Posted by: ritagone | February 23, 2011

A People’s Tragedy

Funny how reading a book about the Russian Revolution — which took place almost 100 years ago — can clarify in your mind some things about what’s going on in the world today.

I’ve shared with you in weeks’ past that I’ve been reading for several weeks now a tome written by Russian expert Orlando Figes called “A People’s Tragedy,” an 800 + page book which starts in the 1890’s while the tsar was still reigning and goes through Lenin’s death right up to when Stalin took power.  The book is powerful and well researched because in the late 1990’s archives were opened in St. Petersburg and Moscow that had been closed previously to the West, so Figes was able to retrieve information that had been unavailable about this time period before his particular book came out.

What struck me with such power was the reality that in the beginning of the book you had the tsar – the last ruling monarch of Russia – Nicholas II, who could easily at several points in the late 19th and early 20th century avoided the Revolution had he behaved with some degree of intelligence and compassion toward his people, particularly the peasants, who suffered greatly under his regime. Instead, he seemed to make every decision he could to drive the soldiers,workers and the peasants farther and farther away from accepting the monarchy and straight into the arms of the Revolution.

But the Revolution wasn’t black and white either.  Instead, it became White versus Red, factions fighting one another for power.  It was so confusing to try to understand which group stood for what that I was constantly referring to the glossary in the back which described who was who in this particularly complex period of Russian history.  But one name kept surfacing: Lenin’s.  Eventually that thin little man with the beady eyes and steady stare grew to such power and notoriety that his enemies were either murdered, imprisoned, or exiled to foreign countries.  You didn’t hang around St. Petersburg or Moscow for long if you disagreed with Comrade Lenin.

At first the peasants and the soldiers and the workers thought that doing away with the tsar meant a new life for them, a life of stability with food on the table, security and heat in their homes. But alas, Lenin and his henchmen cared about one thing only: power.  Everything they did was in to increase their own power, and they didn’t care who they had to step on to attain it.  So the “little guy” wound up in the same dire straights as he was under the tsar.  (It’s always the little guy who suffers in revolutions, isn’t it?)  The biggest difference was that God had been removed from society, as if God were to blame for what had gone on before, and by removing Him, life would be different, better, more productive, safer.

But it was none of those things, because man cannot make systems of government that work without God.  A godless society is fraught with dangers everywhere, because sin is allowed to run rampant.  Nothing restrains human nature, as Paul told us in the book of Romans, and corrupted and sinful human nature is not a pretty thing.

So as in the early 1920’s Lenin’s health failed and Russia was decades behind Europe in its development because of the First World War and the devastating toll that war had taken, because of the constant crop failures, because of government officials who cared more about themselves and their own pocketbooks than nurturing their country, Stalin’s rise to power ends Figes’ book.

And we all know that – as awful as Lenin’s reign of terror was – it was a cakewalk compared to Stalin’s, who initiated pogroms and secret police and bloodshed the likes of which Russia is still reeling from.

Yes, remove God from the picture of a society and Russia is the posterchild of what you get.

Poverty, upheaval, tyranny, slaughter, everything bad that man can inflict on his fellow man.

And today, as we watch the news unfurl around the world of nations trying to overcome dictators and savagery and poverty all over again, I’m reminded that once more, without God, those nations will just move from one despot to another, from one form of tyranny to another, and from one type of despondency to another.

Because once again – as in Russia almost 100 decades ago – we’re seeing that if you remove God from the equation in any political situation, nothing else matters.  No permanent good will come of any of it.

And truly, that’s why Christian Associates is doing what we’re doing: bringing Jesus Christ into society on the most basic levels.  Changing lives one person at a time so that those people can go out and change society as a whole.

Revolution of a different sort.


Regards,  Rita


  1. How true this is. There was and is already a classless society…if we all followed the words of Jesus……..

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