064/ 201 27 26
THE PROBLEM OF NATIONAL CULTURAL SELF-IMPORTANCE
OF CERTAIN SLAVIC NATIONS
Everyone who cares about the future of his own nation should always have in mind the issue of the nation’s cultural identity and its’ self-importance, especially today, when totalitarian, melting pot, globalisation is struggling with the leftovers of self-important cultures and organic laws of life of all state creative and culturally fit nations. Significant example of such activities can be seen with (today at least potentially) Christian-Orthodox nations, especially Christian – Orthodox Slavs. Overall, meaning of “culture”, from the view of the Christian – Orthodox, Slavic, nationalists, can’t be comprehended in the same way in which would it be taken by an average men (mainly European). Such comprehension treats culture either as fairly unimportant part of life that is mostly used to entertain us in our free time, with its’ products (such as cinema, theatre etc.) or as general education and nice manners that a person can or can not present when dealing with others, or even in a third scenario as a “synonym” for, before Romano- Germanic and today Euro-Atlantic (or Euro-American) culture that was proclaimed global, where as ‘culture’ was often wrongly equalised with high degree of technological development. In cases like these, culture is mostly taken as a value by its’ own nature. But if we care about the truth, we can’t take as a measure an average man who is rapidly preparing the way for the antichrist.
The only measure of all earthly and contemporary, including a culture, is our Lord – Jesus Christ- “God of Slavic desperate men”, as Christ was often called by Saint Justin Celijski (Popovic), one of modern Serbian Holy Fathers. Spiritually and nationally aware members of Christian-Orthodox nations, among them Orthodox Slavs, know (or at least they should know) that during the construction works of true and progressive, general national culture, only the elements which are coherent with Christianity and positive ethnic traditions can be accepted. With faith, national culture is the most essential thing, and its` reflections must be integrated in all other branches of the life of the nation. In fact, national culture of the Orthodox Slavic Nations can be defined as national, common, expression of Christian-Orthodox faith. And culture it self (and self-important national culture integrated), as a group of spiritual and materialistic human creations, is valuable only as much as it can bring a person closer to the God. The impression of God that we are build on is the main pilar of every person’s identity, and only on a ground of that truth we can build ideas about saving or attempts to create, self-important national cultures with any particular nation. It seams that this request is a specially stressed with Slavs (a specially Orthodox). Considering the God given’s nature of Slavic spirit, which in his deepness, asks for religious truth and by far appreciate spiritual values (like German spirit appreciate physical power, and Latin spirit favours reasoning, mind, and puts ethic a side.) The proof for these claims is, among others, the fact that large majority of Slavs has saved their Orthodoxy while Romano-Germanic spirit (that is the bad sides of it) had initiate heresy of the Western Roman Church, and latter sects as well.
Violence, egoism and intolerance, which are created by the West, are completely foreign to the Slavic, tolerant, nature (which, of course, doesn’t excluded the need to protect the close ones). That is way it is so natural that the Slavs have greater need to stay in the right and uncorrupted faith to God, because it is well know that it is asked for more from those who received more.
Culture in the bigger picture, or so-called theory about the cultural-historical variations, which was represented by an important slavophill Nikolay Danilevsky, as elements of one of these variations counts either self-important culture which is created through history by a particular nation, or an overall agreement among the answers that are produced by several related national traditions to the question what should be the relationship of the nation and religion, cultural, political, social and economic issues. Eventhou, same language and blood relations, (which consider a certain amount of mental coherence) are undoubtedly very important elements of culture, and cultural tides among some nations, they don’t necessarily have to be crucial.
That is whay we can, at last partially, acknowledge the critics of the Russian philosopher, Konstantin Leontijev (who accepted the Danilevsky’s reasoning about the cultural historical-variations), addressed to slavenophilic theory of existence of one integral Slavic cultural-historic variation. He argues that there is no integral elements between Slavic nations, which would back up the theory of one integral Slavic cultural-historical-variation, and he presented the theory of bysantism, as an idea that is modelled on aims of: precisely determined state hierarchy, determined customs, taste, fashion etc.
And really, the spiritual, religious principal from the Orthodox point of view must have priority over the tribal principal. From religion as a fundament of our views on the world and the meaning of life, naturally comes, coherent principal of life style, which is the basic core of the culture. And the necessary of some distance toward unorthodox Slavs, can be justified with a fact that many of them had, through history till today, often loyal to the power centres hostile toward Orthodoxy, fought very actively against Orthodoxy, especially Orthodox Slavs.
The cultural potential of unorthodox Slavs is not also articulated in the right direction nor used in the right way, because of the millennium absence of the true faith, among such nations, whose mentality with its original attraction to the Orthodoxy, only through the true faith can be completely fertile. Slavic material shaped by the Roman-Germanic touch, cannot naturally produce the right fruits (as Danilevsky has noted), same as today in the late phase of globalisation, right fruits, can’t be produced by any contemporary nation (if we are looking on a nation as a whole and not just any particular member of national community), because they are shaping with Euro-Atlantic cultural touch, which is offcourse excluding the authentic national culture in the life of the nation. The results of such activities are crippled and non-fertile nations, because they can produce only if they are loyal to their natural lows of life. There is the importance and need for national self-importance, which is also expressed in culture (in the basic meaning of the term “culture”).
The traditions of Orthodox nations are tied up with their bysantic spiritual and cultural inheritance, which is integrated in some of the individual national corpuses. That is way it would be appropriate to talk about the integral cultural-historical variation of all predominantly and traditionally Orthodox nations. Such variation could be named Orthodox-Slavic or Byzantium-Slavic cultural variation. In that case, the stress is on the Orthodox life style as a core of the authentic culture among all Orthodox nations and also the fact that the Slavs are forming vast majority of the Orthodox population, so naturally the authentic spiritual mentality and sense for creativism that Slavs have is very important in this cultural-historic variation. Such theory would be a symbiosis of ideas of classical slavenophills on one side and K. Leontjev on the other. Such idea can be traced through thoughts of the biggest modern Serbian and spiritual authorities, such as: St. Nikolaj (Velimirovic), above-mentioned St. Justin (Popovic), St. John of Kronstadt, Metropolitan Antony Hrapovicky…
In this way we could solve the outside issue of the problem of cultural self-importance of some (Orthodox) Slavic nations. It is important to address the issue of what is, the inner side of this cultural-historical variation. Of course that it can’t be completely homogenic, it is a variety shaped on the variety of different authentic traditions of the nations that do belong to this cultural-historical variation.
The differences are considerable, not just between the Slavs and other nations, but among the Slavs as well. Those differences are coming from different conditions of technological and cultural development, different environment, neighbourhood etc. We have already mentioned the inheritance from Byzantium that is mostly the same for all mentioned nations. Slavic nations inside of this circle are also tide by the language, bloodlines, etc. which are producing similar mentality and similar sense for creativity. The fruits of these characteristics are not expressed only through classic art creations of Slavic nations, but through specific expression of judicial awareness, what would Ivan Iljin call “the spiritual overwriting of the instincts”. That is how, in coherency with faith and national culture, characteristics of special sociological-political mentality, which suits the community, comes to surface.
Either through the mystical relationship between the Ruler and obedience to him, as a governor sent from the Lord, or through the balanced relationship between individual and collective, which has always existed in the Christian tradition, it is obvious that the products of Romano Germanic and Euro-Atlantic civilisation (the latter comes from the prior) such as communism and liberal democracy are completely strange to Slavic nature.
In the same context it is very important to recognise all of the negative sides in the Slavic nature as well, so that we can avoid their negative consequences. For example, those western ideas that we have mentioned earlier, with their destructive individualism and materialism, are corrupting the principles of integralism, which is necessary to the naïve and often divided Slavs.
Existing and creating in the frame of national culture, (which has the same value as its’ self-importance, coherency with the Christian ethics and so on) are the path and the way to serve the God and the close ones. Today, when it is more appropriate to talk about the resurrection then about the salvation of self-important national culture, such path is, for sure, in front of every Orthodox Slav, the only true Slav.
Marko B. Dimitrijevich
(The paper for the International Cyril-Methodius Readings: “Slavic cultures: Spiritual traditions and the chalenges of the present day”; Saint Petersburg; May 11.(24.) – 12.(25.) 2005.)
(Published in Serbian: “The World Serbian Voice”; Melbourn; May 7.(20.) 2005.)
(Translated by Nemanja S. Mrdjenovich)