Problems Confronting Russian Statesmen -- By: G. Frederick Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 060:240 (Oct 1903)
Article: Problems Confronting Russian Statesmen
Author: G. Frederick Wright

Problems Confronting Russian Statesmen

G. Frederick Wright

There are no social, political, or theological problems in the world more important than those now confronting the statesmen of Russia, but they cannot be discussed except from a broad consideration of the history of the Russian people, the peculiarity of their geographical position, and the condition and character of the surrounding nations. Altogether the subject involves the entire body of social, political, and theological questions which are now everywhere agitating the world. A discussion of the Russian situation, therefore, cannot fail to bear upon the problems which confront Western Europe and America.

There cannot be any proper understanding of Russia’s problems without first considering the inheritance which she has received from the past. For many centuries Russia suffered from an excess of liberty. She consisted of an incoherent conglomeration of republics each more jealous of one another than it was of outside enemies. This resulted in a long-continued domination of the Tartar races of Asia during the Middle Ages. In the fourth century of our era the Huns, moving westward from Asia, crossed the Volga and the Don, and permanently established themselves in the fertile plains of Hungary. In the thirteenth century the Mongol hordes of Jenghiz Khan, under the leadership of his son Ogdai, swarmed over the steppes of Southern Russia, and captured Moscow and all the other great centers of population. From Sarai, in the southern part of Russia, the Mongols exercised dominion over all the Russian republics, collecting tribute from them for more than two centuries. It was only in 1480, under the leadership of Ivan the Third, that this domination was finally thrown off, and Russia freed from the Tartar yoke.

The success of this revolt against the Tartars was largely due to the unity of popular feeling brought about by the influence of the church and its leaders. Russian patriotism was roused to the highest pitch by the cry of “The Cross against the Crescent,”—of “Christ against Mohammed.” The unity of action that led to the overthrow of the Mongol invaders and tyrants was therefore largely of a military character, which interfered as little as possible with local affairs. So long as the various individual elements composing the units of this new empire were loyal to the main purpose, little attention was paid to minor matters of private concern.

It therefore his come about that, under the most autocratic form of

government, there has to this day been preserved in Russia the largest amount of liberty of action on the part of local organizations. The village commune, or as it is technically...

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