September 15, 2016

The Real War of Ideas

By Robert D. Kaplan

In A Provincial’s Story, published in 1896, Chekhov has a particularly devastating portrait of the muzhiks, the Russian peasants, that in its own way demonstrates all the intractability of the Russian social and political condition throughout history. “They were mostly nervous, irritated, insulted people; they were people of suppressed imagination, ignorant, with a poor, dull outlook, with ever the same thoughts about the gray earth, gray days, black bread, people who were sly but, like birds, only hid their heads behind a tree—who didn’t know how to count. They wouldn’t go to your haymaking for twenty roubles, but they would go for a half-bucket of vodka, though for twenty roubles they could buy four buckets.” As for their masters, their money “had been acquired by a whole series of brazen, shameless deceptions . . .”


To read the full op-ed, visit The National Interest website.