What is Russian culture like?

Soviet legacy on the foundation of the aristocratic culture from the era of Romanovs defined the face of modern Russian civilization.

The modern Russian culture has its roots in the meteoric rise of imperial Russia in the 18th century. The Romanovs’ monarchy absorbed imported European (mainly German, but also French) elements on the substrate of Slav-Turkic-Ugric ethnicities in the Russian heartland. In the next, 19th century, the resulting mix gave rise in Moscow and St Petersburg to what we know now as the classic Russian culture.

Our culture has a pronounced aristocratic bend. It appeared among the educated Russian gentry as a counterpoint to the subjugated peasant masses. Even the “nativist” Slavophiliac tradition (now transformed into “Eurasianism”) has pronounced statist, imperial overtones. The romantic nationalism of the German/Scandinavian variation, with its 19th-century “soil and blood” legacy, has never got a foothold in our country.

This was only reinforced by the Communist rule. The progressivist, modernizing pathos of the Soviet rule was a marked counterpoint to the “backward” legacy of Slavic and Turkic traditional peasant communities. The rests of old peasant Russia were obliterated first by Stalin’s collectivization, then by WWII and later by the uniformity of Soviet urbanization.

Our culture thrives in its juxtaposition to the materialistic, gratification-seeking Western cultures. We also like to contrast it against the traditionalist, sedate, insulated stasis of Oriental countries.

In the pictures below, you can see how the modern Russian culture incorporates (1) military equipment as a symbol of the mighty Russian state, (2) technology as a symbol of modernity, (3) XIX-century Russian folk art as our national signifier.

ethnic tank
ethnic cannon
two ethnic tanks
ethnic cannon

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