The Rothschilds and the Russian Revolution


The merchant elites who inspired and financed the republican revolution in China conspired to organize similar “regime change” in Russia. Throughout the nineteen century, the House of Rothschilds was a major source of loans for the Imperial Russia and autocratic regimes of the “Holy Alliance.” Yet the Russia's growing ambitions in the Balkans and in the Far East were prompting them to steadily shift their support to the Ottoman Empire and Japan, to counterbalance Russia's expansionist policies. The Rothschilds had also realized that the revolutionary change was inevitable and thus they decided to lend support to the socialist revolutionaries who planned to abolish Tsardom. This fateful partnership began when James Rothschild of the French House of Rothschild helped Alexander Herzen, “the father of Russian socialism”, who, with Rothschild's money, financed Proudhon's short-lived journal the Voix du Peuple (“Voice of people”).161 Herzen later moved to London and engaged in organising the International Workingmen's Association (“THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL”). Founded in 1864 in St Martins Hall in central London, its purpose was to unite various communist, labour and anarchist factions in Europe. In London, Herzen became acquainted with revolutionary circles including the likes of Marx and Bakunin. The major thesis of the communists were included in the Communist Manifesto and Marx's major work, Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (The Capital: Critique of Political Economy), of which first volume was published in 1867.

In Das Kapital Marx attempted to give an explanation of the "laws of motion" of the capitalist economic system. Marx proposed that the motivating force of capitalism was in the exploitation of labour whose unpaid work was the ultimate source of surplus value. In his view, the owner of the means of production was able to claim the right to this surplus value because he was legally protected by the ruling regime and through the property rights acquired chiefly through plunder and conquest and the activity of the merchant and "middle-man". Das Kapital of Karl Marx soon became the foundation of the socialist movement which sought to nationalise the means of production and establish the rule of the working class. Marx's close associate, Mikhail Bakunin and few anarchists saw in advance the threat of Marx's agenda in the replacement of one regime with another and they began to criticise Marxists ideology. In his Polemique contre les Juifs ("Polemic Against the Jews"), in 1871, Bakunin put his argument bluntly: “Himself a Jew, Marx has around him, in London and France, but especially in Germany, a multitude of more or less clever, intriguing, mobile, speculating Jews, such as Jews are every where: commercial or banking agents, writers, politicians, correspondents for newspapers of all shades, with one foot in the bank, the other in the socialist movement, and with their behinds sitting on the German daily press — they have taken possession of all the newspapers — and you can imagine what kind of sickening literature they produce. Now, this entire Jewish world, which forms a single profiteering sect, a people of blooksuckers, a single gluttonnous parasite, closely and intimately united not only across national borders but across all differences of political opinion — this Jewish world today stands for the most part at the disposal of Marx and at the same time at the disposal of Rothschild. I am certain that Rothschild for his part greatly values the merits of Marx, and that Marx for his part feels instinctive attraction and great respect for Rothschild. This may seem strange. What can there be in common between Communism and the large banks? Oh! The Communism of Marx seeks enormous centralization in the state, and where such exists, there must inevitably be a central state bank, and where such a bank exists, the parasitic Jewish nation, which. speculates on the work of the people, will always find a way to prevail ....”162 163

Seeing threat in Marxist ideology, Bakunin broke away from Marx and his companions and at the conference of the First International in Hague in 1872, the Marxist and anarchist split into separate organisations. Meanwhile, Marx spent the rest of his life working on manuscripts for additional volumes of Das Kapital but they remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1883. In England, his daughter Eleonor Marx propagated his father's thesis through membership in the Fabian Society, an organisation founded a year after his death, in 1884, as an offshot of the society called Fellowship of New Life. Its members included Edward Carpenter, who was an early activist for rights for homosexuals; Havellock Ellis, the co-author of the first medical textbook in English on homosexuality - Studies in the Psychology of Sex, published in 1900 - and president of Eugenics Society; and John Davidson, a playwright who suffered from clinical depression. Immediately upon its inception, the Fabian Society began attracting many prominent contemporary figures including British economist and co-founder of London School of Economics, Sidney Webb, and his wife Beatrice Webb; famous playwright George Bernard Shaw; a prolific writer Herbert George Wells; and leader of the British suffragette movement, which fought for the rights of woman to vote, Emmeline Pankhurst. Fabian Society enticed people offering equality and social justice and proposing gradual change rather than revolutionary change to achieve its objectives. To reflect this principle, the movement was named in honour of the Roman general and consul Fabius Maximus, who advocated tactics of harassment and attrition rather than head-on battles against the Carthaginian army under the renowned general Hannibal. A stained-glass window in the Beatrice Webb's House in Surrey, England – which were the headquarters of the Fabian Society - depicted Sidney Webb and George Bernard Shaw striking the Earth with hammers with the accompanying sign: “Remould it nearer to the hearts desire”. In the Fabian crest above the globe, there was a wolf in sheep's clothing. In 1900, the Fabian Society joined with the trade unions to establish the Labour Party in Britain and has remained affiliated to it ever since. From the earliest days Labour's political ideas were heavily influenced by the Fabians: Sidney Webb substantially wrote both the party's 1918 Constitution and its programme Labour and the New Social Order. The Fabian Society pamphlets first proposed the introduction of a minimum wage in 1906, the creation of the National Health Service in 1911, and the abolition of hereditary peers in 1917. These social changes were accepted by the conservative class in England in order to appease the masses and prevent social unrest. Yet it was still the the narrow elite of landowners, industrialists and merchant bankers of the City of London grouped in the Conservative Party, that were the real rulers in Britain.

The interest of the Rothschilds in the revolutionary movement in Russia had increased after the Paris House of Rothschild supported the firm of Dembo and Kagan which constructed the first oil pipeline in Baku on the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus region, in 1870s.164 In 1883, the Rothschild Bank formed Caspian and Black Sea petroleum company which rapidly became the region’s second largest oil producer along with the dynamite manufactures, the Nobels. Once the Rothschilds invested in Baku they became more interested in the deposition of the Russian Tsar and installement of government that would be more friendly to the Jews. The whole city of Baku, “with its chimnies and refineries...its grimy naphta-besprinkled streets...its shabby conglomeration of peoples, its inky harbour, its canopy of smoke”...had become by then “larger, more pungent and less inviting then ever.”165 It was the ideal recruiting ground for revolutionaries and political activists. In Russia, the revolutionary and anti-Tsar activities centred around two independently functioning groups: an antiterror faction called Cherny Peredel (Black Repartition), led by Georgy Plekhanov, and a pro-terror faction, Narodnaya Volya (People's Will). The latter's self-selecting Executive Committee included a hotheaded law student from Odessa, Andrei Zhelyabov, a member of the Russian nobility, Vera Finger, and Nikolai Morozov, who went into exile in London and wrote a pamphlet called Terrorist Struggle under supervision of Karl Marx. Ethnic Russians dominated the organization with about 14% of the group's members being of ethnic Jewish origins.166 On March 13, 1881, Narodnaya Volya carried out in St Petersburg a successful assassination on the Russian Tsar Alexander II. A member of the movement, Nikolai Rysakov, threw the first bomb under the carriage and a second member, a Pole, Ignacy Hryniewski, threw another one at the Emperor's feet, as a revenge for ruthless quashing of the January Uprising of 1863. “Alexander II must die”, wrote Hryniewski a night before assassination, “He will die, and with him, we, his enemies, his executioners, shall die too [...] How many more sacrifices will our unhappy country ask of its sons before it is liberated? (…)”.167 Tsar Alexander II's death was witnessed first-hand by his son, Alexander III and his grandson, Nicholas II, future emperors who vowed not to have the same fate befall them. Thus they employed Okhrana – the Russian internal police - to arrest protestors and uproot suspected rebel groups, imposing further suppression of personal freedoms in Russia. Because Jews constituted active element in the anti-Tsarist terrorist groups, the series of anti-Jewish pogroms and anti-Jewish legislation had taken place in Russia, which in turn triggered mass Jewish migration westward. Part of this migrating Jewish diaspora settled in Poland, usually near the industrial cities like Łódź or Warsaw, where they propagated separatism, fought against cultural assimilation and often denounced Polish patriots and intelligencia to the local authorities. Known as Litwacy they were seen as an alien and hostile element even by the local Polish Orthodox Jews.

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161 Ferguson, The House of Rothschild, p. 479 »

162 Michael Bakunin, Personliche Beziehungen zu Marx. In: Gesammelte Werke. Band 3. (Berlin 1924), p. 204-216. »

163 Lina, Under the sign of Scorpio, p. 87 »

164 Simon Schama, Two Rothschilds and the Land of Israel (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978), p. 30 »

165 Helen Rappaport, Joseph Stalin: A Biographical Companion (ABC-Clio, 1999), p. 17 »

166 Avraham Yarmolinsky, Road to Revolution: A Century of Russian Radicalism (New York: MacMillian, 1955), p. 247 »

167 Yarmolinsky, Road to Revolution, p. 276 »