The events of the last days in the United States on the one hand give a more clear idea of the beginning of the Russian revolution and on the other hand give a better understanding of the events associated with George Floyd. The ground for this is the fact that despite all the differences between the history of Russia and America they have a lot in common. One of these common historical features is the existence in their history of the institution of slavery, which did not exist in European countries at that time. Here is how A. Kersnovsky described Russian serfdom:
«We use the term "slavery" as the most accurate and truthful way to convey the meaning of "serfdom" - a term too vague, as if "veiling" reality and even giving grounds for some researchers to compare the Russian "serfdom" with the European "serfdom" and even try to look for some analogy with it ("we, they say, serfdom was abolished only in 1861, but in a number of German lands it existed before 1848," etc.). The comparison is unthinkable. Vassal European peasants belonged to the estate, Russian serfs were the personal property of the landowner. European serfdom-a remnant of feudalism-obliged the peasant to work for his "Lord" a certain number of days a year as a duty. Outside of this duty, he was completely free in his activities and actions, his person, family and home were inviolable… The Russian serf, on the contrary, was a slave in the full sense of the term… Russian slavery can only be compared with the American, only there were oppressed Negroes and here the same tribesmen».
Russian serfs were sold wholesale and retail in the markets, and owner was not limited by anything in any way in punishment them, often very cruel. The physical punishment of the peasants was so widespread that were considered commonplace.
The abolition of serfdom in Russia in 1861 occurred almost simultaneously with the abolition of slavery in the United States in 1862-1865, and just as in the United States, this liberation was replaced not by freedom and equal rights for former slaves, but by their segregation. The only difference was that in the United States, segregation was racial, while in Russia it was social.
«Why hide the fact that we all know, - wrote L. Tolstoy, - that there is a gap between us gentlemen and muzhiks? There are gentlemen and muzhiks - «black» people. Some are respected others are despised and there is no connection between them… Some are allowed into a clean place and go in the cathedrals, the other is not allowed and push into the neck; some were whipped, others don't know. These are two different castes… This is confirmed by the whole of Russian life, all that is constantly happening throughout Russia».
«Social segregation» consisted primarily in suppressing the economic, intellectual, and civic development of the peasants:
The source of economic segregation was the redistribution of the main tax burden on peasants. «Our taxes ... have reached a high degree of tension and lay their main burden, - said one of the members of the Council of the Ministry of Finance in 1900, - on the lower classes of the population». «In Russia, it is a rule, - F. Engels confirmed in 1874, - that the upper classes are almost exempt from taxes, and the peasant pays almost everything». «Taxes, - confirmed in 1905, a prominent economist I. Ozerov - from year to year sucked out of the peasant population a huge part of its income, giving in return almost nothing to improve culture, to increase the productivity of people's labor. The economy was falling, and deficits were covered only by chronic starvation».
The suppression of mental development of the peasants was based on restricting access to education and preserving peasant ignorance and illiteracy. The reason for this, N. Turgenev pointed out, was the fear of the ruling classes that "having received an education, they (the peasants) will feel the injustice of their position even more keenly! Will this shake the security of the state? For slaves having received an education are unlikely to want to continue to be slaves!»
The suppression of civil development was primarily due to the fact, as noted by the historian A. Graziosi that the state sought to «isolate or segregate the Russian peasantry, both from civil society and from the political core... in order to guarantee political stability».
Russian peasantry was politically, economically, and mentally segregated even more than the North American blacks. For example, at the end of the XIX century, the share of Russian peasants who could read and write was almost 3 times less than that of American blacks.
And this "social segregation" was subject to more than 80% of the population of Russia, for comparison, in the United States the share of blacks at the time of the abolition of slavery was only about 10% of the country's population.
Slavery and segregation were caused by objective causes and were a tragic but unavoidable back side to the development of society in its early stages of maturation. However, as civilization developed, slavery and segregation became more and more remnants of the past that hindered the development of society, and came into increasingly irreconcilable conflict with its humanitarian development.
In Russia, the first blow to social segregation was the revolution of 1905, which in its essence had the psychology of serf riot. During this period, destructive instincts dominated constructive ideas. At that time, a huge variety of different social trends emerged: anarchist, maximalist, peasant, traditional, national (almost every nationality put forward its own), western, evolutionary, revolutionary, socialist, democrat, marxist, liberal, conservative... Everyone spoke on behalf of the nation but at the same time irreconcilably defended the interests of only own class, own social group.
Finally, the social foundations of segregation in Russia were overcome as a result of the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917, which subordinated the anarchic and destructive instincts of peasant riot to the constructive ideas of the new Reformation. This does not mean that Russian Revolution is an absolute example here, although it did contribute to the development of human civilization in the twentieth century. Despite the similarity of features, each country has its own objective conditions of existence and therefore has its own way of development. Great revolutions only set General landmark for development.
In last years as well as at the beginning of the twentieth century it has become more and more obvious that the former forces that drove the development of humanity have changed and exhausted, they no longer meet the requirements of life, and mankind needs to find a way out into a New world in order to get a chance for further existence and development.
* * * * *
All quotes are taken from the author's book "Capital of the Russian Empire. Political economy of Russian civilization", where all references to primary sources are indicated. The book of the author "Political Economy of the Russian Revolution" is devoted to the Russian Reformation.
The translation of this article was made using translate.yandex.ru