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The Russian Revolution as it appeared in The Times

I suppose – given that it is the centenary of that catastrophe known as the Russian Revolution – I ought to drag out something from The Times. I have to confess that this is no easy task; not because there is too little but because there is too much. Anyway for your intellectual delectation we have the following selection: the initial report (8/11/17), a background report (9/11/17) and The Times leader (same date) which gets it pretty much spot on:

The latest developments in Russia will hardly surprise those who have watched recent events in Petrograd. When constituted authority is palpably incapable of backing words by deeds, when anarchy is allowed to increase daily, when arms are recklessly given to the mob, then the end cannot be far off.

Update One more (9/11/17 again) but this one comes with a free Balfour Declaration

19 comments to The Russian Revolution as it appeared in The Times

  • bobby b

    I’ve always looked to Rand’s “We The Living” to describe what happened.

    My education has thus encompassed fewer names and dates and pieces of scholarly knowledge, but it has left me with a firmer grasp of what transpired than I might have assembled reading “sources” such as what my schools cared to present to me.

    The parallels between Kira’s world and that of our new PC overlords frightens me more every year.

  • bobby b

    Look at the Times article referenced above.

    – The Bolshevik forces were losing. The Russian army had them in its pincer. Then, the Bolshevik-controlled media fooled everyone into thinking that the war had been won by the Bolsheviks. The Russian army fled.

    Our media, without evidence, convinced Western society that its time was over. Hillary was to win 95% to 5%. Brexit was to be easily voted down. Marx was ascendant. All mainstream media delivered these conclusions matter-of-factly and daily.

    . . .

    – General Korniloff stops the wholesale surrender and begins to fight back. He re-organizes the Russian army. Light at the end of the tunnel.

    Against all odds, Brexit prevails. Trump also wins and beats back the progressive takeover, to the dismay of the media and the progressives and the “moderate” Republicans.

    . . .

    – General Kerensky opens negotiations with the Bolsheviks, and begins to merge the two warring sides in hopes of peace. Korniloff is purged. The army arms Bolshevik workers.

    Progressives and “moderate” Republicans – oh, hell, let’s just call them “cucks” – work together to stall and stifle Trump’s goals. Brexit is delivered to May and becomes stalled in “negotiations.”

    . . .

    That’s where we seem to be now. On bad days, I see no way around armed conflict. The Bolsheviks were great and amazing weasels. So are the progressives and the cucks now.

    That’s why my inner paranoic (never far from the surface, sadly) sees that the progressive culture has devised this overwhelming witch-hunt concerning sexual behavior – sacrificing some of their own as they did it – and suspects that it’s all been a well-designed progressive setup for the next stage, which began today with the accusations against Judge Moore in Alabama.

    Start a fevered panic – as the Bolsheviks did against the government – and then feed in the victims of your choice once it’s white-hot and unstoppable. We always underestimate how low they’ll go, which is why they usually win.

    The sexual accusations against GB’s Brexiteers should begin in earnest in . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . . 1 . . .

  • Julie near Chicago


    Agree: We the Living packs a heckuva wallop. I thought it a very good novel, but too depressing to re-read, since it thoroughly confirmed what I thought I knew of the times and the place. Had it been merely a novel, merely fictional, it would have been less depressing.

  • Phil B

    When arms are recklessly given to the mob, then the end cannot be far off.

    And that is why the 1920 Firearms Act was introduced in the UK. Because the establishment was terrified that the revolution would be exported.

  • bobby b (November 10, 2017 at 2:28 am) is right about the importance of propaganda to the bolsheviks survival, let alone victory, during the revolution. When Lenin received an incorrect report that just two British divisions had landed at Archangel, he instantly concluded that all was lost. The “Hands off Russia” movement in Britain, organised by communist trade unionists and the usual useful idiots, was vital to them.

    Phil B (November 10, 2017 at 5:21 am), my vague impression is that the 1920 act was more about actual Irish revolutionaries than potential communist ones; if anyone knows more, by all means say.

  • The Jannie

    There are some gems in the update – “without bloodshed” and “democratic peace”, frinstances.

  • Paul Marks

    The Russian security police were abolished by the Feb-March Revolution – that left the Russian government blind-and-deaf against the operation the Germans launched against them via “Lenin”.

    The failure to take Constantinople and link up with the Russians in 1915 (due to the incompetence of British commanders at Suvla Bay) made the eventual collapse of Russia very likely. And that meant that the Germans could concentrate their main forces in the West (that was the point of the Germans sending in “Lenin” into Russia – the hope that he would manage to undermine the Russian war effort). Had the Germans not returned to submarine warfare – thus bringing the United States into the war – it is possible that this move would have won the Germans the war.

    However, I am told that the Kaiser was never told about the sending in of “Lenin” into Russia, or of such operations as the plan to spread Anthrax in the United States (whilst Germany was still at peace with the United States). He may not have been told of the bombing operations in the United States or the efforts to stir up various Mexican attackers.

    It still strikes me as a very odd policy. The Germans, by repeatedly attacking the United States and killing Americans, brought about the exact result they did not want – the entry of the United States into the First World War.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course it was not “weapons given to the mob” – it was the Russian sailors and the Latvian Rifles who were the important Red forces in the early days. Both were military forces.

  • John K

    Phil is right about the origins of the 1920 Firearms Act.

    Before 1914, the Home Office had grown increasingly concerned about East European terrorism in London. The Sydney Street Siege in 1911 was the prime example. They saw the weapon of these terrorists as the automatic pistol. Interestingly, it was a Browning 1910 which Gavrilo Princip used to assassinate the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

    Attempts to introduce “gun control” into Britain prior to the Great War failed, however, because enough MPs still believed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Many of them also carried pistols for their own protection. That was a thing back then, something a modern Briton would find hard to credit.

    The 1920 Act was not really prompted by the Irish Civil War, which was largely confined to Ireland, where firearms controls already existed. The real fear was indeed of Bolshevism, and of the millions of demobilized men who knew how to use guns, and who had few prospects in the post war world. The government also wished to control the sale of arms into the Empire, where there were fears that radicals might begin to demand independence for various colonies.

    So it was largely a fear of an armed British proletariat which led to gun control in Britain. Obviously, the government lied about it, claiming that the motive was to disarm burglars, and that it would have no effect on the law abiding Briton, something which the modern, disarmed British subject might find a bit hard to take.

  • Phil B

    @ Niall Kilmartin, @John K,

    The Fenians (the precursors to the IRA) had been setting off bombs for a long while (since 1881 – see here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenian_dynamite_campaign). They were a known quantity, not supported by the majority of Irish people (which was to change after the 1916 uprising when the British executed the leaders and others) and were a nuisance only. Besides, banning guns would not stop bombs and dynamite being used.

    Following the 1920 act the Metropolitan police Commissioner wanted to round up all the guns and hold them in Police Stations to dish out in the event of a revolution in England, Scotland and Wales. So definitely NOT targeting the Irish.

    As usual the politicians lied and knowingly lied about the reasons for the restrictions. Before WW1, there were about 54 Firearms offences a year in mainland Britain (mostly “armed trespass” – the legal term for poaching). This did not come to light until 1981 when the papers relating to the decision were released under the 60 year rule and Colin Greenwood gave a lecture in my home town that year about the reasons for the act being introduced.

    Nowadays, 97 years later, I dare say that there are probably 54 firearms offences in London alone in one day. I suppose that another 97 years of increasing restrictions will finally solve the problem, eh?

  • Patrick Crozier

    On the subject of Constantinople I am unaware of any serious military historians who think its capture in 1915 was either possible or would have made much of a difference. They may exist but I am unaware of them.

    The idea that it would have made much of a difference also flies in the face of what we know. We know that Kitchener was attempting to “link” up with the Russians when he was killed. We also know that a Russian brigade (or was it two?) showed up on the Western Front in 1917. How did it get there? Men, let’s not forget, are harder to move than shells.

    Repington’s contemporaneous comments have stood the test of time.

    There’s an interesting thread at the Great War Forum on this topic. Lots of scepticism over the chances of success, less over the strategic gains from success.

  • Patrick (November 11, 2017 at 10:31 am), I have certainly read serious historical analysis arguing that the naval attack was called off at the very moment when it was nearing success. I have also read serious analysis that praises Kemal’s skill in winning a victory where defeat was entirely possible.

    If we suppose British victory, the question “So what?” is complex. Do (could?) the Germans counter-attack sufficiently to get the naval passage under bombardment – they would surely have thought about trying to retrieve their ally’s defeat? Would that block it if they did (it achieved little in the Channel in WWII)? How much war material could anyway have been shipped? Were the political tensions that overthrew the Tsar too strong anyway for more logistic support to have prevented the first revolution. Would better access have meant a British force (which could have been effective even if very small) was sent to help Kerensky and prevent Lenin?

    I’d say it is easy to paint a possible non-communist future flowing from a Gallipoli victory, but hard to quantify its likelihood even granted that a Gallipoli victory happens.

    A wildcard is whether a better supplied and so stronger(-looking?) Russia in 1915 tips Germany’s strategy in 1916 from west to east – no Verdun but instead the late-1916/early-1917 effort against Russia being made a year earlier?

  • Paul Marks

    “I am not aware of any serious military historian who thinks the capture of Constantinople was either possible in 1915 or would have made any difference” – or words to that effect.

    There is no polite response to words like that Patrick – and we are supposed to be polite today (even more than other days).

    So I will simply point out the basic facts. Capturing Constantinople in 1915 and linking up with the Russians was perfectly possible and would have made a huge difference.

    I will also state, and politely, that having read your words I now have no respect for you Sir.

  • Patrick Crozier

    I am still not aware of any serious military historian who thinks the capture of Constantinople was possible.

  • John K


    I believe the theory was that the arrival of a fleet of British and French battleships off Constantinople would have caused any will to fight to crumble, and led to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. I do not think that any sort of D-Day type amphibious operation was planned to take Constantinople, the mere presence of the big gun battleships, and the threat they posed, would have been enough.

    I suppose you might say that that is a good “what if”.

  • Mr Ed

    “I am not aware of any serious military historian who thinks..’

    So f*cking what? Why should anyone care what you are aware of? So f*cking what if you can’t or won’t do research? Why do you bother tell us what you don’t know without saying what you do know? We don’t have enough time in our short lives to be told what you don’t know, so why do you bother telling us?

    Why do you smuggle in an appeal to unnamed ‘authority’ in any debate? What is a ‘serious’ historian? What is an ‘unserious’ historian? How do you tell the difference? Is it like the stoichiometry of the combustion of hydrogen in an excess of oxygen, or not?

    Either sit on the pot and sh*t or get off it. I have seen that sort of phrase far too often from you. It gives me the impression that you don’t know what you are talking about, and rather than disagree or confront the possibility that you might not be right, or that there might be some uncertainty, you hide behind bullshit.

    If you are ever called to give evidence in Court in a case that matters to you, ffs smarten up.

  • Rich Rostrom

    I note that a Colonel Polkovnikoff is mentioned in the first report. “Polkovnik” is Russian for “colonel”, so he was “Colonel Colonel-off”. Yeah, I’m easily amused.

  • Rich Rostrom

    I note that the second report claims near-success for the Russian summer offensive before it was undone by Bolshevik backstabbing. I think this was mistaken. The “Kerensky offensive” never went much of anywhere, and the armies were already dissolving.