Monday, July 15, 2013

I'm thinking about the White Army

And about the White Movement in Russia between 1917 and 1922, in opposition to the Bolshevik Reds.

a White Army battalion flag

Most Whites were anti-Semitic, desiring to unify Russia according to its "true" essential soul. Many were fervent Tsarists. Some were constitutionalists. A few apolitical. For the most part, an autocratic bent of mind shaped the White perspective. Yet there was no overarching, controlling ideology. It was an amalgam. Cossacks and conflicts, Denikins and divisions.  

I have this cinematographic image in my head of Whites on horses charging across some wide vista. Swords and aristocratic conviction amid dust clouds and defeat.

The word "surreal" is overused. I use it too much. But since Surrealism was in the very air elsewhere, maybe it's okay if I think something of that quality settled upon Russia during this time.

The Bolshevik leaders were a strange, unnerving lot. The Whites perhaps more so, ensconced as they were in visions of the past and nervous glances toward the future. The times they were a-changin', but those White guys wanted to yank tight on the reins. Conservatism always goes around with a musty cloud over its head. Tradition and nostalgia are fine as inspirations for music but maybe not so much as the structure for governing a desperate population.  

I have another image in my head. On some estate or in some fine dacha, old mustachioed generals debate strategy between weeping bouts of melancholy. Off in the corner and sitting at a little round table in the shadows, the second cousin of an attache is thinking: "Only a poet perceives the absurdity of kings as well as Caesar within the slave."

So...what if the White Army and Movement had won? What if the cruel Stalin had not risen to power? I have no idea. But it's "surreal" enough to bring a pleasant and idle pondering. About what Russia might be like today if those White guys had shoved those Red guys out of the way.

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