Monday, March 07, 2005

Tyutchev to Patrick

Patrick, commenting on my post “What’s wrong with Russians? We are not Greenskins.” wrote:
The reasons as to why Russians are spoken of in this manner is not because they
have or do not have greenskins or black or yellow (ie that they're white) it is
because of frustration regarding the Russian lack of progress on so many issues
regarding human rights and the rule of law. I do not speak of harrassment of
ethnic minorities but of ethnic Russian upon ethnic Russian
violations.
Russia is held to a higher standard than the third world or the
developing countries of Asia or the abysmal nation states in Africa. But you
know it is Russia herself that says they are better than those countries. And if
Russia is held to a higher standard than these other regions of the world it is
because she says she of that higher standard.
Having travelled entirely
around the world I find most people are not racist and that most racists are not
truely racist they are simply fearful. When you can walk the streets in Russia
without fear, to do business in Russia without fear, to participate in politics
without fear, to peacefully protest without fear only then will Russia acheive
that higher standard she claims to belong to. Only then will Russia be discussed
with the respect as you wish her to be.
A great Russian poet Fyodor Tyutchev wrote to Russian liberals who then tried very hard to meet the higher European standards in 1867 – almost 150 years ago:
Напрасный труд — нет, их не вразумишь,—
Чем либеральней, тем они пошлее,
Цивилизация — для них фетиш,
Но недоступна им ее идея.
Как перед ней ни гнитесь, господа,
Вам не снискать признанья от Европы:
В ее глазах вы будете всегда
Не слуги просвещенья, а холопы.

Here’s my lame word-by-word translation of the verse:
Wasted labor – no, you cannot make them understand –
The more liberal we become, the more they become vulgar,
Civilization is a fetish for them,
But its idea is beyond their reach.
No matter how low you bend before them, gentlemen,
You will never be recognized by Europe.
In their eyes you will always be
Not servants of Enlightenment but serfs.

1 comment:

Anyse Joslin said...

I have to ask, where does Patrick live? If in the US, he has used the wrong ruler to measure out where fear is concerned. Is he defending the US? If so, I hate to report that feaar is definitely here!! When I started my own BLOG, I was warned by others that the government may go after me as they knew my political leanings. I had to ask, a bit perturbed, "So that is why we have a democracy--to be afraid of the government?" Well, I want to know where it is that Patrick considers "fear-less"!