lundi 26 janvier 2009

On executions

Liberals and those further to their left, are in something of a dilemma with regards to the death penalty. One is fundamentally opposed to it in the here and now, but its hold loosens upon thinking about Hitler or the last Tsar of Russia, say. Orland Figes writes in his worthy History of the Russian People' that the Bolshevik execution of the Romanov was a 'barabric crime'. This seems wide of the mark and a curious lapse for a historian who are meant to stay aloof from such crude moralism. One can construe, though, that the crime the Bolsheviks are accused of by these bourgeois historians here, is the one of lesse majesté - the 'topsy turvy' idea that the lower orders should topple and fall upon their masters. Kings, Tsars and dictators can kill hundreds of thousands and, as long as they are useful allies, they will remain untouched by this kind of condemnation. But a group of armed professional revolutionaries withdraw their country from a hellish pointless war, then dither over what to do with one of the principal authors of the conflict then shoot the lot of them in a messy farce to keep them from rallying civil war enemies - and somehow it is a crime.
Personally I would have put them all in a room the day after the Bolshevik tooke over, chucked in a few grenades and then smoked a fat cigar. If the Bolsheviks hadn't been so soft, Stalin might never have got to were he is today.