I am a Slav. I'm not bragging, and on the contrary not reproaching my ancestors, but simply stating the fact. To be more exact, I am a Russian, although I do have bits of Tartar and Finnish blood in me.
Surely, everyone will agree that every nation has its own national character, a national dominant, with all the diversity of its people. The Anglo-Saxons are known for being meticulous and orderly, the Romans lean more towards festivity and arts. The Japanese are distinctive in their politeness and self-respect.
Why so? How about us?
I have been thinking a lot about the traits of the Russian national character and the reasons they came into being, and now I want to state my conclusions simply and clearly.
A brief historical reference. Western Europe
If we go back to the beginning of the Dark Ages, we can claim that after the fall of the Roman Empire Europe was faced with long periods of savagery. Throughout the whole (mostly, peasant) Europe it was common that the farm animals lived in the same buildings as people. The notion of hygiene wasn't familiar; people washed themselves in natural water reservoirs during warmer seasons. Lice, fleas, flies, roaches and other insects were the usual companions of human life.
The European civilization was spinning its wheels. The main reasons for that were low energy supply and equally worthless level of education of society members.
The historical trial proved that life of the mankind can be continually improved through, basically, the development of goods production which would stimulate goods exchange, or trade. Trade makes up for the lack of some necessary goods in local production and, which is more important, is a stable source of information on how people live in other places, what they know how to do and whether that knowledge can be adopted and used on one's own. People need knowledge and energy to create or improve their life. The more knowledge and energy they have, the faster the society moves forward.
During those times, the sources of energy were, mainly, human labor and animals of draught, mostly horses. (If we assume that a horse is about 5 times stronger than a man, we can explain the advantages of cavalry over infantry.) But such low energy supply didn't allow producing surplus of goods enough for intensive goods exchange.
Even though various energy sources literally surround people, people's utter illiteracy at the time prevented them from taking advantage of that. For instance, knowledge of utilizing wind energy for efficient maneuvering of ships or for milling the grain were either lost or not yet found. Water energy was used in the most primitive way - to float cargo down the river. Chemical energy (although what the term meant, nobody knew) was employed only by burning wood to heat up houses. There wasn't enough knowledge. Many discoveries of the Roman Empire, for example in construction and metallurgy, were not understood and they disappeared.
Yet people were striving to live better. When the first caravans brought silk fabrics from China, it was established that lice couldn't hold on to the slippery surface of silk. Therefore, the nobility who could afford buying expensive goods started using silk as a wear underneath the clothes. That's how underwear appeared. The qualities of silk were so valued in Europe that the Silk Road arose, stretching for thousands of kilometers and regularly supplying silk from China to Europe.
People, living close by the Silk Road, fairly soon (well, in a hundred years or so) realized that it was much more profitable to rob caravans than work on the fields or breed cattle. Thus, many folk around that major trading artery assumed robbery as their main way to make a living. These populations acquired the cult of a warrior, or, really, a robber, and it determined the further development of their national character.
But one fine day Europeans found out that if you boiled a mixture of fat and ashes for a long time, you could get soap as a result. Soap was one of the greatest inventions of the civilization, but its discovery devaluated silk as a hygienic resource. Periodic epidemics of plague and cholera striking down on densely populated Europe were the means of natural selection that only those frequently using soap in every day life survived. Most of the epidemics stopped at the threshold of Western Europe and didn't work their way through into loosely populated Russia. Practicing personal hygiene became a corner stone of a Western European society.
So silk, defeated by soap, lost its relevance and therefore the Silk Road disappeared. The populations making a living "exploiting" it were left empty-handed. That resulted in numerous feud (internecine) predatory wars along the stretch of the Road and the wars eradicated the most vehement followers of pillage. The cult of a warrior has faded somewhat, losing its "practical" function, because there was nothing left to rob neither on the Road, nor from each other, but it still held a honorary place in ethical platforms of local societies, supported by then with the concept of a warrior as a defender against invasion from the outside.
Europe at that time was going through a reverse process. The Scandinavians, having had been robbing their neighbors for a while, now gradually put that practice away and focused on their agriculture. After that the quality of their life started swiftly increasing. Densely populated Europe was going from confrontation to cooperation.
At the same time one could see the slowly developing prerequisites of a machine civilization. A fore-and-aft sailing was invented, allowing a sail ship to move at almost any angles to the wind. This invention improved navigability of sail ships by a degree and opened an era of the great geographical discoveries. Seafaring brought in new knowledge and new goods. The exchange of knowledge and goods resulted in a serious forward leap of the nations versed in seafaring.
A major breakthrough for the civilization was the discovery of steam energy. Steam engines accelerated the development of the textile industry (the drives of textile machines), metal constructions industry (steam hammers), transport (steam locomotives). The increase of production of goods led to an increase in trading and, concurrently, in knowledge exchange. People in Western Europe were constantly broadening their horizons, for they could use not only discoveries known in their village or town, but also discoveries brought from afar. Agriculture acquired steel tools, developed irrigation and melioration. Society began generating so much product that there was a place now for education. The growth of the network of city schools and universities sped up the public progress even more.
At some point of evolution of the European society one could start feeling the ideological clutch of Catholicism which despite of its obvious benefits in the past (the creation of the common European moral communicative base) could not make peace with the notion of individual initiative because it viewed accountable population not as a society of initiators but as a flock. After the crisis of Catholicism due to a powerful anticlerical "liberating" movement, Protestantism and Anglican Church appeared; they freed most of the Western European population of limiting dogmas and it expedited the process of their economical growth.
Science schools appeared. In arithmetic there was a change from Roman numerals to Arabian numerals and that made arithmetic calculations easy for large groups of the population. New sciences were created such as algebra, alchemy got transformed into chemistry, trigonometry was formed for the needs of construction and cartography, and the basics of calculus were beginning to develop. Scientific progress moved forward the understanding of processes in metallurgy. From a concept of a potter's wheel came a turning lathe with a manual or steam drive, and that together with a steam hammer gave birth to mechanical engineering. Thanks to the works of brilliant Pasteur, medical business left voodoo and proceeded to developing a scientific foundation for medicine based on empirical experience.
So what about us, in Russia?
Russia. The same time period
The integration of the eastern Slavs into one nation was a difficult and slow process. Kievan Rus, the largest feudal state, didn't manage uniting smaller principalities under its wing before an avalanche of mounted robbers, formed in Mongolian prairies, crossed Middle Asia, ever-growing with recruits from defeated nations, and surged into Eastern Europe.
The Horde of Tartar-Mongolians was in its essence a repeat of the social phenomenon called "a migrating exterritorial state living by means of robbing settled nations" invented by Alexander the Great. Such states, like cancerous tumors, destroy everything on their way and die if they can't go any further. After their death, the territories that underwent the invasion experience a downswing for many centuries to come. So I wouldn't count Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan in with the greatest people of mankind. It would be the same thing as to count a plague bacillus in with the greatest. Those kinds of people leave only the deaths of many other people behind them. And nothing more.
So, the Tartar-Mongolian yoke cut growing in strength Kievan Rus at the root and substantially weakened centripetal forces of Slavic integration by ridding them of the uniting center for a long time. Three hundred years have passed before such a center was formed in the northern parts of Russia, and it gradually got free of the dictatorship of the Horde which, having been stopped by more militarily advanced western countries, was now rotting and decaying, as it was supposed to. In reality, the liberation occurred not due to the growth of the power of Moscow's Russia but due to the natural death of the Horde deprived from its chance of further expansion. At that time quite a few fairly distant from each other Slavic principalities were formed on Russia's territory, and such a "cluster" structure of population layout is to some extent still present nowadays. Where in Western Europe the cities and the countries are placed densely, in Russia during those years you could ride for hundreds of kilometers and not meet a single soul.
The communal type of structure
What has such seclusion of Russian settlements led to?
First, to difficulties in exchange of goods and information. Improvement of life was being done in methods known only in a particular local area, although in neighboring principalities or further away more rational and convenient methods or tools could be found. Scarce energy supply (human labor plus draught animals) didn't allow creating surplus of produced goods necessary for trading with adjacent territories. Seafaring for many centuries was limited to rowing boats or boats with morally obsolete straight sails. But the fact that life in many ways could be set up much better was not known to resident population because of the lack of information on how people live in other towns and countries.
Second, to xenophobia, i.e. disliking strangers. Communal structure came into being, where a prince, or a governor, or another local lord took leadership in a communal hierarchy, and the rest of the population had to distribute the rest of the seats amongst each other by the right of power or kinship. In such closed systems there was no place for outsiders. Besides, memories or sagas about atrocities of Tartar flying squads from neighboring principalities made people watch out for anybody not local.
Third, seclusion did prevent the spread of epidemics, but it didn't at that, unfortunately, create objective provisions for development of personal and communal hygiene. Due to that, Russia was introduced to underwear, soap, centralized dumpsters, sewage and plumbing hundreds of years after those things took root in the Western European social life.
How did it happen so that having gotten its start at the threshold of the second millennium A.D. roughly in equal conditions, Russia began to hopelessly fall behind Western Europe in terms of its social, economical and governmental development? How did it happen so that in the XVI-XVII centuries in Switzerland they could already produce fine chronometers (which required the basic knowledge of exact Mechanics, Optics, Jewelry, Metallurgy, selection of slipping pairs and so on), in Holland they won land from sea by means of dams and they pumped water off the territories fenced off from sea using wind pumps, and a Russian peasant was still ploughing with a wooden plough and sowing by manually throwing seeds around?
The reason for that lies in the inherent tendency for the communal type of structure, a tendency towards self-isolation.
The communal type of life organization leads to many often harmful consequences for the social and economical development of the society. Since a commune is automatically programmed to reproduce itself, it doesn't accept ideas of social progress. A child born in conditions of established communal hierarchy holds its traditional niche and, as it ages, it moves along the hierarchical ladder from one step to the next. Such structure doesn't facilitate a development of initiative; furthermore, members of a commune with excess initiative were either punished or, as a last measure, exiled.
Outlaws were apparently numerous, so they involuntarily had to gather in bands and turn to looting. And where was it easier to loot? On roads, of course. Thus, with road gangs coming into sight, making contacts between villages was that much harder.
Incestuous marriages within a commune facilitated, according to laws of selection, the creation of pure blood lines distinctive by similar appearance and temperament in locals which also led to gradual degradation of the local genotype.
A problem of communal property is of special importance. Every supreme animal strives to have its territory, with its precedence on it. By "territory" we mean not as much an area as what occupies it. Have you ever wondered why people like to bring souvenirs from other places? A souvenir symbolizes a piece of the place a person visited, and therefore is an extension of his personal territory. In communes everything including personal clothes was formally communal property. But at the same time every single member of a commune considered things that he used to be his own, in order to create his own space. The things outside of his indisputable circle of "ownership" he was indifferent to. That kind of situation generally undermined communal dogmas about frugal and economic attitude towards communal property, because economic attitude is only applicable to the things that a person really owns.
Even after the consolidation of principalities into the Russian monarchy was slowly completed, it didn't improve the situation by much. Energy supply and, accordingly, labor productivity stayed the same, while local taxes were complemented by the central state taxes.
Arguments listed above make us believe that the main reason for Russia falling behind Western Europe at the time of the establishment of Russia as a nation was a nominal volume of knowledge exchange between areas and countries, because of the low population density and the remote settlement of communes, connected by long roads. Self-isolation of separate regions was also aided by the communal structure of living, naturally arising due to their seclusion.
Living under Tsars
Still the young Russian nation wasn't aware of this problem, and who could really be aware of it there? It was much later that particular monarchs and highest nobility gave thought to the problem of isolationism, but even then historical circumstances prevented them from taking effective and comprehensive measures to solve this problem. And in those old days, instead of actions aiming to thicken population (such as building new cities next to the old ones, allotting land for free settlement in central Russia, giving away land to friendly distant tribes, etc.), instead of encouraging trade and creating infrastructure, the monarchy engaged in something it learned from the Horde, i.e. expansion.
A nation already marked by, as the militaries say, overextended rear, which is bad communications and weak abilities for the concentration of resources, entered the path of invasion. It's widely known where the invasion thirst led Spain, actively encouraged by the Holy Throne. Having spent massive human and material resources to capture territories overseas, Spain couldn't digest what was captured, and it eventually lost it and receded into a secondary country. In other words, Spain broke its back on invasion and stayed in a downswing for a long time. The best human resources of Spain had been wasted in vain, if we don't count in the improvement of foreign native people's genotype. But I doubt that was the goal Spanish kings had been after. It was virtually the same fate that a little later (in historical terms) awaited other colonial empires. They also were ruined by the paralysis of administration associated with overextended communications.
Our poor governors were luckier because of their poverty. Having had some individual successes in capturing footholds along the settled territories around the Black and Caspian Seas, they stopped at that because of the depletion of their scanty resources necessary to carry on the campaign. They spent less - which was fortunate, some hungry child got enough food to survive.
The rest of the colonization, from Volga to Pacific ocean, was conducted by the active part of the society, i.e. mainly by the hands of brigands who thought that in setting out for the West they could plunder and still get a expiation of sins by royal grace. Since Siberia and Far East were practically unpopulated at that time, the filibuster terrestrial invasion went by relatively painlessly. Russia acquired into its possession a large territory with almost no population, which due to the underdevelopment of communications and utilization technologies was, by the gross, unneeded. The attempts of its development (Tomsk, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok) overextended communications even more.
The monarchy, as noted by B. Akunin, began resembling a brontosaurus with a giant body and a tiny brain, unable to effectively control parts of its spacious organism. In the meantime, for intensive economical development Russia was lacking not territory, but population, especially population densely concentrated in its central part; it was lacking intensive trade (together with obtaining new knowledge and technique), between provinces as much as with the rest of the world. And transporting goods down long roads was economically unprofitable without wealthy buyers at the other end of them. Which Russia by and large didn't have.
The Orthodox Church also said its loaded word in the matter of Russia's self-isolation. Not particularly differing from Catholicism, Orthodoxy also viewed people as "slaves of God" and all their actions as predestined and controlled by higher powers. And if everything is predestined, why bother? Church "taxes" were a heavy burden on the already poor people, which didn't contribute much to the public love for the institute of the Church. The clergymen were generally as poorly educated as the rest of the population, so they called for no special awe. The institute of "elders" as carriers of higher wisdom emerged, but their advice was mainly reduced to "God endured and so must we" which didn't add much social optimism to the seekers. In general, the influence of the Church was directed at nurturing patience rather than initiative. Patient citizenry is very convenient to weak kings, but that's about it. Since patience is an attribute in meaning fairly close to fear, a patient man is more likely to make peace with the current situation than to engage in its improvement. By that, a society was gradually "weeded" of its spirit of initiative.
But in any population appear people with heightened sense of initiative, so-called "passionaries" under Leo Gumilev. Such people are capable of becoming outstanding organizers, political figures, prominent artists and inventors, capable of leading risky expeditions, etc. They constitute a necessary hormone, which gives a social body a constant inflow of energy for continual progress. However, passionarism often channels into an anti-humanitarian and antisocial path. Among obvious passionaries we can list the abovementioned Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, along with Attila, Emelyan Pugachev, Stepan Razin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and many other famous villains.
The Church, as much as communal life, was fighting passionaries vigorously. The result of this battle was predefined: a passionary was banished from legal society into the criminal zone. Thereby, the Church and communal morale were the actual creators of the numerous bands roistering in the vast of Russia. It was much later that the monarchy came up with, fortunately, a constructive thought about adapting a part of this brigandage for the needs of the state. Many bands were granted freedom charters and territories for settlement along the borders of Russia. Thus, an institute of Cossacks was created. But even that really wise decision for the effective defense of the borders didn't stop a constant supply of "excessively" active people from central Russia to the bandit guild. At the time when the fires of the Inquisition had been long gone, the Russian Orthodox Church still kept on fighting "heresy". The result is well known.
If we move to the frontier between the XIX and the XX centuries and correlate the quality of public life with the predominant religion, we get the following list:
Quality of public life Predominant religion
High (USA, Scandinavia, Germany) Protestantism
Medium (Italy, Spain) Catholicism
Low (Russia, Greece) Orthodoxy
Poor (Middle East) Islam
Poor (Indo-China) Buddhism
Nowadays, the influence of religion on social life has decreased due to the development of a massive substitute for religion - professional sports. But common tendencies remain. Religions that retard the social progress the most are Islam, Buddhism, Orthodoxy and Catholicism.
A critical point
In the XIX century Russia acquired new problems in addition to those we've already mentioned. A victory in a war with France allowed a considerable part of the Russian army to see, at last, how foreigners live. As a result of that humiliating comparison, a great number of people from the educated layers of Russian society began to critically evaluate both the methods of ruling the Empire and its internal policy. Many of those critically-minded people became influential personalities and brought much good to Russia, carrying out the reforms of government administration, cultivating mass education. In fact, they created prerequisites for the formation of the civil society in the Russian empire. The others acceded to the Fronde and gave an impulse for establishment of the revolutionary groups including those of terrorist direction.
There was one more important fact: a significant number of Jews, primordially living in Poland, became Russian subjects after incorporation of Poland into the empire. The Jews by virtue of historical circumstances had a high level of passionarism. Therefore, in Russia where people had been constantly "brainwashed" against any initiative, a new solid and vast social layer appeared that knew initiative and how to apply it. Naturally, these qualities advanced many members of Jewish community to leading economic positions. Their business successes were beneficial to economics, but caused much irritation in xenophobes, a majority of the original population raised under communal morale. Orthodoxy found itself yet one more source of "heresy" and joined in on persecution of non-Christians.
The history of the Jewish community in Russia was in details described in literature. The only aspect not spoken of was that in the second half of the XIX century the monarchy was simultaneously attacked by two groups of people: Fronders, who saw Tsarism as the source of all evil (which was mostly the truth, but not the whole truth), and also Jews, fighting for their place under the sun on the background of the general (and official) anti-Semitism. There wasn't much that could counterbalance those attacks, since the civil society wasn't yet fully formed and the state machine (officials, police and army) kept on suffering the same chronic illness: the incapability of (or unfamiliarity with) showing initiative.
From that moment on we can count off the downfall of the Russian empire. So, the victory over France in the war of 1812 became a time delay bomb for the Russian monarchy.
The state power couldn't, overall, deliver effective administration. The population, mostly undereducated (the reasons shown above) and suffering from a constant deficit of initiative, couldn't fill in the blanks of state administration on their own. Orthodoxy, as religious power, couldn't let go of dated dogmas and reform in the manner of Protestantism. The Church was still raising uncomplaining sheep unable to defend themselves.
At the same time the economy of the empire started its uprising with the abolishment of serfdom, with the development of textile, carbon and metallurgical industries, and the revival of trade. A unique trans-Siberian railroad was built (even though it would have been better to prioritize on the consolidation of railroads in the central Russia) which connected eastern and western regions of the empire. But economical successes couldn't save the situation. The clock has been started. The creator of the history is not God but initiative and committed people.
The dynamic growth of the Russian economy expanded the abilities of the wealthier part of the society to travel abroad more often and, at return, to add their share of dislike of the obsolescent Russian social scene to public awareness. In the educated layer of the society a heated debate arose between supporters of the traditional communal-orthodox morale and supporters of the protestant morale, based on the priority of individual over society. The debate of these two groups, who got the idiotic names of "Slavophils" and "westerners", was a proof of the deep crisis of the traditional morale. Alas, the differences between antagonistic concepts were so strong that the conversion from one platform to the other by means of modernization was impossible. Thus, at the frontier of the XIX and the XX centuries a ghost of revolution loomed over Russia. However, in every society with a morale crisis it's the amorality that gains advantage. The ethics was in a slump. Corruption, bribery and pillage prevailed.
The World War I
The war of 1914 burst the ripened abscess and let the wave of the built-up filth loose on the Russian society. The radical groups of the most blood-lusting spirits perked up. The anarchists, the social revolutionaries, the Bolsheviks, the Bund were thirsty for blood. Ingloriously fell the helpless dynasty of Romanovs. In fact, occurred a revolution into nothing, for there was no well-organized opposition capable of leading Russia to the more civilized nationhood, whether it be a constitutional monarchy or republics. On that background of numerous parties and movements the odds were in favor of the most violent "passionary" power. Such power was the alliance of Bolsheviks, social revolutionaries and Bund. A charming crowd lined up. But for any big scale action they needed funds, the trivial monetary resources. For Bolsheviks the sources were German funds, for social revolutionaries - the banks they robbed, for Bund - "voluntary" contributions of the Jewish community. As a result, this alliance managed to take control of the capital and then, through bribing and threatening the mob, of the major regions. The passive "patient" public was meekly awaiting its fate.
Long live the Soviet power!
Russia fell into the abyss dug up by many centuries of the political and clerical despotism. As a result of the civil war, the more educated part of the society (as a majority qualified as "westerners") left the Russian borders and they were compelled to use their potential not for the good of Russia, but for the growth of the western society. Russia, on the other hand, fell under the power of villains who could do all the roistering to it they liked, because people were deprived of the initiative to resist after the long past years of refinement. Only the Cossack regions inhabited by people not lacking passionarism were standing at bay (desperately fighting), but they were violently destroyed.
The Orthodox Church, as a moral institute, was abolished, because it was the object of particular hate of Bund.
After that, this new elite began its self-destruction (first they were killing social revolutionaries, then Bund, then everyone each other), taking an even bigger number of innocent lives along the way. Your Marats and Robespierres would never measure up. Then the part of the elite left alive recruited wardens out of the obedient population and distributed them among the regions under the order of the absolute subordination to the central power. The economical progress of Russia interested the elite not at all from the point of view of improving the quality of public life, but as a tool of self-preservation. The main accent was on the militarization of the society and the creation of powerful punitive organs. Just like that, a third model of the state military machine a la Alexander the Great (if we count the Golden Horde as the second model) came into being, and it couldn't exist without constant expansion.
The fundamental similarity of the new power with the Tsarist Russia consisted in the fact that passionarism wasn't encouraged as well. Instead, dutifulness and obedience were valued. "Your business is to follow the orders". But on the higher levels of the autocratic hierarchy there was a place for passionarism. That is, passionary people without any moral foundation, when they got to the higher levels, could greatly speed up their ascent on the social ladder, along the way sweeping off less active or less crafty public figures.
Then came the Great Patriotic War that was won only because of the already conducted militarization of the society and because of the exceptionally atrocious exploitation of the nation, unthinkable even to Adolf Hitler.
Russia lost a quarter of the population, but kept its militarized social structure. A considerable expansion to the West took place. The a priori low effectiveness of home economy motivated the elite to continue the expansion, but the death of Comrade Stalin, an alter ego of Genghis Khan, broke the blood-thirsty plans. The new leaders turned up to be more sober (or less passionary) and gave up on those plans, having realistically evaluated the war danger of the new stage of expansion. After that decision, the following years of the Soviet life became the years of awaiting for the inevitable economical collapse.
So what about the Russian character?
By conducting a brief historical reference we gathered materials for the analysis of the Russian character.
The traditional trait of it, inherited from the past, is patience, or simply fear. A common person feels powerless against the state machine or any social groups.
The spirit of commune in the most of the cases is lost beyond retrieve, so the Russians on the social field fall short to the members of other nationalities, more inclined to the clannish (corporate) morale. By the way, the same trait is also representative of the classic Europeans who find themselves now under the increasing press of Islamic immigration.
The disappearance of the traditional morality based on Christian dogmas and the absence of its effective substitute gave birth to a wide spectrum of moral and ethical movements of religious and other nature. In reality, the Russian nation is right now a battlefield of numerous shamans, warlocks, "messiahs", prophets, various religious and ideological groups. The restored, but fortunately separated from the state Orthodox Church is exploiting its own historical authority (not forgetting the toll free cigarette sale) and it is still preaching the idea of humility. The experience teaches us that the experience doesn't teach us anything.
This whole mishmash is provoking the formation of a large scope of moral positions in Russian people. I would even use the term "the people of the Russian Federation", because the ideological medley of the last thirty years of the XX century has practically blurred the national distinctions between the people residing on the territory of the contemporary Russian Federation. However, the new century showed that the society is undergoing the intensive processes of national separation by way of clannish (corporate) consolidation on national basis. The Islamic powers made themselves widely known, there is work actively being done to reunite a corporate Jewish community, the chauvinistic tendencies among the ethnic Russians are intensifying. If there is anything that could destroy Russia, it's the national issue.
Where in Western Europe (not counting in the new factor of Islamic immigration) the system of upbringing (family, school, church, police) produces citizens who are practically identical in their moral base just like an assembly line of a cartridge plant produces identical cartridges, in contemporary Russia the spectrum of moral differences is unusually wide. Relatively speaking, on the same Russian street live both lambs and wolves, righteous and sinners, geniuses and idiots.
We could point out the only so far beneficial circumstance: the spirit of enterprise and initiative has been rising considerably under the influence of the social commotions of the last few years, it has swept over a major part of the active population and, it seems, it doesn't come short of the Western European level.
We only lack the main moral foundations such as diligence and self-respect. They were being eradicated by the communal life just like initiative. At the same time, for instance, all the successes of the Japanese are based on those very foundations. Honesty, decency, persistence, precision and other useful traits are an automatic result of those primary moral foundations. Of course, many representatives of the Russian nation possess such foundations aplenty, but those "many" representatives unfortunately don't yet constitute an overpowering majority of the population. I can't imagine the power (at any rate, it's not Orthodoxy) that can plant the specified moral principles into the minds of the nation. My only hope is education.
Where in Western Europe the moral and ethical uniformity is the fertile ground for cooperation of citizens with the goal of further prosperity, our multipolar morality is nursing in itself the sources of the future crises.
Let's wait and see, what kind of crises. Maybe we'll shudder.
And it's necessary to realize that the main and the only treasure of every nation is its moral base and its education level, not its territory and natural resources.