( Ten minute read)
It is not my intention with this post to examine the history of countries but to look at what we might perceive is the culture of a people of a country as we might see it to day.
LET’S START WITH THE RUSSIA CULTURES.
Russians have always fascinated the West, and countless stereotypes exist about Russia and Russian people.
While some are not too far from the truth, others have no grounding in reality.
The vast majority of us have never visited Russia or for that matter never meet a Russian.
Most of us perceive its culture through the medium of cinema, Doctor Zhivago, War & Peace (1968), Stalingrad etc.
( Here a few other, those highlighted the best of the crop)
Nicholas and Alexandra, Brother – Brat (1997) Brat 2(2000) The Dawns Here Are Quiet, Arrhythmia, 12, Leviathan, Irony of Fate, Man with a Movie Camera (1929) Operation Y and Shurik’s Other Adventures (1965) Andrei Rublev (1966) The Mirror (1975) Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears (1979) Hipsters (2008) Battleship Potemkin (1925) Storm Over Asia (1928) Outskirts (1933) The Cranes are Flying (1957) Night Watch (2004), Aimez-ous- les- uns- autres, Hedgehog in the Fog – Yuri Norstein, (1975) The last of the Czars ( 1920)
Most depict a ruthless culture, as the basic traits of the Russian character, which were visible hundreds of years before Lenin and Karl Marx – Communist, – Ivan the Terrible – out of which at the same time we had Tshaikowski, Peter the Great, Rachmaninov, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Dostoievski, Sakharov, Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn.
The Russian character has been determined to some extent by unrelenting autocratic and governance over many centuries.
However the two main factors in the formation of Russia to day, are it’s vastness and harsh climate, which bread a sense of vulnerability, remoteness, that contribute to is hostility to outsiders.
This vastness has being exploited by not just Tsars, but the Orthodox church producing people like Rasputin who symbolised everything that was wrong with imperial government.
But the culture of the country itself, came from a complicated interplay of native Slavic cultural material and borrowings from a wide kaleidoscope of foreign cultures. All of which exploited the pathetic backward peasants with indoctrinations, deception, bulling, and taxes.
A vast country.
Russia has been the biggest country in the world since the 16th century when Russian Cossacks conquered lands on the other side of the Ural Mountains in Siberia and the Far East. These regions account for 77 percent of Russia’s total area.
With 17,125,191 km2, it borders more countries than any other country in the world. It can accommodate India five times, France – 26 times, Germany – 47 times, England – 70 times. 1.7 times bigger than United States.
With a population of over 150m, it is thought that over 81% speak the official language of Russian as their first and only language but there are over 100 minority languages spoken in Russia today.
It can boast a long tradition of excellence in every aspect of the arts and sciences.
Once the preeminent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.; commonly known as the Soviet Union), Russia became an independent country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. (During the Soviet era most customs and traditions of Russia’s imperial past were suppressed.)
Although a majority of Russians are nonbelievers, religious institutions have filled the vacuum created by the downfall of communist ideology.
While Russians and Americans are destined by history and location to see the world in a very different manner, I believe that before the current war in the Ukraine there were sufficient commonality of thinking to provide a basis for fruitful cooperation, before the cold war and the birth of NATO.
Russian values are essentially human, with their hero’s universally authentic, their manifestations and symbols richly artistic and aesthetic.
I believe to succeed with Russia one must maintain theses qualities in clear focus, as opposed to paying to much attention to the enigmatic and often paradoxical aspects of their behaviour and current attitudes.
Although many people related Russia with vodka, it is not only about that. This country has too much history, and it is reflected until now.
Understandably, there’s a widening cultural gap between the older folk in Russia who lived through the Soviet era and the younger generation who’ve embraced the new, cosmopolitan Russia.
No matter how ethnically or religiously heterogeneous some countries might be, they invariably define themselves as ‘nations’ and consider their states ‘national’ or ‘nation states.’
People’ and ‘nation’ are synonyms here, and it is these two categories that impart primordial legitimacy to a modern state.
What does a Russian look like?
The stereotype view:
Bald headed – Military belt – Bribery – Vodka swilling – comrade ‘Russkii’ called Ivan (with over 22 million people (about 15 percent of the total population living below the poverty level.) The word ‘Russkii’ referred more to local customs and culture, while the word ‘Rossiyan’ referred to the whole nation.
Ask yourself this question.
Today’s independent Russia is a country that has risen anew. It has been obliged to solve, practically from scratch, the question of its place in the world — what unites the people who inhabit it, what kind of relationship these people have with the state and what they expect from it.
Russia is always choosing its own “third way.”
While it is a well-known fact that Vladimir Putin worked as a Soviet spy in former East Germany.
Love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny that Putin has made a huge impact on his country and the world.
Under Putin, the Anglo-Russian relationship has turned into a paradox:
With its Oligarchs Russia has failed to shake off accusations of being fundamentally dishonest.
Those who were surprised by Putin’s annexation of Crimea and the subsequent Russian-fuelled conflict in eastern Ukraine should have remembered: six years earlier he set the mould for the “Putin doctrine” in Georgia.
Increasingly hemmed in by NATO’s advance. Russia would use troops to protect its interests in a sphere of influence out side its frontiers.
The Ukrainian conflict has ruptured relations between Russia and the west over the past year, but in fact it is merely the latest example of Putin asserting Russia’s “rights” in its former backyard, known in Russia as “the near abroad”.
Putin’s position has huge backing in Russia – and plenty of support from those in the west who believe that NATO only exists to deal with the insecurities that its existence creates.
The charitable view of Putin’s foreign policy is that he stands up to western hegemony and, with China, acts as a balance to the overweening military and political power of the US/NATO.
He can plausibly claim to have history on his side in opposing Washington over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but his stance on Syria and unwavering support for Bashar al-Assad has been open to greater criticism.
Under Yeltsin, Russian pursued a policy of grudging cooperation with NATO.
All that changed under Putin. Since his first interview with the BBC, Putin has insisted that NATO’s eastward expansion represents a threat to his country.
I understand that history is about politics. Since war is a continuation of politics by other means there is something in Russian culture today making most Russians—even highly educated people—incapable of simple manifestations of human solidarity..
Russians remain largely a community of subjects with low public trust and solidarity. If they lack these when it comes to their own relations, why should they show solidarity with their neighbours?
Russian oppositionists believe that the essence of Russia does not lie in its “brainless leaders” but in Bulgakov, Akhmatova, Mandelshtam, Brodsky and other geniuses of Russian culture. Their legacy is everlasting, and in a way, they are the real Russia.
In the minds of many Russians, Russia is not just another country. It is a country with a great mission—namely, to save the world from the corrupting influence of the spoiled West. For this reason, all things Russian must be great: its territory, its army, even its language has to be (as one Russian genius put it) “great and mighty.” Neighbouring nations who reject this great mission are, at best, silly children in need of education, at worst, scoundrels and traitors who must be decimated, deported, and so on.
That might be so.
In either case, they cannot be left to their own devices to sort out their own happiness.
Accordingly, many Russians are prepared to suffer privations themselves or inflict equal suffering on their neighbours, if it proves Russia’s greatness to the world.
Cultures colloid and people die. Moreover, Putin is not just collective—he is repetitive. In other words, behind the real Vladimir Putin stands the collective Putin of the Russian people. Until this changes unfortunately it will remain a percolating philistine, separate civilization, vindicated by NATO to which “Western rules” do not therefore apply.
Russia now needs to review its ideological and doctrinal documents underpinning the ongoing effort to achieve civic solidarity and national identity.
It’s just that it doesn’t make much of a difference for Ukrainians, not then and especially not today.
The third-largest ethnic group in Russia, are Ukrainians making up about 2% of the population – around 1.9 million.
Your and our silence on the war is pitiable.
Aa a result of the supply of Western advanced weapons to Ukraine, we know that Russia will be “moved from a concept of special operation to a concept now of a war against NATO and the West.
“Davay!” (Let’s do it), “Poekhali!” (Let’s roll), or even the Soviet-era, “Vzdrognem!” (literally “Let’s shudder,”)
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin
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