№ 3. 2007
FRANTIC ADHERENTS OF AGRESSION
We will talk about elementary truth, that substantially stuck in people’s mind a long time ago, about the truth, that struck root in folklore. Recently, such a banal reasoning would not be worth publishing: what is the point in forcing an open door? Last years the ethic daltonism became so widespread phenomenon all over the world that we have to tell you without coquetry and naughtiness: “The Volga flows into Caspian Sea, aggression and anger do not bring happiness.”
Is uncompromisingness always good? Are unflinching passionaries with their “big battalions”always right? Should we stake on caution as it was at that after crisis time of governing of the first Romanovs, tsar Mikhail and patriarch Filaret? And, probably, rounded academism in discussion is more appropriate than biting remarks after which - either fight a duel or go to “Sailor Silence”, without compromise. Is it time to chill out? Ioan Ioannovich Shuvalov had a good motto: “Slowly, little by little.” It should be said that this enlightened Earl, the friend of Lomonosov, the first Maecenas of Russian education, he managed to make more loud-voiced promoters. The point is that a chamberlain of Empress Elithabeth was melancholic, calm and reliable administrator. Nowadays powerful fashion (an inexorable despot!), working for pressing everything into tough frames of standart, forms an image of passionate choleric subject – the master of life and the consumer of entertainments. We are offered to live loudly, brokenly, walk on the pieces of broken dishes; the most popular slang word of ХХI century – “sparkle”. It is not an aggression yet but it is almost hysterics. Because of the fashion on hot temperament there starts a breakage of traditions of revolutionary scale. The meaning of Russian history is in the fact that our people bring themselves to revolution very seldom, but to the point. They come to it if it is the question of death and life, if they have to make a long-term choice. It happened in 1613, it happened at the time of Peter The Great and in 1917-1922nd. Constant readiness for revolutionary stress is not peculiar to our people. They have much more important things to do than expansively participate in the life of civil society. People know how to win avoiding bloody slaughter, standing at The Ugra. People know how to avoid conflicts, providing slow but sure development. There is no place for impatient and antsy ones at the wheel of the ship with name “Russia”. Our grandfathers said: “Do not hurry up to get to Lepeshy – we will spend the night in Sandyrya.” They thrust upon us wolfish ethos instead of bear one, they substitute fundamental peaceableness for poor cruelty. Loud fate of “extremist” is given like the only worthy walk of life. Heated public wants blood, it becomes embittered.
We can mark out as minimum two cultural strata where cruelty is given for the way of life. First of all, it is domestic rogue tradition connected with the practice of unsporting street fights, attracting boys of 1920-1930s with its extreme emotions. The confrontation between rogue Jigan and teacher Sergeev in the most popular pre-war movie “Start in life” was real life’s scenario. Picturesque individualist Jigan attracted many people, he was unpredictable and strong. Competition with thieves' world became the most important business for pre-war pedagogics. If they could not gain complete victory over criminality, rogue paradise as a style of life receded into the background.
The real renascence of rogue romance in not underground but mass culture was in 1990s. It is known that economic “shock therapy” of 1992 needed social anaesthesia. Women got it in the form of soap operas, men – in old “rogue” packing. I think that social therapy, in spite of its sanctimony and hypocrisy, is necessary but here we picked not the best out of all evil. Not only music and outward thieves’ image as a matter of fact, all vices, mentioned in criminal code, were let loose. For a long time power shut its eyes to gangster anarchy, it was much more important to turn former soldiers and workers into individualists and it could bear some criminal shade. Thieves’ ethic imbued the society, made it tougher, more pitiless. Approaches of “rogue hysterics” when customer is “taken by the throat” (“Alesha – sha, stop filling up Negro”) became usual and popular television sight which actors and politicians offered us. How could we think of centimeters, or tears about left kitty? It seemed that predator, lonely wolf, might be the hero of new time, future belongs to him. Social processes reflected in the life of the language, our speech. People used adjective “aggressive” more often in positive context – as a characteristic of active, successful person. May an active “aggression” be constructive? Delightful passion of destruction is the most dangerous drug, enslaving person.
Secondly, fashion on cruelty came to us from West, where they learnt how to make money on people’s vile senses a long time ago. We were fenced from this business with iron curtain, but in capitalistic countries XX century turned out to be the century of destruction of ascetic puritanic ideal. New heathens wanted contemporary gladiators’ battle, bloody entertainments. They wanted pungent feelings, especially pleasant when you are just a viewer and when you are in a safe soft armchair. But the propaganda of violence is a very dangerous phenomenon that the safety of soft armchair might be fake. Popular tendencies, carried to an absurdity, express radical youth movements, similar to German anarchist that came to elections to Bundestag with a slogan: “Give debilization of the country!” Their pre-election advertisement, reminding screen version of history of Sodom and Gomorrah, freely was broadcast by TV companies. Elections are elections.
Alas, I think that many young people in Russia looked with envy at their German coevals who swaggered at the expense of state. The way of degradation is attractive because it is easy and facile. It is much easier to slide down the banisters than climb up. That is why aggression comes into fashion so fast. For example, the story with sports fans. The word “fan” itself has steady negative shade in Russian tradition. It is supposed to mean thoughtless, blind, militant passion. But fan, expert, football-lover, chess-lover, hockey-lover and so on – that is something different.
It turned out, that it is possible to tear the mask of good breeding off and reveal your animal inside – without any limitations. Freedom! Or – will, however you want, we do not argue about terms. And now decorous families seldom go to sports competitions: they are afraid of hooliganism. Groups of young “fans” used to fight not for life but for death with other groups and with police.
Results of this nice entertainment, that came from enlightened Europe, indeed, are trivial: tens and hundreds of killed and crippled. Youth aggression, cherished in fan’s groups, is used and will be used for political purposes – both as bugaboo and as claque. It is not possible to fight successfully with this phenomenon: it is profitable to too many people, where money plays, orchestras fall silent.
Unfortunately, in our century of high informational technologies common mood depends on fashion stronger then before, when conservative tradition of Orthodoxy played a very important role. It turned out, that not only song or scarf but kindness may come out from fashion. Suspension and serenity seem to be old-fashioned, vapid, with non-extreme characteristics. There is little life on high speeds – thirst for pungent feelings is increasing like thirst in diabetes. Of course, disposition to anarchy and interest in any kind of extremism presented in the history of our nation. But opposed ethics always was main and culture-forming. I recall how chronicler in “The Primary Chronicle” interpreted the beginning of state organization. It happened in 862: “They chased Varangian away beyond the sea, did not render them tribute, and started ruling over their people on their own, but there were no truth between them, kin stood against kin, they had fallen out and started fighting with each other. They decided: “Let us look for a prince who is going to rule us and judge by right.” The went beyond the sea to Varangian, to Rus. Those Varangian were called Rus, just as some were called Swedes, others – Northmans and Englishmen, others – Gotlands. The Rus, the Slovenian, the Chud, the Krivichi said: “Our land is big and rich, but there is no order. Come to rule and reign.””
Chronicler is laconic and mysterious like a sphinx, but throughout “The Primary Chronicle” is led the idea caught up by Nestor’s followers: the most terrible thing is quarrel, fratricidal bloodshed, dissociation. Yaroslav and Vladimir Monomakh ceased all quarrels with force and compromises. They were rulers that chronicler holds up as an example for contemporaries. Ancestors did not forget Nestor’s lessons. Only full power is capable to reconcile enemies, unite separate people in common mission. Patient understanding of necessity in state many times saved Russian people from flows of suicidal bravado.
Patience is our great property, thanks to which Russia could stand up in wars, preserved its culture. There is no assentation in this patience, there is a special discipline, inhered in Eurasian people. Aversion of shock, nature conservancy (do not shake the boat under any circumstances!) – this is the foundation on which Russia stands. For the sake of affirmation of state organization, for the sake of cessation of distemper Novgorodians sacrificed personal freedom in 862. In next thousand-year chronicle Russia many times made similar choice on the most dangerous crossroads of history. They had enough wisdom.
Russian intelligent is accustomed to make pessimistic conclusions of epochal scale out of fly in domestic cutlet, which usually bring them to admitting of fatal flaws of our people. I wonder, if New Yorker will start talking about an absence of perspectives of American nation, if pockets of classic jeans are so small that it is not possible to put a wallet or a bunch of keys in without any harm for health…
Those, who are obsessed with thirst for changes, wanted to change situation, destroy even historical and literary school course. All these reforms! I wish to start writing the treatise “About the harm of reforms at all” like a general Kryticky from play “Enough naiveté for any wise man”. Of course, neither Russian classical literature nor, for example, Lenin’s full collection of works can not serve as universal stockroom of answers to any questions.
But it is impossible to move on without lessons of classics. Discussion of Pushkin, Chaadaev, Hercen, Dosotevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy blossomed with such flowers that without it we would never feel Russian spirit.
Phenomenon of great Westerner Turgenev is very interesting because of its political contradiction: quite often Ivan Sergeevich made fun of his own views and warmly interpreted ideas of opponents – Slavophils. It happened to the character of Slavophil Lezhnev from “Rudin” – everybody remembers patriotic Lezhnev’s aphorism: “Russia can go without every one of us, but nobody of us can go without it. Woe is whoever thinks that and double woe is whoever really goes without it!” These words are taken in for insight – and Lezhnev turned out to be not ludicrous figure in spite of the fact that he is ideological opponent. In Russian classical literature of XX century you can find opposite views on fundamental problems of Russian life, but nobody preached aggression. Rejection of philanthropy (this word might seem too sugary to nowadays aggressors) is unthinkable in the blosom of our culture. Russia knows how to resist outside influence, throwing away everything that is non-organic or contrary to the spirit of our thousands-year culture…
Pushkin’s courtier blurts: “Let us artificially excite people.” Poet and his readers knew the result of this efforts: long-term distemper, the way of severe defeats, a long way to agreement and victory. Now the pie of political power seems to be so dainty, that everybody lets himself go into politics, like into gold-rush. It is difficult not to pay attention to epatage, row and provocation, it is checked tactics. It seems to be important for ambitious men to stir up dead-water and in no circumstances allow political stability, when professionals are worth better than demagogues. The character of Russian people, that do not like to revolt on any occasion, awfully prevents seekers of the storm… In order to wake up rebellious public spirit, they are ready to play on the strings of anarchy, that may bring to bloody hooligan’s holiday of disobedience. Jolly scuffle, street oratory. “Artificially exciting people”, it is important to spark brutal fury in them. You will not go far without aggression.
Publicist Konstantin Krylov, that calls himself Russian nationalist, appeals: “The purpose is clear: decode. Remove a ban, put on participation in conflicts. People have to feel the taste of hatred and revenge – and understand that the greatest happiness, which people can ever have, is in this.” It seems that educated and talented literary man is artificially doing his best checking disgusting idea for strength and popularity. This wording of the opposite common place, truth, turned on its head, sounds too sectarianly temperamental. It is very contemporary, fiery and eye-catching to see happiness in hatred and rage.
I think, our ideologist reckons on a bright perspective: first, stimulate youth aggression and then run it for political purposes. It is a good business-plan under conditions of competitive political struggle, but in reality of Russian authoritarianism, that has salutary instinct of self-preservation, similar radicalism will always be on an edge, far away from trunk-roads. Hatred is a terrible uncontrollable element. When our people waged war, realizing the justice of their hard work, the learning of hatred to invader was necessary (though painful) retreat from people's morals. Simonov said: “as many times you see him as many times – just kill him”, and fierce Erinburg’s articles preserved that tension of righteous hatred, that was skillfully measured not to overflow. But soviet people became generous after they realized their strength and overcame months of defeats and retreats.
For a long time with historical and common examples we can discuss what the strength and weakness are. Ability to have control over yourself, not going down to hysterics, revenge and lynch law - this features inhere in really courageous and strong people and nations. Red Army’s conduct in occupied Germany in 1945th and later is an example of strength that does not need any historical self-assertion. It is clear, we do not have to see moral strength of our army as a cure-all. Everything might happen in this life, but we will not like our western colleagues imagine opponents as pigmies and yourself – as representatives of the highest race. And high moral demands to army and society are made by all history of Rus – Russia – Soviet Union. Aspiration (often unsuccessful) for sanctity does not give us a chance to regard crime as feat, irreconcilability – as virtue.
In foreign campaigns of Russian army in 1813-1814 (especially after entry into French territory) our soldier revealed generosity, fostered by tsar’s aversion to marauding and revenge. Though, Russian soldier left behind native ravaged villages and ruins of profaned relics. Many people remember Kutuzov’s speech from Tolstoy’s novel: “It is hard for you, but you are at home, and they….you see what they came to, - he said, - pointing at captives: - worse than beggars. When they were strong, we did not spare ourselves, but now we might feel sorry for them. They are humans as well. Is that right, guys?”
It is difficult for frantic adherents to catch this logic. Temperament prevents. Steam from boiling water raises up and goes away from teaport whistle. It is difficult for them to understand the idea of Vuchetich who placed in Berlin not scary but strong with his kindness soldier who stood against not only soldiers of Reich, but aesthetics and ethic of socialism and nationalism And in 1945 Eastern Germany got Russian bread. Hungry, exhausted, but invincible nation extended a helping hand to recent enemy. That is how victors conduct, but contemporary publicist prefers learning from destroyed Germans. By the way, the most consecutive enemy was Adolph Hitler, who proposed a theory of permanent fight. Tendency to compromises and peacemaking he regarded as a “miserable strain”.
What a terrible consonance with thoughts of those who want to “spark” Russian people today!
In the world of fake thoughts, plastic feelings and subjects, of course, it is not difficult to risk dejected well-being of today for “keen feelings”. Having listened to plenty of electronic music, having dined with soy products, in crackling synthetic roll-neck sweater we imagine that there are no constant values in the world.
Only getting to know the world and being imbued with its beauty, we might become more charitable and more diligent.
перевод на англ. Марии Просвиряковой
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