Breaking Stalin

Breaking Stalin

Chapter XXIX

What’s the difference between anarchy and freedom?  Not much to be quite honest.  Anarchists want complete freedom, and complete control of their own destinies.  They just want to be left alone.  When people talk about freedom, very often they bring up that they just want to be left alone, free to do what they choose.  But in a system with a state the state takes some freedoms to protect others, whereas in anarchy there is no guarantee that the person would be completely left alone.  Unless, of course, we lived in a utopian state.
This is perhaps the fundamental ideal of Communism, and also perhaps, the reason why it will never work.  Marx thought of the state as a tool of the upper classes.  It was meant to enslave and exploit those of the lower classes.  They believed that eventually because of the anarchy inherit with laissez-faire economics that eventually there would be a large scale crisis, and the workers would revolt against their exploiters.  Then the world would join in as the proletariat overturned class, until they were left with a classless, stateless society where all was held in common and there were none left to exploit or oppress.
But Bukharin and others realized that because of Imperialism economies were growing and becoming monopolized by governments.  Communists named this State Capitalism or Finance Capitalism.  Bukharin realized that the problem with this and Marx’s theory was that State Capitalism created order in an otherwise orderless society.  Capitalism by its very nature was disordered, but State Capitalism meant the state’s monopoly controlled its own assets and then competed in a world market with other empires.  Bukharin’s realizations went further in thinking that this system could lead to the creation of a new system altogether, that which came to be known as the Totalitarian state.
The realization of State Capitalism meant that while many of the exploited classes would receive very little, there would be no great crisis as Marx predicted because the economy would have been planned by the government.  For communists this meant that under imperialism there would be no grand revolution in all the industrialized nations of the world unless a greater non-economic catastrophe struck.  Bukharin linked this catastrophe with that of war.  He decided that the only way a mass uprising of the proletariat would occur was during war, when the planned economy ceased to function.  He believed it was then that it would cease to be struggle of empires and instead, turn into one mass civil war.

What does this mean for our story?  Stalin and Bukharin would eventually disagree on state control of the Soviet market.  Why?  Because Bukharin saw economies as historically progressive, to change how they progressed too soon was to sentence a population to death.  And Death was hovering over Russia…waiting.

Chapter XXVIII

Bukharin jumped lightly off the iron planking that connected his ship to the cold crisp dock before him.  His long gray coat had little icicles from the sea wind.  Fortunately, he had his black scarf and fedora to protect him from the waves.  Ahead of him, he spotted a couple of policemen checking papers.  He hoped his identification would work this time.  He had already been detained in England on his voyage from Switzerland, and he couldn’t expect much differently with a fake name like Moshe.  But today was his lucky day.  Both policemen were busy checking another person’s ID when he approached, so he quickly flashed his at them before being waved on.
He reached the end of the dock and walked onto the concrete of the dockyard.  Far off to his right he could see the island carrying the old town of Stockholm.  He was glad to have finally made it.  Elated he looked back to see if Piatakov had made it as well.  He saw his friend push through the last few men standing on the dock and march down to meet him.

Finally, they’d had some good luck, which was exactly what Kolya needed.  It was time to get back to work, and for Kolya to finish one of his greatest works-“Imperialism and World Economy.”  A work that would haunt him till the day he died.

Chapter XXVII

Tsar Nicholas II rose from his golden chair and cast his eyes on the dreary scene that greeted his eyes below the palace.  The square of Petrograd(changed from the too German sounding St. Petersburg) was filled with women mourning the loss of their husbands and sons.  Nicholas turned to his attending general.  “What was the report again?”
“Your honor, a combined army from Germany and Austria is pushing towards Vilnius.  They could take it within a few months.  On the southern front we have had minor gains in the southern region against Turkey.  General Brusilov of the 8th Army has maintained his gains against the Austrians, but it seems that he will have to pull back soon as the German offensive is stretching our supply lines too thin.”
“Yes, yes, I know that.”  Nicholas turned deep in thought, “but what was the other part the report?”
The adjutant shifted nervously. “Our northern forces have been practicing slash and burn techniques, which has seriously arrested the movements of German troops, but the practice has also displaced thousands of Russians.  Many have sought refuge in cities like Moscow and here.  Populations have exploded and because of that food is running short, even in Petrograd.  What’s more, over 2 million of our 6.5 million men fight without rifles or even the most basic army equipment from boots to bullets, which has increased the number of conscription riots.  We have had conscription riots in 16 provinces.  And our problems don’t stop there.  What little resources we do have we have a problem sending to the front.  We have less than 1/10th of the railways that Germany has.  We have brainstormed some ideas on how to increase the speed we can send new materials to the front, but the best option we have is to have a mass conscription of workers from our population in Central Asia…”
“You’re talking about force labor of thousands of Russians?”
“Well yes my liege, but they’re not technically Russians.”
“But if they’re not Russian what are they?  They’re part of our empire!”
“Yes, your honor, I meant no harm.  But it is a widespread belief of many of the generals that only the Greater Russian population can be trusted.  Russification has backfired with these new ideals of Nationalism.  There has been a greater level of resentment growing in these populations.  We have had a harder time acquiring resources from them.”
“But the riots, the strikes that you said were amounting to over 100,000 people are happening here within the Russian populace, not among the outliers.”
“Yes, but we can’t be sure of their loyalties.”  Nicholas shrugged and walked back to his desk, flipping over a paper and signing it quickly.  “And there’s one other thing your Excellency.”
Nicholas continued with his papers, “yes?”
“Most of the advisors do not like your new appointment of Rasputin.”
“Is that all?”
“Yes your honor that is all.”
“Good,” Nicholas said while handing the adjutant a paper.  “This paper leaves the Queen in charge of all affairs while I am away.”  The general took it confusedly.
“But where are you going?”

“To the front, General, to the front.”  And with that Nicholas left the room, leaving a stuttering, perspiring general worrying about the poor state of Russia, which he couldn’t help but think was about to get much poorer.

Chapter XXVI

For our revolutionaries The Great War brought a brief cessation in revolutionary activity as governments around the world worked to round up aliens and potential revolutionaries.  This meant that Bukharin was sent to prison in Austria, before escaping to Switzerland to continue his √©migr√© activities.  Stalin, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky, after his return to St. Petersburg, he was sent into exile to Russia’s favorite place for political exiles-Siberia.

But the revolutionaries’ void was filled by one, which would make Russia bleed for years to come.  It was filled by that of anarchy.

Chapter XXV

Wow, if historians knew my fraudulent work, they’d put me away!  Truth is, there’s probably a .09% chance(kind of made that up) the young Hitler ever talked to the young Stalin and Bukharin.  But it would be the ultimate irony.  And I just couldn’t pass up such a chapter because the truth is the year of 1913 is a strange one for Vienna.  Bukharin, Stalin, and Hitler were all there at the beginning of the year.  Stalin left back to Saint Petersburg in February.  Hitler then left for Vienna for good in May, and Lenin paid Bukharin a visit in June.  I guess I just find it strange that some of the future’s most polemic and powerful world leaders would all be in the same city at the same time, so I had to bring it up.

But the truth is an evasive thing.  Hitler was painting in the era of open-air painting, so I mean, who knows?  Maybe one quiet day Bukharin or Stalin walked past a young painter with a small mustache in the streets of Vienna.  I can see them stopping for a moment to admire his amateur work and then continuing on silently, maybe smiling at him, or offering him some word of congratulation.  But for one moment in time, I see the youth, unpressured by the movements of the world and united by the very fact that they were young dreamers, caught up in the city of artists and writers on the eve of the war that would change it all.  And make their dreams a horrid reality.

Chapter XXIV

Fall passed all too quickly for Bukharin, and soon it was being replaced by the stinging cold of winter.  He liked Vienna, the bustle in the streets, and the artistic feel during the summer.  He had even gone so far as to befriend a few of the painters that he liked the most.  Sometimes they would visit, and sometimes they would send friends.  Usually they were just peddlers looking to sell their art, and even though Kolya had a modest budget, he still tried to entertain them because he was especially interested in their ideas on socialism.
But today he had no need of guests.  He already had one more than distinguished guest, one who had been there for weeks already and intended to stay a little longer.  They had been working for days on what would come to be known as “Marxism and The National Question.”  A question that would eventually create a chasm between Bukharin and Lenin.
Kolya neared the table of his friend and sat down behind him stroking his thin red beard.  “Any luck at reconciliation today?”  Kolya smiled putting his hand on his friend’s shoulder.
“Ach, well it’s obvious, Kolya…You’re right.  Marx’s stance is clear.  He calls for a unified rebellion, the idea is to overcome nationalities and join in the greater class struggle.  But Lenin believes that unification is an elitist principal.”
“Hmmm, yes, Soso, that’s what I’ve been saying all along.”  Just then there was a knock at the door.  Kolya got up to go get it.
“Are you expecting visitors?”
“No, but it is a cold day, sometimes the poorer artists come by to share some heat, and I make sure they get an avid discussion on Bolshevism.”  He smiled at his guest.
“Well good, maybe they can be of help with the topic of Nationalism.”  Kolya opened the door to reveal a fresh sheet of snow outside their small wooden door.  Outside was a young man about the same age as Kolya.  He was wearing a thick old coat that was beaten and battered from years of use.  He stood nearly a head taller than Bukharin, something Kolya didn’t find odd as he was only 5’ tall.  Indeed, Kolya and Soso made quite the pair; Kolya was 5’ with a large balding forehead, his red hair poking out from the sides of his head and chin.  Soso on the other hand was a little taller at 5’4” with a tall head of brown hair and a thick well-groomed mustache that reached just beyond the corners of his cheeks.  The man in front of Kolya also had a short thick mustache and light brown hair.  He looked cold and he was carrying a painting.
“My good sir, did my friends tell you where you could find me?”
“Yes, you were recommended by a certain Rupert.”
“Rupert, eh?  Good man that Rupert.  Well come in then, don’t just stand outside freezing to death, it’s deathly cold today.”  The man entered gratefully as Kolya shut out the last swirling spray of wind and snow from the outside.  Kolya turned around to see the man standing awkwardly looking at Stalin.  Kolya had forgotten that Soso didn’t speak much German.  After all, that was why Lenin had sent him to Kolya in the first place.
“I don’t mean to intrude sir.”
“Oh no, don’t even bother, this is my friend Soso, and I think you couldn’t have come at a better time.”  The man looked hesitantly as Kolya.  “I’ll explain in just a moment, but it seems we’re stumped by a certain ideal.”  His voice trailed off as he pulled up a seat for the man and headed for the tiny kitchen in the corner.  “I’ll get you some tea while we’re at it, and at the end I’d love to take a look of that painting of yours.”
Soso looked up friendly at the newcomer and said hi in his thick Georgian accent.  The man smiled back at Soso and silence took over as the two waited for their translator to return.  A moment or two later Kolya was back and sitting in between his older friend and the new young man.
“So…where was I?  Oh yes, I remember.  Soso and I have been given the task of writing about Nationalism and its place in Marxism.  You have had a first-hand view on Austrian Nationalism.  Right you are Austrian?”  The man nodded, “so what is your take on Nationalism?”  The man smiled and cleared his throat; Kolya thought it a bit odd how polite this young mendicant man was.
“Well sir, in Austria we’ve got the short end of the stick.  All of the German states were united to form a new state except for our Austrian state.  Instead, we find ourselves dependent on Hungary and Bohemia and all the rest of the Balkans.  Our state as it is, is incongruous.  We don’t have a fundamental language structure.  The Slavs don’t mix with the Germans and the Hungarians don’t mix with either.  It’s too multi-cultural for my liking, and I think it’s too multi-cultural to be ruled.  I think Austria would be better off rejoining the rest of the Germans.  That’s where we’ll find identity.”  He stopped as Kolya finished translating for Soso.
“But then you tolerate the Czechs right?  So what makes you tolerate them?”  The man thought for a second.
“I tolerate them because I have to.  I believe a war is brewing in Europe, and I would be afraid to fight for the Empire.  It’s too diverse.  The Hungarians would kill me just as fast as an enemy force would.”
“Hmmm, now that’s probably true.  But what about a loose confederation, do you think that would work?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean a loose juncture of states, each autonomous, but loosely connected into an empire?”
“As in Austria and Bohemia and Hungary right?”
“Yes that’s right.”
“Well let’s say a war does break out, why would I as a German come to the defense of the Czechs when I have no relation to them.”
“Well you would because if you lose their industries it would weaken your empire and in turn weaken your country.”
“But it’s small enough it can be spared right?”
“Perhaps…”  Kolya smiled, “so your point of view is Nationalism is the best scenario?”
“Well yes, of course.”
“Haha, that’s easy enough said from a German perspective.  You have a large swath of Germanic tribes, you’re not going anywhere soon.  But what about those smaller populations?  Your point is that there is no point to protect them because they would kill you even if you tried.  And if the larger populations don’t protect them then who’s to keep them from being swept away like sand in the wind?”
The man was silent for a moment.  “Nothing I guess.”
“Ha, and there we have it.  That’s the unfortunate byproduct of Nationalism.  The idea that somehow mankind’s races make them…incongruous, that was the word you used right?  But what if there was something bigger?  Something deeper that united all of us?  And here, and since you are one sharp young man I’m guessing you already guessed, I’m speaking of the greater class struggle.  The ideal that deep down at the heart of every man lies the same struggle.  The struggle to be free, to live just as well as the next man lives.  Isn’t that right?”
“I don’t know sir.  As you can see, I am a poor man, and even though I was not always this way, it’s evident to me that there is not something inside of men that makes them want to be equals.  Men want to be greater than each other.  They want to have power and riches over others.  That’s just the way we are.  It is a utopian dream to believe that if men were given a chance for equality that they would take it.  No, men must be coerced and forced to conform and grow together.  Too many options and they will grow apart, and then only the strongest will survive.”
“Well said, my comrade, spoken like a true student of Nietzsche.  But then we are missing something.  Something unites populaces in nationalities.  That could be used to unite a larger populace right?”
“Yes sir.”
“Well what then?”
“Fear and freedom.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, for example in Austria or in Russia the fear of what the police might do unites us, so we stay a part of the empire for fear of retribution.  But freedom can also be used as a weapon to unite someone.  Because once people have freedom, they are afraid it will be taken away, and so they will be more cautious and better caretakers of their freedom.”
“Ach, my comrade, it’s so clear now, I knew we just needed a fresh mind.  And in this case a brilliant one.”  Kolya turned to speak to Soso growing more and more animated as the time passed.  After a while of sipping tea, Kolya remembered to look at the painting.  It was a gorgeous watercolor.  Certainly not the best Kolya had ever seen, and slightly overpriced, but Kolya congratulated the young man even if he didn’t have the money to buy it.  After the young man had warmed up and had chatted for a while he got up to go.  Kolya got up to show him the door and Soso arose to shake his hand.
Kolya watched him disappear into the blizzard outside before returning to Soso.  “Not a bad chap eh?  Wish he was a socialist.”
Soso looked pensively back, “he is a socialist; he just doesn’t know it yet.  What was his name by the way?  I didn’t want to ask.”  Kolya thought for a moment stroking his beard absentmindedly.

“Let me think…I think it was ummm…Adolf…Adolf Hitler.”

Chapter XXII

“But it can’t be right, can it?”  Kolya felt like someone had just hit him in the stomach.  He looked sadly at his friend Hans.
“I don’t know Claus.  Professor Bohm-Bawerk makes a good point.  Marginalization does kind of supplant Marx’s labor theory of value, and it answers Smith’s capitalist question of why water, which is so fundamental, is so much cheaper than diamonds, which no one needs to live.”  Hans spoke happily with his Russian friend, who spoke German so well, but he knew this lecture was weighing heavily on his friend’s mind.  “Come on friend, let’s go for a walk next to the palace.”
Kolya nodded but still gave Hans a tepid look.  He guffawed “Yeah next to the palace because we can’t go in, that’s for the bourgeoisies.”  Hans smiled back and grabbed Kolya gently by the shoulder leading him down the stairs and outside into the crisp autumn wind.
“Cheer up, Claus, we’ll figure it out.”
“But it’s not just about figuring it out; I mean what if they are right?  What if the marginal theory is correct and completely defensible?  I mean, so far it seems impenetrable.  Diamonds are so rare that any change, regardless of whether it’s an increase or a decrease, has a huge effect on their value, which means that their rarity is what makes them more valuable than water, which has nothing to do with usage.  You know what it means!  It means that labor, being one of the most plentiful goods in the world, is also one of the cheapest and worthless even if it is necessary.”  He lifted up his head in despair and saw the blurred sun shining through the tall English Yews that lined the path leading to the palace.
“Ok, so maybe methodologically the theory is right.  But Marx wasn’t ever one to just leave his theory to methodology right?  His was a theory that combined philosophy and history as well, right?”  Kolya looked at his friend and quietly muttered,
“And sociology...”  They both looked at the ground and walked in silence.  The soft howl of the wind reminded Kolya of his Russian home, now thousands of miles away.  Kolya looked up and saw the palace walls coming into view, behind them the sun danced like a golden ferry between the haze of clouds.  Kolya stopped and grabbed Hans’ wrist frantically gasping.  “I’ve got it!  I’ve got it!”
“Haha, well out with it then!”  Hans said gaily.
“The problem with the bourgeois class, at least socially, is that according to Marx we as humans are fundamentally creative and free beings right?  But the bourgeoisies are distancing themselves step by step from labor itself.  They are becoming rentiers, people who are mere consumers.  People who do not create anything at all, they merely oversee the creation and consume what is created.  Smith’s original problem with diamonds and water was that water was so much more useful than diamonds.  He was confused why people would pay more for a diamond.  The same is true for labor.  Even though it is a common good, it is necessary for a man to be a man.  Labor lends an escape for our creativity.  It gives us freedom and as such is a piece of our human conscience.  If we lose it, we lose our chance at expression, we become a machine that doesn’t act but is only acted upon.  We become the accursed rentier!”  Kolya glanced at his friend.  Hans looked positively elated.

“We’re going to need to write that down!”  He said excitedly.  And indeed Bukharin would write it down.  It would become his first book and one of the most popular works in Soviet Russia after the revolution.  It became known as “The Economic Theory of the Leisure Class.”  And was a stepping stone for one of the Soviets greatest thinkers.

Chapter XXI

Rain.  Do you ever just listen to its clandestine canter?  Most of us probably think of rain as a bad thing.  Something that ruins festivals and parties, makes you stay inside and change your plans.  But there’s something calming about that soft pitter-patter.  There’s something hopeful in its touch.  Rain carries the promise of change.  The promise that the old will be washed away or even just renewed.  There’s something about it that seems to say that today’s miseries, but soon it will be replaced with something better, with a new day, with a new world.  Rain signals that opportunities are just on the horizon, and there is something new to be hoped for.
That’s why I imagine that day in 1911 to be a rainy day.  The day when the two greatest visionaries of Russian Marxist thought met.  I don’t picture Bukharin walking through the park on a sunny day to meet with Lenin on a park bench.  I don’t see them playful or happy to be stuck in Krakow far far away from the country they loved.  No, it took some grit to be a revolutionary, to believe in a cause especially when living in exile.
No, indeed, I see a dark rainy day, a day where the rain poured down in sheets.  I see Bukharin walking through the wet cobblestone streets in his large black trench coat holding a small newspaper over his head for some protection.  He’d be walking with purpose but also slowly as if dejected.  I see him walking towards an old shaky wooden building.  Even from the outside you could tell there were leaks in the roofing.
I can see the door shake from even the soft rap of his hand.  And then I see the door open, a man inside with a nicely combed mustache recognizes him and yells for him to be allowed in.  Bukharin smiles as he enters, he hasn’t realized so many escaped.  There in the distance he can make out a small press.  “So this is how they’ve done it.”  He grins to himself before being welcomed by his comrade.  Everyone grows quiet as they realize a newcomer has entered.  And then a man stands up from the corner.  Bukharin hadn’t noticed him as he had been stooped over a piece of parchment.  Lenin, the great Lenin walks up to Bukharin looks him dead square in the face and grips his hand tightly.
“This is Nikolai Bukharin, sir.  I worked with him in Moscow, he was chief organizer…”  Kolya’s friend stopped dead as Lenin’s firm quiet, voice rang out.
“Yes, I know who you are.  I am very impressed by your work in Moscow, and we will need you more than ever here.  Now is not the time, but we’ll talk tomorrow.”  Bukharin swallowed.
“Yes, here.  We don’t have much, so we must make what we smuggle back to Russia,” he paused as the last word came out with all sincerity, “count.”
“Yes sir, I’ll do what I can.”
“Oh and remember Kolya, my name is Volodya or comrade, never sir.”
“Ach, yes comrade, sir.”  Lenin smiled as did Bukharin albeit a bit more sheepishly.  But for a moment of silence, they both heard it, the pour of the rain outside.  With a twirl Lenin spun on his heel and started to stunt back to his desk.

“The industrialized streets of Poland are being cleansed comrades.  Soon it will be our turn.  Soon!”  And with that he sat back at his desk and the place seemed to jump back into chaos.  But through all the noise Bukharin could hear it.  The soft drip, drip, drip.

Chapter XX

Nikolai let out a sigh of relief as he sat down, exhaustedly knocking some papers off his cluttered desk.  He took a deep breath before reaching down to grab them.  A smile formed on the corner of his lips as he realized the paper on top was his most recent publication with the nice little earmarked corner slightly cutting off the 9 on the 1909.  He leaned back in his chair wondering if moving the date would change how people perceived the paper.  Perception was what it was all about when you were the 20 year old Chief Organizer of the Bolsheviks in the important Zamoskvereche district of Moscow.  And recently the Bolshevik organization had been shredded by the Tsar.  The Okhrana was raiding district after district.  Membership had already fallen by as much as 50% by some reports.
Many of the party leaders had already been imprisoned or detained, some had even been shipped away to prison camps in the north.  His district had not been untouched either, but the headquarters was still intact.  He rifled through the leaflet distractedly holding it next to his ear to cover the sound of silence in the background.  Silence?  His eyes snapped up while the leaflet crumpled in his shaky hands.  He stood up slowly and edged back towards the old wooden door that was the entrance to their hideout.
Headquarters was a very well chosen spot by all accounts.  It was right next to one of the river tributaries meaning the bridge next to it created a kind of natural hiding place.  The bridge and the road rose a few feet with a guardrail on the side until a single hole a few hundred feet from the riverbank opened to allow travelers to pass to the bridge or down onto the street below.  The street to the door started wide and narrowed as it passed an old church on the left, and right behind the church, built into the very same wall, was that small rickety door.  Headquarters wasn’t always empty, but it was strangely silent tonight, nothing disturbed the silence, even from the street outside.
Nikolai reached his shaky hands to the door, and slid it open.  The night sky greeted him with silence.  He quietly exited and locked the door behind him, hurriedly starting a brisk walk towards the bridge.  As he did so he could see figures emerging below him near the river, more emerged in front of him coming down from the road to the river.  He stopped, unsure of where to go, and then he thought of the church and started to walk quickly towards the doors, but they too opened revealing a man in a long petticoat, which buttoned all the way up to just below his chin.  His army style boots with baggy pants revealed him to be an officer.  He looked Bukharin up and down coolly.
“Hello, Nikolai, I don’t think we’ve met?”
“No, sir, we haven’t.”  Nikolai answered stiffly, the men around him had him rattled.

“Well I think it’s about time we should, yes?”  And with that the man waved at the men, who moved forward, grabbing and chaining Nikolai’s wrists coarsely.  It was his first foray in a Russian prison.  In two months time he would be out again and back to his Marxist schemes.  By late fall he was to be arrested again, and this time released with the fear of a pending trial that never came.  He was to continue his role as a Muscovian leader until the end of 1910, when almost all the Social Democratic Labor Party leadership was arrested.  This was the low point mark in Bolshevik history.  They did not reemerge as the leading party until after the revolution itself.  While in 1907, records state that 100,000 people were members of the party but by the end of 1909 less than 10,000 remained loyal.  The next few years were perilously dark for the Bolshevik leaders.  Russia had become a pit of venomous vipers for them.  But it was during this time in exile, when the party leadership that would eventually lead the new, glorious revolution, emerged.

Chapters XVIII & XIX-over 1,000 views!

“Sasha, can we go over the details one more time?”  Alexei looked over at the short stubby man sitting on the far end of the table.  His hook nose locked his shiny monocle in place.  Sasha had been chosen as the recorder for this party, and his shaky nervous attitude fit the bill for a good recorder.  Sasha glanced at the group nervously.  He tried to clear his throat but the only thing that came out was a high pitched groan.  He coughed, and began rather whimsically but growing in strength.
“The defendant is Vera Zasulich, a noblewoman by birth, and by marriage, but by all standards, a poor woman, and now a widow to a captain in the army.  She spent six years locked away in Litovsk and Peter and Paul’s fortress to name a few.  Apparently she was convicted without reason, held, of course, because of the growing menace of student protests.  She was then released two years later, immediately rearrested, and then when she was released again, she learned a trade, but was subsequently unable to practice it as she was marked by administrative exile.  Reports say she had been living off nothing more than bread and water for the better part of the last decade.  After her release, she joined a small band of subversives called the Buntari.  Little is known of this group until a couple of years ago, and I remember this incident in the papers, when they tried to kill a suspected traitor in their midst.  They beat him with a ball and chain and poured acid on his face.  I guess they suspected it would have killed him, but somehow he survived and reported all their names to the police.  She was not linked to the beating, but her name did appear as part of the group.
Evidently she reappeared in St. Petersburg this last year and this incident the alleged incident occurred because of her dissatisfaction with the mayor of St. Petersburg, General Fyodor Trebov.  He had recently locked away and beaten a certain Arkhip Bogolyubov for not removing his cap in his presence.  And as her lawyer made extremely clear, her time in prison made her tremendously sensitive to others who were also punished for no real reason.”  The man paused for a second as if lost in thought.  “Tak, and so she took it upon herself to give this man, and well, quite frankly, many of the citizens in St. Petersburg justice.  As a noblewoman she was permitted to enter the mayor’s estate and submit a petition with others directly to the mayor.  When they were ushered into the mayor’s office by an adjutant, she found herself first in line.  She handed the mayor the petition muttering something about it being about a certificate of conduct.  The mayor silently took it, made a note on it with a pencil and turned to the next petitioner.  As he turned the defendant pulled a revolver out of the folds of her cloak and shot him twice in the back.  After which, she dropped the revolver to the ground and patiently waited for a guard to tackle her.  A few days later the mayor died, and the trial began.
The defense then made a compelling argument as to the nature of the killing, and put the mayor on trial instead of her.  And we would all agree, the mayor received his just reward.”  The man ended speaking to murmurs of assent and pounding of hands on the table.  Alexei looked aghast at the room before him.
“She shot General Trebov!  He’s the mayor for Christ’s sake!”
“Yeah, but he was a horrible man!”
“Yes, he deserved it.”  Another voice piped in.  Alexei looked down at his gray coat.  He was fiddling with his fur cap in his right hand, gripping the table in front of him with the other.  The room was full of hostility.  He seemed to be alone in the defense of the mayor.  He couldn’t believe it, the gentry themselves didn’t seem to care for the law.  He sighed as he gently plopped his cap back onto the table.
“But isn’t the woman Vera Zasulich on trial, not General Trebov?”  He tried, but could hardly hide the exasperation in his voice.
A man from the far end of the room responded in a calm but very firm voice.  “She is.”  There was a brief pause before he continued, “But isn’t that the point of these reforms?  Isn’t it our duty, the duty of the nobility, to ensure that no one is above the law?”
Alexei looked around the room.  It would’ve taken a dead tree to not be able to see no one agreed with him.  He had lost the battle, and he couldn’t leave with a hung jury.  The trial was too important; it was being followed around the world.  Silence fell over the room for tense moments.
Slowly, he began to nod his head.  “Maybe they’re right.”  He thought to himself, and one word kept coming back to his mind, “Samosud.”  Self-justice, lynching, or the idea of taking the law into one’s own hands.  That was the new Russia.  Anarchists and revolutionaries, they were the law now.

Kolya quietly stepped inside of the classroom.  He was on time today, which was a rare occasion indeed, even rarer than his attendance to class.  The professor was still pulling books out of his small briefcase, so he quietly headed for the middle of the classroom, the center of attention.  Some of his classmates looked up happily at him, others with surprise.  He was there alone today; no other Bolshevik cronies had made their appearance.  And the question on everyone’s mind was whether or not he was there to learn or argue today.
The year was 1908.  He had already been a key instrument in the Bolshevik movement in Moscow for the past two years.  The year before he had started up a student organization for the Bolsheviks within the university itself with Grigorii Sokolnikov.  But it had been disbanded within a year as the Okhrana, or Tsarist police, broke it up.
Attention turned back to the front as the professor began speaking.  He was a venerable old man, and had spent many years teaching at Moscow University.  He was known for branching off topic and getting lost in his own thoughts.  Today didn’t seem like it would be much different.  He started speaking without even looking up at the class.  Today’s topic was on the recent industrial policy of Ministry of Finance, Sergei Witte.  He spoke for awhile regarding the ministry’s careful attention to maintaining control over industrialization while creating a small window for the buildup of capitalism, and especially Witte’s new move to push Russia from an autocracy towards a Constitutional Monarchy.  This was old news to everyone, including the change from the number of votes each class had in the Zemstvo.  But then the professor turned his attention to the railway, and many smiled in anticipation, the classroom was about to get heated.
“And one of the greatest achievements of these reforms was the completion of the Trans Siberian Railroad in 1904.  For once Russia knows no boundaries.  Industrialization will come to all corners of the empire, pushing us forward into a…”
“Excuse me sir.”  The professor looked up still sputtering his new few words under his breath. 
“Oh yes, Nikolai, welcome back to class.”
“Thank you sir, I just wanted to ask, they say the railroad is progress and we are progressing to capitalism, but aren’t the two ideas diametrically opposed?”
“Well, I’m not sure I know what you mean.”
“Hmmm, well yes sir, it’s just, isn’t the fundamental idea behind capitalism privatization of industry?”  The professor beamed back at Nikolai.
“Well yes it is my boy.”
“But then doesn’t the railroad then act as counteractive to the buildup of capitalism in our country?”
“Awwww you mean to say that because the railroad is built and owned by the monarchy that it is therefore not privately owned, and therefore is not a step towards privatization, but my boy you can’t say that.  The government has made leaps and bounds forward from when I was a child.  Yes now it isn’t privatized but eventually it will be…”  Nikolai jumped in seizing his chance.
“But right now it is owned by someone who didn’t build it, and when the government privatizes it they can’t give it to the people who built it.  No matter what there will be a discrepancy between the proletariat who built it and the petty bourgeoisie that will gain control of the profits of the industry they built.  Now just where is the fairness in that?”
“Awww but my boy the point of the current system is to create a specialized workforce as envisioned by Herbert Spencer.  High output industrialization is built around people being specially trained and fit for their job and as such there is a need for a monetary compensation, otherwise the worker would only own a piece of the railway, a piece of steel cannot feed many mouths.”
“A piece of steel can’t, but stock in that piece of steel can.  And Nikolai Mikhailovsky would argue that the problem with Spencer’s philosophy is it isolates human growth and maturity.  A man is born to learn and grow throughout every step of his life.  The moment he stops learning is the moment that his mind digresses, and the man relegates himself to devolve back into the creature he was at birth.  Therefore the heterogeneity and complexity of society must reflect the heterogeneity and complexity of its individual members to facilitate the ideal of many-sided human development.  And if therefore practiced in its fullest sense it would allow members of the proletariat to work and gain portions of the railroad when it is privatized and yes gaining part of the growing profits as inflation as well increases, and it would also allow them to move onto different industries, learning new trades, and facilitating their own mental and physical growth as well.”
The professor looked up at Nikolai in amazement.  “Very good, boy especially with the new emphasis the government is putting on stabilizing the ruble, but what does all this mean for us?”  Nikolai paused for a second wanting to put emphasis on every word.
“It means temporary monetary compensation, whether under autocracy or capitalism, is a form of slavery.  The rich gain investments that accrue funds over time and get richer, while the poor proletariat is poorly compensated with a vanishing monetary value, unable to change specializations, and stuck in their pitiful, state.  Just as Marx said, talking of a man who carried his 7 year old child to work every day back and forth in the snow to work for 16 hours, and very often he would have to kneel down to feed the boy next to the machine as he could not leave it or stop.  And that, my friends, is what awaits us with the monster of Capitalism.”  Nikolai looked around the quiet, shocked class.  “More poverty and oppression.”
“But then aren’t we better under an autocracy?”  One classmate shouted out, perhaps not even realizing he was speaking.  The class turned to the professor, who was now shaking his head sadly.
“No, my boy…”  The class fell silent again.  Broken only by another student.
“Well then what then?”  Nikolai looked at the boy and answered in a cold-icy whisper-


Chapter XVII

And there I’ve done it again.  I’ve made a bit too much of a supposition on the beginnings of the revolution in Russia.  The fact is that the causes of the revolution went much deeper and farther back than we can imagine.  Perhaps the very revolution itself can be traced back to the revolution that the communists eventually tried to say they were mimicking-The French Revolution.  Even though the correlations at the time were relatively weak, the two countries did have some similarities, but perhaps, many more differences.  At the time, the French nobility was under extreme duress as it had incurred a huge debt helping the Colonies fight the British.  France had embraced the ideas of liberalism and even when they hadn’t, writers like Voltaire found safety from “enlightened monarchs” monarchs like Elizabeth I of Russia.  But whereas in Russia most of the peasantry still worked the land as serfs, many of the French serfs had moved to cities to escape serfdom leaving a large population of unhappy peasants whose rights were no longer being represented by their feudal country lords.
I know I’m vastly oversimplifying history, and I’m moving at a fast pace.  I say all this merely to point out differences, and why historians would fault me for making too big of a correlation.  But the correlation is there, and it’s found in Napoleon’s ambition.  After he marched on Moscow, and the Russian forces withdrew, burning the city.  The war was all but over.  The Russians hounded Napoleon back to Paris and eventually marched there themselves, defeating the greatest empire at the time.  This one act meant that Russia, backwards Russia, the country Peter the Great realized was backwards and tried to force into the modern era, suddenly had eclipsed the very power it was trying to catch up to.
After the victory, Russia returned to the state it had been so comfortable with before Peter the Great.  That of isolation and stagnation, and it remained that way till the Crimean War, a war, which jolted Russia back to reality.  It had fallen behind again.  Even though at the time, Russia still fielded the largest army, it was vastly outgunned by the modern machinery of the British.  Wave after wave of men was condemned to die, brutally chastised by the guns of the unforgiving British.  Russians needed change.  A rebellious atmosphere was developing.
But just when revolution seemed to be taking seed, a new leader came to power.  This leader was Alexander II.  He immediately struck a treaty ending the Crimean War, renounced Russia’s claims to the Black Sea, and he set about reforming the country.  In 1861 he emancipated the serfs, but under heavy stipulations added for the nobility, which left almost all free serfs indebted to their lords for the rest of their lives.  He ended government censorship of the press and left it up to the presses as to what to censor.  In 1864 he created a new set of judicial reforms including trial by jury and independent judiciaries that couldn’t be removed by the whims of the governing officials.  He created the Zemstvo for the classes to have a voice, but the reforms were weak, just like the Etates General in France, the lower class found themselves immensely underrepresented.

During this time period, two important things take place.  First of all, in 1872 even though the press was still somewhat censored, Das Kapital by Marx was allowed to be printed in Russia.  The second important event occurred in 1878 and just like that of the start of World War I, it was an act of terrorism…assassination to be exact.

Chapter XVI

Father Gapon stood outside on the hard-packed snow, his black priest robes billowing in the bitter wind.  He rolled up the sheet of parchment that he carried like precious artifact.  He looked around at the thousands of supporters surrounding his small church.  “What a pity we have to go out in such cold.”  He thought to himself as he looked at the huddled mass of onlookers, many of them young women and children.  He stroked his beard before lifting up his hands, “Peace be upon you my children!  Today we take our grievances to the Tsar!  This chelobitnaya will be heard.  The Tsar will make redresses, and we will have what we want!”  He paused to take a breath in the cold wind, but as he did so another voice broke out.
“We will have better working conditions!  It’s time we stopped working in the hell-holes!”  And then another.
“Yeah, it’s time we got an eight hour work week!”
“And universal suffrage!”  Another voice added.
Father Gapon held up his hands again and the crowd quieted down.  “Yes, my friends, it’s time to go to the Winter Palace.”  And with that the crowd began to march.  Some started to run off to the side, others formed in line with Father Gapon as they started their march to Nevsky Prospekt and from there to the winter palace.
It was Sunday, January 9, 1905 by the old Gregorian reckoning of time.  And Father Gapon was a little worried by the lack of movement on the streets.  As they turned street corners the streets yielded into more and more empty space.  Fresh coats of untouched snow were all that stood in their way on their march to the palace.  He knew that most of the city had joined in on the strike to the factory workers, but he didn’t think the whole city had joined the movement for a Tsarist petition, but then again the people were dissatisfied.
They rounded the last corner to Nevsky Prospekt and began their march down the large, long street.  But they were no longer alone.  At the far end of the street Father Gapon could make out the sound of horses.  And in a moment’s time they could see each other.  One group of huddled, and cold masses led by the lone father in his billowing black robes, the other, a large group of Cossacks, the Tsar’s personal palace guard.  Off in the distance, Father Gapon could make out the words of the guard.  They were yelling for them to go home.  The Tsar was not at home in the palace.  They must disperse or they would be fired upon.  Their rebellious acts would be punished.
Father Gapon stopped and considered the words.  They knew that the Tsar was in his palace the day before.  Had he really left?  Was this all just a hoax?  He tried to calm the agitated crowd a little, but it seemed to be too late.  The crowd surged past Father Gapon, and he could tell the Cossacks had had enough.  They fired shots into the crowd and charged flashing their bright sabers, staining them that dark, blood red.  The crowd burst and dispersed.  People ran screaming and running pell-mell from the onslaught, but the disaster continued.  Those who had already been struck down were trampled again and again by the merciless iron hooves of the horses.  Father Gapon ran to a mother near him, gasping in agony.  She had been run through with one of the Cossack’s sabers.  He could do nothing for her.  He closed his eyes and held her tight, her blood spilling over, staining his robe with a dark maroon tinge.  He tried to comfort her, to give her a blessing, but she was gone.  He made the sign of the cross and looked up.  The scene had cleared, the Cossacks had gone on spurring the people to their homes.  What was left behind was a massive scene of carnage.  Hundreds of people lay dying.  The snow, so fresh and white before, lay stained and beaten.

News of the attack soon reached Moscow from St. Petersburg.  The Tsar, the father of Russia, had ordered an attack on his own people coming to him for redress.  The act was unforgivable.  The consequences undeniable.  1905, the year the monarchy of Russia began to crack, the first year of revolution, and the beginning of the end.  It would take another 12 years, but revolution would prevail, Nicholas II had sealed his fate.  The Bolsheviks and Menshiviks were on the rise, and it would be the latter that would attract young Kolya at the age of 17 in 1906, because Menshiviks were too moderate, like his father.

Chapter XV

Soso looked cautiously outside the seemingly calm streets of Baku.  Many years had passed since that quiet bright boy had first entered the seminary.  Now he was officially a revolutionary.  He had even gone to prison as such, but no more.  Now he had better things to do than rot in prison.
Baku was no longer safe.  In a matter of hours the city had warped into a warzone and scene of ethnic cleansing.  What started as a strike by workers had flared into chaos as Cossacks had attacked, killing over 200 workers.  In the ironic panic that ensued the Azeris and Armenians had begun slaughtering each other in troves.
Stalin had escaped the strike unharmed, and had managed to regroup with other Bolsheviks.  In the commotion they had managed to steal just about everything they needed from weapons to a printing press.  Soso heard the familiar stomp of his friend, Abel Enukhidze.  “I think they’re coming Soso.”  Stalin looked up warily at Abel and nodded.  He buttoned up his coat and grabbed his gun, and the two of them walked to the door where the rest of the rag tag group of Bolsheviks congregated.
Someone opened the doors and the group shuffled out into the snow.  Stalin and a few others positioned themselves behind barrels near the entrance.  Today his duty was non-confrontational, it would be Abel doing that.  In the distance they could hear the muffled stomp of boots in the snow down the street to their right.  It came closer and closer until a group of men even more rag tag and ill-dressed than the Bolsheviks came into view.  Nearly a dozen dark wiry men stopped and looked at the much stronger Bolsheviks.
“Go home.”  Abel’s deep gruff voice sounded eerie in the charged white atmosphere.
“Why?  Who are you?”  A taller, but still very skinny man yelled back.  He was the obvious leader, and anyone could tell he was as ruffled as a bird just snatched out of the air by a cat.
“Save your strength, comrade!  Our quarrel is not with you, nor with any other ethnicity for that matter, and neither should be yours.  You look like you haven’t had very many square meals recently, and whose fault is that?  Is it the Armenians?”  The man blinked back at Abel.
“It doesn’t matter, they shouldn’t be here.”
“Awwww, but it does matter.  What good does it do to attack them?  They have no food either.  You waste your strength fighting each other and that is exactly what the Empire wants.  They want us to bicker and fight until we each expunge our own ethnicities and become one with the Great Russians.  No, comrade, you want blood?  You want food?  You want justice and hope?  Then your quarrel is not with them but with the Empire.  You want to fight?  Then fight with us, comrade!”  There was a crunch as one man fell clumsily in the snow, Abel smiled, he knew this was no crack fighting troop.  The tall man turned and hissed at him to be silent.
“Who are you?”
“We’re members of the Social Democratic Labor Party, but you can call us Bolsheviks.”
“But why Bolsheviks?”
“Because the majority is with us, like yourself.  Isn’t that right?”  Abel smiled and walked to the man holding him his hand.  The man embraced it, but only for a moment.

“I hate the Empire too, but I hate Armenians most of all.  If you can rid us of them both, we will join you.”  And with that the man turned and the group jogged away.  Abel turned around and shook his head.  Soso knew what he was thinking.  They needed something more; something a propagandist could use to unite Russia against the Tsar.  But how?  Little did he know, but soon the Tsar himself would provide the solution.

Chapter XIV

Soso stood calmly in front of his examiners.  He was 15 now, and he was down to his last exam.  He couldn’t fail his mother now.  She had worked so hard to get him here, and here was his chance to finally enter the seminary in Tbilisi.  But the last subject was probably his most hated-Russian.
It was also the subject he was most self-conscious about.  Everything else just seemed to come naturally to him, but Russian seemed to elude his utmost attempts to master.  He spoke to the examiners nervously.  Two of them were native Russians, and Soso just couldn’t get the idea out of his head that he was about to be judged rather unfairly, after all, he was still just a boy.
He started speaking roughly; there was a shakiness in his high pitched voice that he couldn’t shake.  He hastily tried to clear his throat as one of the Russian examiners asked him to tell them about his father.  Soso looked apprehensively at the examiner; surely he hadn’t expected a question like this.  He wasn’t prepared to talk about the man he hadn’t seen in three years, the man who had deserted his mother because she tried to send Soso to school.  He figured since he was going to an Orthodox school, however, that only allowed members of the clergy to enter, he should speak rather highly of him.
“My father?  Och, he is well-liked by our entire village.  He was such a good man, and so well-liked that the priest made him a Deacon in his church.  But he is a cobbler and is also very hard working, so hard working that I see very little of him since I started attending school.”  He distractedly edged the collar of his shirt with his index finger.  Even he could hear his thick Georgian accent when he spoke.  The Russian examiner looked back down at his examiner’s board in his hands.

“Well son, we’ll have to work on that accent.  Can’t have that in the Tsar’s church.  Russian is your language now, but…”  He looked up at Joseph and gave a slight grin, “you’ll have a lot of time to work on that while here at the seminary.”  Soso returned his smile heartily.  The examiner waved his hand to go.   Joseph was surprised that it had been so painless.  He turned to go, and as he did so he heard the words, “Russian is your language now,” and he remembered the ideals of Russification, the Empire’s idea to unite Russia by quashing nationalities like the Georgians.  He left the room thinking to himself that one day it would all be different.  One day he would be happy to be Georgian.  But try as he might, he would keep in Georgian accent for the rest of his life.