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Offline James1941

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #45 on: January 22, 2005, 07:13:45 PM »
Thanks for the very kind words. There is already a thread on how and who started the war. It is in the section on Imperial Russian History under the thread of World War I.  I am going over there a little later to add my two cents (and a penny is worthless these days--at least a U.S. penny) to the discussion. Again, thanks for the compliment
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by James1941 »

Offline Belochka

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #46 on: January 23, 2005, 03:39:27 AM »
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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.  


It cannot be said that Stolypin's reforms failed because of his personality alone. Stolypin had to fight against opposition from the right and left factions. Much of the nobility failed to understand Stolypin's reform program. Those from the right were desperate to retain their personal privileges, even if it meant retention of autocratic rule at all costs. They feared that the "old order" would be undermined. While those on the left prefered that the land was to be consolidated - involving whole villages, rather than allowing for dispararte parcels of land. Stolypin's most serious opponent was Nikolai, who resisted any changes which affected his perception of autocratic rule.

Granted that Stolypin was uncompromising, but this is a trait coming from an individual who believed he was right. He was fully aware that he was dealing with a nation undergoing considerable internal social and industrial changes. Such new economic ideals emerging in Western Europe during the late 19th and early 20th century proved incompatible with Russia of the old.

Stolypin's tenureship as Prime Minister has been considered by Figes to be a failure. Yet it must be realized that Stolypin, achieved a number of positive things for Russia. He restored order over the revolutionaries after the 1905/6 turmoils. The fact that he was able to introduce agrarian reforms by increasing productivity and agricultural efficiency cannot be ignored. What was wrong with allowing the peasant who were free to choose, to own land if they desired, a new concept in creating a new class of land owners, and for the establishment a special loans bank to support their financial needs? This was a huge progressive achievement in the light of what I alluded to earlier. Furthermore he extended zemstvos and promoted education and introduced insurance for workers. To undermine or ignore these achievements as inconsequential is grossly misguided.

Present leftist 'wisdom' claims that Stolypin's assasination had no effect on Russia's development. I would contend that had there been more faith and understanding of Stolypin's reforms, and had there been internal stability then there would have been an excellent opportunity for Stolypin's reforms to be fully realized.

To blame the lack of success of Stolypin's policies on his personality alone ignores the temperament of Russia, and the "will" of its Emperor. Stolypin may have failed to solve the problems, but at least he can be accredited for singularily trying to do so.

One side would tender that Stolypin's reforms were regressive, while the other side would support the notion that his policies were unusually progressive.

One's personal interpretation of this question really comes down to which ideological position is prefered, don't you think?



« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Belochka »


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Dashkova

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #47 on: January 23, 2005, 10:52:04 AM »
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Gosh, what a complicated and fascinating topic for a dissertation or book. My own personal opinion is that autocracy lasted so long in Russia because the elite was simply terrified of the masses, the "narod." There was such a long history of brutal peasant revolts in Russia, going back hundreds of years. And when some 80-90 percent of the population is made up of peasants, another peasant revolt is a very frightening - and realistic - prospect.

Remember that the Russian elite, even in NII's day, was tiny and very weak by Western European standards. The middle class was developing rapidly, but still not numerous. The urban working class was a mere blip on the radar screen (something like 1% of the population). And the nobility, by European standards, was simply impoverished. Because Russia was so "backward" in terms of its population make-up, many Russians - and even Westerners - believed that it was incapable of any form of self-government.

What to do about the peasant? In Russia, that was the single most burning issue of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. No one could seem to come up with a viable solution. So this patriarchal attitude to the narod persisted even amongst thinking Russians (even to some extent amongst the radicalized intelligentsia): the narod are irrational children whose bestial impulses must be kept in check by a strong central government. For centuries the personification of a strong state was the autocrat, the "Little Father" (telling epithet). Hence autocracy: bulwark against anarchic chaos.

Just off the top of my head. I know, simplistic answer to a really, really complex question.


Nicely written and accurate and YES, very complex question.  And yet the very question:  "What to do about the peasant?"  as if others should decide.  When 90 percent of the population is in that category (peasant) it seems to be most fair and make most sense to allow THEM to decide what to do about themselves.
They're still waiting for that chance.

Dashkova

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #48 on: January 23, 2005, 10:54:41 AM »
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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.
Yoyo


It did vary widely.  Sadly, for every situation such as Khruchev, there were dozens who worked the 12/12 shift, sharing a bed (many times complete with leg chains) with a worker with the opposite 12/12 schedule.
Grim was the rule.

rskkiya

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #49 on: January 23, 2005, 12:48:02 PM »
Under such horrid circumstances, it's difficult to imagine a worker NOT being at least sympathetic to revolutionary ideas...
rskkiya

Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #50 on: January 23, 2005, 12:50:46 PM »
But, believe it or not, many of them weren't! Many peasants were distrustful of the revolutionaries, and they still trusted the Tsar and his government(no matter how delusional that was). If it were entirely up to the majority in Russia, i.e. the peasants, chances are the revolution would have never happened! I read that Lenin, in fact, had nothing but disdain for the peasant, and that he felt that they were not capable of making decisions on their own.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by helenazar »

rskkiya

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #51 on: January 23, 2005, 01:00:52 PM »
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Under such horrid circumstances, it's difficult to imagine a worker NOT being at least sympathetic to revolutionary ideas...
rskkiya


Helen A
I was refering to factory workers.

Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #52 on: January 23, 2005, 01:06:51 PM »
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Helen A
I was refering to factory workers.


I guess I should have quoted Dashkova's post then, where she mentions the majority of Russia's population being peasants... Yes, most factory workers were sympathetic for someone trying to make a change, and justifiably so!

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"What to do about the peasant?"  as if others should decide.  When 90 percent of the population is in that category (peasant) it seems to be most fair and make most sense to allow THEM to decide what to do about themselves.


« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by helenazar »

Dashkova

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #53 on: January 23, 2005, 01:54:29 PM »
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I guess I should have quoted Dashkova's post then, where she mentions the majority of Russia's population being peasants... Yes, most factory workers were sympathetic for someone trying to make a change, and justifiably so!




True, many (probably most) peasants were *outwardly* averse to change, in manners almost IDENTICAL to that of American slaves.  It was a case of..."Look, don't make this worse."  
They lived in fear and their living conditions were overall WRETCHED, there are mountains of evidence of this.
Just because someone is terrified and beaten down emotionally does not mean they are satisfied with their life.  Of course they would have welcomed change if the fear could have been removed.
This business of peasants being so happily impoverished and sending out warm fuzzies to their "beloved tsar" is complete BS (not naming names, but this board is RIFE with such la-di-da types).  Those who *did* participate in tsar worship did so like kids think fondly of Santa Claus.  In other words, it was done out of ignorance.
The urban workers *were* in the minority, but living and working in the city exposed them to news and ideas not usually available in the countryside.  They were almost entirely *former* peasants. But as soon as they were enlightened in ways that were not possible in the villages, look what they did!!

Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #54 on: January 23, 2005, 02:08:09 PM »
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They lived in fear and their living conditions were overall WRETCHED, there are mountains of evidence of this.
Just because someone is terrified and beaten down emotionally does not mean they are satisfied with their life.  Of course they would have welcomed change if the fear could have been removed.
This business of peasants being so happily impoverished and sending out warm fuzzies to their "beloved tsar" is complete BS...
Of course I never said that the peasants were blissfully happy, I am not  ignorant enough as to suggest that! What I said was that they were resistant to change, any change, which is basically human nature. My point was: had the revolutionaries allowed the majority, i.e. the peasants to make their own decision, then nothing would have happened. So perhaps Lenin was right as far as that was concerned, i.e. the peasants don't necessarily know what's best for them, or even if they do, they won't necessarily do anything about it. Personally I don't know because I don't really understand them.

Dashkova

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #55 on: January 23, 2005, 03:20:34 PM »
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This business of peasants being so happily impoverished and sending out warm fuzzies to their "beloved tsar" is complete BS (not naming names, but this board is RIFE with such la-di-da types).  


Helen, when you quoted my last post you left out the disclaimer immediately following!

It is so interesting what is presumed, especially when in the same sentence I say "not naming names", i.e., I wasn't accusing you of *anything*, you see?  You have a strong tendency to present balanced views, I didn't think I needed to say, "I'm not talking about Helen here"

Sorry for any confusion!

Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #56 on: January 23, 2005, 03:32:24 PM »
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 I didn't think I needed to say, "I'm not talking about Helen here"

Sorry for any confusion!


It's ok, I didn't really think you meant that about me, but I just wanted to clarify my point, in case it didn't come out clear.  :)

Offline James1941

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #57 on: January 23, 2005, 09:11:14 PM »
Hooray, Belochka. I think you have stated the importance of Stolypin and his reforms excellently.
I agree wholeheartedly that he was one of the most important and influential ministers ever to govern Russia. I agree 100% that his assassination in 1911 was a major disaster for Russia and for Nicholas II (and I must say with sorrow that Nicholas was not very grateful to a man who had saved his throne).
It has always struck me as very strange that a known terrorist with a record could causually stroll into the opera house in Kiev that was swarming all over with police agents and security men to protect the Tsar and his family, walk up to within a few feet of the prime minister unchallenged and shoot him at point blank range in front of the tsar and everyone. Today there would have been a hue and cry of monumental proportions in the press and investigations and hearings and probes to see where the security had fallen down, yet in 1911 there was hardly any stir at all. A few low rankers were punished but no one else was even admonished. Am I wrong or were there dark forces at work here in the tsar's government? Had I been Nicholas I would have been pounding my desk and yelling at the top of my lungs to find out why my prime minister had been so easily murdered before my eyes amid all that security. Nicholas seem to dismiss the whole thing with a shrug.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by James1941 »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Reflections on Nicholas II - His Character Traits Good and Bad
« Reply #58 on: January 24, 2005, 07:33:19 AM »
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It cannot be said that Stolypin's reforms failed because of his personality alone.


I didn't say that his reforms failed because of his personality alone - I said they failed PARTLY because of his personality, but MAINLY because the majority of peasants themselves were reluctant to leave the commune, and those that did faced unrelenting pressure from the communal leaders to return.

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Stolypin had to fight against opposition from the right and left factions. Much of the nobility failed to understand Stolypin's reform program. Those from the right were desperate to retain their personal privileges, even if it meant retention of autocratic rule at all costs. They feared that the "old order" would be undermined. While those on the left prefered that the land was to be consolidated - involving whole villages, rather than allowing for dispararte parcels of land. Stolypin's most serious opponent was Nikolai, who resisted any changes which affected his perception of autocratic rule.


This is all true. And we are in complete agreement that "the most serious opponent to reform" (aside from the peasantry itself) was Nicholas II. We are, after all, discussing "negative traits of Nicholas II as tsar."

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Stolypin's tenureship as Prime Minister has been considered by Figes to be a failure. Yet it must be realized that Stolypin, achieved a number of positive things for Russia. He restored order over the revolutionaries after the 1905/6 turmoils. The fact that he was able to introduce agrarian reforms by increasing productivity and agricultural efficiency cannot be ignored. What was wrong with allowing the peasant who were free to choose, to own land if they desired, a new concept in creating a new class of land owners, and for the establishment a special loans bank to support their financial needs? This was a huge progressive achievement in the light of what I alluded to earlier. Furthermore he extended zemstvos and promoted education and introduced insurance for workers. To undermine or ignore these achievements as inconsequential is grossly misguided.


You misunderstand me. I give Stolypin all due credit for having attempted to reform Russia's agrarian system. My intention was not to denigrate his motives - or for that matter, his other reforms, although they, too, were of extremely limited duration in the larger historical picture. I think it was Russia's tragedy that Stolypin's reforms were ultimately inconsequential.

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Present leftist 'wisdom' claims that Stolypin's assasination had no effect on Russia's development. I would contend that had there been more faith and understanding of Stolypin's reforms, and had there been internal stability then there would have been an excellent opportunity for Stolypin's reforms to be fully realized.


What you are saying is essentially "What if." What if Stolypin hadn't been assassinated, what if "there had been more faith and understanding" in his reforms, what if there had been "internal stability." The fact is there were none of these things. "What if" questions provide us with the opportunity to play interesting intellectual games, which I enjoy myself, but historically speaking, they count for nothing.  

Quote
One side would tender that Stolypin's reforms were regressive, while the other side would support the notion that his policies were unusually progressive.

One's personal interpretation of this question really comes down to which ideological position is prefered, don't you think?


Again, you misunderstand my position. I am not arguing that Stolypin's agrarian reforms were "regressive." On the contrary, I think they represented a worthy and valiant attempt to modernize imperial Russia. The fact that they failed in the end was Russia's tragedy - as Orlando Figes himself argues.

I'm afraid I don't see this particular historical issue as ideological at all.
« 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 #59 on: January 24, 2005, 11:41:07 AM »
Elizabeth:  I agree with you in what you say, especially the "what if." I think you have summed up very nicely the controversy about the Stolypin era. If all of us who are discussing this aspect of Russian history find it difficult to come to a consensus, even with the tremendous advantage of hindsight, imagine how difficult it was for the men of that time who did not have that advantage.There is very good evidence that by 1911, when he was so tragically murdered, Stolypin was a broken reed. He was tired, both mentally and physically, from fighting the battle for reforms with little or no support and his enemies inside and outside the court and government. He probably would have been dismissed soon, or retired.
Would it have made a difference. As you say, "what if.'"
All we can know for sure is what did happen.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by James1941 »