Marxism”, in which the researcher made an attempt to identify the causes of Zubatovism, analyze them and explain the activities of S. V. Zubatov, using available sources [1] It should be noted that over time, historians in the activities of S. V. Zubatov begin to see not only the phenomenon of anti-people orientation, but also the implementation of a rather interesting experiment. Researchers are trying to distance themselves from the biased approach that was inherent in scientists at the beginning of the XX century. Researchers ‘interest shifted from the struggle against “Zubatovism” to the history of the “workers’ organizations ” themselves. Zubatov’s activities are characterized in two main areas. First, the relentless struggle against the revolutionary movement, and second, the desire to keep the workers ‘ movement within the framework of the economic struggle, thereby diverting attention from politics. According to Zubatov himself, for this purpose it is necessary: to take the working-class movement under your own control and skillfully lead it, and if necessary, to provide workers with some support in the fight against entrepreneurs [18, p . 211]. Under the control of Sergey Zubatov, the Moscow Security Department began mass liquidations of revolutionary organizations. So, in 1896, members of the St. Petersburg “Group of Narodnaya Volya” were arrested, and the Moscow Workers ‘ Union of Social Democrats was liquidated in Moscow. In 1898, the leadership of the Jewish workers ‘ union “Bund” was arrested in Minsk, etc. The effectiveness of the political investigation agencies depended on the degree of their awareness of the opposition. The main information about parties and organizations directed against the Government was provided by agents. According to the memoirs of General A. I. Spiridonovich, Sergey Vasilyevich preferred the method of persuasion to all methods of recruitment. For example, after the next arrest, he would invite the prisoner who seemed most interesting to him. In a “relaxed” atmosphere, he would start conversations, during which he would convince young revolutionaries of the falsity of their chosen path. He said that they, in turn, can be useful to their Fatherland if they agree to cooperate [20, p. 107] The experience of the Moscow security Department has shown high efficiency of high-quality intelligence and operational work, which, in the future, began to be implemented in Russia in the form of issuing secret orders. Thus, the “Instruction to the filers of the Flying squad and filers of search and security departments” dated 31.10.1902, Instructions for organizing and conducting internal (agent) surveillance dated 10.02.1907, etc. were published [2, p. 43; 19, p. 45]. After some time, the Moscow security Department turned into a model institution. Sergey Mikhailovich himself arranged lectures for his subordinates, in which he explained the organization and tactics of investigative activities. “You, gentlemen, should look at the secret employee as a beloved woman with whom you are in an illegal relationship. Take care of her like the apple of your eye. One careless step and you will disgrace her. Remember this, treat these people as I advise you, and they will understand you, trust you, and work with you honestly and selflessly. Shkurnikov drive away, these are not employees, these are selling skins. You can’t work with them. Never tell anyone the name of your employee, not even your superiors. … Lead him carefully out of the circle, put him in a legal position, give him a pension, do everything in human power to thank him and say goodbye to him in a good way. Remember that by ceasing to work and becoming a peaceful member of society, he will continue to be useful to the state, although not as an employee; he will be useful in the new position. You lose an employee, but you gain in society a friend for the government, a necessary person for the state ” [16, p. 171]. During the counteraction to the revolutionary movement, S. V. Zubatov came to the conclusion that the reason for drawing workers into revolutionary actions is their infringement in their professional activities As a result, the Moscow Security Department began to assist workers in defending their professional rights. This mainly concerned the right to rest, decent wages, etc. Sergey Vasilyevich believed that the state should help workers in the struggle for their economic rights. Thus, in April 1898, he drew up a memorandum in which he proposed a program of measures to improve the situation of the workers. In May 1901, the “Society for Mutual Assistance of Mechanical Workers” was formed. S. V. Zubatov provided them with literature on the professional labor movement. However, there was a problem of workers ‘ misunderstanding of scientific works. We solved it by publishing popular brochures. In addition, ideas were put forward for holding popular lectures on labor legislation and the protection of professional rights. Looking ahead, it should be noted that the Charter of 1902 finally consolidated the economic practice of Zubatov region. Specifically, Zubatov’s tasks in the economic field were divided into two points: “1) protecting the interests of workers and 2) maintaining order and legality in the attitude of workers to their owners” [3, p.39]. Thus, the protection of the workers was linked to the purely political task of protecting order and tranquility. The same note developed the idea of peaceful reformist trade unions, since “the professional labor movement arose contrary to the revolutionary idea” [18, p.213]. In 1901, the Historical Museum held regular Sunday meetings of workers. At such meetings, scientists and economists, for example, V. E. Denv and I. X. Ozerov, gave lectures on mutual aid funds, cooperation, and the housing issue. After the lectures, debates were organized. In 1901-1902, such Sunday meetings were very popular, because it was difficult to get into the auditorium of the Historical Museum, although it could accommodate about seven hundred people. After the organization and as the size of the “society” grew, the question arose about its leadership. As noted by M. S. Chudakova, here we can trace the desire to isolate the intelligentsia, as a follower of liberal innovations and revolutionary coups, and to promote the leadership of society from the working environment [Ibid.]. “Police” socialism was an undisputed success among the workers, most of whom really believed in the “good tsar”. At the beginning of 1902, S. V. Zubatov held a kind of review of forces and organized a large patriotic demonstration in the Kremlin in front of the monument to Alexander II. About fifty thousand people took part in this event. At the same time, an exemplary order was provided. S. V. Zubatov himself perceived the demonstration as a “dress rehearsal for managing people’s communities” [17, p. 29]. After Moscow, S. V. Zubatov, with the help of his employees, managed to develop active activities in the west of the country, where, on his initiative, the Independent Jewish Workers ‘ Party (ENRP) was established in July 1901. The new party was headed by M. V. Vilbushevich, G. I. Shaevich, and Yu. Volin, I. Goldberg, A. Chemerissky and others. According to historians, S. V. Zubatov secretly directed the party’s policy through personal correspondence with its leadership [20, p. 109]. To the Jewish workers and artisans, the so-called “independents,” Zubatov promised a fair and prompt solution from above of both the workers ‘ and the national question. However, they were given a condition: to renounce the revolutionary and political revolutionary struggle for the Jewish population of the suburbs. Thus, in the first years of the twentieth century, innovative measures of the Moscow Okhrana to counter the revolutionary movement gave positive results. Thus, at the second congress of the RSDLP in 1903, the Moscow revolutionary Nikolai Bauman admitted: “We consider it our duty now to tell the bare truth, however deplorable it may be: in Moscow, revolutionary socialdemocracy was saved from police socialism” [10, p.180]. Such an assessment of the activities of”police socialism “was connected with the fact that representatives of Zubatov organizations, propagandizing the ideas of” zubatovism”, offered workers to solve acute social problems, namely: to protect the rights of workers in the face of manufacturers and entrepreneurs who sought to get maximum profit, and to reduce the length of the working day. The results of the activities of Zubatov organizations were large-scale failures of revolutionaries. As we have already noted above, the experience of the Moscow Security Department was extended to the activities of police institutions in other localities of the empire. It was also developed in the Little Russian cities of Nikolaev, Odessa and in the provinces of the Western Region, which were distinguished by a very diverse national composition. As Russian society approached the revolutionary crisis of 1905 and as Zubatov’s forms and methods of police activity expanded, contradictions arose, expressed in the frequent complaints of factory owners and owners about workers who were involved by the police in the system of social activities. These circumstances led to the fact that workers ‘ unions and clubs began to lose their popularity [15, p. 37]. The ever-expanding wave of the proletarian movement and the propaganda of the Social Democrats played a decisive role in exposing the “Zubatovism”. Thus, V. I. Lenin noted that attempts to legalize the working class movement in Russia came not only from supporters of the existing system, but also from the liberal intelligentsia and partly from the workers themselves. He also pointed out that “we must unswervingly expose any involvement of the Zubatovs and Vassilievs, gendarmes and priests in this trend and explain to the workers the true intentions of these participants. We must also expose any conciliatory, “harmonic” notes that will slip through the speeches of liberal figures at open meetings of workers ” [9, p. 115]. In the summer months of 1903, the consumer society of workers in Moscow ceased to exist. The annual report of the Society for Mutual Assistance of Mechanical Workers found that , instead of the expected five thousand members, there were only two hundred and sixty-one at the end of the year . At the beginning of 1904, the society had three hundred and sixteen members, but only thirty-five people regularly made contributions [7, p. 57]. Zubatovshchina was doomed because it was unable to satisfy any of the interested parties. The workers were not satisfied with Zubatov’s “illegal” trade unions with their desire for social peace. Industrialists who sought social peace in their relations with the workers were unwilling to give up any part of their earnings. Even more discontent was expressed in the unification of the workers and the growth of their consciousness. On this issue, the mood of entrepreneurs coincided with the fears of the government, which saw the enemy in the face of any amateur organization. Tsarism proved incapable of using “civilized” forms of struggle against the working-class movement. “Police socialism” has failed. After the resignation of S. V. Zubatov in 1903, his organizations were still preserved, but they lost their former importance and soon fell into disrepair. Thus, S. V. Zubatov’s ideology was not static, it changed under the influence of reality and was quite flexible. But this did not help him to develop an effective model of interaction between the government and society in the work issue, so the problem was not solved. In conclusion, we believe it is important to note that the police in providing security S. V. Zubatov was not only new methods and forms of work of the Russian police in the early twentieth century in the struggle against the revolutionary movement, but also received recognition from the staff of Department of police of the Russian Empire and the political opponents of the Russian revolutionaries, who rightly saw in zubatovskikh events of the Russian police, purposeful activity on the decomposition of the ranks of the opponents of the autocracy.


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