The 1905 Russian Revolution marked the turning point in Tsar Nicholas II's reign. He was eventually overthrown in 1917, bringing the 304-year-old Romanov dynasty to an end. In October 1905, the 'October Manifesto' was released promising the creation of a parliament ("Duma") and the abolition of autocracy rule with move towards the establishment of a constitutional monarchy and democracy.
Believing "parliamentary rule would result in disintegration of the Russian Empire", Vladimir Gringmuth, who was the editor and publisher of the conservative Viedomosti in Moscow wrote: "A full and accurate answer to the question why autocracy is indispensable to Russia would fill a volume, so many are the reasons which could be given to prove that Russia cannot exist without the autocratic power of its Emperor. Among these are forces of historical, geographical, ethnological, religious, ethical and psychological nature, the latter of which could hardly be presented in a clear and convincing fashion to those who have not studied Russia closely at first hand and familiarized themselves with the spiritual and intellectual qualities of the Russian people.
"First of all, to simplify the reasoning, let me restate the question and ask: Why would a parliamentary system cause the downfall of Russia? This involves no change in the substance of the problem, for, as a parliamentary system must be the cornerstone of any constitutional regime, to prove that parliamentarism would wreck the Russian state will involve the corollary that autocracy is indispensable to this country.
"My readers probably know that every civilized state must, in its evolution, pass through the following stages: autocracy, constitution, republic. This proposition may be considered axiomatic by all who have in mind the history of the last 2 centuries (the 18th and the 19th centuries) in western Europe and America. But one circumstance which always accompanies such an evolution may have been overlooked, a circumstance which with 2 exceptions, of which I shall speak later, has helped the progress of all countries and saved them from dissolution.
"I refer to the existing centrifugal force of a nation. The more typical examples of this are Germany and Italy, where the evolution from absolutism to constitutionalism went hand in hand with the powerful national tendency to unite in one strong whole.
"But now for the other side of the picture. In Great Britain we already see signs of an insufficient centripetal force, due to an insufficient feeling of national unity. In the 18th century it lost its American colonies, and the present relation of the mother country to its foreign possessions is weakening to such an extent that the very name of 'British Empire' is becoming questionable. But the most striking example of centrifugal, anti-government force is offered by the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. During the unlimited autocracy of the Hapsburgs (since 1689) it presented one political whole, firmly united under that system; but when, in the year 1848, the era of democratic constitutionalism began, the monarchy was shaken to its very foundations.
"As with Austria-Hungary on a comparatively small scale, so with Russia on a colossal one, and the peril with which parliamentarism menaces Russia is therefore infinitely greater than that which the Hapsburgian state faces. The Russian Empire is vast, but its vastness is still of very recent origin. Its western and eastern frontier possessions – Finland, the Baltic provinces, Poland, the Caucasus and the Central Asian regions – have not only not yet assimilated themselves with Russia proper, but they do not even desire to do so; they entertain hopes of an independent national and even political existence.
"In view of this their centrifugal force is much more powerful and intense than that of the smaller nationalities of Austria, which can not even think of complete political independence outside of the Hapsburg sway. Let us now suppose that the autocracy, which has created and preserved in its entirety the great united Russian Empire, be swept away and in its place be substituted constitutional parliamentarianism. What takes place in this Parliament? A process of disintegration as in its Austrian prototype, the fragments arraying themselves not into political, but into national parties, which enter into an implacable conflict among themselves. This confict will put a stop to the whole march of political life and will end only when all Russia has been reduced to shattered fragments: in other words, when Russia has ceased to exist.
"Such a prospect is, of course, a consummation devoutly to be wished by all the enemies of Russia, but we Russian conservatives look with horror upon the prospect of such a fate and are endeavouring with all our strength to avert it. But the present enemies of Russia in western Europe would do well to consider that they would also soon begin to feel the consequences of the disappearance of great, powerful Russia, then no longer able to resist the menacing yellow invasion, which would sweep over its remnants to fall upon Europe with all its destructive force. This in a few words is one of the chief reasons why Russia needs autocracy, under which, as has been shown by the history of ages, Russia has been able to fulfil with such success her great task.
"Parliamentarianism, on the other hand, would destroy Russia's integrity, and with it Russia herself."