Author Topic: When Revolution started?  (Read 37103 times)

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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2011, 10:24:15 AM »
Just by browsing the Internet you come across references to several scholarly articles claiming that the noble death toll during the French Revolution was rather negligible in the overall picture. A respected authority on French nobility, François Velde, gives these numbers on his site, Heraldica:

"In 1789, there were 17,000 to 25,000 noble families, and estimates of numbers of individuals range from 80,000 (many contemporary estimates) to 350,000. Chaussinand-Nogaret finds 110,000 to 120,000 nobles, for 1/4 of which nobility had been acquired during the 18th c.(25,000 families, of which 6,500 ennobled, about 1,000 by letters and the rest by office). I would tend to believe him, rather than the 300,000 figure. The population of France was 28 millions, so that's 0.4% of the population. Nowadays, there are about 3500 families of noble origin, of which about 3000 from before 1789. Not that the Revolution itself is to blame for the losses: only 1200 nobles were tried and executed during the Terror, and maybe 30,000 to 40,000 emigrated, almost all of whom returned eventually."

That also means that there were tens of thousands of nobles who remained in France and survived. It was the estates of the emigrés which were nationalized (and for which they were compensated with "le milliard aux émigrés" upon the Restoration.) The nobles who remained might indeed have benefitted from the Revolution, by being able to buy nationalized noble and church lands at liquidation sales. (Unlike the Soviet Union, the French Republic was not Socialist and did re-sell nationalized property.)
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 10:53:32 AM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline TimM

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2011, 10:55:17 AM »
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I don't ever recall reading that anything close to this kind of terror happened in Russia during 1917 through 1918.


The Russian Reign Of Terror lasted from 1918 to 1991.

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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2011, 11:00:44 AM »
The Russian Reign Of Terror lasted from 1918 to 1991.

Or at least untill the death of Stalin and the de-Stalinisation that followed throughout the 1950s.

Rodney_G.

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2011, 03:32:42 PM »
In my reply 3 ,I referred to 'hundreds' of aristocrats  but I was just being conservative. Thousands of individuals would have been more like it. Also, iin Russia, even with its system of "tchin", and elsewhere where there was an aristocracy, the term 'aristocracy' doesn't lend itself to a precise definition. It's often equated,including by me, with other terms, namely 'nobility' or even ' gentry', though the latter in English has a connotation of "bourgeoisness(wd?) lacking in most conceptions of aristocracy. The OED is surprisingly unhelpful in distinguishing between the"aristocracy' and the "nobility" in a political sense.

But for the purpose of answering Rusmila's topic question, the simple answer is : As soon as the Bolsheviks could; the destruction of inherited  (or unworked-for) privilege was a precondition of a proletarian state. The aristocrats were the easiest targets and the first to be targeted for destruction. But  by Stalin's time, that definition  was diluted (or expanded) to mean any peasant farmer with a little cultivated land and a couple of pigs,  a horse or two, or a few sheep or the occasional field hired hand to help with the harvest.

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Elisabeth

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2011, 05:13:29 PM »
First let me say that I think Fyodor Petrovich is correct to state that the French nobility were not the social class that suffered most during the revolutionary terror. As I recall, that class was the peasantry. The same was true of the October Revolution in the long run.

In my reply 3 ,I referred to 'hundreds' of aristocrats  but I was just being conservative. Thousands of individuals would have been more like it. Also, iin Russia, even with its system of "tchin", and elsewhere where there was an aristocracy, the term 'aristocracy' doesn't lend itself to a precise definition. It's often equated,including by me, with other terms, namely 'nobility' or even ' gentry', though the latter in English has a connotation of "bourgeoisness(wd?) lacking in most conceptions of aristocracy. The OED is surprisingly unhelpful in distinguishing between the"aristocracy' and the "nobility" in a political sense.

Here reading a lot of English literature stands one in good stead... Going by Regency and Victorian writers, I would say that there is a definite distinction between the aristocracy and the gentry. Both social strata belong to the nobility, but the aristocracy represent the oldest, most established and esteemed families; they are usually titled and usually very large landowners, thus wealthy as well. Whereas yes, the gentry is more on the cusp of the upper middle class, middling to small landowners to clergy with no real land to speak of at all.

But for the purpose of answering Rusmila's topic question, the simple answer is : As soon as the Bolsheviks could; the destruction of inherited  (or unworked-for) privilege was a precondition of a proletarian state. The aristocrats were the easiest targets and the first to be targeted for destruction. But  by Stalin's time, that definition  was diluted (or expanded) to mean any peasant farmer with a little cultivated land and a couple of pigs,  a horse or two, or a few sheep or the occasional field hired hand to help with the harvest.

It's actually my impression that Lenin hated the intelligentsia, the bourgeoisie, and the peasantry as much if not more than the nobility. He saw them all as exploiters of the working class. He infamously referred to the intelligentsia as "s**t" and railed against merchants and grain-hoarding peasants as "insects" worthy only of being stamped out. He was basically just full of hate, much like Hitler.

For me it's difficult to sort out local actions against "class enemies" (necessarily, in Lenin's view, "counter-revolutionaries") from Lenin's own directives from on high. There doesn't seem to have been any real order to the process, until the early 1920s, when it's obvious that, for example, a lot of nobles got rounded up on the orders of the central government and pushed into the recently established concentration camps. During the civil war, of course, many "class enemies" were simply rounded up and shot out of hand, in the spirit of bloodthirsty reprisal. But again, these victims were not only nobles, they were also and no doubt more preponderantly merchants and better-off peasants.

I think the war on the peasantry during collectivization under Stalin was not by any stretch of the imagination a "dilution" of previous class warfare, on the contrary, as you term it, it was an "expansion," indeed, a major intensification of it. The peasantry suffered far more than the nobility under the communists because they were more than 80 percent of the population; moreover, in 1917 most of them weren't literate, much less educated and politically astute. After all, almost all of the nobility who could afford it, and even many who couldn't, got out of revolutionary Russia when the going was good. The vast majority of the peasantry had little choice but to stay and suffer the consequences.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 05:16:42 PM by Elisabeth »

Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2011, 06:11:15 PM »
Here reading a lot of English literature stands one in good stead... Going by Regency and Victorian writers, I would say that there is a definite distinction between the aristocracy and the gentry. Both social strata belong to the nobility, but the aristocracy represent the oldest, most established and esteemed families; they are usually titled and usually very large landowners, thus wealthy as well. Whereas yes, the gentry is more on the cusp of the upper middle class, middling to small landowners to clergy with no real land to speak of at all.

I would say that aristocracy means the big movers and shakers, those with real poltical clout and influence as individuals, not only as a group. As individuals, the gentry only had local influence. In Britain, in the rural counties before the extension of the franchise, the distinction was well illustrated by the right to a seat in the House of Lords and the right to elect representatives to the House of Commons.

(Perhaps those members of the gentry who were elected to parliament also should be included in the aristocracy, so as to leave the option open for high-end members of the landed gentry like Mr. Darcy of Pemberley in "Sense and Sensibility". Of course yeoman farmers with the right to vote but still working their own farms would not be gentry, although they might entertain gentile aspirations.)

In Britain it's very hard to define "nobility". In pre-Revolutionary France and even more Russia there were strict definitions of "nobility" but a noble could be anything from an influential aristocrat at court who owned vast tracts of land to a poor provincial nobody.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 06:44:10 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline TimM

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2011, 07:27:59 PM »
That was the tragic thing of the Russian Revolution.  Those that started it, the peasants and workers, really wanted a change, they were hoping for democracy.  Unfortunately for them, Lenin and his thugs hijacked the revolution and the Russian people got 74 years of tyranny a million times worse than any Tsar.

Stalin slaughtered more people in his 30 year reign than any previous ruler ever did.  Even Ivan The Terrible comes across as a playground bully when you put him next to Stalin.

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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2011, 07:43:02 PM »
That was the tragic thing of the Russian Revolution.  Those that started it, the peasants and workers, really wanted a change, they were hoping for democracy.
You sure about that? I think the peasants wanted all the land, the workers wanted a human existence and both groups wanted an end to the stupid war. The franchise to the Duma was already remarkably democratic for a country that had been an autocracy just a decade earlier. (Especially so before Nicholas and Stolypin's coup in 1907, when they severely restricted the peasant and worker votes in favour of the economical elites.)
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 07:56:16 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline TimM

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #23 on: March 18, 2011, 08:02:57 PM »
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I think the peasants wanted all the land, the workers wanted a human existence


And they got neither in the end.  Those poor fools didn't know when they were well off.  No doubt Stalin soon showed them what a mistake the revolution had been, if any were left once he was through, that is.
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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #24 on: March 18, 2011, 08:11:11 PM »
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I think the peasants wanted all the land, the workers wanted a human existence

And they got neither in the end.
The peasants lost out big time, both in terms of disposession, famine and genocide. The workers' lot improved considerably. And the war did end.

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Those poor fools didn't know when they were well off.

Tell that to anybody working 12 hours a day, living in a slum and existing solely on boiled cabbage.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 08:13:10 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline TimM

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #25 on: March 18, 2011, 08:13:27 PM »
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Tell that to anybody working 12 hours a day, living in a slum and existing solely on boiled cabbage.

As opposed to being mass slaughtered or marched off to gulags in Siberia.  The idea of the revolution was supposed to make things better, not worse.
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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #26 on: March 18, 2011, 08:17:39 PM »
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Tell that to anybody working 12 hours a day, living in a slum and existing solely on boiled cabbage.

As opposed to being mass slaughtered or marched off to gulags in Siberia.

What's the difference between life in a gulag and conditions like those above?


Offline TimM

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #27 on: March 18, 2011, 08:25:30 PM »
There was one, they weren't prisoners.   In a gulag, you were there until you died, or we're shot for the hell of it (because the guards were bored that day and wanted to do some target practice).

Dude, let me save you some trouble.  If you're trying to convince me that Russia was better under the Communists than it was under the Tsar's, don't bother.  It wasn't, it was a million times worse.  It would be like trying to convince me that Germany was better under Hitler than it was under the Kaiser, not gonna happen.
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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #28 on: March 18, 2011, 08:47:47 PM »
There was one, they weren't prisoners.
What is liberty worth, if you're hungry? Don't you think living a half-human existence in a slum which you know you'll probably never escape from feels like being imprisoned?

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In a gulag, you were there until you died, or we're shot for the hell of it (because the guards were bored that day and wanted to do some target practice).
Horrible, yes, but I think the child mortality of slums is a more effective killer.

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Dude, let me save you some trouble.  If you're trying to convince me that Russia was better under the Communists than it was under the Tsar's, don't bother.  It wasn't, it was a million times worse.  It would be like trying to convince me that Germany was better under Hitler than it was under the Kaiser, not gonna happen.
Huh? Unless you were Jewish, Gypsy, homosexual, physically or mentally handicapped or a Communist, life in Hitler's Germany was better than life in the Kaiser's Germany, although the difference wasn't that enormous, because Wilhelminian Germany was one of the world's most progressive societies in its day and the conditions for workers in the Third Reich has been somewhat exaggerated. (Studies show that wages didn't rise that much, but job safety increased heavily, and after the Depression that was what people wanted above all.)

The same goes for Russia: Unless you were killed for some more or less arbitrary reason in Stalin's genocides or were some extremist who valued liberty over life, life in the Soviet Union was better, i.e. more free from wants, for the majority than life in the Russian Empire.  

I do feel it's a bit like comparing apples and oranges, because the welfare states of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the very things that made them good, came with a horrendous, genocidal price attached. All the worse because it was arbitrary and unnecessary. But in many ways this issue probably highlights modernity itself: Whereas in the 19th century it wouldn't have mattered much if you had been born in Europe or Africa, your life was likely to be short and brutish anyway, it today makes all the difference whether you're born in the First or the Third World, just like it made all the difference whether you were born a Jew or an Aryan in Nazi Germany, or you were a model comrade or an "enemy of the people" in the Soviet Union. In these societies, the blessings of modernity came with a huge cost.

NB these observations are based on the Benthamian, utilitarian concept of "the greatest possible happyness for the greatest number of people". One would hope that the fact that this happyness came with the price of the lifes of millions of fellow citizens would reduce it, but so little is man's empathy with his fellow man (especially those he doesn't know) that it doesn't seem like these societies were less happy, or more civilized western societies are more happy for it.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 09:17:42 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline TimM

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Re: When Revolution started?
« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2011, 11:26:49 PM »
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whether you were born a Jew or an Aryan in Nazi Germany, or you were a model comrade or an "enemy of the people" in the Soviet Union. In these societies, the blessings of modernity came with a huge cost

The price was way too high in my opinion.  How many millions died in those two horrible regimes?  Too many.
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