Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 15th, 2010

Alexander II: Tsar of Russia

Ivan the Terrible had cancelled all privileges that the noble class might have enjoyed before his reign:

1. the noble class could no longer inherit lands or serfs because all Russia was owned by the Tsar;

2. the noble could be flogged and executed on a whim of the Tsar without any due recourse.

In 1790, the Tsarine Catherine restored many privileges to the noble class, including inheriting lands and selling or bartering the serfs working the land as a collective or “mir“.  The noble could no longer be flogged, executed, or had to pay taxes. Titles and lands could not be confiscated without due process before a jury of peers.

Catherine had captured Belorussia and Ukraine from the Polish Kingdom and ventured toward the Caucasus regions.

By 1830, the class of nobles were emulating their counterparts in France, England, and Germany and even went way farther in their recklessness: a noble status was measured to the number of “souls” or serfs that he possessed.

The spirit of the French Revolution got activated in this climate of total servitude.

In 1850, Alexander II acceded to the Imperial throne. He abolished servitude before Abraham Lincoln decided on that policy in 1863.

Alex put an end to censorship of the press and promoted free expressions in universities; the legal system was replaced by public juries; the forced military service of 25 years was suppressed.

Cities were opened to whoever wanted to come in and settle; the Jews were permitted to attend universities. The word “glasnot” or openness was first used at that period.

In 1874, university students created this movement code named “to the people” and headed to rural areas with the intention of aiding peasants; the peasants got suspicious and the students returned to their urban centers.

Tolstoy got pretty angry when his serfs declined his offer to re-purchase the collective land as Tsar Alexander II had emancipated all kinds of slavering systems in Russia:  The serfs didn’t find it right to buy lands that they considered belonging to them as a community.

This remind me of a recent “similar” obstinate attitude:  Viet Nam had asked the French multinational Michelin (manufacturing tires) to re-invest in Viet Nam.  Michellin didn’t digest the fact of re-purchasing rubber plantations that it owned there during the colonial period.

The day of his assassination in 1874, Alex was to sign far reaching reforms on Constitutional monarchy.

The nihilist and terrorists groups got apprehensive that these reforms will kill their plans for “drastic revolution” in blood.

Alex was the target of several previous assassination attempts and the Imperial family was haunted by the vision that outside the Palaces was a hell of the real world.

The succeeding Tsar Alexander III cancelled all previous reforms and spent his life counter attacking the virulent terrorist groups; he instituted a new counter terrorist police force that encouraged further hatred to the regime.

No matter, with a little talent… 

I was immersed, involuntarily, since I was born,

In sacred rituals,

Family, religious sect, schools, and political party line.

Unlike most, I escaped marriage ritual:

I am Not that pretty, tall, or rich enough

For the beautiful opportunistic girls.

I valiantly rebelled much later, involuntarily, and mostly unconsciously first.

I attempted to be freed of the coded moral restrictions,

To free my life of the accepted sacred rituals.

I have been fleeing ever since, haphazardly, of aspects of the sacred.

I cherished the egoism of my freedom to be “nothing much for others”,

And free of everything in my mind.

No matter, with a little talent,

To keeping me busy,

I might have been swooped in the turbulence of social life.

I would not have noticed this powerful bipolar tag of war:

Freedom and the sacred.

Social intelligence, perfected through millennia,

To control and teach its select members to control.

Perfected through millennia

Has closed all loopholes

In this universal web net for controlling every aspect of social interactions,

From birth to death.

We have been revolting;

We have been reforming;

For so many abstract reasons;

Observing human injustices.

All the while, we failed to point the finger to the main dragon;

Too powerful to grasp its devilish control schemes;

Too well aware of our weaknesses, brutality,

Meanness, ignorance, and hatefulness,;

Too powerful to even mention its name,

Sacred rituals for our survival as human kind.

No matter, with a little talent,

With a few sacred links to society

I might have noticed nothing that important.

Rare catastrophes might have opened my eyes,

Eyes, to be shut close instantly to resume my daily habits.

Baku of 1901: Paris of the Orient Gate?

By 1900, Baku (Capital of Azerbaijan on the Black Sea) was the center of oil production and it supplied half the world’s demands.

The Swedish Alfred Nobel (inventor of dynamite) and his brother ran the first oil tanker named “Zarathustra”; a fitting name since Baku was then the main religious city of the Yazd sect that worshiped the sun and fire since antiquity.

Oil was known for thousands of years in this region, and Baku was the religious capital of the Zarathustra sect after Islam invaded Iran in around 650 AC.   And Azerbaijan became the main Islam Chiaa sect region before Iran adopted that sect in the 18th century.  Actually, many Persian monarchs and dynasties were originated from Azeri khans or tribal leaders in Azerbaijan.

For thousands of years, Baku was lighted at night from the burning oil on the surface of the Black Sea.  Burning waves lighted the night and hit the shores.  After kerosene was distilled in the 20th century, using kerosene lamps were common household appliances in Baku, Russia, and the neighboring regions of the Caucasus.

Baku was the richest city in the Caucasus and rivaled New York, London, and Paris in attracting immigrants and investors.

Baku became an Oriental city competing in its modernity with Paris: elegance in residences and fashion were widespread among all ethnic and religious minorities living in the ultimate of capitalist system of “laissez fair” mind of doing business.  It was a typical “frontier” city where millionaires and the poorest classes of oil workers cohabited.

Baku is a terrible windy city all year round and its soil is muddy black, soaked with oil; but wealth overcomes many climatic disadvantages.

In 1905, widespread revolts swept all over Russia to the borders with Korea.  Everyday, hundreds of politicians and civil servants were assassinated and pogroms were common.

Tsar Nicolas II decided on giving war to Japan in order to appease the revolts.  The Tsar imagined that a quick victory over “these tiny monkeys with short tails” will galvanize the Russian citizens into patriotic zeal.  Russia was quickly defeated; the entire Russian Pacific Navy sunk and hundreds of thousand of Russian soldiers were annihilated by Japanese machine guns in Mongolia.

The Russian revolts intensified.  The only remaining Russian Navy in the Black Sea was overrun my sailors and their officers slaughtered (the Potemkin debacle).  Tsar Nicolas promised a Constitution.  The Cossack cavalry understood Constitution to mean total freedom of doing what they pleased.  Hundreds of pogroms were daily occurrences in Belorussia and Ukraine (formerly belonging to the Catholic Polish Kingdom before 1772.)

The pogroms reached Baku.

The first minority victims were the Armenians who were well established and lived comfortably out of commerce and lending money.  For days, thousands of Armenians were massacred before the Cossacks managed to restore a semblance of security.

Between 1905 and 1917, Baku was kidnapped by a multitude of revolutionary groups that robbed banks, and asked for ransoms.  Joseph Stalin, under the code name of Koba and who was 28 years old, was leading the Bolshevik groups that asked ransoms in order to provide protection for minority ethnic groups.

The Communist Revolution of 1917 ruined Baku in 1920 as a prosperous city; mass transfers of population and assassinations were systematically applied.

Note:  Topic extracted from “The Orientalist” by Tom Reiss


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

June 2010
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