Nikolai Berdyaev about
The religious integration of the Russian soul
“From Him and through Him and for Him are all things”
For who hath known the mind of the Lord?
or who hath been his counsellor?
Ис 40, 13
Прем 9, 13
Иер 23, 18
1 Кор 2, 16
Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
Иов 35, 7
of him, and through him, and to him, are all things:
to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Russians are always inclined to take things in a totalitarian sense
Russians are always inclined to take things
in a totalitarian sense;
the sceptical criticism of Western peoples is alien to them. This is
which leads to confusion of thought and the substitution of one thing for another, but it is also
the religious integration of the Russian soul.
The essence of revolution is totality, entireness, in relation to every act of life.
Revolution is certainly not determined by the radical nature of its objects nor even by the character of the means employed in the struggle.
The essence of revolution is totality, entireness, in relation to every act of life.
The revolutionary is one who in every act he performs relates it to the community as a whole, and subordinates it to the central and complete idea. For the revolutionary there are no separate spheres;
he tolerates no division of life into parts, nor will he admit any autonomy of thought in relation to action or autonomy of action in relation to thought.
The revolutionary has an integrated world-view
in which theory and practice organically coalesce. Entirety in everything — that is the basic principle of the revolutionary attitude to life. … Russian revolutionaries in the past, also, had always been totalitarian.
To them revolution was a religion
and a philosophy, not merely a conflict concerned with the social and political side of life. And Russian Marxism had to work itself out, to fit in with that revolutionary type and that revolutionary totalitarian instinct. That is the meaning of Lenin and bolshevism.
Bolshevism also defined itself as the only orthodox, i.e. totalitarian integral Marxism,
which refused to tolerate the breaking up of the Marxist world-view into fragments and the adoption only of separate parts of it.
The search for the kingdom of social truth and righteousness.
Russian socialism became less emotional and sentimental, more intellectually grounded, and tougher. The first Russian Marxists were more European, more Western folk, than the narodniks. The will to power awoke in them, the will to obtain power, and the ideology of power made its appearance. The motive of compassion grows weaker;
it is not there that the power lies to fight for revolution. Its attitude towards the people as a proletariat is not so much compassion for its oppressed unhappy condition, as the conviction that it must conquer, that it is the coming power and the liberator of mankind. But with all these changes of spirit in the intelligentsia, the underlying foundation remained the same, i.e. the search for the kingdom of social truth and righteousness,
capacity for sacrifice,
an ascetic attitude towards culture,
an integral, totalitarian attitude to life,
conditioned by the one great purpose — the actual realization of socialism.
В России революционная идея была целостной.
По русскому духовному складу, революция могла быть только тоталитарной. Все русские идеологии были всегда тоталитарными, теократическими или социалистическими. Русские – максималисты, и именно то, что представляется утопией, в России наиболее реалистично. … Для русской левой интеллигенции революция всегда была и религией, и философией, революционная идея была целостной.
Russian spirit easily takes the relative for the Absolute
Generally speaking, Russians but poorly understood the meaning of the relative, the fact that historical progress advances by stages, the differentiation of various spheres of culture. Russian maximalism is due to this.
The Russian spirit craves for wholeness.
It cannot reconcile itself to the classification of everything according to categories. It yearns for the Absolute and desires to subordinate everything to the Absolute, and this is
a religious trait in it.
But it easily leads to confusion,
takes the relative for the Absolute,
the partial for the universal, and then it falls into idolatry. It is a property of the Russian spirit especially to switch over the current of religious energy to non-religious objects, to the relative and partial sphere of science or social life.
Когда из всего, что сделал Христос, мы выхватываем лишь одну сторону, искажая и преувеличивая ее значение — не это ли называется ересью.[*]
Слово «ересь» происходит от греч. αίρέω «выбираю».
Russians cannot go on doubting for very long.
The typical Russian cannot go on doubting for very long;
his inclination is to make a dogma for himself fairly quickly, and to surrender himself to that dogma whole-heartedly and entirely. A Russian sceptic is a Western type in Russia. There was nothing sceptical in
it was a faith.
Taking the particular for the general.
Economics determine all human life;
upon it depends not only the whole structure of society but also all ideology, all spiritual culture, religion, philosophy, ethics, art. Economics is the basis, ideology the superstructure. There exists an inevitable general economic process by which everything is determined. …
The strength of the economic factor in human life is not an invention of Marx,
and he is not to blame for the fact that it has so great an influence upon ideology. Marx observed this in the capitalist society of Europe which surrounded him. But
he reduced it to a theory and gave it a universal character.
What he discovered in the capitalist society of his own time he regarded as the basis of all society. He discovered much in capitalist society and said much that was true about it. But
his mistake lay in taking the particular for the general.
Russian orthodoxy is wholeness, totalitarianism
Characteristically Russian search for an integral outlook.
In Belinsky there was the characteristically Russian search for an integral outlook which will give an answer to all the questions of life, unite the theoretical and practical reason, and give a philosophical basis to the social ideal. Integrated truth, as later expressed by N. Mikhailovsky, who was also in the line of descent from Belinsky, is both truth in the abstract and that truth which finds expression in justice. The same
idea of wholeness
will be found in N. Federov in a religious setting, and
in Marxist Leninism.
The Russian critical publicists will always preach an integrated outlook, will always connect truth and righteousness, will always be teachers of life.
В русской потребности все в мире осмыслить морально и религиозно есть своя правда. Русская душа не мирится с поклонением бессмысленной, безнравственной и безбожной силе, она не принимает истории, как природной необходимости. … Россия есть самостоятельная ценность в мире, не растворимая в других ценностях, и эту ценность России нужно донести до божественной жизни. … Цель жизни народов — не благо и благополучие, а творчество ценностей, героическое и трагическое переживание своей исторической судьбы. А это предполагает религиозное отношение к жизни.
The wholeness of the Christian East and the fragmentariness of the West
Russian communist atheists assert wholeness, totalitarianism, no less than the Orthodox Slavophils.
Like the German romantics, Russian thought strove after wholeness and did so more consistently and radically than the romantics, who themselves lost wholeness.
The wholeness of the Christian East is set in opposition to the rationalist fragmentariness of the West.
This was first pointed out by I. Kireevsky and it became a fundamental Russian theme rooted in the depths of Russian character.
Russian communist atheists assert wholeness, totalitarianism, no less than the Orthodox Slavophils.
Russian orthodoxy is wholeness, totalitarianism;
The West was decaying because in it the unity of life had been split asunder.
The Slavophils were warm defenders of the Commune, which they regarded as organic and as the original Russian structure of economic life among the peasantry, as all the
thought. They were decided opponents of the ideas of Roman Law on property. They did not regard property as sacred and absolute;
owners of property they regarded as stewards only. They repudiated Western, bourgeois, capitalist civilization. And if they thought that
the West was decaying,
it was because it had entered upon the path of that bourgeois civilization, because in it
the unity of life had been split asunder.
The wholeness of the national character of the Jews.
No one is going to deny that the
of the Jews possesses wholeness and inner unity.
Search for the truth in life instead of the perfect culture
Russian thinkers sought not so much a perfect culture, as the perfect expression of truth in life.
Western people scarcely ever had any doubt about the justification of civilization;
this was a purely Russian doubt and arose not among those Russians who had not yet acquired any culture but frequently among those who were to be found on its highest level.
especially the most notable,
did not believe in the stability of civilization,
in the stability of those principles upon which the world rests, what was called the bourgeois world of their time;
they are full of terrible forebodings of impending disaster. European literature does not know that sort of religious and social unrest, for it belongs to a civilization which is more fixed and crystallized, more formed, more self-contented and calm, more differentiated and distributed into categories.
Integrality belonged more properly to the Russians,
entirety, both in thought and in creative life.
Russian creators, when they are of note spiritually
not so much a perfect culture, and perfect products of creative power, as perfect life,
the perfect expression of truth in life.
In Russia a single integral culture did not exist.
Russian literature and Russian thought bear witness to the fact that in imperial Russia
a single integral culture did not exist,
that there was a gulf between the cultured classes and the masses of the people, that the old régime had no moral support.
Everyone had visions
of bridging the gulf by
some form or other of collectivism.
Everything was moving towards revolution.
Totalitarian Marxism is absolute truth, i.e. a subject of faith
For a police state to exist a new single faith had to be expressed for the masses in elementary symbols.
The problem of power was fundamental with Lenin and all his followers;
it distinguished the bolsheviks from all other revolutionaries. They too created a police state, in its methods of government very like the old Russian State. But to organize government,
to subject to it the labouring and peasant masses, could not be a matter of the use of armed force alone, or of sheer coercion.
An integrated doctrine
a consistent general outlook,
and symbols which held the State together were required. In the Muscovite Tsardom and in the Empire the people were held together by a unity of religious faith;
so also a new single faith had to be expressed for the masses in elementary symbols. Marxism in its Russian form was wholly suitable for this.
Marxism and socialism were a religion.
section of Russian Marxists
valued above all their integral totalitarian world outlook, defended their orthodoxy, and were distinguished by extreme intolerance, …
for them Marxism and socialism were a religion;
Totalitarian Marxism, as absolute truth and a faith, is a weapon to be used for revolution and the organization of dictatorship.
Lenin was an absolutist;
he believed in absolute truth. … Totalitarian Marxism, dialectic Marxism, is, in his view, absolute truth. This absolute truth is a weapon to be used for revolution and the organization of dictatorship. But a teaching which gives a basis to a totalitarian doctrine and embraces the whole of life, not only politics and economics but also thought and consciousness and all creative culture, can be only a subject of faith.
Lenin had an integral totalitarian outlook of life.
Lenin … fought all his life for that
integral totalitarian view of life,
which was necessary for the struggle and for the focusing of revolutionary energy. From this totalitarian system he would not suffer a single brick to be removed, he demanded the acceptance of all of it as a whole, and from his point of view he was right. … He fought for
wholeness and consistency in the conflict.
The latter was impossible without an integrated dogmatic outlook, without a dogmatic confession of faith, without orthodoxy. …
Lenin was a revolutionary to the marrow,
precisely because through his whole life he defended
an integral totalitarian outlook of life
and permitted no infringement of it whatever. … Grant that the mensheviks had the same ultimate ideal as Lenin, grant that they also were devoted to the working classes, still they had not this integrated view;
they were not totalitarian in their attitude to revolution;
they complicated the affair by their talk of Russia needing a bourgeois revolution first, about socialism being realized only after a period of capitalist development, about the need to wait for the development of class consciousness among the workers, about the peasantry being a reactionary class, and so on.
Incompatibility of Christianity with Communism.
The Christian communists make a breach in the integral wholeness of the communist 'world outlook'.
It is idle to suppose that the religious persecution in Russia is directed only against the Orthodox Church, which was the dominant church and associated in the past with monarchy and reaction. Sects, for instance the Baptists, are regarded as still more dangerous than the Orthodox, and the struggle against them is regarded as more difficult, just because in the past it was they who were persecuted by, and not associated with, the authorities of the old régime. Christians who recognize the justice of communism in the domain of social life, are considered more harmful and dangerous than Christians who are openly in favour of restoration of the old social order and engage in counterrevolutionary activity. A free-thinking, atheist and materialist bourgeoisie is to be preferred to Christians who sympathize with communism;
it can be used for the socialist work of construction;
it is usually indifferent to the question of a 'general outlook', whereas
the Christian communists make a breach in the integral wholeness of the communist 'world outlook'.
Increasing significance of the religious principle
Realization of personality presupposes the communion of men.
I am a supporter of Christian Personalism, certainly not of individualism which is hostile to the principle of personality. In a bourgeois capitalist community personality is levelled down and is looked upon merely as an atom.
[I am even inclined to think that in the deep sense of the word the individual is revolutionary and the mass is conservative.]
Individualism is hostile to the Christian idea of the communion of men, whereas the realization of personality presupposes the communion of men.
When I say that the world is moving towards a new Middle Ages, I certainly do not mean a return to the old Middle Ages and least of all to feudalism. The phrase is only an indication of the type of
in which man will
strive after wholeness and unity
as opposed to the individualism of modern history, and in which
the significance of the religious principle will increase,
even though it may be in the form of militant antireligion.
Communism stimulates the awakening of the Christian conscience.
In this book I have tried to show that Russian communism is more traditional than is commonly thought and that it is a transformation and deformation of the old Russian messianic idea. Communism in Western Europe would be an entirely different phenomenon in spite of the similarity of Marxist theories. To the traditional Russian character of communism are due both its positive and its negative sides: On the one hand
the search for the Kingdom of God and integrated truth and justice,
capacity for sacrifice and the absence of the bourgeois spirit;
on the other hand,
the absoluteness of the State, and despotism,
a feeble grasp of the rights of man and the danger of a featureless collectivism. In other countries communism, in the event of an attempt to bring it into existence, may be less integrated, make less claim to take the place of religion, may be more secular and more bourgeois in its spirit. The problems of communism stimulate the awakening of the Christian conscience and should lead to the development of a creative social Christianity, not in the sense of understanding Christianity as a social religion, but in the sense of
revealing Christian truth and justice in relation to social life.
This will mean emancipation from social slavery, that social slavery in which Christian consciousness finds itself
Любовь ко Христу и к Его Кресту, любовь до смерти
…тип святого юродивого лучше всякого другого выражает характерные народные и духовные черты русского человека.
Любовь ко Христу и к Его Кресту, любовь до смерти, с желанием как можно больше Ему подражать, живет в сердце каждого русского, сознательно утверждающего свое христианство.
У юродивых эта любовь доведена до самых крайних пределов. Средство для этого заключается в
отрешении от мира и от его благ,
благодатно возведенном на сверхъестественный уровень. Духовное «кочевничество» и свобода, доходящая до анархического индивидуализма, полностью развертываются в жизни юродивых. Презрение к форме, ко всякой мере, жажда абсолютного во всем, ненависть ко всякой «прилизанности», ко всяким общепринятым правилам, к мещанскому духу, где бы он ни проявлялся, получают в «юродстве» свое самое полное выражение. Все это попирается во имя Христа и Его Правды, над всем этим юродивый издевается и, веря в преображение в будущей жизни, он освящается крестом и безмерными страданиями, которые от этого для него проистекают. Здесь — синтез самых сокровенных стремлений русского человека, последняя разгадка успешности почти сверхчеловеческого подвига «юродства во Христе».
…синтез самых сокровенных стремлений русского человека, последняя разгадка успешности почти сверхчеловеческого подвига «юродства во Христе». Но только ли в России возможна эта успешность?
В этом можно усомниться. Даже не возвращаясь к тому факту, что первые юродивые на Руси были людьми с Запада, — сколько других душ, охваченных пламенем любви ко Христу и к Его кресту, ощущали далеко за пределами России такие же порывы и стремились к похожим подвигам, хотя они и были воспитаны, казалось-бы, в совершенно иной духовной дисциплине. Напомним только Святую Ульфу в VIII веке, первые шаги аскетической жизни Святого Франциска Ассизского, блаженного Иоанна Коломбини в XIV веке и «оригинальности» Св. Филиппа Нери в XVI веке.
В одном французском сборнике «духовных гимнов божественной любви в назидание и утешение благочестивым душам» XVII века можно прочесть следующее:
«Не должна моя песня описывать
Великую бездну куда я сошел,
Там нет ни дна, ни берега,
И мало понятного я мог бы сказать.
Вернувшись из того благого крушения,
Я хочу говорить пред лицом королей,
Хочу дикарем в этом мире казаться
И презирать его точный закон.
Хочу лишь безумию следовать
Христа, в оный день на кресте
Потерявшего вольно честь вместе с жизнью,
Отдавшего все чтобы осталась любовь»
Париж, 1687 г.
Поэтически слабый, этот гимн тем не менее замечателен. Можно подумать, что он написан в XVI веке Василием Блаженным в Москве или в XVIII веке Ксенией в Петербурге. Между тем, тут мы — в Бордо, и автор — иезуит, Иосиф Сюрен (1660-1665). Точнее и выразительнее подвести итог состоянию юродства — трудно. Что бы ни говорили некоторые современные православные богословы, между духовностью Запада и Востока нет коренного различия, существуют лишь неизбежные оттенки, обусловленные различием народов и рас. Да откуда и быть коренному различию, когда источник духовности тут и там один и тот же: Отец, привлекающий, Сын, ведущий, и Святой Дух, соединяющий?