revolutionary crush

Tsar Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias (1868 - 1918)

“What am I going to do? What is going to happen to me, to you, to Alix, to Mother, to all Russia?“

Nikolai Aleksandrovich Romanov was born on May 6, 1868, in the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, south of St. Petersburg. He was the eldest son of his parents, Alexander Alexandrovich, the heir to the Russian throne, and Princess Dagmar of Denmark. Nicolas’s grandfather was the Tsar, Alexander II, known as the Liberator for emancipating Russia’s serfs in 1863. Their family, the Romanov dynasty, had ruled Russia for three hundred years. Nicholas would be the last emperor.

Unlike his soft-hearted, liberal grandfather, Nicholas’s father was a reactionary, whose conservative and religious values strongly influenced Nicholas’s beliefs. In 1891, Nicholas’s father acceded to the throne when Alexander II was murdered by an anarchist revolutionary. This murder convinced both Alexander III, and his son, against offering further reforms. Yet Nicholas’s education did not prepare him at all for his future role as Russian emperor.

Although he had a close relationship with his mother, Nicholas’s father believed his son to be silly and weak. Tsar Alexander III was a very strong ruler and saw no need to share a job with his uninterested heir. He refused to let him participate in any affairs of state; once, when Nicholas was twenty-five, a minister suggested that he be allowed to head a committee to supervise the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Alexander III was incredulous. “Have you ever tried to discuss anything of consequence with him?” asked the Tsar about his son and heir. “He is still absolutely a child; he has only infantile judgements. How would he be able to become president of a committee?”

The Romanov family in 1893. From left to right: Tsarevich Nicholas, Grand Duke George, Empress Maria Feodorovna (Princess Dagmar of Denmark), Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Xenia, Grand Duke Michael, Tsar Alexander III seated.

In neither his education nor his temperament did Nicholas show much aptitude to be emperor. He enjoyed foreign languages and history, but struggled with economics and politics. In general he preferred sport to books, when older he delighted in the military and served for a year when he was nine-teen. In 1894 he married Princess Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstadt, a German noble, with whom he had four daughters and a son, Alexei. Alexandra was an assertive woman whose personality dominated the weaker Nicholas, and she strongly reinforced his belief in autocratic rule and his resistance to democratic reforms. In contrast to his political life, Nicholas’s home life was serene. He was a wonderful family man, a devout Orthodox Christian, and devoted to his wife and children.

The same year that he married, Nicholas became the Tsar when his father died of kidney disease. The newly-crowned emperor had not expected to be thrust into the role so soon, and he panicked about running the vast Russian empire all by himself. It was the moment, he wrote, that he “had dreaded all his life.” He confessed his fears to a cousin: “Sandro, what am I going to do? What is going to happen to me, to you, to Alix, to Mother, to all Russia? I am not prepared to be Tsar. I never wanted to become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling. I have no idea of even how to talk to ministers.”

Nicholas determined to uphold the status quo as Tsar, but unfortunately evens abroad and at home forced his hand. Hoping not to be left out of the imperial scramble, Russia grew its industry in the Far East, and forced concessions from China in Manchuria. Yet Russian’s expansion provoked the Japanese, who attacked Russia’s eastern border in 1904, beginning the Russo-Japanese War. Europeans were convinced that the white Russians would easily triumph over the “yellow” Japanese, but the Japanese embarked on a series of victories ending in the total destruction of the Russian fleet at the Battle of Tshushima in 1905.

Nicholas and Alix’s engagement photo, 1894.

The defeat was a stunning humiliation for Russian prestige. At home it sparked outrage and crisis that turned to strikes and riots. In January 1905, Russian troops opened fire on demonstrators in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, killing many. Outrage turned to outright revolution, and eventually the Tsar was forced to grant concessions in a constitution, as well as establish an elected parliament, the Duma.

Despite some elements of democratic reform, Nicholas tightened his autocratic rule. Secret police crushed revolutionary elements in the cities, and voting laws prevented the election of radicals. A travel guide for foreigners published in 1914 warned against taking photos in rail stations - offenders would be arrested.

The Tsar’s most pressing crisis, however, was at home. His son and heir, the Tsarevich Alexei, had hemophilia, the scourge of interbred European royal families. Nicholas and Alexandra despaired for their child and sought any means to help him. They turned to an unlikely source, a disheveled mysticfrom Siberia named Grigori Rasputin. Rasputin’s monasticism belied his true character, that of a debauched womanizer and con-man. Russian noble society despised him, but Alexandra especially confided in him, and Rasputin strengthened her belief in Nicholas’s divine right to rule. His influence steadily eroded the trust Russian people felt for their Tsar.

Nicholas (left) with his cousin King George V of England. They are wearing German military uniforms while on a visit to Berlin. Despite their likeness, George refused to help Nicholas or offer him asylum during the Russian Revolution, fearing that he might be toppled as well.

Nicholas’s failing popularity received a boost in 1914, when Russia went to war against Germany and Austria. Although Nicholas was close to his cousin, the Kaiser (they wrote to each other as “Nicky” and “Willy”), Russians enlisted en masse and displayed loyalty and love for their royal family. Yet endless failures at the front burst newfound support for the Tsar, especially when Nicholas took over from his cousin as supreme commander in 1915, a position in which he demonstrated no talent. The unending string of military disaster was now firmly pinned on him. Worse, economic deprivations at home soon turned into crisis. Russia was deeply in debt and many were starving. Approval of the royal family soured; they were thought to be living in luxury while ordinary Russians died at the front or starved at home.

In March 1917 (February of the old Russian calendar), demonstrations in St. Petersburg (now Petrograd) again turned to revolution. This time, Nicholas had no army to turn to - the military was in a state of collapse, with many soldiers deserting to go back home and take part in the revolution. Helpless, Nicholas abdicated on March 15, 1917. He hoped to go to England for asylum, but the British government (fearing he might provoke the British left) refused his request. Five hundred years of Russian Tsardom ended with NIcholas.

A shaky liberal-socialist Provisional Government was set up to replace the monarchy, but the war continued to go badly. Nicholas went into house arrest in the Urals with his family. His situation worsened in the fall of 1917, when a radical communist party, the Bolsheviks, ousted the Provisional Government. Civil war began in Russia between the Bolshevik “Reds” and the “Whites”, a complex mix of warlords and political parties who opposed the Bolsheviks.

The Russian royals played no role in the Civil War, but the Bolsheviks feared that the Tsar and his family could become a symbol for the White armies to rally around. Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children were transported to a house in Yekaterinburg for safe-keeping, but in the summer of 1918 the war was going poorly for the Reds and the Czech Legion, a unit of the White army, was rapidly advancing towards Yekaterinburg.

Nicholas in captivity at Tsarskoye Selo. This is one of the last photos taken in his life.

On the night of July 16-17, as the Czechs neared, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin ordered the execution of the royal family. What actually happened is still shrouded in some state secrecy, but what is known is that a truckload of local Bolsheviks and foreign soldiers entered the house and ordered the ex-Tsar and his family to the basement. The Empress asked for chairs for her and thirteen-year-old Alexei to sit upon. The Red commander brought in two chairs, and then informed the stunned Tsar that he had been condemned to death. “What? What?” asked the Tsar. The executioners brought out revolvers and began shooting the family. The four daughters, between twenty-two and seven-teen years old, had been hiding some of their jewels in their clothes which deflected the bullets. The Bolshevik shooters stabbed them with bayonets and shot them in their heads, and stabbed to death their maid, who had shielded herself with a pillow full of jewels.

The executioners burnt, dismembered, and buried the bodies. In 1976 a team of investigators found their grave, but did not release the information until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Rumors had long abounded that one of the daughters, seven-teen year-old Anastasia, had survived and escaped the massacre, which were put to rest. In 2000 the Russian Orthodox Church canonized the family as saints; today the place where they were buried is the site of a church.

No more rewarding authors or directors for having bisexual/pansexual/queer characters unless they explicitly show a happy loving healthy same sex relationship and it’s end game. No more.

“Then very slowly and deliberately, he removed his cloak, came back across the room with the firelight making one glorious blaze of his scarlet and gold, and stood gazing down at me in silence, a quizzical, faintly amused glint in his sleepy eyes, as if he were waiting for me to shriek, or cower, or swoon away, like a well-bred girl with the instincts of a lady. Unfortunately, as Aunt Susanna often remarked, “I entirely lacked the instincts of a lady… .”

#LiteraryCrushMonth continues with a more obscure (?) book–The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope! Yay!

I *loved* this book growing up! The story was about a young girl named Peggy who is sent to live with her curmudgeon-y Uncle Enos in upstate New York. Upon her arrival, Peggy soon realizes that the ancestral home is haunted by four amiable 18th century ghosts–Richard Grahame and sister Barbara, Eleanor Shipley, and Peaceable Drummond Sherwood. Each ghost tells Peggy their interwoven tales of Revolutionary War era New York in an effort to help her solve an heirloom mystery.

Anyhoo, Barbara and Peaceable were my favorite ghosts! Is it possible to have a crush on a couple?? I guess so. Basically, Peaceable Sherwood is a professional pompous know-it-all Tory officer that Richard Grahame is trying to capture (to no avail). When he first meets his nemesis’ little sister, Barbara he makes the mistake of underestimating her in a big way, ha ha. After she accidentally stumbles upon Peaceable’s hide out, not only does Barbara easily incapacitate the snarky Sherwood in a matter of minutes, but she manages to free her brother, escape the Tory soldiers, and steal Peaceable’s heart in the process because she’s a BOSS.

The book has a great cast of fun lady characters (esp. for a book written in the 50s) and lots of goofy romance and history and spoopy/polite ghosts and smart writing and I am definitely going to re-visit it this summer! Yeah, nostalgia!

@thedrawingduke on twitter + instagram 

Rosa Luxemburg speaks at a rally, 1907.

January 15, 1919: Comrades Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, leaders of the revolutionary Spartacus League during World War I and founding members of the Communist Party of Germany, are murdered. 

The militarist right-wing Freikorps and the opportunist Social-Democratic government of Ebert and Noske collaborated in plotting their arrest and assassination as part of their effort to crush the revolutionary struggle known as the Spartacist Uprising (January 4-15, 1919).

anonymous asked:

MLK was a Zionist though... I wanna respect him, but..

I understand its important to constructively critique every revolutionary’s life, so as to not repeat or internalize their incorrect stances, but attributing the “Pro-Israel” label to him when his life’s work personified the exact opposite is not a stance I can respect or support in any capacity. I’m just gonna copy+paste something I wrote earlier. “MLK was deeply ill-informed by the conditions of Palestine and its citizens and the apparatus of Israeli settler colonialism. Granted, this should have led him to withdraw from commenting on the situation altogether, and I wholeheartedly accept that criticism, but thoroughly labeling him a Zionist or colonialism apologist is completely unfair, as the tenets and rationalities of the aforementioned require an adoption of acceptance for human suffering that MLK obviously did not exemplify. That’s the only rational explanation to this all, and if he had lived to see what an unmistakably oppressive regime Israel was to become, his thoughts definitely would have altered.   That letter to the anti-Zionist that King supposedly posted has yet to be proven and unsurprisingly enough, the main people who’ve pushed it unsourced are pro-Israelis who don’t care about what King actually stood for and the values he personified everyday until he died. Electronicintifada wrote a really commendable piece on this exact debacle. So, I find it disturbing that some supposedly pro-Palestine people are so intent on mimicking the actions of colonialism supporters, instead of providing a full bodied account of the events that surround that unproven letter. Also,  we need to put in perspective the time and social climate in which he made these statements. This was less than 25 years after the Holocaust and of those surviving Jews who appealed for relocation to the US, they were the next target after black people for KKK violence. Admittedly, there was a heightened empathy and shared suffering that lead to a clout of judgment. In certain political spaces and under such similar conditions, there was a kinship formed between Black and Jewish activists/personalities (also, I realize that some Jews did exploit the rampant antiblackness exported by White America, that’s besides the point).  In addition the previous statement, this was a time when it was much more difficult to access information about other regions of the world. There was no internet, equal opportunities to different perspectives,  ways to connect with others unless they were in your direct vicinity, etc. Unfortunately, without apt and extensive dialogue with and exposure to the Palestinian (or even greater Levantine) diaspora, MLK wasn’t ever really given the chance to completely engage with their narrative, which is a great shame, but leads to my next point… If you’re comparing him to Malcolm X, you need to stop, because whether or not its dawns on you, its antiblack to instrumentalize the legacy of one Black revolutionary to undermine and belittle another’s, when in the end, they share far more similarities than harbor differences. Also, its imperative to realize that Malcolm X was a world renowned Muslim man who travelled to Egypt, among various regions in the Middle East and was exposed to people, history, narratives and accounts that Dr. King never had the chance to. You’re comparing apples to oranges in terms of environments and understandings of global affairs, which exploits the both of them. By all means, constructive criticisms are important, but they need to stem from intellectual honesty or else they’re wholly impoverished and deviate from important facets of two men and their complicated lives. You cannot project Israel as it exists today as a global exporter of violence and oppression, or as it was under the Sabra and Shatila massacres or the first intifada or the occupation of both of the West Bank/Gaza Strip and the material conditions of various people around the world adversely affected by Israeli policies onto King’s dead body. Since the death of MLK, Israel, as an entity has drastically expanded and drawn enormous power and political mobility, both within its borders and out. Israel has helped support many of the same warmongering and apartheid status quos that King fought and died to protest against.  Israel rallied against the initiatives of the ANC and other anti-apartheid organizations. Israel has helped crush revolutionary and propped up colonization projects in Central Africa by the Portuguese. For all intents and purposes, its imperative to state that Israel is a colony that has eagerly participated in the continued decimation of Black Africans’ lives. What’s curious is that when MLK spared words of encouragement of Israel, he invoked the suffering of Black Africans, which Israel has taken the joy of participating in. Do you honestly think he would’ve done so had he been given the opportunity to see what the state has become. He would have spat on his own diaspora, the same one he died for. I’m completely intent on rejecting such an idea. As someone who’s supported Palestine since my early high school years and found out these comments were uttered by a man I considered a hero in many ways, I’ve wrestled with the highly circumstantial precarities that surround these remarks and these are the only rationalities I’ve been able to come to peace with. Again, I’m not defending Israel or MLK’s comments in any way and I would hope people know my intentions better than that to accuse me of such a thing, but these comments have been stripped of all the crucial surrounding context and this opportunistic portrayal of King is unacceptable and with such vital figures such as MLK, its important to consider all options before impulsively posting questionable sources.”
  • a single method for revolutionary action will crush free association in direct democratic struggle. and that’s the gist for me, why i choose anarchist communism. i don’t support dictatorship of a party over the proletariat.
  • i keep reading the implication that anarchism doesn’t actually know what it doesn’t like about marxism or leninism. we do. for example, we’ve read lenin’s what is to be done? and we take notice with the notion that “Bolshevism can serve as a model of tactics for all.” not one model for all. ever. it won’t work without a state. it’s actually not difficult to understand why we don’t like his argument.

  • methods, not a method, but methods for working across communities of struggle toward a common objective is what we seek. thus, we seek methods of cooperation and for association and we seek them without a state.

  • i think it’s important to recognize that individuals will take leading roles in revolutionary struggle; it’s important to accept that such individuals do and will exist, will lead and will be followed. however, this acknowledgment is not that same as accepting the need for a vanguard in revolutionary struggle.

  • we reject the notion that consciousness needs to be introduced to working class communities from outside those communities.

January 15, 1919: Comrades Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, leaders of the revolutionary Spartacus League during World War I and founding members of the Communist Party of Germany, are murdered. 

The militarist right-wing Freikorps and the opportunist Social-Democratic government of Ebert and Noske collaborated in plotting their arrest and assassination as part of their effort to crush the revolutionary struggle known as the Spartacist Uprising (January 4-15, 1919).