Opposition and Revolution
The mid-1890s marked the beginning in Russia not only of a new reign but of mass unrest, which would continue right up to the Bolsheviks' consolidation of power in the early 1920s. The long period of change from above, when the state took the initiative in social and political reform, came to an end. The patriarchal sleep of the masses, the social stability that proponents of Russia's uniqueness regarded as its most important difference from the West, receded into the past. Society's steadily increasing pressure on the government led to the flISt Russian revolution, in 1905-7. The revolutionary events, however, clearly displayed distinctive Russian features. It was not the bourgeoisie that played the leading role, as in the West, but the peasants and the industrial proletariat. On the whole, radical left-wing parties were more prominent participants in the revolution than liberal groups and organizations.