Nov 13, 2022
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On the national pride of the Great Russians

Lenin’s question still remains relevant

An article under this title was once written by Lenin, even before the revolution. In Soviet times, this article was talked about even at school history lessons. And students of historical faculties of universities were required to study it without fail.

Now, of course, the situation has changed. The article has long been no longer included in the list of works required for study. Only specialists of the corresponding profile get acquainted with it. And this is probably correct.

“Is it alien to us, Great Russian workers, a sense of national pride?” – asked the future leader of the world proletariat (I quote from memory). I was always moved by the fact that a figure spoke on behalf of the Great Russian workers, who had never been a worker either by origin or occupation. And he was almost not a Great Russian by ethnicity.

However, the point is not in the biography of Ilyich and not in the article itself, but in its topic. The point is the question of the national pride of the Great Russians (or Great Russians), by which only Russians are now called. Previously, before Lenin came to power, both Little Russians (now called Ukrainians) and Belarusians were recognized as Russians. Accordingly, the Great Russians were not a nation, but only a part of the Russian nation, one of its branches (albeit the largest). Therefore, the question posed by Lenin about the national pride of the Great Russians did not sound quite correct then.

Today, when only those who are of Great Russian origin are considered Russian by nationality, and many have become accustomed to this, Lenin’s formulation can be considered appropriate. And the question itself is quite relevant.

So: is the feeling of national pride alien to Great Russians (Russians)?

Do not rush to answer. First you need to realize one fact: the modern western border of the Russian Federation runs approximately in the same place where the western border of the Russian state passed at the beginning of the 10thVI century.

If we open a historical atlas, we will find that at that distant time the western border of sovereign Rus’ began from the Baltic Sea a little east of Narva, then ran somewhat west of Pskov, Smolensk and then stretched in a southeast direction to the Azov steppes.

Later, the borders of Russia expanded significantly. In its composition, sometimes peacefully, sometimes after bloody wars, vast territories were included. And these territories were not foreign to Russia either. On the contrary: if we are talking about the western direction, then for the most part these were Russian lands. Lands that were once part of ancient Rus’ and inhabited by the Russian people. Vast areas were not conquered, but conquered by Russia from foreign conquerors – Sweden, Poland, Turkey. The local population, as a rule, willingly accepted Russian citizenship.

The exception here was perhaps the territory of native Poland, included in the Russian Empire by decision of the international Congress of Vienna in 1815. Yes, even Finland, taken from the Swedes in 1809.

But at the same time, it should be remembered that Russia did not conquer these countries either. The independent Polish state ceased to exist twenty years before the entry of the indigenous Polish lands into Russia. And Finland has never been an independent state before.

And at the end of the 20th century, the western Russian border suddenly turned out to be where it was at the beginning of the 10th century.VI in. And not at all as a result of a catastrophic military defeat. And as a result of some muddy agreement in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Such a jump almost four centuries ago …

And even more than four centuries! At the beginning of XVI centuries, the Russian state included Chernigov, and Putivl, and Novgorod-Seversky, and those lands on which Kharkov and Izyum were later founded. In 1991, they turned out to be “strangers” for Russia.

The Russian state was simply robbed. And it happened without any resistance, without mass indignation, it was actually accepted without a murmur.

Try to imagine that to the borders of the beginning XVI century would suddenly be discarded, for example, France. This means that not only Nice and Savoy, not only Alsace and Lorraine, but also such a province as Franche-Comté would cease to be French. For those who do not know geography well, I will explain: in this case, France would not border on Switzerland.

Do you think the French would be outraged? Would you try to resist? I think they would try. They have a sense of national pride.

Or imagine Japan without the island of Hokkaido (at the beginning of XVI century it was not part of Japan). Would the Japanese give up this large island resignedly? Yes, they still cannot survive the loss of the four South Kuril Islands, located from Hokkaido to the north! And here is one of the largest islands of the Japanese archipelago!

The Japanese would feel insulted. They certainly have a sense of national pride.

And the Russians? It is clear that the French and Japanese did not have a transitional period of several decades, when they were told that part of their ancestral territory was not France (not Japan), inhabited not by the French (not by the Japanese), but by some other, albeit fraternal, people. The Russians were less fortunate in this respect.

Nevertheless, information about the ancient Russian unity, about the common roots of modern Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, was not hushed up even during that transitional period. One could conclude. Alas, not everyone did it.

Most recently, the Russian Federation announced the annexation of four regions. This is only a small part of what was once part of the Russian state. But even such a small part in the entire volume is not yet very successful in thoroughly attaching. Not everyone in the Russian Federation feels these lands are Russian.

Therefore, the question that Lenin asked more than a hundred years ago is still relevant today. And still remains open.

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