The Special Russian Way: The Origin and Evolution of Russian Perceptions about the United States

  • Nikolai Zlobin
Part of the The CERI Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (CERI)

Abstract

When I was a student at a Moscow elementary school, one of my class duties involved the preparation of so-called political information for my classmates. Political information took up 10 minutes of our daily class time and was devoted to global events of the past 24 hours. My tasks were: to make a list of the daily presenters and to remind them about it the night before; to supply the information if someone fell sick; and finally, to make sure that 90 percent of the news was devoted to exposing “American imperialism.”

Keywords

Economic Crisis Europe Shipping Uranium Income 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Vasily Klyuchevsky, Сочинения в девяти томах, vol. 9 (Moscow: Mysl’, 1990), p. 386.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See A. Oslon, “Реакция на 11 сентября в российском общественном мнении,” in Америка: взгляд из России. До и после 11 сентября (Moscow: POF, 2001), p. 31.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    See G. Diligensky, «Запад» и российское общество (Moscow: POF, 2001), July 12, http://www.fom.ru/reports/frames/d012541.html.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    See Alexander Zinoviev, Запад (Moscow: Tsentrpoligraf, 2000).Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Sergey Soloviev, Чтения и рассказы по русской истории (Moscow: Pravda, 1990), p. 439.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Nikolai Danilevsky, Россия и Европа (Moscow: Kniga, 1991), p. 498.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Lev Gumilev, От Руси до России: очерки этнической истории (Moscow: Svarog and K., 2002), p. 217.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    Memoirs of V. Pecherin, Замогильные записки (Apologia pro vita mea) were published in the book Русское общество 30-х годов XIX века. Люди и идеи: Мемуары современников (Moscow: Nauka, 1989), pp. 148–311. Pecherin propounded the idea of rejecting “the tyranny of materialist civilization,” and thought that humankind’s salvation lay in religion, not science. Pitirim Sorokin thought that Russia and the United States are bound to have a binding peace, since they have similar systems of values and institutions.Google Scholar
  9. See Pitirim Sorokin, Россия и Соединенные Штаты (New York: Chekhov Publishing, 1944).Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    An interesting related fact is that in the initial drafts of his novel, The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky calls his protagonist Count Myshkin “a Count of Christ.” See F. Dostoyevsky, Собрание сочинений в 10 томах, vol. 6 (Moscow: State Literature Publishing House, 1957), p. 709.Google Scholar
  11. 23.
    Contemporary emigrant poet Igor Guberman wrote about this once: “The muted Russian soul / eschews associations / and takes on foreign languages / with glossaries and detestations. / How queer the hue of Russian life / composed o’er so many centuries / its conscience talks to Russia / albeit in foreign languages.” I. Guberman, Гарики на каждый день (Moscow: EMIA, 1992), pp. 221–222.Google Scholar
  12. 25.
    Interestingly, the eminent sociologist Pitirim Sorokin thought, on the contrary, that the political and economic roots of the democratic system are identical in Russia and the United States, having grown out of a peasant system of values. See Pitirum Sorokin, Россия и Соединенные Штаты (New York: Chekhov Publishing, 1944), pp. 38, 64, 75, 88–89.Google Scholar
  13. 28.
    Nikolai Berdyaev, Русская идея: Основные проблемы русской мысли XIX века и начала XX века (Paris: YMCA Press, 1971), p. 243.Google Scholar
  14. 41.
    One amusing but typical example of the persistence of stereotypes is a magnum opus prepared in the years of perestroika by a large collective of leading Americanists and published under the editorship of Yevgeny Primakov, G. Arbatov, and others: Современные Соединенные Штаты Америки: Энциклопедичеокий справочник (Moscow: Political Literature Publishing House, 1988). In it, the chapter devoted to the Communist Party of the United States is longer than the space devoted to the rest of the political parties combined, including the Democratic and the Republican, (pp. 94–101). American foreign policy is described as unambiguously aggressive, militaristic, and conducted in bad faith (pp. 262–271), the economy is described as constantly in crisis (pp. 136–140), and the mass media are characterized as having a “propaganda complex” (p. 404).Google Scholar
  15. 70.
    The Eurasian idea has once again begun gaining popularity in Russian society. Its intellectual elaborator has become the “Eurasia” party, with Alexander Dugin at the helm. See A. Dugin, Евразийский путь как национальная идея (Moscow: Arktogea-Center, 2002). It contends, in part, that “Russia either has a Eurasian future or none at all. Our task is to comprehend and triumphantly solidify around the world the Russian Eurasian truth” pp. 15, 17.Google Scholar
  16. 71.
    Danilevskii showed in his famous book Россия и Европа [Russia and Europe]’not only Russia’s uniqueness, but even the uniqueness of the Slav people, to which, in the words of philosopher Nikolai Strakhov, “belongs an exclusive position among other nations, to which history has no adequate equal,” Nikolai Strakhov, O книге Данилевского «Россия и Европа», In Nikolai Danilevsky, Россия и Европа (Moscow: Kniga, 1991), p. 515.Google Scholar

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© Tony Judt and Denis Lacorne 2005

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  • Nikolai Zlobin

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