Homo Sovieticus

Over the years many issues have divided Russian conservatives and Russian radicals. One of these has been the relative importance of individuals and institutions. This is something of a simplification, but broadly speaking conservatives have tended to the view that individuals come first, while radicals have said that institutions do. In the eyes of conservatives, it is fatal to establish democratic or liberal institutions in a society where the people are uneducated, have a poorly developed legal consciousness, and the like. The first step in reform therefore has to be improving the people. The schema of the likes of Uvarov and Pobedonostsev, therefore, was a process of very gradual enlightenment, after which political reform might eventually be allowed. Until then, power would have to remain in the hands of those who were already enlightened – i.e. the aristocracy. The schema of the radicals, by contrast, was to smash existing institutions. Only then could decent people finally be created.

Despite these differences, conservatives and radicals have long had one thing in common – they hold the ‘people’ (narod) in low regard (as I say, this is a simplification; there are obvious exceptions). For the conservatives, the unenlightened nature of the people is an excuse not to surrender power; for the radicals, it is an excuse to destroy the hated system and to create a ‘new man’.

These attitudes prevail to this day. An example of the radical view comes in an article entitled ‘Russia’s Moral Disaster’ published on the website of the Estonian International Centre for Defence and Security by the Finnish writer Jukka Mallinen. Its basic theme can be deduced from the subtitle ‘Russians cannot tell good from evil.’ Mallinen notes that the patriotic resurgence in Russia following the 2014 annexation of Crimea ‘has made the intelligentsia take a new and deep look at morals and the Christian faith in Russia.’ He quotes the ‘poet and philologist Olga Sedakova’ as saying that the roots of Russia’s alleged moral crisis lie deep in the Russian personality. As Mallinen says, Sedakov ‘thinks that Russians have a special relationship with evil-the inability to tell it apart from good. In the West, the relationship with evil is unambiguous, but in Russia it’s vague: nothing is declared definitively evil. Complicated explanations lead to making friends with evil.’ Russians, in effect, can’t tell wrong from right. 

The sense that Russians are morally deficient is commonly associated with the concept of the ‘Sovok’ – the Soviet personality, often also known by the phrase ‘Homo Sovieticus’. The idea that society could only progress by ‘smashing the Sovok’ was a popular theme in the rhetoric of pro-Maidan liberals in Ukraine in 2014. Smashing the Sovok required total de-communization, a renunciation of Ukraine’s Russian ties, and a complete reorientation of the country towards Europe. Through institutional revolution, a new Ukrainian person could be built, and the country could finally prosper.

The same idea is often to be found in discussions of modern Russia. In an article just published in the academic journal Slavic Review, Gulnaz Sharafutdinova of King’s College London notes that Homo Sovieticus is associated with a host of negative personality traits allegedly instilled in Russians by 70 years of Soviet rule. These supposedly include being excessively obedient to authority, lacking in choice and initiative, and duplicitous. The persistence of these negative traits explains why Russia has failed to transform into a ‘normal’ democratic society and to develop ‘the autonomous liberal self’ which supposedly characterizes the Western individual.

But is any of this true?  In her article ‘Was There a “Simple Soviet” Person? Debating the Politics and Sociology of “Homo Sovieticus”,’ Sharafutdinova expresses scepticism. The popularity of the concept of Homo Sovieticus, she argues, owes much to the work of Russian sociologist Iury Levada and his successor as head of the Levada Centre, Lev Gudkov. Levada popularized the idea that there was a simple ‘Soviet type’ through a large survey project he conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The problem, says Sharafutdinova, was that ‘the foundational assumptions of the project were deeply political’, and the survey methodology ‘was itself colored by a critical and even moralizing stance that resulted in accentuating the attitudes and predispositions of the survey designer.’ Levada’s survey was based on a totalitarian model long rejected by Western sociologists and assumed that the overarching political system was the single most important factor determining individual personality. ‘This approach did not allow for recognizing human (whether individual or collective) agency and reflexivity, and promoted a flat, mechanistic version of the individual.’ It also ‘identified exclusively negative features’ and was ‘coupled with a tendency to idealize western society’.

Much better, according to Sharafutdinova, was the work of a less well-known sociologist, Natalya Kozlova. Rather than use surveys, Kozlova made use of a ‘people’s archive’ consisting of documents such as ‘letters, postcards, memoirs, and personal journals of ordinary people’, in order to explore the realities of everyday life. Whereas Levada ‘viewed Soviet citizens as a brainwashed and corrupted emanation of the system (cogs), or its victims, Kozlova viewed individuals as actors involved in complex social games.’ In the process, she was able to determine the existence of values ‘such as altruism, compassion, and [a] sense of justice expressed in the “little” Soviet person’s everyday life.’ Her documents showed, for instance, how Soviet people reacted to problems such as shortages with strategies such as ‘exchange’ ‘based on the moral economy of selfless giving and obligation, on heartfelt closeness and ethical grounds.’ In short, the Soviet person was not as devoid of ethics as Levada claimed.

Overall, Sharafutdinova concludes, ‘the political nature of Levada’s project … stigmatized the Soviet man rather than explained him.’ A much more sophisticated understanding of personality is therefore needed. Unfortunately, ‘the model of the simple Soviet person seems to have acquired dominance as a frame of reference for Russian intellectuals’ who regard the ‘masses as slaves/sheep/bydlo’. Intellectuals thereby ‘lock Russia … into its present (and even past) condition’, arguing that democratic reform is impossible in Russia due to Homo Sovieticus. In this way, they have inadvertently ended up on the same side as the conservatives.

None of this is to say that the institutions have no effect on individual personality and that Russia’s imperial and Soviet pasts have not left some psychological legacy which in some way influences current developments. But Sharafutdinova’s article demonstrates clearly the need to avoid stereotypes, and acts as an excellent rejoinder to the kind of essentialism put forward by Mallinen and Sedakova. Simplistic slogans such as ‘Russians cannot tell good from evil’ hinder our understanding of current events far more than they assist them.

61 thoughts on “Homo Sovieticus”

  1. “The schema of the radicals, by contrast, was to smash existing institutions. Only then could decent people finally be created.”

    How about not resorting to “political dog-whistling”, Professor? Speak out freely! Also – how about covering the economic programs of either side? Or, what, “improving the people” and “gradual enlightenment” would happen as if by Magic(k)?

    “Homo Sovieticus is associated with a host of negative personality traits allegedly instilled in Russians by 70 years of Soviet rule”

    Okay, let me try.

    “Excessively obedience to THE PARTY, lacking in choice and initiative, and duplicitous are the core characteristic of the most vociferous of supporters of EITHER PARTY in the US OF A. The persistence of these POSITIVE traits explains why the US OF A has SUCEED to transform into a ‘PARAGON’ of democratic society and to develop ‘the autonomous liberal self’ which supposedly TOTALLY characterizes the Western individual”.

    There!

    “The popularity of the concept of Homo Sovieticus, she argues, owes much to the work of Russian sociologist Iury Levada and his successor as head of the Levada Centre, Lev Gudkov.”

    Who are, I remind everyone, designated as foreign agent by the Russian authorities, for taking foreign money for conducting political activity in Russia.

    “Simplistic slogans such as ‘Russians cannot tell good from evil’ hinder our understanding of current events far more than they assist them.”

    They are also racist… if said about anyone, but the Russians.

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    1. One more thing, Professor. Those who in Febriary 1917 destroyed the institution of Russian absolutist monarchy, sosloviya and betrayed their oath to the Czar, Anointed by God ™, were they “radicals” or “conservatives”?

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      1. “What about this one [ВЦИОМ]. Seems to be…”

        Again – if something “seems” to you, cross yourself and the apparition will disappear. Otherwise get ready to support your claim with the evidence. Levada is foreign agent not because it engaged in the similar activity to [WCIOM]. It is a foreign agent because they got foreign funding (including from the DoD of the US of A) for their activity.

        Comments like this one makes me wonder – what transpires in people’s heads? You have enough knowledge to use various platforms to go to the Net, search it, write a comment (using basic coding!) with a link to some other site, BUT you are incapable of just thinking for a sec what you just posted. Or… or… you knew it very well, and just trolling.

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      2. Or… or… you knew it very well, and just trolling.
        Yes, I recall our first encounter. Not least the much longer struggle of the blog owner with the issue many many month before our encounter. there And my. Ill-reflected? Google expertise? and his for me then surprisingly heavy interest in something that didn’t seem to deserve it.

        Link appreciated.

        Am I a troll? If curious nitwit works for a troll, 100% yes.

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  2. Holding up an “inability to tell good from evil” as a Russian peculiarity not only perpetuates a lazy generalization (couched in racist discourse, BTW) – it also downplays variation in morals and values across cultures. The statement “Russians can’t tell good from evil” assumes:
    1. There are universally accepted/applicable notions of good and evil;
    2. “Our” societies have them,
    3. “Their” society doesn’t.
    And implies:
    4. Russians should adopt our notions of good and evil, because it is the correct thing to do. (Otherwise non-acceptance wouldn’t be cited as a point of criticism.)
    I’m going to wager that *most* cultures have socially constructed “good” and “evil”, where the line is drawn, and under what circumstances it shifts. There are convergences and similarities where shared geography, history, religious traditions, and other factors are involved. There are also divergences. But to flat-out claim that a certain group of people is devoid of morality in this way (cannot tell wrong from right) demonstrates that the writers did not adequately probe Russian values or cultural norms. Perhaps they were not interested.
    The laziness in these “expert analyses” is getting ridiculous.

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    1. “In short, the Soviet person was not as devoid of ethics as Levada claimed.”

      Sure it was. Ethical solution to shortages is pricing by the market, according to the supply/demand equilibrium. So that the jobs-creating entrepreneurial class could satisfy their needs. Any other method is evil.

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    2. “[T]o flat-out claim that a certain group of people is devoid of morality in this way (cannot tell wrong from right) demonstrates that the writers did not adequately probe Russian values or cultural norms. “

      Because, really, any anti-Soviet is (ultimately) always a Russophobe, J.T. It doesn’t matter what kind of rule is in Russia, if there is a need for justification for another period of hostilty towards “Eternal Russia”. As for the “Sovoks incapable of separating Good from Evil” ™ – how about this for starters?

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      1. “Not necessarily.”

        Yes, Averco – inevitably. For such person would spit on his own ancestors and their achievements, who contributed to bringing Russia (as part of the USSR) and the Russians to the pinnacle of their develpment. By gaing against the USSR, such person inevitable would side with its enemies.

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      2. A misspelling on your part. The “ancestors” of Russians were Soviet? The Soviet experience included spitting on Russia’s past.

        I personally know a good number of pro-Russian anti-Soviets (Russian or otherwise) who very much contradict your take on this particular.

        So there’s no misunderstanding, I’m not disputing that positive things happened in Russia during the Soviet period. At the same time, one can still believe that experience to not have been (in overall terms) beneficial.

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      3. “The “ancestors” of Russians were Soviet?

        Yes. Yes, they were. Also, the “Soviets” were ancestors of Armenians now living in Armenia, of Ukrainians living in the Ukraine etc. Why? Because before that, they were citizens of the Soviet Union.

        And who were your ancestors, Michael?

        “The Soviet experience included spitting on Russia’s past.”

        Pathetic demagoguery. Are you saying, Averko, that any (absolutely ANY) nation in the world should 100% uncritically (without “spitting”) treat their history no matter what?

        “I personally know a good number of pro-Russian anti-Soviets (Russian or otherwise) who very much contradict your take on this particular.”

        Where do you know them? In Brighton Beach, NY, or some other locality near you?

        You, and the likes of you, are rootless nationalists, at odds with the societal mainstream, alienated from the physical reality you find yourself in, and, thus, having to live in the idealistic world of your own invention. You are no different from UkrCanadian Diaspora in their incessant attempts to “teach” their brethren how to live.

        Anecdotal evidence is nice – for you, but useless in any discussion, because no matter what the amount of the people “you personally know” is negligible from the statistical standpoint. They are irrelevant. Like you, Averko. You are not living in Russia. I do.

        “At the same time, one can still believe that experience to not have been (in overall terms) beneficial.”

        For the matters of belief – go to the Church. For the rest there is data, evidence and proof. That’s your problem, pan Averko, for, indeed, the societal being determines the societal conciseness. Because you live in the West and you are (flawed, alienated and bitter, but still) a Westerner yourself, you believe in what is the norm in your society – one deeply Russophobic society.

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      4. Believe what you want. You clearly exhibit limits.

        In Russia, there continues to exist some with a limited knowledge of issues like Russian history and foreign policy – in conjunction with spouting along the lines of what gets propped by Western mass media from Ekho Moskvy and Novaya Gazeta.

        If you don’t know this chap, Google Artemi Panarin and see what he recently said about Russia at large. He still spends a good deal of time in Russia. I’m sure you’ve some choice comments regarding what he said.

        I’ve had good to excellent feedback among mainstream thinking Russians, who appreciate my regular criticisms of what gets propped in US mass media. Your seemingly sarcastic use of “pan” overlooks my position on matters like the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Reference a not too distant thread here on this subject.

        Granted not everyone in Russia or elsewhere agrees with my general takes. Then again, Russia and the world at large isn’t so monolithic.

        The USSR came before Russians, Armenians et al?

        Never lived in Brighton Beach. BTW, a number of folks there don’t fit the Gessen/Ioffe stereotype.

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      5. “If you don’t know this chap, Google Artemi Panarin and see what he recently said about Russia at large.”

        Why should anyone be interested in the opinion of a hockey player when it comes to the politics? Besides, he’s not the object of the discussion. You are.

        “I’ve had good to excellent feedback among mainstream thinking Russians”

        How much of them? Michael, you are “published” in foreign media, therefore, no, you can’t really reach mainstream Russians, thinking or not. Your auditory is a negligible by default. No one knows you in Russia. Even Prof. Robinson managed to get on Czargrad TV, although he’s neither Russian nor Orthodox.

        “Your seemingly sarcastic use of “pan” overlooks my position on matters like the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”

        You are descendant of the Ancient Ukrs, Michael. It has nothing to do with your professed religion, and everything with your delusional want to панувати over others, whether they want it not.

        “The USSR came before Russians, Armenians et al?”

        Again, more ignorant demagoguery. Russians, Armenians, Ukrainians etc. came into being as nations while in the USSR. The process of their formation as nations began during the later period of the Russian Empire, together with the development of the capitalism. This process would inevitably result in RE implosion along the national lines. Soviet Union (mostly) prevented it. More so – it prevented these and other newborn nations from extinction during the WW2.

        “Never lived in Brighton Beach. BTW, a number of folks there don’t fit the Gessen/Ioffe stereotype.”

        I said nothing about Gessen or Ioffe – you did. Your mentioning of them is a strawman – of course their type won’t be living in Brighton Beach, because various NGOs and ethno-religious organizations took effort to “uplift” them, so that they could live somewhere better. Thus, I expressed doubt, that you don’t really belong to the losers.

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      6. I swear to all that you aren’t my setup man. I’ll address all of your points Lyt in the spirit of being direct as opposed to ducking adversity.

        I mention Panarin as an answer to your earlier suggestion at this thread that where one was born and lives is indicative of having a good knowledge of the place in question, when it comes to a series of issues, including history and foreign policy.

        As quoted, Panarin comes across as having a somewhat overly positive naive feel of certain trends in the US, along with exaggerating the negatives in his native country. The last thought brings to mind your question suggesting that no one gives a **** about his political views. Panarin suggested he might somehow get punished in Russia for what he recently said.

        Based on what Panarin has said so far, I doubt he’ll be getting in trouble in Russia. Heck, Yavlinsky is running for Russian president with a stated opposition against Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

        One of the venues carrying me is Russian based. I’ve personally met key RT and Vesti personnel, with both venues expressing an interest in having me on. As a comparison, what have you done? An appropriate rhetorical reply to what you said.

        “Ancient Ukrs”? C’mon Man! I identify with Rus.

        Names ending in “ko” are common in Belarus and a good number of other Slavic countries. As an example, someone with a “ko” ending surname in Belarus doesn’t necessarily have roots on the territory of modern day Ukraine. A Russian I communicated with said that his surname ending was changed from “ov” to “ko” as part of an earlier Ukrainianization campaign.

        There’s Averkov, Averkos, Averkochuk, Averkovich and Averky – the last name is of a saint in the ROC. Apparently there’s no Averkowitz.

        At this thread, you were the one who initially brought up Brighton Beach (not me) which (if you don’t know) conjures up the stereotype of people from the former USSR of a Jewish background, who exhibit anti-Russian tendencies. Hence my mentioning of Ioffe and Gessen.

        Regarding your point about Armenians, Ukrainians, Russians et al in the Russian Empire and USSR periods, national identity is something that developed worldwide. There were calls for a non-Communist entity of former Russian Empire lands – something which Skoropadsky advocated.

        When the USSR broke-up, some (including yours truly) thought it a good idea to maintain a loose union of some former Soviet republics.

        Your off base presumptions aside, you’re an interesting read. Unlike the anti-Russian leaning Sovoks, you exhibit a blend of defending some pre-Soviet Russian traits, while also having (for lack of a better term) a pro-Soviet nostalgic feel that finds common cause with the present Russian government on a number of key issues.

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      7. “I mention Panarin as an answer to your earlier suggestion at this thread that where one was born and lives is indicative of having a good knowledge of the place in question, when it comes to a series of issues, including history and foreign policy.”

        What I actually said:

        “You, and the likes of you, are rootless nationalists, at odds with the societal mainstream, alienated from the physical reality you find yourself in, and, thus, having to live in the idealistic world of your own invention. You are no different from UkrCanadian Diaspora in their incessant attempts to “teach” their brethren how to live.

        Anecdotal evidence is nice – for you, but useless in any discussion, because no matter what the amount of the people “you personally know” is negligible from the statistical standpoint. They are irrelevant. Like you, Averko. You are not living in Russia. I do.”

        Also me:

        “For the matters of belief – go to the Church. For the rest there is data, evidence and proof. That’s your problem, pan Averko, for, indeed, the societal being determines the societal conciseness. Because you live in the West and you are (flawed, alienated and bitter, but still) a Westerner yourself, you believe in what is the norm in your society – one deeply Russophobic society.”

        So, you decided to refute it with… what exactly? Panarin sales his labour in the West to the Western hockey club. He “boils” in the upper strata Western society. His livelihood, both present and future, depends on how well does he “blend in”. Pure capitalism.

        I also asked, who were your ancestors. Who were your ancestors, Michael? I didn’t ask where you were born. Why are you lying? I also didn’t say that the fact that you are born somewhere automatically means that you are qualified in something – I implied that not being born somewhere, while growing up in a particular environment and keeping living there impacts one’s worldview. Which Panarin (who, all things considered, is just another anecdotal evidence) and his case exemplify.

        As well as you. You said nothing to disprove my claim, that you and the likes of you are bitter, maladjusted rootless nationalists beholden to ideas in their heads with minimal to zero relevancy to the reality. Care to address that, or should I expect more useless anecdotes?

        “Based on what Panarin has said so far, I doubt he’ll be getting in trouble in Russia.”

        One – he’s not in Russia, he’s in the West. Two – for good or for bad, we are not a “totalitarian neo-Stalinist Hell” as some pundits portray Russia. But there is surely a responsibility. Yavlinsky may run for any office, but he won’t be elected.

        “I’ve personally met key RT and Vesti personnel, with both venues expressing an interest in having me on.”

        «Свежо предание, да вериться с трудом» (с). What is known, though, that you are not among their “go-to” commenters, experts, guests in TV/Radio studios, not someone worthy an op-ed column in “AiF”, “MK” or even “Ъ”. You can “meet” anyone, but until “mainstream Russians” will start seeing your output, you does not exist.

        “As a comparison, what have you done? An appropriate rhetorical reply to what you said.”

        Me? Oh, I’m “no-body” :). I’m a “no-name” ;). I, also, do not come to other people’s comment section to shamelessly promote my work – like you do with you crap. I understand why you do. It’s a business (with low sense of social responsibility) for you. Well, in that case, you ought to present it as such.

        I’m audience, Michael. I’m readership. I’m commentariat. I’m, ultimately, a client of the wares that you might have for the offer. Thus I’m always right.

        ““Ancient Ukrs”? C’mon Man! I identify with Rus.”

        In that case you are dimorphism suffering TransRussian trapped in the Westerner’s body. No one cares about your claims, fantasies and baselessly claimed “identity”.

        “…national identity is something that developed worldwide”

        Together with capitalism. And?..

        “There were calls for a non-Communist entity of former Russian Empire lands – something which Skoropadsky advocated.”

        Pavlo Skoropadsky was A) Traitor to his oath as an officer. B) German puppet with no agency. To use him as a positive example of anything is truly Ukrian, Michael. Whatever he had to offer belongs to (delusional) world of ideas. The reality (given in feelings) was an entire different matter.

        “When the USSR broke-up, some (including yours truly) thought it a good idea to maintain a loose union of some former Soviet republics.”

        Again, you are confirming that you are one of the “rootless nationalists, at odds with the societal mainstream, alienated from the physical reality you find yourself in, and, thus, having to live in the idealistic world of your own invention.” © It would be ultimately impossible because of A) Nationalism. B) Capitalism. Local elites broke up the Union not to have even a semblance of it back, but to privatize its assets – for the benefit of themselves and their clans. “Dreamers” like you are devoid of reality – and, thus, totally irrelevant.

        “Your off base presumptions aside, you’re an interesting read.”

        I don’t care about flattery. I know, that’s a good tool in the Westerners arsenal to “to win over and influence people”, but, no, I don’t care. You lost me on the word “Sovok”. Only dirt and trash hates “sovok”.

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      8. Lyt,

        Your long winded comeback on Panarin doesn’t successfully refute my bringing him up. You made the point suggesting that where one lives is a tell all of what they actually know.

        Your hostility aside, we seem to have some agreement on his recently stated views. BTW, I understand he spends a good deal of NHL off season time in Russia.

        Why do you lie, when saying that I’m “lying”? You’re quite the prying type asking of my ancestors. Who specifically are your ancestors? You’ve become more predictable. If I say I’m 100% Russian, your comeback will be what you said:

        “In that case you are dimorphism suffering TransRussian trapped in the Westerner’s body. No one cares about your claims, fantasies and baselessly claimed ‘identity’.”

        *****

        Some clearly do have an interest in what I say as evidenced by the venues which have picked me up and those who’ve personally took the effort to meet me. Others have confidentially spoken to me from a distance. It sure beats your input that includes:

        “I’m audience, Michael. I’m readership. I’m commentariat. I’m, ultimately, a client of the wares that you might have for the offer. Thus I’m always right.”

        ****

        You don’t represent everyone. Moreover, I’ve yet to come across someone who is always right.

        You say that I essentially conform to Western mainstream biases against Russia. The actual record shows the opposite.

        As for promoting, I’m by no means the only one doing such. I’m sincere by not taking a hit and run approach, as is common with numerous others.

        Concerning RT, the appearance issue has come to money. Graham Phillips and some others have said that RT is comparatively limited to other networks when it comes to offering appearance fees. I’ve also heard of the crony factor having to do with not what you know, but who you know.

        My position is that the Julia Ioffes of the world get paid for such efforts. For the purpose of having a level playing field, I (among some others) should be accorded similar treatment.

        As for traitors, note what Putin and some others (Russians and otherwise) have said about Lenin on that score.

        Designating someone a traitor can be simplistic. Skoropadsky was in a difficult situation. He exhibited a preference for a non-Communist Russia over the Central Powers. For the period at issue, the Central Powers were relatively well positioned on Ukrainian territory unlike the Whites.

        You repeat nothing new on what contributed to the Soviet breakup into separate nations. Do you agree that the elites responsible for that breakup acted in the best interests of the people? If not, then why carry-on in the manner that you did, other than just being a pain in the ass for the sake of being a pain in the ass.

        Perhaps your next salvo (if done) might be more accurate.

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      9. “You made the point suggesting that where one lives is a tell all of what they actually know.”

        I specifically provided you with my own quotes, Michael. What else do you do with your own eyes? What cause you to see things? Go ahead and find an actual quote, where I’d claim that “where one lives is a tell all of what they actually know”. Barring that – you are a liar.

        “BTW, I understand he spends a good deal of NHL off season time in Russia.”

        This summer he signed a 7 year long contract with the American club. It doesn’t matter when he spends mere months – he earns money and pays taxes in the West, ergo his mutated consciousness.

        “You’re quite the prying type asking of my ancestors. Who specifically are your ancestors?”

        Russian serf peasants, soldiers, just peasants, members of KomBed, Red partisans in Siberia, Ural’s various factories workers, soldiers and sailors during the Great Patriotic War, Soviet working provincial intelligentsia.

        Now – you turn, Michael. With more honestly and attention to details.

        “Some clearly do have an interest in what I say as evidenced by the venues which have picked me up and those who’ve personally took the effort to meet me.”

        Which does not explain why the ordinary Russians have no idea who you are. Professor Robinson had been on RT several times by now. He also participated in “60 minutes” on Rossiya 1 TV channel. What about you, real no-name?

        “You don’t represent everyone. Moreover, I’ve yet to come across someone who is always right.”

        One – yes, I don’t represent “everyone”. I’m Everyone. 😉

        Two – better change you tune, lest you won’t be successful selling yourself, Michael. This includes, yes, bowing to the audience and admitting that it is right. Unless… unless, you don’t really want all this media achievements, then… what are your academic accomplishments, mmm? Something groundbreaking, for sure?

        “You say that I essentially conform to Western mainstream biases against Russia. The actual record shows the opposite.”

        I also say that you are “rootless nationalists, at odds with the societal mainstream, alienated from the physical reality you find yourself in, and, thus, having to live in the idealistic world of your own invention” and “you are (flawed, alienated and bitter, but still) a Westerner yourself, you believe in what is the norm in your society”. All of which is correct. You squealing is of no use, if, in the end of the day, you, a citizen of the Western power, toe the political line just enough on the core, Russophobic tenets of anti-Sovietism.

        “As for promoting, I’m by no means the only one doing such. I’m sincere by not taking a hit and run approach, as is common with numerous others.”

        Then stop whoring your blog by constantly posting links. Easy-peasy. BTW, why while you post the links, you do not provide a full disclosure (here you go just by the handle “Mikhail”) that you, commenter and this Michael Averko, to whose articles you throw links with abandon, are the same person? Whore yourself (socially) responsibly, Michael.

        “Concerning RT, the appearance issue has come to money. Graham Phillips and some others have said that RT is comparatively limited to other networks when it comes to offering appearance fees”

        So it all about money for you? Good to know, good to know, about your low sense of social responsibility.

        “For the purpose of having a level playing field, I (among some others) should be accorded similar treatment.”

        Then you are an IDIOT. All caps IDIOT, who spent his life in the West and managed to learn nothing.

        “As for traitors, note what Putin and some others (Russians and otherwise) have said about Lenin on that score.”

        Appeal to the authority… So lazy as a fallacy… Try again, Michael.

        “Designating someone a traitor can be simplistic.”

        You ancient Ukrian blood boils, Michael! Skoropadsky is still an UkroFailure. And there is nothing complicated with designating someone a traitor.

        “Do you agree that the elites responsible for that breakup acted in the best interests of the people?”

        No. Hell no! Only a brain-dead moron would ever assume, that anyone “acted in the best interests of the people” back then! And you look like just one such moron, Michael. But, again, you are a Westie – your side benefited the most from that process. A bad, butthurt Westie you are, that fails to see how the capitalism works – but capitalism doesn’t care about that. Your “thought it a good idea to maintain a loose union of some former Soviet republics” won’t mean jack shit in the face of objective reality. But, sadly, you are a subjective idealist (i.e. an idiot), who prefers to believe pure fantasies over reality.

        Look at yourself, Michael! A bald wrinkled head, an advancing dementia, no accomplishment under your belt, the reality around you rejecting your, total irrelevancy… No wonder you are preferring the Net. Hey, better try MMORPGs!

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      10. This is starting to really get ridiculous. You’ve good reason to post as an anonymous.

        Didn’t know that a beauty contest was involved. If that’s the case, I’m not so bad when compared to some of the folks involved with the commentariat. Can imagine what you look like.

        At these threads, my name is hyperlinked. I post links to articles of others as well.

        You really have a way of misinforming what’s on record. Once again, you suggested that living in a country makes one a better go to source on the issues under discussion here. I easily demolished that idiotic suggestion of yours.

        Whatever ethnic group/groups I say, will lead to a moronic psychoanalysis on your part.

        Yes, people get compensated for providing commentary – something that you’ve apparently never experienced.

        Feel free to stay with your delusions. You’ve established yourself as a boorish bore.

        Like

      11. “Once again, you suggested that living in a country makes one a better go to source on the issues under discussion here. I easily demolished that idiotic suggestion of yours.”

        Liar-liar, sharovari on fire, Averko! I asked you provide an actual quote of me doing it – you didn’t. Your example was of a person who, in fact, does not live in Russia. You understand that, Michael? Wake up! You’ve just crapped yourself! Or… you wasn’t sleeping, right?

        “Whatever ethnic group/groups I say, will lead to a moronic psychoanalysis on your part.”

        %)))))

        Dodgy Mickey 🙂 It’s as if you decided to check all boxes on “logical fallacies and their examples” page.

        “You’ve established yourself as a boorish bore.”

        Like

  3. “Simplistic slogans such as ‘Russians cannot tell good from evil’ hinder our understanding of current events far more than they assist them.” It is a useful slogan…Since how long are they trying to invade Russia for a reason or another…Now they have a good reason for willing to bring their democracy there…”Russian cannot tell good from evil”…Once they would have said just “they are primitive people”…AhAhAhAhAh!

    Like

    1. Following up on your point, I sense that among the establishment intelligentsia (whether Jewish or otherwise), there will be claims of “antisemitism” regarding this piece:

      http://www.unz.com/article/myth-and-the-russian-pogroms/

      Does the above linked, not offer some valid points typically getting downplayed? Can that piece be legitimately categorized as being actually/arguably more bigoted (if one assumes it’s bigoted) than what James Clapper said of Russians and the lack of establishment outrage over his comment?

      I chose my words carefully, seeing how terms like “racist” have been flippantly used in an inconsistent manner.

      Related:

      https://www.eurasiareview.com/09022018-western-chauvinism-against-russia-gone-berserk-oped/

      https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2015/09/21/getting-russia-wrong-again/

      https://www.eurasiareview.com/22092015-getting-russia-wrong-again-analysis/

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A piece like the above will get JRL propping unlike what’s to follow from yours truly:

    This excerpt isn’t providing a thorough overview:

    “Smashing the Sovok required total de-communization, a renunciation of Ukraine’s Russian ties, and a complete reorientation of the country towards Europe. Through institutional revolution, a new Ukrainian person could be built, and the country could finally prosper.”

    ****
    Being opposed to the “Sovok” includes opposing Communism/USSR, while supporting close Russo-Ukrainian ties. Related:

    https://www.eurasiareview.com/22052011-pavlo-skoropadsky-and-the-course-of-russian-ukrainian-relations-analysis/

    Like

  5. If ‘Homo Sovieticus’ was so evil why was it that all those ‘liberal’ Russians engaged in ‘grab-it-ization’ while the 1991 plotters ended up with either pensions or modest state jobs?

    If ‘Homo Sovieticus’ was so evil and indifferent to human suffering why was it the Communists who called the most attention to the human suffering, the human costs, and human needs in the 1990s, while ‘liberal’ Alfred Kokh confidently declared to the New York Times ‘The Russian people deserve their miserable fate.’

    http://exiledonline.com/old-exile/vault/shite/peaches60.html

    Sometimes it seems to me as though a lot of these so-called liberals actually have the same indifference to human suffering that they love to accuse Communists of having (and to be sure far too many Communists did).

    Like

    1. “these so-called liberals actually have the same indifference to human suffering that they love to accuse Communists of having (and to be sure far too many Communists did).”

      If something just “seems” to you, dewittbourchier, then, according to Russian proverb, cross yourself, and this apparation will dissipate. If, OTOH, you can support your claim – go ahead, and support it.

      Like

      1. Hello dewittbourchier! Are you eyes all-right? What, you didn’t notice the bolded part by me? Or you intentionally ignored it?

        Try again.

        Like

      2. I’m not a morally sick person, to enjoy lies and demagoguery. You threw here a link to what Professor already posted a couple of blogpost prior – an opinion of a bunch of so-called “system liberals”. I asked – “can you support your claim [that many Communists had indifference to human suffering]?”. Is something wrong with your eyes, after all? Or is the problem deeper than that? Because, no, the opinion (unsubstantiated and not supported by facts and evidence) is not a proof. This fallacy is known as “appealing to the authority”, but I’m not sure any sane person would held that bunch of whiney liberals as any kind of authority over anything.

        Try again. Or, what, you can just spout cheap meaningless pontifications and moralizing?

        Like

      3. Indeed I fully and freely admit I got the link by reading the Professor’s earlier article. I fully and freely admit that it is a government opinion, but it is an opinion that expresses certain historical realities about Stalin and his period. The statement meshes with what professional historians, including many very sympathetic to the Soviet Union have written about the era, such as Stephen F Cohen. Using sources from established history professors is hardly insufficient. History professors are rigorously trained and while each comes with a bias, it is possible to tell how far their bias affects their history by considering how they write, and how they treat their sources, and what range of sources they use.

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      4. “I fully and freely admit that it is a government opinion…”

        If you admit such thing, dewittbourchier, then you are either a liar or incapable of understanding basic things. You are super lazy to research it. Or a combination of the 3. Because this “Permanent commission on historical memory” at the Presidential Council for Development of the Civil Society and Human Rights (est. in accordance with the presidential order №120 in 01.02.2011) is a “consulting body”… at President’s admin. Therefore, it is not a part of Russia’s government.

        “…but it is an opinion that expresses certain historical realities about Stalin and his period”

        Opinion cannot express “historical realities” about anything. It can only express an opinion. Whether it is “real” (as in “historical realities”) is a matter of evidence or (in this case) the lack of it.

        “The statement meshes with what professional historians, including many very sympathetic to the Soviet Union have written about the era, such as Stephen F Cohen. Using sources from established history professors is hardly insufficient.”

        Quotes, evidence, documents – please! No blanket appeal to the authority. Go ahead, and prove that you are not a windbag.

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      5. Lyttenburgh,

        I encourage in that case to buy Stephen F Cohen’s books ‘Failed Crusade’ and ‘Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives’, and also to read Richard Overy’s ‘Russia’s War’, among other books. I have them on my bookshelf and enjoy reading them very much.

        Also since a body is formed by law and operates under official sanction it can be considered a government body.

        When you are done reading, I look forward to speaking with you again.

        Like

      6. “I encourage in that case to buy Stephen F Cohen’s books ‘Failed Crusade’ and ‘Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives’, and also to read Richard Overy’s ‘Russia’s War’, among other books. I have them on my bookshelf and enjoy reading them very much.”

        If you have them on your bookshelf, then nothing prevents you from getting up, taking one or two and paging it for relevant quotations, which you’d then post here, so that we’d have a meaningful discussion. YOU are the one who makes claim. YOU should do all the legwork and provide others with evidence, that your POW is a correct one.

        Are there any Russian/Soveit historians that you read, dewittbourchier?

        Mr Hahn, how about you recognize that you yourself just last year overhyped “the end of the Regime is nigh” card, and now found yourself with crapped pants (which are on fire)? Also – you use the term “regime” 42+ times in this blogpost (which is кг/ам). You should seek (professional) help.

        “Also since a body is formed by law and operates under official sanction it can be considered a government body.”

        […]

        Do you know the meaning of the word “government”? Also, seeing as you can access their site, point out who among the members of this “Human Rights Council” is the member of Russia’s government.

        “When you are done reading, I look forward to speaking with you again.”

        You made an unsupported claim (without citing quotes, evidence, documents etc) that “many Communists had indifference to human suffering”. I look forward for you providing relevant quotes, evidence, documents and defending them, to prove that you are not a windbag after all.

        Like

      7. Read Stephen F Cohen’s chapter on Bukharin as an example of what I mean. And aside from a biography on General Yermolov, I regret to say I have not read any Russian or Soviet historians. My Russian is not that good yet. But I read a Russian article when I can and have the time to work out vocabulary and grammar.

        Like

      8. “Read Stephen F Cohen’s chapter on Bukharin as an example of what I mean”

        Example of what? Why can’t you provide relevant quotations yourself, also citing what source material Prof Cohen uses to make it, so that everyone could check it out for themselves.

        Why with you it’s like pulling the teeth out? If you made a claim be always ready to support it. No? Baseless statement warrant are dismissed automatically. You spent several posts writing non sequitur one liners. Why not instead of waste spend this time on evidence and quotes?

        Also, dewittbourchier, you failed to answer the rest of my questions. I assume this confirms that you admit you were wrong on all accounts covered therein. Meaning – you are writing thing without thinking over and that you have a really shallow knowledge of the world around you. But you are soooooo opinionated and always ready to voice/post your opinion. Sadly, you are incapable of defending your opinion. Understandable trait… in a child. But I took you for someone advanced in years, if not exactly mature.

        Like

      9. “Conversation and research are joys. You should try both some time.”

        You are a windbag – confirmed. You claim to have a book of “ultimate evidence” and refuse to share it with others. What if some people don’t have it? What if they don’t want to waste their money on it? What if they have other kind of access to the primary materials, without resorting to the second-hand knowledge?

        You have no excuse, dewittbourchier. You effectively flushed your argument down the toilet. You are a windbag, after all.

        Like

  6. Soviet people can’t tell good from evil?
    Lordy, I never heard such hogwash in all my life!
    I am a Soviet person, I can’t claim that I am perfect, but I never killed anybody nor stole anything.
    In fact, I once returned a lost wallet to its owner, and I didn’t even take any of the money or credit cards!
    And I don’t even believe in God! You don’t need to believe in God to know the difference between right and wrong… Sheesh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russians can’t tell good from evil is what she says, not Soviet people. Sedakova, as far as I can tell from the article, sees the roots of this as lying deep in Russia’s past, not just the Soviet era. But I thought it interesting to link what she says to the Homo Sovieticus discussion in Sharafutdinova’s article, as it’s part and parcel of the same phenomenon of seeing Russia’s problems as lying in the morally deficiency of the people.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This observation comes from an Estonian – note that the entire Estonian population eagerly participated in the holocaust, and all ethnic Estonians today revere the Nazis as heroes. The question becomes, why should innately evil populations such as Estonians, Germans, Croats and Latvians be accorded the rights of human beings when they are manifestly nothing of the sort?

    Like

      1. It’s not my real name or even a real name. Nor am I from shithole Estonia.

        If Estonia’s disgusting inhabitants are going to come out with repackaged Nazi race hate like Mallinen, it is entirely appropriate to remind ourselves that their only notable contribution to history is a supporting role in the holocaust, and to question their suitability for membership of the human race.

        Like

    1. This is not acceptable language on this blog. I’ve yet to block anyone from commenting, but will have to if such language persists.

      Like

  8. interesting and bizarre topic… i was trying to understand why russia has issues with lbgt… i kept on circling back to the difference between the russian orthodox church ideology and what in the west is a complete dropping of mainstream religion – at least among most of the folks i know on the westcoast of canada… i think there are people who follow and people who lead… the people who follow, will follow the main ideology of the place they live… those who lead, will generally have to have a vision that is strong enough to be flexible, but to also work within the mainstream of the culture they live in..

    so, i really don’t know what it means to live in a country – russia – where the main religion is orthodox christianity… i wonder how it plays into everything, and especially with regard russias attitude towards lgbt rights… it is mostly me trying to understand russia better, why i ask this… i really do think the premise of the article cited – ” ‘Russians cannot tell good from evil.’ ” is truly insane… people everywhere have a sense of good from evil.. one doesn’t need organized religion to have this either..

    Like

    1. “i kept on circling back to the difference between the russian orthodox church ideology and what in the west is a complete dropping of mainstream religion – at least among most of the folks i know on the westcoast of canada”

      That’s wrong kind of “circling” and a tad bit of projecting, because of anti-LGBT stance of the (normal, traditional) denominations in the West transplanted blindly to Russia. Such approach won’t explain what in the USSR gays were not approved either, or reasons for that. Ultimately, such approach fails to address the dichotomy of “personal vs collective/societal” in the first place.

      “i wonder how it plays into everything, and especially with regard russias attitude towards lgbt rights”

      Orthodox Christianity has zero (active) effect on the lives of the Russian population – period. It has enormous passive effect, as being one of the cornerstones of its history and culture.

      Why are you asking about LGBT re:Russia?

      Like

    2. James: Homosexuality was briefly decriminalized in the Soviet Union after the Bolshevik Revolution. In the revolutionary fervor of changing institutions. Sometimes after a major revolution there is a brief window of opportunity to get rid of outdated institutions and make some radical reforms. Like, for example, reforming the Russian alphabet. But that window is a short one, and then things settle back into the groove.

      So too the sodomy laws reinstated as the post-revolutionary Russia returned to its more conservative social base. Not even Church influence, I think, as just the popular attitudes, which are traditionalist and even a tad Puritan.
      In the current situation homosexuality and homosexual behavior is mostly decriminalized in Russia. With some exceptions, like “you can’t talk about it in front of kids”, which is actually just a bone tossed to the “pro-family value” types.

      With sexual attitudes, I don’t think it’s so much a debate about “right” vs “wrong” as just how people see the role of women and the family. Gays, even male gays, are just hostages of the “woman question”.

      The vast majority of people even in America have those same “conservative” attitudes. It’s just that they don’t blanch any more when watching ALT-lifestyles on TV and the movies, because the media has de-sensitized them. Well, Russian media is no model of purity either, in popular movies you see a lot of rapey stuff going on, man on woman, of course! People who complain about immorality in popular culture should look at the beam in those own eyes first, IMHO.

      Like

      1. “So too the sodomy laws reinstated as the post-revolutionary Russia returned to its more conservative social base.”

        The social base of the Bolsheviks had been the proletariat. No one returned anywhere as no one departed from it. Its another issue entirely, yalensis. Because the geopolitical situation of 1930s was significantly different from the one existing in 1920s (and even the one in late 1910s right after the Revolution) there was an urgent need for the total mobilization in preparation to now (absolutely inevitable and coming up soon-ish) World War. It was not time for “bold social experiments”, but for building up of the mobilization potential. Same sex relations does not increase the number of future work- and military force, and are detrimental to the survival of any given society. Simple as that.

        “The vast majority of people even in America have those same “conservative” attitudes. It’s just that they don’t blanch any more when watching ALT-lifestyles on TV and the movies, because the media has de-sensitized them.”

        I.e. they were subject to the direct, decades long pro-gay propaganda (even among the minors). Therefore, Russian situation is a normal one.

        Like

      2. Lyttenburgh and yalensis, thanks for your thoughtful replies… i ask, as a friend of mine is always challenging me on the topic of russia and always throwing stuff out to make it sound like russia is still stuck in the dark ages.. this was one of their challenges from a few days ago.. as i don’t live in russia, and am not a historian, or even someeone who has lived in russia for a time, i can only speculate on why russia is the way it is on a number of topics! – thanks for giving me a bit more perspective on this and dispelling some of my ignorance…

        Like

      3. “i ask, as a friend of mine is always challenging me on the topic of russia and always throwing stuff out to make it sound like russia is still stuck in the dark ages..”

        What are “Dark Ages”? 😉 So-called “European Dark Ages” were different in, say, early Medieval Britain and Byzantium. But if this friend of yours means by “Dark Ages”, that Russia is not “progressive” as per Western radical liberal (so-called “leftist”) definition of the word – then, yes, yes, we are in the “Dark Ages”.

        Like

      4. thanks Lyttenburgh re july 24 – 335am post… dark ages is just a figurative use of the words… thanks for the pic! that is another good analogy for it i suppose… cheers james

        Like

  9. “Russians have a special relationship with evil-the inability to tell it apart from good”.

    Where have we heard that all before? Oh, I know – from the German Nazis. They used to say that the Russians are subhuman, morally deficient, have no human emotions, et cetera – in those very words. I guess in the West nothing changes, and nazism has been and remains forever a part of the Western psyche.

    “None of this is to say that . . . Soviet pasts have not left some psychological legacy which in some way influences current developments”.

    Of course it does. But it was the very same psychological Soviet legacy that saved Russia in 1990s and, to some extent is still saving it today. Let’s not forget that Putin is nothing if not Homo Soveticus, as are lots of people in Russia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Where have we heard that all before? Oh, I know – from the German Nazis. They used to say that the Russians are subhuman, morally deficient, have no human emotions, et cetera – in those very words. I guess in the West nothing changes, and nazism has been and remains forever a part of the Western psyche.”

      ***

      Rep. John R. McDowell: You paint a very dismal picture of Russia. You made a great point about the number of children who were unhappy. Doesn’t anybody smile in Russia any more?

      Rand: Well, if you ask me literally, pretty much no.

      McDowell: They don’t smile?

      Rand: Not quite that way; no. If they do, it is privately and accidentally. Certainly, it is not social. They don’t smile in approval of their system.

      McDowell: Well, all they do is talk about food.

      Rand: That is right.

      McDowell: That is a great change from the Russians I have always known, and I have known a lot of them. Don’t they do things at all like Americans? Don’t they walk across town to visit their mother-in-law or somebody?

      Rand: Look, it is very hard to explain. It is almost impossible to convey to a free people what it is like to live in a totalitarian dictatorship. I can tell you a lot of details. I can never completely convince you, because you are free. It is in a way good that you can’t even conceive of what it is like. Certainly they have friends and mothers-in-law. They try to live a human life, but you understand it is totally inhuman. Try to imagine what it is like if you are in constant terror from morning till night and at night you are waiting for the doorbell to ring, where you are afraid of anything and everybody, living in a country where human life is nothing, less than nothing, and you know it. You don’t know who or when is going to do what to you because you may have friends who spy on you, where there is no law and any rights of any kind.
      – From “ Ayn Rand’s testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities

      Like

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