The Strength of the Weak

Author: Petr Petrovich Suvchinsky

Translators: Yulian Orlov and Jafe Arnold 

Source: Exodus to the East: Forebodings and Events: an Affirmation of the Eurasians (Sofia 1921), accessible in Russian here

What happens if one has not yet begun to be disturbed,
while another has already come up against a bolted door
and violently beaten his head against it?
The same fate awaits all men in their turn unless they walk in the saving road of humble communion with the people.

– Dostoevsky (Pushkin Speech) [1]

At the current time, an event of global importance is unfolding, the true essence and consequences of which are impenetrable even to the most perceptive. This event is the Russian Revolution, not in its socio-political meaning and importance, but rather in its national-metaphysical essence. As a manifestation of a socio-political order, it is most likely submissively flowing forth through the watercourse of revolutionary legitimacy. Its secret lies in its national and global sum.

The West, in trying to surround Russia with barriers, is not only afraid of the communist contagion. Europe has understood (albeit it unclearly and without confidence) or rather felt, the future result of the Russian Revolution and has already shuddered before it and, finally, taken defensive measures. She has understood that this result is defined not by the revolutionary energy of Russian communism, but by the historical predestination of the entire Russian people. She has understood that before the eyes of the world a former European province is rising up and growing in strength; a province that will unavoidably have to engage in combat, a province that will strike first, without even waiting for a lofty challenge, and engage itself in a war of reproof, reproach, and rage against its recent and apparently eternal parent state.

Russia has been a great power and has never been a state [2]. The state habits of every people is determined resultant state consciousness of all individuals that compose it. This great-power essence is the predestined potential of the authority, scope, and overflow of the entire essence of a people. It is the subconscious feeling of power, the fateful weight of the entire mass of the people, a mass that dislodges and moves the environment that surrounds it. It is involuntary self-confirmation, the droit sacré of one’s own being. The great-power essence sometimes arrogantly sprouts up, and sometimes weakens, disintegrates, thereby transforming the apparently strong flesh of the state into a crumbling, weak, collapsing human substance. Sometimes, the gift of the great-power essence coincides with developed aptitudes for the building of a state; sometimes, however, they are mutually exclusive… 

The glory of Russia is not consciously dependent on the governmental capabilities of her people. The glory is that Russia has been blindly endowed with its great-power essence. It is by this essence that the entire history of the Russian popular collective has been determined, the Russian person is fully subordinate to it, the traits of the Russian soul and will are contingent on it, and, to be more precise, even the character of the mass flows forth from the character of the person. Similar to the ebb and flow of the great-power essence of the Russian state collective, the Russian person is on the path to spiritual ascension, on the path of a vital test, all the while wavering, reeling between rise and fall, ascending and stalling. Ascension astounds with its rising force, as if an unseen hand extends from heaven and swoops it up. Stalling is always horrific through the void of the fall, through the loss of the Image of God.

And then humility and obedience border on servility, cowardliness, the dirty feeling of personal lostness: at times, bravery turns into insanity, yielding pride. In this wavering lies the law of the history of the Russian people, as does the law of the life of every individual person of the Russian people. In this interchange of exaltation and humiliation the popular [3], elemental Russia lived, at times limitlessly like a great power, at times powerless and enslaved when the mysterious forces of popular effort and elasticity suddenly dried up, ran out, were pushed together like the gigantic wings of a frightened bird.

The Russian intelligentsia has long accustomed to interpreting European culture not on an equal footing, but by seeing it as superior, obligatory, exclusive, and right. This servility and submission are undoubtedly rooted in the very essence of the Russian nature: if one acknowledges oneself as unequal, allows someone’s superiority to take hold over one, then it is necessary to submit, acquiesce, cowardly rejecting one’s own. This is a kind of servility, even a form of self-betrayal. In relation to other peoples, elemental Russia was either like a great power i.e. dominant, or spasmodically compressed herself, collapsing, involuntarily submitting, surrendering, while simultaneously hiding her covenants in the depths of the popular soul…  

Pan-human ideas are reflected by different peoples in the forms of diverse cultures. By developing within herself the genius of pan-human ideal capacity, the Russian intelligentsia actually combined, absorbed within its conscious all varieties of alien European cultures up to the level of total congeniality, thereby harming the self-discovery and affirmation of Russia’s own culture. As a result of this, the Russian intelligentsia was internationally enlightened, but de-personalised.

A specific “intelligentsia” does not, of course, deplete Russia as a great whole. In the manifestations of dominant great-power essence and in creative work, she guards examples of a unique, exclusive, and true national will as a valuable property.

In our days, in an era of the greatest tragedy of the decline, the paralysis of the sovereign forces and will of the Russian people, in an era where the whole concentration of Russian statehood [4] has weakened and become blurred, and thereby its internal interrelationships must be born anew and structured, the popular element has unconsciously yet powerfully begun a persecution of revenge and reproof against its conscious/responsible part, when it could not provide the people during a time of tribulation with a familiar, comprehensible, popular, national culture. We cannot say that the entire intelligentsia has been banished; however, we can confidently state that, with small exceptions, only the intelligentsia has been banished.

Through the medium of this banishment an awesome judgement has been passed on that form of the reception of Western culture that was seen as the Russian consciousness from the times of Peter [5] as immutable and true. As much as the creative, prophetic genius of Russia is free and unique, in equal measure is it accommodating and assimilative, and this genius revealed itself in all its shyness and submissive conditionality. The intelligentsia finds itself atomised all over the world. Simultaneously, the popular element is once again acquiring its mysterious, great-power forces through torturous battles and passions, forces that will sooner or later spread it out, pour it out into its former glory and strength. The Russian intelligentsia, which has for the first time been confronted face to face, person to person with the civilised peoples of the world must thereby, finally, deservedly self-assess its capabilities, most importantly its national, popular roots and begin to experience the redemptive process of belated self-discovery and self-confirmation. Only in this forceful, virtual contraposition, not from the “beautiful far-away” or the process of blind adoption has the Russian intelligentsia really felt the line that has been drawn between it and its spiritual idol of yesterday. It has understood and remorsefully shuddered as its own has turned out to be too invaluable and precious,  and the foreign too obsolete and poor. Powerless and banished, the intelligentsia has begun its rebirth and, if it does not interrupt this process, then in the near future it will regain its true strengths and rights. The people gather their strength in collective struggle, while the intelligentsia(s) in the experience of personality. At this moment they are enemies, as in its thirst for self-identification and liberation from alien forms of thought and life, the people placed the intelligentsia on the side of its European enemies; however, it would be a great mistake to think that the Russian people is fighting Europe and the intelligentsia with the sword of communism. On the contrary: communism is the final likeness that the intelligentsia has taken in its fanatical defence of the principle of equalisation and universality.

Having banished its false ideological leaders in a burst of hatred, in its search for conscious truth, the Russian people has followed its usual submissiveness put its fate in the hands of another, subjected itself to slavery once again, to the dictatorship of that very same intelligentsia that had ruled to that very moment until the revolution had actually manifested and did not reside anymore in the realm of fanatical will. The unaccountable, rebellious forces of the intelligentsia, selected in a blind drive towards global socialist ideas, have focused a terrifying, painful energy into the unhealthy, overheated atmosphere of the emigre community and the underground. This will is  fiery, merciless, vengeful, without any restraint; it has now grabbed the popular masses, which have lost their star, in its grasp. However, its guiding truth is alien and hateful towards the true Russia as much as its predecessor; after all, the Bolshevik international is but a volitional consequence of the cosmopolitan errors and temptations of the godless, sinful spirit of the Russian intelligentsia – sinful, because the dream of the global and true cannot be righteous outside of the Church. All will understand this sooner or later, after which the volitional (final?) dictatorship of the intelligentsia will be wiped out with the very same elemental fury. Then the great covenant of Russia will be fulfilled, her prophetic mystery will come into being: the wisened and calmed people and the enlightened intelligentsia will, reconciled, unite under the single great and all-solving cupola of the Orthodox Church

Translator’s notes:

[1]: The full speech is accessible in English here.

[2]: That is to say, Russia has never been a state in the European, Westphalian sense of the word.

[3]: The Russian term народ has no direct equivalent in English. It corresponds best to the German term Volk, which has a limited analogue in English folk or “the people”.

[4]: As has been noted above, this does not mean that Russia is a European state; rather, this is a reference to the loss of Russia’s territorial integrity and great-power essence.

[5]: Peter the Great.  

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