Tax Resistance in and around the Russian Revolution of 1905

Today, some news briefs from reporters covering the Russian Revolution of , in which tax resistance played a role. First, an excerpt from a brief dispatch from London sent on :

The peasants in the Radoni district have refused to pay the taxes and have offered armed resistance to the tax gatherers.

Next, a longer article, written calling on Russians to refuse to pay taxes and to resist conscription:

Russia’s Dilemma.

“The Duma is dead; long live the Duma,” The phrase is perhaps the best which Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman has ever coined. It suggests, as a British premier should, that free institutions, once established, are ineradicable. Whatever reason impelled the Czar to establish the Duma — whether he did it in good faith, or merely to stave off revolt — whether he acted on the caprice of the moment, or in accordance with some too subtle scheme of dishing his foes — there is no doubt that he gave to the party of freedom, a first step in the direction in which they can best make progress. Russia never has had a free Parliament, and yet already the Duma, in its manifesto to the people, declares as clearly as could any English legislature, that “the Government, without the assent of popular representatives, has no right to collect taxes, or to summon the people to military service.” That is the high appeal on which the Duma joins issue. What says the Czar? His manifesto is certainly remarkable. After very specious arguments as to his reasons for calling the Duma, and threats as to what will follow on disobedience to the imperial will, there is a promise of increased lands to the peasants, the calling of a future Duma, and the vague hope that “We believe that giants in thought and action will appear, and thanks to their assiduous efforts, the glory of Russia will continue to shine.” Making the usual allowance for pious persiflage, this resolves itself in a documentary justification for a relapse into despotism. A far better indication of the Czar’s real intentions can be seen in the great massing of troops in St. Petersburg, and in the Jewish belief — so often sadly justified in the past — that fresh massacres are impending. The mailed fist is apparently now to have its chance. There was some ground for the recent rumours that the Kaiser of Germany and the Emperor of Austria were conspiring to interpose with armed forces in Russian Poland, in support of the Czar’s rule, and it is also significant that the Czar’s summary action in dissolving the Duma was taken on the receipt of a long cypher telegram from the Kaiser. What will be the result of it all? That revolution is written broad across the face of events in the land of the Slav, it would be idle to deny; with too fatal accuracy, all the steps in the sinking of the French monarchy, over a century ago, are being reproduced. The Bourbons fell because they forgot nothing and learned nothing. Similarly Byron’s biting words apply to Nicholas as accurately as they did to his predecessor of an earlier day — 

A Calmuck beauty, with a Cossack wit,
And generous spirit, when ’tis not frostbit.
Now half dissolving to a liberal thaw,
But harden’d back, where’er the morning’s raw;
With no objection to true liberty,
Except that it would make the nation free.

Both the Czar and Duma appeal to the peasant. The Czar stands for authority; the Duma for freedom. From the throne the troops are marshalled, but the Duma repeats Tolstoi’s great appeal to the men of the provinces to offer passive resistance — to pay no tax and give no recruit, and thus strike at the very roots of imperial power. And to the bondholders abroad it has addressed a potent argument in declining to guarantee any loans raised by the Czar without the consent of the representatives of the people. Already, while New South Wales 4 per cents are at £108, Russian 4 per cents are down to £67½.