“Are Russians Really Long-Suffering” | History News Network

Christopher A. Lawrence contests the claim that Russians have had a particularly difficult history. I was shocked when I read his claim. How could this be?
As a graduate student one of my areas of specialization was Russian history (Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union). Therefore, I had to read a lot about the history of the Russian people in preparation for my comprehensive exams. One of the things that struck me was the constant stream of misfortunes endured by Russians. They never seemed to catch a break.
I thought maybe I mis-remembered  their history when I saw this article by a supposedly credible historian. But upon reading the essay I realized that it wasn’t my memory that was the problem, it was Lawrence’s argument. His argument focuses on their many political revolutions, the last of which he highlights as “fundamentally peaceful.” Now where does he discuss the actual suffering or explain why it wasn’t actually suffering. In fact his argument works by actually ignoring the real suffering of the Russian people (wars, famines, political oppression, purges, etc.). He only mentioned one, World War I, which he points out was short-lived and entailed fewer deaths than other nations. He forgets to mention that they left only to fight a civil war that killed millions, followed by famine, political purges, terror, and crushing poverty.  And that was all before the Second World War!
It’s easy to make an argument that the Russians  are not long-suffering, if you ignore the actual suffering!

Source: History News Network | Are Russians Really Long-Suffering

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As Putin Zaps Lenin, Lavrov Hurriedly Rewrites History

“There is hardly any country history has been as utterly rewritten as Russia’s, from the tsars to communism…Indeed, like in the times of Russian tsars, emperors and general secretaries, the current Russian leadership’s real concern is great power status, which in the case of Russia, has always been achieved at the expense of its citizens’ prosperity.”

Source: As Putin Zaps Lenin, Lavrov Hurriedly Rewrites History

“Russian Orthodox Church Blocks Funeral for Last of Romanov Remains” – The New York Times

This is really bizarre! “Despite mountains of evidence, the church says it doesn’t believe the remains are those of the last czar and his family.”  No one knows for sure why the Church would deny the scientific evidence for the identity of the Romanov remains. Not that denying scientific evidence isn’t unusual for the Church, but in most cases we know why (it contradicts theirs religious dogma). In this case, there are no religious principles on the line. So, what’s going on?

The most compelling explanation seems to indicate political motivations. “Rejecting the bones will anger some Orthodox adherents, particularly those outside Russia. Accepting them will incense a conservative domestic faction that believes the Soviet government somehow faked the burial.” But without actual evidence, this is only speculation.

Read the entire article here: Russian Orthodox Church Blocks Funeral for Last of Romanov Remains – The New York Times

“Russian Orthodox Church Blocks Funeral for Last of Romanov Remains” – The New York Times

This is really bizarre! “Despite mountains of evidence, the church says it doesn’t believe the remains are those of the last czar and his family.”  No one knows for sure why the Church would deny the scientific evidence for the identity of the Romanov remains. Not that denying scientific evidence isn’t unusual for the Church, but in most cases we know why (it contradicts theirs religious dogma). In this case, there are no religious principles on the line. So, what’s going on?

The most compelling explanation seems to indicate political motivations. “Rejecting the bones will anger some Orthodox adherents, particularly those outside Russia. Accepting them will incense a conservative domestic faction that believes the Soviet government somehow faked the burial.” But without actual evidence, this is only speculation.

Read the entire article here: Russian Orthodox Church Blocks Funeral for Last of Romanov Remains – The New York Times

“Revolution from Another Angle by Jamey Gambrell” | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

“The serendipitous confluence of technology, art, and politics in the fields of photography and film is the subject of the Jewish Museum in New York’s current exhibition, “The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film.” In his catalogue essay, the Russian art historian Alexander Lavrentiev, grandson of the artists Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko, gives a nuanced view of the complex situation in which Soviet photography developed: photography was dominated by three groups or tendencies, whose aesthetics mirrored, to some extent, the spectrum of political factions on the post-Soviet cultural stage. None of these groups opposed the Revolution, however; initially, in fact, most artists and the intelligentsia supported the regime.”

“The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film,” is on view at the Jewish Museum in New York through February 7.

Source: Revolution from Another Angle by Jamey Gambrell | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

“Is Vladimir Putin an Ideologue, Idealist, or Opportunist?” | History News Network

The answer might surprise you. Walter G. Moss argues that Putin is more of an opportunist, but that he also “hold[s] some basic conservative beliefs and is willing to use various means to trumpet them.” Read his entire article here:

History News Network | Is Vladimir Putin an Ideologue, Idealist, or Opportunist?

"Putin laying wreaths at a monument to the defenders of Sevastopol in World War II, 9 May 2014 (www.kremlin.ru)"

“Putin laying wreaths at a monument to the defenders of Sevastopol in World War II, 9 May 2014 (www.kremlin.ru)”

More on Putin’s abuse of history: “Vladimir Putin: History Man?” |History News Network

In his review of  Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, Walter G. Moss examines how Putin uses and abuses history for his own purposes. Fittingly, he concludes:
“Putin is far from unique among politicians, or even among professional historians, in attempting to manipulate history. But a true “history man” (or woman) is primarily a truth-seeker, one who puts discovering the truth before any political or personal causes, whether they are of an ideological, national, patriotic, class, ethnic, or gender nature. Philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch in her The Sovereignty of Good writes of the “honesty and humility of the scholar who does not even feel tempted to suppress the fact which damns his theory.” Without denying that Putin believes much of what he says, he possesses neither the honesty nor humility of Murdoch’s hypothetical scholar. Politicians who do possess such virtues are rare—in any country. And even we professional historians must fight a constant battle to prevent our biases and causes from trumping truth-seeking.” Read the entire article here:

History News Network | Vladimir Putin: History Man?

Mr Putin Operative in the Kremlin

History as Propaganda: “Russian History Receives a Makeover That Starts With Ivan the Terrible” – NYTimes.com

Museums in Russia are collaborators in sparking the flames of nationalism.

“Irina Y. Velikanova, a former Moscow City Council member appointed to run the museum last year, said the mission of any historical museum should be rooted in patriotism. ‘We don’t hide the fact that we are interested in forming the patriotic and civic position of Russian youth,’ she said. ‘Our goal is that when leaving our museum, all Russians would feel proud of their country.’”

Pride is one thing but history has shown that nationalism is more likely to incite hatred, intolerance, and violence. And unfortunately Russia is not the only country where nationalism is on the rise.

Russian History Receives a Makeover That Starts With Ivan the Terrible – NYTimes.com.

Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible