By Batiushka for The Saker Blog
The First and Second Incarnations of Russia
The Russian Lands existed for well over a thousand years before 2022 and took on many highly significant political and geographical forms. These could be described at another time; here we do not have space. However, in the last 300 years, between 1721 and 24 February 2022, they had known only two incarnations: The Russian Empire (1721-1917), and the Soviet Union with the Post-Soviet Russian Federation (1917-2022). The USSR and its totalitarian faults are fairly well known in the West, but even here the West still refuses to believe in the many ‘Soviet’ social virtues, its free medicine, education and culture, which were all inherited from the Empire. The West has blinded itself with its own anti-Russian (disguised as anti-Communist) propaganda. The continuation of a weakened USSR in the Post-Soviet Federation was initially loved by the West, as it was its own creation. Indeed, in many respects the post-Soviet Federation appeared to have adopted the worst of the West and rejected the best of the Soviet Union. By reaction, some suggested that the Federation should return to the USSR. That was never on the agenda. That was an experiment that had failed. On the other hand, the idea that the Federation would become just another Western chimpanzee like Japan was never going to happen either. The Russian Lands have their own identity, their own civilisation.
On the other hand, the Russian Empire is virtually unknown in the West, as the West still believes its own ignorance and lies about it. After all it was the West which destroyed it, with the help of internal traitors and decadent aristocrats, who cruelly exploited the poor and so guaranteed the fall of the Empire. Unsurprisingly, many of these traitors soon afterwards emigrated to the West, given the disaster that they had created in Russia with Western backing. We will therefore spend some time below disillusioning those who still believe in the racist Western/Soviet propaganda stereotypes of ‘tyrannical Asiatic autocracy’, ‘backward obscurantism’, which kept its people in a state of poverty and ignorance. The condescending West said: ‘If only they had been like us clever Western people, all would have been well’. We will look at these realities (1) firstly because they are so little known and many still actually believe in the myths, and secondly because the positive aspects of the pre-Revolutionary Empire are at the heart of the USSR and will also be at the heart of today’s Third Incarnation (see further). Below we look at the real Russian Empire.
In the 20 years before 1917 the population of the Empire increased by 62 million, some 50%. It was a time when industrialisation and modernisation accelerated very sharply. National income and productivity increased at a rate unrivalled anywhere else in the world and the budget increased threefold. Personal taxation in the Russian Empire was half the level of that in France and Germany and a quarter of that in Great Britain.
Average earnings were higher than those in any Western European country, less only than those in the USA. Prices were among the lowest in the world and inflation and unemployment were practically non-existent. Thanks to the monetary reform that the Tsar personally insisted on carrying out in 1897, the rouble was guaranteed by gold. The Empire had the largest gold reserves in the world and the Russian gold rouble remains one of the safest investments in the world.
Between 1890 and 1913 GNP increased fourfold. There was a fourfold increase in the extraction of coal and the production of cast iron, and a fivefold increase in that of copper. Between 1911 and 1914 investment in engineering increased by 80% and electrification had begun in many cities. In 1901 the USA extracted 9.9 million tons of oil, Russia 12.1 million tons. Between 1908 and 1913 productivity surpassed that of the USA, Great Britain and Germany. The Empire was the biggest exporter of textiles and one of the biggest of metals and engineering. Russia was on course to becoming the leading world economy by 1950, surpassing both Europe and the USA.
Infrastructure and Agriculture
The Trans-Siberian Railway was completed at the insistence of the last Tsar despite opposition. In 20 years the length of railways and telegraph networks doubled, indeed, the rate of railway construction was one of the highest in the world, the later Soviet rate being a mere fraction of it. Its locomotives were among the best in the world. This was why armoured trains appeared in Russia. The largest fleet of river ships in the world doubled in tonnage during that period. The plane industry was on a par with that of the American.
The car industry was in a similar situation to the German, Russian cars winning races at rallies in Monte Carlo and San Sebastian. Indeed, Mercedes and Daimler engines were invented by the Russian engineer Boris Lutskoy. Pre-Revolutionary Russia also invented: the wireless telegraph, the helicopter, the television, cine-news, the tramway, hydroelectric power stations, the electric plough, the submarine, the parachute, the radio, the electron microscope, the powder fire extinguisher, the astronomical clock, the seismograph, the electric omnibus, the flying boat, the icebreaker, the motorcycle, the airship and double-decker railway carriages.
Thanks to the Agrarian Reform, by 1914 100% of usable land in Asian Russia and 90% in European Russia belonged to the people. The Empire was the biggest exporter of cereals, flax, eggs, milk, butter, meat and sugar in the world. The wheat harvest was one third larger than that of the USA, Canada and Argentina combined. Cereal production doubled during the reign and the number of cattle increased by 60%. The Empire was also first in the world for the numbers of horses, cows, sheep and one of the biggest for the numbers of pigs and goats.
Social Justice, Health and Education
From June 1903 all employers in the Russian Empire were obliged to pay benefit and pension to all employees and their families who had suffered an accident. This amounted to between 50% and 66% of their salary. Trade Unions were formed in 1906 and from June 1912 compulsory health insurance at work was introduced to cover illness or accident. Social insurance legislation was introduced before other European countries and the USA. The US President William Taft declared that: ‘Your Emperor has created such perfect labour legislation which no democratic state can boast of’.
In 1898 the Empire introduced a universal medical welfare system that cost the tiny sum of one rouble per year. The Swiss hygienist Friedrich Erismann praised this system as ‘the greatest achievement in the world in the field of social medicine’. Russia was third in the world for the number of its doctors. The Tsar personally insisted on introducing economic reforms and measures against alcohol abuse, often in spite of the Duma. Alcohol consumption per head was one of the lowest in the world and the lowest in Europe outside Norway. In 1913 the number of mentally ill was 187 in every 100,000, compared to 5,598 per 100,000 in the Russian Federation in 2013. The number of suicides in the Empire was 4.4 per 100,000. In the Russian Federation in 2012 it was 19.5 and 12.1 in the USA.
Compulsory primary education was introduced in 1908, over a generation later than in the West. However, by 1916 literacy in the Empire had already reached 85%. By 1914 there were 150,000 students studying at university institutions. In terms of numbers of students the Russian Empire was joint third in the world with Great Britain. Another 300 million roubles was spent in 1913 on country schools, a budget up from 70 million in 1894. In less than 20 years the education budget rose by 628%. By 1913 there were 130,000 schools in the Empire with 6 million pupils. All education, primary, secondary and tertiary, was free.
The Internal Situation
The pogroms of the late nineteenth century and very early twentieth century, basically race riots, led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, about half of them Non-Jews and about half of them Jews. Similar to the Catholic-Protestant race riots in Northern Ireland in the late 20th century, some were started by one side, others by the other. There is no recorded instance of them being encouraged by the State, which built many large synagogues for the Jewish population. None of the pogroms occurred in Russia, but only in what are now Lithuania, Poland, the west of the Ukraine and Moldova. Many Jews lived there because they had been chased out of Western Europe by Anti-Semitism centuries earlier. Sadly, Western propaganda on this subject is still widely believed in the West. It is notable that where the race riots took place were the same places as where the Nazis received help from the local population when they invaded from 1941 onwards.
Another piece of Western/Soviet mythology is the ‘Bloody Sunday’ march in 1905. In this event it was revolutionaries who opened fire and troops defended themselves. There were 130 victims – not 5,000, as invented by Western propaganda. All victims were given immediate medical care. The Tsar was not even in the city at the time. When he learned of it, horrified, he sacked the officials who should have been in charge and at once gave each family that had suffered the enormous sum of 50,000 roubles from his personal money.
Crime was lower than in Western Europe and the USA. In 1908 56 people per 100,000 were imprisoned. In the Soviet Union in 1949 the figure was 1,537 per 100,000 and in the Russian Federation in 2011, 555, with 724 per 100,000 in the USA in the same year. There was a free press and freedom of speech, unlike in the West where strict ‘editorial policies’ (= censorship) were pursued. The Tsar never rejected a single petition for pardon. Fewer death penalties were carried out during his whole reign than in any single day in the Soviet Union until the death of Stalin.
The Hague International Tribunal of Justice, suggested in 1898 to prevent wars, but derided by other European leaders, was the personal brainchild of Tsar Nicholas. If it had been implemented as he had wanted, there would never have been any First World War, let alone later wars. Thus, those who had derided it, notably the British and the Germans, signed their own death warrants.
When in February 1904 Japan, urged on, financed and armed to the teeth by the geopolitical imperialists of Great Britain and the USA, treacherously attacked the small and poorly-armed Russian Navy without first declaring war (as it later did at Pearl Harbour), it only took the non-militaristic Russian Empire eighteen months to recover. However, instead of continuing the war and crushing the by then bankrupt Japan militarily, Russia entered peace negotiations, but imposed such terms at the talks in the USA that Japan, forced to agree to them, went into mourning.
During the Great Patriotic War (as the First World War was then known) the Tsar constantly visited the Front. After less than a year, in 1915, given the incompetence of the former supreme commander, his arrogant and foul-mouthed uncle, he took on supreme command, against the advice of all, showing his strength of will. Russia began winning the greatest victories of the War, advancing huge distances and taking huge numbers of prisoners, for example the Tsar Nicholas Offensive, euphemistically known in the West as the ‘Brusilov Offensive’. This was undreamed of by the jealous Western Allies, who were bogged down in immobile and bloody trench warfare, where millions were dying. On the Russian Front, facing far more enemy troops, deaths amounted to fewer than 700,000.
The Armed Forces
In 1914 the Russian Empire was able to 2,000 engineers to help the USA at its request to set up a heavy armaments industry. The Russian Air Force, founded in 1910, was by 1917 the largest in the world, with 700 planes and by 1917 the Russian Navy, reformed and modernised after the dreadnought-armed Japan’s victories, was one of the strongest in the world. Had it not been for the treason of the Allies, of most of the aristocracy and many in the middle class, historians consider that Russia would have occupied Vienna and Berlin in 1917, thus ending the murderous war at least a year early and saving millions of lives. Over 95% of the 2,417,000 captured enemy soldiers returned home safely after the War.
Only 39% of males aged between 15-49 were mobilised in the Russian Empire, as against 81% in Germany, 79% in France, 74% in Austro-Hungary, 72% in Italy and 50% in Great Britain. Per 100,000 of its population, the Empire lost 11 people, as against 34 in France, 31 in Germany, 18 in Austria and 16 in Great Britain. (Reported very high Russian losses are propaganda myths of the anti-Russian West). The military reform was creating one of the strongest and best-equipped armies in the world, which would have been the best by 1917 if Germany had not started the First World War. It was the officers trained in the Imperial Army who in their forties and fifties won the Second World War.
Church Affairs and Culture
By 1913 the Russian Orthodox Church had 67,000 churches and 1,000 monasteries. It had great influence in the Holy Land, Asia and seventeen Russian churches had been built in Western Europe. The Tsar personally paid for the building of St Nicholas Cathedral in New York and ensured that the number of bishops in North America went from one to three. In 1916 there were plans to make sure that every Western capital would have a church and that the service-books of the Church would be translated into all the main Western languages.
Russian culture went through a period known as the Silver Age, with developments in science, philosophy, art, architecture, music and literature. The French writer Paul Valery stated that Russian culture at the beginning of the 20th century was ‘one of the wonders of the world’. Two of the five founders of Hollywood came from Russia. Chanel No 5 was invented by the Russian émigré Verigin.
The Third Incarnation
So much for the little-known past. Of course, there were many iniquities in the Russian Empire. Otherwise, it would not have fallen. The corruption of the parasitic aristocratic class (oligarchs) and the neglect of the working poor were too great. The gap was too large and the Tsar’s move to social justice did not go fast enough to keep pace with the challenges of rapid industrialisation. However, the positive aspects of the Empire and its huge advances and industrialisation, were retained by the Soviet Union. Despite the huge step backward wrought by the Civil War, Bolshevik persecution and artificial famines, by 1930 the USSR was back where Russia had been in 1916. Only in the last generation since the fall of the Soviet Union have those positive aspects been threatened. However, we will talk no more of the past, but of the future, of Russia’s Third Incarnation, of post-24 February 2022 Russia, the New Russia. This Incarnation has realised that it must keep the best of all previous Incarnations in order to survive and to move forward.
We are able to speak of this now only since the campaign of liberation of the Ukraine began on 24 February. Initially, this was launched to free only the Donbass and prevent the planned NATO-sponsored attack on it, set for early March 2022. This liberation campaign has been so successful that it has had to be extended. It seems certain now that all of Novorossiya (the east and south of the Ukraine) will be liberated, enabling Transdnestria to join the Russian Federation. However, given the continued aggression of the rest of the Ukraine and NATO threats from elsewhere, Russian military success may have to be extended.
Until the whole of the Ukraine is demilitarised, and it is continually being remilitarised by the West, the liberation cannot stop. Moreover, with potential threats from NATO-armed Poland and Lithuania towards Kaliningrad and from Romania towards Moldova, from arms shipments from Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Lands and the Baltic States, especially from the US puppet-government in Lithuania, with threats from Sweden and Finland to join NATO, where will it stop? The West has to be freed from Nazism/woke liberalism (it is the same thing. As they say: there is nothing so intolerant as liberalism). True, Germany, France and Italy, their economies crippled by US-imposed, anti-Russian sanctions, are showing reason. This is unlike the laughable bluster coming from the militarily feeble Johnson-regime in the UK, which may well be toppled by popular internal discontent and a wave of strikes.
The Global Implications of the Third Incarnation of Russia
However, it is the economic aspect, with its international dedollarisation, of the Third Incarnation of Russia which is truly world-changing. In the light of the speech of Vladimir Putin at the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum of June 2022, we can say that Russia is returning to its historic path. It wants to leave aside the errors of the past, become a sovereign nation again and no longer be a Western colony. This is unlike the EU, which is clearly just a US vassal, both economically and politically. The future world order will be formed only by strong sovereign states, independent of the dollar and the massive debts of Western countries. These have been caused by their inflationary printing of money that is not based on real commodities such as cereals, oil, gas, minerals, metals, rare earth elements, fertilisers, timber, manufactured goods and gold.
The break with the West and the ‘obsolete geopolitical illusions’ of its elite’s superiority complex, essentially a form of Nazism, is irreversible. Russia will invest in internal economic development in microeconomic and macroeconomic terms, ensuring ‘technological sovereignty’ (which means for instance that Russia already has unique hypersonic missiles), encouraging free enterprise against bureaucracy, improving infrastructure, but also ensuring social justice, fighting against poverty and supporting the family, encouraging far more ‘families to have two, three or more children’. The ideal of social conservatism together with social justice is what is intended. Russia will also help nations in Africa and the Middle East to avoid Western-imposed famine. True, this is an ambitious programme for the future, but this Third Incarnation of Russia is beginning now.
1. As the definitive statistical source, compiled by my friend A. A. Borisiuk, see The History of Russia Which They Ordered to be Forgotten, Veche, 2018. This for the first time conveniently collates all Pre-Revolutionary, Soviet and Emigré Statistics (in Russian).