The Russian Soul
By Bryan Caplan
I came across these interesting thoughts from Soviet emigre Jamie Glazov in FrontPage magazine:
[T]he governments of a people are a result of the neuroses of the people they rule.
I was born in the Soviet Union. While I cherish many aspects of Russian culture, there are several aspects I am very happy to have escaped from and I now live my life very consciously trying to be as far away from those aspects as possible. For instance, in Russia, the boundaries between what is your business and other peoples’ business are always very blurry at best and non-existent at worst. The idea of an old lady approaching a person in North America to chastise him about his appearance or something he has done wrong (i.e. keeping his shoes on a park bench) is next to impossible, but in Russia, as many of us know, it is a common and everyday thing.
What I love about my life in North America is that, if it is cold and I do not want to wear a hat, a person might make a suggestion for me to wear one, but, if I don’t want to wear one, there is not much at stake. If I decide to go outside without a hat, there might, at most, be a chuckle or a shrug from the advice-giver and the event is over. Among Russians, it is very probable that you could be surrounded by a large group of people who simply will not allow you to leave the house if you do not put your hat on. And the articulated fear of you “catching cold” is, as we all know, a fictitious cover-up and lie, because there is something much more at stake. And part of it is that, because of the powerlessness that is felt in almost all other areas of life, these individuals attempt to insert control over realms where they can find a modicum of control and, in so doing, hopefully control others.
It is a mentality that I have been exposed to throughout my life among Russians and, aside from my love of my people, who I think are, on some levels of the human soul, among the most beautiful people in the world, it is something that I cannot talk about too long without getting very angry and my blood pressure rising to very unhealthy levels. So I desist. . . .