It is for a long time that we are on friendly footing with Fyodor Mikhailovich, ever since I’ve been writing a dissertation on his works. So it wasn’t hard to agree an interview. I came to the bookshelf, cast a look on greenish rows of thirty-volume academic collected works edition, once read to tatters and smudges, and, imitating another classical author, questioned: ‘So what, brother Dostoyevsky?’
‘Well, brother, it’s so’, he replied. ‘So-so, somehow, everything goes’.
A great eccentric he is!
Unfortunately, people are extremely reluctant to read classics, and once they do it, they don’t seem to ever ponder on its content. It relates not only to ordinary voters, but also politicians, political scientists, spin doctors, reporters. Otherwise they would be aware of that all this once happened…
Anyway, the interview with Dostoyevsky. All the words of classic are true, I took them from his famous ‘Writer’s Diary’. It’s striking how emotions, observations, appreciations, definitions coincide – just as though it was actually said yesterday evening, not century and a half ago.
– Fyodor Mikhailovich, how could you estimate the last summer events: Crimea’s reunification with Russia and war in the Donbas region, where, along with the locals, some volunteers from our country are fighting?
– Do you know that this summer will be recorded in our history? It became nearly an epoch for the conscience of Russian man. First, a people idea has risen and a people feeling took its word: it is a feeling of unselfish love for their unhappy and oppressed brothers… [originally it was said about the summer of 1876 and abolishing war which Montenegro and Serbia conducted against Turkey, where Russian volunteers had taken an active part – author].
It has proven that there are far more Russians, true Russians, than many previously supposed. And it is not theory, on the contrary, it has been signified as a fact – in the very present day Russian movement, which is fraternal and unselfish up to the conscious preparedness to sacrifice even their most essential, even, let it be so, peace relations with Europe.
The very rumours and speculations on political and social decomposition of Russian society as nationality, which has long strengthened in Europe, shall now undoubtedly be severely refuted in its eyes: once need comes, Russians are able to unify, that’s become obvious.
– And what’s about Russian volunteers’ participation in the Donbas war?
– That Russian officers and retired soldiers enroll themselves into militia troops, it increased all the time and goes on progressively. They might say: ‘these are lost persons, who have nothing to do at home, they went away only to leave for somewhere, as they’re careerists and adventurers’. Nonetheless, it is the fact that these ‘adventurers’, according to multiple and precise data, accepted no money profit, and mostly even had difficulties to get to the place. It is the fact that some of them, while remaining on the service, would by no doubt lose in their career advance with their, even though temporary, resignation. In spite of this, no matter who they are, what we hear and read of their deeds? They die by dozens in battles and do their business heroically; the young army of rebel Slavs is now firmly rooted in them. This heroically blood shed of theirs will not be forgotten and it will be reckoned. No, they are not adventurers: they consciously start a new era. These are pioneers of Russian political ideas, Russian wishes and Russian will, which they have declared before Europe.
– How far, to your opinion, could reach the present success of Donbas militia?
– Should God send success to Slavs, then which limit of success will Europe allow them to gain? Will she let them pull ‘the sick man’ out of bed entirely away? [originally Turkey was meant by ‘the sick man of Europe, while we are talking about Ukraine, undoubtedly ‘sick man’ of modern Europe – author]. The last is very hard to be supposed. Aren’t they more likely, on the opposite, to decide, upon a new and solemn consilium, to cure him once again? Thus Slavs’ efforts, even in case of a very great success, could be rewarded only with much more weak palliatives. Novorossiya [Serbia in the text of D. – author] has advanced to the field, relying on its strength, but, certainly as it is, she knows it is only Russia that her ultimate destiny depends on; she knows, only Russia will save her from perdition once a great disaster occurs – and that the same Russia, by its powerful influence, will help her retain the possible maximum of profit, once the things go luckily. Being aware of this and hoping for Russia, she also recognizes that all Europe is looking towards Russia with latent mistrustfulness and Russia is now concerned.
– And how will our relationship with Europe now develop, in your vision?
– Well, one more time a collision with Europe (oh, it’s still not war: we, i. e. Russia, are said to be far from the war), and it is with incredulity that we’re looked at in Europe… But, after all, what for shall we proceed with the race for European trust? We are not Europe at all, and everything is so special within us that we are almost moonsitters in comparison with Europe. Nothing it is that we haven’t done in order that Europe acknowledged us as hers, as Europeans, as just only Europeans, not Tartars. We thrust into Europe every minute tirelessly, we ourselves asked for getting involved into any of her deals and deeds.
– So what have we achieved?
– Strange results: mainly in that everyone in Europe looks at us with sneer, while the best and assuredly intelligent Russians are looked at with haughty indulgence. Europeans, they didn’t wish to esteem us as peers at no cost, for no sacrifices and in no case: scratch Russian, and you’ll find a Tartar, and it is so until now. We have entered into their proverb. And the more we despised our nationality for their sake, the more they scorned us ourselves. We wagged in front of them, we obsequiously confessed our ‘European’ views and beliefs to them, and they haughtily closed their ears to us, usually adding with polite smile, as if willing to untie as soon as possible, that we generally ‘misapprehended’ them.
– What is the matter, to your mind, of the fact that the West is obstinate to take no notice of the crimes against civilians committed by the ruling Ukrainian regime in the course of so called anti-terrorist operation?
– All Europe, at least her foremost representatives, those very persons and nations, which shouted against slavery, eliminated the trade of negroes, destroyed despotism at theirs, declared the right of humankind, created the science and marveled the world with its power, inspired and excited the human soul by the arts and its sacred ideals; kindled delight and faith in human hearts, promising them in the nearest future justice and verity, – so those very peoples and nations suddenly, all (almost all) are now altogether turning away from millions of unhappy creatures – Christians, human beings, brothers of theirs, perishing, disgraced, – and waiting, waiting hopefully, impatiently, when they crush them all like reptiles and bugs and when all these desperate claiming screams for their salvation will be silenced at the end – these cries, which annoy Europe and make her anxious.
Moreover, they dispute the facts, they deny them in the people parliaments, they don’t believe, pretend they don’t believe. Each of these people chieftains knows inwardly that it is true, and all one by one avert their eyes: ‘It’s false, it hasn’t happened, it’s exaggerated, they themselves have beaten sixty thousands of theirs…’ ‘Your Excellence, she has whipped herself!’ Khlestakovs, Skvoznik-Dmukhanovskys are in trouble! But why all this comes to pass, what is it that these people are afraid of, why don’t they want neither to see, nor to hear, but lie to themselves and dishonor themselves? You see, here is Russia: ‘Russia will get stronger, Russia will take the East, Constantinople, Mediterranean sea, ports, trade. Russia will invade Europe as a barbaric horde and ‘terminate the civilization’ (namely that very one which permits such barbarities!) That’s what they cry in England and Germany, and, once again, lie, all without exception, while not believing in a single word of these accusations and cautions. All these are just words to agitate the people masses for hatred.
– What has Russia to do in this situation? How should she justify herself in the eyes of simple people in the West?
– Russia should act justly – that’s the full answer on the question. Let the English PM distort the truth in front of the parliament for political reasons and officially inform it that sixty thousands of Bulgarians weren’t assassinated by Turks, by Bashibuzuks, but some genuine Slavs did it, – and let all the parliament trust him for political reasons and silently approve his lies: nothing of this kind can happen in Russia, and it must not. Some will say: but Russia cannot move ahead towards her clear disadvantage? But, let us think, what are the advantages for Russia? The Russia’s benefit is pointedly in that in need she assumes even clear disadvantage, clear sacrifice, let only the justice remain unviolated. Russia can not betray a great idea, bequeathed to her by the row of centuries and which she so far steadily followed. This idea includes, inter alea, full unification of Slavs; but this full unification shall not be performed by capture and violence, but carried out for the sake of totally serving to the humankind. And when, and how often, did Russia act in policy compliant to her direct profit? Didn’t she serve, on the contrary, more often to alien interests with unselfishness, which could make Europe wonder, if she was able to look clearly and, inversely, if she wasn’t always looking on us incredulously, suspiciously and hatefully. And it is general rule in Europe not to trust to unselfishness, to nobody and in nothing, not only to Russian unselfishness, – they would rather trust to dodgery and stupidness. Nevertheless, we should not fear their judgments: in this dedicated unselfishness of Russia – all her vigor, so to say, all her personality and all the future of Russian destination are present.
– But there are people in Russia, who adhere to this ‘European position’ – not acquainted to you, although, because of age – Boris Nemtsov, Alexey Navalny, Dmitry Bykov, Victor Shenderovich, Andrei Makarevich.
– Yes, actually there are, and always were, such Russians (many of whom are known by name), who not only refused to neglect the European civilization, but, to the contrary, worshiped it to such a degree that even used to lose the last remnants of their Russian feeling, lost their Russian identity, lost their language, changed native country…
Why, they use to say, we have all of these things not like they’re in Europe? They have robust currency everywhere in Europe, while our rouble is foul. So why aren’t we Europe, what for aren’t we Europe? A European formula is needed, they affirm, and everything will be safe; to apply, to pick up from a ready to use chest, then right in that moment Russia will become Europe and rouble will be thaler. The principal thing, so pleasant in these mechanical soothings – no need to ponder on, and all the more to suffer and shy… Why thinking, why racking our brains with a risk of headache; just to take something already prepared from aliens – and immediately the music starts, a harmonic concerto –
Close to each other sitting,
We’ll have a good meeting.
And what about that you are still not skilled musicians, the fact ultimately prevalent, gentlemen?
– That is, you would like to say, these persons remind you Ivan Krylov’s fable heroes?
– Ok, one gentleman, advanced and inclined to sermonize, imagine he takes his seat in front of you and starts talking: no ends, no beginnings, everything is inconsistent and rolled into a tangle. It takes him hour and a half to speak, and, the main, he speaks so sweetly and smoothly, just like a bird’s singing. You ask yourself, whether he is intelligent or of any other sort – and you cannot decide. Each word is seemed to be intelligible and clear, but in the whole it is hard to discern, you just see, that here is an eloquent hen, which carries some wildfowl instead of eggs. You’ll bulge your eyes in the end, with your mind being doped.
– Is there any future for Russian liberals, to your opinion?
– I hear, I forebode, even see that new elements arise and move on, thirsty for a new word, being in sorrow of old liberal sneers over any word of hope on Russia, of that old previous liberal and toothless skepticism, of those deadmen, who weren’t buried in time and still count themselves as a young generation, of old liberal – master and savior of Russia, who’s better to be signed as a ‘senseless bazaar crier’, according to folk expression.
– There’s nothing suitable in Europe then, isn’t it?
– This is a tremendous and sacred thing, Europe! Oh, if you only knew, gentlemen, how dear it is for us, Slavophile dreamers, Europe-haters, as compliant to you – this very Europe, this ‘country of holy miracles’! Do you know, how dear are these ‘miracles’ to us and how we love and esteem, it is more than brotherly how we love and esteem great tribes, which inhabit her, together with all great and fair things they have done. Do you really know, to what tears and heart contractions are we tormented and agitated by the destiny of this dear and native to us country, how much are we troubled of these gloomy clouds, which more and more envelop her horizon? Never did you, gentlemen, our Europeans and Westerners, love Europe to the extent of that of ours, Slavophile dreamers, who are, to your mind, primordial foes of hers!
– Why, in your vision, at least a huge part of independent Ukraine is in such anti-Russian mood?
– They will start their new living right from the point that they shall solicit, e. g., from Europe, from England and Germany, some warranties and protectorate over their freedom, and, although Russia also would be within the concert of European states, but they will do that precisely in defense against Russia. They will surely start with that inwardly, once not strictly aloud, they shall declare to themselves, and then they’ll convince themselves, that they aren’t obliged to Russia with a smallest amount of gratitude; no, on the contrary, they’ve scarcely escaped from Russian ambitions, and should Europe not intervene, Russia would swallow them immediately, ‘implying widening borders and foundation of a great Panslavic empire on the basis of enslaving Slavs to the greedy, sly and barbaric Great-Russian tribe’. They will uninterruptedly tremble for their freedom and fear Russia’s ambitions; they will curry favor with European states, they will defame Russia, gossip on her and intrigue against her. A special pleasure it would be for liberated Slavs to express and blow to the whole world that they relate to the tribes of educated kind, which are easy to adopt the supreme European culture, while Russia is a barbarian state, a dark northern colossus, even not of pure Slavic blood, a pursuer and hater of European civilization. Of course, from the very beginning they will establish constitutional rule, parliaments, responsible ministers, orators, speeches. They will be exceedingly soothed and excited with that. They will be in ecstasy while reading telegrams about themselves in London and Paris papers.
– It is quite what’s going on, Fyodor Mikhailovich. What kind of Panslavic unity could it be spoken of nowadays?
– Europe would by all means wish to get the Slavs under her guardianship, so to say, steel them from us and, when possible, set them up forever against Russia and Russians. Oh, let it be anything but Russians, anything for that Russia be somehow separated from Slavs’ views and thoughts, erased even from their memory! Russia should be seriously get ready to that all these abolished Slavs will enthusiasticaly rush into Europe, infect themselves with European forms, political and social, up to the identity loss, and thus they are to survive a whole and long period of europeism prior to get acquainted of a slightest thing in their Slavic destination and in their special Slavic convocation in the environment of humankind.
Europe is at the edge of great revolts, such that human mind refuses to believe in them, suggesting their implementation to appear as something fantastic. Meanwhile, many of those things which one could count fantastic, impossible and exaggerated even this summer – has literally come to pass in Europe…
Alexandr Maschenko. SIMFEROPOL