Аннотация: The article outlines some laws of Russia's historical development.
At turning points in its history Russia has faced a dilemma: to follow its own, unique way of development or to adopt models already existing in Western countries.
The first such turning point perhaps took place in the 13th century when Russia was invaded by the Mongols from the East and German and Swedish knights from the West. Alexandre Nevsky, the most able of Russian princes at that time, decided to put up a strong resistance to Western invasion making concessions to the Mongolians. In 1240 he defeated the Swedish army at the Neva River (hence his name) having wounded the Swedish prince who commanded the army. In 1242 he routed completely the army of German knights who had to cede some of their lands to Russia. At the same time Alexandre pursued the policy of compromises with Mongolians. Many times he visited Mongolian Headquaters giving rich presents to Mongolian Khans, he abased himself; each year Russia had to pay heavy tributes and Mongolian detachments were located in Russian big cities. Such a policy had serious reasons. German and Swedish invaders had orders from the Pope of Rome either to make Russians catholics or to destroy them. Actually by that time the Germans had already destroyed several Slavick peoples living on the Baltic Sea cost. To be deprived of the Orthodox religion for Russians was the same as to lose national identity. The Mongolians,who were pagans at that time, didn't demand anything except money unlike the Western nations.
The next turning point was at the beginning of the 18th century when Peter the Great reformed all spheres of Russian life inviting a large number of foreign experts and implementing cultural, economic, and political achievements of more developed western countries (Germany, England, Holland, France). Peter admired the achivements of Western civilization and culture. He lived for several years in Holland and England working as a carpenter at shipyards. He made Russian nobility send their sons abroad to study at Western universities, he made them shave long beards and wear French clothing; nevertheless his policy was the continuation of the policy of Alexandre Nevsky. He waged a war against Sweden for almost 20 years defeating King Charles XII and destroying his army and fleet. Most historians agree that Peter's reforms allowed Russia to catch up with other European countries, to become a great power.
The next turning point occurred in the second half of the 19th century when after the abolition of serfdom began an intensive capitalist industrial development. It was at that time when upper circles of Russian society became conscious of the dilemma, and struggle between the Westernizers and the Slavophils began. The latter backing the idea of Russia's unique way of development pointed out the following features characteristic of Russian society: peasants' commune, absence of social contradictions, orthodox religion.
On the whole agreeing with the Slavophils, I can add that life in peasants' commune determined some specific featured of Russian population's psychology, such as: indifferent attitude to social property ("what belongs to all, belongs to nobody"), possibility for idlers to live at the expense of other members of the commune, subordination of individual interests to communal interests, worship of a charismatic leader of the commune ("the czar is kindhearted, but has bad ministers, that is why we live under bad conditions").
At the beginning of the 20th century social psychology of Russian population took severe blows that caused its crisis. Bloody Sunday (January 9th, 1905 when peaceful demonstration of workers carrying icons was shot on c
Tzar's order), German origin of the wife of Nicolas II, repressions against the participants of the first revolution (1905-1907), and Rasputin's influence shook faith in the Czar. World War I shook faith of millions of peasants, who participated in it, in the Orthodox religion. I have always been surprised at the decision of Russian Orthodox Chirch to canonize Nicolas II, the man who ordered to shoot at the peaceful demonstration of people carrying icons and headed by the priests, many of whom were murdered. Nicolas II was unanimously despised by his contemporaries for his weak will for the disgraceful defeat in the war with Japan. The Church representatives state the the Tzar took the death of a martyr, but it was Nicolas II's own fault, the result of his stupid policy, of his inability to rule the country. Nicolas II bears direct reponsibility for the events that followed his resignation, for the death of his family, for the numerous victims of the civil war.
It was because of that crisis in social psychology that the Bolsheviks headed by Lenin managed to seize power. They formulated slogans and created the social order that fully corresponded to the features of Russian social psychology and the Slavophils' ideas.
Under the Soviet power all that could be collectivized was collectivized. The Soviet Union was actually one big commune, in which individual interests of a person were subordinated to the interests of Soviet State, which, in exchange, guaranteed every citizen more or less decent living standards. Orthodox religion was substituted by communist ideology that allowed including in the commune peoples that professed other religions. Under Stalin worship of the leader of the country was fanatic.
Disintegration of the Soviet Union began at the end of 1950s when Khrushev struck a severe blow on social psychology denouncing Stalin. The man who had been adored by millions of people for more than 20 years was declared a criminal. Millions of people felt nothing but disappointment and frustration. Their belief in communist ideals vanished and that was the beginning of the end of the Soviet Empire. The ideological foundations of the Soviet Union were shaken. But for silly reforms conducted by Khrushev and Gorbachev, the Soviet Union would still exist.
President Putin's success can be accounted for by the fact that his image corresponds in a way to the image of a charismatic leader that still exists in social psychology. Nevertheless events of the last months (Fradkov's appointment, great increase of government officials' salaries, and impudent behavior of deputies representing government's interests in State Duma) undermine this image.
Social stability in Russia is determined by the balance of three major factors: charismatic leader, economic stability, ideological unity. When these factors don't work the country gets into a crisis (as it was in 1998). President Putin and his government having being unable to suggest any ideology, two other factors work currently: Putin is still a charismatic leader; the economy is stable. Russia is in the state of unsteady stability. How long?