*this is a continuation of notes/ excerpts from the pages earmarked while reading A History of Civilizations by Fernand Braudel...
On this day back in 1241, a powerful Mongol attack overcame Kiev, breaching its gates after a siege and killing an estimated 48,000 of the 50,000 within; the surviving Slavs were subjugated under the Khanate of the Golden Horde.
– Soviet means “Council”.
– Thessalonian Slavonic was only a spoken language.
– ‘truth’ in Greek and Slavonic means “that which is eternal and constant, really existing, outside the created world.” as our reason perceives it. ‘Sacrament’ means a “mystery- that which transcends our senses and comes from on high” directly from God.
– In the East, Christ is shown at peace in death on the cross.
– “mystical Orthodox and rationalist Westerners”- Alexis Khomiakov
Christianity in the West was confronted from the start with human, collective, social and even legal problems, while religious thought in the East remained more circumscribed, more individual and purely spiritual, easily becoming mystical.
on the Russian Revolution:
Stenka Razin- leader of a Russian revolt in 1669 of 200,000 rebels- Cossacks, peasants and natives of Asia- captured and executed in 1671 on Red Square, Moscow
Pugachev lead another revolt a century later. He was captured and beheaded in 1775.
The French Revolution and Russian Society by Michael Strange
Decabrist or Decembrists- a limited revolutionary movement in 1825, the Nihilists in the 1860s, Slavophiles (sometimes chauvinist revolutionaries), the Russian Social-Democatic Party, founded in Minsk in 1898 (first Marxist party), the extreme ‘Occidentalists’
Georgy Plekhanov, the founder of Russian Marxism, had a last minute argument with Lenin on the eve of the 1917 Revolution. Lenin denied planning to take power: if he took it, he said, it would simply be in the hope of support from the Socialist revolutions that would break out in the advanced capitalist countries. Plekhanov warned Lenin that if he seized power he would be forced, whether he liked it or not, to impose dictatorship and terrorist methods of government.
“We were mistaken. We acted as if one could build Socialism in a country where capitalism scarcely existed. Before we can achieve a Socialist society, we must rebuild capitalism.” – Lenin on the New Economic Policy.
Georgy Plekhanov, imagining a case in which the revolutionaries seized power ‘by accident’ or ‘by conspiracy’, wrote that “in those circumstances all they would be able to build would be a Socialism like the Empire of the Incas”. i.e. with an authoritarian regime. Discussing a similar eventuality, Marx had spoken of “convent Socialism” or the “Socialism of the barracks”.
In any case, the revolutionaries, like the Russian intelligencia of the turn of the century before them, had always held that an idea was valid only if it took shape in practical life, in praxis.
“A new race was created in Russia, invading every sphere of life, from the humblest job to heights of scientific research- the summit of the social scale. Stalin’s double programme of industrialization in the cities and collectivization on the land created urban jobs and rural jobless, forcing peasants to seek work in the towns whether they liked it or not- all this in only a few years.”
Early 1930’s- artists and writers were ordered to become “engineers of human souls”. In 1934 Andrei Zhdanov, the Party Secretary, defined their dogma “the method of Socialist Reform”. What artists and writers must do was to describe with “veracity” the “historically concrete character” of Socialist reality, and in particular the conditions of production, thus contributing to “the ideological transformation and the education of workers in the spirit of Socialism”.