AUTHORITY!

 

No one said it better than Dostoyevsky. In his masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, the master clearly defines the underlying rationale for the mental despotism that has for centuries burdened the Russian people.

In the famous chapter, The Grand Inquisitor, the middle brother, Ivan, relates to his younger brother, Alyosha, an allegory he has written, set during the Spanish Inquisition, in which Jesus has returned to earth and is immediately imprisoned for bringing a dead girl back to life. The wizened  Grand Inquisitor lectures the silent Jesus on the folly of freedom and individual choice and says to him, “There are three forces, the only forces that are able to conquer and hold captive forever the conscience of these weak rebels (the people) for their own happiness—these forces are: miracle, mystery, and  authority.”

These three things are generic to the traditional Russian character: the idea that good, if any, will come from some unexpected outside source (miracle); that man is not ordained to be responsible for his own welfare and progress (mystery); and that guidance and protection come only from constant dependence on and obedience to someone else (authority). Today that situation is changing with the young, but it still pops up at times. It could fall into that category of unpredictibility which I call, “The third side of the Russian coin.”

Do you agree? For more on this, see my book.

Buy here  “Walking on Ice, An American Businessman in Russia”

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