середа, 13 серпня 2014 р.

Russia as a narcissistic personality disorder, Ukraine as a narcissistic trauma, Part 3

So, I have suddenly understood, that it was why I never referred to my “inner Russian”. There wasn’t anything positive in this sub-personality. Its primal (and almost the only) call was to merge with the other Russians, to be part of something larger than life.
Nonetheless, I almost fell to it. Urges of the “inner khokhol” seemed too petty, they were all bread-and-butter. I can firmly say that nothing but God saved me from becoming a “vatnik” – I satisfied my narcissistic urge to become “larger than life” by joining the Roman Catholic Church. One must admit, the Russian-Soviet Empire looks threepenny in comparison. So, I remained a narcissist, still, but a narcissist on my own.
Yes, any kind of nationalism, any kind of –ism can satisfy this narcissistic itch. It gives an illusion of closing the abyss between one's  narcissistic miserable self and the one's narcissistic grandiose self: the one can be miserable personally, but if the one is part of a grandiose group, the one is grandiose, too! That’s how it works in general. But there are jingoists in every country, what’s so specific about this one?
The fact that “being Russian” is all about this. You can speak Russian since your babyhood, can be pure-blood Russian and all – but if you do not want to be part of their Empire, they will never recognize you as Russian. They intensively reject the Russians who refuse to support that common narcissistic idea of greatness. The story goes from prince Kurbsky till now. And vice versa – if you are a foreigner, but you want to embrace the Empire – you are Russian no doubt! Look at Gerard Depardieu!
It gets ridiculous sometimes. Take one patriotic Russian writer in particular. She lives in Germany. She had emigrated there as a repatriate, being a wife of an ethnic German. She pays taxes in Germany. She raises her kids in Germany, because she is very well aware of how it goes with challenged kids in Russia. She is not even Russian Orthofox – she’s Roman Catholic. But she supports the Russian cause in this war and is fond of the USSR – so she is recognized as Russian alright.
And vice versa – there is Arkadiy Babchenko, a journalist. He lives in Moscow. He fought for Russia in two wars. He pays taxes in Russia, he raises kids in Russia… But since he begun to systematically expose the lies of the Russian media about the Maidan and the ATO, he's been branded as a “national traitor”.
The cruel irony lies in the fact that usually true patriots are the bitterest critics of their countries. But you remember the part about criticism and narcissism, don't you?
The main problem with the Russian nationalism is that it is not nationalism at all. Nationalism is about making the country better for its people. The Russian nationalism is about keeping the Empire together and expanding it, no matter what. In the Soviet times it would easily pass for internationalism, but it wasn't. Internationalism is “all nations are OK”. In Soviet Russia it was “all nations are OK as long as they want to join us”.
During the Perestroika there was a chance for the Russians to break the narcissistic cycle. Many of the Soviet people would say: to hell with greatness, we want wealth. We want food, we want good clothes, good cars and proper service”. It seemed for a couple of years, that reality had prevailed.
But the trick is that the desire for wealth is not enough. Just like a narcissistic personality, a narcissistic nation cannot just leap from narcissism to normality. It takes digging out and facing one's real faults and sins. With Germany, the digging was literal: the Allies forced the Germans to dig out the victims of death camps and rebury them in the civil cemeteries. Pity that no one has forced the Communist Party members to dig out and rebury the victims lying in Butovo or Bykivnya or any other site of mass murder. Were it done, there would be much less jokes about “forty millions shot by Stalin personally”.
But the disclosures of the Perestroika turned out to be only a new cycle of the narcissistic mortification. Soon after that – reboot: Russia “gets up off her knees”.
The worst thing about narcissists is that they make their relatives and neighbours suffer. Well, any person with any disorder makes neighbours suffer, but a narcissist causes the heaviest damage on the ones who love him/her the most.
This damage is called a narcissistic injury. And the Ukraine suffers from it bitterly.
Narcissistic injury is a traumatic personal disorder that happens to people who live in close contact with a narcissist and suffer from his/her attempts to destroy their personality.
It starts with idealisation. The narcissist idealises his/her partner, friend, child, because everyone about him/her must be perfect. But this phase is short – first, nobody’s perfect and second – the narcissist just cannot stand anyone who really is superior or at least equal. So here begins the phase of derangement or the “you could do better” phase. Every personal achievement of the narcissist’s partner the narcissist tries to claim as his/her own or, otherwise, devalue. There goes the phase of humiliation: the narcissist tries to get the victim down as low as possible. The humiliated victim has to believe that the narcissist is the only bright spot in the victim’s miserable world. This is a phase of direct violence – verbal, economical, physical.
Why does it happen? First, because deep inside the narcissist feels his/her misery and just cannot believe anyone to be with him/her willingly. Second, the narcissistic self is blurred and unstable, thus he/she cannot firmly tell his/her personality from the others’. I don’t mean he/she really does not understand that some Ivan Ivanov is not he/she, on the conscious level the narcissists grasps the idea just fine. But on the subconscious level he/she hardly can tell his/her own emotions and needs from those of the others. For example, if the narcissist hates someone, he/she feels like that person hates him/her, too. If the narcissist loves some person, he/she feels like that person reciprocates and if that person really does not, the narcissist takes it as betrayal. And if this person does love him/her back, God be merciful to the person in question, because the narcissist cannot really believe somebody to love him/her. The narcissist demands love to be proved over and over again, up to the total dissolution of the “beloved one’s” personality. And when it is dissolved, the narcissist sees that he/she has nobody to love anymore and starts to seek a new victim.
I want you to know that inside the narcissist does not feel like a successful predator. On the contrary, he/she feels like a victim. “I fell in love with an extraordinary woman and suddenly she became a common wench with petty needs” – that is the usual story. And the “narcissistic injury” is what that “common wench” suffers from. The victim shows some symptoms of the narcissistic disorder, but, since the victim’s ego was established before the interaction with the narcissist, the core of personality can be restored.
The Russians do really love to describe their relationship with former colonies in terms of domestic relations: The Russians and their satellites are “brotherly nations”. And the Russian nation is the Elder Brother, of course. Skip that awkward moment that the Georgians and the Armenians were christened a half-millennium before the Russians, and Kiev was a prosperous mediaeval city when there was nothing but a swamp on the site of what would become Moscow. Moscow holds the upper hand now, so the Russians are “elders”. And they are destined to guide their “little brothers” to… what exactly? Whatever, anywhere the Russian Elder Brother guides you to is OK.
The Russians love their “little brothers”, those proud little nations that held a heroic strife against oppressors – the Poles, the Turks, the Tartars and the Germans, and whoever oppressed them. And Russia had given them a friendly hand and helped to defeat the oppressor. And after that they happily united with their elder brother and became parts of the Empire.
And as soon they had become parts of the Empire, they willingly wanted to study Russian and the more they studied the more they saw that the Russian language, “the great, mighty, true and free”, is way better than the petty languages of their own. So they changed their languages to Russian, or, at least, they changed their alphabets to Cyrillic. Except for the Baltic nations, suspiciously Western, and the Georgians-Armenians who stupidly held to their ancient doodlings.
But some Undesirables in those nations arrogantly stated that Russia is an oppressor, too, and that “liberation by Russia” was another conquest, nothing more. They stuck to their funny languages, tried to compose some ridiculous literature and so on. They were the separatists and bourgeois nationalists, the Tsarist government dandled with them, having them sent to exile, the Soviet government shot them and sentenced them to labour camps, but somehow in couldn’t help, and in 1991 those traitors turned on us and proclaimed the sovereignty of their countries. But they could not properly govern themselves, so we had to establish puppet governments for them. The good ones will return to us when they get bored with their false independence, the bad ones will be forced to return to us anyway.
The core of the Ukrainian national ego was established before the intensive impact with post-Mongol Russia. It was formed in the Zaporozhian Host, a settlement of rebels, outlaws and refugees. Yes, of course, the Ukraine was much more than that, but it was the Host of Zaporozhye that became the crucial political power of the Ukraine and created the role model of Ukrainian: a Cossack, “unbowed, unbent, unbroken”.
The Russians consider the Pereyaslavska Rada (Council) as a “reunion treaty” between Russia and the Ukraine. The reassignment of the Crimea to the Ukraine in 1954 was timed to meet the 300th anniversary of this event. From the Russian perspective, the March Articles, signed by Bohdan Khmelnitsky, were the key factor that tied the Ukraine to Russia forever, a sacred marriage between two long-separated lovers.
Ukrainian leaders of that time, and Khmelnitsky personally, would have been very much surprised. For them, it was a serious, but neither sacred nor everlasting, alliance between the Zaporozhian Host and the Tsar to overthrow Rzeczpospolita, and it ended when the Tsar broke his obligations and signed a peace treaty with the Polish king. The Cossack reasoned in the Western terms of vassalage and suzerainty, the Tsar – in terms of the Eastern despotism. The ambassador of Moscow refused to Swear fealty to the Cossacks on behalf of his Tsar – “The Tsar does not swear fealty to his subjects”. On this ground many of the Cossack leaders refused to keep this treaty and swear fealty to the Tsar. So, this treaty was unsteady from the very beginning, it would end after 13 years and moreover – the March Articles contained not a word, not a character about uniting all the Ukraine to Russia! Hetman was only obligated to pay taxes and go to war for the Tsar, with all the Zaporozhian Host, mount and blade. What the heck, where has this eternal union popped up from?
This difference in perspectives of Russia and  the Ukraine is a keynote of our relationship. Russia, no matter what it called itself – the Empire, the Soviet Union, the Federation – never regarded the Ukrainian point of view. For them, if the Ukrainians signed an alliance than they agreed to unite forever, period.
This is the crucial problem with the narcissists – the so-called narcissistic egocentrism. Again, a certain measure of egocentrism is normal. How are we supposed to have a perspective of our own, if we should watch the things from the others’ perspectives all the time? But from time to time we have to switch from our own perspective to that of others to understand the others better.
The narcissist is totally incapable of doing this. No matter how hard he/she tries, the only result is his/her own perspective projected on others. The narcissist sees him/herself grandiose – hence, that’s how the others feel towards him/her. For the narcissist, there is no point of view, from which the narcissist can be seen as… a common person, leave alone a bad one.
The same we can observe in the Russian-Ukrainian relationship. It doesn’t matter if the question at hand is historical or contemporary, the only perspective is always Russian. Lately, it has taken on a ridiculous form, when both the Russian nationalists and liberals alike started to see the Ukraine as an “alternative Russia”, set against the disappointing Putinist Russia. For the first group, it is their “Novorossia” in the lands of the Eastern Ukraine, for the second group – the Russian-speaking minority in the Ukraine. These groups hate each other furiously, the first one wants the Ukraine to be conquered by Russia (except the Western Ukraine, which they generously give away to Poland), the second one wants the Ukraine to prevail, but they share the common habit of not taking the Ukrainian perspective into consideration.
No wonder that the Ukrainians readily picked up a semi-humorous “national idea” phrased by the satiric writer Les Podervyanski: “Just fuck off, all of ye!”
This is a very clear symptom of the narcissistic injury: at the end of the day the only thing a victim wants is to be left alone.
Since the times of Peter I, Russians writers, thinkers and politicians (most of them) tried to convince the Ukrainians that they are “lesser” people. Even the name given by the Russian Emperors to Ukraine means “Lesser Russia” – Malorossiya. This naming embodies two narcissistic claims at once: first, we are Russians (and that’s the highest praise they can come up with), second – we are “lesser” Russians.
This is the narcissistic way of love: on the one hand, the narcissists want the objects of love to dissolve into them. This dissolution is the ideal of love they imagine. But the dissolution will turn the object into the subject, i.e. into the narcissist. That is unacceptable, the object must remain the object, and so, on the other hand, the narcissists begin to humiliate the ones they love. They are totally sincere when they say they love  Ukraine. But for them, the word “love” means “absorption and subjugation”.
The Russians like to state that the persecutions against the Ukrainians in the Russian Empire were rather clumsy, and blame us Ukrainians for the “ungratefulness” towards the Soviet Power which supposedly “permitted” us to create our own culture and study our own history.
Leaving aside the ridiculousness of such “permission”, let’s focus on studying history. Of course, the special studies in the universities were, despite the ideological colouring, more or less thorough and correct. But the school course was formed precisely to make the impression of the “lesser” nation, which bravely, but unsuccessfully had been fighting the Poles, the Turks and the Tartars until the elder brother gave a hand.
Ukraine somehow “vanished” from history after the Tartar invasion and ruining of Kiev, and somehow “popped up” in the time of Khmelnitsky’s rebellion. A short paragraph of the Zaporozhian Host, that’s it.
And the problem was not only in some awkward moments, such as Sahaidachny’s raid on Moscow. The main problem was that Ukraine of that time was ahead of Russia in many ways. It was more culturally and industrially developed, more socially advanced, and all of this despite the internal strife known as “the Ruine”. Yes, comparing to the contemporary Western Europe it was an underdeveloped agricultural country. But for Moscow it was an outpost of civilization. For the Church reforming, Tsar Alexey had taken the Ukrainian liturgic books for reference and invited teachers from Kyiv-Mohyla Collegium, because there were no scholars in Muscovy educated enough to perform this task.
The same is true about the Ukrainian literature: in the school course it starts with “The Lay of the Host of Igor” (XII century), then epic folk songs “duma” (XVII century) and Gregory Skovoroda (XVIII century) and further on. There was no Ukrainian literature in the gap of 500 years, because there couldn’t be any culture beyond the borders of the Russian Empire!
People who studied literature in the higher schools, knew about the literature and history outside the Russian Empire, but the majority of the Ukrainians would graduate with a strong conviction that their culture is something secondary, something inferior, something for the unwashed villagers.
And this way of cultural suppression was way more effective than the repressions of the Tsarist times. Russia successfully projected its  inferiority complex upon us.
Many of us really wanted to become Russians. But there was this strange effect: the Russians had successfully “adopted” the persons they could use to support their national grandiose ego, but the majority of those who tried to merge would encounter some kind of resistance: they would still remain the “khokhols”, no matter how hard  they tried to conjugate. There was something special about them, something that would alienate them from the Russians. The latest example is the attitude towards the Donetsk and Luhansk inhabitants: as long as they remained in the Ukraine, they were “the Russian people we have to save”, but when they became refugees, they magically turned into “lazy stupid khokhols, go back where you came from!”
I dare to say that this “something” is the Ukrainian mentality, the most prominent components of which are concretion, industriousness and opportunism (which failed us so often). Just look at those separatists. They may call themselves Russians as they please, but have you ever heard about the Russians who en masse played the separatist card? No way!
Let’s pick up a topic of the WWII victims. As I have already said, from 8 to 10 millions of them were Ukrainians (the statistic is so clumsy because nobody could properly count the victims of occupation, and both Germans and Soviets were interested in this lack of precision). But Russia had successfully “owned” those victims, as it “owned” the victory. The price the Soviet Union had paid somehow “pardons” every injustice done to the Eastern Europe, so it could be never ceased. The Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union, and the loss is our common loss. But speak of the common victory – no way, the Russia is the sole heir to the Soviet Union, and Victory is Russian only, thank ye gramps!
Hilarious moment: the most of the Ukrainians still talk of 27 millions killed in total, never take the particularly Ukrainian loss into consideration.
The subjugation is one of the methods for dealing with the narcissistic injury: submit to the aggressor and survive. The other method is, let me phrase it as “outnarciss the narcissist”. The narcissist creates a false grandiose personality? OK, let’s create a three times more grandiose one! He/she devalues you? Devalue back, down to the ground and six feet below! Tries to own you? Own him/her yourself! And so on.
Applied to the Russian-Ukrainian relationship it looks like that: you call us “lesser Russians”? So, for us you are “moskali”, for ever. And yes, it is derived from “swamp”, which “Mocow” means in the languages of peoples you’ve destroyed. And yes, it is the only thing you’re good for. No, you are not an “elder brothers”, you are but northern savages. We were Europe all the way, and you were a joke. Mazepa might have been a bastard, but he was a cultured bastard, refined and sophisticated bastard, he was everything that drunken slob Peter desperately and hopelessly tried to be. And we have nothing in common with you, we are an ancient nation, we were before Troy, have you ever heard of Trypillia? And so on.
Between these two poles lies a wide spectrum of other narcissistic defences. What’s wrong with them all? Oh yes. They are narcissistic.
Today I have read in a friendly psychotherapist’s blog a message that seemed important to me. “It is not easy to live consciously. One of my clients one day cried: “I hate therapy, now I even cannot escape into illusion!” (…) It seems unbearable to accept one's own self and one's own appearance, to accept death of someone near and dear, to accept that one was deluded to one's own ruin. It's easier to say “It is not me”. And it works. When there's no diseased, there's nobody to cure. But the problem is that if it is not my bruises, lingering for a month – whose are they? If it is not my 100 kg weight – than whose? If it is not I who's been deluded and betrayed by a loved one – than who? Every time we leave such experiences unconscious, we cut off and throw away pieces of our selves. And the more we throw away, the less we become”.
The person that uses the narcissistic defences – i.e. throws away “unacceptable pieces” – becomes less. Russia becomes less amazingly quickly, but so do we when we try to defend our selves with narcissistic methods.
The Russians are afraid of consciousness. Their nightmare is to be made “to pay and repent”. The word “svidomy”, which means “conscious” in Ukrainian, is an invective for them.
It is impossible to be a conscious person and not to pay debts, not to repent sins. So we have to. I may say, we already do. When we, the Ukrainians, raise funds for the army, or volunteer, or work for various citizen committees – we pay for our former indifference and passivity. When we mourn for the killed in the ATO, we repent for our former silent agreement with corruption. And we shall pay more, because nothing is over yet.
We cannot afford to be narcissistic. However strong is the temptation to use narcissistic defences against the narcissistic neighbour, we have to keep conscious.
What does it mean? It means to remember some simple truths. First, we are an underdeveloped country of Eastern Europe. The key word is “underdeveloped”. We are neither great, nor miserable, we are just like any other country, but underdeveloped. Second, it depends only on us to develop. Third, it takes not only the hard work, but the control over authorities that proved to tend to embezzle our money. Fourth, and most important – we have to separate from Russia.
And I do not mean the economical separation only. We have to separate from Russia, first of all, in our minds.
The main difficulty in the separation from the narcissist is the separation from the victim’s own narcissistic defences. We just got too used to using them. We are fixed on “What will the Russians say? What will the Russians do?” even now. We still feed them with narcissistic supply – and feed on them.
We have to stop it. It doesn’t mean we have to become fierce enemies of the Russians. On the contrary. Cold turkey. Enmity is a very fruitful narcissistic supply. For now, the Russians are gathering hatred gladly – they are at the centre of common attention, they steal the show. So let them. Concentrate on what is ours, as an old motto says. Stay conscious. Keep calm and carry on. We have a country to save.
Now, closing the circle and returning to our perfection-seekers and anti-Putinists. While this article was still in progress, one more tragedy occurred. Ukrainian soldiers on the border with Russia, having been under a fierce artillery bombardment from both the Russian forces and the separatists, crossed the border and retreated to the Russian territory in hope that the Russians would not shell their own country. The anti-Putinist liberal guy expressed very intense resentment about their behaviour. How could they retreat to Russia if they consider Russia an enemy?
No, he never expressed his resentment about the Russian army having shelled them. Of course, the Russian army is below any criticism. But why didn't the Ukrainians die fighting?
And this is the point. When the narcissist wants somebody to be perfect – that means subconsciously he/she wants this somebody to be dead. A good reason to stay away from that kind, don’t you think?

Russia as a narcissistic personality disorder, Ukraine as a narcissistic trauma, part 2

National character is a myth in every sense of this word. It is a “non-truth”: not every Jew is a smart penny pincher, not every Frenchman a womanizer, not every Russian a drunkard and so on.
But it is also a myth in a “truth above the fact” sense. Jews had to be smart and thrifty and education-obsessed to survive in times of persecutions and to give their children a better life. The French language contains over 600 words for love-making, and don’t tell me it is for no reason. The average amount of alcohol consumption in Russia is 15.76 litres of pure ethanol per person over 15. It is lower than in Moldova, the Czech Republic and Hungary, but in those countries it is mostly wine and beer, and in Russia it is mostly vodka.
As a rule, national stereotypes are wrong when applied to a certain particular person, but a stereotype by default is “something that shapes”. There is a national stereotype of the greedy, industrious and independence-crazy Ukrainians. It shapes me whether I want it or not. I am not greedy and far from industrious, but when it comes to independence-crazy… well, guilty as charged. And when I cannot throw away a thing still in a good condition, which I do not need anymore, I say to myself and others that it is my “inner khokhol” who prevents me.
And now the most important part: being half-Russian myself, a native Russian speaker since my first word and writing in Russian for now, I have never, EVER referred to my “inner Russian”.
Strange? Not at all. The more I think of it, the more I am convinced that being Russian means to be… actually, nobody.
First things first. The national stereotype, as a part of the national myth, is something that shapes the culture and is shaped by the culture at the same time. Thus, we have to refer to the Russian culture in a search for the Russian character.
(By the way,  Russian nationalists have searched for the “Russian national idea” for over 150 years. Don’t you think it is a bit too long?)
Let us start from the bottom tier: mass culture. Folklore, jokes and so on. They take national stereotypes up to eleven both in positive and negative sense. The Ukrainians are greedy (negative value), independence-crazy (ambivalent, depends on who’s telling the joke) and industrious (positive value). The Georgians are corrupt (negative value), sex-crazy (ambivalent, depends on who’s telling the joke), hospitable (positive value). The Moldovans are stupid (negative value), workaholics (ambivalent, depends on who’s telling the joke) and laborious (positive value). The Estonians (and the rest of the Baltic nations) are slowpokes (negative value), taciturn (ambivalent, depends on who’s telling the joke) and poised (positive value). The Chukchas are totally uncivilized (negative value), childishly naïve (ambivalent, depends on who’s telling the joke) and sharpshooters (positive value). The Armenians are cunning (negative value), cunning (ambivalent, depends on who’s telling the joke) and cunning (positive value).
The Russians are stupid (negative value), axe-crazy (negative value), totally uncivilized (negative value), never learn (negative value), slobs (negative value), drunkards (negative value), lazy (negative value), foul-mouthed (negative value), spiritless (I don’t mean ethanol)…
What, no positive or, at least, ambivalent values? You could think that the Russian self-criticism degrades into self-flagellation. Don’t be hasty. Any of these negative values in Russian jokes leads to the utter success of the Russians!
Well, joke is a form of self-criticism, too. Russians make jokes about their vices and their ability to represent a vice as a virtue. Well, what about true virtues?
Yes, there are many virtues that the Russians brandish as their national traits. The Russians claim to be loyal, patriotic, crazy brave, patient, steadfast, laborious, vigorous, they love freedom, they are kind, generous and sympathetic.
This is an image drawn not by the mass culture, but the classic literature and cinema. Classic writers, generally nobles by origin, praised Russia and the Russian people in the most turgid heroic manner.
But there was something puzzling about these virtues. I shall explain by examples. Take bravery. Many classics, or, rather, every classic praised the bravery of the Russian soldier. Not only soldiers, but peasants and even women were lauded for their bravery. There is the famous poem by Nekrasov, “Grandfather Frost-the-Red-Nose”; it has got a female character who is praised for her beauty, wisdom, poise and bravery. It is said that she can stop a galloping horse and enter the burning log cabin. But in “Who is happy in Russia?” we see the similar character suffering a cruel treatment from her husband, her mother- and sisters-in-law. And she suffers meekly, making no attempt to resist, despite being a strong woman. Or take Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” – the war part are about the heroic strife with Napoleon. The true Russian soldier Platon Karataev is an embodiment of faith, spirituality, courage, sympathy, yada-yada-yada. But in another story, “After the Ball”, he depicts the same Russian soldiers whipping their comrade into bloody pulp, meekly, with no attempt to resist or to make a punishment less cruel. And the most terrible part in it: "Do you think I had come to the conclusion that the deed I had witnessed was wicked? Oh, no. Since it was done with such assurance, and was recognised by everyone as indispensable, they doubtlessly knew something which I did not know.”
Well, so much for Russian love for freedom, too. The Russian campaign of The Napoleonic Wars is dubbed as the Patriotic War. The Russian people was fighting for freedom… despite the fact that the majority of the Russian peasants were enslaved and remained slaves after the victory. Well, the Americans exhibited similar hypocrisy, but at least they have stirred up a fight for the liberation of black people. No one fought for the liberation of the Russian peasants, including themselves.
Patriotism. Lermontov’s “Borodino” where he praises Russian forces:
The foe that day had many ways
To feel what daring combat weighs,
Our Russian hand-to-hand!..
As did our chests – earth's hollows trembled;
The steeds, the men all disassembled,
And cannon volleys' sound resembled
A moaning o'er the land...
And, in a row, his “Farewell, unwashed Russia, / land of slaves, land of lords, / and you, blue uniforms, / and you, people, obedient to them…”
You can go on by yourselves: take any virtue of Russia praised by any Russian classic – and you will find the disproof of this virtue in the texts of the same classic!
Such schizophrenia, of course, couldn’t remain unnoticed. The classics were not fools, they were conscious that the Russian commoner, however praised he might be, languished in misery, and they could not do anything about this. They’ve witnessed incredible humiliation, torment, abuse – and were helpless. Even when they have got the power, like Saltykov-Shchedrin, they were helpless, because they had to deal with an enormous system of lies, exploitation and oppression.
They had to deal with the fact that, despite all the lies, exploitation and oppression in Western countries, people resist, people fight, while the Russian people suffer silently. They couldn’t cope with the fact that the Russian people are tramped in total meekness and they are accomplices. Remember, they were nobles, and many of them had serfs of their own.
So what did they do?
They invented the concept of the enigmatic Russian soul, of the Russian people as a collective Christ, a martyr nation that redeems the sins of “godless Europe”.
Russia cannot be understood with the mind alone,
No ordinary yardstick can span her greatness:
She stands alone, unique –
In Russia, one can only believe.
(prosaic translation of Tiutchev’s poem)
- this is the most pervasive opinion the Russians have of themselves. Russia is godlike, period.
The question is – who was the collective Pilate then? Yes, the answer seems obvious, the Tsar and nobility, but you see, the Russian nationalists of those times (they called themselves Slavophiles) couldn’t blame the Tsar, who was their sacred cow. So they blamed… Bingo! They blamed Westerners!
Let us sum this all up: the so-called enigmatic Russian soul is nothing like an enigma. There is nothing unique about it. There is nothing special. It is but pure narcissism extended to the national principle, that’s all.
This narcissistic dissociation between the praised ideal self of the nation and the real state of this nation is typical for the early modern period in Europe and Asia. The foremost countries closed this gap with raising their social standards. The underdeveloped countries – Russia, Poland, Japan, Turkey, China and so on – tried to cover this gap by inflating up the narcissistic egos of their nations. Why? Because the leaders of those countries were the first to fall under the narcissistic glamour. No wonder: since they were the first to abuse and exploit their nations, they needed the biggest excuse!
It works with a nation just like with a personality. There is an actual miserable state of the nation. There is the only way to change this state, but it is painful and difficult (especially for the dominant political elite, which risks to lose its privileges). There are neighbour nations that live better. There is a shame for that miserable way of living. And there is a huge temptation to say: they may live better – but we are better! We live worse because, unlike them, we do not care much for wealth, we are spiritual, self-sacrificing people, honest and modest and true to the ways of our fathers. We are happy in our poverty, because it makes us strong and steadfast. We could have easily gained wealth – we just don’t want to, the wealth can spoil us.
In reality, that poverty doesn’t make people strong. It makes them cruel and abusive. The Russian classical literature is full of atrocities, but the narcissist is blind to them even if they describe them with their own hand. Dostoyevsky depicted incredible poverty, alcoholism, child prostitution and abuse amongst Russian people – and still he praised Russian generosity. Because “the hideousness is a temporary disaster, it almost always depends on the previous transient circumstances, on slavery, on the centuries of oppression, of roughness, but the gift of generosity is the eternal, spontaneous gift, born with the nation and the more revered if even after ages of slavery, ties and poverty it will survive intact, in the heart of this nation”.
Nota bene: Dostoyevsky didn't even consider generosity as a trait that requires cultivation and development. It has to be “spontaneous”, not to be born and raised in the heart of the nation. Can anyone guess why it hasn't happened yet?
The spontaneous, miraculous transformation from Saul to Paul is a typical narcissist fantasy. The narcissists cannot fantasize about them creating virtues of their own – they are already perfect! This perfection can only be revealed. Thus, the Russians need no improvement – they are God-bearing people already!
The harsh moral flagellation of the Russian national character, performed from time to time by some thinkers, is nothing more than the other phase of the narcissistic cycle, the phase of mortification. Then comes the phase of self-pity and harvesting the narcissistic supply, and then – again the phase of grandiosity. In this phase Russia, as a rule, engages in a “little victorious war” which ends in an epic fail. One of those wars had ended with the October Revolution.
Had it changed anything? Hell, no. The narcissists never learn, because they cannot consider themselves imperfect. The Russian people remained a messianic people in its collective mind, but now their Gospel was not a God-bearing, but the bearing of the World Revolution.
Of course they failed. They just couldn’t help it.
There is an opinion that the Russians were spoilt and degraded by the Bolsheviks. Wrong. They were like that long before Lenin. Long before Peter the Great (who was a flamboyant narcissist himself). They adopted the myth of “the Third Rome” ("Two Romes have fallen. The third stands. And there will be no fourth. No one shall replace your Christian Tsardom!") in the early 16th century, but they believed themselves to be the only “true Christian” nation long before that. This narcissistic claim has its roots deep in the times of the Tartar invasion, and I will not trace them. Let’s concentrate not on the reasons, but on the consequences.
So, in the modern folklore, the Russians can hardly denote their significant positive traits and virtues. I can compare this to the subconscious of a narcissist, who feels miserable deep inside.
In the Russian classical literature, the Russians are praised for their enormous virtues and criticised for their enormous vices (but not for their real vices!) – this is very much like the splendour-mortification cycle.
What about the modern literature? I mean starting since 1900, not just contemporary?
Well, when you read something like Babel’s “Red Cavalry”, or Sholokhov’s short stories, or “How the Steel was Tempered”, or “The Rout”, or any other book on the October revolution and the Civil war, you cannot help thinking “These people are monsters… and they are completely OK with that”.
Well, they had it coming. When a nation considers itself godlike, it is about to repeat the destiny of the most well-known character who considered himself godlike. It is about to fall, and the fall of the Russian Empire was massive. The Bolsheviks had inherited the Empire and restored it – along with its narcissism. During their 73-year rule, the Russian narcissism reached the final stage: total separation from reality and hence, self-destruction of the nation.
During the Bolsheviks rule it finally became clear what it means to be Russian. It means to be nobody, no person and no nation – just the material for a Great Social Experiment. The very concept of national martyrdom was firing on all cylinders: how many people were killed in the gulags is still unknown, in the Holodomor the estimate was ranging from 4 to 7 million, WWII – from 20 to 27 million, more than half of them civilians (and from 8 to 10 of them Ukrainians, but we shall talk about this matter later).
The value of the human life was tending to zero, but the greatness of the First Working Class State was close to absolute. If it wasn’t for the death of Stalin, all hell could have broken loose.
His death delayed, but did not stop the fall of USSR. He was a narcissist, a megalomaniac – but he hadn’t created that narcissistic system of common martyrdom, he was picked and raised by it. After his death the system reproduced itself, as the narcissism does, from generation to generation. Parents affected children, children affected grandchildren and so on. I had a bit of it in my school times, the late 80th, when teachers told us in classes how bad the capitalism was and how unhappy our peers were in the USA, or Italy, and after that, during the break, they discussed a possibility of scooping out Italian boots or American jeans, because domestically produced shoes and clothes were good for nothing. That was a narcissistic gap in its extreme: we had to believe we lived in the best country ever, and everything around was crying to us that it was wrong.
You know how it ended.
Although it has not ended at all…
One more word. Modern Russian nationalists blame the Communist Party for “denationalization” of the Russians, for turning them into a device for holding the multinational Soviet Empire together. But looking at the history closely, the Russians have always been like that. The Russian nation was nothing but a tool for its leaders: a “ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them”. But they could be proud of it. Many political leaders admitted that the Russians make good soldiers. That is true. All the aforementioned praised Russian virtues are soldiers’ virtues mostly. But the first of the soldiers’ virtues is obedience. Soldier must be brave, strong, cunning, self-sacrificing… but only when he is ordered to. “Die yourself, but save a friend”, Russian saying goes. But not when your superior orders you to flog your comrade to death. In that case, another saying is a motto: “You die today and let me die tomorrow”.
The Tsars allowed the Russians to take pride in their superiority. Being Russian meant being a tool for the conquests of the Empire, and being proud of it.
Post-Communist Russia declared peaceful politics, and robbed all the Russians of the source of their narcissistic pride.
Consequences… well, do you still remember the metaphor of a truckload of shit and a high-pressure turbine?
It turned out to be not-so-metaphoric.

понеділок, 11 серпня 2014 р.

Russia as a narcissistic personality disorder, Ukraine as a narcissistic injury, part 1

This article was conceived suddenly during one of those Internet-discussions, in which I tend to engage during my PMS. Afterwards, I am usually astounded about how stupid I was, but sometimes it ends with sudden insights that happen to be useful.
So, this time the starting point was a huge mistake that the Ukrainian Rada (the parliament) had made on 23th of February 2014, when they had cancelled the “language law” by Kivalov-Kolesnichenko. The topic starter was firmly convinced that the cancellation of this law, above all other reasons, had caused civil unrests in Eastern Ukraine. He was not one of those Russian jingoists called the “vatniks” (lit. “Cotton-padded coats”). On the contrary, he was in opposition towards Putin. He recognised that the Russian propaganda held a stake in this business, that they blatantly lied about the “criminal responsibility for using Russian”, that they faked Tyahnybok’s statement on the law – but still, “the Ukrainians should have known better”.
I will not explain the story behind Kivalov-Kolesnichenko’s “language law”, it is too long. The main point is: nobody, ever, proposed criminal persecution against Russian-speaking Ukrainians. The cancellation of this law was a mistake, but a minor one. It could cause neither the invasion of Crimea, nor those civil unrests in Donetsk-Luhansk, because the massive anti-Ukrainian propaganda attack had started long before that law was cancelled. Its cancellation has been an excuse, not a reason.
So, I was told, you the Ukrainians shouldn’t have given the separatists an excuse!
And then I realised that this is pure, explicit victim-blaming. When someone requires from somebody to be perfect, it is never about perfection. It is about shame. And in this case the person who shames the Ukrainians is an anti-Putinist.
The next day another guy from the very same circle (an anti-Putinist, too), blamed the Ukrainian government for drafting refugees into the military service.
By that time I’ve learned not to waste my time. He apparently took no interest in the explanation that a country with a war at hand cannot sign any capable man off. We've got a long border to guard; any country in our situation would do the same.
But, you see, they just cannot sympathize with Ukraine when it acts like any other country. They only sympathize with the country that acts perfectly.
The first guy was a socialist, the other a liberal. So, this perfection-seeking was not about their political creeds. It was totally about them being Russians.
It lies somewhere deeper than convictions and beliefs – on a more common level, where general education and mentality meet personal character.
I've had a long history with narcissists. Long enough to recognize the pattern.
What if the so-called “Russian character” is nothing more than national-wide narcissism?
Let’s take a look.
First, what is narcissism? Wiki says that it is “the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one's own physical attributes, that derive from arrogant pride”. Well, OK, all of us are narcissists to a certain extent. We like to be admired and praised, don’t we? But beyond that there is what is called the “Narcissistic personality disorder, in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and to others in the process. It is estimated that this condition affects one percent of the population”.
Can it affect a whole population of a country, or at least a significant part of it?
Yes, and the Nazi Germany is an example.
The symptoms of the narcissistic disorder are very close to the Nazi mindset. The narcissist and the Nazi alike:
•    Expect to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments;
•    Expect constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others;
•    Envy others and believe others envy them;
•    Are preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence;
•    Lack the ability to empathise with feelings or desires of others;
•    Are arrogant in attitudes and behaviour;
•    Have expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic;
The difference is that the narcissist applies all of this exclusively to their own person, while the Nazis extended those narcissi treats to the whole nation. For the Nazi, everything German was to be recognised as superior and special – the nation and the country, which had to draw everyone’s attention and admiration, to stir up envy, and destined to the great success, and be an enormous power which can afford to disregard other petty nations.
Muchhas been said already about the similarity between the Nazi Germany and Putinist Russia. They are similar indeed, Putin looks like a second-hand Hitler. But this similarity has it’s roots deeply in the narcissism, which had affected both the countries long before Hitler and Putin were born. It is not only these countries; the same symptoms one can observe in Meiji-Showa Japan, in Maoist China, pre-war Poland, Croatia and Italy, 17th-century Spain and modern Iran.
What do these nations have in common?
Technological and economical underdevelopment, which causes a massive, huge inferiority complex.
Narcissism always starts with an inferiority complex. A narcissist feels his/her insignificance and hates him/herself for this. This hatred causes shame, and in attempt to protect him/herself from this shame the narcissist builds up an ideal person which he/she pretends to be. But any hint of criticism shatters this ideal image, which is intolerable. Therefore, the critic is treated as an enemy.
Any sane person can ask: why so complicated? If you feel shame, you just stop doing what causes this shame and stop feeling shame. Profit!
That is true, but not for the narcissist. The narcissistic shame is different from the ordinary shame: there is no particular reason for it, the narcissist is ashamed just of being imperfect. Which means: just of being human.
Usually, the parents are responsible for such an attitude. But it could be any significant adult person whose reactions to the child’s behaviour have nothing to do with the latter: the child is “good” or “bad” depending only on the adult’s current mood. This crazy way of upbringing makes the child believe that it is not he/she who makes him/herself good or bad; it is the others and their attitude, always.
Do you see the point? Everyone knows that others can make them feel bad. Sometimes they are nasty persons, the others. But only narcissists really do believe that the others define them as good or bad.
How do I know this? I have read a lot. And an even more important thing – I used to have a narcissistic disorder myself. I know how it feels – when someone, anyone, has a power to make you and unmake you with a word. With a thought.
It sits deep inside the subconscious. It takes a huge amount of therapeutic work to dig it out into the consciousness – this fear, this shame. It is  painful work. So most of the narcissists never get to therapy. And the rest come to the therapist when their lives are totally broken.
In their consciousness, the narcissists never admit to that shame, fear and weakness. They deal only with their “grandiose selves” and demand from the others to deal with those false personalities. Any attempt of criticism is taken as a mortal injury. And, as I say, it really feels this way. That’s why the narcissists respond to criticism with an intense aggression.
Some narcissists can fake tolerance and self-criticism. The trick is to take the blame and to blame yourself for what you have not actually done, or for some minor faults. Double profit: it doesn’t hurt and still you can feel yourself a tolerant, forgiving person, almost a martyr. But try to prick the narcissist where it really hurts – and you will see a truckload of shit hitting a high-pressure turbine.
Some narcissists find delight in the narcissistic mortification. They go in cycles: first comes an attempt of building up their “grandiose selves”, then failure (inevitable, ’cause, hey, NOBODY can be perfect!) and then plunging into misery and self-pity… and then harvesting portions of love and consolation from others, so-called “narcissistic supply”, to make another attempt of building up a “grandiose self”, aaand we’re back!
Let me remind you, the narcissists really do believe that it is the others that define them as good or bad, so they need love and admiration to seem good and feel good. They are human-addicts, and, like any addict, they are never satisfied and always need a dosage increase. And when they feel withdrawal, they feel bad and they behave badly, but it is not perceived as their own fault, they always blame others! The narcissist can plunge into mortification and play it off for repentance or atonement, but only to get a dose of love and admiration for such a brilliant atonement and thorough repentance. Try to deprive the narcissist of this dose – and… you know: a truckload of shit and a high-pressure turbine.
But people usually do not like shit showers. That’s why at the end of the day, narcissists are lonely.
So, that is a general description of what it means to be a narcissist. Let’s take a look at what it means to be Russian.

субота, 19 липня 2014 р.

Strelkov speaks

Below there is a screenshot and the literal translation of the rebels' leader's words on the plane crash.


Crach of MH17.
Over the last couple of months pro-Russian rebels have been downing Ukrainian military planes. "Don't fly in our skies," Igor Strelkov, an outlaw leader in eastern Ukraine and a Russian officer, has written the other day.
This is an extract from Strelkov’s report group in the social network Vkontakte. The European community suggests we should negotiate for peace with Strelkov and his outlaws. But first one should know who they are. We hope the information we provide will contribute to an unbiased perception of the current situation, showing how the innocent victims are regarded. Thus one will be able to decide, whether it is worth wasting time on negotiations at all.

(icon with Strelkov picture) Reports from Strelkov Igor Ivanovich
18.07.2014 12:40 (Moscow time) Comment from I.I. Strelkov

Question: But there has to be someone to fly that airplane, and it would be impossible to leave the plane, among other things. Version about plane full of corpses is fascinating of course, but it doesn’t make much sense.

I.I.: First, by no means all people in the airplane were dead before it fell.
Second, the large number of medical supplies, blood serum and other things, not typical for an usual plane, were discovered inside of it. Looks like it was carrying special medical cargo.
Third, I do not insist in anything (yet). But just now I’ve talked to two men who had collected corpses right after the crash (both are from Shakhtyorsk and had arrived to the crash site less than in half an hour after the crash) and I just follow to what they have said. They have emphasised that many corpses seemed to be “totally bloodless” – as if their blood had been coagulated long before the crash. Also they’ve said about strong cadaveric smell of corpses, which was noted by many locals – and such a smell could not develop in half an hour whatever the weather was; and it was cloudy yesterday, and not very hot.
Fourth, I myself take any “conspiracy theories” with extreme suspicion, but gas poisoning of our 18 fighters at positions in Semyonovka, executions of fighters’ family members, and other “small pleasures of conscientious* patriots” have convinced me that Ukrainian authorities are capable of any nasty trick.

The pilots were alive, naturally – the whole cockpit was literally drenched in blood (its front part remained surprisingly intact).

Strelkov informs:

Today at 12:02 (Strelkov image)

(icon with Strelkov picture) Reports from Strelkov Igor Ivanovich
18.07.2014 11:53 (Moscow time) Information from I.I. Strelkov about Boeing

People who collected corpses say that significant portion of corpses is not fresh – people died several days ago. I cannot confirm this information with complete certainty, of course, forensic report is required.

Strelkov informs:

Today at 11:20 (Strelkov image)

* ”conscientious” - in original Russian text he'd used the Ukrainian word "svidomy", often used by Russians in the negative context towards pro-Ukrainian activities, persons, etc. It actually means ”conscientious” and the very fact that they consider ”conscientious” to be a pejorative, tells a lot about their way of thinking.
When our plane have landed, I've got a squall of messages: where are you, are you OK? Yes, I'm OK, I've ansvered from Zhuliany airport. What happened, why so serious?

And than I've got to know...

I was at the same time, at the same sky, on the board they've missed.

Oh, God. Oh, God.

середа, 9 липня 2014 р.

"Svanetia? Are you kidding us? does this country really exist? It sounds like some fantasy-book country name, that's what my friends told me when heard that I go to Svanetia" - said Thomas, the guy from Germany. We have met on the Zugdidi train station - him and his girlfriend, Anya from Moscow, and me. The driver, grey Georgian named Georgy (Zhora for short), have picked us to get to Latali, a village in Upper Svanetia.

His green Mercedes had carried us through valley and the mountain road had begun.

We looked around and felt envy to spiders for their eight eyes. Svaneti was beyond description. It was not just sounding like some fantasy-book country, it was looking like that.

We stayed on the bank of Enguri river, and its muddy foamy stream roared like hell under us. I was looking at the HPP dam, almost expecting for the ents.

The road twisted and turned between mountains and abysses, from time to time driver Zhora stopped to let us admire the views. At this conflux of two rivers my cell phone battery finally gave up. This was the last picture it could take:

It had taken three hours to drive from Zugdidi to Latali, a Svani village, the final point of our destination.

Yes, Svanetia (or Svaneti, as locals say) does really exist. It is the North-Western part of the Georgia, on the Russian border. The border runs over the mountains, through the zone of eternal snow, 3-5 000 m over the sea level, so svani could feel safe during the war of 08.08.2008. Their towns are too small and insignificant from the military point of view, they were not bombed, and it would take a long and bloody guerilla suppressing to advance along the Enguri river (and there is no oher way to Svaneti by land). So, not likely Putin could have succeed where Zhengis-khan and Tamerlan had retreated. Svaneti wasn't ever conquered, by no one.

That doesn't mean that Svani enjoyed peaceful life. On the contrary, their history is a history of constant internal strives, local wars and blood feuds.

That's why the name of Svaneti is associated with towers (for the people who knows at least something of this country). Towers are dominating over the every village. It is not towers of nobles (svani were tended to kill their nobles-wannabes), it were commoners who built those towers for their families. For the svani, ''my house is my fortress" is more than just a saying. Many of those towers are above millenium old. The newest ones in Latali are 600 years.

Nowadays, those towers are but the tourists attractions, or storages, or museums and local places of interest. Some of them are in goog repair, some are semi-destroyed.

Laleta itself turned up to be a friendly-looking house nearby the road.
The bigger building is a hotel, the lesser one - hosts' house, under construction for now.
Next time I'll tell more about what 'Latali' and 'Laleta' means.