Saturday, March 14, 2009

On the Uniformity of motives in Russia and elsewhere


I'll begin by saying I'm pleased at the way we are progressing through these various matters. I have a lot of experience in discussion groups here in America, and if I were debating someone with philosophical differences as great as yours and mine, my opponent would be swearing at me and insulting me by this time.

In regard to what you have said below, I'm not sure whether I disagree with you are not in this note. I'll say some things and maybe we'll see. People are genetically different. There are ranges of personalities. The Red Army shot those who were not willing to fight at Stalingrad. I don't argue with that, but the fact is that not all men are psychologically capable of fighting. The US Marine Corps wants only those who want to be Marines. That's the first step. Does a young man want to be a Marine. After that the Marine Corps checks him physically to see if he has the capability. After that it is a matter of training and conditioning. But here in the US, lots of men know they aren't cut out to be Marines.

I know a little about the French Foreign Legion. They have a slightly different approach but their training is just as tough if not tougher. A recruit can drop out any time up to a certain point in the training. They don't want to waste the expensive part of the training on men who can't stick it out.

So not all men could make it in the Marine Corps or the French Foreign Legion, but these are relatively small organizations, the FFL smaller than the Marine Corps, but the Marine Corps is small compared to the American Army and some other armies of the world.

It is only when you have a draft and say "everyone must fight" that you are faced with what you must do with those who can't, because some can't

You imply great uniformity among Russians who are 100% Russian. I raise an eyebrow when I read that. I know something about dog breeding, especially about the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and as in every breed there is a range of personality from "submissive" to "dominant." I had a male Ridgeback named Trooper who was very protective. I presently have a female Ridgeback named Ginger who is not at all protective. They look alike. Ginger looks quite a lot like Trooper did, but they are very different. Dog Breeders strive for uniformity of personality, and they don't get it. Geneticists now tell us they will never get it. In a given litter some pups will be more dominant than others. In some litters there will be a "runt" who will not rise to the standard of the rest of his litter. And if that is true genetically of dogs, it is also true, even more so, of humans who are not being bred for uniformity.

On the other hand, and if you are saying this, I will agree with you: there is a "tradition" in each nation. There are elements, inclinations, and things they are proud of and strive to be worthy of. Sometimes these traditions will be largely myths, but if a people strive after them, that will tell you something about that people. For example, after World War II, the US and Japan discovered they had more in common than they realized. Japan had the tradition of the Samurai. The US had the tradition of the Cowboy. Stories, both fiction and nonfiction, are told about the Samurai and the Cowboy. And stories told in one culture translate readily into the other. The Japanese tale, The Seven Samurai easily became in America, The Magnificent Seven.

So if you want to say that there are traditions in Russia that a majority of Russians value and believe in, I will accept that. But I do have a bit of a problem accepting that your 80% which is 100% Russian behaves with 100% uniformity. I have in mind here such statements as, "In other words, we Russians cannot feel angered for a long time, we cannot nurse rancour against our enemies too long, after the hostilities are over."

Now if you said that as a nation, you cannot nurse rancor indefinitely, I could accept that. America is the same way. We fought a bitter war against Japan and dropped two nuclear weapons on them in 1945, but I was there in 1953 and we were treated well and had a fondness for the Japanese, maybe more so than for Koreans. We were after all stationed in Korea and only got to Japan for R&R. But I know that some who fought in World War II against the Japanese, and some who lost relatives to the Japanese have never forgiven them. Of course they are dying off and are fewer and fewer. I don't personally know anyone who hates the Japanese in American today. While I won't say that my opinion is representative, I will say that if many in the US hate the Japanese today, I will be surprised.


Michael Kuznetsov has left a new comment on your post "How well did the Red Army treat prisoners":

I feel you, Lawrence, to be rather a friend than an adversary, so let me share some more thoughts of mine with you.

I can recall an interesting excerpt from the book "Russia", by Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace (1841-1919).

Remember that the author narrates about the events in Russia in the middle of the 19th century.
But I feel it like being written about the present-day Russians -- we do not change at all:

"Prince Gortchakof's saying, 'La Russie ne boude pas, elle se recueille', was more than a diplomatic repartee – it was a true and graphic statement of the case.
Though the Russians are very inflammable, and can be very violent when their patriotic feelings are aroused, they are, individually and as a nation, singularly free from rancour and the spirit of revenge.
After the termination of hostilities they really bore little malice towards the Western Powers . . . Their patriotism now took the form, not of revenge, but of a desire to raise their country to the level of the Western nations.
If they thought of military matters at all, they assumed that military power would be obtained as a natural and inevitable result of high civilisation and good government."

Original source:

In other words, we Russians cannot feel angered for a long time, we cannot nurse rancour against our enemies too long, after the hostilities are over.

If a Russian has not managed to kill the enemy in the heat of the battle or immediately after, he would cool down quickly and in a short while he can easily shift even to the making friends with his just defeated foe.

This national trait of ours, I am convinced, whether you deem it good or evil, is the reason why there exists not a single photo in which Russian soldiers would have been hanging captured German soldiers.

Not one!

While the opposite scenes are abundant in the thousands (sic!) of extant German wartime photos -- in which the Wehrmacht soldiery are smiling while being busy hanging Russian prisoners.

Being myself a genuine 100 percent Russian, as I have already said, I can easily imagine and visualize how I could shoot a captured bastard on the spot. Or kill him with the bayonet here and now, if I'm angered very much.

But to hang a prisoner . . . oh, no!

Simply put, while I would search for a rope, then for an appropriate tree, then would be making a good noose and then preparing the unfortunate captive for the hanging -- all of this long preparations would take too much of time for a normal Russian to keep enough of anger.

We cannot kill people and simultaneously smile for the camera like Germans did. Believe me or not.

Which is why the photo on my website that features a Russian soldier giving tabacco and a light to the just captured Germans -- is absolutely a normal situation for us.

As to the Russian civilians and their attitude towards the German POWs.

I have known a lot of examples (both oral and written) how Russian "babushkas" used to feed the poor German "sons", sharing with the prisoners their miserable war-time portion of bread -- out of sheer commiseration.

Believe me or not. . .


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