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

If you find that book please remember to list it here. It would be an interesting read.

The post Soviet era Russia was pretty much just a continuation of the Soviet era though, generally with the same people running it, just instead of operating as high ranking party members, they became “corporate” oligarchs. I put corporate in quotes because ultimately they were still ultimately beholden to Putin.

There was a period of a few years, before Putin took over, where it could possibly have gone another direction, but I think the economic devastation that happened when the soviet system collapsed kind of opened the door to having an autocrat take over and fix things. And then Putin kind of just reinstated the soviet autocracy with different names for stuff.

You see a lot of the exact same issues coming up today, even prior to the war, where you had government bureaucrats faking production in order to secure meaningless propaganda wins with things like tractor manufacturing. Then with the war in Ukraine we see that their entire number has been hollowed out with the same sort of nonsense crap that dragged the Soviet system down.

One thing that’s funny, is that while we are all familiar with the issues that people attribute to “late capitalism”, I would actually argue that most of those issues stem not from capitalism, but from centralization/monopolization of power in the hands of a few corporate overlords. Capitalism only works with competition.

Autocratic systems like Soviet communism ultimately have all of the same problems, only maximized, because they are ultimately even more centralized. They replace the corporate overlords with party overlords, but the effect is exactly the same. Those people aren’t any more beholden to the population, because they have so much power that they can just oppress them. They change the specific mechanisms by which the rich and powerful achieve and preserve their power, but it’s really just the same house with a different coat of paint.

The Romanov era was an era of entrenched malevolent oligarchs and few trusted institutions; perhaps only the Army, which the oligarchs destroyed in WWI. The Soviet era was an era of entrenched malevolent oligarchs, with few trusted institutions; perhaps only the Army, which the oligarchs destroyed multiple times, finally for good in Afghanistan.The post-Soviet era is an era of entrenched malevolent oligarchs, with few trusted institutions; perhaps only the Army, which the oligarchs are destroying in Ukraine.

Seems remarkably similar. They’re just mouthing a different ideology in each iteration.

I think that’s fair, in that you have a series of bad situations, where some strongman takes over because the population is so desperate that they will turn their destiny over to them.

It has me thinking about Fukuyama’s book about the importance of institutions in state and social stability.

Honestly, I think we had it figured out for a long time, in that simply making sure that power doesn’t get centralized in the hands of too few people, tends to secure society.

Man, as a collective, is generally good… but Men, as individuals, run the gamut between saints and sinners, and it does seem that there’s some correlation between those who want all the power, and those who should never be allowed to have it. It’s not a perfect correlation, of course. We’ve seen individual leaders like Washington who, despite given the opportunity to have absolute power, voluntarily relinquished it on principle. But I think those are the exception rather than the rule.

Trotsky’s own account of the revolution is pretty good and draws parallels with the French Revolution, but it’s quite long winded and sure drags a bit focusing too much on repetitive stuff sometimes

Yep, Taiwan was small enough that Kai-Shek (who was every bit a fascist dictator) could maintain control so the excesses of corruption and brutality that ensued on the mainland didn’t continue at the same level, leading to a gradual improvement and a smooth transition to democracy once he died and ruthless pragmatists replaced him.

Basically none of this happens if the KMT somehow retain control of China. The regime is much less stable and also doesnt feel the same need for Western support.

It was a brutal fascist autocracy, by all accounts. They were just pretty much continuously at war with people who were / proved to be even worse.

I have wondered this.

I am hard pressed to think of any revolutions that overthrew the government and founded a stable democracy without a strong preexisting democratic tradition. Although they are often a precursor to later reform after the inevitable counter-revolution. I’m sure there are some examples in more recent history.

Probably the closest is the Revolutions of 1848, but they tended to result in concessions from the autocratic regimes rather than being actually successful revolutions in the traditional sense.

The people good at winning revolutions are terrible at running countries, by and large. Different skill set. The exceptions are things like the American Revolution, which really wasn’t a revolution in the same way as the French or Russian upheavals. At one level, it was more of a violent political fight between different factions of the same basic Atlantic elite over who got to control the exploitation of America. At another level, it was a continuation of existing English political traditions only with the land and freedom from feudal baggage to allow that tradition to develop fully.

As for Russia, counterfactual stuff is hard to argue, if fascinating. It’s a real question whether a constitutional monarchy was even feasible for Russia, given the lack of real traditions in that area. Once the Tsar was gone, there was a vacuum that was only filled after a winner-take-all battle royale in effect.

Side note, I think this was a huge missed opportunity for the new Star Wars series. I liked them well enough, but I really wished they could have made The Force Awakens about the struggle to rebuild from the destruction of the Empire rather than just rehashing A New Hope.

Charlie Stross’s The Merchant Princes series is a pretty interesting look at a few different options. In some ways it’s an economic and political scifi series

Indeed, the American rebels believed in every one of the institutions of the home country. They just didn’t like the particular incumbents, or how those incumbents were treating them. It wasn’t so much a revolution against a political order as a reinvention of that same order closer to home. Probably that is why it worked: it didn’t suffer from the problem of not knowing what to replace those institutions with.

That, and by having an already established permanent serfdom in chattel slavery that Merry Olde Englande lacked…

Also the American revolution was over basic economic concerns without the usual mass murder involved in causing other revolutions.