Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => People v. Nicholas II Alexandrovich => Topic started by: Alixz on March 01, 2007, 10:54:51 PM

Title: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on March 01, 2007, 10:54:51 PM
I have read that comment so many times.  Nicholas and his family are constantly criticized for being wealthy.  They are criticized for spending more on boots that the average Russian earned in a year, or five years of a life time!

Nicholas and his family are not unique.  Not in the past and not now.

Do we criticize our sports heroes for making 10 of millions a year?

Do we criticize or Hollywood and TV stars for making millions on each movie or show?

OK, I know that the people I just mentioned are not the rulers of a country.  However during Nicholas's time, his income was no different and his expenditures no different from any US "robber baron" or European financier or royal.

For the US, those of you who live any where near Newport Rhode Island, should take a trip to see the "summer cottages" of the Vanderbilt's and the other wealthy "cottage" owners who built 75 to 100 room mansions that were used for perhaps two months of the year.

And I believe that the "Breakers" was still in the Vanderbilt family through 1969.  That was not so long ago. (for some of us  ::) ).

Through out history, there have always been the "haves' and the "have nots".  It is probably morally wrong, but certainly not a crime as long as the money was not made in a illegal manner.

I am disgusted by the upside down distribution of wealth to those who play games for a living or for those who simply "look good" in front of a  camera.   And that includes TV news anchors as well as actors who make hundreds of thousands of dollars "per episode"!

I also admit that there are those who are fortunate and who are also philanthropic.  I just wish more of their philanthropy was directed toward the needy in the US and not in South Africa or Darfur.  Not that those causes aren't noble because they are, but we have our own needy and don't they need help, too?

So Nicholas was rich and spent his money on himself and his family.  That only makes him just like every other rich person - royal or not.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Belochka on March 02, 2007, 12:47:11 AM
I have read that comment so many times.  Nicholas and his family are constantly criticized for being wealthy.  They are criticized for spending more on boots that the average Russian earned in a year, or five years of a life time!

Hi Alixz,

I am intrigued as to who those people are today who criticise the wealth of an Emperor who lived in another era?

Margarita   :)
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Eddie_uk on March 02, 2007, 02:58:49 AM
All to do with jealousy I think Alixz. Sad but true. They see people better of than themselves and they resent it and and some often try and rip them off!!!
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Kurt Steiner on March 02, 2007, 04:36:51 AM
Well, it is hard to swallow seeing someone living in money while you're hungry, but, you know, jealousy and meanness are like that, you can't help.

In my opinion, there are worse sins to "blame" on Nicholas and his family, if we can blame him.

If his fate was determined by his wealth, I would suggest her majesty Elizabeth II to begin to considering running away while she can ;) (just kidding, please)
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on March 02, 2007, 08:24:06 AM
Belochka,

If you look into any of the threads such as "Who betrayed Nicholas" , or "Is Nicholas really to blame?", or even "The Causes of the Russian Revolution",  you will often find those who include that sentiment in their assessment of why Nicholas was "wrong, evil, inept, or just doomed to abdication and/or death.  There was even something in this part of the forum, in one of the threads under "The People v Nicholas II"  That is why I posted this here.

Kurt,

I almost included the gutting of Windsor by fire and how, when the Queen supposed that the British taxpayers would pay for the restoration, she found out that she would be better off paying the bill herself.  Which to me only makes sense.  She has a great deal of money and could more easily afford the restoration than the general taxpayer.

And I believe it is jealousy.  And it is very hard to be hungry and to see someone else living in luxury.

I also think that there is a view of Nicholas as "entitled" because of his birth status and that he had not "earned" the style of life in which he lived.

Which, of course, is different than say, Bill and Melinda Gates (who are philanthropic).

But the CEO's of various large corporations earn a million times what the workers in their corporations earn. 

Even Al Gore has come under fire, for using an excessively large "carbon footprint" while making a documentary telling the average folk to make their "carbon footprint" smaller.  Is that like Nicholas buying expensive boots when the average Russian has none?

But to suggest that anyone, including Nicholas II, failed as a leader because he was rich, and in hindsight as well, is ludicrous.  Perhaps his wealth shielded him from the harsh realities of the world outside the palace and so we can say that "being rich" didn't allow him to truly see what was going on in Russia. 

But should he be judged as guilty of crimes against the people of Russia for being rich and not giving his wealth away?
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Forum Admin on March 02, 2007, 09:03:10 AM
"not giving his wealth away" ??? Do you have any idea how many people were supported by the Emperor's Privy Purse? Every Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of age got their substantial allowances annually out of Nicholas' pocket. Every single employee of every single palace was not only paid a salary, housed, fed and clothed but they and their spouse/children received a stipend for life from the emperor.  Hundreds more were given stipends for services rendered or other charitable reasons.  Museums, libraries, schools and hospitals were build and financed from the Privy Purse.  Who paid the maintenance on every piece of Imperial property, like Livadia, Massandra and Novy Svet?? Somewhere I have just one year's budget for 1897, and as I recall, the sum spent just out of Nicholas' pocket that year was something like 2 million gold rubles, or something on the order of 2 BILLION US$ in modern currency.

Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on March 02, 2007, 01:12:29 PM
Thank you FA,

I was waiting for someone to post just that information. 

I started this thread for those who have posted their opinions on Nicholas and Alexandra and their personal expenditures.

I was aware of the privy purse and I knew that Massie has said that at the end of the year, Nicholas would sometimes be almost bankrupt due to the amount of money that was allotted to the expenditures that you have so kindly posted for me.

I have seen posts about "trainloads of flowers" and the "cost of boots" and how Nicholas was guilty for not channeling that money to the poor. And there are those posters who have found Nicholas and Alexandra "guilty" of crimes against the Russian people for buying the boots or receiving the flowers.

I am glad that you took the time to post that for me.  I was getting around to looking it up.   :)

Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on May 24, 2007, 08:52:05 AM
I know that this thread has not attracted many posters, but back when I started it there seemed to be many who would bring up the wealth of the Imperial Family, Nicholas and Alix in particular as a fault.

As if being born "in the purple" was a crime against the Russian people and that buying boots that cost more that a peasant would earn in a lifetime was a capital offence.

In every country in the world there are those who have and those who have not.  Anyone of us may spend more on a pair of shoes or a dress or a suit or even an old Romanov collectible or history book than some in our own country can spend on food or medicine.

Did the disparity in Russia show more than in other countries at the turn of the century?  No.  In the US the "Gilded Age" showed us the "Four Hundred" families that Mrs. Astor could fit in her ballroom were wealthier than most of the population.  And Mrs. Astor and the members of those "Four Hundred" mostly likely spent more on the flowers for her balls than the average worker in New York City earned in a life time at the turn of the century.

My intention in starting this thread was not to defend Nicholas and Alix for their spending habits, but to say that how much money they had and how much they spent and how they spent it was not a crime against the people.

Of course it caused jealousy and discontent.  Why wouldn't it?  When the citizens are cold and hungry and are pressing their noses against the windows of a fine restaurant watching wealthy people who are warm and well fed it would cause feelings of contempt for the wealthy and also ferment hatred of those who looked (to the poor watchers) callous and indifferent to their plight.

Many members of the aristocracy in Russia did seem to show disdain toward the less fortunate, but this was also true of the wealthy upper classes in every country at the time.

I have always thought about those poor lady's maids and valets who had to be awake when their employers came home at the crack of dawn to take their wraps and help them to bed when they had little or no sleep themselves.

And to this day, being a chauffeur must be "hell" having to wait for your fare to party all night while you sit with the car.  That goes for charter bus drivers as well.  Just what do they do while waiting for a group of tourists on a day long trip?

Well anyway, I just thought I would add another 10 cents (as eminem once said "my two cents is free). 

Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 25, 2007, 04:55:03 PM
I think it is because he is living in giant palaces and is one of the wealthiest men on earth yet the people in his country don't have any food and then he spends money on Fabrege eggs. Just my opinion.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: mr_harrison75 on May 25, 2007, 11:56:02 PM
Wait wait wait...

I wonder why some people criticise the Tsar for being too rich, when today's governments are in the same position than he was?

It's true that the Tsar was very rich (one, if not the first, of the richiest men of his time), but, although it's true the Russians didn't have much in comparison, it is not true to say that they had nothing to eat. In fact, in the last years of his reign (just before WW1), industry was going well, harvests were bountiful, and the country was on its way back to prosperity (so much that the Bolsheviks were in despair, thinking they had no chance of seizing power).

What killed it is 1- Stolypin's assassination (architect of the reforms, and putting Russia back on the tracks), 2- The Great War and the state of unpreparedness of the Reservists, as well as the archaïc structure of the High Command, 3- The Tsar's decision to command his armies, and 4- When the food supplies didn't reach Petrograd in time, leading to riots and Revolution.

Perhaps the only real prejudice Nikolaï II did to the Russian people was refusing to acknowledge that the autocracy was impossible to maintain, and that it was time to change the absolute monarchy to a constitutional one (perhaps with more power left to the Tsar than, say, the Queen of England today).

Could you imagine how Russia would've fared if the Tsar had done so? I like to think it would be in a much better state than today...

As for the rest, I don't think that Nikolaï II had more blood on his hands than the previous Tsars, or the other governments of his time, for instance, who would sacrifice many millions of lives for a war that resolved nothing, because the second round of the same war started 20 years later.

So, please, don't do like the Communists of the time, who put all the blame to the Tsar: Nicholas the Bloody, Nicholas the Filthy rich, etc. and the same Communists did 10 times worst! See how Russia has a lot of trouble to recover from their rule, even today!
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 25, 2007, 11:59:58 PM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat. I'm not saying it was right, but in their position I may have felt the same way .
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Belochka on May 26, 2007, 12:25:51 AM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat.

The aftermath of WWI was in the hands of the bolsheviks.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 26, 2007, 12:39:14 AM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat.

The aftermath of WWI was in the hands of the bolsheviks.
Whoops. big mistake on my part. I mean "during world war I" when they were starving. ;D
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Belochka on May 26, 2007, 12:57:31 AM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat.

The aftermath of WWI was in the hands of the bolsheviks.
Whoops. big mistake on my part. I mean "during world war I" when they were starving. ;D

It was the bolsheviks who excelled in creating famines causing millions to die.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 26, 2007, 01:01:47 AM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat.

The aftermath of WWI was in the hands of the bolsheviks.
Whoops. big mistake on my part. I mean "during world war I" when they were starving. ;D

It was the bolsheviks who excelled in creating famines causing millions to die.

Yes, I agree the Bolsheviks were much worse. But were many people not also starving during Nicholas's reign?
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Belochka on May 26, 2007, 01:03:53 AM
Wait wait wait...

I wonder why some people criticise the Tsar for being too rich, when today's governments are in the same position than he was?

It's true that the Tsar was very rich (one, if not the first, of the richiest men of his time), but, although it's true the Russians didn't have much in comparison, it is not true to say that they had nothing to eat. In fact, in the last years of his reign (just before WW1), industry was going well, harvests were bountiful, and the country was on its way back to prosperity (so much that the Bolsheviks were in despair, thinking they had no chance of seizing power).

What killed it is 1- Stolypin's assassination (architect of the reforms, and putting Russia back on the tracks), 2- The Great War and the state of unpreparedness of the Reservists, as well as the archaïc structure of the High Command, 3- The Tsar's decision to command his armies, and 4- When the food supplies didn't reach Petrograd in time, leading to riots and Revolution.

Perhaps the only real prejudice Nikolaï II did to the Russian people was refusing to acknowledge that the autocracy was impossible to maintain, and that it was time to change the absolute monarchy to a constitutional one (perhaps with more power left to the Tsar than, say, the Queen of England today).

Could you imagine how Russia would've fared if the Tsar had done so? I like to think it would be in a much better state than today...

Hi mr_harrison75.

Your statements are excellent. It is very refreshing to read an honest appraisal.

Thank you.

Margarita  :D
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Belochka on May 26, 2007, 01:14:20 AM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat.

The aftermath of WWI was in the hands of the bolsheviks.
Whoops. big mistake on my part. I mean "during world war I" when they were starving. ;D

It was the bolsheviks who excelled in creating famines causing millions to die.

Yes, I agree the Bolsheviks were much worse. But were many people not also starving during Nicholas's reign?

No. In the rural regions the majority all had their own kitchen gardens.

Where is your evidence to suggest otherwise?
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 26, 2007, 01:19:10 AM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat.

The aftermath of WWI was in the hands of the bolsheviks.
Whoops. big mistake on my part. I mean "during world war I" when they were starving. ;D

It was the bolsheviks who excelled in creating famines causing millions to die.

Yes, I agree the Bolsheviks were much worse. But were many people not also starving during Nicholas's reign?

No. In the rural regions the majority all had their own kitchen gardens.

Where is your evidence to suggest otherwise?
I'm not claiming to be correct, I'm just going by what they said on all the documentaries I watched.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Belochka on May 26, 2007, 01:55:25 AM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat.

The aftermath of WWI was in the hands of the bolsheviks.
Whoops. big mistake on my part. I mean "during world war I" when they were starving. ;D

It was the bolsheviks who excelled in creating famines causing millions to die.

Yes, I agree the Bolsheviks were much worse. But were many people not also starving during Nicholas's reign?

No. In the rural regions the majority all had their own kitchen gardens.

Where is your evidence to suggest otherwise?
I'm not claiming to be correct, I'm just going by what they said on all the documentaries I watched.

May I suggest that you place reliance on credible published sources that have been tested in the public domain rather than refer to an un- identified "documentary" if indeed it exists at all.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 26, 2007, 02:39:58 AM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat.

The aftermath of WWI was in the hands of the bolsheviks.
Whoops. big mistake on my part. I mean "during world war I" when they were starving. ;D

It was the bolsheviks who excelled in creating famines causing millions to die.

Yes, I agree the Bolsheviks were much worse. But were many people not also starving during Nicholas's reign?

No. In the rural regions the majority all had their own kitchen gardens.

Where is your evidence to suggest otherwise?
I'm not claiming to be correct, I'm just going by what they said on all the documentaries I watched.

May I suggest that you place reliance on credible published sources that have been tested in the public domain rather than refer to an un- identified "documentary" if indeed it exists at all.
Yes, you may suggest that. And the documentaries I'm referring to do exist. They are "Anastasia: A&E Biography", "In Search of History: The Romanovs" and "Mystery of the Last Tsar". Excuse me for believing something I heard in 3 different documentaries made by 3 different production companies. ;)
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: carkuczyn on May 26, 2007, 02:56:15 AM
IMHO, I believe that Nicholas was not guilty because of his great wealth, but because of his great stupidity.  Also...his father is equally, if not more, to blame for not preparing him better for the role of tsar.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Eddie_uk on May 26, 2007, 08:49:46 AM


May I suggest that you place reliance on credible published sources that have been tested in the public domain rather than refer to an un- identified "documentary" if indeed it exists at all.

Beautifully put my dear! :)
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on May 26, 2007, 10:37:21 AM
But don't you see that whether or not Nicholas was rich had no direct bearing on the poorness of his subjects.

Any more than QEII or Prince Charles being rich has any bearing on the level or poverty in the UK.

Or the fact that Bush and Cheney are rich has no bearing on how government money is spent in the US?

Nicholas tried to create land reform under a policy that Stolypin advocated, but the other members of the Imperial family including Dagmar were against it.

So should Nicholas have lived in a hut just because his country's citizens were poor?  The Bolsheviks moved right into the Kremlin.  They did not live in "huts" even though they despised Nicholas II for all his wealth.

How Nicholas spent his own money (even though it was accrued through taxes and the workings of the Imperial lands) is not a valid issue to use in saying that he was a bad Tsar. 

I don't know how Russia's system of taxation worked, but did the crown tax the people or did the resident Grand Dukes?  Or both?  Nicholas's income came from several sources and I don't doubt that even if he moved into a "hut" and gave over his share of Imperial wealth to his people, it would have only been a drop in the bucket.

Besides, even in the US, the keeping up of  official presidential living quarters and memorials and government buildings is a priority because every county has to present a "nice" (for lack of better work) maybe strong or impressive front. 

Nicholas couldn't very well entertain heads of state in a "hut".  And the Bolsheviks (who disdained wealth) didn't think they could either.  That's why they moved right into the Kremlin and confiscated the cars and yachts and railroad cars and everything else that had belonged to Nicholas II.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Belochka on May 26, 2007, 09:57:25 PM


May I suggest that you place reliance on credible published sources that have been tested in the public domain rather than refer to an un- identified "documentary" if indeed it exists at all.

Beautifully put my dear! :)

Thank you! You are very kind.

Margarita  ;)
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Louis_Charles on May 28, 2007, 10:11:43 PM
www.loyno.edu/history/journal/1994-5/Lilly.htm - 35k

"Perhaps the main thing which led to the collapse of the Tsarist regime was the First World War.   If the Tsar’s government before 1914 was weak, the war pushed it to breaking point.   The war took men from the farms and food to the front, and it clogged up the railway system, so that people starved in the towns.   Prices rose, and there was famine in the winter of 1916-1917."
http://www.johndclare.net/Basics_Russia.htm


 Published:  Rabochaya Gazeta, No. 8, March 17 (30), 1912. Published according to the Rabochaya Gazeta text. http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1912/mar/17.htm
"Again famine—as in the past, in the old, pre-1905, Russia. Crops may fail anywhere, but only in Russia do they lead to such grave calamities, to the starvation of millions of peasants. The present disaster, as even the supporters of the government and the landowners are compelled to admit, surpasses in extent the famine of 1891."

"Economically, widespread inflation and food shortages in Russia contributed to the revolution. Militarily, inadequate supplies, logistics, and weaponry led to heavy losses that the Russians suffered during World War I; this further strengthened Russia’s view of Nicholas II as weak and unfit to rule. Ultimately, these factors, coupled with the development of revolutionary ideas and movements (particularly since the 1905 Bloody Sunday Massacre) led to the Russian Revolution."  Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Revolution_of_1917

"Repeated mobilizations, moreover, disrupted industrial and agricultural production. The food supply decreased, and the transportation system became disorganized. In the trenches, the soldiers went hungry and frequently lacked shoes, munitions, and even weapons. Russian casualties were greater than those sustained by any army in any previous war. Behind the front, goods became scarce, prices skyrocketed, and by 1917 famine threatened the larger cities. Discontent became rife, and the morale of the army suffered, finally to be undermined by a succession of military defeats."
http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761569348_2/Russian_Revolutions_of_1917.html


From an article "Causes of the Tsar's Downfall"
www.igshistoryonline.co.uk/Resources/


"Agricultural labourers: overcrowding; inefficient farming methods led to famine; tied to lands they farmed


Harsh winters & poor harvests, e.g. 1916/17 winter led to 300% inflation, food queues & famine   Autocracy: Tsar divinely-appointed; imperial council unaccountable to a parliament"

-------------------------------------------------------------------

The fact that there were worse famines to come under the Bolshevik regime is immaterial.

Regards,

Simon





Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: RichC on May 29, 2007, 06:03:19 PM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat. I'm not saying it was right, but in their position I may have felt the same way .

Yes, this is exactly what happened, Eminem (used to be Paris, France!!).  Afterall it was the breadline riots that set off the March revolution.  There was a lot of concern about this going back to the Fall of 1916 when Nicholas wrote to Alexandra on September 20th, "...the people are beginning to starve."  In her reply, (I assume it was in reply to Nicholas' letter), Alexandra wrote, "Yes, I am more Russian than many another, and I won't keep quiet.  I begged them to arrange (what Grigory said) that goods, flour, butter, bread, sugar, should all be weighed out beforehand in the shops and then each buyer can get his parcel much quicker and there won't be such endless tails -- all agreed it's an excellent idea -- now why did they not think of it before?"

Some folks on this site really pick on Alexandra for being completely out of it during this period, but we see here that she was right on the money.  Maintaining a proper food supply was vitally important -- she was particularly concerned about the long lines -- it was in those long lines that the revolution began.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Tsarfan on May 30, 2007, 10:16:56 AM
May I suggest that you place reliance on credible published sources that have been tested in the public domain rather than refer to an un- identified "documentary" if indeed it exists at all.

Okay.  For starters, people might want to check out Famine in Russia 1891-1892, by Richard G. Robbins, Jr. and published by the Columbia University Press.

Or, if you want a shorter survey of famines during tsarist times, you can read the full article cited by Louis Charles -- The Russian Famine of 1891-92, by David P. Lilly and published by the Loyola University Journal of History.

A few interesting excerpts:

"Throughout its long history, Russia has been plagued by famine. The Nikonian chronicle, written between 1127 and 1303, recorded no less than eleven famine years during that period. In 1873 when he was visiting his estate in Samara, Leo Tolstoi became aware of the seriousness of a famine there. Alexander I in 1822 was the first to attempt to create a comprehensive famine relief system. Modified by Nicholas I in 1834, it had changed little since then. It provided for a network of granaries that theoretically would have been filled by the peasants in good years and relied upon during a crop failure. While this theory looked good on paper, in practice it was a complete failure. Even in the best years the peasants were too poor to contribute, and where the granaries actually existed they were usually empty."

"Despite the poor harvest of 1891, there was enough food available to feed the population, but this would only have been possible if the harvest was rightly distributed.  This was almost impossible because the limited means of communication could not establish equilibrium between certain areas. In some areas there was a surplus and in others there was a deficit. Most of this grain, however, was exported. This was due to government economic policies that encouraged the sale of Russian grain abroad to strengthen the national economy. Even though the crops were diminishing yearly, exports remained the same; the grain reserves were thereby reduced. Due to a worldwide agricultural crisis, the price of grain was declining. Peasants received less and less for their crops so they sought to increase the size of their crops at the expense of fallow, pasture, and forest land. This led to the reduction of the herds which were the only source of power and fertilizer, the chopping down of forests, which were the natural wind breaks, and the rapid exhaustion of the soil. Before examining the situation of the peasantry at the time immediately leading up to the famine, one must first look back thirty years to investigate the origins of rural poverty."

As for the assertion that Russian peasants had kitchen gardens sufficient to feed entire families, Lilly writes this of the land allotments that had been given to the peasants by the 1861 Emancipation Manifesto:

"The allotments they were given were woefully inadequate to supply even their limited needs. It was estimated that ten to fourteen hectares were needed to maintain a peasant family, but most only received two to three hectares."

Yes . . . one really should read a few credible published things before asserting that there were no famines prior to the soviet era in Russia.


Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Belochka on May 30, 2007, 08:19:23 PM
I have to confess I was completely unaware of the 1891 famine.

Thank you for bringing this information to my attention.

Margarita  :-[
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Bob_the_builder on May 31, 2007, 10:06:14 PM
I'm not saying the Tsar is guilty for being rich. I'm saying that to the people who were starving in his country after WWI, it probably didn't sit to well that he had so much money when they didn't have anything to eat. I'm not saying it was right, but in their position I may have felt the same way .

Yes, this is exactly what happened, Eminem (used to be Paris, France!!).  Afterall it was the breadline riots that set off the March revolution.  There was a lot of concern about this going back to the Fall of 1916 when Nicholas wrote to Alexandra on September 20th, "...the people are beginning to starve."  In her reply, (I assume it was in reply to Nicholas' letter), Alexandra wrote, "Yes, I am more Russian than many another, and I won't keep quiet.  I begged them to arrange (what Grigory said) that goods, flour, butter, bread, sugar, should all be weighed out beforehand in the shops and then each buyer can get his parcel much quicker and there won't be such endless tails -- all agreed it's an excellent idea -- now why did they not think of it before?"

Some folks on this site really pick on Alexandra for being completely out of it during this period, but we see here that she was right on the money.  Maintaining a proper food supply was vitally important -- she was particularly concerned about the long lines -- it was in those long lines that the revolution began.
This is exaclty what I thought. People's hunger and starvation was a huge part of the revolution. The documentaries I spoke of above were correct after all.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: dmitri on July 20, 2007, 11:07:42 AM
Alexandra was as nutty as a fruitcake. She could have made a difference but didn't. Nicholas was a complete fool to leave her in charge at home and be away at the front. What a sad disaster they both were for Russia.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on August 03, 2007, 03:57:44 AM
But that doesn't answer the question of why some people see wealth as a crime!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: dmitri on August 03, 2007, 06:21:12 AM
Families like the Yussopovs could be considered guilty as they had no state responsibilities like the ruling Romanovs. Perhaps one could say that the building of the Livadia Palace was an unnecessary luxury and waste by Nicholas and Alexandra. After all they had plenty of other palaces. No doubt the Faberge eggs were also unnecessary. It is all a matter of whether by governing successfully in their case. If things had gone well perhaps people would have not cared. Certainly creating human suffering and poverty through unnecessary wars was a waste of human and financial resources. It all depends on how you see it. No doubt some of the palaces could have been closed down and converted for other purposes such as schools and hospitals. 
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Eddie_uk on August 03, 2007, 06:55:06 AM
But that doesn't answer the question of why some people see wealth as a crime!



Simple! It's all down to ENVY.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: dmitri on August 03, 2007, 09:11:49 AM
I'm not so sure it is a crime. What is not so good is allowing others to starve when you know you could prevent it.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on August 03, 2007, 02:25:13 PM
I have often thought about the conversion of the palaces and other Imperial buildings as well.

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

Nicholas did try to sell some Imperial lands into a trust for the serfs and tried to get other members of the Imperial Family to do the same, but they all refused to join him.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on August 03, 2007, 07:01:57 PM
"This is not a thread about Nicholas as a competent ruler or Alix as a "nutcase".  Their political acumen, or lack thereof, has been well established.  This is simply about wealth."

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicholas, in theory, did own the country and all of its resources, including the people (as foreign to us as that sounds today).  As an autocrat he had absolute power over everyone and everything.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: klava1985 on October 30, 2007, 04:54:07 PM
I think many people feel ambivalent or even angry about unearned wealth, whether it's a CEO or a tsar who is flaunting it. Hereditary unearned wealth is particularly problematical, morally speaking, if you believe that most social and economic rewards should reflect a combination of talent and hard work, and that everyone should start from equal ground. No country on earth exists within these parameters, but in any event, I don't think it's envy so much as a basic sense that when you have that much wealth and power concentrated in a few individuals of questionable ability... well, it just doesn't sit right for many.

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

I think that when people say that NA was wrong to be rich, they are simplifying, and money is a symbol for a host of disparities and a general sense of wrongness.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on March 04, 2008, 04:14:36 AM
I can't speak for people who post these things about him now, that may well have to do with envy, but those who criticized him in the past, at the time of the Revolution, weren't merely angered by the fact that Nicholas II was wealthy. They were angered by the fact that he allowed many of his citizens to live in abject squalor while he and his relatives lived in splendor.

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

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

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

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

As Belochka has pointed out, the Bolshevik leaders were no better than the Tsar. In my opinion (which is admittedly biased) they were far worse. They knowingly caused suffering. They created a famine that killed millions. More than one famine actually. My great-grandparents actually met while my great grandfather was working with a relief organization sent to Russia in 1921 by the US Government to help feed the famine victims. They tried to help as many as possible, but the 10,000 a day they were feeding throughout Russia at one point barely made a dent in the famine. The conditions he encountered there, and that my great-grandmother endured, were really unimaginably horrific.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Puppylove on March 04, 2008, 09:38:31 PM
Nadya, this is a beautiful summation!
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on March 04, 2008, 11:54:08 PM
Nadya, this is a beautiful summation!

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

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

There is a wonderful book, "In the Shadow of Revolution," edited by Sheila FitzPatrick. It contains a diverse number of biographical vignettes of women from all ranks of Russian society between about 1900 and 1930 - monarchists, socialists, communists. It provides a really fascinating glimpse into the mindset of different groups of Russian women who lived through both the Revolution and its aftermath.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Puppylove on March 05, 2008, 10:09:38 AM
I condemned the Bolsheviks in my last post, and I meant every word of it, but I should have made a distinction between the leadership and the rank-and-file followers. The rank-and-file followers of the Bolsheviks were, in their own way, often just as naive as Nicholas. Many were quite young and truly believed that they were helping to create a beautiful, utopic society, where everyone would be well-fed, educated, provided for, truly equal. Unfortunately, that wasn't what occurred.


Now there's a question as old as time! Do those followers, should those followers, bear any guilt?
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on March 05, 2008, 05:21:05 PM
For me the question would be what did they (the followers) do when (if) they realized the true cruelty of Lenin and Stalin's policies? Did they participate in the dekulakization of the Russian peasants? Did they harm the "former persons?" Did they needlessly inflict pain as a means of revenge/spite for real or imagined wrongs by the "bourgeoisie?" I would judge them by the same standard I would the former elite of Tsarist times. Did they abuse their power (if they had any)? If they participated knowingly, willingly, in actions that harmed others, than I suppose they do share some of the guilt. Not the lion's share of it, though. That will always belong squarely on the shoulders of those with real power. This is, in my opinion, why many blame the Tsar for the wrongs of his era, because he was in charge.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Puppylove on March 06, 2008, 11:26:00 AM
Very well said Nadya. I have always struggled with the idea of apportioning guilt to the "following orders" ranks. I agree with you, gratuitous violence while carrying out commands ups the guilty quotient. But I also feel for the rank and file who are given "unlawful" orders which they must obey or be prepared to die if they don't....
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on March 09, 2008, 12:18:55 AM
In apportioning wealth.  Much has to be made of the level of education and the ability of those who are being helped to understand the help being given.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on March 09, 2008, 10:23:23 PM
If you are helping a farmer who has always used a hand sickle to harvest his crops, then sending him an International Harvester would do him no good not unless he would now have access to a mechanic and a gas station and a tire shop and a parts department.  And then would he know what to do with these things if he had them?  Would he know the difference between air cooled and antifreeze?  Would he even know what they were for and what effects one or the other would have on the equipment?

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

I don't mean to be argumentative, but I don't see how the peasants' illiteracy can be used as an argument in Nicholas' favor. Yes, it is true that most peasants were illiterate. You are also correct that Nicholas simply sending "all kinds of life improving materials" would not have immediately improved their lives. Had such machinery been sent to them most peasants would not have initially known how to utilize it.  I'm convinced however, that they could have been trained to use it. They were trained to do so after the Revolution, and there is no reason to believe that, had the effort been made to train them, that they could not have learned before 1917.

Nicholas as the Tsar was ultimately responsible for domestic policy (including educational policy), and the fact remains, a serious attempt was never made by Nicholas’ government to train or educate the majority of his own people. There were individual reformers who attempted to improve Russia's educational system (or lack thereof where the peasants were concerned), but Nicholas had nothing to do with their work.

The real question is why didn’t they make such an attempt? Creating a comprehensive educational program would have been difficult, certainly, but not impossible.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: pandora on March 10, 2008, 05:40:35 PM
Exactly what I've been thinking, Nadya - and I've enjoyed your posts very much.

Education is a powerful tool. The upper echelons of society may have felt threatened with the thought of educating the masses. What better method to attempt to control them?
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on March 10, 2008, 08:23:44 PM
Exactly what I've been thinking, Nadya - and I've enjoyed your posts very much.

Education is a powerful tool. The upper echelons of society may have felt threatened with the thought of educating the masses. What better method to attempt to control them?

Thank you. :)

Yes, I think many did feel threatened. The 1905 Revolution can only have increased that fear. Many estates were burned to the ground in 1905 by outraged mobs. The idea of the peasants gaining any real power would have been anathema to most aristocrats (there were exceptions like Prince Kropotkin, of course). I think their resistance and fear was probably rooted in the paternalistic and condescending way which most aristocrats, and even Nicholas himself, viewed the peasants. In their memoirs, I was struck by the way some idolized the peasants, their pastoral image of them. It was apparent that most had little or no knowledge of the peasants’ everyday existence. They seemed to consider the peasants eternal children, naturally simple-minded, and unable to truly benefit from an education. This is absurd, of course, and doesn’t take into account the example of men like Maxim Gorky. His father was a shipping agent. They weren’t peasants precisely, but not far from it. His grandfather forced him to leave school at the age of eight and apprenticed him to a tradesman (a cobbler).  By the age of ten he was an orphan. He ran away from home at twelve. He managed to educate himself and despite what they would have considered his “low birth” he was in his own way far more perceptive than most of the Russian aristocrats.  Feodor Chaliapin, the great Russian opera singer, was born into a peasant family. Like Gorky, he was largely self-taught. Who knows how many peasants had the untapped potential to become great scientists, physicians, academics, musicians, painters, etc., if only they had received an education.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on March 21, 2008, 09:53:21 PM
Here is an excellent example of why some during his lifetime may have criticized Nicholas. I think it demonstrates far better than I could why at least, certain individuals criticized (and continue to criticize) him. It is an excerpt from the autobiography of Andrew D. White, who served as the US Minister (Ambassador) to Russia between 1892 and 1894. It describes a conversation he had with Nicholas about the famine in Russia. It was published in 1905 so it is copyright free.

(Page 9)

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

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

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

Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Belochka on March 21, 2008, 10:17:14 PM
Here is an excellent example of why some during his lifetime may have criticized Nicholas. I think it demonstrates far better than I could why at least, certain individuals criticized (and continue to criticize) him. It is an excerpt from the autobiography of Andrew D. White, who served as the US Minister (Ambassador) to Russia between 1892 and 1894. It describes a conversation he had with Nicholas about the famine in Russia. It was published in 1905 so it is copyright free.

"... and yet His Imperial Highness, the heir to the throne, evidently knew nothing of all this..."

Perhaps the Ambassador should have considered the possibility that not all of Nikolai II's advisors and ministers were up to the task to keep their sovereign fully informed?

Margarita
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on March 22, 2008, 05:08:22 AM
Yes, but the accusation that Nicholas seemed to face most often (in the books that I have read at least), was that he was oblivious to his people’s suffering, being too far removed from them to understand their lives. I believe that this serves as one example of how that accusation is, to an extent, very true. After all, how far removed must Nicholas have been from his own people to be totally unaware of a famine that was still ravaging Russia and Finland?

The descriptions aide workers gave were heart-wrenching. These poor people were living not just off fern-bread, but eating bread made of pitch and tree bark. The Famine didn’t just last from 1891-1892; there were famines of varying severity off and on until at least 1897. The conditions were truly horrific. Meanwhile Nicholas, the president of the Imperial Famine Relief Commission, felt the subject wasn’t “worthy of mention.”

I’m sure the Ambassador did consider that Nicholas’ advisors hadn't informed him of his subject's (or rather his father's subjects) true condition. Mr. Smith was probably astonished that Nicholas did not take the initiative and make some effort to learn of his people’s condition on his own. For instance, he could have toured the famine regions to see for him self how the peasants were faring. Maybe Nicholas could not have alleviated their suffering, but it would have been an indication that he cared and was aware of it. He never bothered.

You must admit it is rather sad that a foreign ambassador was more fully aware of a famine in Nicholas' own country than Nicholas was. I don't believe he was a bad man, but I have no trouble understanding why other's found fault with Nicholas as a ruler.

Alexander III did not handle the famine well and the fault for that rests with him, not Nicholas. However, I find Nicholas' attitude, his obliviousness, telling. It simply reminds me of how he would behave later on - frequently failing to grasp the true nature and immediciacy of future crisis during his own reign.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: pandora on March 22, 2008, 09:55:26 AM
Nadya - bingo, exactly what I've been thinking. Many of the same things you quoted, I've also read and wondered how he could be so blinded to the true situation going on in his country. My only answer to myself has been that he was so far removed from the common people that he really didn't know what was going on in Russia. While I don't blame him for being wealthy, I do think he lacked the initiative to think for himself.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on March 22, 2008, 03:54:28 PM
Nadya
        that was a most astute analysis backed up with supporting evidence.  I don't think anyone blames Nicholas for being wealthy.  Barabara Tuchman referred to Nicholas as the worst possible type of ruler, a weak autocrat, meaning that he jealously guarded his absolute power but was too weak to make consistent and wise decisions.  Comparing inherited wealth which was accrued due to autocratic rule of a country to high incomes that are earned in a democracy is not useful.  Whole groups such as the jews were denied the right to live where they liked in Russia and freedom of mobility either geographic or social was severely curbed.  Approximately 90% of the population was illiterate and it was the huge disparity in living standards between the Imperial family and the average Russian that was the basis of any animosity rather than mere wealth.  If you are going to skim off the cream of a country's wealth then you had better be a benevolent ruler, similar to those in Dubai. 
   I think that it is one thing to reflect on what a lovely family Nicholas had and to try to erase any culpability for any problems but the fact remains that if you refuse to share power with even a duma and if you appoint ministers and advisers then you are responsible for what they come up with in terms of governance and policy.  You simply cannot have it both ways. hagiography is rather nice and it is nice to fantasize about the lifestyle of the Tsar and his family but that lifestyle was financed at the cost of the standards of living of the vast majority of his subjects.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on March 23, 2008, 06:35:21 PM
Thank you. You summed up the point I was trying to make so much better than I did. Nicholas had the opportunity to share both power and the resulting responsibility. He chose not to. He knew on some level that he was incapable of ruling well. For heaven sake! He wept when his father died because he knew it wouldn’t go well. Yet he fought tooth and nail every attempt to limit his power. As he was the Tsar, the only real power in the state, he bears the brunt of the responsibility for what occurred during his reign.

Anyone who doubts that horrible things occurred under his leadership can read a bit about the May Laws. They were instituted during his father’s reign, but remained in effect until at least 1912. Nicholas doesn’t appear to have been opposed to them in any way. The 1911-1913 Bellis Trial also serves as an example of what constituted justice during Nicholas’ reign. That Bellis was acquitted was nothing short of miraculous. This is a posting for a book being sold on the subject; the description of the book below gives a short, but decent description of the Bellis case. http://bookshop.blackwell.com/jsp/id/Bellis_Transcripts/9780876681794

Nicholas’ wealth in and of itself was not the reason he was criticized by most. His actions (and lack of action) caused the criticism. I think his great wealth merely served as a barb in the side of some critics. After all, when you have peasants starving, living off tree bark and your leader is oblivious to your suffering, and spends his time gallivanting from palace to palace, I can understand why they might have been a bit peeved.

"If you are going to skim off the cream of a country's wealth then you had better be a benevolent ruler, similar to those in Dubai." This is very well put. I'm not sure benevolence is the root cause of their generosity. A population that is well cared is far less likely to rebel or resent the extreme wealth of the ruling family. The rulers of Dubai, I'm sure, understand that. Sadly, Nicholas did not.

He did have a lovely family and they did not deserve to die the way that they did. That doesn’t change the fact that his reign was in nearly every sense a failure. 
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on March 24, 2008, 12:52:54 AM
There is one other point which I haven't seen discussed too often and it is Nicholas' complete lack of foresight.  By this I mean the ability to anticipate consequences.  In 1905, Nicholas had the opportunity to convert his absolute monarchy into a constitutional one with and elected Duma.  I think that the refusal to do this was seen as an act of greed and the majority of the Russian people never forgave him for that.  I think that if Nicholas had done that then his legaqcy would have been judged entirely differently. He would not have been blamed for the war, or for the governance of the country.  If he had done that I feel sure that Russia would have been more like any of the Scandinav'an countries but much richer.  To sum up, none hates anyone for being rich.  what is hated are the consequence of character flaws that have a seriously negative impact on society.  When these character flaws are embodied in a dictatorship (even an inherited one)  the hate becomes more intense.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on April 17, 2008, 02:15:51 AM
I believe that the criticism of Nicholas being rich and wearing boots that cost more than a peasant family made in a lifetime and the criticism of his inability to give up on autocracy are to very different things.

Nicholas could not give up and become a constitutional monarch because he had a son to whom he wished to pass on the autocracy intact and a wife who would have sooner died than see Alexei get one shred less as an inheritance than his father or grandfather did.

On the other hand, Nicholas is constantly criticized for living a life style that very few could afford and spending his money in any way he saw fit.  (Those expensive boots again).

Nicholas could have spent, (not necessarily his own money) but the country's money more wisely.  He did try to get the other high ranking members of the IF to join him in selling personal and crown lands to the peasantry, but the other members of the IF would not hear of it.
But he would also have had to listen to his ministers and to let them do their jobs and in an autocracy that is not the way things are done.

So my argument is not that he was wrong for being rich, that was an accident of birth, but that he was wrong for not listening to the good advisers that he did have and finding more good advisers and then to lean on them for information and insight. (As in Stolypin)

However, with Alexei's inheritance and Alexandra's insistence that "Baby's" future should be protected intact, Nicholas ( that old wishy washy man) could do very little.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on April 17, 2008, 06:20:24 AM
Nicholas could not give up and become a constitutional monarch because he had a son to whom he wished to pass on the autocracy intact and a wife who would have sooner died than see Alexei get one shred less as an inheritance than his father or grandfather did.

It wasn't that he couldn't do it, but rather that he wouldn't do it. He wasn't unable he was unwilling. There's a difference. I will agree, however, that Alexandra was completely against the idea of him giving an inch policy wise and would have protested any such decision VERY loudly. Her attitude is expressed well in these letters, I think.

Alexandra to Nicholas 17 June 1915
Never forget that you are and must remain autocratic Emperor – we are not ready for a constitutional government…

Alexandra to Nicholas – 25 June 1915
Russia, thank God, is not a constitutional country, tho’ those creatures try to play a part and meddle in affairs they dare not. Do not allow them to press upon you – it’s fright if one gives in and their heads will go up.

Alexandra to Nicholas – 14 December 1916
Be Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Emperor Paul – crush them all under you – now don’t laugh, naughty one. I really cannot understand. I am but a woman, but my soul and brain tell me it would be the saving of Russia…
Remember even M. Philippe said one dare not give (a) constitution, as it would be your and Russia’s ruin, and all true Russians say the same…
Sweetheart, Sunshine of my life, if in battle you had to meet the enemy, you would never waver and go forth like a lion – be it now in the battle against the small handful of brutes and republicans. Be the Master, and all will bow down to you. Do you think I fear, ah no…we have been placed by God on a throne and we must keep it firm and give it over to our son untouched – if you keep that in mind you will remember to be Sovereign – and how much easier for an autocratic sovereign than one who has sworn (to) the constitution…


I seem to remember another letter in which she implored him to let Russians feel “the whip” because they needed and were used to that, or some such nonsense.

I have never understood how the granddaughter of a constitutional monarch, who had witnessed a successful parliament in action, became so obsessed by autocracy and maintaining it. Her position strikes me as odd given her upbringing.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on April 18, 2008, 10:46:09 AM
Perhaps she wanted to be more Russian than the Russians.  The concept of not wanting to share is not usually seen as a positive virtue and none of the quotations posted above can shed a positive light on Alexandra's character.  To deprive the vast majority of Russians of a decent education, a decent standard of living and hope for improvement because her husband inherited an undemocratic institution does not warrant sympathy.  It is pathetic.  And to use the lie that Russia was not ready for it was also incorrect.  Every adviser that suggested that Russia wanted democratic reform was sacked by Nicholas on the advice of his wife.  And to suggest that the average family was living on far less than the cost of one pair of Nicholas' boots is an appropriate gauge of how unequal the distribution of Russia's wealth was.  This was not Nicholas' wealth but the wealth of all Russians.  It is too bad that the suffering had to be denied a normal evolutionary economic development like the neighbouring Scandinav'an countries due to this woman's obsession with absolute power.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on April 18, 2008, 03:30:22 PM
Alexandra was an unusual and in many ways a very sad woman, despite her admirable devotion to her children. Many of her eccentricities and problems were undoubtedly the result of the strain Alexei’s illness caused, but even prior to his birth she was considered a difficult, intractable person. However, while her advice and stubborn nature were certainly harmful, she was not the only person to blame for what happened to Russia.

Nor was she the only Romanov who clung to autocracy. Many of the Romanovs, including Nicholas II, were equally opposed to democracy in any form, believing firmly in divine right. Nicholas would have resisted the creation of a Duma even if he had never laid eyes on Alexandra. I think the difference between them and Alexandra was that other members of the Romanov family (with notable exceptions) were not desperate and deceived by charlatans like M. Philippe and Rasputin. Also several of them began to see the writing on the wall (impending Revolution) as time passed. They were willing to make concessions if only to save their own skin, Alexandra was not.

During WWI Nicholas did occasionally write to Alexandra telling her, basically, not to meddle. It is unfortunate that he didn't have the courage to stand up to her firmly and listen to wiser souls.

To give you an idea of how other Romanovs felt about the Duma here are a few quotes:

GD Konstantin Konstantinovich "KR's" diary - 8 Oct 1905
Yesterday's Imperial manifesto arrived by telegraph: it guarantees freedom of speech, conscience and association; the right of election to the State Duma is extended to those not included under the manifesto of 6th August…This important news produced a painful impression. It's the end of Russian autocracy. These new freedoms are not an expression of the free will of the sovereign power, but rather concessions wrenched from this power.

KR's diary - 26 Oct 1905 - Tashkent
...My companions and I support the autocratic principle, and entertain the hope that, if a large number of peasant representatives are returned to the State Duma, then it may still be possible to return to the autocratic model, which undoubtedly has the support of our peasant masses. This would be quite unheard of in the history of counter-revolution, but one very much wants to believe it could happen.


GD Xenia's diary - 27 Apr 1906 - St. Petersburg
(Describing the opening of the Duma)
...Directly opposite us were the members of the Council of State and high officials, to the left the members of the Duma, who included several men with repulsive faces and insolent disdainful expressions! They neither crossed themselves nor bowed, but stood with their hands behind their backs or in their pockets, looking somberly at everyone and everything...Nicky was delighted that he would at last be able to sleep properly - last night he couldn't sleep - he kept lying there, waking every few minutes with feelings of sadness and melancholy in his heart!

KR’s diary - 5 May 1906
The Duma's answer to the throne is - filth. The Duma is a hearth of Revolution.

Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: DanlScott on April 19, 2008, 12:04:30 AM
I was reading through the thread and formulating my reply, when Nadya took the words right out off my mouth.  For anyone interested in more in-depth reading, In Wars Dark Shadow by W. Bruce Lincoln gives an excellent potrayal of life in Russia before WWI.  After reading it, one can understand how the common people grew resentful. 

I also want to add that i don't believe the claim that the tsar found himself broke before the end of each year due to all his expenditures.  If he did, there was always the state to pick up the slack.  He had the finest yacht in the world in the Standart, not to mention the yachts Polar Star and Alexandria.  He had two trains for his personal use.  There was no shortage of jewel encrusted Faberge picture frames, letter openers, miniatures, and cigarette cases to give away as presents and souvenirs.  Every year his wife and mother received their own Faberge egg.  The empress did not want for clothes or jewels.  Nicholas was able to build a new marble palace at Livadia.  He already had numerous, vast palaces and estates across his empire, along with smaller residences such as Spala.  This does not sound like the lifestyle of someone having trouble making ends meet.  I think this notion of money problems was first introduced by post-revolution apologists, whne their immense wealth became widely known and social awareness was more prevalent.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on April 19, 2008, 12:55:34 AM
I also want to add that i don't believe the claim that the tsar found himself broke before the end of each year due to all his expenditures.  If he did, there was always the state to pick up the slack. 

Well, his idea of what constituted being "broke" and ours probably differ significantly. He was certainly never really broke - ever - a day in his life until after 1917. However, I can well believe that he may have run out of liquid assets each year (until he was paid the next annual allowance). His assets were almost immeasurable, but they were tied up in land, palaces, possessions, etc. His yearly allowance (liquid assets) probably was gone well before the year's end with the way his relatives spent money. So it wasn't so much that he was broke, but rather that he had no cash on hand.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on April 19, 2008, 03:24:23 AM
The main source of income after 1890 was the sale of vodka so perhaps there was a cashflow cycle involved with that.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on April 19, 2008, 04:55:44 AM
Well i disagree with your assessment of Alexandra.  I think that Nicholas was essentially weak and would have molded his views to those of whoever married him.  She was also the person who brought Rasputin into connection with the Imperial Family.  I agree that she wanted the best for her family but that is a characteristic of most women both good and bad.  The real test would have been what did she do to benefit other families, not in piece meal charity ways but in real changes to the standard of living of those families
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on April 19, 2008, 07:15:14 AM
I wasn't attempting to give an assessment of her character. That would take too long. I only meant to point out that IMHO she isn't the only person to blame for Russia's decline. I wasn't suggesting that she was either a good or bad person. I don’t think the issue is that black and white. I see Alexandra as a complex, desperate, tragic figure with deep-seated emotional problems. She had the drive that Nicholas lacked, but she was also oblivious, narrow-minded, and stubborn. She felt she had a good grasp of Russian politics when she was in fact was even less politically astute than her husband. She saw only what she wanted to see in life. That said, Alexandra can only be blamed for so much. I don’t feel that she can be blamed for Nicholas’ failings. Her own failings, yes, but not his.

As for her failure to improve the lot of average Russians, no, she never did undertake any substantial program to do this, but that’s not surprising. One can't improve the lot of others unless one understands what ails them. Alexandra had no real concept of how anyone in Russia actually lived. She didn't even understand the nobility. She certainly had no clue about the peasants’ and workers’ lives. That isn't an excuse. It's just the truth. Does her ignorance excuse her from any blame? No, of course not, but I think it does help explain her actions. She made an arrogant assumption from the beginning that some how, by virtue of marrying the Tsar, she had automatically reached a soul connection with the Russian people, that she understood them completely, and was loved by them. Of course, that was nonsense and folly, but it was one of many false illusions she fiercely clung to.

I agree that in some ways Nicholas could have been molded to a large extent by any woman he married. However, while Nicholas was certainly malleable, he wasn’t entirely devoid of personal opinions. It is too easy to just dismiss Nicholas as a weakling. The truth, when you read his letters, diaries, the statements he made during his life, is rather more complex. Yes, at times he was weak and her will triumphed over his, but at other times, when Alexandra was blamed with influencing him, she had in fact done nothing more than reinforce views Nicholas already held.  I think those who loved him wanted to believe that it was only a matter of a woman with a totally different agenda overriding her husband's will by force of her own, and that if he had been left to his own devices, he would have made different decisions. In some instances that would have undoubtedly been the case, but not in all of them. For example Nicholas had long held opinions almost identical to Alexandra’s regarding the supposed well-being of the peasants, the wonders and glories of divine right and autocracy, etc., he firmly believed in all of that long before he met Alexandra. She never had to convince him of any of those things.

Also, I find it doubtful that Nicholas (even had he never met Alexandra) would have found himself married to a liberal or a reformer, even a moderate one. That just seems completely out of character for him. Even if he had been attracted to someone like that, given his upbringing, I still believe Nicholas would have resisted liberalizing the government. He was never attracted, even in his youth, to reforms in the way that a small handful of the Romanovs were. Nicholas was old enough to vividly remember his Grandfather's assassination. His father blamed not only the true Revolutionaries, but even the most timid of liberal reformers for causing the assassination. Having been raised in that atmosphere must have had a lasting effect on Nicholas. By all accounts Nicholas not only feared but revered his father Alexander, and Alexander III was a diehard reactionary. Nicholas spent most of his life not only trying to please Alexandra, but also attempting to rule the way “Papa” would have wanted him to. His father’s influence should never be discounted when contemplating Nicholas’ actions.

Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on April 20, 2008, 03:17:11 AM
A well thought out response.  I agree with a lot of what you say and would ad that the adjective that I think suits Nicholas the best is mercurial.  that is his stance on issues tended to change frequently.  He was an abysmal communicator and, as you say he wanted to emulate his father but did not have the personality to do this successfully.  As you also state, he was not always dominated by his wife but I think that the times when he expressed his will were either exceptions or times when he was away from his wife.  Both he and Alexandra lived a life that was removed from reality and I think neither did anything to compensate for the void of information. I think that your analysis of Alexandra is a good one and I agree that she wasn't the only one responsible for Tsarist Russia's demise but I think that her influence on Nicholas and her attitudes were pivotal.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Janet Ashton on April 22, 2008, 07:51:40 AM
I wasn't attempting to give an assessment of her character. That would take too long. I only meant to point out that IMHO she isn't the only person to blame for Russia's decline. I wasn't suggesting that she was either a good or bad person. I don’t think the issue is that black and white. I see Alexandra as a complex, desperate, tragic figure with deep-seated emotional problems. She had the drive that Nicholas lacked, but she was also oblivious, narrow-minded, and stubborn. She felt she had a good grasp of Russian politics when she was in fact was even less politically astute than her husband. She saw only what she wanted to see in life. That said, Alexandra can only be blamed for so much. I don’t feel that she can be blamed for Nicholas’ failings. Her own failings, yes, but not his.

As for her failure to improve the lot of average Russians, no, she never did undertake any substantial program to do this, but that’s not surprising. One can't improve the lot of others unless one understands what ails them. Alexandra had no real concept of how anyone in Russia actually lived. She didn't even understand the nobility. She certainly had no clue about the peasants’ and workers’ lives. That isn't an excuse. It's just the truth. Does her ignorance excuse her from any blame? No, of course not, but I think it does help explain her actions. She made an arrogant assumption from the beginning that some how, by virtue of marrying the Tsar, she had automatically reached a soul connection with the Russian people, that she understood them completely, and was loved by them. Of course, that was nonsense and folly, but it was one of many false illusions she fiercely clung to.

I agree that in some ways Nicholas could have been molded to a large extent by any woman he married. However, while Nicholas was certainly malleable, he wasn’t entirely devoid of personal opinions. It is too easy to just dismiss Nicholas as a weakling. The truth, when you read his letters, diaries, the statements he made during his life, is rather more complex. Yes, at times he was weak and her will triumphed over his, but at other times, when Alexandra was blamed with influencing him, she had in fact done nothing more than reinforce views Nicholas already held.  I think those who loved him wanted to believe that it was only a matter of a woman with a totally different agenda overriding her husband's will by force of her own, and that if he had been left to his own devices, he would have made different decisions. In some instances that would have undoubtedly been the case, but not in all of them. For example Nicholas had long held opinions almost identical to Alexandra’s regarding the supposed well-being of the peasants, the wonders and glories of divine right and autocracy, etc., he firmly believed in all of that long before he met Alexandra. She never had to convince him of any of those things.

Also, I find it doubtful that Nicholas (even had he never met Alexandra) would have found himself married to a liberal or a reformer, even a moderate one. That just seems completely out of character for him. Even if he had been attracted to someone like that, given his upbringing, I still believe Nicholas would have resisted liberalizing the government. He was never attracted, even in his youth, to reforms in the way that a small handful of the Romanovs were. Nicholas was old enough to vividly remember his Grandfather's assassination. His father blamed not only the true Revolutionaries, but even the most timid of liberal reformers for causing the assassination. Having been raised in that atmosphere must have had a lasting effect on Nicholas. By all accounts Nicholas not only feared but revered his father Alexander, and Alexander III was a diehard reactionary. Nicholas spent most of his life not only trying to please Alexandra, but also attempting to rule the way “Papa” would have wanted him to. His father’s influence should never be discounted when contemplating Nicholas’ actions.



I concur completely with this assessment. Some of the memoirists etc around Nicholas and Alexandra had a tendency to attribute decisions with which they agreed to Nicholas and those they disliked to Alexandra. An example is Pierre Gilliard, who states that his brief 1916 detente with the Duma was against his wife's wishes (when in relaity it was her idea). I don't see any real evidence to comclude that Nicholas was a closet liberal driven to autocracy by his wife.

Smiliarly, I am less surprised than others often are that Alexandra leant the way she did politically, despite being a grandduaghter of Queen Victoria. QV did have to be *taught* to act as a constitutional monarch, and it seems to me that for many members of her family their consciousness of being royal and the font of government overrode everything else. Even if they were champions of elective government, this was a paternalistic instinct which came to the fore when they felt people were "ready" for self-determination, and not before.

I hope this makes sense.....
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on April 23, 2008, 10:29:31 AM
While agree with most of what you say, my view of Nicholas was not that he was a closet liberal.  He tended to idolize his father. My view taht I tried to express was that Nichols was weak and he would have leaned in the direction of whoever he was married to.  He probably chose Alexandra for her views on autocrats' rights as much as her other qualities.  Having said that, her ability to put Nicholas under her thumb was a major contribution to the political situations that culminated in the overthrow of the Romanovs.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on April 26, 2008, 03:22:51 PM
I seem to remember another letter in which she implored him to let Russians feel “the whip” because they needed and were used to that, or some such nonsense.

I finally found the quote about "the whip." She wrote this in a long letter to Nicholas after imploring him, yet again, to be strong and resist her/their "enemies."

Alexandra to Nicholas - 13 December 1916
...How long, years, people have told me the same – “Russia loves to feel the whip."  It’s their nature -tender love and then the iron hand to punish and guide. How I wish I could pour my will into your veins. The Virgin is above you, for you, with you, remember the miracle – our Friend's vision…
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on April 27, 2008, 04:44:36 AM
The timing of that quote is very interesting, coming months before the first February revolution.  It also underlines Alexandra's political blindness, her absolute inability to guage political reality and the amount of influence that Rasputin had on her and, through her, on the Tsar,
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on April 27, 2008, 11:32:29 AM
The interesting thing is that Nicholas doesn't seem to have relished hearing about "our Friend's" visions and political suggestions, at all. In at least one letters he flat out asks her not to involve their Friend in political matters. What I find incredible is that he could find the time to read her letters during the war. She wrote him basically everyday - sometimes more than once a day - and the letters could run to over 2000 words. He was supposed to be leading an army and there he was attempting to muddle through endless daily letters.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on April 27, 2008, 03:36:43 PM
Well he was an amateur in the worst possible sense, one that thought he was a professional officer.  His military training was not extensive and he was not focused on what he should have been doing which was formulating strategy.  If the Russians had employed the same tactics that Alexander I and Stalin had and let the Germans move increasingly into Russian until their supply lines could be cut easily, then I think the war would have ended a lot quicker.  Nicholas' leadership skills were almost nonexistent.  He had a hard time making decisions, he did not encourage discussion and he frequently changed his mind and his senior officers.
If you want to read about the war from a Russian perspective, Solzhenitsyn's books August 1914 and November 1917 are well worth reading.
Sadly, he was going to complete this with a book culminating with the Russian Revolution but I don't think he has been working on it.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on April 27, 2008, 03:43:19 PM
Thank you for the recommendations ;-)
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on April 27, 2008, 10:01:47 PM
I seem to remember that Alexandra based her vision of the "happy Russian peasant" on her visits to Illynskoe.  And also to Archangel. It seems that both Grand Duke Serge and the Yussupovs took better care of the peasants who lived on their lands than most of the rural landlords.

Alix went home to Darmstadt after her 1889 six week visit to her sister Ella with visions of happy contented peasants bowing and presenting her with flowers.

None of the sources I have make it clear if she ever made another long country visit before 1894 or if she saw any other estates besides Illynskoe or Archangel.

Of course after 1894, she was unable to make any personal everyday type visits to anyone.  Therefore she was left with her beautiful memories of the countryside that she had seen. As she became more enmeshed in Imperial life and then began to withdraw from the social life of her station, she put herself out of touch with the masses.

She leaned on her memories of that peaceful summer visit to Ella and continued to believe that all landlords treated their peasants with the same consideration that Serge Alexandrovich and Zynaida Yussupova did.

Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on April 27, 2008, 11:17:59 PM
Apparently, March 1917 and April 1917 by Solzhenitsyn are available in Russian.  One of them has been translated into French but neither are available in English. This is a shame as there are great works.
 
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Nadya_Arapov on April 28, 2008, 12:11:01 AM
Apparently, March 1917 and April 1917 by Solzhenitsyn are available in Russian.  One of them has been translated into French but neither are available in English. This is a shame as there are great works.

That is a shame. My French leaves much to be desired, but I will try to muddle through as I have always enjoyed his writing. He is nearly 90 years old now so I would assume he probably isn't still working on his book about the Russian Revolution. Then again, one never knows. My great-grandmother lived to be 97 and was sharp as a tack and lively until the last.

I seem to remember that Alexandra based her vision of the "happy Russian peasant" on her visits to Illynskoe.  And also to Archangel. It seems that both Grand Duke Serge and the Yussupovs took better care of the peasants who lived on their lands than most of the rural landlords. Alix went home to Darmstadt after her 1889 six week visit to her sister Ella with visions of happy contented peasants bowing and presenting her with flowers. None of the sources I have make it clear if she ever made another long country visit before 1894 or if she saw any other estates besides Illynskoe or Archangel. Of course after 1894, she was unable to make any personal everyday type visits to anyone.  Therefore she was left with her beautiful memories of the countryside that she had seen. As she became more enmeshed in Imperial life and then began to withdraw from the social life of her station, she put herself out of touch with the masses.
She leaned on her memories of that peaceful summer visit to Ella and continued to believe that all landlords treated their peasants with the same consideration that Serge Alexandrovich and Zynaida Yussupova did.

This is extremely true. It is just so sad. I can't help but wonder just how happy and well-provided for the peasants at Illinskoe were. I don't doubt that the kind-hearted Ella tried to help the peasants there, but her world was so far removed from theirs (at least prior to her work as a nun), I question whether she (and the equally kind-hearted Zinaida) could have truly understood either the needs of the peasants or the true state of their lives. Even at Ilinskoe, so close to the peasants in one way, they were still removed from them (whether or not they wished to be) in other ways. I do agree that Alexandra would have believed that they were happy and contented. What other face would they have shown her (or Ella and Zinaida)? Would they ever have admitted to them any resentment or dissatisfaction that they might feel...I doubt it. The whole thing is just tragic. Here is a woman (Alexandra) who IMO began her life in Russia with an earnest desire to do well as an Empress and help others, and yet, she had such a narrow understanding of the Russian people and life that in the end her reign as Empress was a complete disaster.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Janet Ashton on April 28, 2008, 07:05:55 AM
The timing of that quote is very interesting, coming months before the first February revolution.  It also underlines Alexandra's political blindness, her absolute inability to guage political reality and the amount of influence that Rasputin had on her and, through her, on the Tsar,

Whilst I don't disagree with your view of Alexandra's inability to gauge the reality of the political situation, I don't think that the quote about "Our Friend's vision" demonstrates much more than Rasputin's unerring ability to tell Alexandra what she wanted to hear. Long before he was on the secene she was rehearsing her ideas about how Russia loved to feel the whip and so forth. I don't doubt that R at times enjoyed having politicians come to him and literally offer him bribes in exchange for office - most of them of course were unsuccessful - and may even have derived a perverse sense of satisfaction from treating a few of them with contempt, as he sometimes did - but I think he was also at times resentful of the role imposed on him by imperial expectations. Don't forget that towards the end of his life he greeted a call from Anna Vyrubova on behalf of the Emperor and Empress with an angry, "What else do they want from me? Haven't they already had everything?!" I don't recall the source of this information - it may be his admittedly not very reliable daughter - but will check at some point.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Janet Ashton on April 28, 2008, 07:10:37 AM
The interesting thing is that Nicholas doesn't seem to have relished hearing about "our Friend's" visions and political suggestions, at all. In at least one letters he flat out asks her not to involve their Friend in political matters. What I find incredible is that he could find the time to read her letters during the war. She wrote him basically everyday - sometimes more than once a day - and the letters could run to over 2000 words. He was supposed to be leading an army and there he was attempting to muddle through endless daily letters.

I suspect that he resented her using a third party to bolster her own views - especially one who came apparently backed with God's mandate (Nicholas after all believed his own instincts to be the voice of God - and I'm not being facetious here).
However,as far as the letters are concerned, he did ask her to be his "eyes and ears in the capital" while he was away, and she seems to have taken the injunction literally. A few of his recent biographers are inclined to see his gesture as tantamount to a pat on the head for the little lady who wanted to help, but I don't think so.....He told Alexander Mikhailovich (another unreliable source, but we can't discount everything he says) that she was the only person he actually trusted.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on April 28, 2008, 07:14:41 AM
Janet
       Every book that I have read about the Empress has stressed an almost neurotic dependancy on Rasputin.  It is highly unlikely that she would have callled him 'our friend' if their relationship had not been closer than that of a person who sought the occasional religious or spiritual counselling from him.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Janet Ashton on April 28, 2008, 07:25:20 AM
Janet
       Every book that I have read about the Empress has stressed an almost neurotic dependancy on Rasputin.  It is highly unlikely that she would have callled him 'our friend' if their relationship had not been closer than that of a person who sought the occasional religious or spiritual counselling from him.

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

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

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

It is tragic to think how very different Russia's future might have been if only poor Alexei had been a healthy child. Nicholas admitted on at least one occasion, that while he didn’t believe in the rumors about Rasputin, the only reason he allowed him to remain near his family was because of Alexandra’s belief in him. He wasn't completely oblivious to the hatred others felt for this man even if he believed it to be unjustified.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on February 06, 2010, 07:55:19 AM
Quote from: Alixz in post #4
But to suggest that anyone, including Nicholas II, failed as a leader because he was rich, and in hindsight as well, is ludicrous.  Perhaps his wealth shielded him from the harsh realities of the world outside the palace and so we can say that "being rich" didn't allow him to truly see what was going on in Russia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(For the record I am neither a Communist nor a NAOTMAA-Fan-Forever type. I was going to say realistic, but as you can see I'm too much of a softie, regarding the fact that execution was the most realistic option for the Bolsheviks. I do not believe in capital punishment, but believe in moderate (not gulag-like) penal labour.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Sharon Chicago on February 06, 2010, 02:04:43 PM
Alexander seemed to have a black cloud curse hanging over her... Mother dies, Alexiei blood disorder from her lineage, Rasputin, the whole family murdered...

Alexander always looked "oppressed/depressed" in the pictures ...very maudlin looking.... She suffered from not having her maternal mother alive to love her and
nurture her through her years... She had guilt burdened feelings that her blood line made her beloved Tsarvich sickly...She choose to ignore all the reports on Rasputin as being a filthy sex addict, even though the people reporting were reliable sources,
She kept her family dependant on her ...she was in charge...the girls were in a glass bubble... She did not convence her husband to leave Russia when Spain and England offered to help them out of Russia....  I think she knew they all would be murdered...after all, Rasputin had spoken a curse on them if he should die, they surely would too.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Sharon Chicago on February 06, 2010, 02:11:22 PM
I cannot compare the overpaid movie stars, CEO's, sports figures, etc. to someone who rules a country and has the resources to save millions of people but does not.
He might have saved his nation/monarchy, by doing this...feeding the people. 

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

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

Thanks for letting me share my perspective on this.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Sharon Chicago on February 06, 2010, 02:16:08 PM
Even though the Tsar was protected/insolated  from every day peasant life ....I am sure that the Tsar had reports coming in  that the people of Russia were starving.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on February 07, 2010, 04:27:32 AM
Even though the Tsar was protected/insolated  from every day peasant life ....I am sure that the Tsar had reports coming in  that the people of Russia were starving.

But did he really bother with that information? See post #48 (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=9095.msg311053#msg311053) of this thread?
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Sharon Chicago on February 11, 2010, 11:36:28 AM
Roek...thank you for sending me to post #48 per below, but the last sentence below, do you think that Nicholas was trying to save face. The pride of Russia being the strongest nation that "lacks for nothing"???? ... It is hard for me to believe he did not know his countrymen were starving and that Fern bread was being sent from Finland.
He would have to have known this. :


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

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

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

Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Constantinople on April 09, 2010, 11:04:35 AM
I would say he was willfully ignorant in that he chose not to know.  He certainly could have used or established channels of communication if he wanted to but if you look at the  way he travelled, official protocol and even his relationship with the Zemstvo they are were all engineered to not allow for bad news to reach him untiol it was too late to do anything.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 02, 2010, 12:38:14 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I think the IF are bad simply by being rich? I don't know. I would argue, however, (contrary to Constantinople) that if the answer is 'yes' then all wealth becomes questionable. This relates very closely to the original question. In my travels about this life, I've found those who hate 'the inherited classes' most will then  adulate the viciously rich but self-made instead! Or, hate 'privilege' only when they don't experience it. I will not relate all details quite now as passions are running high (student demos anyone?) but perhaps a little while along. I knew and worked with some of the 'austerity enforcers' when they were undergraduates. Amazing how they fought privilege back then and how much they now defend their own impressive salaries now.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on January 25, 2011, 10:05:31 AM
My original reason for the thread was to ask why Nicholas should be judged because he could afford to buy expensive clothing and Alexandra could spend money on flowers, etc.

People seemed to think that the way the money was spent showed that Nicholas and Alexandra were "bad people".

However, it is true as some posters have said, that those who do not have wealth are suspicious of those who do, but should those who do not have wealth suddenly become wealthy, they find wealth to be a fine thing.

Could Nicholas have organized the wealth at his disposal in a more "democratic" way?  Perhaps he should have made a greater distinction between his personal wealth and the country's wealth.  His personal wealth was intertwined with the country's wealth because he was an autocrat.  What belonged to the country belonged to him.

Do we ask those in our society to whom we pay exorbitant salaries and those who inherit great wealth to "spread the wealth" around?

Now I know that those in our society are not autocrats and so are not also the government of our country, but right now there is a battle in almost every state in the union over taxing the rich to equalize the burden on the poor.  Up to now, in all cases, these laws have failed to pass.  Of course, the poor and the middle income folks love these intended laws, but the rich (and I think it is understandable from their point of view) hate them.

But then there is this little gem of information.

A woman in Utah just won a big lottery prize of $190,000,000 (that is 190 million) which will be about 80 million after taxes.  Her husband from whom she has been separated for a long time, but is still her husband, is entitled by law to half of that money or 40 million.

Her reaction?  She has taken her children and disappeared.

His reaction?  "At least now I won't have to pay child support."

It would seem to some people that no amount of money is enough to satisfy them.  I can't imagine being able to spend $40 million in my lifetime and these two are picking away at small things.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: TimM on January 26, 2011, 11:20:59 AM
Quote
A woman in Utah just won a big lottery prize of $190,000,000 (that is 190 million) which will be about 80 million after taxes.  Her husband from whom she has been separated for a long time, but is still her husband, is entitled by law to half of that money or 40 million.

Her reaction?  She has taken her children and disappeared.

His reaction?  "At least now I won't have to pay child support."


Hubby seems okay with it all, considering he is legally entitled to half that money.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on January 27, 2011, 09:26:46 AM
He is OK with it, but he is heartless where HIS children are concerned.  Obviously the money means more than the kids.  And he is still a "deadbeat dad".
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: TimM on January 27, 2011, 12:05:36 PM
It seems the children take second place to both of them.  The mother obviously doesn't care about uprooting them from their home and friends.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: RichC on January 27, 2011, 01:55:19 PM
Did she disappear because she wanted to prevent the husband half of the loot?  Did she take the money with her?  If not, she may have had very good reasons for "disappearing".  Perhaps she was trying to protect the children from threats?
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: TimM on January 28, 2011, 12:18:37 AM
Since she didn't pull her vanishing act until she had won the money, I say she did it because she didn't want hubby to get half of it.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on January 28, 2011, 08:59:35 AM
Since she didn't pull her vanishing act until she had won the money, I say she did it because she didn't want hubby to get half of it.

I would agree.

I also agree that the children come second to both of them.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: grandduchessella on January 31, 2011, 10:39:03 AM
Back to topic.  :)
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: feodorovna on June 02, 2011, 02:59:22 PM
A parable in the Bible tells of a "Master" who went away and left each of his servants a sum of money and they all did very different things with it. That story is 2000 years old but the outcome would be exactly the same if it happened today and would have been so when Nicholas was Tsar. Given the number of impoverished people in Russia at that time, giving away half his fortune to them would probably only have made a difference for a little while. I know that conditions for the poor of Russia were appalling, but conditions for the poor of England were shameful, too. The "medicine" in Russia was vodka, in England, gin served the same purpose. We sold babies, we sent small boys up chimneys or down mines, little girls were sold and used for the amusement of gentlemen-today, we'd call them pedophiles. Workers on large estates lived in cottages until they dared to defy, in some small way, their master-they may have tried to get higher wages or start a union, maybe they voted differently from their master-then they would return from a twelve hour day in the fields to find wife, children and their pitiful possessions evicted from their home and they had no choice but to take to the road and sleep under hedges. Was it better to be poor in Russia or England? I can't answer that, just thinking about it fills me with horror.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Eddie_uk on June 02, 2011, 03:18:22 PM
But are we judging the past by the standards of today? I wonder what the Victorians would think if they came back & judged our lifestyle! They would be horrified by our crime rates, morals, loss of farm land, loss of community, greed, consumerism etc to name a few!
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on July 08, 2011, 02:29:54 PM
I don't think that life has changed much. 

The rich get richer and the poor get children, lyrics from Ain't We Got Fun ?" used in the movie The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford and Sam Waterston 1974.

Also The rich get rich and the poor get laid off.

Nicholas was rich - so what?  The British Royal Family is rich, too.  Didn't the Duchess of Cambridge just pay in excess of $1000 for a day dress?  I couldn't do that and I doubt that many who post here could.

There looks like there will always be a gulf between some sections of society.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Olga Bernice on August 10, 2011, 09:41:48 PM
Yes, Alixz, I agree with you . . . and I don't think many people judge Prince William and Princess Kate for being rich or royalty for that matter. You know, I love to read about them - when we go to Wal-Mart I go to the magazines and if I'm lucky, there's something new about them. Maybe in today's society, what we consider "poor" people aren't as poor as in Russia a hundred years ago, so they aren't necessarily . . . against rich people, as some were against Nicholas.

This is just my opinion, and if I am wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Kalafrana on August 11, 2011, 03:54:17 AM
In Britain at least, there is a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards the rich. People like the Beckhams are at liberty to throw their money around, and  one of the newspapers noted recently with apparent approval that Joan Collins had travelled to America with 16 trunks full of clothes. However, last week I found myself bridling at the Prime Minister being reported as spending £5,800 to rent a villa in Tuscany for a fortnight. OK, he's spending his own money (unlike Blair, whose pursuit of freebies was notorious), but this is a bit much in time of recession, when most of us are having to rein in spending on non-essentials.

Ann
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on August 11, 2011, 09:19:32 AM
When writers use the fact that Nicholas could buy a pair of boots the cost of which would feed an entire family for years in Russia, they are (to me) saying that it was wrong to be rich.  Wrong to buy what Nicholas could afford.  He should have bought cheaper boots or he should have given up his life style because his people couldn't live in the same monetary class.

Today, there is no change.   Leaders of all countries live in styles that none of the rest of us could afford.

Here in the US (and probably elsewhere) we worship those with money whether is was earned of inherited.

In fact, I was jut watching the news and heard that some football player is going to earn 6 plus million dollars as a salary in one year!  That seems to be justified by some, personally I think that our priorities are upside down.  We pay huge amounts to those who "play" for a living and small amounts to those who work very hard for a living.

But Nicholas II knew no other style of life.  He was brought up in wealth and had a life style he was not only born to but accustomed to.  Just as the Queen and her family live in comfort and wealth.

So it always bothered me when Nicholas II is blamed for "ignoring" the plight of his subjects by buying a good pair of boots.  It was not a crime for him to live his life style.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: feodorovna on August 12, 2011, 09:24:37 AM
When writers use the fact that Nicholas could buy a pair of boots the cost of which would feed an entire family for years in Russia, they are (to me) saying that it was wrong to be rich.  Wrong to buy what Nicholas could afford.  He should have bought cheaper boots or he should have given up his life style because his people couldn't live in the same monetary class.

Today, there is no change.   Leaders of all countries live in styles that none of the rest of us could afford.

Here in the US (and probably elsewhere) we worship those with money whether is was earned of inherited.

In fact, I was jut watching the news and heard that some football player is going to earn 6 plus million dollars as a salary in one year!  That seems to be justified by some, personally I think that our priorities are upside down.  We pay huge amounts to those who "play" for a living and small amounts to those who work very hard for a living.

But Nicholas II knew no other style of life.  He was brought up in wealth and had a life style he was not only born to but accustomed to.  Just as the Queen and her family live in comfort and wealth.

So it always bothered me when Nicholas II is blamed for "ignoring" the plight of his subjects by buying a good pair of boots.  It was not a crime for him to live his life style.


I concur fully with all you say,but I also have a couple of questions-was Russia better of living under the cruelty of Stalin than under Nicholas, who dispite his ineptitude,tried to do what he thought was best for his country? Also, whilst I do appreciate that much of the revolution was about NEED, how much of it was about GREED?
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on August 12, 2011, 09:53:48 AM
I believe that Stalin was far worse that any tsar even Ivan the Terrible!

From the point of view of the peasant, the Revolution was about need, but from the point of view of the Bolshevik leaders it was about greed and power.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Olga Bernice on August 13, 2011, 06:06:13 PM
I concur fully with all you say,but I also have a couple of questions-was Russia better of living under the cruelty of Stalin than under Nicholas, who dispite his ineptitude,tried to do what he thought was best for his country? Also, whilst I do appreciate that much of the revolution was about NEED, how much of it was about GREED?

Good point fedorovna!

I believe that Stalin was far worse that any tsar even Ivan the Terrible!

From the point of view of the peasant, the Revolution was about need, but from the point of view of the Bolshevik leaders it was about greed and power.

And I totally agree with you, Alixz. But what about all the aristocrats? I know, IMO, A LOT about the Romanovs, but besides a couple of outlines (Lenin coming into power, Stalin, communism, bones being found, etc, etc) I don't know much about the rest of the time between then and now. What did the aristocrats do . . . transform to communism, or even get exectuted, or flee? What would they be . . . survival, need, greed, or something that hasn't been named?
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on August 14, 2011, 06:15:41 AM
The did indeed get executed, or flee.  I don't know that many transformed to communism because the Communists executed all they could find.

As to greed, those who fled took very little with them except for maybe those who fled with Empress Marie from the Crimea.  They had more time to pack and brought many more of their personal things with them but still not as much as they would have liked.

What they did bring, for a while, was their Imperial attitude and they irritated each other and anyone they had to deal with in the countries they fled to.  They had to learn that they were no longer the ones in charge and that, with a few exceptions, no one wanted to support a poor Romanov.

Indifference to the way society was headed may have been something else that caused the Revolution. Those who had a lot lived as though they would never lose it and that things would go on forever.  It has been said that those aristocrats who wanted to remove Nicholas and Alix from the throne always thought that once the coup was over they would go back to their lavish way of life and their parties and balls and nothing else would change except for who was Tsar.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Kalafrana on August 14, 2011, 07:07:21 AM
I have read (as usual I'm trying to remember the source!) that about 800,000 people left Russia. The great majority of them must have been upper and middle class. As to what they managed to bring out, try reading George Orwell's 'Down and Out in Paris and London' - during his Paris period Orwell chummed up with a White Russian who was working as a waiter.

Ann
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Alixz on August 14, 2011, 03:05:39 PM
That is exactly what I meant -  in general the refugees did not bring much with them which is why their Imperial attitude exasperated so many.  And we all know about the waiters and cab drivers and champagne salesmen.

But there were always those who pretended to still be living in regal style like Kyrill and Ducky.  And then there was Countess Brassova (wife of Grand Duke Michael) who died in dire poverty.

Those with Empress Marie did manage to bring a lot of luggage and Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich brought a valuable sword.
Title: Re: Why do some see Nicholas as guilty for being rich?
Post by: Kalafrana on August 15, 2011, 07:48:34 AM
The Military Museum in Brussels has a fine collection of Russian uniforms and regimental silver, so some people certainly got a lot of stuff out. Obviously, there was a lot of variation - some people must have had literally what they stood up in, or, at best, what they could carry on their backs.

Ann