"The Third Rome"
Holy Russia, Tsarism and Orthodoxy
By Matthew Raphael Johnson
(Please get the full version of this book at your bookstore)
(In the book: 1. A few brief thoughts on the Russian state. 2. Beginnings of the Muscovite-Russian state. 3. Ivan III, Holy Russia and serfdom. 4. Tsar Ivan IV "The Terrible." 5. The time of troubles and the battle for Old Russia. 6. The early Romanovs: Michael, Alexis and Fedor. 7. The Russian peasant under serfdom).
8. The Problem of Peter the Great.
9.The Reign of the Adorable Catherine.
10. Alexander I and Invisible Napoleon.
11. Nicholas I and the Decembrists.
12. The Slavophiles & the 19th Century.
13. Alexander II, Revolutionism and Emancipation.
14. The Reigns of Alexander III and Nicholas II.
15. The Revolution of 1905 and the Duma Monarchy.
16. World War I and the Bolshevik Coup.
From Darkness to Light:
8. The Problem of Peter the Great.
Peter I, often termed "The Great," though there are many other monarchs in Russia's history who deserve the title far more, is a problem. He is a historical as well as a scholarly problem. Given the nature of Russian society that he inherited from Alexis, his reign was unique, and, importantly, developed a schism in Russian society, one that had been growing for some time, between Old Russia and Europe, or, more accurately, Old Russia and some strange caricature of Europe in which the wealthy elite indulged themselves. Such terms, of course, are used here as concepts, as ideological movements. Both Old Russia and Europe had intelligent defenders, and the uprisings from Alexis to Catherine, including the rebellion of the streltsy, or the traditional palace guard that was synonymous with the Old Belief and Old Russia, during the early part of Peter's reign, are rebellions of Old Russia against Europe.
Now, by "Europe" it is meant that system of thinking, developing at a rapid pace during this time, that specifically sets off western Europe from the rest of the world in a radical way: secularization, bureaucratization, capitalism, centralization, standardization and, in short, statism, were believed, in some twisting of human logic, to eventually and "inevitably" lead to "freedom." For the West, as the Slavophiles were to soon address (see chapter 12 of this work) in a brilliant and prophetic manner, had developed a method of thinking that, to put it simply, placed the greatest emphasis on the external linkage of concepts. These concepts and their formal linkages (or "logical progression") were contextless and complete divorced (in theory) from the thinker or the society. "Intellectuals" were being born in western Europe, and their ideas soon led to the counterpart of the intellect in the western sense, revolution.
Without getting into the particulars of the Slavophilic argument that will be done later the importance for this chapter is that the arguments themselves came as a social reaction to a set of events, or more accurately, an ideology, that traces its fitful institutionalization to the reign of Peter. Of course, the recurring theme in Russian history is the adoption of methods that were not in the direct interest of the development of the Russian tradition for reasons of severe necessity and, specifically, military pressure. As always, what drove state policy was the existence of powerful neighbors on all sides, and, no matter how large Russia became or how large her army, her position remained precarious.
It might not be an exaggeration to claim that, in spite of everything, the main thrust of imperial policy between Ivan III and Peter was the development of the institutions of standardization to continually challenge the sprawl of the Russian empire. "Empire" in this sense has none of the connotations of the British or Dutch empires, which were entered into through the pressure of an oligarchy for the sake of material gain, the dumping of excess production and the attempt to create new markets. Such empire building, continuing today through the American Department of State, can be judged morally. On the other hand, Russian empire building came very late, and existed almost solely as a result of a) the necessity of answering the development of British power in central Asia and India, and b) more generally, the continuing need for secure borders. In many ways, unfortunately, the nature of the Russian state and its geography made certain that neither goal was really ever met in the sense that, for example, the United States or Great Britain met their own goals.
Peter's famous great embassy to western Europe shortly after his ascension to the throne (after the death of the terminally ill Ivan V1) in 1696 exposed him to major developments in technology. For Peter, his interest was in building up a military that could continue to compete with the westerners on their own terms, as no other terms existed. Russia's defeat by Sweden at Narva in 1700 led him to reconsider military policy and, importantly, the building of a modern navy, which Russia had theretofore lacked.
It was not long before Sweden, both on land (the battle of Poltava in 1709) and on sea (the battle of Hango in 1714), was utterly destroyed by Peter in what has been known as the Great Northern War. Russia had long since proven its utter superiority in mobilizing men and money quickly for campaigns. Sweden, for the first time in Russian history, was no longer a threat to the state, and the modern, pacific Sweden is a direct descendant of Peter's victory. The city of St. Petersburg after these defeats, was Russia's symbol of a newfound confidence and ability to confront Europe in any respect. Within a few years, Russia went from having no navy at all to one that successfully took on one of the greatest military powers in the world, Sweden, defeating them decisively on numerous occasions. Such a rapid progress is a unique event in history and proves the nearly inhuman power of the Russian state, as well as the increasing decadence of the formerly fearsome western powers.
Of course, Poland, here too, was also severely weakened, for Charles XII of Sweden, one of the most important military minds of the day, had decisively defeated the Polish state before being destroyed in turn by Peter. It appeared the historical tide was changing towards Russia. Great Britain, always convinced of her inherent right to rule the world, was getting nervous. George I of England claimed in 1721: "The Russians should be feared more than the Turks. Unlike the latter, they do not remain in their gross ignorance and withdraw once they have completed their ravages, but, on the contrary, gain more and more science and experience in matters of war and state, surprising many nations in calculation and dissimulation." (quoted in Hosking (2000), 193).
The Great Northern War was one of the seminal events of Russian history and of the history of central and eastern Europe. Although Russian trade and industry grew at a rapid pace once the Baltic Sea was forever secured, it was done at the expense of old Russia. The reason that Peter's reign presents a problem is that Peter had repudiated the "myth" of Russia, trading it for great power status and a certain "acceptance" by the west. Peter's talented biographer, Lindsay Hughes, speculates that, during Peter's Great Embassy tour of western Europe, he was initiated into a Masonic sect. Given the ideology of Masonry, such a view makes sense, in that the gnostic core of technology, at the expense of traditional Christian agrarianism, was a major prop in the Masonic ideal, or pseudo-ideal. That the western Lodges would have seen Peter as a weapon to use against the traditional order is nearly an irresistible conclusion. On the other hand, to dismiss Peter as an occultist, a political version of the array of tiny sectarian cults, derived largely from the Jewish Kabbalah in Russian history would be a mistake. Peter's reforms might well have been necessary given the political and military situation facing the country from both Poland and Sweden before the Northern War. As usual, as Peter ascended the throne, the country was surrounded by enemies, and, after the defeat at Narva, it became clear that, again, Russia's integrity and even existence were at stake unless the military was modernized. Because of this, a veritable gaggle of reforms were necessary. It is the basic consensus of the literature, and for once one that this author shares, that Peter's reforms were done at least from the proximate cause of Narva and the Swedish problem. After the Northern War, that problem was permanently eradicated.
The structure of Peter's reforms is exhaustive. Nothing was left untouched. Initiatives in higher education were stressed, again largely from practical, i.e., bureaucratic and military, purposes. Serfdom was extended and tightened. Women were included in more social functions. Previously, (noble) women were isolated in the part of the house called the terem. This has been misinterpreted. This was not an invention to exclude women from society. It was an idea, borrowed from the Byzantines, used to protect women from attacks from barbarians. It need not be repeated that a sign of victory for an enemy in barbaric times was to take and violate women. Mongols, Turks and other barbaric peoples who regularly harassed Old Russia would do this, and female "domestic" slaves fetched a high price if they were attractive. Many Russian girls ended up in the harems of Islamic tyrants. The terem was a way to hide women from invaders, and it later became traditional in upper class society. Peter abolished it, forcing (literally, all of Peter's reforms were carried out violently) women to become more active in upper class social functions.
Peter radically raised taxes to support his military reforms, including the creation of a "soul tax," a variation on an earlier theme where taxes were assessed not by the amount of land one owned or any other such criteria, but on an individual (that is, males in the household) basis. As always, using the individual rather than land as a measure of taxation meant that the individual was taxed more, for no adjustments in the assessment were possible. It did not last long, but it did net the state a new source of funds. Eventually, there was nothing in Russian society including beards that was not taxed. Being a European was expensive.
Of course, it need be remembered what has been repeated in this essay, that taxes were never paid (regardless how they might be assessed) by individuals, but were allocated (rather than assessed) by the commune. This continued until 1905 and the reforms of Speransky (see chapter 15). The power of the communes, one of the more distinctive elements of Russian social life, made it possible for peasants to remain prosperous, though still with a robust system of social insurance, through some very difficult periods. Further, the rural assembly was democratic, led by an elected elder (starosta) and was in charge of everything that might impinge on the peasant's well being.
What is particularly galling about American scholarship on Russia is the continuing pontification about "constitutions" (as their own American constitution becomes a dead letter, often under the theories they themselves advocate) while purposely overlooking, at the local level, clear institutions not only republican, but clearly democratic in the Rousseauian or anarchistic manner. There was no procedure, just direct democracy. Often, decisions had to be unanimous. Such institutions were unknown anywhere else in the world at the dawn of western modernity and under the continued power of the financial and capitalist oligarchs who continually to this day use such meaningless terms such as "freedom" as a cynical mask for their power. Modernity is inseparable from this violent oligarchy: the empire builders and enclosers and the enslavers of both white and black throughout the twentieth century. Some of these men, such as the Rockefellers, through their many foundations and fronts, fund the majority of academic research in America today.
The royal state had very little, in fact nothing, to do with rural life in Russia. She was completely self-governing unless she rebelled against the monarch. It cost the state nothing, in other words, to let local and traditional institutions do the work of local governance. To be curt about it, the centralization of authority in the areas of taxation and the military, the standardization of government offices on a modern level and the growth of state power did not mean, as it does in modern "liberal democracies," more and more state control over the day to day decisions of the average citizen and worker, but even more rural freedom and power for the commune. Whatever royal power was felt in the hinterlands under Ivan or Michael was gone. Peter washed his hands of it. Quite simply, the Russian peasantry was more free and more represented (in a political sense), in addition to more stable and secure in their holdings, than any rural population on planet earth, then or now.
It is an irony, albeit a very convenient one, that political science does not find it interesting that "federative" liberal democracy has led to far more personal and economic regulation that had heretofore even been known, conceivable or possible. On the other hand, "centralized" and "absolute" monarchy has led to an increase in communal freedom (and this, until much, much later, was the only freedom that made sense to Russians), direct democracy and real social security. "Free elections" are the easiest way for an oligarchy to enslave a population without them knowing it. In the United States of America under the Founding Fathers, America was a federation of basically libertarian, communal states under a central capital, a city that had very little power. At that time, the U.S. was an aristocracy, with only a handful of eligible voters and resting on a basic rule of die yeoman peasantry. By 2003, where nearly every aspect of the state is elective, with a far more extensive franchise, any individual can be traced through his Social Security number, he is forced to turn about half of his income over to the state, and his children God help them from about age 4 or so, are raised in government schools. Democracy is a fraud.
Peter turned the older, less formal state offices, the prikazy, into "colleges" on the western model. The array became: finance, foreign affairs, war, manufactures, commerce and justice. Such an array showed Peter's theoretical priorities during his reign. These were meant to run as bureaucracies in the modern western sense, not as the formalization of client-patron relations, the prikazy, that they were under Alexis and Michael. Each college had an overprocurator, whose job was to be Peter's official representative to the college, reporting any mismanagement, corruption or dishonesty. Unfortunately, in modern times, this role has been overtaken by the capitalist press.
Peter introduced, as his father had done, the notion that promotion and assignments in the service of the state cannot any longer be based on birth. For a modern state dealing with modem problems, the regime needed to be staffed by professionals. Peter's famous "table of ranks," finalized in 1722, was his improvement of Alexis' half-hearted measures at reform. It was a means of importing a military style ranking system in civilian garb. One began at the bottom rung and worked one's way up, where the rank of 8 provided one with noble status. It has been remarked that, on average, there was a promotion of one rank per three years of service. The table of ranks is regularly talked about because it is considered the very institutionalization of the distinction between service based on hereditary status and service based on merit. Often, this is considered the greatest of all Peter's specific reforms, one that lasted until the revolution.
It is a gross exaggeration to claim that Peter was continuing the policies of Alexis. In a superficial sense, he was. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the ideological basis of the reforms changed. Peter was consciously starting a revolution. The shift took the form of eliminating (at least for his time) the traditional view that the royal family was a God-chosen set of rulers and military victory was a matter of divine favor. For Peter, the new "pubic ideology" was that the state is the cause of victory, of reform and of prosperity. In many ways, as Hosking (2000) writes: "his activist view of the state was displayed in ceremonies he devised to project himself both to the Russian public and to foreign courts. They were derived not so much from the Second Rome as from the first, pagan and pre-Christian, with a cult focusing on the person of the Emperor himself, and emphasizing his achievements rather than God's grace" (198).
The move of the capital, the elimination of the Orthodox patriarch, the shaving of beards and re-dressing his court and the oligarchy in general is unanswerable proof that Peter was acting for more than immediate military necessity (though this was the proximate cause); he was driven by a vision of a new society. Such a mentality strongly suggests a connection with the secret doctrines of western Masonry. Freemasonry is infamous for believing, to use Eric Voegelin's phrase, in die "imminentization of the eschaton," i.e., the demented belief that human nature and the structure of culture can be quickly and radically altered to suit a certain plan for the state and society, that is, ideology, which will lead to a universal state of "peace and plenty." The wiccan notion of "eliminating boundaries," (or the gnostic preoccupation with radically transcending matter and its natural boundaries that create distinctions) was central to Peter's view that Old Russia was something to be quickly eliminated in favor of Europe. Peter certainly was not above violence to achieve his aims, starting with the mass executions of the traditionalist streltsy regiments at the start of his troubled reign.
One of Peter's most famous reforms if it can be called that was the reform of the Church. It must be said that the Russian Church is not "Orthodoxy." Russia merely comprised the largest branch of the Orthodox Church, her Church not being separate from the churches at Cyprus, Alexandria, Serbia, etc. In the same vein as Henry VIII, Peter needed a dependent Church (in a political sense) rather than an independent one. In order to transform an independent Church into a dependent one, one needs to take away the independent sources of income, namely, the monastic lands. This both Peter and Catherine did during the long and dark era of the eighteenth century.
Peter eliminated the Patriarchate of Moscow in 1721 as a possible rival to his power. The move had some support in the higher reaches of the clergy. The ideology for the move came from a major treatise in theology issued by Ukrainian bishop Theophan Prokopovich, The Spiritual Regulation (issued the same year) that emphasized the necessity of a unified power structure for the empire, one that the Church cannot get in the way of. The Holy Synod was then created that administered Church affairs for the empire at the diocesan level.
What is fascinating in the English language literature has been the reaction to this move. For most, of course, the reaction is purely cynical, as they find themselves wondering about the effiacy of a Church that was merely a department of state, mobilizable for Peter's aims. Many secular academics simply use this sort of arrangement as an excuse for refraining to discuss the Church any further in their writings. It simplifies things a bit for the modernizing historian. Unfortunately the heaps of misunderstanding and mischaracterization concerning this move need to be dealt with.
Orthodoxy is not a "clericalized" Church in the sense that the Latin, western Church is. For Roman Catholicism, following the Dictatus Papae of pope Gregory VII and the first Vatican Council of Pope Pius IX, the Church is synonymous with the hierarchy, or more specifically, the papacy. Doctrine, tradition, liturgy, canon law and everything else that makes up the literature of any Church is deemed legitimate or illegitimate by a decree of the pope, a decree that cannot be resisted. For Orthodoxy and the eastern Church in general, such was never the case. The Church is the body of believers bound together in true doctrine and the sacraments. The role of the hierarchy, with the exception of a few gifted teachers, is merely as administrator, the guardian of the deposit of faith. Therefore, the structure of the hierarchy per se is of no interest to the individual Orthodox Christian. Certainly the monastic literature, with their condemnation of the meddling bishops, is proof enough of this. Therefore, the Church (considered in its real, and not its secular "historical" sense) is completely unaffected by Peter, or the Turks or the Communists, for that matter.
Therefore, the creation of the synod is not a big deal for Orthodoxy. To claim that the "Church" was subordinated to the emperor is to use the word "Church" in a equivocal sense, or not to know what the "Church" is at all. It is simply another example of ignorant academics seeking to deal with what is outside their ideological and professional purview. Peter, unlike Charlemagne, never attempted to impose any sort of change in doctrine (he would have been quickly lynched like the ill-remembered Peter III), liturgy or practice. In addition, the ecclesial changes of Peter were ratified by Orthodoxy as a whole, not just by the Russian Church.
It is a common myth that few, if any, clerics fought the nationalization of their Church, or, so to speak, "stood up" against Peter or his successors. Now, it is not the job of the Church to "stand up" to monarchs unless they publicly preach heresy, which Peter did not. However, the historical acts of St. Mitrophan of Voronezh are instructive and, curiously, universally left out of mainstream works of Russian history, and he appears nowhere in major biographies of Peter.
St. Mitrophan was born in 1623, and, as he reached adulthood, was drawn to a life in the Church as a monastic. He was an extraordinary scholar, and excelled in debate with the Old Ritual in the diocese he was assigned, the newly created diocese of Voronezh, which happened to be dead in the middle of much Old Ritual agitation after the "dual crown" of Peter and Ivan. Once it was clear that Peter was Tsar, he invited the increasingly famous bishop to Petersburg. Upon seeing the palace on his way, the bishop noticed that it was adorned with pagan statues. St. Mitrophan ordered the boat to turn away, and the saint publicly rebuked the Tsar. Peter's response was not to imprison the great man, nor to humiliate him, but to remove the statues in deference to the Church, and in fact, admitting his embarrassment. St. Mitrophan died a natural death in 1703, and his incorrupt relics were unearthed in 1821. Simply, the reason this story is deliberately left out of all accounts of Peter's reign is that it flies in the face of the "scholarly consensus" on the Church, Peter and Russian royalism in general.
This chapter is not trying to exonerate Peter. In many ways, Peter's reign imported an idea of tyranny heretofore unknown in Russian politics. The idea of an "enlightened absolutist" is purely a western one. No such invitation to pagan tyranny ever existed on Russian soil, whose tradition of (communal) liberty under royal rule is unmatched anywhere. Peter imposed it upon a thriving and free Russian society, doing damage to its fabric that simply exacerbated the problem of the Old Ritual, which in this writer's opinion is the most severe problem in Russian history before 1917. Again, the "problem" of Peter is that, under the circumstances of the development of western "enlightened absolutism" and the huge armies that such centralization engendered, it might be argued that Peter's reforms, if done in a more humane manner, were necessary for the integrity of the Russian state. The defeat of Poland and Sweden alone merit a positive portrayal of Peter, though always done with trepidation, for Peter can only be considered a tyrant.
The Church reform had positive effects. The administration of seminaries and parishes improved. Drunkenness among the clergy was eliminated. Irregularities in monastic and parish level administration were cleared up and the administration of the Church in general was made more rational and regular. Now, as these "standardizations" had their drawbacks (Old Russia rejected them completely), they also had their benefits. Clergymen were better educated than ever before, and, because of this, a close communication with the Greek Church was made possible; the synod was required to have a Greek monastic as a member.
Peter's "reforms" were protested by the Russian hierarchy. The bishops, upon hearing that the new body was originally to be called a "college" rather than a synod (with certain ideological biases built into the terminology), protested, forcing Peter's hand to change the nature of the organization to a synod. Church historian Dimitri Pospielovsky takes an extremely harsh view of Peter, one that this writer is tempted to emulate but retracts upon, preferring a more moderate criticism. There can be no question, however, that Peter preferred the Ukrainian clergy to the Great Russian because of their connection with the West, and therefore, secular absolutism. Pospielovsky writes vehemently that Prokopovich was basically a Lutheran, and whose views on the synod were colored by that European sect. Nearly 75 percent of his personal library were Lutheran works.
So Peter entered into Russian law three major reforms concerning the Church from which other reforms were to follow: first, the elimination of the Patriarch, making Peter the undisputed ruler of the state and secular overlord of the Church; second, to force bishops to take a oath of personal loyalty to the Tsar; and, third, to secularize some monastic lands and set civil law over their administration. Monasteries were limited in function and in the number of novices, and they were put on a regular state salary. Pospielovsky writes that Peter's actions reduced "the monastic population in the empire from 25,000 to 14,000" from 1724 to 1738 (112).
Some, however, of Pospielovsky's criticism should be challenged. Though this writer agrees in substance with his general tone, specific criticisms are incorrect or exaggerated. There can be no question that the punishments meted out to certain bishops for opposing Peter are extreme. On the other hand, Peter's treatment of the Old Ritual was, ironically, on the whole positive, for die famous Old Believer Vyg community in northern Russia was in control of much Russian iron production (typically, religious sectarians make first-class businessmen) and, therefore, was of a major use for the state. Their excellent work ethic and timely shipments of product ensured their safety. It might be wondered to what extent this would have been tolerated had the clergy been more "independent."
The famous yam about priests needing to report confessions of disloyalty from parishioners is self-contradictory. If a priest did not report, who would know? How would anyone be able to prove that something was or was not confessed? Why would a manifestly disloyal individual confess anything to a priest in the service of the state in the first place? The rule was a symbolic act with no actual meaning. It was removed from the law books in the following century. Pospielovsky finds it offensive that monks could not write except for some specific purpose, and under the censorship of the abbot. Of course, this had always been the case. Everything a monk did in any Orthodox monastery needed to be overseen and approved by an abbot as a matter of obedience. Furthermore, any "non-possessor" should be happy with the main body of Peter's Church regulation on many counts, since it divested the monasteries of property and the patriarchate, which was opposed by St. Nilus of the Sora and other trans-Volgan elders, though for a different set of reasons. If their monasteries were "corrupted" by the owning of property, then Peter's reforms should have been welcomed. The administration of the infamous loyalty oath, which mentions the Tsar as the clergyman's "supreme lord" is a curious complaint, given that this was universal Christian practice, east and west, even if the king was not a Christian, as the Church prayed for and was quite loyal to the Mongol khans and Turkish sultans, at least as an expedient. The loyalty oath in no way was to replace God as "supreme lord," for even Peter himself believed that God was creator and ruler of all things, however heterodox his other personal theological opinions were. This oath has been misinterpreted, not at least by Pospielovsky. Of course, it could not mean that the Emperor judges who goes to heaven or hell or who receives grace. The Emperor was not claiming that he was supreme in doctrine, for the entire stretch of the Russian state, from St. Vladimir to St. Nicholas II, never once tried to manipulate doctrine. The most they ever tried to do was alter a bit of normal practice. For Orthodoxy, doctrine was complete at the seventh ecumenical synod, as the explication of Scriptures into Byzantine law. Therefore, "lay control" over the Church an established custom in the West until Pope Gregory VII could not possibly have any doctrinal component, or even have become a spiritual problem. All the Petrine oath referred to was the external side of the Church, the side of the Church with no spiritual of doctrinal content; it referred to the administrative side of the Church. This is all the synod as a body ever dealt with, this is all the "lay control" over Church lands and monastic estates could ever deal with. The pious condemnations of "state control" over the "Church" have been abused by overwhelmingly secular historians for their own ideological and historical purposes.
It is also quite curious that the "Church's" removal from politics is seen as a problem. It is seen as a specifically strange complaint when (implicitly) condemned by the secular academic historians, who, as a matter of ideological preference, demand that Churches stay out of politics (unless it is the right kind of Church, of course).
Why is it considered so important that the Church be "independent?" Independent to do what exactly? To write treatises on political philosophy? To run candidates for local office? The Church was not hampered, only assisted, by the bulk of Peter's reforms in doing what it is supposed to do: preach the Gospel, administer the sacraments and spread missions (these were subsidized by Peter's government in central Asia). The synodal system in Russia oversaw a major renaissance of Orthodox thought in the nineteenth century, spreading the gospel as far away as San Francisco, disseminating the patristic revival of St. Paisios Velichkovsky and overseeing the Old Russian institutions such as Valaam and Optima, representing a monastic revival in the nineteenth century that could not have been possible if the synodal system was as bad as Pospielovsky claims.
However, there was more to Peter than the "synodalization" of Church properties. Peter's attempt was to create a modern, absolutist state to oversee a growing and increasingly heterogeneous empire. It was not without opposition. The Old Ritual referred to Peter as the antichrist. Further, the Kozak revolt of Kondraty Bulavin began in 1707-1708. Bulavin and the Kozak Host did remain the scion of Old Russia and represented some of her best traditions. Peter insist' ed on the wearing of German clothes by much of the oligarchy and the shaving of beards, which was considered to be a statement that the western ways were superior to the east. It has been exaggerated that the beard was some sort of dogmatic requirement. It was not, but it did represent the eastern against the western. One could spot a uniate in Poland because he often did not have a beard. It was considered a symbol of the triumph of the west. The difference between long and short hair for men in modem America has a similar ideological connection, in that long hair is considered more "rebellious." Beards, in the context of west/east rivalry, should be considered similarly.
Kondraty Bulavin, the ataman of the Don Kozak host, believed that Peter was an impostor and that the real Tsar had been kidnapped. This is an alternative version to the theme that the Tsar was being blinded by "wicked advisors" who prevented him from being in union with his people and the Old Russian traditions. The Kozak revolt was largely, as all revolts of the day were, derived from a vaguely articulated nationalist and religious perspective (the two were the same, regardless) against a state that had undoubtedly become cold, distant and foreign in every respect. In other words, the elite had become German while the people remained, inconveniently enough, Russian. The spiritual regulation did not affect traditional Russian piety, but it did arouse enough nationalist indignation to cause the state severe trouble. Bulavin's was a minor rebellion, but, during the reign of Catherine II, Pugachev was to become a different story.
* * *
Peter was a freak of nature. He stood seven feet tall when the average Russian was roughly 5'4" or so. He slept a couple of hours a night, often fitfully. He ate little. His work schedule would have killed most other men. Twenty hour days were not uncommon and, in fact, were regular. He was personally violent, using his size to intimidate very much like Lyndon Johnson was to perfect a bit later in American politics his court. He could drink a massive amount of vodka, and to be unfortunate enough to be invited in Peter's court meant that one needed to drink with him. To drain inhuman amounts of vodka as a penalty for some minor infraction was not uncommon. Usually, few left Peter's parties sober, or even conscious, for that matter. Peter grew impatient quickly, and beatings in his court were also not uncommon. He was constantly moving; he would show up at the mess halls of common soldiers and speak with them. He would show up unexpectedly at the homes of ordinary people and begin talking. Once, as Hughs relates in his biography, as an assassin came up to Peter with a dagger, the massive monarch quickly disarmed the poor young man, laughed, made fun of him for awhile, then let him go free. He rarely traveled with security. Peter would insist that people send him oddities and freaks from foreign countries to entertain him. He had an eccentric fondness for midgets, and would, oddly, let them speak freely in his presence so long as they remained entertaining. He set up a museum of oddities, featuring such things as Siamese twins and other such irregularities in nature. He would hold parties and refer to his drinking buddies as making up the "All Drunken Council" and elect a "monarch" to oversee them. During the building of St. Petersburg, Peter was everywhere, overseeing bricklaying, timber cutting, blueprint design, drafting and anything else he could get his hands on. No one could keep up with him. He demanded to be lectured about every little western European gadget he happened upon. His knowledge become encyclopedic, but, with that, superficial and spread too thin.
Peter was not a genius. And, other than military victories that changed Europe forever, he may not have even been a good monarch. He was a powerful and energetic man with a vision, a vision whose origins need to be discussed more freely in the secular halls of academia.
The Consolidation of Westernism:
9.The Reign of the Adorable Catherine.
After the death of Peter in 1725, the next 30 years were marked by a succession of empresses and emperors who, though often interesting, have not made their mark on history even remotely to the extent Peter I and Catherine II have. These are Peter's wife Catherine I, Peter II, Anna, Ivan VI, Elizabeth and Peter III. This chapter will briefly deal with them, and then proceed to the more significant reign of Catherine II "The Great" and her son, Paul.
Catherine I was illiterate and quite unprepared for the throne. During this transitional period in Russian history between Peter I and Catherine II, that is, from 1725 to 1762, Russia was basically an oligarchic state with the institutional name of the "Supreme Secret Privy Council" where all power was vested. It must be said that this council was the creation of Catherine herself as she had such little interest in affairs of state.
Peter II was 11 years old when he ascended the throne, and, unsurprisingly, was dominated by members of Catherine I's council, particularly Prince Alexander Menshikov, the very symbol of Peter's reforms and the Russian "modernist" school. However, in spite of his young age, Peter II rejected the arrogant prince and, in many respects was considered a possibility for rejecting those reforms and returning Russia to her true tradition, at least in part. Peter died of smallpox in 1730, at the age of 15. It is conceivable that, had the young man lived, Pugachev's revolt would have been unnecessary.
After Peter II's death, there was a rather serious crisis that developed in St. Petersburg. The male line of the Romanov clan had died out, and there was much bickering among the oligarchs. Since the creation of Russia the battle had been between oligarchic arrogance and pomposity and the unifying force of Orthodox Tsarism. Therefore, the oligarchy invited Peter's niece (as well as the daughter of Ivan V), Anna, to the throne. However and much ink has been spilled on this the council, for the first time in Russian history, demanded that Anna be basically subject to them. Nicholas Riasanovsky (1993) summarizes the conditions to be adhered to as Anna ascended the throne:
The would be empress had to promise not to marry and not appoint a successor. The Supreme Secret Council was to retain a membership of eight and to control state affairs: the new sovereign could not without its approval declare war or make peace, levy taxes or commit state funds, grant or confiscate estates, or appoint anyone to a rank higher than that of colonel. The guards as well as all other armed forces were to be under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Secret Council, not the empress (Riasanovsky, 244).
Now, Dimitri Pospielovsky claims (116) at this point that Theofan Prokopovich approached Anna and had her reject the conditions. This was because the Secret Council had placed the Holy Synod under the Senate, rather than maintaining its institutional autonomy. Others claim (what is more likely) that in spite of the bishop's influence (which was no doubt great), the bulk of the gentry, tired of the greed of the oligarchy in St. Petersburg, told the rather weak woman that she had the support of the "population" (another phrase for "Old Russia" in this context) to reject the conditions and, in so doing, reject oligarchy in favor of Russian tradition. She did so.
Her reign is more known under the name of "Bironovshchina," or the rule of Ernst Biron. A German who despised everything Russian, he instituted a reign of terror over the court and against the Old Ritual and others who represented Russian tradition. At this time, Russia was under the reign of Germans at Petersburg almost completely. The Holy Synod was reduced to one bishop and two priests, so abused the ecclesiastical hierarchy was at this time. The foreign office was under Andrew Ostermann, and the army was placed under Berkhard Munnich. Pospielovsky says this about Anna's policy towards the Church:
. . . Anna's reign was marked by a mounting offensive against the Church. Monasteries were closed and their properties nationalized; clergy who were deemed useful to the state were forced out of their estates and mobilized; members of clergy families were often deprived of their right to follow in their fathers' or brothers' footsteps and were inducted into the army or some special schools, deemed useful to the state (117).
Anna mercifully died in 1740. She had made Biron the regent for her infant son Ivan IV Anna's reign had been too much for Russia, and, in many ways, Russian tradition was mobilized, in the form of the palace guard regiments, to overthrow the German oligarchy and Ivan IX and install the Orthodox traditionalist Elizabeth on the throne. In many ways Elizabeth tried to be what Peter II could have been, someone who could have moved towards Old Russia versus Prussia; from modern Europe to Orthodoxy. Nonetheless, the University of Moscow was opened under her reign and showed the continuing creative tension between Old Russia and Peter I which could be used to improve upon the Old Russian system without rejecting the intellectual apparatus that made it function. Further, she abolished the death penalty, which has little traditional legal basis in Russian history.
Elizabeth's impress upon Russian life was significant, though often ignored by establishment historians. She rebuilt the synod and insisted, as Pospielovsky relates, that only Great Russians were to rise to the rank of bishop. In Russia at this time, Ukraine was associated with Bishop Prokopovich, that is, modernizing and centralizing tendencies associated with modern Europe. To require that the bishops all be from Great Russian stock was a significant political and ideological statement. It made the firm stand for Old Russia against centralized European statism. Under Elizabeth, the synod became an energetic body of the Church, and, under the jurisdiction of Prince A. Shakhovskoi, took the lead in cleaning up corruption, straightened out Church finances and published numerous works for the ordinary parishioner and distributed them widely (Pospielovsky, 118).
Elizabeth died in 1761, and, as students of Russian history know, Germany again "invaded" Russia in the guise of another loathsome creature, Peter III. A Freemason1 and Duke of Holstein, Peter III rose to attempt to resurrect the rule of Biron over Russia. Peter III was a Lutheran whose obligatory conversion to Orthodoxy was not a conversion at all, but was considered by him merely a cosmetic necessity. He attempted to force the clergy to wear Lutheran dress and to remove icons from Churches. Peter, not the brightest political leader in history, was rebuffed by the synod. Of course, the fact that the synod could rebuke a powerful Emperor and get away with it proves that the Church (again in the formal sense) was far from "subservient," but, on major issues of Church practice, would stand and fight.
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Such a figure to make this independence of the Synod work was Metropolitan Arseny, who stood up to the state in numerous ways during this time. His first act of defiance was to reject the consecration oath which named the emperor as "supreme judge" (see chapter 8). Arseny worried that the oath might confuse pious laymen and refused to take it, for it suggests something odious (that was never actually present in it, regardless), that is, a directly spiritual and dogmatic function for the Emperor. Such a view is understandable (however mistaken), particularly given the continued agitation of the Old Ritual. Elizabeth permitted him to take his seat without it (Pospielovsky, 120). Further, Arseny protested Catherine II's decision to continue to secularize monastic lands. Unfortunately, she had him imprisoned in a tiny cell in Talinn, and strictly forbade anyone in the prison to know his true identity. However, Pospielovsky relates that, at his trial, he developed prophetic gifts. This is a matter of historical record, as Pospielovsky relates:
At the first trial, in which his former colleagues and friends sat in judgment, turning to the Synod's chairman and the court's president, Metropolitan Sechenov, Arseny predicted he would die of his own tongue. To the 36 year old Gedeon, bishop of Pskov, he foretold that he would never again see his diocese. And to bishop Ambrose... he prophesized death from a knife. Sechenov died three years later, choked by his tongue after a stroke; Gedeon died suddenly on his way back from the trial; Ambrose was knifed to death by a mob in the 1771 Moscow plague riot. At his last trial, a certain prosecutor Naryshkin was particularly aggressive. Arseny ignored his attacks, retorting didactically rather than answering the accusations and questions. Finally, he pulled out a 5 kopek coin and gave it to Naryshkin with the words: "You will need it one day." A few years later, Naryshkin was tried for pilfering state property, deprived of his properties and imprisoned his prison food stipend was five kopeks per day. (121-2)
All of this is recorded in court transcripts. Further, the great metropolitan was completely rehabilitated by the Church of 1917-1918. He died a martyr to Catherine's Westernism.
During this intriguing period in Russian history, a major event took place that was to have reverberations throughout the remainder of Russian history. In March of 1762, Peter III released the nobility from compulsory state service, except in wartime. It is likely that Peter did this because the bureaucracy in St. Petersburg was becoming professional and salaried (recall that no bureaucrat was ever paid) and Peter was using Germans for everything anyway. Further, a major issue was the Seven Years War. While it is true that the Russian infantry performed extremely well (even occupying Berlin in 1760), Peter was not pleased with the officer corps. By eliminating the nobility from state service (which more often than not meant military service), Peter believed he was building a more professional officer class as well. Nonetheless, it had the effect of completely undermining the Russian state as specifically a "service state."
Because of Russia's endlessly difficult military and agricultural situation, a peculiarly Russian notion of universal service was understood. The serfs served the nobility, who in turn served the state, often at the cost of their livelihoods (cf. chapter 3). The Tsar, of course, served the entire nation and was absolutely responsible for everything that happened in the country. One significant difference between royal government and that phony sham of oligarchy called "republicanism" is that the latter specializes in forming factions and parties whose major task, outside of distributing largess, is to blame the other party whenever things get rough. In monarchies, the king takes full responsibility for everything. Such a notion is agonizingly clear in the diaries and personal correspondence of St. Nicholas II. Nonetheless, Peter's decree undermined Russian political culture significantly. The compulsion and difficulty of state service made the average noble who was quite poor seem de facto the equal of the serf. In many ways he was. Now, even if the issue was purely symbolic, the Russian nobility began to groom a "British" quality about them.
Nonetheless, Peter Ill's reign actually started out well. He, as Catherine's major biographer, Vincent Cronin, says of him, began by "reducing the tax on salt and fixing a maximum price for it, thus removing an oppressive burden from the poor." He released many political prisoners and stopped persecution of the Old Ritual. Further, there is some controversy about Peter Ill's ending Russia's participation in the Seven Years War and making peace with Frederick of Prussia. Cronin claims that such a move was welcomed by the Russian people, others, such as Riasanovsky, claim it was his downfall, for, as Russia lost heavily in terms of men, the peace gave Russia nothing, and many in the nobility accused Peter of being in league with Frederick. His downfall may have been the attempt to declare war on Denmark solely to please his relatives in Holstein and Prussia, as it was in no one's interest to attack Denmark as that nation offered the Russians no ill will.
Catherine was Peter's wife, and was abused during the relationship in myriad ways. Peter continued to create enemies in the capital. Talk of a coup began to circulate. It is true that many stories were circulated about Peter to discredit him to the population (and this, according to Cronin, was part of a plot to unseat him) and the careful historian needs to separate the wheat from the chaff. That Peter was favoring his German relations in foreign policy was beyond doubt, and this is what irritated the general staff the greatest, specifically Gregory Orlov and his brother, Alexis. These two men, members of the palace guard, began to convert many more officers to the cause of overthrowing Peter III. Catherine had now taken the offensive, appealing to the population that she was the representative of Orthodox tradition (she also converted, and Cronin believes her move from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy was genuine, at least in her younger years) and that she was trying to save Russia from the pro-western and Lutheran orientation of her husband. Peter was arrested in 1762, and was murdered by strangulation a bit later. Catherine was now Empress.
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Vincent Cronin, in spite of his often ridiculous characterizations of Russia, has written quite succinctly on Catherine's reforms as Empress, some of which, in spite of her many weaknesses and errors, were impressive. Because Russia at this time was bankrupt because of her many eighteenth century wars and increased government spending, Catherine needed to find sources of revenue. She decided to increase grain yields by making grants to Russian landowners to modernize their equipment and to import certain British techniques of farming. To populate nearly unpopulated lands, Catherine, like Nicholas II later on, provided generous terms for anyone who would settle, including placing ads in foreign newspapers. She offered "free lodging; free seed, livestock and ploughs; [and] exemption from taxes for five, ten, or thirty years, according to a man's skills." (Cronin, 160) Interestingly, Catherine knew that, often, the way to increase revenue is not to continually increase taxes, but to lower them, permitting the resultant expansion of the private economy to increase revenues on its own. Slie sent geologists to discover Russia's vast mineral wealth, something that would very soon make Russia again a great power. Silver was uncovered en masse near Mongolia. She demanded, unlike previous reigns, that merchants, rather than nobility, be sent to exploit the mines, so as to maximize the production and profit. She encouraged serfs to develop cottage industries which, even according to the cynical Cronin, created a new class of serf proprietors who began to do quite well. Simultaneously, she eliminated many monopolies and "private" controls over business that had accumulated under Elizabeth. During Catherine's reign, she increased the number of factories from 984 to 3161. Increased foreign trade (particularly with England) brought to Russia a positive balance of trade of 3.6 million rubles. Additionally, she opened the China market. She eliminated tax farming and used state power to control prices. By 1765, she had paid nearly 75 percent of the debts incurred under previous reigns (161-3).
In the field of education, she opened up schools for girls such as the Smolny Institute in St. Petersburg. She created an Education Commission to oversee her reforms in this area. Cronin explains:
Catherine immediately opened 25 major schools in 25 provinces, and in 1792 every province save the Caucasus had a major school. Whereas in 1781, apart from the Smolny Institute, Russia had only six state schools with 27 teachers for 474 boys and 12 girls, by 1796 Russia had 316 schools, in which 744 teachers taught 16,220 boys and 1,121 girls. Figures for a slightly later date show that 22 percent of the pupils were middle class and 30 percent state peasants (Cronin, 167).
She founded Russia's first medical college in 1763 (though, of course, Peter I had founded universities for medicine, though these were only to have a military application). In 1796, comparative rates for infant mortality showed London at 32 percent (of all births), Berlin at 27.6 percent, and St. Petersburg at 18.4 percent (170).
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In spite of Cronin's skills in dealing with Catherine's great victories, his understanding of Russian society and culture is faulty. He has not the foggiest idea of the liturgical inheritance of Byzantium and Ohrid memorized by every single Russian peasant. Cronin makes the elementary mistake the mark of historical dilettantism in Russian studies of referring to the Slavonic Liturgy as a "Mass." And, of course, not merely the lengthy liturgy makes up this inheritance, the result of centuries of Byzantine, Syrian, Alexandrian and ancient liturgical poetics in general, but also Matins and Vespers, which every Russian peasant could (and still can) quote by heart.
The same could be said of iconography and the legacy of St. Romanes the Melode, whose lengthy hymns to saints, as well as the Octoechos, or the eight tone cycle read on consecutive Sundays, brought much of the Christian inheritance of Byzantium (and elsewhere, such as Antioch and Ohrid) to the grasp of even the most illiterate of Russian peasants. This does not include the regular readings from Scripture and material from the many lives of the Saints that Russia was, and in many areas still is, imbued with. It does not include the long lost or forgotten folk takes of the provinces or even of the village, which has, for Cronin's information, been replaced by reruns of "Good Times," "Married with Children" and "Monday Night Football" on the idiot box now imported into Russia from the United States. Such folk tales, passed down from the generations, could be recited by heart, and represented the accumulated wisdom and experience of centuries of foreign occupation, warfare and harsh soil. For the Russian peasant in Catherine's time, their cultural level far outstripped the overworked yuppie and TV-soaked youngsters of today. For Cronin to crow that Catherine's reforms "amount to civilizing in a fundamental sense" (170) is just bad history and myopic politics.
When one fully grasps the cultural heritage of even the most rude of Russian peasants, the bias and prejudice of the Anglo-American establishment is clear. The term "illiterate" comes up again and again. It is very difficult to measure this in Catherine's time given, a) the paucity of reliable information and b) the changing definitions of the term. In the ancient world, St. Anthony of the Desert was called illiterate by his contemporaries. What this meant, however, was that he could not read Greek. He could read Coptic. Later, literacy referred to the educated classes, referring to one who was aware of the scholarly achievements of his people. Today, in post-modern America, it refers to a "citizen" who can muddle his way through directions on a prescription bottle, can read a street sign or the batting averages for the Minnesota Twins. The majority of the post-modern American population would be classed as "illiterate" and likely mentally retarded by classical standards.
There can be no doubt that, except in outrageous cases, all clergy in Russia, from Kievan Rus' to modernist Petersburg, was literate in the sense that they were able to read the liturgical poetry for the Church calendar, the liturgy, matins and vespers, not to mention the Epistle and Gospel reading. The services would be impossible if the priest or deacon (the average Russian parish Church had both) could not read. It is highly unlikely that there were many illiterate clergy in Russia. Any who were would likely have been monks most of whom are not priests who were free from performing regular services. Therefore, the question arises about the literacy level in Russia as a whole. "Illiterate" could mean that the average peasant could not read the exchanges between Ivan IV and Prince Kurbsky, or could not read the writings of St. Paisius, or could not follow the debates between Slavophiles and Westerners, or could not discuss the fine points of Greek versus Bulgarian iconography, but it does not imply that the average moderately prosperous peasant could not read basic instructions or a simple note.
The endless and pompous moralizing about "mass illiteracy" is often a mask for the utter decay of rational thought in post-modern times, especially within the civilizations or pseudo-civilizations of the Anglo-American imperium. It does not seem to dawn on the Carmichaels, Billingtons or Riasanovskys of the world that the existence of illiteracy did in no respect cut off the Russian from the best of Byzanto-Russian culture. Hundreds of folk tales, historical notes and bits of folk wisdom were committed to memory by thousands of matriarchs in Russian rural society. By contrast, the pabulum the American middle class is fed by the controlled media, "infotainment," sitcoms and manipulative advertising is not culture at all, but represents an anti-culture, or the opposite of culture, not something organic, arising from the experience and trials of a people or village, but rather something completely administered by the oligarchy that controls the images and uses them to alter and replace reality. State propaganda is a specifically modern, indeed twentieth century phenomenon. The Russian monarchy did not even attempt, even as late as the 1905 revolution, to "propagandize" the peasantry. The most the monarchy did was ask the pastors to read official proclamations to the congregation, a perfectly legitimate request. In post-modern times, what mass semi-literacy has done is provide the state, as well as far more powerful private concentrations of capital, the ability and media to control far greater masses of people, all the while they believe themselves to be free. The average Russian peasant, regardless of his level of illiteracy, was more exposed to the legitimate culture of his people that which represented the sufferings and victories of his ancestors than the alienated and isolated middle class individuals of post-modernity.
The reality of Old Russia is radically different than the Menshevik propaganda of the pampered and tenured talking class. Seventeenth and eighteenth century Russian cultural life was extraordinary and the match of anything that was occurring in the West. As early as the twelfth century, the classical inheritance of iconography (the theology and metaphysics of which the average "Russia historian" in the American university system has not the foggiest notion) had developed to such an extent that numerous schools of thought developed on the matter in Vladimir, Yaroslav, Pskov, and later, Tver and Rostov. The literary output of Old Russia might best be traced to the legacy of the Caves Lavra (monastery) founded by Sts. Theodosius and Anthony in early medieval Kievan Rus'. Such a legacy continued through Sts. Matthew, Jeremiah and Peter Mogila at the Lavra, through St. Job of Pochaev and the development of Orthodox apologetics against the urda in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Such apologetics, if read without preconceived notions, are a match for the arid and robotic prose of Anselm of Canterbury, Matthew of Aquasparta, Duns Scotus or Thomas Aquinas.
The development of Russian painting, both iconic as well as modern, is the match of anything in western Europe, deriving from the genius of St. Andrei Rublev (1370-1430) and his school, which created the likes of Dionysus (1440-1508). In more contemporary times, Russian native culture in painting was represented by such nearly unknown figures as Emilyan Moskuitin, Prokopy Chirin, Spiridon Timofev (famous for his striking The Annunciation of 1652) and such art theorists as Simon Vshakov (1626-1686), who wrote Words to the Lovers of Icon Painting, as well as Josef Vladimirov, the author of A Treatise on Icon Painting. In the eighteenth century, the supposedly "uncultured" Russia somehow managed to produce Ivan and Roman Nikitin, the former's Portrait of a Hetman (1720) and the latter's (1718) Portrait of Madame Stroganov (never before had pomposity been captured on canvas like this) are clear examples of Russian modernity in painting. Further, Ivan Vishnyakov (1649-1761), Alexei Antepov (1716-1795) and Ivan Argunov round out a powerful answer to post-modern Anglo-American Whiggish pomposity in the debate over culture. Antepov's Portrait of Catherine II and Portrait of Peter III not only are world famous (though, for some reason, no one knows who the artist was), but helped establish Russian portraiture as the best in the world, admitted by such art historians as Alan Bird, who is certainly no friend of Holy Russia.
The point is, of course, that the reason no one knows who these great minds are is because of a common preconceived notion unfortunately reinforced by James Billington and others, who should know better that Russia had "no culture" in this period. That is, they had no culture until the West gave them one. Never before has the Whig view of history, utterly dominant among the armchair set, been so arrogant, so wrong or so self-serving. To the embarrassment of "Russia studies" in the Anglo-American imperium, the monastic tradition that created Rublev et al. is being rediscovered in post-Communist Russia at a rapid pace as monasteries are being opened by the hundreds and the ancient arts are being revived with a vengeance. Yet, "Russia studies" departments have yet to understand the implications of this for their own prejudices and biases.
In spite of the necessary reforms of Catherine, the rebellion of Emelian Pugachev (1773-1775) can be understood as a continuation of the battle between Old Russia, that is, the medieval inheritance of Kiev, and the new centralizing tendencies that came with European empire status. It often seems incongruous to deal with the flurry of activity Catherine engaged in politically while dealing with the ferocity of the Pugachovchina. The solution to the confusion is really the thesis of the present work: the struggle for Holy Russia, the struggle between Kiev and St. Petersburg, which represented the struggle between the "land" and the oligarchy and developing bureaucracy that is the foundation for understanding the history of Russia. What modern liberals (in the broad sense) do not understand is that reforms, regardless of their necessity, normally require a concomitant increase in state power and a demand for further revenue. In Russia, such revenue largely derived from agriculture, which meant, in turn, that Old Russia suffered further exploitation.
The literature on this period often ignores the question of westernization in the context of peasant status. The ready availability of western luxury goods meant that more and more needed to be squeezed out of the peasantry. It is normally the case that "westernization" is a priori considered a "good" thing. What is left out is that it is expensive, and that Old Russia, represented by the peasantry, particularly in the southern steppes and surrounding regions, was not interested in the West, luxury goods, Protestantism, bureaucracy or empire. In other words, they were not interested in reform on the western model. Western states were created on the backs of the traditional peasant way of life, local liberties and the violent dis-enfranchisement of the guardians of medieval culture, the monasteries. Modern landlordism, though no more exploitative than modern capitalism or socialism, represented to the peasantry the invasion of the west and the demands of Catherine, who was considered by many to be a German upstart, not a true Russian. Catherine, in 1785 in her Charter of the Nobility, institutionalized a class that was attached, not to state service in the old sense, but to Catherine and the West. The landlord's exploitation was seen as being in service to heresy and foreign control, all through the medium of an oligarchical class which no longer represented the successors of Sts. Dimitri or Alexander Nevsky, but the decadent oligarchy of England. Pugachev, referring to himself as the fanatically pro-German Peter III, is ironic in this context, though it outlines the desperation of the battle.
In other words, while not getting into the "campaign" aspect of Pugachev (that has been done about a thousand times), it must be understood that what is far more important is what Pugachev represented, however incoherently and imperfectly. In the Autumn of 1773, the rebellion began, not against "the established order," to use Riasanovsky's phrase (1993: 260) but against an order the Kozak host and their allies viewed as revolutionary. Pugachev's program was an utter rejection of Westernism, as condemnations of "foreigners" and the New Ritual were as common as calls for lower taxes and an end to serfdom. Of course, as noted above, serfdom in the south, due to its fertile soil, was harsher than serfdom elsewhere, as obrok payments were far less common in the south. One of the reasons for the uprising was that Kozak units, suffering from a continuing process of domestication (as the Poles had tried to do) were being sent to Petersburg for training under German officers. They were being forced to wear uniforms on the Prussian model and to take orders from foreigners. In other words, nationalism was in rebellion against an increasingly cosmopolitan landlord class as well as Catherine's imperium. Further, the questions of Catherine's legitimacy, particularly her complicity in the murder of Peter III, also fanned the flames of revolt.
Catherine answered after the revolt was put down by an overhaul of the state. There were no "local" police units in Old Russia. Law enforcement was a matter of the commune, ruled by custom and unanimous consent. But the New Order in the post-Petrine era needed more central control. Catherine created nearly 50 major political units headed by a governor. These were subdivided into ten districts each. Each major unit governed about 300,000 people and each subdivision about a tenth of that. No longer was custom to reign, and the largely effective bargaining between commune and landlord, while not entirely eliminated, gave way to a coalition of upper oligarchy and Catherine to create a modern state to finance a growing empire. The losers, unfortunately, were the peasants and, for a time, Old Russia.
Of course, in the realm of foreign policy, expansion was continuing apace, and such expansion was largely responsible for Catherine's new order. Victories against the Turks in 1768-74 saw Russian development farther south, leading to the building of the first Russian fleet on the Black Sea. The Second Turkish War, which began in 1787, saw even greater victories under the world famous General Alexander Suvorov, including the conquest of the fortress of Ismail, considered to be impregnable. What is particularly galling here is the lack of scholarly implications to the Russian social system in relation to these conquests. It is nearly universal in the literature to claim that the Russian defeat in the Crimean War in the nineteenth century was a sure sign that the Russian social system was in need of overhaul. However, when dealing with these spectacular victories during the Turkish wars, the opposite implication is not drawn. Of course, if that is true of the Crimea, then the opposite is true at Ismail. The Russian political system, it seems, had triumphed over its rivals.
In Poland, the story is better known. The old Polish empire had carved out sections of Orthodox territory for itself, which today are part of Belarus and part of the Kievan inheritance to the south. The partition of Poland (after her defeats by Sweden under Peter, Poland began to disintegrate under her rapacious oligarchy), far from being unjust, simply was a return to a much earlier era. The areas Russia received under Catherine were areas traditionally under Russian control previous to the Troubles. Austria and Prussia, on the other hand, occupied territories of alien peoples. Further, Poland's liberalism defined as oligarchic control and an elective monarchy meant that Poland was no longer able to direct a central force anywhere. She became weak and decadent under that system. Such historical realities underscore Russia's necessary rejection of western liberalism. Serfdom in Poland was also far worse than anywhere else in the world (Riasanovsky, 1993: 267) largely because of the "freedom" of the Polish magnates. Such examples must be considered when judging the Russian political system before 1905, as well as the implications of the "liberation" of the magnates from state service under Peter III.
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Catherine's long reign came to an end in 1796, and the reins of power passed to her estranged son, Paul, who saw the dawn of the nineteenth century as being a harbinger of a very different sort of rule for Russia. Paul has received an unjust sentence from history, as have most of Russia's Tsars. Normally, usually without exception in the mainstream literature, Paul is characterized as "[h]ighly suspicious, irritable and given to frequent outbreaks of rage" (Riasanovsky), Hosking says this: "There is not much doubt too, that his character was unbalanced: he was given to furious outbursts of rage." Cronin writes: "From there [his fortress at Gatchina] he ruled as a petty military despot, ending freedom of travel, banning the import of books, determining the cut of his subject's collars and the shape of their hats, obliging people in the street to kneel in the snow when he passed." Such claptrap continues in the rest of the literature. Paul is considered insignificant by Hosking, and his section on Paul in his major work on Russian history comprises 5 paragraphs.
What is outrageous about this bias and lack of reflection is that Paul's reign was extremely positive and sought to create a new path where some of the errors of Catherine could be rectified in the new century. The first important question concerns the reestablishment long in coming of the servile gentry, that is, the overthrow of the liberation of the landlords.2 Not only was this a necessary step to prevent Russia, the most just state in Europe, from becoming a mirror of those models of decadence and oligarchic corruption that were plaguing "liberal" England and led to Poland's annihilation, but it was necessary if the system of old Russia was to be rebuilt from its eighteenth century legacy.
What many in the tenured class take from this is that Paul was eliminating whatever freedom (for any class) had existed in Russia. In other words, the armchair scholars in Russian history, smarting at the trenchant criticism that the liberation of the gentry, or, more specifically, the diminution of autocratic power, meant the creation, not of "democracy," but of a tyrannical oligarchy, concocted the theory that if the oligarchy was to be empowered, it would only take a few civil wars for the "people" to receive the same "rights." Voila, "democracy" is created! Therefore, the theory rests on the presumption that oligarchy necessarily precedes "democracy," with the oligarchy making up a significant part of the "Stroganov" class that is, the moneyed, rather than landed, interests that would begin to fight the landed segment of the oligarchy. It is a common enough story, and often dominates the "institution building" segment of the Anglo-American establishment seminars in comparative politics for second year graduate students in political science.
As with most of what is taught to second year graduate students, the theory is false. Oligarchy does not "give way" to "democracy," but "democracy" itself is a cover for oligarchical rule, increasingly violent as the poor "citizens" believe themselves to be "free." The American system of rule, long thought it to be the "great experiment" in "democracy," disproves the theories of comparative politics. Of course, in discussions such as these, the underlying method used in seminar discussions is that "democrats" can justify their system in vaunted but purely theoretical and abstract phrases, while monarchists must deal solely with the "facts" of history. Such is intellectually impermissible and dishonest, however dominant. "Democracy" cannot be judged in abstract terms, but solely in terms of historical performance, experience and present realities with systems that are explicitly dedicated to such goals.
Unfortunately for the tenured classes, "democracy" has proven itself to be little more than a rhetorical cover for imperial foreign policy and the continuing monopolization of the creative resources of a nation. Small businesses are increasingly giving way to mega-monopolies. Wages have been in absolute decline since the mid-1970s as unionization is a thing of the past. The 8-hour work day is also a fiction, with the average middle class American spending 10 or more hours a day in the cubicle, an invention, such as the assembly line, of the capitalist and liberal-democratic mind. The news is a function largely of AOL-Time Warner, as the entertainment industry also is so controlled, with major "competitors" being Viacom and Disney. The currency is coined, for profit, by a secret group of bankers known as the "Federal Reserve," while starvation tactics in places such as Iraq are increasingly considered legitimate foreign policy methods. The American "social revolution" since the 1960s has been almost entirely institutionalized by unelected judges and academics.
All of this has been performed and accepted and under a regime of free speech, free elections (the vote is even open to retards and there is a movement to give the vote to convicted felons) and free assemblies. Russian and Polish landlords were anarchists by comparison when contrasted with the robber baron factories of the early twentieth century, the money from which now finances academia through the Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. However, as it is common to make the implication that the royal Russian system was unjust because it supported serfdom, there is no implication that American "democracy" is unjust, or the "American dream" a fraud because of the Robber Baron factories or starvation tactics in Iraq. Tenured and overpaid liberal "democrats" are in no position to preach. Historical reality must be matched against historical reality. Historical reality cannot be matched to rhetoric or high sounding phrases or theories. Liberal democracy and its close cousin, socialism, however, have received an air of prima facie plausibility because of this methodological dishonesty that infects the talking classes.
Nevertheless, the notion, attached to the counter reforms of Paul's short reign, that the empowerment of the oligarchy which would have meant the intensification of serfdom and the creation of a local police state is transfigured into "democracy" is false. Royal power, then as now, is the only tested means of controlling the tendencies of the oligarchy, manifest in Russian and American history. Politics, as a matter of experience rather than ephemeral theory, can be reduced and simplified to a choice between royal government and oligarchy, or, even better, the choice between a definition of politics that confines the discipline to macro-economics and foreign policy, to a definition of politics preferred by modern liberalism of totalitarianism, that is, everything being subject to political analysis and regimentation because all relationships are a product of power and coercion and are therefore, ipso facto, political.
Now, if that necessary digression be pardoned, there is clearly a connection between those monarchs who were insistent on their royal prerogatives and genuine attempts at reform. Whether one speaks of Basil II in Byzantium, Stepan Dusan in Serbia, or Alexis, Peter, Catherine, Paul, Nicholas I, Alexander II, Alexander III and St. Nicholas II of Russia it has been the most powerful, that is, autocratic, of kings that have effected real reforms, for better or worse. To put this differently, it is within systems where the monarch has the most power (over what the culture considers to be political, a major distinction to be kept in mind) that the common people flourish, and the oligarchy, as much as possible, is kept in check. British-style "decentralization" means the empowerment of oligarchy and the oligarchy's creation of "democracy" to enhance their power. Paul's commitment to the common people against their potential enslavers is represented by the further recalling of Catherine's exemption of nobles from corporal punishment and his insistence that noble estates be subject to taxation.3 Furthermore, Paul developed his own personal intelligence service to keep tabs on the oligarchy's movements. In other words, Paul, as is common to the Slavic royal tradition, was acting as a conscious populist against monarchy's perennial rivals, the oligarchy.
Mary Mansur has written in the historical journal The Barnes Review, a revisionist essay concerning the reign of Paul. Firstly, it is clear that Paul was considered extremely popular in Russia. He was actually a Romanov, where his mother ruled in no respect except "as her husband's consort." His removal from political affairs under his mother's reign (universally mentioned in the establishment literature) was due to this. He was a continual threat to Catherine's lack of legitimacy. The harsh treatment he directed towards the court oligarchy was, to say the least, quite earned. Pray tell, why would have Paul been anything else when it was this same cabal that murdered his father?
In terms of serfdom, his estate at Gatchina (which, far from an imposing fortress, was a thriving and lush piece of property) was considered by the Emperor himself as a microcosm for the reforms he wished to see at the expense of his mother's checkered legacy. His serfs were Lutheran Finns, and he was completely tolerant of their faith. He taught them the latest techniques in agriculture, lent them money in times of need, built schools and a major hospital (Mansur, 52). Keep in mind that the serfs of the Imperial family were extremely numerous. Of course, the former lovers and others "connected," shall we say, to the court of Catherine spread much of the mythology at Paul's expense that became "history" in the hands of the tenured classes. Paul had to be discredited to keep him, as he grew, from becoming a threat to Catherine's perennially insecure hold on power. The conspirators expected that Alexander I, Catherine's grandson, would rule as she did, and, indeed, Alexander said as much to them. Catherine herself spread such tales to her court as she kept the Romanov in comparative isolation from power. He did not fly into rages or, as Riasanovsky writes, "promoted and demoted his assistants with dazzling rapidity and often for no apparent reason." (273) He was not "paranoid," but, as Mansur relates, "The fact is that soon after he ascended the throne a web of conspiracy began slowly to close around the imperial family" (53). If he was in fact "paranoid," then it was the direct result of sober judgment. Certainly, the same journalistic techniques of calumny are used by the tenured class against Ivan IV It seems all enemies of the Overpaid Left are tarred with the same "paranoid" brush. These are political tactics, not historiography.
Further, Paul erected the Bank for the Assistance of the Nobility in 1797, meant to solve a major and nagging problem in Russian political life, the chronic indebtedness of the noble classes. He decreed that serfs on barshchina could work only three days a week for their landlords, and reserve the remainder of the time to themselves. Sunday was never a work day. The move from the sacredness of the Sabbath, where, in old Russia, work was never done, to its exploitation the result of westernization was the result of western penetration into Russian society in the eighteenth century.
In foreign policy, Catherine's "revulsion" for the French Revolution did, evidently, not go deep, as she continued her gallophilic policy even under the French Masonic-revolutionary government. The French Revolution broke out at the end of Catherine's reign, the natural outcome of liberal ideology. Liberal systems, keep in mind, are always established by force, whether the reign of Kerensky in Russia, Lincoln in America, Robespierre in France, Kossuth in Hungary, Sun in China, Mazzini in Italy or the "Glorious Revolution" in England and Cromwell's regicide. Liberalism is a pseudo-religion of violence. Monarchy in Russia, by contrast, was established through invitation.
Nonetheless, Paul turned against Napoleon. He formed the anti-French and, ipso facto, anti-Masonic and anti-liberal "Second Coalition" made up of Russia, Great Britain, Austria, Naples, Portugal and Turkey. Paul seized Malta from the French and placed it under Russian protection as a republic. Paul, in order to be considered the legitimate ruler of the island, had to take the title "Grand Master of the Knights of Malta." This clearly cannot imply Paul's interest in Masonic ideas everything about his reign was anti-Masonic but was merely a political convenience to use against Napoleon. Nonetheless, Paul, due to war with Britain and the British failure to support the coalition or Russian infantry in Northern Europe, turned in favor of Napoleon. The proximate cause for this surprising turn of events was the British seizure of Malta. In other words, Paul was forced out of the anti-French alliance he had formed.
Paul's famous statement that the only important man in Russia is the one to whom the Emperor was speaking, and only so long as the Emperor was speaking to him is a myth. Riasanovsky, to his credit, refuses to put it in quotes and hedges by saying Paul "reportedly" said this. The reality is that, after Paul's sordid murder, which amounts to martyrdom on the level of Sts. Boris and Gleb, the clergy at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral reported at the time of the Revolution nearly 1,000 miracles connected with the good Tsar's intercessions (Mansur, 53).
1. Some Tsars, unfortunately, were members of the lodge. As dealt with in the last chapter, there is scholarly suspicion of Peter's membership, but there is no doubt about Peter Ill's. These are the only two monarchs in Russian history who were lodge members, and both were European centralists rather than Russian nationalists, as such a political view was required of members.
2. This particular view might well have been the result of Paul's early education under Nikita Panin, who was a strong believer in the older, Muscovite version of a service state.
3. The notion of noble estates being taxed has already been dealt with in the chapter on Ivan III as well as the chapter on serfdom. The notion that a noble existed because he served the state in (usually) a military capacity, often at the expense of his life, automatically is a very high rate of "taxation." The military servitors of Ivan III were expected to pay for all their military expenses, they were given serfs to provide their income. Therefore, it can easily be said, that, before the eighteenth century, the tax rates on noble estates were extremely high.
10. Alexander I
and Invisible Napoleon.
Nicholas Riasanovsky has uttered this absurd statement about Alexander I: "The Russians rejoiced at the accession of Alexander I. In place of an exacting and unpredictable tyrant, Paul, they obtained a young ruler of supreme charm and apparently enormous promise. Alexander I seemed to represent the best of the Enlightenment the humaneness, progressiveness, affirmation of human dignity, and freedom, which educated Russians, in one way or another, fervently desired" (302) . Such a statement is typical of the arrogant and dogmatic nature of "Russian historiography" in America. This statement, in a nutshell, summarizes the Anglo-American establishment's position on the Russian nation at the dawn of the nineteenth century, or, in reality, the dawn of any century.
Notice a few things about this gaggle of false assumptions, cliché sentiments and dogmatized invective. Firstly, it assumes Paul to have been a tyrant. Nothing could be further from the truth (see the end of chapter 9). By "Russians," in the first sentence he means those surrounding Paul at court who were loyal to Catherine; Paul remained popular outside of these circles. It is not an uncommon sleight of hand for "Russia scholars" to use the word "Russians," or "the people" in an ambiguous way to mask their agenda. "People" could mean many things in early nineteenth century Russia: it could mean the entire population (unlikely), it could mean Paul's court circle; it could mean educated Russians; it could mean the nobility; it could mean the upper section of the nobility. It most certainly does not mean the Church, the Kozaks, or the military. During the French Revolution, one, no doubt, of the humane events of the Enlightenment, "people" (in the sense of the word used by revolutionists) most definitely were not Roman Catholics or supporters of the monarchy; such people, of course, in iron-clad Enlightenment logic, could be disposed of at will. Because the "Enlightenment" reduced "people" to a bundle of animal desires and impulses primarily, the ruling elites anywhere could define "people" any way they pleased. There were no more spiritual essences of the Aristotelian type, and therefore humanity was merely automated flesh designed to serve the "progressive" goals of the new centralized state, something quite new, unfortunately, on the continent.
Risanovsky's use of the term "educated" is sloppy, for, in his definition, as well as Billington's and many others, this is a tautology. "Education" for them is synonymous with being a westernizer, being a partisan of the Enlightenment and its victory during the terror. (Note that Alexander I referred to his oligarchy that was to "reform" Russia as the "Committee of Public Safety"). This author does not believe that by "educated Russians," Professor Risanovsky is referring to Philaret of Moscow or St. Paisius Velichkovsky.
What is ironic about Risanovsky not to mention the overwhelming majority of his academic colleagues is the dogmatic and hackneyed way he describes the "values" of the Enlightenment. It was not humane. It saw the development of a monstrous centralized state that was capable and willing to slaughter millions of its citizens, which it did and continues to do. Royal Europe knew nothing of this. The Enlightenment had nothing to do with freedom, the state was often in the hands of vapid oligarchs while, in western Europe, thousands of peasants were thrown off the land to find work in the increasingly squalid cities. Warfare became increasingly bloody as science put its brain, rather than its mind, at the behest of the state (which had originally financed the "scientific revolution" in the first place). Napoleon was soon to introduce the shards of Christian civilization to total warfare and mass armies that would have horrified Michael or Alexis in the East, Louis IX or Charles in the West. The agricultural classes and monasteries were pillaged by the state to finance this demonic behemoth that sent the cream of European manhood to their death from the Napoleonic Wars to World War II, all based on the "humane" scientific advances of the "Enlightenment," and, no doubt, their commitment to "freedom and progress."
The notion of the Enlightenment "affirming human dignity" is additionally absurd and intellectually dishonest. Enlightenment metaphysics, whether it be Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau or Voltaire, removed any specific essence to the human person. Humanity was, at root, a bundle of atoms that created certain states of affairs, depending on their speed or physical arrangement, within the human lifespan. Humanity could be understood, as Hobbes was to intone, by understanding the nature of the desires and impulses these atoms were to create in the human brain (there was no longer any "mind"). Reason, then, became little more than the structure of atomic clashes and attraction. Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism had a far greater understanding of the human person then the Enlightenment tyrants, as man was far more than a set of desires to be controlled by the state and the corporation, but was a free and thinking being who could come to the knowledge of the structure of reality itself, rather than remaining the slave of physical cause and effect. Lord and peasant stood in Church radically as equals, they went to confession together and bared their sins equally to the same priest. Within the Enlightenment oligarchy, there was to be no more Church, and the over lordship of money over all was made complete.
Medieval man lived in a radically decentralized universe, where the state was a distant irritant. His life revolved around the popular guild and commune, all to be destroyed by the "progress" of the capitalist oligarchy. For the Enlightenment idea of progress, local custom, local control, and the agricultural life had to be sacrificed for massive wars, colonialism, the reintroduction of slavery and the increasing centralization of power and extortions from the common people that financed and enabled these things. For the Enlightenment, in spite of the protestations of Kant (who rejected a good chunk of early Enlightenment thinking), men were human resources, hunks of matter that could be disposed of for the good of the state and for "progress." Orthodox Russia knew nothing of this. And if this be from their lack of "education," then we thank God for it.
Again, Professor Risanovsky (1993) writes: "Russian backwardness and ignorance became strikingly apparent to the monarch and his Unofficial Committee as they examined the condition of the country." Such statements, again, appear ad nauseam in the English language literature. However, the good academic informs us concerning the Unofficial Committee: "The members of the committee, Nicholas Novosiltsev, Count Paul Stroganov, Count Victor Kochubey, and Polish patriot prince Adam Czartoryski, reflected the enlightened opinion of the period, ranging from Anglophilism to Jacobin connections" (303).
This latter vague reference is telling, as many of these men were planning a Jacobin terror of their own, with their financial interests as the inevitable victor. Stroganov, likely the wealthiest man in Russia, attended Jacobin meetings in France before the revolution. Conveniently, the deliberations of the Unofficial Committee (sometimes called the "Secret Committee") were not recorded. Of course, this group, representing the wealthiest, most powerful and most liberal opinion in Russia (which Risanovsky calls "Enlightened"), could not possibly look at the "condition" of Russia in any other fashion than as "backward."
A "charter of rights" was nearly passed through the monarch's hands, only to be interrupted by the first war with Napoleon in 1805 (of course, he was not to invade Russia until 1812). The concept of "abstract rights" and the interests of the rising westernized oligarchy need to be conceptually dissected. The notion of a "rights charter" (call a constitution what one likes) was in the interests of the westernizing school, the super rich Jacobin bourgeois that surrounded Alexander. A constitution was not in the interests of the peasantry or the tiny working class.
Russia, as this book has attempted to explain, was a typical medieval society in many significant ways. There were no such things as "abstract rights," as no such metaphysical fiction exists. Right and duty were things that adhered to not an abstract conceptual apparatus but to a certain estate and a certain class for the enjoyment of certain rewards and for the requirement of specific exactions and responsibilities. The idea of "rights" hanging in conceptual thin air was a product of "Enlightened" western thinking, as it was in the interests of the rising "capitalist" class throughout Europe to claim that their usury and abuse of the formerly free peasant/worker was the result of a "God-given universal right." Of course, contract law and "private property" needed to be put on a firmer foundation than as a residual of communal and local tradition, and therefore, "natural rights" theory (in the modern sense) was born.
A recent book, AJ. Conyers' The Long Truce: How Toleration Made the World Safe for Power and Profit, has detailed what the average academic political theorist has refused to countenance: that "liberal rights theory" was a concoction of the rising oligarchy to justify their totalitarian (in the literal, not rhetorical, sense) style of rule. His thesis is profound, and, because of this, ignored. Traditional, that is, medieval, society was a loose grouping of more or less autonomous social groups. The section on the peasantry in this present work has shown this arrangement (in part) for Russia. For a rising capitalist class which seeks the standardization of social relations to ensure a smooth financial universe in which to work, such organizations are, at best, an irritant. "Universal" rights are dictated as holy writ, and the "backwardness" of rural life is stressed. Conyers writes concerning John Locke's central role in this:
It emerges in the light of Locke's weak analysis of society: his failure to take account of the full range of realities that make up the concrete existence of any society of any size. It is a failure that was especially tempting in a time of the rise of the nation-states and the bourgeois desire to relate to that entry as individual stock holders in a joint stock company, without the complications brought on by other, less formal, social groupings (137).
In other words, liberalism cannot be understood without relations of power which created and justified them. Liberalism did one thing (and it was not elevating the "dignity of the individual"); it destroyed the intermediate institutions, the varied local foci of authority that preserved communal freedom in the complex of informal groups who emanated their own specific brand of authority in their own particular sphere of competence. Freedom is never abstract, it is always freedom to do something specific or to be free of some specific irritant. The oligarchy, Russian or otherwise, therefore, demands standardization and conformity because the strictness of contract law and exchange cannot admit of groups of traditional yet still informal and ad hoc groupings (however enshrined by tradition) that characterize traditional societies, therefore:
Under such conditions, the political aim of the state can easily encroach upon the aims of the family, the collegium (such as the artistic community), the profession, and Church, the local village, the province. Yet, first the telos of these entities must be called into question. That is where tolerance comes in not the practice of tolerance which is entirely productive of lively community life but the kind of tolerance that essentially demeans the status of groups along with their provincial, familial or ecclesiastical sense of authority
... It is the shadow Leviathan, that loss of power that invites the excess of power. It is tolerant not in the sense that it expects to learn from others but in the sense that it expects there is nothing really to learn of any consequence (194-5).
This is the connection between liberalism, the Unofficial Committee of Alexander I and the system of government known as oligarchy, or republicanism. To have the rural anarchy though not chaos that reigned since time immemorial in Russia continue was repugnant to the capitalist classes (or more accurately, the classes of modernity and Enlightenment that had reached Russia under Peter and Catherine) represented by the Unofficial Committee, who needed to see for their own interest in profit and exploitation the informal bargaining between lord and commune (not lord and peasant, for there was no such relation) destroyed and formal and standard market and contractual relations installed in their place. Such was the true impetus behind the 1803 "Law Concerning the Free Agriculturalists." The effect would be the weakening of communal structures of authority and the intrusion of the state where it had not existed previously to enforce contracts. The informal economy of the peasants was to give way to the formal profit system of the Stroganovs. This is the demystification of the Unofficial Committee's use of the word "backward." This was the nature of "reform" under Alexander I; it was also the basis of the Slavophiles' stressing of the informal and communal structures of authority over the formal and abstract. The destruction of the servile lord/commune structure of checks and balances was in the financial interests of the oligarchy as well as in the political interest of liberalism and Masonry.
Further, this model, that of the formal structures of contract, profit and control to reach into every little hamlet, also motivated Michael Speransky, likely Alexander's most radical advisor. His proposed "constitution" (royalist though it was), to quote Risanovsky, postulated that
Russia was to be reorganized on four administrative levels: the volost a small unit sometimes translated as canton or township the district, the province, and the country at large. On each level there were to be the following institutions: legislative assemblies or dumy [plural of duma] culminating in the state duma for all of Russia; a system of courts, with the Senate at the apex; and administrative boards, leading eventually to the ministries and the central executive power (305).
*** *** ***
Nonetheless, it is in the realm of foreign relations that Alexander I has made his mark. During the war of the Third Coalition (that is, the coalition against the French revolutionaries) in 1805, France seemed invincible. Napoleon had defeated a potent coalition of Russia, Great Britain, Austria and Sweden. Austria was quickly put out of the war at Austerlitz in 1805, and, once Prussia entered the war as a Russian ally, Napoleon quickly put them out of commission as well. Only the intercession of Alexander himself saved Prussia from mass genocide. Importantly, Georgia had asked Russia for protection from both the Turks and the Persians, and Orthodox Georgia voluntarily became part of the Russian empire by 1810. The resulting Russo-Persian war lasted from 1804'1813, and the additional Russo-Turkish war lasted from 1806-1812. In other words, by the time Napoleon invaded in 1812, Russia was fighting a three-front war already, and the war with Persia lasted another year as Russia was also expected to kick out Napoleon, who had defeated everyone of significance on the European continent. The fact that Russia won all three wars is not seen as a victory by the Anglo-American establishment for the Russian state system or its administration or form of government. Odd.
Nevertheless, Napoleon invaded Russia in June of 1812. The causes of Napoleon's discontent with Russia were many. Russia struggled, without allies, after the fall of Prussia and Austria against Napoleon until 1808. Napoleon was angered at Russia's refusal to assist in the blockade of Austria which Napoleon had enforced. Napoleon did not support Russian aims in the Balkans. Napoleon took much of Poland that had been partitioned, creating the Duchy of Warsaw, which included Orthodox Galicia. Napoleon was even able to bully prostrate Austria and Prussia to invade Russia, in spite of the fact that Prussia owed its existence to Alexander. Napoleon invaded with a massive multi-lingual and multi-ethnic army of roughly 600,000, the largest ever assembled in Europe until that time. Russia faced her with a bit over 100,000, which is amazing given the inhuman number of wars Russia was forced to fight simultaneously.
Even Russia's defeat at Borodino in September of 1812 was a Pyrrhic victory for the French, as they suffered many casualties; the same could be said about the battle of Smolensk earlier in the year. The peasantry proved their loyalty to Old Russia by joining in the fighting, defending their homesteads and then, as strategy required, burning them and retreating. As Napoleon began the retreat as winter came in, peasants joined Kozak forces in decimating the remainder of the French infantry. Napoleon's supply lines were overstretched as Russians burned everything before the Grand Dictator. He was heard to exclaim: "What ferocious determination! What a people.'" as he saw the Kremlin burn (Hosking, 2000: 251). The French monstrosity was finished as the winter set in. He was, as is well known, driven back right into downtown Paris, and Alexander had nearly a free hand in reorganizing Europe in the post-Napoleonic era, typified by the Holy Alliance. The people stood behind Alexander, as only a handful in court circles preached defeatism (Risanovsky, 1993: 313).
Nevertheless, the Anglo-American literature becomes a bit nervous when dealing with enthusiastic peasants fighting the French scion of liberalism. They often, as Hosking does, nervously quip that it is impossible that they could have supported the existing order, but, likely, they were fighting with the idea that they would no longer be serfs after the liberation of Russia. Hosking interprets peasant demands as Napoleon was defeated as another rebellion of Old Russia against the West. It is only rarely interpreted this way, however. He writes: "After a disorder of December 1812, in Pezna guberniia, the peasants responsible confessed that they had intended to kill all the officers, go to the front themselves, and defeat the French, then beg the Tsar's forgiveness and request volia1 in return for their valor" (2000:252). It might well be true that the peasant enthusiasm was unwelcome by westernized elite officers and oligarchs. This is because peasant patriotism was that of Old Russia, the notion of free homesteads under Tsar and Church, not the order of capitalist standardization the likes of Stroganov could not wait to impose on them. It was an agrarian populist nationalism and Christian royalism, not western oligarchical capitalism and Masonry. Nonetheless, millions of peasants fought the remnants of the Grand Army into France itself, for faith and fatherland, not for the "Committee on Public Safety" or for "progress."
From September 1814 until June of the following year, Russia and the rest of Europe took up the task of redrawing Europe's boundaries. Alexander, who earned the right to chair the conference de facto, had this plan: first Poland was to be resuscitated and provided with substantial territory. She was to be in personal union with Russia. Secondly, in order to pull this off, Alexander sought the support of Prussia, backing its claim to Saxony. Therefore, Alexander sought an alliance with Poland and Prussia. It need not be surprising that England and Austria balked at this, and an alternative compromise was worked out. More important, however, was the idea of the Holy Alliance. Academic history treats this idea harshly, mainly because they think nothing is actually holy except tenure, and also that they are committed revolutionaries in the liberal sense. The Holy Alliance, of course, was meant to be a union of Christian monarchs against revolution and liberalism. Therefore, it is unlikely that one could find an actual objective treatment of it, particularly in an academic environment so unhealthy and ideologically motivated.
*** *** ***
Part of Alexander's idea of moral regeneration in the post-Napoleonic era was the so-called Bible society. In short, it was a bad idea. It was a Masonic and ecumenical idea that comprised the major churches in Europe under Alexander's leadership to translate and disseminate the Slavonic Bible into modern Russian (among other languages). Of course, the Bible had always been available to the common people (who had much of it memorized, and the Kozaks memorized the Psalms to endure tortures by the enemy after capture), but the westernizing reforms of the post-Petrine era made spoken i.e., upper class -Russian increasingly distant from the older language. However, the ad hoc nature of this linguistic development made translation difficult and those problems held up the process. In short, this developing modern Russian was not, in the opinion of some, suited for Scriptural language; its vocabulary was that of the peasants and the bureaucrat, not of King David. Unsurprisingly, it was not long before the Bible society was issuing Masonic and German pietistic tracts. Nonetheless, the Bible society had translated the New Testament into several languages of the Empire including Estonian, Finnish, Armenian, Georgian, Tartar and others.
After the guttering out of liberalism in the bloodshed of Napoleon and the earlier French Directorate, Alexander honestly sought alternative options to its clarion call. Due to the clear connections between liberal ideology, oligarchy and moneyed power, liberalism was not an easy system to derail. Alexander, a bit pessimistic after the Vienna Congress, sought solace in the various sectarian ideas that were invading the country from western Europe. The intelligent patristic scholar, the Archimandrite (Abbot) Photius, fought the Masonic Bible society and the sectarian mentality that informed it. Photius is often called an "obscurantist" by the likes of ecumenical historians such as Pospielovsky, but, given the parameters of the Anglo-American establishment (which Pospielovsky is a part), "obscurantist" is a code word for "sincere and truly Orthodox Christian." In other words, it is a pseudo-academic code for "Old Russia." The good abbot Photius won, thank God, and the Bible society was terminated. It was Photius w-ho first warned Alexander about the nature of the sectarians, about the gnostics and its violently anti-Orthodox polemics. It was quite clear that a victory for the sectarian occult meant the end of Russia as a nation and as a royal state, which is another way of saying that a major bastion of anti-revolutionary thought was to be destroyed. Again, what masquerades in the halls of state universities as Enlightened theology ends up being a cynical and crass method for the occult to take power and institute another Committee for Public Safety. Archimandrite Photius is called an "obscurantist" because he was the first to deal with the connection between a revolution in theology and its necessary concomitant revolution in politics and morals. Such a revolution has already been accomplished in France with the aid of the Marquis de Sade and his advocacy of the ritual mutilation of women as the chief doctrine of the revolutionary catechism. E. Michael Jones writes on his chapter on de Sade and the French Revolution, which could not be more relevant here:
For, if anyone can make the claim that he fired the first shot in the sexual revolution, it is Marquis de Sade. This is so for a number of reasons. First of all, because sexual revolution is, if not synonymous with revolution in the modern sense of the word, then certainly it is contemporaneous, and to the Marquis de Sade goes the additionally dubious distinction of starting the French Revolution. Sexual revolution is not, on the other hand, synonymous with sexual sin, which has been with us for as long as sexual organs have existed in men whose reason, and not instinct, determined how they were to be governed. Sexual revolution is something slightly different from sexual vice, although it is certainly based on that. Sexual revolution is the political mobilization of sexual vice. In this respect, it differs as well from seduction, which is the manipulation of sexual vice for less than global political ends; it also differs from prostitution, which is the manipulation of sexual vice for financial gain. Sexual revolution makes use of both of these things, but it is more global in scale (20).
Of course, the French Revolution, as well as many of the occultists who were ritually slicing off women's breasts and elevating a prostitute to the throne of the archbishop of Paris during the French Revolution, can easily be compared with the mass sexual orgies (admitted by such as Risanovsky) by various sectarian groups that die state needed to fight. Only Photius figured out the connection between the "invisible Napoleon," that is the assault on Orthodoxy and Old Russia by sectarian ideas, the sexual revolution which they preached, and the political revolution that would be its necessary successor given the trajectory of these unleashed passions. Hosking condemns Photius, as all his colleagues do, for believing there to be a "conspiracy" to destroy the Russian nation. Of course, such a conspiracy is a matter of historical record. All revolutions are conspiracies. It was the conspiracy of a set of secret societies that began the French Revolution; a set of secret societies caused the Menshevik revolution (Kerensky had reached the Masonic 33rd degree), a set of Masonic ritual groups around the Italian Carbonari began that country's revolution against the Habsburgs. In America, the "Sons of Liberty" were members of a local Masonic lodge. Historically, it is not the Anglo-American establishment that has the facts, but a simple "obscurantist" abbot in Russia who put his finger in the sorest spot of all, and has earned earthly condemnation for his prescience. In other words, it hit the western mind where it hurts, its own brand of obscurantism, the connection between rampant passions and political revolution.
The Bible society was a strange episode in Russian history. It must be understood that the society around the elite in St. Petersburg became increasingly corrupt, anti-religious and liberal as the nineteenth century wore on. It further must be kept in mind that "revolution" was something almost completely confined to a handful of super-rich westernizing oligarchs around the Tsar, as the Decembrists were later to prove. Cultists had penetrated many wealthy Petersburg families, leading to the social chaos such things bring to families, as they are meant to do. Further, it would be an error to assume, as many do, that the peasantry was not far more familiar with the contents of the Scriptures (especially the Gospels) than the average scholar in a "Russia studies" institute. The village culture was saturated, in nearly every respect, with biblical imagery. Folk culture was Christian through and through. Sermons were now a regular part of the Church services, and the contents of the gospels were explained to the peasantry each Sunday and feast day. The liturgy, the Jesus Prayer and the monastic typicon were something quite familiar to the pious peasant at any level; it was a part of being Russian. All literate people were schooled on the Scriptures as their primer for reading. Include the constant presence of icons, readings from the lives of the saints (again as a central cultural inheritance for Russians), the proximity of monasteries to every village, and village stories of their own holy ones, it is not then a stretch to believe that the average "illiterate" peasant did not have a firmer grasp of basic Christian practice than the modern ecumenical "theologian" at St. Vladimir's Seminary today.
It is therefore hard to believe that the society did not have a far more sinister purpose than the mere dissemination of the Bible in whatever certain scholars agreed "modem Russian" was. The society, at least, was a misconceived and suspect enterprise. For any society or group including a foreign government -to understand what was obvious, that Russia was Orthodox and one was easily conflated with another, and that Orthodoxy was the basis for the common culture, and, further, that Russia was a major bulwark against revolution, it was an easy deduction that Orthodoxy needed to be destroyed, and, therefore, Russia would follow. Again, this is the meaning behind Photius' famous statement concerning the "invisible Napoleon." The physical Napoleon was defeated, but the invisible specter of Masonic revolution was just gaining strength.
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A quick note should be added here about the so-called "military settlements." After the fall of Speransky in 1812, a new figure, one almost universally hated by the establishment historians worldwide, appeared, the very able and fanatically loyal General Alexis Arakcheev. The notion of "military settlements" was simple: soldiers should not be away from their families for too long a period, and that in providing soldiers with productive farming implements and newer and more suitable housing, their morale and fighting effectiveness would improve. Further, because the settlements were self-supporting, the cost to the treasury would be drastically reduced. The settlements would be pictures of order, with the basic family routine set down on paper and to be adhered to scrupulously. In many ways, the settlements were naive and Utopian, true result of the standardization proceeding apace from Peter onwards. On the other hand, it may be considered an ingenious attempt to raise the standard of living of soldiers and their families as well as stimulate the economics in the surrounding areas. Peasants too, were placed under this discipline in many areas as an aggressive way to "reform" their lifestyle. Nonetheless, the harsh discipline and basic Utopian nature of the plan led to the idea being scuttled. However, such an activist monarch pursuing such reforms for the good of his subjects and soldiers has few antecedents in western Europe. Nicholas I abolished the settlements and fired Arakcheev.
1That is, the immediate reversion of the lands the peasants worked to legal peasant ownership.
11. Nicholas I and the Decembrists.
The War for Russia Widens
"Respect the Law, and by your example teach others to respect it. If the Law is broken by the Tsar it will not be obeyed by the people. Spread education. The benefits of Order and Law are appreciated only by an educated people. Give heed to public opinion: it often enlightens the Tsar. It is his faithful ally and a stern judge of those who carry out its will. Love freedom. It stands for Equity. It interprets the generosity of the Tsar and the liberty of the people. The Tsar's love of freedom strengthens the obedience of his subjects. Govern not by Force, but by Order. The true might of the Tsar lies not in the size of his armies, but in the prosperity of his people. Chose worthy and capable counselors. Pride blinds the Tsar and places him in the power of service courtiers, unmindful of his honor and of the public good. Respect your people and they will be worthy of respect. Love your people. The people will not love the Tsar if he does not love them. Be not disheartened by the World, but keep forever in your heart the vision of the beautiful and a belief in good, which is your faith in God. You will thus be saved from despising humanity, for to despise humanity is deadly for one who is called on to reign."
The left in Russia developed from many things. It is rather uncontroversial to simply claim that western influences (which at this time meant revolutionary ideas) were providing the "educated" classes in the country with a new conceptual apparatus to view political events. Their consciousness suitably raised, the oligarchy began to understand that their personal wealth, prestige and power would be immensely widened if the royal family were "limited" in its power or eliminated altogether. Certainly, as this work has shown, the Russian royal family was likely the most limited in Europe, having little to do with the day to day life of the peasant commune. "Royal" police did not exist in the countryside, and, until emancipation, there was no presence of royal power outside of the district. Police powers in rural Russia resided in the bargaining agreements reached between commune and landlord, and even the law enforcement agents at this level were elected by the commune. The rural form of government could be best described as rural communal anarchy.
It is fairly clear, therefore, that the rebellion against the monarch derived from the interests of the oligarchy itself. It is often the case that a political group with a certain agenda will couch its personal and corporate interests in "universalized" rhetoric for the purposes of mobilization. It is one thing to speak of Razin and Bolotnikov, which were Orthodox and nationalist rebellions, the traditionalist "land" against the urban and cosmopolitan liberals and centralizers. It is another to deal with the existence of an abstract liberalism, that is, abstract in the sense that it posited "rights" and "duties" that were not part of any specific lifestyle or extant structure concerning "freedom," but not a freedom to do anything in particular. There was the concept of liberty, but little in the way of exactly what one was supposed to do with it. Liberalism in Russia during the time of Nicholas I and afterwards was purely the interests of the upper oligarchy demanding their share of power. They demanded the destruction of traditional communal arrangements (always in the name of a purely abstract and theoretical "liberty") in the countryside so this class could exploit "free" labor rather than having to go through layers of authority to get to the individual peasant -and dominate what had heretofore been a fairly free and prosperous peasantry, left alone and governed by very traditional structures of power and bargaining.
To destroy the commune, to destroy peasant governance and their traditional checks and balances was to isolate the peasant as an "individual." Once he was removed from the communal structure, ultimately protected and empowered by the Tsar, this poor soul was now at the mercy of the oligarchy without the myriad protections of the traditional peasant structure of authority. It might be true that the peasant did not have the abstract "rights" liberal political theory posits, but his commune did have substantial juridical power. To destroy some of these traditional arrangements by destroying royal power was, therefore, the primary goal of the new bourgeois developing during the time of the Decembrist "revolt."
But outside of the necessary "material conditions" that would lead to oligarchical government, other influences were at work. The increasing influences of the sects have been mentioned. Nearly all promised an easy life, one without the rigors of fasting and monastic discipline Orthodox traditional life had always, and properly, said were necessary to root out die effect of sin, that is, the lack of self control and discipline and increasing laxity of the mind against the demands of the "flesh." It was fairly easy, therefore, for sectarians, who would provide the impressionable and presumptuous salon ladies with their exoteria: sexual liberation (of course), no dogma (they would find the dogma after they were initiated), no fasting, no long Church services, no clergy etc. Of course, to further diminish the influences of the episcopacy was also very important to die liberal revolutionaries as well, and therefore a clear symbiotic relationship at least ideologically -developed between liberalism and the sects. The rise of contemporary New Age exoteria and its completely leftist agenda is a continuation of the same notions and connections.
Further, the sectarians also fed into the development of the secret societies that began to function after the defeat of Napoleon. James Billington, in his very prosaic The Icon and the Axe, makes a common mistake by claiming that some of the secret societies were monarchist and traditionalist. Billington is normally very bourgeois in his interpretations of Russian culture (that he ultimately does not understand), but to believe that such societies supported the royal order is absurd. Of course, if they were truly supporters of Russian Tsarism, they would not need to be secret. Furthermore, it is clear from the papers of the Masonic cults in America, such as from Albert Pike or Manley Hall, to name two major examples, or the Carbonari in Italy, to name another, that to put on a "patriotic" front (exoteria) so as to disguise the inner core of doctrine (the esoteria) is generally a common tactic. Billington is generally naive when he takes the alleged ideas of the secret societies at face value. For if Russia was a "despotism" under Nicholas I as he claims (it was not), then it would be in the interest of the cults to lie about their intentions. They would not need to be secret cults if they were merely patriotic organizations.
Of course, it is very clear that the Masonic ideology in Russia was no different than elsewhere. To the extent the cults came from France, which is a common opinion in the literature, then the esoteria was likely the most radical of all. Liberal politics, the destruction of Tsarism, the creation of an ecumenical "living Church" with its equally vapid "living tradition," and, of course, complete freedom of trade and commerce is basically culled from numerous Masonic tracts from the continent, then and now the program of Masonry at the political level. The modern Baha'i cult is a contemporary example of this same phenomena: a fashionable and well funded group who claims to be merely about "tolerance" and self-improvement (exoteria), is actually an organization preaching revolution and leftist, one world government and religion (esoteria). But this level of its agenda is generally not spoken of except to convinced insiders. This is why secret societies are secret: they have a secret doctrine known only to initiates. Otherwise they would not have any "secrets." Hosking (2000) writes that the Union of Welfare's public arm was devoted "like the Masons, to philanthropy, education, justice and morality." Of course, he does not bother to wonder why one would need for form a secret society anywhere (such as in America or England) dedicated to such principles. Liberal historian S. Utechin, writes in his (1963) Russian Political Thought:
The political Masonic organization ... largely prepared the overthrow of the monarchy in 1917, supplied most of the leading members of the provisional government, and inspired many of the Provisional governments administrative and social reforms.
Nonetheless, these are the basic ideas that informed the creation of leftist, esoteric cults throughout Russia, the various organizations of the Decembrists, who wished to overthrow Tsardom after the death of Alexander I, merely being a drop in the bucket. Historians generally deal only with the public pronouncements of such groups as the "United Slavs" or the "Union of Salvation" without attempting to delve into their inner ideological core, the agenda that they did not feel comfortable talking about in public. Gregory Mazour Anatole's (1961) The First Russian Revolution: 82 15, because it is largely a puff piece about the events surrounding Nicholas I's ascension to the throne, does not attempt to provide anything about the ideological bases of these groups except the most trite liberal phrases and slogans.
Paul Pestel, leader of the Decembrist Southern Society (from a schism within the liberal movement) and was an admitted Jacobin. Normally spoken of in the most glowing terms, he actually wanted a Directorate and terror in Russia to impose his plans for a "unitary state" dedicated to a "New Order." As always, he demanded the liberation of serfs (from the commune as well as from the landlords) to the tender mercies of the New Order and the upper oligarchy and the expropriation of land from the lower gentry who were the most numerous in terms of serf control. Hosking (2000), a friend of the Decembrists which is a condition for being hired to teach Russian history writes: "The Northern Society was run by a triumvirate from ancient aristocratic families, Nikita Muraview, Evgnii Obolenskii and Sergei Trubetskoi+.... The conspirators had little support among the common people or even among the rank and file soldiers, for whom their ideas had little resonance." (263). Riasanovsky (1993) admits that the Decembrists came from "aristocratic families and elite regiments." (320)
In other words, the exoteria might well be reconstructed as a New Order based on oligarchical control and French revolutionary methods, disenfranchising the Church as well as the lower gentry, in other words, the guardians of the traditional order. The "ancient aristocracy," then, was a modernist oligarchy, who demanded "liberal reforms" because it was these which would destroy serfdom, the commune, and thereby introduce a capitalist order where the upper classes could exploit peasant labor, completely unprotected by communal structures. The very fact that scholars such as Florinsky or Billington refuse to wonder why it was always the upper reaches of the oligarchy who demanded "liberal reforms," and why the rebellions of the lower classes were always explicitly populist, nationalist and Orthodox certainly casts doubt on their analytic ability, or even their willingness to buck the system in interpreting the motives of the "revolutionaries."
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Alexander I died on November 19,1825. There was some confusion as to the succession. By normal procedure, it would have been Constantine, Alexander's oldest brother. However, his libido got the best of him and he found himself in sexual thrall to a Polish aristocratic salon woman who likely made him renounce the throne. Thank God, for the throne went to a brilliant, motivated and energetic man named Nicholas. Alexander had confirmed the succession to him in his own writing shortly before his death. Unfortunately, Nicholas Viad not seen the document, and, upon Alexander's death, Nicholas quickly swore allegiance to Constantine. Nicholas, however, even after reading the manifesto, still insisted that Constantine, following proper procedure, should be Tsar. Constantine, unsurprisingly, had another "agenda." Finally, Nicholas gave in and took the throne. No one in the English language literature even provides a stray comment of how extraordinary Nicholas' behavior during this time was. He could have easily taken the throne right after Alexander's death, but, given proper procedure, he insisted it go to his elder brother. The reign of Nicholas I was not about his own self interest, unlike his brother's interest in his libido. Nicholas in many ways was a model monarch, selfless and disciplined.
Due to this confusion, the secret sects began to realize that they had a unique situation. Normally, the esoteria of secret cults is the famous Masonic slogan "ordo ab chao"; order from chaos. Chaos and confusion are necessary to bring about social change because people are more suggestible in a state of agitation than a state of peace. The revolutionaries of the next generation utilizing terror bombings were well aware of that basic psychological fact. Because of the confusion the army was also confused as to the situation the occult decided to stage a rebellion and bring the Jacobin revolution to Russia. They did it as they always have: through lies and manipulation, all for the "greater good," of course. They were able to convince a few regiments that there was no such "manifesto" granting the throne to Nicholas, and that Constantine was the true Tsar.
It is ironic that the Jacobins were using the loyalties to Tsardom of the soldiers to stage their republican revolution. The soldiers who were talked this way into supporting the Masonic conspiracy were confused and refused to fight upon reaching the Senate Square. Nicholas was aware of these difficulties and refused, as well, to use force. He sent a metropolitan to speak to the rebels and get them to reconsider their silly action, but the "lovers of humanity" shot him dead for absolutely no reason (this incident is left out of Riasanovsky's account). After an entire day of standoff, Nicholas reluctantly brought out cannon, and the mindless murderers were scattered. Hundreds were arrested, though the overwhelming majority were soon released, as they were merely simple soldiers who were lied to by the Masonic conspiracy. This in short, was the "Decembrist rebellion."
Because of Nicholas' insistence on royal tradition over Jacobin lawless oligarchy, he receives the most biased and unfair treatment by historians who should know better. There is no support for Nicholas in the English language literature whatsoever, so tight is the academic noose around writing in this field. As always, however, it was the most autocratic, Orthodox and traditional of the monarchs who were the best leaders and greatest reformers. This is so for one important reason: a monarch must be rather aloof from the other centers of power that exist in any society. He must be able to fairly adjudicate disputes from each estate or class according, not by class bias or any other such thing, but from the interests of national and state unity and stability. This is his job. It is a particularly difficult and lonely one. Without this, he cannot be considered a monarch, never mind a good monarch. What is more pleasing is that Nicholas I did his job splendidly. He was stem but fair, harsh on leftist revolutionism but, as he proved in the aftermath of the Decembrist oligarchical "uprising," merciful and, in short, very Orthodox in his vision of the state and his role in it.
Riasanovsky claims, with some justification, that Nicholas preferred to go outside of established channels to run the state machinery. In other words, he would use ad hoc committees and meetings to put forth his agenda, making the normal channels, the Senate and his body of appointed ministers, increasingly unimportant. This shows one important thing: that, regardless of Nicholas' admiration for Peter I, he, like his grandson, did not trust the increasing centralization and regularization of the state and society. Knowing full well that such elite bureaucratic devices were a major means of undermining autocratic authority in favor of the control of the new bourgeois and careerist "civil servants," he simply bypassed these channels. What became the major organ of reform was His Majesty's Own Chancery, which Nicholas made into his specific organ of governmental administration. Further, given the legacy of the liberal Decembrists and his knowledge of the oligarchical designs on his throne, he strengthened the police and created a new bureaucracy for it, the famous Third Department of His Own Chancellery. As always, since at least Basil III, the perennial worry was the oligarchs and members of the aristocratic far reaches where the revolution was being hatched, not among the workers or peasants. As always, authors rail against Nicholas' attacks on the "Russian people," when in fact by "people" here, is meant the upper oligarchy who were plotting against Nicholas, his predecessors and his successors.
Nicholas' major victories as Tsar (apart from instilling fear in the spoiled, dilettante revolutionaries) were major improvements in the life of state peasants,1 as well as a serious revision of Russian law which lasted until 1917. This reform was carried out in 1838, when the state peasants were given full self government. The reforms of Nicholas concerning the state peasants were the model Alexander II would use for his emancipation of all private peasants, though this obvious fact is mentioned nowhere in the literature, so determined are English-speaking academics to make Nicholas to look like a tyrant.
Nonetheless, the local level of state peasant organization was to transform the commune into a communal village, where the village, with delegations consisting of two people for every 10 households, was to vote to elect a elect a starshina (headman) as well as set up the local court system which was chaired by this elder with 2 other judges elected by the communal assembly. Several of these rural communes would be combined into a township, consisting of about 6,000 heads of household. A mayor was then elected that was answerable to and could be removed by the peasants. Above this was the district or county, led by a superintendent whose powers varied from place to place and time to time. Lastly, the provincial level was run buy a board of state domains answerable directly to the Tsar.
Many abuses in serfdom were corrected, such as the practice of separating families. This practice was always against the law anyway, but, given the inability of the Tsardom to reach the countryside, such laws remained like western "rights" mere formalities. Thankfully, under Nicholas, the method of deciding levels of taxation was shifted from people (a modern invention from Peter I) to land, which was closer to Russian tradition.
Further, in the realm of foreign policy, Russia's vibrant system of rule led to two major victories, one against the Persians (again) in 1828, and another against the Turks in 1829. Russia, in order to counter British and Turkish moves in the southwest and in central Asia, continued to press southward, a necessity that led to the present problems between Russia and "Chechnya." Furthermore, Nicholas, determined to right the wrongs committed by Poland against traditionally Orthodox and Russian areas, ordered a campaign of Russification in the regions formerly controlled by Poland, and Russian language and Orthodoxy were reimposed where Poland had imposed Latin and Catholicism centuries earlier. The program was naive, but clearly just in its theoretical basis. Russification, in short, was a means to reclaim areas that had been controlled by Catholic powers and converted by force for 300 years. Millions of "Uniates" came back to Orthodoxy under this program in 1839-40.
The Convention of Berlin was signed in 1833, which was a continuation of Alexander's Holy Alliance, and included Russia, Prussia and Austria. It was designed to fight liberal and communist revolutions in Europe and to save their peoples from the bloodbaths such "revolutions" bring. Nicholas I saved the Austrian Empire in 1848 when revolutionaries in Vienna nearly toppled the monarchy. Nicholas I invaded the country and reinstalled its legitimate government. However, liberalism and communism had captured the moneyed classes and therefore, made this diabolical hydra a difficult monster to defeat. As always, the common people were generally traditional and Christian, while the oligarchy, seething with resentment against legitimism, joined (or more accurately created) revolutionary groups to topple them. Nicholas wisely understood the ongoing fraud and interceded to defend the peace and justice that royal rule had created in Europe. Unfortunately, his legacy eventually lost as World War I destroyed the remainder of tradition in Europe, leading, of course, to the immediate imposition of financial control, smokestack industries and the destruction of the communal peasant order. Unsurprisingly, the trajectory of revolution was to end in its esoteria, Bolshevism for Russia and nearly so for Germany and Italy. "Mass society" was created on the corpse of Nicholas I's vision for Europe. Unfortunately for European culture though fortunate for academic careers royalism gave way to its only substitute, oligarchy, soon enough. Power was now directed at the naked and ignorant individual (who was armed with a group of theoretical "rights" as a cheap Rousseauian substitute for communal protection) in a way that traditional monarchy could not conceive.
Ironically, despite leftist scholars' prattle about Nicholas' "reign of terror" and his "censorship," literary culture flourished in Russia under his reign. Nicholas personally applauded the first stage production of Nicholas Gogol's The Inspector General, which was a satire on the incompetence of the civil service. It had been banned in Berlin. The Slavophile/Western debate flourished, and "subversive" ideas were bandied about regularly. Karamzin, Pushkin, Polevoi, Khomiakov, Kavelin and a host of others functioned under Nicholas "reign of terror," creating a lively literary culture still terribly misunderstood by western intellectuals. The Church at this time was increasingly vibrant, with missionary efforts that had long reached southern California. A host of American saints were added to the Russian calendar commemorating new found sanctity in America. The Aleut natives, without literacy or even the most fundamental attributes of a culture of any kind, were provided with an alphabet and literature by the great St. Innokentii of Moscow and North America, who later, due to his superhuman abilities, became Metropolitan of Moscow near the end of his life. The resurgence of monastic life through the Optima and Valaam sketes proceeded apace, and the rejection of asceticism in the West was easily challenged and answered by this new crop of monastic writers and scholars such as Macarius or Leo of Optima.
Much of this is not even remotely alluded to in the blissful world of the spoiled and tenured. The censorship was little different in Russia under Nicholas I than it presently is in American universities, where even the slightest "offense" taken by a "minority" student can lead to the expelling of any poor white student not yet initiated into the Tenured New Order. While it is true that those who recommended violent destruction and revolution as their creed (such as Herzen, who Isaiah Berlin called "his hero") were exiled to America, American universities take action against harmless teenagers who may have expressed mildly politically incorrect opinions. The censorship over what gets published on the academic presses on Russian history, where only the most hackneyed, virulent and jejune diatribes against the Romanovs get published, is far harsher than anything Nicholas I ever imposed. It never seems to dawn on academic elites such as Riasanovsky or Bruce Lincoln that the censorship in Revolutionary France was far more totalitarian than anything in Nicholas I's Russia. Russian Tsardom was imposed by explicit consent; liberalism must be imposed by force.
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It would be a strange omission if this section did not make mention of Nicholas I's official motto for the governance of Russia: Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality. It is almost, at this point in the narrative, unnecessary to explain why these three ingredients were chosen. All three are absolutely necessary for Russia to have functioned at all, and all three were necessary for revolution and bloodshed to be stopped. All three, most importantly, were necessary for anyone to understand Russian history or to understand what makes Russia a unique cultural and political entity, rather than merely as a superficial "cultural unit" of the New World Order.
Orthodoxy had long proved itself as the chief unifier of the Russian people and the primary means whereby she identified herself. Now, this present book is not meant to be apologetic in nature (that is for a later book), and therefore, the question of western papism and Protestantism will not be dealt with, but suffice it to say that Orthodoxy was Russia's link with Greece and Rome, its link with Byzantium and the Mideast, and made up nearly the entirety of its culture until the present period in this narrative. Nevertheless, contrary to tenured opinion, an official religious denomination does not mean the "suppression" of others. It is one thing to keep watch on Roman Catholics, who historically had been part of the military efforts of Russia's enemies, but it is quite another to deal with Muslims, who received a Russian translation of the Quoran and swore their oath of allegiance to the Emperor, not on a Bible, but on the Koran itself. Official Orthodoxy had nothing to do with disenfranchising other "religions," it merely stated a fact: that there could have been no Russia without Orthodoxy and that the Orthodox faith and hierarchy maintained the idea and independence of Russia through the harshest times in human history, times that western Europe never experienced.
Riasanovsky writes in his famous Nicholas I and Official Nationality in Russia 1825-1855: "Furthermore, throughout his life Nicholas I was bent on improving himself morally and spiritually; and while one may question the results of his efforts, there is no reason to doubt his sincerity" (86). And further, "Nicholas I, Uvarov [his Minister of Education], Pogodin, Shevrev, Gogol and even Bulgarin, as well as many others, all wanted to educate their fellow countrymen morally and spiritually, to make them good Christians and perfect Russians. The main means for the achievement of this purpose were the family and the school" (91). In other words, "official nationality" was not merely a slogan, it was a plan to regenerate Russian morality and their communion with God. It was an attempt to do what modern political science says cannot be done: uplift the moral basis of the citizens. It was a means to unify the country that, as always, had many enemies and still faced areas of vulnerability, as the wars in Crimea or Port Arthur were to show.
It has been charged by the likes of Riasanovsky and many others that "religion" did little more than preach obedience to the Tsar. Of course, as the massive amount of ascetic literature churchmen were producing at this time goes unnoticed by "Russia scholars," this author wonders why the preaching of obedience to an Orthodox Tsar is such a problem to the self-appointed preachers of "liberty." The Tsar was Orthodox, he subsidized the Church, he subsidized missionary efforts throughout the empire and beyond it. He was personally pious and just in his dealings with people. He insisted on the primacy of Russian tradition. Why exactly should the Church oppose him? The leftists who dominate Russian historiography in America despise the Church's loyalty to the Tsar because they realize what Herzen realized before them: that the union between Tsar and Church meant that the system was reinforced and maintained the loyalty of the massive majority of the Russian population in most respects. Simply, the Church acting in concert with a Christian Tsar meant that the system was that much more reinforced and insulated from their well-subsidized propaganda.
Autocracy is important for one reason: the Jacobins, champing at the bit to plunge Russia into their own brand of the French Terror, knew that the only real force acting against them that had any coercive power was the monarchy. Whether it be France in 1780, Austria in 1848 or Germany in 1918, the extreme left in politics, romanticized by the hallucinogenic radicals in American universities, knew that once the monarchy was gone, the society will not long have the focus of unity necessary to resist them. Therefore, no matter what else, the Masonic revolutionaries, in whatever country they were found in this era, had one thing in mind: to destroy the monarchy and those loyal to it. Nicholas Gogol, the famous Russian writer and believer in "Official Nationality," had this to say of the necessity of autocracy in Russia:
Why is it necessary that one of us should require a position above all others and even above the law? Because law is wooden; man feels that law contains something harsh and unbrotherly. One will not get far merely with a letter-perfect execution of the law. But none of us should break the law or fail to comply with it. That is why we need supreme grace to mitigate the law, as it can come to men only in the form of absolute power. A state without an absolute monarch is an automaton, (quoted in Riasanovsky, 1967: 98).
This statement is profound and needs interpreting. Riasanovsky quotes it and then moves on, not mentioning it again. From his point of view, such a passing mention of Gogol's opinion makes sense, for it refutes the smug and unargued assumptions of that fraud "liberal democracy," a belief in which is such a requirement of academic thinking and promotion. Within that famous quote from that equally famous writer comes the arguments and justification for the autocratic state.
The first sentence is telling. In liberal democracies, those who have the most ambition to rule are those who run for office. Nicholas showed the opposite that, even when the crown was handed to him, he rejected it in favor of the (formal) heir apparent. Only under pressure did he accept the crown. In democratic thinking, only the ambitious and obnoxious are capable of doing what is necessary to get elected. American politicians are whores. They are forced to alter their views depending on the group that the politician is meeting with or speaking to. He is constantly asking for money with far less grace than a common prostitute. He often is entirely ignorant on the basic principles of political philosophy, including the philosophy that informs his own government. He is constantly campaigning, and therefore simply does not have the time to reflect, reason and improve himself. The American politician does not know the content of the bills he is voting on, as the average bill in the American Congress is between 500 and 2,000 pages long. His desire is single: to have some semblance of power and the ability to exploit it for personal gain. The average turnout from the American sheeple on an off-year Congressional election is at best 20 percent, proving that even the easily manipulated American populace no longer takes the charade seriously. Gogol has been proven absolutely correct through historical experience, not prosaic academic phrases and meaningless philosophical hairsplitting.
The notion of law here is also significant. Liberal democracy means that the "rule of law" dominates. This is another way of saying that whoever the oligarchy is capable of financing to electoral victory will make laws in their favor. Again this is a historical fact that derives from experience, not political philosophy. The notions of "natural rights," "free elections" and the "rule of law" are theoretical constructs, ideal types, so to speak, that are not realizable when society is largely controlled by those who have seized sufficient resources to control the application of those meaningless phrases in practice. In the United States, the "rule of law" has been "reinterpreted" to mean that corrupt judges control what is "law" and what is not. The social revolution since the late 1960s was controlled almost entirely by judges.
The idea of the law being "wooden" is the object of the criticism of the Slavophiles (see chapter 12), to wit, that the law, without the power of mercy behind it, becomes an alien force, an imposition. The average American does not understand the millions of pages of precedent and regulation that is daily put out in the Federal Register. Joe Sixpack and Sally Soccer Mom, further, have nothing to do with its formulation and absolutely nothing to do with its imposition. In other words, law is radically alien to western "liberal" and "modem" man. It is the product of moneyed interests who actually write the law, and faceless staffers and judicial clerks who write the actual text. For traditional and Christian societies, the law is manifested in the historical institution of the monarch, who can overthrow the law temporarily for hard cases and for the sake of mercy. Of course, for the overwhelming majority of the Russian peasants, law emanating from Petersburg was meaningless anyway, as their lives were governed by communal custom that had been ingrained on their consciousness, indeed was formative of that consciousness, since birth. For example, it was common in Orthodox Byzantium and Russia, every few years or so, to cancel the collection of back taxes and even order the cancellation of private debts. This was done for specific religious holidays, the ascension of a new monarch, victory in battle or just because the state was no longer able to afford the collection process. This, of course, is contrary to the rule of law. In modern oligarchical societies, the cancellation of private or public debt, for any reason, is unthinkable.
In post-modern oligarchies, it is often the case that the only social interaction of significance occurs within the court system, which is expensive and slow. It is "harsh and unbrotherly" because the regime, instead of insisting that personal disputes be solved by private and traditional authorities (such as the Church), demands it be brought before itself as the "supreme judge" of all private affairs. High priced lawyers dominate the proceedings for those who can afford them, and large concentrations of capital, with a few well-publicized exceptions, can easily dominate the courtroom through their veritable armies of counsel. However, to appeal to an authority that is far above both parties, as well as representing national tradition and history, is something rather different than dealing with Judge Judy. In this case, far more than naked precedent can be utilized in decision making. Russian Tsars heard hundreds of such petitions weekly, and the decision was based on the common good of the ethno-nation, deriving from a royal authority that was beholden to no moneyed interest, rather than a modern judiciary that is largely the product of political spoils.
The question of the state being an "automaton" without a monarchy derives from the interests of the oligarchy, constantly plotting against royal power, to standardize the "law" so as to make it amenable to contract enforcement and profit. Because the Tsar had the power (only found in autocratic monarchs) to mitigate the control of large estates, powerful landlords and powerful manufacturing enterprises could be silenced with no negative repercussions for the monarch, who was not dependent upon their power. Because "republicanism" represents the victory of those kinds of classes, it is absurd that such a system can do anything other than to reinforce the ideas that benefit them. The notion of the "smooth" running of the law is to make the system amenable to those who control it. Monarchy, on the other hand, could not be controlled, for the Tsar himself was absolute and was "equidistant" from all alternative centers of power. For monarchy, in other words, law exists to the extent it is just and useful, not merely because it exists. There is nothing sacred about statutes or "constitutions" which are solely the product of compromise, legal wrangling and the influence of endogenous and exogenous social factors such as big money and media control.
Regardless, the "rule of law" empowers judges to distort the nature of any specific statute in any way according to their whims. The most any "citizen" can do is remain enmeshed in a web of legal technicalities for the remainder of his life, never receiving justice and likely going broke in the process. Again, the debate between modernism and monarchy needs to be handled on the level of experience, not on the level of high sounding phrases for the liberals, but bald history for the monarchists. The history, that is, the experience, of liberalism has been one of sordid oligarchical control, massification and moronization of citizens, the creation of the social atom, mass armies and massive world wars, the increasing gulf between the financial oligarchs and the working class, the removal of every conceivable protection for labor, judicial and media monopoly and control, mass suicide, occultism, abortion and divorce. That the corrupt and tenured academic class believes itself to have the authority to lecture their students on the "evils" of Nicholas I or Russian monarchy is outrageous, and comprises the cheap yellow journalism that marks the majority of "peer-reviewed academic publications" in what is left of "American republicanism" in 2003.
The notion of "nationality" in Nicholas' official motto creates a bit of confusion. As with the American literature on nationalism, the word still does not have an agreed upon meaning. Suffice it to say that the Slavophiles fully understood the distinctions between Russians and others. Russia was made in the furnace of invasion, poor soil and constant vulnerability; her language and customs reflect that. Her historical force was made by Orthodoxy, something that, in a radical way, made Russia completely distinct from the remainder of Europe as well as Asia.
For the Empire, the official ideologists of liberalism would intone in American universities that "nationality" made little sense because Russians only made up "half of the population, although Slavs made up the overwhelming majority, minorities such as Finns, Germans, and Tartars, though swearing allegiance to the Tsar, were given autonomy, and, indeed, as in Finland and Poland, their own constitutions. Oddly, such a notion of decentralization and autonomy that marked the Tsar's relations with the minorities generally does not enter into the official propagandist's idea of what "nationality" meant. In other words, different historical experiences meant different forms of rule and different sorts of political cultures. In the modem unitary state, the kind demanded by the leftist oligarchical revolutionaries in Russia or elsewhere, there is no room for ethnic pluralism; all are expected to assimilate. The Masonic United Slavs of the Decembrist "rebellion" believed in a version of this. On the other hand, traditional monarchy took the idea of nationalism far more seriously, making certain that the regions where non-Russians and non-Slavs predominated the Baltics, for example were not under the thumb of the Tsar, but were in enjoyment of their own notions of home rule, subject to the Tsar only in foreign policy. However, the question of nationality and its philosophical elucidation -will wait until chapter 12.
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The Crimean War (1853-1856) has received far more than its fair share of historical ink. Almost without exception, having conveniently ignored the victories against Persia and Turkey, English-language histories claim that the war with the remainder of Europe, ultimately lost by the Russians, "proved" that the system of Nicholas I was faltering. Russia won far more than she lost in foreign affairs, but these long lists of victories never seem to verify the health of the system, however.
The Treaty of Adrianopole, the result of Russia's victory against Turkey in 1829, ensured Russia's control over the Black Sea and the free passage of Russian trading ships through the Straits (including the Dardanelles), giving them access to the Mediterranean. Further, Russia had ensured that Turkey would acknowledge Russian protection over Christians living under Ottoman rule. England, of course, supported Turkey, for she wanted to penetrate further into central Asia, a course that Russia was thwarting with her victorious moves southward. Russia's annexation of central and western Asian territories was largely motivated to stop the expansion of the British Empire, as well as to control the theo-political ambitions of Persia and Turkey.
However, the provisions of the treaties (that is, Adrianopole in 1829, Unkiar Skelessi in 1833 and the later provisions of Kuchuk-kainardij) made many in Europe think that Russia was trying to convert the faltering Turkish empire into a client state. The British elite, who could not fathom further Russian advances in die south (specifically in the Mediterranean) that would threaten her position (she had a difficult enough time with Prussia in thus same respect) became alarmingly suspicious. It just was not possible that a "backward" society such as Russia could become this dominant. Perfidious Albion's conceptual crisis led her to prepare for war.
Nicholas I went to London in 1833 to try to avoid war, and even conceded that Russian warships, like all others, were barred from the Straits in the text of the so-called Straits Convention. However, the arrogance of French designs on the Mideast and the establishment of a "Latin patriarchate" in Jerusalem (Jerusalem had always been a Greek-speaking and Orthodox Church, the "Latin patriarchate" was a historical and political lie) continued to antagonize Russia. That the Near East had, since the dawn of Christianity, been Greek speaking and Orthodox did not seem to bother the arrogant and imperialist Catholic and pro-Catholic powers. That Russia was claiming to be the sole protector of Christians in the Mideast over the British (who could not protect their own British Christians, who now are forced to live in a pagan country) soon led to war, as the British envisaged Russian control over Constantinople as well as control over the entire corpse of the Ottoman Empire. Britain had met its rival on the international scene.
Britain and France landed troops in the Crimea to destroy the Black Sea fleet and its central base at Sevastopol in September of 1854- Further, it is clear why Russia would be so interested in this region: the famous interest in warm water ports, the defense of Orthodoxy against papal designs, as well as the protection of grain shipments from Russia to the rest of the world through the Mediterranean were legitimate causes for Russian concern. Britain, on the other hand, being an imperial power with no direct interest in the region, normally considered its colonies to be sources of raw materials and alternative markets for its capitalist overproduction. Nicholas I scrambled to avoid war by pulling troops out of the disputed regions and accepting many limitations on Russian power in Turkey. As Riasanovsky (1933) writes: "The war guilt at this stage should be divided principally among Turkey, France, Great Britain and even Austria, who pressed increasingly exacting demands on Russia" (337). The Russian position was clear: the Balkans and the remainder of the former Turkish Empire needed to be policed by the major European powers to keep them from decaying into civil war and power struggles as Turkey receded mercifully into history and dozens of new nations, each with their own agendas and ancient hatreds, became realities.
Russia won the earlier engagements in the war. She sank the Turkish fleet and took the "impenetrable" Turkish fortress at Kars. However, the fighting was concentrated at the fortified naval base at Sevastopol. The fortress held out for nearly a year even under daily bombardment by the coalition of France, England, Turkey and Sardinia. Europe controlled the seas and placed a complete blockade on the region. The Caucasus is very far from the major supply centers of Russia and, given the terrain, supply lines were easy to break and disrupt. The Russians were forced to take on all these nations by themselves, and the Austrians even occupied Moldova and distracted much of the Russian army there, though there were no hostilities. Russia's situation was extremely difficult and the European powers were using their most advanced weaponry on the isolated fortress, recently annexed to the Russian empire and therefore not well developed. Soon, typhus took the Russian camp. It was, without a doubt, one of the great heroic epochs of Russian history. Modern Anglo-American historiography, however, has done with its legacy what the American leftist press did with the Tet offensive: it took a heroic stand and turned it into an "embarrassment" for the system. The Crimea proved nothing except that western Europe needed to watch out for its military interests, for the Russians were willing to fight to the death to defend their homeland and the Tsar. The "Allies" suffered extremely heavy losses. Russia was forced, as part of the provisions of the Treaty of Paris in 1856, to give up its newfound possessions and to cede its right to protect Christians in the Holy Land, giving them to the tender mercies of the western European powers who were soon to give up the Christian faith altogether.
1.State peasants were not "owned" by private landlords. They were peasants who were directly under state authority. There was another group of peasants, mentioned in chapter 9, that were working directly for the royal family.
"Proshloe ne Proshlo":
12. The Slavophiles & the 19th Century.
...The war France is going to wage against Russia is not a political war at all but a holy war; that this is not a war between state and state, between nation and nation, but solely a war of religion; that all the other reasons put forward by the cabinets are merely pretexts; that the true cause of this war, the sacred cause, the cause agreeable to God, is the necessity of expunging the error of Photius, of repressing, suppressing this error; that this is the acknowledged goal of this crusade, and that this has been the hidden but unacknowledged goal of all the other crusades.
Archbishop Marie-Dorainique-Auguste Sibur, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Paris at the start of the Crimean War, 1855.
Alexei Khomiakov (1804-1860) is likely the most misunderstood thinker of the Russian nineteenth century. He is, frankly, the synthesis of Orthodox thinking on papism and the West, and thus represents a major intellectual threat to the unthinking liberalism of the American talking class and to the pseudo-morality of post-modem liberal capitalism. Khomiakov's critique of the West is multilayered and complex, taking in to itself metahistory, theology, metaphysics and political theory. Either from lack of desire or ability, there are few honest publications on the Slavophile phenomenon, and, honestly, this author believes the dons of "Russian history" prefer it that way. Therefore, like all else that is threatening about Holy Russia, Slavophilism is dismissed, slandered, and most importantly, completely misunderstood by the spoiled and tenured. Therefore, this brief chapter will be dedicated to the exposition of the Slavophiles' basic critique of the West, which deserves a chapter all to itself, so important is this basic synthesis of the Orthodox and Slavic understanding of philosophy and theology. In many respects, Russian history cannot be understood without understanding Slavophilism.
Khomiakov did not create the school of thought known as "Slavophilism." This set of concepts and critiques has been in existence as long as Orthodoxy has been. It is little more than the conceptualization of a traditional way of life, one neither accepted nor appreciated by western intellectuals or westernizing Russians. This author, having spent a lengthy period of time poring over the texts of the Slavophiles, has reduced the school to a set of propositions for the sake of clarity:
Now, this is a simplification, but it makes clear the essential point that social life is holistic: society, history and theology affect epistemology in a reciprocal fashion. Logic, as a cold system of symbolic thinking that is separated from the interests and tradition of a specific people, is a figment of the modern imagination; logic is not thought, it is rather thought divorced from society, reality, belonging and feeling.
It is true, in Khomiakov's case, that his major criticism is in the realm of religion. Because Russia is culturally dominated by Orthodoxy, and it can be said to be a product of Orthodoxy, it makes sense that the Slavophiles will find its main line of argument on the question of papism and its rebellious offshoot, Protestantism, both ideas created by the abstract logic of reason divorced from revelation and a holistic methodology. Within the criticism of western theology, however, is contained the epistemology of the Slavic and Orthodox counterassault against Rome and the West in general. It is therefore absolutely necessary to understand the theological epistemology developed by Khomiakov and to understand the basic apologetic structure of Orthodox thinking on such matters. No one has summarized the theophilosophical idea of Holy Russia better than Khomiakov, and therefore, a working understanding of the concept of "Holy Russia" requires a detailed understanding of him and the Slavophiles in. general particularly Ivan Kireevsky (1806-1856).
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The two central terms one needs to understand to begin with are extremely complex: the first is the notion of sobornost, and the second, integral knowledge. These two terms, though exposited by Khomiakov better than anyone else, are certainly not his invention, but are the philosophical armor of the Orthodox patristic tradition, expounded best, perhaps, by St. Isaac of Syria. Both of these terms can be reduced to the notion that knowledge is not primarily an individual phenomenon, nor is it reducible to the connection of concepts in logical sequence.
The nature of the Church, for Khomiakov, is that of inner unity, that is, the action of the Holy Spirit upon every believer that leads him to knowledge. In other words:
The Spirit of God, alive in the Church, guiding her and making her wise, is manifested in her in multiple forms: in Scripture, in Tradition, and in works; for the Church, performing the works of God, is the Church that preserves Tradition and wrote the Scripture. It is neither individuals nor a multitude of individuals in the Church that preserve Tradition and wrote the Scripture, but the Spirit of God, alive in the sum of the Church. Therefore it is impossible and improper to search for the foundation of Tradition in the Scripture, or for proofs of the Scripture in Tradition, or for justification of the Scripture and Tradition in works. One who lives outside of the Church neither the Scripture, or Tradition or works are comprehensible. ("The Church is One," quoted in Jakim, 34).
As a necessary counterpart therefore, "For this reason it is proper to understand that a confession, a prayer, and works are nothing in themselves, but are only an external manifestation of inner spirit. Thus, neither one who prays, nor one who performs works, nor one who confesses the confession of the Church is pleasing to God, but rather one who performs works, confesses, an-d prays according to the Spirit of Christ living within. ("The Church is One," 37).
The distinction between papism the idea that the pope of Rome is the sole judge in matters of tradition, dogma, Scripture, sacraments etc; and the Protestant rebellion against it, viz., that only the individual will, informed by Scripture, can be the judge of such things exists from a rebellion against the Orthodox notion that:
Either the truth of faith is given to the union of all and to their mutual love in Jesus Christ, or it can be given to every individual without regard to all other individuals. In order to avoid this consequence and the resulting anarchy, it was necessary to replace the moral law that was found to be constraining for the young pride of the Germano-Roman nations by some new law, whether internal or external, which could give an indisputable authority to the decisions of the ecclesiastical society in the West, or which could at least appear to give such authority. This need gradually led to the idea of the infallibility of the pope (68).
In other words, if the Church is not bound together in doctrine and the communal interdependence of its bishops, priests and people, then one must find another source of authority that need not worry about bishops, priests and people united in dogmatic agreement. If the Church is united in faith, then the existence of an external authority seems unnecessary. If dogma and tradition are judged by an external authority, that is, one above the Church, and who can alter or condemn any part of it, then faith becomes not a matter of internal and communal devotion, but something established by an external authority, something ultimately foreign and "imposed."
Now this theological critique, again, is not new, but has endless political moral and philosophical consequences. The Slavophile school of thought took the doctrine of the papacy and made it the lynchpin of western society. In many ways of course, the papacy is a product of Roman jurisprudence, and this the Slavophiles did not ignore, but insofar as the nineteenth century was concerned, the Latin conceptions of law and justice are found in either the papal schism or the Protestant rebellion against it, both of which are activated by the same principle.
Ivan Kireevsky, Khomiakov's student and follower writes in this regard:
In brief, all the characteristics of the Romans, in all the nuances of their intellectual and spiritual activity, we find the same common trait: that the superficial harmony of their logical concepts was more essential to them than the very essence of the concepts, and that the internal equilibrium of their being, as it were, consisted for them solely in the balance of rationalistic ideas and of external, formal activity ("On the Nature of European Culture and its Relationship to Russian Culture," quoted in Jakim, 201).
For this school, most of the pathology of the modern West can be laid on this doorstep. From the notion that Church doctrine was essentially a matter of external authority and approval, the fields of law and philosophy soon followed. This distinction existed because, according to Kireevsky, the western states were founded on violence, that is, the Germanic invasions of the Roman Empire, while the Russian state was founded on the consent of the original Slavic tribes with a minimum of violence. Therefore, the notions of law and "right" in the west were a matter of litigating between the various estates in society, the conquered, and the conquerors, the knightly class and the peasantry. For Kireevsky, even the ideas of chivalry resulted from this, with the connections between various classes, united not in any shared concepts of the world, but instead being manifest and founded solely in the abstract unity of external rituals. It was not a stretch to imagine the modern era, with its class war and battles between various groups demanding their abstract "rights" as a direct result of this concept of external authority outweighing the internal coherence of concepts in human life and tradition. For the post-modem West, even "traditionalism" has become an ideology. Indeed, such a critique of the relation between thought and inter-personal relations is extremely common in Russian thinking, even from non-Slavophiles.
For example, the scientist Paul Florensky (1882-1933) wrote that the law of identity is false, for it leads to a vision that persons exist only as discrete units. Logical rigor, based on Aristotle, leads to a state of affairs of impenetrability, of social status rather then nations and "societies," properly so called. Human communication, for Florensky, assumes connections among people that transcend mere definition and logic, but presupposes a real living communion that rejects the "law of identity" (Cf. Nicholl's Triumph of the Spirit in Russia for an effective summary of Florensky's thought, 177-192).
In other words, the battles that plague the post-modern West derive from something that is alien to the Slavic and Orthodox spirit, the notion of an abstract and purely conceptual analysis that is distinct from the living society at large which provides the necessary content to such concepts. Rights and duties are therefore abstract, as is law. For Russia, law and right were something communally denned through unanimous agreement of the local community:, united to all others though a common faith and language taking its sustenance from basic historical experience. Russia had not a need of class war, the "state of nature" producing abstract rights or papism, given that all such conflicts that produced such institutions had already been resolved in the direct conduct of day to day life: "Usually, a law in Russia was not composed, but simply written down after the idea for it had been conceived by the nation, and after it had gradually, by the compulsion of objective necessity, become part of the popular customs and way of life" (Kireevsky, 218).
For this reason could "law" in Russia be a matter of distinct communes running their own affairs through a basic unanimous agreement; for this reason could the state in Moscow remain basically aloof from the affairs of the countryside. And it is for this reason that the Slavophile school could criticize the Russian state for removing from Russia this conception of law and right in favor of a more western notion of absolutism and standardization starting with Peter I.
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Considering the development of western political theory, Kireevsky writes:
Having broken the wholeness of the spirit into fragments, and having left the higher consciousness of truth to detached logical thinking, in the depth of their self consciousness, people were torn from all connection to reality, and they themselves appeared on earth as abstract beings, like spectators in a theater, capable of sympathy, love, and aspiration for all things on the solid condition that the physical personality not suffer and not be disturbed. For the only thing that their logical abstractness did not allow them to repudiate was their physical being ("On the Necessity and Possibility for New Principles in Philosophy," quoted in Jakim, 256).
Of course, this is false, for the German idealists did indeed reject the idea of the physical being. There is no doubt that the bulk of western political and moral theory has nothing to do with reality. People do not exist, they are abstract wills, as in Kant, or cogs in the wheels of history, as in Hegel, or bundles of repressed sexual desires, as in Freud, or abstract producers, as in Marx, or completely contextless entities "behind a veil" as in Rawls, or social atoms, as in Hobbes, or mere acultural units as in Rousseau and Locke. Such abstraction divorced from the context of a living society needs to be explained, and it is this that Kireevsky set out to do. Must rights be separate from actual individuals? Or actual situations? Rights are either contextually created or they are abstract. If the latter, then the community means nothing, and is subject, like the Roman Church to the pope, to their rule. If it contextual, then the western system of law and politics is illegitimate. For the Slavophiles, western intellectual history is a gradual decline from rights and duties contextually defined, to a vision of humanity as a set of automata dictated to by "natural necessity" and possessed, inexplicably, of "natural rights" whose primary duty, it seems, is to set the individual off from others, the community as well as the state. For the Russian Slavophiles, this is the intellectual cause of liberalism, alienation, class war and the rejection of reality by post-modernism, a phenomenon Kireevsky had predicted.
By the twentieth century, the West's obsession with abstract reason was a dismal failure: not only did World Wars I and II destroy the elite of European manhood through the latest in scientific methods of warfare, Stalin's USSR was also based on "scientific principles." Further, Nietzsche, the post-modernists and existentialists as well as Freud, had abandoned reason altogether since it was not self-justifying. Reality, as Nietzsche envisaged it, was a creation and function of naked will. Postmodern "identity politics" posits the state as an arena where the collective wills of various groups (races, classes, sexes) fight it out. There is no truth, only the victory of will and the ability to marshal resources, money and ultimately power. Kireevsky writes:
Hence, European societies, founded on violence, cemented by formal personal relationships, permeated with one-sided rationality, were bound to produce not a social spirit, but a spirit of individual separation, and they were held together only by the knots of private interest and parties. Consequently, although the history of European states often presents external signs of a flourishing social life, in fact social forms always served merely to disguise the separate particular parties which forgot about the life of the whole state in pursuit of their private goals and personal systems. Papal parties, imperial parties, city parties, Church parties, court, private, government, religious, political and popular parties, parties of the middle state and even metaphysical parties were ever contending in the European states, each vying to upset the existing system in accordance with its own particular aims. As a result, European states developed not through peaceful growth but always by means of a more or less palpable revolution. Revolution was the precondition of all progress, until it became not a means to an end, but in itself the distinctive end of popular aspiration ("On the Nature of European Culture and Its Relationship to Russian Culture," quoted in Jakim, 205-6).
There is, therefore, a direct connection between Aristotle, ancient Rome, scholasticism, Occam, the Renaissance and Enlightenment empiricists, ideology, Nietzsche and existentialism. In other words, when Anselm of Canterbury elevated reason above Church authority, he placed in the human mind the ability to judge all things and make sense out of all things. Once the scholastic synthesis broke down at Oxford university in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and the Renaissance, vulgar empiricists such as Hobbes took the reins. There was no alien force that destroyed the thinking of Aquinas, but rather the demolition of Aristotle into Hobbes was merely an extension of the Anselmian doctrine that it is naked reason that judges. Unfortunately, when naked reason judges itself, a conceptual circle is created, and it was not long before Hume and the much later post-modem schools of thought were to develop in the ashes of western rationalism, leading to the dominance of the "will to power" of the present moment.
However, by Russia's keeping the West at a distance, by her refusal to imitate the intellectual forms of the western world, Russia was spared such dissolution. Her westernizing philosophers and rulers were erroneous, for they were importing the seeds of revolution and class war. For Russia, the patristic tradition from Greece and the Near East was a holistic way of thinking, taking to itself faith, social life, society and philosophy into a large whole animated by the Holy Spirit, rather than becoming a sect dedicated to the teachings of one man or office. The spirit was internalized (though not imminetized, in Eric Voegelin's sense), and authority was something shared by the body of believers guided by the hierarchy (though not entirely by them), rather than alien ideas spoken in an alien tongue. The notion of the state and law immediately followed from this, for the state was not a cold and distant monster, but was represented by the "little father" who shared their concerns and pains. However, the invasion of western ideas was starting to vitiate this idea. For the Slavophiles, the structure of the basically independent commune was always to be the living answer to the West and the guarantee of the communal and cultural idea of liberty that the West had long forgotten; of course, Khomiakov also believed that Russia was heading down that same path if her state continued her centralizing and standardizing tendencies.
For Khomiakov, the answer to the distress, indeed the meltdown of the West the present day is just beginning to see, was found in his view of knowledge and action:
One of them the fundamental, innate force that is characteristic of the system as a whole, of the entire past history of a given society is the force of life, developing independently from its own principles, from its organic foundations; the second the rational force of individuals is founded on the first, which lends it vitality; it is incapable of creating anything by itself nor does it strive to create; it only participates in the general development and prevents it from ending up in the blind alley of dead instinct or in unsound one-sidedness. Both forces are necessary, but the second the force of consciousness and intellect ought to be bound to the first force the force of life and creativity by a vital and all-embracing love. Dissension and struggle result whenever the unity of faith and love is broken (Quoted in Walicki from page 127-8 of the seventh volume of Khomiakov's Works, 227).
And, again, clarifying this all-pervasive sense of love, he writes that love:
cannot be aspired to in isolation; it demands, finds, and produces responses and mutual relationships, and itself grows, becomes stronger and perfected in such responses and mutual relationships. Hence the community of love is not only useful, but absolutely essential to the attainment of the truth the conquest of truth depends upon it and is impossible without it. The truth which is inaccessible to separate individuals is accessible only to a community of individuals bound together by love. This is what clearly distinguished Orthodox teaching from all other religions; from the Roman, which is based on external authority and from Protestantism which turns man into an isolated individual and permits him to enjoy freedom in a vacuum of rational abstractions. Whatever has been said about this supreme truth also applies to philosophy. Seemingly accessible only to a few, it is in fact created and shared by all (Quoted in Walicki from page 283 of Khomiakov's Works, 204).
The basic, underlying idea here is rather clear. Thought, action, cooperation, economics, understanding, and all other significant things that an individual engages in presuppose a substratum. This substratum is not the will nor the intellect, for these too presuppose something more basic, and that is the connections among people: a shared language, tradition, culture and that basic set of moral truths and assumptions. Without these, action cannot take place, for it would be unintelligible to anyone. Human beings would become isolated units, without reference to anything or anyone. Only these connections (and Khomiakov refers to the historical connections and the present bonds they create, as "love") can maintain a society or any civic cooperation whatsoever. Love here is not some sappy, western middle class notion of a "long term" relationship, or the even more vapid notion of a "significant other," but the long standing, intergenerational and developmental bonds of culture and religion that make any action, cooperation and thought possible. Love, to be clearer, is that which is the product of the bonds that hold people together. Human life is impossible without them because thought and action need to be contextualized: thought needs to be about something in particular, and that something needs to be accessible to all those one is trying to communicate with. If thought is so conditioned, then action is as well, for actions can only exist in a context of mutual intelligibility, and such a context is the purpose of a community of language, religion and morality. Russia had preserved this; the West has forgotten it in the fog of individual rights and abstract analytic philosophy divorced from real living peoples. The modern western obsession with "multiracialism" and "multi-culturalism" can be reduced to this perennial notion that thought is to be separate from life and experience, and that conceptual agreement is more important than the living community.
Rarely is academic ill-will shown more blatantly than in historical writing on the Orthodox Church in later Russian history. Nichols Riasanovsky quite plainly claims that the Church did not have a role historically here at all. This author, however, does not believe at the mainstream writers on Russian history can be so ignorant that they do not know of the exploits of St. Nicholas of Japan or St. Theophan the Recluse. For any "Russia scholar" not to know of the massive monastic writing from St. Ignatius Brianchaninov or Leo of Optima is to be incompetent. Such a state might well be the case today, though there might be reason to believe they are ignored to make the theory of Russian decay and cultural backwardness feasible.
Nevertheless, the work of the Russian Church in the nineteenth century, much of it fueled by the writings of the Slavophiles, was a time of triumph and expansion. Not a single continent on planet earth was left unaffected by the expansion and missionary work of the Russian branch of the Orthodox Church. There is also no doubt, however, that within the arrogant Russian oligarchy crowded into Petersburg, the Church was losing its hold. The oligarchy in that unfortunate city was experimenting much like the soccer moms in present day America with occultism, materialism and paganism. The sexual conquests of that sectarian Rasputin, backed by copious police reports, are proof enough of that. Even within the royal family itself, it was difficult enough for a bear like Alexander III to keep them all on the moral straight and narrow, never mind for a humble St. Nicholas II. In other words, the Church's greatest challenge was to beat back the pseudo-morality and the pseudo-spirituality of the long decayed West, a West that had traded in its heritage for massive military budgets, the utopian promises of technics and "oligarchical democracy." The rise of great saints such as Theophan, Ignatius or John of Kronstadt were die Church's answer.
In Kazan, for example, the nineteenth century witnessed a major missionary program. The academy erected there, one of the best in the world, had translation programs dealing with Tartar, Chuvash, Turkish and Persian. Hundreds of thousands of either pagan or Islamic people in Central Asia were converted through these educational methods.
As is better known, Alaska and the West Coast were also targets for conversion during the triumphant nineteenth century. St. Innokentii of Moscow and North America originally a married priest named Ivan created an alphabet for the Aleut tribes and converted thousands. St. Herman, equally well known, became one of the most beloved figures in Indian culture in extreme North America. The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) has taken Herman and Innokentii as patrons. Dimitri Pospielovsky writes concerning these Alaskan missions: ".....an American Alaskan governor reported to President Theodore Roosevelt that, by the early twentieth century, the Americans had done nothing for the natives, while all the schools for Alaskan natives were Russian and belong to the Orthodox mission" (163). The same occurred in Siberia as she slowly but surely became Orthodox.
Orthodox missionary work, from Sts. Cyril and Methodius to St. Stephen of Perm, was to inculturate the Church to native conditions. It was always the case that missionaries would learn the local language and compose an alphabet and a basic grammar for them. A Church would be constructed, and the liturgy as well as the monastic hours would be read. Curious natives would have a look around, and many eventually came to Christianity in this fashion. In China, the Russian Church developed a phalanx of those skilled in the Chinese language, and the abbot Iakinf was quite skilled in composing Chinese grammars and dictionaries. The mission in Peking was destroyed during the Boxer Rebellion, with thousands of Chinese converts being butchered. They have been canonized as martyrs. St. Nicholas of Japan did something similar there, and in spite of grave difficulties (that is, that conversions to Christianity were punishable by death), there is a functioning Autonomous Church of Japan today. By 1917, there were 100 Japanese, fluent in Russian, doing missionary work and translations, and, of course, they had their own seminary. Missions in Korea proceeded apace, and, by the 1860s, about 10,000 Koreans had been baptized, and later, the abbot Paul learned Korean, and translated the hours and the liturgy into that language (cf Pospielovsky's excellent chapter, "The Church in post-reform Russia").
As if that was not enough: Islam was combated in the Caucasus, the Nestorians were converted in Iraq with 80 functioning parishes (eventually forced to convert to Islam by the Turks in 1918), and the Palestinian society was created to shore up the Orthodox Churches there, always harassed by Muslims and Jews, while Roman Catholics were proselytizing heavily in the region. The pilgrimages to the Holy Land at this time were massive, as were the devotional crowds that gathered around St. John of Kronstadt, giving the lie to the common claim (basically secular wishful thinking) that devotions were declining.
Russian Orthodoxy during the last half of the nineteenth century was a massive, growing, intellectually sophisticated and monastically based organization. It was, of course, extremely difficult to engage in missionary work in Korea, China and Japan, where state hostility to Christianity was continually made manifest, and elements such as the Boxers could be let loose at any given moment. Nonetheless, as Pospielovsky has explained, it is simply a lie for secular historians to speak of the "irrelevance" of the Church during the nineteenth century.
13. Alexander II, Revolutionism and
Perhaps only after St. Nicholas II himself, the best known Russian Tsar is Alexander II, "the Liberator." He is especially noted, of course, for the massive reforms introduced in the wake: of the Crimean War, specifically, the liberation of all serfs in the Russian Empire. Despite Russian heroism, her string of victories against the Turks and Persians, and the ineptitude of the "Allies," many came to believe and the popular press intoned that Russia was radically in need of reform after Crimea and the death of Nicholas in its midst. The reforms of Alexander II were to shape and mold Russia straight to the Revolutions of 1905 and 1917.
Alexander is famous for the liberation of the serfs. Many theories and arguments have been put forth to explain and justify this action. In general, there was a feeling within the state system that the time to shift gears from a subsistence form of economy, which, as this work has shown, was the basis of the serf-centered "moral economy," to a more market oriented economy, based on "free labor," that would begin to thrust Russian economic power abroad and earn additional hard currency had arrived. This is likely the most common explanation for the liberation in 1861. However, as this work has also argued, one of the purposes of the reform was to finally end the rural, ethno-anarchy (that is to say, communal independence) that the communal system of rule engendered. In other words, it was in the interest of the moneyed classes to eliminate the independence of the rural commune/landlord separation of powers and then have a "free" peasantry exposed before the designs of the new "capitalist" classes. Further, the extreme limitations on Tsarist power were also to be eliminated, as the state was now able to intrude into the independent communal system of government in rural Russia. Petersburg was able, therefore, to reorganize the commune and create a far more unitary state than had heretofore been the case. It is, regardless, far from clear that the liberation of the serfs was an unmitigated gain for the peasantry. Nevertheless, in 1861, what took the American republic years and hundreds of thousands of American lives to accomplish (in the case of slavery), the Russian Tsar accomplished in one fell swoop, the elimination of serfdom and the liberation of the peasant.
Liberation into what? This should always be the question the philosophical realist asks the mystified first year graduate student. "Liberation," like everything else in social theory, is not an abstraction it simply appears that way. In the Baltics, serfs had long since been liberated, but without land, creating an unhealthy rural proletariat far more dependent on the German landlord class than they had been under serfdom. Alexander and his advisors wanted to avoid that situation. Alexander interviewed hundreds of landlords about their views on emancipation. Unsurprisingly, and as is well reported in the literature, the landlords of the North, with poorer soil and therefore more interest in a money and trade-centered economy, were rather enthusiastic for emancipation, but the purely agricultural and labor intensive South wanted none of it. The two sides needed to come to an agreement, and, in such a case, only a strong monarch could force one to come about, as the American case had proven.
After years of wrangling from the various factions within the nobility, the emancipation of the serfs was to come about in this fashion: there would be a two year transition period, with current serfs maintaining a "temporary obligation" to their lords. The land was given not to individual peasants (for there was never really a well developed concept of private property among them regardless), but to the reorganized commune. The state basically paid the landlords for their former lands (leaving them plenty for themselves to work with wage labor), and, therefore, the communes, rather than peasants as such, were in debt to the state. Of course, now, the landlords were able to exploit free labor, when meant that they did not have to provide social insurance, grain storage, or otherwise keep their laboring peasantry in a good state of health and well being.
The communal system was given formal organization by the state, as it was reformed in structure and its duties were more strictly delineated. These were to:
(the new government structure will be shortly discussed);
for various problems and issues;
two-year transition period;
With these new powers (or more accurately, newly codified powers), the structure of the commune was provided with a stricter sense of itself, as the basic legal entity in the society. Therefore, it is clear that the payments the commune needed to make made life far more easy than if they needed to be dealt with on a family by family basis (and, as will be shown shortly, the "redemption payment" issue has been absurdly exaggerated by scholars wishing to justify the violence of the revolutionary movement). Peasants had a guarantee of land, a fair system of distribution concerning work and obligation, a strong system of social welfare and a legal ability to petition the authorities. Of course, this had always been the case, but it was now codified. The only real "new" aspect of this arrangement was that the state could step in at any time and make adjustments as needed. The days of rural independence were gone. The main attraction of the commune in this instance was the fact that, because it was now a legally recognized entity, the complaints of the peasantry, as the kinks of the new system were worked out and had force. An "individual," isolated from his commune or region, would, as in all "democracies," be a meaningless legal fiction, easily exploited. This is the esoteria of "individualism" in political theory; it is easier for the oligarchy to dominate isolated individuals than to deal with larger and more powerful communal and municipal structures. The commune, however, could not be so easily dismissed.
The new structure of the state was based around the local assembly known as the zemstvo [plural: zemstva]. This local structure elected delegates to the county zemstvo (which contained roughly 13,000 members: 6,200 landowners, 5,200 peasants and about 1,600 urban delegates), which in turn elected delegates to the provincial level of government, which was then part of the governing structure with the appointed provincial governor. Subjects of the governor had the right to appeal to the Senate, which was the main judicial body of the empire. The governors were answerable to the minister of the interior, and, of course, he was part of the Tsar's cabinet. For the average peasant, a nationally based representative democracy, of sorts, was created. Heads of families would come together at the local commune to elect delegates to the town zemstvo assembly. Landowners had their own representative structures, which, along with the peasant structures, helped elect members of the county zemstvo structure. The interests of both the nobility and peasants elected the county council, which in turn elected, as a body, the provincial council. The attempt here was to continue to empower the peasant commune without ever forgetting the interests of the landlord class, which, in many ways, still provided a tremendous amount of labor to the state.
The specific duties of the zemstva were:
1. to create and repair roads;
2. emergency food relief organization in times of famine;
3. charitable giving and the construction and maintenance of Churches;
4. social insurance;
5. developing plans for local economic expansion and initiative;
8. to promote the latest methods to fight livestock epidemics;
9. to be the peasant liaison with local military leaders;
10. collection of taxes; and
11. presentation of petitions and redress of grievances.
Note, of course, that in the West, nothing of this sort even remotely existed. In the United States, the South was under military rule, and the nascent capitalist combine was exploiting farms by manipulating railroad prices. Soon, the robber barons would exploit European immigrant and native labor, without unionization, for pennies a day and with sweat shop conditions that led to the mutilation and early death of thousands, including innumerable children. All under the "liberal democracy" that insisted that the only legal person was the individual (and the joint stock corporation, of course), which was another way of making the individual meaningless, and rendering him unprotected.
Interestingly, the regulation written to create the zemstvo system says this in article six: "The zemstvo institutions act independently within the sphere of action entrusted to them." In other words, the system was to be as decentralized as possible, all empowered by the peasant commune and noble association. Professor Charles Sarolea writes in the June 1925 edition of The English Review:
On closer examination we find that the Russian State was a vast federation of fifty thousand small peasant republics, each busy with its own affairs, obedient to its own laws and even possessing its own tribunals of "Starostas" (Elders). The Russian State was not undemocratic on the contrary if anything, there was too much democracy.
And he continues a bit later:
Between 1860 and 1870 Russia witnessed greater reforms than any other country at any given period in the history of Europe. These reforms were far more radical than those which followed the French Revolution: serfdom was abolished by the stroke of a pen; the legal apparatus of the country was recast; a network of railways was laid before the building of roads was undertaken; development of industry was encouraged and its expansion was prodigious (quoted in Goulevitch, 37).
For the peasant, there were two sources to petition the authorities, as both the commune and zemstvo shared this function. Even within the rural county assemblies, between the commune and township levels, were a group of agents, called the "Delegation on Provincial and County Affairs," who acted as buffers and liaisons between former landlords and peasants.
Pushkarev says of the cooperation between nobles and their former serfs within these representative institutions: "Landowners and peasants normally agreed. Foreign observers like D.M. Wallace were impressed with the spirit of brotherhood between classes." Much like Hoch, Pushkarev rejects the common "class based" analysis of landlord/peasant relations. Marxist pseudo-scholarship in this area has so controlled the American discussion of it that the American scholar cannot conceive of the noble/peasant question except through the lens of class. There was far more cooperation than conflict. Conflict was not to be seen even as the system made certain that the nobility because of their education and experience in political and military affairs was kept to outnumber the peasants, though not by much, at every level.
In the cities, a municipal duma was erected, with a property qualification for voters. The franchise for the urban duma was based on a) the ownership of immovable property; b) the maintenance of a business; or c) the payment of the city tax. In practice, the percentage of voters compared to the bulk of the population was high.
The zemstvo system built about 8,000 hospitals and schools during its tenure and provided humane representation after emancipation. Russia during this time was the most politically representative and just system in existence. There was a higher proportion of women than men in Russian schools. Higher education was opened to the peasant for the first time. The zemstvo system created a class of servitors and bureaucrats who made up a new class in Russian society, a class dedicated to serving die people as a whole rather than becoming enmeshed in the patronage system of networks that had long been important. As the constant military threats to the Russia state receded since the defeat of Napoleon, her institutions changed accordingly.
Additionally, censorship was eased, but that often just made it easier for revolutionaries to spread propaganda. It should be unsurprising that the revolutionary movement was extremely worried about the reforms of Alexander, for these were creating an even more perfect representative system of government where, as usual, the Tsar was invisible to the local population, who, in the egalitarian and communal structure of the commune and zemstvo, were fully protected and represented. Even the legal system was perfected, creating a system of immovable judges to deal with situations where peasants and nobles were concerned. Peasants had their own courts of law, controlled by the commune, where each head of household had an equal voice. There developed so many layers of representation that the affected party could get justice from one level or another. Soon, the peasantry was to own nearly all Russian land as the noble class, long since in decline in the face of a paid bureaucracy, was disappearing.
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Simultaneously, with these tremendous reforms which humiliated the capitalist and tyrannical west, was seen, ironically, the development of a violent, amoral and well funded revolutionary movement, made up nearly entirely of national minorities, especially Jews. D. Karakozov, petrified of the clear justice of the Russian royal and autocratic state, attempted to assassinate Alexander in 1866. Hosking (2000) writes of the radical "intellectuals" of this period: "The idolization of the people, the naive faith in books, the crude division of the world into good and evil; all this was characteristic of the intellectual isolated from the masses, without practical experience, and tempted by millenarian hopes derived from Russia's 'shadow' tradition." (309). Of course, the revolutionaries did not to mean "people" in any recognizable sense, but these were figments of the abstract and philosophical imagination. They were perpetual first year graduate students, laden with abstract ideas and theories that they do not have the maturity or experience to properly digest in context. Abstraction provides the otherwise useless and superfluous intellectual with a sense of superiority and mission. Of course, die notion of "the peasant" figured quite a bit in radical thinking, but it was not die Orthodox Christian peasant, nor was it the full member of the commune or local assembly, but, again, a pure abstraction divorced from reality. Even so, however, American academics have little difficulty taking the rantings of Herzen or Bakunin representing a minuscule handful of alienated hacks as representing the reality of Russian life. The revolutionaries wished to kill Alexander because he was creating an even more just and humane system that was putting Europe to shame. Nonetheless, in 1848, Herzen called for "destruction of the world by which the 'New Man' was being strangled. Hail chaos and destruction! Hail death! Make room for the future!" (quoted in Goulevitch, 202, from Herzen's From the Other Shore.)
Sergei Nechaev and Bakunin were archetypal revolutionaries in the Russian context, not nearly as interested in "ethical truths" as they were in destruction for destruction's sake. Indeed, it must be kept in mind that revolutionism in the Russian context differed rather widely from the western one. For the westerner, revolution meant replacing an old system with a new one. For Russia, it meant destruction, pure and simple. As Pushkarev writes:
The common belief that the revolutionary movement in Russia began only as an answer to the reactionary policy of the government does not correspond to the facts. For the revolutionary movement among the intelligentsia began precisely at the height of the liberal reforms, in the period between the emancipation of the peasants and the introduction of the zemstvo and judicial reforms of 1864 (167).
This goes far against the various standard interpretations impressionable college students receive from the academic elite. The revolutionary movement had nothing to do with "equality" or "justice," for Russia was likely the most equalitarian country in the world, as well as the most representative. It was about power; it was about delivering Russia into the hands of its enemies. The secret nature of the "cell" structure for the revolutionists and high proportion of occultists meant that the victims of the revolution only heard the exoteria, the stuff for public consumption, not the esoteria, or the knowledge of the inner elite that the peasants and workers were not "ready" for. As the nineteenth century dragged on, it became clear to the more radical revolutionaries that the peasantry would have to be liquidated, as it nearly was under Lenin and Stalin, as a permanent counterrevolutionary force.
The proof that the "socialists" were phony comes from this quote from socialist activist Peter Maslov dealing with the peasant problem:
In France 45 percent of arable land belongs to the owners of great estates. In England almost all land is in the hands of great landowners. In Prussia 88 percent of privately owned land belongs to the middle and large landowners. Thus, land ownership in Russia is more favorably distributed for a population occupied with agriculture than in other countries (quoted in Pushkarev, 209).
By 1905, the victory of Russian royal policy and its justice found that there were 12,000,000 peasant households in the Empire. 23.8 percent had less than 13.5 acres of land to call their own. About 42.3 percent had from 13.5 to 27 acres, and 3397 percent had more than 27 acres. In other words, the revolutionaries and their ideas, of whatever stripe, were based entirely and completely on fraud. The revolution was brought about by and through western financial interests who despised the idea that the Tsar would not set up a central bank. It was about Anglo-American desires to see Russia cease as a great power hampering the endlessly colonial desires of British Masonry. It was about the German monarchy wishing to knock Russia out of World War I, a Russia (see chapter 16) that was radically hampering the German war effort in the West. It was not about "peace and brotherhood."
*** *** ***
The "redemption payments" or the money the peasant owed the state after emancipation for their land constitute an important issue in dealing with the emancipation of the serfs. Often, the Anglo-American hacks will take this to exemplify the "violent terror" of Tsarist policies, where the nobility got "everything" it wanted while the peasant had to pay the bill. Such, as always, is absurd Bolshevik propaganda that is still promoted by "Russia scholars" as "history." On average, the redemption payments amounted to 1.5 rubles per 2.7 acres. Now, apart from the fact that all redemption payments were canceled by St. Nicholas II in 1905, this period of time showed the repayment (which was done communally, not individually) was about again, a very general average 40 pounds of rye per acre. The average yield per acre in Russia at this time was between 400 to 1,000 pounds per acre depending upon the region. Therefore, this particular obligation was not very heavy. In 1899, the average paid per acre was 546 kopeks (at 100 kopeks per ruble). This became a very light obligation compared with the modern American tax system, which, when taking into consideration every level of taxation local, state, federal, sales, estate, capital gains, etc. currently comes to roughly 50 percent of the income of the average American family. Yet it is not uncommon to hear American academics claim Americans are "under taxed."
Despite the massive victories Russia was creating domestically, completely outstripping Europe in nearly every respect and as Alexander's railway boom was catching up with Europe as well though Russia had far more distance to cover than, say, Belgium there was tension. Peasants were being manipulated by revolutionaries at every turn. A tactic of the revolutionary movement of the day was to claim to the peasants that the Tsar had given them their land and that it was the nobility that was keeping them from taking possession of it. Peasant disturbances broke out where expectations, fed through deliberate means as well as indeliberate and inevitable rumor mongering, became too high.
Soon, in 1881, the radicals received their wish: a bomb killed Alexander II, His reforms were too much of a threat to their agenda. The serfs, now true citizens of the local democratic assemblies, were not oppressed; they were far freer than the mutilated poor soul in the American robber baron factory, a creation of liberal democracy. The peasant, though his expectations became higher as the reforms moved faster, was becoming wealthier and more sophisticated. The Church, far from stagnating (see the end of chapter 12), was vibrant, and the "other intelligentsia," one represented by Dostoevsky, St. Theophan die Recluse, Matthew of Petersburg and Constantine Leontiev, were flocking to it to provide a traditional and patristic answer to abstract revolutionary theories every single one of which had its origins in the West. For the revolutionaries, things were going wrong. "Everybody knows" that absolute monarchy cannot bring justice and could not reform "its own" system. Absolute monarchy is utterly incompatible with local and even provincial democracy, right? So asked the "Populists." Something needed to be done to eliminate this conceptual conflict the revolutionaries were feeling, and Alexander II was the ultimate victim. Sleazy American academics merely assassinate him again when they do all in their power to justify the mindless violence of the revolutionary movement and its vile, western-inspired nihilism. Thankfully, the revolutionary movement did not know what they were in for, for their savage orgy of murder did nothing but usher in the strong, brilliant and incorruptible rule of Alexander III, one of the greatest monarchs who ever reigned, and one of the greatest political leaders of the nineteenth century.
The Return of the Slavophiles:
14. The Reigns of Alexander III and St. Nicholas II.
The reign of Alexander III, it should come as no surprise to the reader at this point, receives scant attention by the modem historical establishment in America. The little written on him has been nothing more than a psychotic blur of hatred, mockery and assault. This is because of one thing: Alexander was one of the greatest Tsars in Russian history and one of the greatest monarchs of European history. He was just, fair, intelligent and amazingly strong in every sense of that word. He was a populist in the truest sense despising court etiquette and that pseudo-European tenor of dishonesty, oligarchy and liberalism that had been growing at court since Peter I. Alexander III staunchly refused to dress "like a monarch," preferring instead a simple military cloak and uniform. He hated palaces and luxury. He slept on the floor, and his diet consisted only of oatmeal and gruel. He kept much of the more spoiled members of the Romanov family in line (a very difficult job; something his son struggled to do). He was a massive man with a huge beard, and his presence alone kept the unruly oligarchs as close to being "in line" as is possible for this nearly demented liberal and western class. He forced the resignation of liberals that had been patronized by his father such as Dimitri Milutin, sending them beck to their unearned life of luxury that nearly always accompanies liberal ideology.
Alexander III came to the throne over the corpse of his father. The revolutionaries, emboldened, as they always are, by liberal pacification, the communist and other far left groups were becoming increasingly violent. From the reign of Alexander II to 1905, the total number of people both innocent civilians and government officials (including lowly bureaucratic clerks) murdered by the Herzenian "New Men" came roughly to 12,000. From 1906-1908, it rose by 4,742 additional, with 9,424 attempts to murder. On the other hand, the Russian government's attitude towards the "New Men" was mixed. Generally, the monarchy was lenient. Exile to Siberia was often not a punishment. Siberia is not entirely a massive, frozen wasteland, but is possessed of great natural beauty, mountains and rivers. It is cold, but it is not the locale of the popular imagination. Local people, not knowing who the deportees were, received them with hospitality; they became part of town life, and the deportees were given much personal freedom. This sort of "imprisonment" was far superior to the American penal system, which can be at its maximum security level considered merely a gang war between various minority groups.
For example, as Goulevitch relates, it was in his Siberian exile where Lenin wrote the majority of his Works. It was not difficult to escape, and hundreds did. On average, throughout the reign of the later Romanovs, the average number of deportees living in Siberia never exceeded 100. Between 1874 and 1884 (at the intensification of revolutionary murder), only 749 such prisoners were held in Siberia. Moreover, the majority of deportees were not political criminals (that is, people who murdered and stole for revolutionary purposes), although by 1913 the number of deportees had reached 32,750, only a relative handful were actually "political prisoners" in any sense. (Goulevitch, quoting from the work of George Kennan, 228-229.) These numbers are never cited in the mainstream histories of the Russian empire, and it is no accident. If the professors of Russian history know of these figures but do not cite them, then they are liars and should have their tenure stripped. If they are ignorant of them, then they are incompetent. Either way, the tenured elite stand exposed.
*** *** ***
Nonetheless, as the autonomy of the universities1 (the centers, as always, of revolutionary ferment) came to an end, the student radicals had been claiming revolution as their agenda. This one from "Young Russia," an alleged "student group," was published in 1862:
[We demand] a bloody and inexorable revolution a revolution which must change radically every single foundation of contemporary [Russian] society, and do away with all the supporters of the existing order. We are not afraid of the revolution, although we know that a river of blood will be shed, that perhaps there will also be innocent victims; we can foresee all this and yet we welcome the coming of the revolution as we are ready to sacrifice our own heads in order that it may come sooner, the One, the long desired One. (quoted in Pushkaev, 172)
Very much like America in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as in places such as South Korea today, or South Africa yesterday, this is what universities had become. Traditionalist students were bullied and beaten, and university classrooms were no longer places of learning, but areas where student radicals and their sympathetic professors would engage in propaganda. Alexander III brought them under stricter state control. S.G. Nechaev, who at the very least was honest, wrote in 1869:
We want a national peasant revolution. . . .We have only one negative, invariable plan general destruction We frankly refuse to take any part in the working out our future conditions of life... .and therefore we regard as fruitless all solely theoretical work. . . .We consider destruction to be such an enormous and difficult task that we devote all our powers to it, and we do not wish to deceive ourselves with the dream that we will have enough strength and knowledge for creation, (quoted in Pushkarev, 177).
It must be considered that these quotes, typical and quite representative of the revolutionary movement in general, were uttered and published twenty years before the height of Alexander IIs reign. They became more violent and vile as time went on. Oddly, when Riasanovsky deals with the policy of Alexander III bringing in a stricter minister of education, he leaves out these utterances from the revolutionaries, for whom the university was a popular base. Furthermore, Nechaev's comments underscore the point that "revolution" in Russia means something very different than elsewhere; it means mindless destruction. The likes of Mark Raeff would love to have his readers believe that the Russian university was a placid place, where Plato and Newton were studied dispassionately, until the Tsar, for no reason, sauntered in and shut it down because he was a "tyrant." Universities, as typically conceived, did not exist in Russia under the Directorate of revolutionism.
Under Alexander III, however, this reign of terror ground to a halt. He issued "temporary regulations" which were to suspend certain civil rights2 for urban Russians (a tiny minority of the population) so long as the terror continued. In other words, those suspected of terror activities could have their apartments searched and could be arrested for subversion. Now, of course, this was a common occurrence in the remainder of planet earth during times of emergency. The arch-liberal Woodrow Wilson was to institute something like this during World War I for dissenters; Franklin Roosevelt to do it for pro-German and Italian elements in the population for WWII.3 Further, "Honest" Abe Lincoln issued the same regulations during the Civil War, including the forcible dissolution of the Maryland legislature and the arrest of its most prominent members to prevent its secession.
*** *** ***
Russia was already a major exporter of grain and cereals, although, for some reason, the mainstream literature continues to ignore this, and ever to refer to Russia's agricultural practices with that all pervasive and meaningless slang term: "backward." As industrial growth and agricultural production increased, Russia became more and more peaceful and prosperous. Unfortunately the drought and famine of 1891-1892 put a temporary end to this, though this author is still waiting for the fans of the late Bruce Lincoln to blame Alexander for it.
Even further, however, was the massive amount of social legislation passed in the era of Alexander III. Having glanced at Riasanovsky's analysis, an interesting sleight of hand develops. It should be already obvious to the reader of this book that the American academic elite, whenever they want to smear someone they do not like or, more accurately, those that the power structure of the American university does not like will resort to double-talk to make their silly views "work." When Riasanovsky deals with aspects of Alexander's reign that he dislikes, such as the "temporary regulations," he refers to them as having been the result of the monarch's will. When he deals with part of the reign that he likes, he refers only to the specific minister responsible for that policy area. Therefore, he writes concerning these reforms:
While the development of the Russian economy and of society after the Great Reforms [of Alexander II] will be discussed in a later chapter, it should be noted here that Nicholas Bunge, who headed the ministry of finance from 1881 to 1887, established a Peasant Land Bank, abolished the head tax, introduced the inheritance tax, and also began labor legislation in Russia. His pioneer factory laws included the limitation of the working day to eight hours for children between 12 and 15, the prohibition of night work for children and for women in the textile industry, and regulation aimed at assuring die workers proper and regular pay from their employers, without excessive fines or other illegitimate deductions. Factory inspectors were established to supervise die carrying out of new legislation (395).
Suddenly, in Riasanovsky's world, Nichols Bunge has evidently taken over the government and imposed these reforms. The reader is to suppose that Alexander III was tied up in the palace broom-closet as this was all rammed through the state machinery. Alexander Ill's name is not mentioned. Something indicates that Riasanovsky is not being entirely forthright in his conclusions. Riasanovsky's intense hatred of Alexander III simply prevents him from crediting the Tsardom for bringing about these reforms. When it suits them, the establishment literature writes pompously about the "abject slavery" of the ministers to the Tsar. These were Alexander's reforms, carried out by a talented Minister of Finance.
Now, it needs to be mentioned, in spite of Riasanovsky's mutilation of history, that this labor legislation was by far the most advanced on planets Earth, Mars and Venus. No industrializing country had attempted anything like this; nothing even in the most remote fashion resembling it. Factory labor for 16 hours a day for children was commonplace in the liberal democracies such as America and England, and the abuse and murder of enslaved white children by -wealthy Britons was common in this era.
Russia scholar Henri Troyat writes in his (1959) Daily Life in Russia under the Last Tsar:
... the employment of children of less than twelve years and the employment of women at night had been forbidden in Russia (by the laws of July 1, 1882 and July 3, 18%) and that in Russia there was a medical service at large factories (of more than 100 workers) and dial employers' responsibility in the matter of working accidents was constantly recognized. Since 1888 there had been a system of workers' insurance against this kind of accident. ... The employer would be personally and directly responsible for accidents at work without the victim having to prove that the owner or his manager was at fault, and instead of hoping for redress the worker would be certain that payment would be made to him for temporary or permanent disablement, that should he die his funeral expenses would be covered by his employer up to thirty rubles, and that his widow and children would receive, in the same event, a pension representing two-thirds of his last annual wages (89).
Again, Mr. Troyat does not either credit Alexander for these reforms, nor draw the appropriate conclusion, that monarchy represented the interests of the working classes far better than the "liberal democracies" in the west. Again, there is no explanation as to how such a "tyranny," such an "absolute dictatorship" could possibly have the most advanced and moral labor legislation in the world.
St. Nicholas II was brought to the throne in 1894- He found a Russia far from being "backward," but, in a few years by the start of World War I was the envy of the world. She had the lowest taxes in all Europe. Direct taxation per capita amounted to 3.1 rubles per year, versus 13 for Germany, 10 for Austria, 12 in France and 27 in progressive, democratic and capitalist Britain. Indirect taxation was also the lowest in Europe, amounting to 6 rubles per capita for Russia, but 10 for Germany, 11 for Austria, 16 for France and 14 for Britain, (cf. de Goulevitch for an account of statistical sources)
Primary education was open to all classes and was free of charge. At the turn of the century, there were 10,000 primary schools opening in the empire per year, yes, per year. By 1913, over 500 million rubles per year were being invested in education, comparatively more per capita than any other nation in Europe. University study in Russia was the least expensive anywhere in Europe or America: $75 per year compared with over $1,000 per semester in England and America. To relieve overpopulation, Tsar St. Nicholas II eliminated all taxes and provided farm implements to those peasants who would move into less populated and more recently absorbed regions of the empire. By 1917, the peasantry controlled the overwhelming majority of farmland more than three times what was controlled by the nobility. Such a record was matchless in Europe at the time, and still remains unmatched as the big conglomerates, in full union with the American Department of Agriculture, destroy the family farm and set up the new serfdom under Archer-Daniels-Midland and ConAgra.
Under the "reactionary" regime of Alexander III, the State Peasant Bank was chartered which transferred almost all of the remainder of the land to the peasantry. This bank, which provided cheap credit to the farming classes, became the largest credit union on earth, entirely dedicated to the purpose of the peasantry buying land for themselves. After a few years, Russian peasants owned 80 percent of the land. Later, beginning in 1905, the "Peoples Banks of Mutual Credit" was opened, and even provided free lectures to peasants on using the system.
In terms of agricultural production, this program of land redistribution was immensely successful. By 1913, 12 percent of the Russian harvest was exported. She accounted for 67 percent of the world's production of rye, 31 percent of wheat, 30 percent of oats, and almost half the globe's production of barley. Given that the peasants controlled the land, they benefited the most, and their income markedly increased during this period. The Russian fishing industry was the largest in the world, as was her sugar industry. Fully processed iron production increased over 100 percent from 1898 to 1913. Production of copper increased almost 150 percent at the same time. The output of gold increased 300 percent, manganese 100 percent and coal 900 percent in this same time period. The Russian trade surplus by 1913 was 365 million rubles, up from a mere 163 million in 1903. The national debt amounted to 59 rubles per person in 1910. Compare that with 135 in Germany, 170 in Britain, 190 in Italy and almost 300 for France. Industry, additionally, was growing at a rate of 8 percent a year, higher even than in the United States.
All of this was done under the "incompetent" reign of the "naive" and "weak" Nicholas II and the "tyrannical" Alexander III, and with a Russian population that was, according to nearly all the mainstream work on Russian history to date, "backward," "illiterate," "lazy," "stupid," and "superstitious." There is little question that, in spite of English language history, Imperial Russia, during this time, was likely the best run state in Europe, one without the "benefit" of republican politics or capitalist economics. What is even more telling is that Russia was just beginning her economic expansion into world markets. There can be no question that the refusal of the Romanovs to set up a central bank under the rule of the global financial elite marked them for extinction. Imperial Russia was the only major European power who refused to set up a Central Bank, though the Bolsheviks, as always, willingly obliged.
On the cultural and political level, the contemporary literature on Russian history tells us that Imperial Russia imposed a reign of terror on the population in censorship and police surveillance. They need to answer how the massive, and often very liberal literary production in nineteenth century Russia is compatible with this. This was the age of Chekov, Turgenev, Gorky, Balmont and Gumilev. Why it was that Lenin's newspaper Pravda. was freely published and distributed in St. Petersburg under Nicholas II and his "tyranny"? Not only Pravda, but 12 daily newspapers were published by agents of the St. Petersburg Soviet. Rather, scholars like Yale's George Vernadsky (1954) simply claim: "Nicholas II's domestic policy consisted in continuing by inertia the policy of his father. The internal policy of Alexander III had been first of all to strengthen government control in all directions where free public opinion might be expected to manifest itself (232). Scholars like Dukes and Carmichael simply nod their heads. Simultaneously, Reginald E. Zelnik writes: "Without doubt, the reign of Nicholas II witnessed extraordinary artistic creativity, so much so that cultural historians routinely use such terms as 'silver age,' 'second golden age,' and 'cultural renaissance'" (226, in Freeze). Of course, these two sentiments are mutually exclusive.
The overwhelming majority of the funds for the revolutionary groups, as I the nineteenth turned into the twentieth century, in Tsarist Russia came from, as always, the elite, both in and out of the country. Revolutions, in spite of establishment political scientists, are always from the top down. What is amazing is how mainstream history refuses to deal with these questions. For the 1905 uprising, the majority of the funds from the Social Democratic Party came from famed author Maxim Gorky, his mistress (the actress Adreyeva) and millionaire industrialist Sawa Morozov (Morozov listed the communists as the beneficiaries of his will. He committed suicide conveniently in 1905.) Outside of the major American and British banking families that financed the revolution of 1917, another important source of funding came from a Ukrainian sugar tycoon named Tereschenko. Unfortunately, also the German government, at war with Russia in 1914, gave Lenin's movement 70 million marks. Generals Hoffman and Ludendorff admitted as much when the latter wrote: "Germany dispatched Lenin to Russiathis step was justified from the military point of view as it was imperative that Russia should fall" (quoted in de Goulevitch, 225). Lenin also admitted German assistance, claiming to the Central Committee under Sverdlov: "I am frequently accused of having won our revolution with the aid of German money. I have never denied the fact, nor do I do so now. I will add, though, that with Russian money we shall stage a similar revolution in Germany" (A. Spiridivitch's History of Bolshevism in Russia, translated and cited by de Goulevitch, 226).
Furthermore, as the revolution broke out in 1917, the radical railway workers kept food and fresh troops from the capital. The police force was small, and the "troops" were not troops at all, but middle aged peasants called up to fill in for soldiers at the front. They had no training and were angry that they were called away from home as most of them were the only breadwinners for their families. Thus, the entire revolutionary movement had to be fought with a handful of policemen carrying revolvers. The number of law enforcement personnel is controversial. De Goulevitch claims there were 3,500 members of the St. Petersburg police force. However, Kochan and Keep (1997) claim that there were 5,000 full time policemen in the entire empire of 180 million souls, which would make Russia one very poor example of a police state. In fact, the total number of government workers, including the zemstvo employees, policemen and employees at all levels never exceeded 330,000. By contrast, much smaller France, in 1906, had budgeted for 500,000 employees.
1It should be stressed that, as the "universities" became little more than hothouses for revolutionary ideas, they ceased being universities in any recognizable sense. These were not institutions of higher learning, but places where "professors" and "students" would organize the student body for revolutionary purposes. Theoretical learning did not take place as the revolutionists took over the halls of Russian academia.
2The American left in Russia studies continually lectures the world that Russia was a tyranny under the Tsars. Then they will continue to lecture the world in the same pompous and nasally tone almost universally shared by this bunch that "civil rights" were suspended by Alexander. Truly the Tsars were powerful, they could suspend what did not exist.
3Laughably, no American historian will lecture on the "Great Sedition Trial" of their hero, Franklin Roosevelt, predating the Pearl Harbor attack. Franklin Roosevelt rounded up his most prominent political opponents with the noteworthy exception of Congressman Hamilton Fish St., and set up a kangaroo court to "try" them: not for terror, not for and recognizable crime, but for the sole "crime" opposing FDR's policy towards the developing war in Europe. They will further dare not mention, due to threats to their careers, the fact that Franklin Roosevelt also imprisoned roughly 18,000 German-Americans in camps in Minnesota and North Dakota during World War II for no crime whatsoever. Their hero, Franklin Roosevelt, was a mentally deranged tyrant.
The Beginning of the End.
15. The Revolution of 1905 and the Duma Monarchy.
Afew issues need to be dealt with specifically concerning the events of St. Nicholas II's reign: the Russo-Japanese War, the Revolution of 1905, the reforms of Stolypin, the Duma government and the pogroms. Of course, the events of 1917 have been dealt with ad nauseam, with a bit of ill-clad glee from establishmentarian sources. This section, however, will deal with the more substantial issues of the progress made under St. Nicholas II, universally ignored by that monstrous acid-trip of corruption known as American historiography.
It must be mentioned that foreign influence was always paramount in Russian domestic and foreign policy. It has already been mentioned that the "revolution" of 1917 was heavily subsidized by western bankers, but it is Less well known that the "tribesmen" of the Caucasus were equipped by the British, and the Schiff family was giving massive loans to Japan as the Russo-Japanese War broke out. Such a massive infusion of cash is what permitted the Japanese to ultimately triumph.
Russia was penetrating ever farther east, and the Trans-Siberian railway was the ultimate symbol of that penetration. Siberia was becoming a booming agricultural state, as well as still engaging in its more traditional trades of hunting and trapping.
Of course, contrary to the accusations of Riasanovsky, the Russian move to the east, as is obvious, was a countermeasure to the continued British penetration to the south, throughout the Middle East and central Asia. As the western powers created their inhuman colonial empires surrounding Russia, the policy of Nicholas and Alexander was to answer in the east, developing that area which was (and is) mostly wasteland. Had Russia been left to develop her interests in this vast and almost non-populated region, there would today be a thriving Russo-Asiatic civilization there, developing the vast mineral and oil wealth of the region.
Of course, the potential for Russian development of that large area is what threatened the Schiffs of the world in the first place, as the major banking houses all had their ultimate origin with the House of Rothschild, who controlled British politics and thus developed British interests for his personal profit. Japan, regardless, would have been left to gobble up the undeveloped parts of Manchuria and elsewhere in eastern Russia and Korea (which she demanded) without any countervailing power. In other words, if Russia did not take these areas, then Japan would have.
Nevertheless, a new railroad was planned in partnership with China, the New China Railway, that gave Russia an interest in Manchuria, at that time nominally a part of China. The Japanese were expanding as well on the dime of Jacob Schiff and clashed with Russia over the status of this under populated and uninviting region. Of course, it is also the case that Russia, oddly missing from Riasanovsky's account, had guaranteed the loan that China had floated to pay indemnity after the Sino-Japanese War. This money, also, helped Japan build her massive fleet incidentally in England. The Japanese, believing a clash to be imminent over their interests in China, attacked the newly built Russian Port Arthur in 1904.
Few realize the extent of that war. The front was hundreds of miles long and involved hundreds of thousands of soldiers. True to form, Riasanovsky and his colleagues are quick to insist that the loss of the war is "proof of Russian weakness and the "backwardness" of her system. The facts, however, are that Russians were extremely overextended in that part of the world. There was one railway that linked the capital to the Far East, and that was not yet complete. In 1905, the fleet under Admiral Rozhdestvensky needed to come from the Baltic region to reinforce the still uncompleted fort. By the time they arrived, they were already exhausted. Goulevitch writes:
It was a mistake to construct and equip Dalni (now Darien), a splendid commercial harbor in the proximity of Port Arthur, as yet not properly fortified. After the capture of this undefended harbor, the Japanese were able to unload their heavy guns, without which the siege of Port Arthur would have been impossible. The third mistake committed was the decision temporarily to cease work on the construction of the Amur railway. The last, and perhaps the gravest, lay in restricting credits for the creation of a powerful squadron capable of defending our possessions in the far east and for strengthening the defenses of our fortresses on the Pacific (179-80).
As is well known, the war ended through the mediation of President Theodore Roosevelt and the Japanese had fully admitted, in spite of all their strategic advantages, that they were exhausted, though the Russian outlay of resources for the fight did not nearly approach that of Japan. There is no judgment that can be taken out of either the Crimea or Port Arthur. The Russian military lost in die far east because their forts were not completed and therefore not properly defended. Russia did not have the requisite supplies as their supply lines were too long. Further, the Baltic fleet needed to burn up much of its energy in the extremely long voyage from the Baltics. The Japanese knew they needed to strike quickly and by surprise, for the Russian weakness in this remote region was temporary. The development of the Far East was certainly something that was not going to happen by itself and not with the smattering of people who actually lived there and development had proceeded apace long before the Tsars caught up to the extremely difficult task of defending their acquisitions. The very fact that the mainstream of Russian historiography makes such noise about the two wars of the Crimea and Japan, given that both wars were fought with every strategic disadvantage from the Russian standpoint, and occurred in newly developed and annexed territories not fully completed and defended, shows the desperation and transparency of the arguments against the Russian system during this time.
The revolution of 1905 was a direct result of the war, as the liberal press I went wild attempting to link the loss to Japan with the "backwardness" of the system. Such propaganda was heard loud and clear in western capitals. The Russian government had long been considered the most threatening competitor to the British Empire As a result, the financial interests surrounding the House of Rothschild had slated Russia for destruction.
Jacob Schiff, long a student of the Rothschild mind and the beneficiary of her largess, loudly demanded Russia's defeat. This question desperately needs to be dealt with, not least for the reason that the entirety, without exception, of "Russia historians" refuse to deal with it, so tightly bound are they to the robber baron foundations and their endless fronts for grant disbursements. Why, exactly, did the greatest capitalists in the world support, finance and wage a relentless propaganda campaign in favor of the communist revolutionaries? Author Eustace Mullins, a longtime student of that connection, gives a clue:
These Americans "of the finest temper" chose Lenin to do their work because he had outlined the plan they wanted in "The Threatening Catastrophe" in September 1917. "1. nationalization of the banks." Ownership of capital which is manipulated by the banks is not lost or changed when the banks are nationalized and fused into one state bank, so that it is possible to reach a stage where the state knows wither and how from where and at what time millions and billions are flowing. Only control over bank operations providing they are merged into one state bank will allow, simultaneously, with other measures which can easily be put into affect the actual levying of income tax without concealment of property and income (66).
In other words, the communist program has always been in the interest of the bankers, so long as the communists can be kept under control. To completely standardize the Russian system which did not have a central bank was important if the massive wealth (both potential and actual) of the country was to be controlled. The massive economic success of Alexander III and St. Nicholas II was too titillating for the world's oligarchy. Again,
Although Jacob Schiffs personal agent, George Kennan, had regularly toured Russia during the later part of the nineteenth century, bringing in money and arms for the Communist revolutionaries (his grandson said that Schiff had spent $20 million to bring about the Bolshevik revolution) more concerted aid was called for to support an entire regime. Kennan also aided Schiff in financing the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905; the Japanese decorated Kennan with the Gold War Medal and the Order of the Sacred Treasure. In 1915, the American International Corporation was formed in New York. Its principle goal was the coordination of aid, particularly financial assistance to the Bolsheviks which had previously been provided by Schiff and other bankers on an informal basis. The new firm was funded by J. E Morgan, the Rockefellers and the National City Bank. . . (64-5).
The connections between the Schiff, Rockefeller and Rothschild interests and the Bolsheviks actually all Russian revolutionaries of whatever stripe are generally suppressed by mainstream academia. It is no surprise that the successors of these same capitalists, such as the Rockefeller Foundation cult or the Carnegie Institute, fund the majority of research that takes place in America's hallowed halls.
Famous British historian Nesta Webster writes in her Surrender of an Empire:
Had the Bolsheviks been, as they are frequently represented, a mere gang of revolutionaries out to destroy property, first in Russia, and then in every other country, they would naturally have found themselves up against organized resistance by owners of property all over the world, and the Moscow blaze would have rapidly been extinguished. It was only owing to the powerful influences behind them that this minority party was able to seize the reins of power and, having seized them, to retain their hold of them to the present day. (102)
And further, Anthony Sutton, fellow at the Hoover Institution, writes in his Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution:
In brief, this is a story of the Bolshevik revolution and its aftermath, but a story that departs from the usual conceptual straitjacket approach of capitalists verses Communists. Our story postulates a partnership between international monopoly capitalism and international revolutionary socialism for their mutual benefit. The final human cost of this alliance has fallen upon the shoulders of the individual Russian and the individual American. Entrepreneurship has been brought into disrepute and the world has been propelled towards inefficient socialist planning as a result of these monopoly maneuverings in the world of politics and revolution. (102).
Nevertheless, the revolution of 1905 was a prelude to the later revolution, and funded by the same people for the same final goal: the complete standardization of the Russian state and therefore, the complete transparency of Russian financial transactions. In other words, standardization means control. The ultimate capitalist, as well as the ultimate communist gnosis is the complete concentration of all productive forces under the control of a single, unified body. In this case, the Rockefellers, Schiffs and Warburgs, as well as Lenin, who was their agent, had identical interests.
The specific event that led to the revolution was the killing of peaceful marchers under the leadership of Fr. Grigorii Gapon, who was a nationalist as well as a trade unionist, and his union, the Assembly of Factory and Mill Workers, had support from the local bishop. His patriotic and Orthodox union drew to itself a huge number of workers, who were definitely responding to both the monarchist and Christian message, as well as to the need for the amelioration of certain grievances. Russian factory workers were the most protected in the world (see the preceding chapter) when compared with the United States and England. Further, the strikes of both 1905 and 1917 mainly were led by the relatively more affluent of the workers. Nonetheless, Fr. Gapon decided to take his petitions directly to the Tsar. Fr. Gapon's demands were common enough for the era: an eight hour working day, the right to strike and a constituent assembly under the monarchy. On the 9th of January in 1905, a huge group under Gapon proceeded to the center of St. Petersburg, where they intended to present their petition to Nicholas.
The Tsar, however, was not even in the area, and knew nothing about the march. Nervous troops and not a few drunken ones opened fire on the crowd, killing about 200. There still is not a satisfactory understanding of why the troops opened fire on a non-threatening crowd. The revolution of 1905 had begun. Hosking and most other scholars in this field will not mention that fact that the Tsar was not at the palace and was not informed of the demonstration or even the killings until much later. They wish to leave it in the reader's mind that Nicholas "ordered" this killing, but not even the most dishonest member of the Anglo-American establishment claims that. Nonetheless, revolutionaries, backed by their western masters, began to start a propaganda campaign that made it look like St. Nicholas ordered the shootings. Suddenly, this allegedly meek and weak Tsar became "Nicholas the Bloody." Many in the Anglo-American establishment continue this absurd line.
Afterwards, a major strike paralyzed the capital city and much of the country. Their support among the rest of the population is a matter of controversy. Hosking (2000) writes that "The workers who set up barricades in the Presnia district of Moscow did not have much support from their fellow townsfolk" (369). Nevertheless, it seems that the urban workers, recently torn from their peasant villages, often without families, were very susceptible to propaganda, and, as is universally known, the revolutionaries were masters at it.
The result of this all was the October Manifesto, issued reluctantly by Nicholas in the Fundamental Laws of 1906. These basically postulated the following: the legalization of political parties, an elected federal body (the Duma) and the enlargement of the sphere of civil and religious liberties. The development of the Duma politics went a bit like this:
The first Duma sat after elections from April 27 through July 9 of 1906. It saw about 55 percent of its deputies opposed to the state as it stood. Thirty right-wing monarchists and about 100 independents (such as various ethnic nationalists) were elected. The franchise was open to almost all males. The Kadet (liberal, revolutionary "democrats") Party dominated the proceedings, and demanded what they knew they would never get, the expropriation of the remaining landlords. Of course, the peasants controlled most of the land anyway, thereby making the issue a red herring, something that made good press, but, like most issues in "American politics," had nothing to do with reality. For the Kadets, it was a symbolic demand to show contempt for the government. Even Riasanovsky, ever the Kadet, writes: "The Left merely wanted to oppose and obstruct" (410). The Kadets refused to condemn the leftist reign of terror over government officials and innocent people. In other words, they refused to condemn terror. St. Nicholas dissolved the Duma in July of 1906. The Kadets called for "resistance" against this action but it never materialized.
It is interesting to deal with "party labels" of "right" or "left" in this context. The establishment history likes to gloat over the "victories" of the left in nearly every elected Duma during this period. There is a problem, as always, with the faculty lounge sneers, however. As Hosking (1973) writes:
Before and during the elections, party labels in the center and right remained imprecise. During the campaign most candidates vaguely described themselves as "right" or "moderate" and did not chose a party label until they got into the Duma and met their associates (44-5).
This is one of the most explicitly revisionist admissions in the history of the University of London. Here, Hosking admits that the gloating by his colleagues over the Duma elections of 1906 is completely uncalled for; there was no discernible "victory" for the left. What the likes of Mark Raeff or Jesse Clarkson do is import the basic campaign and party structure from contemporary English or American politics and apply it to 1905-1914 Russia. There were no parties in the modern sense. Candidates campaigned, as often the case in American politics, as basic conservative reformers who then went to the Duma, "met their colleagues" (such a pregnant phrase) and became part of the dominant parties, ruling as liberals or radicals. There is no connection, therefore, between the makeup of the Duma and the voting behavior of the public. Candidates did not wear their ideology on their sleeves.) Only after they were elected did they go to the Duma and become, shall we say, inculturated into socialist radical chic.
It is also interesting to note that the Socialists and other hard-left parties boycotted the first Duma election. There is good reason for this. The Social Revolutionaries had their largest organization in the county district located at St. Petersburg. It had 200 members. The left boycotted the elections because they would have been humiliated by the result. The Orthodox, monarchist and nationalist Union of the Russian People, on the other hand, numbered their basically peasant and lower "middle class" membership at roughly 300,OOO.This was done without any help from the state, and in fact, with the glaring and very public condemnation by the westernizer, Peter Stolypin.
The second Duma was elected, and it was more polarized. It met from February 20 to June 3 in 1907. The right won a large victory, as did the communists, now no longer in boycott mode. It was here that the reforms of the new prime minister Stolypin began to take shape. This major figure in Russian life drafted a comprehensive position of reform on behalf of the Tsardom. Leftist terrorism caused 3,000 deaths in 1907. Stolypin was convinced that direct confrontation was necessary to fight this menace. Basically, Stolypin's reforms consisted in the breaking up of the peasant commune and relying on the creation of a strong and independent "yeoman peasantry" to support the system. The great gains in Russian economic life discussed above were the direct result of the cooperation between Nicholas and Stolypin. Of course, the left was outraged that the regime was doing well, and of course, true to form, shot Stolypin dead in 1911, in the midst of the third Duma.
The election laws were changed for the third Duma. As is so often with ill-advised experience in western democracy, the delegates have no interest in "civic culture" or the common good, but come to the chamber full of the latest ideological fads, only half understood and invisible during election season. Political parties, of course, were nothing like one would imagine today. They were not administrative bodies at all, but basically cults of personality that glorified a certain leader or program. The right, it should be noted, did not have political parties. Firstly, the monarchy prohibited its supporters from organizing until roughly 1907. This was because, in royalist thinking, political organization is unnecessary under the king. To organize a "monarchist" political party is a contradiction in terms, if the monarchy is actually the true representative of the nation. Therefore, the left stood basically uncontested. Only the Octoberists, basically 1905-style liberals who supported a limited monarchy, acted as a counterweight to the communist and ultra-liberal revolutionaries.
Nevertheless the electoral law was changed by June 3 1907. The property qualification among the landowners was raised, and normally, this is interpreted as disenfranchising large segments of the voting public. It needs to be mentioned that the first Duma was elected with far greater participation than what was occurring in America or England at the time. One must keep in mind that America, during its founding years, saw a tiny percentage of the public -thank heavens meeting the property and literacy qualifications. Now, the basic thrust of the changes in Russia went like this: the property qualification for landholders was increased; those not meeting the threshold grouped their assets and voted collectively (Hosking, 1973: 43). The district assemblies that decided on the slate of candidates were cut to seven (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, Kiev, Riga, Warsaw and Lodz), which meant that the urban vote was "sunk" into the much larger rural vote.
The makeup of the third Duma looked like this, and these figures are very instructive in answering the smug charges of "Russia specialists" concerning the makeup of the Duma and the class basis of it.
Among the Octoberists, 59.3 percent called themselves noble landowners. Those farther to the right included only 31.25 percent who were members of the noble landowning class. The moderate right and nationalists could only count 36 percent of their members to be of this class, while the Kadets and Progressivists found themselves with 26.4 percent and 33.3 percent noble landowners respectively. Now, with the exception of the liberal-monarchists (the Octoberists), there does not seem to be much difference in the percentage of noble landowners in connection with the various political ideas (assuming, and this is not a safe assumption, that ideas and party labels, never mind the electorate, have any connection whatsoever). Therefore, the change in the electoral laws had nothing to do with the makeup of the Duma. The percentage of noble landowners does not seem to have a significant impact on the assortment of parties and ideas in the third Duma. It should be noted, again, that the far right Orthodox monarchists had, in their ranks, the same percentage of members of the noble classes as did the "Progressivists" and Kadets. Nonetheless, the right won with 300 seats. The fourth Duma showed a similar rightist victory with 250 seats. All of this was done with the more restrictive changes in the electoral laws, this is granted. On the other hand, the percentage of the upper nobility were evenly spread over all factions except the liberal monarchists of the Octoberist faction, which, by the fourth Duma, no longer existed as a functioning group anyway.
Even more telling is the percentage of third Duma members who served at the zemstvo level, that is, the local government bodies that were the closest to the people. Among the Octoberists, 26.7 percent so served. The right found nearly 20 percent, die nationalists and moderate right 7.9 percent, the Kadets 20.8 percent and the Progressivists, 18 percent. In other words, those serving as local government politicians at the zemstvo level (considered part of the liberal opposition), found themselves as likely to be supporters of the monarchy as opponents of it. Interestingly, among the right, only 15.3 percent had any record of commercial activity in their past. This is a powerful indictment of the Anglo-American historical bias now dominating publishing and university teaching. Hosking (1973) writes: "by contrast [to the left] the deputies of the right, nationalist and moderate right tended to serve or have served in peasant institutions, government offices the army or the church" (191). In other words, the right, in contrast to the attacks of the mainstream historical establishment, were far from the "industrialist" or "noble landowner" oligarchy, but rather were minor civil servants, soldiers or zemstvo workers. They were as much from the broader population as anyone else. In fact, the leftist "Progressivist" party was the sole brainchild of hard left industrialist W.D. Morozov and noble Kozak landowner I.N. Efremov. Their paper, the Utro Russi (Russian Morning) was extremely liberal, and, incidentally, was never shut down by the government.
The Duma government(s) actually did very little of substance. It was too polarized, the revolutionaries too violent and angry, and there was a complete lack of civic culture or even a common moral basis for cooperation. There is no question that the "electoral victories" of the Kadets and other revolutionaries are in question given the discrepancies between campaign behavior and actual governing behavior. By the fourth Duma the Octoberists had split up, removing the moderate monarchists from consideration at all. The left, again, had won by default. The last two Dumas worried only about education and military affairs. The third Duma did make progress in the former area. The last Duma is not worth discussion, for only threats and violence marked the seating.
Meanwhile, die population of the empire was growing at about 2.4 million a year, and represents another reason the British and their imperial interests were so worried about Russia. Demographics mean power. There was little debt and the budget displayed surpluses every year, in spite of the distracting irritation of the liberal gnats of the Duma. Part of the reason for this is that about 60 percent of the budget was under the direct supervision of the Tsar, not the Duma. As has been said, the tax burden of the Russian subjects was 9 times lighter than that of "liberal" England and 4 times lighter than that of France. The average Russian worker had little to complain about (all statistics from Hosking, 1973).
*** *** ***
The pogroms are a set of issues that need to be addressed. They are consistently mentioned in the mainstream literature, and are crying out to be revised competently. The mainstream idea is that a group of Orthodox Russians, for absolutely no reason, began to slaughter Jews in an "orgy" of hate that was "sponsored" by the government.1
The first fact is that Jews were not singled out for any reason except that they were radically overrepresented in the revolutionary groups, which had no support in the Orthodox population. The mainstream literature is mixed about this fact. Many will admit this truth, and then dismiss it by claiming that they were so persecuted that they could have been nothing else than revolutionaries. Others deny the fact altogether, lest they be tarred with that most terrible of career-destroying insults. Every recorded pogrom took place after the assassination of a Tsar or other important public official. In other words, in spite of their unbalanced character, the common people blamed the disproportionately Jewish terrorist cells for the deaths of the officials to whom they were basically loyal. The Jewish settlement, therefore, was hit with the brunt of this fury, and some innocent life was lost.
For example, Jewish author Mikhail Beizer, in his (1989) The. Jeius of St. Petersburg, claims that the entire People's Will organization was Jewish, so much so that they were able to keep their plans secret from the state by speaking in Yiddish. R.N. Terrall's article in the eminent historical journal, The Barnes Review, quotes Beizer's book, page 66, saying: "it is well known that many of the most active Jews in Russia took part in the revolutionary activity and that Jewish participation in the political struggle and in both revolutions (1905 and 1917) was disproportionately high" (53). Further, Beizer admits that the formation of the People's Will was at the Vilna Rabbinical Seminary.
Of course, no one sanctions the murder of innocents, as the Bolsheviks, Social Revolutionaries (the new name for People's Will, cf. Terrall, 52) or some of the pogromists committed. Nevertheless, it must be mentioned that the Kishinev, the most violent of the pogroms, came directly after the murder of the Minister of the Interior by an "SR hitman" (Terrall, 52). In other words, they were not entered into for no reason, "prejudice," "blind hate" or other such obscurantist phrase, but they were misguided attempts to support the monarchy by attacking representatives of the groups who were disproportionately involved in terror activity.
1. Notice, in the left-revolutionary press of the United States, such as the New York Times, which lionized Stalin in the 1930s through the "reporting" of Walter Duramty, the same tactics are used. Serbs "slaughter" Muslims for no reason. Palestinians bo mb Israeli markets out of "blind hate." To keep the public's thoughts off the causes of unrrest and thereby dehumanize the most recent targets of the Mossad/State Department combine, American mass murder overseas is ipso facto, justified.
The End of the Constantian Era:
16. World War I and the Bolshevik Coup.
The fall of the Romanovs, specifically that of the martyred St. Nicholas I II and his family, is the subject of far too many books and papers. Therefore, this section will attempt to bring out a few revisionist points and be done with the whole matter. It in no way purports to be an exhaustive explanation and defense of the Russian conduct in the First World War or even of that historical irritant, Rasputin. This author does not have the stomach to deal with the coup of the Bolsheviks likely the greatest mass murderers of world history at any length. Unlike the screw-ups in the universities, this writer does not consider the 50 million deaths perpetrated by Communist Russia to be in any way "progressive." Of course, it is not too far of a stretch to consider the causes of the fall of the Tsardom, and, by that, the end of the era of the Christian state inaugurated by St. Constantine the Great in the fourth century, of which the Russian Tsardom was the direct descendant.1 These causes might be summarized as the rise of Rasputin and World War I. From thence, the Orthodox remnant became a fairly small, defensive and scattered Church. In other words, a true devotion to the Christian tradition, as opposed to a contrived and artificial ecumenical pseudo-theology, became a catacomb Church.
There is not much controversy that the fall of Nicholas II was a complex one, taking into itself many factors and issues. All of these have been dealt with more or less competently, and the works are to be found in the bibliography at the end of this volume and of many others in this field. However, the first thing to consider is that Russia was doing extremely well at the dawn of the First World War. Her economy was expanding and the peasantry controlled (in one fashion or another) the overwhelming majority of the land, and no longer had to pay anything for it.
This was a situation completely unique in the world, as Tsar Nicholas II had cancelled all redemption payments. Her industry was expanding; she ran continuous trade surpluses; and her local government was far more autonomous and representative than in any other nation in the world. All of this has been addressed in previous chapters. Therefore, the unrest brought about by the war was manifest at a period of relative good times and prosperity for Russia. From the figures and ideas explicated earlier, it is not an exaggeration that royal Russia under Tsar St. Nicholas II was the best run and most just state in the world. Two enemies of Holy Russia, Donald Treadgold and the extremely hostile writer Hans Kohn, have written on the condition of Russia as the war began. Treadgold writes, with some distortion, to be sure, in his 20th Century Russia:
The years of Nicholas IIs reign witnessed a speedy industrial growth; a sweeping transformation of the peasantry into small proprietors; the rapid spread of education; new, diverse and original cultural developments; the schooling of a generation in political thought in the zemstva, municipalities, the Duma and the courts; and an amazing growth of Siberia. . . . The old dynastic absolutism left behind it much that was healthy and promising which the new totalitarianism stifled and corrupted (121).
Kohn, though with some factual errors, writes in his terrible Basic History of Modem Russia:
By 1914 Russia was successfully on the way to becoming a full partner of the Europe community.... During the decade preceding the revolution, Russia lived through an era of rapidly growing prosperity; culturally, the fight against illiteracy was started with full vigor, and intellectual and artistic relations with Europe became closer than ever before or since (73).
Keep in mind also the condition of the Russian state as St. Nicholas II fell from power. Usually, the mainstream literature and the Bolshevik propaganda that continues to inspire it paint the picture indeed Kohn and Lincoln in particular, in their venom, fall for this as well of "unbelievable corruption" (using Kohn's phrase) throughout the government. However, there is a bit of Bolshevik propaganda that the mainstream writers seemingly forget about in their bizarrely obsessive drive to delegitimize the royal state. Both the Provisionals and the Bolsheviks opened the confidential files concerning the private correspondence of the Tsarist government and its ministries. They were trying, of course, to find any substance or truth (in other words, they knew their propaganda was false) to the charges and accusations their respective parties spent countless lifetimes at home and abroad trying to disseminate. They, therefore, when taking power, sought to vindicate themselves by going through the records of the Tsarist state. They found nothing. According to Deputy Minister of the Interior under Nicholas, V.I. Gurko:
The integrity of the overwhelming majority of the high officials is beyond question. Only persons who are absolutely unfair can now accuse our high officials of graft, for all our state archives have been opened and all our secret documents have been published. The Provisional Government, and later the Bolsheviks, conducted most exhaustive inquiries into the activities of our ministers and were unable to detect one compromising fact (quoted in Pushkarev, 413)
In other words, the issue has been settled. However, Ferro in his second-rate biography of Nicholas and other biographers of Nicholas have left these facts out. Therefore, the modern work on Nicholas cannot be considered professional and must be discarded as crude attempts to exonerate the Bolsheviks, as well as bolster their personal academic respectability.
*** *** ***
The issue of Rasputin has been dealt with ad nauseam. Normally, the issue of this "holy man" is simply used and distorted in the identical way the Bolsheviks and other revolutionaries did: to discredit and mock the Tsar, of course. Poverty and serfdom could no longer be used as political issues (they never were issues, they were merely means to an end for unscrupulous liberals and well funded "radicals"), and therefore, the war and Rasputin were needed as grist for the impoverished liberal mill.
Rasputin was not a monk. He was a member of a sect that equated, like much in the occult, sexual frenzy with "divine enlightenment." The American hippies of the late 1960s were very much a part of this, as are northern Virginia yuppies presently experimenting with "wife swapping," ushering in the Age of Aquarius in the corporate board room. The modern porno industry, heavily subsidized by Time Warner and AT&T, also is esoterically based on this occult idea.
Unfortunately, the heir, Alexei, was a hemophiliac. The torment such a close family had to deal with cannot be judged by the modern talking class, whose solution to teen pregnancy generally consists of demanding that taxpayers fund the tearing apart of little boys and girls by abortion. Rasputin, having been received by the Tsar's family as a holy man and healer, was able to maintain the loyalty of the empress solely because he was able, inexplicably, to cure Alexei of his bleeding, internally or externally. It cannot be the historian's role to judge the Empress' reaction to this ability; but a mother does what she needs to do. End of story. Nonetheless, St. Nicholas did not trust Rasputin and frequently would send the police on his trail. From these police reports we get the descriptions of the dozens of typically slutty high society women who were seduced, drunkenly, by Rasputin.2 Eventually, members of the royal family murdered the "holy man."
All accounts agree, both eyewitness and secondary witnesses, that Nicholas' reaction to the killing was to walk out of the room where he was informed of the murder, whistling happily. Rasputin placed the already embattled St. Nicholas in an impossible situation. He did not trust the man, but found his freedom to act hampered because of the clear and rational loyalty the Empress showed Rasputin, who quite literally saved the Tsarevitch's life dozens of times. Nonetheless, the closeness that Rasputin was said to have with the family because of this was used skillfully and dishonestly by the revolutionaries and their modern day followers. Additionally, some pseudo-historians, asphyxiated in academic honesty, have attempted to link St. Alexandra and Rasputin romantically. Their only source of evidence is the Empress' letters to him loaded with effusive and romantic imagery.3 However, the only real difficulty with their story is that the Empress wrote that way to everybody. A cursory look at her collected correspondence proves that this was her normal writing style, poetic though it was.
Never was Empress St. Alexandra "hysterical" as Riasanovsky who seems obsessed with proving to the world his unfitness to write on Russian history-nastily claims, but acted no different than any mother who saw her son nearly die, not once, but dozens of times in his short life. It must be kept in mind that Riasanovsky was a student of the pro-Soviet writer B.H. Sumner, and the former seems to have completely absorbed the Menshivik propaganda his mentor disseminated in America. In fact, it might well be stated that one of the major conduits of leftist propaganda in America concerning Russia, apart from The New York Times whose praise of Stalin never seemed to end, is Sumner. Indeed, the American academic establishment on Russian history can be summarized in one shameful event after another. The liberal propaganda mill can be traced from the Times, to Sumner, to Riasanovsky to Bruce Lincoln. It remains with us to this very day, regardless of how many bodies pile up. Moscow, it seems, is certainly worth an academic career. Enough on Rasputin. Too much ink, as well as blood, has been spilled because of him as it is.
*** *** ***
World War I was brought about by many factors, not the least of which was British anger and jealously over the rising might of Germany. The German navy was now the equal of England's, as was her industrial and financial power. Russia, too, was a threat, both in southwest and southern Asia, but Germany, being closer and having greater international ties to England, was the primary target. Nonetheless, the German plan against Russia as the war began was to extinguish France first while the Austrians were holding out against Russia, then begin dealing with Russia with her full Prussian might. Therefore, nearly 90 German divisions were mobilized and thrown against France. The nearly 40 Austrian divisions were used with a smattering of German troops to keep Russia occupied in the East while Germany dealt with the French. Unfortunately for the Central Powers, Austria was a great military disappointment, and therein lay the problem for Germany. Nonetheless, the German high command performed brilliantly against France and England, starving the latter through a complete submarine blockade and pushing the French into a full blown Napoleonic retreat. A full corps was sent to the eastern part of Germany to shore up the terribly flagging Austrian weakling who was now dealing with a major advance into German held territory led by the commander in chief, Tsar Nicholas himself. Nicholas, seeing the inability of Austria to continue the war, and of the coming defeat of France, decided to launch an assault against Germany and thus distract her from the ultimate victory against Paris.
Now, this author would, had he been alive at the time, have loved to see the rotten, Freemasonic-controlled and anti-clerical French republic smashed asunder by royal Prussian guns, but, insofar as historical circumstances sent France and Russia together (largely over the Balkan question), Russian policy, therefore and most unfortunately, was to win against Germany. Nonetheless, it is true that, outside of the Balkan quagmire, the interests of Prussia and Russia were far closer than to those of France or England. Russia certainly had an interest in joining with the Germans against the imperial arrogance of England, which was continually chafing the Russians in Asia. Prussia, not exactly interested in south Asia as she had her own political consolidation to worry about, would have been far Jess of a competitor. Let it suffice to say that the world would have been a much better place had Russia been able by some miracle of providence to join with Prussia and create an alliance of Christian monarchs against the vapid liberal capitalism that typified Britain and France, and, unfortunately, post-modern America. Thus, it is safe to say that the Balkan questions artificially twisted the objective interests of Wilhelm II such as to shift the natural alliance structure between Germany and Russia. In other words, challenging British dominance and inhumanly arrogant imperialism was far more a shared interest of both Russia and Prussia than has been heretofore been mentioned in the literature.
The Kaiser and Tsar were cousins, and had corresponded regularly before the war. St. Nicholas had sent many telegrams to his cousin in Berlin to reach a peace agreement as war clouds loomed echoing the peace missions of Nicholas I to Paris before the Crimean War exploded. It should be kept in mind that the Serbs had long since satisfied every demand of the weakening and insecure Austrian monarchy after the assassination of their archduke. Austria, however, desperate to smash that ever present threat to Catholic imperialism in the Balkans, wanted war at any price. Germany, interested herself in the potential wealth of Croatia and Slovenia (both of which had long been faithful servants of Vienna), did not seek to influence Vienna in any constructive manner, but clearly understood the situation. Kaiser Wilhelm II stated concerning the Serbian concessions after the assassination: "This is more than one could have expected. . . . With it, every reason for war disappears. ... I am convinced that, on the whole, the wishes of the Dual Monarchy have been acceded to" (Singleton, 118-9). In other words, Wilhelm understood that there was no reason for war, but waited and saw what Prussia could gain from one. Unfortunately, it was the loss of his throne and the redrawing of Europe by the liberal capitalist powers and the subhuman financial scum who controlled them.
Meanwhile, it was not long before Austria was in full and humiliating retreat against an energetic Russia, and Germany desperately needed to come to her rescue. The offensive in eastern Germany was called off against the original Russian move, and troops were sent southward to bail out the flaccid Austrian state. Russia had driven to the Carpathian mountains and into Galicia, taking the Orthodox town of Evov back to its proper home. The German high command decided to create a major thrust, along with the remnants of Austria, into Russia. The undefended Vistula River was quickly refortified and the Germans consequently thrown back into Silesia (Goulevitch, 186).
By the beginning of 1915, Austria was very near collapse. Again, a planned German offensive against Paris was called off due to the emergency in the east, as Russia was poised to win the war against the Central Powers by completely knocking Vienna out of the war, and marching on to Berlin as the bulk of the German forces were struggling in the muddy trenches of France. Further, the Germans were worried about a British landing in the Balkans which would have dealt a major blow to Germany if she combined with Russia. Germany acted quickly. Hundreds upon hundreds of heavy guns were transferred from the western front and used to pound Russian positions thriving on the corpse of Austria-Hungary. Quickly, Russia retreated and regrouped, hitting Germany back hard, and causing Hindenburg to write: "Our Calvary is being driven back by the counterattacking foe! The road to the East is again open to the Russians. We have arrived too late and we are utterly exhausted" (quoted in de Goulevitch from Hindenberg's memoirs, 189).
As the war dragged on, the weakened Austrians were able to put Italy out of the war, causing a major problem for the Allies. Germany stretched her resources to the limit and attacked at Verdun, forcing the Russians to move far earlier than anticipated against Germany. The attack was stalled, and the Allies had forced Russia to try to save both the gains of the previous year as well as Italy. Russian supplies were dwindling. Austria functionally ceased to exist as an independent military force when Germany was compelled to take over the military operations of Vienna completely. Austria withdrew from Italy to fight the ill-prepared Russian advance. Nonetheless, Pushkarev, a Russian liberal, alive during the revolution, writes:
Evaluated objectively, the military situation of Russia at the beginning of 1917 was not at all catastrophic. During 1916 the Russian army on the Austrian and Hungarian fronts went over to the offensive and achieved a number of major victories, although not in the German held sections of the front. The shortage of ammunition was a thing of the past, and the army was supplied better than ever before. The morale of the front line troops was, on the whole, fully satisfactory, as foreign observers such as Alfred Knox or Bernard Pares have testified. But as General Golovine put it: "the further from the firing line, the greater the pessimism" (107).
This clearly demonstrates the power of propaganda, and its falsity when applied to its main target, the performance of Russia in the war. Keep in mind that Pushkarev himself was basically a Menshevik and part of the socialist opposition to the Tsar. His admissions in his works are authoritative and very candid. The endnote to the above paragraph reads:
For understandable reasons that have little to do with history, Soviet writers have attempted to prove that the disintegration of the morale of the army had already started to a consider' able degree before February of 1917. They exaggerate the proportions of desertion and of cases of insubordination on the front, which in fact were isolated cases and occurred in the armies of all fighting powers.
As 1917 dawned, Russia was extremely well equipped. Churchill, in his World Crisis, 1916-1918, pages 102-103 in volume I, speaks of the immense ability of Tsarist Russia to reequip and to begin the fight anew. He was explicitly impressed that Russia was able to go from an equipment shortage to an abundance of supplies in a few short months. Contrary to mythology, Russia was not dealing with an equipment shortage relative to Germany or France by late 1916. Niall Ferguson, in his famed The Pity of War, makes it very clear that modern research has determined that the shortages and crises facing the Russians were universal in World War I, and, indeed, Russian mobilization was superior to the German in the early years of the war. As usual, the English language historical literature on Russia merely rehashes 90 year old Bolshevik propaganda and calls it history.
All through this time however, the German high command, as dealt with earlier, was attempting to undermine the Russian war effort by bankrolling the revolutionary movement. Russia was winning against Germany and had defeated Austria. Thus, not only were the Bolshevik murderers and liars being funded from New York and Washington D.C., but were subsidized by Berlin as well. As the war went on, it is very safe to say that the Bolsheviks had a better equipped propaganda division than the Tsar or the Kaiser. It should be noted that "propaganda" was developed as purely a tool of the left. Traditional monarchs did not need such crudity and had only a dim grasp of its importance.
The Russian army disintegrated as the Tsar was overthrown in February of 1917. The Bolsheviks, keeping their deal with the Germans, signed the treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany in that same year. The regular forces of the Tsar became the "white armies" and fought the better funded Bolshevik and revolutionary forces until the latters final victory later in the year. British and American forces attempted to keep Russia at the front through their landing in northern Russia during the civil war, but to no avail. Bankers are more powerful than governments. Lenin had won, and kept his other promise to the Schiff family by nationalizing Russia's banks and, of course, leaving the Russian branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York untouched, the final proof of the western bankrolling of the "revolution." Russia's losses in the war numbered 2.5 million dead or missing, amounting to nearly 50 percent of the Allied total losses for the entire war.
Unsurprisingly, as the revolution was progressing, the Duma, that vile agent for revolution, did nothing. The violently factionalized "parties" could, of course, agree on no common action, and the Duma called a "provisional committee," later perverted into the mouthpiece of the Masonic Kerensky government. The Bolsheviks, both well funded and well armed, as well as under a centralized command, ultimately triumphed. The white armies were too spread out and too disorganized. The red forces were connected by a common ideology, which makes for a more formidable fighting force than mere numbers. The white forces included monarchists, conservatives, liberals, Kadets and Mensheviks. Not only were they fragmented, there were utterly at loggerheads.
*** *** ***
During the last days of Russia's involvement in World War I, it came to pass that the commanders of the Russian army, led by General Alexiev, had asked the Tsar to abdicate. The problem was, dealt with in an earlier chapter, that the Bolsheviks, not really utilizing the "economic" sort of propaganda considered normal for them, utilized, in the most cynical fashion, patriotic propaganda to discredit the Tsar. By both claiming that the Empress St. Alexandra was a German agent (indeed she was of both English and German blood) and that Rasputin was running the war, the "radicals" sought to place patriotic public opinion on their side.4 Shortages caused by the war as well as the capture of the railways by the well funded revolutionaries caused rioting to break out in St. Petersburg. As the German advance began to gather steam (by the abdication, the Germans had placed nearly 140 divisions on the Eastern front, compared with 80 in 1915), due to the massive demands placed on Russia by the Allies, as well as Allied help not materializing (as it was in France, for example), the revolutionaries, with German funds, were capable of contriving a strand of public opinion in the capital that the war was being "thrown" by the "German" element in the royal family, led and manipulated by Rasputin, and later on by Alexandra. In other words: the Bolsheviks could not use economic strife as a weapon, for 1) Russia before the war was doing well economically, and 2) all nations at this time were suffering shortages due to wartime demands. Therefore, the propaganda funded by Berlin needed to lie about the war itself. To put it simply, revolutionary propaganda had been impoverished and needed to find a new set of targets. The German blood of Empress St. Alexandra and her co-dependent relationship with Rasputin were then utilized endlessly by the propagandists to turn urban public opinion from the Tsar. Therefore, it was considered expedient that, to avert civil war, the Tsar should abdicate. In other words, Tsar Nicholas II chose to leave power in an attempt to avert civil war and avoid signing the shameful treaty that the Germans were offering him (that the Leninists eventually signed). Nicholas' farewell message to the army read:
My beloved soldiers, I am speaking to you for the last time. After my abdication, in my own name and in the name of my son,5 supreme authority was assumed by the provisional government forced on the initiative of the Duma. May it, with God's help, guide Russia to prosperity and glory.6 May God help you, courageous soldiers, to defend our country against the cruel foe. For over two years and a half you have withstood the enemy's pressure. Much blood has been shed and great feats accomplished. The hour is at hand when, in common effort, Russia and her gallant Allies will break the stubborn resistance of the enemy.
This war, without precedent in history, must be fought till final victory. Anyone at the present time considering peace or even desiring it is a traitor to his country. I feel confident that every honest fighter thinks like I do. Do your duty, obey your superiors and remember that any waning of discipline serves no one but the enemy.
I am firmly convinced that boundless love for our lovely country has not yet died in your hearts. May God's blessing be upon you and may the Great Martyr George lead you to victory.
This message, Goulevitch writes, was not permitted to reach the army, for the Kerensky government feared that it would have a loyalist effect on the soldiery. In other words, even the revolutionary government knew the basic loyalty of the common soldiers. Further, proving the loyalty of the population, both the ancient Monastery of the Kiev Caves, as well as the house at Ekaterinburg where the royal family was murdered, were razed to the ground given the groundswell of support these monuments engendered. Both became Tsarist sites of pilgrimage after the Bolsheviks were firmly in the saddle. In other words, the Bolsheviks knew of the massive outpouring of loyalty to the Tsar (said not to have existed) after his squalid murder and thus acted to prevent a monarchist counterrevolution by destroying them.
Spurned by the ever-sleazy British ruling classes, who were petitioned to take Nicholas and the royal family as refugees after the massive outpouring of Russian blood for the Allied cause the royal family, including the children, were murdered on July 4th, 1918. Masonic symbols and slogans were scrawled upon the walls in the blood of the Tsar-martyr. Pictures still exist of the occult esoteria. But, just to add one more insult to the royal family, Geoffrey Hosking, in his Russia and the Russians, now the standard work in Russian history in English, refuses to mention the murders at all. Not a word.
Proshloe vsegda s nami.
1.Russia is the direct descendant of St. Constantine and the Byzantine state because she was of the same religion and her princes, St. Vladimir of Kiev and Ivan III, married into the Byzantine line. The Holy Roman Empire had laid claim to this inheritance, but because of her theological deviance and her barbaric and Prankish usurpation, has no claim to it.
2.This author strongly recommends a reading of Edvard Radzinsky's (2000). The Rasputin File for extremely detailed evidence for all this.
3.Please consult the work, A Gathered Radiance, a collection of St. Alexandra's writings (she, as St. Nicholas, wrote in English). Her effusive phraseology came from a very creative and literary-oriented mind. She wrote in romantic imagery to everyone.
4.As the War broke out in 1914, pro-Tsarist public opinion was at its height. This proves the massive popularity the Tsar as Russian symbol enjoyed at this time. Massive parades, huge rallies and monstrous outpourings of patriotic and royalist fervor were so pervasive, that the overwhelming majority of the hostile American histories of Russian fully admit it. The volunteers for the armed forces were so numerous that the army began turning many down. The communists, of course, realized they could not win in this climate, so the "German agent" smear was used to manipulate patriotic opinion.
5.St. Nicholas spoke for his son because of his illness. For obvious reasons, the Tsarevitch could never have ruled.
6.Nicholas, because of the dignity required of a monarch, actually prays for the health of his most vile and dishonest enemies, the 33rd degree Mason Kerensky.
Russian Bishops and Church Reform in 1905
In principle and in law, the reforms of Peter the Great attempted to integrate the religious functions of Russian society with the centralized imperial administration. Thus, Russian Orthodoxy was considered not really as a "church," enjoying a degree of autonomy, but merely as a body of beliefs shared by the emperor's subjects and requiring state-sponsored social and educational services. Its new organizational structure was designated as the Department of Orthodox Confession, (Vedomstvo pravoslavnogo ispovedoniia).
Obviously, Peter's system did not adequately express the traditional Orthodox conception of the church. Even the Byzantine medieval pattern, enshrined in the Orthodox canonical collections, presupposed a "symphonic" relationship between the empire and the priesthood, not absorption of the latter by the state.1 Whatever might be said of the Byzantine pattern's practical application in Muscovite Russia (where the power of the tsar was in fact more arbitrary than that of the Byzantine basileus), this idea of "symphonia" implies a theological distinction between the ultimate functions of church and state: only discrete realities can function "symphonically"; a department is simply a cog in the state machinery.
Many serious historical studies assume that the Russian clergy lived largely in ignorance of the system's inadequacies, and instead, clergymen supposedly enjoyed a privileged position and opposed any reform of the status quo. The superficiality of this stereotyped notion can easily be demonstrated by examining the statements of bishops in a most significant publication, the three volumes of their official Replies (Otzyvy) to an inquiry addressed to them on 27 July 1905. The Holy Synod had asked the Orthodox hierarchy to describe those features of Russian church life which in its view needed reform or alteration.2 Despite the brief time allowed for preparing their answers (by December 1905), the bishops replied punctually. Their comments thus represent a spontaneous, sometimes improvised, reaction to a sudden opportunity for free discussion. The overprocurator had expected the bishops to hold conservative views: one does not normally expect from them revolutionary or even reformist thought. Nevertheless, with near unanimity the Russian prelates favored reforms and, even more importantly, they achieved a significant theological and ideological consensus about the principles for greater independence which they considered desirable for the church.
This consensus indicates that independent thought an important condition for spiritual freedom had remained alive even within the rigid framework constructed for Russian Orthodoxy by Peter and his successors. Moreover, the Replies disclose the educational and intellectual background of their authors, their spiritual genealogy in the preceding decades and even centuries, and their remarkable willingness to recognize and grapple with the theological and canonical issues of the day, including the problems of the lower clergy and laity. Nearly unanimously they demanded the convocation of a church council, proposed innovations for both provincial and central church administration, and foresaw for the clergy a greater role in the country's social and political life.
Farsighted and educated churchmen, including lay professors in the ecclesiastical academies, always regarded Peter's reformed church as abnormal and canonically unjustifiable. Many shared the distaste of the Petrine system expressed by the authoritative Metropolitan Filaret (Drozdov, 1782-1867) of Moscow. The Replies show that generally by the beginning of the twentieth century, the Orthodox hierarchy shared the optimistically reformist mood of the intelligentsia. Churchmen widely accepted A.S. Khomiakov's idea of sobornost' as the necessary framework for any possible schemes of reform. These attitudes help explain the several formal steps taken toward church reform in 1904-5. Hence the impetus did not result from any spectacular revolutionary upheaval, but rather from a convergence of opinion among bishops, the intelligentsia, and the leading elements of the clergy. Divergent opinions, of course, soon appeared, but the original reform impulse contained the remarkably uniform view of all these groups.3
Under pressure from public opinion, particularly from the zemstvo congress held in November 1904, the government enacted a decree on religious toleration abolishing many of the restrictions for non-Orthodox religions. The newly permitted toleration of other churches sharply emphasized how severely the state ruled and controlled the "privileged" official religion, and the indignation provoked by this realization led to the publication of three important statements. As it turned out, these statements proved to be the first steps leading to the council of 1917-18. Political obstacles, however, created delay.
Metropolitan Antonii (Vadkovskii) of St. Petersburg produced the first statement in the form of a memorandum (zapiska) to the tsar and the Committee of Ministers, requesting "a special conference of representatives of the Church's hierarchy, with the participation of competent persons from the clergy and the laity." No government official was to be included. The conference would devise proposals providing the church with autonomy and the "right of initiative," guarantees of "freedom from any direct State or political mission," and the freedom to administer its "internal affairs." Metropolitan Antonii also favored granting the parish the status of "legal person" with the right to own property, while deeming it appropriate for the clergy to participate in zemstvo activities. One or more bishops were to hold seats in the State Council and have direct access to the Committee of Ministers.4
The memorandum's moderate tone and demands reflected more than a desire for greater independence; it expressed the hierarchy's dissatisfaction with the overprocurator of the Holy Synod, who controlled all access to the tsar and his government. By its nature, a truly independent church should have the right to speak for itself.
S. U. Witte, the chairman of the Committee of Ministers, sponsored a second statement on church reform presented to a special Conference on Ecclesiastical Affairs under the Committee of Ministers. Encouraged by Witte's sympathy, liberal academy professors had drafted a statement which was much more radical than Antonii's note. Labeling the church's dependency "unlawful" (nezakonyi) since it kept Orthodoxy "in a state of paralysis," the Witte-sponsored memorandum went on to argue that sobornost' required lay participation in an eventual council and even in the election of candidates for the clergy.5
Finally, a third document, a liberal manifesto signed by thirty-two priests of the capital and representing the opinion of leading married clergy, demanded the convocation of a council with an unspecified agenda, which, however, could include such items as the election of bishops by their dioceses.6
Emboldened by public opinion and led by Metropolitan Antonii, the Holy Synod requested the tsar to authorize a "local," that is, a national council of bishops. According to canons 4 and 5 of the Council of Nicea, it was to be held semi-annually, but in Russia none had met in two hundred years. Acting upon K.P. Pobedonostsev's advice, Nicholas II refused to grant the Synod's request. Meanwhile, the old overprocurator attempted to delay the reform movement by insisting that the bishops be consulted about the issues. He expected no opposition from a presumably docile and reactionary episcopate to any departure from existing practice. Such is the origin of the Replies. The responses actually reached St. Petersburg after the momentous revolutionary events of fall 1905, including the dismissal of Pobedonostsev. In January 1906, a preconciliar commission, whose existence implied the restoration of sobornost' in the Russian church, began to prepare for a national council. Many of the most influential bishops expected it to meet after Easter 1906.7
The bishops' Replies included a number of important topics, especially the composition of the future council. Essentially the debate centered on the possible extension of voting rights beyond the bishops to the clergy and laymen. The bishops' ideas reflected the view frequently appearing in the press.8 They also discussed the merits of decentralized ecclesiastical administration, the reform of central administration and the possible restoration of the patriarchate, and the extent of competence of ecclesiastical courts (particularly in marital affairs). Given the prominence of lower clergy and laymen in discussions about reform, it is perhaps not surprising to see the bishops deliberating the virtues of regular assemblies of clergy and laity and the degree to which the clergy should be encouraged to take a more active part in the life and responsibilities of society. The parish (as the nucleus of the church) and its canonical and legal status also came under the bishops' close scrutiny. Several areas, such as church property (its acquisition and alienation), theological education, and liturgical practice and church discipline, held special interest for the bishops. A large majority voiced dissatisfaction with the inaccessibility of much of the liturgical rites in the mass of the faithful, with a minority suggesting that the texts be translated from Church Slavonic into modern Russian. Nearly every bishop demanded modifications for achieving the congregation's fuller participation in liturgical worship.9
The bishops did not deal directly with the problem of church-state relations, but that issue appears clearly in the background, particularly in relation to proposed decentralization, the reform of church courts, and the participation of clergymen in society. Since a full analysis of the Replies would require more space than is available here, only a few brief remarks on these three areas can be offered. These, however, may suffice to encourage others to make fuller use of the abundant materials found in the Replies.
The creative and canonical discussions of reform naturally focused on institutions. Only three bishops believed that the existing system of church administration should continue unchanged. Apparently their conservative reaction reflected a fear of reform in the midst of revolutionary unrest. Bishop Lavrentii of Tula, one of the three conservatives, declared that "division of the church as well as that of the state can in no case be approved, especially in the present moment of trouble."10
The rest of the Russian episcopate unanimously favored the establishment of ecclesiastical provinces headed by regional metropolitans and with regional synods of bishops having some autonomy. Undoubtedly the unpopularity of the centralized synodal bureaucracy headed by a lay overprocurator accounts for this remarkable consensus; yet the bishops also wished to restore a system more in conformity with canon law and church tradition. Certainly the historical studies of the early church and its ministries published by the ecclesiastical academies gave the bishops (or the commissions appointed to draft the Replies) material which they utilized.11 The responses generally asserted that ecclesiastical provinces would give the church more independence, while reorganization would allow it to practice regular conciliarity (sobornost'), an objective less easily realized on the national level.12
Each ecclesiastical province was to have a canonically based synod, empowered to elect bishops and hear complaints against them. Such complaints, if serious enough, could lead to a bishop's deposition. The crucial issue implied in decentralization was the church's dependence on the state: since Peter I, all bishops had been appointed by a decree of the Holy Synod, which was, in fact, an organ of the state. On this point, several bishops quoted Apostolic canon 30,13 which considers invalid any episcopal appointment "by worldly rulers"; interpreted literally, it would actually mean that all the episcopal appointments since Peter were invalid! Few, however, advocated that it be so applied.
Thus, while basing their proposals on ancient canonical tradition, the Replies had to avoid unrealistic and artificial attempts at copying the structure of the early church, which existed under different historical conditions. Several influential bishops were aware of this fact and pointed to the twentieth-century requirement of the Russian church: reestablishment of canonical norms, not slavish imitation of ancient structures.14 The old and respected Metropolitan Flavian of Kiev summarized the problems and goals of the projected reform in four points. (1) Dioceses closely tied to the central administration in St. Petersburg are actually isolated from each other and are unable to meet regional pastoral problems. (2) Conciliarity (sobornost') must first be practiced in regions and "neighborhoods," that is, in the ecclesiastical provinces presided over by their metropolitans. (3) The existing centralized bureaucracy has assumed a power which canonically belongs to the bishops of a region meeting in council. (4) Reform would allow the creation of smaller and more numerous dioceses (in each uezd), thereby enabling bishops to be effective pastors of their flocks, not inaccessible high administrators.15 (On this last point Archbishop Antonii of Volyn suggested that "auxiliary" bishops an institution borrowed recently from western Christianitybe suppressed and more numerous and smaller dioceses be established.16
A substantial number of Replies suggested that, in addition to the presiding metropolitan and bishops, the provincial councils include clergy and laity although some wished to grant them only a consultative role.17 Antonii of Volyn protested virulently against any "democratic" participation by clergy and laity in councils, but his remarks are exceptional.18 Clearly, the pattern of debate about provincial councils conforms precisely to that surrounding the composition of a national council for the entire Russian church a debate then going on in the theological periodicals.
The Replies also include specific plans for the future ecclesiastical provinces, the number of which varies in the proposals from seven to fifteen. Those who favored seven provinces followed obvious geographic, ethnic, and historical divisions.19 Such provinces were to include the northwest (St. Petersburg), central Russia (Moscow), the South (Kiev), the Caucasus (Tiflis), Belorussia, the East (Kazan) and Siberia. Other bishops recommended further subdivisions of these vast areas.
The plans for ecclesiastical regionalism could not ignore the national diversity of the Russian Empire. In 1905, national awareness had not yet become a critical issue, but it appears in some of the Replies. As a Russian nationalist, Stefan of Mogilev mentioned the danger of Georgian separatism as a disadvantage of regionalism (which he otherwise supported) and suggested that the future "metropolitan of the Caucasus," exercising jurisdiction in areas distinct from those of the Catholicos (national patriarch) of Georgia, always be a Russian.20 The bishops of Belorussia and the Ukraine refer in passing to the need for preserving a unified "Russia." However, an opposite trend also found free expression. The exarch of Georgia openly claimed that traditional autocephaly (i.e., complete independence) should be restored to the Georgian church. In his view, religious independence would not lead to political separatism.21
A further proposal for autonomy came from Tikhon, bishop "of the Aleutian islands and North America" (and future patriarch of Moscow), who suggested that a separate, autonomous (and possibly autocephalous) church in America be created. He argued that the Russian bishop of this diocese finds himself under completely different political conditions, for he is the head of a multinational religious body which includes not only Russian and Carpatho-Russian immigrants, but also Aleuts, Indians, Eskimos, as well as Serbs, Syrians, Greeks, and others.22 Tikhon's project, which displayed a remarkable perception of the situation, subsequently served as an authoritative pattern for the creation of the American autocephalous church in 1970.
With the exception of only four bishops, the entire Russian episcopate in 1905 demanded restoration of the patriarchate suppressed by Peter the Great. Three of the dissenters apparently feared any substantial reform, including a council, in a revolutionary atmosphere.23 The fourth, Paisii of Turkestan, belonged to the opposite extreme. He was afraid that a patriarch might be more easily controlled by the state than a collective body, and consequently he defended a collegiate and elective principle for all levels of church administration.24
While defending a restored partiarchate, the majority of bishops criticized the "synodal" regime as uncanonical and contradicting the principle of sobornost'. A patriarch responsible for a conciliar form of government would assure the church's independence from the centralized state bureaucracy.25 Beyond these basic arguments, some Replies also reasoned that Orthodox tradition requires every national church to be led personally by the bishop of its major city: among the Orthodox churches, only the Russian church since Peter I lacked this personal leadership.
However, the near unanimity in favor of the patriarchate did not extend to the description of the patriarch's role and responsibility. I. Sokolov, a learned historian of the patriarchate of Constantinople whose opinion on the canonical aspect of the projected reforms had been requested by the metropolitan of St. Petersburg, took the view that a patriarch acted as the head of a council.26 The vast majority of the bishops, however, described the patriarch as only the "first among equals," so that the council of all the bishops would be the supreme authority, able to pass judgment upon the patriarch himself.27 No unanimity emerged either among the bishops or in the church at large on the issue of the future council's composition. Some favored a purely episcopal assembly; others insisted that it also include clergy and laity.
Clearly the Replies could not address or solve all problems of central church authority; they merely anticipated later discussions, on the meaning of sobornost' and its possible institutional expressions, which took place in the preconciliar meetings and in the ecclesiastical journals between 1905 and 1917. The solution finally accepted at the council of 1917-18 clearly determined that the patriarch was to be responsible to a council composed of bishops, clergy, and laity. However, the statute of 1917 also safeguarded the bishops' particular role by giving them a collective veto power over all the council's decisions. This solution (which resembles a sort of parliamentary bicameralism) was anticipated in the Reply by Archbishop Serge of Finland (the future locum tenens and patriarch) when he suggested a procedure for patriarchal elections. Three candidates for patriarch were to be nominated respectively by the house of bishops, by the "lower" house of clergy and laity, and by the tsar. The patriarch would then be designated by lot.28 It is worth noting that Patriarch Tikhon's election in October 1917 was accomplished by lot after nominations by the entire council (bishops, clergy, and laity, but not the tsar!).
Obviously in 1905 no bishops foresaw either the end of the monarchy or the separation of church and state. Most of the Replies desired a benevolent, liberal Russian state in which the restored patriarchate would play an independent and socially meaningful role. The vast majority believed St. Petersburg would be the patriarch's normal residence. Only two bishops thought Moscow, the historic see of former Russian metropolitans and patriarchs, should again become the religious capital of Russia.29
An inevitable consequence of the system which reduced the clergy to a closed caste (soslovie) was that the priest's role in Russian society became almost exclusively cultic. The formal administrative obligations to register births and marriages and limited participation in the state educational system could not provide the clergy with a significant social function. Actually, there is some connection between contemporary Soviet legislation restricting the church to "cultic" activities and the requirements of the Petrine system. The pre-Revolutionary Russian clergy's strong sense of being social outcasts certainly influenced, directly or indirectly, some of the demands and suggestions voiced in the Replies. Eventually this social question became the central issue and dominated the debates during the council of 1917-18. For this reason, too, most members of the council vigorously defended the recently developed system of parochial schools as a means for integrating church and society more harmoniously, despite the fact that both the Duma and the Provisional Government considered these schools outdated and financially cumbersome. Another aspect of this same phenomenon can be seen in the "renovated" or ''living" church of the 1920s, which to a large extent became a movement of "white clergy" and some socially oriented intellectuals against the most ascetic ideals represented by the monastically inclined episcopate. Only Antonii (Khrapovitskii) of Volyn stood athwart this drive for greater social participation. His vituperative Reply in 1905 against "progressive," "republican," and "democratic" priests not only reflected his conservative ideology (in which he was not very consistent) but also his personal aristocratic background (quite exceptional among the bishops). He despised the clergy as a caste, but in this he stood very much alone.30
On the whole, the bishops in 1905 succeeded in avoiding such extreme positions and expressed only theological and pastoral considerations. A majority demanded that the clergy be given a voice in the political and social life of Russia not as spokesmen for class interests but as witnesses of Christ's message. As citizens, it was thought, members of the clergy should be given the right to participate in elections to the zemstvo, the city duma and the State Duma.31 Election to such assemblies would assure that a responsible and articulate voice of the church was heard.32 These demands had already been presented in the memorandum of Antonii of St. Petersburg mentioned earlier. He had suggested that the patriarch and some bishops be ex officio members of the State Council.
While generally advocating a greater social role for the clergy, several bishops also warned against the dangers of politics, quoting ancient canons prohibiting the clergy's assumption of direct political power and legal financial responsibilities. If elected to legislative bodies, it was to contribute to debates dealing with church building, education, welfare, and morality. Clergymen were not to participate in politics as such.33 Interestingly enough, Bishop Evlogii of Kholm, subsequently a prominent and very active member of the State Duma, was among those who gave such warnings. Actually, the bishops were aware of the difficulty of precisely demarcating those ''politics" forbidden to the clergy from those "social responsibilities" which are an unavoidable part of the church's function. Clearly, but understandably, they lacked practical experience in such matters.
The content of the Replies by the Russian bishops in 1905 can be analyzed and criticized from different angles. From a theological standpoint, for example, the issue of the respective roles of bishops, lower clergy, and laity at a council, as it was discussed in the Replies, cannot be truly solved without first establishing basic ecclesiological presuppositions on the nature of local churches (or dioceses), the manner of electing bishops, and the nature of the episcopal ministry. The notion of sobornost' is much too vague and insufficient to give an answer to concrete ecclesiological issues the ecclesiological ideas underlying the Replies would thus require a separate study. Similarly, the influence exercised by the prevailing trends in social thought toward liberal democracy, romantic narodnichestvo, and conservatism need serious analysis. Finally, the purely historical prosopographic importance of the collection of Replies is undeniable, inasmuch as all the major personalities of Russian church history in the revolutionary and post-Revolutionary era are among the authors: Tikhon (Bellavin), bishop of the Aleutian islands and North America, who became the first patriarch (1918-25); Serge (Stragorodskii), archbishop of Finland, the future, (1926-43) and patriarch (1943-44); Eulogy (Georgievskii), bishop of Kholm, later metropolitan of Western Europe (1922-46) and leader of the influential Russian Orthodox community in Paris; Antonii (Khrapovitskii), archbishop of Volyn, later metropolitan of Kiev, and eventually the head of the "Russian Orthodox church in exile" in Sremski Karlovci, Yugoslavia; and many others. It should be noted that most of the Replies reflect the work of commissions established in dioceses, some of which, especially those working in such intellectual centers as St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and Kazan, where the local bishop could utilize the resources of the theological academies, have produced reports of great scholarly interest. Elsewhere, the work of the commissions reflects the trends among provincial clergy and church leadership.
All these elements contribute to making the collection of Replies probably the most representative and comprehensive document on the Russian church's condition in the Old Regime's last years.
1. Cf. F. Dvornik, Early Christian and Byzantine Political Philosophy. Origins and Background, Dumbarton Oaks Studies, no. 9, Washington, D.C., 1966, I-II; also my article "Justinian, the Empire and the Church," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, XXII, 1968, 45-60; also more briefly the author's Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, New York, 1974, 213-16.
2. Otzyvy eparkhial'nykh arkhiereev po voprosam o tserkovnoi reforme, 3 vols., St. Petersburg, 1906, and Pribavleniia.
3. For a general review of the events see A. Bogolepov, Church Reforms in Russia, 1905-1918, Bridgeport, Conn., 1966 (reprinted from St. Vladimir's Seminary Quarterly, 1965); cf. also J.S. Curtiss, Church and State in Russia. The Last Years of the Empire, 1900-1917, New York, 1940, reprinted 1965; James Cunningham, "Reform in the Russian Church, 1900-1906: The Struggle for Autonomy and the Restoration of Byzantine Symphonia," Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota 1973.
4. Metropolitan Antonii's zapiska was published in Slovo, 28 March 1905, and reprinted in I.V. Preobrazhenskii, ed., Tserkovnaia reforma: sbornik statei dukhovnoi i svetskoi periodicheskoi pechati po voprosu o reforme, St. Petersburg, 1905, 133-36.
5. Text in Slovo, 28 March 1905.
6. Text in Tserkovnyi vestnik, 1905, 11; reproduced in Tserkovnaia reforma, 1-6.
7. Otzyvy eparkhial'nykh arkhiereev, III, 276. This was the opinion of Sergii (Stragorodskii), archbishop of Finland.
8. Cf. in this volume Paul Valliere's study on "The Idea of a Council in Russian Orthodoxy in 1905."
9. This aspect of the Replies will not be discussed here; the liturgical and disciplinary reforms suggested by the bishops are particularly emphasized in the only (and very brief) existing survey of the Replies by N. Zernov, "The Reform of the Church and the pre-revolutionary Russian Episcopate," St. Vladimir's Seminary Quarterly, VI, 1962, no. 3, 128-38 (originally published in N. Berdiaev's periodical Put', Paris, 1934).
10. Otzyvy, III, 387.
11. The books most frequently quoted are A. P. Lebedev, Dukhovenstvo drevnei vselenskoi tserkvi, Moscow, 1905, and P. Gidulianov, Mitropolity v pervye tri veka khristianstva, Moscow, 1905, the second study being the much more substantial. The various ecclesiastical periodicals also devoted numerous articles to the issue during the period 1904-17.
12. Cf. Nikanor of Perm, Otzyvy, II, 389.
13. For example, Konstantin of Samara, Ibid., I, 431.
14. Cf. the opinion of Professor A. Brilliantov, included in the remarks of St. Petersburg Metropolitan Antonii, Ibid., Ill, 117; and Sergii of Finland, III, 227.
15. Ibid., II, 103.
16. Ibid., I, 122.
17. Stefan of Mogilev, Ibid., I, 99-100; Simeon of Ekaterinoslav, I, 77; Flavian of Kiev, II, 75.
I8. Ibid., I, 112-20.
19. Cf. the Replies from Kursk, Perm, Volyn, Grodno, Olonets, Tomsk, Riazan, and America.
20. Ibid., I, 97.
21. Ibid., Ill, 510. Georgia, a country Christianized in the fourth century, has been led by a "catholicos" since the sixth century. Political annexation by Russia early in the nineteenth century was followed by the suppression of this Georgian national patriarchate and the appointment of a Russian "exarch of Georgia."
22. Ibid., I, 531.
23. Parfenii of Podolsk, Ibid., II, 490; Lavrentii of Tula, III, 381-82; Dimitrii, auxiliary of Podolsk, II, 491.
24. Ibid., I, 50-52.
25. See particularly the Replies from Ufa, II, 54-55; Pskov, II, 205-06; Kiev,
II, 103; Moscow, III, 253-55; Warsaw, II, 273; Riazan, III, 577; Volyn, III, 186-94; Orenburg, II, 146-47; Kholm, II, 466; and America, I, 530.
26. Ibid., Ill, 128-29.
27. Cf., for example, the Replies from St. Petersburg, III, 86; Moscow, III, 256; Kaluga, I, 29; Viatka, II, 509; Kholm, II, 466; Stavropol, II, 261; Finland,
III, 260, 270; Orel, I, 521; Orenburg, II, 148; Irkutsk, II, 227.
28. Ibid., III, 270.
29. Ibid., Tambov, III, 318; Finland, III, 269.
30. Ibid., I, 112-20.
31. Ibid., Chernigov, I, 111.
32. Ibid., Polotsk, I, 137; Khar'kov, I, 20; Kaluga, I, 33; America, I, 545.
33. Ibid., Voronezh, I, 45; Novgorod, II, 20; Kholm, II, 489; Kazan, III, 436.