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Russia: land of slaves, land of masters

I wrote this article prior to the tragedy of the submarine Kursk. However, everything that happened to that submarine and what went on around it confirms my conclusion about Russia as a country of slaves who don’t see the true reasons of their country’s tragedy. Myself, as a Canadian of Russian descent, I see the following reasons.

The ruling elite of Russia, including its President, keeps saying and writing that Russia is a great power, that she must take a “place of honour” in the world community. This is confusing: if Russia is indeed a great power, that in itself is a “place of honour” in the world community. Something doesn’t hold together here.

The latest version of the foreign policy concept also doesn’t make sense. It says that in Russia’s interests as a “great power, one of the influential centres of the modern world” it is necessary to work for the “formation of a multi-polar system of international relations”. But why does Russia need this if it is already a “centre of the world”, responsible for “the maintenance of security in the world both on the global and regional levels”?

Russia isn’t just a geo-strategic “centre of the world”; the ver-r-r-y Russian “Eurasians” maintain that it is also a center of spirituality and civilization, that it is destined for a “messianic role” in the world. They also threaten to build a “bridge between the East and the West”.

Reading and hearing this kind of stuff, for a long time I couldn’t determine if all this hogwash is presented seriously or not, if it’s dished out just for the masses or for the authors as well? But one day I had a revelation: I recalled the poem by Lermontov that goes: “Farewell, unwashed Russia, land of slaves and masters…” And everything fell in place. Today as in Lermontov’s time, Russia is still a country of slaves and masters. Where there are masters, there are slaves.

As world history shows, in a slavery system the masters tend to be intellectually primitive in the extreme, since no intellectual efforts are needed to drive slaves. The methods of “whip and candy” suffice. Candies, however, are scarce in today’s Russia (for slaves, that is), so they are replaced with circuses. As a result, the thinking level of the ruling elite (the politicians, oligarchs, all kinds of “scientists”) remains in a pre-Hegel state. It is thinking that operates not on the level of concepts and categories, but rather on the level of words, or, as the politicians themselves say, on the level of common sense.

If it had been otherwise, then the authors of, say, that same foreign policy concept would have defined, for starters, what is a “great power” and how does a “world pole” differ from a “power centre”. They would have demonstrated how it is possible with a GDP of about $300 billion to aspire to the role of one of the “poles” (the Russians themselves have reported their GDP in 1998 at $276.5 billion). They would have explained how is it that countries with a GDP 5 or even 13 times (in Japan’s case) bigger than Russia’s don’t pretend to be a “power centre” or even a “minor pole”, while the impoverished, hungry Russia does have such pretensions. It doesn’t occur to them to calculate the compatibility of their foreign policy potential with the goals and tasks included in the concept.

It doesn’t occur to the builders of the “bridge” to look at the globe and picture which East and which West will be connected by this “bridge”. And the Eurasians never think of taking a look at themselves from aside to determine: who needs this “messianic role” of Russia? Anyway, does the world know anything about Russia? Those who do know something write books with titles like “Strategic Ghetto”, or “Black Hole”, or “Slave Soul of Russia”. Most importantly, do these Eurasians know about their own country? If they know that Russia is 130th in the world as concerns health care, 91st in life expectancy, equal in GDP to Austria – a country of only 9 million people, and they still keep carrying on about the “messianic role”, then they belong in the loony bin.

The most paradoxical thing is that all these writers and talkers are not loonies but quite normal politicians and scientists. Normal, that is, by the standards of the “master-slave” system. Russian intellectuals in these cases resort to the poet Tyutchev every time, quoting: “Russia can’t be comprehended with the mind”, and so on. They don’t realize that no one wishes to dig into the Russian soul. The West has no Dostoyevskys, it doesn’t need them. We don’t dig into ourselves but rather calculate to find out who can accomplish what. We know: the winner will be the one who calculates well. 

Now let’s talk about slaves. No, not the people yet – about the master-slaves, the ruling elite. Take, for instance, the televised scene of President Yeltsin presenting the new Prime Minister Mr. Kirienko to the Cabinet. All the ministers are standing stiff, smiling askance. “The young guy” shakes their hands condescendingly. The Prime Minister is always late, but the ministers always jump from their tables when he appears, scribble diligently down in their notepads the “clever thoughts” of the sick President, listen obediently as generals are chewed out in front of an audience, suck up to the boss. An official’s position is more important to him than human dignity – that’s common with slaves.

But the master-slaves compensate for their humiliation with the luxury of their offices, dwellings, dachas, cars. The poorer the country, the more luxury is enjoyed by its rulers. Compare the Kremlin offices and those of Government officials with corresponding offices in the White House of the USA or the offices of the Prime Minister of Japan. It’s the same at all levels of authority, even in the sphere of organized religion. Compare the interior decoration of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral with any contemporary church in Western Europe. They compare the same as fat Russian priests compare to lean European priests. An inferiority complex always hides behind a fasade of wealth.

This inferiority complex of the Russian master-slaves manifests itself in groveling before the West; in the current historical situation it’s mostly groveling before the USA and their culture. It’s lackey-ism everywhere and in everything: on television (almost all the programs are copied from American ones), in economic theory and politology (for the most part it’s outdated works that get translated), in culture (especially pop music). And in language, of course. The new-anglo-speak has affected especially television and radio personalities; they spout words like badi-bilding, kreativny, draivovy, nominatsia, kotlety-haus. Isn’t that moronic? Even Primakov couldn’t resist and dropped the word “risonabelny”. Nothing like this has been seen in the history of Russia.

And what about the people? It is simply non-existent. What exists is a multi-national populace under the common name “rossiyane”, devoted to their master-slaves. This populace produces their master-slaves and votes for them. The top masters start the war in Chechnya, and the populace obediently fights there. Back come coffins, men swear vengeance, women wail. What is all this for? Hardly anyone understands that this war is destroying Russia, not just physically but also morally. Once in the past De Gaulle relinquished Algiers and saved France. Great Britain was forced to let go of all its colonies and semi-colonies, and thus was the empire-buiding saved. Lenin released Finland, and the Soviet Republic was only the better for it. The current rulers are incapable of such actions. And what about the people? Well, it’s non-existent.

In Moscow and probably all other cities as well transit fees and utility charges are raised by 50%, and everyone keeps silent. Where is it, the “constructive opposition”? Where is the Communist Party – the defender of the “working people”? Why, everyone is on vacation, since it’s summer. Because the Communist Party leaders are also of those slaves who long to be masters. I’d like to see them try and raise subway fares in this fashion in Vancouver, or London, or Chicago, or Tokyo. On the next day hundreds of thousands of people would have taken to the streets and swept away any administration. Because we are not slaves, you are slaves.

You Russians boast of your high education levels, yet you elect to Presidency a dumb sick man or a man whom you don’t know. All that’s needed is a Decree from above and a little brainwashing through television.

You Russian boast of your spirituality, yet you are mired in a dollargasm.

You boast of your piety, though most of you have never read the Bible, or else you would have learned from there that Christianity proclaims the eventual liquidation of the Russian people and the total destruction of your country (Ezekiel 38). 

You boast of your culture, while inside the St. Basil Cathedral it smells of decay, wetness and urine.

You boast of your Russianness, while tens of thousands of you stand in lines at embassies of Western countries in order to receive permission to leave Russia.

And you why this is happening? This is happening because we sing: We shall overcome, we shall overcome, while you sing: We shall survive tribulations and sorrows, we shall survive, we shall survive…

I’d like you to survive, but I’m not sure you will, since your President says that your numbers decrease by 750,000 each year.

This dying out of Russians will continue until you realize the most important thing: it is not Putin or Yeltsin who are at fault, nor Berezovsky or Gusinsky. At fault is the Russian-style capitalist system that you have recreated. It already came close once to destroying Russia as a sovereign state. That time, Russia was saved by the Bolsheviks. Today there are no such bolsheviks, therefore you are doomed… to slavery.

PS.  I’m prepared to answer any criticism, regardless of origin.

Alex Battler

Published in "Sovetskaya Rossiya" (12 Oct. 2000), in Russian Vancouver, no. 56 (2000),  in  Oleg Arin and Valentina Arina. Between Titi and Kaka. The Impressions of a Tourist…but not only (Moscow: Alliance, 2001), also in "Russia: land of slaves, land of masters (Moscow: Algoritm, 2003).

 PSS I had huge repicussions on this article. Who knows Russian may see them on my other  site – www.olegarin.com