Yury Miloslavsky: Russian world is a new name for Russian civilization/ Ãëàâíàÿ / Russkiy Mir Foundation / Publications / Yury Miloslavsky: Russian world is a new name for Russian civilization
Yury Miloslavsky: Russian world is a new name for Russian civilization
Yury Miloslavsky, a Russian writer and publicist living in US talked to our reporter about ways to save his language legacy in emigration, about the Russian Church abroad and his vision of the modern Russian world.
– Yury Georgievich, you have been living abroad for a long time and, at this, you started writing prose away from Russia. Why? How has your emigration experience influenced your personality and your work?
– Being outside of the Russian cultural, or, as the great linguist Nikolay Trubetskoy put it, friendly linguistic-cultural context, made me extremely attentive to my mother tongue and very greedy about it indeed, almost Scrooge-like greedy. I spoke about this diagnosis in more detail in my essay titled Aquae et Ignis Interdictio (translated as “Deprived of water and fire”). I should remark right away that depriving of water and fire is a kind of legal punishment stipulated in the Roman law, which meant exile out of Rome.
What I mean is that, being outside of Russia, I craved for the language and started to pick up and willingly use tiny bits and pieces, which I wouldn’t have noticed surrounded by the domestic abundance. So living beyond my Motherland turned out to be good for me in this sense.
However, my essay was not just about the language, but also about the true cause of our exile. It was time to admit that not everybody who had gone to live abroad had been deprived of the water and fire at home, but rather “volunteered” for the exile in search of the water and fire of a better quality. I didn’t then and I’m not going now to dwell upon reasons of this decision. And I certainly wouldn’t dare to pose any moral judgment. When asked why I left my country, I readily and immediately answer that it was due to my stupidity.
I would like to talk more about “going to exile due to stupidity.” In such cases, people usually blame external propaganda, perfectly designed by the Harvard project’s authors.
Anyway, it is the 70th anniversary of the Harvard project this year. However, why has our Low Masters’ Class (as I call the Russian intellectuals, following S. Rachinky’s example), been rejecting the Russian civilization ever since the first days of its foundation at the historical arena?
This cultural psychological split of our existence developed gradually and quietly when the early Russian elite faced a foreign civilization, the Western, European one. It took the shock therapy of emigration and the Russian 90s and, of course, the will of God, to heal from the illusions, to recover and to come to our senses. I’m happy that my elder fellows in arms, Vladimir Maximov and Andrey Sinyavsky came to their senses first. And I followed them.
– Speaking at the Russian World: Today and Tomorrow forum you stressed the importance of work with religious schools abroad. You are a sub-deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, you used to be an editor-in-chief of the Orthodox New York monthly newsletter, you teach at religious schools… How do you suggest organizing this process?
To start with, it is impossible to preserve so-called Russianness beyond Russia without the Church. The longstanding experience of emigration only proves this point. However, there is a special research performed by the professor of New York State University, Nadezhda Kitsenko.
All that is Russian, except for the Russian food shops today is within the Russian Church, which has not turned it into a hobby club, despite the fact. This coincides with Russian historical reality, where everything fades away without Church.
No general cultural considerations can help this noble cause, parents are also helpless. Their Russian language, their memories, their libraries, even if they haven’t vanished while the family was moving house, - all these, are reluctantly adopted by children. Just because there are no external reasons or motivation to preserve the Russianness, but rather otherwise. It’s not trendy, as they say.
The motivation to preserve the culture should be maintained within the community, and there is no Russian community outside Russia anymore. In fact, there has never been a Russian community as strong as Italian or, let’s say, Greek ones. All that is Russian, except for the Russian food shops today is within the Russian Church, which has not turned it into a hobby club, despite the fact. This coincides with Russian historical reality, where everything fades away without Church. Even the Russian anti-religious and anti-priest movements can only exist if there is Church, otherwise who would they fight with, who would they deny and curse?
I’ve been working with religious schools for almost two decades. I know that the church of the Russian compatriot community, which doesn’t have a school, is doomed to gradually vanish. However, it’s not possible to build schools in all the churches and it’s not always due to the lack of finance.
So, I believe that the Russian World cultural centers usually organized by colleges and universities in Canada and US should also be constructed at churches which already have strong religious schools, so then they could spread their activity on other religious schools of the same district or Eparchy. Obviously, these centers can and should function differently, not like those at universities. Though, this is the matter of work, but not a topic of general discussion.
– You were nominated for the Gorky literature award in 2016 in the nomination Russian World for your documentary book under the title “What Have We Done To It?” (The reader understands that it is about Russia, and you have just confirmed that). What does a Russian World mean for you? How can we “arrange” life in Russia?
– Russian world is another name for the Russian civilization. Spengler himself in the second volume of the Decline of the West looks at Russia as a peculiar cultural-historic world, which cannot be compared to Western Europe. So it is quite natural and, so to say, legitimate that the civilization of the European West (and for the last two centuries the North America as well) perceives Russia as something alien and different. So, we should finally take it for granted, as the God’s will for the world and stop soliciting and then getting frustrated and offended.
This understanding is essential both for developing a consistent foreign policy and for strengthening the back of the domestic policy. We ourselves should get rid of dangerous illusions as soon as possible and thus stop our neighbors from falling for such illusions.
An old monarchy supporter and one of the founders of the Imperial Order Society, a peasant’s son Vasily Krivorotov, who was living in Latin America in the 1970s, talked about his conversation with a certain SS intellectual, which had taken place in summer of 1941. “There hasn’t been a single general in our Army, both before WWI and now, who would not be interested in your Russian literature. Your Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and others have been witnessing for a long time that there is neither a leading top power nor nationally conscious intellectuals in Russia. Your revolution only proved this idea, so we will easily move our Eastern border, at least, to the Urals”.
Their beliefs proved wrong and the weapon of the civil war, which careless SS analysts had overlooked in Tolstoy’s work did its job. Though, at what price! After the disaster which shook the Russian world in 1985-2000 we should be careful so that new equally careless and self-assured analysts would misinterpret some masterpieces of the Russian literature.
The recently deceased Russian diplomat Valentin Falin wrote in 1991: “The primary concern of anybody who cares about the country’s future should be consolidation of society. Gorchakov’s phrase “Russia, concentrate!” is as acute as ever. Concentrate your thoughts, energy and efforts on creating and restoring, on making peace with yourself. Otherwise Russia will not spring back to life”.
Chancellor of the Russian Empire, His Highness Prince Gorchakov, didn’t really put his famous words in the subjunctive mood, but Valentin Mikhailovich understood them correctly, I dare say. So, concentration, creation, resurrection, finding peace with yourself. The later is, perhaps, being the most important notion.
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