Lessons for today from the anarchy and terrorism in pre-Bolshevik Russia
Tsarist Russia was plagued by an unprecedented wave of terror starting after the 1905 revolution. This laid the groundwork for the Bolshevik coup of 1917. It is worth reviewing this history since there are similarities between those who supported that anarchy and terrorism then and those behind groups like Antifa, Black Lives Matter (BLM), and the entire leftist movement today.
During the early 20th century, bombing, robberies, extortion, and riots were as common as traffic accidents in Russia. It was said that anyone in uniform or public office was a candidate for a bullet in the head or sulfuric acid in the face. During those tumultuous years, there was a political party named the Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) Party. "Though the Kadets advocated democratic, constitutional procedures, and did not themselves engage in terrorism, they aided the terrorists in any way they could." Among other things, the Kadets collected money for anarchists and terrorists and called for amnesty for those arrested. The party's position was that it considered those involved in the mayhem not criminals, but saints and martyrs. Does that sound familiar?
The Kadets were not alone. The terrorists also had support from much of the Russian intelligentsia, and money flowed to them from doctors, lawyers, industrialists, and bankers. This calls to mind the old axiom that revolutions never succeed without the support of the wealthy, the liberal, and the educated in society. Another axiom is that revolutions devour their own, and so it was in Russia. When Lenin came to power, his Bolsheviks liquidated all opposition starting with the Kadets and the foolish liberals and those in the business class who aided and abetted the destruction of orderly society.
Why would liberals and intellectuals support bloodthirsty revolutionaries when logic would dictate that it would lead to their own demise? Peter Struver, a Kadet dissident, was so intrigued by that question that he and six others published Landmarks: A collection of Essays on the Russian Intelligentsia in 1909. These essays were intended to give insight to the mentality of the intelligentsia, which Gary Saul Morson believes is must reading for anyone trying to understand that phenomenon.
The authors of Landmarks noted common elements among the intelligentsia that warped their ability to think rationally. One was a firm, unquestioned desire to replace the established societal order with some vague, ill defined idea of a Utopian society. Reform was not part of the intelligentsia's agenda. Destruction was. Another trait of the intelligentsia was that they had abandoned traditional religious belief, were atheistic, accepted materialism as their religion, and proselytized determinism. Since Christianity was part of the established order, it too had to be, if not eliminated, then at least marginalized.
Struver observed that the intelligentsia believed that all questions must be resolved based not on reasoning or facts, but by the political consequences of the answers. This includes questions on history, science, and everything else. Only politically correct answers were allowed. Others would be shouted down. Dovetailing with this was the habit of the revolutionaries and their supporters to accept the same positions they had once condemned when it was advantageous for them to do so. They could switch back and forth and back again without missing a beat.
Another characteristic of the intelligentsia was their compelling desire for conformity — that is, conformity among themselves. The slightest deviation from their politically correct way of thinking would get a member shunned from "acceptable company." Morson writes that part of the glue binding the intelligentsia into such a tight, cohesive group was the fact that they were "socialized to regard anything conservative as reprehensible — and still worse, as a social faux pas — they contrived ways to justify radical intolerance and violence as forced, understandable, and noble."
Make your own parallels as to the symmetries between the Bolshevik takeover of Russia and what has been happening in America. It's not merely the turmoil in the streets. From corporate boardrooms to the universities, the media, entertainment, and now even sports, there is an eerie similarity. It would be a mistake to assume that America is immune to Marxism. We are not. To prevent its takeover, good men and women must stand up and speak out. This is not a call to sabotage one's career or safety in a futile attempt to make a point. Rather, take your shots wisely, the most important of which is to vote and work for the re-election of Donald Trump and the rest of the Republican ticket. As always, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.