Freedom Under Russian Absolutist Monarchy
Before Stalin, Mao and Obama
Emperor Nicholas I and Alexander Pushkin
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The British government, including the monarchy (which endorses or rejects its prime minister, corresponding to the U.S. president) has been accepted by the most critical defenders of democracy, liberty, and freedom.
Though the Russian absolutist monarchy was overthrown by shrill egomaniacs like Lenin about ten years before I was born, I know it better than I do any other absolutist monarchy. So let me give you a couple of examples from its public life.
The Soviet propaganda implied more and more insistently that the Soviet Russians were the world's superior race. But if they were, why didn't they come to power centuries earlier, and not in 1917? That was where the Soviet propaganda began to represent Russians who had lived in the pre-1917 regime as idiots because that was what the tsarist regime had allegedly made out of them to prevent the revolutionary overthrow of the "tsarist regime."
The secret opposition to the "tsarist regime" was on throughout the second half of the eighteenth century.
After tsarevich Constantine, who lived in Poland, had secretly renounced any claim to the imperial succession, his brother tsarevich Nicholas was crowned emperor of Russia. Nicholas was disliked, while Constantine had a big following in Russia ("Constantine and Constitution"). In December of 1825, Russian troops in St. Petersburg refused to take the oath of allegiance to Nicholas, who for hours tried his best to bring to reason the mutinous soldiers. When that did not work, he consented to use force, and a few rounds of grapeshot quelled the mutiny. The Decembrists (as they came to be called) demanded the abolition of serfdom and the attainment of some degree of representative government. The chief conspirators were arrested and interrogated by the emperor in person.
Let me draw a comparison with events closer to us. The Tiananmen rebels (alive by the end of the suppression of rebellion) numbered 11 people, and all eleven were shot on the spot. The Decembrists and the Tiananmen rebels both pursued a similar goal: constitutional government. But while all Tiananmen rebels caught alive were shot, some of the Decembrists were sent to a city named Chita. They reconstructed and repaired it to live in to their pleasure. Others began to work in mines in Siberia to have some food to stay alive.
Alexander Pushkin, regarded as the greatest Russian poet of the time, began his poem addressed to the rebels as follows:
Preserve your proud noble patience.
Your sorrowful toil will not be lost,
Nor will be your lofty aspirations.
As it happened, Nicholas I received Pushkin in his palace in St.Petersburg. "Tell me," he asked, "if you were in St Petersburg on the day of the uprising, would you have taken part in it?" "Of course!" Pushkin said calmly, and no persecution followed his answer.
In contrast to Pushkin, Nekrasov (1821-1878) was a national poet who described the sufferings of the Russian people. Since the age of 26 and up to his old age, he published two nationally known literary magazines, apart from his poetry. His famous epic poem was entitled "Who Lives Well in Russia?" The supposed answer was "Nobody." Here is one of his poems:
Let a storm strike thick and thin,
The cup of misery is overflowing,
The cup of misery is full to the brim!
Nekrasov lived to the age of 57, and he continued spreading his misery nationwide in his poetry and his magazines. He was never stopped and was never asked to make his literary mood less miserable. He died in 1878 while serfdom (slave ownership) had been abolished in 1861, but his mood of misery hardly changed.
On the other hand, no monarch was so showered with flattery as Stalin was — he was glorified as the source of everything valuable on earth:
While to victories in war and in peace there is no end,
We composed a song so joyous
About our leader and great friend.
Stalin is our military glory,
Let us now take a glance again at the British monarchy. The queen is to talk with and approve the person presented to her to be Her Majesty's Prime Minister (a rough equivalent of the U.S. president) if she accepts him. He is presented to the queen by his party, which had a majority in general elections.
Usually information about a person's ability is obtained via written sources. But at a certain point, a live person has to be evaluated by his peers through his performance, especially when one is considered to be Her Majesty's Prime Minister. It is up to the queen to accept or reject the prospective candidate.
I suppose it would have taken the queen a minute or two to reject Obama. Many voters may be incapable of understanding the mind of a person running for president they are going to vote for. On the other hand, the queen engages in human dialogue, showing her an abyss between refreshing intelligence, extraordinary intelligence, and genius in understanding the civic and military realities. Thus, Winston Churchill was endorsed as the prime minister, and possibly his official appearance made Hitler leave Western Europe alone and attack Russia, which led to his defeat in Russia and suicide.
The Soviet propaganda pictured the Russian absolutist monarchy as the lowest degradation of human society. Yet Stalin's Russia was an abysmal jump downward, compared with the Russia of the time of Pushkin and Nekrasov.
A society is not the latest machine, in which everything valuable is preserved as much as possible. The Russian absolutist monarchy or the queen in Britain may be more useful than the futuristic dreams, of which Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany, or post-1949 China were to consist.
Source: World Tribune