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22 March 2021


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Shane Doherty

Stolypin reminds me of the German Liberals of 1848: Bent so far backwards to not antagonise entrenched power that the entrenched power was able to marginalise him.

Matthew Lurton

@Shane Doherty: the thing is Stolypin _was_ a conservative. His project was never to ijcrease enfranchisement but to stabilize the empire. I dont think it goes anywhere as far, relative to surrounding conditions, that liberal German nationalists were going in '48.


@Mike - I hope you've already seen this for the next episode:

Sebastián Chamorro

Yooo I finally caught up!! Keep up the great work, Mike. Also your recent episode’s explanation of ‘uneven and combined development’ was spot-on, and I’ll probs be quoting your summary of it when explaining to people.

Between the Mexican and Russian revolutions, I’ve been given a lot to think about in regards for how to address my own country’s issues, and to overcome our neocolonial backwardness.

Can’t wait for Red October!


Hi Mike,love your podcast. I do need to point out, though, your presentation of Stolypin's death is a bit sketchy. Solzhenitsyn, in his first, very well documented book of the trilogy The Red Wheel - August 1914, presents a much darker version of the assassination. He also presents the killer as an Okhrana agent, but underlines the fact that not only the ticket, but I believe the gun too were supplyed by Okhrana, and that this coincided with the loss of control of the Interior Minister by Stolypin, where his minister was recently replaced by a member of the Empress camarilla. It is also conspicuos that tsar Nicholas was prevented to visit his dying minister (which has requested multiple times to see him) meanwhile being assured that he was only slightly wounded.


@Doru Please keep in mind that Solzhenitsyn was not a historian, but rather an ideologue with a sensationalist bent. He, of course, had a frontline view of Soviet internment camps and wrote strikingly about them, for which he deserves credit - *as a journalist*.

But a lot of the things that he didn't see himself and reported as facts in his books were flights of fancy, speculations. (Many disproved by later published Soviet archives.) Not that all his theories are entirely implausible, just that he connects dots that mainstream historians don't think there's enough evidence to connect.


You are, of course, correct. Solzhenitsyn was not a certified historian, but as I said, he seems to be very well documented on this subject. He does build on a speculation, but it's fare from being a fantasy. Orlando Figes in his "Russian Revolution", and other historians, mention this real possibility, although do point out there is no palpable evidence. The Tsar, although I seriously doubt has anything to do with it, did suspended the inquiery, probably when doubts were begining to be cast on the Empresses favorites (Krulov - the new police minister ; not sure exactly which was the exact name of the function - in particular). Take also in to account that, instead of having a public trial, Bogrov was hurriedly executed, despite the pleeds of Stolypin's widow. Also add the passing of 2 Wwars, one revolution and a regime where people used to disappear even from photos, and I believe you really need to start considering this theory, even if there are no definitive evidences.

Shane Doherty

@Matthew Lurton: Yeah, you're right that he was a conservative. But there's a difference between "conservative who thinks reforms are necessary" and "conservative who doesn't want to give an inch". It's like Mike's Royalist-Republican and Centralist-Federalist axes from the South American revolutions, it outright ignored old guard absolutists who cheered as the Desired One acted like Bayonne didn't happen. Stolypin was on the far end of those on the reformer spectrum, while Nicholas and his clique weren't on the spectrum at all. Stolypin then went and alienated just about everyone else on that spectrum, leaving him easy pickings for those who wanted to pretend Port Arthur never happened, even before he was assassinated. Rather like how the German Liberals alienated allies on the left and left themselves isolated for a Reactionary backlash.


Minor linguistic note for Mike: the Russian Emperor's title "of all the Russias" is a mistranslation, though, for some reason, common in English.

The Russian "всея Руси" means simply "of all Rus'" or "of the whole Rus'", singular, referring to the Grand Prince of Moscow's claim to be reuniting the old state of (Kievan) Rus'.

Informally, you could also say that the Tsar ruled "all the Russias", meaning the 3 Rus(sias) - the Great, the Little, and the White (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus), but that isn't what the traditional royal title refers to.

I know Mike's just varying up his word choice and it makes no material difference, but it's something that English historiography should correct itself on.

Petr Svatoň

One thing I still don't fully understand is what exactly where the feudal privileges of the nobility and the church. I get that they were rich, but as far as I can tell, Stolypin had no problem with that, he just wanted to create a system of legal equality between them and everyone else. However, I am not sure what special privileges were there to be dismantled.


Well, Petr, the real issue was not the privileges, but the land. When the serves were released by Alexander II, they were not provided with land, so many of them migrated from their community to the big cities, where they started to create a sort of proletarian class. Mike explains everything well, but this is very similare to what happen in my country. All the tools for agricultural work were possessed by the paesants (that is why they were so rudimentary), and the nobles, instead of bothering themselves with learning how to actually grow crops on a extensive level for profit, used to lease their land in exchange for part of the crop, which they exported (see the great famine of 1895(7?). That was how they were making their money and kept their expensive living style. If Stolypin managed to create a powerfull class of land owning paesants, the leases would have decreas or disappeared, and the new class would have made a fearsome competition for the nobles, who might had to actually invest in technology to keep the pace. The control of the zemstva by the local nobles was another important issue, because this was the most probable tool that would be used in distributing land to the paesants and help them extract themselfs from the comune system. Prince Lvov, the president of the Zemstva Union, admitted he knew more about Central Africa than he did about the zemstva.

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