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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #30 on: January 22, 2005, 08:51:35 AM »
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Had not Stolypin been assassinated, then it is believed that his reforms would have succeeded.


That's what I learned in college, too, but it's not what current scholarship shows. Orlando Figes has demonstrated pretty conclusively that Stolypin's reforms were a failure even while he was still alive. This was partly the result of his own personality (he did not know how, or could not be bothered to form coalitions within the government, so remained very isolated and dependent on the tsar's favor), but mainly due to the peasantry's reluctance to leave the communal system. The initial numbers were deceptive - although even one-third of peasants leaving the commune is not terribly impressive, given the deal they were offered to do so (compare this number to the number of American settlers who took advantage of the Homestead Act). Many of these very same peasants later voluntarily returned to the commune or were pressured to do so by communal leaders. One reason Stolypin fell out of NII's favor before his death was that his agrarian reforms were simply not working.
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Offline hissunnywife

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2005, 12:44:33 PM »
Very happy with the views expressed in this chat. The essence of why God has chosen Nicky to be the Tzar despite his lack of certain admin qualities is given here. There were other great kings like that in the past. What about King Arthur, King David?

Human race inhabits this planet for a very long time. In the past, exactly as stated in the comment above, kings were supposed to be spiritual, righteous, examples of moral and ethical behaviour for their subjects. And they had a great sense of duty to God and people, just as Nicky did.

Tzar Nicholas the II was ahead (and behind) of his time, hence not understood by many contemporaries. But since nothing in God's plan is ever wrong perhaps we shall live to see what God has in store and why so many people across the world are becoming more and more interested in him. Needless to say that one of his ikons in Russia began oothing holy oil sometime around 1999 and is used by God for revival of faith in Russia.


Offline Yoyo

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #32 on: January 22, 2005, 01:51:51 PM »
Belochka wrote (sorry, still can't quote :():
"His spiritual faith and his personal confidence in his people would preclude him from seeing the evil which was to envelop Russia. It is wrong to blame Nikolai. If one must place blame, then place it on those workers who were deceived into believing an impossible dream.  

Russia was not as industrially backward as many perceive it was. Count Witte modernized the country by considerable bounds. The trans-siberian railway project is one such example... there was more rail tract laid than in the US. Heavy industry such as oil production, steel and coal was at its peak. These industries helped create larger urbaniztion centers, which strenghtened the worker's position in society." (end of quote)

You can't blame the workers and peasants for dreaming of a better life. It is well known that they lived in absolute poverty, their misery unmitigated by any laws defending them against their greedy employers (even against woman and child labor abuse). They worked 12 to 15 hour days, earned a pittance and then went home (if you can call it that) to horrendous housing conditions.

It is true that Russia had a great heavy industry. But it had no light industy which means that no cheap consumer goods were available for these workers. There was probably no demand anyway; with their meager income, Russia's poor could not afford the most basic consumer goods. I am not a communist (no monarchist either), but if I were a laborer at the time, I would have probably joined the revolution too. The dream would have been impossible, but so would have been continuing to live such a miserable existence.

NII's christian faith should have taught him to read those portions of the Scriptures that teach on the major responsabilities of political leaders: to defend "the widows and orphans", as the Bible calls the most vulnerable members of society, against their oppressors and exploiters. The prophets are full of indictments against leaders who have failed to live up to those responsibilities.

The christian faith does not condone blind faith, passivity and fatalism, especially in leaders. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Nicholas would have done Russia, himself and his innocent children a great favor if he had the vision to become a reformist tsar that took his christian responsability of defending the poor and oppressed (as father Gapon proposed), seriously. If statesmanship is a natural talent, then you can't blame him for not having it; but he should be blamed for not surrrounding himself with those who did have it and who could compensate in what he lacked.
8)
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Dashkova

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2005, 01:55:37 PM »
Arthur and David may or may not even have existed, or may well have been a composite of several historical persons.  It is also striking that despite some very serious character flaws, they are today considered by many to have been great "kings."

I personally do not find anything redeeming in NII's character, though one can certainly feel pity for a pitiful character.  He had the great bad fortune to be born into a position to which he was completely, utterly unsuited, and yet was too weak to realize that and at least attempt to improve himself.  Nor was his character strong enough to put aside his father's negligence and abusive parenting.  That is indeed very sad.

I cannot fathom how it is that some people believe the "anointed by God" claptrap.  If "god" figured such a specimen should rule one-sixth of the planet, then "god" isn't terribly bright, is he/she?
Of course, some religious types view "god" as vengeful.  But the Russian people did not deserve such leadership, either.

Nicholas II really was a pathetic case. I cannot help but feel terribly sorry for him and his family.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2005, 02:42:25 PM »
Very well put, Yoyo, and so appropriate that you made these comments today, on the hundredth anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

On a lighter note: the situation for workers in late imperial Russia was not completely grim. For example, skilled workers (who were admittedly the minority) earned relatively high wages for the time. Future Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev worked as a skilled metal worker in his youth and appears every bit the prosperous bourgeois in at least one photograph taken of him before the revolution. Much later, in the 1960s, he was outraged to discover that he had actually made more money as a skilled metal worker in tsarist Russia than he would make as one in the Soviet Union.
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Offline Yoyo

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #35 on: January 22, 2005, 02:56:19 PM »
You might be right Elisabeth. But according to W. Bruce Lincoln "even an elite metalworker at the great Putilov Works did not earn enough to support a family himself." Maybe it varied a bit according to city or maybe some employers did pay their workers decently.
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #36 on: January 22, 2005, 03:11:58 PM »
That's interesting, Yoyo. The story about Khrushchev comes from Taubman's recent biography, so it's a pretty impeccable source. Wages must have varied, as you suggest, and perhaps, too, Khrushchev did not have a family to support at the time. He would have enjoyed a higher standard of living if he was still single or had a wife but no children (yet).
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline James1941

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #37 on: January 22, 2005, 04:12:17 PM »
I admire Nicholas II as a man. He would have made a good constitutional king in some place like Belgium or Sweden or Romania, but, I am sorry, as the autocrat of Russia he was a hopeless failure and in large measure because of his personal failures.
In one of the posts above it was mentioned that Stolypin was a failure as prime minister and that "his reforms" were not working. Ok, let's accept that. It was Nicholas's duty therefore to find a man who could make the reforms work and who did not have the personal impediments attributed to Stolypin. Yet, because of jealousy (he feared Stolypin was outshinning him as Tsar) right up to the end in 1917 he appointed as prime minister only second rate and third rate men, time serving bureaucrats, court favorites and in one case a certified lunatic. That was a failure of Nicky.
  Also, I find him at fault for having no backbone to stand up to the war mongers in 1914. Although it seems he had a gut instinct that this war would be bad for Russia (and he was advised by many not to go to war) he buckled under to the pressures of the pan-slavists like his cousin the GD Nicholas Nicholaevich and ordered mobilization against Austria which brought Germany in against Russia. This leads to a discussion of who really started World War I and this is not the place for that. To continue my thought of why this was Nicholas' failure, by going into this war he helped destroy the strongest and most important pilar that supported his throne--the army. In 1905 the army had been willing to go out and shoot, hang and imprison the revolutionaries and thus saved Nicky's throne for him.By 1917 that army was gone, buried in snows of the Carpathians and the mud of Poland. When St. Petersburg workers went out on strike in 1917 Nicholas,
sitting at Stavka being neither tsar or commander-in-chief but playing bezique and recording the temperature, ordered a stop to the strikes. This was code word for go out with the police and army and shoot a few, hang a few, imprison a few and thus end the trouble. But the army was a different army and it refused to follow those orders. Even the elite guards regiments were made up of new recruits and these pilars of the Little Father shot their officers and went over to the revolution. When that happened Nicholas was doomed and nothing he could have done after that really mattered. And, it was Nicholas' fault that the situation had reached this point. He had for some years ceased to have any value to either the conservatives or the liberals (and certainly not to the Bolsheviks).
I wish that it could have turned out differently. How many million lives would have been spared and the horror Russia would have been spared if it could have been different but I do not think putting on rose colored glasses and saying it wasn't Nicholas' fault and that he was a good father and a decent man dosen't excuse the facts that he made many blunders when a more astute and intelligent ruler would have done it better.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by James1941 »

Offline AGRBear

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #38 on: January 22, 2005, 04:22:08 PM »
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Arthur and David may or may not even have existed, or may well have been a composite of several historical persons.  It is also striking that despite some very serious character flaws, they are today considered by many to have been great "kings."

I personally do not find anything redeeming in NII's character, though one can certainly feel pity for a pitiful character.  He had the great bad fortune to be born into a position to which he was completely, utterly unsuited, and yet was too weak to realize that and at least attempt to improve himself.  Nor was his character strong enough to put aside his father's negligence and abusive parenting.  That is indeed very sad.

I cannot fathom how it is that some people believe the "anointed by God" claptrap.  If "god" figured such a specimen should rule one-sixth of the planet, then "god" isn't terribly bright, is he/she?
Of course, some religious types view "god" as vengeful.  But the Russian people did not deserve such leadership, either.

Nicholas II really was a pathetic case. I cannot help but feel terribly sorry for him and his family.


Well Dashkova,  that post was a very cold wet blanket spread over the warm fuzzy feelings of the previous posters.

Some people consider a man who was willing to place all of his faith in God, even to the point of sacrificing his family, as heroic.

There really is no need to mock them or their faith in  a God.

99.9 % of the time I wouldn't say this but I will here: Perhaps, this time, it may have been more appropriate to have just  silently come to the thread, read it and left in that same silence.

AGRBear

PS  Yes, Dahskova,  you have every right to your opinion.  I certainly did have mine
;D
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by AGRBear »
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Dashkova

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #39 on: January 22, 2005, 04:42:18 PM »
Oh, yes, that is a good point. I didn't realize the  thread was actually *set up* only for praise.  I don't think that's very realistic, considering the subject, but then, there is, of course, never any accounting for taste.

And I really do question anyone who would possibly consider a man a hero who just basically was incapable of logical, clear thought and just sort of shrugged his shoulders and gave up...and let his family be in a situation where they could be viciously murdered. (I am of the firm belief that between the abdication and before Ekaterinburg there were several opportunities to save at least the children).  It seems such possibilities never occured to him, which is a very serious and sad character flaw, possibly a mental deficiency (which may have been drug-induced).

Offline Dasha

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #40 on: January 22, 2005, 04:57:26 PM »
I would say that Nikolai was just like any other human being.  He had good and bad qualities, and perhaps judging him is not right.  He's not here to explain his actions or to defend them.  It's not fair to tear a so to speak "defenseless" person to shreds.  He was an inept ruler, but a good person, and maybe that ought to count a little.  We're all intitled to our opinions, and perhaps it would be nice if that was remembered.  
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Dashkova

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #41 on: January 22, 2005, 06:08:36 PM »
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I would say that Nikolai was just like any other human being.  He had good and bad qualities, and perhaps judging him is not right.  He's not here to explain his actions or to defend them.  It's not fair to tear a so to speak "defenseless" person to shreds.  He was an inept ruler, but a good person, and maybe that ought to count a little.  We're all intitled to our opinions, and perhaps it would be nice if that was remembered.  


How is expressing one's opinion forgetting that others have an opinion? I know I certainly do not forget that there are a great many varying opinions about pretty much *everything*.
How was Nicholas II a good person?  I'm sorry, I really don't see it.  He gave a lot of lip service regarding love of country and family, but his actions indicated quite the opposite.  As for devotion to his spouse, heck, she was his "handler" and his apparent timidity kept him from asserting himself.  That's another character flaw, and another that can be pitied, but *how* can it be *admired*?
And that can't be called "picking."  The above info is established (not by words but by his *very own* actions!) and so we don't *need* him to be here to "defend himself."

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #42 on: January 22, 2005, 06:10:05 PM »
Well put, James. You're right, NII inadvertently destroyed the very foundation of his own power - the army.

You know, you could start your own thread about who was really at fault in starting WWI.
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rskkiya

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #43 on: January 22, 2005, 06:27:37 PM »
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"  He was an inept ruler, but a good person, and maybe that ought to count a little.  We're all intitled to our opinions, and perhaps it would be nice if that was remembered.  


Hitler was also considered a lover of animals and small children...what is your point?

Nicholas was an INEPT RULER, yes he may well have loved pretty flowers and walking in the rain (I don't pretend to know about that) but the need to excuse his incompetency with romantic reports of his love for his wife and his fondness for animals is rather an embarrassing argument, don't you think?
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Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #44 on: January 22, 2005, 06:40:24 PM »
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Hitler was also considered a lover of animals...
 This is true. Hitler bacame a vegetarian because he didn't like to have animals killed... That bit of information never ceases to startle me.

Sorry, back to the topic.