The Mathematics of Revolution

At the beginning of World War I, Russia had plenty of food, but just about enough railroad transport to make it available throughout the empire, to Petrograd, for example, their capital, renamed from the German form of the name, St. Petersburg.

At the beginning of World War I, according to Robert K. Massie, Russia had 20,071 locomotives and 539.549 freight cars and this barely provided for the basic needs of the population. By early 1917, they had 9,021 locomotives and 174,346 freight cars. Then, thanks to 35-below weather, the boilers burst on 1,200 locomotives burst and 57,000 freight cars became inacessible.

And then there were the six million men at the front, who had to be supplied and the coal that had to be brought from central Russia that the Russians used to get from Cardiff.

Rasputin had clearly foreseen this and warned the emperor and the empress about it. But if you’re the rulers of an empire, should you really need a holy man to remind you to take care of the food supply?

When the revolution took place, the lefty groups were entirely unprepared. Lenin, in Zurich, was giving up. He wrote that he didn’t expect to see the coming revolution in his lifetime.

But when there was no bread, the women began to march through the streets, and bakeries were broken into,

Then the soldiers were ordered into the streets to shoot down the populace, but they refused. I think the world ought to give credit to a sergeant name Kirpichnikov of the Volinsky Regiment who shot a captain who had struck and insulted him the day before when the trooops had refused to fire on the crowd.

Soon after, the Volinsky Regiment took to the street, with their marching band at the head of the procession, and red flags attached to their bayonets. All the soldiers in Petrograd follwed them.

If you’re an absolute monarch and you can’t get soldiers to shoot down their fellow citizens in the street, you’re in a darn embarassing situation. The tsar sent regiments from the front to restore order, but their trains were surrounded before they even stopped and they all joined the revolution.

Then the tsar agreed to do all the things he refused to do before, and it was way too late. A week before he could have kept his crown, but now the Palace of Justice, and all the police stations, were in flames.

Right up to the end, his minister of the interior, Protopopov, kept him thinking that everything was just fine. He tried to rescind the legislative immunity of Fedor Kerensky so he could arrest and kill Kerensky.

One day later he was begging Kerensky for his life — and Kerensky spared him!

Here’s what a feeb Protopopov was — after Rasputin’s murder, he claimed to have seen visions of Rasputin in the night, hoping to hoodwink the empress, as Rasputin had done.

Although she has to go down in history as the most gullible person who ever lived, she wasn’t buying any of Protopopov’s nonsense, even when he fell on his knees and cried, “Excellency! I see Christ behind you!”

I guess somewhere, somehow, there’s a limit to anyone’s credibility. It’s never anything I want to count on, though.

You have to give Nicholas and Alexandra credit for uniting public opinion in Russia. Everyone agreed they had to go, including every political party and all their relatives, including Nicholas’ mother, and especially the cousins who were next in line.

And the people hated the empress as well, so when the food supply was cut off, things all fell into place. It certainly wasn’t something planned by revolutionaries. It was simply a breakdown of government. The certain outcome of a mathematical equation.

Still, let’s drink to Sergeant Kirpichnikov. It’s he who deserves our thanks.