Author Topic: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?  (Read 219730 times)

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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #720 on: July 23, 2012, 06:52:56 PM »
Alixz, this should not divert into a discussion of AIDS, at least in this thread. I t was not even known  until much later, much like hemophilia, but that is relevent to the discussion,. AIDS is not.
 I would be  more than willing to participate in a separate discussion on AIDS in a different thread.
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Offline TimM

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #721 on: July 24, 2012, 02:15:59 AM »
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this should not divert into a discussion of AIDS, at least in this thread

I agree.  Back to Nicholas, folks.
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Vanya Ivanova

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #722 on: July 24, 2012, 03:35:25 AM »
I think Petr's Archbishop post did help clarify that the liberation of the Serfs and a subsequent drive towards industrialisation, led to the church and state in Russia moving closer together in the 19th century, rather than further apart (as is usually the case).

In fact it also led to the church and monarchy becoming radicalised in its views on nationalism and the sanctity of autocracy, to use Tsarfan's very accurate and funny description '' the last Tsars had begun to drink their own bath water and didn't know where it came from or who originally drew it or why''.

The result in Russia being that at a time of unprecendented social upheaval ( the emancipation of 85% of the populace and a concerted drive to industrialise) political decisions were being made with a religious foundation not an administrative one, for perhaps really and truly the first time.

Thats not to say previous Tsars didn't believe in God and werent influenced by religious dogma but that there was still a distance at that time, that for the last two crucial reigns was lost almost completely.

Therefore as the general populace in Russia started to move towards the 20th Century, the church and monarchy huddled together and retreated to the middle ages. The question is then why? was this just a peculiarity of Alexander III's personality that he took his country (and heir) in this direction at the crucial moment? or was it symptomatic of something larger at work within Russian society?

This demonstrates to me that the true causes of the revolution were big ones not little ones -ie EMANCIPATION + INDUSTRIALISATION & URBANISATION vs RELIGIOUS & NATIONALISTIC RADICALISATION. These were huge forces all coming together at the same time in a huge and hugely diverse empire.

Therefore that is why I still maintain that to look at Russia's failings in WWI and or the antics of the last consort as 'reasons' rather than 'symptoms' is a mistake.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 03:47:23 AM by Vanya Ivanova »

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #723 on: July 24, 2012, 03:43:11 AM »
I think there may be an element of what I call 'laager mentality', which we saw more recently in the emergence of apartheid in South Africa. When under pressure, some people and groups will adapt, others will dig in and go to extremes to hold on to what they have. Apartheid emerged in its full form in the 1950s as a means by which the more conservative Afrikaners sought to protect themselves and their position against all the other groups in South Africa, including to some extent the 'Anglos' - English-speaking whites.

In Russia in the last 70 years of Tsarism there were enormous economic and social developments which threatened the power and position of those in power. Some were prepared to adapt and move gradually towards change, including constitutional government. Others metaphorically fell back on a strong point with their ox wagons in a circle around them - a laager.

Ann

Alixz

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #724 on: July 24, 2012, 08:15:58 AM »
I had not intended to begin a discussion of AIDS in this thread. I was replying to Petr's post about war being the biggest catalyst of change. The Vietnam war brought about one of the biggest changes and that was the sexual revolution. (I am not saying that Vietnam was the only cause of the sexual revolution but it was one of the causes.)

As after any war, the population is in a stage of shock and begins looking not only for the reasons and causes of the changes brought about but as in the 1920s and "the Lost Generation" a relaxation of morals and a loss of some of the religious beliefs that the population once held as sacrosanct.

War brings into close focus how fragile life is and WWI caused the loss of so many from one generation that it was very hard for the victors or the vanquished to accept and adjust to the consequences of what was, in the beginning, thought to be a small war that would be over in about four months.

I only mentioned my loss of friends as others had made the point that those of us who lived through that time period are still seeing the extent of the losses. And it has been over 40 years.

Alixz

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #725 on: July 24, 2012, 08:25:36 AM »
I still don't see Alexandra as a "symptom".  I do believe that she made many of the decisions that led to the vote of no confidence that was rendered on the Tsar and thus ended with the Rodziako and company bringing him the Abdication Document.

Had the Duma members and the other members of Nicholas II's government had any faith in the Tsar, I believe it was lost by Nicholas's bad decisions and one of those was to put Alexandra in charge of the government while he was at Stavka. Another of course was to go to Stavka in the first place. There would have been no Alexandra in charge if Nicholas had not left the city for the battle headquarters.

As Abraham Lincoln said during the Civil War  "The trouble with [General] Hooker is that he's got his headquarters where his hindquarters ought to be.
 
I think that quote applies nicely to Nicholas II after he took over command of the army.

Offline edubs31

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #726 on: July 24, 2012, 09:48:15 AM »
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I was replying to Petr's post about war being the biggest catalyst of change. The Vietnam war brought about one of the biggest changes and that was the sexual revolution. (I am not saying that Vietnam was the only cause of the sexual revolution but it was one of the causes.)

I don't disagree, but how much of the sexual revolution and attitudes of war in the 1960s be attributed to the overall liberation of culture by the following...?

1) Rock & Roll
2) Beatniks
3) Drugs

All of these predated America's involvement in Vietnam and are of course not mutually exclusive. The Beat poets and the socially conscious singer songwriters of the era certainly laid a foundation. Obviously rock & roll culture coupled with drugs went a long way in creating loose and rebellious behavior. Sexual liberation seemed inevitable with or without a disastrous war, no?

Furthermore take 9/11 and our recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as another example. Sure there are plenty of people protesting our involvement but has there really been any measurable culture shift? I remember the group of college students I hung around in 2001 all thinking that at least music would start to get "better" and more socially relevant in the wake of a national tragedy and war. Well obviously that didn't happen...political strife, social change and cultural taste/attitudes while usually thought to be intertwined are seeing an exception to that rule in 2000s America. At least as far as I can tell.

Of course we also aren't losing as many young men now as we did in Vietnam but we also lost far fewer in that war than we did in the World War's when our country was unified. This is just an example of how war is not necessarily a catalyst, or at least not the most important factor, in spurring on social change. The flower might come into full bloom during times of war, but the seed was planted and and plant itself grew prior to it.

St. Petersburg (circa 1890s-1917) as pointed out in this discussion was pretty liberalized. Several parallels can be drawn to the America of the 1960s I feel. The artistic renaissance during the so-called latter "Golden" and "Silver Age" that predated the war is Russia's version of Rock & Roll. The decadence of Russia during that time period was not unlike that which took place in the counter culture of the 60s. And could we not suggest the likes of Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, Cassady, Seeger, Guthrie and Dylan as being the modern equivalent to Pushkin, Golgol, Dostoyevski, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gorky, and Andreyev? Just a thought...




Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline Petr

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #727 on: July 24, 2012, 11:04:52 AM »
Actually the term then was "sex, drugs and rock and roll" or if you followed Timothy Leary "Turn on, tune in and drop out".  1965 was the "Summer of Love" in Haight Ashbury (my college roomate made the pilgrimage), Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, etc. Read Tom Wolfe's book. All of this was in the context of the draft and people getting 1A notices and some burning their draft cards and going off to Canada (I ducked into the Navy after I received my 1A notice). Yes there were drugs before the war and yes you had the Beatniks but all that was fringe behavior and did not penetrate the public consciousness or become such a political issue. The difference with Afghanistan and Iraq was that the Vietnam War was universally disliked among the young and the "nattering nabobs of negativism" (or at least not understood by the populace at large or not considered relevant -- i.e., why risk dying half way around the world for people who didn't want us there in the first place). Iraq and Afghanistan, on the other hand, have been linked in the public mind (rightly or wrongly) with 9/11 which was a clear attack on the US with devastating consequences (more casualties than at Pearl Harbor) which has, to the contrary motivated many young people (e.g., Pat Tillson for one as an example).  The respect for the military now is a world apart from during the Vietnam War (I refused to wear my uniform when I came home on leave after a very uncomfortable ride on the Fifth Avenue Bus). As for the war and popular culture there was Country Joe McDonald and the Fish and the Buffalo Springfield ("Somethings Happening Here ...") and others who popularized the opposition to the war. There were "Teach Ins" and Alan Ginsburg trying to levitate the Pentagon during one of several marches on Washington (read Norman Mailer's book).  I cite all of this only because in many respects the Vietnam War on the home front was not that dissimilar from WWI in Russia after the first flush of patriotism had worn off and the casualties began to mount (at a horrendous rate).  There was no Television of course to propagate resistance nationwide but it was deserting soldiers in Petrograd who propelled the Revolution. Finally, I disagree that 9/11 has had no effect on the US.  On the contrary, it has made the country fearful and we have now reaped the benefits of that fear in the form of the Patriot Act, increased wire tapping, water boarding, rendition, National Security Letters, Guantanamo, National Guard patrols in Grand Central Station, etc., all perfectly justifiable and reasonable but unfortunate responses.  Which is a good segue and brings me to the one thing that has not been discussed which I believe merits examination -- the effect of the increased terrorism from the 1860's on .  The assassination of AII must have had a negative effect on AIII and much of the reaction was, in my opinion, a reaction to what the "People's Will" and others were doing.  So, given our reaction is it that strange that the Russian government would have taken what it considered protective measures?             
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Offline Kalafrana

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #728 on: July 24, 2012, 02:04:58 PM »
I'm too young to have been fully aware of the Vietnam era (and, of course, a Brit), so will try to steer things back to Russia before the moderators start clucking again.

The outbreak of war was met with a huge wave of enthusiasm all over Europe. Britain eaised an army of 3 million men entirely by voluntary enlistment before the end of 1914. Those volunteers included my maternal grandfather, who worked his passage from British Columbia to join up (my paternal grandfather was already in the Territorials). There was a rush to volunteer in Russia, particularly among those exempt from call-up such as students. Of course, those students were members of the intelligentsia and often of progressive views, so when the losses mounted, they would become disillusioned, and seek to do something about the causes of the catastrophe rather faster than the regular soldiers.

Petr, what is a 1A notice?

Ann

Offline Petr

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #729 on: July 24, 2012, 04:30:49 PM »
Well all men (women didn't get drafted) when they reached 18 had to register for the draft and received a "draft card" which set forth their status (that is what draft resisters symbolically burned). If you went to College you received 2s status (i.e., a student deferment -- there were other deferments as well but for most white middle class men the 2s was the one that was the most prevalent (which of course resulted in the disproportionate number of drafted soldiers being black and/or coming from disadvantaged backgrounds who didn't or couldn't attend college which in turn created other problems, among them a sense of unfairness). Once you graduated you lost your deferment and once again became eligible for the draft. I graduated in 1967 and that year they did away with the deferment for graduate school (I had entered law school) so I was reclassified IA and received my 1A notice advising me that I had been drafted into the Army but instead, before I had to report, I took a leave from law school and beat them to the punch and enlisted in the Naval Reserve, entering Officer Candidate School. It was the compulsory nature of service in the Army (of course as well as the nature of the war) that caused all the student discontent.   As is often the case, however, shortly after I entered the Navy (1969) they went to a lottery system (by that time the war was beginning to wind down from its high point (1968 and the Tet Offensive) and the demand for soldiers was being reduced). Unfortunately, it was too late for me so I served for almost three years decommissioning my ship in the process as the Navy shrank in size, although honestly I don't regret it having had some wonderful experiences and making some life long friends in the process. Interestingly, periodically there is talk of re-instituting the draft (it came up during the first Iraq war) based on a notion that the children of wealthier classes avoided service, but the armed services much prefer an all volunteer force because the quality of the recruits tends to be better and discipline problems generally are reduced. 

Getting back to the thread, the Russian army, which depended on conscripts, wound up with increasing discipline problems and desertions as WWI dragged on, the casualties mounted and the quality and motivation of the conscripts deteriorated. I believe it was that rather than the first wave of disillusioned students that ultimately caused a break down in the army. Remember that the war was a meat grinder and by 1917 most of the original soldiers were either dead or wounded.  Erich Maria Remarque's wonderful book All Quiet on the Western Front describes the arrival of new recruits and the attitude of the older survivors to them.

Petr       
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Alixz

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #730 on: July 25, 2012, 07:16:35 AM »
edubs,

The United States entered that war incrementally, in a series of steps between 1950 and 1965. In May 1950, President Harry S. Truman authorized a modest program of economic and military aid to the French, who were fighting to retain control of their Indochina colony, including Laos and Cambodia as well as Vietnam. When the Vietnamese Nationalist (and Communist-led) Vietminh army defeated French forces at Dienbienphu in 1954, the French were compelled to accede to the creation of a Communist Vietnam north of the 17th parallel while leaving a non-Communist entity south of that line. The United States refused to accept the arrangement.


http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/vietnam/causes.htm

Vietnam was an on going problem and war from the early 1950s until Kennedy escalated the troop numbers during his term.  Johnson did light the final fuse and that was what ignited the war protests, but the war was going on long before the sex, drugs, and rock and roll and/or Timothy Leary in the 1960s.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 02:16:22 PM by Alixz »

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #731 on: July 25, 2012, 07:38:01 AM »
Petr

Thank you for your detailed explanation. The British system of conscription  was rather different and there were two versions.

Version 1 was introduced in 1939 and ultimately covered men before 31 December 1928 (my father was born in August 1928 so knows quite a bit about it!). On reaching 18 a man had to register for military service and would then either be called up in due course (assuming he passed the medical) or informed that he was in a 'reserved occupation'. Reserved occupations included students, apprentices, engineering tradesmen and civil servants. My father, when he reached 18 fell into three of those categories (he was doing an engineering apprenticeship which included part-time study!) Call-up under this system was indefinite, but a person in a reserved occupation would not be called up provided he remained in that occupation. By a certain irony, my father then joined the Royal Air Force as a regular!

Version 2 was National Service for a limited period (originally 18 months but raised to two years during the Korean War). Instead of reserved occupations, there was a principle that everyone should do it, but there was a system of deferments to allow a man to finish his education or trade training. So apprentices were deferred until the end of the apprenticeship (normally at 21), and those going to university could elect to do National Service before or after.

Back to Russia, I don't think the disillusionment among former students was the sole cause of the state of the army in February 1917, just that it may have been one of many factors.

Ann

Offline Petr

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #732 on: July 25, 2012, 08:57:13 AM »
Alixz- A slight disagreement. At JFK's death we had approx. 16,000 advisers in Vietnam (most of them Green Berets). We were trying to follow the "strategic hamlets" policy used with great effect by the British in Malaya fighting the communist led insurgency. This policy changed with the Johnson presidency as more and more soldiers were shipped to Vietnam. The troop build up was in part the result of increased NVA action. I believe the first real wake up call for the US was the battle in the IA Drang Valley where we took significant casualties. So, what up until 1964-65 was limited guerrilla warfare with the VC, began to escalate. It was only after the Tet Offensive which was a military defeat for the NVA but a propaganda coup and victory at home (remember Walter Cronkite's (America's Most Trusted Newscaster) statement on the CBS Evening News disavowing the war) that Johnson packed it in (and, in fact, caused him not to run for another term). From that point on troop levels started to come down although it took Nixon's election for a complete pull out under the so-called "Vietnamization" policy which was just a cover since everyone knew the South Vietnamese Army was not up to the task. By the way, I expect the same result in Afghanistan where we are now embarked on the same type of policy.       

To give you a personal perspective on the change in public outlook (particularly among students) I was a freshman on the Columbia College campus in NYC in 1963 (Columbia was then all male). The biggest political issue and the most active groups were SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and CORE (Congress On Racial Equality) related to Black voter registration in Mississippi. We actually had a panty raid on Barnard's Reid Hall (Columbia's sister all female College) that fall (for those of you of a certain age who might know what that means). Only five years later in the spring of 1968 we had the Columbia student riots involving thousands of police, barricaded buildings etc., this after the Berkely Free Speech Movement and followed by student riots at Harvard and Cornell and elsewhere culminating in Kent State in '71. While not directly related to Vietnam student unrest seemed to spread over the whole world (remember Danny the Red and the French student riots) which then morphed into more radical leftist groups (Bader Meinhof in Germany, the Weather Underground in the US and Red Brigades in Italy).  The 60s were certainly turbulent. Getting back to the thread, interesting that the Russian radical movements really got their start in the 1860s.  A hiistorical parallel?  Is there something about mid-centuries that seems to foster this kind of behavior?

Ann- The British system did not actually sound that dissimilar to the US system.           
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Alixz

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #733 on: July 26, 2012, 02:42:46 PM »
One of the things that I never understood and that includes Russia in 1914 -1917 and the US in the 1960s is why students who are given the best of everything from not only their parents but also from their governments are the ones who leave their very expensive institutions and protest.

I think if I were the parent of any one of the students who were rioting and protesting both in Russia and the US, I would have told my child to stop wasting the money and the education and commons sense that was his/ hers and go back to class.

I was in high school during the 1960s and then college in the late 1960s to early 1970s and I know that my father would have cut off my college funding and told me to go back to class or come home if I had spent time protesting while leaving my seat empty.  Even those who were in school on government loans or scholarships, to me, should have the sense to use the gifts given them and not waste them protesting and throwing rocks and burning draft cards and buildings.

I believed then and I believe now that "The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword". And you are less likely to be killed by a pen then by a sword.

I had friends who were A1 and my cousin skirted the draft by entering the Air Force. For those who don't know - the draft took you immediately into the Army. In order to go into another branch of the service one had to enlist and many - like GW Bush chose the National Guard. That wouldn't work today because the National Guard units are always being sent to "hot" zones.

Russia had its share of student demonstrations and uprisings after the first Patriotic fervor of 1914.  But as has been pointed out the regular army was decimated in the early months of the war and the conscripts were - conscripted. They had no choice. And didn't I read some where the Russian peasants could be conscripted during a time that covered about 25 or 35 years of their lives?
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 02:44:35 PM by Alixz »

Offline Petr

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #734 on: July 26, 2012, 03:46:10 PM »
Ah Alixz where was your youthful exuberance? Someone once said the idealism is for the young. Back then we were the products of the staid 50s who had grown up in relative prosperity.  Getting a job after college somehow didn't seem so important. Fighting the war at home seemed a much more worthwhile task especially since after college you risked getting drafted into the army and being sent to the rice paddies of Southeast Asia. I must confess being a Russian immigrant I was less enamoured of the student revolutionaries having seen the results of revolution at first hand.

I should also point out that in my view much of the faculty was at fault as well. In the early days of the Columbia riots the senior tenured faculty, which generally was "progressive" (read Bill Buckley's book God and Man at Yale), was quite sympathetic to the students (I think they were reliving their own radical pasts vicariously). The students went into the buildings Tuesday night. On Thursday evening there was a big meeting of the faculty and representatives of the students. Mark Rudd of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) which spearheaded the occupation addressed the gathered poobahs and accused them of being the problem. In fact, he was quite correct since the tenured Professors, although they disliked admitting it, really ran the University. They were the ones receiving research grants from the Pentagon (one of the student demands was to disband the Defense Institute on campus). Well after that meeting the senior tenured faculty came out against the students (mirabile dictu) and demanded that they vacate the buildings. This also led to an interesting split between the junior untenured faculty, some of whom agitated in favor of the students, and the senior faculty. The actual "bust" came the following Monday evening when the NYC tactical police came on campus in force and dragged students out of the buildings (some of the police and many students were injured in the process).

We are drifting off thread except to the extent that the student protesters of the 60s may have had something in common with the Russian student protestors of early 1900s.       
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