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The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules The World

This essay is part of “(There is Nothing New) Under the Sun A monthly column of random, historical vignettes demonstrating that the more things change, the more they stay the same.


The Russian (or Julian) calendar was 13 days behind the Western (or Gregorian) calendar, and as of 2022, only some Russian Orthodox Churches and the Berber people of North Africa still use the Julian calendar; the rest of the world switched over starting in the 16th century, with Greece joining the rest of the world in 1923.

The reason I bring this up is because the adoption of the Gregorian calendar by Russia at the end of World War I and in the midst of the Bolshevik Revolution places the traditional “Birth” of the revolution with the Women’s Strike for Bread and Suffrage, which under the Julian calendar took place today, on February 23, 1917.

1917 International Women's Day march in Petrograd. Photo on Wikimedia Commons (CC 1.0 public domain)
1917 International Women’s Day march in Petrograd. Photo on Wikimedia Commons (CC 1.0 public domain)

In response to food shortages, massive incompetence leading to huge losses on the war front, and the general observation that the people were living in deplorable conditions while the aristocracy were eating caviar and sipping champagne out of golden slippers, the ember of rebellion was fanned to a flame. Warned by those in charge not to make a scene and attract the attention of the authorities, women workers from a St. Petersburg textile factory took to the streets anyway, and other women workers joined them. The protests spread to Moscow, and across Russia, which is remarkable because public protests were unheard of at that time (and this); one risked one’s life engaging in such defiance.

The Women’s Strike For Bread and Sufferage

Demanding peace, food and land, the Women’s Strike for Bread and Suffrage opened the floodgates and a mere 10 days later, Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate his throne as well as any claims for his hemophiliac son and heir Alexei. Nicholas’ brother Michael demurred, a provisional government was formed, and the rest is history.

Tragically and ironically, the aims of the revolution shortly devolved into those in charge granting themselves the perks of those they overthrew (“The King is Dead. Long Live the King!”).

Is History Repeating Itself?

Like the Romanovs, Vladimir Putin is actively consigning himself to the dustbin of history. He is every inch the emperor, with all of the advantages and trappings accruing thereto. A monstrous Socialist Tsar, retreating to his 190,420 square foot palace overlooking the Black Sea, complete with ice rink, bowling alley, hookah lounge, and arboretum.  He has his own lane through the city traffic of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and no one is permitted in that lane other than Putin and his motorcade retinue. 

The irony of his lifestyle, in stark contrast to the mission of Communism (briefly defined by Brittanica as “a political and economic system that seeks to create a classless society in which the major means of production, such as mines and factories, are owned and controlled by the public. There is no government or private property or currency, and the wealth is divided among citizens equally…”) Putin’s position as the leader of the Communist Party would be hilarious were it not so sad for the country he leads.      

Women Workers Take Up Your Rifles Работницы, берите винтовку! Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

In review of the very worst modern-day leaders (notably all of them men), the common thread is their utter disregard for not only the success and happiness, but the very lives of their own people.

Using terrorist tactics and intimidation to control: Hitler, Mussolini, Mao Zedong, Stalin, Pol Pot, Tsar Nicholas II, King Leopold II, Kim Il-Sung, Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, and Mengistu Haile Mariam are all on the historical wall of shame, and Putin is clearly eager to join their ranks. We can only hope that the women of the world will spark the cinders to a roaring fire to — once again — demand PEACE, FOOD, AND LAND FOR EVERYONE.

Author

  • Diane Gager Hesler

    Diane Gager Hesler is a virulent history buff, writer, and elementary school educator who lives in a 100-year-old Arts & Crafts Bungalow in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her exceptional husband, her beloved cats, an herb garden, her books, and an excessively large collection of cast iron frying pans.

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