Author Topic: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?  (Read 78703 times)

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Alixz

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #30 on: August 03, 2007, 03:57:44 AM »
But that doesn't answer the question of why some people see wealth as a crime!

I see it here in the US where sports figures are paid exorbitant salaries and prime time news hosts make 10 of millions a year and actors and actresses are paid hundreds of millions.

To me those salaries are a crime in our country where we have a section of people who are at or lower than poverty level.  It is an unequal distribution of wealth.

However, not too many posters mention that as a comparison to Nicholas II, who was very wealthy on paper, but in reality had very little at the end of each year. 

So if there was an "unequal distribution" of wealth in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and Nicholas and Alix are guilty for possessing it, then why are not Tom Cruise or the CSI actors or the "stars" of MLB or the NFL just as guilty. (Or for that matter the CEO's of big companies who are often paid $30,000,000 a year and receive stock options as well?  While the workers in those companies are often paid minimum wage?)

Perhaps one could make the statement that these present day wealthy have "earned" their wealth, but is what they do for a living really worth the amount of money they are paid?

This is not a thread about Nicholas as a competent ruler or Alix as a "nutcase".  Their political acumen, or lack thereof, has been well established.  This is simply about wealth.

Are those who have it guilty for having it?  And are they also quilty for not spreading it around?


Offline dmitri

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #31 on: August 03, 2007, 06:21:12 AM »
Families like the Yussopovs could be considered guilty as they had no state responsibilities like the ruling Romanovs. Perhaps one could say that the building of the Livadia Palace was an unnecessary luxury and waste by Nicholas and Alexandra. After all they had plenty of other palaces. No doubt the Faberge eggs were also unnecessary. It is all a matter of whether by governing successfully in their case. If things had gone well perhaps people would have not cared. Certainly creating human suffering and poverty through unnecessary wars was a waste of human and financial resources. It all depends on how you see it. No doubt some of the palaces could have been closed down and converted for other purposes such as schools and hospitals. 

Offline Eddie_uk

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #32 on: August 03, 2007, 06:55:06 AM »
But that doesn't answer the question of why some people see wealth as a crime!



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Offline dmitri

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #33 on: August 03, 2007, 09:11:49 AM »
I'm not so sure it is a crime. What is not so good is allowing others to starve when you know you could prevent it.

Alixz

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #34 on: August 03, 2007, 02:25:13 PM »
I have often thought about the conversion of the palaces and other Imperial buildings as well.

What a good public relations move that would have been and how many people would have benefited from it!

Nicholas did try to sell some Imperial lands into a trust for the serfs and tried to get other members of the Imperial Family to do the same, but they all refused to join him.

Alixz

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #35 on: August 03, 2007, 07:01:57 PM »
"This is not a thread about Nicholas as a competent ruler or Alix as a "nutcase".  Their political acumen, or lack thereof, has been well established.  This is simply about wealth."

Embezzlement is an unusual term to use for the gaining of wealth by an autocrat.  Since the lands that he profited from were owned by the crown and he wore the crown, I wouldn't say that he was embezzling anything.  Simply because this was an autocracy and not a constitutional monarchy, Nicholas II could not be guilty of embezzling.

One might as well say the the CEO of General Motors who earned (does what he does truly justify earning this much money ?) in 2004, 2.5 million a year with bonuses of another 2.5 million and stock options while the average worker makes at $25.00 a hour $52,000.  That is thousand not million and $25 an hour is probably a very high estimate.

So is the CEO embezzling the money from the workers of the company?  Or from the investors? I can not imagine anyone needing 5 million dollars a year to live on.  And I don't believe that the GM workers can imagine it either.


Nicholas has been maligned for wearing boots that cost more than his subjects made in a lifetime, but I bet the CEO of GM wears very expensive suits and hand made Italian leather shoes and that both cost more that the GM workers are likely to make in a year or longer.

So if we had as much money as the CEO of GM or as much as Nicholas II had before the Great War, what would we have done with it?

For that answer, I guess we could check out the lives of high figure lottery winners here in the US and abroad.  Many philanthropists among them?

My very favorite CEO is Bill Gates.  That man gives so much, and of course, he can afford to and still live in the style to which we would all like to become accustomed.

But I agree with Eddieboy_uk - I would put it down to jealousy not only during his lifetime, but in our times too as we struggle to understand a world and a lifestyle that has vanished.


Alixz

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #36 on: August 13, 2007, 07:20:31 AM »
For anyone who is confused by my prior two posts, there was another post in between them that has been removed.

Someone had accused Nicholas II of embezzling money that belonged to the people of Russia.

I got a little involved in my explanation using someone hired as a CEO in comparison to someone born into an aristocracy.  I suppose that the comparison is a little weak since the CEO doesn't own the company (although in some cases I guess he would), but in the case of GM he doesn't.

Nicholas, in theory, did own the country and all of its resources, including the people (as foreign to us as that sounds today).  As an autocrat he had absolute power over everyone and everything.

Offline klava1985

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #37 on: October 30, 2007, 04:54:07 PM »
I think many people feel ambivalent or even angry about unearned wealth, whether it's a CEO or a tsar who is flaunting it. Hereditary unearned wealth is particularly problematical, morally speaking, if you believe that most social and economic rewards should reflect a combination of talent and hard work, and that everyone should start from equal ground. No country on earth exists within these parameters, but in any event, I don't think it's envy so much as a basic sense that when you have that much wealth and power concentrated in a few individuals of questionable ability... well, it just doesn't sit right for many.

Hereditary nobility... IMO just means you have more sociopaths in your family tree... The ancestors ruthlessly grabbed the biggest pile for themselves, and the descendants have done whatever it took to hold on to it. Whether NA was particularly evil within this evil system...probably not, but by that time there were other systems/models available, and his failure to recognize the moral superiority of these other systems is indeed his responsibility. You can't just say someone should be judged by the values of their era... That's just cultural relativism/situational morality. In the 1820s in the American South, there were slave owners AND abolitionists. The fact that some were capable of seeing the truth of slavery suggests that there is no excuse for the rest. Ditto the Romanovs.

I think that when people say that NA was wrong to be rich, they are simplifying, and money is a symbol for a host of disparities and a general sense of wrongness.

Offline Nadya_Arapov

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #38 on: March 04, 2008, 04:14:36 AM »
I can't speak for people who post these things about him now, that may well have to do with envy, but those who criticized him in the past, at the time of the Revolution, weren't merely angered by the fact that Nicholas II was wealthy. They were angered by the fact that he allowed many of his citizens to live in abject squalor while he and his relatives lived in splendor.

A sports star, musician, actor or actress has no real responsibility to society. A decent humanbeing should care about others, but we are not required to. Nicholas, however, was the ruler or Russia, and did have a responsibility to his people. Whether or not he could have successfully pulled the masses of Russia out of poverty is an entirely different question. Perhaps he could not have, but did he really try?

Anyone who knows even the least bit about the living conditions of 19th century/early 20th century Russian peasants, though, should hardly be surprised to discover that some felt resentful of the Romanov wealth. Peasants may have had kitchen gardens, but many (if not most) still lived in terrible conditions. I have read many "credible" books on the subject and I really don't buy into the idea that everyone was just dandy before the Revolution. By the same token just as many were no better off AFTER the Revolution, either. Some found themselves in far worse conditions, actually. Try reading about Collectivization and the nightmares that resulted for many peasants (the ones branded Kulaks in particular) from that Soviet experiment.

Personally, I view Nicholas as a kind man who was sadly oblivious to the misery that many Russians endured. A more innovative or ambitious ruler might have thought of ways to help begin to pull the peasants out of their staggering poverty (through education for example) but Nicholas wasn't trained to be such a man. He had a reactionary father who barely educated him in the ways of dictatorship let alone any other style of government. I view Alexander III as being in many ways more responsible for the failures of Nicholas' reign than Nicholas was himself because he trained him so poorly. I don't think Nicholas' intent was malicious or that he was greedy. The Tsar actually lived a very spartan life in many ways given how much wealth he possessed.

As for his being "doomed", it depends on how you look it. The Revolution might never have happened if it weren’t for the disastrous effects of WWI. I believe Lenin himself admitted that he thought he would never live to see a Revolution in Russia and was taken by surprise when the first Revolution occurred in early 1917.

As Belochka has pointed out, the Bolshevik leaders were no better than the Tsar. In my opinion (which is admittedly biased) they were far worse. They knowingly caused suffering. They created a famine that killed millions. More than one famine actually. My great-grandparents actually met while my great grandfather was working with a relief organization sent to Russia in 1921 by the US Government to help feed the famine victims. They tried to help as many as possible, but the 10,000 a day they were feeding throughout Russia at one point barely made a dent in the famine. The conditions he encountered there, and that my great-grandmother endured, were really unimaginably horrific.

Offline Puppylove

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #39 on: March 04, 2008, 09:38:31 PM »
Nadya, this is a beautiful summation!
"The censor's sword pierces deeply into the heart of free expression." Earl Warren

"...and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32

Offline Nadya_Arapov

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #40 on: March 04, 2008, 11:54:08 PM »
Nadya, this is a beautiful summation!

Thank you, puppylove. Russia has such a long, beautiful, sad, complicated history. I don't think there are really any "easy" answers to questions about Russia's past - just many shades of gray.

I condemned the Bolsheviks in my last post, and I meant every word of it, but I should have made a distinction between the leadership and the rank-and-file followers. The rank-and-file followers of the Bolsheviks were, in their own way, often just as naive as Nicholas. Many were quite young and truly believed that they were helping to create a beautiful, utopic society, where everyone would be well-fed, educated, provided for, truly equal. Unfortunately, that wasn't what occurred.

There is a wonderful book, "In the Shadow of Revolution," edited by Sheila FitzPatrick. It contains a diverse number of biographical vignettes of women from all ranks of Russian society between about 1900 and 1930 - monarchists, socialists, communists. It provides a really fascinating glimpse into the mindset of different groups of Russian women who lived through both the Revolution and its aftermath.

Offline Puppylove

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #41 on: March 05, 2008, 10:09:38 AM »
I condemned the Bolsheviks in my last post, and I meant every word of it, but I should have made a distinction between the leadership and the rank-and-file followers. The rank-and-file followers of the Bolsheviks were, in their own way, often just as naive as Nicholas. Many were quite young and truly believed that they were helping to create a beautiful, utopic society, where everyone would be well-fed, educated, provided for, truly equal. Unfortunately, that wasn't what occurred.


Now there's a question as old as time! Do those followers, should those followers, bear any guilt?
"The censor's sword pierces deeply into the heart of free expression." Earl Warren

"...and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32

Offline Nadya_Arapov

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #42 on: March 05, 2008, 05:21:05 PM »
For me the question would be what did they (the followers) do when (if) they realized the true cruelty of Lenin and Stalin's policies? Did they participate in the dekulakization of the Russian peasants? Did they harm the "former persons?" Did they needlessly inflict pain as a means of revenge/spite for real or imagined wrongs by the "bourgeoisie?" I would judge them by the same standard I would the former elite of Tsarist times. Did they abuse their power (if they had any)? If they participated knowingly, willingly, in actions that harmed others, than I suppose they do share some of the guilt. Not the lion's share of it, though. That will always belong squarely on the shoulders of those with real power. This is, in my opinion, why many blame the Tsar for the wrongs of his era, because he was in charge.

Offline Puppylove

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #43 on: March 06, 2008, 11:26:00 AM »
Very well said Nadya. I have always struggled with the idea of apportioning guilt to the "following orders" ranks. I agree with you, gratuitous violence while carrying out commands ups the guilty quotient. But I also feel for the rank and file who are given "unlawful" orders which they must obey or be prepared to die if they don't....
"The censor's sword pierces deeply into the heart of free expression." Earl Warren

"...and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32

Alixz

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #44 on: March 09, 2008, 12:18:55 AM »
In apportioning wealth.  Much has to be made of the level of education and the ability of those who are being helped to understand the help being given.

If you are helping a farmer who has always used a hand sickle to harvest his crops, then sending him an International Harvester would do him no good not unless he would now have access to a mechanic and a gas station and a tire shop and a parts department.  And then would he know what to do with these things if he had them?  Would he know the difference between air cooled and antifreeze?  Would he even know what they were for and what effects one or the other would have on the equipment?

Even something as simple as a regular toilet seat was misunderstood when sent to those who had never used one.  They used the flat cover part for a cutting board and the round seat part with the nice round hole in the middle for a picture frame. (Not in Russia, but in another part of the world.)

So while Nicholas or any other very rich person could send all kinds of life improving materials to the poor, they would make no difference in the lives of the people unless the materials were on par with the people's knowledge, training and life skills.

The newly freed serfs in Russia did not have the training or the life skills to use one third of the things that could have been sent to them.  What they needed was not money or machinery.  They needed education and training in upgrading slowly to live and be comfortable with the new things.

Teach them crop rotation.  Teach them to read and handle money so that they would not be swindled.  Teach them how to work as a community to bring good to all of the community, not just to themselves.  Bring in medical care that they could understand and be taught to use for themselves but never discount the "old wives" remedies.  Don't send them a first aid kit and expect that they would, just through osmosis, know how to use it.

Knowledge and proper training is power.  And that is why Lottery Winners often end up broke before their next check comes in.  They have the wealth, but not the education and/or training to know how to invest it and make it grow and last. (Or for that matter, the sense to seek out someone who could help them to manage their money or teach then how to manage it.)

So send a pair of boots that cost a life time of wages to a newly freed serf and I would bet that within days, those boots would be just as muck covered as his old ones and probably not as effective at keeping his feet warm.