FLRU 2510 Russian Culture

Slavophiles and Westernizers

Russia and the West
  1. Kievan period
  2. Moscow period - Moscow the Third Rome.
  3. Peter the Great - Westernization of Russia. Criticism of Russian Culture.
  4. Russian Nationalism - Napoleonic Wars. Nationalist ideologies.
  5. What is the nature of Russia, its place in the world, its relation to the West in the present, the past, and the future?
The Slavophiles
  1. Golden Age of the Slavophiles - 1845-1860
  2. The Slavophiles were a group of 19th century Russian intellectuals who were drown together by common beliefs, attitudes, and aspirations in such fundamental issues as religion, philosophy and the problem of Russia and the West.
  3. Never formed an organization. Never exacted conformity from the members of their group.
  4. Slavophiles come from old gentry families
    1. closely associated with Moscow and Moscow University
    2. loved vague and unfounded speculation in all fields of knowledge.
    3. brought up in the tradition of French liberal education.
    4. most of them spoke several modern languages
    5. they all traveled/ and some studied in the West.
    6. landowners, lived on the income of their land
    7. s
    8. Believed that all of history is a contest between spiritual and carnal forces.
  5. Old Slavic culture is the salvation for Russia.
  6. Slavs distinguished by their peaceful occupation of agriculture, strong family ties and organization into communes.
  7. Idea of force, compulsion, law was foreign to them.
  8. Russia had a road of her own to follow, and imitation of the West led to disorder
  9. .
  10. Russia was the savior of the West.
  11. Russia will show the West the true path from which it has deviated.
  12. Russia saved Europe from Napoleon. Next task was to save the soul of Europe.
  13. Tended to idealize the peasant commune.
  14. West - oppressive, mechanistic, rationalistic.
  15. Slavophiles opposed Peter the Great, who wanted to mold Russia in the direction of the West, which split the educated society from the people.
  16. St. Petersburg - the very essence of rationalism, formalism, materialism, legalism. Capital should be moved to Moscow.
  17. Western society based on exploitation of the masses, hatred, and antagonism.
  18. Believed that the West was full of hatred toward Russia.
  19. The West has failed to resolve the antinomy of man and society, of the private and the public. This has lead to loss of love and faith.
  20. Church
    1. East and Orthodoxy - religion of moral freedom, spiritual creativity. West - religion of necessity, materialism, exploitation.
    2. Western Church not based on primacy of love. Pope became new authority.
    3. Protestantism carried the seeds of its own destruction.
Westernizers Chaadaev (1794-1856) "Philosophical Letters"
  1. In order to accomplish her tasks, Russia has to follow the Western pattern of development.
  2. Russia had no past, no present, no future.
  3. Russia never really belonged to either East or West.
  4. Russia contributed nothing to culture.
  5. Russia has contributed nothing to history.
  6. Russia is discovering truths that other, even less advanced people have known for centuries.
  7. Russians are superstitious.
  8. Russian culture is imitative and imported.
  9. There is no internal development, no natural progress, in Russian society.
  10. Russians are like children who have not been taught how to think for themselves
  11. .
  12. Russia has given nothing to the world, it has taught the world nothing.
  13. Russia has contributed nothing to the progress of the human spirit.
  14. There is something in the blood of Russians that resists progress.
  15. Russia is a blank in the intellectual order
  16. .
  17. Moscow - Necropolis (Dead City). Moscow is a city remarkable for its ineptitude. Tsar Cannon - never fired; Tsar Bell - never rung.
  18. Russia totally dependent on ideas and institutions imposed from without.
  19. The Russian peasant:
    1. loves inertia
    2. no sense of honor, law, duty, or citizensh
    3. ip
    4. likes to follow routines.
    5. finds no use for science or scientific explanations to phenomena. "Everything happens as God wills."
    6. the peasant commune based on equality in slavery.
    7. unable to grasp how any man can exist without belonging to someone or something.
    8. finds no use for literacy. Literate people are swindlers.
    9. Has no incentive to do his utmost.
    10. no desire to raise his standard of living.
  20. Orthodox Christianity largely responsible for the spiritual paralysis of Russia.
  21. Catholicism is the driving force of Western civilization.
THE ACCURSED QUESTIONS
  1. Accursed questionsóthose questions raised in 19th century Russia (greatly refelcted in literature of the time) and still being raised today.
  2. Note the influence of historical events on Russian thought (both before and after the 19th century.
    1. Adoption of Christianity from Byzantium
    2. Mongol invasion, lack of Renaissance.
    3. 17th century Schism.
    4. Peter the Great
    5. 1812
    6. Decembrist Uprising (1825)
    7. Abolition of serfdom (1861)
    8. 1905 revolution and the Russo-Japanese war
    9. 1917
    10. Stalinsim
    11. World War II
    12. De-stalinization and the Thaw
    13. Hardening of Party Position
    14. Perestroika
  3. Historical events give Russian thought an "iconic" flavor: World War II represents how the western world wants to invade and plunder Russia; Renaissance represents Russia's historical backwardness, etc.
  4. Russia and the world (what is Russia's place in the world?
  5. )
    1. Russia as a unique and holy nation.
    2. Third Rome.
    3. Russia responsible for world's salvation.
  6. Russia, East or West?
    1. Westernizers: Russia a backward nation, needing to adopt much from west.
    2. Slavophiles: Russia a pure, non-aggressive, communal nation, unspoiled by the west.
    3. Conflict seen in the two capitals - Moscow and St. Petersburg.
  7. What should the nature of society be
  8. ?
    1. Search for the communal life, possibly originating in the primeval Slavic past.
    2. People should take on others' sins (Dostoevsky)
    3. Search for a Utopia, feeling that it can be achieved through an apocalyptic, violent upheaval.
  9. How should man be?
    1. Dostoevskian thought: agony and responsibility of free will and freedom
    2. Tolstoyanism: merging of the individual with the cosmos, which peasants hold the key to understanting
    3. Humility: stressed by both Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
    4. Distrust of "well-doers" (menóor womenówith grandiose schemes for establishing a new society). Reflected in Zamyatin's We.
  10. What is art?
    1. Utilitarians: art should serve a purpose, should inspire readers to act the right way, vs. classicists: art exists for its own sake, artist decides himself what he'll write about and how he'll write it).
    2. 19th century literature: best writers are "classicists"~they raise social issues in their works, but do not subordinate their works to these issues
    3. 19th century art: adopted the utilitarian viewpoint, much social protest in the visual arts. 4. Soviet literature and art: utilitarian
    4. .