Were the Romanovs worse than the government that replaced them? Lenin/Stalin

Sometimes I wonder if Russia would have been better off if the revolution never happened.

Well, without the Soviets, there is no guarantee the Allies win WWII. It’s hard to say in a counterfactual whether a Tsarist Russia would have joined the Allies and even if they had, would have they have established the kind of heavy industry base (forged by Stalin at vast and horrible cost in lives) that helped defeat the Nazis?

In theory, there is a third alternative - what if the initial Russian Revolution had held instead of the October Revolution? A “democratic” Russia instead of a Soviet Union might have been a big net positive but that’s one of those unknowable deals.

WWII aside, I sometimes wonder if Russia would have been a better place for its citizens and the world in general. Or maybe they’d still have a serf and peasant culture and be destitute beyond belief.

I have read a biography of Stalin and it is hard to believe that the Romanov’s could have been worse. Stalin was a monster.

I mean, Stalin killed millions and millions of people, so on its face at least, yeah, the soviets were super bad.

That’s an ugly contest, really. The Romanovs presided over a system that also probably killed millions.

The problem with the question IMO is the difficulty of imagining that nothing happened to the Romanov regime. The February Revolution doesn’t happen, because why? Repressed by Czarist forces? Or the Czar makes some kind of major concession? Then what? Russian troops keep fighting WWI rather than packing it in? Food for the starving millions magically materializes?

Some kind of massive political realignment seems to have been inevitable.

I will give you a dollar to take that apostrophe out of the thread title.

Eh. Six of one, half dozen of the other. If anything, Putin’s recent Ukrainian atrocities underlines how much continuity there has been between the different forms of Russian imperialism throughout the centuries.

The most interesting speculation to me is what if the February Revolution happened but the October Revolution did not? But of course there are reasons the Feb Rev did not stay in power, which are beyond my vague historical recall at this point.

Basically, inability to immediately solve the deeply-entrenched problems that sparked the revolution in the first place. They never had a chance what with widespread famine, poverty and a world war that had maybe killed / wounded 6 million Russians. On top of that, they were trying to share power with the Bolsheviks, a political necessity they couldn’t evade.

Yes, I think this is right. I don’t know why Russia seems doomed to suffer despotic rulers, but they do seem to be so doomed.

Well, all the other empires/monarchies were either toppled, or on their way to becoming constitutional monarchies with figurehead sovereigns by that point pretty much. So Russia was very unlikely to continue along with the sort of government it had under the Tsars.

In any event, it is almost moot because Russia did have a revolution and the Bolsheviks came out on top. It’s really not like some specific thing happened that in its absence would have meant the more democratic types took over. It is probably more accurate to look at the rise of Lenin and his ilk as by far the most likely of the scenarios in play at the time.

Wasn’t the famine largely caused by Soviets fucking up their agriculture through forced collectivization and mismanagement?

You are thinking of the later famines consequence of collectivization, we’ll into Soviet rule. There’s also the 1920/21 famine, consequence of the revolution and civil war (basically turmoil messing up with crop management), and there were famines in 1905/1906 and 1911 too.

Famine was chronic and recurring under Nicholas. The Bolsheviks couldn’t fix it, either.

Basically a dysfunctional society for more than a century.

It was all kind of inevitable, because the Romanov regime was like 150 years past its due date, and once the peasants, workers and soldiers were angry enough, even the Bolsheviks were too tame for them. The February governments were half tsarists that wanted to keep the same system even without the Tsar and half helpless people with good intentions carried in a raft down the rough waters of History.
And then it was chaos and the only way out of chaos tends to be the meanest motherfucker killing everyone else.
What surprises me is that I see other societies sort of learning from their long term mistakes… even if it takes a couple disasters, but russians seem to be hard stuck in their ways.

Didn’t the society totally destroy the structural productivity of places like Ukraine? I recall the production numbers being like half what they were prior to the soviets taking over, even years later.

Better? :)

It’s hard to separate out though the damage from WWI and the fighting and occupation then; the Civil War; famines and disease; and government policies. Suffice it say they were all well and truly fucked no matter how you slice it.