Author Topic: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?  (Read 70349 times)

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Robert_Hall

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #150 on: March 03, 2012, 10:53:56 AM »
Well, I would disagree about how much entertainers are paid. After all they work for it , whether I personally like them or not. Their success depends on  whatever they are selling- talent.
 In the case of the Romanovs, we are commemorating failure. And they already had all the money plus more than they could ever use.

Offline jehan

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #151 on: March 03, 2012, 07:16:30 PM »
I know we are getting way off topic, but all this nostalgia for the "good old days" when people were polite to one another and everyone respected their elders and had a sense of selfless service is a very narrow view of the past.

It must be remembered that the doors would not have been held for black people (if they were even allowed in the same doors).  That Jews were not allowed in certain clubs or organizations.  That Asians were not allowed in certain universities (and that there were quotas for them and other minorities).  That being homosexual was a crime.  Catholics were discriminated against too in certain areas.

This surface politeness- such as it was- hid a darker and far less tolerant society than we have today.  

And I know plenty of kids who volunteer for all sorts of charities- including building schools in third world countries and helping out in their communities.  If anything- it might be a higher percentage than was the case a generation ago.  And they seem to be more tolerant too-nobody looks twice at an interracial couple, or a gay couple among my kids' circles of friends.
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That's how the light gets in. 
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Robert_Hall

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #152 on: March 03, 2012, 08:02:20 PM »
You are so right Jehan.
 All this "nobless" stuff is an excuse for privilege.   Just how did these people come into such possesion of such estates and wealth ?  Confiscated property form the previous owners, Russian or English, rewarded as trophies, with the people on them.
 I have no sympathy for those who have had to compromise or accommodate to new circumstances. It levels the field, after all.
 Being a "patron"f this or that does not require any effort other than planting a tree or unveiling a plaque. does it  ? They do not even have to open their cheque books.
 In history, the only Romanovs that really nerit mention are "the Greats" and Alexander I, The rest are foot notes unless one  chooses to search out more.
 Same with all the nobles and minor roayals. Merit deserves mention. The colour of one's underwear does not. IMO.

Alixz

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #153 on: March 04, 2012, 09:50:41 AM »
Robert - I just finished Catherine the Great by Massie and I don't find her great at all.  She helped to stamp out the nation of Poland and even though she thought she didn't like the institution of serfdom, she was one who rewarded her friends with estates and the serfs who were bound to them.

To me, the measure of greatness is not how much territory one conquers and then incorporates into one's country.  Catherine did begin and then enlarge the Hermitage which is the only thing I find her "greatness" in. The rest was murder, war, conquest and selfishness.

However, her senate wanted to call her "the great" during her lifetime and she said not to. She said that her title was Catherine II.  That is how I have always written of her.  "Great" - not so much.

Robert_Hall

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #154 on: March 04, 2012, 10:36:49 AM »
I was not the one to call Catherine II "The Great", it is just her historical moniker. I have read the Massie tome as well and was a bit disappointed it it.  Whether  Catherine was "Great" or not is up to the reader. BTW, she was not the only one to carve up Poland.

Offline edubs31

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #155 on: March 04, 2012, 11:57:07 AM »
Jehan & Robert,

Point taken but really you're stating the obvious here. Or course prejudice, bigotry and racism are wrong and it's good that we have moved to act on those issues. I think the point that's worth making though is that we didn't need to throw overboard that congenial, polite, dignified qualities of yesteryear in order to achieve our more altruistic goals in society.

What I have found is that we as individuals have become incredibly lazy in our efforts to better ourselves. We instead rest upon our apathy and assign legislation to handle and address the "big picture" stuff. It's a shame really because institutional hatred and disdain is very much alive in our society.

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This surface politeness- such as it was- hid a darker and far less tolerant society than we have today.

Of course Jehan I could just as easily say the opposite. Supposed "tolerance" in society simply hides a darker truth that people in public say one thing with their minds that in private they do not believe in their hearts. It's the fear of social repercussions that keep many of us in line...not because we really have changed all that much on a personal level.

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And they seem to be more tolerant too-nobody looks twice at an interracial couple, or a gay couple among my kids' circles of friends
.

Again not to sound overly cynical and I too have been impressed by much of what I have heard but it is more than balanced by the things that disappoint me. For just one example of this look at the rampant bullying in schools and the violence and sometimes death that has been caused through it. Typically picking on a kid's sexuality, whether they be "gay" or not, is the easiest kind of assault.

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l this "nobless" stuff is an excuse for privilege. Just how did these people come into such possesion of such estates and wealth?

I don't know but lets look at a modern example of this and just talk about the "wealthy" class instead of the nobility. The children of the uber-rich stand to benefit from, not their accomplishments, but those of their parents/ancestors. Is it so wrong for me to want to my children to inherit my fortune? Of course all parents in their right mind want to give their children the best possible protection and best opportunities in life. It just so happens that those with more wealth can afford to do so. Sometimes this carries through several generations...if I became a billionaire one of the things that would probably make me happy is the thought that even my great great great grandchildren probably would never struggle financially.

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Confiscated property form the previous owners, Russian or English, rewarded as trophies, with the people on them
.

Or the Native Americans, for example? And of course this was done in a country without an autocracy or nobility. But I ask you also has there been a time in the United States since the Civil War where we have been as polarized as we are right NOW?! The more things change the more they stay the same...

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I have no sympathy for those who have had to compromise or accommodate to new circumstances. It levels the field, after all.

That's easy to say on a more general/abstract level. It's fine to expect those who wielded power through inheritance needed to loosen their grip and modify their outlook as our societies have grown more egalitarian. But it's different when looking at the specific individual faced with this. Someone who has been brought up to believe in certain things and uphold those things to have to suddenly and rapidly alter their views...it's a complicated matter to be certain!

I'm also curious about what you are referring to when you talk about leveling the playing field? I'm guessing you mean leveling the field of opportunity and not necessarily evenly dividing up the actual fruits of accomplishment? If so that merits it's own conversation...

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Being a "patron"f this or that does not require any effort other than planting a tree or unveiling a plaque. does it  ?

Ummm well it could also mean someone who takes a chunk of their hard earned money to support something they believe in that's not necessarily a mainstream endeavor for most. If you're a fan of the "Opera" living on a modest salary, for example (and in a world dominated by film, TV and rock and roll), it's good to know someone with money and influence has your back, in a manner of speaking. It also doesn't hurt having someone famous/popular shill for you. It's not like famous personalities in advertisements & commercials are paying to promote something...in fact it's just the opposite, lol. Maybe I'm missing your broader point here...?

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In history, the only Romanovs that really nerit mention are "the Greats" and Alexander I, The rest are foot notes unless one  chooses to search out more.

Well I think it's pretty hard to argue that Nicholas II is only an historical footnote, but I can see your point. Than too however being an American I could easily enough argue that as it relates to the history of my country, and certainly my life in particular, that Peter, Catherine and Alexander also could be regarded as mere footnotes, no? That I choose to place more emphasis on them depends on my level of curiosity and fascination. Robert Massie isn't Russian either. N&A (well Alexei to be exact) was his door to their legacies, so to speak. It's the door for many of us on the AP and beyond to learn more about the topics of all things Russian and/or Royalty. Whether they deserve to be that "door" is not really the point anymore than their children not deserving to be murdered along side of them that terrible evening.

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Same with all the nobles and minor roayals. Merit deserves mention. The colour of one's underwear does not. IMO.

Well I would also argue that grace and mere physical beauty is meritorious and mentionable, or at least admirable. Not to say that only royalty possessed these qualities but unfortunately we don't have the accounts and pictures from most decent, common folks of that era. I don't think it jeopardizes the high regard most of us have for the more tangible accomplishments of others just to sneak off into our little world and perhaps "hero worship" from time to time. After all we need things to color our world, no? When women in societies of the past (and still today in certain cultures) were often undereducated, didn't have jobs or even prepare food in some instances, what purpose did they serve, technically speaking, other than for child bearing? And yet any decent man knew perfectly well of all the amazing personal, physical, spiritual qualities they possessed. What other reason would these men have to protect, willingly have laid down their lives for, and practically worshipped their beauties?

In modern society (speaking as an American here at least) we work to provide for ourselves and our families the things that we need, but we all want enough left over to obtain those things that we "want". In my free time I prefer to surround myself with the esthetic quality of things that are pleasing and exciting to the senses. Call it the fruits of labor, or the spoils of victory! :-)
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Robert_Hall

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #156 on: March 04, 2012, 02:27:09 PM »
Edubs31, I have no clue what generation  you are In,  but I am from the so-called "Stonewall" generation.  I have long been involved in rights and equality issues and have seen remarkable change.
 However, at the same time, there is a long way still to go, is there not ? Just witness the blatant bigotry and vitriol  going on now amongst religious and political figures.
 As, I am from from uncritical of the USA.
 I share Alixz opinion of our current lot of  of politicians.  But will temper voicing  my own to avoid even stronger terms.
 I am not very good at quoting on the AP Forum,  it always seems to come out wrong with me,  but will try to clarify my points with yours.
 Modern day  rich are mostly self made, not born entitled. As for their progeny, well Paris Hilton comes to mind. I hope she is an exception, but sadly I doubt it.
 So many kids today feel so self entitled they think buying a Chihuahua is and act of charity.
I do not begrudge their parents efforts so much, just what they pass on to their, well, brats.
 As here we are talking about the wealthy as opposed to the noble,  selfishness  comes in all classes.  As does greed and other sins/vices and virtues as well.
 The Native Americans ? Of course that was a blatant rape of rights.  It was not just here, either. Colonialism was perhaps a greater evil than many autocracies,  royal or otherwise. Witness the recent desecration of war graves in Libya.  A huge resentment still maintains.
 You are correct in my view of "leveling the field"  for opprotunity and  enhancement.
 As for patronage, I meant what I said. There was no broader message intended. Of course there are some  who do endow such things as opera. I applaud them. I like opera as well, but still, I have to pay the same prices as everyone else.
 Now, back to the Romanovs.
  Just what did Nicholas and his family do to actually make an influence on Russia, let alone any place else ?
 
 Sure, they died tragically, but the only reason they get mentioned now is simple sentimentality.
 Millions of families have died  in a similar fashion  both before and after them.
 Many of them actually involved in much more relevent causes than  pretty frocks.
 Politeness and "gentility" is all fine and well. Civilised and makes the world a better place. But playing besique does no one any favours..
 I think I have said enough for now, thanks for reading.
 Robert

Offline Petr

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #157 on: March 04, 2012, 08:33:40 PM »
Just how did these people come into such possesion of such estates and wealth ?

Originally the landed gentry in Russia received their estates and titles as a result of service to the state, in most cases as a result of military service. This was true in most of Europe as well. The estates were then passed on to their heirs through the generations. In the US the great 19th Century fortunes were the result of shrewd business dealings and those fortunes were passed on to succeeding generations. While it might not be fashionable to consider millionaires and billionaires as being worthy of esteem the fact remains that many of them were responsible for great gifts to society. Carnegie with his libraries, Rockefeller with the University of Chicago (among other charitable endeavors), his son and grandsons with many charitable endeavors, the Ford Foundation and in our time, the Gates foundation is doing great work. I really think that I smell a whiff of class envy here. That there have been rich wastrels throughout history is undoubtably true just as there have been poor wastrels. I think you shouldn't judge a book by its cover and it's the deeds that count. Finally, once again blanket judgements are being made on prior periods based on our current mores. Unquestionably the late 19th and early 20th Centuries were not as participatory as our current societies but that is not to say that there weren't aspects of those societies that don't merit respect and, in my view, admiration.

Petr                 
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Alixz

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #158 on: March 04, 2012, 09:27:41 PM »
I think that the "Great Depression" was the worst thing that happened in the 20th century. Those who lived through it did not want to see their descendants live through anything like it, so they told their descendants that they would inherit only the good things that they could leave them.  This made the descendants think that they would never have to work as hard as their parents and that their parents would go on supporting them after death with a sold inheritance.

While I believe that those who told their children that did so with the best of intentions, what happened was that the descendants began to look to a future which would be financially sound, not because of hard work but because of inheritance or entitlement (that is government support).

I personally think that the next generation should have to work as hard as I did and as hard as my parents did and as hard as my grandparents did and my grandparents actually did live through the depression.

Since so many believe that they should be entitled to an "easy" life we have become a litigious society where the American Dream is no longer to work hard and buy a house with a white picket fence or the urban equivalent but to sue someone for as much as we can get and then live a life of luxury at the expense of some nameless and faceless corporation, or city, or poor schmuck who just happened to hit our car on the highway but has a good insurance policy or a house or other property that can be attached.

We talk about the me generation and that is the epitome of it. Let us sue someone else and we don't care how much it hurts the person we sue, but as long as I or "me" get what I want then its OK.

I am entitled, aren't I?
 
« Last Edit: March 04, 2012, 09:34:10 PM by Alixz »

Robert_Hall

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #159 on: March 04, 2012, 10:28:56 PM »
Alixz . we are really into  social commentary now. Fine with me, I could go on for hours about that. But points are being lost that started the thread.
IMO. NII made no difference in the outcome of WWI. Dead or alive.  It is fairly obvious to us all that he was inept and naive. Alexandra   was no help either. I think the term is "enabling"?
 Their deaths were indeed odious and tragic but in the end, what difference did they make ?
 All this romantic apologia does nothing to enhance their historical role at all.
  Entitled ? I guess this comes with the times we re in.   Millions certainly do not feel entitled at all. They are begging for the basics- food and shelter, decant water, health care is special treat to them.
 Royalty, nobled and the privileged others are of no use to them.
 I have never  hidden my views and admit my affinity with socialism. As well as my flirtation  with Communism. I see a purpose in those efforts,.  The latter did not work our, of course, but it is still in the picture/
  Not an ideal picture, I admit, but it is still  a work in progress.
 Would any of the Romanovs have  prevented Putin from another term as president ? I doubt it very much. Their time had passed and they wasted any  available opportunity they might have had.
Again, we could go on abut these issues for ages, but would it prove anything ?
 Robert

Vanya Ivanova

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #160 on: March 05, 2012, 05:11:59 AM »

Today has confirmed the 'forgone conclusion' that a certain person has been ''elected'' president of Russia once more.

Nicholas 11's final political act in power was to abdicate. Many modern Russian historians are only now evaluating just what a selfless act the abdication was. As I understand it his motivation was to try to save Russia from revolution. He didn't want any blood shed in his name (a bit late for that many might say but nevertheless). With hindsight we know that this act of personal sacrifice was in vain. However, if one juxtaposes Nicholas's last act with the current ruler who will stop at absolutely nothing to maintain his own despotic grip on power then I believe you can start to see the 'revelance' the Romanovs still have.

I am no advocate of autocracy or the 'divine right of kings'. Communism as outlined by Marx is a utopian ideal. But the reality of communism has meant that 'idealists' have felt the end has justified the means and we are left with the 'anything but' utopian realities of modern Russia and China.

In my humble opinion if the human race is to learn anything from all this its that change has to be gradual and trying to sweep away all vestiges of the past just opens up an abyss whereby people genuinely believe they are creating a better future by doing things like murdering children in basements just because of their family name.

In this respect (again in my opinion) they are still very relevant and politically potent.

Offline Petr

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #161 on: March 05, 2012, 05:44:48 AM »

Today has confirmed the 'forgone conclusion' that a certain person has been ''elected'' president of Russia once more.

A telling quote from today's NY Times and one that I think explains much of Russian History, "Natalia I. Bazlova, 57, who voted at a school in the historic Cheremushki district, said: “I share his views but looking at his rivals, I also don't see any other option. He is the most reliable. Putin is our stability.” Personally, I think Russians, given their history, are much more likely to opt for stability than change, to contrast with Americans who are willing to accept change for change's sake in spite of any absence of a prior record (viz., Obama's election). Sadly, in Russia this outlook continues until conditions become so intolerable that a social eruption occurs (often spontaneous) which then is taken advantage of by unscrupulous opportunists.  Obviously, gross generalizations but there does seem to be a yearning for a "Vozh" and that is why I think Stalin is still viewed with favor in certain quarters. I agree completely with Vanya Ivanova and Edmund Burke that gradualism accounts for the best and most lasting form of change at the least social cost but I understand the frustration of those that are suffering. Perhaps this is a reflection of my Russian roots.  However, I still can't comprehend how anyone can consider communism while romantically beguiling anything but a failed 19th century economic theory susceptible by its very nature to horrendous abuse, something that has been repeatedly proven in various countries in the last 150 years.

Petr 

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Alixz

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #162 on: March 05, 2012, 09:15:59 AM »
Robert - Of course you are right and I have taken this topic off point.  Back to Nicholas II.

I know that many here are so infatuated with Nicholas II and his attractive family that the family has become a separate entity from the trouble and turmoil of the early 20th century and the social changes that occurred then.

The role of Nicholas II seems to loom to many here in the advent of change in Russia and the failure of the Provisional Government and then the rise of Communism with Lenin & Co.

However, I do agree that had none of these changes taken place in Russia or had taken place either earlier or later, then Nicholas II and his inept rule and his domineering wife would not even rate a footnote, he would be just another name on the list of those Romanovs who ruled from 1613 through 1913. His failures would not be of world shattering proportion.

But as to "children" (and again they were not children - the ranged in age from 14 to 22 (did you think you were a child at age 22?) being murdered in a basement just because of their last name, many children and adults were murdered during the reigns of all of the tsars and they are not remembered at all.

Vanya Ivanova

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #163 on: March 05, 2012, 11:07:11 AM »


Dear Alixz,


Have you ever seen Eisenstein's film 'Battleship Potempkin? I really dont think the victims of Tsarism have been forgotten.

I take your point about the use of the word 'children' especially in regard to the two older GD's and yes I would not disagree that many many 'children' were also murdered by the Tsarist regime, Bloody Sunday being an example that springs to mind. In much the same way as Anne Frank is respresentative of all Jewish children lost in the Holocaust, Nicholas II's children have become representative (to some) of all the innocents lost in Russia's social and political troubles. I am not saying their deaths are in any way more important, just symbolic, largely due to the fame they have acquired because a poor Polish girl managed to convince half the world she was one of them.


So 'How would Nicholas II be viewed if...... his family had not been murdered?

Offline edubs31

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Re: How Would History Have Rated Nicholas II if....?
« Reply #164 on: March 05, 2012, 11:12:35 AM »
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However, I do agree that had none of these changes taken place in Russia or had taken place either earlier or later, then Nicholas II and his inept rule and his domineering wife would not even rate a footnote, he would be just another name on the list of those Romanovs who ruled from 1613 through 1913. His failures would not be of world shattering proportion.

Well...obviously the legacy is a huge part. That's like saying if Abraham Lincoln hadn't freed the slaves, won the Civil War and then ben assassinated he too would rank only as an historical footnote like many of his Presidential predecessors and successors. Obviously Abe is a man of far greater accomplishments than Nicholas II but what they did, what they failed to do, and often how they passed from this earth is all part of the greater story and legacy.

That NII was the leader of a world power in one of most complicated and influential time periods in world history makes him notable. Mind you that I'm not suggesting he is a better "person" because of it but it seems like we are talking about how Nicholas II was simply "lucky" (in an historical sense) to be around then. He obviously made decisions that affected certain outcomes too...not that the war and revolution wouldn't have taken place entirely but they'd certainly been different with someone else at the helm. If Honest Abe was born 100-years earlier or a 100-years later he's probably be less than a footnote too, correct?

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But as to "children" (and again they were not children - the ranged in age from 14 to 22 (did you think you were a child at age 22?) being murdered in a basement just because of their last name, many children and adults were murdered during the reigns of all of the tsars and they are not remembered at all.

And we mourn those losses too...people die all the time, what's the point? In the case of the IF we've had the advantage of learning their story (letters, diaries, thousands of photographs, first hand accounts, some film footage, etc) in a way that's virtually impossible to know and bond with other humble families during that time period. I'm not going to feel any less compassion for OTMAA just because so many other people have suffered a similar fate. On the contrary...I find their deaths startlingly symbolic. As if the the Royal Family from the very outset was inadvertently made example of for the subsequent horrors that would come to define their successors bloody reign.

Their story, of murdered beauty & innocence, brings many of us closer to the issue at hand. OTMAA, etc becomes the picture and the voice and the soul of the millions of "young people" (to put it correctly Alixz) and innocents indiscriminately slaughtered through social and political repression. It gives voice to the voiceless and teaches us never to turn a blind eye to such atrocities (something we do far too often)...Ultimately it's better to learn love and compassion through even superficial means than not to learn it at all, agreed?
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...