Friday book # 51: All the Russias

This week’s book was published in England in 1902. The author, Henry Norman, was at that time the Liberal MP for Wolverhampton South. A former journalist, he became Assistant Postmaster General in January 1910 before losing his seat in a general election a few days later. In December 1910, he returned to Parliament as MP for Blackburn, but never held ministerial office again. I wonder if there is anyone in British history who has been a minister for a shorter length of time.

Given that we are just a few days away from the hundredth anniversary of the February Revolution, which overthrew Tsar Nicholas II, Norman’s conclusion is interesting, if only as an example of the perils of making predictions about Russia. I suspect, though, that many modern Russians may agree with the final paragraph. Norman wrote:

I am no believer in any revolutionary upheaval, though, of course, the possibility of social disorder cannot be overlooked. … She [Russia] may, of course, fall upon war with an equal Power, and this would be to her the greatest of all calamities at the present stage of her development. But I am certain that it is her ruler’s fixed resolve to ‘seek peace and pursue it’. Certain minor and distinct difficulties undoubtedly await her. … My own conviction, however, is that these and other difficulties and dangers are small in comparison with Russian strength and resources. No one who can remember the past can doubt of her future. … The character and aims of the Tsar himself warrant the happiest auguries.

Russia is going ahead – that is my conclusion. It is foolish and unscientific to judge her solely by the foot-rule of our older and different civilisation. She should be measured by a standard deduced from her own past, her own period, and her own racial character. Then it will be clear that she stands, so far as virtue and vice go in a national development, very much where the rest of nations do. … It must be clear that the twentieth century must count Russia as one of the greatest factors in the movement and development of human society.

norman

PS. There will be no Friday book next week, as I shall be travelling.

 

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13 thoughts on “Friday book # 51: All the Russias”

  1. “Russia is going ahead – that is my conclusion. It is foolish and unscientific to judge her solely by the foot-rule of our older and different civilisation.”

    Implying that England/Britain/UK is “older” civilization than Rus/Russia.

    Yep, not racist and/or patronizing at all! But oh-so-very Anglo-Saxon, that you can read such description even today!

    “She should be measured by a standard deduced from her own past, her own period, and her own racial character.”

    “Racial character”.

    […]
    […]
    […]

    Oh, well! I don’t expect the British to grovel in dirt and debase themselves apologizing for all the racist shit they said and done to other people in their long and glorius history (as it became a habit of them in our politically correct times) if they were to be asked to do it (but unironically, and while we are at it – fuck you, John Oliver!) before Russia.

    “It must be clear that the twentieth century must count Russia as one of the greatest factors in the movement and development of human society.”

    And he was right. If not Nicky aka “Czar the Wet Cloth” (rus. “Царь-Тряпка”) then other people did take actions to make it so, preserve the country and make sure that Russian people did contribute tremendously to the whole of humanty – whether said humanity will be grateful for that or not.

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    1. “Implying that England/Britain/UK is “older” civilization than Rus/Russia.”

      And what is wrong? Civilization in England certainly appeared much earlier than in Russia (and in Greece much earlier than in England )

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      1. “And what is wrong? Civilization in England certainly appeared much earlier than in Russia (and in Greece much earlier than in England )”

        Define civilization.

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      2. The pre-Middle Ages civilisation in England was not English.
        Both, Russia and England are roughly of the same age.

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      3. “The pre-Middle Ages civilisation in England was not English.
        Both, Russia and England are roughly of the same age.”

        True. If we go with Anglo-Saxon concept of the True Beginning of the (wait for it!) English, and, later, British state, it’s 5-6 c. A.D. For Rus it is 9 c. A.D. So yeah, 3 centuries of a head start – woo-hoo! Makes any racially pure jingoist in the Blighty pound faster, I bet.

        Bit if we go with the Norman(dy) theory, it’d be mid 11 c., when the true, stabke, continous England came to life. Oh, bugger…

        And this does not answer the question of – what is civilization? Scythians and Sarmatians had their own civilization. Greeks had colonies in Crimean and #Krym (as you) Nash 😉

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      4. Lyttenburgh: “Bit if we go with the Norman(dy) theory, it’d be mid 11 c., when the true, stabke, continous England came to life”

        Then Russia should start with the rise of Moscow. England throughout history really ahead of any country in Eastern Europe, there is geographical, climatic, etc. reasons

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      5. “Lyttenburgh: “Define civilization.”

        Usually a sign of civilization – a class society and state”

        This is a definition according to whom?

        Then Russia should start with the rise of Moscow. England throughout history really ahead of any country in Eastern Europe, there is geographical, climatic, etc. reasons

        Why, two can play this game! We can claim that there is civilizational destinction between the England and UK, and, therefore, the common civilization bagan only in early 1700s with the formal unity… And we go full retarded and even claim that, no, true Britishness became possible only possible after the dissolution of the British empire by the secon third of the 20c.

        But this is all useless deabate and demagogurey, if we do not establish clear traits by what should we describe a civilization. Was there a civilization in pre-Coulumbus America? I think, most of us will agree with that. And that there were in fact several civilizations, different in their outlook and developmnet.

        Again – what’s a chief criterion of the civilization? On my bookshelf there is a book from the series of the “European epigrams”. In the “Spanish Epigrams” volume there is one, talking about a man going through the desert. He nearly loses all hope and thinks himself a dead man, when he beholds… gallows. “At last!”,- exclaims the man, – “A true sign of the civilization!”.

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      6. Lyttenburgh : “This is a definition according to whom?”

        As far as I know, in the Russian science the generally accepted definition. If you need specific names – I. M. Diakonoff. He did a lot of this issue

        “Again – what’s a chief criterion of the civilization?”

        The gallows is almost certainly a sign of civilization (in tribal society, the construction of such facilities will not be engaged).

        But if you compare the development of civilization, the gallows was in England and in Russia, so it’s not an indicator. But for other indicators (literacy, proportion of urban population, level of technology, level of trade etc) England has always been ahead of Eastern Europe
        (for geographical and historical reasons)

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      7. As far as I know, in the Russian science the generally accepted definition. If you need specific names – I. M. Diakonoff. He did a lot of this issue

        No idea where and how did you come to this opinion.
        There are many definitions of the term civilization:

        A) Everything done by a certain culture/nation/people is civilization.
        B) Civilization as the pinnacle of the human development and in opposition to the Barbarity. Popular since mid XVIII c., fell into disfavor since early XX c.
        C) A fixed stage of development of any given society, which requires for it to develop: 1) Literacy. 2) Agriculture. 3) Animal husbandry. 4) Creation of the objects of the material culture. 5) Settlement-building 6) Religion/moral codex.
        D) Broadly – and idealized, abstract perception of “how it should be done/supposed to be done” in our times.

        Key word here – it’s an abstract. One’s civilization might look as something barbaric to others. For Greeks everyone was a barbarian. Do you belong to the same school of racial, civilizational superiority, melanf? Well then, go ahead and grab you skull-measuring tool while we are at it.

        You are saying something about another abstract – “[the level of] development of the civilization”, as if its is not another abstract, but just an easily computable stat from a video game (with the same name…).

        Now, back to your argument – let’s dwell on some real examples. Did the Celts possess their own civilization or not? If [YES], then how does it compute with the virtually universal illiteracy BUT developed metalworking? Next – are you denying the existence of the Scythian and Sarmatian civilizations, and the ones that were before them (Cimmerians & Nevrs), and the ones that came after them (proto-Slavs and early Eastern Slavic tribes)? Finally – can you name us (approximately) a year/century, when the CIVILIZATION came to the Misty Albion? And when, according to you, did it came to Rus?

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      8. melanf is, of course, entirely correct.

        Bede was undoubtedly English and was writing in the 7th century. The beginnings of Russian literature date to the 11th century. This cultural gap would stay remarkably constant for most of the next millennium, including by measures such as the founding of the first university, the adoption of the printing press, and even the progress of literacy rates.

        As for the feasibility of measuring the degree of civilization, there are indeed different viewpoints about its validity in anthropology. Personally, I strongly lean towards the quantitative school, since numbers seem to generally be a better way of going about things than postmodernist obfuscation. However, you are unlikely to have a productive discussion about that here, since you happened to engage in it very antagonistic and aggressive Communist ideologue (Do you belong to the same school of racial, civilizational superiority, melanf? Well then, go ahead and grab you skull-measuring tool while we are at it).

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    2. “Bede was undoubtedly English and was writing in the 7th century.”

      That’s very interesting (and bold!) claim you are doing here, Anatoly. Please, explain to us how as Bede the Venerable (saint Bede, for Catholics) was “ undoubtedly English ”? He lived in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria and himself was, presumably, one of the Angles (and, yes, he wrote Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum about his own people and land). But was he an “English” even before the England and the English? *Who* are English?

      Next – you did not provide what are the criterion of the Civilization. Is it only the literacy and literary work? According to whom is it true? Or did you mean something different and only your naturally shyness prevented you from saying that?

      “This cultural gap would stay remarkably constant for most of the next millennium, including by measures such as the founding of the first university, the adoption of the printing press, and even the progress of literacy rates.”

      Now you are conflating “culture” with “civilization”.

      “As for the feasibility of measuring the degree of civilization, there are indeed different viewpoints about its validity in anthropology. Personally, I strongly lean towards the quantitative school, since numbers seem to generally be a better way of going about things than postmodernist obfuscation.”

      Again, I can only presume that such shy and conscientious person as yourself, Anatoly, have been too leery to provide us with relevant links to what you understand by this “quantitative school”,

      “However, you are unlikely to have a productive discussion about that here, since you happened to engage in it very antagonistic and aggressive Communist ideologue”

      *Ideologue:
      1: an impractical idealist (theorist)
      2: an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology
      ____________

      As opposed to racially correct and strawmen-bashing Anatoly Karlin here, who peddles the modern iteration of the phrenology… while committing ridiculous mistakes in his analysis, generally due t laziness and, oh, yes – “blind partisan advocacy of particular ideologies”. And when the people are asking for an effort – or for an irrefutable proof – you, AK, activate you super power aka “You are all faggots, and I’m D’Artagnan!”. That’s why you are so… dreadful polemist out there.

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  2. Paul,

    As someone who if I recall right once lived in Cardiff, you might be interested in some documents relating to Russia originating from Barry, which is nearby.

    The only significant on-the-ground Western reporting on what is now described as the ‘Holodomor’ was done by Gareth Jones, son of Major Edgar Jones, the headmaster of Barry County School, and his wife Annie Gwen Jones.

    It is now all up on the net, and makes interesting reading – as do his notes of an interview with Litvinov in March 1933. His reporting led to him being smeared by, among others, Walter Duranty of the ‘New York Times’. That paper’s coverage of Ukraine has not improved from that day to this – they simply find new ways of being wrong. In 1935, Gareth Jones took one risk too many, and was murdered in Manchukuo.

    For his coverage, see http://www.garethjones.org/ .

    The background was that – as you obviously know – the coal, iron and steel industry in the Donbass was the creation of the Welsh engineer John Hughes.

    In 1889 Annie Gwen Jones – recently graduated from University College, Aberystwyth, was was one of the earlier British universities to admit women – had gone out as tutor to the granddaughters of John Hughes.

    In December 1943, after the Red Army retook Stalino, as what had originally been Hugheszhovka and is now Donetsk was then called, she recalled her time there in a broadcast on the BBC.

    (See http://www.garethjones.org/margaret_siriol_colley/pages/annie/gwen-jones.htm .)

    A longer description of her time there, found in a notebook by her daughter and transcribed, is at http://www.colley.co.uk/siriol/pages/Gwen_Russia.htm .

    I must declare an interest, in that my father and grandfather were both pupils of Edgar Jones, and Gareth Jones gave a talk at the chapel the family attended – it must have been not long after the interview with Litvinov.

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