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RUSSIA XXI

< Issue No 4 from 2003 yr. >

Who is who? Nations' origins and destinies seen in the «folklore ideology» light

Notions of one’s «own» nation and «alien» nations reflected in the popular ethiological legends clearly demonstrate the most universal motives inherent in the folklore image of «alien» ethnic entities. Notions of the «alien» groups include beliefs in the «primacy» of one’s own ethnic group, the original «goodness» or «correctness» of this group, as well as beliefs in «inhuman» nature of the aliens, the «beast» nature or the aliens' connections to the other world. As such notions take place the idea of ethnocentrism is the fundamental one and reigns supreme. Within this idea the positive attitude towards people belonging to one’s own ethnic group and negative treatment of the «aliens» are often presented in mythological thought’s terms. The distinct peculiarity of the folklore narratives in the ethnic identification theme is not just their amazing stability (the article is based on materials from various times, from the 19th century to the present day) but the organic ties of these narratives with the «world history» in its folklore interpretation which unites the genesis, events related in the Old and New Testaments and historical facts kept in collective memory in mythological form.

Studies of culture’s sources in the context of historical science development

The final part of the article deals with axiomatic grounds of the new no-assumption hermeneutics of historical sources. Peculiarities of the suggested method become to be understandable as its axomatics is compared with theoretical assumption of F. Shleyermacher, V. Dilthey, A. S. Lappo-Danilevski, G.-G. Gadamer etc. Initial assumption of the sources' original meaning reconstruction can be only of general methodological nature. However the reconstruction itself must not contain answers and must not aticipate results of a specific study. Encounter with other people conscience is always unanticipated. Besides that, the study of culture’s sources is based on the principle of subsidiarity and does not exclude a creative interaction with other methods and does not cast doubts on the very possibility of interdisciplinary synthesis.

The whole culture as a prerequisite of «non-background hermeneutics»

The commentator investigates the problem of correlation between understanding of a person belonging to another culture and understanding of this culture as a whole. The commentator thinks that A. L. Yurganov is right in his exposure of flaws inherent in his predecessors' positions and his criticism of some approaches to the recognition of other people’s animation is quite justified. The commentator places the problems of culture sources studies within broad historical writing context. In our attempts to acquire the knowledge of history we are striving for paths from «material, objective discoveries», i.e., historical sources, to mechanisms of culture. Then M. F. Roumyantseva makes shift to A. S. Lappo-Danilevski's theoretical heritage, considers his contribution to the Russian theory of historical knowledge and cultural historical studies.

History of mentalities: between the unconscious and culture

The author of the big review of the article by A. L. Yurganov considers prospects for the modern humanitarian studies development and, in particular, perspectives for the science of history. The reviewer is sure that contraposition of two trends in the contemporary historical studies in the sphere of cultural practices studies, i.e., contraposition of historical anthropology and historical phenomenology is a rather fruitless enterprise. The only way out of the emerged methodological collision is reconciliation of two points of view. History of mentalities and the new practice of direct statements study are to co-exist in the future. The reviewer considers the basic cognitive assumptions of such remarkable phenomenon of the new European science as the «Annales» school.

The irreversibility of the source of reality

Acting on his own behalf A. B. Karavashkin sums up the preliminary results of the discussion. He believes that the participants have demonstrated an obvious difference of opinions though these discords do not preclude a visible community of opinions. First of all, that relates to recognition of historical phenomelogical approach which has just emerged as a quite independent scientific method. One may discuss the prospects for historical phenomenology only if one takes a wide historical writing context of the Modern time into due account. A. V. Karavashkin draws attention to such topical problem as correlation between structural-semiotic method and the «no-assumption hermeneutics» (the proponents of historical phenomenology consider the latter as the most important component of culture sources studies). A. V. Karavashkin advances his retorts to some opponents of A. L. Yurganov.

Studies of culture’s sources in the context of historical science development (discussion)

The article by A. L. Yurganov is a very interesting phenomenon of the contemporary Russian historical writings study. At the same time the article is a testimony of peculiar difficulties historians encounter as they try to define the very subject of the Russian cultural history. In addition to that, A. L. Yurganov touched the whole range of the general theoretical propositions of great importance. However some theses and judgments of A. L. Yurganov seem to be for from being indisputable. In the first place that may be said of evaluation of the situation with historical writings in the West. The very understanding of the «conscious-unconscious» relationship lacks the strict definition the Russian historians are accustomed to. Yet A. L. Yurganov’s striving for renewal of the academic work’s standards and rules should be welcomed.

Studies of culture’s sources in the context of historical science development (discussion)

I. N. Ionov pays attention to the exceptional topicality of the article which is discussed. He emphasizes the article’s indisputable heuristic value. At the same time the commentator thinks that the phenomenological approach is just postulated in this article and its author does not express his own attitude towards a wide range of the contemporary versions of phenomenology. The phenomenological approach to history should not be reduced to the «no-assumption hermeneutics» of a text. A historian is to take into account the hermeneutics of his own ways of perception that are related to a society’s values-focused historical memory.

On the Security Imperative's Role in the Russian History

The article contains a specific vision of Russian foreign policy history based on the analysis of the major underlying factor which determined its course — i.e. the problem of nation’s security. The author contends that for Kievan Rus, Moscovy, and, to a lesser extent, imperial Russia geopolitical expansion proved to be an inevitable reaction to the many threats the outside world posed to the nation’s mere existence. This «offensive» mode of survival was complemented by versatile diplomatic strategies aimed at pursuing Russia’s vital interests through a full-fledged participation in international relations both in Europe and Asia. It was nothing else than imperial state structure that provided the Tsars with most effective material and moral instruments to handle the country’s defense issues.

Russia and the EU: political problems of expansion of ways of their resolution

The author enunciates specific proposals Russia could advance in response to the Europeanc Union’s expansion eastwards. The author assumes that the Russian foreign policy in Europe is to be more vigorous: Moscow will initiate signing of several documents that would regulate relations of Russia and the EU after the latter’s expansion. The key document among these treaties should be a new, more equitable and more profound treaty on partnershiop and cooperation with statements of clear perspectives and goals of Russian-European interaction. In doing that Russia is to proceed from the assumption that despite of all its willingness and its cultural and civilizational closeness to Europe it nevertheless will not be fated to become a part of the EU. Therefore, for Russia the most advantageous model of relations with the EU is the EU-USA model within which Russia will be able to become the third participant with rights equal to those of other two players (always provided that Russia will overcome its current social and economic crisis). Russia’s relations with the EU are to be like relations between two merchants belonging to the same nation: values are common but interests are competitive. For the EU it is more advantegeous to have strong and prosperous Russia on its eastern border that to have a «gray zione» of instability there. For if the Russian state disappears suddenly it is absolutely incomperehensible how and with whom will Europeans will interact in the territory of the collapsed state.

Unknown Kennan. Remarks on Morphology of the Diplomat's Thought

Who are you, Mr. Kennan? Many contemporary scholars of the XX-th century diplomacy address this question to the well-known American diplomat, historian, policy analyst and expert on Soviet affairs, whose life way while manifesting the deep-rooted integrity always demonstrates alternative visions of the nation, international relations and prospects of the society in the world. George Frost Kennan made its own and prominent contribution to the explanation of the new worldwide role of the United States after World War II. Appeared to be influential among the «realists» who applied theory to diplomacy Kennan introduced his «containment of communism» concept as an antidote to legalistic approach to world affairs. Kennan urged in his famous cabled dispatches from Moscow and «Foreign Affairs» essay on the sources of Soviet behavior (1947) that relations with Soviet Union be placed entirely on a realistic and matter-of-fact basis, guided not by morality or altruism, but by the strengths and weakness of nations. Opposed as it was to moralism and Roosevelt’s policy of internationalism Kennan’s realism reflected not merely a concern for fact or reality but also a regard for elemental power as predominant force and influence. In proposing the principle of containment of the Soviet Union Kennan was taking for granted suppositions about America’s superior place not only in space but also in time. He won the political acknowledgment as an intellectual catalyst to the policy of confrontation while the Soviet Union, saying that the Kremlin was uncooperative and explaining why the United States had to check Soviet hostility and combativeness. But the author of the present essay, based upon some new primary source material, concentrates his attention mainly on the changing diplomat’s mentality as an indirect reflection of the dynamic historical process with his unsolved conflicts and unexpected new realities. Kennan who had once conceived of America exerting pressure to mellow or eliminate Soviet power as a totalitarian force and threat to democracy all over the world up to the beginning of the fiftieth felt a deep pessimism even causing him to doubt not only the constructive role of the American diplomacy in world affairs but the very capability for his country to solve domestic imperfections and propose to the rest of the world the new way of thinking which will provide a spiritual purpose for humanity in trouble.