"Up to now I have refrained from mentioning Russia —intentionally, for with Russia it is not a question of different peoples but of different worlds. The Russians are by no means a people like the Germans and the English. Like the Germanic tribes of the Carolingian age they contain within themselves the potentialities of many future peoples. "Russianism" is the promise of a future culture as the evening shadows grows longer and longer over the Western world. The distinctions between Russian and Western spirit cannot be drawn too sharply. As deep a cleavage as there is between the spirit, religion, politics, and economics of England, Germany, America, and France, when compared with Russia these nations suddenly appear as a unified world. It is easy to be deceived by some inhabitants of Russia who reflect strong Western influence. The true Russian is just as inwardly alien to us as a Roman in the Age of Kings or a Chinese long before Confucius would be if they were suddenly to appear among us. The Russians have been aware of this every time they have drawn a line of demarcation between "Mother Russia" and "Europe."
For us, the primitive soul of Russia is an inscrutable something that lies behind dirt, music, vodka, meekness, and a strange melancholy. We naturally form our judgments subjectively, i.e., as the late, urban, and intellectually mature members of a wholly different culture. What we "see" in Russia is therefore not a soul just now awakening, which even Dostoyevsky was helpless to describe, but our own mental picture of it, which is formed by our superficial image of Russian life and Russian history and is further falsified by the use of such very "European" words as will, reason, and Gemut. Yet perhaps some of us are able to convey a virtually indescribable impression of that country that will leave no doubt as to the immense gap that separates us.
This childlike, inarticulate, fearsome people has been confused, wounded, tortured, and poisoned by having forced upon it the patterns of a foreign, imperious, masculine, and mature "European" culture. Its flesh has been pierced by European-style urban centers with European ambitions, and its undeveloped consciousness infected by overripe attitudes, philosophies, political ideas, and scientific principles. In 1700, Peter the Great forced upon his people the Baroque style of politics, complete with cabinet diplomacy, dynastic influence, administration, and a Western-style navy. In 1800, English ideas, basically incomprehensible to these people, made their entrance in the guise of French writers who succeeded in confusing the minds of a small intellectual minority. Even before 1900 the bookish Russian intelligentsia introduced Marxism to their country, a complex product of Western European dialectics of whose origin they were completely ignorant. Peter the Great transformed the tsarist state into a major power within the Western system, thus perverting its natural development. And the "intelligentsia," themselves the product of the Russian spirit after it was corrupted by foreign-style cities, then entered the scene with their somber longing for indigenous institutions that must arise in some far-distant future, thereby distorting the primitive thought of their country into a kind of barren, childish theorizing after the manner of professional French revolutionaries. Owing to the Russians’ boundless humility and willingness to sacrifice, Petrinism and bolshevism have accomplished some very real things in senseless and disastrous imitation of such Western creations as the Court of Versailles and the Paris Commune. But these institutions have affected only the surface of Russian existence; each of them can disappear and reappear with unpredictable swiftness.
As yet Russia has had only religious experiences, no social or political ones. Dostoyevsky, in reality a saint who has been made to appear in the nonsensical and ridiculous Western guise of a romancier, is misunderstood if his social "problems" are considered apart from his novelistic form. His true essence is sooner to be found between than in the lines, and in The Brothers Karamazov he reaches a religious intensity comparable only to that of Dante. His revolutionary politics, on the other hand, originated within an insignificantly small metropolitan coterie which no longer possessed definite Russian sensibilities and, as far as family extraction is concerned, can indeed hardly be called Russian at all. As a consequence Dostoyevsky’s political thought was caught between the extremes of forced dogmatism and instinctive rejection.
Hence Russia’s deep, formidable, atavistic hatred of the West, of the poison in its own body. It can be felt in the inner suffering of Dostoyevsky, in the violent outbursts of Tolstoy, and in the silent brooding of the common man. It is an irrepressible hatred, often unconscious and often concealed beneath a sincere inclination to love and understand, a basic hatred of all symbols of the Faustian will: the cities (Petersburg in particular) which intruded as vanguards of this will on the rural calm of the endless steppes; the arts and sciences, Western thought and emotion, the state, jurisprudence, administrative structure, money, industry, education, "society"—in fact, everything. It is the primeval apocalyptic hatred that distinguishes the culture of antiquity. All bolshevism contains something of the dismal bitterness of the Maccabees, as well as of the much later insurrection that led to the destruction of Jerusalem. Its rigid dogmatism alone could never have supplied the impetus that sustains the movement even to the present day. The subliminal anti-Western instincts of Russia, at first directed against Petrinism, have lent strength to bolshevism. But since bolshevism is itself an outgrowth of Petrinism it will in time be destroyed in order to complete Russia’s liberation from "Europe."
The proletarian of the West wishes to reshape Western civilization to meet his special desires; the Russian intelligentsia wishes, by instinct if not always consciously, to destroy it. That is the meaning of Eastern nihilism. Our Western civilization has long since become purely urban; in Russia there is no such thing as "the masses," but only "the people." Every true Russian, whether his occupation is that of scholar or civil official, is basically a peasant. He is not really interested in the second-hand cities with their second-hand masses and mass ideologies. Despite Marxism, the only economic problems in that country are rural problems. The Russian "worker" is a misunderstanding. The only reality is the untouched, unharmed land, just as in Carolingian Europe. We went through this phase a thousand years ago, and thus we do not understand each other. We Western Europeans are no longer capable of living in communion with the virgin land. Whenever we go "to the country" we take with us the city with all its spiritual aspects; and we take it there in our blood, not just in our head like the Russian intelligent. The Russian mentally transports his village with him to the Russian cities.
If we wish to understand this irreparable cleavage between Eastern and Western "socialism" we must at all times distinguish the Russian soul from the Russian political system, and the mentality of the leaders from the instincts of those they lead. For what else is Pan-Slavism but a Western-type political mask covering a strong sense of religious mission? Despite all the industrial catchwords like "surplus value" and "expropriation," the Russian worker is not an urban worker, not a man of the masses as in Manchester, Essen, and Pittsburgh. He is actually a ploughman and reaper who has left home, with a hatred for the foreign power that has spoiled the true calling that his soul still clings to. The ideological elements that make bolshevism work are quite insignificant. Even if its program were turned on its head, its unconscious mission for awakening Russia would remain the same: nihilism.
Even so, bolshevism has an immense appeal for the fomenting intellectuals of our cities. It has become a hobby for tired and addled brains, a weapon for decaying megalopolitan souls, an expression for rotting blood. The Spartacism of the salons belongs in the same category as theosophy and occultism; it is for us the same thing as the cult of Isis was, not for the Oriental slaves in Rome but for the decadent Romans themselves. The fact that it made its entrance in Berlin has to do with the monstrous sham of this Revolution. It is relatively unimportant that empty-headed fools started founding "peasant councils" in Berlin in imitation of the Soviet model, or that no one noticed that rural affairs are the cardinal problem in Russia while our headaches are strictly urban. In the face of socialism, Spartacism has no future in Germany. But bolshevism is certain to conquer Paris, for when mingled with anarchic syndicalism it can satisfy the tired, sensation-hungry French soul. It will be the proper form of expression for the taedium vitae of that giant city that is so satiated with life. As a dangerous poison for refined Western intellects it has a greater future than in the East.
In Russia it will be replaced by some new form of tsarism, the only possible system for a people living under such conditions. Most probably this tsarism will resemble the Prussian socialistic system more closely than capitalist parliamentarism. Yet the future of the unconscious forces of Russia lies not in the solution of political and social quandaries but in the imminent birth of a new religion, the third to emerge from the matrix of Christianity, just as Germanic-Western culture unconsciously conceived the second form of Christianity around 100 A.D. Dostoyevsky is one of the prophets of this new faith; it is as yet nameless, but it has already begun to enter with quiet, infinitely tender power.
For us citizens of the Western world, religion is finished. In our urban souls what was once true religiosity has long since been intellectualized to "problematics." The Church reached its fulfillment at the Council of Trent. Puritanism has turned into capitalism, and Pietism is now socialism. The Anglo-American sects represent merely the nervous businessman’s need for theological pastimes. There is no more repulsive spectacle than the attempted of certain Protestant groups to revivify the cadaver of religion by smearing it with bolshevist offal. The same thing has been tried with occultism and theosophy. And nothing is more deceptive than the hope that the future religion of Russian can stimulate a revival of religion in the West. There should no longer be any misunderstanding: with its hatred of state, science, and art, Russian nihilism is also directed against Rome and Wittenberg, whose spirit is present in all forms of Western culture and thus an integral part of what this nihilism aims to destroy. Russia will push this development aside and link up once again, by way of Byzantium."
Very interesting and although someone will maybe find something written in here offensive I don't see it that way, and I certainly don't think that the author had that intention. For me the problem of Russia is always the same; Russia is not a Western country yet their elite are constantly trying to force it to be just that even though the people of Russia are rejecting westernization. The people not Putin! Putin was another in a series of rulers who wanted Russia to be like the West, no matter the fact that it's not, it will never be and most importantly it should never want to be West because it has such a beautiful culture of it's own. Only now he's changing the course, but not of his own will but because events have forced him to. The only way for Russia to prosper is to embrace her traditions, her way of life, her spirituality, her way of dealing with people and nations. And for that she has to go back to the Byzantium ways because there is her base not Rome. Very good way to see the difference between Russia and the West is to read about Rome and the Byzantine Empire. The way the West approaches the world and other peoples is the same as that of Roman Empire. Russia can't do that because it comes in contradiction with what she is so if she acted in that ahistoric way like with the Bolsheviks for example there would be tragic consequences. West for Russia should only be a trading partner and nothing more. Any accepting of "western values" would be devastating for Russia when values that are nurtured in Russia itself between Russian peoples of all religions are timeless and are understood by people on all continents.