The question put in the title of this article isn’t the rhetoric one. With my entire honor of Igor Suzdaltsev the President of the institute of nationalities and Vladimir Putin the President of Russia, Mr. Suzdaltsev refers to, I would doubt it. And I could prove my doubt.
So, let us start from afar, that is, from the fact that before 1917 there was already Russian nation in Russia. In spite of the fact that it formed not in the democratic state, but within the depth of the slaveholding empire. Nevertheless, the privileged class of that state built an isolated community that met the demands made the nation (see the article of Mr. Suzdaltsev “Nation or Slavery” above). In other words, the nation in Russia was formed not by the whole population of the country, but exclusively by the class of nobility. Like Spartans in far away Ancient Greece. The slaves whose number was unaccountably high did not take part in this process because they were not even considered for people before a certain time. However, when on a certain stage of the development of the society the idea of equality was introduced the nation was already formed. The Russian bond slave found himself out of the nation.
However, in 1917 the bond slaves took advantage of the February Bourgeois Revolution aimed at putting an end with the autocracy and also raised the revolt, but rather not against the Tsar, then against the new order that was introduced after 1861. Eventually, in 1917 the Civil War began between Russian nation and its former slaves who half century earlier formally became the citizens of Russia, but they were desperately wretched and deprived of any means of existence. In this bloody war the powers appeared to be unequal. The bond slaves armed and learned to fight during the World War One few times outnumbered their former masters. That is why the Russian nation came off second-best. First, part of them were ousted from the country. Then, the rest were methodically killed for the next 70 years (see the article “Ethnic Groups of Crimea…” above).
Thus, today there is no sense speaking about the restoration of the former Russian nation because it stopped its existance long ago. One could only consider the creation of a new nation. However, not Russian nation, but the nation of Russia. And let’s the ignorant persons who do not know the history of their own country would discuss the revival of the traditions of Russian culture and other similar issues. One should be realistic and to perceive the world pragmatically if we really want to built rather the real constructions than the castles in the air. The reality is that there is no such human resourses that were before 1917. Today another people live in Russia. There is almost nothing left of the people that in the 19th century created the masterpieces of literature and art. They were replaced by the generation of slaves who have completely different spiritual and moral principles and other intellectual abilities and mentality. What Russian traditions one could speak of after that?!
Indeed, not long ago - just one hundred and fifty years - this territory was inhabited by so called Russian people who practiced the slave-holding principles. These Russian Spartans were parasitic on Iol-Slavs reducing them to the workstock. And it lasted for more than a thousand of years. For that time period by means of selection the slave - holders breaded such kind of tupe of cattle - slaves that eventually stopped feelling themselves as human beings in the modern sense of this word. Today we sometimes complain about the lack of civil responsibility of a certain part of the population of our country. But, for goodness' sake! The ancestors of the modern Russia's population were intentionaly made to be so. They were suggested by threats and bribery that they are not humans, but an obedient cattle. The communist empire that replaced the Russian one not only changed anything, but brought this selection to perfection thus creating under Stalin governance the ideal slaves. One should mention that the lords of Tsarist Russia cultivated diametrically opposite principles. Obedience and weak will were spread only among their slaves - Slavs.
These very hereditary slaves we now expect to be the valuable citizens initiative, purposeful and responsible for their deeds and actions? Stop it! It takes many generations to overcome the slave habits of the former slaves. As Chekhov used to say "one must drop by drop squeeze out a slave from oneself". Indeed, it's not easy. Moses drove its people along the desert for forty years in order to get rid of slavery in people that were implanted tj them in Egypt. Though, Jews lived in Egypt for far lesser period of time than Slavs under the Russians' slave-holding.
The law of Alexander the 2nd granting the freedom to Russian slaves, though was imposed by the humanistic ideas coming from Western Europe appeared to be inhuman and merciless in Russia's expanses, because the slave obtained nothing except freedom. The thousand year slave, who used to the firm traditions when the master rules sway his destiny and live and he just resigned with blind submission, was suddenly deprived of his usual way of life, and in fact, found himself left to the mercy of fate. The master, who not only thought and decided him what he must do, suddenly stopped taking care of him, teaching him some good sense and made him rule his own destiny for himself. For the majority of slaves it was equal to the fatal disaster.
When Berdyaev complained that in Russia the nobleness get along with "meanness, lack of dignity and slavery" he meant this very part of population. The population that for half century at his times was really in the position of complete slaves and was fully dependent on their masters because they used to depend on them. It's natural that the majority of the slaves regarded it as the treachery that resulted in "misanthropy and cruelty" which were incomprehensible to Berdyaev and that were not peculiar to high classes. However, as all they lived together in one common environment where everybody had equal rights Berdyaev couldn’t perceive why the same Russian people are so different. The philosopher Berdyaev was lacked knowledge of Russian history, I'm afraid. The historical analysis could help him grasp the situation that he defined with the word "absurd". Though, one could understand and forgive Berdyaev because "large seems from afar". However, he found himself in the thick of things.
Many Russians living already in immigration understood the reasons of this absurd. However, these ideas didn't reach us because we had been living under "the iron curtain" for 70 years. Because these ideas were disagreeable for the authorities. The communists who governed the empire of slaves needed "good and worthy history" that could unite the dupe people. That is why they created the history by cutting short the real one. The result was not what really had been, but what was supposed to suggest.
Now we are making amendments to the history that was falsified by the communists. However, at the same time we need to form the nation. The new nation not the communist one. What for? In order to make the State called Russia stronger. Because the nation is not the population, but the united human society. The state needs rather the nation than the population if this state is going to exist for a long time.
Here we face with the problems. Without solving these problems we couldn't form the nation. Let's try to analyze these problems. In order to form the nation in the frames of a certain state one needs, first of all, the uniting idea that could touch every member of this community (see "Ethnic groups of Crimea..."). The Russian nation was formed six centuries ago under the idea of Orthodoxy. Under these historic conditions it was the most efficient idea. However, it's not possible to use it nowadays, because every idea has its historic time. Ivan the Terrible created the nation by turning the Golden Horde population into Orthodoxy. Now one couldn't do so. The time is different. Even worse. Under the present circumstances this idea could provoke the civil war, because one third of Russia's population are Muslims and one third are atheists. Thus, this idea is not only unbearable, but even dangerous. It's high time to put it away for good. As a matter of fact, in the modern civilization the religious ideas do not play the leading role in the state-building long ago. One should also consider the freedom of religion as well.
Under the communist governance there was one more idea that was quite effective in uniting people. This was the idea of the anemic surrounding. And it gave its results: people were afraid of the enemies who wanted conquering and destroying our communist paradise. That's made them unitimg. However, this concrete didn't appear to be long-lasting and strong. Because this idea vanished when the "iron curtain" had felt. The real world sobered even the most dunked people in the world - the Soviet people. The people that firmly believed in a fairy-tale that they were the happiest people in the world stopped one's existence as well: no false idea - no false people. Thus, today Russia already inhabited not by the people, but population. However, it couldn't last long. If the population won't get united by the national idea Russia would come apart like the Soviet Union recently did it.
One should give the present Government due, it understands that well. However, they could do nothing about it. Why? The thing is that they can’t find the national idea. Though, in the world’s practice there are many examples of forming of nations. Just choose one and apply. However, it appeared that everything is not so easy as it seemed. It’s a common knowledge that every nation was formed by its own distinct way. And Russia is not an exclusion from this rule. One can’t thoughtlessly imitate the experience of this or that country and nation because every nation is different as well as people.
In the 90th in search of the national idea except for the Orthodoxy the idea of Slavic states was also discussed. However, even this appeared to be a problem. Belorussian, Ukrainian and Russian Slavs appeared to be so different that they stopped understanding each other. They failed getting united. However, even Russia was not dared proclaiming the Slavic state, all in all because it’s a multy-ethnic country (there are more that one and a half thousand ethnic groups living in Russia). To call Russia the Slavic state is as dangerous as imposing Orthodoxy to the whole country.
Then there was another extreme – it was decided to revive the empire. Because, it’s a common fact that empires recognize no ethnic distinctions. However, this extreme wouldn’t give the desired result, because nations do not form in empires. Empire could just preserve the state. However, preserve it temporary. The recent experience, when there was an attempt to form the imperial Soviet nation, confirmed once again this axiom. The Soviet nation in reality appeared to be a soap bubble that fell to pieces at the very first testing. (Let's take Crimean Tatars who had been murdered for more that two centuries, but the nation not only survived, but even got stronger).
So, what should we do? Russia has no way out, and is doomed to collapse, isn’t it?
I think that the situation isn’t so hopeless. And nothing is lost yet. There is a way out. However, it’s a long way. In other words, it’s not so hard to develop the strategy of forming the nation in Russia. What is more difficult is to implement it in practice. As far as the very strategy concerns, the experience of forming the nation in the USA could be taken for the pattern.
Considering all our today’s difference from the United States of America, however, we have a lot of things in common, which make us related to Americans (we would talk about the differences a little bit later). For example, America (I mean the United States of America) is also the multy-ethnic and multy-religious country. It even exceeds us in this respect. However, it doesn’t prevent Americans from becoming a very united nation. Even in Europe I haven’t seen such fanatic patriots as American ones. You know, this is the country of emigrants! What is the secret of such metamorphosis of people?
In short, this conscious transformation of the human views and even human nature could be explained by the following words. After one realized oneself American a man along with this realizing acquires the firm confidence in one’s present and the future well-being. He knows for sure that from the very moment of his birth to his last breath he acquires the rights that would provide him (not by words, but in practice, because the law is above all in America), first – favorable conditions for self-realization thus, ensuring the life that corresponds to his talents and efforts, second – well-to-do old age by creating conditions for happy finishing of his course of life. And this confidence proves to be true every hour, every minute by surrounding him life itself. All this considering, could anyone feel no proud for his nation, and country. Why shouldn't he defend the firmness of that way of life at any price? America is an open democratic country. Americans knew and appreciate it. Having the possibility to compare they once again got assured of the rationality of their laws and the superiority of their way of life which they won’t change to anything else.
Could such nation be shacked in anything? Its views are based on the real and firm ground.
Thus, in our aspiration to form the nation of Russia we could use the vivid example of America. We have no need to build castles in the air. We should just create the human conditions of life: for education of children, self-realization of grown-ups, happy and comfortable life of elderly people. The seemingly easy task. However, we failed to implement it. Why? Let’s try to understand why Americans can and we couldn’t.
It’s a common knowledge that the level of civilization of the society is determined by its attitude to its children and elderly people. The state and society that has few millions of children straying around without care, and where the elderly people and people with limited abilities are regarded as the useless rubbish would never form the nation. The old man at the end of his life blaming the society of people who abandoned him couldn’t be the aspirating pattern for the next generations. Because, looking at the old generation they see their own future that can’t make them happy. They will try to leave this society yet they are alive and safe. That is why the most principle and the first steps of the state, that is going to form the healthy nation that - the basis of any state, must be insuring of elderly people's happyness. However, one should consider that every person has its own understanding of happiness. And everybody has to be satisfied.
When I have been to America I was not just amazed, but was shocked by the care that the society take about the retired persons and especially people with limited abilities. The incomprehensible expenses the society and state spend on the retired persons are taken for granted. I had the impression that every American waits nothing but one's retirement, when he could start his real life. Everything starts with obtaining by the “just-retired” person of quite big lump sum of several thousands of dollars as a present on the occasion of retirement. And that is in addition to his pension.
I have few friends who immigrated to America already after retirement. Without working for America for an hour they not just obtain the full pension comprising several hundered dollars (I never had even such salary, not to mention the pension), but live without spending it because they obtain food and clothing from numerous charitable organizations and societies. As far as their pension concerns, they transfer it to their poor relatives in Russia along with the monthly parcels of things. I also very often met American pensioners in Western Europe where they were wasting their green backs and having fun to the max. And all these tourist groups were made up exclusively of the pensioners. Looking at American pensioners one starts understanding that the middle generation ensures their (as well as the children’s) well-being. How hard one should work in order to ensure such luxurious life to elderly people! Though, I have never seen any exhausted workers dropping from tiredness. They work as usual. However, there is one difference – they work without drinking and any breaks for smoking. They have not got such tradition as drinking on work and after work as well. However, for all that where from such wealth? Maybe from natural resources? However, we surpass them greatly in this respect. One thing left: human factor. America is a business country. And as against Russia one couldn’t call it the country of fools and irresponsible drunkards. All the thing is in people.
Here in Russia there was always the creation and encouragement of obedient, fawning and unenterprising people. The initiative was always punished because of the universal rule of authoritarianism. The democratic style of management was ousted from everyday life thus promoting the development of laziness and weak will. Well, the obedient and unenterprising slaves is not the best human material for creation of the industrious nation. However, they constitute the majority in Russia! Turning them into minority would require the change of more than one generation. What should we do? The time is not waiting. There is only one way out from this situation – open boundaries for emigrants who have other mentality. The modern Russia, if it wants to preserve as Russia, requires new people. There is no other way out. Otherwise it would fall apart.
My last publication about the formation of the nation in Russia aroused the vivid interest of people who had acquainted themselves with this problem in our site. I don’t want to retell now the oral comments of the readers because they were positive in the whole. From my point of view it would be far more interesting for the reader to learn about the reaction of Igor Suzdaltsev, PhD in history, the author of the article titled “Nation or Slavery” that I referred to in this publication. He sent me the personal electronic letter with two comments that I would like to present to the attention of those people who follow the course of the debate.
The first comment concerned the pre-revolution Russian nation. Igor Nikolaevich has the firm and flat opinion: “There wasn’t any nation in Russia at that time”.
This is the opinion of the historian, the specialist in ethnic issues. Of course I had the desire to object and discuss this issue, but I have already said my word. Finally, we have two opposite statements: the first is that there was nation once in Russia; the second – there wasn't any nation in Russia. It’s up to the readers, who have at their disposal the works of both researches, to charge who is rights in this dispute.
The second comment concerned my statement: “The state needs the nation not the population if this state is going to exist for a long time”. Nikolay Petrovich added To this my statement the following notes: “The governing class of the state always tries depriving the citizens of their rights, never - granting”. The ideal of every official is slavery, “firm hand”. All reforms occur against the officials’ will. In other words, the state doesn’t require the nation, it always press it in order to restore the slavery. The theory of “social contract of the society with the state” is the calming injection designed for the morons. Marks already wrote that by setting people at slavery the state prepares its grave diggers.
So he wrote! It was defined clearly, neatly and positively. However, when I was saying that the state needs nothing but nation, but not the slave population to exist long and well, I meant rather those officials who are able to think nation-wide, then those who lacks this ability and who would lead the state to the collapse by their non-state policy. Indeed, Marks really wrote right about it. Well, there are all kinds of states. The nations exist and flourish in those states where the officials are intelligent and literate. However, our state is governed by dull and greedy officials who even haven’t read Marks.
… In all other respects we have no disagreement with Igor Suzdaltsev.