Author Topic: The Russian Soul  (Read 80051 times)

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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2006, 03:25:04 PM »
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Dear Tania, I hate to correct you, but in practical terms the tsar was the head of the Russian Orthodox Church from the time of Peter the Great; the Church was completely subservient to the autocracy.

I agree, except that I think it was in more than practical terms that the autocracy took over the church.  I think it took over the Church legally . . . and for clearly political purposes, as the Church had been a prime center of resistance to Peter's westernization campaign.

As Bishop Kallistos Ware wrote in his history of the Orthodox Church:

"Peter was determined that there should be no more Nicons.  In 1700, when Patriarch Adrian died, Peter took no steps towards the appointment of a successor; and in 1721 he proceeded to issue the celebrated Spiritual Regulation, which declared the Patriarchate to be abolished, and set up in its place a commission, the Spiritual College or Holy Synod . . . .

Its members were not chosen by the Church but nominated by the Emperor; and the Emperor who nominated could also dismiss them at will.  Whereas a Patriarch, holding office for life, could perhaps defy the Tsar, a member of the Holy Synod was allowed no scope for heroism: he was simply retired.  The Emperor was not called 'Head of the Church,' but he was given the title 'Supreme Judge of the Spiritual College.'  Meetings of the Synod were not attended by the Emperor himself, but by a government official, the Chief Procurator.  The Procurator, although he sat at a separate table and took no part in the discussions, in practice wielded considerable power over Church affairs and was in effect if not in name a 'Minister for Religion.'

The Spiritual Regulation sees the Church not as a divine institution but as a department of State . . . .  A priest who learns, while hearing confessions, of any scheme which the government might consider seditious, is ordered to violate the secrecy of the sacrament and to supply the police with names and full details.

There was a deliberate purpose behind the restrictions on the monasteries, the chief centers of social work in Russia up to this time.  The abolition of the Patriarchate was part of a wider process:  Peter sought not only to deprive the Church of leadership, but to eliminate it from all participation in social work.  Peter’s successors circumscribed the work of the monasteries still more drastically."

Is the fatalism and passivity of the Russian soul so hard to understand when even its dialogue with its spiritual leaders was a matter for state inquiry and interference?  Alixz is right.  Autocracy -- particularly after Peter's reign -- had much to do with the unique and slightly schizophrenic traits of the Russian soul.  The sense of no personal separation from a government that very few can nevertheless reach or influence is a very "conflicting" experience, as we would say in modern pop psychology parlance.

Offline Tania+

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2006, 03:58:50 PM »
Dear Elizabeth,

I always get confused between Ivan's time frame of history with the RC, and Peter the Great's  involvement in church affairs. Thanks for the correction Elizabeth. Our church has gone through so many changes, it's almost as difficult as trying to describe the revolution isn't it ? Again I thank you.  :-*

Your also right about capitalism making changes in lives, etc. You certainly described how we Russians are. grin. How late have you stayed up till ?  :D I've spent my time late into the mornings, but minus the cigarettes and the vodka.

Thanks Elizabeth, I always enjoy your postings, and re-learn much from you now in my old age. Ahhh, to be young again. Just kidding, I would not do it over if you payed me! Once is enough.

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2006, 12:57:59 PM »
Thank you, Tatiana, as usual you flatter me! I’m glad you found my "reading" of the Russian soul accurate in some respects. I'm not so young either,  might I add... But in answer to your question, yes, I have stayed up very late indeed, listening to Russians discuss everything from their country’s literature to its history and ultimate destiny, usually in marathon talking sessions lasting until dawn. These were probably the most stimulating, even brain-jolting, discussions, that I’ve ever been privileged to experience. Normally on such occasions I would not even dare to participate in the conversation myself, but would simply shut up and listen to the others, which is very unusual for me, as I’m sure Tsarfan can attest! But Russian intellectuals really are a breed apart – in their serious-mindedness, historical awareness and overall idealism. For example, they treat a subject like literature, regarded in the West as mainly or even solely "aesthetic" and "artistic," not generally relevant to politics – with the utmost respect, even reverence, as the highest manifestation of their overall cultural heritage. But then the artist and especially the poet traditionally hold a much loftier place in Russian culture than in Western culture. This is one of the many things I most like and admire about the "Russian soul"…

On the other hand, I’ve heard Russians nowadays comment that they no longer talk about literature the way they used to – that the concerns of real life have become more pressing, and intellectuals no longer take literature as their pattern for living life to the extent they did before the fall of the Soviet regime. BTW, this confusion of literature with life is I think one of those elements contributing to the traditional "theatricality" of the Russian people – they have a real gift for drama, and not just on the stage, but also in everyday situations. When combined with the traditional Russian pity for the "insulted and injured" (i.e., the underdog) this can make for some very emotionally affecting scenes. I remember on my first trip to Russia being in a bookstore when a man, clearly insane and delusional, came wandering in. He started raving about how the KGB and the CIA were following him. Now, in the US if such a thing happened everyone would look away in embarrassment and pretend that nothing at all was happening. But in Moscow the opposite occurred: everyone in the bookshop paid the closest attention to the madman’s words, as if he were a great actor performing on a stage for their benefit. Finally, at the end of his monologue, when he had said his piece, an old woman came up to him and, gently patting him on the arm, said, "Ne bespokoites’, ne bespokoites’" – or in English, "Don’t worry, don’t worry" – the same tender words you would utter to a child. And the poor man immediately calmed down and left the store peacefully, without another word.

But then older Russian women in general were very solicitous to strangers, to the point of being total busybodies, at least when I was in Russia fifteen years ago. For example, I was minding my own business in St. Petersburg one warm summer afternoon when an old babushka accosted me, scolding me for sitting on a "cold" stone bench and warning me that I would get sick from it. I knew better than to argue, so I dutifully stood up and walked away from the bench until she left, whereupon I went back to the bench and sat down again (well, I was tired and waiting for my boyfriend!). Not two minutes went by before the babushka was back, wagging her finger at me and telling me I was asking for pneumonia. It was a warm summer afternoon, need I repeat. I finally gave up and left the stone bench for good – anything to mollify the Russian babushka who had appointed herself as the guardian angel of my good health!

On the subject of Russian fatalism, however, I do think that both AlixZ and Tsarfan are correct to point the finger at the autocracy. It’s been my experience that the more out of control people feel about their own lives, the more superstitious and fatalistic they become. This is especially true when someone has suffered too much in his or her lifetime. It is easier to believe that such suffering was simply one’s "fate," rather than to try to come to terms with the terrible idea that everything might have been different for you, if only… if only. A miserable "fate" decreed from on high for some higher, supernatural albeit unknown purpose must be psychologically easier to bear than the knowledge that one suffers for no reason, but merely because one is a victim of lawless, arbitrary, outside but nevertheless all-too-human forces.
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Offline Tania+

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2006, 02:13:20 PM »
Dear Elizabeth, Its warming to post to you, as well, I think you need to know how much you are appreciated. As many on the forum, your ability to respond, take patience to hear the poster is very telling. Because your extensive background, knowledge in depth of Russian History, you are able to offer a response that does not distance others. For this Russian soul, you understand very well. I'm very appreciative, and extend my thanks again. In my younger days, it was very exciting to listen to fellow Russians discuss all manner of issues. Their passion, their follow thru, the time they took to make sure of their connects to the most up to date issues for me, unparalleled. Yes, they were marathon sessions till dawn. Like you, i also sat almost transfigured listening and taking all they had to share. If you were not understanding, they took great pains to give you full explanation(s). But Elizabeth, with your degree, and background I don’t see why you would keep silent. You have so much to offer, as a true intellectual!.
You are more than correct, Russian intellectuals are a breed apart, especially in their awareness, their idealism to Russian history. I think this brings out the Russian Soul all the more, don’t you think? Most Russians are most respectful, and in full reverence of their cultural heritage. Again and again, I found this not only in Russia, among Russians, but Russians anywhere on the globe. I can’t explain it, it’s just something innate. Yes,yes, Russians love their poets, poetry. Look how much Pushkin was admired, taken in. One of my favorite poets is Pasternak. My trip to Russia was some years before yours, but I think in this regard, Russian intellectuals stay ‘timeless’ in regards to subjects as history, poetry, art, etc. Perhaps in some way, the Soviet era brought out more discussion, because so much else was closed off, but overall, I think Russians continue to think as they do nationally.
Oh boy, I’ve seen ‘drama’ within my birth family, as well as outside the family. Talk about a gift for drama from the Russian soul, I can certainly attest to it being real! Yes, isn’t it something to see, in how fellow Russians respond to those whose lives have been subjected to infinite stress.Your right, in my having worked in mental health, with people with mental health issues, here in the U.S., I’ve seen how most people have reacted, even shunned the person in public, adding to embarrassment to the person’s issue. I think you’re the first person who has approached this subject, to show the greater differences of how people are received, responded to. Russians have been through much. I think they just know how to be extremely sincere in offering just the right words to soothe the hurting person’s soul. Unfortunately, I’ve not seen this kind of response here in the U.S. I’ve just seen the quick response of someone turning to a phone to call for police assist. There are assured ways to offer words gently. without being judgmental, rude, or injurious to another. This offers dignity in motion, and shows utter compassion.

You brought back a rush of childhood memories. How well I remember both father, family friends admonishing me for sitting on marble or cement seats, walls, sidewalks. How they could go on about ruining one’s health, catching arthritis before one’s time, etc. LOL. I can still their voices, and waving of hands. ;D [Now I know why Peter brought in Italians...boy did they intermarry...I’m not fully sure if overall, most Russians are fatalistic in their beliefs. I still think this varies from individual to individual. One might say this is a universal type of understanding, not germane to Russians alone. Suffering is suffering, and many have great difficulty to come to terms with their life’s difficulties. But your right, many Russians think it is their fate. Thank you again for your trip down memory lane.

Spaceba !

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Offline palimpsest

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2006, 09:22:43 AM »
I’m not Russian either but maybe what we call Russian “fatalism” is just another way of relating to suffering. We modern folk try desperately to avoid suffering by all means and in all circumstances. What if for Russians suffering is sometimes a way of liberation, something that you must “face” and not avoid. They may complain about it but they know that without suffering even happiness is impossible, they go together. Great achievements are always linked with sacrifice, isn’t it? A child is born by the mothers pains, but what joy follows!
This outlook on sacrifice together with the love for history and art comes –in my view- from Orthodoxy.
This attitude can has its pathological part, as everything human. It does not always work, and can by transformed in inactivity, lack of courage, submission to power, etc.  But it also has its greatness in sainthood, courage, sense of unlimited sacrifice, etc.

Autocracy can also be seen as a pathology of this outlook. But I wouldn’t be so unwise as to dismiss it altogether. It may depend too much on the personal qualities [or defects] of the tsar but it can have its advantages. In my view the best political systems have a balance of the three possible ways of government: the rule of one, the rule of the few and the rule of the many, so autocracy [the rule of one] is not good enough for me. But also democracy alone [the rule of the many] is not a good enough system for me. If you take out one of them the balance is lost. You have to have all three of them working together, otherwise society will tend to go towards the one that it lacks. Constitutional Monarchy is for that reason the best, most well balanced [and the newest] political system we have today. It is a pity that the pathology of autocracy in Russia was not balanced by a good constitution in place of the pathology of the Revolution.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by palimpsest »
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2006, 01:04:44 PM »
I agree with you, Palimpsest, that the theme of suffering is much more central to Russian culture than it is to Western (American and European) cultures, and that much of this probably has to do with Orthodoxy. There is indeed a very early, very ancient emphasis in the Russian Orthodox Church on the Christlike redemptive power of suffering for its own sake  (the kenotic tradition of saints like Boris and Gleb) which really has no direct counterpart in the western, Catholic and Protestant Churches (for example, in the Catholic Church, as far as I know, martyrs must die for their faith, whereas in the Russian church exceptions are made for those who suffer violent death and forgive their murderers, i.e., the "mucheniki" category of saints, Boris and Gleb, but also Nicholas II and his family). Certainly in Russian literature and particularly in the works of Dostoevsky one finds an extended meditation on the meaning and purpose of suffering for all humankind. I think this is why Virginia Woolf said that the  main character in Russian fiction is, literally, the Soul.

And it’s true that too often we in the West pathologize suffering, as if it were not a natural part of life, as natural, perhaps even more natural, than happiness. Many of my Russian acquaintances have commented that Americans believe in "the pursuit of happiness," that this is considered one of our inalienable rights as Americans, whereas to Russian ears the whole idea sounds  very strange, even bizarre. What is happiness but something utterly fleeting, even intangible? One no sooner has it than one loses it. And what does the pursuit of happiness have to do with civic rights? Russians (at least until recently) have never even dared to dream of such things.

I must add that in this context I invariably remember an episode of "The Sopranos" when the Russian nurse attending his uncle tells Tony that Americans always expect the best to happen, and are disappointed, even crushed, when the worst happens instead. Whereas the rest of the world expects only the worst, and so they are never disappointed! This woman's attitude was one of calm acceptance of life’s many unfairnesses and thus a serene attitude to everything that life brought her way (including an amputated leg!). Of course this is just a TV show, but I thought it very plainly demonstrated the attitude towards life I have so often observed myself in Russia, especially among older Russian women.

As for a constitutional monarchy, this might be one solution for Russia's troubled political state, but I fear the current Romanov "heirs" have so far been only to the discredit of their dynasty and are taken seriously only by a very few. It might be better if, as in the case of Greece or Bulgaria in the nineteenth century, Russia could simply "import" a constitutional tsar from amongst all those petty Germanic and Scandinavian princelings looking for a suitable job... For I fear that as it is, many of the leading Romanovs, past and present, have earned only the distrust and disrespect of the Russian people, and perhaps (in some cases) rightly so.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2006, 02:38:03 PM »
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As for a constitutional monarchy, this might be one solution for Russia's troubled political state, but I fear the current Romanov "heirs" have so far been only to the discredit of their dynasty and are taken seriously only by a very few. It might be better if, as in the case of Greece or Bulgaria in the nineteenth century, Russia could simply "import" a constitutional tsar from amongst all those petty Germanic and Scandinavian princelings looking for a suitable job... For I fear that as it is, many of the leading Romanovs, past and present, have earned only the distrust and disrespect of the Russian people, and perhaps (in some cases) rightly so.

I have often wondered if, 500 years from now, historians might not be characterizing the 20th century as Russia's second "Time of Troubles" . . . and whether this one, too, might not end with the election of a new tsar.

Personally, I hope not.  Michael Romanov was chosen because of his putative weakness and the expectation that he and the monarchy could be made the puppets of boyar interests.  We all know what that strategy eventually produced.  I think the Russian willingness to accept suffering -- even to attach honor to it and, in some sense, to revel in it -- makes any form of monarchical restoration a proposition doomed to end in autocracy.  Both autocracy and the soviet era have left Russians with a seemingly perpetual sense that they need an authority beyond their reach to impose order on their affairs.

I think the window of opportunity closed on constitutional monarchy sometime between 1905 and 1912.  Paradoxically, only orders from an autocrat and a sustained policy to stay that course would have created the conditions under which democracy could slowly take real root in Russia.  Any courting with monarchy in any form at this point will ultimately precipitate a backslide into full autocracy.  The combination of the Russian craving to have the government sort out all their affairs combined with the serious issues that a constitutional monarchy would have to address quickly are a recipe for autocracy to emerge from the brew.  The presence of an elected tsar would be a catalyst for exactly the chemical reaction that Russia needs at all costs to avoid.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline palimpsest

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2006, 06:45:27 PM »
Yes, I agree that it doesn't look like a good idea at the moment for Russia. I come from the Balkans, and there Constitutional Monarchy is like an icon of the pre-communist era and it is even equivalent with prosperity, national independence and democracy [in Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria, not in Greece].

Western press is full of warnings of the autocractic tendencies in Russian politics. One might even say that Russia always was de facto an autocracy, and democracy today is just "on paper".
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by palimpsest »
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2006, 10:18:56 AM »
It's interesting what you say about the view of monarchy in the Balkans, Palimpsest, because I have spent two summers in Bulgaria and I was always surprised by the degree of respect accorded to Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha by ordinary Bulgarians - especially taxi drivers, haha! Virtually everyone in that country refers to Simeon as "the tsar," even though he is not the tsar at all, only the former tsar. Some of this affection, though, seems in large part due to the tremendous fondness Bulgarians retain for Simeon's father, Boris III. Whereas in Russia there simply isn't the equivalent of a Boris III in recent history. IMO Russians associate tsars with corruption, mismanagement and incompetence, the reverse of the situation in a place like Bulgaria, where "Tsar" Simeon represents European culture, sophistication, and political and managerial savvy.  

As for Russia's autocratic tendencies, I would agree with both your statements. I have been rereading Orlando Figes' history of the Russian Revolution and as a result I find myself appreciating much more the many historical continuities between the autocracy of the Romanovs and the dictatorship of the Bolsheviks (previously pointed out to me by Tsarfan and RichC). I didn't know this before, but during the Russian Revolution, when anarchic hell was breaking loose all across Russia, some provinces even pleaded with Moscow to establish some sort of new autocracy to keep order in the country! One has to wonder how much Russia has really changed since 1917, and how much of the fault lies with the government, how much with the people themselves.
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Offline Sarushka

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2006, 01:17:26 PM »
This discussion makes me wonder how the last Imperial Family fit into the notion of the Russian Soul?

Despite his rather Germanic pedigree, I know Nicholas was certainly culturally Russian. Alix considered herself more Russian then German after her many years in Russia, but I doubt whether many Russians would agree with that assessment! Even so, it does seem to me (an outsider/westerner, I'll grant you) that Alix's notions of suffering and fatalism were very similar to the Russian outlook. And what about the children? Between their parents, OTMAA were essentially raised in two cultures -- Russian & German/British. There are plenty of examples of the children's loyalty to their country: Aleksei showed a definite preference for all things Russian, particularly language and dress; Olga Nikolaevna refused to marry outside Russia, and intended to "remain Russian." But what was the nature of their internal character, the character of their souls, if you will? Isolated as they were, and with a bifurcated heritage, did they really have a chance to identify with and develop a truly Russian national character?
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Offline Tania+

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2006, 01:33:36 PM »
Dear Elizabeth,

It's always nice to hear from a poster's commentary, who have actually been to the region(s) addressed, on a given thread. I think you and Palimpsest can really offer those of us who have not been either to the region or been able to speak to the people themselves, can offer us a better understanding. Although I have not been to the Balkans, or Bulgaria, I have had friends, and family who were born there, who speak as how the the Bulgarians remember their Boris III of Bulgaria.
Most really do think more inclined towards European culture, etc.

The last of your post is most thought provoking I must say. Again as always thanks for your sharing.

Quote : "One has to wonder how much Russia has really changed since 1917, and how much of the fault lies with the government, how much with the people themselves. End Quote/

Tatiana+





Quote
It's interesting what you say about the view of monarchy in the Balkans, Palimpsest, because I have spent two summers in Bulgaria and I was always surprised by the degree of respect accorded to Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha by ordinary Bulgarians - especially taxi drivers, haha! Virtually everyone in that country refers to Simeon as "the tsar," even though he is not the tsar at all, only the former tsar. Some of this affection, though, seems in large part due to the tremendous fondness Bulgarians retain for Simeon's father, Boris III. Whereas in Russia there simply isn't the equivalent of a Boris III in recent history. IMO Russians associate tsars with corruption, mismanagement and incompetence, the reverse of the situation in a place like Bulgaria, where "Tsar" Simeon represents European culture, sophistication, and political and managerial savvy.  

As for Russia's autocratic tendencies, I would agree with both your statements. I have been rereading Orlando Figes' history of the Russian Revolution and as a result I find myself appreciating much more the many historical continuities between the autocracy of the Romanovs and the dictatorship of the Bolsheviks (previously pointed out to me by Tsarfan and RichC). I didn't know this before, but during the Russian Revolution, when anarchic hell was breaking loose all across Russia, some provinces even pleaded with Moscow to establish some sort of new autocracy to keep order in the country! One has to wonder how much Russia has really changed since 1917, and how much of the fault lies with the government, how much with the people themselves.
TatianaA


Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2006, 01:58:27 PM »
Sarushka, I agree that Nicholas was very Russian in his fatalism - perhaps he passed this quality on to Alexandra and their children. In terms of the "Russianness" of the last imperial family it's interesting to note that Gilliard described Olga as a typical young Russian lady of the noble class: idealistic, bookish and romantic. She does indeed remind me of Pushkin's fictional, ultra-Russian heroine Tatiana in these respects. Her desire to marry a Russian and remain in Russia also strikes me as highly romantic, in an age of politically-motivated, dynastic marriages amongst royalty.

However, I do think the imperial family was profoundly lacking in any real sense of the darkness at the heart of the "Russian soul," at least in terms of the soul of the peasantry (which made up approximately 85 percent of the total population). Orlando Figes believes that for the Russian peasant, freedom or "volia" was understood as freedom from all restraint, kicking over the traces, doing whatever one wanted and to hell with the consequences, in short, anarchy. The only restraint the Russian peasant respected was that which could stop him in his tracks, by brute force if necessary (and it was usually necessary). If we accept this observation as true (and I am still debating it with myself), then Lenin's perception of the peasantry as primarily a class enemy to be curbed and controlled by any means necessary was far more realistic and pragmatic than Nicholas' benign view of the peasantry as a childlike mass of people brimming over with love and affection for their Batiushka-Tsar. In the end, as Figes summarizes, the Russian peasantry refused to obey the laws of the land (having for centuries been outside the law, one wonders how could they have done otherwise?) and descended into anarchy, from which only another "autocrat" - in this case a totalitarian one - could "save" them. Admittedly, this is a very dark view of Russia and the Russian national character, and one, as I said, that I am still debating with myself. As much as I hate to say it, though, it rings true on some level.  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline imperial angel

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #27 on: April 10, 2006, 08:59:33 AM »
I have enjoyed reading this thread, and I have to say, from all my experience, very little with things like this, all the contribtions to this thread have been very thought provoking, true and accurate. Fatalism does seem like something common, and central to the Russian Soul. I have always found it fascinating, because it can produce a rather weak minded if you want to that acceptance of things, but I think this can also produce a better acceptance of some things that can't be changed in life than anything else I have ever heard of.The last part of Elisabeth's April 4 post seem to me the best defintion I have ever read of this.

Nicholas II was very Russian in his Fatalism, and that is another very accurate observation. Whether you want to think it was good or bad, he was very like many more in his country when he acted according to this. I do think Alexandra did show a remarkable embrace of her adopted country, becoming very Russian in many ways that other consorts of Czars never did, nor had to. Perhaps these things were really closer to her underlying opinions than her British/ German heiritage than we have ever realized. I think the Last Romanovs, and Alexander III, as well were always trying to be very Russian, and were in fact so in thought, actions, motivations, and behaviour. Whether this was as deep as it could have been is questionable. But how deep could it have been? I tend to believe they really did have some conception of the Russian Soul that was real, and not just half baked or something. About otmaa it is harder to say, and perhaps only time would have told.

Offline AGRBear

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #28 on: April 10, 2006, 11:42:15 AM »
Quote
Nicholas II was fatalistic and one of the examples was explained in Robert K. Massie's book NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA:

Even before Bloody Sunday it was noticed that Nicholas II was deeping his beliefs about fatalism.  

p. 114 "...Nicholas had always been struck by the fact that he was born on the day in Russian calendar set aside for Job.  Nicholas II voiced, "I have a secret conviction, " he once told one of his ministers, "that I am destined for a terrible trial, that I shall not receive my reward on this earth."

Although wealth and throne created an enormous physical gulf between Nicholas II and the poor peasant,  they were not seperated, however, in their souls because of their beliefs that the events in their lives was "god's will".

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Russian Soul
« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2006, 11:55:05 AM »
As I believe I've said before, fatalism is a psychological means of coping with extreme and prolonged suffering... it provides some higher, even supernatural justification for that suffering. But at the same time I can't help but think that it this entirely the wrong attitude for a politician to have. We want politicians, statesmen, to be realistic, pragmatic... we want them to make the best of any given situation and build on it. As Witte did, as Stolypin did. But if, like Nicholas, one always expects only the worst to happen, in the end won't the worst happen? It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I continue to say that Nicholas and Alexandra were incredibly naive in their understanding (or lack thereof) of the Russian peasantry - in whom they saw basically good, if sometimes ill-behaved children, who nevertheless deeply loved and would always ultimately obey their Batiushka-Tsar. Whereas contemporary writers like Maxim Gorky and Anton Chekhov quite clearly perceived the exact opposite - a horde of illiterate, superstitious and deeply resentful barbarians living in the Dark Ages who wanted one thing and one thing only - the land, at whatever cost to the welfare of the landowners, the tsar, and the nation in general.  If Nicholas or his successors in the Provisional Government had been truly brilliant minds, they would have ended WWI at whatever cost to the Russian empire and made an immediate land settlement with the peasantry. That was the only way to stave off complete anarchy. Lenin knew this, and that's why the Bolsheviks ultimately won the struggle for Russia's future.
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam