Russian Old Believers Case: Technical Innovations as Inadmissible "Devil" Loans
This study aims to uncover and explore discord between profound conservatism of the Russian Old Believers in their spiritual and, insofar as incorporated in the overall sacral context, everyday lives, on the one hand, and broad innovative adoptions in several industries where Old Believers established their leadership in the first half of the 19th century, on the other hand. While renouncing foreign dress, tobacco, tea and potatoes, Old Believers were the first in Russia to import from Europe (primarily, from Britain) machinery, technologies and experts for textile industry. This collision is due to a specific paradigm of the Old Belief values centered around their spiritual concept of a Cause (Deed) as “a labour for God’s sake” and a personal Christian feat. Confessional restrictions did not apply to “good cause. To make a Blessed God and Salutary Deed succeed, an intentional sin – including employment of imported machinery - was permissible. For this study, various Old Belief religious manuscripts, memoirs and correspondence of the Old Believer entrepreneurs were reviewed along with records and documents of textile factories, and both publicly available and archival sources were employed.