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Messages - NicolasG

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1
Is the guy's last name Service or Conquest?

My mistake. The author is Robert SERVICE, not Robert Conquest. (Yes, I have read the book!).

Robert Service is a British historian whose specialty is the Communist period of Russian history and has written biographies of Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky.
Robert Conquest is also a British historian whose specialty is the Communist period of Russian history and has written several books about Stalinism (Harvest of Sorrow, The Great Terror, Stalin: Breaker of Nations...).

My brain just changed the surname of the two Roberts when I was writing the review, my criticism is of Robert Service....

And the title of the book is "The Last of the Tsars", not "The Last Tsar" (second mistake).

2
Eastern Front, Eastern Front.... (p.12, 22, 68, 102, 129...) The Russian Empire had not had an "Eastern Front" since the end of the Russian-Japanase war in 1905. In WWI the Russian Empire had a Western front and a Southern Front. Of course, from the point of view of a British scholar the battles around Lemberg (L'viv - Lwow - Lvov) belong to the Eastern Front, and  but Russians would have not used "Eastern Front" to describe a region some 1,000 kilometres West of Moscow.

"When the priest stood his ground, the soldier gave way and escorted the two clerics to the Ipatev house. Avdeev let them in but objected to the idea that the emperor would receive a communion wafer from Storozhev..." (p. 206). Orthodox do not receive "communion wafers" like (Latin rite) Catholics, they are given small pieces of consecrated leavened bread in the mouth with a golden spoon.

(Not so) Latvians. [Conquest writing about the team of murderers in Ekaterinburg]: "Yurovski had Nikulin with him; there were also Pavel Medvedev, Mikhail Medvedev and Pėtr Yermakov and seven Latvians." (p. 255).

Richard Pipes, in his book "The Russian Revolution", published 27 years ago wrote: "Alexandra's diary confrims that on July 4 the internal guards were replaced by a fresh crew. Nicholas thought they were Latvians, and so did the captain of the guards when interrogated by Sokolov. But at the time the term "Latvians" were applied losely to all kinds of pro-Communist foreigners. Sokolov learned that Iurovskii spoke with five of the new arrivals in German. There can be little doubt that they were Hungarian prisoners of war, some of them Magyars, some Magyarized Germans. They had moved from the Cheka headquarters, housed at the American Hotel. This was the execution squad." (p. 773)

Helen Rappaport writes in her boook Ekaterinburg: "Yurovsky had originally designated 11 men to take part: himself, his assistant Nikulin. Pavel Medvedev and six others drawn from the Cheka giards collectively labelled as "Letts". These latter men remain shadowy figures, their identities the subject of much discussion and controversy, among both the men who took part themselves that night and historians ever since" (p.181) (one of "the "Letts" - a Hungarian POW named Andreas Verhas"... "would not shoot the girls"... "Yurovsky sent him over to the Popov house")

Also in Helen Rappaport's book: "Significantly, several of the "Letts" brought into the house by Yurovsky to be part of the execution squad had lost their nerves when it came to it, but a legend was born that night and persisted thereafter that "Letts and Jews" were the key figures in the executions when in fact it was not so; all but one of the killers were Russians and Yurovsky was a Jew by birth only" (p.187) - Here a note stating the source of this statement would be appreciated, but the book has not any note.

Conquest does not make clear that "Latvian" was a generic label, not a statement of their nationality.

3


Short review: Not worth buying (maybe worth borrowing from a public library).

Long review:

Robert Conquest is a British historian who has written biographies of Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky, but Imperial Russian is neither his field of expertise nor a interest of his. He starts the book thanking his wife in the acknowledgements section and goes on admitting that "the last of the Russian tsars is a new interest for me".

Conquest does not feel much sympathy for Nicholas or Alexandra and the general impression is that the book was a suggestion of his agent: "Why don't you write something about Nicholas II for the centenary of his abdication?"

The author states about Nicholas: "Longevity in power had given an unwarranted confidence in his own judgement" (p.7) and "His actions were those of a ruler who always thought he was right" (p.8). That is certainly a novel view: almost any other source claims that the problem was exactly the opposite: an autocrat who lacked completely confidence and hesitated before taking any important decision.

But Alexandra gets a worse treatment in the book than Nicholas. She is "ignorant, opinionated" (p.9), "imperious and opinionated" (p.39), "opinionated" (p.40) [He obviously likes the word], "predictably vociferous" (p.56), "had a hauteur" (p.28) [I had to look the word up in a dictionary: it means "haughtiness, arrogance"], "was behaving with her usual hauteur" (p.178)....
Conquest does not explain why an empress with such a "hauteur" would train to become a nurse and work at a military hospital, replacing dirty bandages and assisting at operations. Something, as far as I know, no other queen or president's wife did.

Rasputin is a "monk" (a interesting fact you probably did not know): "The grumbling persisted in the Duma, where disappointment mounted about Nicholas's refusal to compromise after the Rasputin murder. At court, it was understood that the Imperial couple wanted no mention of the monk by name: they found the whole matter acutely painful." (p.17)
The desecration of his tomb and the disappearance of his body is described as "one small episode": "Nicholas and his immediate family adjusted themselves to their new circumstances, but one small episode disturbed them" (p.37). If something similar happened to one of his friends recently passed away, would Conquest talk about it as "one small episode"?

Robert Service does not avoid common cliches: "He who had dispatched thousand of political prisoners to Siberian forced labour, imprisonment or exile would himself be transported to detention in Tobolsk" (p.5). Well, I have read Conquest's biographies of Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky and I have not found in them the less evidence of political prisoners doing forced labour: they got a pension from the government that covered all their basic expenses, they translated books, they studied Marxism, they hunted, they fished, they got together, they bickered among themselves and when they decided so, they escaped from exile [Stalin had also time to impregnate a local girl in her early teens] But no evidence of "forced labour".

"Here was the quintessence of the Romanov family outlook: anti-Semitism mixed with Christian monarchism, expressed in a language that combined racialist slang and pious pomposity" (p.101) - Here is the quintessence of Conquest's style: wide generalizations and intrusive judgements, expressed in the language of scholarly pomposity.

Eastern Front, Eastern Front.... The Russian Empire had not had an "Eastern Front" since


 

4
Imperial Russian History / Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: February 13, 2017, 01:49:32 PM »
Regarding Figes, his "respectability" as a historian has been damaged by former behaviour towards a colleague in his trade.

On the other hand, he might, or might not, used a representative selection of sources to reach his conclusions about the Russian peasants' attitude towards religion on the eve of revolution. I would have to borrow his book from the library to check it.

My guess is that his selection of souces is not representative, because simply there's a scarcity of documents: peasants do not keep diaries, write essays, or send letters to the press. Any secondary source published in Russia after the revolution will, of course, convey the idea that religion played little or no role in the life of peasants. That was the view of the communist regime, which wanted to eradicate it.

Regarding sources I have read a book written by a "respected American historian" who used a book published in Moscow in 1935 as a source to describe the life conditions of workers in Saint Petersburg before war and revolution. Of course, in the book the life of workers in Imperial Russia was completely dark, in Stalin's Soviet Union, bright. If the author of the 1935 book had written something different, she would have been sent to the GULAG.

I have read enough books published by professors in Western universities to know that the idea that they have followed proper methodology because they have gone through some kind of "peer review" is BS. 


5
Imperial Russian History / Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: February 13, 2017, 01:29:34 PM »
Ok, I would not like this threach to branch off in twenty different directions, so I will just write about abortion laws (It was not me who raised the issue, so I think I have the right to reply) and peasant religiosity on the eve of the Russian revolution (or about historical research methodology).

First, abortion. I am a (bad) Catholic, I am pro-life (anti-abortion, if you prefer it) and I would like to have abortion forbidden in the law of my own country and all over the world.

1. Would laws which made abortion illegal be the end of abortion? No.
2. Would pregnant women continue to look for abortion, even if it were illegal? Yes, they would (fewer of them).
3. Would some of those women die as a consequence of complications in those illegal, "backyard" abortion? Yes, a small percentage of them.


1. Laws which made abortion illegal would not be the end of abortion. No law in the long history of humankind has suceeded in completely eradicating a crime. It is not monarchists, it is progressists who think that man's nature is completely elastic, moldable, and through good laws and government intervention would be possible to create heaven on Earth. Conservatives, or anyone who accepts the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, know that man is a fallen, flawed creature. Only limited success is possible.

But law, by penalizing an act, can reduce the incidence of that kind of act. And law can (and have to) show how things should be. It cannot say that fair is foul and foul is fair. Law has to protect human life, specially when it is weaker, at the beginning and at the end.

2. Pregnant women would continue to look for abortion, even if abortion was made illegal. But fewer of them would do, compared to the situation when abortion is completely legal and available. It does not trouble me that "countries that have essentially banned legal abortion haven't seen a decline in the number of abortion "crimes" being committed", for two reasons.

- There are only a handful of countries in that category (only Chile and Nicaragua come to my mind) and "statistics" about abortion in those countries have been produced by the Guttmacher Institute (the "research" branch of Planned Parenthood) or similar organizations, whose credibility is nil.

- Common sense does not allow that the number of abortions in a country will "stay put", after passing a law banning it. Many of the women that go to an abortion "clinic" have many, many doubts about what they are going to do. And that in a country where abortion is legal, "safe" (for the mother, not for the children), widely available, and portrayed in a positive way in the media. A law banning abortion might not change the mind of those women who are decided to have an abortion, whatever, but will tilt the scales in favour of the child's life in most of the rest.

3. If abortion was made illegal, some women would die (or have their health seriously damaged) as a consequence of "backyard" (illegal) abortions. That is an unintended effect of a law banning abortion. But many children (in the USA, millions) would be saved. That's one of the intended effects of a law banning abortion. And many women would be saved, too. That's another intended effect.

Because nowadays adult women (not only the baby girls killed in abortion) DO die as a consequence of abortion, in the USA and in any country where it is legal. And many women have their health (physical and mental) seriously damaged as a consequence of legal abortion. Those women just realize what a horrible mistake they have committed, when that mistake is irreversible. Some of them look for healing (in the Catholic Church or in other religious denominations), others simply cannot cope with the guilt and either commit suicide or choose a self-destructive way of life that ends up killing them. They are also victims of abortion, but for Planned Parenthood or pro-abortion lobby groups they do not exist.

And just to end the part about abortion, I would like to consider what abortion is, in a dispassionate way, without child's body parts or women bleeding to death in backyard abortions. Pro-abortion advocates call themselves "pro-choice". But what choice they are talking about? The choice about the life or death of a human being that a woman has begot.

Pro-life advocates are called "retrogade" for wanting to return to the statu quo regarding abortion current in 1960 in all the Western world. But pro-abortion advocates defends that a woman has the right to kill the child she has begot. In the Roman Empire, the law allowed the paterfamilias, the head of the family, to kill his children or sell them into slavery. So we have progressed (with the difference that now the right of life or death is granted to the mother) to Rome, II century a.C.

6
Imperial Russian History / Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: February 05, 2017, 10:03:26 AM »


Quote
Thirdly, Russian peasants and religion. I don't think that either Mr Figes or a general in Trotsky's Red Army (Brusilov) are reliable authorities on this topic. Seeing a decline in religion because of the persistence in the countryside of pagan traditions which are centuries old is ridiculous. So it is to use the persistence of those traditions as a proof that the peasants weren't actually Orthodox. Only an atheist or someone with a Puritan background could write that, certainly not a Catholic or an Orthodox. The Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church will fight any kind of thing that smells of a cult of the devil, but it will tolerate without any kind of worry innocent traditions, pagan or not. An Orthodox priest will not worry too much about people having fun on Ivana Kupala - the summer solstice, a Catholic priest about Carnival.

If you dig back to some conversations on here from years past you'll find that many AP members (myself included) have been openly critical of Brusilov's decision to join the Reds. However your snide comment about him being part of "Trotsky's Red Army" is an enormous over-simplification that ignores both the complexities of the decisions Brusilov was faced with and his successes on the battlefield while a Tsarist general.

For the religion portion of your post I attempted to summarize my views above. Admittedly I don't know too many Orthodox Russians but I know a ton of Catholics. My cousin and his wife Teresa see themselves as God fearing, church going and devout...and yet...they're moderately pro-choice (with reservations), supportive of same-sex marriage and liberal on most social issues. Does this make them bad Catholics, or not Catholic at all? Look at the current Pope. If he had been alive a few hundred years ago pushing his progressive agenda on the church establishment, not only would he never have even sniffed the papacy, he might have wound up burned at the stake!

So Figes here is suggesting that the Orthodox peasant, while outwardly devout, may also have customized their religious views to fit within their niche culture and certainly modified over time their opinion of the Holy Tsar, Father of all Russia.


Ok, let's follow your order:

1. Brusilov was a general in Trotsky's Red Army. That is not an opinion. That's a fact. And, knowing that fact, one might doubt his value as an authority on peasant religion. That's an opinion, but I think one that can be defended. Certainly, if I wanted to know more about the beliefs of Orthodox peasants, I would consider an Orthodox priest or a Christian philosopher, like Sergei Bulgakov or Nikolai Berdyaev, a much better option.

2. "Devout pro-choice Catholics". That's the language of The New York Times. They do not exist. They are not "bad Catholics". I'm a bad Catholic. They are not Catholic at all. And excuse me if I use "pro-abortion" instead of "pro-choice" (being killed would never be the baby's choice).

I'll give you an example. Suppose that there is a student group at some university whose aim is finding ways of promoting pacifism. Suppose that one day one member argues that the best way to achieve world peace would be for the United States to triple its military budget and for the US Army to launch preemptive nuclear strikes against North Korea and Iran. How would the rest of members of that student group react? I guess they would try to convince him he is wrong, but if he does not change his mind, they would expel him, because there is no way they could consider he supports pacifism. The argument that that's what his consciente tells him or that they are not allowing him freedom of thought would not avoid him being kicked out.

There's a commandment that says: "You shalt not kill". Francisco, the current Pope, has not changed it. He cannot. It's beyond the authority of a Pope to cross out any of the Ten commandments of the list.

3. And now, let's return to the "decline in religion". The persistence of ancient pagan traditions or a myriad of different superstitions among Orthodox (or Catholic) believers is not a proof of a "decline in religious beliefs". If it were so, Christianity would have been in decline since the I century a.C. Priests know about it, they do not care about it. I wrote "innocent pagan traditions", like jumping over bonfires on the summer solstice's night. That's fairly innocent. Child sacrifice is also an ancient pagan tradition, but it isn't innocent.
The appearance of a group of people who consider themselves Catholic while denying basic tenets of the Catholic faith (or rather, natural law) is, on the other hand, a clear evidence of decline in religious beliefs.

7
Imperial Russian History / Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: February 05, 2017, 07:52:23 AM »

Quote
Racial segregation was done away with in the United States in the 20th century without a revolution, a civil war, the creation of a network of concentration camps, several famines and the death of dozens of million human beings. If you disagree with this opinion, you are free to express your views without me accusing you of having a liberal agenda.

Fair enough. So perhaps then the question is this...were Americans in the 20th century fundamentally better people than Russians/Soviets? Or did we simply benefit from having a social structure and representative democracy that respected the rule of law? A system that gave the people themselves a voice and some measure of control over the affairs of state?



First, Americans in the 20th century benefited from not having to fight a war with millions of casualties in American territory. The Japanese attack to Pearl Harbor was the closest thing, and Pearl Harbor is some 2.400 miles away from San Francisco.

Secondly, I find it funny how liberals say that they respect all cultures, and at the same time they want to impose them a typically Western political system: liberal democracy, whatever their religion, values, social structure, economic development, previous history...

8
Imperial Russian History / Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: February 05, 2017, 07:39:11 AM »

Quote
My opinion is that the the tsarist monarchy was better than anything that has followed it in Russia, from the Provisional Government to Vladimir Putin. It wasn't perfect, laws had to be changed (in particular, to do away with the legal discrimination of Jews) but they would have been changed in due time without a revolution.

We agree here. Though I must say that I find it a little amusing, and not the least bit pathetic, that a defense of the Tsarist regime (and moarchy in general) needs to be juxtaposed with what has taken place in Russia over the past century. If the best thing that can be said for monarchy and the reign of Nicholas II is that is was better than post-1917 Russia that's certainly not good enough...making you smarter than an idiot doesn't make you smart in general.


I just think that you have to compare apples to apples. The Russian tsarist regime was a monarchy. But in 1900 all the countries in Europe, with the exception of France, Switzerland and the Republic of San Marino, were monarchies. The monarchic systems in Britain, Spain, Germany, Austro-Hungary and Russia were different. The Russian system is not my favourite. But you have to take into account how Russia was ruled before Nicholas II and how it was ruled after Nicholas II and that provides the relevant context to judge the Russian tsarist regime by 1900.

Imagine this hypotetical situation: at the end of his term as President of the United States, Trump's administration proves to have been a complete failure (I don't think it will be, but you probably do): economic ruin, no friends or allies in the world....
If a Trump supporter said: "Well, anyway, Trump has been a much better head of state than Bashar al-Assad or Kim Jong-un". Would you concede the validity of that argument? Or would you argue that Trump administration has to be compared to that of previous POTUS (let's say, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama) and that's the proper reference to determine if it was a sucess or a failure?



Quote
Secondly, my references to "liberals". Have I written disparagingly about early 20th-century Russian liberals? I think I have. Why? Because I dislike them. They wanted so much to overthrow the tsarist monarchy and reach power that they did not hesitate to undermine their country when it was in a weakened condition, fighting a decisive war (It would have been much better for everyone if that war had not happened, but that's a different matter).

A preposterous war brought about by stupid people for stupid reasons and costing millions of lives. It's easy to lob Molotov cocktails from the cheap seats a century later, but I wonder what your outlook would have been if you were a working class factory worker sent to die at the front in the Tsar or Kaiser's armies. The result of the revolution was bad and led to a great evil. But the reasons behind reorganizing Tsarist Russia were far from foolish...and certainly the anger, frustration and desperation felt by the common subjects of Russia needed a proper funnel that the Tsarist regime couldn't provide.


I think I have never written that WWI was a great and enjoyable experience. But maybe it will be fair to remember that many supporters of the tsarist regime were totally against starting it (especially in the right-wing/Conservative side of the political spectrum) and that very few, if any, of those who opposed the tsarist regime in 1917 wanted to end it.

- The liberals (Lvov, Miliukov, Guchkov) in the Provisional Government were all for continuing it.
- Kerensky (a Trudovik, that is, a kind of Socialist Revolutionary) was all for continuing it.
- Lenin and the bolsheviks were all for transforming the World War in a Civil War: the carnage had to continue, with the difference that it would be Russians against Russians, instead of Russians against Germans.

9
TSARIST (LACK OF) INVOLVEMENT IN POGROMS -II

"Both the causes and the effects of the 1881-4 pogroms have been the subject of considerable controversy. Contemporary conspiracy theories, according to which tsarist officials instigated the violence to deflect popular discontent from an incompetent regime, or revolutionaries organised the riots as a prelude to a broader uprising, have now been laid to rest. Even the most common contemporary explanation - that the pogroms were the bitter harvest of Jewish exploitation of the peasantry- has failed to withstand scrutiny, given that little seems to have changed in relations between Jews and peasants that could account for the sudden outbursts of violence, and in any event the pogroms were almost exclusively urban. In fact, historians have yet to provide a satisfaying explanation of the events beyond the undeniable but vague fact of widespread social and economic dislocation in the wake of the emancipation of the serfs and other Great Reforms".

Benjamin Nathans, The Jews in The Cambridge History of Russia. Volume II: Imperial Russia 1689-1917, Cambridge, 2006.

10
Paul R. Gregory gives these figures in his book Terror by Quota. The source is the book Kto rukovodil NKVD (Who headed the NKVD), by Petrov and Skorkin (1999)

Nationality of Top NKVD Leaders, 1934-1940

In 1934 the head of the NKVD was Yagoda (Jewish). Stalin had him shot, after replacing him with Yezhov (Russian). Then Stalin had Yezhov shot, after replacing him with Beria (Georgian), who was shot after Stalin's death. 

According to the 1937 census, Russians made up 58,1% of the population of the Soviet Union, Ukrainians 16.3 %, Germans 7,1%, Jews 1.7 % and Georgian 1.2 %.

With Yagoda in 1934, 38.5% of top NKVD leaders were Jewish, 31.3% Russian, 5.2% Ukrainian, 3.1% Georgian and 2.1% German.
With Yezhov in 1937, 31.9% of top NKVD leaders were Jewish, 33.6% Russian, 4.4% Ukrainain, 3.5% Georgian and 1.7% German.
Then Stalin carried out the Great Purge.
With Beria in 1940, 3.5% of top NKVD leaders were Jewish, 64.5% Russian, 16.9% Ukrainian, 6.6% Georgian. None were German.

So, there was a replacement of Jews, but also of other nationalities (Poles, Germans, Latvians) with Russians, Ukrainians and Georgians. By 1940, Russians and Georgians were overrepresented, Ukrainians were represented in their proportion of the population of the USSR (16.9% of NKVD leaders, 16.3% of the population). Jews were still overrepresented, but only by a factor of 2, not by a factor of 22, as they were in 1934.

Stalin wanted to get rid of "old bolshevists" (many of whom were Jewish) and anyone who might be tainted by association with them and replace them with new men, who owed loyalty only to Stalin. The final national structure of the top NKVD leaders was closer to the national structure of the Soviet Union, with the exclusion of nationalities which Stalin considered "suspicious": Germans, Poles, Latvians (Total of 13.6 top NKVD leaders in 1934, 0.0% in 1940).

11
Imperial Russian History / Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: January 28, 2017, 02:48:52 PM »
First, I would start defending myself from the accusation of having a hidden agenda. My agenda - if anything - is open. I am a monarchist. As simply as that. My interest in Russian monarchy, besides historical, is political. I couldn't care less about rococo architecture, furniture, jewelry, family trees, what colour the dresses of the bridesmaids were in the wedding of the second son of the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein and that kind of things...

As far as I know, the discussion of political topics is not forbidden on this forum. My opinion is that the the tsarist monarchy was better than anything that has followed it in Russia, from the Provisional Government to Vladimir Putin. It wasn't perfect, laws had to be changed (in particular, to do away with the legal discrimination of Jews) but they would have been changed in due time without a revolution. Racial segregation was done away with in the United States in the 20th century without a revolution, a civil war, the creation of a network of concentration camps, several famines and the death of dozens of million human beings. If you disagree with this opinion, you are free to express your views without me accusing you of having a liberal agenda.

Secondly, my references to "liberals". Have I written disparagingly about early 20th-century Russian liberals? I think I have. Why? Because I dislike them. They wanted so much to overthrow the tsarist monarchy and reach power that they did not hesitate to undermine their country when it was in a weakened condition, fighting a decisive war (It would have been much better for everyone if that war had not happened, but that's a different matter). They sided with revolutionaries, because they knew that they themselves were not strong enough for their aim and once they had power (Lvov- Head of the Provisional Government, Guchkov-Minister of War, Miliukov-Foreign Affairs) they executed an almost perfect exercise in incompetence, cowardice and stupidity, which made things much easier for Lenin and his thugs (The idiot of Kerensky also deserves a big part of the blame).

Thirdly, Russian peasants and religion. I don't think that either Mr Figes or a general in Trotsky's Red Army (Brusilov) are reliable authorities on this topic. Seeing a decline in religion because of the persistence in the countryside of pagan traditions which are centuries old is ridiculous. So it is to use the persistence of those traditions as a proof that the peasants weren't actually Orthodox. Only an atheist or someone with a Puritan background could write that, certainly not a Catholic or an Orthodox. The Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church will fight any kind of thing that smells of a cult of the devil, but it will tolerate without any kind of worry innocent traditions, pagan or not. An Orthodox priest will not worry too much about people having fun on Ivana Kupala - the summer solstice, a Catholic priest about Carnival.

Last, your comment about the "educated liberal from St Petersburg" and the peasants like Native American Indians, as if Russian peasants scalped the urbanites who dared travel into the countryside (They didn't. They sometimes pelted with stones and gave a good hiding to narodniki revolutionaries who came to incite them to rebellion). Well, I cannot refrain from saying it: It sounds a bit condecesding. It reminds me of something that some woman who was running as a candidate in some kind of election said about deplorable people.

12
Imperial Russian History / Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: January 28, 2017, 08:44:43 AM »
The point is, every medal has two sides and every event will be interpreted in two ways.

Believe it or not, BOTH are correct, but history has tendency to always blame one side.

Why do I say that both points of view are correct - imagine the next situation : one blind person says that he/she does not see anything while another who is able to say that he can see the sky. Both are correct, both see their realities trough their eyes and make conclusions through their experiences.

This is the similar thing - both sides have different and independent views at one person, Gavrilo Princip in this case.

Quote
2. Serbs, and people who are glad to accept their narrative, can use the coincidence to make the visit of Franz Ferdinand to Sarajevo look like a "provocation". This way they can shift the blame to Austrian authorities and create a smoke-screen around what happened on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo: a dirty, treacherous double murder in cold blood. 

I don't believe in coincidences, as the saying goes - It is too coincidental to be a coincidence. In those people's POV, that visit indeed was provocation, believe it or not. Like it was not in your POV. But again, this is just my POV - maybe he would have been murder on any other day and maybe he would have never got murdered. Who knows?

Also I hardly believe in objective history, we are human beings and we are prone to make judgments. I do not approve any murder and never will, nor Franz Ferdinand's and his wife Sophie's murder - their children left orphaned, nor King Alexander and Queen Draga's in 1903  but when speaking about victims, let's please try to be 'objective' as history will never be, let's remember all the victims from both sides that died in those terrible wars; In WW1, Serbia lost over 450,000 (yes, many children left orphaned) which is too much for its territory. 

When speaking about murdering in recently-annexed Macedonia in 1913/4, we should remember that there had occurred murders in centuries before during Ottomans and Muslims were not the only victims. When speaking about NATO bombing, cca. 2500 people lost their lives, mostly innocent victims, and year was 1999.

Why I am telling this - to try to get this conversation on higher level, to observe both sides and both points of views.

Honestly, I don't know how intelligent was declaring and starting war back in 1914, and losing all those lives in vain. I also believe that we should learn from the history, since Historia magistra vitae est. I just want to change bad image about the whole nation created by some individuals. If any individual does something, it must not say anything global about the nation.

Best regards!

When you study some event in human history, you need the context in which it happened. And that means what was happening then or several years before it, that is, in this case around 1914. Not what happened 100 years before, or 525 years before, or in year 250 B.C. Not what would happen afterwards in the future, in 1916 or in 1999 or in year 2050.

Christopher Clark has been accused here of letting what happened in former Yugoslavia (the war, the ethnic cleansing) in 1990s colour his view of the events that lead to the Sarajevo murder and World War I, of "reading history backwards". He doesn't do it. He does not even mention a single time the massacres in Bosnia in 1990s. He does mention the NATO ultimatum to Serbia-Yugoslavia in 1999, to compare it with the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia in 1914, as two similar documents can be compared (let's say, the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Italy).

So I think that the focus has to be place on the events in the Balkans 1912-June 1914.

In 1914 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire you had nationalism, different ethnic groups competing for power and influence: more schools using their own language, more jobs for their ethnic group... But these groups lived peacefully together and, whatever the tension in Parliament, it did not cause terrorism or ethnic violence.

From 1912-14, south of the border of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, there were several nations in a feeding frenzy, attacking the Ottoman Empire and then fighting among them for the spoils. Serbia emerged as the main victor in those wars and people of other ethnic groups who came under Serbian rule suffered the kind of violence that afterwards was called "ethnic cleansing".

Who would you choose to be in 1914: a Serb in Vojvodina, under Hungarian rule, or in Bosnia, under Austrian administration or a Muslim in Macedonia under Serbian rule?

That's the context. That happened 100 years ago. Serbs today are not guilty of it, and are not to be blamed as long as they do not consider the POS Gavrilo Princip a hero (as many politicians and a famous Serbian filmmaker do).

13
Imperial Russian History / Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: January 28, 2017, 08:00:25 AM »
Could you (or Mr. Figues) explain me the mechanism according to which an illiterate peasant living 500, 1.000 or 2.000 miles from Moscow was affected by the shooting in St. Petersburg of demonstrators led by a socialist priest which refused to stop their advance towards the Winter Palace when told to do so by soldiers?

You cannot have it both ways. You cannot defend at the same time that the war or revolution was caused by a "permanent resentment of the Russian people towards their Tsar and autocratic regime", that "Nicholas II was only a celebrity" and that "the peasants, with their limited exposure and horizons, really cared who was running the affairs of state."

In 1914, 80% of the inhabitants of the Russian Empire were peasants. If you say:

- That "people" were angry with the tsar and that provoked the revolution.
- That "peasants" did not really care who ruled in Russia.

The logical inference is that you are talking about two different groups: "people" and "peasants". So, according to that view, peasants weren't people.

That's exactly what many liberals, oppositors of the tsarist regime, members of the educated class thought before the war.
That's exactly what bolsheviks thought and they acted according to that principle, starving them and reducing them to a state serfdom far worse that the one abolished in 1861.
That's exactly what many Western historians thought, although they did not state it openly.

14
Imperial Russian History / Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: January 27, 2017, 07:58:37 AM »

revolutionary tensions at home leading to Bloody Sunday and permanent resentment of the Russian people towards their Tsar an autocratic regime.


I think this post makes the same mistake that Russian liberals before the war, bolsheviks and most Western historians. "People" were those Russians who lived in cities, the "educated liberal class" or "the industrial proletariat", the workers. Peasants (80% of the population of the Russian Empire) were just "beasts of burden".

Certainly among those two groups (more so among "educated liberals" than among "industrial workers") there was resentment towards the autocratic regime. But it is difficult to say the same about peasants, who did not leave memoirs or diaries or wrote articles in the press. And it was the peasants who had to fight and die in the war.

So, among the factors that led to war, one was the agitation of the Russian liberal (that is, anti-autocratic) press. Peasants have no voice in the "public opinion", while most of conservatives were germanophiles and supported reaching some kind of agreement with Germany.

15
Imperial Russian History / Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« on: January 23, 2017, 10:49:28 AM »

And what do *I* think?

I find it curious that in all this debate you haven't once asked me for my views or sought to address them with any evidence.

Well, this is not a Sunday school, where shy little children have to be encouraged to say something by their teachers. If you want to tell your views, do it. You have had the chance in your previous posts.

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