from russia with blood: soul on ice

A Russian soul on ice somewhere freezing somewhere in a clearly unromantic wasteland of the north?Valery Popov: “he killed six people, but his soul was pure.”  Russian history, its tragedies, sufferings and near fatalistic natures can lead one to conclude that the Russian soul is no ordinary phenomenon.It is said to have a strange, mystical quality which enables Russians to claim that they are more spiritual than Westerners.But is it true?  The  notion of a Russian soul comes in  conveniently when trying to explain the  ” Bounteous Culture of a Savage People”.

Certainly, The Russian soul is a romantic concept. Most likely it originates in the nineteenth-century, when Russia became known not only for its cannons, but when Russian culture started to mean something. The concept of the Russian soul became necessary when it became necessary to explain how a basically  barbarian people came to have the sketchy rudiments of a culture. Like everything in Russia, the so called soul is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. But, they remain an unpredictable people capable of surprising. To say they are a mystical people is likely false however. They are not particularly Western ,but are equally greedy, pragmatic and materialistic in their own way, so there no real place for mysticism.

---I can well see the Brothers Karamazov in Rasputin, because clearly this man combined the prayerfulness of Alexei, the passion of Dmitry, the wit of Ivan and the lust of Fyodor Pavlovich. But as a historian, I cannot say with certainty that it was exactly so. Yet he was undoubtedly a very rich personality, who unfortunately did not end up playing the role he wanted to play. He definitely did not want to do evil either to the royal family, or to his country. At the time, when many betrayed the Tsar, he remained faithful to the royal family to the very end. One can say many more good things about him than bad ones. But unfortunately, the role that he objectively played in Russian history is different—he pitted the tsar against everyone he could—against the Duma, the church, the army, society, and the other members of the royal family.--- Read More: image:

R. P. Solzhenitsyn wrote about Russia as a country without an eastern border. Does the Russian soul have something to do with the multiplicity or vagueness of the Russian identity—when Mikhail Bulgakov and the hopeless alcoholic, Muslims and the people of Western European culture are all considered Russians? A. V.: Of course our large territory plays a role here. Russia has always been a country of explosive, broken-up history. We have constantly been under threat of being divided. That is why Russian society has always been in need of bonds that would keep it together. Read More:

One has to wonder if Russia and its rivalry for land mass has always meant that blood has always been thicker than its ideology. It seems that no political ideology can bridge the vast gulf that history culture and tradition have created between Russia and the other peoples, particularly the Chinese whom the West figured would have a guaranteed unity and friendship based on the Marxist coloration of their regimes.

---the Far East, Hong Kong, July 1899. The cartoon shows the Powers, symbolized by animals such as the bear, the bulldog, the frog and the eagle, taking control of parts of Chinese territory. The Chinese text on top is a key to identify the animals with the countries; the Chinese text at the bottom describes the Powers’ respective aims and strategies. These explanations signal that at least parts of the envisaged audience were still in need of a key for such drawings. --- Read More:

While Europeans were exploring and staking claims in the New World, Russians were advancing across Siberia in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries at a much more rapid clip. The most serious obstacles were disease, shortages of food, and Siberia’s extreme bitter cold. As the small bands of Russian pioneers- many of then runaway serfs and escaped criminals- advanced across Siberia’s rivers and marched across its plains and mountains, they set up fortified strong points at strategic spots. They enslaved the natives, forcing them to provide food and furs and to surrender their women to serve as concubines. Eventually more legitimate troops followed seeking to monopolize the fur trade, which led only to a thriving black market in furs.

---Famous French political cartoon from the late 1890s. A pie represents "Chine" (French for China) and is being divided between UK, Germany, Russia, France and Japan.---Read More:

Brithers: All psychology in Russia should be – must be – viewed with three factors in mind: The nature of the Russian soul, the current state of the Russian economy, and the incredible number of losses in Russian families due to Stalin’s purges. There is unresolved bereavement on a massive scale….It is something that just does not exist in this country on the scale it exists there. I am not as articulate nor as clear on this subject as I would like. I am not sure the world has much of a language for it anyway – or, at least, the English-speaking world. I find that the clarity of my own sense of that soul fades when I get back home, where I am drowned in our familiar market mentality, consumer crush, the measuring of everything in dollars and cents – “is it cost effective” -and our starkly contrasting individualism. To try to talk about soul here in the United States makes me feel like it might just get people looking at me like I am a displaced sixties hippie or solipsistic, latter-day New Ager….The Russians have a sense of connectedness to themselves and to other human beings that is just not a part of American reality. It isn’t that competitiveness does not exist; it is just that there always seems to be more consideration and respect for others in any given situation. Read More:

Alexis de Toqueville ( 1835):There are now two great nations in the world which, starting from different points, seem to be advancing toward the same goal: the Russians and the Anglo-Americans. Both have grown in obscurity, and while the world’s attention was occupied elsewhere, they have suddenly taken their place among the leading nations, making the world take note of their birth and of their greatness almost at the same instant. All other peoples seem to have nearly reached their natural limits and to need nothing but to preserve them; but these two are growing…. The American fights against natural obstacles; the Russian is at grips with men….

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---2006 Olympiad: Russia vs. China (GM Vladimir Kramnik vs. GM Bu Xiangzhi) Photo by Daaim Shabazz.--- Read More:

…The former combats the wilderness and barbarism; the latter, civilization with all its arms. America’s conquests are made with the plowshare, Russia’s with the sword. To attain their aims, the former relies on personal interest and gives free scope to the unguided strength and common sense of individuals. The latter in a sense concentrates the whole power of society in one man. One has freedom as the principal means of action; the other has servitude. Their point of departure is different and their paths diverse; nevertheless, each seems called by some secret desire of Providence one day to hold in its hands the destinies of half the world. Read More:

Thomas Rowlandson's The Beast as Described in the Revelations... Read More:


“The only thing you’ll ever need to learn about Russians to understand them is their soul, but this is something that you will never learn….No one really knows what I feel at the moment and I can’t explain it. This feeling every Russian feels sharper than anything else. No matter how unpatriotic he/she is, feeling of a Russian self is the strongest feeling that is ever in a Russian….Russian culture is unique just because only Russians understand the fullest of it….Russian soul is the mix of drunken poor writer and furious brown bear [sorry, bear was dictated by Americans *evil grin*]. If you look at the Russian nation you’ll see a nation of poor people. Materialistically poor, that is. It might even look that Russians work for their loaf of bred and are pretty much happy with it. Hehe, well, hell no! Most of the Russians think that Americans work for their loaf of bred, meaning working for the materialistic matters. Russians work for other food, food for thought. Read More:

The present writer has long held that a Russo-Chinese accord would not hold, but rather there would be conflict with the possibility of war. I wrote in 1983:

The split between Russia and China over Communist ideology is a mere façade, and practically irrelevant. The real split is historically and racially based. We can trace the Russo-Chinese split back to 1229 when the Mongol ‘Golden Horde’ of Genghis Khan invaded Russia. The Mongols ruled Russia for 250 years. Even as late as the 18th C. Mongols still ruled the Lower Volga and the Crimea. This centuries- long Mongol rule has resulted in an ingrained… fear of Eastern conquest….

---This British "chromo" cartoon of 1901 lampoons the situation after the Boxer Rebellion was quelled: The imperial powers cluster around the prostrate carcass of the golden dragon, China, to claim their share. Newcomers Japan (sabre-toothed tiger, with samurai short sword in mouth), Italy (toothy dog in carabinieri garb) and U.S. (one of 3 eagles) are just as aggressive, though not as large, as the Russian bear and British lion. France is seen here as a rooster, Austria the two-headed eagle. In truth, economic decline and social instability had wracked China since the 1860s. Even so, by 1900 signs of imminent collapse were appearing -- a collapse greatly hastened by the dynasty's siding with the Boxers. The several years of foreign occupation and looting that ensued destabilized Chinese society and resulted in increased foreign control and further deligitimization of the dynasty. In 1902, when order was restored, it had barely 10 years to live....---Read More:

Harrison Salisbury says that Russians don’t differentiate among Asians, considering the Mongol invaders of six centuries ago the same as the hundreds of millions of Chinese whom the Russian sees as poised to strike again. Hatred for the Chinese is ubiquitous among the Russians. The phrase ‘little yellow bastards’ is used unapologetically… Read More:


---Jeff Stein:But the FBI must have been clapping its collective hands when it discovered the primitive radio techniques the Russians were using: high speed "burst transmissions.” The Cold War-era technique requires the sending party to record a coded Morse code message on a tape, then shoot it through the air in a millisecond. They were easy picking for the FBI, once it knew where to listen: Bugs in the defendants’ residences picked up “the irregular electronic clicking sounds associated with the receipt of coded radio transmissions,” its affidavit states. Likewise, you’d think the Russians would have moved beyond buried paper bags to pay their agents. Moscow Center did supply them with ATM cards, according to the FBI’s affidavit. But it also seems stuck with the old ways. “METSOS secretly buried some of the money in upstate New York,” the FBI affidavit says, referring to one of the defendants, “and two years later, in 2006, the Seattle Conspirators flew to New York and dug it up.”---Read More:

…Bobo Lo indicates that the present Sino-Russian agreement regarding the countering of the US presence in Central Asia is not going to obliterate the historical roles both see themselves playing as the dominant power in the region. De Nesnera cites Lo as saying that China and Russia “have very different visions of what a post-American world order and particularly regional order in Central Asia would look like. Russia really wants, in a way, to return to the old status quo. Now it knows it cannot be the old Soviet Union again, so it’s not going to try that. But it still sees itself as the leading power in the region….

---alexei varmalov:The soul is definitely a substance. Whether the “Russian soul” is a substance is a big question. I have a feeling that it is more of a myth. I have never operated with this concept. Let’s say it is an instrument that one can use to describe our perception of the world, our history and modernity. But it is not a universal instrument. It’s a metaphor, which says something to someone. To me personally, it doesn’t say much. I don’t know who invented it—Russians or foreigners. Most likely foreigners. In it I hear something moving, but condescending. Like when Europeans first set foot in Japan, where everything was alien, they had to invent a metaphor to explain it all at once. The same goes for Russia: an alien, self-absorbed entity. The “Russian soul” is probably a handy instrument to dissect this entity. So for an outsider it is probably not a bad instrument. For someone who lives here and is part of this culture, it is superfluous....Read More:

…It has a sort of a sense of historical, strategic entitlement… The Chinese, however, think they have just as much right to be in the region. So they are actively, really actively, pushing their political, security and, above all, economic interests in the region.. Lo considers the
two nations direct competitors… Read More:

---“Great Russia” often emerged in popular graphics as a giant brown bear or huge polar bear—commonly confronting, as usual, a diminutive “Japan.” In one particularly irreverent version (right), Japan is rendered as a small dog pissing on the big bear.--- Read More:


---Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin fired darts from a crossbow at a grey whale off Russia's Far Eastern coast on Wednesday in the latest in a series of man-versus-nature stunts designed to cultivate the image of a macho leader. Putin held his balance in a rubber boat that was being tossed around in choppy waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula, and eventually hit the whale with a special arrow designed to collect skin samples. "I hit it at the fourth try!" a beaming Putin, kitted out in black-and-orange waterproof suit and black beanie, yelled to a camera crew from the boat. --- Read More:

Varmalov:In a way, this is the main tragedy of Russian life, because the state will always encroach upon an individual, the individual will always distrust the state. There will never be an ideal symphony here. One should try to keep this system in some kind of balance, because the other alternative is blood and smoke, either brutal terror or a wild rampage.

As a Russian, I have a dual attitude toward what happens in Moscow on the 31st of every other month. I don’t go to these rallies. I am not a kind of Putin loyalist and not enough of a fan of the opposition to take part in it. But when I see photos of how the police are beating people up on the Internet, it spurs horror, shock and revulsion. On the other hand, I understand that police are the “Tsar’s people” and they also need to carry out the work assigned to them. I strongly dislike that these events are feeding hatred between them both. In some sense, both are dear to me. Both are Russians, both are my compatriots. But the enmity is growing. In the same way as enmity is growing between the traffic police and drivers. As a driver, I feel it. But if you think about it, you realize that if you remove the traffic police, it would only be worse, no matter what kind of bribe-takers they are.

These frictions scare me. I think that the authorities are behaving highly unreasonably by seeding this animosity. They should be doing exactly the opposite—healing these pains, establishing a dialogue in society, civilizing it. But they behave with lordly disregard, they couldn’t care less.Read More:

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