A Grim Centennial: The Russia That Could Have Been

July 2017 is the centennial of one of the greatest disasters in modern history: the "July Days," which represented the beginning of a concerted effort by the Bolsheviks to destroy the Provisional Government that had overthrown the tsar.  This ended in a junta four months later that left the Russian people with a monstrously evil regime that got worse over time.

The left has tried over the last century to somehow portray Bolshevik Russia as better than Tsarist Russia.  Eugene Lyon, a former communist who was appalled by what he saw when he visited the Soviet Union, wrote a book on the fiftieth anniversary of the Bolshevik junta, Workers' Paradise Lost, and in that book Lyons goes through every conceivable comparison between Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union.  In every way, the tsars were better than the Soviets.

Tsarist Russia had the fastest growing economy in the world in 1913.  By 1934, if trends in industrial production had continued, it would have been the greatest industrial power in the world.  Tsarist Russia was a food-exporting nation as well as a nation that exported cotton, lumber, gold, and many other minerals. 

Science and art flourished under the tsars, just as it atrophied and then decayed under the Bolsheviks.  Chemistry, astronomy, psychology, and several other fields of science were advanced by men under the tsars.  The 19th-century Russian literary period, which may have never been equaled in human history, was under the tsars.

What about human rights?  The right to free legal counsel was granted by the tsars when few other nations bothered with such niceties.  Political prisoners to Siberia could live in cabins with their families and, if they wished, simply walked away and reappeared in Moscow.

The great stain on Tsarist Russia was the pogroms against Jews, a real and sad fact, but Jews were incomparably better off under the tsars than under the Soviets.  It was the Soviets, not the tsars, who invaded synagogues and made shoes out of Torah scrolls, and it was the Soviets who banned the making of matzo and instruction in Hebrew and having a bris for a newborn boy. 

Jews were not permitted to rise above a certain rank in the military, and they were denied all information about the Holocaust.  Virtually all Jews who had been Old Bolsheviks were purged and killed.  Virulent Soviet anti-Semitism grew more patent as the Soviet Union aged and needed scapegoats.

Worse were the tens of millions who died during the Holodomor and the hundred million or so processed through the hellish Gulag, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn so painstakingly chronicled in The Gulag Archipelago.  The Nazis modeled their horrific system of camps and death on what the Soviets had done before them and what the Soviets showed the Nazis in way of instruction in evil.

Even worse was the fact that the Second World War began with aggressive war waged by the Soviet Union in alliance with Nazi Germany and that until June 1941, the Soviets were doing everything in their power to help Nazi Germany win.  After the war ended, the Soviets insured that half of Europe was enslaved and that China was left to the tender mercies of Mao, the greatest mass murderer in history.

All this could have been prevented if the Provisional Government of Russia had survived the Bolshevik subversion, a process that began in earnest in July 1917, a century ago.  The world today would be a radically different and better place if Kerensky and his government had had a chance to form Russia in the decade following the First World War. 

If today we had a truly benevolent, free and democratic Russia and China growing out of the debris of the First World War, then we would have no problem with North Korea, and the civilized world would have a united front against radical Islam.  It is highly unlikely that Hitler would have ever come to power, because a free Russia would have joined France and Britain in opposing German re-militarization without crushing the hopes of the German people.

Events have consequences, often far greater and more ominous than we can see at the time.  One hundred years ago, a ghastly malignancy was unleashed upon our world, and we are still suffering from that disaster.

July 2017 is the centennial of one of the greatest disasters in modern history: the "July Days," which represented the beginning of a concerted effort by the Bolsheviks to destroy the Provisional Government that had overthrown the tsar.  This ended in a junta four months later that left the Russian people with a monstrously evil regime that got worse over time.

The left has tried over the last century to somehow portray Bolshevik Russia as better than Tsarist Russia.  Eugene Lyon, a former communist who was appalled by what he saw when he visited the Soviet Union, wrote a book on the fiftieth anniversary of the Bolshevik junta, Workers' Paradise Lost, and in that book Lyons goes through every conceivable comparison between Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union.  In every way, the tsars were better than the Soviets.

Tsarist Russia had the fastest growing economy in the world in 1913.  By 1934, if trends in industrial production had continued, it would have been the greatest industrial power in the world.  Tsarist Russia was a food-exporting nation as well as a nation that exported cotton, lumber, gold, and many other minerals. 

Science and art flourished under the tsars, just as it atrophied and then decayed under the Bolsheviks.  Chemistry, astronomy, psychology, and several other fields of science were advanced by men under the tsars.  The 19th-century Russian literary period, which may have never been equaled in human history, was under the tsars.

What about human rights?  The right to free legal counsel was granted by the tsars when few other nations bothered with such niceties.  Political prisoners to Siberia could live in cabins with their families and, if they wished, simply walked away and reappeared in Moscow.

The great stain on Tsarist Russia was the pogroms against Jews, a real and sad fact, but Jews were incomparably better off under the tsars than under the Soviets.  It was the Soviets, not the tsars, who invaded synagogues and made shoes out of Torah scrolls, and it was the Soviets who banned the making of matzo and instruction in Hebrew and having a bris for a newborn boy. 

Jews were not permitted to rise above a certain rank in the military, and they were denied all information about the Holocaust.  Virtually all Jews who had been Old Bolsheviks were purged and killed.  Virulent Soviet anti-Semitism grew more patent as the Soviet Union aged and needed scapegoats.

Worse were the tens of millions who died during the Holodomor and the hundred million or so processed through the hellish Gulag, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn so painstakingly chronicled in The Gulag Archipelago.  The Nazis modeled their horrific system of camps and death on what the Soviets had done before them and what the Soviets showed the Nazis in way of instruction in evil.

Even worse was the fact that the Second World War began with aggressive war waged by the Soviet Union in alliance with Nazi Germany and that until June 1941, the Soviets were doing everything in their power to help Nazi Germany win.  After the war ended, the Soviets insured that half of Europe was enslaved and that China was left to the tender mercies of Mao, the greatest mass murderer in history.

All this could have been prevented if the Provisional Government of Russia had survived the Bolshevik subversion, a process that began in earnest in July 1917, a century ago.  The world today would be a radically different and better place if Kerensky and his government had had a chance to form Russia in the decade following the First World War. 

If today we had a truly benevolent, free and democratic Russia and China growing out of the debris of the First World War, then we would have no problem with North Korea, and the civilized world would have a united front against radical Islam.  It is highly unlikely that Hitler would have ever come to power, because a free Russia would have joined France and Britain in opposing German re-militarization without crushing the hopes of the German people.

Events have consequences, often far greater and more ominous than we can see at the time.  One hundred years ago, a ghastly malignancy was unleashed upon our world, and we are still suffering from that disaster.

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