Tags: The | Tyranny | Russian | Czars?

The Tyranny of Russian Czars?

Thursday, 05 June 2003 12:00 AM

The allegedly worst atrocity of this allegedly worst ("czarist") tyranny is described today in my "Britannica" as follows: "[P]olice fired on a peaceful demonstration.” This happened on Sunday, Jan. 22, 1905, and hence the phrase "Bloody Sunday" became a symbol of the brutality of "czarist" tyranny, the worst tyranny imaginable.

However, the Sunday event differed from the impression created by my "Britannica." An orthodox priest organized a march to the czar’s residence to ask him for the improvement of the living conditions of the poor, a complaint that is not absent in the United States almost a century later. No one had tried to interfere with the march, which finally reached the czar’s residence.

If the marchers had entered it, the czar would have been assassinated, since many marchers were the famous or notorious Russian terrorists, armed with pocket Browning pistols.

In vain did the guards outside the czar’s residence persuade the marchers to halt. Those in front could not halt, since those who marched behind them pressed on and pushed them forward. The guards had to open fire or let this human avalanche trample over them and crash into the czar’s residence.

So it was not as simple as the account that the villainous police of the worst tyrant imaginable "fired [out of sheer villainy] on a peaceful [threatening to crash into the czar’s residence] demonstration."

It is the first of these three last czars who introduced trial by jury, which returned the verdict of "not guilty" in the case of Vera Zasulich, a fiery 29-year-old revolutionary who made an attempt in 1878 upon the life of the mayor of St. Petersburg as a protest against the mistreatment of political prisoners in the city’s prisons.

The jury found that the young revolutionary had good grounds to be infuriated enough to kill the mayor. Since the jury verdict was the highest law, Zasulich lived happily ever after and died in 1919, at the age of 70.

The Russian Parliament even under the third of the last three czars – Nicholas II – never acquired the full constitutional power of the British Parliament or the U.S. Congress. The monarchy was "semi-constitutional,” not constitutional. Why?

An overwhelming majority of the Russian electorate voted for the Social-Revolutionary Party, which intended to transfer all the wealth of the rich to the poor.

Imagine such a party in the United States. It has an overwhelming majority in the Congress, and transfers (through progressive taxation, for example) all the wealth of the rich to the poor. There is no law forbidding progressive taxation, for example.

So there is no barrier to the Social Revolution through the legislature. The only way out is to restrict the power of the legislature, and this is what Czar Nicholas II did.

While politically the Russia of the last three czars was not as fully constitutional as the English-speaking countries with their powerful legislatures, the Russia of the last three czars had greater cultural freedom than did the United States.

At the end of his life Tolstoy called on mankind to stop all sexual activity and become extinct in this saintly bliss, as Christians should, in his opinion.

His Christian or super-Christian novel, "Resurrection," was published in Russia without anyone supposing that there was something in this novel-size sermon that had to be censored out for sexual impropriety.

Yet this novel-size sermon could not be published in the United States without the translators censoring out everything "sexually explicit."

However, cultural freedom is only a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for cultural efflorescence. Today, cultural freedom in print is unabridged in the United States and in Russia. But where are today’s Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck in the United States or today’s Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov in Russia?

The Russia of the last three czars is the only Russia that is known and valued outside Russia for its literature and music.

True, the Soviet owners of Russia did not destroy all at once the culture of pre-1917 Russia. But when the "classical station of the New York Times” refers to the "Soviet composer" Prokofiev, the radio station forgets that Prokofiev had completely taken shape as a composer of genius before 1917, emigrated thereafter, and returned only after he had been rebuffed in the United States and cold-shouldered in Europe.

The abdication of the last czar, Nicholas II, in the spring of 1917 was generally regarded in the West as liberation. Nor was Russia liberated by foreign troops (as Iraq by the American and British troops in 2003). Russia liberated herself on her own, from within.

Nicholas II, the worst tyrant imaginable (remember how his "police fired on a peaceful demonstration”?) gave up his power at long last (imagine Saddam Hussein giving up his power peacefully).

While the ensuing Provisional Government was democratic, those who replaced it in the fall of the same year were still better – they were social-democratic, that is, super-democratic.

With the benefit of hindsight, it can be said that these social-democrats (super-democrats) established Lenin’s and then Stalin’s tyranny, which had no analogue in the world until Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 out of the German fear of Stalin’s invasion of the virtually defenseless Germany.

It is useful to compare some "dark side," such as anti-Semitism, of the Russia of the last three czars and of Stalin’s Russia. The U.S. authorities do not let every foreigner become a citizen of the United States. Similarly, the pre-1917 Russian authorities regarded Jews migrating from the West into Russia as foreigners who should be admitted selectively into the central areas of Russia.

Thus, my mother, a Jewess, graduated from high school with distinction in Vitobsk, in the West of Russia, whereupon she had the right to study at the University of St. Petersburg, and when she became a medical doctor, she was a full-fledged citizen of Russia.

If my mother had had no profession and no skill, she would not have become a citizen of Russia. At that time she could have emigrated to the U.S. But not today!

The anti-Semitic riots ("pogroms") were ascribed by the Left to the czar, of course. This is silly.

On the other hand, there is incontrovertible evidence that Stalin was planning for the "deportation to an uninhabited area,” that is, annihilation, of all Jews in Russia, and my mother was, along with hundreds of thousands of other Jews, fired despite her lifelong distinguished record in medical research. This was a preliminary to the "deportation."

Under Nicholas II my mother, a Jewish woman, became a medical doctor. Under Stalin she was to be annihilated in Stalin’s "Final Solution," and only Stalin’s death saved the Jews of Russia.

From the vantage point of experience of Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany, the Russia of the last three czars could be viewed and evaluated in true historical perspective, as I have been trying to do above.

The link to my book online is www.levnavrozov.com. My e-mail address is

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The allegedly worst atrocity of this allegedly worst ( czarist ) tyranny is described today in my Britannica as follows: [P]olice fired on a peaceful demonstration."This happened on Sunday, Jan. 22, 1905, and hence the phrase Bloody Sunday became a symbol of the...
Thursday, 05 June 2003 12:00 AM
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