RUSSIAN AFFAIRS AND INTERTRIBAL PROBLEMS
Baku – «Vatan» – 2007
The book “Caucasus” written by the prominent russian scientist, journalist and historian V.Ë.Velichko is one of the most valuable reliquiae of Russian culture. It is of great scientific interest. “Elm” publishing house realizes issuing of historical books on “The history and culture of the peoples of the USSR”. The book “Caucasus” is the first edition of this series. Although there existed a number of uncomplimentary reports about the native inhabitants of the Caucasus including azerbaijanians, the publishing house took an opportunity of presenting the book “Caucasus” to the wide circle of readers from its original version. © «Vatan» publishing 2007
The first pages of this book were printed in V.L.Velichko’s life-time; the death prevented him from completing a deed which he considered to be one of his major and fundamental tasks and the thought that the labour endured for many years wouldn’t be completed agitated him till the end of his life. Granting his last will, we completed publishing the book with participation of the person who collaborated with Vasiliy Lvovich Velichko on the problems of Caucasus and was well informed of his views and plans. A number of articles, published in “Russkiy Vestnik” served as a basis of the book; first four chapters were carefully worked out by the author, the rest were enriched as far as possible and annotated from V.L.Velichko’s scientific works. A part of the last materials is given in the “Supplement” of the book. Unfortunately, we had no chance to enrich the book with materials as the author could do it; we set the task not to use any thought which differs from his views.
What a still magic word – Caucasus! How it breathes with memories indelible for the entire Russian people; how bright is the dream flashing up in mind hearing this name, the dream invincible for neither everyday banality, nor strict thrift! Is there anybody in Russia, whose family several decades ago had not sacrificed its blood and tears to this mysterious land, raised ardent prayers to heaven anxiously listening to threatening echoes of the exuberant struggle boiling far away?! Snow crowned giants and burning rays of the midday sun, and legends of old imbued with the deepest tragedy, and spontaneous heroism of sons of Caucasus – all that is sung by the people and prophetic mouthpieces of its world outlook, inspired by torches of the Russian idea – our great poets.
The Caucasus cannot be alien to us: it has taken too many of various efforts, is too far organically connected with the great Russian world vocation, with the Russian cause.
With regard to numerous attempts (mostly not disinterested) to disorient the Russian society in the intertribal issues it is necessary to establish once and forever the life and correct point of view on the Russian cause in general. Equally sincere people may have different points of view. Some people consider serving to the Russian cause the struggle for existence and prosperity of people-statehood, the struggle unrestrained by any precepts of history, norms of morality or humanity; they think that everything foreign, although valuable, must be wiped out from the earth since it doesn’t merge quick enough and without leaving a trace with our peoplestatehood element. I would call that cruel approach the German rather than the Russian. It contradicts to the Russian world ideal and undermines one of the most firm bases of its spiritual and hence political might.
The other people go to the opposite extreme: they are ready to give up everything Russian in favour of something breaking our unity, eroding our state power and being negative phenomenon itself. This is an approach of the “school” of non-resistant with pseudo-national programme, real leaders or shadowed instigators of which of course are the Russian people. Such a non-resistance to the isolating evil forces, even in those rare cases when it is disinterested, is only possible with detriment to the vitality of the Russian patriotism and not justified at all by speculations, which are usual in such occasions, on topic that we are – great and powerful people. Great people – is this a reason to allow anyone to encroach on bread of our children, vital force of junior brothers, subject our sanctuaries to profanation and allow isolated foreigners to override weak and compliant bearers of the Russian cause?! How long the definition of great will be equalized with definition of stupid, weak and unprincipled?!
Only the following third point of view is correct, just and at the same time practical. The great and powerful doesn’t look at life with somnolent eyes, but in due time establishes a truth of life, develops its collective or unique identity being equipped with inherited legends of the past, “cold notices of mind and sad marks of heart”. The great and powerful is not satisfied with patterns and nicknames covering untrue, blurred or parti-coloured concepts. He must press up lazy blur by effort of mind, has to distinguish colours and tints of the parti-coloured picture.
If the multicoloured Caucasus still remains the torturing puzzle for our educated classes, then it means that they are neither great, nor powerful, and not absolutely free from slavery of strangers’ words and concepts, from the yoke of the abovementioned and alas, typically- Russian lazy blurriness. Recent spring up of the Russian Convention and what’s more important its development independent from external fake and arch influences confirm correctness of my words, and along with that shines as bright ray of hope for better days, rise of the Russian farsightedness, Russian thoughtfulness and spiritual power.
Our soldiers and people after them called the Caucasus “deathful”, because its conquest was accompanied by incredible strain of heroism and heavy losses. But our nation doesn’t spare sacrifices: the dead do not have shame, and exploits are crowned with glory. “Deathful” nature of the Caucasus took different shape, perhaps disastrous, and maybe useful at the end, discovering internal pests of our life, feebleness of our spirit, omissions and errors of our provincial policy, even blurriness and instability of the state-national attitude to world of most of the Russian people, including those serving, as well as those undertaking courage to influence society through press.
The Caucasus is the large academy with various natural laboratories opening to observer and explorer wide open space for independent conclusions. It has special importance for sociologist and particularly for the representative of the state science, which is spread so little, – alas! – even among our ruling classes, who should more consciously treat their duties before motherland and Emperor instead of regarding life from the point of view of the 20th day of month. The phenomena of life and human characters in the Caucasus are very bold even when they are simultaneously complicate. Combination and sometimes complete coincidence of the racial issues with socio-economic ones is of special importance. This feature of the Caucasian life predetermines that considerable difficulty of administration in the region and supervision over activity of local authorities, which sometimes truly and sometimes pretended to misunderstand practical meaning of the peculiar basis of local social establishment and everyday life. To look to the roots of main issues and phenomena one has to study the past at least in general terms.
2. The character of the past.
The past of the Caucasian region represents the picture, which is as multi-coloured as its natural conditions and multi-tribal combination of population. Generalizations of positive character are quite difficult under such circumstances, some bright colours may mark only some most obvious contours of that past, which are, in addition, negative from the cultural point of view.
First, the Caucasus had never had peace, neither internal, nor external. For centuries it was one of the routes for aggressive invasions of Asia into Europe; passing through its mountains and valleys every tribe washing away the seeds of local culture by its wave left its own trace instead, mostly ill-natured, because invading tribes are impudent about everything and everybody. On the other hand, this highly crossed landscape, which is rich for impassable gorges and unattainable heights, given significant climatic, soil and tribal complexity could not become the territory of tightly joint and culturally developed country. The mountainous thickets used to be and still inhabited by many small tribes different for origin and rudiments of racial cultures, engaged themselves in permanent fight with each other, but nevertheless united, in biologic sense, by similar conditions of nature, industry, way of life and religious substrata, which regardless of differences of formal worship consists of total adoration to the terrible forces of nature, subjugating the human, his thoughts, character and belief. These people could not create a state, because they are unskilled for statehood at all, which, by the way, hardly can strongly 9 develop at the crossed heights since some gorges become isolated from the rest of the world for seven or eight months a year by snow or waters.
To the south of the main range, in the western Transcaucasia since prehistoric times settled the Kartvelian tribe (Georgians, Imeretians, Gurians, Mingrels, Lazis, Ajarians, Kobuletis and others); this tribe united for short periods in the Middle Ages, but was dispersed for the rest of the time. In the eastern Transcaucasia – there are tribes of Turk-Mongolian-Iranian blood and Armenians, the people of unidentified origin with undoubtedly significant addition of Jewish, Syria-Chaldea and Gipsy blood.
Only the Georgians among all those tribes have demonstrated the utmost ability for statehood, but even they had failed to establish a state in true meaning of this word. It was hindered, first of all, by geography of country opening wide space for the feudal isolation; second, chronic alien anarchy was serious obstacle: the wild hordes used to raid unexpectedly and so great in number that sometimes resistance was not successful; invasions left their sorrowful imprint and all country’s life was subjected to endless accidents. Hence – absence of thrifty households and comfort being fruits of lasting peace, sharply offending one’s eyes nearly everywhere in the Caucasus. Even huge proprietors set up their well-furnished country-seats only in recent times. Life in general still bears traces of bivouac character: such strong is the habit to expect an armed raid, to conceal or remove property; that centuries old habit already became a feature of character and still hinders blossoming of peaceful culture and development of the socalled bourgeois virtues.
The climatic conditions and particularly malaria various for symptoms, but almost omnipresent in the Transcaucasia has been in the past and is still the huge obstacle for the cultural development of the region. The nomadic way of life practiced by the most part of the Caucasian population, usually attributed by unperceptive observers to inherent instinct of nomads, can be explained and justified more rationally only through climatic conditions: the nomads save their lives and health in summer climbing to the heights from valleys and steppes beset by malaria and where their flocks would stay without food. Whatever the reason for migration is its evident result would be again absence of household and lack of culture.
Influence of the climatic and general natural conditions on public-state life is extremely serious: malaria, and mountainous rivers, first drying up and then flooding beyond measure, and storms, and downpours, and hail, and scorching heat – all that maliciously affecting the agriculture leaves deep negative imprint on the moral stance of population, smoothing over tribal differences by common troubles; mind loses consistency, will – its endurance, morality – its catechism, labour – its system, life in general – its rational foundations.
Quite notorious that in different ages of old some of the most cultured tribes – the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians (at the time of blossoming of the Persian civilization), and then the Genoese and others – tried to establish colonies in the Caucasus – but none of them and never succeeded. The Transcaucasia is full of traces of different styled architecture, names, titles and legends of clearly extraneous origin; faces of different nationalities bear the mark of cross-breading of many races; but in general there is little of something large, solid, and not erased by extraneous influence or time.
With a view to that fact it should be mentioned that before the beginning of the XIX century none of the states neighbouring with the Transcaucasia had an opportunity to establish itself firmly in this land. In fact, explanation for that should be sought not only in local reasons, but in character and political defects of states and tribes claiming that region as well; nevertheless local particularities had an overriding importance, and that can be seen even from history of this land since the time of its unification with Russia and extremely slow assimilation of local tribes with the state ethnos.
The most evident and deep enough of all traces left in the Transcaucasia by its neighbours is the imprint of the Persian administration, or better say misadministration. The khanates of the eastern Transcaucasia formed by treason of local rulers committed against their duties before the remote central Persian authorities, they were legally considered to be Persian provinces, but in fact they were independent despotic possessions, smaller copies of the Persian specimens. Reasons for that were partially racial because majority of rulers of those domains were to the greater or lesser extent Persians by origin; on the other hand, the shortcomings of the Persian state structure and, by the way, widely practiced family succession of administrative positions played role as well.
It’s clear that in the mountainous areas blessed with all natural conditions for military isolation that custom could not fail to empower feudal structure of life, anyway evoked by local conditions; the racial difference between the rulers and their subjects is undoubtedly one of the factors of feudalism – and that factor used to be implanted periodically during the rise of the Persian influence on the Transcaucasia. For instance, mainland Georgia (Provinces of Tiflis and part of Elisabethpol) has been subjected to strong Persian influence, and Imeretia and other western-Kartvelian possessions – to the Turkish, although less intensive, but equal for its consequences. Political shortcomings, administrative, spiritual and communal structures of both neighbours, being implanted in different local conditions, have affected the multi-coloured Transcaucasia and reflected in shape of, undoubtedly, uniting, but devaluing features of mostly negative character.
The dynasties in both of the Oriental despotic states, Turkey and Persia, do not last long, and their power is subject to sharp changes like mountainous rivers; the bureaucratic system providing stability of political trends, interests of popular welfare, rights and safety is not available at all; everything is based upon graft, flattery, force and harem intrigues, i.e. foul accidents. Fluctuation of uncontrolled state income influenced political instability and people’s spirit.
Yesterday’s insurgent feudal, predating administrator, plunderer or traitor instead of the deserved punishment could in one moment gain respect and power, satisfying the Asian ruler by beautiful woman, horse, jewels or just brilliant flattery.
The deepest and all-inclusive materialism was the driving force excluding any adherence to principle in the European sense of this word; the harem intrigues and sensitively-oriental psychology in general played an overriding role even in areas illuminated by the light of Christianity. Even in Georgia for many centuries fighting for its faith and tribal originality, the Christianity in a view of the abovementioned mighty reasons had accepted special local colour instead of lighting up world outlook of people and bringing in various fruits of its main constructive ideas.
Since the simple groupings of people are the only possible combinations under such anarchical disorder of things, besides, evoked by instinct of self-preservation, so kinship with its narrow morality and weak adherence to principle became such a grouping. Tight borders of the latter are confined between the following formulas: “my relative was assaulted or killed, therefore I’ve to become defender or avenger” and “my relative committed a crime, but since he’s my relative he is right, and I will take all actions to protect him from punishment”.
Deep traces of that psychology remained there till now. It is clear that noble and pride families building up reserves for struggle for their supremacy by military heroism, skilled policy, gain of treasury and harem success were in turns the masters and offenders of any independent truth. It took them nothing to betray unexpectedly their tsars or other masters, to suppress interests and sacred feelings of the slaved people, and even to put on the mask of a convert or to deny completely the faith of their fathers in case of emergency.
The people’s mass, settled on the land and cultivating it, is always oppressed by such anarchy – this is why the Georgian people still venerates the memory of the king David the Reviver and “queen of queens” the great Tamara, whose reign established more decent order, illuminated by glory of triumph over the alien enemies; this is why overwhelming majority of plain people of the Transcaucasia blindly believes in power and justice of the White Tsar, despite many negative aspects of administration in the province.
Although the spotty mass of the Caucasian population (except for mountainous patriarchal republics) has for many centuries been predominantly passive and suffering element of the local history and could not specially love its fickle rulers or consciously share their views – the latter left their special mark; oriental despotic rules and definitions deducted from that have infiltrated legal mentality of people down to the lowest strata. Western- Georgian peasant, and Kakhetian, and subject of the khan of Shirvan or Ganja equally knew that gold, flattery, woman, boys may be paid to indemnify from unjust oppression, or fulfilment of state requirements, rationality of which was unclear for everybody, and from deserved punishment for crime.
Arrival of the official person itself used to serve a signal for graft, and nearly legal, since there was no financial system the positions in accordance with the oriental tradition were unpaid and relied solely on bribes from population and gifts to different authorities.
Absence of wide adherence to principle constitutes the core line of local psychology, environment and a kind of law of local life. A man entering this environment must extremely brace himself for not to be exposed to corroding influence.
Since several millions of people for many centuries got used to regard things with vale practicality, representatives of differing views get infertile soil for their realization; one can assert in advance that if they are not executors of the thoroughly thought rational system, but in addition are being put in difficult living conditions – then they, as well as the entrusted tasks will inevitably give way to the established local traditions, the Russian decency and service honour will succumb to assault of communal Asian conditions, undermining state prestige and future destiny of the province.
Obviously transfer from one type of establishment and way of life to another must comply with popular psychology, and change of nature of relations must be accompanied with possibly less alteration and complication of their forms. Even with this condition in mind the work directed to the cultural unification of any land, remarkable for alien communal rules, requires guidance of leaders extremely wise, steadfast and having comprehensive knowledge of local conditions. Not only servants of law and order must be so, but also creators by vocation, zealots of the widely understood national-state cause.
It was realized even before unification of Georgia by outstanding Russian people like Potemkin and Burnashev, representative of Russia at the court of tsar Heracly II. The recently published book dedicated to the latter person contains a lot of interesting elements describing the epoch. Burnashev and his immediate leader count Pavel Potemkin, commander of the Northern- Caucasus troops, – were truly Russian men confident in the Russian truth and benevolent to population of the Caucasus, unlike their contemporary foreign adventurer Totleben.
“Your labour does honour to you, its fruits – fame to the name and gratitude of the Georgian people”, wrote Potemkin to Burnashev. He interferes even into smallest details; for instance, once having heard about the quarrel between two princes because of some princess, he recommended Burnashev “to take trouble to explain them that there’s no such maiden in the world which could be worth of quarrel between brothers”. Potemkin remarks even slightest mistakes. “I have received a complaint from knyaz Erast Amilakhvarov, claiming that doctor at your service took away his wife and broke his head. Study this case, do not allow self-will to start in a land where one has to catch hearts and tie to himself.” Advice is as simple, as great.
But the first place among the Russian governors of this land undoubtedly belongs to Yermolov as a man who didn’t give way to self-will. He was threat for disobedient, strict, but just protector of peaceful interests of all people, which he had been nursing in spirit of law and order, and he was the first person to realize the importance of the Russian national element as a tool consolidating aliens with Russia and seriously strengthening Russian authority in the province.
Yermolov invented and started realization of the most practical of all previously applied methods of the Russian colonization: he had established a settled way of life for the married soldiers of the Caucasian troops at the military settlements under head-quarters; there were formed 9 of so-called married companies by 1826; the process was followed by land disputes with local population; the lands comfortable from military, climatic and agricultural perspective were selected.
At that time the administration clearly realized that after having people resettled at the strange land one can’t leave them for their own fortune; assistance was given not only on paper, but in deed.
Fruits of that action still remain on and if there is anything to be sorry about, that would be less wide and confident continuation of that activity after Yermolov. No matter how jealous was Paskevich about Yermolov’s fame, how tried to demonstrate supremacy over him – in this issue he had to follow prescriptions of his predecessor; but that service to the Russian popular cause was counterbalanced by Armenian colonization of some parts of Transcaucasia, which had actively started under Paskevich and taken clearly dangerous scale, specifically now, right after the sublime Throne just recently recognized that as undesirable.
The same mistake, by the way, was made earlier by Yermolov himself, asking for establishment in Georgia of colony of the “industrious Germans, whose good example and obvious benefit to economy would implant a desire with the local people to imitate them”. The further events broke that hope, since those German colonies once having established their welfare at the expense of the treasury and local neighbours, didn’t implant anything good to the latter, but sometimes turned them into subjugated servants.
The Russian settlements founded by farsighted Yermolov reached their absolute blooming under governor knyaz Vorontsov, whose instinct to creation had manifested itself more successfully in this case, than in many other spheres.
Although knyaz Vorontsov followed on Yermolov’s path in taking care about Russian popular interests, but anyway with less consistency and persistence. For instance, he realized the state interest in engagement of Russian tradesmen and capitalists to the Transcaucasia, but after the first unsuccessful attempt in Tiflis he abandoned that idea and gave his support to the Armenian tradesmen and manufacturers, opening them wide opportunities for enrichment and inciting them to entrepreneurship. He used to give them contracts, places for shops and caravansaries, and sometimes almost violently involved them to the profitable business activity.
He did much for the “Europeanization”, but as much for the cultural isolation of the local society: he used to invite local representatives to the shining balls and evenings, support literal development of local languages; for example, the first Georgian theatre was established during his term. In general terms, the period of the Russian reign from Yermolov to Vorontsov inclusively was extremely happy time for the spiritual bloom of population of the province and strengthening of the Russian cause as well… By the way, the Georgian poetry being remarkable for such an exhausted and small people had blossomed. The names of Baratov, Vakhtang Orbeliany, and later on – princes Ilya Chavchavadze, Akaky Ceretely and others are quite popular across the Caucasus and their works have been translated into many European languages.
Being the Russian patriot for his feelings and intentions knyaz Vorontsov for his mindset and political programme was rather western-European, Anglo man with aristocratic tendencies. It’s not only he attached extensive interpretation to the Georgian feudal views and rules, but introduced excessively aristocratic and absolutely alien elements into the life of the Muslim population, which was democratic by nature of its religion and racial traditions.
Enormous emergence of knyaz, beks, agalars and others was harming not only interests of popular life and rational Russianization, but representatives of the higher class themselves, and consequently has created such order of things, where one could hardly miss political and social danger. Once having multiplied the higher class artificially knyaz Vorontsov paved the way to its devastation because life became more complicated and dearer. Thereafter that class absolutely lost its prestige, although that state official pinned exaggerated hopes on its unifying role. There is a conjecture that it was not a mistake by Vorontsov, quite to the contrary, it was farsighted policy aimed to weaken the strongest local elements.
Nevertheless, his name is extremely popular across the Transcaucasia mainly because he had acknowledged legality and usefulness of original cultural development of local tribes under the Russian rule and spiritual influence. Besides, he didn’t spare efforts and money for the economic progress of the country; closely studied all needs of population and sought possibly more frequent immediate communication with it. There are still many simple people can be found in the Caucasus recalling with admiration that knyaz Mikhail Semenovich in person had a talk with them about their life.
The schools blossoming under military regiments in time of knyaz Vorontsov had a huge importance for state; their curricula was narrow, but taught well and there on top of all and most important were elements of breeding and discipline, almost unavailable now at the Russian school at all from top to bottom. A real plethora of outstanding commanders, administrators and public actors was brought up by the military schools of the Vorontsov period.
The epoch of reforms of the sixties had complicating and nearly fatal outcomes for the Russian cause in the province and the way of life of local population. The socalled “civil administration” introduced before the 60’s in some places of the region also heavily damaged the Russian cause, because people without school and institutions without traditions have emerged on the scene. Old fundaments were being destroyed and there was no appropriate material for new creative work. Absolutely alien laws and cabinet utopias were called to rule life instead of customs and views naturally grown on the original local ground, although the rest of Russia, which is relatively closer to the western-European order, still did not digest them itself.
Liberation of peasants in accordance with the premature and quickly drafted plan turned the social order established in the regions of Transcaucasia since prehistoric times upside down. In addition, that thrust was unskilled and incomplete: despite legal abolition of serfdom, it still exists in practice in many places of the Tiflis and Kutaisi provinces where temporarily-commissioned peasants find burden of dependence on the landlords heavier than if they were their slaves legally.
Simultaneously wide opportunities became open for development and progress of that element, which itself doesn’t make a positive influence on the life anywhere, and especially in the Caucasus, since negative professional characteristics are aggravated there by racial faults and tendencies. We refer to those Armenian exploiters, who since the sixties with special diligence and freely started sucking all waters out of the local population. I do not speak here indiscriminately about all Armenian people, but about the class of kulaks, usurers and shadow businessmen representing strongly coloured element characteristic for this tribe. Both the nobles and peasants were trapped in the web of those predators,
The sharper socio-economic reform, the more diligent must be service for its realization discharged by stable, but flexible state and public institutions: administration, courts, educational centres, press etc. Meanwhile everything of that was subjected to reforms simultaneously and from the point of view of interests of the Russian cause in the Caucasus everything changed to worse. Legal formalism for people historically taught to quick decision on nature of the case; competitive court process for people who have athletics developed in their blood for centuries; transfer of life important issues from authority of military class, regarded by local population as having prestige of recent victories, to hands of poorspirited Caucasian bureaucracy still including great percentage of offal; classical system with refuse from breeding tasks for children of martial, vivid tribes, who historically had no inclination to large portions of dreary book knowledge, obviously crippled by its inapplicability in life; and finally, Greek gifts of the Russian public opinion and press of the period of self-nihilism and loss of national sense – undoubtedly all that was poisonous spiritual food from prospective of the Russian interests. The Caucasian press since the sixties is full of highly insolent mockery over those interests. Even that what was in the mainland Russia tough, but reasonable and benevolent for consequences criticism of defects of our life, in the Caucasian province used to be and still is a pretext for gloating ridicule, indiscriminate denial of everything Russian in creative sense of this word.
Much has been done in that direction by personal staff of that former Russian element, considered by local residents as Russian actors. Besides, people used to come to the Caucasus unwillingly, politically unreliable, not sparing expressions expressions of their hatred to the whole Russian order; the local population was eagerly listening to tales and sharp speeches distributed by such people, whose mood was supporting or even evoking centre running aspirations among the newly born native intelligentsia.
For instance, in different times quite a huge number of the Polish has been exiled or recruited to the Caucasus, who didn’t accept the Russian statehood and refrain from the Jesuitical methods to harm the Russian cause. The fruits of the destructive work still can be traced in some areas. Being strange Russian officials by their uniform and language they exploited, oppressed and mocked the popular masses lowering and discrediting the Russian name in its eyes, and along with that they were getting closer with the most disturbed circles of the multi-tribal native intelligentsia, implanting and intensifying its negative attitude to the Russian statehood.
There are many signs giving serious grounds to assert that some local disturbances broke out with the Polish interference and that the Armenian insurrectional programme, which will be spoken about later, is nothing, but the variety of the similar programme of the Polish jond developed in the thirties and improved in the sixties.
The influx of Germans into the staff of the Caucasian bureaucracy had a negative impact as well, because even the best and most loyal men of them could not have that tension of national sense and self-awareness necessary at the outskirt to be subjected to cultural amalgamation.
It’s obvious that the colouring environment especially in terms of absence of majority in number must be rich for colouring elements. The Germans with their cosmopolitan mindset were incapable to undertake such a Russian task. If the above expressed conclusion is not clear to many representatives of the Russian ruling class, then the reason is our little acquaintance with science of statehood accompanying the weakness of national selfawareness and dignity. The nature of this issue is perfectly understood in Germany, where they very skilfully distribute the Prussians as representatives of the state concrete to all necessary places.
Everything that was created in the Caucasus in the sixties – new governmental institutions, class changes, tribal relations, political tendencies, economic and communal changes – all that came too dear for the interests of the Russian cause, and majority of the local population as well. Of course this damage is temporary, at least as far as the main issue is concerned, i.e. liberation of peasants. From the prospective of wide lines of history and prospective of the originally-democratic vocation of Russia that act was necessary, because it has evoked formerly oppressed and faceless popular masses to an independent life and art in different spheres; this is itself a seed capable to bring rich cultural shoots.
To preserve these shoots from destruction and transformation into something ugly, antisocial and antigovernment the deliberate measures for protection of liberated slaves from new forms of exploitation and general rapprochement of the new order of the Caucasian life with the creative fundaments of the leading Russian centre should have been taken timely. Meanwhile, that was the exact thing undone. Nevertheless the main deal of responsibility mostly falls not onto the then supreme representatives of the Caucasian authority, but onto the ruling ideas of the centre, low level of the public and state science in Russia – and as whole on the spirit of that time, when even governmental institutions were under pressure of different utopias.
The individual leading actors understood unsuitability and even the danger of application of many Petersburg’s cabinet tendencies to the historically alien material; K.P. Yanovsky, supervisor of the Caucasian educational district, was an outstanding statesman courageously fighting the excesses of the pseudo-classical system and smoothing its application. But the general flow was too wide and strong, and its devastating consequences would keep showing up in the local life for long time.
The reign of bourgeoisie over all remaining popular classes and circles is one of the largest outcomes of establishment of legal order everywhere around. One German scientist once said that the legal liberalism is the worship of the bourgeoisie. At the same time this is its most reliable weapon, quite dangerous for any state and social organism.
Once the obstacles blocking the supremacy of the unprincipled money are abolished by “legal” way, then principles lying in foundation of the state power and of the customs, ruling the popular life more deeply than the easily deviated law, become shaky; even freedom itself is reduced to zero, because for real existence, not only on paper, it needs ideological support of people independent from the power of money.
For instance, when striving for the real truth the government allows the press great deal of license, then representatives of the ruling bourgeoisie opposing dissemination of some ideas do the following, first, they take almost all of the influential press bodies in their hands, second, using other sometimes incomprehensible methods they practically always can block publications they find unpleasant. In the republican France the will of baron Rothschild deprived the play “Degeneracy” of stage, although derision over the Christian religion is permitted and encouraged in any form.
Perhaps the inevitable has happened: the serving class fulfils the will of bourgeoisie there.
The danger becomes complicated when that bourgeoisie mainly belongs to the tribe, which is not interested in the welfare of the state or, moreover, wishing good to that state. Then what received is parasitism in the most disgusting and dangerous forms.
The oriental parasitism is aggravated because it doesn’t have any limits, since it is deprived of any restraining moral or socially-ennobling bases.
In the Caucasus the socio-economic issue coincides with the tribal one: the bourgeoisie almost exclusively consists of Armenians, forming an interlocking mob on the top of that class and representing major social threat for local population, as for the state affairs – there is a political threat as follows from example of some oriental powers, whose slackness and slovenliness had opened space for the Armenian parasitism. The legal order and all other steps in this direction in the Caucasus are useful only for Armenians, because for many centuries numerous Armenian businessmen had a practice on deviation of any laws and power decrees, as well as on subjugation of other people’s will, free or powerful by appearance, but not prepared to neither freedom, nor power. Everybody became in bondage to them, including local institutions from top to bottom. Other natives strongly criticize Russia for upgrade of the Armenian might saying that it could not be even spoken about under the Georgian tsars, because things used to be resolved not theoretically in cabinets, but on bases of strict requirements of life.
Nevertheless local population recalls the sixties with love and gratitude and moreover both feelings are evoked by not only the rise of cultural hopes and political aspirations appeared that time, but sympathy to personality of the grand duke Mikhail Nikolayevich as well, who was Royal governor at that time.
The moment of victory of legal formalism over the custom, idea over faith and feelings, and everything abstractly formal over the life-established things, costs too much for environment, where such change is little compatible with its spiritual structure. That environment feels something like moral cold – at this point lovely and cordial attitude to that from supreme master of local destinies has special price. Paternal care of the Royal governor about needs of the Caucasian population, especially native, is still highly appreciated by the Caucasians never missing a chance to express him their gratitude and loyalty close to the mystical feelings of faithful loyalty.
That brought some benefits to the Russian cause, smoothing damage caused by tendencies and system of the sixties. But damage was enormous, even in political sense immediately because the isolating aliens, confused by “movements” and political dreams of that period, used to be imbued with the so-called “Austrian state ideal”, dreamed about “federation” and regarded central figure of the empowered governor as symbol and support of their separatism. Meanwhile, in the communal sense the Russian popular cause suffered losses because of the transfer of the Russian military settlements from military ministry to the indifferent civilian authorities – and since then had grown faint.
The sixties and seventies in the Caucasus are marked by beginning of the more active implantation of civilization and economic growth; but both in fact served mainly to isolation of that province, rather than to tight rapprochement with centre. Partially that can be explained by the spirit of that time, partially by little significance of the Russian national idea in the views of local and metropolitan governmental circles of that time. For instance, integration of the Transcaucasia with the rest of Russia by the shortest railroad was under different pretexts postponed for years, meanwhile there was established a Transcaucasian railroad that formed, so to speak, economic blood circulation of the province completely separated from the rest of Russia. And because of that the Russian capitals, which could have the province connected with centre economically, now have difficulties in getting access to the local industrial world. The native and foreign industry of Baku was granted an opportunity to develop itself to such a grandiose scale that from prospective of national consolidation the current road from Beslan to Baladjary is more than a delayed act, and it would finally serve rather to increase of local isolation through influence of Baku millions on the Petersburg circles and press, than expansion of the Russian cultural influence in the Transcaucasia. It is extremely interesting to remark how construction of the Transcaucasian railroad influenced situation of the individual areas and tribes. Armenians were the only victors, who economically caught Baku and Tiflis in their hands.
Since they have relatively small population and minimal economic influence in Kutaisi, another Kartvelian capital, the Transcaucasian highway deviated Kutaisi under the pretext of facilitation of the Persian transit – hence once blossoming city is gradually loosing its previous economic importance, despite the undisputable talent of its citizens for industry and trade.
The Armenian industrial companies and banks seized the predominant positions in Poty and Batumi – Black Sea destination points of the road, which has completely got in their hands this way.
On the other hand, the railroad has connected previously separated from each other branches of the Kartvelian tribe and greater spiritual isolation, sometimes taking nervous political forms, can be observed there since then.
If the road to Tiflis crossing the main range was constructed instead of or at least simultaneously with the Transcaucasian road, then picture of local life would be different, far less desperate from the prospective of the Russian national-state interests. It seems that the supreme Caucasian administration at all times treated an idea of establishment of comfortable and fast communication between Tiflis and Petersburg without special warmth. This is the matter of … provincial psychology, particularly Caucasian, grounded on the Persian administrative traditions. The further from the controlling central government, the deeper is breathing. But even true proponents of consolidation of the outskirt with centre could not see the nature of the matter.
Unfortunately, not only then, but until now the national character of capitals is underestimated, and often deliberately ignored by the relevant spheres. He, who has money, is the real master of situation, particularly where class of officials has poor material maintenance, and public opinion doesn’t have national stability. Clear examples of the malicious reign of native capitals can be seen even in such countries like France and Austria, where independent economic activity of local population is ten times more than with us. That lesson possibly is not learnt or deliberately masked by people stating that capitals have no nationality by their nature and everywhere have objectively-positive influence. By the way such statement is not always disinterested…
From the objective, not national civilian, point of view the development of the Caucasian province since the sixties was abnormal, inharmonious – and occasional in some places external city improvement is accompanied from one side by rudiments of deep-rooted savagery, and from the other one by symptoms of such a sharp social corruption, which is only possible on the ground of the Asian corroded unscrupulousness stockpiled for many centuries of darkness and bigotry. To comprehend that chaos one necessarily has to cast a closer and separate look at the life and characteristic features of at least the main tribes inhabiting the Caucasus.
Undertaking that task one has to pay special attention to terminology and refuse some of the names and generalizations that only appropriate for common talk. For instance, the word native doesn’t fit any more if we want to find the essence of subject. It is invented by lazy, straight or negligent Caucasian officials to have a formal character meeting number of various, unequal and often contradicting definitions, and which could justify actions – either unreal or sluggish, but anyway harmful. If to divide the population of the Caucasus into larger groups, to some extent solid and coloured by the leading idea, then such groups would be: the Georgians as the main, stated nation in the province, close to us for spirit and origin of culture; the Armenians as the element far more alien to us, and on behalf of its aggressive bourgeoisie hostile to peoples of the Caucasus; the Muslims, mostly of two categories: Aderbeidjani Tatars being under strong influence of Persia, and highlander Muslims, whose spiritual environment is formed under harsh natural conditions and strict requirements of the Islam. The Muslim Georgians and Turkish are not considered here because of their small number.
All this native peoples of the province are not dispersed, but strongly interrelated with each other, partially organically, like Armenians with Georgians and Muslims through mixed marriages and violent crossing for many centuries, and partially through communal occasions, like highlander Georgians with other highlanders on the ground of paganism, or Armenian tradesmen with different neighbours through exploitation of the latter. And finally there are Russians constituting over 2% of population in the Transcaucasia and divided into several different categories: there are people of higher stand with protection, influencing destinies of the province without any business related acquaintance with that; there are valiant, straightforward Russian warriors, and bunch of honest, educated people, and sectarians stubbornly keeping national particularities, and long-suffering settlers. And finally, people of different kind and status, who became so much Caucasusionated in the bad sense of word as they lost the national feeling and understanding of the Russian cause.