The article problematizes Eugene Weber's normative model of nationbuilding through standard schooling and universal military conscription by looking at the case of the Russian imperial army during World War I. The absence of truly universal standardized schooling in late imperial Russia resulted in the emergence of semi-isolated circuits of solidarity when mass conscriptions and war experiences generated mass-scale political mobilization in 1917. Representatives of more educated and well-to-do social strata became the backbone of the "committee class" that staffed the organs of the soldiers' self-government. Their leadership was challenged by less educated soldiers, mostly former peasants, who also strived to influence decision making. Eventually, instead of a single inclusive imperial political nation, the revolution facilitated the crystallization of a number of more rigid and exclusive political nations. Various versions of local patriotic citizenship prevailed, tearing apart the army and the society at large.