Author Topic: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period  (Read 25733 times)

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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #45 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.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #46 on: January 27, 2017, 11:10:20 AM »
Janet

I agree with what Nicolas has to say about contributions.

Everyone who has been following this thread has had the opportunity to contribute. I'm finding it very interesting, but have kept quiet so far because I haven't had anything definite to say.

Ann

Offline nena

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #47 on: January 27, 2017, 01:27:09 PM »
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.

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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!
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Offline edubs31

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #48 on: January 27, 2017, 05:18:03 PM »

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.

You obviously don't lend much credence to Figues assessment of the peasantry class in Russia in "A People's Tragedy". Otherwise I think you'd find a demythologized Tsar of much less significance than what you are portraying. By the start of World War I it could very easily be argued that Nicholas II was viewed as more of a celebrity than a religious icon worthy of veneration.

Where was this 80% rising up to fight for their Tsar during the Russian Civil War? I know the urban elites had the education and/or military Arsenal necessary to wage battle, but 80% is a pretty overwhelming number. I don't the think the peasants, with their limited exposure and horizons, really cared who was running the affairs of state, be it Monstchist ministers in St. Petersburg or Soviet revolutionaries in Moscow.
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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #49 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.

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #50 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).

Offline edubs31

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #51 on: January 28, 2017, 10:20:16 AM »
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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?

The erosion had begun long before 1905. The "distant Tsar" had become increasingly irrelevant in their lives. This was evident, to an extent, by the underwhelming reception the Tsar/Romanov dynasty received during the 1913 tercentenary celebrations as well.

Religion too, it should be added, seems to have taken on a declining role of significance as Russia drew nearer to the revolution...and it wasn't just because many of the revolutionaries themselves were anti-religion. Brusilov, for one, believed the revolution had been caused, in a large part, by a decline in the church's influence. Given the historical linkage of Tsar & religion and how the Tsar's themselves drew their divine right to rule from this mythology it seems logical that Nicholas II's power waned along with Christianity itself...

Here's a quote from Orlando Figes...

"And what about the countryside itself? This was the bedrock of "Holy Russia", the supposed stronghold of the church. The religiosity of the Russian peasant had been on of the most enduring myths - along with the depth of the Russian soul - in the history of Russia. But in realty the Russian peasant had never been more than semi-detached with the Orthodox religion. Only a thin coat of Christianity had been painted over bis ancient pagan folk-culture. To be sure, the Russian peasant displayed a great deal of external devotion...and it is certainly true that most peasants thought of themselves as Orthodox. If one could go into a Russian village at the turn of the century and ask its inhabitants who they were, one would probably receive the reply; "We are Orthodox and from here." But the peasants' religion was far from the bookish Christianity of the clergy. They mixed pagan cults and superstitions, magic and sorcery, with their adherence to Orthodox beliefs. This was the peasants' own vernacular religion shaped to fit the needs of their precarious farming lives."

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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."

Well I mentioned it as one of about NINE factors in my post. Figures that you NicholasG - an active member on here for all of nine-months and seemingly always trying to push a political agenda (nearly all of your posts either derisively contain the phrase "liberal" or something to that affect. As if the only way any of us can come to a conclusion is through the funnel of ideology) - would cherry-pick one single line/entry as your focus. 

That said how are those two statements illustrative of me trying to have it both ways? For some Nicholas was once considered a great Tsar but that viewed had been destroyed by "Bloody Sunday" and the debacle of the Russo-Japanese War. For others the Tsar was merely a figurehead, or a puppet, for the interests of the Ministers and capitalists. Whereas Alexander II was revered and Alexander III was, at least, feared/respected, Nicholas II was neither of those things. And for still more, the Tsar had simply faded from view over time...or perhaps he never was quite the source of veneration he was made out to be. If you can place at least half of Russians into those three camps then you have the numbers necessary for a pretty overwhelming anti-Tsarist movement.

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- 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.

And they were a people a world apart. I would suggests an educated urban liberal living in St. Petersburg had about as much in common with a uneducated rural peasant for Siberia as the Native tribes had with the European settlers of America in the 17th/18th centuries. The only thing that seemed to hold it all together was the Russian Orthodoxy. But as I pointed out above the influence of religion, it could be argued, was hugely overstated even for the most devout.

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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.

And assuming you are correct here, how does any of this challenge the point of my original comment above? Are you suggesting that Nicholas II and Tsardom wasn't in the midst of a death spiral on the eve of World War I? That on the surface things may have appeared calm & stable but that the autocracy need only have been pushed off the ledge to go from seemingly being at its highest point to splattered on the ground below?
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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #52 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.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #53 on: February 02, 2017, 11:54:59 PM »
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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.

You are assuming that I'm making the European Settlers & the St. Petersburg educated class out to be the good guys, and that I'm making Native Americans and the Russian peasants (in this example) out to be the bad guys when nothing could be further from the truth. I'm simply pointing out how the only things the two sides had in common was that they happened to live in the same country and/or subscribe to the same religion.

Lets scrap that example...here's a better one. Liberal urban elites in St. Petersburg around the turn of the century had about as much in common with conservative rural peasants in Siberia as...northern urban elites had with African slaves on southern plantations in pre-1860s America. Prior to Alexander II's emancipation manifesto serfdom in Russia could certainly be seen as comparable to slavery in America. But the only thing that the black slave truly had in common with a free white man in the north is that they A) both lived in the same country, and B) probably were both raised Christian. Yet how much of a role did Christianity truly play in the philosophical outlook of American society at the time? Did religion really help bring whites and blacks closer together in the US or the urban elites and the peasantry class in Russia? Has racism & biggotry vanished in the US or elsewhere simply because majorities of those religions pray to the same God...hell no!

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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.

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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.

Far as I can tell monarchy works in two ways...First, when people are willing to give up most of their rights & freedoms because they either are too afraid, uneducated or unambitious to fathom a system where the wisdom of the people (and their elected representatives) can effectively govern. And second, when the head of the regime itself (King, Emperor, Tsar, etc.) is loved & respected, and can be relied upon to A) have the best interests of their country in mind at all times, and B) have the competency and intellectual capability to govern...Neither of these applied in Russia by 1917.
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Offline edubs31

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #54 on: February 02, 2017, 11:55:17 PM »
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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).

Well I'd say you're being a bit too harsh on the Provisional Government who many would argue had a nearly impossible task, but that's certainly a point of view that can be argued. Nicholas II could probably have convinced his armies to march on St. Petersburg and Moscow and put down the riots. This decisive measure might have been a temporary solution and saved his dynasty for a short while longer. Ultimately though - and I give Nicky some credit for this - it would have resulted in increased bloodshed and fostered even greater resentment toward the Tsar by his people. If Nicholas hadn't abdicated when he did he probably would have been deposed or assassinated before long.

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As far as I know, the discussion of political topics is not forbidden on this forum.

I think it's pretty obvious that political topics are practically encouraged on this forum, so long as we stick to topic at hand. I'm not critical of you expressing your political opinions NicholasG, I'm critical of your opinions themselves (as you are mine). You'll notice a majority of AP members discuss little to no politics at all on here. They use the forum for other reasons. But if you do chime in with strong political opinions expect to be challenged...that is all.

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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.

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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?

Now that I know you're a monarchist this becomes a little easier since virtually any point I argue is to come at your from the Left :-) I could pretend to channel my inner Rush Limbaugh and it would seem liberal by comparison, lol.
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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #55 on: February 05, 2017, 07:39:11 AM »

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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?



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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.

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #56 on: February 05, 2017, 07:52:23 AM »

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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...

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #57 on: February 05, 2017, 10:03:26 AM »


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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.

Offline edubs31

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #58 on: February 12, 2017, 11:53:51 PM »
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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.

How does his reluctant choice of sides during the Civil War matter? If he had supported the Whites would he suddenly be a more valid source?

Figes does use the diary entries of numerous actual peasants & priests in his book, which I encourage you to read. You didn't really think that a respected historian like he simply based his position on the Orthodoxy off of the opinions of Brusilov alone did you? I simply offered the Brusilov example. Was one that I could think of off the top and I wasn't going to sift through a few hundred pages of Figes' book to quote other sources. My apologies!

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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).

Playing around with my words there some NicholasG. I said pro-choice with "reservations". Their opinion on abortion is shaped more by social & political realities than by their own moral convictions. Which is to say, they would never have an abortion themselves nor would they recommend it to anyone else. It troubles them that abortions exist at all. However they understand that changing some laws or overturning Roe V. Wade here in the US isn't going to solve the problem or stop abortions from happening.

Since you're obviously hardcore right-wing on this topic does it trouble you that countries that have essentially banned legal abortion haven't seen a decline in the number of abortion "crimes" being committed? You think you can simply rid an evil by passing some laws? How very Monarchist of you! Women aren't going to stop terminating unwanted pregnancies. So maybe my cousins would prefer abortion be kept safe albeit rare rather than see an uptick in poor women drinking bleach or using wire hangers.

And isn't this a practical example for how & why the influence of religion declines in the first place? When it doesn't keep pace with the changing times and social/political realities?

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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.

And what are those basic tenets? Here are a few that come to mind...

God is the creator of all things. We are God's children & servants. We are subject to original sin. We seek redemption through God. We are to be responsible and charitable. We literally adhere to scripture and consider it God's word.

The last one in particular is something that people are always parting ways with. "Thou Shall Not Kill" right? What does scripture have to say about war (and what defines "war"?), or in self-defense (and what defines that, or what limits are placed on it?), or capital punishment (and when is it appropriate to sentence to death a person who is imprisoned and no longer a mortal threat to innocents?)? Jeremiah & Psalms talk about God's role in the creation of the child while it's still in the womb and these scriptures - along with Exodus - are used by many as proof of God's objection to abortion the violation of natural law that you suggest.

Personally I wish God had been a little more involved with my wife & I while our children were still in the womb rather than being concerned with possible abortions...Maybe then we wouldn't have had SIX miscarriages without a single successful pregnancy to date!

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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.

Very true. But now your making excuses for why Americans have had it easier when a moment ago you seemed to be praising 20th century Americans for managing to end the evils of segregation without having to resort to war or revolution...

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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.

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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...

lol, and no sooner do you say the following..."If you disagree with this opinion, you are free to express your views without me accusing you of having a liberal agenda."...then once again you whip out the liberal card and do exactly what you promised you wouldn't do!

To offer a response however, is there a fair share of hypocrisy in liberalism? Absolutely. But a building cannot stand if it has a faulty foundation, yes? You need to start off with some type of framework in order to implement your ideals, whatever they might be. If you believe wholeheartedly that democratic values are the only way that society can hope to live peacefully and address the greater good then naturally you must insist upon this type of structure be adopted before other positive progressive changes can implemented...otherwise they won't sustain.

Take Nazism for example. Should liberals be called hypocrites and barred from criticizing Hitler and the Nazi regime simply because they preach open-mindedness and respect for other cultures as part of the general ethos? Don't you have to draw the line somewhere?
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline edubs31

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Re: Signs of war in the Pre WW1 period
« Reply #59 on: February 12, 2017, 11:56:26 PM »
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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.

I'm fine with this. Sounds you like you are a "bad monarchist" the same way you are a "bad Catholic" :-) I consider this a good thing by the way. Modification is essential.

I would agree that Russia clearly needed to be guided gently down the staircase from pre-Nicholas style autocracy to a post-Nicholas democracy. Instead what happened to Russia is that it got tossed down an open elevator shaft and was rescued (if you can call it that) from certain death only because the Bolsheviks cast a temporary safety net.

Of course Nicholas himself shoulders some of the blame for this. His lacking intellect, stubborness and weakness (confronted by his domineering wife and overwhelming responsibilities) made certain that whatever progress might have been obtained after the Manifesto of 1906, and first real steps toward a functioning Constitutional Monarchy, would quickly be swept away.

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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?

Interesting, and I applaud your ability to turn my own argument somewhat against me here. Of course the answer is going to be that I would rate him against other Presidents of the US and other like-minded world leaders of democratic allied nations (Merkel, May, Trudeau, etc.), not the leaders of radically different nations like Syria or Iran.

What's funny is that some of my leftist friends don't fear Trump the way you might normally expect a group of people who otherwise despise him and what he stands for. In their minds Trump's Presidency will be a spectacular failure. So much so that it will cost him reelection, cost his party power in the 2018 midterms and make certain that Americans don't take a risk on such a risky and unqualified wild card candidate for a very long time. To them a President like Ted Cruz would be worse. He would slowly unravel the liberal/progressive initiatives they believe in and do so in a way - as a smart & savvy politician - that would allow him and his party to maintain greater popularity and credibility in the future.

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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.

True, but then the leaders of the respective sides weren't the ones shedding blood on the battlefields. Lenin - whose respect for human life & dignity was always dubious at best - obviously saw the war as a necessary means to bring about revolution. And honestly it's hard to say he was wrong.

Kerensky and the heads of the Provisional Government had different motives for staying the course. And again we are brought back to the leader of the conservatives/monarchists, the Tsar himself. Nicholas was obviously in favor of keeping the war going (even post-abdication) at whatever the cost.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...