In 1917, after generations of serfdom, oppression, starvation and genocide, the people of Czarist Russia took matters into their own hands. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, transported through Eastern Europe into Russia on a sealed train brought the remedy to the problems of all the peasants…organization and force. He brought a system of organization to establish a collection of groups into one, dynamic, violent, active political entity called the Communist Party. The single goal of the Communists, one on which they focused with ultimate intensity was the overthrow of the Czarist government of Russia.
The oldest and most entrenched political system in the world, the Russian nobility, would soon become victims of the inexorable force for change called Communism.
The antithesis of a Communist leader is a Libertarian. And a pal of the Libertarian is the anarchist. Today we have many who say that they would prefer no government. They would rather be free to pursue failure or success on their own. There are others, the anarchists, who would destroy anything positive that arose from any success of Libertarians if it somehow formed into a society that needed governance.
Those are the extremes and in the middle is the monarchist, the oligarch, the plutocrat, the Liberal, the Conservative, the Progressive, the Populist, the Socialist and the Moderate. Now we have also something called the Neo-conservative.
Neoconservatism, if it merits a mention at all, is merely a pseudo-intellectual construct used as a political entity designed to take from government, not from a purely intellectual point of view, but rather like an embezzler uses an organization of some kind to enrich himself. As their tenets, they will one day claim fiscal responsibility, the next day spending beyond avarice. The only common denominator is whatever benefits them from that particular activity.
Revolution is the goal of the Communist, of the Socialist and of the Liberal. The difference is in the means and in the objective after the revolution.
The assassination of the Czars was not a sometime thing nor an avocation for the faint of heart. It did not being in 1917 or in 1916. It began as early as 1873. By 1873, the idea of overturning the Russian Government in the way that it was ultimately overthrown had been demonstrably considered. The early Russian revolutionary, Sergey Genadievich Nechayev had set his heart on the destruction of the Russian monarchic system. He seduced, lied, blackmailed and murdered to achieve his goal. But he died in prison in 1882 and the Romanoffs lived on.
That is, they lived on until the appearance on the scene of one of Nechayev’s key admirers…Lenin. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, known as Lenin, is the Babe Ruth of revolutionary action. No one had less regard for human life that would stand in the way of destroying an existing system. His job was to build a Communist society but only after tearing down, pulverizing and grading over the existing society. Which he did with ruthless enthusiasm.
It is quite likely that the Russian Revolution would not have taken place in 1917, had the Czar been able to extricate himself, had he indeed even wished to extricate the country from World War I. The toll in human life taken by the war devastated Russia and pushed the Revolution over the top.
The 1917 revolution was not the first. There was another revolution involving some of the same players in 1905. After Russia’s humiliating defeat in the naval war against Japan, the government and the Czar were weakened. Late in 1904 a major strike at a huge artillery plant in St. Petersburg, set off a series of events that culminated in a march by citizens to the Winter Palace. And there were other uprisings around the country.
That same year, 1905, Czar Nicolas’ Uncle was assassinated, as his Grandfather, Czar Alexander II had been some years before. In 1905, several hundred people were shot and killed as they marched to the Winter Palace to present their demands to the Czar. More importantly others were arrested and executed. As security became more severe, more were executed in 1906, 1909, 1910 and so on.
It is interesting to note that while we think of America a great Democracy, in Russia at the time of the Revolution, 1% of the people owned 25% of the land. Land was owned largely by landowners in a country that was 90% agrarian, and the land that was not owned by nobles was owned by communities. The people were basically pinned to the land where they lived
In 1917, all land was taken over by the state. The reason was, of course, that the land, while productive, was only farmed for the benefit of the owners and the workers were basically what we would call sharecroppers, having only been freed from serfdom less than half a century before, in 1861.
In the revolution, all farmland was made public and farmers could actually lease large tracts of land. Those given the right to farm the land made the most of it and Russia became the breadbasket of Europe until Stalin. Stalin literally moved millions of farmers off the land to northern, non-farming areas of Russia where they died by the millions. Stalin not only caused the deaths of millions but set back Russian farming 70 years.
Are there parallels in the United States today? We don’t have a Czar, nor even any realistically named “czars.” These so called “czars” (mostly called that by the Right) have less authority than a postman. Our President, far from being a Czar, has his hands tied by the Right Wing (the nobility?) to the extent that he can only pass bills that first are agreed to by the huge international corporations and their lackeys in lobbying groups and among the Neoconservative members of the House and Senate.
Today in the United States, the Right Wing controls what in pre-revolutionary Russia would have been the military. Today the real force is the media. A very large segment of American society is composed of ignorant, superstitious, racist or homophobic sheep, led thoughtlessly by the media.
As long as the media and their paid commentators made enormously rich by the international corporations continue to make the right kinds of comments—hate speech we call it today—the sheep continue to support leaders who continue to loot the government and take away their rights and their social services.
Al Qaeda seems to have a point in one respect. Many Americans are foolish, spoiled people, literally growing soft and fat…if obesity and diabetes statistics are correct…while drowning their brains in cheap alcohol and mindless television entertainment.
They are often fooled with false patriotism into sending their sons to unnecessary wars to lose an arm or a leg or to die at age 22, barely knowing anything of life. We now see the families of soldiers actually begging on television for funds to send their children to college…as they have given their earning potential away through loss of a limb, or eyes or a system so shocked by war that it cannot function properly.
Still, the rich Right Wing members of Congress continue to scare the American people, even though the real loss of life in this country has been less from terrorists than from city gun violence or far less than from auto accidents. Yet we do not seem to be terrified about driving to the supermarket.
One of the interesting parallels with pre-revolutionary Russia is the very high concentrations of wealth and power. There are a hundred posts on this blog about that very subject. Even agriculture, as in Czarist Russia, is in the hands of a small group of people who own not only the farms but integrated food production.
With vertical integration, international corporations now control a massive amount of land and food processing and food distribution. You are, in fact, beholden to giant corporations for the very food you give to your children. And you have no say whatsoever in how it is produced. The FDA, like the SEC, and the FCC and all the other departments of government has been taken over by the 32,000 lobbyists in Washington, D.C. They bribe the Neocons who prevent regulation and any legislation they do not like.
Actually, the correspondent group to those Russian nobles is our Plutocracy. That would encompass some of the very wealthy owners of the oil and pharmaceutical companies, the CEOs of those companies, the heads of a dozen Wall Street firms, the heads of the health insurance and health delivery system corporations, the heads of insurance firms, the top officers of the military and top executives in both the Defense Department and the Military Industrial Complex.
Then there are the heads and those holding top posts in private armies within the United States, with both overt and covert operations here and in foreign countries, as well as all the lobbying firms for all the international corporations and the institutions and political research organizations, and last but not least, the heads and top officials of the half-dozen or so giant media organizations.
These individuals in this country at this time correspond to the Russian Nobility of pre-1917 Russia. They have privilege. They are not accountable to anyone. They suffer no inconvenience from war or famine or economic disaster. They give to charity as an obligation based on image rather than a desire for the betterment of human kind.
In fact, they do more for the destruction and disability of mankind, in pollution, overpricing, spread of unhealthy chemicals in food, tobacco and other drugs, the dampening of small business creation, cheating the public in availability of essentials such as energy, clean air, job creation and healthy foods than the Russian nobility did against the serfs. They encourage the most ignorant and distasteful and basest elements in society to work against their own fellow middle class members to, in fact, eliminate the middle class.
They make Americans the object of ridicule, censure and derision all around the world when they are not outright causing terrorists to attack us. Rather than creating security, they have created a country in which fear rules the lower classes and greed rules those aspiring to the upper classes. Their goal is to leave nothing in between but a wasteland.
So what motivated our friend Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov to become both liberator and monster? He was no fool. His father, a distinguished educator, died when he was in his teens and his brother, Alexander, changed almost immediately from a quiet, studious youth to a revolutionary. He was eventually convicted of a revolutionary crime and executed. This had an effect on the young Vladimir and he became from that time, at least in his mind, a man dedicated to overturning the Czarist form of government and the existing order of Russian society.
When he was finally allowed, after much pleading by his mother, to enter university studies, Vladimir was brilliant. He spanned the four-year course of study for the law in one year, finishing first of one hundred and twenty-four in his class. He left the practice of law, traveled and met Russian exiles in Western Europe, returned, was jailed for revolutionary activity and finally exiled to a remote sector of Siberia for three years.
Meanwhile, from 1905 to 1914, the Czarist government seemed to become more ostentatiously democratic and more privately conservative. But the world of assassination bombing, and all sorts of intrigue continued up until 1917. No one was safe in a world where the masses of the people were severely oppressed and the nobility had so little contact with them that they neither understood nor cared.
Plutocracies are far less likely to work than dictatorships. If President Obama were some kind of dictatorial superman, rather than the mild-mannered reporter of what is taking place around him that he is, it would be easier to make changes and improvements. Some might not like those changes but they would come quickly. We thought that when we had voted out the autocratic…let’s be honest…fool, George W. Bush, that we might have an opportunity for change.
Little did we know that Bush was, indeed, the puppet that most of us felt he was. The real strings of government are being pulled by the giant international corporations through the money, the political bribes, being paid to Republican lawmakers, as well as a half-dozen Democratic lawmakers in Congress. The Neocon Republicans are clearly the current iteration of the kind of government that the Russian Nobility and the Duma, the weak Russian parliament represented. The lobbying friends of the current Plutocracy, and their media conscripts a modern addition to the political process since those early, simpler days.
In those days, monarchs were assassinated, nobles were assassinated and the assassins were captured and executed, like Lenin’s older brother, Alexander. But today, we are more sophisticated and we do not yet…although we are approaching it…have the life-or-death struggle which the Russian serfs were forced to endure merely to survive.
But it is coming. We see it in the callous refusal of the Neocon Senators and Congressmen to provide any kind of sustenance to people who have been out of work for two years, skilled, educated people.
How long do they think that this kind of government will be allowed to continue?