Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => The Russian Revolution => Topic started by: Forum Admin on April 25, 2004, 11:17:44 AM

Title: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Forum Admin on April 25, 2004, 11:17:44 AM
Joanna:
You wrote: "As I understand you (and I might be wrong) you suggest that Nicholas was powerless to save himself from the Revolution, while I feel that he had over 20 years as an Autocrat and thus every opportunity to aid his people and thus possibly change his own fate."

I don't suggest that Nicholas was "powerless" to save himself. However, one MUST look from Nicholas's perspective to genuinely assess his decisions.
The Tsar was the center of Russia, politically and economically, and had been for 300 years. Changing the status quo of his father, grandfather and Ggrandfather would be seen as a sign of weakness by the peasants. This in fact was the case. After 1906, his "reforms" were seen by the average peasant as a loss of his (literally) "awesome" power.
As for aiding his people, he felt he was doing EVERYTHING to aid his people...
You forget that Nicholas did not abdicate to bring down the throne. He abdicated to SAVE the throne. He felt that Michael would be seen as a stronger leader.

Then you say:  
     "I agree that 300 years of Tsarist Rule had lead to a very unwieldy goverment which I think we both realize was unable to cope with the demands of the 20th century. Yet I still feel that Nicholas had so many missed chances for viable change for his people and himself. He could have taken atvantage of the peasant issue and truly made himself the "People's Tsar". He could have mandated right and liberties, encouraged economic and land reform. He could even have given his people a constitution and become a constitutional monarch. Sadly he failed to do anything like this... "

See above, and frankly, by Nicholas's time, it wouldn't have worked. The peasant were so distanced from the rest of Russian society by then, they still would have had no reason to support the Tsar. The word "Mir" means village, community and world....Petersburg could have been London or Hong Kong for that matter to the peasants. As for being "The People's Tsar" look at what happened to Alexander II for trying that. Frankly, Alexander I should have been the one to start the reforms for any hope of a constitutional monarchy to succeed. BUT, the thought of such a thing was impossible for any 19th century Tsar to consider genuinely.  

To blame Nicholas, one must also blame Alexander III, Alexander II, Nicholas I, Alexander I, and Catherine, frankly.
Also, the communes did in fact own the land, and allocate plots to their members. The ownership figures cited by Prof. Pipes are in fact quite accurate. Don't necessarily place all your eggs in Figes' basket, he went into his book with an attitude, that highly influenced his perceptions and conclusions (many of which were foregone before page 1 was written). Read more history by more impartial historians before you make such sweeping pronouncements. the subject is far less "cut and dried" than you seem to see it.
FA
 
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Joanna Mayer on April 25, 2004, 01:04:26 PM
Dear Web Administrator,

Ouch!

As far as blaming Alexander II as well as Nicholas, you have a point. Alexander did too little too late. In fact I suppose that I hoped that Nicholas might to try to appreciate all the differant aspects of the growing russian society, not just have  "faith in the love of the common folk." Many other historians - Crankshaw for one- have pointed out that Nicholas seemed to have no understanding of about 3 million of his subjects (scholars teachers ,writers,scientists economists artists businessmen, workers, theoriticians etc.) Admitedly he thought that he had the love of about 17 million so I guess he thought why bother? Maybe had there been any sense of sympathy between the elite new class (Crankshaws term not mine) and the Tsar, things might have been differant. I supposed that sooner or later I expected someone in the Autocracy to do something. Why not Nicholas?  

As far as your suggstion to read other historians, I am quite familiar with Pipes, as well as Sydney Monas, E.  Crankshaw and A. Ascher- his work on Axelrod is especially interesting . I quote from Figes because he seems to have a clearer insight than Pipes. Sorry you find his work so bias.  

Am I getting too tiresome?
Could you recommend some other sourses, that is if your not loosing patience with me.
Joanna Mayer
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: aligertz on January 14, 2005, 01:44:49 AM
lets look at the facts...in February food shortages led to scattered rioting in Petrograd - the local barracks full of raw recruits drank and joined in.big deal!'disturbing the peace'!one good police baton charge would have cleared the streets and normalcy would have been restored.end of revolution!
only the health of the Tsarevich cast a shadow on matters and even there,if need be, H.I.H Nicholas could have (and did) take the 75% legal option of abdicating the second time on behalf of his brother Mikhail.i really do believe this would have passed muster with the legal courts.
but no.present at the scene where Mikhail had to make his decision was a well-meaning but essentially stupid man A.F.Kerensky.HE had to have a Republic at all costs
and his ego would NOT accept a constitutional Monarchy which is what Mikhail himself favored.
please :) i invite you good folks to disagree but A.F.Kerensky made Feb. and Oct. inevitable.thats MY
opinion.
what is your's? :)
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on January 14, 2005, 04:21:34 AM
I'm afraid I have to disagree with you, Aligertz. I'm no fan of Kerensky, but you can't blame him for the Russian Revolution(s). So many factors went into this cataclysm, some of them reaching as far back into history as the reign of Peter the Great. This is what made the Russian Revolution inevitable, not the actions of any single individual.

However, if any one historical factor can be called decisive in March 1917, it was World War I. For a whole host of reasons, early twentieth-century Russia simply lacked the socio-economic, administrative, and political infrastructure to conduct a full-scale "modern" European war. The entire autocratic system collapsed under the strain.

But this was not the first time in Russian history (nor would it be the last!) that military disaster sparked radical change, whose primary aim was to modernize Russian industry and society for the purpose of keeping the country a European power. A good example of this overall historical pattern was the debacle of the Crimean War some sixty years before, which led directly to Alexander II's "revolution from above" - the sweeping reforms of the 1860s. A more recent example would be the war in Afghanistan of the late 1970s, which many historians view as an important factor in the ultimate disintegration of the Soviet regime a mere decade later.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: rskkiya on January 14, 2005, 09:12:52 AM
Elizabeth has made her points quite well and I must agree with her.
To suggest that Kerensky was somehow entirely responsible for the March and October Revolutions is a rather historically shallow interpretation of the facts.

rskkiya
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: aligertz on January 14, 2005, 10:31:33 AM
dear rskkiya
  i am a confirmed Monarchist so this is the perspective i bring to the question of 1917 as a whole.as a monarchist i am naturally concerned with the 'legitimate principle' and the godly rights of kings.
H.I.H Nicholas began the disaster when he abdicated for Alexis.that was clearly a violation...yes we grant him the natural feelings of a parent for the fate of their child but there were no reason why Mikhail could not serve as Regent until the Tsarevitch turned of age.
Kerensky however exaggerated the popular 'rage' of the masses,enough to scare the skin off of Mikhail SO the republican essentially got what he wanted and Russia then had no legitimacy thereafter much like Iraq
today.and the republican didnt care,he spent the 8 month odyssey riding about in cars from the Imperial Garage and so forth WHILE in the absence of a unifying
nerve center,such as a crown,the country understandably came apart.remember,during the Kornilov Affair kerensky let the reds out of jail and
proceeded to arm them into a defense militia.just a mere
month later these same reds practically walked into the Winter Palace and evicted the'republic'!
so,rskkiya,i hope i havent been too long winded in my response but ANY 'monarchist' interpretation of 1917 is
bound to be narrow.i'm used to it...... :)

best wishes
aligertz
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: rskkiya on January 14, 2005, 01:08:54 PM
Quote
Elizabeth has made her points quite well and I must agree with her.
To suggest that Kerensky was somehow entirely responsible for the March and October Revolutions is a rather historically shallow interpretation of the facts.

rskkiya


I am neither pro/con monarchist, but I am a historian .
I stand by my statement.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Belochka on January 14, 2005, 09:45:01 PM
Quote
I'm no fan of Kerensky, but you can't blame him for the Russian Revolution(s). So many factors went into this cataclysm, some of them reaching as far back into history as the reign of Peter the Great. This is what made the Russian Revolution inevitable, not the actions of any single individual.


Elizabeth, why blame Peter the Great? I must have missed this connection somewhere.

To singly place blame on Kerensky is avoiding many issues which lead to Russia's demise as a democratic State. The forces came not only from above, they came from the left, and they came from the right, and before long they came from outside.

The revolutionary fervor could have been curbed ... Imperial Russia was strong, in the main its people had faith and confidence in their Batyushka, the Emperor when Russia entered WWI.

This unfortunate war revealed Russia's shortcomings, the treasonous activities of its War Minister, which led to lack of military apparel to be supplied to the troops. Factories were unable to provide war materiel fast enough. Persistant defeat on the battlefront lead to much dissolussionment by the brave soldiers. These soldiers were the very backbone upon which Russia relied, for soon they began seeking emotional strength elsewhere. Revolutionary thoughts became the words of fire for a new battlefront.

And then Protocol # 1 ensured that mutiny and murder of Imperial officers and consequent collapse of military law and order ... everything that previously provided the militaristic status quo had collapsed, for it  became the new order of the day. Soldiers returned home without leave, tired hungry and emotionally broken. Losses were enormous, those who remained did not want death.

One must not forget that Nikolai's Army Generals, who except for one (who committed suicide shortly after), all turned their back on Nikolai's plee for moral support. It was their own collective treasonous behaviour that contributed directly to Nikolai's own decision to sign his Abdication Manifesto.  

And then there was the huge consideration of German finances that contributed to Russia's new battle cry and it was they who skilfully manipulated this national weakness ... A lack of faith and respect in their fellow man, country and Emperor. This fatal injection was not immunized but allowed to fester until finally the sealed train brought Lenin and his cohorts to Finland Station .....

It was a pushover .... but rewards were so few, for soon the Russian people were deceived yet again and had to fight another internal battle which enveloped them for another eighty years.

The real cause was not Kerensky alone but the weakness of the Russian nation seeking an illusionary ideal which was never realized.  
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Olga on January 15, 2005, 05:45:09 AM
Quote
one good police baton charge would have cleared the streets and normalcy would have been restored.end of revolution


Aligertz, I don't think you understand that people rioting in the streets were doing it for a reason. Can you see where I'm heading?
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on January 15, 2005, 06:18:31 AM
Quote
Elizabeth, why blame Peter the Great? I must have missed this connection somewhere.


I'm not "blaming" Peter the Great! I stated that many of the problems confronting Russia in 1917 had originated during the REIGN of Peter the Great and had not been resolved in the intervening 200 years. Chief among these (and the one most frequently cited by historians) was the enormous division created in Russian society by Peter the Great's reforms - between a tiny, educated and thoroughly Westernized elite, and the vast majority of the population, who remained illiterate, impoverished peasants mired in the antiquated agricultural system and cultural mores of their ancestors. By 1917 serfdom was gone, yes, but peasants and the elite still regarded each other with tremendous suspicion and sometimes even outright hostility (e.g., the peasant violence against landowners during the 1905 Revolution, and the subsequent outpouring of anti-peasant literature produced by writers like Gorky and Chekhov).

What the peasants wanted first and foremost was land and an end to the war. Whether or not the first was an illusory goal is, historically speaking, a moot point (well, of course it was illusory - there were too many peasants and not enough land, as Orlando Figes has shown). Lenin and the Bolsheviks cynically promised the peasantry the land and an end to the war in exchange for their support. True, many peasants (the "Greens") revolted against both the Whites and the Reds after October 1917. But overall, in contrast to the Whites, the Bolsheviks offered a cohesive political programme with a broad mass appeal. This doesn't mean their ultimate victory was democratic - far from it, as we all know - for example, the Socialist Revolutionaries had considerably more support in the countryside than the Bolsheviks, but were politically outmaneuvered by them. But in the end this singlemindedness of purpose did make the Bolsheviks a much stronger force to be reckoned with than their politically divided opponents.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Belochka on January 15, 2005, 10:41:05 PM
Peter the Great's Table of Ranks created a practical categorization of Russians employed in the government sphere. It served as a basis to create a sense of duty and including military service to the nation. No man was strictly isolated in wanting to aspire even to its lowest ranks. It was in theory a system based on merit for service rendered, and not qualified by deprivation because of lowly birth.

I do not believe that this was a form of alienation for the majority of Russia's people. The majority of serfs did not care for education nor for the educated. Even Gorki' alluded to these issues in his first trilogy Childhood.

To permit privileges based on rank is no different to modern society today.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on January 16, 2005, 04:36:03 AM
Quote
Peter the Great's Table of Ranks created a practical categorization of Russians employed in the government sphere. It served as a basis to create a sense of duty and including military service to the nation. No man was strictly isolated in wanting to aspire even to its lowest ranks. It was in theory a system based on merit for service rendered, and not qualified by deprivation because of lowly birth.

I do not believe that this was a form of alienation for the majority of Russia's people. The majority of serfs did not care for education nor for the educated. Even Gorki' alluded to these issues in his first trilogy Childhood.

To permit privileges based on rank is no different to modern society today.


Belochka, I apologize if I am being unclear. The Table of Ranks has very little to do with the point I am making...I am merely repeating, or trying to repeat, however ineptly, a basic truism of Slavic studies which most college students learn in Russian History 101. So let me try again.

As you know, Peter the Great's Westernizing reforms transformed the uppercrust of Russian society whilst basically leaving untouched the remaining 80-90 percent of the population. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, this division in Russian society led to an acute spiritual crisis amongst the emerging intelligentsia, which was searching for a national identity. Was Russia a European nation or an Asian one? Or was it some sort of hybrid? The "Westernizers" argued the former, and consequently regarded the Russian peasantry as a drag on the process of civilizing (basically Europeanizing) Russia; whereas the "Slavophiles" took the opposite view, believing that only the peasantry had preserved intact the true Russian national identity, uncontaminated by European ways.

From this identity crisis arose much of nineteenth-century Russian philosophy, which in turn engendered the populist movement of the 1870s, in which scores of young people from the elite attempted to "go to the people," i.e., to bridge the gap between themselves and the peasantry by means of educating and enlightening the masses. This attempt was a resounding failure - the peasants met the "narodniks" with a mixture of suspicion and incomprehension - and the resulting disillusionment amongst the narodniks led directly to the birth of the Russian revolutionary movement of the 1880s and beyond.        

I agree with you that there was some social mobility in imperial Russia, thanks to Peter the Great's Table of Ranks: the most outstanding example being the "raznochintsy." But they only serve to further illustrate my point. The "raznochintsy" were not of peasant origin, but mostly came from the clerical class. For that matter, they were also deeply preoccupied with the issues of national identity and the peasant "problem." These men, like the great literary critic Belinsky, perhaps suffered more intensely than anyone else over the gap in Russian society between the haves and the have-nots.

Indeed, Russian literature is replete with the peasant theme. One has only to read the great works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky to understand how central the issue of the peasantry was to the search for a national identity in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Russia. To generalize, before the Revolution of 1905, Russian writers, whether Slavophile or not, tended to idealize the Russian peasant as the repository of true morality and the Russian ethos, a sort of noble savage. After the major outbreaks of peasant violence during the Revolution of 1905, many Russian intellectuals became disillusioned with the peasant and this disillusionment is reflected in the works of writers like Andrei Bely and Anton Chekhov, with their dark, mainly negative views of peasant life. (As for Gorky, he always despised the peasantry, and of course he depicts them as contemptible souls happy to wallow in their ignorance.)

But all of this has been written about at great length by any number of historians. One could even say without exaggeration that the divide between the elite and the peasantry was the central problem of post-Petrine imperial Russian history and one which was only really "solved" when Stalin instituted forced collectivization, thereby killing 20 million peasants and basically destroying the peasantry and their culture in one blow.  
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Belochka on February 01, 2005, 05:11:49 AM
Quote
One could even say without exaggeration that the divide between the elite and the peasantry was the central problem of post-Petrine imperial Russian history and one which was only really "solved" when Stalin instituted forced collectivization, thereby killing 20 million peasants and basically destroying the peasantry and their culture in one blow.  


And what was the result, surely you are not contending that the Soviet Union produced a more even playing field?

It was under Lenin foremost, and then later under Stalin's management that the problem of private ownership was solved by sacrificing millions of peasants, and providing in its place forced collectivization of privately owned land. This turned back everything which Stolypin's reforms were trying to achieve - to increase the yield on the tracts land. Despite what the peasantry were led to believe, there was not enough arable land. The myth of "taking all the land for the peasants" was to be perpetuated by the revolutionary cri du coeur, to take everything into their own hands. But how long did this deception prevail?

Freedom of movement, expression and incentive were suppressed, only to be replaced by bloody red terror by the cheka and then by the NKVD, initially to prevent the regime from collapsing, and later to minimize possible counter-revolutionary thoughts.

Imperial Russia's real enemy was not Nikolai, but it was the intellectuals and revolutionary elements, each having their own motives and thoughts of a utopia, blaming the monarchy at every phase. Nikolai reluctantly permitted a multi party system, but it was Lenin who organized political warfare, and ensured that there were to be no rival parties.

It was Lenin who neutralized the peasants, he confiscated their land, nationalized all property and ensured that the little the peasants owned would be confiscated from them, until there was no more. All these factors ensured that the crop failures would bring about famines in Russia and the Ukraine. According to American sources, 33.5 million succumbed during 1921 alone. The Raging famines of the 1920's and 30's of unprecedented proportions were never experienced in Imperial times.    

The Criminal Code of 1922, decreed that, teaching of religion to persons under the age of 18 in public places such as schools and private establishments, was punishable by forced labor. This privilege was freely enjoyed under Nikolai government. Religion was fundamental to the psychic of the peasant.

There was a saying:

Ne urozhai, ot Boga, (No harvest, its from God)
Golod, ot ludei (Famine is caused by people)  


While Stalin continued Lenin's agenda, he was unique in that he liquidated all his opponents including the intellectuals. Nikolai never had his opponent's blood on his hands.

Despite all this, human resilience prevailed, peasants did not disappear from the face of Russian earth.  It is incorrect to suggest that the culture had been destroyed, it could still be seen and heard in the rural regions. Many still maintained their spiritual beliefs, nor did they forget their traditional learned crafts, and they were still able to sing ancient songs and be entertained by their time honored dances.

Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Dashkova on February 01, 2005, 06:36:13 AM
Quote
Imperial Russia's real enemy was not Nikolai, but it was the intellectuals and revolutionary elements, each having their own motives and thoughts of a utopia, blaming the monarchy at every phase.


While the monarchy didn't even *try*.  Any "imperialist," if they ever had a thought at all about even self-preservation, should have realized that Nicky boy was *too* their enemy.  No doubt many did.

Quote
The Criminal Code of 1922, decreed that, teaching of religion to persons under the age of 18 in public places such as schools and private establishments, was punishable by forced labor. This privilege was freely enjoyed under Nikolai government. Religion was fundamental to the psychic of the peasant.


There's the law and then there's the truth of the matter.  Russians continued not only to be religious and practice their religion if they chose to, they also continued to raise their children to believe the same and YES, if they wanted to, they went to church.  Yes, religion is fundamental to the psyche of the peasant and it *continued* to be throughout the years of the soviet union and afterwards. No, the government didn't encourage it and yes, many churches were destroyed and shut down, but not all by a long shot.  NOTHING about the religion aspects post-revolution should EVER be generalized.

Quote
While Stalin continued Lenin's agenda, he was unique in that he liquidated all his opponents including the intellectuals. Nikolai never had his opponent's blood on his hands.


Just the blood of his people.  

And everyone knows what *that's* worth to imperial types.

Quote
Despite all this, human resilience prevailed, peasants did not disappear from the face of Russian earth.  It is incorrect to suggest that the culture had been destroyed, it could still be seen and heard in the rural regions. Many still maintained their spiritual beliefs, nor did they forget their traditional learned crafts, and they were still able to sing ancient songs and be entertained by their time honored dances.
 


Wow, you speak about Russian peasants as if they were some sort of quaint little pet.  The "peasantry" was, is, and very likely always be the overwhelming majority of Russians. Far too many died, and yet FAR more was accomplished to improve the lives of the overwhelming millions more that lived and would live, and this was accomplished only during Soviet times.

The peasants were the ones who built an industrialized nation, won a war for the world, and educated their populace.  They also managed to take time from their "singing and dancing" to explore space, design and implement technology still used by the rest of the world, and also live(d) very much like "peasants" in the 20th-21st century west.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Dashkova on February 01, 2005, 02:26:04 PM
Quote

Yes, it  is probably better to avoid looking at "the law" too closely since that might seem to throw a spanner into the "Tsar, bad; commissar, Heaven on Earth" position, so I'll skip for the moment pointing out that all the Communist regime(s) did in Russia was to take the framework instituted during the Imperial era, many times borrowing nearly the exact wording, and close the various loopholes to render the system effective.

May I presume from this that you believe Lenin and Stalin, and their various & varied underlings had no blood on their hands?  Or weren't they, somehow, "their" people?

The individuals who made up Stalin's "statistics" might perhaps have disagreed with the presumption, here, that they were worth more in the new regime than in the former.  But then, as someone else once famously remarked, "Nobody speaks of the Armenians any more".


Well, you're certainly right about it being accomplished in Soviet times.  One is permitted to wonder, however, about what might have been accomplished has the Russian people been spared those "Soviet times".  Materially, the life of most common, every-day people improved markedly, in most Western industrialised nations, especially in the years post World War II.


I've got to presume from this that these "peasants" you speak of were willing participants in this industrialisation, and that they reaped all or, at the least, most of the benefits which were thereby gained?

As to winning that World War, I think that perhaps some assistance may have been given by at least one or two nations.

As for education, did the Soviet state have nothing to do with this?  Were these peasants of yours, then, free to learn how, what, & when they wished, without any kind of governmental or political interference by others?

You've often cited education as one of the many boons the common people gained during that wonderful era you so quaintly refer to as "Soviet times".  Since you have also challenged a number of people to back up their own assertions with some cold, hard fact more than a number of times, is it permissible to ask you to quote the literacy rates for the Russian people, say at 20-year intervals (roughly a generation), starting after the Revolution?



Ok, let's see...

As to the education question, I will definitely look into that, in fact, my thesis deals indirectly with the subject of Soviet education, so that is one thing you've written that I can be bothered with!

Will definitely post my discoveries as they occur!


Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on February 01, 2005, 05:20:39 PM
Quote

And what was the result, surely you are not contending that the Soviet Union produced a more even playing field?


Where did you get this conclusion from my posting? Are you joking? A "more even playing field" - no, genocide. And it was only a "solution" in the sense that the "final solution" was a solution: it was an absolute evil. Period. But that's what comes of projecting one's own hopes and fears on the Other - which is what the Russian intelligentsia did, with horrendous consequences, to the Russian peasant for generation upon generation (and here I am echoing a point earlier made much more eloquently by Dashkova - although we don't agree on everything, on this point we do!).

Quote
Despite all this, human resilience prevailed, peasants did not disappear from the face of Russian earth.  It is incorrect to suggest that the culture had been destroyed, it could still be seen and heard in the rural regions. Many still maintained their spiritual beliefs, nor did they forget their traditional learned crafts, and they were still able to sing ancient songs and be entertained by their time honored dances.
 


Peasant culture was all but destroyed. It was certainly warped and corrupted almost beyond recognition. Read the works of Solzhenitsyn, but particularly "Matryona's House," to get a picture of what this new "peasant culture" looked like. Pure desperation, if you ask me. I think Stalin's legacy to Russia was even worse than what you describe.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Dashkova on February 01, 2005, 05:58:29 PM
Elisabeth, we agree on much more than you probably imagine, but the issue of peasant desperation, I don't think it was in any way better before the revolution.  What good is one's culture if one is too hungry or overworked and hopeless -- they never dared hope for a better life, which is what led to the massive alcoholism and domestic abuse --  to care to participate (whether art, dance, music or even religion).

I will always maintain that life for peasants was far worse before the revolution than after, not because the soviets made everything so great (I know that they didn't) but that strides and improvements were made where none had even been attempted before.  I realize that imperial supporters like to say, "Well, if the reforms had been given a chance," but look at the Imperial and even Provisional track record! Why were they to be believed?  Especially in light of the fact that there were no *true* reforms enacted during those periods.

I think it is not only very sad, but that those who wielded power for SO long, all the while claiming to "luuuvvv" the people so much, sat on their hands and did nothing, and that the resulting revolution and tyranny was able to take place -- because it **could** and because people really were that desperate.
All because Nicky and company (and his forebearers) were asleep at the switch.

I am not a religious person, but if there is an afterlife I hope that the imperial leaders, from the tsars to all of their flunkeys, are deep in Dante's inferno, where they watch again and again what their selfish neglect wrought.  Ditto to Lenin and Stalin, but those two at least get marks for trying.  The tsar/flunkey tag team did nothing.  My Russian professors, my husband's family and millions more, who came from the peasant or "Kulak" class received higher education and have lived long healthy lives.  They would have had NONE of the above under Nikolai or any of his ilk.  These facts mean a GREAT DEAL to Russians.  Put simply, they were given hope, and for the first time.

How horrible that something so elemental and necessary to human existence had to be attained by such atrocious means.


The refrain that comes to me time and time (*endless* time) again from Russians I know of a certain age (let's say from 35 and older) is one of: the Soviet government made it possible so that we (using a direct quote here) "never no worry" about anything, jobs, medical care, food, etc... (and I am speaking of post-Stalin Russia).  And history has shown without fail that when a population is prosperous *enough* so that the basics are covered, culture blossoms.  No doubt about it, culture was not allowed to blossom the way it *could* have, but absolutely Russian culture was maintained, in fact, it was a major point with Lenin that all cultures in the vast USSR should be allowed to flourish (including language and cultural practices) albeit with a Soviet spin.

One other point with regard to survival of culture:
As for those who grew up and lived under the soviet system, for all its faults, based on what I've read and the many Russians I have interviewed and chatted with *from* that era (including even those who well remember the 1930s) that the old songs were still sung, folk practices were maintained though it is certainly understandable that such practices and beliefs were cast off willingly (just as they were during the 20th century in the west!),  the balalaika was played in nearly every home, people went to church if they wanted (as long as it was Orthodox), and folk art continued to be created.  I saw at least some physical proof of this last spring when I visited a Russian toy museum and I was not at all surprised to see the great variety of both traditional and modern toys from the Soviet era, and of the mass-produced as well as one-of-a-kind types.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on February 02, 2005, 02:47:42 PM
Dashkova, we probably do agree on much more than we both think (since we both seem to place more value on humanitarian ideals than on any particular ideology), but this is one point on which I simply cannot agree with you: even if there was more social mobility after 1917 (and I agree that this is debatable! you might very well be right), nevertheless, in my opinion, it came at the cost of too many human lives. I continue to believe that there is a major difference between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. And if the tsarist regime was careless and negligent where the peasantry was concerned - not proactive in reforms, either as much or as soon as we would wish - I do believe that the Soviet regime was actually worse, because it regarded a sizeable portion of the peasantry as actual class enemies, and treated them as such. Usually, only the poorest or the most vengeful got a piece of the Soviet pie. And often (not always), only at the cost of their neighbors' lives. Of course, this doesn't mean that people who happened to benefit from the Soviet system were themselves evil. It simply means the system itself was designed that way. But let's agree to disagree. As usual you have argued your case cogently and well. Let's let the readers out there decide what they themselves think!
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Dashkova on February 02, 2005, 08:25:21 PM
The tsarist regime was no less evil, it was just dressed up fancier, cloaked in religion and gifted with lip service.  Fear and awe were wielded as weapons by the imperialists very much in the soviet manner.

And the bottom line is, the dark days of Stalin would never have even had the potential to exist, were it not for the neglect and ignorance of the tsars and their minions.

Therefore, the blood of the dead millions under the soviet regime isn't only on the hands of soviet leaders.  It sickens me to contemplate how far back into time the blood flows.

Looking at the situation from that standpoint, I hardly see where authoritarian and totalitarian systems differ much.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Goula on February 02, 2005, 10:10:53 PM

As an aside, when you find the literacy rate for 1937, it should run somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20%, give or take a few points, one way or the other.  I have seen a few sources list it into the lower 20 percentiles, and a few others where it appears to have dipped down into the mid-to-high teens.  But most of the reliable sources I have seen seem to agree that around one-fifth or 20% of the population was literate in 1937.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: rskkiya on February 02, 2005, 11:13:36 PM
Goula
   I am curious about your sources for '20% "... I was under the impression it was a bit higher than that ah well - I may well be wrong.
   
    Regarding the question-- yes I do think that the revolution was inevitable, and I will happily explain my reasons in the next few days alas I am too tired just now (insert yawning icon here)

love to all
rskkiya
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: AGRBear on February 03, 2005, 10:29:26 AM
 
Most of us do appreciate your contributions, Goula, and don't let a few chase you away because they don't seem to be able to deal with facts which are contrary to their opinions.

Evidently, the Bolsheviks / communists want to paint a rosy picture about how they made everything better for the peasants.  Through the years,  they have brain-washed people into thinking that the bodies of 20 million plus people was a necessary evil.  It was not.  

However, the only time the Russians were free was between the moment in time Michael II sent his words to the Duma and waited to be elected as head of a new govt. and when Lenin's men started to rip open the very heart of Russia.

AGRBear
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 03, 2005, 10:44:40 AM
Here we go again indeed- facts ?
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: AGRBear on February 03, 2005, 10:56:02 AM
Quote
I went to a book for dates and accurate information:

The First Duma met for 73 days in 1906.
The Second Duma met for 102 days.
The Third Duma held onto it's full five-year term from 1907-12.
The Fourth Duma was held from 1912 to 1917.

The duma set up a provisional committee and asked Prince Lvov to for a Provisional government in Feb. of 1917.

The new Provisional Govt. promised to form a constitutional assembly and to hold free election.  This assembly abolished the secret police. Granted freedom in religion....

The Provisional Govt. was to fall as one of the victims of the Bolsheviks.

It was the Bolsheviks who were not good for Russia.

AGRBear


Was the Revolution of 1917 inevitable.  The answer is no, because it could have been avoided by Nicholas II and all those who thought they were going to change things over night without being prepared to do so.

It was the coup lead by Lenin in Red October inevitable.  No.  It was just a bunch of  terrorists who took over a bad situation and this was the results:

Quote
Dashkova

The number of 25 million was not my own.
On p. 385 of The White General by Richard Luckert

Also go to the following URL for more information in the encyclopedia than what follows the URL:
http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Russian%20Civil%20War
" At the end of the Civil War, Soviet Russia was exhasted and ruined. The droughts of 1920 and 1921 and the frightful famine during that last year added the final, gruesome chapter to the disaster. In the years following the originally "bloodless" October Revolution, epidemics, starvation, fighting, executions, and the general breakdown of the economy and society had taken something like twenty million lives. Another million had left Russia -- with General Wrangel, through the Far East, or in numerous other ways - rather than accept Communist rule, the emigres included a high proportion of educated and skilled people. War Communism might have saved the Soviet government in the course of the Civil War, but it also helped greatly to wreck the nation's economy. With private industry and trade proscribed and the state unable to perform these functions on a sufficient scale, much of the Russian economy ground to a standstill. It has been estimated that the total output of mines and factories fell in 1921 to 20 per cent if the pre-World War level, with many crucial items experiencing an even more drastic decline. Production of cotton, for example, fell to 5 per cent, iron to 2 per cent, of the prewar level. The peasants responded to requisitioning by refusing to till their land. By 1921 cultivated land had shrunk to some 62 per cent of the prewar area, and the harvest yield was only about 37 percent of normal. The number of horses declined from 35 million in 1916 to 24 million in 1920, and cattle from 58 to 37 million during the same span of time. The exchange rate of the US dollar, which had been two rubles in 1914, rose to 1,200 in 1920."

AGRBear


AGRBear
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Dashkova on February 03, 2005, 02:59:54 PM

As for your remarks about Lenin ripping the heart out of Russia, that was done WELL before Ulianov even drew breath.  If you ever bothered to step off your imperial cloud you would realize this, but since you don't won't can't, then understand that there are going to be many who disagree with you.

Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Dashkova on February 03, 2005, 03:08:56 PM
Sunny, you do of course, include yourself in the category, correct?

If not, there are others who do!  If someone disagrees with you or other imperialistic views, then you label that person as an energy creature (don't you mean troll? It's ok, you can say it), when in reality what is really happening is that the persons who disagree with you are messing with your fantasy, which you call opinion.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: rskkiya on February 03, 2005, 09:09:32 PM
Back On Topic
    I am convinced that even if Russia had not entered WWI there would have been a revolution...without France's massive loans (thus without the mutual defence treaty) the financial situation in Russia would have gotten even more chaotic and the revolutionary situation of 1905 may have gotten even bloodier ....Of course this is a lttle bit like discussing angels on pinheads -- still there are my two kopeks worth!

rskkiya
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 03, 2005, 10:18:43 PM
He did say he was going to [remove his posts] in his "farewell".
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: AGRBear on February 04, 2005, 11:53:33 AM
So, let's get back to the subject.

Are the following facts incorrect?

It wasn't the Revolution of 1917 that was wrong, it was the take over of Lenin and Stalin that proves what happens when the wrong people take the helm of a sinking ship.  

---
The number of 25 million was not my own.
On p. 385 of The White General by Richard Luckert
 
Also go to the following URL for more information in the encyclopedia than what follows the URL:  
http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Russian%20Civil%20War
" At the end of the Civil War, Soviet Russia was exhasted and ruined. The droughts of 1920 and 1921 and the frightful famine during that last year added the final, gruesome chapter to the disaster. In the years following the originally "bloodless" October Revolution, epidemics, starvation, fighting, executions, and the general breakdown of the economy and society had taken something like twenty million lives. Another million had left Russia -- with General Wrangel, through the Far East, or in numerous other ways - rather than accept Communist rule, the emigres included a high proportion of educated and skilled people. War Communism might have saved the Soviet government in the course of the Civil War, but it also helped greatly to wreck the nation's economy. With private industry and trade proscribed and the state unable to perform these functions on a sufficient scale, much of the Russian economy ground to a standstill. It has been estimated that the total output of mines and factories fell in 1921 to 20 per cent if the pre-World War level, with many crucial items experiencing an even more drastic decline. Production of cotton, for example, fell to 5 per cent, iron to 2 per cent, of the prewar level. The peasants responded to requisitioning by refusing to till their land. By 1921 cultivated land had shrunk to some 62 per cent of the prewar area, and the harvest yield was only about 37 percent of normal. The number of horses declined from 35 million in 1916 to 24 million in 1920, and cattle from 58 to 37 million during the same span of time. The exchange rate of the US dollar, which had been two rubles in 1914, rose to 1,200 in 1920."
 
AGRBear
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Forum Admin on February 04, 2005, 12:02:55 PM
Goula wrote me yesterday of his intentions. As of this morning, he has removed all of his postings save that last one and removed his registration as a user of the Forum.

He felt chased out for his views. I will not comment either way other than to say we ALL should feel saddened when a user feels they have no choice but to leave.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on February 04, 2005, 01:43:33 PM
I hope Goula decides to come back. I think it's a shame that he was made to feel so unwelcome. I wish I'd been paying more attention to this thread overall, or I would have written an instant message of support to him. Please could we all just agree to disagree, without resorting to name-calling and other forms of personal attack? Everyone here is entitled to his or her opinion.

I remember how vociferously I was attacked when I first entered this forum. Most of these attacks were based on instantaneous, unthoughtful and unfair misreadings of my views. At the time, only AGRBear was kind enough to send me words of encouragement. Otherwise I would have quit, too, just like Goula.

But Goula is only one of many unhappy members of this forum. Over the last several months I have received numerous messages from people who tell me they would like to participate in discussions but feel uncomfortable doing so because of the level of animosity in many of the postings. I am not saying that I myself have not been guilty of the occasional sarcastic remark or thoughtless put-down. Sometimes we offend others without meaning to. But could we all please try to moderate our tone? - Not only for the sake of civility, but also for that of thoughtful intellectual debate.  
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Forum Admin on February 04, 2005, 02:40:40 PM
Look, I am very purposefully NOT taking any side in this issue re: Goula.  All I am saying is that the last few weeks have seen an escalation of personal attacks, hurt feelings and a decrease in the number of on topic, civil postings. I just wanted everyone to be more aware that an evironmnent may still exist in here where ANYONE feels unwelcomed or afraid to participate and THAT is something which should sadden us all.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Maria_Romanov_fan on February 04, 2005, 03:14:09 PM
Quote
Look, I am very purposefully NOT taking any side in this issue re: Goula.  All I am saying is that the last few weeks have seen an escalation of personal attacks, hurt feelings and a decrease in the number of on topic, civil postings. I just wanted everyone to be more aware that an evironmnent may still exist in here where ANYONE feels unwelcomed or afraid to participate and THAT is something which should sadden us all.


Absolutly correct, once again FA. We have to be nice people!
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on February 04, 2005, 05:35:08 PM
Quote
Back On Topic
    I am convinced that even if Russia had not entered WWI there would have been a revolution...without France's massive loans (thus without the mutual defence treaty) the financial situation in Russia would have gotten even more chaotic and the revolutionary situation of 1905 may have gotten even bloodier ....Of course this is a lttle bit like discussing angels on pinheads -- still there are my two kopeks worth!
rskkiya


Back on topic. If Russia hadn't entered WWI, then there would have been no WWI (a gigantic, mighty, overcome-able IF!!!), in which case, no, there would have been no revolution in 1917. The revolution would have been delayed, and come perhaps 15 or 20 years later, during the reign of the invalid Alexei II. It would have been a happy revolution, like the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688 - peaceable, no beheadings of crowned royalty. The Duma would have simply seized power, to the eternal rejoicing of the zemstvos, the middle class, and the upper peasantry. Russia would have escaped Judgment Day. It would have been a Very Good Thing. But impossible, historically speaking. Unless there are any experts out there on WWI who think Russia could have stayed out of that conflict... speak now or forever hold your peace! I'm curious to know myself, actually. Would it have been possible?
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: rskkiya on February 04, 2005, 07:11:21 PM
Hello Elizabeth,
You made a very good point about WWI, however the loans many made under Alexander III as well as Nicholas II came from from France and they came with some strings attached...
Personally I would guess that in Russia - without these loans-  the economic situation could have gotten more chaotic and thus I would guess at an earlier revolution rather than 10-15 years later!

rskkiya
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: AGRBear on February 05, 2005, 01:55:27 PM
Germany was on the march and I don't think it entered "Bully Billie's"  mind that he and his Krupp guns couldn't march right in and take parts of Russia...

I have a book that holds thousand pages of information showing the families who  had migr. into Russia from Germany.  He  had these names gathered before WWI broke.  He had plans to court these Germans in Bess., southern Ukraine, around Kherson, the Volga, Caucasus and Crimea with hopes in using them as his own.

Oh yes,  "Bully Billie" had big plans for Russia.

Yes, the war between Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm [Bully Billie] and  Russia under Nicholas II was inevitable.

AGRBear
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: rskkiya on February 06, 2005, 04:37:02 PM
Quote

Back on topic. Unless there are any experts out there on WWI who think Russia could have stayed out of that conflict... speak now or forever hold your peace! I'm curious to know myself, actually. Would it have been possible?


  No, I don't think that this was an option - not unless Russia wanted to have all the millions of francs that the French Govenment had loaned to then demanded back IMMEDIATELY -- this would have crippled the Tsarist government!
   Beyond this, such an act would have been a huge "black eye' for Russia's diplomatic standing with the rest of Europe.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: AGRBear on February 07, 2005, 11:58:20 AM
How did the Bolshviks/communisit handle the loan to the French?

AGRBear
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: rskkiya on February 08, 2005, 08:29:11 PM
GOOD QUESTION!

I will look into that!
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: ilias_gr on March 13, 2005, 04:47:11 PM
I can't help observing certain similarities between the French and the Russian revolution.

1.We have two absolute monarchies
2.The character Louis XVI resembles that of Nickolas II-both rather weak and undecisive not very talented in rulling.
3.The negative way the people thought of Alexandra-"the german spy" and Marie Antoinette-"the Austrian whore".
4.I also observe the same withdrawal from the aristocrats by Marie Antoinette and Alexandra for different reasons each.

Marie Antoinette restrained herself within a select group of friends ignoring the oldest french aristocratic families which in my opinion was her fatal mistake.Had she had the aristocrats by her side during the events of 1789 she would have made it through-besides we know that the most dirty rumors and propaganda against her started from inside the palace.
Alexandra also alienated herself from the court.Had she kept the court by her side let's say by welcoming them to parties making them feel welcome and useful she would also have them by her side and they wouldn't be plotting against her and Nickolas.

I believe that revolutions start from within the "system".Had both sovereigns had the support of their courts they would have made it through the upheavals.

Plus an irony:Alexandra was a fan of Marie Antoinette and definately knew her story.She even had a painting of her's in her appartments in the Alexander palace.Shouldn't se have known better than repeat her mistake regarding the court?

Does anyone think my conclusion is right?
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on March 14, 2005, 11:08:26 AM
You're right that the system of government - absolute monarchy - was at the heart of the problem in both the French and Russian Revolutions.

The other similarities you list are definitely there, too (you could even go on: e.g., both Marie Antoinette and Alexandra failed to produce a male heir in the first several years of marriage, which in both cases became a cause for concern). But I think these particular similarities are largely coincidental, and when they're not, they're more symptoms than causes of a revolutionary situation (e.g., the hatred for the "Austrian woman" and the "German spy").

The actual causes of the French and Russian revolutions were far more complex and went much deeper than the personalities of individual rulers. Few historians can bring themselves to "blame" Louis XVI for the French Revolution, seeing it as something inevitable, that had been building for a century or more. I think we should look at the Russian Revolution the same way.

So I suppose I am saying that there are other, deeper historical similarities between the French and Russian Revolutions that someone better versed in French history than I might care to share with us!
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: ilias_gr on March 14, 2005, 04:25:23 PM
Thanks Elisabeth! I was missing the greater picture and causes!

Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Silja on March 15, 2005, 10:24:08 AM
However, although 18th century France was nominally an absolute monarchy, in reality Louis XVI was less able to implement reform than Nicholas II would have been it seems. Louis wanted reform, if not the abolition of the ancien regime or of privilege, but he wanted a fairer tax system among other things. But in France the king had become as much a victim of the system as such as any other. After reconvening the parlements (judicial courts) Louis had no chance of reforming anything in the end because no matter what his finance ministers sought to do, everything would meet with total resistance from the parlements.  These did not care about reform as it would endanger their powerful position and the advantage they had over both the crown AND the ordinary people.
By 1789 the ancien regime had become static, incapable of reform from within, and there was not much the king could do about it.

I think in Russia the situation was not quite as hopeless regarding the possibility of reform.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: bluetoria on March 15, 2005, 10:32:40 AM
On the same lines, too, I find it interesting that the characters of Marie Antoinette & Alix were so different & yet eventually they found themselves in so similar a situation. In many ways M-A had the harder time because not only was she not in love with her husband, but she (almost like Vicky) was constantly trying to live up to her mother's demands & expectations.
While Alix had a sick son & this is widely appreciated, so too did M-A but her elder son, who died, is rarely mentioned. And at the end of everything she had the sorrow of hearing her own son testify against her.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: tobik on April 10, 2005, 02:32:34 PM
This surface deep overlap between the French and the Russian Revolutionary struggles was not lost on the Bolsheviks who constantly evoked the similarities between the Russian Revolution and the French one (and for that matter the later Paris Commune), in much of their propaganda.  See the film New Babylon or various ROSTA posters for evidence of this.

Interestingly the Bolsheviks also derived much of their revolutionary symbolism and pagentry from the French Revolution.  The ceremonial funerals of 'freedom fighters' are the most important examples of this influence, but there are many other examples, from postcards showing Marat etc. to the fantastic revolutionary porcelain of the SPF in Petersburg.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Robert_Hall on April 10, 2005, 03:16:08 PM
"No savior from on high delivers
no faith have we in prince or peer.
Ou own right hand the chains must secer,
the chains of hatred greed and fear"
 Adapted from a french factory workers song to become "The Internationale" of Communist Party fame.
Catchy tune.....
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on March 31, 2006, 10:25:28 AM
Do you think revolution was inevitable in Russia in the early twentieth century, or do you believe it could have been averted if Russia had not entered into World War I? Historians are divided into two basic camps on this issue. The optimists believe that, given more time, and peace, Russia would have gradually developed along democratic lines. The October Manifesto had instituted a constitutional monarchy; Stolypin's reforms of agriculture were slowly but surely creating a new peasant middle class that would ultimately support the tsarist regime. On the other hand, the pessimists believe that Russia was ripe for revolution, with or without the October Manifesto and Stolypin's reforms, and that World War I only sped up what was the inevitable outcome anyway - the Russian Revolution.

I myself have not quite made up my mind on this question, so I am curious to know what other people here think.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Chelsea on April 01, 2006, 08:58:57 PM
My AP European History textbook has several first hand accounts of major historical events including the Russian revolution, this is from the memoirs of Maurice Paleologue, a french ambassador, I found it interesting to read not only a first hand account but the account of a foriegner in the midst of the turmoil.

Monday, March 12, 1917
    At half-past eight this morning, just as I finished dressing, I heard a strange and prolonged did which seemed to come from the Alexander Bridge.  I looked out: there was no one on the bridge, which usually presents such a busy scene.  But, almost immediately, a disorderly mob carrying red flags appeared at the end which is on the right bank of the Neva, and a regiment came towards it from the opposite side.  It looked as if there would be a violent collision, but on the contrary the two bodies coalesced.  The army was fraternizing with revolt.
    Shortly afterwards, someone came to tell me that the Volhynian regiment of the Guard had mutinied during the night, killed its officers and was parading the city, calling on the people to take part in the revolution and trying to win over the troops who still remain loyal.
    At ten o'clock there was a sharp burst of firing and flames could be seen rising somewhere on the Liteiny Prospekt which is quite close to the embassy.  Then silence.  Accompanied by my military attache Lieutenant-Colonel Lavergne, I went out to see what was happening.  Frightened inhabitants were scattering through the streets.  There was indescribable confusion at the corner of the Liteiny.  Soldiers were helping civilians erect a barricade.  Flames mounted from the Law Courts.  The gates of the arsenal burst open with a crash.  Suddenly the crack of machine-gun fire split the air: it was the regulars whe had just taken up position near the Nevsky Prospekt.  The revolutionaries replied.  I had seen enought to have no doubt as to what was coming.  Under a hail of bullets I returned totheembassy with Lavergne who had walked calmly and slowly to thehottest corner out of sheer bravado.
     About half-past eleven I went to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, picking up Buchanan [British ambassador] on the way.
     I told Pokrovski [Russian foriegn minister] everything that I had just witnessed.
    "So it's even more serious than I thought," he said.
     But he perserved unruffled composure, flavoured with a touch of scepticism, when he told me of the steps on which the ministers had decided during the night:
     "The sitting of the Duma has been prorogued to April and we have sent a telegram to the Emperor, begging him to return at once.  With the exception of M. Protopopov, my colleagues and I all thought that a dictatorship should be established without delay; it would be conferred upon some general whose prestige with the army is pretty hight, General Russky for example."
     I argued that, judging by what I saw this morning, the loyalty of the army was already too heavily shaken for our hopes of salvation to be based on the use of the "strong hand", and that the immediate appointment of a ministry inspiring confidence in the Duma seemed more essential than ever, as there is not a moment tolose.  I reminded Pokrovski that in 1789, 1830, and 1848, three French dynasties were overthrown because they were too late in realizing the significance and strength of the movement against them.  I added that in such a grave crisis the representative of allied France had a right to give the Imperial Government advice on a matter of international politics.
   Buchanan endorsed my opinion.
   Pokrovski replied that he personally shared our views, but that the presence of Protopopov in the Council of Ministers paralyzed action of any kind.
   I asked him:
   "Is there no on who can open the Emperor's eyes to the real situation?"
   He heaved a despairing sigh.
   "The Emperor is blind!"
   Deep grief was writ large on the face of the honest man and good citizen whose uprightness, patriotism, and disinterestedness I can never sufficiently extol.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: historywriter on May 07, 2006, 01:25:21 AM
I haven't really made up my mind either but I am inclined to take the optimistic view.  Reforms were beginning to be made and the process of constitutional change had started.  On the other hand, the Tsar was very much in favour of autocratic rule and didn't like giving up any powers.

Best,

Lisa
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: mconrad on May 10, 2006, 07:41:27 AM
For 300 years, Russia had slowly but inevitably followed western Europe. As modern democracy grew in the west, so would it do so in Russia since it was part of the greater European cultural community.  

So, Russia would have become democratic as long has it didn't receive shocks that drove people to violence against it chronically poorly performing government.  But here is the paradox - the bad government is safe from revolution if it avoids trauma, but one of the characteristics of bad government is that is does indeed blunder into military defeat, crises, etc.  Through it's ineptitude, tsarism set up its own downfall, inevitably.

Mark C.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Lyss on May 13, 2006, 10:40:41 AM
I thought about thisa lot, although I'm still pondering about it, I think revolution was inevitable. Changes came late, maybe too late but even if all the necessary changes would have been made at the beginning of the 20th century, it would have been too much for the people. Change is hard, people need to adjust to it, it has to come slowly and gradualy. If it comes too fast too soon, the changes won't last. (Look at much of the post colonial African countries who have so much trouble to cope with the notion of democracy). If it's prepared, guided and people have the time to adjust and get used to it, the changes have much more chance to last permanantely (see India as a stable democracy for example).
I also believe that one of the reasons why the changes came too late or not at all what lead to the revolution, was that a lot of intelligent people who knew what had to be done were simply not admited in the brainstorming and decision making process.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Forum Admin on May 13, 2006, 10:59:33 AM
One of my favorite quotes:

"The Optimist believes this to be the best of all possible worlds...
the Pessimist is afraid that the Optimist is right..."

Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Lyss on May 13, 2006, 11:54:46 AM
 :)

I stick with

"Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity"
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Tania+ on May 13, 2006, 02:17:29 PM
I'm getting old to be sure, [chuckle] when I can't remember the program I saw last evening. Anywho, on it were a couple from one of the African nations in civil war etc. They said something quite mind provoking. It was to do with those gathering food, monies for their people most in need of their country. They said, in fact all, or most monies gathered for the people, were in reality taken by the governing people themselves. The people most needful, never saw anything from these gifts of those whose intentions were so giving. They said the remainde of monies, and monies that continued to flow in under these understandings, just kept those in power, with ample necessities, etc. Even more anyone who spoke up from any avenue of the country were either to flee for fear of life or limb being attacked, or their businesses, etc. homes, were demolished.

So, whilst I'm an optimist in so many understandings, when I hear of stories as the above, I tend to hesitate to give to countries as these asking for help. When you see nothing but utter poverty, even after millions of millions being poured into a given 'needful' country, it makes you hesitate even more as to what, and why these countries and heads of governments are receiving support as such. It makes you wonder, why all the more, we support countries, and governments, and heads of states as we do ?

I wonder if the sameness is going on in Russia today ? There and everywhere else, is there full accountability of the help, the monies we give, etc. ?

Tatiana+
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: imperial angel on October 26, 2006, 01:18:38 PM
I tend to think the revolution might not have happened had it not been for circumstances. Certainly, there was a long history of many of the issues that unfolded during the revolution. These issues were there, and had been, such as revolutionary discontent, that might not have accepted an easy answer.ie. less than revolution. I think had Stolypin not been killed, and if World War I had not happened, and if reforms were continued, gradually as needed ( as they would have been under Stolypin, I think), that Revolution might never have happened. I read, but can't remember where that the revolutionaries didn't want Russia to be content with the czarist system, even if it was okay, or would work, and that they just wanted a revolution because they wanted one, even if it was not the best thing for Russia, and another goverment was. I think that might well be true, they were more about being ''revolutionary'' than they were about was actually needed. Some issues did need to be addressed, whether there was a revolution or no. But saying it was circumstances is not to say that Nicholas or whoever was to blame for the revolution.This is such a hard question answer about the Revolution-I sometimes hesitate on it.

As for helping countries, I heard someone talking about this the other day in person, they seemed to be saying that if you help countries, you are doing them good, and that's a reason to be involved in such things. My first thought was that they were naive. Well, you might be doing that in the short term, but can you do it in the long term?  In some countries history just plays over and over again the same, and no matter what you do, you can't break that cycle. You might have helped them whenever, but a century from now or then, it's just the same, it will be the same-they will need help again. The point raised by the last poster is very true, and accurate.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Helen_Azar on November 06, 2006, 09:31:59 AM
And here is my favorite: "A pessimist is a well informed optimist"  ;).
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Tania+ on November 06, 2006, 11:09:05 AM
Thank you Imperial Angel  ;) I think it would have made definite importance for Russia to have listened to Stolypin. Perhaps he could have made a measurable difference. I also think in time, a democratic approach of governing would have happened. Unfortunately too many things transpired at once, and upheval of the worst of historical onslaught found a foothold and the devil's grasp held on for 80 years.

I am an optimist, and know that good changes will come to pass in and for Russia, and already are.

Mcconrod, very interesting statement : "But here is the paradox - the bad government is safe from revolution if it avoids trauma, but one of the characteristics of bad government is that is does indeed blunder into military defeat, crises, etc" Thanks for your sharing.

Tatiana+
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: imperial angel on November 06, 2006, 12:52:14 PM
And here is my favorite: "A pessimist is a well informed optimist"  ;).

Yes, those quotes are great. I think pessimism regarding a country is only really justified if the history bears that out. I mean countries can change, and do, but it seems much of the time whatever the countries history is, it just keeps repeating in some cases at least. It's only if there is a desire for positive change within the country, rather than from without that things get done. The country has to choose, and not have some other country choose for it. I am just talking about countries in general, not specifically Russia, so maybe we should get back on topic.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: historylover on January 28, 2007, 12:03:17 AM
Hello Chelsea,

I enjoyed your post. I am reading Witnesses to the Russian Revolution which also gives first-hand accounts of Western ambassadors, journalists, and diplomats.  It is quite exciting as I really feel that I'm actually in the thick of it when I read some of the accounts!  Some of them are by women journalists.  It is well-worth reading.

Regards,
Lisa
www.webwritereditor.com
www.bookaddiction.blogspot.com
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Trevor on February 23, 2007, 06:00:42 PM
You know the one thing i can't understand is why do they have to destroy something that we can never get back? They destroyed jewels, and many other things. It's really sad to think about what people have destroyed in the past because of hate.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Kurt Steiner on February 24, 2007, 04:10:00 AM
Destroying the past is a human feature, methinks. We destroy what we hate, what hurts us, because we can't stand it or because those objects are symbols of something we don't like. It's absurd, but it's just part of our nature.

Quote
  I asked him:
   "Is there no on who can open the Emperor's eyes to the real situation?"
   He heaved a despairing sigh.
   "The Emperor is blind!"

Interesting...
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: James1941 on February 25, 2007, 02:23:26 PM
I am not exactly sure what Vasa is referring to when saying that "they" destroyed many beautiful jewels and other things. In fact, the Soviets destroyed very little of the imperial past but tried to preserve it and use it.
With the exception of statues to Alexander II and Alexander III and Nicholas II, the Soviets destroyed very little of the past. And one might argue these statues weren't very good to begin with. And, they actually didn't destroyed them, just removed them from sight. The palaces were turned into museums, wedding chapels, offices, and sanitoriums. That is why we can visit them today. The destruction was during World War II and the Germans are to blame. Then, after the war the Soviets carefully restored these palaces. The jewels were also preserved. A good many were sold to gather foreign currency and today these adorn the heads of royalty and the rich. The rest are preserved in the Diamond Fund and visitors can go and see and admire them today. On the whole the Soviets record here is quite good. They can be blamed for may horrible things, but wanton destruction of the past is not one of them. With one exception, that of churches. Stalin did order the desecration and destruction of churches, although even many of these survived and are being restored today.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Peter C on November 16, 2007, 05:56:24 AM
Western ambassadors were scarely in the thick of things. Please consult Ten Days that Shook the World, by John Reed.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on February 27, 2008, 03:47:32 PM
On the basis of a profound study of world history and of the conditions under which capitalist society arose and development, its laws of development, and the antagonistic contradictions it contained, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels discovered the objective laws of social development. They proved the inevitability of a socialist revolution, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the transition of society from the capitalist socio-economic system to that of communism. Lenin further developed all aspects of the Marxist theory of socialist revolution in the age of imperialism, the period when revolution came onto the agenda as an immediate practical task of the proletarian class struggle. Lenin scientifically proved that the world capitalist system had fully ripened for the socialist revolution by the beginning of the 20th century and that the imperialist stage is the eve of the socialist revolution.

The combination of feudal, capitalist, and national oppression with the political despotism of the autocracy made the situation unbearable for the masses of people and lent special sharpness to the class condtradictions in Russia. A revolutionary situation developed in the country and resulted in the first Russian bourgeois democratic revolution of 1905-07. This was the first prologue of the October Socialist Revolution.

The Russian proletariat approached the decisive political battles of 1917 with a great revolutionary tradition. It already had behind it the experience of the people’s revolution of 1905-07 and the subsequent class battles. The war resulted in tremendous breakdown of the productive forces. There was a general breakdown in industry, transport, and agriculture. The railroads were unable to handle the freight load because of the shortage of locomotives and railroad cars. Industry suffered from a severe shortage of feul and raw materials. The grain harvest in 1916 was reduced from that of 1913 by 1.6 billion poods. Russia’s financial dependence on foreign governments grew tremendously.

The SR-Menshevik leadership of the soviets considered Russia not to be prepared for the socialist revolution and assumed that in the process of the bourgeois democratic revolution power could go to the bourgeoisie. Therefore, this leadership came to an agreement with the capitalist-landlord parties of the Cadets and Octobrists and created conditions allowing them to take power. On March 15 the bourgeois Provisional Government was established, headed by Prince Lvov. The Provisional Government was able to retain power only because of the cooperation of the soviets. In fact, dual power had been established in the country: it consisted of the Provisional Government, the organ of the bourgeois dictatorship, on the one hand, and the soviets workers and soldiers deputies, the revolutionary dictatorship of the workers and peasants, on the other.

The Februarry Revolution did not resolve the fundamental questions on the minds of the people, questions concerning an end to the imperialist war and the conclusion of peace, the elimination of the system of large land ownership, labor questions, and the abolition of national oppression. The bourgeois Provisional Government, supported by the collaborationist parties of the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries, pursued an imperialist policy against the popular interests. The revolutionary Russian proletariat could not stop at the bourgeois democratic revolution, and as Lenin foresaw, its transformation into a socialist revolution was inevitable. Only a socialist revolution could resolve the pressing problems of social progress—the need to eliminate the bourgeois-landlord system in Russia, put an end to all forms of social and national oppression, and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat with the aim of building a socialist society.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on February 27, 2008, 03:51:50 PM
One of the most crucial questions was that of war and peace. In a diplomatic note of 1 May the minister of foreign affairs P.Miliukov, expressing the Provisional Government’s desire to carry the war through “to a victorious conclusion” aroused broad indignation and brought the revolutionary masses out in open antigovernment demonstrations. On May 1-4 about 100 thousand workers and soldiers of Petrograd, and after them the workers and soldiers of other cities, led by the Bolsheviks, demonstrated under banners reading “Down with the war!” and “all power to the soviets!” The mass demonstrations resulted in a crisis for the Provisional Government. Under pressure from the revolutionary forces, two ministers were removed from the Provisional Government, Miliukov and A.Guchkov, the minister of the navy. The SR-Menshevik leaders decided to create a coalition cabinet. Thus the first coalition government was formed on 18 May. With Prince Lvov as chairman. Joining the government along with representatives of the bourgeois-landlord parties (Cadets and Octoberists) were t wo Mensheviks I.Tsereteli and M.Skobelev and two SRs A.Kerenesky and V.Chernov. The creation of the coalition government did not change the class nature of the government or the antipopular policies it pursued.

On July 1 about 500 thousand workers and soldiers in the capital demonstrated for the demands “all power to the soviets”, “down with the war”, and “down with the ten capitalist ministers.” Carrying out the wishes of American, British, and French imperialists, as well as Russian imperialists, and with the support of the Congress of Soviets assured, the Provisional Government opened an offensive against the Germans on 1 July, but it soon collapsed. The news of the offensive and its collapse intensified the struggle of the proletariat and the soldiers. A new crisis in the Provisional Government began on 15 July. On July 16 spontaneous demonstrations of workers and soldiers began in Petrograd, demanding that power be turned over to the soviets. The Central Committee of the RSDLP provided the leadership to the spontaneous movements of the masses in order to keep it peaceful and well-organized. On July 4 a peaceful demonstration was held in Petorgrad with more than 500 thousand participants. By order of the Provisional Government, and with the knowledge of the SR-Menshevik Leaders of the All-Russian Executive Committee of the Soviets, there was an armed attack by military officers against the demonstraters. 56 people were murdered and 650 wounded.

The July events represented the last attempt by the revolutionary masses to solve the problem of power by peaceful means. On July 4 demonstrations took place in Moscow and other cities. The SR-Menshevik Central Executive Committee published an appeal in which it declared: “We have recognized the Provisional Government as the government of revolutionary salvation. We have recognized that it should have unlimited powers and unlimited authority.” A period of repression began. On July 5-6 attacks were made on the editorial offices and printing presses of Pravda and on the Palace of Kshesinskaia, where the Central Committee and the Petrograd Committee of the Bolsheviks were located. On 7 July a government decree ordering the arrest and trial of Lenin was published. He was forced to go underground, just as he had been under the tsarist regime. Bolsheviks began to be arrested, workers were disarmed, and revolutionary military units in Petrograd were disbanded or sent off to the front. On July 12 the Provisional Government published a law introducing the death penalty at the front. The formation of the second coalition government, with Kerensky as chairman, was completed on July 24. Dual power came to an end.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on February 27, 2008, 03:53:56 PM
The struggle of the classes and parties for power grew sharper every day. The distinctions between the conflicting sides became greater, the political isolation of the bourgeoisie and the petit-bourgeois parties grew deeper, and the influence of the Bolshevik Party increased. The bourgeoisie, headed by the Cadets, set out to unleash civil war and attempted to establish an open military dictatorship in the country. A conspiracy of the imperialist bourgeoisie against the revolution was begun, headed by General Kornilov, who had been supreme commander in chief since July 18. This conspiracy was actively supported by the reactionary forces of Britain, France, and the United States. In response to a Bolshevik appeal, Moscow’s working class greeted this congress of reactionaries and conspirators with a protest strike of 400 thousand workers. The Moscow workers were supported by strikes and protest rallies by workers in Koev, Kharkov, Nizhny Novgorod, Ekaterinburg, and other cities. After the Moscow conference, the counterrevolution, headed by the Cadet Party, moved toward the practical realization of its aims. The military-political center for preparations for the coup was set up at the supreme headquarters of the commander in chief in Mogilev. On August 25, General Kornilov began a military revolt and started troops moving toward Petrograd. The conspirators also planned offensives against Moscow, Kiev, and other major cities. The Central Committee of the RSDLP appealed on August 27 to the workers, soldiers, and sailors of Petrograd to come to defense of the revolution. The Bolshevik Party mobilized and organized the masses to defeat the Kornilov revolt. The Red Guard in the capital, which by then numbered about 25 thousand fighters, was supported by the garrison of the city, the Baltic sailors, the railroad workers, the workers of Moscow, the Donbas, the Urals, and other proletarian centers, and the soldiers at the front and in the rear. The revolt was suppressed. The defeat of Kornilov’s revolt disorganized and weakened the counterrevolutionary group, demonstrated the strength of the revolutionary forces, increased the authority of the Bolsheviks, and proved to be one of the decisive stages in the struggle for the victory of the socialist revolution. It signified the unswerving determination of the workers, soldiers, and poor peasants to deal a might blow to the forces of counterrevolution and indicated the tremendous growth of influence of the Bolshevik Party among broad segmenets of the working people of Russia.

A nationwide crisis had matured in the country, embracing all spheres of social, economic, and political relations. The policies of the bourgeois Provisional Government, opposed to popular interests, had brought the country to the brink of a national catastrophe. Disorder in industry and transport had intensified, and difficulties in obtaining provision had increased. Gross industrial production in 1917 had increased by 36.4 percent from what it had been in 1916. From March to October 1917 more than 800 enterprises had been closed down in the country. The production of iron, steel, coal, and petroleum had declined sharply. In the autumn, as much as 50 percent of all enterprises were close ddown in the Urals, the Donbas, and other industrial centers. Mass unemployment had begun. At the same time, the cost of living increased sharply. The real wages of the workers fell about 50 percent from what they had been in 1913. The regime resorted to issuing more paper money and contracting new loans. From the beginning of the war until February 1917 more than 8 billion rubles in paper money had been put into circulation but in the following eight months a total of 9.5 billion was released. In  1917 new paper money was used to cover some 65 percent of budget expenditures. Russia’s national debt in October 1917 had risen to 50 billion rubles. Of this, debts to foreign governments constituted more than 11 billion rubles. The country faced the threat of financial bankruptcy.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on February 27, 2008, 03:56:18 PM
The class consciousness of the proletariat in the fall of 1917 was indicated by the increased activity of the factory committees, which had been organized at plants and factories everywhere, the growing number of trade unions, and the strengthening of Bolshevik influence in these unions. In October 1917 there were more than 2 million factory and officers workers in trade unions. The strike movement at the time was remarkable for its exceptional stubbornness, high level of organization, and political determination. In September and October there were strikes by the Moscow and Petrograd proletariat, the minersof the Donbas, the metalworkers of the Urals, the oil workers of Baku, the textile worker of the Central Industrial Region, and the railroad workers on 44 different railway lines. In these months alone more than a million workers took part in mass strikes. Workers control over production and distribution established in many factories and plants. This was an indication that the workers movement had risen to the highest stage of development. As a result of the political and economic struggle, the working class had to take power into its own hands.

The working class movement, which was socialist in character, pulled the democratic movement of the peasants along behind it. Until October 1917 there were about 4250 peasant uprisings against the landlords. In August, 690 peasant actions were recorded, and in September and October more than 1300. When the Provisional Government sent out punitive detachments it only enraged the peasants. They would burn, seize or destroy the landlords’ estates, and take reprisals against the most hated landlords, especially the garrison in Petrograd, Moscow, and other cities, the Northern and Western fronts, and the sailors of the Baltic Fleet, who in September openly declared through their elected representative body, the Tsentrobalt, that they did not recognize the authority of the Provisional Government and would not carry out any of its commands.

Only the Leninist Party had a program that could really solve the national question. The Bolsheviks linked the resolution of that question with the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat and for the republic of soviets. At the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, Lenin declared: “Let Russia be a union of free republics.” The energetic activities of the Bolshevik organizations in the Baltic region, Ukraine, Belorussia, Moldavia, Transcaucasia, the Volga region, Turkestan, and Siberia guaranteed the unity of the struggle for soviet power being waged by the Russian working class and the proletarian and semiproletarian masses of the oppressed peoples.

With Kornilov’s failed putsch, a new stage in the Bolsheivzation of the soviets began. Before that, the soviets of Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Riga, Kronstadt, Orekhovo-Zuevo, and Krasnoiarsk had supported the Bolshevik positions, and after August, the soviets of Ekaterinoslav, Lugansk, and some other cities had as well. During and after the defeat of Kornilov a mass turn of the soviets toward the Bolsheviks began, both in the central and local areas. OOn 31 August the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers Deputies and on September 5 the Moscow Soviet Workers Deputies adopted the Bolshevik resolutions on the question of power. The Bolsheviks won a majority in the soviets of Briansk, Samara, Saratov, Tsaritsyn, Minsk, Kiev, Tashkent, and other cities. In one day alone, September 1, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets received demands from 126 local soviets uring it take power into its own hands. On instructions from the Central Committee of the RSDLP, local Party organizations began a campaign for new elections to the soviets. The new elections gave the Bolsheviks a chance to win a majority in the soviets. In mayn cities prominent Party figures were elected as presidents of local soviets—for example, in Moscow, V.Nogin, in Baku, S.Shaumian, in Samara, V.Kuibyshev; in Cheliabiansk, S.Tsvilling, , and in Shuia, M.Frunze. The slogan “all power to the soviets” was once again placed on the agenda, since the majority of them were not under the leadership of the Bolshevi kParty. But the slogan now indicated the need to wage a struggle to transform the revolutionary Bolshevik soviets into insurrectionary organs aimed against the Provisional Government, organs of struggle for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on February 27, 2008, 03:57:23 PM
In the October armed insurrection the Bolshevik Party relied on strong armed forces. The Petrograd Red Guard was in the vanguard of these; in the course of the struggle it had grown to nearly 40 thousand fighters. This armed vanguard of the revolution had the support of 200 thousand Red Guards in other cities in Russia. At the beginning of the insurrection the revolutionary soldiers in the Petrograd garrison numbered more than 150 thousand; the Baltic Fleet, which was on the side of the Bolsheviks, had more than 80 thousand sailors and about 700 combat and auxiliary ships. These mighty armed forces had the support of millions of revolutionary soldiers at the front (especially the Northern and Western) and in the rear-echelon garrisons. In turn, these armed forces rested upon the support of the revolutionary workers and poor peasants of the entire country, who were ready to wage war against capitalism.

The armed insurrection began on October 24. On that day, by order of the Provisional Government, an attack was made by cadets on the print shop of the Bolshevik newspaper Rabochii put and an order was issued for the arrest and trial of members of the Military Revolutionary Committee. On instructions from the Central Committee, the MRC sent soldiers of the Lithuanian regiment and a sapper battalion to the print shop. These forces repulsed the cadets and the printing of the paper resumed. In the afternoon of October 24 the cadets tried to raise the drawbridges across the Neva River in order to cut off the workers districts from the center of the capital. The MRC sent Red Guard units and soldiers to the bridges and placed them all under guard. Toward evening soldiers of the Keksgolm regiment occupied the central telegraph offices, a unit of sailors took over the Petrograd telegraph agency, and soldiers of the Izmailovski regiment took the Baltic railroad station, Revolutionary units blocked off the Pavel, Nikolai, Vladimir, and Konstantin cadet academies.

On the morning of October 25 the MRC adopted Lenin’s appeal “To the Citizens of Russia.” This stated: “The Provisional Government has been deposed. State power has passed into the hands of the organ of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers Deputies—the Revolutionary Military Committee, which is leading the Petrograd proletariat and the garrison.”

At 2240 on October 25, the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets and of Workers and Soldiers Deputies began in Smolni. At the opening of the congress, 390 of the 649 delegates who had arrived were Bolsheviks. The congress proclaimed the transfer of all power to the soviets. On October 26 the Winter Palace was seized and the Provisional Government was arrested. On October 26 the Congress of Soviets adopted the Decree on Peace and the Decree on Land, based on a report by Lenin. In the Decree on Peace, the Soviet power proposed to all the belligerent countries that negotiations begin immediately for a just and democratic peace without annexations or indemnifcations. By the terms of the Decree of Land, landlord ownership was abolished; landlord estates and crown, monastery, and church lands, with all livestock, implements, and buildings, and everything pertaining thereto, were given to the peasants without any compensation. The right of private ownership of land was abolished and replaced by all-national ownership of the land. As a result of the implementation of this decree, the peasants received more than 150 million hectares of land and were freed from annual rent payments to landlords amounting to 700 million gold rubles. The congress elected an All-Russian Central Executive Committee and formed the first Soviet government headed by Lenin. With the establishment of the Soviet government began the building of the Soviet state—a state of a new type, a dictatorship of the proletariat.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Phil_tomaselli on May 28, 2008, 03:02:06 PM
Well - yes and no.  Not too sure about the numbers but the general principal stands - the Bolsheviks as a coherent and armed group clearly had more support than the other groups individually or in most combinations of each other (and on the whole they wouldn't combine).  The Decree on Land was meaningless as the Peasants had taken most of it anyway - Lenin was just good at selling to the peasants what they'd already got.  I'd be fascinated to see any evidence of the Provisional Govt ordering attacks on peasants anywhere - but I am blinkered by having to rely on original British sources which make no mention that I've found.

On the whole - Go For It Zvedza - I doubt we'll agree on much but it's interesting to see the Soviet viewpoint being cogently argued - but expect some flak from the descendants of the White diaspora and the romantic and over sentimental Romanov lovers.  No doubt you will be accused of being a Putin apparatchik.......or a former KGB officer..........orworse.

Phil Tomaselli
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Tania+ on May 31, 2008, 08:42:15 AM
My yes, we are entitled as 'free peoples' to fully express our likes, dislikes, love or distance from issues as the Soviet viewpoint, or as decendants of the White Diaspora. As one can read through the many sites here, peoples have done just that. More than just the writers who thumb through and analyze history, the Soviets, the White Diaspora lost more lives than westerners would even begin to note in and of their own lives or countries history. The loss of lives, the insanity and tremendous loss of life of the Russian peoples was a terrible tragedy.

All their children as well see it through much different eyes, thoughts, feelings than westerners. At last though the people of Russia are coming out of their hazed lives and really starting to understand the endless nightmare of the Leninist and Stalinist years. Ptsd is hard to erase when it has been pushed in every conceiveable way on any peoples and children.

Russia I believe needs to work our her problems without any outside interests, or meddling. The peoples of Russia know what they want, don't want. Like any family they need to come together and make sure nothing as communism ever rears its head again. That's what started all this tragedy of a nation and peoples in the first place, 'outside interests'.

Do you honestly think peoples of nations like others to come and tell them how to run their governments, etc.?
It couldn't happen and is not happening where such identifiable 'interests' feel that nation is worth poking their noses into, or where they would profit from it 'big time'. The Russian people outside of the Russian Mafia, (made up of many holigans of the past Soviet team mates) are solidly starting to feel finally 'who they are' and of how they can become a positive nation. I believe in time, it will become more and more democratic, but not the democratic lifestyle as in America or England. I believe also that more and the more the White Diaspora are in many ways helping the new Russia to keep her new found voice and center of being.

In time Russia will once again be solely unto herself and become of positive influence in the global arena. Faith took Russia through the ugly years, and determination and faith once again will bring the Russian peoples to a lasting place of home at last.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Michael HR on May 31, 2008, 09:55:27 AM
I think this is one of the most intelligent posts on the site and have enjoyed reading it. It is a question that we will ponder for years due to the complex reasons for the revolution that brought about the abyss for Russia. I agree that the reasons do not fall on Nicholass II alone but his ancestors, the war, bad management of the government and sadly the Tsarina in her involvement with affairs of state -v- the peoples assessment did not assist at all in the minds of the people. Mismanagement across the board by incompetent persons promoted above their abilities reared Russia to the revolution and of course the promise of the ending of the war brought about the second in October.

As things turned out post Lenin and Stalin and I feel the people may have wished they had remained under the Dynasty either by Nicholas or Michael as Emperor or some other member of the family such as GD Nicholas as being one member who was respected by that time.

The revolution was like a car crash in slow motion - by the time it starts it was almost impossible to stop.

Michael HR
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on June 01, 2008, 10:15:07 AM
Let's face it, we can't take the so-called good intentions of the so-called Russian proletariat in 1917 at face value. Russian urban workers were closely tied to the villages, because most of them were peasant recruits or itinerant factory workers, returning to the provinces during the planting and harvest seasons. So whatever you say about the urban Russian worker, he was closely connected to the provincial peasantry, by familial ties, by upbringing, and by loyalty. And in the spring and summer of 1917, the Russian rural peasantry was, whatever Zvezda would have you believe, turning into a MOB, violent, bloodthirsty, and on the march, appropriating the lands of the nobility without any sort of sanction from the revolutionary provisional government in St. Petersburg, setting fire to estates and not infrequently even murdering landowners to get their point across.

The problem with Russia in 1917-18 was not only a weak provisional government and morally irresponsible political parties like the Bolsheviks - on the contrary, I would argue that the problem was, first and foremost, the Russian people themselves, because they were, for the most part, either half-eduacated and politically fanatical as a result, or else completely illiterate and politically ignorant. At any rate some 80 percent of the population was not yet ready for any form of truly democratic government. (Think about that figure. 80 percent!) Of course many of these poor people (not by any means all of them) eventually fell hook line and sinker for the Bolshevik party program - after all, it promised them an end to the war, all the land they could possibly desire, and all the bread they could possibly eat. Plus a very convenient, "legally" sanctioned outlet for all the rage they felt towards the former ruling classes. Where have we heard this story before? Why, the French Revolution. Almost as bloody and every bit as infamous. And rightly so.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Phil_tomaselli on June 01, 2008, 02:04:39 PM
The Russian revolution was consciously modelled on the French, in part because the political circumstances of an inflexible and reactionary government were the same.  But I detect something insidious in the argument that the people weren't ready for democracy - what people are?  And who judges?  In fact I'd argue that for a brief period in Russia (coincident with the Provisional Govt but not a result of it) there was a real flowering of democracy that culminated in the only meeting of the Constituent Asembly that was closed down by Lenin & co.

Phil T
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on June 03, 2008, 09:24:59 AM
The Russian revolution was consciously modelled on the French, in part because the political circumstances of an inflexible and reactionary government were the same.  But I detect something insidious in the argument that the people weren't ready for democracy - what people are?  And who judges?  In fact I'd argue that for a brief period in Russia (coincident with the Provisional Govt but not a result of it) there was a real flowering of democracy that culminated in the only meeting of the Constituent Asembly that was closed down by Lenin & co.

Phil T

The Russian Revolution of March 1917 was NOT consciously modelled on the French Revolution, it was not consciously modeled on anything - on the contrary, it was a spontaneous outburst of popular discontent with the current regime. But once the tsar abdicated and a new leadership was established, I think the new government tried to model themselves more on the American Revolution than on the French one. After all, the provisional government hoped to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, which was certainly not the goal of the Jacobins! The fact that the Bolsheviks probably took the French Revolution as a model is another story all together - and that's one reason why I have always had a hard time believing that Lenin's Terror was ONLY motivated by geopolitical exigencies - no, IMHO, it was always part and parcel of his entire program of revolution.

And Phil, sorry to say this, but I think you're being more than a little naive in arguing that the Russian people was ready for democracy in 1917-18. I do not think that most of them were. If you have an illiteracy rate of well over 50 percent, and a poverty rate that competes with that figure, and 80 percent of your entire population is peasant in origin and either uneducated or only very badly educated - then you do not have an adequately well-informed populace, and it follows that you cannot establish a true democracy. And let's have another reality check: the Russian people, in the elections to the Constituent Assembly (which were free elections, conducted before the Bolshevik takeover) voted overwhelmingly for the Socialist Revolutionaries, a radical party, very pro-peasant, which not merely advocated but actually practiced terrorism . I ask you, what hope exactly did Russia have, if this was the very best it could do at possibly the most defining moment of its entire history?



I think you're naive
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: LisaDavidson on June 03, 2008, 04:50:42 PM
The Russian revolution was consciously modelled on the French, in part because the political circumstances of an inflexible and reactionary government were the same.  But I detect something insidious in the argument that the people weren't ready for democracy - what people are?  And who judges?  In fact I'd argue that for a brief period in Russia (coincident with the Provisional Govt but not a result of it) there was a real flowering of democracy that culminated in the only meeting of the Constituent Asembly that was closed down by Lenin & co.

Phil T

The Russian Revolution of March 1917 was NOT consciously modelled on the French Revolution, it was not consciously modeled on anything - on the contrary, it was a spontaneous outburst of popular discontent with the current regime. But once the tsar abdicated and a new leadership was established, I think the new government tried to model themselves more on the American Revolution than on the French one. After all, the provisional government hoped to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, which was certainly not the goal of the Jacobins! The fact that the Bolsheviks probably took the French Revolution as a model is another story all together - and that's one reason why I have always had a hard time believing that Lenin's Terror was ONLY motivated by geopolitical exigencies - no, IMHO, it was always part and parcel of his entire program of revolution.

And Phil, sorry to say this, but I think you're being more than a little naive in arguing that the Russian people was ready for democracy in 1917-18. I do not think that most of them were. If you have an illiteracy rate of well over 50 percent, and a poverty rate that competes with that figure, and 80 percent of your entire population is peasant in origin and either uneducated or only very badly educated - then you do not have an adequately well-informed populace, and it follows that you cannot establish a true democracy. And let's have another reality check: the Russian people, in the elections to the Constituent Assembly (which were free elections, conducted before the Bolshevik takeover) voted overwhelmingly for the Socialist Revolutionaries, a radical party, very pro-peasant, which not merely advocated but actually practiced terrorism . I ask you, what hope exactly did Russia have, if this was the very best it could do at possibly the most defining moment of its entire history?



I think you're naive

I think a post February Revolution run by the SRs would indeed be interesting. It's a fairly well regarded concept in political thought than once a revolutionary party becomes a ruling party they start to become conservative, or perhaps more conservative would be more accurate. Would the SRs continued to practice terrorism if they were the ruling party?

To be fair to the Russians of 1918, few had much experience with democracy, so my thought is that absent of malific interests (Bolsheviks, German General Command) there was a chance in 1918 for Russia to develop into a democracy.

So, I do blame the Germans for infecting the country with Bolsheviks and the Bolsheviks for stiffling all dissent.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on June 03, 2008, 07:42:04 PM
The Russian revolution was consciously modelled on the French, in part because the political circumstances of an inflexible and reactionary government were the same.  But I detect something insidious in the argument that the people weren't ready for democracy - what people are?  And who judges?  In fact I'd argue that for a brief period in Russia (coincident with the Provisional Govt but not a result of it) there was a real flowering of democracy that culminated in the only meeting of the Constituent Asembly that was closed down by Lenin & co.

Phil T

The Russian Revolution of March 1917 was NOT consciously modelled on the French Revolution, it was not consciously modeled on anything - on the contrary, it was a spontaneous outburst of popular discontent with the current regime. But once the tsar abdicated and a new leadership was established, I think the new government tried to model themselves more on the American Revolution than on the French one. After all, the provisional government hoped to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, which was certainly not the goal of the Jacobins! The fact that the Bolsheviks probably took the French Revolution as a model is another story all together - and that's one reason why I have always had a hard time believing that Lenin's Terror was ONLY motivated by geopolitical exigencies - no, IMHO, it was always part and parcel of his entire program of revolution.

And Phil, sorry to say this, but I think you're being more than a little naive in arguing that the Russian people was ready for democracy in 1917-18. I do not think that most of them were. If you have an illiteracy rate of well over 50 percent, and a poverty rate that competes with that figure, and 80 percent of your entire population is peasant in origin and either uneducated or only very badly educated - then you do not have an adequately well-informed populace, and it follows that you cannot establish a true democracy. And let's have another reality check: the Russian people, in the elections to the Constituent Assembly (which were free elections, conducted before the Bolshevik takeover) voted overwhelmingly for the Socialist Revolutionaries, a radical party, very pro-peasant, which not merely advocated but actually practiced terrorism . I ask you, what hope exactly did Russia have, if this was the very best it could do at possibly the most defining moment of its entire history?



I think you're naive

I think a post February Revolution run by the SRs would indeed be interesting. It's a fairly well regarded concept in political thought than once a revolutionary party becomes a ruling party they start to become conservative, or perhaps more conservative would be more accurate. Would the SRs continued to practice terrorism if they were the ruling party?

To be fair to the Russians of 1918, few had much experience with democracy, so my thought is that absent of malific interests (Bolsheviks, German General Command) there was a chance in 1918 for Russia to develop into a democracy.

So, I do blame the Germans for infecting the country with Bolsheviks and the Bolsheviks for stiffling all dissent.

Hmmm, Lisa, i suppose the Jacobins became more conservative once they became the ruling party in revolutionary France? For that matter, I suppose the Bolsheviks became more conservative in revolutionary Russia?

Sarcasm aside (and please, I beg you, excuse me for this lapse, because I really do value your opinion) I simply don't buy this concept that the Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) would have become more conservative once, if ever, they got into power (and believe you me, they could never have held on to power for very long, they were too disorganized, but that's another discussion all together!). The fact of the matter is, however uncomfortable it might be for us to admit it (even with almost a century of hindsight) that the Russian revolution almost from its inception was geared towards terror. Because the masses were hungry for land and seized it despite all the provisional government's delaying tactics. Because masses of Russian soldiers, mainly peasants, returning home from the first world war, were not only traumatized but also without doubt completely brutalized by the experience. And finally and perhaps most importantly, because you simply cannot oppress the majority of your people for three centuries without there being some horrible recompense to pay in the end.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: LisaDavidson on June 04, 2008, 01:41:06 AM
Good points all. I think the Bolsheviks did become more conservative over the years (a relative term, to be sure!) in that they abandoned earlier aspirations about spreading their revolution globally and concentrated on their own country for the most part. The Jacobins, it could be argued, in not becoming more conservative, doomed themselves to fall out of power, which they did rather quickly.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on June 06, 2008, 04:08:29 PM
Good points all. I think the Bolsheviks did become more conservative over the years (a relative term, to be sure!) in that they abandoned earlier aspirations about spreading their revolution globally and concentrated on their own country for the most part. The Jacobins, it could be argued, in not becoming more conservative, doomed themselves to fall out of power, which they did rather quickly.

Lisa, thanks for the heads up, but I'm not sure what you mean by saying the bad old Bolshies became more conservative over the years. Of course, you have a point, and a very strong one, as far as Lenin's New Economic Policy (NEP) of the 1920s is concerned - certainly it encouraged small businessmen and entrepeneurs... Nevertheless, these were also the years of the Comintern. Remember that enveloping Soviet organization designed to instigate worldwide revolution? Which was busily infiltrating the Russian emigre community and even kidnapping and executing members of it, throughout the 1920s, as it saw fit?

And remember Stalin? He came to power in the years between 1925 and 1928, that is, less than a generation after the October Revolution. And his programs of mass collectivization and industrialization could not by any stretch of the imagination be characterized as conservative. They were radical to the very core. And they resulted in the unnecesary deaths of millions.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: LisaDavidson on June 09, 2008, 01:09:40 AM
You will get no argument from me about the deaths due to collectivization (and while I know less about deaths due to industrialization, i'll take your word for it).

But, if we can discuss agrarian policy only for a moment, the agrarian policy implemented by the Bolsheviks was conservative from a certain (non Western)  point of view. It was consistent with Marxist theory in that all farmland eventually became nationalized. This was in sharp contrast to the SR policy under which the land was to have been owned by the peasantry - one reason why the SRs won the Constituent Assembly elections in 1918 by such an overwhelming majority. (And another reason why Lenin shut the CA down immediately).

Russia is remarkable in that there was little concept of private property the way we know it in the West - at least there was prior to the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. So, land that was owned by landowners prior to 1861 was in part becoming owned by the peasantry by the time of the revolution - and then stolen by the national government under the Bolsheviks by the 1930's. While it was revolutionary, it was also conservative, as crazy as that sounds, because it was closer to the pre 1861 model than the 1917 one.

So, I remain convinced that the Bolsheviks did become more conservative as they governed - just not conservative the way everyone imagines that word.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on June 09, 2008, 05:09:50 PM
Quote
I simply don't buy this concept that the Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) would have become more conservative once, if ever, they got into power
Right Socialist Revolutionaries joined the Provisional Government after the April Crisis in which more than 100,000 workers and soldiers in Petrograd led by the Bolsheviks demonstrated against the war and in favor of soviet power. Joining the government along with representatives of the bourgeois-landlord parties (Cadets and Octoberists) were two Mensheviks Tsereteli and Skobelev and two SRs Kerenesky and Chernov. The right-wing SRs were identified by the people with the rotten Provisional Government and were therefore utterly discredited by the time the Kornilovschina rolled around.

The conduct of the Provisional Government during the July Days also needs to be underscored. The regime reacted with terror against the workers and soldiers demanding an end to the war and the distribution of all state power to the soviets. The military attacked the demontrators, leaving 56 people dead and 650 wounded. Thereafter attacks were made on the editorial and printing offices of Pravda. The regime demanded the arrest of Lenin. Bolsheviks began to be arrested, workers were disarmed, and revolutionary military units were disbanded. The formation of the second coalition government with Kerensky at its head marked the end of dual power.
Quote
voted overwhelmingly for the Socialist Revolutionaries, a radical party, very pro-peasant, which not merely advocated but actually practiced terrorism

Please read Znmaensky's works on the Constituent Assembly in Russia.

The fact of the matter is that that soviet of workers' deputies was a far superior form of democracy than a parliamentary republic with a nominally representative constituent assembly. Practice and revolution tend to push parliamentary bodies into the background. Read Lenin's theses on the subject.

About half the electorate did not bother voting in the elections to the Constituent Assembly. The results did not reflect the actual interrelation of political forces in the country because the influence of the working class and the Bolshevik party on the non-proletarian masses was incomparably stronger in the extra-parliamentary than in the parliamentary struggle.

The machinery for handling the elections was in the hands of commissions appointed by the criminals in the Provisional Government, leaving the vote susceptible to fraud and sabotage.

The lists of candidates had been drawn up before the October Revolution and when the SR Party was still united and controlled by its minority right-wing faction. The list of SR candidates was heavily stacked with supporters of the right wing. Before the elections were held, however, the SR Party split, with the large majority of its members forming a separate Left SR party. At the third Congress of the Soviets of Peasants Deputies held in January 1918, the Bolshevik-Left SR bloc had 85 percent of the delegates. Of the 395 delegates at the peasants' congress, 385 declared their support for Soviet power and 322 approved the withdrawal of the Bolsheviks and the Left SRs from the Constituent Assembly.

Even a vote for the Socialist Revolutionary Party by the peasant did not equate to repudiation of soviet power: by October 1917 the agrarian policies of the Bolsheviks and SRs were indistinguishable. The peasant was not voting for the SR any more than he was voting for the distribution of land from the large estates. The election was held when the Soviet Government was still just becoming established and a sizable portion of the population was not acquainted with its decrees. 
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: LisaDavidson on June 09, 2008, 05:38:16 PM
Quote
I simply don't buy this concept that the Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) would have become more conservative once, if ever, they got into power
Right Socialist Revolutionaries joined the Provisional Government after the April Crisis in which more than 100,000 workers and soldiers in Petrograd led by the Bolsheviks demonstrated against the war and in favor of soviet power. Joining the government along with representatives of the bourgeois-landlord parties (Cadets and Octoberists) were two Mensheviks Tsereteli and Skobelev and two SRs Kerenesky and Chernov. The right-wing SRs were identified by the people with the rotten Provisional Government and were therefore utterly discredited by the time the Kornilovschina rolled around.

The conduct of the Provisional Government during the July Days also needs to be underscored. The regime reacted with terror against the workers and soldiers demanding an end to the war and the distribution of all state power to the soviets. The military attacked the demontrators, leaving 56 people dead and 650 wounded. Thereafter attacks were made on the editorial and printing offices of Pravda. The regime demanded the arrest of Lenin. Bolsheviks began to be arrested, workers were disarmed, and revolutionary military units were disbanded. The formation of the second coalition government with Kerensky at its head marked the end of dual power.
Quote
voted overwhelmingly for the Socialist Revolutionaries, a radical party, very pro-peasant, which not merely advocated but actually practiced terrorism

Please read Znmaensky's works on the Constituent Assembly in Russia.

The fact of the matter is that that soviet of workers' deputies was a far superior form of democracy than a parliamentary republic with a nominally representative constituent assembly. Practice and revolution tend to push parliamentary bodies into the background. Read Lenin's theses on the subject.

About half the electorate did not bother voting in the elections to the Constituent Assembly. The results did not reflect the actual interrelation of political forces in the country because the influence of the working class and the Bolshevik party on the non-proletarian masses was incomparably stronger in the extra-parliamentary than in the parliamentary struggle.

The machinery for handling the elections was in the hands of commissions appointed by the criminals in the Provisional Government, leaving the vote susceptible to fraud and sabotage.

The lists of candidates had been drawn up before the October Revolution and when the SR Party was still united and controlled by its minority right-wing faction. The list of SR candidates was heavily stacked with supporters of the right wing. Before the elections were held, however, the SR Party split, with the large majority of its members forming a separate Left SR party. At the third Congress of the Soviets of Peasants Deputies held in January 1918, the Bolshevik-Left SR bloc had 85 percent of the delegates. Of the 395 delegates at the peasants' congress, 385 declared their support for Soviet power and 322 approved the withdrawal of the Bolsheviks and the Left SRs from the Constituent Assembly.

Even a vote for the Socialist Revolutionary Party by the peasant did not equate to repudiation of soviet power: by October 1917 the agrarian policies of the Bolsheviks and SRs were indistinguishable. The peasant was not voting for the SR any more than he was voting for the distribution of land from the large estates. The election was held when the Soviet Government was still just becoming established and a sizable portion of the population was not acquainted with its decrees. 

Yes, the Bolsheviks co-opted the SR Agrarian policy for a time, then changed it right back to nationalizing the land holdings as soon as they could. The result was that the peasants owned even less after the forced collectivization than they did prior to 1861! The Bolsheviks, then, stole assets from virtually every class of Imperial Russia, and maybe that would have been okay had they created the wonderful Russia they promised to, but, they didn't. Instead, they ruined Russian agriculture for many generations.

It was indeed sad that the Bolsheviks steamed over the SRs in favor of supporting the so called industrial proletariat.

Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on June 10, 2008, 05:24:31 PM
Quote
So, land that was owned by landowners prior to 1861 was in part becoming owned by the peasantry by the time of the revolution
That is misleading. Large-scale landowners, the monarchy, and churches held 40 percent of the farmland after 1861. Peasants owned 200 million hectares; of the total amount of peasant-owned land, about 40 percent was held by the kulaks.
Quote
stolen by the national government under the Bolsheviks by the 1930's.
That is incorrect. A kolkhoz is a cooperative organization of peasants who have come together voluntarily for the joint management of large-scale, socialist agricultural production based on socialized means of production and collective labor.

Only the transition to large-scale socialist production was able to secure a systematic improvement in the material and cultural conditions of life for the toiling farmers, eliminate rural overpopulation, and lighten the burden of agricultural labor.

Collectivization was necessary to overcome the age-old force of habit among rural proprietors, to change their psychology, and to convince the of the advantages of collective labor. The socialist transformation of agriculture opened the way for increased agricultural output and for a steady improvement in the material and cultural standard of living of the peasantry. Collectivization in Russia was the first socioeconomic effort in the world aimed at fundamentally changing the conditions of labor and existence and the entire way of life of many millions of peasants.  From an economic point of view, it made it possible to develop agriculture on a modern industrial basis. From a social point of view, it freed the toiling peasantry from exploitation and poverty and made possible the establishment in the countryside of a new system of social relations. The idea of establishing cooperatives has become very attractive to the toiling peasants in capitalist countries, encouraging them to intensify the revolutionary struggle for emancipation from the yoke of monopolies.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: LisaDavidson on June 10, 2008, 05:57:17 PM
Quote
So, land that was owned by landowners prior to 1861 was in part becoming owned by the peasantry by the time of the revolution
That is misleading. Large-scale landowners, the monarchy, and churches held 40 percent of the farmland after 1861. Peasants owned 200 million hectares; of the total amount of peasant-owned land, about 40 percent was held by the kulaks.
Quote
stolen by the national government under the Bolsheviks by the 1930's.
That is incorrect. A kolkhoz is a cooperative organization of peasants who have come together voluntarily for the joint management of large-scale, socialist agricultural production based on socialized means of production and collective labor.

Only the transition to large-scale socialist production was able to secure a systematic improvement in the material and cultural conditions of life for the toiling farmers, eliminate rural overpopulation, and lighten the burden of agricultural labor.

Collectivization was necessary to overcome the age-old force of habit among rural proprietors, to change their psychology, and to convince the of the advantages of collective labor. The socialist transformation of agriculture opened the way for increased agricultural output and for a steady improvement in the material and cultural standard of living of the peasantry. Collectivization in Russia was the first socioeconomic effort in the world aimed at fundamentally changing the conditions of labor and existence and the entire way of life of many millions of peasants.  From an economic point of view, it made it possible to develop agriculture on a modern industrial basis. From a social point of view, it freed the toiling peasantry from exploitation and poverty and made possible the establishment in the countryside of a new system of social relations. The idea of establishing cooperatives has become very attractive to the toiling peasants in capitalist countries, encouraging them to intensify the revolutionary struggle for emancipation from the yoke of monopolies.

I do love how your posts twist around truths like wet laundry hanging on a clothesline during an electrical storm.

In one sentence, you claim that collectivization was voluntary and in another "necessary to overcome age old force of habit". Which was it? It's a fact that forced collectivization resulted in the deaths of millions of people, so I guess that's a really Draconian way to break what the Bolshies considered a bad habit? Kind of like amputating a limb to take care of a hangnail?

Oh, and those people you call "Kulaks"? Peasants. Yes, the post Revolution days featured theft of billions of dollars in assets. And, they didn't produce anything worthwhile, which is really a shame.

In 1910, Russia provided 10% of the world's total grain exports. After the Revolution, Russia needed 10% of the world's grain imports. Rather sad, isn't it?
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on June 11, 2008, 05:08:33 PM
Quote
It's a fact that forced collectivization resulted in the deaths of millions of people

While the famine of 1933 killed millions of people, it is debateable as to whether the formation of kolkhozes was the cause of the famine. Mark Tauger demonstrates that the poor harvests of 1931 and 1932 were to a large extent caused by bad weather, drought, and infestations. With the successful harvest of 1933, the famine came to an end. It is not accurate to attribute the formation of kolkhozes as the sole or even primary cause of the 1933 famine. The formation of kolkhozes in 1929-30 and the famine of February-August 1933 are two isolated historical periods.

Quote
Oh, and those people you call "Kulaks"? Peasants. Yes, the post Revolution days featured theft of billions of dollars in assets. And, they didn't produce anything worthwhile, which is really a shame.

Kulaks in Russia were the rural bourgeoisie who became rich through predatory exploitation, loan sharking, and speculation. Kulaks arose among the peasantry when production for the market developed; they were the upper, prosperous stratum of the peasantry when the peasants still retained the features of a pre-capitalist class-estate. In pre-Revolutionary Russian and today in the developing countries, the kulaks basically represent the bourgeoisie in the epoch of primitive capital accumulation; they reinstitute a serf-like method of exploitation through labor-rent and similar methods.

In Russia, the kulaks formed as a class in Russia after the peasant reform of 1861. By the 20th century they were the most numerous stratum of capitalist exploiters; about one-fifth of the peasant households fell into the kulak category. Through rental and purchases they occupied peasant, noble, and state lands. Their farms had a significant share of the agricultural machines and implements, draft animals, and productive livestock. Kulaks produced as much as 50 percent of the grain marketed. They owned commercial and industrial enterprises, kept taverns and inns, engaged in loan sharking, loaned out draft animals and equipment to poor peasants in return to labor and hired agricultural laborers.

The kulaks' accumulations resulted from merciless exploitation of the countryside, particularly of the poor peasants and agricultural laborers. The kulaks used the peasant commune as a means of concealing their extremely exploitative methods, but the commune hindered the organization of capitalist production in agriculture. The vestiges of serf-owning presented obstacles to capitalist accumulation; these hindrances accounted for the kulaks' animosity towards the nobles. Along with the resent of the peasants, who remained a class-estate insofar as serf relations were preserved, the kulaks opposed the oppression by the nobles. Within the peasantry a social war arose and developed between kulaks and the agricultural proletariat. After the Revolution of 1905, tsarism carried out the Stolypin reform and effectively undermined the commune. Tsarism strengthened the kulaks hoping to turn them into a solid support for the regime.

Quote
In 1910, Russia provided 10% of the world's total grain exports. After the Revolution, Russia needed 10% of the world's grain imports. Rather sad, isn't it?

Russia was a grain exporter until the agricultural problems of 1970s brought about to a large extent by drought and poor weather.

Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: RichC on June 11, 2008, 10:49:41 PM
It's one thing to attribute a poor harvest to the weather.  But one cannot attribute a famine to the weather, especially in modern times.  A poor harvest is one thing, but famine can be averted by government action, an appeal for international aid, and more effective distribution.  It's interesting that in modern times, famines seem to occur only in countries with authoritarian or totalitarian governments (or countries under colonial rule).  But Stalin instead sought to hide the famine from the world while his government actually exported grain during the height of the famine.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 26, 2008, 03:36:43 AM
I'm returning to the moderator's original question: what were the ultimate causes of the Russian Revolution? And simply for the sake of provocation (because I love a good discussion), I am going to lay the blame entirely on Peter the Great. Well, let's think about it. His legacy was a very mixed, very problematic one. Some, like myself, might even call it disastrous.

I'll enumerate what I view as Peter's chief areas of liability. First, by forcing the Russian upperclasses to adopt Western ways he caused an enormous cultural schism between the Russian nobility and the Russian peasantry, which was fully in evidence in the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, and accounts for much of the violence in the countryside. As far as I can see, from what I've read, this schism was unnecessary - it was the result of forced change at an unnaturally fast pace - Peter wanted Russia to become Western overnight. In fact Russia was already becoming gradually Westernized, long before Peter's reign, and this process, with a less impatient ruler at the helm, could have continued naturally, at its own pace, for the next hundred years or so, with much less (or even no) trauma to the national identity as a result.

Second "crime." Peter decided that Russia had to be a world power. Every Russian ruler since him has followed his (bad) example. Instead of concentrating on fixing the problems endemic to ruling a vast empire (communication, administration, and let's not forget serfdom), Russia's monarchs turned their attention - and most of their resources - to staking a claim as a major European political player. With great success, but only at an equally or even greater cost. First and foremost because serfdom wasn't abolished until the mid-nineteenth century. (But even the administrative problem was never solved while the tsars were still in charge.) And by the way, I'm borrowing this thesis, in toto, from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's history book about Russia.

Third "crime." Peter the Great left the succession undecided. He did not clearly outline his wishes as to who should succeed him after his death. This resulted in literally decades of misrule and confusion as the Russian empire fell into the hands of one incompetent and underqualified (and frequently foreign) ruler after another. This was a lost period in Russian history. Lost to history, also lost to progress.

In short, I blame most of tsarist Russia's endemic problems, which arguably came to full fruition in March and October 1917, on Peter the Great. In the immortal words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, "Peter the Great was Russia's first Bolshevik."
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Michael HR on July 26, 2008, 09:08:45 AM
What an intresting view point. I would not have thought of Peter. For me it was Alexander III and Nicholas II for not changing anything, Alexandra, Rasputin etc. Such a complex question it might take a life time to think through
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: LisaDavidson on August 01, 2008, 12:21:32 AM
I recall a conversation with one of Xenia's grandsons who explained the Emperor's responsibilities were so vast that he had to personally sign every order and approve virtually every important government and religious decision. Under such minutia, I think anyone would get buried and not be able to see the big picture. One cause for the revolution - an outdated, inefficient method of governance.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Michael HR on August 01, 2008, 04:22:41 AM
One has to wonder why Nicholas did not have a secretary, which would have eased the burden a little. One man alone could not run the Empire single handed no matter how hard you try. A secretary would have taken the burden of some of the paper work at least. I know Nicholas did not like change but change would have to had happended eventually and would have made the Tsar look at the bigger picture.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: LisaDavidson on August 02, 2008, 11:59:45 PM
One has to wonder why Nicholas did not have a secretary, which would have eased the burden a little. One man alone could not run the Empire single handed no matter how hard you try. A secretary would have taken the burden of some of the paper work at least. I know Nicholas did not like change but change would have to had happended eventually and would have made the Tsar look at the bigger picture.

But, even with a secretary, it was still a very inefficient form of governance.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Multiverse on January 01, 2009, 10:13:51 PM
There is a thread here asking if The Russian Revolution was inevitable. Let's assume that it was not inevitable, that it could have been prevented.

What would it have taken to prevent The Russian Revolution of 1917? What things would have to have been done to prevent it?

I'm sure it would have to have been before the 20th Century. How far back into 18th or 19th Century Russian History would you have to go to insure continuation of The Russian Monarchy? What things over the years would have had to change? If you could somehow go back in time and save The Russian Monarch how far back would you need to go and what things would you change?
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: mcdnab on January 02, 2009, 04:46:51 AM
To save the Russian Monarchy you would have probably needed to change the last two crowned Emperors or have let Alexander II live longer. His premature death meant an end to any liberal reform, his son Alexander III was a convinced autocrat and surrounded by people who shared that view. Had Alexander II lived long enough to institute some form of constitution then the monarchy might have been salvageable. Alexander III was reactionary believing in orthodoxy, nationalism and the preservation of autocracy, out of sympathy with the slightly more liberal views of his father. He held the country together through his relative intelligence, capacity for delegation and his imposing personality. Nicholas II would have probably made an admirable constitutional monarch if he'd inherited a different throne but his own personal determination to reign as an autocrat hurled his country towards revolution.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: romanov1918 on January 10, 2009, 03:56:52 PM
I feel the revolution could have been prevented if firstly, Rasputin never came into the picture.  He brought down the prestige of the family, causing rumours that resulted in the loss of confidence and respect towards the family.  Also, without Rasputin, there would have been no meddling by him into the choices of ministers.  Also, Nicholas II NEVER should have taken the role of Commander-in-Chief during WWI, he should have kept Nicholas Nicholaevitch in that position.  With Nicholas at headquarters, it left Alexandra to conspire with Rasputin, and maybe if Nicholas was home, he could have quelled the protests immediately, instead of wires going back and forth, some never reaching Nicholas in time for him to react properly.  I guess the biggest factor is Nicholas himself. We all know his father never prepared him properly, and never thought he would die so young at 49. Nicholas never wanted to rule, and that probably affected many decisions, since when you resent something, you do not give it your all.

IF, Nicholas and Alexandra had never met Rasputin, that is a major factor.  IF Nicholas did not listen to the meddling of Alexandra and Rasputin, that is another factor.  IF Nicholas let his cousin run the Army, instead of trying to be Commander-in-Chief and Tsar, we might be looking at a different Russia today, of course these are just my opinions. 
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Pawel on February 11, 2009, 11:05:54 AM
http://web.mac.com/czechlegion/iWeb/TheCzechLegion/Introduction.html
There are many photos
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on February 25, 2009, 03:51:27 PM
The Entente through their White Czech proxy expanded their military aggression against Russia. In May and June the White Czechs and counterrevolutionary groups seized Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Vladivostok, Samara, Zlatoust, Syzran, Novonikolaevsk, routing the Soviet organization and murdering many Communists and workers and peasants. The Entente declared the Czechoslovak Corps part of its troops, stating that it would consider its disarmament an unfriendly act toward the allied countries.

Evidence collected in Samara reveals that the Czech aggressors shot and many innocent workers. Most of the Russian troops of Simbirsk were murdered. Workers at the explosive factory at Ivashchenkovo who resisted the terror were punished, with over 300 corpses of workers, women, and children mutilitated by sabre cuts. Of the workers who were arrested, some 1500 were later slan during transportation from prison by the Czechs and White Guards.
http://books.google.com/books?id=2mhGAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA125&dq=Soviet+Czechoslovak+Ivashchenkovo
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Olga Maria on February 26, 2009, 10:16:32 AM
Where the Czechs really pro to Whites?
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on March 09, 2009, 02:38:57 PM
The Czech through their aggression were largely responsible for the intensification and prolonging of the civil war in Russia. In the period from November-April 1918, with some interruption by the German offensive in February, the Russian people were in the process of peacefully completing the establishment of soviet power throughout the country. By the beginning of March 1918, all of Russia except for the western regions under German occupation and the Transcaucasian provinces (minus Baku) were under soviet power. Prior to the Czech aggression, the situation in Russia was largely peaceful.

The Czech aggression of 25 May 1918 allowed counterrevolutionary forces to establish a stronghold in Siberia. This was followed by the establishment of the SR-Menshevik regime on June 8 in Samara. The Czechs and White Guards conquered Simbirsk, Ufa, and Ekaterinburg in July and Kazan in August.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on March 14, 2009, 03:16:47 PM
Quote
Where the Czechs really pro to Whites?

After the end of the imperialist war in November 1918, the Czechs became more reluctant to fight against Russia. It was the leadership of the corps that decided to arrest Kolchak in early 1920 and turn him over to the Irkutsk Military Revolutionary Committee. Nevertheless, the Czechs bear a major responsibility for the outbreak of the catastrophic civil war in Russia. Without their help, the counter-revolution could not have possibly established itself in Siberia.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Constantinople on March 15, 2009, 03:43:47 PM
My dear Zvezda
    There was nothing peaceful about the establishment of soviet power.  Lenin lied, cheated and had no problems killing whoever stood in his way.  It is true that there were attrocities on both sides and that White leadeers like Kolchak were bloody but to state that the establishment of communism in Russia was peaceful, you have been blinded by Pravda.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Zvezda on March 16, 2009, 01:52:05 PM
Quote
There was nothing peaceful about the establishment of soviet power.
In March 1918, soviet power was established in all of Russia except for the western regions under German occupation and the Transcaucasian provinces where power was held by bourgeois nationalists. Before the Germans invasion of Rostov and the Czechoslovak aggression in Central Russia, the civil war had just about ended. Kaledin shot himself in January 1918 and Kornilov was killed in April.

Quote
Lenin lied, cheated and had no problems killing whoever stood in his way.

The establishment of soviet power was the will of the people. To accuse Lenin of lying and cheating his way into power is to slander the Russian people as mindless sheep who had no control over their lives.

When the Russian Government foiled the Kerensky-Krasnov invasion of Petrograd in November 1917, Krasnov was released from custody on the condition that he would not fight the Russian Government. Krasnov could have and should have been shot in November 1917, but he was given a second chance and released.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: LisaDavidson on May 02, 2009, 12:04:38 AM
I feel the revolution could have been prevented if firstly, Rasputin never came into the picture.  He brought down the prestige of the family, causing rumours that resulted in the loss of confidence and respect towards the family.  Also, without Rasputin, there would have been no meddling by him into the choices of ministers.  Also, Nicholas II NEVER should have taken the role of Commander-in-Chief during WWI, he should have kept Nicholas Nicholaevitch in that position.  With Nicholas at headquarters, it left Alexandra to conspire with Rasputin, and maybe if Nicholas was home, he could have quelled the protests immediately, instead of wires going back and forth, some never reaching Nicholas in time for him to react properly.  I guess the biggest factor is Nicholas himself. We all know his father never prepared him properly, and never thought he would die so young at 49. Nicholas never wanted to rule, and that probably affected many decisions, since when you resent something, you do not give it your all.

IF, Nicholas and Alexandra had never met Rasputin, that is a major factor.  IF Nicholas did not listen to the meddling of Alexandra and Rasputin, that is another factor.  IF Nicholas let his cousin run the Army, instead of trying to be Commander-in-Chief and Tsar, we might be looking at a different Russia today, of course these are just my opinions. 

When both Alexander III and Nicholas II came to the throne, there was still a sense that revolution would come to Russia sooner rather than later. So, I remain convinced that the archaic structure of the government and the court, rather than ideology, made the revolution inevitable.

The advent of Rasputin, Nicholas II's absence from his capital - and even the first world war all helped determine the timing of the revolution, but not whether or not it was going to happen.

While Nicholas said several things in confidence to his cousin in his grief over his father, as a conservative person, I don't think he seriously doubted his fitness or his duty. And, I don't think the Empress can be said to have "conspired" with Rasputin. She was a devoted wife who did exactly what she thought her husband wanted her to do. Rasputin was her friend and advisor, albeit a poor one at both jobs.

These, too, are just my not so humble opinions.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: JStorey on May 02, 2009, 12:55:54 PM
To save the Russian Monarchy you would have probably needed to change the last two crowned Emperors or have let Alexander II live longer. His premature death meant an end to any liberal reform, his son Alexander III was a convinced autocrat and surrounded by people who shared that view. Had Alexander II lived long enough to institute some form of constitution then the monarchy might have been salvageable. Alexander III was reactionary believing in orthodoxy, nationalism and the preservation of autocracy, out of sympathy with the slightly more liberal views of his father. He held the country together through his relative intelligence, capacity for delegation and his imposing personality. Nicholas II would have probably made an admirable constitutional monarch if he'd inherited a different throne but his own personal determination to reign as an autocrat hurled his country towards revolution.

The problem with this argument is that the era of the liberal reformer Alexander II was the same one in which Russian nihilism, revolutionary ideas, etc. were blossoming like never before.  This was no conincidence: his liberal reforms helped create an environment in which these very ideas were finally allowed to flourish. 

Don't forget that Alexander II was assassinated by revolutionaries, after numerous attempts on his life!  From this, Alexander II - and, by extension, Nicholas II - learned what they considered a very important lesson:  liberalism and leniency leads to weakness and vulnerability, a Russian Tsar should "guide with the firm hand down the right path ordained by God", etc.

Now one thing I often read is Nicholas' "stubborn personal need to preserve autocracy" which I don't believe is fair, because he was raised from birth to believe - with all his heart and soul - that he had been ordained by God to rule Russia, and that one of his sole responsibilities was to pass this on to his male heir.  It was a fundamental, unquestioned premise upon which his entire world view was based, reinforced by everyone around him - in short, a sacred given.  So how could you say, "Oh Nicky, you're being so stubborn!"     
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: historylover on May 02, 2009, 06:19:38 PM

Nicky was definitely brain-washed into the belief of the Divine Right of Kings.  Perhaps he should have had the foresight to see what was happening in other countries, however, and think for himself more?  Didn't Edward VII and even Sir George Buchanan point out to him the dangers of autocracy and the benefits of democracy in England, very forcefully?
I see what you mean but I'm inclined to think that the Tsar was stubborn, too!
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: JStorey on May 03, 2009, 12:21:46 PM
Politically, did England embody the same revolutionary milieu as Russia?  I would say no.  My point is that because Russia entered into the inevitable dissolution of autocracy so late in the game, the possibility for something like a constitutional monarchy was absolutely nil.  In fact, all nascent efforts towards that end resulted in complete failure.  During his reign after 1905, the constant dissolution of the Duma was due to - essentially - irreconcilable differences between the political left and the monarchy.  Political left in Russia, at that time, was so extreme that coexistence with autocracy was incompatible.  That is not to say that dissolution of the Duma was the correct response - of course it wasn't - but let's just put it this way:  I can assure you the idea did not originate in the mind of Nicholas II.  He had advisers of his own, and was far more inclined to listen to them then he was to those from other countries.  So I wouldn't call him stubborn.  That is too convenient.  He was not too stubborn to abdicate, after all, and for that he was roundly criticized for being weak and fickle.  So which is it?  Stubborn or fickle?

Now having said all this I wouldn't call him a good leader either.  I make no attempt to defend him as a ruler.

Revolutionary conditions were magnified in Russia because the process of polarization - the extreme widening between left and right - had come so far that there was no possibility of even symbolic reconciliation (i.e.; constitutional monarchy - that's really all it is.  And on a side note, there isn't a great deal of difference, in my mind, between representative democracy in the U.S.and constitutional monarchy - just substitute a president for a king.  Americans love to invent romantic "first family" idealism that mimics, to a T, residual fondness for an autocrat). 

Inevitable I say.  Take Kerensky.  His path could also be seen as one leading, eventually, to the restoration of a constitutional monarchy.  While initially his sentiment was viscerally anti-Romanov, once in power he turned more towards a role of protectorate (relatively speaking, under the circumstances that is) perhaps to his political detriment.  His notion of Tsar reverted to what he had internalized unconsciously as a child, when he had wept at the death of Alexander III and made a wreath.  While the political world around him called for the Tsar's head, he was spending an inordinate amount of time and energy working on ensuring their safety.  And his task - the formation of a Constituent Assembly - was simply not enough to satisfy the revolutionary appetite.  So even after abdication, some semblance of democracy, of constitutional monarchy, etc. was not going to cut it.  The gap had grown to wide, the pressures too great; something had to give.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on May 03, 2009, 05:02:19 PM
JStorey, I think it's very common in fact for weak leaders to demonstrate uncommon obstinacy in upholding a particular policy. Unwavering obstinacy in the face of change is indeed a sign of weakness, because it means you are intellectually and emotionally incapable of adapting to circumstances. The contemporary political leader who reminds me most - indeed, uncannily - of Nicholas II is George W. Bush, whom I regard as an essentially decent man (as NII was), but prey to the unreasonable influence of trusted advisors (as NII was), and blindly committed to a demonstrably (self-)destructive policy - in Bush's case, the war in Iraq. In Nicholas's case, he upheld the principle of autocracy at the possible cost of his throne.

Although I have to reiterate that I agree with the moderators here that Russia was a lost cause by 1917. I tend to believe that even if Nicholas had been a far-sighted, wise, politically shrewd and adaptive leader (pragmatic as opposed to ideological in other words), he still would have lost the throne, just as Kerensky, even if he had been smarter, would have forfeited the provisional government to the Bolsheviks. Because both of them were men with an old-fashioned sense of honor and would have under any and all imagined circumstances have insisted that Russia continue fighting World War I in support of its allies Britain and France. Which was bad policy for Russia, however honorable in the abstract. I repeat, Russia could not withstand the pressure of this ongoing drain on its resources, in large part because longstanding problems which at the very least dated back to the reign of Nicholas I (1825-1855) had not yet been resolved (the peasant question, industrialization, the administration of the empire, etc.).


Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: JStorey on May 03, 2009, 05:30:53 PM
All right, if it was honorable in the abstract to remain in the war, how would you - if you were the leader of Russia at that time - have ended it?  You couldn't have said, "Okay!  That's it, we're done fighting!  War over!"  No.  You would have had to surrender, just as Lenin did, to extreme concessions.  You would have abandoned all financial support from the Allies, and you would have been left with a country in even more disarray then it was already, which was - as we all know - a complete mess. 

While the Bush/Nicholas II comparisons are tempting (their respective nation's early war jingoism, perhaps being the common theme between them) I think its ultimately apples and oranges.  Nicholas, for instance, could read.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Elisabeth on May 03, 2009, 05:47:47 PM
All right, if it was honorable in the abstract to remain in the war, how would you - if you were the leader of Russia at that time - have ended it?  You couldn't have said, "Okay!  That's it, we're done fighting!  War over!"  No.  You would have had to surrender, just as Lenin did, to extreme concessions.  You would have abandoned all financial support from the Allies, and you would have been left with a country in even more disarray then it was already, which was - as we all know - a complete mess. 

Yeah, but that's precisely my point, J. They couldn't have surrendered because they had an in-built sense of honor. NII and Kerensky ascribed to the humanist ideals of the nineteenth century. They were not post-human, as Lenin and his cohorts so demonstrably were.

While the Bush/Nicholas II comparisons are tempting (their respective nation's early war jingoism, perhaps being the common theme between them) I think its ultimately apples and oranges.  Nicholas, for instance, could read.

Did you know that Bush got higher scores on his SATs than Al Gore did? The man is not any more stupid than Gore is or Nicholas II was. On the other hand, unlike NII, Bush Jr. obviously has some kind of speech impediment or learning disability - that's clear enough from the way he often stumbles over the most commonly used verbal expressions.

Which is not to say that either Bush Jr. or Nicholas II were the brightest bulbs on the planet. People often cite Nicholas's knowledge of foreign languages as a gauge of his intelligence. But the ability to learn and speak foreign languages is not necessarily correlated to high intelligence - as far as I know, it's more often correlated to musical talent (or sometimes, a gift for mathematics, which apparently NII did not possess). NII was probably better educated than Bush - but did that make him more intelligent? I sincerely doubt it. One has only to read his correspondence and the memoirs of his staff to realize that he lacked any kind of imagination or intellectual curiosity. But then, one could be speaking of George W. in the same breath...
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: JStorey on May 03, 2009, 07:03:40 PM
You get a few hundred points on the SAT just for signing your name.  Okay, admittedly Bush went to Yale but that's because we have a little something in our representative democracy called nepotism, quite alive and well - I think Bush knows that more than anyone. 

But he's good at dodging a shoe.

Back to the question.  Absent of their "in-built sense of honor" and 19th century humanist ideals (I don't think I've ever heard NII and Kerensky used in the same sentence when it comes to human ideals, but anyhow), how could they have realistically and pragmatically overcome their "unwavering obstinacy" and ended the war?
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Alixz on May 04, 2009, 09:40:09 AM
Not to get too far off topic as this is the Russian Revolution Forum, but intelligence is not a indication of how much you know.  Education is the factor that contributes to how much you know.  Intelligence is the ability to learn, isn't it?

But I get confused over IQ tests which are really a test of how much you have learned to a certain predetermined point in you life and so therefore are an indicator of a) how much you have learned; b) your ability to learn (and/or memorize); c) how much you have paid attention (and/or slept through class).

Was Nicholas intelligent?  Or more importantly, did he have the ability to extrapolate?

Rote learning means nothing in the long run.  It is the ability to take what you have memorized and put it to good use and to extrapolate that is important.

That is why some people are "book smart, but life stupid".  Perhaps that is a good description of both W and Nicholas II.
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: JStorey on May 04, 2009, 11:52:40 AM
Within a few posts the topic has degraded from the Russian revolution into a discussion over Bush's intelligence. 
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: RichC on May 04, 2009, 12:41:08 PM

Although I have to reiterate that I agree with the moderators here that Russia was a lost cause by 1917. I tend to believe that even if Nicholas had been a far-sighted, wise, politically shrewd and adaptive leader (pragmatic as opposed to ideological in other words), he still would have lost the throne, just as Kerensky, even if he had been smarter, would have forfeited the provisional government to the Bolsheviks. Because both of them were men with an old-fashioned sense of honor and would have under any and all imagined circumstances have insisted that Russia continue fighting World War I in support of its allies Britain and France. Which was bad policy for Russia, however honorable in the abstract. I repeat, Russia could not withstand the pressure of this ongoing drain on its resources, in large part because longstanding problems which at the very least dated back to the reign of Nicholas I (1825-1855) had not yet been resolved (the peasant question, industrialization, the administration of the empire, etc.).

Hello All,

Since when was Nicholas II known as a man of his word?  Witte, who knew Nicholas very well, certainly would not have described him as such.  I have often thought of Nicholas II as more capricious than honest.  And for me, capriciousness is another sign of intellectual weakness. 

I believe that Tsarist Russia would have made a separate peace with Germany and Austria if doing so would have left her territorial integrity intact.  They would have left Britain and France to their own devices, especially after the United States entered the war.  Isn't there evidence that Britain and France were worried about this very thing happening anyway?  Weren't they worried about the Tsar's strength of commitment to the war?

As far as the inevitability of the Revolution, I'm one of those who doesn't think it was pre-ordained.  In some ways World War I was far worse than World War II because of what happened afterwards.  If World War I had never happened who knows how different the world would be today.  No Nazi Germany, no Russian Revolution; just imagine!
Title: Re: The Russian Revolution - Causes and/or Prevention?
Post by: Alixz on May 04, 2009, 01:48:41 PM
Maybe no Russian Revolution, but the Treaty of Versailles is, to me, what was the cause of WWII.

So I suppose if there was no WWI and no Treaty, then no Nazi Germany.  I wonder how Wilhelm II would have fared as Emperor in the 20th century?

In a way, Nicholas's refusal to leave his allies in the "lurch" is one of the causes of the Revolution.  He was still a product of the "death before dishonor" generation.