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By Tim McDaniel

This booklet is needed studying for an individual who desires to comprehend Russia. It highlights parts of Russian political tradition which have been current for decades--before, in the course of, and after the Soviet period--and which are nonetheless correct this present day. even if political tradition as an explanatory framework has flaws more often than not, its energy in explaining the Russian political context can't be disputed.

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The Russian artist, he claims, does not feel part of such a known cultural context, within which one seeks to be heard and understood. Instead, each artist claims to speak the final truth to the spectator, completely in isolation from others. 16 We are already familiar with the underlying logic of such assertions, so ubiquitous in the self-perception of Russians: they are based on self-definition through polar opposition. Thus, as Russia’s “other” the West is materialist, present-oriented, rationalistic, concerned only with means, legalistic, and the like.

7 He explicitly disputed the Slavophiles’ attempts to conjure up a pure Russian tradition prior to and opposed to Peter’s reforms. And until the creation of a real history based on an “idea,” to which Chaadaev called his people, Russia would continue to contribute nothing of significance to world culture. Denial of the claim that there was a specific Russian cultural essence that represented the genius and destiny of the country easily led into the espousal of rival cultural models. A plethora of competing visions vied for dominance in nineteenth-century Russia, as they do today in the country’s post-Communist moral disarray.

Parallel debates took place within government circles both in the late tsarist period and under Soviet Communism. Although Nicholas II and many of his leading officials believed that the autocracy embodied a special Russian path that would ensure justice, community, equality, and shared values, many high political actors favored more representation of interest groups, the development of capitalist social and economic relations, and a relaxation of imposed cultural harmony. Similar debates agitated both prerevolutionary Marxism and the Communist regime, as some socialist leaders were more willing than others to countenance markets, cultural pluralism, and diverse political inputs.

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