The October Revolution(s)
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and it behooves us on certain anniversaries to reflect how that innocuous path taken in the beginning led right to the sulfurous pits of fire. And no I am not referring to the recent history of demonetization and its appalling aftermath. I am jogging your memory back to a similar economic terrorism let loose on an unsuspecting population based on the noble ideals of social equity and punishing corruption.
A hundred years ago, back in 1917, there was a large country, riven with rifts between the devastatingly poverty ridden majority populace who lived hand to mouth existence as serfs and the fat cats who ruled over them by colluding with those in power, all of which was centered around a single family rule. Sounds bizarrely similar to current India and a certain congress party? No, I am talking about imperial Russia and the ruling tsar family. There was even a secret advisor who had the ear of the empress like a certain pc of the UPA government who was widely blamed for all the illogic laws affecting the poor populace and whose ill-intentioned advice was responsible for the majority of the anti-people edicts which so poisoned the serfs and peasants against the then ruling government of the tsar.
History, shows again and again that rulers who listen to the backroom boys with no ear to the ground among the people are the ones who end up with all the opprobrium and hate of the people while the backroom manipulators escape with their reputation’s untarnished to serve another set of rulers again. Meanwhile the long suffering poor and downtrodden looked out for a messiah, even if he appears to be a snake-oil specialist to all un-blinkered realists and a charismatic demagogue appeared on the horizon – someone who promised to end the single family rule and put the fat cat capitalists in jail. The October revolution happened and blood flowed all over Russia. The imperial family was decimated, those close to the tsar were hounded out of Russia and all looked rosy.
But. As a corollary to the main show of political freedom, the new rulers of Russia, Lenin and his thug, Stalin, a backroom manipulator of the party, who together ruled over the government and the party decided they needed a grand economic narrative, something to change the course of history and etch their names in gold for posterity. So despite the best advices from a host of economic experts, the two not-so-wise men of Russia decided to implement socialism in one stroke, overnight. Eliminate private property by converting it all into public property and hence destroying the ill-gotten gains of the corrupt with one surgical strike. Anyone who protested the illogicity of such drastic action and its obvious effect on the economy were labelled anti-nationals and either shot or sent into re-education camps in Siberia, something which has thankfully not happened over here.
The move to destroy all property ownership was received with acclaim by the poor and downtrodden as they were happy (vicariously) to see the rich suffer the same fate as themselves, much similar to a hundred years later when everyone was happy about their neighbors and dog queuing up outside the atm’s to receive two, two thousand rupee notes a day from the ration shop turned ATM’s. But such vicarious pleasure at the sufferings of others only offers temporary gratification and does not feed the belly. The economy took a nose dive and crash landed so badly that the starving masses instead of getting their bellies filled just had new competition for scarce resources in the form of the newly poor and desperate. These were mostly the middle class and the intellectuals who were treated with contempt and anathema by the illiterate thugs now in power and who had always harbored a secret envy of the educated middle class who had till then somehow managed to just about stay above the poverty line.
And as a corollary, the uber-rich managed to flee the country with their ill-gotten gains, courtesy the corrupt amongst the new ruling dispensation to safe havens in Great Britain aka how Vijay Mallaya and Lalit Modi fled a 100 years later. The thugs of the ruling party, local commissars who let their petty power go their heads, stifled dissent in the name of patriotism, destroyed all individual initiative in the name of progress and instituted a widespread surveillance system to root out those desperate enough to speak the truth and all this in the name of doing good to the country.
And Russia instead of getting the change they hoped for, went into the dark ages for a hundred years with countless millions dying of food shortages and official apathy while the rulers celebrated each anniversary with pomp and pageantry and self-pats on the backs for achieving equality and egalitarianism. The economic experts re-wrote fudged data numbers showing bountiful harvests even as millions were slowly starving. The newspapers , the paid media of those times, reported the obviously false data as verified news and sang paeans to the rulers and everything looked hunky-dory till it all came crashing down almost overnight and all the lies were exposed for what they were, mere self-delusion.
The October Revolution of 1917 has now been universally condemned by history as a colossal failure led by megalomaniacal rulers who brooked no dissent in their belief in their own infallibility. History has a way of surprising us when it repeats itself, first as a tragedy and subsequently as a farce. To conclude, I can only repeat the cliché that those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Unfortunately we didn’t and we did. I rest.