Front Page Titles (by Subject) 111.: Russia - Judgments on History and Historians
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111.: Russia - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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Up to that time the Romanic and Germanic nations of the West had had alongside them in the East the Turks as an antithesis and archenemy. They were a purely destructive element which allied itself with the West only in time of war, and then only with the side that seemed to have the upper hand. Otherwise they maintained their exclusive Mohammedan-Tartar culture and looked down upon Western civilization. The influence of the Turks upon Europe was exerted only through conquest and external force.
Now there arises in the East a state which appears to be most eager to attach itself to European culture, but in order to dominate Europe by any means! It utilizes foreign brainpower, but shuts out foreign ideas.
If the nation in question had its way, it would remain racially as Oriental as possible. In addition to the culture it is forced to adopt, it has preserved its old native customs with extraordinary tenacity, so that a startling contrast between the two prevails.
Meanwhile, however, in the hands of a “government with a definite program” it has for 150 years constituted one of the most powerful machines ever set in motion for world dominion.
For, in addition to possessing its old traditions it is thoroughly drillable and, on top of that, from its store of healthy barbarism it continually supplies a wealth of elemental strength for the purposes of the government. The Russian element at least can flow into European civilization, because it has no Koran.
Could the Russians have remained secluded barbarians? Certainly not in the long run. Even tyrants of moderate stature, e.g., Ivan IV, managed to develop power and culture from this talent for being drilled and to make themselves terrible to their neighbors. In the office of the czar there seems to have been a permanent temptation to do this; the world experienced its strongest and definitive outburst in Peter the Great. It has ever been thus with barbarians; their strong rulers are invariably conquerors.
The tragic element in the subsequent destiny of Europe lies in the fact that the Western peoples, while engaged in constant transformations and revolutions from within, are at the same time affected by an almost wholly mechanical force from without which has virtually no share in their joys and sorrows, their mind and higher aspirations, yet constitutes a major weight on the scale and helps to stabilize or revolutionize, according to its convenience. (n.b. In most recent times this has become different. What has been won so far is beginning to take revenge and hit back at its master.)
In their methods of ruling, the czars are completely unconstrained and capable of things that the West with all its Caesarism no longer has the heart to do.
The Russians attain to one of the highest positions in world history with utter abuse of their own character and profound inward unhappiness for the greatest part of the nation.
Whether without Peter they still would have fallen into all sorts of evil and dangerous ways, only of a different kind, we do not know.
And even if the Russian nation does want to be great and powerful, i.e., bad, toward the outside, like other great nations, it may still have the goodness to recognize the excellence of Peter and his institutions.
Will the fate of individualization, that is, the atomistic revolution, ever reach the Russian people, and if so, how soon? And will this render it ineffective or all the more influential for Europe?