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Berdyev's 1937

Berdyev's 1937

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Published by jasper_gregory
Berdyev's 1937 book on Russian Communism
Berdyev's 1937 book on Russian Communism

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Published by: jasper_gregory on Aug 27, 2012
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01/16/2013

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 NICOLAS BERDYAEV
THE ORIGIN OF RUSSIANCOMMUNISM
GEOFFREY BLES FIFTY-TWO DOUGHTY STREET, LONDON-3-
Printed in Great Britain by Robert MacLehose and Company Ltd The University PressGlasgow for Geoffrey Bles Ltd 52 Doughty Street London WC 1 First Published 1937  New Edition 1948 
 TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN BY R. M. FRENCH-4-
CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION.--THE RUSSIAN IDEA OF RELIGIONAND THE RUSSIAN STATE
7
I. THE FORMATION OF THE RUSSIAN INTELLIGENTSIAAND ITS CHARACTER. SLAVOPHILISM ANDWESTERNIZATION
19
II. RUSSIAN SOCIALISM AND NIHILISM
37
III. RUSSIAN Narodnichestvo AND ANARCHISM
58
IV. RUSSIAN NINETEENTH CENTURY LITERATUREAND ITS PREDICTIONS
76
V. CLASSICAL MARXISM AND RUSSIAN MARXISM
94
VI. RUSSIAN COMMUNISM AND THE REVOLUTION
114
VII. COMMUNISM AND CHRISTIANITY
158
 
 
AUTHOR'S NOTES
189-5-
This page intentionally left blank.] 
 
-6-
INTRODUCTION
THE RUSSIAN IDEA OF RELIGION AND THE RUSSIAN STATE
I
Russian Communism is difficult to on account of its twofold nature. On the one hand it isinternational and a world phenomenon; on the other hand it is national and Russian. It isparticularly important for Western minds to understand the national roots of RussianCommunism and the fact that it was Russian history which determined its limits andshaped its character. A knowledge of Marxism will not help in this. The Russian peoplein their spiritual make-up are an Eastern people. Russia is the Christian East, which wasfor two centuries subject to the powerful influences of the West, and whose culturedclasses assimilated every Western idea. The fate of the Russian people in history has beenan unhappy one and full of suffering. It has developed at a catastrophic tempo throughinterruption and change in its type of civilization.In spite of the opinion of the Slavophils it is impossible to find an organic unity inRussian history. The Russians held sway over too vast an expanse of territory--the dangerfrom the East, from the Tartar invasions (from which it protected the West as well), wastoo great. And the danger from the West itself was also great.We distinguish five different Russias in history: the Russia dominated by Kiev, theRussia of the Tartar period, the Russia of the Moscow period, the imperial Russia of Peter and finally the new Soviet Russia. It would not be true to say that Russia is a landof new culture, that not long ago she was still half barbarous; in a definite sense Russia isa land of ancient culture. The Russia of the Kiev period gave birth to a higher culture thanthat of the contemporary West. Already in the fourteenth century there existed-7-in Russia a classically perfect ikonography and a remarkable architecture. Russia of theMoscow period developed a very high culture in the plastic arts with an organicintegrated style and highly finished forms of life. This was an Eastern culture--the cultureof the Christianized Tartar Empire.The culture of Moscow was developed in constant opposition to the Latin West and toforeign customs. But in the Muscovite Empire intellectual culture was very weak andlacked expression. The Muscovite Empire was almost without thought and speech, but
 
during this period, in addition to the development of the plastic arts, the elemental basisof the life of the time was given significant form; and this was lacking in the Russia of Peter, though the latter awoke to the expression of ideas in words. Thinking Russia,which produced a great literature and sought after social justice, was dismembered andstyleless and had no organic unity.The inconsistency of the Russian spirit is due to the complexity of Russian history, to theconflict of the Eastern and Western elements in her. The soul of the Russian people wasmoulded by the Orthodox Church--it was shaped in a purely religious mould. And thatreligious mould was preserved even to our own day, to the time of the Russian nihilistsand communists. But in the Russian soul there remained a strong natural element, linkedwith the immensity of Russia itself, with the boundless Russian plain. (1)
1
 Among Russians 'Nature' is an elemental power, stronger than among Western peoples,especially those of the most elaborated, i.e. Latin, culture. The nature-pagan elemententered even into Russian Christianity. In the typical Russian two elements are always inopposition--the primitive natural paganism of boundless Russia, and an Orthodoxasceticism received from Byzantium, a reaching out towards the other world.A natural dionysism and a Christian asceticism are equally characteristic of the Russianpeople. A difficult problem presents itself ceaselessly to the Russian--the problem of organizing his vast____________________
1
For Author's Notes see p.189ff.-8-territory. The immensity of Russia, the absence of boundaries, was expressed in thestructure of the Russian soul. The Landscape of the Russian soul corresponds with thelandscape of Russia, the same boundlessness, formlessness, reaching out into infinity,breadth.In the West is conciseness; evrything is bounded, formulated, arranged in categories,everything (both the structure of the land and the structure of the spirit) is favourable tothe organization and development of civilization. It might be said that the Russian peoplefell a victim to the immensity of its territory. Form does not come to it easily, the gift of form is not great among the Russians. Russian historians explain the despotic character of Russian government by this necessary organization of the boundless Russian plain.Kluchevsky, the most distinguished of Russian, historians, said, 'The state expands, thepeople grow sickly.' In a certain sense this remains true also of the Soviet-Communistgovernment, under which the interests of the people are sacrificed to the power andorganization of the Soviet state.The religious formation of the Russian spirit developed several stable attributes:dogmatism, asceticism, the ability to endure suffering and to make sacrifices for the sake

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