I.V.Zabaev

The Orthodox Ethics and the Spirit of Socialism (Supporting the Hypothesis)

The scientists were concerned with the reasons of Russian socialism emergence during the whole 20th century. They’ve offered a lot of peculiar hypotheses and described the impact of different political, economic, ethnoecological, geo-climatic, demographic factors that contributed to the emergence of this phenomenon1 Susokolov 1994;Shanin 1997;Vishnevsky 1998;Milov1998.1. Against this background it is surprising that practically no one was interested in the religious factor influencing the development of specifically Russian version of the socialism. The bulk of works dedicated to the analysis of the relationships between the Soviet socialism and Orthodoxy in its essence elucidate only the problem of the Soviet state’s purges against the Church2 See, e.g., Regelson 1977; Alekseev 1991;Vasilyeva 1993; Tsypin 1994;Pospelovsky 1995; Kashevarov 1995;Emelyanov 1996; Krivova 1997.Another defining of the problemcan be found in the classic workof N.Berdyaev (Berdyaev 1990). Also see Paperno 1998.2.

At the same time, it is obvious that the religion that for centuries had been determining the country’s life could not vanish into thin air over 3—4 decades. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the ethos of Orthodoxy impacted the behavior of the Soviet man and did not disappear, but has taken different exterior shapes retaining its essence. The article presents the support for this hypothesis. Of course, we by no means insist that the Orthodox ethics was the only reason why the Soviet version of socialism was established in Russia. Nevertheless, we are confident that ignoring this factor (one out of many) would make our understanding of the Soviet socialism’s sources predeterminedly incomprehensive3 See the notion ofconstellation that wasintroduced withinthe methodology ofthe social sciencesby M.Weber (Weber 1990b).3.

The Soviet socialism and its spirit

Before analyzing the possible directions of the Orthodox influence over the “spirit” of the Soviet socialism, it makes sense to determine its “dominant characteristic”. The detailed analysis of the Soviet man’s features is beyond our research, the more especially as a lot of authors had already dealt with this topic4 See, e.g., Mehnert 1961;Levada 1993;for the overview ofthe research literatureon the “Soviet man”see Grushin 2001.4. The solution to the problem defined within this work requires the very vague characteristics of the “Soviet” worldview that was developed in the everyday life. In this case the accounts of the eyewitnesses might be useful. For example, let us turn to the reminiscences of V.Emelyanov, the Associate of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the once employee of the People’s Commissariats of Defense and Shipbuilding Industry, the Chairman of the Standards Committee, who was in the thick of the industrial life in the 1930—50s. Here is the extract out of his book:

“The following episode came to my mind. The tramline was being laid between the city and the ferroalloy village, but due to the lack of the Calcium carbide the construction works were suspended. One called us from the regional committee and asked us to prepare 3 tons of the Calcium carbide for the builders. The time-consuming negotiations between the plant’s director and one of the secretaries started.

— We can not do that without the approval from Moscow. We are dealing with ferroalloys rather than Calcium carbides.

— But could you technically manage that?

— We have never done this before, but the production of Calcium carbide is much easier than that of ferroalloys.

— If it is easier, then just do what the builders are asking for.

— Could you please understand me correctly? I really can not do that without getting the Central Committee’s approval of transferring the stove from one type of the production into another one, all the more so, because we have never produced Calcium carbides.

The perspiration sprang to the director Vlasov’s forehead.

— So what? Should we raise the question of the ferroalloys plant director’s attitude towards the region’s needs in the regional committee?

Vlasov replied he would consider what he might be able to suggest and would report it to the regional committee. One of the stoves was stopped as if it had been under the repair, whereas in reality it was used to produce Calcium carbide”5 Emelyanov 1974:317—318. See alsoAngelina 1948;Kazakov 1982.5.

The extract mentioned above presents the description (importantly, in the language of the Soviet functionary) of the real Soviet production workdays. There are grounds to believe that the spirit that was captured here was present out of the bounds of the “free part of the country” as well. In this sense the reminiscences of Z.Revdel, the former convict in the Norilsk camp, in which he tells not only about the inhuman living conditions, but also about the successes at work, are rather typical: “Our names have always been put on the red board, we received the additional meals, the best ammunition, the right to buy products in the kiosk, the right to receive letters and obtain some privileges set for the best brigades”6 See Gulag 2005.6. It is strange to read the statements of the Gulag’s prisoner from the archive “Memorial” that in terms of their type are utterly congruent with the statements of the leaders of the Stakhanovism. It is true that in the situation when “there is nothing to eat and is blooming cold”, meals and clothes might become an excellent stimulus for trying to “hang on the honors board”. However, if it had been about the rational action, the tone of the description would have been different.

We suppose that a lot of essential features of the Soviet system are reflected in the novel of A.Bek “The New Appointment”. From this standpoint, the description of Onisimov, the novel’s main hero, seems rather interesting:

“However, Onisimov, the one that he used to be at that time, reporting to Stalin the problem of the Eastern-Siberian metallurgy has never thought of the paradoxes, or contradictions of the epoch. He easily escaped those questions that could stir up his Communist mind and consciousness: it’s none of my business, it is no concern of mine, and it is not for me to say. His beloved brother died at prison, he privately bemoaned Vanya, but even then he firmly stood for his motto “Do not think!” For him the expression “the party’s soldier” was not just idle words. Later, when the term “Stalin’s soldier” was invoked, he proudly and, no doubt, rightly considered himself to be such a soldier. He took every meeting with Stalin extremely emotional”7 Bek 1987: 177.7.

It is common knowledge that Bek’s novel points out the important principles of the so called “command-administrative system”8 We remind thatthis term was firstintroduced by G.Popovreferring to nothingelse but the “The NewAppointment”(see Popov 1987).8. However, it seems to us that there is something more important being revealed in the novel. The People’s Commissar Onisimov (a truly strong production worker, who knows in details the specificity of the branch he was trusted with) denies the technologically correct production method for the benefit of the ideologically right, and despite all the difficulties and tragedies tries to bring it into practice. To put it in the language of Weber, one can state that here the “spirit” of Soviet socialism is captured.

The main component of this “spirit” (and of the typical action based on it) seems to be the actor’s confidence that someone else (who is closer to the principal value than he is) knows better what to do. It is the feeling of being a 2nd class person which is often non-verbalized and the doubt (often being concealed, but always present) in being right that makes a person obey the other one. Such submission might not be regarded as a submission, especially if both bearers of the value (for example, “twenty-five-thousanders” or party members) are together with the “ordinary people” who are further from the value. With the contact between them being lost, the system began gradually to decay, although the cultural and social inertness retains its key characteristics for a long time. The idea that there are people who know more than you and therefore, are always right, is being entrenched in the culture.

The destruction of the system described in Bek’s novel started more than half a century ago and it has already been two decades since the moment when the system entirely terminated its existence. However, the spirit that defines its functioning is still present today. It is this spirit that is hidden under the “paternalistic” attitudes of our countrymen and their inherent inclination towards trusting the state with their life as well as the very littlest things.

However, if the cultural and social inertness is the real fact, the Soviet type of a man could not have emerged out of nothing, immediately after 1917, which begs the following question: which circumstances of the Russian history led to the formation and dominance of such character?

It seems that one should look for the answer in the specialties of the Russian Orthodoxy since over the centuries the religious ideas have always been of a key influence over the human’s consciousness. Within the Medieval centuries as well as the Modern epoch there was no other problem that was torturing a person than what would happen to him after death, and these ideas entirely hinged upon his confessional identification.

Despite the powerful pagan, sectarian and the Old Belief’s components, the official Church with its far-reaching network of temples and reproducing layer of clergy apparently played a predominant role in the Russian religious life9 Yushkov 1913;Znamensky 2003.9. Let’s analyze what was specific about the version of Orthodoxy that this Church advocated and how this specificity impacted the Russian society.

The cloistral culture

First, it is important to lock the fact that the role of monkhood in the Russian Orthodoxy was extremely important. It is not only about their spiritual role, but also about rather specific functions that are secondary for the truly religious consciousness, in the first place, such as who “dealt with” the afterlife of the dead, how the money and resources were distributed. According to the ideas that are typical within the Russian Orthodox tradition, it is monks (which the greatest part of the Russian saints emanated from) rather than the secular clergy who could soothe the destiny of the departed and pray for his soul so that it could escape from hell. The continuous flow of money and land resources was directed to the temples as a gratitude for the never-ending prayer10 Milyutin 1862;Kashtanov 1988.10.

The situation was extremely different within Catholicism. Due to the greater centralization of the Church power it was mostly the Curia who had to deal with the departed. As regards temples, facing the cut-throat competition with the cities, universities, banks and the Curia itself they started to decline already in the 13th century11 Moulin 2002:281—284.11.

In Russia the cloisters retained their might not only in the 13—14th centuries, but also in the 19th century12 See Milyutin 1862;Rostislavov 1876.12. By the 16th century they had already possessed one third of the lands in the country13 Klyuchevsky 1993,vol. 1: 548— 565;Smolich 1997.13, and their influence over the peasantry seemed to outdo that of the secular clergy. Up to the end of the 19th century despite all the secularization events the mightiness of the cloisters had not suffered the decisive blow14 Rostislavov 1876;Fedorov 1889.14.

It is worth noticing that the regular clergy played a crucial role in the Church life in the country. Since the Russian Orthodox Church is governed by the Episcopate that is picked from the monks the pressure of the cloistral values had always been stronger here than that within Catholicism, where the top of the church hierarchy contains a lot of representatives of the secular clergy, which supports more transparency to the world15 Gromakovsky 1861.15.

As paradoxical as it might seem, but the connection of the Catholic Church with the world is also supported by the principle of celibacy. Since the Catholic priests are not allowed to have children (legal ones), their ranks are filled with laymen, which inevitably “unlocks” the clergy. In the Orthodox Church that has never banned marriage for the secular clergy, the latter gained the class characteristics rather soon and started the self-reproduction. The priests children were becoming priests and were brought up in the corresponding culture starting with their childhood. Of course, it concerns only the secular clergy, but under the dominance of the regular clergy mentioned above this culture was significantly marked with the cloistral tradition.

Thus one can state that in Russia it is cloisters that exerted a crucial influence over the society’s life on the whole as well as the formation of an individual’s psychology. Therefore, searching for the relevant ethical categories, we should in the first place allude to the cloistral ones.

Obedience and humbleness as the key categories of the Orthodox ethics

Trying to answer the question which categories the monkhood was driven by in their activity vis-à-vis the secular world (in other words, within their economic activity), we inevitably face a number of difficulties. First, throughout its development the Russian language has undergone several fundamental changes16 Danilevsky 1998:16

17 7—20; Kolesov 2005.17. Second, due to the discontinuous nature and sometimes the direct project-oriented character of the Russian history (the project of Moscow as the Third Rome, the project of Peter I, the bolshevist project) the events that took place in different time periods require the analysis within the different systems of coordinates. Third, there were moments in the Russian history when the eschatological expectations increased (for instance, both right before the year of 1492 and long after it18 Danilevsky 2000;Borisov 2004.18), and the spiritual sentiments under the conditions of the looming apocalyptic feelings must have significantly differed from those in the “quiet” times. Therefore, the reconstruction of the ethical component of the ancient Russian Orthodoxy is a rather hard task.

In this case we decided to replace the historical research method by the ethnographical one and try to form the opinion of the antecedents by studying their descendants. We have undertaken the participant observation in the temples of the Russian Orthodox Church19 For some ofthe results of this researchsee Zabaev 2007a. Theempirical part of the work thatis linked to the trip to the FarEastern and Siberian federaldistricts in 2004, was conductedwith the financial support fromthe Institute for the Civil Analysis.19 and after that compared the obtained categories with those that were used by the monks before the Revolution in the written texts, preaches etc.

In Weber’s works dedicated to salvation-oriented religions the key issue of the ethics was transformed into the following questions: 1) about the principal good and the ways how to reach it; 2) about the specific form of the human action that encourages the obtainment of the principal good. In its turn, the latter question splits into 3 parts within Christianity: what does a person have to do to get his salvation? does his salvation depend on her actions at all? how big is the role of the human action in her salvation (in comparison with the actions of God)?20 Weber 1990a:136—184.20

Based on Weber’s ideas we have defined the problem as follows: which Orthodox ethical ideas are relevant in the economic practice of the Orthodox actors?

In other words, which of the categories regarding the economy and the human’s place within this economic “cosmos” used by the Orthodox “religious virtuosos” (Weber’s term) are other believers driven by in the specific economic situations21 A lot of works on theOrthodox view on labor havebeen published by our time(see, e.g., Afanasyev 1993;Glagolev 1993; Holodkov 1993;Gloveli 1993; Koval 1994a,b;Faltzmann 2000; Zhizhko 2000;Gvozdev 2001; Gelvanovsky 2001;Kandalintsev 2001; Nazarchuk 2001;Zarubina 2001). For the criticism ofthese authors’ ideas see Zabaev 2007b.21?

It appeared that the key categories that the modern monks operate with in their internal communications as well as in their preaching encouragement of the economic activity to the lay people can be traced back at least to the 19th century. We’ll briefly describe the logic of the Orthodox action (it was restored on the basis of the analysis of the modern cloistral communes’ economic practices).

In order to solve the key problems the Orthodox actors use the categories of the God’s will and God’s providence. The category of the God’s will becomes relevant concerning the human role in his own salvation. The Orthodox answer is that the human freedom, including the freedom of action, is a real force and the human salvation largely hinges upon him. Therefore, the main task of an individual is to explore his own freedom and to direct his own will towards the good. The Orthodox actor should behave as such so that his will can be consistent with the God’s one. Orthodoxy “offers” the actor a number of practices that allow him to come closer to this goal.

One of the most important practices (and consequently, the categories that describe these practices) is obedience. This practice is based on the idea that since the God’s will is always “the right one”, then the best choice for a person is to trust the God’s will with his life and do whatever it orders. Thus, the two wills will be congruent and the salvation will be reached. In the real life the best people to explain the God’s will are those who are more experienced in the spiritual or any other sphere (including secular bosses). Here it is possible to lock the key distinction between the Orthodox and the Protestant ethics, as M.Weber described it. Both state that the God’s will is always “the right one” and it is better for a person to be consistent (follow in one direction) with it. However, according to the Protestants the indicator of being congruent with the God’s will is being materially successful, whereas the Orthodox Christians believe it is the opinion of a person closer to God that matters.

While within Protestantism the indicator of being the selected is the same material success, within Orthodoxy it is humbleness. Humbleness is a specific state of an individual and his spirit. While the success is reached through the Beruf (profession/vocation), the humbleness is obtained through obedience: “Obedience is an entire denial of one’s own soul, which is reflected in the body actions... Obedience is a coffin of one’s own soul, reanimation of humbleness”22 See Reverend John Lestvichnik 1995: 33.22. The Russian language adds some difficulties here, but it allows to understand which character the target category should possess. Similarly, as the word Beruf in German means both profession and vocation, the Russian word for “obedience” implies attitude towards the God’s will as well as the method of its realization (for instance, in a cloister a provisor or a hegumen “distribute obediences”)23 For more comprehensive comparison between the Orthodox and the Protestant motivation of the economic action see Zabaev 2007a. For the debates on the key categories of the economic ethics of Catholicism see Fanfani 2003.23.

Another important point is that human desires usually lead to a sin. Therefore, only after having learned how to deny his own will, an individual will find himself on the way to salvation. In this connection, many Orthodox practices are targeted at the human ability to deny his will in any given situation. It is this logic that views bosses as the more experienced ones in the secular activities. Whichever strange things he might demand, the Orthodox Christian must stay “obedient”. One can raise an objection against the boss, but if he rejects it, then one should accept it and do whatever was required.

Originally, the idea of obedience described the correlation between the human will and the God’s one (or, which is by and large the same, the correlation between deeds and faith) with the aim to come to salvation. However, similarly to that how in Protestantism the category of the vocation was fused with the “profession”, such correlation of wills was embodied in the economic life of the “religious virtuosos”. One way or another, in the cloistral charters as well as the practice obedience and labor became if not synonyms, then at least the contiguous notions24 In the Orthodox cloistersobedience takes abouthalf of the day and istied to performing laboroperations ordered bythe hegumen.24.

Following the ethnographic method, we can assume that similar ethical principles had determined the monks’ life even before the revolution. The reference to the sources proves the hypothesis.

Cloister and the world: contact points

Having stressed the leading role of cloisters in the Russian Orthodox culture and demonstrated the categories that regulated their economic activity, let’s try to answer the question whether the cloistral ethics penetrated into the world and if it did, then how. Of course, now it is hardly possible to accurately evaluate the cloistral influence, however, one can try to make a special “bottom-up” judgment to determine the minimal extent of such impact.

In the process of solving this problem one should above all allude to such a memorial of the Orthodox thought as “Domostroi”. Despite all the difficulties in analyzing “Domostroi”25 Kolesov 2001:301—356;Horikhin 2004.25, it seems obvious that this text that was created (took the final shape that is known to us today) in the 16th century should be marked with the religiousness that many authors writing about Orthodoxy considered to be its “ideal” expression26 See, e.g., Klibanov 1996; Fedotov 2001—2004.26. “Domostroi” is known to have been widely spread among the educated laymen (craft people)27 Pouncy 1994.27 and to have been the only text describing the Orthodox ethics of the laity vis-à-vis the world and secular deeds.

The categories of obedience, humbleness, punishment and lecture are of paramount importance in the memorial’s text. “Lecture” and “obedience” regulate the relations among people with different statuses. A priest should lecture a layman, layman should lecture his wife, and both of them — their children. The category of obedience works out vice versa: children should obey their parents, a wife to a husband, a husband to a Duke or churchmen28 Kolesov,Rozhdestvenskaya 2001:134—136.28.

It is also of significance that in the period of the confrontation between the two types of culture in Russia — the people’s and the intellectual one — the intellectuals of almost all directions (A.Herzen, N.Chernyshevski, N.Dobrolyubov, D.Pisarev, A.Chekhov, L.Tolstoy, K.Aksakov and many others) in their descriptions of the people’s life used nothing else but the category of the “Domostroi”. Here are the words of the populist N.Shchelgunov: “Domostroi was ubiquitous, in all notions, within all social classes, ranging from the village huts to the landlords houses. Everywhere there was the domostroi’s “rod”, everywhere from the very beginning an individual felt being pressed and forced with its personal feelings lacking any space and any chance of expression and as some oil being squeezed out into the old odious forms”29 Shchelgunov1885: 497—498.29.

Let’s now turn to the contact zone between cloisters and the world in the 19th century when as many think the religiousness of the people had already faded away. What was the extent of the influence, let’s say, of the Solovetsky cloister over the laymen and who exactly was influenced by it? Along with the monks themselves, nearly 600 “trudniks” (laymen laborers) who stayed for a year or more, almost 12 000 pilgrims who spent there only several days, and nearly 200 wage laborers, that is about 13 000 people, annually visited the convent, or lived either there or in the vicinity30 See Fedotov 1889.30. This number is rather modest. For comparison, in the same time period the Lavra of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius annually received about 300 000 people, the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra — 400 000. Moreover, it happened that at one day up to 80 000 people were gathered Kievo-Perchesrkaya Lavra, up to 60 000 in the Kurskaya Korennaya Lavra, and up to 20 000 in the Nilov Lavra etc.31 Fedorov 1889:134, Rostislavov 1876.31 Given that in the second half of the 19th century in Russia there were around 828 cloisters32 More than 58000monks, sisters, obedientslived there (Zyryanov 2002: 19).32, about 10% of the then country’s population were in contact with them.

Which ideas and how did the cloisters preach to all these people? One can obtain an idea on that from the description of the Solovetsky Cloister in P.Fedorov’s work cited above33 Fedorov 1889.33. Apart from the ordinary oral preaching, the Solovetsky monks turned to metaphoric preaching. One of the most significant place in the cloister was the picture gallery that was overcrowded practically from morning till night. According to Fedorov, the ideas that the pilgrims were indoctrinated with through the collected pictures in essence came down to the following:

“1. Solovky is a sacred and blessed place that is under the direct tutelage of the Saints... and therefore, here the prayer before them is especially meaningful and powerful.

2. The best and the most efficient method of propitiating the God and escaping the demons’ power and Gehenna torments is a prayer...

2. God is the Stern Judge of all human deeds who punishes people for their Earth life sins through the torments in hell, and therefore the first feeling towards him is fear...”34 Ibid.: 136—137.34

Thus, it can be seen that the cloister preached the ideas of fear, worship and humbleness before the stern God as well as the idea that there are defenders being able to save a person from the Gehenna torments. The prayer, respect and worship of the defenders — saints and monks — should have helped in that. To put it differently, the preaching of the Solovetsky cloister was based on the same categories of humbleness and obedience being only a little modified so that to be adjusted to the world’s conditions. The basic scheme stayed intact: there is always someone who knows the right way and can defend you. And this someone has the right to punish a person in the name of the same authority that he stands up for a person before. (In the parish the central place in this scheme was occupied by the priest who replaced both the saint and the monk.) Therefore, it is better to comply with what has been said by the priest or the monk, regardless of what seems to be right for the actor himself according to the secular laws. It is this idea that all the requests to the saints and vows are based on.

Let’s stop on the content of the monks preaching to laymen. We’ll start with the views of the famous Saint of the 19th century Ignatius Brianchaninov citing some abstracts out of his “Lesson for the ordinary people during their visit to the Eparchy”:

“Let us talk about how to save ourselves, how to propitiate the God, how to escape the bitter hell, how to inherit the sweet paradise... Those who want to be saved should belong to one saint Orthodox Church, should be its loyal son and comply with its rules... The dissenter and the heretic are alien to humbleness in the same way as the demon is... The dissenters observe the long-lasting and hard fasts, spent their nights praying, but alas! They work hard but do that in vain and fruitlessly because they do not want to humble... The true humbleness results from obedience, said St. Ioann Lestvichnick... Without the obedience to the Church there is no humbleness; without humbleness there is no salvation”35 36 Brianchaninov 2001,vol. 4: 453— 454.35.

It is to be noted that salvation it tightly linked by the Saint to humbleness and obedience — the obedience to the Church. The same ideas can be found in the works of the St. Theophan the Recluse, in particular, in his “Letters on the Christian life”:

“Who has bothered you with the question how to find salvation that much? Just as if it had not been solved yet, and we were the first ones to deal with that!.. How many saved do we know? How did they obtain their salvation? In the Church of the Christ. Let him live as the Church says, and he will attain his salvation”36 St. Theophanthe Recluse 1997:123—124.36.

The categories presented in these abstracts and the connections between them are very similar to the results that we received within the research on the cloisters and the observation of their brethrens economic practice. However, what is of importance here, is that these authors wrote for the laymen and were recommended to us in the cloisters exactly as the authors targeted at the laymen.

Lastly, it should be emphasized that the secular clergy, including parish priests, knew these norms firsthand and followed them at least in their circle. Within the religious schools it was mostly the monks who taught there, and the internal regulations of these schools were based on the cloistral pattern. In the reminiscences of the seminarians one can find a lot of descriptions of how humbleness and obedience were “inculcated”37 See, e.g., Pomyalovsky1953; Nikitin 1955.37. In this sense the work of D.Rostislavov is rather discernable since it contains the specific chapters on the “religious school obedience” and the “religious school humbleness”38 Rostislavov 1863,vol. 2: 59—88.38.

Epitomizing what has been said so far, one can state that no less than 10% of the Russian Empire’s population (in the European Russia this number is far greater) were in direct contact with the cloisters and absorbed the ethical norms that were preached by those. Moreover, many accepted those norms through the preaching of the parish clergy who had learned them in the religious seminaries.

Culture bearers

Even if the fact that the main principles of the cloistral Orthodoxy such as humbleness and obedience had been actively preached into the world can be considered as proven, it is far from being sufficient for the continuity of the Soviet ethics vis-à-vis Orthodoxy. However, although there is no doubt that the cloistral norms were spread in the secular circles, all the laymen by no means followed their norms in their everyday life. Is their any other evidence of these norms’ influence over the everyday life? Where should one search for such evidence at all?

If we turn to the logic of Weber’s argument, it is easy to come across the inarguable “flaw” that was used by the author’s opponents in the criticism of his conception. If the Western capitalism was caused by the everyday Protestant practices with their special features, how then was it possible that every Protestant appeared to be indoctrinated with the corresponding religious practices? It is obvious that every (or typical) Protestant could not have appeared to be the “religious virtuoso”!39 See Sombart 1931, 1994; Ginzburg 2004; Samuelson 1964.39

The reply to the critics was provided by the famous English historian H.R.Trevor-Roper40 Trevor-Roper 1967.40. It is true that capitalism was created by a relatively small number of people, but these people were inevitably concentrated in the nodal points of the society. It is these people who financed wars and served in the Kings’ courts etc. These people were “Erasmians”41 The term “Eras-41

42 mians”was coined by H.R.Trevor-Roper;the followers of ErasmusRoterodamus did not callthemselves with this word.42, the educated lay Catholics, whose religiousness was substantially different from that of the monks and the mob and implied rather sincere attitude towards the faith and their secular vocation. As Trevor-Roper emphasizes, “the idea of vocation had also been common before Protestantism. It has always been present in the works of Erasmus Roterodamus who appreciated the inner pietism of a layman who is actively following her vocation much more than the self-complacence of lazy monks gaining more sanctity due to the robes they wear and the “mechanic” piety they practice”43 Trevor-Roper1967: 25.43. Under the pressure of the Catholic Church that was bolstered by the medieval city republics authorities these educated lay Catholics were forced out of the centers of the old capitalism into those regions where the religious nuances were treated more tolerantly. As a result, in the middle of the 17th century both in the Catholic as well as the Protestant countries the great “Calvinist” entrepreneurs who were viewed as the international force, the European economic elite being capable of mobilizing industry and commerce appeared to be near the chair of the authority44 Ibid.: 26.44.

State as a “backbone” of the Russian life

Thus, stepping back to the Russian material we have to answer two questions: where are the key (nodal) points of the Soviet society and did the bearers of the Orthodox ethics, or the Orthodox culture, have accesses (connection) to them?

We’ll analyze these problems one by one emphasizing only the main points, which will be enough to support the hypothesis.

So, the nodal points of the Russian world. Who (or what) was the main subject of the Russian history? The answer to this question seems to be much clearer in case of Russia than that of the West. In the West, one can ascribe the subjectiveness and the independence of the action (at different times) to the Church, feudal lords, kings and state, cities and universities, bourgeois and capital, and finally, the allod owners45 See, e.g., Le Goff 1992;Pirenne 2001; Weber 2001;Braudel 2006.45. In Russia the direction of the country’s development was dictated by the state. The state harbored the Church on its territory and supported it while it was necessary, after which the swift and decisive secularization methods were undertaken46 Smolich 1997;Susokolov 2006.46. While in the West the cities emerged as a result of the free formation of the city commune, in Russia they used to be the outposts of the state’s attack on the Great steppe and the border points47 Weber 2001;Susokolov 2006.47. The allod owners in Europe possessed not only the land, but also the right of ownership inherited from the Roman law, whereas in Russia the state artificially maintained the life of the peasant communes using them for the fiscal goals. Nor was it better with business and capital (it is enough to remember the famous debate between Lenin and Plekhanov). Along with the Moscow Old Believers’ “individual” capital there was the no less powerful St.-Petersburg state capital48 Radaev 1995:159—180.48 that by the end of the 19th century started to step by step “outdo” the Moscow group49 Ryabushinsky 1994.49 etc.

If we turn to more specific social categories, the question will arise: who was the embodiment of the state and consequently, who had the control over the nodal points of the country’s life? The answer is rather obvious: the bureaucrats. The cohesiveness of the Russian state is secured by the unity of the narrow layer of bureaucrats and not by the unity of the laws or the people. As regards to the lack of the one culture, language and people everything is clear: Russia is the multiethnic and multilanguage state. What is harder to grasp is that it is not the unity of the laws that constitutes the cohesive Russia. However, one should understand the difference between the law’s status in Russia and in the West. While in the West the law was an agreement between the relatively independent actors such as the King, the Church, feudals, and others, and its violation provoked a war since the forces were often equal, in Russia the law was the framework that described the minimal action, under which the state could accuse a person of having committed something “illegal”. The law in Russia has always been written in such a way that the legislator (who is also the executor) had the opportunity to control other subjects and in case of necessity bring them to account. Therefore, it is practically impossible to do anything “legal” in Russia, which is obvious in the first place for the bureaucrats.

What are then the bureaucrats driven by and how is the unity of the country maintained? To all appearances, they are driven by what was called in the Soviet time the “party line”50 See, e.g.,Berlin 2001.50. The sovereign or the party defined “the line”, or the direction of the development as being above the laws and setting goals for the country’s movement. Determining which projects should be accepted and which ones denied, for which one can spend the extra money and for which can not (stealing for the benefit of the state will be forgiven, otherwise nothing can be done at all51 Of course, the directcorruption has alwaysexisted, but it is wrongto restrict the wholebureaucratic activity tothe personal enrichment.51), the bureaucrats seem to orient towards this very “line”. In this case the procedure and the legislature appear to play the secondary role being used to justify one or another actions.

Popovitches and the world

Having found out that the key points of Russia were the “public offices” (that is where the state was present) and the state’s activity was determined by the “party line” (it was all the same in the Soviet times as well as at any other period) we can turn to answering the second set of questions: who penetrated into those points and how they were related to the Orthodox culture bearers. However, before solving this problem let’s one more time step back to the spiritual layer. In the 18—19th century the Russian state’s strict strata scheme has undergone an important change that in the future played a crucial role in the country’s life.

By the 18th century Russia had faced the acute problem of the “overproduction” of the churchmen. The thing is that the clergy was the closed layer and its abandonment was banned by the law. The birth indicators among the clergy were rather high (for every marriage there was on average about 5—6 children52 Mironov 2000,vol. 1: 179.52), although only one person could inherit the parish — in fact, at the designated period the place of the parish priest was transferred from the father to the son. There were no parishes left for the others. Therefore, the temporal administration took the decision on the voluntary as well as the forced “dispersal of the clergy”. In other words, the “superfluous” popovitches (popovitch — the son of the priest) who could not inherit the parish were transferred into other estates — bureaucratic clerks, army soldiers etc. Following the results of the “dispersal”, in 1876 nearly one third of the popovitches were transferred into other classes (34 400 out of 105 800): 28% were ascribed to the bureaucratic clerks, 67% to the town citizens, 5% to the peasants. Up to the year of 1831 when 5022 popovitches53 Mironov 2000,vol. 1: 134—135.53 were turned into recruits the forced transfer into the soldiers had also continued.

In such situation some of the clergy’s children had a chance to choose their future on their own. Lacking an opportunity or a desire to serve the God in the status of the priest they opted for the secular professions and service to the nation. The popovitches in most cases chose careers of scientists, doctors or teachers54 Manchester 1995, 1998.54 (these professions that have always been and still are considered the most justified in terms of moral from the Orthodox culture standpoint). The result was rather curious: although the total part of the clergy did not exceed 1% of the Russian population (est. 1858), the percentage of the popovitches among teachers reached 35%, whereas among civil doctors — 30%55 Mironov 2000,vol. 1: 134—135.55.

Furthermore, the state necessitated literate people for conducting the clerical work, and since almost half of the primary and secondary schools were church and parish schools and seminaries the significant part of the literate people were of the church background56 See Karnovich 1911.56. It is no accidence that popovitches were often ascribed to the clerks, and many of them became bureaucrats. Moreover, some part of the popovitches chose the public service on their own. So if we take a look at the statistical data on the social origins of bureaucrats, the picture will be rather similar to that with doctors and teachers (see Table 1).

Some popovitches chose the public service from the career perspective since after obtaining a particular rank they could enter the gentry57 Mironov 2000,vol. 1: 133.57. Others really wanted to dedicate themselves to their country’s good, their tsar and the people, and they considered the best path to reach that was the public service58 Manchester 1998:50—76.58. The most discernable example of the popovitch’s career is the one of M.Speransky. By the way, along with Speransky such people as N.Chernyshevsky, N.Dobrolyubov, E.Zamyatin, I.Pavlov, S.Soloviev, V.Klyuchevsky and many other famous figures also were popovitches59 Leontieva, s.a.59.

To conclude, within the state apparatus there has always been some percentage (which was rather high) of the clergy children who, as we might remember, were bearers of the humbleness and obedience ethics that they absorbed in the family and seminaries. Furthermore, we must taken into account that the seminaries influence spread not only over the clergy and popovitches, but also other foster-sons who were of various backgrounds and did not intend to tread the church path. I.Stalin60 On the role of theseminarian education inStalin’s life see Vaiskopf2002; Radzinsky 2007.60 also studied at the seminary. A.Mikoyan graduated from the seminary as well. This list can be easily continued.

The only step left is to analyze what happened to the tsar bureaucrats — the state’s backbone — after the revolution.

Bureaucrats after the revolution

The great deal of the scientific literature within the New Economic Policy period was dedicated to the process of bureaucratization of the young Soviet state. The scientists argued that one of the most important reasons for that lied in the fact that the substantial part of the state apparatus including its higher levels, was filled with the former tsar’s clerks61 See, e.g., Larin1923: 78—79;Kritzman 1924: 144.61.

It is true that the young Soviet state didn’t have time to create its own professionals. Therefore, in spite of the ideological attitudes of the new power, the Soviet people’s commissariats and companies had to resort to the services of the “bourgeois experts”. Having analyzed the social origins of the panels members within the most important people’s commissariats in the 1920s, E.Gimpelson found out that they “belonged to different social classes: teachers, priests, gentry, town citizens, and least of all to workers and peasants”62 Gimpelson 2001: 11.62. Describing the principles of the Soviet state apparatus formation, the authors of the monograph “History of the state management in Russia” under the editorship of R.Pikhoya stressed that “the cadres of the state apparatus also came out of the former staff members that successfully passed the interview and proved to be loyal to the Soviet power. During the early revolutionary period the bureaucrats of the former ministries constituted a rather big part of the new authority. In 1918, for instance, they accounted for 58.8% in the People’s Commissariat for Agriculture, 60.9% in the People’s Commissariat of Health Care, 72.4% in the People’s Commissariat for Naval Affairs. Even such specifically “protective” bodies as People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, Revtribunal, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee or the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission, possessed 46.2, 36.8, and 16.1% of the “old” specialists, correspondingly”63 Pikhoya 2001: 251.63.

All of this suggests that it is the bourgeois experts who were brought up within the Orthodox ethics or at least had some idea of what it was that accounted for the core of the ministries and agencies of the new power. It is highly possible that they were also integrated into Stalin’s nomenclature that was constructed at that time. One should also remember that at that time a lot of people concealed their social status since in the vortex of the revolution and war it was rather easy to turn into “a man from the oppressed class64 Fitzpatrick 1990: 6.64.

***

All in all, the analysis that we’ve conducted finds support for the hypothesis about the influence of the religious factor over the development of the Russian version of socialism. Referring to the logic of Weber’s work “Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism” we’ve revealed the categories that played a crucial role in Russian people life before the revolution. We came to the conclusion that these categories were “obedience” and “humbleness”. It is obedience and humbleness that the Orthodox person could come to salvation (the main value in Orthodoxy) through. In everyday life such attitudes were easily transformed into the readiness to obey the “senior”. Once having been formed, they appeared to be very stable, and being cut from their religious roots provided for the specific value of “self-sacrifice” in the secular world.

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