During the first Russian revolution, M. Gorky said: “The Russian intelligentsia is the best in the world.” Was it really so? Is it worth while agreeing with the great Russian writer? Was he optimistic, especially given the time?
For half a century before Gorky another classic of Russian literature, Herzen stated a very eloquent fact: philistinism, from which individuals escape in the nobility of higher culture, seized the public in Europe. Regarding Russia, the writer said then: “In our life there really is something insane, but there is nothing vulgar, nothing philistine.”
It is known that the source of all philistinism is idyllic well-being. The essence of the idyll is the opposite of tragedy, which is the source of nobility. The life of the Russian intelligentsia, as follows from classical Russian literature, is a continuous tragedy, complete unhappiness. Because no one in the world had a more desperate situation than the Russian intelligentsia – between the oppression of the autocratic system from above and the oppression of the unfamiliar dark folk element from below.
Look closely at the images of the Russian classics, and you will certainly see a young man, poorly dressed, with delicate features, a murderer of an old woman-interest, an imitator of Napoleon, a disillusioned student of Rodion Raskolnikov. Or a medical student who deftly dissects with a scalpel of living frogs and dead philosophers, preaches with a brash materialist Bukhner-Bazarov with a piratical daring. One can recall the bashful, as a girl, novice, red-cheeked realist, early humanist Alesha Karamazov and his brother Ivan – an early man-hatred with a deep conscience. And in the dark depths, among the thunder and lightning of the Senate Square, barely discernible silhouettes with human features are the first prophets of Russian freedom. And it’s no coincidence they are under the Bronze Horseman, trampling the gray granite block.
They are not philistines, not rabble. They are those for whom politics is an intoxicating passion, “fire that consumes”, on which the will is heated white-hot and hardened like steel.
In “Knight for an hour,” Nekrasov foresees, as it were, that only when the “great work of love” is completed and the liberation movement that they started is complete, only then will Russia understand and realize what... these people did and what they cost.
They are the Russian intelligentsia, created by Peter I together with the new Russia. That’s why they are under the Bronze Horseman. After all, Peter was the first Russian intellectual.
“A Russian is terribly free spirit,” says F. Dostoevsky, while pointing at Peter I. In this terrible freedom of the spirit, especially breaking with everyday life, history, burning their ships in the name of an unknown future, is one of the most profound differences Russian spirit from everything else. Russian is difficult to move from the place. But when it succeeds, it goes to the extreme in everything – in good and evil, truth and lies, wisdom and insanity. A hint at this deep extreme in the character of the Russian peasant is in L. Tolstoy. In the novel “War and Peace”, indicative scenes are the grumbling of peasants in the village of Bogucharovo shortly after the death of the old prince Bolkonsky, and also the conversation between Denisov and Tikhon Shcherbat.
A. Pushkin compared Peter with Robespierre, and in Peter’s transformations he saw a “revolution from above,” “white terror.” And if you think about it, you can not disagree that Peter is not only the first Russian intellectual, but also the first Russian nihilist. Is not this the name of the sacrilegiousness of the “proto-deacon of the most sinuous synod” over the greatest folk shrines? And such nihilism is more courageous and dangerous than Pisarev’s nihilism in Pushkin’s reproach.
So the Russian intelligentsia, starting from the time of Peter the Great, developed until the great Ham. D. Merezhkovsky during the revolution of 1905 wrote a well-known article “The Coming Ham”, in which he essentially predicted which ways Russia will develop in the near future. The same article gives advice to us, the current generation of Russians: “Neither religion without the public, nor the public without religion, but only the religious community will save Russia.
And first of all, the religious and social consciousness should awaken there, where there is already a conscious public and unconscious religiosity – in the Russian intelligentsia, which not only by name but also in essence must become an intelligentsia, that is, the embodiment of intellect, reason, consciousness of Russia ” .