Saturday, April 28, 2018
Problem of Lack of Individuality in Russian National Character — Communal Sense without Individual Spark means Lack of Reform, Progress, and Growth
Anatoly Karlin wrote about the problems of Russia in The Russian Empire: Too Nice for Its Own Good
I’m thinking that the problem with Russians is the lack of individuality.
Now, some on the Right(esp Alt Right) are skeptical and even hostile to this thing called individualism. They see it as selfish, egotistical, vain, atomizing, and ahistoric. This may indeed be true in cases where individualism is the core of one’s worldview and ‘value’ system.
But individuality can serve something bigger than itself. And any agenda, vision, or order is best served by energized individuals with the will to be bold, headstrong, inspired, ingenious, and innovative. The problem with collectivism is it discourages and dampens individual initiative, and of course, initiative is always a function of individuality. So, even though the collective consciousness emphasizes the good of the whole, the actual good comes from those individuals who make the extra effort to assert their will and make dreams come true. Collective consciousness is necessary for a community of shared identity, values, and purpose. But the collective is about inertia than initiative. In order for things to get started, the individual must provide the initiative. Collective consciousness is like a pile of logs waiting to be lit. But they alone cannot make fire. It takes a spark. Individuality and Initiative are the sparks created by striking of flint stones. It’s like we can create any institution to serve the community in a specific capacity. It can be a center for art, drama, or music. And the members of the community can collectively agree on the purpose of the institution. But that collective knowledge will not create art, drama, or music. It takes individuals with initiative who are willing to pour their energies into creating something unique or special. Collective consciousness is about a general sense of what is necessary. Lots of people can agree that fine music would be a good thing. But it takes strong individuals like Mozart or Beethoven to actually make the music. And this is why the culture of individuality has been so important in the rise of the West in contrast to the Rest where collective conformity suppressed individual initiatives as rude, irreverent, presumptuous, destabilizing, or subversive.
Of course, a fanatical ideology that values radical individualism above all other considerations is bound to be fatal. The paradox of Ayn Rand’s success is that she reached mass readers with a vision that actually held most of them in contempt. Her obsession was only with the BEST, the 1% of the 1% in talent, beauty, and/or wealth. She saw most of humanity as just useless rabble whose only meaningful purpose was to serve as helot-cattle whose menial production and material consumption would sustain an economy that could fund and fulfill the mental vision of the genius. The fantastic element was in the idealized hero who possessed not only great talent but granite integrity and spellbinding beauty. (Reality is, of course, far messier and more complicated, less a myth of heroes than mystery of hustlers and hermits who, often by accident, stumbled on something remarkable.) She railed against middlebrow comprises(as characterized by Toohey), but hers was a middlebrow fantasy of heroic elitism sold to mediocrities. Still, upon arriving in the US, she was quick to notice what was missing in Russia due to Slavic tradition and Bolshevik tyranny. Both provided a general sense of the common good but repressed the independence and initiative of individuality. (On the other hand, Rand failed to understand that hyper-individualism destroys democratic individualism because the hyper-individual comes to believe that he is so great and awesome as a man of destiny that his individual will must trample over the individual wills of others. So, even as Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, and Adolf Hitler came to be associated with anti-individualism, it was because they were hyper-individuals with radical will who felt that their individual vision must quell all obstacles. Not for nothing did Alexander the Great and Napoleon come to be associated with both individuality and tyranny. If every individuality was equal, nothing great can be done. The great individual must trample on the individuality of others and bend them to his individual will. Whether this is done through communism or capitalism, the dynamics is much the same. Still, a capitalist system allows for more than one powerful individual to call the shots, and that allows for more competition and achievement.)
There is collectivism where people conceive of the common good and try to work as a team. The downside of such mindset is passivity. After all, everyone would be waiting around to be told what to do for the common good. He’d lack the individual will to put forth his own ideas and plans. He’d know how to receive and take orders but not how to assert himself and propose/execute ideas to lead others.
There is individualism where the only consideration is self-interest or self-satisfaction. The most extreme type of this kind of individualism is found in gangsterism, vice industry, and globalism. Druglords don’t care what narcotics may do to society. They only care about raking in the bucks. Vice industry casino oligarchs don’t care about the negative impact of gambling on morals and values. They only care about profits. And globalist entrepreneurs don’t care about the peoples of their own nation and around the world. They just play the entire world to maximize wealth and prestige for themselves.
But there is the third option: Individualism for the shared national good. Peter Thiel is partly of this school. He believes in individual enterprise, boldness, risk-taking, and innovation… but he also believes there must be a sense of national purpose and good.
The problem with Russians is this lack of individuality for the national good. Many Russians do have a collective & shared sense of national good, but it isn’t enough to provide the spark for enterprise, innovation, and reforms. And some Russians do have a narrow sense of individualism that only cares about the self. Such egotistic opportunism will even do things that hurts the nation-as-a-whole as long as there is something in it for ‘me’.
Russian(often Russian-Jewish)individualism has taken the form of self-serving egomania. Its only obsession is to become rich by any means necessary and live like a king with yachts and mansions all over the world. (To be sure, Jewish-Russian oligarchs at least have a sense of "Is it good for the Jews?" They are willing to exploit and cause harm to Russia for self-gain, but they will serve the interests of Israel and EOJ or the Empire of Judea.) This kind of pathologically self-centered individualism is harmful to the nation. The powerful, the privileged, and the well-connected only care about themselves. And as fish rots from the head, such excessive vanity seeps down to the masses who, though remaining poor, ape the crass, trashy, and narcissistic. Of course, it’s a problem in the US too, with moronic masses imitating, at least in style and attitude, the decadent excesses of celebrities.
There has long been a sense of communal and shared good in Russian culture, and it goes back to the spread of Christianity… which may explain why so many Russians took to communism, which seemed familiar to Russian sensibility. Russians, lacking individuality and initiative, were used to being told what to do. They were used to others doing the talking for them. This kind of communalism discouraged individuality, spark, adventure, and can-do-spirit. It emphasized conformism to orthodoxy of the righteous and just, whether under Christianity, Tsarism, or communism. Or Putinism.
There is a positive side to communalism but also a negative side. Without sufficient individual spark and boldness, too many communal-minded people remain passive and sit around to be told what to do. In contrast, communalism of energetic individuals will be lit by sparks of initiative and will. In IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, George Bailey is compelled by circumstances to strive for the good of the town, but he is bursting with boundless individuality. He knows how to take charge. He is idealistic, resourceful, adaptive, and keen. He knows how to engage with all kinds of people. He has both communal spirit and individuality. In contrast, the lack of individuality in Russia led to too many Russkies just waiting around to be told what to think or do. Or, the strong individual exerted his precious will to control than inspire others. Consider the Strelnikov character in DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. He is strong-willed like George Bailey, but he instills fear than inspires freedom.
The difference between assertive communalism(of individuals) and passive(or tyrannical) communalism(of collective mindset) is this: Suppose the electricity goes out in a community. In the community of civic-minded individuals, many will try to contact the company to see what’s up. Each person will try to take the initiative. In contrast, in the latter community, everyone will just sit around trusting or hoping that someone ELSE will do something about the power outage. This makes all the difference.
America used to be both individual and communal. It had civic sense and national unity, and it was composed of individuals who rolled up their sleeves in can-do spirit and went about building and fixing things. In contrast, the Russian lack of individualism meant a communalism that tended toward inertia or lethargy as most people lacked initiative and just waited around for orders from above. And Putinism hasn’t fixed this national character flaw in the Russian mindset.
Indeed, what is striking about the ‘Russian Revolution’ was how non-Russian much of it was. How was it that a small rabble of Jews, Latvians, Poles, and even Georgians gained so much power over vast numbers of Russians who almost overnight became their servants? Those other cultures had a stronger assertive will(though not in the Anglo-libertarian mode). Russian masses had long been inculcated to follow orders and do like others do. (This was why the Whites were doomed in the Civil War with the Reds. The Reds, though anti-liberty, found a way to whip up mass frenzy. The Russian masses were made to feel they were playing a heroic role in history. In contrast, the elitist and reactionary Whites had little to offer but orders and commands that promised nothing but return to the old order.) Unlike Russians, the ethno-minority Bolsheviks came from cultures that produced individuals who were more bandit-like, merchant-like, intellectual-like, and etc. Consider how a tiny number of Jews came to dominate so much of the economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Consider how a tiny rabble of Chechen cutthroats were able to intimidate far bigger Russian gangs.
So, it's not surprising it took awhile for the USSR to become a genuine Russian Empire. Up to the 50s, it was largely an empire ruled by non-Russians with greater penchant for assertive will. Indeed, Russians gained power only because the non-Russian elites created a system wherein Russians could be educated and elevated up the Iron Ladder. Russians could use a system but weren’t adept at creating one themselves. Consider how Germans had played a pivotal role in the creation of modern pre-revolutionary Russia. Consider how it took many non-Russians to create the Bolshevik system. And after the fall of communism, Russia handed over privatization(that turned into ‘piratization’) to foreigners, mainly Jewish Americans. Russians felt they couldn't do it themselves.
Another problem with Russians is the persistent strain of barbarism that wastes energy on childish things. When Russians do indulge in crude forms of individuality, they are often silly stuff like swilling excessive amounts of vodka, having street fights, driving around like loons, wrestling bears, dancing on tables, and catching fish with penis. Jews don’t waste their core energies on such silliness. If you have a gallon of gasoline, it should be poured into an engine. Russians douse gas all around and set things on fire just to celebrate and have a good time. Total waste of energy and creativity. True individuality is a smart use of energy with focus and sense of purpose.
As Russia looks to the future, the main conflict will be this:
Russian nationalists and patriots with sounder values & nobler spirit but lacking in individual spark and spirit to take charge and make a difference
Jewish, Homo, and Cuck Globalists with terrible values and subversive mindset but bursting with individual spark and spirit to take charge and make a difference.
It’s like what Israel Shamir wrote of the Lucy Stein gang. Awful people but full of spunk and spirit. A spirited badger can bring down a passive cow. https://www.unz.com/ishamir/lucy-stein-gang-rides-moscow/