27. Upbringing of a Nation

‘It may sound “anti-democratic’ and not in the spirit of our time, but language, culture, and even the ‘nation’ itself, of which language and culture serve only as an expression, live in the higher, enlightened classes of society and are created by them. Language, nation, culture — all this is something spiritual, which has little to do with the physiological and ethnic existence of the masses.’

Аlexander Saltykov

On the previous pages we have already talked about nation, national culture. What is this nation? Where does it come from? It is natural to assume that a nation is a set of habits, customs, influences coming from its very origin, in a word, something that ‘grows’ naturally and that no one living can influence. The same is often said of language: it simply ‘develops’, and it is our business to observe in which direction the development goes. However, a language does not simply develop, but is created by conscious and not quite conscious efforts. All the more so a nation.

The same historical soil can produce several different nations, just as several different languages. Both depend on the upbringing received by the inhabitants of this soil. Our Russian soil over the past hundred years has seen the nation created by the Romanovs (we will talk about it below); it has seen the ‘new historical community’ that the revolution tried to create (and we will also talk about it); it now sees the so-called ‘inhabitants of Russia’… [1]

Personality and nation are defined by complex forms of behaviour. As long as they do not exist, we have before us only a certain being and a certain population. To be both a person and a nation means to possess a certain wealth, a sum of positive and reproducible differences from comrades and neighbours.

All these are the fruits of upbringing. A nation does not simply ‘grow up’ but, like a personality, is being upbringed. Not all personal traits can be instilled by upbringing; the same applies to the traits of a nation. Some can be strengthened, others weakened; it is difficult to instil what is not there. One thing in both cases cannot be done: to instil some values with words, without any deeds behind them. And one more thing: no education can be addressed to the ‘masses’ — only to individuals. Individuals educate individuals. And finally, the third rule of upbringing: a person can transmit to another only what is in himself; the machine of upbringing requires, therefore, the presence of some ‘educated remnant’. This is why continuity is so important in the development of peoples and personalities; there are very few nations which themselves would go all the way from primitive to higher development.

And of this it must be said that the nation, the national, is not at all the same as the ‘popular’. Nation is at the top, not at the root; in the complex, not in the simple. The nation forms, becomes complex and grows; the people exists. A nation lives in history, is born and may die — a people is outside history and almost immortal.

Nation is culture, self-consciousness. Its presence in different strata of the people, in different places even, is uneven. Contrary to the beliefs of the admirers of the ‘common people’, the city is ‘more’ national than the countryside; the aristocracy is more national than the factory workers… The consciousness of values that bind individuals and estates into a nation is stronger at the heights, weaker in the valleys. There, in the valleys, there is less time for reflection and self-development. No ‘universal secondary education’ cancels this out.

A state, a ‘territory’, borders — none of these things create a nation in and of themselves. And vice versa, there can be a nation without a state and borders — as there was in the first half of the 20th century ‘outland Russia’.

Both nation and personality are created by the formative power of fruitful constraints and rules, by training. This training is not the absence of human shortcomings, but the ability to higher, dignified forms of life despite human shortcomings. The grafting of dignity and discipline always goes to a small minority, the aristocracy, and then spreads, if I may say so, through imitation and aspiration to higher things.

1. The Romanov nation

Russia is one of those places where the cultural soil is particularly thin. We had no continuity from formerly great nations (Rome was far away; the Byzantines needed us not as disciples, but as tributaries). The Romanov dynasty had to create the missing continuity artificially, and that for a historically short period of time; ‘to graft’, to paraphrase Khodasevich, ‘a classical rose to a Moscow wild plant’. By creating a new continuity, the Romanovs also created a new nation: imperial, both European and Russian.

Dostoevsky said that the reforms of Peter the Great gave nothing to the Russian man except the forced introduction of European dress and shaving of the beard; we shall talk about this in detail further on; for the moment I shall say that it was about more important things. As Alexander Saltykov brilliantly put it:

‘The Empire in its very essence was a struggle — why not tell the truth? — against dark, destructive beginnings, against the chaos and anarchy of the Russian spirit, against the ethnism of Moscow. And in this struggle, it was our new western regions that were the Empire’s most reliable ally. What made their help and co-operation especially valuable was that they made the very struggle between the two worlds not particularly noticeable: thanks to their silent co-operation, enormous results were achieved as if by themselves. Thus not at all Russian, not “truly Russian” feelings of law, order, discipline, loyalism and beauty, thus traits of perseverance, endurance and Lomonosov’s “noble stubbornness”, thus a whole range of more cultured habits and inclinations — gradually became “truly Russian” feelings, traits and habits.’

A superficial glance can see the similarities between Peter’s reform and the ‘new order’. The formula ‘Tsar Peter was the first Bolshevik’ was already used by Maximilian Voloshin. But the similarity is superficial. The Peter’s order was violent, but it was a joining of previously separated beginnings (see the essay ‘Poor and Simple’). The ‘new order’ implied not merely the strengthening of the machine, American element in Russian life, but the complete replacement of everything organic, growing out of the historical soil — by the machine. Whereas only a new fusion of formerly separate beginnings, not the destruction of one in favour of the other, brings rich fruits.

Peter did not simply ‘impose’ new values on Russia (as the Slavophiles and Dostoevsky thought). European-Russian culture is not just ‘common people’s culture’ in a European cut (or in a European distortion). All ‘Russian’, as we know it between the 18th century and the year 1918, emerged through a process of complication and growth. For the upbringing of a people, like that of an individual, does not merely perfect natural virtues, but reveals them; in other words, makes their manifestation possible. This is how the new Russian (or, as Alexander Saltykov prefers to say, one ‘of Russia’, i. e. imperial) nation was created.

The Russian man of the imperial, Romanov type is not hidden inside Protopope Avvakum or Tsar Alexei, just as a future adult is not hidden inside a child. It is impossible to find neither Pushkin, nor Admiral Kolchak in the grain of Russian personality, as we see it in the 17th century. Developing, the personality and the nation assimilate, i. e. make their own, previously alien to them values, and on the basis of these values continue to develop, finding in themselves new abilities and desires. Development is the creation of the ground for future development. It is self-valuable. It is not ‘preparation’ for something known in advance, not training in a certain direction. The fruits of this development are not predetermined, but barely hinted at natural inclinations, manifested in the still undivided and composite nature of youth. 

On the merits of the ‘Romanov’, imperial type much and well says Ivan Ilyin. However, not without substitutions. He does not distinguish between the Russian and Romanov, imperial type, and therefore does not see the main internal contradiction and source of the Empire’s strength: the superimposition of European will and discipline on the Russian shapelessness, ‘soulfulness’. The very understanding of this word says a lot about our capacity for discipline: it is seen as something warm, sympathetic. In fact, ‘soulful’ means ‘shapeless’, incomplete. Neither to Pushkin nor to Dostoevsky can this word be applied; it can be applied, say, to Nekrasov.

Ilyin also says that the Russian type is originally Christian, especially in its Petrine, imperial variety. The second cannot but be disputed. The Old Believers, calling Peter ‘Antichrist’, were right in their own way. The whole Romanov era was as European, so far and anti-Christian. The Romanovs (starting with Peter) promoted the strong. Not pious, not paupers, not fools, but strong. The conscientious Christian saw this as an undoubtedly pagan trait. It was indeed a Roman grafting, so necessary for us. Authorities needed a man of determination, capable of fighting, and such a man they exalted. It was a break with the virtues of non-doing (and a bona fide Christian is one who shies away from the world and its deeds; if in Europe we saw in earlier times active and even militant Christians, it was because Rome was stronger in them than the Scriptures). The ‘new order’ in 1918 returned to Moscow in every sense. It no longer needed the strong; humility was once again a virtue; the dependent was a worthy citizen. The Roman graft had been rejected.

Why did this happen?

2. The Strain of enlightenment

The commonly accepted view is known. ‘Classes and masses’, oppression, popular revolt… In reality, what happened in Russia was a strain of enlightenment, i. e., a crisis caused by the spillage of ‘education’. (I put the word in inverted commas, because in fact, during the crisis of enlightenment, the education of the individual does not take place at school; a person receives a certain amount of knowledge and that is the end of his preparation for life. But I am ahead of the story.)

What do I mean by speaking of ‘enlightenment’ as something different from ‘education’? Let us turn to Werner Jaeger’s ‘Paideia’:

‘Education is such a natural and universal function of society that many generations accept and transmit it without question or discussion: thus the first mention of it in literature is relatively late. Its content is roughly the same in every nation — it is both moral and practical. It consists partly of commandments like Honour the gods, Honour thy father and thy mother, Respect the stranger; partly of ancient rules of practical wisdom and prescriptions of external morality; and partly of those professional skills and traditions which (as far as they are communicable from one generation to another) the Greeks named techné. […] The training of the young, in the above sense, must be distinguished from cultural education, which aims at fulfilling an ideal of man as he ought to be. In such an ideal pattern, utility is neglected, or at least relegated to the background. The vital factor is τό καλόν, the Beautiful as a determinant ideal. The contrast between these two views of education can be seen throughout history, for it is a fundamental part of human nature. It matters little in what words we choose to describe them, but we may, perhaps, use the word Education for the former, and Culture for the latter. It is obvious that culture and education have different origins. Culture is shown in the whole man — both in his external appearance and conduct, and in his inner nature. Both the outer and the inner man are deliberately produced, by a conscious process of selection and discipline’.

I should add that besides upbringing, which gives the so-called ‘norms of social life’, and education, which forms the personality, there is a third one: enlightenment, i. e. communication of a certain amount of knowledge. It is necessary, but not valuable in itself. However, it was almost the only thing that the ‘new order’ in Russia cared about… In practical application, ‘enlightenment’ without upbringing and education creates only a technically literate class without cultural habits.  [2]

Under ‘normal’ conditions, upbringing, enlightenment and education complement each other. The number of people requiring teaching does not exceed the ability and numbers of teachers. The measure of success under these conditions is the possibly greater, without lowering the level, number of people involved in a fruitful, verbally expressed self-conscious existence. The Russia of Pushkin’s time does not fulfil this condition; neither does the Russia of the ‘new order’. The equilibrium between the quantitative spillage of enlightenment and its quality was probably reached by the end of the 19th century, i. e. by the beginning of the Silver Age. Actually, the Silver Age was a sign of successful cultural policy of the late Romanovs.

Like all fruitful social (and mental) states, it was a state of unstable equilibrium. Further successes could be expected — provided there was a fruitful limitation on the number of people coming to enlightenment. Overloading the machine of enlightenment, if I may say so, puts it out of order, and the destruction multiplies, and there is no one to fight it, since the training of those who teach is also disrupted. In the end, we end up with a machine for the reproduction of half-education.

This is what happened in Russia after the Great Reforms. I have already recalled the words of Piotr Struve about the ‘spill of semi-education’. This spillage, says Struve, is

‘the reverse side of the comprehensive and rapid democratisation of Russia during the reign of Nicholas II.

This democratisation meant not so much the penetration of “folk” or “common people” elements into the language, but rather the spillover of the spirit of semi-education into the language and literature, which always marks a rapid introduction to culture and, in general, a rapid and unstructured assimilation of language and culture by new and hitherto alien elements. These changes took place in the period from the late 1880s until the war and the revolution.

Never, perhaps, in the entire history of mankind has a secondary and higher school “processed”, to use railway language, such a mass of “human material” that came out of a cultural environment that was far below the school that received it. These crowds took all culture in general, and word culture in particular, from school. They brought nothing from home. The level of the secondary school in this epoch noticeably decreased, not because the level of the teaching staff decreased, but because the school mass “processed” by it was drawn from a wide and uncultured reservoir. At that time the whole of Russia, up to the country towns, large villages, cossack villages, was covered with a network of gymnasiums and real schools. Secondary education both penetrated the people and spread throughout the country. It was a process of great importance and, in general, healthy and normal. But in its swiftness it was a spread of semi-education in the country. This semi-education is most of all responsible for the spoilage and contamination of the language.

This spill of semi-education played a very important role in the revolution of 1917 and the following years.’

‘The spill of semi-education’ multiplied the intelligentsia. What is wrong with that? That intelligentsia is a transitional state between simplicity and education. A member of the intelligentsia is an adolescent; something temporary; not a ‘peak’ but a point at the beginning of the path. The question of enlightenment is the question of freedom. ‘I am already big (know a lot), which means I can act according to my will!’ — children say. This is what intelligentsia has been saying ever since it became aware of itself.

It does not follow from this that enlightenment should not have been spread.  It only follows from this that the stability of the social ship under conditions of widespread enlightenment is weakening.  Russia went down because the intelligentsia was intoxicated by a new faith, as enthusiastic about catastrophes and the ruin of kingdoms as the Christian faith once was, and also because at the decisive moment the intelligentsia had time to throw not even a match into the hold, but a bunch of burning torches.  ‘Classes and masses’ were only the circumstances of the case. The case was the accelerated spillage of enlightenment in the face of weak cultural foundations.

Just in case: speaking about the former Russia, it is important not to fall into the trap of ‘historical’ (i. e. biblical) thinking, for which the subsequent event always inevitably follows from the previous one (read: is a punishment or reward for the previous one). Gods are not so consistent. Many things simply happen at the same time, sometimes sequentially, with no internal connection. The Russian shipwreck did not follow inevitably from previous events; they only made it possible.

So, the intelligentsia is self-reproducing through the fault of the corrupt educational machine. It is proud of itself and wants to combine the incompatible: enlightenment (very incomplete) with shapelessness, the old Russian vice. In shapelessness it sees freedom. Whereas real freedom is not in laxity and disorder, but in self-government. Moreover, by some historical irony, it dreams of ‘democracy’ — which is all, from beginning to end, stands on self-government and responsibility…

But back to the spill of enlightenment in the last 50 years of the Old World. Despite their semi-education, the weak-willed Ivanovs and ‘clever and honest’ Lvovs described by Chekhov (to the liberal Doctor Lvov, by the way, Chekhov’s heroine says: ‘Whatever violence, whatever cruel meanness you may have done, it would all seem to you that you are an unusually honest and advanced man!’ An eternal, ineradicable characteristic!) — true education was also growing. Dostoevsky’s assurances that the whole reform of Peter was an appearance and left no trace on the Russian man are refuted by history.

The White Movement, and then emigration — evidence of the strength of the type of Russian European created by Peter the Great. Yes, in Russia there was a strain of enlightenment, the failure of the educational machine. The further, the more knowledge and ‘education’ diverged (and in the Soviet years they diverged finally). An enlightened person — the further away he went, the less able he was to manage himself. And knowledge without the ability to dispose of it, without discipline, will, and goals (not ‘universal’ but personal) is harmful, if not downright dangerous.

But this said nothing about the doomed nature of Peter’s work. It only spoke of the fact that the big ship changed course too late and abruptly and failed to cope with the waves. The time that some call ‘the golden age of the Empire’ — before 1861 — was also a time lost to education. They did not know whether it was worth burdening the peasant with culture, which would make him feel the gravity of his situation (culture is always a burden, by the way, and not only for the peasant) — and so they did not burden him.

3. About upbringing

Before any education, there is upbringing. As I said above: a personality understands only the attitude of other personalities to itself; no words have any effect on it. So, it must be said: a nation is created at home. If not directly ‘in the nursery’, then out of domestic, private life; out of games under the supervision of a nanny; out of family warmth; then in school — but this is on condition of a well-provided education, the concern of which is personality, not marching.

Revolution drove private life for decades into intolerable conditions, deprived it of warmth, and the new school, as we remember, cultivated the industrious and cheerful simpleton, in accordance with Krupskaya’s famous statement.

Awareness of belonging to one’s country, culture — this all comes from home, and if it is not there, it will not be anywhere. Only the ‘new order’ on its decline proposed to ‘strengthen patriotic education in schools with the help of the coat of arms and the flag’, i. e. to obtain the impossible: in cynical, cold souls to engender reverence for an alien flag.

In reality, the state is created by the continuity of private life. Private, domestic life is the most powerful force of education. That is why it was so important to replace everything private with ‘public’ — to stop the transmission of habits of mind and feeling, which make up a favourable life. But in reality everything common is defeated by the private; positive values cannot be imposed by propaganda, i. e. by simple training. Negative values can be quite possible: to discourage the habit of labour, to accustom to the poor and simple instead of the rich and complex, to excite enmity towards the different and incomprehensible.

4. The nation and the ‘new order’

One may object that I am trying to present the nation as a unity of cultured people — but ‘not everyone should be cultured’. I shall not object. A nation is a unity of culture, not of vodka and profanity, and people who have no positive, reproducible differences do not belong to any nation, they are just inhabitants of some locality.

The stronger objection is this: all right, but also in the Old World a large majority of the nation belonged to the very ‘people’ who simply ‘exist’ from day to day. Moreover — at the end of the Old World this ‘people’ did not prove itself to be the best, and only the ‘new order’ brought public morality, albeit after decades (the 1930s were also a time of widespread excesses — think of the ‘hooligans’, — which are not commonly recalled), into some sort of bounds.

There is no denying it. The ‘new order’ is worthy of condemnation not because it established any order at all, but because it achieved order by destroying the personality instead of nurturing it. We began to talk about ‘upbringing’ only after the death of the tyrant, when the personality had already been reduced to impotence — and perhaps forever.

Levelling up to the level of mediocrity is the key to the modern ‘education’. ‘What’s wrong with that’, they say even now, ‘equality is beautiful, it kills envy!’ Equality kills also the possibility of development and the desire to be better. The development of peoples and individuals is possible only as long as they are unequal: as long as there is something to marvel at, something to envy and something to borrow.

Enlightenment in society always comes from the top down, i. e. it is possible only as long as this ‘top’ exists. It comes in two ways: thanks to the care of the upper classes (at least in Russia) and thanks to the borrowing of the lower classes, who want to imitate the rich and powerful in both small and big things. Good arouses no less, if not more, desire to imitate than evil; at least in adults; children are more vulnerable to the charm of evil.

When the enlightened class, in large part, refused to serve the new government, it created a new intelligentsia on a different ethnic root — even more groundless than the old one, but loyal for a while. Its loyalty, however, was loyalty to an idea, not to the country, and was therefore short-lived.  The Bolsheviks needed these people as ‘Europeans of accelerated production’; they still see themselves as the only Europeans and creators of culture in Russia. Unfortunately, this is a cultural class without religion, homeland and aristocratism (i. e., discipline and tradition), and therefore without the concept of inner labour.

The ‘new order’ promised to create a new nation as well. We remember how it was called: ‘a new historical community’. He did not fulfil this promise. A nation cannot ‘slip away in three days’, as Rozanov rudely and unfairly said of the Russian state in 1917. This, however, is exactly what happened to the ‘new historical community’ in 1991. Everything ‘Soviet’ faded before our eyes. The cultural field was instantly sown with weeds, and weeds, the absence of which the society had long been sighing about. If in the White Emigration the Russian-Romanov nation was culturally fruitful for almost half a century after the disappearance of the state, in ‘liberated’ Russia any fruitfulness of the praised ‘new culture’ was cut off instantly, giving way to various forms of literary and other debauchery. As soon as propaganda and that part of the literary day labour that was written for reasons of censorship convenience and for the sake of earning money fell out of ‘Soviet’ — it was destroyed almost without a trace. Yes, the collapse of book publishing finished the previous literature, but it was not accidental. The public wanted a certain kind of food — and got it. Yellow, semi-pornographic literature best satisfied the tastes of the majority, brought up — let us not forget — by the ‘new order’.

For the educated, reading is labour; for the uneducated, entertainment. The proportion of entertaining works in the total range of books published tells us a lot about for whom book publishers work. After the end of socialism, entertainment literature won — because there was little or no educated reader. ‘The most reading people in the world’ wanted from books entertainment above all else. The technically enlightened class needed books only in the hour of rest.

That is why the ‘new order’ was not national in the Romanov sense, because it did not even raise the question of personal dignity and development. If Tsar Peter narrowed the ideal of the new Russian man to ‘good officer’ (i. e. worthy, fit for service), it was a temporary and functional narrowing. In a short time, besides ‘good officers’ there appeared in Russia thinkers and poets. Enlightenment, once begun in earnest, leads not only to technical successes, to which — undeniably — the enlightenment efforts of the revolutionaries were limited: bombs and aeroplanes in the face of almost a century of silence of the nation, previously willingly and fruitfully expressing itself in words. (Mayakovsky and other servants do not count; especially since both Mayakovsky and Mikhail Bulgakov, say, were educated as individuals by the Old World.)

The reference to the fact that the revolution did not have enough time to create a nation, that promised ‘new historical community’, has to be dismissed. The new Russian nation — the imperial, Romanov one, whatever you want to call it — was formed in a short period of time from Peter the Great to Catherine the Great. In any case, a new self-perception was formed — broad, European, victorious. The expression ‘Russian Europe’, used in one book of the end of the 18th century, perfectly defines this feeling. This national self-perception did not leave us until the Crimea and Gallipoli — and beyond, as long as the citizens of ‘Russian Europe’ were alive.

5. Present and future

So, we still have only one nation in Russia, joining which is worth the effort: the Russian-Romanov, imperial nation, which, from Alexei Mikhailovich to Nikolas II, was formed — and then still alive, beyond national boundaries, for almost half a century. The ‘new historical community’, the creation of which the ‘new order’ boasted, has not even survived this order for an hour.

Now our situation is even worse. All that is ‘of Russia’ is a discoloured, tasteless and odourless ‘Soviet’. It has no positive distinctions, despite the widely proclaimed ‘bonds’; it is not the presence, but the absence of quality. ‘Qualities’ faded away after the collapse of the ‘new order’. The lack of quality of everything ‘of Russia’ is so far overcome through the grafting of ‘Soviet’.

European-style discipline, which gave the Russian man firmness and external form in addition to the virtues inherent in his nature, is out of the question. It is difficult to accept the current official, temporary, invented for lack of a better ideal, because it promises purely service achievements, and it only strengthens the rupture with national Russia (in the above sense).

Аlexander Saltykov — somewhat telegraphically — says: the basis of the nation is victory. If we decipher: the basis of a nation is in the excess of strength, leading to political and other victories. This cannot be said of our present statehood. We have no ‘surplus’; worse, we eat crumbs from foreign tables, and can offer nothing ‘of our own’ to anyone. At best, the old, stale stuff left over from the ‘new order’ is served as ‘our own’.

The unity of everyday customs does not create a nation yet. Nor is it created by ‘ideology’, contrary to the current belief that the restoration of the parade morality of the ‘new order’ that contradicts its own way of acting will restore the notorious ‘new historical community’. Parade morality is characterised by the fact that it is worn on weekends and kept in the wardrobe on other days. Only the most naïve believed in ‘man is man’s friend, comrade and brother’ under the ‘new order’.

The basis of development in the Old World was not ‘slogans’ but diversity and inequality and freedom of influence and borrowing. The word ‘diversity’, however, means something different here than what is meant by the socialism of our days. The leftist worldview demands enforced diversity, understood in the only-right, i. e. prescribed, sense. It is essentially a demand for uniformity, only slightly disguised. ‘Let all flowers bloom’, as one tyrant used to say, ‘except the poisonous ones’. So it is here. Moreover, it demands equality, which by definition does not co-exist with any diversity.

Leftism, the legacy of the intelligentsia, will not bring us closer to higher development. As said above, intelligentsia is a disease of growth. Chekhov’s plays are full of people who left their environment, but did not come to a higher state: education gilded them on the outside, but did not ennoble them on the inside. The same people we see today. Again ‘sky in diamonds’, again ‘intelligence and honesty’, and again they are alien to the national soil, as it was created by the previous epoch. If our intelligentsia dislikes the revolution, it is not from a conscious disgust for its aims and mode of action.

The enlightenment ideal has exhausted itself. If I may say so, the all-burning wave of ‘enlightenment’ has reached its limits. There is no more upbringing or education — only the communication of the notorious ‘facts’ to future technicians. The ability to see meaning, which was once given by education, is buried under piles of ‘facts’. The generations of technicians have no need for personal discipline, cultural interests; where fathers still fed on science fiction and technological dreams, children have enough vodka flavoured with profanity. Something must be done about it, and no amount of ‘bonds’ will fix things.

[1] Some places in this essay will not be understood without a note. The point is that the Russian language has two words to denote belonging to Russia and Russian culture, the meaning of which disappears in the usual translation. One of them, say, ‘Russian’, is used when we speak of the Russian nation, language, culture, in short, of people and their deeds; the other,  which can be translated as  ‘of Russia’, refers exclusively to statehood, bordering on the word ‘imperial’. We say, for example: ‘Empire of Russia’, not the ‘Russian Empire’. This somewhat resembles the difference between ‘English’ (referring to the people and language) and ‘British’ (referring to statehood). The order established in Russia in 1991 is afraid of the word ‘Russian’ (which was banned under the Bolsheviks), and constantly confuses it with the word ‘of Russia’, which gives a silly and repulsive impression. The word ‘of Russia’ is appropriate when referring to the statehood created by Peter the Great and his successors, or to the new Russian culture that emerged together with this statehood, but it should be used appropriately. As, say, it is used by Alexander Saltykov mentioned below. Another silly word is «россіяне», that may be translated as ‘inhabitants of Russia’, a favourite of our new authorities, is pulled out of the coffers of the times of Catherine the Great solely to avoid using the dangerous word ‘Russian’. The word sounds partly lofty, partly officious, and was never used seriously in the old world, except in Peter’s and Catherine’s times.

Another distinction that is difficult to convey in foreign languages, and which is the subject of this essay, is the difference between ‘nation’ and ‘people’. The word ‘people’ in Russian almost always has the connotation of ‘simple’ people, ‘common people’. For us, ‘nation’ is a higher unity, encompassing the ‘people’ and the ‘enlightened’, but not affecting them equally.

By the way: the ‘bonds’ mentioned several times are the ‘spiritual bonds’ — a fashionable word in Russia in the last ten years or so. [2] It is a class that has no need of those books on which it is necessary to think. It, like the uneducated reader, needs a book for entertainment, in the hour of leisure, because reading is not labour for it. The physicist brought out by Sinclair Lewis in ‘Arrowsmith’ had a whole cupboard of entertaining books — for a rest from scientific pursuits. An apt observation.

Timofey Sherudilo.
From the book Twilight Time.

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