The  Soul  of  Russia

(1915 – #7)


The world war sets in sharp relief the question concerning the Russian national self-consciousness. Russian national thought senses the need and obligation to solve the enigma of Russia, to comprehend the idea of Russia, to define its purpose and place in the world. Everyone tends to sense in the present day world, that great worldwide tasks face Russia. But this profound feeling is accompanied by a consciousness of the vagueness, almost the indefinableness of these tasks. In times past there was a presentiment, that Russia is destined for something great, that Russia — is some special land, not like any other land in the world. Russian national thought grew up with the sense of Russian as God-chosen and God-bearing. This courses its way from the old idea of Moscow as the Third Rome, through Slavophilism — to Dostoevsky, Vladimir Solov’ev and the contemporary Neo-Slavophils. To ideas of this sort had fastened an accretion of falsehood and lie, but there is reflected in these ideas something also genuinely of the people, something genuinely Russian. A man cannot all his life have an idea of some special and great vocation and be keenly aware of it during the periods of greatest spiritual ascent, if this man have neither the calling nor be foreordained to anything remarkable. This is biologically impossible. This is impossible likewise in the life of an entire people.

Russia has not as yet played a defining role within world life, it has not as yet genuinely entered into the life of European mankind. GreatRussia has still entirely remained an isolated province within European and world life, its spiritual life has been aloof and closed. Russia still all entirely does not know the world, it distortedly perceives its image and falsely and superficially makes judgements about it. The spiritual powers of Russia have not yet become innate to the cultural life of European mankind. For Western cultural mankind, Russia all still remains completely transcendent, some sort of an alien East, which attracts by its mystery, whilst repelling by its barbarity. Even Tolstoy and Dostoevsky attract Western cultural man, as some sort of an exotic fare, unwontedly acute for him. The mysterious depths of the Russian East attracts to itself many in the West. But all the same there has not ensued a time with the acknowledging of the spiritual life of the Christian East on an equal par with the spiritual life of the West. In the West they have still not sensed, that the spiritual strengths of Russia can redefine and transform the spiritual life of the West, that Tolstoy and Dostoevsky can make for a change in the prevailing mindsets of the West both for the West itself and that within it. The light from the East has been seen only but by a few select individuals. The Russian state long since already is acknowledged a great power, with which all the states of the world have to reckon, and which plays a visible role in international politics. But the spiritual culture of Russia, that core of life, in regards to which the statecraft itself is but a superficial externality and implement, still does not occupy a great-power position in the world. The spirit of Russia cannot yet dictate to peoples those conditions, which Russian diplomacy can dictate. The Slavic race has not yet occupied that position, which the Latin or the German races have occupied. Here at root is what ought to change after the present day Great War, which presents a completely unprecedented inter-connection and enmeshing of Eastern and Western mankind. The great strife of the war ought to lead to a great unification of East and West. Russia occupies, certainly, a great-power position within the spiritual world concert. That which has transpired within the bosom of the Russian spirit, ceases to be something still provincial, isolated and closed-in, has become of the world and in common for mankind, not Eastern only, but Western also. And for this, long since already have ripened the potentials of the spiritual powers of Russia. The War of 1914 is more intensely and more deeply plunging Russia into the whirlwinds of world life and it melds together the European East with the European West, than had the War of 1812. It is already possible to foresee, that in the results of this war Russia will ultimately become European in the same measure, in which Europe acknowledges the spiritual influence of Russia upon its own inner life. Thus strikes an hour of world history, when the Slavic race with Russia at its head will be summoned to a defining role within the life of mankind. The forefront Germanic race is exhausting itself in militaristic imperialism. Many keen people in the West have had a presentiment of the vocation of the Slavs. But the realisation of the world tasks of Russia cannot be left to the caprice of the elemental powers of history. Creative efforts are necessary in the national mindset and the national will. And if the peoples of the West be compelled, finally, to catch sight of the unique visage of Russia and admit its calling, it then remains all still unclear, how do we perceive ourself, what is Russia and to what is it called? Russia remains for us ourself an enormous mystery. Russia — is full of contradictions, antinomies. The soul of Russia is not veiled over by any sort of doctrines. Tiutchev said for his Russia:

Russia by mind comprehended cannot be
Nor by wide arshins measured:
Its uniqueness be that —
In Russia is possible only but to believe.

And truly it can be said, that Russia is incomprehensible for the mind and immeasurable by any sort of arshins of doctrines and teachings. For each believes in Russia in his own way, and each finds in the complete contradictions of Russian life facts supporting his faith. To get at the riddle of the mystery, hidden within the soul of Russia, is possibly at the same time to admit the antinomic aspect of Russia, its keen contradictions. Therein will the Russian self-consciousness be set free from lie-ridden and false idealisations, from repulsive boasting, and equally also from the characterless cosmopolitan negativity and fawning on the foreign.

The contradictions in the Russian lifestyle have always found reflection within Russian literature and Russian philosophic thought. The creativity of the Russian spirit is twofold and the same, as in Russian historical life. This is seen clearest of all within our most characteristic national ideology — in Slavophilism, and in our greatest national genius — in Dostoevsky — a Russian’s Russian. Everything paradoxical and antinomic within Russian history has left its imprint upon the Slavophils and Dostoevsky. The visage of Dostoevsky is twofold and the same, as is the visage of Russia itself, and it evokes a sense of contradictions. Unfathomable depth and unbounded loftiness is combined with such degradation, ignobility, the absence of worth, slavery. The infinite love for people, in truth the love of Christ, is combined with human hatred and cruelty. The thirst for absolute freedom in Christ  (Grand Inquisitor) is countered with the submissiveness of the slave. Is not Russia itself such?

Russia — is the least statelike, the most anarchistic land in the world. And the Russian people — is the most apolitical of peoples, never having managed to set its land right. All the genuinely Russian, our national writers, thinkers, publicists — all were non-statists, all were uniquely anarchists. Anarchism — is a phenomenon of the Russian spirit, and it has variously been present both in our extreme left, and in our extreme right. The Slavophils and Dostoevsky — were anarchists essentially the same, as were Mikhail Bakunin or Kropotkin. And this anarchistic Russian nature also found itself typical expression in the religious anarchism of Lev Tolstoy. The Russian intelligentsia, though infected with a superficial positivism, has been purely Russian in its non-statism. In its best, its heroic part, it struggled for an absolute freedom and truth, unrestricted by any sort of state aspects. Our Populism — is a characteristically Russian phenomenon, with its like unknown to Western Europe, — the manifestation of a non-statist spirit. And the Russian liberals have always been moreso humanists, than statists. No one has wanted the power to rule, all were afraid of the power to rule, as something impure. Our Orthodox ideology concerning autocracy — is a manifestation the same of a non-state spirit, it is a refusal of the people and society to construct a state life. The Slavophils recognised, that their teaching about autocracy was unique a form of a denial of the state. Everything about the state represents something positivistic and rationalistic. The Russian soul desires a sacred societal aspect, a God-chosen power. The nature of the Russian people conceives itself, as something ascetical, shunning earthly deeds and earthly blessings. Our leftist revolutionary currents are not so deeply different in their attitude to the state in contrast to the rightist currents and the Slavophils, — within them is a remarkable dose of the Slavophil and ascetic spirit. Such ideologies of the state, as with Katkov or Chicherin, always have seemed non-Russian, something foreign on Russian soil, just as foreign and non-Russian always has seemed the bureaucracy, being occupied with state matters — a non-Russian occupation. At the wellsprings of Russian history rests a remarkable legend about the summoning of the Varangian foreigners for administering the Russian Land, since “our land be great and abundant, but order in it there is not”. How characteristic this is for the fateful incapacity and lack of desire of the Russian people itself to arrange order in its own land! The Russian people as it were desires not so much a free state, freedom within a state, as rather freedom from the state, freedom from concerns about worldly arrangements. The Russian people does not want to be a masculine builder, its nature defines itself as feminine, passive and submissive in matters of state, it always awaits a bridegroom, a man, a ruler. Russia — is a land submissive and feminine. The passive, the receptive femininity in regard to the state power — is so characteristic for both the Russian people and for Russian history.1 There are no limits to the humble endurance of the much-suffering Russian people. The state ruling authority always was an external, and not an inward principle for the non-statist Russian people; it was not created by it, but the rather came as it were from the outside, like a bridegroom to the bride. And so often therefore the ruling power has provided the impression of  being foreign, something on the order of a German domination. Russian radicals and Russian conservatives alike have thought, that the state — is “they” and not “we”. It is very characteristic, that in Russian history there was no period of knightly chivalry, there was not this masculine principle. And with this is bound up the insufficient developement of the personal principle in Russian life. The Russian people has always loved to live in the warmth of the collective, a sort of dissolving back into the element of earth, into the bosom of the mother. Knightly chivalry forges a sense of personal worth and honour, it creates the tempering of the person. This personal tempering has not been created over the span of Russian history. In Russian man there is a softness, in the Russian face there is no sharply distinct profile. Tolstoy’s Platon Karataev — is rounded in features. Russian anarchism — is feminine, and not masculine, is passive, not active. And the rebelliousness of Bakunin is a plunging into the chaotic Russian element. The Russian non-statism — is not a conquering of freedom for oneself, but the rather a surrendering of oneself, a freedom from activity. The Russian people desires to be of the earth, like a bride awaiting a man. All these traits of Russia were set down at the basis of the Slavophil philosophy of history and the Slavophil societal ideals. But the Slavophil philosophy of history seeks to avoid knowing the antinomic aspect of Russia, it reckons only with one thesis of Russian life. But within it also is the antithesis. And Russia would not be so mysterious, if within it were only that, about which we at present have spoken. The Slavophil philosophy of Russian history does not explain the riddle of Russia’s transformation into the greatest empire in the world, or it explains it too simply. And the most deeply innate sin of Slavophilism was in this, that they mistook the natural-historical features of the Russian element to be Christian virtues.

Russia — is the most bureaucratic statelike land in the world, everything in Russia has been transformed into a tool of politics. The Russian people has created the mightiest state in the world, the largest empire. From the time of Ivan Kalita successively and persistently there have been reached dimensions, mind-boggling for all the peoples of the world. The powers of the people, about which it is not without basis to be striving towards inner spiritual life, is surrendered to the colossus of the state, transforming everything into its tool. The interests of building, supporting and guarding the state occupy a completely exceptional and stifling place within Russian history. The Russian people has almost no strength left for the free creative life, all its blood has gone for the strengthening and defense of the state. Social classes and orders are but weakly developed and have not played the role, which they have played within the history of Western lands. The person has been smothered by the vast dimensions of the state, presenting insuperable demands. The bureaucracy developed to monstrous proportions. Russian statecraft assumed a position sentry-like and of safeguarding. It came about in the struggle against the Tatar-Mongols, in the Time of troubles, with the invasion of foreigners. But it then transformed itself into a self-sufficing abstract principle; it lives its own particular life, a law unto itself, not wanting to assume its subordinate function to the life of the people. This peculiarity of Russian history has imposed upon Russian life an imprint of joylessness and smothering. The free play of the creative powers of man has been impossible. The grip of power of the bureaucracy in Russian life was an inner assault unperceived. And somehow unperceived it entered organically into the Russian state and took hold upon the feminine and passive Russian element. The Russian land did not accept this as its own destined, it had mistaken its suitor. Great sacrifices were imposed upon the Russian people  for the building up of the Russian state, much its blood was shed, but it remained itself powerless within its vast state. Imperialism is foreign to the Russian people in the Western and bourgeois sense of the world, but it submissively surrendered its powers to the building up of imperialism, in which its heart was disinterested. Herein is hidden a mystery of Russian history and the Russian soul. No sort of philosophy of history, whether Slavophil or Westerniser, has yet solved the enigma, why a most unstatelike people has created such an immense and mighty state, why so anarchistic a people is so submissive to bureaucracy, why a people free in spirit as it were does not desire a free life? This mystery is bound up with the relationship of the feminine and masculine principles in the character of the Russian people. This antinomic aspect occurs throughout all Russian life.

There is a mysterious contradiction between the relationship of Russia and the Russian awareness towards nationality. This — is a second antinomy, no less in significance, than that of the relationship to the state. Russia — is the most unchauvenistic land in the world. With us nationalism always produces an impression of something non-Russian, imposed, something unperceived. The Germans, the English, the French — are chauvinists and nationalists in the masses of their people, they are filled with national self-conviction and self-smugness. Russians almost seem ashamed, that they are Russians; foreign to them is national pride and often even — alas — foreign is a national sense of worth. An aggressive nationalism is altogether uncharacteristic for the Russian people, any tendency towards a forceful Russification. The Russian does not shove, does not put on airs, does not despise others. In the Russian element there is something truly lacking in avarice, there is a sense of sacrifice, unknown to Western peoples. The Russian intelligentsia always reacted with disgust towards nationalism and loathed it as something impure. It confessed supra-national ideals exclusively. And howsoever superficial, howsoever banal have been the cosmopolitan doctrines of the intelligentsia, in them nonetheless though distortedly, was reflected the supra-national, the all-mankind sense of spirit of the Russian people. The intelligentsia-rebels were in a certain sense nationalists moreso, than our bourgeois nationalists, who in their expression of outlook are similar to the bourgeois nationalists of all the lands. But a man of a different and non-intelligentsia spirit — the national genius Lev Tolstoy — was truly Russian in his religious thirst to surmount all national boundaries, all the burden of a national flesh. And the Slavophils were not nationalists in the usual sense of the word. They wanted to believe, that in the Russian people lives an all-humanity Christian spirit, and they exalted the Russian people for its humility. Dostoevsky outright proclaimed, that Russian man — is everyman, that the spirit of Russia — is an universal spirit, and the mission of Russia he understood otherwise, than nationalists tend to understand it. The nationalism of the most recent forms is an indubitable Europeanisation of Russia, a conservative Westernism upon Russian soil. And Katkov, that ideologue of nationalism, was a Westerniser, he never was an expresser of the spirit of the Russian people. Katkov was an apologist and slave to a sort of foreign sense of the state, as a sort of “abstract principle”. Supra-nationalism, universalism — are uniquely innate the same to the Russian national spirit, just like is the non-statism, the anarchism. What is national namely in Russia is its supra-nationalism, its freedom from nationalism; in this is the unique essence of Russia, differing from every other land in the world. Russia is called to be a liberator of peoples. This mission is lodged within its unique spirit. And the justice for the world tasks of Russia is already presupposed by the spiritual powers of history. This mission of Russia is apparent within the present day war. Russia has no greedy aspirations.

Suchlike is one of the theses concerning Russia, which rightly might be expressed. But there is also the antithesis, which no less is without basis. Russia — is the most nationalistic land in the world, a land of unseen excesses of nationalism, of the pressuring of subject nationalities by Russification, a land of national boasting, a land, in which everything is nationalised right up to the universal Church of Christ, a land, esteeming itself as of a singular vocation and spurning all Europe, as rot and the devil’s brood, consigned to perdition. The reverse side of Russian humility manifests itself as an extraordinary Russian self-conceit. The most humble is also the greatest, the mightiest, solely called in vocation. “Russian” is also that which is right, good, true, godly. Russia — is “Holy Rus'”. Russia is sinful, but in its sinfulness it remains an holy land — a land of saints, living by the ideals of sanctity. Vl. Solov’ev joked at the assuredness of the Russian national self-conceit in imagining this, that all the saints spoke in Russian. That selfsame Dostoevsky, who preached the everyman and appealed to an universal spirit, preached also a most fanatical nationalism, he raged against the Polish and the Jews, he denied that the West has any right to be considered a Christian world. The Russian self-conceit always finds expression in this, that Russia esteems itself not only the most Christian, but also the sole Christian land in the world. Catholicism is not acknowledged at all as Christian. And in this always has been one of the spiritual sources of a false attitude to the Polish Question. Russia, in its spirit called to be a liberator of peoples, too often has become an oppressor, and therefore it evokes towards itself hostility and suspicion, which we now have to surmount.

Russian history presents quite exceptional a spectacle — with the quite total nationalisation of the Church of Christ, which defines itself, as universal. Churchly nationalism — is characteristically a Russian phenomenon. Our [Old Believer] Old Ritualism is steeped in it. But the same nationalism reigns also within the ruling church. And the same nationalism pervades also the Slavophil ideology, which always has substituted the Russian for the universal. The universal spirit of Christ, the masculine universal Logos has been made captive by the feminine national element, by the Russian earth of its pagan lineage. There was thus formed a religion of dissolving away into mother-earth, into the collective national element, into the living warmth. Russian religiosity — is a feminine religiosity — a religiosity of collective biological warmth, experienced as a mystical warmth. Weakly developed within it is the personal religious principle; it is afraid to emerge from out of the collective warmth into the cold and fire of personal religiosity. Such a religiosity refuses the masculine and active spiritual path. This is not so much the religion of Christ, as rather the religion of the Mother of God, a religion of mother-earth, feminine divinity, a sanctification of the fleshly way of life. V. V. Rozanov in his own manner with genius gave expression to this Russian religion of natal flesh, a religion of multiplication and comfort. Mother-earth for the Russian people is Russia. Russia is transformed into the Mother of God. Russia — is a land God-bearing. Such a feminine, national-elemental religiosity has to impose itself upon men, who take upon themselves the burden of spiritual activity, they bear the cross, they lead spiritually. And the Russian people in its spiritual life imposes itself upon the saints, upon the startsi-elders, upon men, in regard to whom it seems proper only to bow down to, as before an icon. The Russian people does not dare even to think, that it is possible to imitate and be like the saints, that sanctity is an inward path of spirit, — this would be as it were too masculinely bold. The Russian people wants not so much the sanctity, just like it does not want power, as rather a surrendering of itself to power, the transferring to the power of all its burdens. The Russian people in its masses is lazy in its religious ascent, its religiosity is of the plains, and not of the heights; the collective humility comes to it easier, than the religious tempering of the person, than the sacrificing of the warmth and comfort of the national-elemental lifestyle. For its humility the Russian people receives in reward this comfort and warmth of the collective life. Suchlike is the basis amongst the people for the nationalisation of the church in Russia. There is in this a tremendous admixture of religious nationalism, as it were preliminary to the Christian religion of spirit, the religion of person and freedom. Christian love itself, which is essentially spiritual and opposed to the bonds of flesh and blood, was naturalised within this religiosity, was turned into a love for “one’s own sort” of man. Thus was strengthened the religion of flesh, and not of spirit, thus was safeguarded the bastions of religious materialism. Upon the boundless Russian plains are erected churches, saints and startsi-elders are acclaimed, but the soil of the plains, the steppes, is still something naturalistic, the lifestyle is still pagan.

The great deed, wrought by Vladimir Solov’ev for the Russian consciousness, mustneeds first of all be seen in his merciless criticism of churchly nationalism, in his eternal appeal for the universal spirit of Christ, for the liberation of the spirit of Christ from its captivity to the national element, the naturalistic element. Vl. Solov’ev in his reaction against churchly nationalism too readily tended towards Catholicism, but the great truth of his fundamental strivings and motives is indisputable, and yet to be acknowledged by Russia. Vl. Solov’ev is a true antidote against the nationalistic antithesis in Russian life. His Christian truth in resolution of the question of the Polish and the Jews ought always to be set in opposition to the untruth of Dostoevsky. Churchly nationalism has led to the state enslavement of the church. The Church, which is a spiritual, a mystical organism, passively has surrendered itself to synodal power on the German model. The enigmatic antinomy of Russia in regard to nationality is bound up all the same with the incorrect correlation of the masculine and the feminine principle, with a lack of developement and of the revealing of the person, born in Christ and called to be a bridegroom for his earth, to be a light-bearing man for the feminine national element, and not its slave.

The same enigmatic antinomy can be traced throughout everything in Russia. There can be established innumerable a quantity of theses and antitheses concerning the Russian national character, to uncover many a contradiction within the Russian soul. Russia — is a land of boundless freedom of spirit, a land of wandering and search for the truth of God. Russia — is the most non-bourgeois land in the world; there is in it not that same philistinism, which so repulses and repels Russians in the West. Dostoevsky, from whom one can learn much of the soul of Russia, in his disconcerting Legend about the Grand Inquisitor, was a proponent of so bold and boundless freedom in Christ, such as no one ever yet in the world was impelled to affirm. The affirmation of freedom of spirit, as something characteristically Russian, always was an essential trait of Slavophilism. The Slavophils and Dostoevsky always set in opposition the inward freedom of the Russian people, its organic religious freedom, which it will not give up for any worldly blessing, — in contrast to the inward non-freedom of the Western peoples, their enslavement to the external. Within the Russian people truly there is freedom of spirit, which obtains only with one who is not absorbed in the thirst for earthly gain or worldly felicity. Russia — is a land of essential freedom, unknown to the advanced peoples of the West, with their reinforced philistine norms. Only within Russia is there not that grip of bourgeois conventions, the despotism of the philistine family. Russian man with great ease surmounts all the bourgeois aspect, he can depart every lifestyle, can depart every normalisation of life. The wanderer type is so characteristic of Russia and is so beautiful. The wanderer — is the most free man in the world. He walks about the world, but his element is the air, he has no roots into the earth, in him there is no earth-hold. The wanderer — is freed of the “world” and all the burden of the world, and for him earthly life is reduced to a not-large knapsack upon the shoulders. The grandeur of the Russian people and its vocation towards an higher life is concentrated within the wanderer type. The Russian wanderer type has found its expression not only in the life of the people, but also within cultural life, within the life of the finest part of the intelligentsia. Here too we know of wanderers, free in spirit, attached to nothing, eternal pilgrims, seeking after the unseen city. The account about them can be perused in the Russian great literature. The wanderers in cultural and intelligentsia life are termed at one point vagabonds of the Russian earth, at another as rebels. They exist already in Pushkin and Lermontov, and later in Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Spiritual wanderers they are, all these Raskol’nikovs, Myshkins, Stavrogins, Versilovs and Prince Andrei and P’er Bezukov. The wanderers have not their own city, they seek the city to come. Vl. Solov’ev always sensed himself not an inhabitant and citizen of this world, but only a stranger and wanderer, not having his own home. Thus also was Skovoroda — a wandering seer from among the people in the XVIII Century. The spiritual wandering and restlessness is there in Lermontov, in Gogol, it is there in L. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and on the other side — it is there in the Russian anarchists and revolutionaries, aspiring variously towards the absolute, going out beyond the borders of all the positive and visible life. The same thing is there also in Russian sectarianism, in the mystical thirst of the people, in that ecstasy of desire, in order that “the Spirit should glow”. Russia — is a fantastic land of spiritual intoxication, a land of the Klysty, of the self-immolators, of the Dubokhors, the land of Kondratii Selivanov and Grigorii Rasputin, the land of pretenders and Pugachevism. The Russian soul sits not in one spot, this is no small-place soul, no locale-bounded soul. In Russia, in the soul of the people there is a sort of endless searching, a searching for the invisible city of Kitezh, an home unseen. Distances open up before the Russian soul, and no traces of an horizon are there before its spiritual eyes. The Russian soul is ablaze in its fiery search for truth, for the absolute and Divine truth and for the salvation of all the world and the universal resurrection unto new life. It grieves eternally over the sorrow and suffering of the people and all the world, and its torment knows no solace. This soul is absorbed in finding resolution to the ultimate and accursedly difficult questions concerning the meaning of life. There is a rebellious and unsubmissive aspect within the Russian soul, not to be appeased nor satisfied by anything temporal, relative or conditional. All farther and farther along it has to go, to the very end, to the limit, to the exit point from “this world”, from this earth, from everything merely local, narrow, attached to it. More than once already it has been demonstrated, that Russian atheism is itself religious. The heroically disposed intelligentsia has gone to death in the name of materialistic ideas. This strange contradiction becomes conceivable, if one sees, that beneathe the materialistic trappings it aspires towards the absolute. The Slavic revolt — is something fiery, a fiery element, unknown to other races. And Bakunin in his fiery thirst for a world conflagration, in which everything old would be burnt up, was a Russian, a Slav, messianic. Suchlike is one of the theses concerning the soul of Russia. The life of the Russian people with its mystical sects, and Russian literature, and Russian thought, and the sad lot of Russian writers, and the lot of the Russian intelligentsia, torn off from the soil and at the same time so characteristically national, all this, all this gives us the right to assert this thesis, that Russia — is a land of endless freedom and of spiritual distances, a land of wanderers, solitaries and seekers, a land rebellious and harsh in its elementalness, in its Dionysianism amongst the people, with no wish to know forms.

And here also is an antithesis. Russia — is a land of unprecedented servility and horrid abasement, a land, lacking in the awareness of the rights of the person and not defending the dignity of the person, a land of inert conservatism, of the enslavement of religious life by the state, a land of strong manners and hard on the flesh. Russia — is a land of merchants, immersed in fleshly burdens, acquisitive, conservative to the point of immobility, a land officials, never overstepping the bounds of their reclusive and morbid bureaucratic kingdom, a land of peasants, wanting nothing more than the land, and having assimilated Christianity in a totally external and avaricious manner, a land of clergy, immersed in a material lifestyle, a land of ritualism, a land of the intelligentsia, inert and conservative in its thought, and infected with the most superficial of materialist ideas. Russia does not love beauty, it fears beauty, as a splendour, it wants no sort of a plenteous abundance. It is almost impossible to move Russia along from a spot, since it is so ponderous, so inert, so lackadaisical, so immersed in the material, so submissively reconciled with its life. All our societal classes, all our segments of the soil: nobility, merchants, peasants, clergy, officialdom, — all neither want nor do they love ascent; all prefer to remain in the lowlands, the flat-lands, to be “like everything”. The person everywhere is subjected to the organic collective. Our landed strata are bereft of the sense of rights and even of dignity, they want no self-initiative or activity, and they always trust that others after them will do the same. And our political revolutionism is just as lacking in freedom, a sterile and inert thought. The Russian radical-democratic intelligentsia, as a crystalised stratum, is spiritually conservative and alien to true freedom; it would sooner deal with ideas of a mechanical equality, than those of freedom. To some it would seem, that Russia is doomed to slavery and that there is no way out for it into free life. It is possible to suppose, that the person has been asleep still, not only in the conservative Russia, but also in the revolutionary Russia, that Russia remains still a land of the impersonal collective. But it mustneeds be understood, that the age-old Russian collectivism is but a passing phenomenon  of a primitive stage of natural evolution, and not an eternal manifestation of spirit.

How does one make sense of this enigmatic contradiction with Russia, this alike veracity of mutually-exclusive theses concerning it? Here also, just like everywhere, with the question about the freedom and slavery of the soul of Russia, about its wanderlust and its immobility, we come up against the secret correlation of the masculine and the feminine. The root of these deep contradictions — is in the disunitedness of the masculine and the feminine within the Russian soul and the Russian character. The unbounded freedom is countermanded by a boundless slavery, the eternal wont for wandering — by an eternal stagnancy, and therefore the masculine freedom does not imbue the feminine national element in Russia from within, from the depths. The masculine principle is always awaited from the outside, the personal principle does not reveal itself within the Russian people. Hence the eternal dependence upon the foreigner. In philosophic terms this signifies, that Russia always senses the masculine principle for itself as something transcendent, and not immanent, something incidental from the outside. With this is connected the fact, that everything masculine, liberating and formative in Russia has been as it were not Russian, foreign, Western European, French or German, of Greek in the past. Russia on its own is incapable as it were to form itself into a free lifestyle, incapable to form of itself the person. The turning towards its own soil, towards its own national element in Russia so readily assumes a character of enslavement, leads to immobility, turns into reaction. Russia is like an eligible girl, awaiting a bridegroom, who ought to scale whatever the heights, but there arrives not the intended, instead only a German official to dominate her. And in the life of spirit they do dominate her: now Marx, now Kant, now Steiner, now some other foreigner of a man. Russia, so unique, a land of so extraordinary a spirit, has found itself constantly in a relation of servitude to Western Europe. It has not learned from Europe, what is needful and good, has not partaken of European culture what might prove salvific for it, but like a slave it has been made subject to the West or else in a wild nationalistic reaction it has threatened the West, threatening the culture. The god Apollo, the god of masculine form, has nowise alighted into Dionysiac Russia. Russian Dionysianism — is barbaric, and not Hellenic. And though in other lands there might be found all the contradictoriness, but it is only in Russia that the thesis is countermanded by the antithesis, the bureaucratic state is begotten of anarchism, servility is begotten of freedom, extreme nationalism from supra-nationalism. From this vicious circle there is only one exit: the revealing within Russia itself, in its spiritual depths of a masculine, personal, formative principle, mastering its own national element, the immanent awakening of a masculine and light-bearing consciousness. And I want to believe, that the present-day world war will lead Russia out of this vicious circle, will awaken in it the masculine spirit, will show the world the manly face of Russia, will establish the inwardly needed correlation of the European East and the European West.


There has broken out now, finally, the long anticipated world struggle of the Slavic and the German races. Germanism long since already has penetrated into the bosom of Russia, imperceptibly it has Germanised the Russian state and Russian culture, it has governed the body and the soul of Russia. And now the Germanism comes out into the open in war against the Slavic world. The Germanic race — is masculine, self-assuredly and narrowly masculine. The Germanic world tends to sense the femininity of the Slavic race and it thinks, that it has to dominate this race and its lands, that it only has the power to render this land cultural. Germanism long since already has sent out its match-makers, it had its agents and it sensed Russia as predestined for it. The whole Peterburg period of Russian history stood beneathe the standard of the inward and outward influence of the Germans. The Russian people was almost prepared to become reconciled to this, that only the Germans could govern and civilise it. And it took quite exceptional a world catastrophe, it took the demented acts of Germanism with its pride and self-conceit, wherein Russia should become conscious of itself, should shake off from itself its passivity, should rouse in itself its masculine powers and sense itself called to great deeds in the world. In the world struggle against the Germanic race it is impossible to oppose it with only femininity and the submissiveness of the Slavs. It is necessary to reveal a manly face against the threat of being swallowed up by Germanism. The war of the Slavic world with the Germanic world is not only the clash of armed forces upon the fields of battle; it goes deeper, this — is a spiritual war, a struggle for the dominance of a different spirit in the world, the clash and the interweaving of the Eastern and the Western Christian world. In this great, truly worldwide struggle Russia cannot but become conscious of itself. But its self-consciousness ought also to be its self-purgation. Self-consciousness presupposes self-criticism and self-accusation. Boasting has never come about through self-consciousness, it comes about through a full obscuring of it. A brilliant example of the full loss of true self-consciousness and full darkness through boasting and self-conceit is Germany at present. The masculine, the light-bearing consciousness  of a people — always involves criticism, always is liberative from its own darkness and enslavement, always is a mastering of the chaotic elements within it. And the self-consciousness of Russia ought first of all to be liberative from the domination and enslavement of its own national element. And this means, that the Russian people as regards its own Russian earth ought to be manly and light-bearing, ought to rule its earth and give form to its chaotic elements, and not be enslaved by it, not passively surrender itself to it. This means likewise, that man is called to govern over nature, and not nature over man. Russia has lived too natural, too insufficiently human a life, too racial and insufficiently personal a life. The personal human principle has not all still gained mastery over the impersonal natural elements of the earth. Russia has experienced this its age-old natal biology as being its age-old collective mysticism, and in the person of some of its ideologues it has seen this to be its superiority over Western Europe. Russia in the masses of its people has confessed a religion of natal flesh, and not a religion of spirit, it has confused a natal and natural collectivism with a collectivism that is spiritual and super-natural. But as a mysterious land of contradictions, Russia has concealed within itself a prophetic spirit and the presentiments of new life and new revelations.

In this decisive hour for the Russian consciousness it is necessary clearly and bravely to be aware of the dangers facing us. The war can bring Russia great good, not material only, but also spiritual good. It awakens a deep sense of the people and of national unity, it surmounts the inner discord and hostility, the petty connivings of parties, it manifests the face of Russia and forges a masculine spirit. The war exposes the falsities of life, snatches away the veils, disdains the false sanctities. It — is a great enabling for opportunity. But it bears also danger with it. Russia can fall to the level of a false nationalism and a truly German-like chauvinism. It can get caught up with ideals of a world domination non-Russian in spirit, and alien to the Slavic race. The war bears with it a danger of callousness. And Russia ought most of all be free of hatred towards Germany, from the slave-like feelings of malice and revenge, from that denial of value in the spiritual culture of the enemy, which as such would be merely another form of slavery. One would to believe, that all this will not be so, but it would be a bad thing to shut one’s eyes to the possibility. In the Russian national element there is a sort of eternal danger of winding up in captivity, of being submissive to that external to it. And a true renewal of Russia can only be in a radical liberation from every captivity, from every stranglehold and enslavement to the external, the outside, the foreign, i.e. the revealing within of an inner manliness, an inner light, a spirit self-governing and creative. The war ought to free us, as Russians, from the servile and submissive attitude towards Germany, from the unhealthy and over-strained attitude towards Western Europe, as towards something remote and external, at times the object of passionate love and dreams, and at other times of tremendous hate and fear. Western Europe and Western culture should become immanent for Russia; Russia should become ultimately European, and it is namely then that it will become spiritually unique and spiritually independent. Europe is ceasing to hold a monopoly on culture. The world war, in the bloody cycle of which there has been dragged in already every part of the orb and every race, in its bloody torments has to give birth to a firm awareness of the oneness of all mankind. Culture ceases to become something exclusively European and becomes instead world-wide and universal in scope. And Russia, occupying a place in the middle betwixt East and West, is called to play a great role in the leading of mankind towards unity. The world war brings us critically to the problem of Russian messianism.

The messianic consciousness is not a nationalistic consciousness; it is profoundly contrary to nationalism; this — is universal a consciousness. The messianic consciousness has its roots in the religious consciousness of the Hebrew people, in the experiencing by Israel of its God-chosenness and uniqueness. The messianic consciousness is the consciousness of a chosen people of God, a people, in which would appear the Messiah and through which the world would be saved. A God-chosen people — is as a messiah amongst the peoples, the sole nation with a messianic consciousness and destiny. All the other nations — are lower nations, not chosen ones, nations with an ordinary and non-mystical a fate. All the nations have their own vocation, their own destiny in the world, but only one nation can be the chosen one for messianic aims. The people of a messianic consciousness and destiny are likewise but one, just as there is one Messiah. The messianic consciousness — is world-wide in scope and supra-national. In this there is an analogy with the idea of the Roman empire, which likewise is universal and supra-national, just as is the ancient Hebrew messianism. This messianic consciousness of the Jews, encompassing all the world in its scope, had justification in this, that the Messiah had appeared in the bosom of this people, and was spurned by them. But after the appearance of Christ, messianism in the ancient Hebrew sense was already become impossible for the Christian world. For the Christian there is neither Greek nor Jew. In the Christian world there is no solely-select nation of God. Christ came for all peoples, and every people, in the face of the Christian consciousness, has its own destiny and its own allotted fate. Christianity does not permit of a national exclusiveness nor national pride, it condemns any such consciousness, whereby my nation should be above all nations and the solely religious nation. Christianity is an ultimate affirmation of the oneness of mankind, a spirit encompassing all humanity and all the world. And this was fully conceived of by Catholicism, although tied in with relativistic historical-body aspects (papism). The messianic consciousness is a consciousness prophetic, and the messianic self-awareness — is a prophetic self-awareness. In it — is the salt of religious life, and this salt has been received from the Hebrew people. This prophetic messianic consciousness does not vanish away in the Christian world, but the rather is transmuted and transformed. And within the Christian world there is possible a prophetic messianism, the consciousness of an exceptional religious calling of some particular nation, a faith is possible, that through this nation will be told the world the words of a new revelation. But the Christian messianism has to be cleansed of everything not Christian, deriving from national pride and self-conceit, from reducing it back onto the path of the old Hebrew messianism, on the one hand, or a new exclusionary nationalism — on the other hand. The Christian messianic consciousness cannot be an assertion, that only alone does the Russian people possess a great religious calling, that it alone — is a Christian nation, that it alone is chosen for a Christian destiny and a Christian allotted fate, and that all the other remaining nations — are lower, non-Christian and bereft of religious vocation. Within such a conceit there is nothing Christian. There was nothing Christian in the endless refrain of the Slavophils about the rottenness of the West and the absence within it of a Christian life. Such a Judaisation of Christianity turns us back from the New Testament towards the Old Testament. Judaism within Christianity is a potentially entrapping danger, from which it is needful to stay clear of. And every exclusionary religious nationalism, every religio-national conceit is a Judaism within Christianity. The extreme nationalising of church is also a Judaism within Christianity. And in Russian Christianity there is much of the Judaistic element, much that is Old Testament in character.

The Christian messianic consciousness can only be a consciousness whereby that in the ensuing world epoch, Russia is called to says its own word to the world, just as the Latin world and the Germanic world have said it. The Slavic race, at the head of which stands Russia, ought to reveal its spiritual potential, to manifest its prophetic spirit. The Slavic race has to go as replacement for other races, already having played their role, already tending towards a decline; this — is a future-looking race. All the great nations pass through a messianic consciousness. This coincides with periods of especial spiritual uplift, when by the fates of history a given people is called to accomplish something great and new for the world. Such a messianic consciousness was there in Germany at the beginning of the XIX Century. But now we see an end of German messianism, the complete vanishing of its spiritual powers. Within Christian history there is no one chosen nation of God, but rather various nations at various times are chosen for a great mission, for a revealing of spirit. Long since already in Russia has been born the prophetic feeling, that there has begun the hour of history, when it would be called for great revelations of spirit, when the centre of world spiritual life would be within it. This is not a Jewish messianism. Such a prophetic feeling does not exclude a great chosenness and destiny of other peoples; it is but a continuation and advancement of deeds, wrought by all the peoples of the Christian world. This Russian messianic consciousness was muddled and held captive by the pagan national element and distorted by survivals of the Judaistic consciousness. The Russian consciousness has to be cleansed and set free from this pagan and Judaistic captivity. And this means, that Russian thought and Russian life ought to be radically freed from the morbid and mortifying sides of Slavophilism, not only the official, but also the national. Within Slavophilism there was its own truth, which always was good to set in contrast to Westernism. It sought to preserve. But there was many a falsehood and lie, much slavery within the material lifestyle, many “lofty deceits” and idealisations, impeding the life of spirit.

Russia cannot define itself, as East, and thus oppose itself to the West. Russia ought to conceive of itself as also West, as an East-West, an uniter of the two worlds, and not a divider. Vladimir Solov’ev broke spiritually with the old Slavophilism, with its false nationalism and its exclusionary Easternism. And after the action of Vl. Solov’ev, Christian universalism had ultimately to be regarded as confirmed within the consciousness. Every particularism essentially is not of a Christian nature. The exclusive dominance of the Eastern element in Russia was always a slavery of the feminine natural principle and it ended in a realm of chaos, now reactionary, now revolutionary. Russia, as a self-declared East, Russia nationally self-sufficing and exclusive — signifies a non-openness, signifies a non-revealedness of the masculine principle, the human and personal slavery of a principle naturo-elemental, of a national affinity and traditional lifestyle. Within the religious consciousness this signifies the absolutisation and apotheosis of the corporeal-relative, a contentedness with the animal-like warmth of the national flesh. Within this — is an eternal temptation and great danger for Russia. The feminine aspect of the Slavs makes them mystically sensitive, capable of hearkening to the inner voices. But the exceptional dominance by the feminine element hinders them from fulfilling their calling in the world. Russian messianism has need of a masculine spirit, without which ever again and again there will be a stumbling back into this alluring and constraining primordial element of the Russian earth, which awaits its own enlightenment and form. But the end of Slavophilism is likewise an end also of the Westernism, the end of the very opposition of East and West. In the Westernism too there was particularism and provincialism, there was not an universal spirit. Westernism signified a sort of unhealthy and unmanly attitude towards the West, a particular lack of freedom and powerlessness to sense of Russia itself as an effective power. The Russian self-awareness cannot be that of either the Slavophils, or of the Westernisers, since both these forms signify an immaturity of the Russian people, its lack of maturity for world life, for a world role. In the West there cannot be a Westernism, this visionary dream about the West there is impossible, since it is about some higher condition. The higher condition is not the West, just as it is also not the East; it is nothing geographically or materially delimited. The world war should overcome Russia’s existence of being exclusively the East, and Europe too, as exclusively the West. Mankind will emerge beyond these boundaries. Russia will emerge into world life a determining power. But the world role of Russia presupposes a conviction, of the creative activeness of man within it, and an escape from the condition of passivity and dissolution. Already within Dostoevsky, eternally twofold, there is a prophecy about a revelation of man, about an exceptionally acute anthropological awareness. The true Russian messianism presupposes the liberation of religious life, of the life of the spirit from the exclusive attachment to natural and state principles, from every fettering down to the material lifestyle. Russia has to pass through a religious emancipation of the person. Russian messianism is grounded first of all upon the Russian wont for wandering, the roaming and searching, upon the Russian rebelliousness and unappeased spirit, upon the prophetic Russia, upon Russians — not having their own city, and seeking after the city to come. Russian messianism cannot be connected with the Russia of its lifestyle, inertly-stagnant, the Russia, heavy laden with its natural flesh, with Russia, merely guarding a ritual-belief, with Russians — satisfied with their city, a pagan city, and fearful of the city to come.

Everything uniquely original in the Slavic and Russian mysticism — is in the search for the city of God, the city to come, in the awaiting of the descent to earth of the Heavenly Jerusalem, in the thirst for universal salvation and universal good, in an apocalyptic disposition. These apocalyptic, prophetic expectations stand in contrast to that feeling, that the Russians already have their own city and that this city — is “Holy Rus'”. Upon this lifestyle of a contented feeling was based Slavophilism to a remarkable degree, and upon it is based all our rightist religio-national ideology. The religion of the sacred — is a guarding of that which is, and in the spirit of Russia it clashes with the religion of prophecy, — the exaction of the rightfulness to come. Here is one of the innate contradictions of Russia. And if there might be much to adduce in defense of this thesis, that Russia — is a land of the guarding of its holy things primarily and that in this be its religious mission, then no less can there be adduced the defense of this antithesis, that Russia primarily is a land of religious craving, of spiritual thirst, of prophetic presentiments and expectations. In the figure of Dostoevsky was embodied this religious antinomy of Russia. He had two faces: the one oriented towards the guarding, towards attachment to the national religious lifestyle, of being caught up in the genuine lifestyle, — an image of spiritual repleteness, and the other face — prophetic, oriented towards the city to come, — an image of spiritual hunger. The contradiction and the conflict between spiritual satiety and spiritual hunger — is fundamental for Russia, and from it can be explained many an other contradiction of Russia. Spiritual satiety provides for the passive surrender of oneself to the feminine national element. This is not still a being full with the food of God, this is all but a natural being full. Spiritual hunger, unsatisfied by the nationalistic national fare, is a sign of the liberation of the masculine principle of the person. The same contradiction, which we see in the national genius of Dostoevsky, we see also in Russian popular life, in which always there are two faces seen. The spiritual satiety, the safe-guarding of the old, the lifestyle and the external-ritualistic understanding of Christianity, — is one image of the religious life of the people. The spiritual hunger, prophetic presentiments, mystical absorption at the summits of Orthodoxy among some sides of our sectarianism and schismatics, in the wont for wandering — is another image of the religious life of the people. The Russian mysticism, the Russian messianism is connected with the second image of Russia, with its spiritual hunger and thirst for God’s truth on earth, just as in Heaven. An apocalyptic mindset profoundly distinguishes Russian mysticism from the German mysticism, which is but an immersion into the depths of the spirit and which never was a striving towards the city of God, towards the end-time, towards the transfiguration of the world. But the Russian apocalyptic mindset has a strong tendency towards passivity, towards waiting it out, towards femininity. In this is expressed a characteristic trait of the Russian spirit. The prophetic Russian soul senses itself pervaded by mystical currents. In the life of the people this assumes the form of a fear of the Anti-Christ. In recent times these authentic religious experiences of the people have penetrated into our cultural religio-philosophic currents, though but in a mirrored and too stylised, artificial form. There was even formed an aesthetic cult of religious frights and terrors, as a true sign of a mystical disposition. And in this again there is no masculine, active and creative spirit, which Russia has need of most of all for the fulfillment of the world tasks, to which it is called. The prophetic Russia has to pass over from expectation to creation, from acute terror over to spiritual boldness. It is all too clear, that Russia is not called to felicity, to bodily and spiritual well-being, to attachment to the old flesh of the world. Within it there is no gift for the building of an average culture, and in this it is deeply distinct from the lands of the West, it is distinct not only in its backwardness, but also by its spirit.

Herein is a mystery of the Russian spirit. This spirit tends to strive towards the final and ultimate, towards the absolute in everything; towards absolute freedom and absolute love. But within the naturo-historical process reign s the relative and the average. And therefore the Russian thirst for absolute freedom in practice too often leads to slavery in matters relative and average, and the Russian thirst for absolute love — to hostility and hate.2   Characteristic to Russians is some lack of ability, lack of talent in all matters relative and ordinary. And the history of culture and the social is indeed all involved with the ordinary and the relative; it is neither absolute nor final. Since the Kingdom of God is a kingdom absolute and final, Russians then tend to yield away everything relative and ordinary over into the domain of the kingdom of the devil. This is a feature very nationally Russian. To gain oneself relative societal freedom is difficult for Russians not only because, that in the Russian nature is passivity and oppression, but also because, that the Russian spirit thirsts for God’s absolute freedom. Therefore it is difficult for Russians to construct a relative culture, which always is a matter preliminary, but not final. Russians constantly find themselves in slavery regarding matters of the ordinary and the relative, and they justify this by that in matters of the ultimate and absolute they are free. Herein lies concealed one of the deepest motifs of Slavophilism. The Slavophils wanted to leave to the Russian people the religious freedom of conscience, the freedom of thought, the freedom of spirit, and yield all the rest of life over to the ruling powers, unlimitedly governing the Russian people. Dostoevsky in his legend about the “Grand Inquisitor” proclaimed an unprecedented freedom of spirit, an absolute religious freedom in Christ. And Dostoevsky was ready indeed not only submissively to be reconciled, but even to defend the social slavery. And even otherwise, the same Russian feature was expressed also in our revolutionary-maximalists, demanding the absolute in everything of the relative societal aspect and yet incapable of creating a free sociability. Here we approach from a new side the basic contradictions of Russia. All this devolves into the same exposure of the masculine and feminine principles in the bosom of the Russian element and the Russian spirit. The Russian spirit, striving for the absolute in everything, is lacking of a masculine mastery within the sphere of the relative and the middle, it yields to the power of external forces. And thus in the average culture it is always ready to yield to the power of Germanism, to German philosophy and science. It is the same also in matters of statecraft, essentially in matters relative and average. The Russian spirit desires a sacred state in the absolute and it is ready to reconcile itself with a beastly state in the relative. It desires holiness in life absolute, and only holiness captivates it, but all the same it is ready to reconcile itself with filth and the cringing in life relative. And therefore Holy Rus’ always had as its reverse side the beastly Rus’. Russia as it were has always only desired either the angelic or the beastly, and has insufficiently revealed within itself the human. Angelic holiness and beastly lowliness — here are the eternal swayings of the Russian people, unknown to the more average Western peoples. Russian man is enraptured of holiness, and he is enraptured also by sin, by lowliness. Humble sinfulness, not daring to raise oneself too far, is so characteristic of the Russian religiosity. In this is the sense of rapture from being immersed in the warm national flesh, in the lower earthly element. And thus even the prophetic and the messianic itself in the Russian spirit, the thirst for transfiguration, transforms itself into a sort of slavery. I have attempted to characterise all the contradictions of Russia and find in them the points of unity. This is a path towards self-consciousness, towards the awareness of what is necessary for Russia to reveal its great spiritual potentials, for the realising of its world tasks.

How ought a man to relate to his earth, Russian man to the Russian earth? Here is our problem. The image of natal earth is not only the image of mother, it is likewise — an image of bride and wife, which man makes fruitful by his logos, his masculine and light-bearing and form-giving principle, and the image of the child. Man ought first of all to love his earth, to love it in all its contradictions, with its sins and deficiencies. Without love for his earth man remains powerless to create something, is powerless to master the earth. Without the element of earth the masculine spirit is powerless. But the love of man for the earth is not the slavery of man by the earth, it is not passive in the immersion and dissolving in its elements. The love of man for the earth ought to be masculine. Masculine love is an egress from the naturalistic dependency, from the natal immersion into the elemental primordial collectivism. In Russia everything is still too governed not only by a natural economy in its material life, but also a natural economy in its spiritual life. From this period of a natural economy the Russian people is emerging amidst torments, and this process is injurious and tormentive. Russian rebelliousness and wanderlust is connected with the sundering off from the natal naturalistic dependency, assumed as an higher condition. This sundering is not a sundering from the natal earth. And the Russian rebels and roamers remain Russians, characteristically national nonetheless. Our love for the Russian earth, with many a suffering and sacrifice, abides in all epochs, all relationships and all the ideological constructs. The soul of Russia — is not a bourgeois soul, — a soul, not swayed afront a dream of gold, and even for this alone one can love it endlessly. Russia is dear and beloved even in its most monstrous contradictions, in its enigmatic antinomy, in its mysterious elements. And everyone sensed this, when the war began.

But the Russian element demands the formative and light-bearing logos. The insufficiency of a masculine character and that tempering of the person, which in the West was wrought by chivalry, — is a very dangerous insufficiency of Russians, both for the Russian people and for the Russian intelligentsia. The love itself of Russian man for his native earth has assumed a form, hindering the developement of the masculine personal spirit. In the name of this love, in the name of falling into the bosom of the mother, there has been spurned in Russia the knight-chivalrant principle. The Russian spirit was enveloped by the protecting flesh of its national mother, it fell back into the warm moist flesh. The Russian temperament, so well known to everyone, is connected with this warmth and moistness; in it there is much still of the flesh and insufficient of the spirit. But flesh and blood do not inherit eternity, and eternal only can be the spirit of Russia. The Russian spirit can only be revealed by way of manly sacrifice in life amidst the animate warmth of the collective natal flesh. The mystery of Russia can be unriddled only by its liberation from the distortive slavery of the dark elements. In the cleansing fire of the world conflagration much will be burnt, and the old material trappings of the world and man will drop away. And the rebirth of Russia therein for new life can only be bound up with manly, active and creative paths of spirit, with the revealing of Christ within man and the people, and not with the naturalistic natal element, eternally attracting and enslaving. This — will be a victory of the fire of spirit over the moist and warm soul and flesh. In Russia by virtue of its religious character, always striving towards the absolute and the end, the human principle cannot reveal itself in the form of humanism, i.e. of the irreligious. And in the West even, humanism has vanished, has outlived itself, has gone into a crisis, from which Western mankind tormentedly seeks a way out. To but belatedly repeat the Western humanism, Russia cannot. In Russia the revelation of man can only be a religious revelation, only a revealing of the inner, and not the outer man, a revealing of Christ within. For suchlike is the absolute spirit of Russia, in which everything has to transpire from within, and not externally. Suchlike is the appeal of Slavophilism. In it one can only believe, it is impossible to prove it. The Russian people needs foremost to appeal to a religious manliness not in war only, but also in the life of peace, where it ought to hold mastery over its earth. The masculinity of the Russian people is not something abstract, sundered off from the feminine, as it is with the Germans. There is the secret of an unique fate in this, that Russia with its ascetic soul ought to become great and mighty. Not weak and puny, but strong and great it will conquer the temptation of the kingdom of this world. Only a great and strong sacrifice, only its free annihilation in this world will save and redeem. The Russian national self-consciousness ought fully to encompass within itself this antinomy: the Russian people in its spirit and vocation is a supra-state and a supra-national people, as regards its idea neither loving the “world” nor that which is in the “world”, but to it is given the mightiest national state for this, that its sacrifice and denial should be voluntary, from a position of strength, and not weakness. But the antinomy of the Russian lifestyle has to be carried over inwardly by the Russian soul, which would become masculinely sacrificial, within itself living out its own mysterious destiny. The revealing of a masculine spirit in Russia cannot be through the grafting onto it of the average Western culture. Russian culture can only be an end-point, only an emergence beyond the bounds of culture. The masculine spirit has the potential to include in Russia the prophetic, the Russian wont for wandering and the Russian search for truth. And inwardly it would unite with the feminineness of the Russian earth.

Nikolai  Berdyaev.


©  2008  by translator Fr. S. Janos

(1915 – 7(15,1) -en)

DUSHA  ROSSII. Originally published separately as a pamphlet, Moscow, I. D. Sytin, 1915, 42 p. (Klepinina # 7). Thereafter incorporated into the 1918 Berdyaev book, “Sud’ba Rossii” [“The Fate of Russia”], — Moscow, G. A. Leman and C. I. Sakharov, 1918, 240 p. — as the sequentially lead article, (sic — Klepinina # 15, 1).

1 This is fully confirmed also by the Russian Revolution, in which the people has remained spiritually passive and submissive to a new revolutionary tradition, but in the condition of a wicked obsession. [trans. note: footnote apparently added, when the 1915 “Soul of Russia” pamphlet was incorporated into the 1918 book, “The Fate of Russia”.]

2 The Russian Revolution has graphically demonstrated the whole danger of Russian absoluteness.