Author Topic: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?  (Read 210022 times)

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #210 on: October 04, 2010, 08:53:33 AM »
Well Hitler and Napoleon is inaccurate. I will have to ask Sir Martin Gilbert whether Churchill ever said that. Napoleon was not racist and did not operate concentration camps and if you think Napoleon was not bloody,then you need to read up on the Peninsular wars in Sapin and Portugal.

Or Napoleon's massacre of four thousand Albanian POWs in Syria (although granted, upon initially surrendering they had given their word not to fight his army again, and they had broken their promise). At the same time, despite all the bloodletting, I think it can fairly be said that Napoleon accomplished far more good than harm. He was the ruler to introduce mandatory smallpox inoculation across Europe (which saved how many hundreds of thousands, if not ultimately millions, of lives?), not to mention the fact that he abolished serfdom wherever he conquered -- even in Poland -- with the sole exception of Russia. Which is why even today some Russians argue that their country would have been better off if Napoleon had prevailed over Alexander I, if only for a few years -- this would have been time enough to introduce some much-needed reforms. Who knows, Russia might have got rid of serfdom and had a workable legal code by the early 19th century, as opposed to some fifty years later!
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #211 on: October 04, 2010, 09:19:54 AM »

 BTW, it is illegal to commemorate Hitler in Germany. I do not think there were any whilst he ruled either. Lots of swastikas, but no Hitlers that I know of.
 Russia is a different case again, but I will not go into it.

You of all people can go into it, Robert, I promise I for one will not go for your jugular, or even a less important artery. I will leave you intact, no matter what you say.

The hard thing for me to deal with, as far as the October Revolution is concerned, is that it was about all these wonderful ideals. And these ideals - social equality, liberty, justice for all - could have appealed to all of the European peoples, just as the French Revolution's "liberty, equality, fraternity" had just over a century previously. What stopped the October Revolution from spreading, as Trotsky and his followers so fondly envisioned it would? I think it was the twin, intertwined issues of Marx and class warfare, also the Bolsheviks' overall penchant for violence, lawlessness, and political tyranny, which scared to death the predominant middle class in Central and Western Europe. The Bolsheviks literally left this class shaking in its boots. And there was some reason for this, it wasn't just overactive imaginations. Just to give the most obvious example, there were open conflicts - indeed, pitched street battles - between the forces of reaction and those of class revolution throughout Germany after World War I, well through the 1920s and even up until 1933 and the Nazi seizure of power in March of that year.
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Offline Kalafrana

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #212 on: October 04, 2010, 10:04:00 AM »
I don't think the October Revolution was about ideals. Rather it was a cynical coup by a narrow and extremist cabal for their own end.

To a greater extent the February Revolution was about ideals, and had the Provisional Government not been under pressure from every side, they might, given time, have established a workable democratic system.

Ann

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #213 on: October 04, 2010, 10:42:54 AM »
I don't think the October Revolution was about ideals. Rather it was a cynical coup by a narrow and extremist cabal for their own end.

To a greater extent the February Revolution was about ideals, and had the Provisional Government not been under pressure from every side, they might, given time, have established a workable democratic system.

Ann

I sincerely doubt the provisional government could ever have "established a workable democratic system." For one thing, because they - FATALLY - kept putting off all their major political decisions until January 1918, when the Constituent Assembly was scheduled to meet. Okay, such a plan looks great, it's all very democratic and good to promise on paper that you're not going to make any big decisions about government or land reform or whatever until representatives have been duly elected from all over the Russian empire and meet to pass legislation in Petrograd in the new year... But politically speaking, such delays were absolute suicide on the part of the provisional government. Let's face it, throughout the spring of 1917 the peasantry was seizing the land for itself, it wasn't waiting for the provisional government or the Constituent Assembly to give its approval to these extra-legal appropriations. It was a done deal, it couldn't be taken back without major bloodshed. And ditto with the mass desertions by ordinary Russian soldiers from the Russian Army taking place at the same time. By midsummer 1917 the provisional government was actually no longer merely temporary (which is, after all the meaning of "provisional") but indeed already fast becoming historically irrelevant. (Hence, no doubt, the Kornilov Affair.)

And as politically tyrannical, barbarous, and murderous as I believe the Bolsheviks from Lenin onwards to have been, they were also the most politically savvy, intelligent, prescient, and proactive party in the Russian empire at this momentous time. Of course they seized power by a coup. Well, what ambitious political player with an ounce of ambition wouldn't have done so, given the fact that the provisional government was failing to administer Russia so spectacularly and publicly? And the fact of the matter is, as much as we might ourselves hate it, the Bolsheviks, unlike Russia's well-intentioned liberals, had a real, concise, concrete ideological program, very easily grasped even by the illiterate -- an immediate end to the war, land and bread for everyone -- which appealed very strongly to the peasantry (i.e., 80 percent of the total population).

As Edmund Burke put it, "the concessions of the weak are the concessions of fear." The provisional government was basically screwed once it lost the historical upper hand, which was precisely the moment when it refused to dictate future events. Unlike their political foes in the provisional govt., the Bolsheviks rarely failed in this task, and so they were rarely, if ever, perceived as weak.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2010, 11:06:19 AM by Elisabeth »
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Offline TimM

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #214 on: October 05, 2010, 11:47:16 AM »
Communism should be placed alongside Nazism as one of the most murderous regimes in human history. 
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #215 on: October 06, 2010, 05:59:11 PM »
Communism should be placed alongside Nazism as one of the most murderous regimes in human history. 

It has been, by the overwhelming majority of historians, Tim. Not to mention public opinion (because we count, too!).
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Offline Kalafrana

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #216 on: October 07, 2010, 03:55:26 AM »
'It has been, by the overwhelming majority of historians, Tim. Not to mention public opinion (because we count, too!). '

Howeve, individuals who are or have been Communists tend to be treated far more sympathetically by public opinion than former Nazis.

Would there have been anything like as much odium for the Duke of Coburg had he turned to Communism?

Ann

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #217 on: October 07, 2010, 09:46:39 AM »
Yes the Communists werent as coldly efficiten in their disposal of people as the Nazis were.  Tim, have you read a lot of history?

Offline TimM

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #218 on: October 07, 2010, 10:41:56 AM »
Yeah, history has always kind of been a hobby to me.  That is another reason I like coming here.  My poor friends eyes always glaze over when I start on about the Romanovs :)
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Offline Nicolá De Valerón

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #219 on: October 07, 2010, 11:41:31 AM »
Communism should be placed alongside Nazism as one of the most murderous regimes in human history.  

It has been, by the overwhelming majority of historians, Tim. Not to mention public opinion (because we count, too!).

Elisabeth,

I wonder, where did you find all these people ("public opinion" as you said, or those who have the same views as you and me on Communism and other isms...)? If you are able to meet them everyday, you are lucky;).

If personally, instead of these mysterious count, I've been always met mainly those who believe in the "universal brotherhood in peace" and "progressive forces of socialism". Or, I didn't understand you (then sorry), either we are living in different worlds!

« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 11:43:17 AM by Nicolá De Valerón »
"I think that if Shakespeare lived in our times he would not be able to write. Many of his works are not welcome on stage nowadays: The Merchant of Venice – anti-Semitism, Othello – racism, The Taming of the Shrew – sexism, Romeo and Juliet - hideous heterosexual show..." - Vladimir Bukovsky.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #220 on: October 07, 2010, 12:22:22 PM »
Communism should be placed alongside Nazism as one of the most murderous regimes in human history.  

It has been, by the overwhelming majority of historians, Tim. Not to mention public opinion (because we count, too!).

Elisabeth,

I wonder, where did you find all these people ("public opinion" as you said, or those who have the same views as you and me on Communism and other isms...)? If you are able to meet them everyday, you are lucky;).

If personally, instead of these mysterious count, I've been always met mainly those who believe in the "universal brotherhood in peace" and "progressive forces of socialism". Or, I didn't understand you (then sorry), either we are living in different worlds!

Well, Nicola, in answer to your rather tricky question, I guess I meet such people every day, firstly because I am married to such a one, who basically views Soviet history, as I do,  as a tremendous, unforgivable, bloody mistake; secondly because I have read plenty of historians who express very similar if not necessarily so emotionally colored opinions in their published texts: e.g., the most obvious "culprits" of the conservative line such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Richard Pipes, Robert Conquest, and so on. But also I would include recent historians of the Soviet Union such as Anne Appelbaum, Orlando Figes, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Cathy A. Frierson and Semyon S. Vilensky (these last two are the authors of Children of the Gulag, about the many child victims of Bolshevism, not only Stalinism). Also, I must add that when I read recent histories of Nazism the parallels with the USSR are always discussed and debated precisely because they are so obvious that they demand any respectable historian's attention (see Michael Burleigh or Richard Evans on the subject of Nazi vs. Soviet totalitarianism).

Of course, plenty of Soviet revisionists exist and lead happy unconcerned lives. Indeed, back during the years of perestroika I was "instructed" by a very revisionist American Sovietologist and professor, who basically argued that despite all the bloodshed, life went on and a new society was built in Stalin's USSR. Well, I wanted to say (but as an undergraduate lacked the courage) life went on and a new society was built in Hitler's Germany, too, while the Jews were being massacred, so what exactly was her point? That we should just not worry about such moral niceties? The strong survive, while the weak should and necessarily do go to the wall, in the best of all possible worlds?

I actually agree that there are a lot of Western Soviet revisionists out there, although in my experience most of them seem to be dying off, because they usually belong to the sixties generation (or even older generations). They came to their political "maturity" (such as it was) on the works of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Sartre, etc., etc. They simply can't and don't recognize the suffering that the USSR inflicted on its own citizens and in the Soviet bloc. But then, they often have similar problems recognizing the evils of Mao and the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. So I say, to hell with them. After all, in the end, they're mere historical relics of our ineffectual Western Sixties "Radical Left."

« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 12:37:10 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline TimM

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #221 on: October 07, 2010, 03:25:46 PM »
The trouble with the sixties kids is that they were admiring something they knew nothing about.  None of them ever went to the Soviet Union and saw the reality there, they just sat back, believed what they wanted to believe, and blazed up a dooby.  If I could, I would ask these people why their "universal brotherhood" brutally murdered millions, starting with poor Nicky and his family.
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #222 on: October 08, 2010, 11:20:46 AM »
Sometimes I think you provide much needed comic relief to the grim subject matter of this forum, Tim. Seriously speaking, though, I don't think the revisionist Sovietologists I came across back in the 1980s were former dooby-smoking intellectual gadabouts, in fact many (although definitely not all) of them as far as I could make out were very talented scholars descended from Eastern European and Russian emigrants who came to the United States between 1880 and 1920 or thereabouts. Their origins tended to make both them and their families particularly sensitive to issues of the imperial abuse of power. You know, whatever your particular approach is to a historical question, unless you are an absolute extremist of the radical or reactionary kind, as long as you are a serious scholar you are bound to contribute something useful to the ongoing debate.
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Offline Nicolá De Valerón

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #223 on: October 08, 2010, 01:15:23 PM »
Well, Nicola, in answer to your rather tricky question, I guess I meet such people every day, firstly because I am married to such a one, who basically views Soviet history, as I do,  as a tremendous, unforgivable, bloody mistake; secondly because I have read plenty of historians who express very similar if not necessarily so emotionally colored opinions in their published texts: e.g., the most obvious "culprits" of the conservative line such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Richard Pipes, Robert Conquest, and so on. But also I would include recent historians of the Soviet Union such as Anne Appelbaum, Orlando Figes, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Cathy A. Frierson and Semyon S. Vilensky (these last two are the authors of Children of the Gulag, about the many child victims of Bolshevism, not only Stalinism). Also, I must add that when I read recent histories of Nazism the parallels with the USSR are always discussed and debated precisely because they are so obvious that they demand any respectable historian's attention (see Michael Burleigh or Richard Evans on the subject of Nazi vs. Soviet totalitarianism).

Elisabeth,

I think that we've slightly misunderstood each other. Not at the first time;). Plus in addition you are talking about very different thing, in contrast with me. I'm talking not about those with whom we are able to contact or meet personally in our life according to responsible choice (all our surrounding, including family, friends, partners, etc.), but about people in general/society (majority). These are rather different things. That's why I was amazed while reading your words about this mysterious "count". About historians and other intellectuals...Well, all these with no doubt intelligent and respected people (like Pipes and Solzhenitsyn) are not somehow connected with this majority and far away from them and their everyday lives (I don't know who is to blame here).  And if you ask for example an ordinary taxi driver in Munich or Los Angeles (no matter where), what is it GULAG? You'll hear:"Maybe it's our new police chef with difficult surname?" And so on and so forth.

I actually agree that there are a lot of Western Soviet revisionists out there, although in my experience most of them seem to be dying off, because they usually belong to the sixties generation (or even older generations).

You are a great optimist! I've been always thinking that actually most of "them" (with some exceptions) are still not only alive, but hold the power. They've only changed their "clothes". Just as an example with no names;). There is one big and famous organisation in Europe, which was originally started as a simple economical and free frontiers cooperation of democratic states (not a bad idea), but now this is an uncontrollable colossus with it's own "Politburo" (commissars) and future "KGB" (ongoing creature of common police). There is only one thing left to create to be a "USSR" - own GULAG, but this is a question of time.

They came to their political "maturity" (such as it was) on the works of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Sartre, etc., etc.

Oh, excellent list! But I only amazed to see here Sartre. I read probably most of his works and didn't find there any mention of the things, these guys adhere. His philosophy is absolutely unpolitical, although of course he was left in views. Existentialism in general: moral searching, difficult human choice, awareness of self identity and fighting for freedom in any forms - all these things are very close to any intelligent human being and finally a key to classical Liberalism. Again, I was amazed to saw this man here.

P.S. About your husband, it's not a mistake, it's wonderful;). I can hardly imagine someone with the opposite views near me. I mean totally opposite of course.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 01:23:53 PM by Nicolá De Valerón »
"I think that if Shakespeare lived in our times he would not be able to write. Many of his works are not welcome on stage nowadays: The Merchant of Venice – anti-Semitism, Othello – racism, The Taming of the Shrew – sexism, Romeo and Juliet - hideous heterosexual show..." - Vladimir Bukovsky.

Offline TimM

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #224 on: October 08, 2010, 03:40:04 PM »
Quote
I don't think the revisionist Sovietologists I came across back in the 1980s were former dooby-smoking intellectual gadabouts, in fact many (although definitely not all) of them as far as I could make out were very talented scholars descended from Eastern European and Russian emigrants who came to the United States between 1880 and 1920 or thereabouts. Their origins tended to make both them and their families particularly sensitive to issues of the imperial abuse of power

Yet, they were okay with Stalin slaughtering millions.  Tell you the truth, the dooby-smoking potheads make a lot more sense by comparison.
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