Monthly Archives: September 2013

1917: An UnOrthodox Revolution

As the Romanovs abdicated the throne in the beginning breaths of 1917, and the new governing bodies took their places in this shaky society, many things changed. The Provisional Government was doing its best to sort out the ocean of affairs that were left untouched by the Autocrats preceding them, while still working with the Petrograd Soviet, fighting a war, and dealing with a moderate famine. With that groundwork being lain, there is a lot to talk about in this time period, but I’d like to focus on a problem left behind from the Autocrats: The Eastern Orthodox Church.

During the rule of Tsar Nicholas II, and the Romanovs preceding him, the church had obtained a very important position. Not only did the church provide “justification” for the Tsar to rule, (claiming that he was able to interpret God’s will, and no one else could) but also was the basis for the every day Russian’s education. This combined, allows for a lot of bad things to happen to the people. So! When the Provisional Government takes power, and the church has just had it’s leader removed from the governing position, many questions are brought to the table. Some, with slightly more relevance than others, such as, “Who will run our schools?” and “What are we going to do with the massive tracts of land the church owns?”  Especially since the Bolsheviks controlling the very powerful Petrograd Soviet were secular by nature, and constantly pressuring the government to do their will. The result? The PG decides to say that the church would be removed from the school system, and that it would have no play in the role of education. On the ruling of land, the government decides to take it all and label it as basically, “Public Property.”

The short term results are kind of easy to read here, in the fact that the church is going to freak out, and start a religious “anti-bolshevik” campaign. So posters, and propaganda such as the image shown here, start to flood the religious sects of Russia.

The basic idea behind the anti bolshevik campaign led by the church was that the Bolsheviks, here embodied by the Red Guard pushing the people to the front lines, were doing the work of Satan, and that the faithful should avoid them at all costs, lest they be devoured by the movement.

I suppose the long term effect of this societal change can only be pondered. The general opinion of the church was bad enough that the public wouldn’t have had any objections to this turn of events, but I doubt that many common people would believe that this would in time lead to the outlaw of religion altogether. I find it slightly ironic that the laws establishing a Freedom of Conscience for the Russian people would result in a soviet nation so oppressed.

 

Sources for these facts:

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1917church&Year=1917&navi=byYear

Russia: A History, by Freeze pgs. 269-306

and the image is from:

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&show=images&SubjectID=1917church&Year=1917&navi=byYear

The 1905 Revolution

As the turn of the century passed, there was a lot going on in Russia. The nation was still working out the kinks of a national industrialization that had only really started twenty years ago, and had not gotten very far. There were many, many problems here, as many political activists were clear to point out. Some of these had to do with the outrageous hours being worked, the extremely poor working conditions, and the working class’ inability to represent themselves. One of these political activists was a guy by the name of Vladimir Lenin. You might have heard of him. His general take on the issue was that the country as a whole needed Marxism of a sort. He emphasized the need to disregard the standing “tactics-as-plan” idealism that had taken hold of a fair branch of politically minded peoples in favor of a more real, traditionalist Marxism, with a few minor adaptations for the Russian system. The thoughts of Lenin and others like him had some good effect along with the works done by Father Georgi Gapon to entitle the workers of Russia to a form of suffrage that was indeed lacking in those times.

As the general situation got worse, the workers were urged to strike until there was a written declaration of their rights, which was embodied in what was called the October Manifesto. The strikes reached a point where the only possible routes that Tsar Nicholas II had left available for himself were to allow such a doctrine to exist, or to create an empire where the people were oppressed by a military hand. Logically, the Tsar went with the first option following the guidance and pleas of Sergei Witte. So, Nicholas II gave in, and had the October Manifesto penned, and signed giving the common man the rights to conscience, speech, and public gathering. In the general scheme of things, they didn’t get too much, but it was a first step. They could still be legally thrown in jail without trial, but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

 

All of the information listed on this post comes from:

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1901/witbd/ii.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUS1905.htm

http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?action=interpret&id=GALE|CX3404100942&v=2.1&u=viva_vpi&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w&authCount=1

or my own knowledge of these issues.

 

 

The Village of Kolchedan

Kolchedan

The photograph I have chosen is of a village in Russia by the name of Kolchedan . One might wonder the significance of such a picture to someone so important as the ruler of a country. The Reasoning behind this photo, as far as I have learned, is to give an example of the average town prior to the Industrialization that had taken place shortly before this was taken. Kolchedan was the location of a stone quarry, and a place physically and socially centered around the church. It may not have been intentional by the photographer, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, but the way this photo is shot displays what was the basic Russian social system of the era past. The house in the center-left of the shot seems to belong to a family of some wealth as you can see by it having a metal roof, and being somewhat expansive in size. This house could almost be used to represent the nobles that used to be front and center in the Russian system, while the houses presumably belonging to the the people of the working class hanging in the background seem to be of much lower quality. This picture is finished out by the church looming in the midground, hanging over the working class, showing the establishment that connects these two social groups together.

This picture is The Village of Kolchedan (1912)

and can be found by record at: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/architecture.html