Word for Word/The Marquis de Custine;A Long-Ago Look at Russia

The political regime here would not survive 20 years of free communication with Western Europe. Pay no heed to the boasting of Russians; they confuse splendor with elegance, luxury with refinement, policing and fear with the foundations of society. . . . Up to now, as far as civilization is concerned, they have been satisfied with appearances, but if they were ever able to avenge their real inferiority, they would make us pay cruelly for our advantages over them.

. . .

The people and its ruler are in harmony here. The Russians make themselves witnesses, accomplices and victims in these prodigies of willpower and would not repudiate them even to resurrect all the slaves whose lives are forfeited as a result. However, what surprises me is not that one man, nourished on the idolatry of his own person, a man described as all-powerful by sixty million humans (or near-humans) whould undertake such things and carry them through. What does surprise me is that among all the voices testifying to the glory of this single man, not one rises above the chorus to speak for humanity against the miracles of autocracy. You can say of the Russians, both great and small, that they are intoxicated with slavery.

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/06/16/weekinreview/word-for-word-marquis-de-custine-long-ago-look-russia-so-what-else-new.html?pagewanted=all

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