Author Topic: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?  (Read 226205 times)

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #690 on: July 20, 2012, 11:27:42 AM »
I disagree that the Throne was not going to last without World War I's intervention.  1912-13 were two of the most prosperous years for Russia.  The Tercentenary celebrations across the county had helped solidify the Imperial regime's support from the middle and lower classes. The SR movement was fractured and the major players were out of the country.

Nicholas was beginning to recognize that Russia would need to look to the English system to retain stability for the government, and I see evidence from firsthand sources that Nicholas was struggling with how to achieve that without too much disruption to the status quo.

I find this quote from Nicholas to Prince Vladimir P. Metchersky from 1913 to be insightful to some degree: "I must take into consideration many other circumstances which you do not know about, which escape your attention…My responsibility towards Russia is so great that I do not have the right to consider a question of such great importance to the State on just one side alone, although I should find it personally desirable. You do not know all of these circumstances which I do, which I do not have the right to ignore, and which, quite to the contrary, I must take into consideration…"  This was, to me, Nicholas' greatest fault...trying to take all sides into consideration, despite what he really wanted to do, leading to a lack of decisiveness...


Offline Petr

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #691 on: July 20, 2012, 05:59:39 PM »
I disagree that the Throne was not going to last without World War I's intervention.  1912-13 were two of the most prosperous years for Russia.  The Tercentenary celebrations across the county had helped solidify the Imperial regime's support from the middle and lower classes. The SR movement was fractured and the major players were out of the country.

Nicholas was beginning to recognize that Russia would need to look to the English system to retain stability for the government, and I see evidence from firsthand sources that Nicholas was struggling with how to achieve that without too much disruption to the status quo.

I find this quote from Nicholas to Prince Vladimir P. Metchersky from 1913 to be insightful to some degree: "I must take into consideration many other circumstances which you do not know about, which escape your attention…My responsibility towards Russia is so great that I do not have the right to consider a question of such great importance to the State on just one side alone, although I should find it personally desirable. You do not know all of these circumstances which I do, which I do not have the right to ignore, and which, quite to the contrary, I must take into consideration…"  This was, to me, Nicholas' greatest fault...trying to take all sides into consideration, despite what he really wanted to do, leading to a lack of decisiveness...


Finally, someone echos my poor voice in the wilderness.

Petr
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 11:09:00 AM by Forum Admin »
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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #692 on: July 21, 2012, 09:38:28 AM »
Bob has asked me to ask that discussion of  St. John Maximovich Bishop of Shanghai and San Francisco be ended here, as being not relevant to the topic at hand.

Thank you.

« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 10:28:17 AM by Forum Admin »

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #693 on: July 21, 2012, 10:43:35 AM »
May I suggest that Maximovich be entirely removed from the thread? The introduction of his 1958 homily about the fall of auitocracy was off-topic, since the gist of it was that the Russian people failed Nicholas; people may believe that if they wish, but that isn't the thrust of the discussion. Discussions of his credentials as a humanitarian versus his undeniable anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism and anti-Protestantism are ultimately going to be pointless.

This past semester I taught a class about the Roman Catholic Church and the rise of Fascism in twentieth-century Europe. A hallmark of virtually every European fascist movement was anti-Jewish propaganda. It was also endemic in countries that flirted with fascism, such as France --- and most fascist countries were traditionally and culturally Catholic. Even in Germany, the proto-Nazi movement evolved in Catholic Bavaria.

Several of the Popes, most notably Pius IX, were involved with the teachings of anti-Semitism, either through offical work sponsored by the papacy --- the in-house Jesuit journal, for example --- or unfortunate behaviors, such as the notorious removal of a Jewish child from his family because a Catholic servant said that she had baptized him. There is also the behavior of Pius XII during the actual Holocaust, which, to put it as neutrally as possible, was questionable. Several of the conservative Catholic students in the class were appalled at the idea that these popes could be examined and found wanting in certain areas (both of these men are in the process of RC canonization, much as Maximovich has been honored by the Orthodox).

It was tricky, much as this discussion has been. The duty of an historian is to examine the truth as carefully as possible in an attempt to determine what actually happened. The homily really contributes nothing to the discussion; it is hardly a sunburst that an exiled ROC cleric would have different views about the causes of the Revolution than, say, Trotsky --- also an exile.

The pertinent question, it seems to me, is why there was widespread abandonment of the Tsarist regime by the ROC? And while I applaud Maximovich's rescuie of children and deplore his culturally-formed unpleasant worldview about other denominations, I don't see that he had much of a role in the larger issue.

In the meantime, I hope we can all agree that beliefs do not buttress arguments. As Tsarfan has demonstrated, the only possible response to "I believe" is "I don't".

Simon
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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #694 on: July 21, 2012, 11:10:25 AM »
I removed most of the discussion, but left just enough so that people will see why a digression was removed...Carry on with this most interesting discussion that we've had in a while!

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #695 on: July 21, 2012, 11:53:43 AM »
I'm not going to discuss the 'Archbishop post' in and of itself, only to defend Petr for posting it. My understanding was that it was to demonstrate or rather 'give a flavour' of what many many Russians (not least the last Tsar and his wife) believed at the time ( I appreciate it was written in 1958 but it was discussing pre-revolutionary Russia) I didnt personally take it as a defense of that ideology.

It is relevant in that both the Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were in part not just about political and social struggle but also religious and racial. The entire Tsarist regime of autocracy was justified by religion. Also the policies of 'Russification' adopted from Alexander II onwards meant that by 1905, religious and ethnicly diverse groups within the empire were beginning to rebel against just such sentiments. Of the workers that went on strike in 1905, of those in Russian Poland it was over 93%! Russia's Muslims mobilised at this point also forming the first Congress of the Muslim Union in august 1905 and Russia's Jewish population were under attack again at this time from those with nationalist sentiments.

It was precisely the clash between the need for social reform ( a mobile labour force and capitalist incentives necessary for successful industrialisation in the form of social freedoms) and the desire to maintain the sort of nationalist and religious dogma as reflected in the 'Archbishop post' that the Russian revolution was in essence all about.
 

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #696 on: July 21, 2012, 12:12:09 PM »
Which one? Kerensky's regime didn't last long enough or have enough power to take up the question of Russia and the Empire, and the Bolsheviks were willing to dismantle it as fast as possible prior to Stalin's ascendancy. The bulk of the Russian peasantry seem to have had what might be called a medieval world view --- what was important was not a distant Tsarist state with which they had little direct contact, but the village in which they lived, and perhaps the local manor that dominated the landscape.  There was no great wave of peasant support for the monarchy, even though it is clear that the actual uprisings were initially urban. But once it became clear that spoils were to be had, the peasants participated quite zestfully.

My question remains. Why did the Orthodox Church desert the Tsarist regime so quickly? And that is really the reason why I found the Archbishop's homily to be less than useful. He gave it in 1958; why do you assume it represented the views of "millions" in 1917/1918? It reads just as much as though it is the past seen through (understandably) rose-colored glasses. And it also implies that the autocracy was "stabbed in the back", which is the usual defence offered by those who lose.

Even the Whites didn't seek to restore the autocracy in the Civil War, insofar as they had any game plan at all. Figes and other historians have made the point that the Church had lost enormous influence over the peasantry because of the poor quality of local clergy.

Could the alliance between the throne and the Church have been a hollow thing by the 20th century?

Simon
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #697 on: July 21, 2012, 12:35:30 PM »
It was precisely the clash between the need for social reform ( a mobile labour force and capitalist incentives necessary for successful industrialisation in the form of social freedoms) and the desire to maintain the sort of nationalist and religious dogma as reflected in the 'Archbishop post' that the Russian revolution was in essence all about.

I do not think it was the desire to preserve the nationalist and religious dogma that formed the basis of the conservative resistance to social reform but rather the desire to maintain class- and ethnic-based privilege and the property rights associated with that privilege.  The dogma was the philosophical and moral justification for that privilege, not its source.

While a few tsars and their predecessors might have truly believed that religion was the source of their authority (Alexei and Nicholas II, for example), it was generally the weaker tsars.  The greatest tsars viewed religion in much more cynical and practical terms:  Ivan III, Peter I, Catherine II.  In particular, Peter I’s strategy commencing in 1700 to subjugate the Church to the crown is not the strategy of a monarch who views the Church as the source of his authority, but rather as a tool of his authority.

As Louis Charles just pointed out, very few people on either side of the civil war were fighting for dogma, be it Orthodox dogma or socialist dogma.  Lenin was fighting to consolidate his personal control of the Russian state on any terms he could hold it.  The minute that traditional Marxist dogma got in the way, as its core principal of international revolution soon did, he threw dogma right out the window.  The Whites were fighting to preserve gentry land privileges.  At the outset, they also were fighting for the Great Russian nationalist principal of holding the empire together.  But just as Lenin threw Karl Marx over the side of the boat to keep himself afloat, so the Whites finally jettisoned their nationalist agenda -- alas, though, too late.   The peasants fought on whichever side seemed their best bet at the moment for hanging onto the land they had acquired in the revolution.  When Red troops stripped them bare of food and other supplies, they switched to the Whites.  When the Whites refused to confirm them in their new possession of former gentry lands, they switched back to the Reds.

No one who made any real difference when Russia's future was on the line in 1918-19 paid any attention to dogma except for propaganda purposes.  So it always was in Russia's history, and so it remains today.

Stalin -- who erected endless monuments to Marxist and socialist heroes -- was no more a Marxist or a socialist than Peter I was a subjugant to Orthodox authority.  Vladimir Putin is no more the leader of an open democracy than Catherine the Great was an enlightened monarch.  It's all window dressing for the raw exercise of power.  Every last bit of it.  
« Last Edit: July 21, 2012, 12:38:33 PM by Tsarfan »

Vanya Ivanova

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #698 on: July 22, 2012, 06:28:13 AM »
I completely agree with both of you (Louis Charles and Tsarfan) that religion was on the whole just a means of justification for the autocracy and elite in preserving the grotesque social imbalances in Russia. However, I would include Alexander III in the list of genuinely 'pious' Tsars in that from everyhing I have read he too really believed that God had ordained that system and therefore it was the right and only form of government for Russia. He very much saw his father's assassination as 'God's disapproval' of any move towards liberalism. Dostoevsky's novels paint a very vivid account of this type of thinking taking place in late 19th century Russia.

As I have stated repeatedly, I believe it was the reversal of his father's (Alexander II) policies and specifically the suppression of the Zemstvos by Alexander III  that was such a pivotal period for Russia. This he did because he genuinely believed that ANY erosion of the absolute autocracy was against God's will. I do however think you are wrong in not recognizing that many of the elite, landowners and peasants alike did also genuinely believe in this too. It was the new urban workers created by the emancipation act who were the most agitational force during all three revolutions in part because they did not have such deep rooted links with the church. What links there were with that new class largely ended with 'Bloody Sunday' and Father Gapon.

The reason later on that someone of Stolypin's considerable skill and intellect failed was because he too was conflicted between what he knew would work and what he believed to be right ( ie re introducing effective local administration which also meant a level of genuine consultive governance) vs (believing that God had ordained the Tsar as Russia's only true ruler and any dissemination from that was against the 'God's Law)'. Stolypin's last words were in fact something along the lines of that he was happy to die for the Tsar (a speech of martyrdom if ever I heard it).

Therefore religious zeal was a very big factor in bringing about the conditions that lead to the 1905 revolution and the february revolution of 1917. Some of the establishment may have been just cynically motivated by self interest alone but many many of them actually believed this stuff and saw the protection of their privileges as something of a holy crusade. I agree totally that from November 1917 onwards religion ceased to be a primary factor.

However, the one pre revolutionary institution that has survived the communist era is notably the Orthodox Church. Stalin himself relaxed the sanctions against it during WWII precisely because he understood its deep connection to nationalism in Russia and at that time, a sense of national unity was useful to him. All religions have been used to nationalist agendas to some extent but in Russia the Orthodox Church underwent a reactionary radicalisation in the latter part of the 19th that was very much instrumental in bringing down the monarchy. Not by design at all ( its design was quite the reverse of what happended) but by default. This radicalisation led by the likes of Konstantin Pobedonostsev was in part a reaction to the seismic social changes unleashed by the emancipation, it was further compounded by the policy of 'Russification' from Alexander II onwards.

It led to denial in Russia's elite and rulers, in the end an almost complete denial of reality. The unequivocal proof of this being Nicholas II's genuine surprise at the Revolution in march 1917. It was further instrumental in bringing the regime down in that it tried to deny the diversity within the Empire itself, and added another layer to the oppression. The church has survived I feel because of the extremely strong association to nationalism. The fact that the communists tried for over 70 years to suppress the church and failed is proof that the Orthodox Church and the beliefs expressed by the Archbishop in 1958 are still very much alive in Russia. The current elite, are not of this bent, it is now very much a 'peasant masses' phenomena,  proof of that for me is that ( and I never thought I would defend Putin in any way shape or form)  but Putin's regimes one (and only) notable good characteristic is that it is not anti semitic. The rabid rascism and anti semitism in Russia today largely comes from the resurgent Church, not for once the state also.

Therefore I believe it did however unwittingly play a major role in the downfall of the Romanov's and continues to be a major influence in Russia today, unfortunately, then as now, the true spiritual nature of the church has been largely hijacked by rabid nationalists with a fascist agenda. In my opinion it is another of Russia's great tragedies. Not that people still believe in God but that faith is used and twisted to a political and essentially racist agenda with the end result that Russia is still unable to form genuinely consultive and representational forms of government.

So no, I don't agree that the link between Church and State had become hollow in Russia by the start of the 20th Century, if anything it had become radicalised.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 06:47:26 AM by Vanya Ivanova »

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #699 on: July 22, 2012, 07:43:27 AM »
. . . many of them actually believed this stuff and saw the protection of their privileges as something of a holy crusade . . . .  The rabid rascism and anti semitism in Russia today largely comes from the resurgent Church . . .

I agree.  But think about what this says.  Christianity as a protector of the privilege of one person or group to control -- or even own -- another.  Christianity as a propagator of racism and anti-semitism.

If Christ were to design and institute a form of government, could anyone who actually believed the message of the Gospels seriously believe tsarism would have been it?  I mean seriously.

This is the application of religion to the exercise of power, not of love and charity.  And it is exactly what I was arguing has been the purpose of the Church in Russia since at least the close of the seventeenth century when it lost all ability to exercise a braking influence on central autocratic power.  As you point out, even Stalin was able to use religion cynically to further his ends.

And I do not mean to pick on Orthodoxy here.  I left my own Protestant church in early adulthood because I heard too many pseudo-Biblical justifications from the pulpit of both segregation and denial of women's rights during the 1960's and 1970's.

The brandishing of religion in any form of political debate almost invariably has little to do with Christ's teachings and everything to do with justifying actions and bigotries to which one is otherwise inclined . . . and to acquire and exercise power.  I submit this year's Republican primary race as Exhibit A.

This has been the case with Christianity since the fourth-century reign of Theodosius I when the state took control of dogma to turn it to its own purposes and Christ left the building.

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #700 on: July 22, 2012, 08:17:53 AM »
This is not the thread for it, but I want to add something on the point of Orthodoxy and autocracy.

Anyone who really wants to understand the historical origin of the link that bound Orthodoxy to the principle of divine autocracy should look at the reign of Ivan III, known sometimes as "The Gatherer of the Russian Lands".  Unfortunately, his seminal reign has been examined far too little in English-language studies.  To my mind, he was the greatest of all Russia's rulers in terms of his remarkable combination of timing, forcefulness, patient determination, and subtlety and what he used these skills to accomplish.  But for him (or someone else of his considerable talents) there would have been no Russian empire and no tsars to rule it.  Even the accomplishments of Peter the Great pale next to those of Ivan.

And it was during his reign that the political and theological link between temporal rule and divine autocracy was forged, using very specific tactics executed in carefully-planned sequence, with his marriage to Sophie Paleologue, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor, as the supporting pageant.

These were not the doings of God or Christ ordained in Heaven and handed down to earth.  They were the acts of an extremely savvy politician with an entirely temporal purpose.  There is no holy mystery here.  To see that, one only has to seek out a few hard-to-find books on this remarkable man.  They are well worth the effort.

Vanya Ivanova

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #701 on: July 22, 2012, 09:46:59 AM »
Thank you Tsarfan for that tip, I have only ever really read anything of any detail about Ivan the Great in 'The Cambridge History of Russia' which is a bit dry to say the least. Would you be able to recommend a good english language biography if you get a spare moment?

In regards to Nicholas II and the Orthodox church, I think it illustrates that the 'machiavellian' roots of this relationship between church and state lost almost all clarity by the late 19th Century.
Patriarchy is of course not unique to Russia but in pre-industrialised societies it was the most effective form of centralised government, as proved by the likes of Ivan III. Again its industrialisation and its need to have a fluid workforce that inevitably makes patriarchy redundant. In fuedal societies clear and strong centralised governance was a good thing as it led to stability.

However it simply isn't compatible with industrialisation and the capitalist mechanics that go with it, free market, social mobility etc. Over generations, I think the sheer scale and diversity of the lands that Ivan the Great initiated the 'gathering' of is what led to a reluctance to move away from absolutist patriarchy (autocracy). The thinking being it might be alright in Europe but in Russia it would never work etc. The supposed benevalent side to patriarchy is in essence 'daddy knows best' or a shephard tending his flock ( the flock being mindless livestock!). This is the belief system that I think was very much at work with Alexander III and Nicholas II.

They truly believed they were appointed by God as fathers to the nation, and their subjects were their children to an extent that as Tsarfan pointed out would have been quite alien to earlier rulers. As I stated many of the landlowners had a similar attitude to their estates. However by the late 19th the signifcant majority were absentee landlords/fathers, and this problem was discussed at length by many of the great authors of the day Tolstoy being the most prominent. Tolstoy's life history is a discussion in point of this, his Christian beliefs putting him at odds with the status quo. However he never lost touch completely with the idea that those in his charge were his 'responsibility'.

Thats the problem with patriarchy in a nutshell, its all well and good when 'daddy' is capable, responsible and good but what happens when you get a 'daddy' who is weak, stupid and violent? Advocates of patriarchy believe that preserving the status quo is for the good of everyone not just those at the top of the food chain. This is how Alexander III, Konstantin Pobedonostsev, Nicholas II and Stolypin etc saw the situation. Of course to us now in the 21st century its a case of 'well those at the top would say that wouldn't they?' but I genuinely think it simply was not that cynical for many of those in power in Russia from the late 18th Century onwards.

It was always with the mindset that things were somehow 'different' in Russia. I think the last Tsar with any political and personal distance from the church and its co dependency with the autocracy was Alexander II. His policies and his personal life shows that he was more 'pragmatic' shall we say in terms of morality and religion than his son or grandson (although even in his case its only relative), who as I stated above reflected a reactionary radicalisation of the Orthodox church in the late 19th century brought about by a fear of the erosion of patriarchy and its undisputed power of everyones lives. 

However that fear was motivated by a misguided and to our eyes contradictory belief that the existing status quo was good for everyone, Peasant and Tsar alike, as it was the only way (in Russia specifically) to keep everything together and relatively stable. The Russian elite perhaps as an avoidance of their own guilt did fervently and zealously believe that social agitation in Russia would only lead to EVERYONE being worse off, the church sensing it was also under attack mirrored this ever more radically.

The result being that they became completely blind to the contradiction that everything they held dear was at odds with Russia's transformation into a successful industrialised, economic and military power. I think if they had been genuinely more cynical and less blinded by hopelessly outdated dogma, Russia would not have descended into a social conflict that resulted in a continuation of despotism but without even the benefit or at least temperance of the idea of patriarchal responsibility ( The Soviet Union).


Offline Tsarfan

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #702 on: July 22, 2012, 10:35:08 AM »
Would you be able to recommend a good english language biography if you get a spare moment?

There's not much.  J. L. I. Fennell's Ivan the Great of Moscow is the most comprehensive.  It's out of print but can be found through used booksellers.

The period of Ivan's reign is covered fairly well by Verndasky and Karpovich in volume 4 of their A History of Russia.

Perhaps the most accessible (and certainly the quickest read) is Ian Grey's short biography Ivan III and the Unification of Russia, from the The English Universities Press -- again, out of print, but sometimes available on the used market.

To me, Ivan's reign was the womb out of which emerged the Russia of the Romanovs that so engages our interest today.  He began his reign as the most senior of a group of brothers who each held lands in their own right sufficient to support themselves and their private armies -- brothers with whom Ivan had to negotiate to keep the peace and whose rights extended even to conducting their own foreign policy, subject to the influence of Ivan but not the control.  He began his reign as a Grand Prince who walked the streets and whose subjects could approach him with opinions and requests.  He ended his reign with all his siblings completely subordinated to his power, with the appanage system of diffuse dynastic control replaced with personal absolute rule, with his subjects walled off from access to him behind a craftily forged theory of divine right . . . and with a principality that he had engineered into a nation.

The last tsars' drinking of their own bathwater without knowing what it was and who had first drawn it had a lot to do with their inflexibility in the face of change.  Once they convinced themselves that any thought that passed through their heads was the will of God, they absolved themselves of the responsibility to examine critically anything that lay before them that was not to their liking or did not comport with their biases.

The great tsars viewed what they inherited as starting points for adjustment and change, and they pulled history in their wakes.  The failed tsars viewed history as a finished and polished crystal goblet into which their reigns were poured by the hand of the Almighty.  And that nonsense brought down their dynasty.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 10:50:39 AM by Tsarfan »

Offline Petr

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #703 on: July 23, 2012, 06:34:18 AM »
However it simply isn't compatible with industrialisation and the capitalist mechanics that go with it, free market, social mobility etc.

I agree to a point (see below). Also not much is being said about the RATE of industrialization and the effect of the dislocation that creates.
 
Quote
They truly believed they were appointed by God as fathers to the nation, and their subjects were their children to an extent that as Tsarfan pointed out would have been quite alien to earlier rulers. As I stated many of the landowners had a similar attitude to their estates. However by the late 19th the significant majority were absentee landlords/fathers, and this problem was discussed at length by many of the great authors of the day Tolstoy being the most prominent. Tolstoy's life history is a discussion in point of this, his Christian beliefs putting him at odds with the status quo. However he never lost touch completely with the idea that those in his charge were his 'responsibility'.

Again I agree. I've begun to read Figes' A People's Tragedy which starts with a description of the celebration of the 1913 Tercentenary of the Romanov reign. It illustrates that you simply can't discount the role of religion in the psychology of not only NII but also all strata of society.

Finally, Tsarfan my last word on the topic, don't confuse any religion and its dogma with its imperfect human manifestation which by definition  will fall short. Doesn't necessarily mean you throw the baby out with the bath water if you are searching for a meaningful ethical system under which you wish to live.

But here's a question for you. I was watching a PBS program last night on Queen and Country. Why is it that the majority of the English still revere their monarchy.  Is this something ingrained in the national character and, if so, why is this basic desire for this "paternalistic" society so different from a Russian desire for a strong central government as embodied in a "vozhd" (of course, the English evolved into a limited monarchy with "checks and balances", both written and unwritten, but who is to say that under the proper circumstances Russia couldn't have experienced the same evolution). In my view the English were able to preserve the monarchy because it was able to adapt  to the changing societal forces caused by industrialization and this because it had the time to do so.  The really perilous time for the monarchy was immediately after WWI (viz., the General Strike and the agitation of the socialist unions) and it was GV who managed to save it (for which he is given little credit). By then it was too late for the Russian monarchy.

Petr



« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 12:03:24 PM by Alixz »
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: What Could Nicholas II Have Done to Preserve the Imperial Throne?
« Reply #704 on: July 23, 2012, 07:33:01 AM »
I've begun to read Figes' A People's Tragedy which starts with a description of the celebration of the 1913 Tercentenary of the Romanov reign. It illustrates that you simply can't discount the role of religion in the psychology of not only NII but also all strata of society.

You should read a bit further into Figes, and then we can talk.  You'll see that the peasants' view of their local priests was considerably more cynical than you think.  And their religion certainly did not keep them from expropriating their landlords' land as soon as the new Bolshevik government sanctioned it.  So that's one end of society.  At the other end, there was an absolute rage for seances, oujia boards, and all manner of occultism in high society around the turn of the century.  Alexandra was not the only one opening her door to a mumbling mystic who did not meet with the Church's approval.  I think you might be confusing devotion to religious dogma with liking a good parade in gauging the depths of religious devotion from the Tercentenary celebrations.  When a patch of land was up for grabs, religion went right out the door.


Finally, Tsarfan my last word on the topic, don't confuse any religion and its dogma with its imperfect human manifestation which by definition  will fall short. Doesn't necessarily mean you throw the baby out with the bath water if you are searching for a meaningful ethical system under which you wish to live.

I think you should do some serious reading on the involvement of the Orthodox Church in propagating anti-semitism in Russia -- then and now.  The Church had its fingerprints all over the rash of pogroms that spread across Russia in 1903-05 and was directly involved in instigating murderous outrages.  In particular, I suggest you undertake a serious examination of the notorious Kishinev pogrom that broke out after an Easter Sunday church service on August 19, 1903.

During my lifetime I have seen church dogma -- and not just its "imperfect human manifestation", but the dogma itself -- anathematize members of other religions, African Americans, women, and gay people.  Church dogma has supported slavery, serfdom, the denial of rights to women, violence against Jews, burnings of heretics at stakes, religious wars, and authoritarian governments.  I do not find religion to be a very fruitful source of a "meaningful ethical system" under which to live.

But if you insist on putting Orthodoxy forward as a meaningful ethical system, then I'll be glad to see it examined here.  And I mean really examined.  I think Russian pogroms would be a good place to start, don't you?  We could start with a tally of the pogroms the Church tried to stop.  Then we can move on to the tenure of Pobedonostsev as Procurator of the Holy Synod.


Why is it that the majority of the English still revere their monarchy.  Is this something ingrained in the national character and, if so, why is this basic desire for this "paternalistic" society so different from a Russian desire for a strong central government . . . .

British support for monarchy is hardly "reverence" of their monarchy, and even the support is increasingly tenuous.  In fact, much of the respect that Elizabeth II has recaptured in recent years is the result of a concerted effort to re-polish an image of monarchy that became seriously tarnished to the point that there was open public debate about the advisability of continuing the monarchy.  And the reason that Buckingham Palace is now open to tourists was to generate income that Elizabeth needed to restore Windsor after the fire and to keep up other properties that she dare not ask the taxpayers to fund.

I do not find much craving for paternalistic government in modern Britain, and I have spent quite a bit of time there.  What, other than the fact that Elizabeth has not been toppled from her throne, is your support for this point?  With no control over legislation, taxation, domestic policy, or foreign policy, exactly what are her powers to confer paternalistic benefits on her people?
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 07:46:46 AM by Tsarfan »