I am being a little unconventional in my music this post. I am listening to a musician that my son would listen to before he had his license and I had to drive him everywhere. It was a good time and our best conversations took place while traveling around town. This song, a remix of Roberta Flack's Do You Know Where You're Going To by TobyMac brings back some fine memories. Love you Derek.
A Short History of Russia by R.D. Charques
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a concise and informative book that gives an excellent overview of Russian history.
It starts with Russia's Eurasian background and the Slavs, explains the Mongol influence and how it formed the Serf culture that became a prominent part of Russian culture, all the way through to the rise of Communism, where Serfdom was simply renamed as "Comrade". It's not unequal distribution if you don't call it that and it is equal distribution if you do.
Chapters are devoted to each Tzar and also Catherine the Great, the one Tzarina. When reading the barbarities of every single one of the Tzars (and Tzarina), one wonders if any of them were sane and one does not wonder if the outcome of Soviet Revolution was inevitable. And while many of the Tzars or the wives were German, they still managed to keep Russian isolated from the rest of Europe.
Even so, the aristocracy looked to Europe for its fashion and style but maintained 12th century Asian primitivism when governing its people. This would pave the way for the Communists in the 19th century who embraced Marxism, finally culminating in the Bolshevik revolution in 1917.
Charques' book goes into greater detail as to the different groups who rebelled against the Tzar and aristocracy, when they fought in unity and when they fought against each other, one group finally destroying the other.
Lenin's methods were no less brutal or sadistic than any of the Tsars, the difference is that he annihilated the aristocratic class and created another aristocratic class, which was developed to a higher level with each succeeding leader.
Again, it's not an aristocracy if we don't call it that (wink). We call it "Comradeship". Of course Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev etc. and their fellow party members managed to live in aristocratic luxury as the rest of the nation suffered an existence of grinding poverty, but reality is determined by rhetoric or so Soviet propaganda asserted. This is still true today and not only of Russia. Orwell was right.
Under Stalin millions starved as he tried to stamp out the peasant rebellion. Peasants preferred to destroy their farms and livestock rather than submit the earnings of their labor to others. It helps to read the history of Russia to better understand Ayn Rand. One sees why she calls people who demand the wages of others and call it "equal distribution" as "looters". The sharing was clearly one sided, as was the receiving.
More would have starved if it were not for Europe and American intervention, supplying food as they were able. So the outside world had some understanding as to what was happening in Russia and I cannot help but wonder why the West was not more proactive in putting Stalin out of commission or at least not conceding him Eastern Europe. He could not have put up a fight if Churchill and Roosevelt had chosen to put Western Military installations there. His army, due to his own paranoid machinations, were mostly disabled, but I suppose the world had become war weary.
Too bad. It's interesting to speculate what history would have looked like had we fought a little longer.
This book was a textbook my mother used when she was studying Russian history at Syracuse University in the early 1970s. As a result the entire grisly story of Stalin's monstrosities were as yet unknown, and the book stops with Stalin. Perhaps for diplomatic reasons Khrushchev is not mentioned, since he was still alive.
An interesting point the author makes is that Lenin understood that to make his Soviet survive they would need public relations with the West. He achieved this through diplomatic actions by allowing Ballet and circus troupes to travel around the world. He knew this would not only lend legitimacy to the Soviet Regime but also allow agents to integrate into Western society, especially in the Fine Arts and Media, and thus planting seeds of revolutionary ideology.
This is a good book for anyone interested in increasing their understanding of how Russia arrived at its present cultural and political conditions.
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