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  • Русская цивилизация: реальность и перспективы Рецензия на книгу: Лексин В.Н. (2016) Судьбы цивилизаций и русский вопрос: опыт системной диагностики. М.: ЛЕНАНД.

Article

Русская цивилизация: реальность и перспективы Рецензия на книгу: Лексин В.Н. (2016) Судьбы цивилизаций и русский вопрос: опыт системной диагностики. М.: ЛЕНАНД.

The idea of placing the study of the Russian nation in the broader context of civilization studies, which is implemented in Leksin’s book, is both original and successful. The depth of Leksin’s analysis is remarkable: nearly 1000 relevant publications were reviewed in addition to the authors’ personal research contributions in this field. Leksin’s approach is based on the following three provisions: (1) civilizations must be understood as real historical phenomena with distinct characteristics and unique life cycles, (2) Russia is a multicivilizational structure (the author himself applies the notions of ‘a confederacy of civilizations’ and ‘a civilization conglomerate’): even though Russian civilization forms the core and plays the role of a binding entity in this conglomerate, other civilizational components are recognized not as subordinates, but as complementary civilizations, regardless of their size and passionarity; (3) Russian civilization is characterised as currently undergoing a major crisis and, perhaps, the most powerful transformation in its history. The book presents the results of a systemic analysis of multiple aspects of Russian civilization, including the national mentality, the demographic and spatial characteristics of the ‘Russian world’, the state of the Russian language, Russian culture and religiosity. Leksin masterfully examines the possible causes and effects of the currently extremely weak national identity of the Russian people, the paradoxes of their addiction to disparaging self-assessments, and the puzzlingly painful attitudes toward the ‘grim’ pages of the past (which the author characterizes as ‘ethno-masochism’). One of the key sections of the book discusses the conditions which maintain the existence of civilizations and cause their demise. By analysing an impressive set of historical facts Leksin argues that civilizations do not cease simply because they fall prey to stronger opponents. Rather civilizations become victims of their own weaknesses, they retreat from the founding civilizational values and the distinctive features which distinguish them from other civilizations. The current weakness of Russian civilization is the disdain and scepticism of many Russians towards their core civilizational values which took centuries to shape, i.e. their neglect of the Russian language, their indifference to the expansionist attitudes of other civilizations, and the strange sense of shame towards their own national mentality.