Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by carlton_bach, Nov 13, 2011.
Tver, 12 October 1908
Even though it's happening in service to a rather nasty organisation which is probably going to lead Russia in a very bad direction indeed, in a scene like this it's difficult not to cheer Valentina being empowered and finding a place for herself where she can make a difference.
Valentina deserves a better cause.
This seems like a key experience for her character. Using all that she has learned, all the confidence she has gained and all the authority provided to her by the Patriotic Union to impose her will and lay down the law on others. No longer just a receiver of orders, but actually giving them to someone over whom she has, in theory, no authority. Am I wrong if I read this as a taste of what is to come for her? A position of (relative) power?
she will become ttl octobriana?
I would not dismiss the PU simply as an evil organisation.
Sure they commit things that others would call atrocities.
But within Russia the PU is an organisation that drags the country forward. It will be the people that will lead the organisation in the furture that will determine its ultimate fate.
Indeed if valentina rises through the ranks and keeps "the good of the people" in her mind she can achieve much good through the PU, unless she gets corrupted and/or fanatic in her rise...
Remember that a lot of bad things have been done in history in name of the good. for example the spanish inquisition.
The exact same could be said of OTL's All-Union Communist Party. I suspect that's part of the point.
Seeing as to how the rigorous examination of testimony and evidence in the Spanish Inquisition helped promote civil procedure and strict evidence rules throughout Europe, surely one could argue that in the grand historical scale, they were more of a net positive?
tell that to tens of thousands of non-catholics that were butchered by them.
are you apologetic to religious ethnic cleansing? because that is what they did in the low countries, butcher protestants.
As far as she is concerned, there is no better cause than her nation. Until two years ago, she didn't know she had one.
Nothing too fancy, but at the same trime, far in excess of what a woman like her could have expected in the past. The PU is not the CPUSSR, they don't let workers and peasants into the corridors of power. But they will allow people like her to rise to positions of authority on a smaller scale. I am currently envisioning her ending her career as a rayon commander of the Patriotic Union Women's Volunteer Corps, in charge of several charity schools, cottage clinics, an orphanage and a bevy of caseworkers doing the good work. Not a real powerbroker, but someone with a real budget and serious local clout.
If you are an ethnic Russia, the PU is almost always a good thing. Unless you are their political enemy, and there aren't many left.
One could argue she already is a fanatic. The quiet, dedicated kind who sees no problem with devoting all aspects of their life to The Cause. She has no private life, and effectively never will. She will have neither husband nor children, know no man's love and never spend more time away from her duty than is strictly required for recovering her strength. At the end of her life, she will die happy, her only regret that so much is left undone.
Someone has to do it if Russia is to remain a credible threat.
This is one of those topics where definitions matter because facts get obscured by all kinds of legendry. When we say 'Spanish Inquisition', what we usually mean is the royal inquisition (placed under direct state supervision by papal decree) in the kingdom of Spain. This institution was indeed far less bloodthirsty and random than tradition has it. It was still a bureaucratic nightmare, but its reality is farther from 'The Pit and the Pendulum' and closer to late-GDR Stasi. However, that was not the only inquisition in Spanish-ruled territory. THe inquisition in the Netherlands was episcopal, close to the model in the Holy Roman Empire, and subject to far less supervision. People had something to prove - you could show your loyalty by burning the most heretics. The worst excesses, though, were carried out by army, not the inquisition. At the receiving end, one clergyman is as bad as another, I suppose, but these are distinct hierarchies and chains of command.
That somehow reminds me of my fathers aunt - who was a nun...
@carlton_bach great update!! But maybe you could have an update on Siam or South East Asian Countries. AFAIK I don't see any post from it. I want to add some info in the Dutch East Indies during OTL WW1 get November Belofte for enhancing autonomy and promote the Priboemis ( I know some because I live in Indonesia, but if there's someone know more please revised). But after 1914 the Dutch forget it and do more oppression on them. Thanks for this great TL!
Pramoedya Ananta Toer, posthumously
The Valentina posts are my favorite, though I have a thing for "Evil Empires".
I know you've been asked the question before (I believe you said that an allohistorical *Russia could be a better place to live, or more powerful, but not both) but can you conceive of any way the *Russian Empire could modernize and/or politically mobilize a significant fraction of it's working class population to the task WITHOUT:
a. Alienating non Russians/East Slavs/Orthodox subjects and making them targets for mass violence by the mobilized population (and be pressured to officially discriminate against them).
b. Writing off more representative local government.
c. Setting up the ground for secession by Non-Russians.
d. Setting up the ground for a populist coup by the mobilizing organization.
"a" and "c" seems to be less of an issue in post war Russia since the Poles, Balts, Finns and the more Western (and protonationalistic) portions of West Belarus and Ukraine are gone and the remaining minorities are not yet nationally concsious (with the exception of the Volga Tartars) and are essentially ruled under a colonial type administration. But are #b and #d still an issue?
It seems odd to me that "populist" is apparently equated with "barbaric and rabid" nowadays. Is that consensus--that the more a movement claims the mandate of the common people and genuinely appeals to them, the worse it will be? Or that there is no such thing as genuinely populist, any more than a movement that claims to be about holiness and high morals can be trusted for two seconds? I believe the latter, but not the former, but there seems to be a sort of fashionable hipster sort of scorn for the possibility that a movement actually cares for, and is run by, common people who want to resolve conflicts of elites against the common good in a fashion that leaves the commoners better off, can possibly be genuine, well meaning, and do well.
It's almost like people don't actually believe in democracy or something.
I grew up reading a lot of SF authors who I now judge to be pretty reactionary, such as say Poul Anderson, who gravitated toward this theme and seemed to deeply and sincerely believe it--that there is a true and noble and good populism, a Tolkienesque way of decent common folk living decent common lives and standing for the decent common good, and they are never ever championed by people who claim that mantle and say so, instead these salt of the earth good people always back aristocrats and plutocrats and the rights of the very rich and privileged to do their literally noble best. Then others like say Jerry Pournelle lose even the sense of the Hobbit-like common decency and figure the real heroes of the working class are Nixonesque black operators and military dictators. Same sort of vibe from Tom Clancy and a whole lot of popular culture. If someone claims to be a democrat and person of the people, be sure they are even more wicked than the manifestly corrupt politicians, cops, and criminal gang leaders.
So--seriously, populist=bad, is that the consensus?
Surely I know of many populist movements with dark sides. But I still think there is more hope in reforming and evolving the common person mentality than in relying on the good will of elites who know their status is privileged and based on the majority being losers.
Am I alone in thinking every political category one might identify with has its own form of deep rottenness, and most if perhaps not all have a potential bright side?
I do believe that if perhaps the Bolsheviks themselves were fatally tainted by their willingness to submit to central dictatorship and their doctrines that set themselves up for ruthless power with no checks or balances on them limiting the level of violence or mendacity they were willing to embrace to silence all questioning and criticism, then still the general and broader Russian radical tradition held out real hope for a more enlightened and humane outcome. For Russia to be any sort of better place to live, I'd bet everything on the right kind of Russian populist, and despair of any other sector. I think if the sort of benign revolutionaries I could believe in could get traction they also could deliver a powerful as well as humane state as well.
I did not make that far reaching claim. In this specific case the issues, in regards to an entrenched old regimen (Theoretically absolute monarch surrounded by a clan of interrelated nobility and officials drawn from a narrow social background) lacking popular support or the habbit of appealing to it, is whether:
a. It can mobilize (Russian-Orthodox) populist nationalist sentiment without automatically alienating anyone who is not a Russian (Or not nationally conscious Ukrainian/Byelorussian) and designating them as legitimate targets for violence and harrassment.
b. It can mobilize this sentiment, and advance such an organization which is made up of people from a much more diverse background, without those people turning on the regime which backed them (as Mussolini did on his backers) in order to sieze and redistribute power amongst the leaders of the mass movement.
IOTL The Tsarist regime avoided going all the way with this option primarily out of fear that #b would occur. ITTL, #b was nullified, at least temporarily, by the more radical faction of the PU being decapitated by the moderate faction of the regime with the end of the war acting as a catlyst and the more "moderate" faction of the PU playing along with it. But the minorities, of course, still either got the ax, or bolted, or both.
What I'm asking is whether there is any alternate path in which the monarchial regime (not a republican successor state of any ideological flavor) could have conceivably created a controllable nationalist mass movement WITHOUT #a.
I remember Apollo 8 in lunar orbit. I had hoped that would give us some shared experience.
Not nowadays. It has been equated for 2500 years.
The common people are called common for a reason.
The common people lack the economic means that would allow them to be trusted to sustain the superstructure.
People believe in all kinds of things.
I took me a while to realize your alias is from Ursula K. Le Guin.
@Shevek23, please, if you do nothing else, please read the Wikipedia entry on the Kyklos, and give me a like for acknowledgement, even if you detest my opinions. Please.
As to the broader issue you raised:
I would say that the current political climate, and the ability of a number of prominent leaders most educated-upper middle class (Liberal left to be sterotypical) people consider "bad" to achieve and maintain power based on disproportionate support amongst the lower middle class of their respective "tribe" and of others to advance "bad" policies or challenge established political systems in what seems to be a non constructive way based on the same support has indeed made members of this class more skeptical of the virtues, and more concerned about the vulnerabilities, of democracy. Among the hard left, who often feel betrayed by the working class of the majority tribe, and who contain a strain which views democracy as essentially instrunmental, I would say that these sentiments are more widespread.
I would say that both approaches are vulnerable to abuse and that one needs to "choose" on a case by case basis. There are a number of historical examples I can think of where gradual reform by elites, and the social-economic dynamics unleashed by stability and economic prosperity resulted in relatively optimal democratic results (South Korea, Taiwan... even Turkey before Edrogan) but there are just as many cases where entrenched elites basically screwed the national economy, mining it to enrich their own coffers and then scramming when the going got tough. I'm rather more hard pressed to think of examples where a revolutionary movement led and composed by the working class was able to sieze power and then do a good job building the state- but of course, by the time matters came to revolution the state was already screwed up badly, so it's not a fair comparision.
Our perception is colored by the fact that almost every successful revolution post 1917 followed the Bolshevik model (since the USSR was providing advisers and funds)- so we there is almost no way to consider the dynamics of a non centralized dictatorship socialist revolutionary regime. A more fundamental critique of your belief is that revolutionary dynamics ineveitably favor the "survival of the fittest" and that those who are most fit in a revolutionary struggle are those who adopt the centralized dictatorship model. and once you adopt that model to topple the old regimen it's difficult to jetterson once you have power.
No you are not alone. Polybios, Montesquieu, and a majority of the Framers would have agreed with you.
Separate names with a comma.