The Russian mindset is a very deep subject, connected inextricably to the ‘Russian Soul’ – a term that the Russians themselves use self-referentially. I’ve no idea where a mindset ends and a soul begins, but I suspect there’s a sliding grey-scale between the two.
Last week I gained some insight into why ‘they’ are the way they are, and was introduced to the Moral Code of the Builder of Communism. Let’s take a look.
The 12 Commandments
1. Loyalty to Communism, love of the socialist Motherland and other socialist countries.
2. Conscious work for the good of society: one who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.
3. Care for collective property, as well as the multiplying of this property.
4. High consciousness of social responsibilities and intolerance to the violation of social interests.
5. Collectivism and comradery: All for one and one for all.
6. Humane relationships between human beings: one human being is a friend, a comrade and a brother to another human being.
7. Honesty, ethical cleanliness, simplicity, and modesty – both in private and public life.
8. Mutual respect within the family and care for the upbringing of children.
9. Intolerance to injustice, social parasitism, unfairness, careerism, and acquisitiveness.
10. Friendship with all the nations of the USSR, intolerance to all racial and national dislike.
11. Intolerance to the enemies of communism, peace, and freedom of the people of the world.
12. Solidarity to all workers of all countries and nations.
Late in the day
Yes, these instructions resemble a list of religious tenets – which may seem odd considering Communism’s inherently anti-religious stance. This is no accident or coincidence however as Communism sought to supplant and replace religion with its own version of faith, devotion and control.
Legions of unquestioning followers are extremely useful for any incoming, revolutionary movement and organised religion provides them in droves. Why not have a “religion” of your own?
Surprisingly; the list of Communist ‘commandments’ was not a founding document designed to rally the Bolsheviks in their overthrow of the Tsarist regime. Rather, it did not appear until 1961under Krushchev’s leadership (although after a decade in the making) and sought to redress some of the excesses of Stalin’s rule.
Whereas Stalin sought to rule by enforcement from the top downwards, Krushchev’s initiative set out to establish a Communist Morality that all would support from the ground up. Moral obligation can be a powerful tool, especially when backed up by state law and governmental policy.
The small print
Couched in simple, positive, and moralistic language, the Communist moral code immediately presents an appealing front. Who wouldn’t claim to support “fairness”, “the good of society”, “honesty”, and “respect”? How could someone possibly object?
It starts to become a little more chilling with the realisation that these rules reach deep into the private lives of individuals and families – and would therefore require similarly incisive watchdogs to police them. And with that, we are back to State control again, at the most personal level and justified by indignant ‘righteousness’.
Issues of “correct” behaviour and conduct were debated by party thinkers and their resultant, sanctioned guidance administered by ground-level volunteer groups who “advised” and corrected on intimate aspects of family and personal life.
The collective influence embraced such topics as: the rearing (not to mention, creation) of children, the correct function of the family, neighbourly relations (with problems ironed out in community meetings) – and more.
Elements of the codex could be selectively used as tools of coercion in order to pressurise family members, workmates, community members and others accused of transgressing in some manner.
The ‘guilty’ could be fined, reprimanded or shamed into compliance for deviating from true “Communist Morality”. It was a small step from flouting ‘the rules’ – to openly opposing them, and thereby opposing Communist doctrine itself. Then who knows? Perhaps you could even be an enemy of the people?
“Citizen” courts were assembled to impose those fines and reprimands, semi-official groups were set up and given the power to arrest ‘problem’ individuals. This was the flipside of “care” and “camaraderie”.
At any rate it must have been preferable to be harassed by a nosey neighbour under the spell of communist morality – than be interviewed by the police or even the KGB. But, of course, all options were on the table.