Author Topic: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?  (Read 92047 times)

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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #75 on: April 28, 2008, 07:05:55 AM »
The timing of that quote is very interesting, coming months before the first February revolution.  It also underlines Alexandra's political blindness, her absolute inability to guage political reality and the amount of influence that Rasputin had on her and, through her, on the Tsar,

Whilst I don't disagree with your view of Alexandra's inability to gauge the reality of the political situation, I don't think that the quote about "Our Friend's vision" demonstrates much more than Rasputin's unerring ability to tell Alexandra what she wanted to hear. Long before he was on the secene she was rehearsing her ideas about how Russia loved to feel the whip and so forth. I don't doubt that R at times enjoyed having politicians come to him and literally offer him bribes in exchange for office - most of them of course were unsuccessful - and may even have derived a perverse sense of satisfaction from treating a few of them with contempt, as he sometimes did - but I think he was also at times resentful of the role imposed on him by imperial expectations. Don't forget that towards the end of his life he greeted a call from Anna Vyrubova on behalf of the Emperor and Empress with an angry, "What else do they want from me? Haven't they already had everything?!" I don't recall the source of this information - it may be his admittedly not very reliable daughter - but will check at some point.
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Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #76 on: April 28, 2008, 07:10:37 AM »
The interesting thing is that Nicholas doesn't seem to have relished hearing about "our Friend's" visions and political suggestions, at all. In at least one letters he flat out asks her not to involve their Friend in political matters. What I find incredible is that he could find the time to read her letters during the war. She wrote him basically everyday - sometimes more than once a day - and the letters could run to over 2000 words. He was supposed to be leading an army and there he was attempting to muddle through endless daily letters.

I suspect that he resented her using a third party to bolster her own views - especially one who came apparently backed with God's mandate (Nicholas after all believed his own instincts to be the voice of God - and I'm not being facetious here).
However,as far as the letters are concerned, he did ask her to be his "eyes and ears in the capital" while he was away, and she seems to have taken the injunction literally. A few of his recent biographers are inclined to see his gesture as tantamount to a pat on the head for the little lady who wanted to help, but I don't think so.....He told Alexander Mikhailovich (another unreliable source, but we can't discount everything he says) that she was the only person he actually trusted.
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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #77 on: April 28, 2008, 07:14:41 AM »
Janet
       Every book that I have read about the Empress has stressed an almost neurotic dependancy on Rasputin.  It is highly unlikely that she would have callled him 'our friend' if their relationship had not been closer than that of a person who sought the occasional religious or spiritual counselling from him.

Offline Janet Ashton

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #78 on: April 28, 2008, 07:25:20 AM »
Janet
       Every book that I have read about the Empress has stressed an almost neurotic dependancy on Rasputin.  It is highly unlikely that she would have callled him 'our friend' if their relationship had not been closer than that of a person who sought the occasional religious or spiritual counselling from him.

Whoa!  :)....You have read way more into my post than intended if you think I said it wasn't. Regardless of whether she saw him as a talisman, needed him near her or whatever, she and her husband were the architects of the policy he bolstered. Rasputin was not responsible for their would-be theocratic regime.
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Offline Nadya_Arapov

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #79 on: April 28, 2008, 11:41:35 AM »
Whoa!  :)....You have read way more into my post than intended if you think I said it wasn't. Regardless of whether she saw him as a talisman, needed him near her or whatever, she and her husband were the architects of the policy he bolstered. Rasputin was not responsible for their would-be theocratic regime.

This is extremely true, Janet. I think the way in which Rasputin managed to do the most harm to the dynasty wasn't through either his advice or his "visions" but simply by his very presence at court (or near court). He gave Alexandra's detractor's a target for their venom, he added fuel to the fire, allowing them to portray her as something she was not - licentious. She may have been deluded in many ways and pigheaded, but she wasn't involved in anything morally questionable with Rasputin. His presence also allowed them with a viable scapegoat for Nicholas and Alexandra’s political decisions. Did he try to influence them, yes, he did. However, he was not always successful and most of their worst blunders were made without any interference from him. However, appearances are everything, and his constant contact with them and the perception that his advice was always taken (even if it wasn't) made him a liability. If Nicholas had been a strongre person he would have exiled him from court regardless of Alexandra. Do I understand why he couldn't bring himself to do this? Of course, but it was still a terrible mistake on his part not to have done it.

I also believe you are correct Janet in suggesting that Rasputin in some instances merely served to bolster views that Alexandra already held. She was convinced back in 1894 - long before Rasputin appeared- that she fully understood the Russians. She would have simply found another mystic if Rasputin hadn't been there. Lord knows she had several before him.

It is tragic to think how very different Russia's future might have been if only poor Alexei had been a healthy child. Nicholas admitted on at least one occasion, that while he didn’t believe in the rumors about Rasputin, the only reason he allowed him to remain near his family was because of Alexandra’s belief in him. He wasn't completely oblivious to the hatred others felt for this man even if he believed it to be unjustified.

Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #80 on: February 06, 2010, 07:55:19 AM »
Quote from: Alixz in post #4
But to suggest that anyone, including Nicholas II, failed as a leader because he was rich, and in hindsight as well, is ludicrous.  Perhaps his wealth shielded him from the harsh realities of the world outside the palace and so we can say that "being rich" didn't allow him to truly see what was going on in Russia.

Quote from: Nadya_Arapov in post #50
Yes, but the accusation that Nicholas seemed to face most often (in the books that I have read at least), was that he was oblivious to his people’s suffering, being too far removed from them to understand their lives.

Having read the more "judicial" trial threads about how difficult it is to charge a pre-WW1 autocrat with political crimes and give him a fair trial, I feel that the two posts above would have been my starting-point if I were his Bolshevik judges. Since the Bolshevik Revolution was not just a political, but a social revolution, I feel that economic considerations, both in the charges and the sentence, would not be out of place. The Revolution and the revolutionaries being what they were, I think it would be an illusion to expect the trial of the Romanovs to be fair. They were "enemies of the people" and their trial would be political - period.

Imagine if the Bolshevik judges had declared that since the people now were the new sovereigns, the punishment of the incompetent autocrat and his family who were oblivious to the sufferings of their people because they had lived in a world of luxurious make-believe, would not be to be shot in a Siberian cellar, but to become part of that very people by experiencing the lot of those they had so horribly misgoverned? Personally, I think that would have been the fairest sentence. True, neither the children nor the wife of the autocrat should be punished for their father's crimes, but who could object to them becoming a part of the people, now that autocracy was no more?

This sentence could of course be carried out in several different ways:

- The Imperial family could be exiled to Siberia under the same conditions as other such Tsarist exiles. I guess this would put Nicholas in a labour camp, and Alexandra and the children would do whatever the families of Siberian exiles usually did. I don't know if that meant living in state orphanages, next to the labour camp in Siberia or what?
...or more appropriate:

- The Imperial Family could be given the same living conditions as most of their former subjects, either as factory workers in an urban slum or as impoverished substance farmers in a village. Of course secret police should make sure that neighbours in awe of the Tsar or outsiders didn't give them undue help. They should experience the same harsh living conditions they had subjected their people to. Perhaps Nicholas, who was rather fond of physical work, actually might be comfortable in this situation, now that he was relieved of his autocratic worries. The girls were also young and strong, but Alexandra and especially Alexei were not. Perhaps they would die from exhaustion, starvation or lack of medical treatment like so many of their subjects.

Now, this would of course be extremely dangerous to carry out with the Civil War going on and the danger of the Imperial Family being rescued/kidnapped by the Whites. But it is a fascinating thought, isn't it? Much fairer than being executed. But without being prepared for or used to such harsh living conditions, would it be better, I wonder? The morale is of course that of the ancient Greek legislator whose name now escapes me: Any legislator should only make such laws as he would be willing to live under himself, not knowing into which estate of society he would be born into. This alternative sentence would prove if Nicholas II would be happy living life with his family at the bottom of the society he ruled.

(For the record I am neither a Communist nor a NAOTMAA-Fan-Forever type. I was going to say realistic, but as you can see I'm too much of a softie, regarding the fact that execution was the most realistic option for the Bolsheviks. I do not believe in capital punishment, but believe in moderate (not gulag-like) penal labour.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2010, 08:20:03 AM by Tainyi Sovetnik »

Offline Sharon Chicago

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #81 on: February 06, 2010, 02:04:43 PM »
Alexander seemed to have a black cloud curse hanging over her... Mother dies, Alexiei blood disorder from her lineage, Rasputin, the whole family murdered...

Alexander always looked "oppressed/depressed" in the pictures ...very maudlin looking.... She suffered from not having her maternal mother alive to love her and
nurture her through her years... She had guilt burdened feelings that her blood line made her beloved Tsarvich sickly...She choose to ignore all the reports on Rasputin as being a filthy sex addict, even though the people reporting were reliable sources,
She kept her family dependant on her ...she was in charge...the girls were in a glass bubble... She did not convence her husband to leave Russia when Spain and England offered to help them out of Russia....  I think she knew they all would be murdered...after all, Rasputin had spoken a curse on them if he should die, they surely would too.
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Offline Sharon Chicago

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #82 on: February 06, 2010, 02:11:22 PM »
I cannot compare the overpaid movie stars, CEO's, sports figures, etc. to someone who rules a country and has the resources to save millions of people but does not.
He might have saved his nation/monarchy, by doing this...feeding the people. 

Yes, he was generous and gave but his country fell into hard times and people were starving all around him.
That is the part I don't understand ...but that seems to be how dictators from generations past operated and he was following suit.

I really think Nicholas was not prepared/capable to rule over Russia. He had a gentle way and seemed to be a wonderful husband and father.

Thanks for letting me share my perspective on this.
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Offline Sharon Chicago

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #83 on: February 06, 2010, 02:16:08 PM »
Even though the Tsar was protected/insolated  from every day peasant life ....I am sure that the Tsar had reports coming in  that the people of Russia were starving.
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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #84 on: February 07, 2010, 04:27:32 AM »
Even though the Tsar was protected/insolated  from every day peasant life ....I am sure that the Tsar had reports coming in  that the people of Russia were starving.

But did he really bother with that information? See post #48 of this thread?

Offline Sharon Chicago

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #85 on: February 11, 2010, 11:36:28 AM »
Roek...thank you for sending me to post #48 per below, but the last sentence below, do you think that Nicholas was trying to save face. The pride of Russia being the strongest nation that "lacks for nothing"???? ... It is hard for me to believe he did not know his countrymen were starving and that Fern bread was being sent from Finland.
He would have to have known this. :


"At a later period I was presented to the heir to the throne, now the Emperor Nicholas II. He seemed a kindly young man; but one of his remarks amazed and disappointed me. During the previous year the famine, which had become chronic in large parts of Russia, had taken an acute form, and in its trains had come typhus and cholera...

From the United States had come large contributions of money and grain; and as, during the years after my arrival, there had been a recurrence of the famine, about forty thousand rubles more had been sent me from Philadelphia for distribution. I therefore spoke on the general subject to him, referring to the fact that he was president of the Imperial Relief Commission. He answered that since the crops of the last year there was no longer any suffering; that there was no famine worthy of mention; and that he was no longer giving any attention to the subject. This was said in an off-hand, easy-going way which appalled me.

The simple fact was that the famine, though not so widespread, was more trying than the year before...(The peasants) had during the previous winter, very generally eaten their draught animals and burned everything not absolutely necessary for their own shelter; from Finland specimens of bread made largely from ferns had been brought to me which it would be a shame to give to horses or cattle; and yet His Imperial Highness, the heir to the throne, evidently knew nothing of all this..."

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Constantinople

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #86 on: April 09, 2010, 11:04:35 AM »
I would say he was willfully ignorant in that he chose not to know.  He certainly could have used or established channels of communication if he wanted to but if you look at the  way he travelled, official protocol and even his relationship with the Zemstvo they are were all engineered to not allow for bad news to reach him untiol it was too late to do anything.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #87 on: October 02, 2010, 12:38:14 PM »

Having read the more "judicial" trial threads about how difficult it is to charge a pre-WW1 autocrat with political crimes and give him a fair trial, I feel that the two posts above would have been my starting-point if I were his Bolshevik judges. Since the Bolshevik Revolution was not just a political, but a social revolution, I feel that economic considerations, both in the charges and the sentence, would not be out of place. The Revolution and the revolutionaries being what they were, I think it would be an illusion to expect the trial of the Romanovs to be fair. They were "enemies of the people" and their trial would be political - period.

Imagine if the Bolshevik judges had declared that since the people now were the new sovereigns, the punishment of the incompetent autocrat and his family who were oblivious to the sufferings of their people because they had lived in a world of luxurious make-believe, would not be to be shot in a Siberian cellar, but to become part of that very people by experiencing the lot of those they had so horribly misgoverned? Personally, I think that would have been the fairest sentence. True, neither the children nor the wife of the autocrat should be punished for their father's crimes, but who could object to them becoming a part of the people, now that autocracy was no more?

This sentence could of course be carried out in several different ways:

- The Imperial family could be exiled to Siberia under the same conditions as other such Tsarist exiles. I guess this would put Nicholas in a labour camp, and Alexandra and the children would do whatever the families of Siberian exiles usually did. I don't know if that meant living in state orphanages, next to the labour camp in Siberia or what?
...or more appropriate:

- The Imperial Family could be given the same living conditions as most of their former subjects, either as factory workers in an urban slum or as impoverished substance farmers in a village. Of course secret police should make sure that neighbours in awe of the Tsar or outsiders didn't give them undue help. They should experience the same harsh living conditions they had subjected their people to. Perhaps Nicholas, who was rather fond of physical work, actually might be comfortable in this situation, now that he was relieved of his autocratic worries. The girls were also young and strong, but Alexandra and especially Alexei were not. Perhaps they would die from exhaustion, starvation or lack of medical treatment like so many of their subjects.

Now, this would of course be extremely dangerous to carry out with the Civil War going on and the danger of the Imperial Family being rescued/kidnapped by the Whites. But it is a fascinating thought, isn't it? Much fairer than being executed. But without being prepared for or used to such harsh living conditions, would it be better, I wonder? The morale is of course that of the ancient Greek legislator whose name now escapes me: Any legislator should only make such laws as he would be willing to live under himself, not knowing into which estate of society he would be born into. This alternative sentence would prove if Nicholas II would be happy living life with his family at the bottom of the society he ruled.

(For the record I am neither a Communist nor a NAOTMAA-Fan-Forever type. I was going to say realistic, but as you can see I'm too much of a softie, regarding the fact that execution was the most realistic option for the Bolsheviks. I do not believe in capital punishment, but believe in moderate (not gulag-like) penal labour.

What you propose is in fact what happened to the last Chinese emperor, Pu Yi, at the hands of Mao's new communist regime. Although I would argue that Pu Yi's sentence of so-called rehabilitation in labor camps (as opposed to his immediate execution) was only possible because even at this late date, the early twentieth century, the Chinese held emperors, even ex-emperors, in such respect that even communist revolutionaries couldn't imagine laying a hand against one. The institution of monarchy was so much more ancient in China than it was in Russia, and so revered (thousands of years more ancient and revered) that it seems to me a kind of religious, or merely superstitious, aura still attached to the person of the emperor, despite the fact that Pu Yi had been deposed and thoroughly discredited as a puppet of the most savage enemy and invader, imperial Japan.

Of course the Bolsheviks were neither respectful nor superstitious when it came to royalty, so it's my belief that Nicholas at least was condemned to death from the minute they seized power in October/November 1917. Even politically neutralized (because he himself had neutralized himself with inept government), Nicholas was still a symbol of the past, and therefore still a threat to the new regime. (Potentially of course a "useful" threat, since he could be put on trial for propaganda purposes! Which seemingly is what the Reds intended, before the White advance in the Ural region intervened.)

The Bolsheviks were always first and foremost political animals, politics was their raison d'etre, more so than social revolution, so I think that sooner or later the whole family would have perished, though probably not so obviously as by outright assassination in the cellar in Ekaterinburg. That particular denouement was the product of specific historical circumstances. The Whites were advancing, etc., so the Romanovs had to be eliminated as quickly as possible. What it boils down to is that they were expendable.

Because: nothing really bad happened to the Bolsheviks as a result. True, the murders, once the news of them leaked out, didn't exactly improve the international reputation of Lenin & Co., but it also wasn't the primary reason for the subsequent invasion of the Soviet Union by Allied forces. Arguably, this would have happened anyway.



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Offline Павэл

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #88 on: December 04, 2010, 03:18:56 PM »
Comparing inherited wealth which was accrued due to autocratic rule of a country to high incomes that are earned in a democracy is not useful.

Perhaps not, but (simply to reply to that section of thread) it is necessary to ask "what is earned?" Money creates more opportunities for money. This may be by greater opportunities to invest or by 'association'. Do people buy David Beckham's books because he's a great author? Moreover, if simple liberty to earn (negative liberty - aka unrestricted capitalism) is sufficient then positive liberty (e.g. giving scholarships to poor students*) is a falsehood. It may well be a falsehood, but I'd like to see you make a case for unrestricted capitalism. As our society throughout the 20th century has evolved defining 'what is REALLY earned' is an extension of the same debates of the 17th century over the place of the King over government - you start at the top and reform 'downwards'. With each century comes a new challenge - and whether the economic and/or political power of the new 'rulers' (businessmen for example) itself composes a new tyranny. Compare to the position of modern Russia and it's all powerful business moguls.

In order to begin to accuse we must first define our objective. If that is to 'build a better society' (and punish/remove/reeducate non-followers), for example, then we need to know in the more general case what a despot really is (or what constitutes unearned income) and what roles they play in damaging the objective. From this general definition, encompassing all considerations we can then build a consistent answer (say, in the courts.)

In the 17th Century the matter of income was critical. The crown was greedily hunting for new taxes and liberty of all forms was under threat. 200 years later, it became clear that negative liberty alone and the argument "cos its my money and I made it" was itself a threat to liberty - because the man who lives in a sewer (the sewer that served that self-made non-inheriting but still overpaid industrialist) may be free, but is also a slave by his lack of finance irrespective of whether he was politically persecuted or not.

Before you ask, 'negative' and 'positive' definitions of liberty were adopted simply to compare the two, not as a means of slighting one as negative. It is 'negative' because it is not 'positive'. The latter is called positive because it required active energies and intents to implement (be it tax, welfare, etc.).

* Which, ironically, would be unearned income!
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Offline Павэл

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Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
« Reply #89 on: December 04, 2010, 04:13:20 PM »
If taken further, can you really say " inherited wealth and political power that derives bad, other wealth good (as long as you don't pass it on)." If the love of money is the root of all evil then that comes irrespective of the means by which it was accrued. I have personally also been witness to very hard working people who are nonetheless equally selfish in why they work - the cynical methodologies that plunge those around into despair.

Further, if inherited wealth is a poor matter then what of a working class person who inherits a small sum from his hardworking parents? If you would accept that a small sum is acceptable, then you've accepted inherited wealth, contradicted the argument I put in a different font, above. So then the argument (in order to avoid contradiction) becomes - "excessive wealth" is a crime, and as a result also encompasses earned/'semi-earned' (but not necessarily inherited) wealth.

Additionally, All money brings political advantage and so 'celebs' (for the want of a better term) must begin to share the burden of good governance.

Do I think the IF are bad simply by being rich? I don't know. I would argue, however, (contrary to Constantinople) that if the answer is 'yes' then all wealth becomes questionable. This relates very closely to the original question. In my travels about this life, I've found those who hate 'the inherited classes' most will then  adulate the viciously rich but self-made instead! Or, hate 'privilege' only when they don't experience it. I will not relate all details quite now as passions are running high (student demos anyone?) but perhaps a little while along. I knew and worked with some of the 'austerity enforcers' when they were undergraduates. Amazing how they fought privilege back then and how much they now defend their own impressive salaries now.
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