Russian culture: what to “save” there?

Is it possible to separate Pushkin from Putin

The culture of Moscow Rus was formed on the basis of two heterogeneous sources. The principles of religious and artistic culture came to Moscow from south-eastern Europe (Byzantium, the Balkans) transiting through Kyiv. The foundations of political and legal culture, on the other hand, came to Moscow from Ulug Ulus, better known as the Golden Horde. As a result, Russian “spiritual culture” has acquired a recognisably European facade, hiding a fundamentally non-European state infrastructure behind it.

Regardless internal contradictions, Russian culture existed as a whole, however the influence of imperial political culture still poisoned Russian spirituality. Hence the sincere glorification of the empire by Pushkin and Tyutchev, Dostoevsky’s fanatical anti-Polonism, the unhealthy patriotism of the early Berdyaev, and more.

Regardless internal contradictions, Russian culture existed as a whole, however the influence of imperial political culture still poisoned Russian spirituality. Hence the sincere glorification of the empire by Pushkin and Tyutchev, Dostoevsky’s fanatical anti-Polonism, the unhealthy patriotism of the early Berdyaev, and more.

To those who were frightened or turned away by the imperial madness, Russian spiritual culture offered a whole range of options of an internal political alibi: “Why me? I am a small person; the state is doing something criminal, but I’m not doing anything, and I hide from it as much as I can. How am I guilty?! “
“The Cathedral Clergy” by Nikolai Leskov can be mentioned among the models of such an alibi, as well as many characters of Chekhov’s and so on. Today, not hundreds, but many thousands of relatively honest “Russian intellectuals” are trying to use the same excuse as an alibi.

Finally, there is a third and rarest type of Russian culture : deliberately anti-imperial – the one that denies an internal alibi. The latter is best seen in the early Bakhtin (“no-alibi of existence”), the former in Chaadaev, Shchedrin, the late Berdyaev, and so on.

From this general typology of the relationship between Russian political and spiritual culture, it follows that there is less truth than cunning in the calls of Russian and some European figures to “save Russian culture from sanctions,” since it is “not Putin but something else”.

The anti-imperial type of Russian culture demands nothing from us but support. The only thing its supporters need to acknowledge is that the Imperium Russicum delendum est, which means “the Russian Empire must be destroyed” and this historic task has not yet been accomplished.

Those who hide behind “inner alibi” can only wish to find such a state formation (in the process of disintegration of the empire), which they would accept as their own, along with personal responsibility for all its actions. Today they are a “ballast”, worthy of pity. Moreover, they are passive accomplices in the actions of their empire simply because they do not resist the evil that is being done by the empire and inside it.

The anti-imperial type of Russian culture demands nothing from us but support. The only thing its supporters need to acknowledge is that the Imperium Russicum delendum est, which means “the Russian Empire must be destroyed” and this historic task has not yet been accomplished.

As for those who deliberately sided with the empire, they have already fully shared the responsibility for all its crimes.

If you want to quickly find out what type of Russian culture you are dealing with in the face of a particular Russian – ask them the classic question “Which country Crimea belongs to?”. One will tell you “Russia”, the other one – “Ukraine”, the third one – “it’s not up to me, I’m a small person.”

The main thing that cannot be allowed now is to continue the imperial derivation of Russian culture as one that needs support right now, regardless the nature of Russia’s actions.

Of course, we can still listen to Wagner today, without thinking about his anti-Semitism or how his music inspired the Nazis. We can watch Lena Riefenstahl’s films, marveling at her cinematic skills. Similarly, the imperial derivation of Russian culture, in its most striking manifestations, will become a part of the cultural fund of mankind… when the empire that gave birth to it finally goes into the past following the Third Reich.

But we must help Russia achieve the latter. Now.

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