The Monologue about Cossacks

The Monologue about Cossacks

A few days ago on the Internet there was a note about some event which took place among the register (that is, the "official")  Cossacks.

I spent two minutes for acquaintance with this material and intended to switch to something else. But became interested in comments, and began to read them.

There were comments, probably, 10 – 20 times more of  by volume, - if to compare to the text of a short article.

What was interesting in comments?

1. Emotionality. Strangely enough, the subject of the Cossacks causes a sharp and powerful emotions in the most different people.

2. Knowledge of the personal, the family and a local history.

3. Lack of mentions of important events in the history of the Cossacks.

4. Confusion in questions:

4.1. "Cossack" and "Cossacks" - it is "good" or "bad"?

4.2. Cossacks are the nation (nationality)?

After some reflection, I decided to express my views on some issues.

First, any state has a certain history. The interests of the state influence a historical views. The history of the Cossacks as modified, as the history, for example, The Rzeczpospolita (The Commonwealth) and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Second, it is possible quite clearly to believe that the Cossacks in a large system of the (Tatar) Mongol Empire, the Moscow Kingdom and the Russian Empire were those people who preferred the relatively free, relatively independent and active way of life.

Thirdly, in the history of the Cossacks it is possible to see:

- development of Siberia and Far East,
- protection of Russia and political regime of Russia,
- protection of democratic Europe – in the years of World War I (can be, partly, and during an era of Napoleonic wars).

Should we be proud of the history of the Cossacks or, conversely, ashamed of it?

In itself, the history of mankind is quite multifaceted. Different people did different things. Someone might be ashamed of being a human. Someone can focus on the origin of man from the monkey.

The article "Cossacks"[The Cossackship] (in the 30th volume of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (the first edition, 1937, pages 605 – 645)) gives description of the Cossacks as a highly developed civilization. [Some websites give an opportunity of free downloading of this and other volumes].

1917 was a difficult year for the fate of the Russian Empire and for the Cossacks.

The Directive of Organizational bureau of the Central Committee of RCP(b) of January 24, 1919 ("About a decossackization") is known.  (Vikiteka (rus). The directive of Organizational bureau of the Central Committee of RCP(b) "To all responsible comrades working in the Cossack areas") (Wikipedia (rus). Article "Decossackization". "… The full text of the cover letter by Sverdlov [to the Directive of Organizational bureau] for some reason is still not published ….").

Recently I met  the historical version  that the part of the Cossack population of the Far East which moved in the years of civil war to Manzhouli became object of army blows in 1929 (which were done simultaneously  with the blows onto "gangs of the Chinese militarists") (Evgeny Trifonov. Civil war in Zheltorossiya. Old events … The result of these blows was, perhaps, in something is similar to implementation of the Directive of Organizational bureau of the Central Committee of RCP(b) of January 24, 1919.

However, after the Kronstadt uprising (1921) it became clear that the inspiration of the [potential] world teachers and curators don't solve all the problems. An initiative, efficiency, willingness to take care of the Russian state interests are necessary.

One way or another, but the Cossacks [the Cossackship] were largely repressed and defeated, and the Cossacks – en masse, but each individually - were in demand in different spheres of society.

Are the Cossacks an independent nation (nationality)? Why is this question important?

The history of the Russian Empire and the history of the USSR show that there were a variety of people on the territory of the Russian Empire. No one called many of these groups a "nation" ("nationality"). They did not have any state forms.

Then, after 1917, there were different scientific, academic, state organizations. Post-war Europe was busy with her problems. America of 30 ies of the 20th century – with the own ones.

Serious scientific people wrinkled their foreheads, put forward ideas, wrote books, prepared state decisions.

Some groups of the population of the former Russian Empire received names. In addition, they received the definition of "nation" ("nationality"). Further, they received the state-national structure (for example, the national Republic).

Of course, the objective restrictions for serious people from scientific, academic, government institutions existed. All the social, language groups could not receive the state-national structure (for example, the national republic). In the territory of the Empire was much of groups of the population which could be differentiated by a lot of criteria.

Someone received the name, a definition "nation", a national republic. Someone did not receive.

The results of the work of serious people no one did the subject of scientific discussion. In the USSR it was dangerous ("if it was decided, so there was a reason").  (At the same time, by the way, I will ask: is it safe now?) Europe and America were busy with their own problems. 

Cossacks remained with the name "The Cossacks", but without definition "nation" ("nationality") and without the state-national structure. They could receive the status of "nation" ("nationality") and the own Republic (Republics)? Who knows them, these serious people … You will not ask them any more … If they would strained the brains, - that who knows that they would think up …

Why is the question of whether the Cossacks are an independent nation (nationality) important?

Like many other questions, this question has different "twists".

On the one hand, there is a tendency to deepen into history, to focus on certain sad moments of history and to organize certain positive processes – for example, financial, migration, cultural ones and others.

In this sense, the recognition of the Cossacks as a "nation" ("nationality") could, under some the circumstances, lead to some positive phenomena.

But, on the other hand, there is a certain advantage in not being too "accentuated"... the Story is a complex thing... (it is Curious that in the mentioned comments I met "memories" of how the Cossacks lashes someone, using nagaikas. And this is-in the 21st century, in the conditions of the existence of weapons of mass destruction... Propaganda, agitation, collective memory (of some social strata) – these are interesting things... "Mummers" ("ryazhenye"), "nagaikas", la-la-la … Gav-gav-gav …).

In General, the question of whether the Cossacks are a "nation" ("nationality") is important. Him, anyway, is discussing…

History is a complicated thing…

What are the prospects of Cossacks and of the theme of "Cossacks"?

On the one side, there is still a need for an initiative and responsible people who are ready to take care of the interests of the Russian state.

On the other side, if these interests are very much taken care of, it is possible to come to the fact that some incomes will be reduced. It is said that fires in Siberian and Far Eastern forests are somehow interconnected with a someone's income. But this is speculation, versions.

On the third side, the "digital economy", in some of its manifestations, makes unnecessary and many people, and their initiative, and their ability to take care of the interests of the state... Need a "loot". People – are not necessary …

So... "Cossacks" - an important topic... But it seems that all of humanity (including Cossacks) is facing great events (climatic, social ones and other)…

May 5, 2019 09:16.

Translation from Russian into English: May 5, 2019 20:46.
Владимир Владимирович Залесский “Монолог о казаках”.