Northern Illinois University Press

The Watchful State

Security Police and Opposition in Russia, 1906–1917

Jonathan W. Daly

"Based on impressive archival research, an informed reading of memoirs and published documents and an intelligent use of the many recent publications, particularly from Russia, on the subject."—American Historical Review

"A splendid work by a mature scholar in command of his field, The Watchful State is a significant contribution to the study of the Russian secret police and to the broader field of Russian institutional history."—Richard Robbins, University of New Mexico

"Well written ... painstakingly accurate about administrative details [and] full of the drama of its time. A pleasure to read."—Journal of Modern History

Why did the imperial Russian government fail to prevent revolution in 1917? Were its security policies flawed? This broadly researched study of Russia's security police investigates the government's efforts to maintain order as it struggled against political opposition and threats of violence during the last decade before the Revolution. Historian Jonathan Daly brings to life the men who, often with reformist intentions, took on the task of defending Russia against political dissent and revolution from within.

The Watchful State reveals how the security police matched wits with revolutionary activists under Russia's first constitutional government, from 1906 until the collapse of order in 1917. The secret police kept a watchful eye on a large number of the radical political activists who threatened the state order. Such constant scrutiny enabled the secret police frequently to disrupt plots against the government, to set snares to trap conspirators, and to hold the workers' movement within bounds.

The security police rarely harassed liberal and moderate activists during the constitutional era, though the regular police administration was not so restrained. The two institutions of law enforcement worked together, forming a security system with one primary goal: to thwart antigovernment forces seeking to undermine the political status quo.

Countless times, Russia narrowly escaped breakdowns of order, thanks to the intervention of the police who thwarted political assassinations, troop mutinies, and urban unrest. Yet security police activities were not without cost to the established order. As the educated public expanded and an awareness of civil society grew, tolerance for secretive and often intrusive security apparatus waned. In its battle against its revolutionary adversaries, the late imperial government lost the broader struggle for the hearts and minds of Russians.

(2004) 334 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-331-9
cloth $43.00

Jonathan W. Daly is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is author of Autocracy under Siege: Security Police and Opposition in Russia, 1866–1905.

Table of Contents

1. Policing the Constitutional Order in 1906
2. Revolution's End
3. Watershed: The Azef Affair
4. The Apogee of the Watchful State
5. A Moralist Running the Police Apparatus
6. The Security Police in the First World War
7. Collapse of the Watchful State
Works Cited

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-331-9
cloth $43.00