Author Topic: The Russian Soul  (Read 70991 times)

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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: The Slave Soul of Russia?
« Reply #105 on: August 23, 2010, 06:20:41 PM »
LOL, Elisabeth!

I must say that there is an overall tendency in traditional Freudian psychoanalytic theory to blame the victim for the trauma that has been perpetrated on him/her. Thus all this S/M garbage (i.e., the victim really wants to be punished, really wants to suffer, and gets some kind of sexual satisfaction from that punishment and suffering),

I think those who interpret Freudian psychology like this have not fully grasped it. Observing that a victim gets some sort of satisfaction from punishment, humilation and suffering and passively or actively seeks out such satisfaction is not the same as blaming the victim. Because if our ideal or norm is an autonomous, self-contained, balanced human being, then we must conclude that this poor victim is sick or disturbed and we must ask: Who made them sick, who disturbed them? What went wrong? Those to blame are then parents, educators, bullies, rapists, tsars, nobles - those who sadistically oppressed people untill their brains became so disturbed that they started to derive satisfaction from masochism - as a survival mechanism. These poor people have been so oppressed and starved of satisfaction that they would have gone mad or died from acute depression if their brains had not started to derive some poor substitute for true satisfaction from punishment, humiliation and suffering. It's a pure survival mechanism and not their fault.  
« Last Edit: August 23, 2010, 06:24:13 PM by Fyodor Petrovich »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #106 on: August 23, 2010, 06:31:15 PM »
Elisabeth,

Now this may sound offending to you but I can't escape from the thought that Russians don't want anything else than autocracy as a form of government. Or does it just happen to them all the time including nowadays?
Did the Russian people really want change? Have they ever really wanted to participate in the government? Or were they more than happy to hand over their freedom and even their posessions to a leader provided he watches over them and tell them what to do and see that is been taken care for them on an appropiate way? And that their leaders are only accounted for that specific quality?

Of course they wanted a constitution in 1905: because they didn't trust Nicholas anymore. Not that they expected anything from constitutional democracy but Nicholas didn't give them a fair treatment.

Now are these completely wrong thoughts?

Of course not, Sergei, for example my husband (who is much more qualified than I am to discuss Russian history!) would completely agree with you. He's not a Freudian by any stretch of the imagination, and regards all this S/M stuff as pure bunk, but he would agree with you that Russians have a propensity to, as you put it, "hand over their freedom... to a leader." My question is: WHY?

I myself think Russia and Russians have to be understood in the overall historical, human, and psychological context. Victims of abuse tend to identify with their abuser. We know this now, from countless studies done on victims of real trauma. They also tend to regard themselves as helpless and powerless and at the mercy of fate. And yes, as a result they generally become very fatalistic in their overall worldview. All of this "fits" the traditional, stereotypical, so-called Russian soul, as far as I can make out. I could be wrong though, I'm not a psychologist.

I have to say all this because I myself have never suffered any trauma to the degree that Russians who were born in, say, the 1890s suffered - the Revolution of 1905, the Revolutions of 1917 (both February and October), the Civil War, Lenin, Stalin, collectivization, the Great Terror (and all the "little" terrors), two world wars. And that's leaving out serfdom - even though it was abolished in 1860, its horrific legacy still affected over 80 percent of the population at the turn of the twentieth century.

I just think it's irresponsible, kind of clueless and worst of all, cruel to tell Russians that they have "slave souls" just because they've gone through much more horrible experiences than we have. I mean, really, who are we, pampered Westerners, to judge?
« Last Edit: August 23, 2010, 06:54:38 PM by Elisabeth »
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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #107 on: August 23, 2010, 07:23:38 PM »
He's not a Freudian by any stretch of the imagination, and regards all this S/M stuff as pure bunk,

NB Do note that I said that my excursions into classical Russian literature have shown me that S/M is NOT a central Russian issue. And as a Western Freudian with a rather Roman understanding of subjection (i.e. to be dominated equals being fucked in the a**), that puzzled me, considering how subjection and "moral masochism" are such central Russian issues.

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but he would agree with you that Russians have a propensity to, as you put it, "hand over their freedom... to a leader." My question is: WHY?

BTW I think it can be productive to compare autocratic Russia to other absolutist states with autocratic tendencies that strongly subjected its subjects. What made autocratic Russia different from absolutist Prussia? There was serfdom in Prussia too untill ca. 1800. The (lack of) of rule of law? Orthodoxy as opposed to Lutheranism with a good dose of Calvisnism thrown in?

Heck, in 1660 even the people of Denmark-Norway, from time to time praised as the most free and happy people in Europe, decided to subjugate themselves to an omnipotent, absolutist monarch who, according to the absolutist constitution, the Lex Regia, was to be obeyed and revered as "the most supreme head on Earth, next to God alone", with the power to do whatever he wanted, except change the country's religion and the Lex Regia itself. And no parliament or other institutions existed or were allowed to diminish the absolute power of the King. Foreign visitors to Denmark were struck by the people's total political apathy. (In Norway, where unlike Denmark, no manorialism and serfdom existed, people really had enough trouble just surviving, although the yeoman peasants who owned their own farms were rather politically active on the local level, equivalent to village self-government in the rest of Europe and in a Russian mir.)

If I were to offer an explanation from the top of my head, it would be that Russia, for all practical purposes, is a landlocked country and the average Russian an inland type. The cultures that created democracies, civil liberties, individual freedom and initiative were often seafaring cultures: Think of the Ancient Greeks, the Vikings, the English, the Dutch, the Americans of New England etc. I would venture to say that seafaring stimulates individual freedom, whereas more landlocked cultures (Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, the Aztec and Inca Empires, Russia etc.) has seen extremely hierarchical cultures develop.

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I myself think Russia and Russians have to be understood in the overall historical, human, and psychological context. Victims of abuse tend to identify with their abuser.

The interesting issue is: Who did the Russian serfs identify with? My impression is that they wholly accepted the autocracy of the Tsar, but in what measure did they really accept the noble landlords? Most accounts emphasize that the peasants never forgot that the land really belonged to them. If that is true, it shows that they never gave up their "inner freedom" and that their ideal was something similar to Denmark-Norway, where Little Father Tsar / Father King in Copenhagen ruled firmly yet patriarchal.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2010, 07:37:36 PM by Fyodor Petrovich »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #108 on: August 23, 2010, 07:57:15 PM »
Okay, you've utterly lost me. Why are you agreeing with Rancour-Laferriere that Russians had/have a "slave soul" when you've just posted the following:

"The interesting issue is: Who did the Russian serfs identify with? My impression is that they wholly accepted the autocracy of the Tsar, but in what measure did they really accept the noble landlords? Most accounts emphasize that the peasants never forgot that the land really belonged to them. If that is true, it shows that they never gave up their "'inner freedom' and that their ideal was something similar to Denmark-Norway, where Little Father Tsar / Father King in Copenhagen ruled firmly yet patriarchal."

If the peasants never gave up their "inner freedom" then they were never "slave souls" to begin with, you've utterly contradicted yourself and your source both.

As for your perusal of Russian literature, I think your priorities were a little strange. Most people read the classics of Russian literature to appreciate the beauty of the culture, the genius of its authors, and so on, not to ferret out unusual sexual preferences and practices...

I don't understand the "Roman" reference except as regards current popular culture about the Romans, i.e., something as silly as the Showtime series about Spartacus. Not exactly subtle, kind of lacking in the nuances, as I believe traditional Freudian psychoanalytic theory generally is. Why we should go along with some turn-of-the-century Viennese doctor's projection of all his own psychological and sexual preoccupations on to the rest of the world, I don't quite get.

N.B. The reference to "moral masochism" is how Rancour-Laferriere describes any spiritual impulse toward the divine. By necessity it is "masochism" because it is not self-serving (which automatically means it's self-punishing, in Freudian lingo, i.e., pleasurable to slave souls). To be honest I can't stand this kind of retrospective way of inscribing our own 20th-21st-century garbage about religion on to believers who lived in earlier centuries. We are so incredibly superior, aren't we, with all our modern "scientific" theories? Joan of Arc was a schizophrenic, St. So-and-So was an anorexic, they were all moral masochists because they believed in God, and so on and so forth, blah blah blah.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2010, 08:21:22 PM by Elisabeth »
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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #109 on: August 23, 2010, 08:39:33 PM »
Oh, a synthesis of my theories just dawned on me: When the Russian peasants were abused by the landlords they sighed and said: If only the Tsar knew.... The Norwegian peasants said the same about the King's sheriffs. But the difference is that the Norwegian peasants had their own ships and sent a delegation down to Copenhagen to complain to His Absolutist Majesty. Whereas for the Russian peasant the road to Moscow or St. Petersburg was very, very long and most probably he wasn't even allowed to go by his landlord in the first place.

Okay, you've utterly lost me. Why are you agreeing with Rancour-Laferriere that Russians had/have a "slave soul" when you've just posted the following:

"The interesting issue is: Who did the Russian serfs identify with? My impression is that they wholly accepted the autocracy of the Tsar, but in what measure did they really accept the noble landlords? Most accounts emphasize that the peasants never forgot that the land really belonged to them. If that is true, it shows that they never gave up their "'inner freedom' and that their ideal was something similar to Denmark-Norway, where Little Father Tsar / Father King in Copenhagen ruled firmly yet patriarchal."

If the peasants never gave up their "inner freedom" then they were never "slave souls" to begin with, you've utterly contradicted yourself and your source both.

I'm intrigued by Rancour-Laferriere's term, but honestly, as a pampered Westerner I can't really imagine what a "slave soul" is or feels like. I think no slaves are 100 % accepting of their slavedom if they are conscious of freedom, even if it is from the Bible's idea of everybody being created equal. I think it's difficult to speak of a generic "slave soul". A lot of the problems African Americans struggle with are for example legacies of slavery, but how can one explain that they are so rebellious while the Russians are so lethargic?

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As for your perusal of Russian literature, I think your priorities were a little strange. Most people read the classics of Russian literature to appreciate the beauty of the culture, the genius of its authors, and so on, not to ferret out unusual sexual preferences and practices...

Lol, that's not my primary concern when reading Russian literature. But since I only really started reading Russian literature after having found the Alexander Palace Time Machine Forum, my expectations are somewhat coloured by what I've read here! Of course I loved "War and Peace" as the great epic it is, I must say I was not surprised when I afterwards read that Tolstoy was biphile...... His soldiers have a very physical presence, but I did not find any S/M! :-)

I haven't read "Crime and Punishment" yet, but I will be very surprised if it's only about moral suffering and no sexual frustration in there. Lol, my perspective is very Western, you see, sex being the prime cultural issue in the modern West, of course!

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I don't understand the "Roman" reference except as regards current popular culture about the Romans, i.e., something as silly as the Showtime series about Spartacus.
The Romans had an obsession with dominance, conquest, virility, masculinity etc. They looked very clinically at it with no Christian inhibitions. And unlike the Greeks they did not believe that a man who was the passive partner in a sexual relation could retain any manhood or dignity. There are a lot of other aspects to the Romans of course, but it's one of their characteristics. I can't direct you to a specific source, it's just an impression you get when you've read a lot about them.

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Not exactly subtle, kind of lacking in the nuances, as I believe traditional Freudian psychoanalytic theory generally is. Why we should go along with some turn-of-the-century Viennese doctor's projection of all his own psychological and sexual preoccupations on to the rest of the world, I don't quite get.

I always say that Freud's theories may only be applicable to Western middle-class people, but I see myself reflected in many of them like a hand in a glove, to use a Freudian expression! But they may be quite useless in analyzing Tsarist Russia.

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N.B. The reference to "moral masochism" is how Rancour-Laferriere describes any spiritual impulse toward the divine. By necessity it is "masochism" because it is not self-serving (which automatically means it's self-punishing, in Freudian lingo, i.e., pleasurable to slave souls). To be honest I can't stand this kind of retrospective way of inscribing our own 20th-21st-century garbage about religion on to believers who lived in earlier centuries. We are so incredibly superior, aren't we, with all our modern "scientific" theories? Joan of Arc was a schizophrenic, St. So-and-So was an anorexic, they were all moral masochists because they believed in God, and so on and so forth, blah blah blah.

I agree, that is far too simplistic. In a pre-industrial world, where your life depends on the forces of Nature, you have quite different "realities" than we have in the modern world.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2010, 08:51:42 PM by Fyodor Petrovich »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #110 on: August 24, 2010, 08:23:05 AM »
You are such a gracious debater, Fyodor Petrovich. I must confess I was feeling rather, no, extremely unhappy with myself this morning, remembering how acidulous I was in my last post to you in this thread... So many sincere thanks for taking it all in such good part.

You're absolutely right, my impression like yours is that Freud provides very good insights into the mind of the modern white bourgeois male (Western European or American). Because that's what Freud was, essentially, and he was a great artist, and so like many great artists he had tremendous insights into what makes people tick. You know, if you'd just take the line that Freud was an artist of genius, as opposed to a scientist of any worth, I would take everything you say much more to heart. I mean it. Because Freud was a great writer and he did have these flashes of genius about human nature, but these were intuitive and imaginative insights far more than they were "scientific" ones.

I actually agree with you on the parallel between African Americans and Russians. Both ethnic groups have terrible legacies of suffering, which have left their marks on generations even up to the present day. But I disagree with you that Russian peasants were traditionally passive or "lethargic." On the contrary, it was the increasing number of peasant rebellions in early nineteenth-century Russia that largely prompted Alexander II to emancipate the serfs - even before him, for this very same reason, his father Nicholas I, who is normally and probably quite rightly viewed as a reactionary, had set up a committee to study the problem of serfdom.

Also, as we now know from recently opened Soviet archives, peasant resistance to Bolshevism and "War Communism" was far greater and more active than previously thought, there were even times when Lenin thought the peasants would topple his new regime. And then a generation later there was Stalin's collectivization campaign... which, again, met with very strong resistance on the part of the peasantry (you know, I have to wonder, how did they have any strength left in them at this point?), even armed resistance. In many cases there were actual pitched battles between peasants and the Soviet officials who'd been sent to "collectivize" them. But in the end it was all for naught, since Stalin either had them shot or deported them and their families to the Siberian wastes to starve to death.

And as we've always known in the West, at the advent of the collectivization campaign the peasants also slaughtered all their livestock in protest - not actually a masochistic move, but a pragmatic and revolutionary one - the reasoning obviously being, why should the government get our meat if they're forcing us to give up all our property? in which case, why shouldn't we just eat the meat ourselves right now - we're probably going to starve soon enough with all these grain requisitions... The horrible thing is, they were right. The Great Famine followed directly and irrevocably on the heels of collectivization.

I think even 20th-century African Americans would have become somewhat cowed and passive under such massive depredations and tragedies. Imagine Martin Luther King, Jr's passive nonresistance to evil campaign in Russia in the Stalinist period... it would have got nowhere and ended in thousands of civilian deaths, not to mention more shipments of hapless prisoners to the Gulag.  

« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 08:25:46 AM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Silja

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #111 on: August 24, 2010, 05:03:18 PM »

 Orthdoxy is not interested in creating Rawlsville but in creating a Christian society. The ideal for Orthodoxy is theosis -- not a "this worldly" ideal of social justice and the like. I would argue that one can't properly understand the Slavophiles' critique of the West or the writings of Dostoyevsky and Pobedonostsev without undestanding why they prefer monarchy to democracy. Since monarchy ideally represents the Law of God and the Law of God provides for the salvation of Man, social inequalities are simply not as relevant.

So what are your thoughts on this subject?

I do think that the passive nature of the Russian "soul" has a lot to do with hundreds of years of Russian Orthodox culture. As Orthodoxy doesn't strive to abolish social injustice but to “teach” people that the essence of life is to strive to become a better Christian,  and to create the "Christian Society", the entire culture is marked by this orientation towards self-improvement.

As Dostoyevsky writes in his Writer's Diary: "If there were brothers, there would be brotherhood. But if there are no brothers, you cannot obtain brotherhood by whatever 'institution'. "

This is diametrically opposed to Western thinking.

So according to Dostoyevsky the Russian social ideal has ist basis in Christ and the idea of personal perfection.

But if your aim is personal perfection (in the religious/ethical sense) this will hardly make you stand up against outward social injustices or general shortcomings or even make you perceive those shortcomings as the central problem. This doesn’t mean those injustices are not perceived or not regretted, but as long as the person is conscious of the fact that as a Christian he retains his dignity he will never inwardly feel as a slave even if he may be or appear as one outwardly. Men are equal as Christians before God, so the social circumstances are not so important. Besides, if “brotherhood” cannot be achieved by changing social conditions but only by personal change, what use is there in striving for the abolition of social injustices?

THIS is the ideal, not the reality, but IMO the ideal or the propagation of this ideal, has left its mark on Russian culture in general.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 05:05:50 PM by Silja »

Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #112 on: August 26, 2010, 04:04:44 PM »
So according to Dostoyevsky the Russian social ideal has ist basis in Christ and the idea of personal perfection.

But if your aim is personal perfection (in the religious/ethical sense) this will hardly make you stand up against outward social injustices or general shortcomings or even make you perceive those shortcomings as the central problem. This doesn’t mean those injustices are not perceived or not regretted, but as long as the person is conscious of the fact that as a Christian he retains his dignity he will never inwardly feel as a slave even if he may be or appear as one outwardly.
A good argument against my S/M hypothesis. You can't be ashamed of your subjugation if you feel it is a virtue!

BTW from my reading, including Olga Semyonova Tian-Shanskaia's fantastic "Village Life In Late Tsarist Russia", I get the impression that, psychologically, the male-versus-male domination/subjection issue played second fiddle to the Battle of the Sexes in Imperial Russia. The peasants were terrified of being (perceived as) dominated by their wives and thus beat them brutally. Perhaps that was their real issue or perhaps they took out their humiliation / anger against their noble landlords on their wives?

You are such a gracious debater, Fyodor Petrovich. I must confess I was feeling rather, no, extremely unhappy with myself this morning, remembering how acidulous I was in my last post to you in this thread... So many sincere thanks for taking it all in such good part.
Oh, no offence taken. I am just a learning newbie in Russian history, so my questions may sound very odd to those better informed, but they are just a fellow Hyperborean's attempts at understanding the present (not even speaking about the present!) of a country which shares so many natural similarities with my native own, yet is so vastly different in many other matters!

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You're absolutely right, my impression like yours is that Freud provides very good insights into the mind of the modern white bourgeois male (Western European or American). Because that's what Freud was, essentially, and he was a great artist, and so like many great artists he had tremendous insights into what makes people tick. You know, if you'd just take the line that Freud was an artist of genius, as opposed to a scientist of any worth, I would take everything you say much more to heart. I mean it. Because Freud was a great writer and he did have these flashes of genius about human nature, but these were intuitive and imaginative insights far more than they were "scientific" ones.
You've given me an epiphany! Now I better understand why my fascination with Thomas Mann's art and Freud's art are but two sides of the same coin!

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I actually agree with you on the parallel between African Americans and Russians. Both ethnic groups have terrible legacies of suffering, which have left their marks on generations even up to the present day. But I disagree with you that Russian peasants were traditionally passive or "lethargic." On the contrary, it was the increasing number of peasant rebellions in early nineteenth-century Russia that largely prompted Alexander II to emancipate the serfs
Oh, interesting, I never knew there were peasant rebellions in the 19th century too!

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Also, as we now know from recently opened Soviet archives, peasant resistance to Bolshevism and "War Communism" was far greater and more active than previously thought, there were even times when Lenin thought the peasants would topple his new regime. And then a generation later there was Stalin's collectivization campaign... which, again, met with very strong resistance on the part of the peasantry (you know, I have to wonder, how did they have any strength left in them at this point?)
Peasants are indeed amazing creatures. Although with much less horrible suffering, you have the same pattern of peasant resistance in Norwegian history too. The stubbornness of peasants is indeed heroïc in such cases.

Speaking of peasants, to what extent is it true that peasants in the sparsely inhabited Northern Russia were more independent and less feudally subjected than peasants in the richer Black Soil regions? Did this also show in their "Russian soul" being somewhat different?
« Last Edit: August 26, 2010, 04:23:15 PM by Fyodor Petrovich »

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #113 on: August 28, 2010, 04:55:58 PM »

I do think that the passive nature of the Russian "soul" has a lot to do with hundreds of years of Russian Orthodox culture. As Orthodoxy doesn't strive to abolish social injustice but to “teach” people that the essence of life is to strive to become a better Christian,  and to create the "Christian Society", the entire culture is marked by this orientation towards self-improvement.

As Dostoyevsky writes in his Writer's Diary: "If there were brothers, there would be brotherhood. But if there are no brothers, you cannot obtain brotherhood by whatever 'institution'. "

This is diametrically opposed to Western thinking.

So according to Dostoyevsky the Russian social ideal has ist basis in Christ and the idea of personal perfection.

But if your aim is personal perfection (in the religious/ethical sense) this will hardly make you stand up against outward social injustices or general shortcomings or even make you perceive those shortcomings as the central problem. This doesn’t mean those injustices are not perceived or not regretted, but as long as the person is conscious of the fact that as a Christian he retains his dignity he will never inwardly feel as a slave even if he may be or appear as one outwardly. Men are equal as Christians before God, so the social circumstances are not so important. Besides, if “brotherhood” cannot be achieved by changing social conditions but only by personal change, what use is there in striving for the abolition of social injustices?

THIS is the ideal, not the reality, but IMO the ideal or the propagation of this ideal, has left its mark on Russian culture in general.

I guess I disagree that Russians were passive before Stalin. I think there is a lengthy and quite impressive record of peasant rebellions right up to collectivization that refute that national stereotype. In general while I hold with humorous and basically harmless national stereotypes (e.g., the French are good cooks, the Italians are good lovers, the Germans are good engineers, Americans are good entrepreneurs, etc.) I dislike the ones that ascribe very negative attributes to entire nations or peoples.

Frankly I don't think the West, which within living memory produced such despicable creatures as Mussolini and Hitler - both dictators who led millions of "blind" and "passive" followers into the European Götterdämmerung of World War II - frankly I don't think that after all this the West has any right whatsoever to pronounce judgment on the Russian people.

Moreover, Christianity is a multi-layered, complex phenomenon that functions in the social sphere at multiple levels. In any given Christian culture, one can always find religious manifestations that are socially engaged, and others that are seemingly hostile to the outside world and advocate "self-improvement" or - I think this is a better term - self-perfection (e.g., hair shirts, self-starvation and self-flagellation). There are so many different factors in operation here that in my opinion it is dangerous to reduce any given national religious tradition to one or two opposing elements in a binary structure that, in this example, identifies Christianity as either socially engaged and active OR socially disengaged and passive. In fact both Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity have amply demonstrated both strands of religious faith during their long histories.

There are many examples in Russian history of a socially engaged and active church - to cite the most obvious example, the numerous Orthodox clergy who did social work among the Russian working classes and poor at the turn of the twentieth century. (Some of them, like Father Gapon, also emerged as political activists as a result.)

An entire book also springs to mind, a recent book by the historian Laurie Manchester about the sons of Russian Orthodox clergymen who, beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, became an important component of the emerging Russian intelligentsia, which as we all know, was quite demonstrably both politically and socially engaged. And yet at least during the 19th century these men retained a very strong group identity as the sons of Orthodox clerics. It's an interesting phenomenon.

I just looked it up, this book is called Holy Fathers, Secular Sons.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 05:23:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline AGRBear

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #114 on: August 29, 2010, 01:16:41 PM »
Let me quote Shakespeare:
>>Fate, show thy force: ourselves we do not owe;
What is decree must be, and be this so.<<

AGRBear
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 01:21:30 PM by AGRBear »
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #115 on: August 29, 2010, 01:39:35 PM »
Let me quote Shakespeare:
>>Fate, show thy force: ourselves we do not owe;
What is decree must be, and be this so.<<

AGRBear

You know, AGRBear, I think it would be extremely helpful if you would occasionally or even (is it really too much to expect?) always cite your sources. Which sonnet or play of Shakespeare's are you citing here? It's of some import, you know, because Shakespeare is all about context.

And in this context, the twilight of the Russian empire, I think most talk about fate is utter nonsense. People make their own fates, their own destinies, unless they are child laborers in India or something equally horrible. I don't believe that a Russian ruler at the turn of the 20th century couldn't have made better choices, given the hand that was dealt to him. I mean, true, you might be right, the IF's dreadful fate in Ekaterinburg might very well have been in the cards the moment NII declared war against Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1914, but I'd like to think that there were other options open even as late as 1917, to a more clever and perspicacious ruler.
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Offline AGRBear

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #116 on: August 30, 2010, 07:42:19 PM »
Let me quote Shakespeare:
>>Fate, show thy force: ourselves we do not owe;
What is decree must be, and be this so.<<

AGRBear

You know, AGRBear, I think it would be extremely helpful if you would occasionally or even (is it really too much to expect?) always cite your sources. Which sonnet or play of Shakespeare's are you citing here? It's of some import, you know, because Shakespeare is all about context.

And in this context, the twilight of the Russian empire, I think most talk about fate is utter nonsense. People make their own fates, their own destinies, unless they are child laborers in India or something equally horrible. I don't believe that a Russian ruler at the turn of the 20th century couldn't have made better choices, given the hand that was dealt to him. I mean, true, you might be right, the IF's dreadful fate in Ekaterinburg might very well have been in the cards the moment NII declared war against Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1914, but I'd like to think that there were other options open even as late as 1917, to a more clever and perspicacious ruler.

It little matters what you and I think  about Sabia /Fate in Aug. of 2010.  Nicholas II and the majority of his subjects believed in Sabia, therefore,  they played with the cards Sabia dealt them as best as they knew how and lost to men like Lenin, who probably believed every man creates his or her own fate.

AGRBear
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #117 on: August 30, 2010, 09:16:15 PM »
Let me quote Shakespeare:
>>Fate, show thy force: ourselves we do not owe;
What is decree must be, and be this so.<<

AGRBear

You know, AGRBear, I think it would be extremely helpful if you would occasionally or even (is it really too much to expect?) always cite your sources. Which sonnet or play of Shakespeare's are you citing here? It's of some import, you know, because Shakespeare is all about context.

And in this context, the twilight of the Russian empire, I think most talk about fate is utter nonsense. People make their own fates, their own destinies, unless they are child laborers in India or something equally horrible. I don't believe that a Russian ruler at the turn of the 20th century couldn't have made better choices, given the hand that was dealt to him. I mean, true, you might be right, the IF's dreadful fate in Ekaterinburg might very well have been in the cards the moment NII declared war against Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1914, but I'd like to think that there were other options open even as late as 1917, to a more clever and perspicacious ruler.

It little matters what you and I think  about Sabia /Fate in Aug. of 2010.  Nicholas II and the majority of his subjects believed in Sabia, therefore,  they played with the cards Sabia dealt them as best as they knew how and lost to men like Lenin, who probably believed every man creates his or her own fate.

AGRBear

I don't know what the word "Sabia" means. The Russian word for fate or destiny is "sud'ba." There's another word in Russian with a similar meaning, "dolia," meaning one's lot in life (but usually in the negative sense, a bad lot, a bad fate).

If we were all Russians and fatalists we'd all have committed suicide by 1928, AGRBear. There was absolutely no reason to live after that date. The odds were definitely stacked against you, even if you were a Bolshevik (most of the old-timers went up against the wall in '37).

And yet most Russians, surprisingly enough, did not kill themselves after October 1917 or after 1928 or even during or after the Great Terror of 1937-38. I would suggest that this is because the natural tendency of human beings is to try to see the positive side of life, to hope against hope, no matter how many difficulties one actually has to deal with. Or, in the case of Russians and other citizens of the Soviet empire, not merely difficulties but real horrors.

... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam

Offline AGRBear

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #118 on: August 31, 2010, 12:36:11 PM »
...[in part]...
I don't know what the word "Sabia" means. The Russian word for fate or destiny is "sud'ba." There's another word in Russian with a similar meaning, "dolia," meaning one's lot in life (but usually in the negative sense, a bad lot, a bad fate).
...[in part]...

Sabia is probably a word spelled by German-Russians who heard the word "sudba",  meaning fate or destiny,  and may have gotten it a trifle wrong when writing it down.  There are a lot of words the German-Russians transferred into their language which might not be correctly translated.  Getting into various German-Russian dialects can put quite a spin on some words during translations.

AGRBear

 

"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

Joubert, Pensees, No. 152

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #119 on: August 31, 2010, 04:32:43 PM »
I googled the word "Sabia" and came up with some interesting stuff.  None of which had anything to do with "fate".

AGRBear
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

Joubert, Pensees, No. 152