Some Russian friends and acquaintances have tried earlier to explain the strength of certain Russian “ideas” that trump reality and rational thinking..
This piece expands on this concept and gives great food for thought on what might influence the thinking of President Putin..
It’s no excuse.. but it might be helpful to understand this in order to manage the relations best possible and avoid playing into the enemy role constructed in parts of Russian literature and culture..
“Russia is a hypothetical culture. Ruled by despots for most of our history, we are used to living in fiction rather than reality,” writes Nina L. Khrushcheva, who teaches international affairs at The New School. She is also the great granddaughter of the late communist leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev.
(..) The political — and very real and serious — drama unfolding in Ukraine right now “isn’t merely geopolitical,” says Andrew D. Kaufman. “It’s a deep-seated drama of the Russian soul that’s been around for centuries. And Russian literature is the place we see it in full flower.” Andy is a Russian literature at the and author of the upcoming Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times.
The question Putin is grappling with, Andy says, “is one that recurs throughout the nineteenth-century Russian classics: What is the source of our national greatness?”
Nineteenth-century writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, for instance, believed that Russia’s mission was to establish a widespread Christian empire — with Russia at its epicenter, Andy says, pointing to The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov as exemplary novels. Dostoevsky’s contemporary, Leo Tolstoy, on the other hand, believed that every nation is unique and worthwhile — none better or worse than others.
(..) In certain works by Dostoevsky, says Laura Goering, professor of Russian at , “the West is depicted as something seductive, yet soulless, a temptation to be resisted at all costs.”