Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:36 am

by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/16/19



This article is about continuity of spiritual presence in Islam. For other uses, see Baraka (disambiguation).

In Islam, Barakah or Baraka (Arabic: بركة‎ "blessing") is a kind of continuity of spiritual presence and revelation that begins with God and flows through that and those closest to God.[1][2]

Baraka can be found within physical objects, places, and people, as chosen by God. This force begins by flowing directly from God into creation that is worthy of baraka.[1] These creations endowed with baraka can then transmit the flow of baraka to the other creations of God through physical proximity or through the adherence to the spiritual practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. God is the sole source of baraka and has the power to grant and withhold baraka.

Islamic mysticism

Baraka is a prominent concept in Islamic mysticism, particularly Sufism. It pervades Sufi texts, beliefs, practices, and spirituality. Sufism emphasizes the importance of esoteric knowledge and the spiritual union with God through the heart. Baraka symbolizes this connection between the divine and the worldly through God's direct and intentional blessing of those that are most reflective of Him and his teachings.

Baraka is not a state, it is a flow of blessings and grace. It flows from God to those that are closest to God, such as saints and prophets. Those that have received baraka are thought to have the abilities to perform miracles (karamat), such as thought-reading, healing the sick, flying, and reviving the dead.[3] However, according to Abd al-Karīm ibn Hawāzin Qushayri, a prominent Sufi mystic, the use of these miracles and the actual possession of these abilities are not indicative of a saint's status, however, the performance of these miracles by prophets is important to establish credentials.[3]

Sources, transmission, and traditional importance


The Qur'an, hadith, saints, prophets, Muhammad and his descendants are all powerful sources of baraka.[1]

Transmission through saints

Saints as the source of baraka, can transmit baraka to ordinary men simply through their presence. As this hadith explains, "By means of the righteous Muslim, God repulses affliction from one hundred neighbors".[4][page needed] In this way, the saints provide a means for ordinary men to connect with the blessings of God through baraka. The physical closeness to a saint's shrine is said to emit baraka, which is why many followers of Islam choose to visit shrines. The ritualistic act of visiting tombs and other holy places, such as shrines, to receive baraka is known as ziyara.[5]

Transmission through khirqa

Sufis pass esoteric knowledge and baraka from the master sheikh to the aspirant through the passing of the khirqa. The khirqa is the initiatory cloak of the Sufi chain of spirituality. This cloak initiates an aspirant into the silsilah, which is the chain of sheikhs that goes back to Muhammad. This chain serves as the channel through which baraka flows from the source of spiritual revelation to the being of the initiate.[4][page needed] There are two kinds of this kind of transmission (tanakkul) of baraka through the khirqa: khirqa-yi irada and khirqa-yi tabarruk. Khirqa-yi irada is characterized by the passing of baraka to the aspirant from the singular sheikh to which he has sworn. Khirqa-yi tabarruk, also known as the "frock of blessing", is characterized by the passing of baraka to the worthy aspirant from any sheikh that he has encountered.[6]

The silsilah chain created from the passing of the khirqa that confirms authenticity of many hadiths is known as the isnad. It was not until the late eleventh and twelfth centuries that the Sufi tradition began accepting this form of isnad as a means to transmit mystical knowledge and blessings.[7]

Transmission through Sunnah

By following the practices and teachings of Muhammad, one can achieve baraka through the emulation of Sunnah. Because Muhammad is the source of Muhammadan baraka, by living in constant remembrance of the names of God and in accordance to Muhammad's Sunnah. Those that live the inner Sunnah within the heart, are those that reflect the Light of Muhammad (al-nur al-muhammadi) and the Muhammadan baraka.[7][page needed] Those that live according to the Sunnah, live in constant remembrance of God, and live authentically from the heart are those to whom God opens the channel through which baraka can flow. By living in accordance to Muhammad, one can become worthy of God's direct blessing of baraka. If granted baraka, the saintly person is able to feel God's force from within and is nourished by the hadith while being guided by the baraka.[2]

Controversy of seeking baraka

Seeking baraka has been a source of controversy throughout the Islamic world. Through the act of ziyara, saints and the shrines of saints are seen as a means to access the baraka sent from God. Because of this, many within Islam see ziyara as a form of idolatry in the way devotees may look towards the saints instead of towards God, Himself, for baraka.[8][page needed] Although ziyara has been a source of great controversy, it remains one of the most typical ritual practices of Islamic spirituality.[8]

See also

• Basirah
• Spiritual gift
• Glossary of Islam


1. "Home - Brill Reference". Retrieved 2016-12-30.
2. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (1972). Sufi Essays. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0873952332.
3. Ernst, Carl W. (1997). The Shambhala Guide to Sufism (1st ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala. ISBN 9781570621802.
4. Hoffman, Valerie J. (2009). Sufism, Mystics, and Saints in Modern Egypt. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 157003849X.
5. Karamustafa, Ahmet T. (2007). Sufism: The Formative Period. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0520252691.
6. Schimmel, Annemarie; Ernst, Carl W. (2013). Mystical Dimensions of Islam(Reprint ed.). Jakarta Selatan: Mizan. ISBN 9794337978.
7. Brown, Jonathan A.C. (2009). Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World (Reprint ed.). Oxford: Oneworld Publications. ISBN 1851686630.
8. Seels, Michael A.; Ernst, Carl W. (1996). Early Islamic Mysticism: Sufi, Qur'an, Mi'raj, Poetic and Theological Writings. New York: Paulist Press. ISBN 0809136198.

Further reading

• C. Coulon, et al. Charisma and Brotherhood in African Islam. Oxford Univ. Press, 1988. ISBN 0-19-822723-X.
• J.W. Meri. Aspects of Baraka (Blessings) and Ritual Devotion among Medieval Muslims and Jews. Medieval Encounters. 5 (1999), pp. 46–69.
• Schimmel, Annemarie (1994). Deciphering the Signs of God: A Phenomenological Approach to Islam. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791419823.
• L. N. Takim. The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma And Religious A
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:49 am

League of Nations Union
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/16/19



The conflict increased his desire to do everything he could to promote world peace. During and after the war he was a keen supporter of the League of Nations Union, serving on the League's Executive Committee in London.

-- The Spalding Trust and the Union for the Study of the Great Religions: H.N. Spalding's Pioneering Vision, by Edward Hulmes

The League of Nations Union (LNU) was an organization formed in October 1918 in the United Kingdom to promote international justice, collective security and a permanent peace between nations based upon the ideals of the League of Nations. The League of Nations was established by the Great Powers as part of the Paris Peace Treaties, the international settlement that followed the First World War. The creation of a general association of nations was the final one of President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points. The LNU became the largest and most influential organisation in the British peace movement.[1][2] By the mid-1920s, it had over a quarter of a million registered subscribers[3] and its membership eventually peaked at around 407,775 in 1931. By the 1940s, after the disappointments of the international crises of the 1930s and the descent into World War II, membership fell to about 100,000.[4]


The LNU was formed on 13 October 1918[2] by the merger of the League of Free Nations Association and the League of Nations Society, two older organisations already working for the establishment of a new and transparent system of international relations, human rights (as then understood) and for world peace through disarmament and universal collective security, rather than traditional approaches such as the balance of power and the creation of power blocs through secret treaties.[5]

Chapters of the LNU were set up in the dominions and in allied nations, including in the capital cities of all of the states of Australia.[6]

Internal structure

The headquarters of the LNU were located variously at Buckingham Gate[7] and Grosvenor Crescent, Belgravia. In the 1940s, it moved to smaller premises in St Martin's Lane, WC2, for reasons of economy.[8]

Its top organ of administration was the General Council, which met twice a year and was responsible for LNU policy under its 1925 Royal Charter of Incorporation. Beneath the General Council sat the Executive Committee, which met every two weeks and co-ordinated all activities, such as the LNU's campaigns and educational programmes; received reports from branches; monitored the output of specialist sub-groups and had responsibility for the LNU's staff.

LNU branches had their own independent management structures.[5]


The LNU played an important role in inter-war politics. According to one source it had been successful in converting the mainstream of British society, including labour, the churches and the principal newspapers, to the cause of the League of Nations.[9] It also carried great influence in traditional political circles and particularly in the Liberal Party. One historian has gone so far as to describe the LNU as "a key Liberal pressure group on foreign policy" and to call Liberal Party members the "true believers" of the LNU.[10] Its first president was Edward Grey the Liberal foreign secretary during the First World War.

After the split in the Liberal Party in 1886, it was the members of the Cecil Bloc who became Unionists — that is, the Lytteltons, the Wyndhams, the Cavendishes. As a result, the Cecil Bloc became increasingly a political force. Gladstone remained socially a member of it, and so did his protege, John Morley, but almost all the other members of the Bloc were Unionists or Conservatives. The chief exceptions were the four leaders of the Liberal Party after Gladstone, who were strong imperialists: Rosebery, Asquith, Edward Grey, and Haldane. These four supported the Boer War, grew increasingly anti-German, supported the World War in 1914, and were close to the Milner Group politically, intellectually, and socially.

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley

Other leading Liberal lights in the LNU included Geoffrey Mander[8] Liberal MP for Wolverhampton East from 1929 to 1945 and Professor Gilbert Murray, who was this Vice-President of the League of Nations Society from 1916 and Chairman of the LNU after 1923.[11] The recruitment of Conservative politicians to support the LNU and the League of Nations itself was more problematic for the LNU, but they pursued it to demonstrate the cross-party nature of the Union, which was important for the credibility of an organisation active politically in pursuit of international goals.[12] High-profile Conservatives then came into the LNU, notably Lord Robert Cecil and Austen Chamberlain who were both members of the LNU Executive Committee.[13] However, most Conservatives were deeply suspicious of the LNU's support for pacifism and disarmament,[14] an analogous position being the opinions held by Conservatives in the 1980s in respect of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Even Austen Chamberlain remarked that the Executive Committee contained "some of the worst cranks I have ever known".[15] Winston Churchill said of the Union: "What impresses me most about them is their long suffering and inexhaustible gullibility".[16]

Peace Ballot

One example of the significance of the political impact the LNU could have was its organisation of the Peace Ballot of 1935, when voters were asked to decide on questions relating to international disarmament and collective security. The Peace Ballot was not an official referendum, but more than eleven million people participated in it, representing strong support for the aims and objectives of the League of Nations, influencing policy makers and politicians. The results of the Peace Ballot were publicised worldwide. It has been suggested that one outcome was the interpretation of the result by the Axis powers as an indication of Britain's unwillingness to go to war on behalf of other nations[17] although the vote for military action against international aggressors, as a matter of last resort, was almost three-to-one.

Educational programmes

The LNU's other main activities were education and awareness raising. It provided publications, speakers and organised courses.[18] Some of its programmes had a lasting impact on British schools.[19]

Replacement by United Nations Association

It was plain a new international settlement would be needed after the Second World War and in 1948, the United Nations Association (UNA) was founded to promote the work of the United Nations Organisation, which was established in 1945 after the previous year's Dumbarton Oaks Conference. As a result, the LNU arranged for the transfer of its complete organisation and membership to the UNA. However, under the provisions of its Royal Charter, the LNU was able to continue until the mid-1970s in a limited capacity to handle bequests and administer the payment of pensions to former employees.

Papers and records

The papers, records, minute books, pamphlets, reports and leaflets of the LNU are deposited at the British Library of Political and Economic Science at the London School of Economics in Westminster.[5]

See also

• Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson
• Henry Wilson Harris
• Joseph H. Hertz
• Charles Herbert Levermore
• Almeric Paget, 1st Baron Queenborough
• Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray
• Gerald Sharp
• Jessie Street


1. Douglas, R. M. (2004). The Labour Party, Nationalism and Internationalism, 1939-1951: A New World Order. Routledge. p. 27. ISBN 9780203505786.
2. "League of Nations Union Collected Records, 1915-1945". Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
3. Callaghan, John T. (2007). The Labour Party and Foreign Policy: A History. Routledge. p. 69. ISBN 9781134540150.
4. Baratta, Joseph Preston (2004). Politics of World Federation: From world federalism to global governance. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 74. ISBN 9780275980689.
5. "LNU - League of Nations Union Collection". LSE Library Services.
6. Summy, Hilary (2007). From hope ... to hope : story of the Australian League of Nations union, featuring the Victorian Branch, 1921-1945 (PhD thesis). The University of Queensland.
7. Phelps, Edith M. (1919). Selected Articles on a League of Nations. New York: H. W. Wilson & Company. pp. xxvi & xxxvii.
8. Archives of League Of Nations Union, 1918-1971. Archived 2012-07-15 at
9. McKercher, B. J. C., ed. (1990). Anglo-American Relations in the 1920s: The Struggle for Supremacy. University of Alberta. p. 23. ISBN 9781349119196.
10. McDonough, Frank (1998). Neville Chamberlain, Appeasement, and the British Road to War. Manchester University Press. p. 111. ISBN 9780719048326.
11. Morewood, Steven (2004). The British Defence of Egypt, 1935-1940: Conflict and Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean. Routledge. p. 73. ISBN 9781135776664.
12. West, Francis (1984). Cecil Murray: A Life. Croom Helm. pp. 200–201.
13. Dutton, David (1985). Austen Chamberlain: Gentleman in Politics. New Brunswick: Transaction. p. 307. ISBN 9781412817639.
14. Thompson, J. A. (December 1977). "Lord Cecil and the Pacifists in the League of Nations Union". The Historical Journal. Cambridge University Press. 20 (4): 949–59. JSTOR 2638416.
15. Thompson, Neville (1971). The Anti-Appeasers: Conservative Opposition to Appeasement in the 1930s. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 37. ISBN 9780198214878.
16. HC Deb 23 November 1932 vol 272 cc73-211
17. Thane, Pat (2001). Cassell's Companion to Twentieth-Century Britain. Cassell. p. 311. ISBN 9780304347940.
18. Cook, Chris (1975). Sources in British Political History, 1900-1950 Volume 1. London: MacMillan. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-333-15036-8.
19. British Library of Political and Economic Science, League of Nations Union, 1918-1971. Archived 2012-07-14 at

Further reading

• Donald S. Birn, The League of Nations Union, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:04 am

by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/17/19



Over the years many refugees were to visit Shotover Cleve. HN was involved in what was called Russian Eurasianism, the purpose of which was to enable aristocrats still in the Soviet Union to escape to the West. Colonel Malevsky-Malevitch was also involved, staying at the house for several months. Another Russian, who returned to the USSR to help in the planned escapes, disappeared. It was never established whether he had been captured or whether he had been planted by the Soviets as an agent. From the intelligence sources now becoming accessible since the collapse of the USSR, it appears that the man was an agent and that the efforts of the would-be helpers in the West were well known to the Soviet authorities. Spalding himself felt a little betrayed by the episode, so much so that his feelings for Shotover Cleve were never quite the same. Despite this, increasing contact with Russian refugees stimulated Spalding's interest in Russian culture and religion. His interest in Eastern Orthodoxy led him to wonder about other religions in the East, of which he then had little knowledge.

There is a long drive to Shotover Cleve, off which the Spaldings built a smaller but still substantial family house for the Narishkins that was at first known as 'Domic'. There was speculation about the choice of the name. The Russian diminutive domik means 'cabin'. The Narishkins were grateful to have been granted asylum in Britain but they had been accustomed to a grander lifestyle in pre-revolutionary St Petersburg. A Narishkin ancestor was the mother of Peter the Great. The muzei-domik Petra I ('the Cabin of Peter the Great', now a museum) stands on the Petrovskaya embankment in the northern part of the Russian city. Built in three days for Peter by his soldier-carpenters in 1703, the two-roomed cabin is a reminder of his simple life-style during the six years he lived there whilst supervising construction work in St Petersburg. The Narishkins may have had this in mind when they called their new dwelling 'Domic'. They had two sons. The elder was called Vadim. He was of the same age as John Spalding. Their daughter, Moira, was a little younger. The second son was Theodore, known in the family as 'B' (for Baby). These children were among the young Spaldings' playmates. With the help of HN and his wife, the Narishkins then moved from the house built for them at Shotover to a house in Old Headington, Oxford. The 'Cabin' was eventually re-named The Orchard. Captain Narishkin used his knowledge of art-almost universal among Russian aristocratic emigres-to make or put together objets d'art for sale in Oxford. He dealt in small pictures and decorative boxes, selling them on to local shops. This brought in a modest income. Profitable deals were few and far between. His wife was an enthusiastic hostess but not a provident housekeeper. Their guests included Prince and Princess Galitzine (who had a shop on Hay Hill, Berkeley Square in London, a venture supported by the Spaldings), the Arapoffs, the harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, and others, some of whom stayed or visited the Spaldings at Shotover Cleve next door.

-- The Spalding Trust and the Union for the Study of the Great Religions: H.N. Spalding's Pioneering Vision, by Edward Hulmes

Orthographic projection of Greater Russia/Eurasia and near abroad
[Brown] The Soviet Union in 1945
[Red Brown/Maroon] (Soviet territories that were never part of the Russian Empire: Tuvan ASSR, Kaliningrad Oblast and Zakarpattia, Lviv, Stanislav and Ternopil regions in west Ukraine)
[Chinese Red] Additional annexed/occupied territory from the Russian Empire (Grand Duchy of Finland and Congress Poland)
[Bright Red] Maximum extent of the Soviet near abroad, 1955 (Warsaw Pact, Mongolian People's Republic and North Korea)
[Pink/Red] Maximum extent of the Soviet Union's sphere of influence, 1945–1946 (Northern Iran, Xinjiang, Manchuria)

Eurasianism (Russian: евразийство, yevraziystvo) is a political movement in Russia, formerly within the primarily Russian émigré community, that posits that Russian civilisation does not belong in the "European" or "Asian" categories but instead to the geopolitical concept of Eurasia. Originally developing in the 1920s, the movement was supportive of the Bolshevik Revolution but not its stated goals of enacting communism, seeing the Soviet Union as a stepping stone on the path to creating a new national identity that would reflect the unique character of Russia's geopolitical position. The movement saw a minor resurgence after the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the 20th century, and is mirrored by Turanism in Turkic and Uralic nations.

The greatest extension of the Russian Empire (dark green) and its spheres of influence (light green)

Early 20th century

Eurasianism is a political movement that has its origins in the Russian émigré community in the 1920s. The movement posited that Russian civilization does not belong in the "European" category (somewhat borrowing from Slavophile ideas of Konstantin Leontyev), and that the October Revolution of the Bolsheviks was a necessary reaction to the rapid modernization of Russian society. The Eurasianists believed that the Soviet regime was capable of evolving into a new national, non-European Orthodox Christian government, shedding the initial mask of proletarian internationalism and militant atheism (to which the Eurasianists were strongly opposed).

The Eurasianists criticized the anti-Bolshevik activities of organizations such as ROVS, believing that the émigré community's energies would be better focused on preparing for this hoped for process of evolution. In turn, their opponents among the emigres argued that the Eurasianists were calling for a compromise with and even support of the Soviet regime, while justifying its ruthless policies (such as the persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church) as mere "transitory problems" that were inevitable results of the revolutionary process.

The key leaders of the Eurasianists were Prince Nikolai Trubetzkoy, P.N. Savitsky, P.P. Suvchinskiy, D. S. Mirsky, K. Čcheidze, P. Arapov, and S. Efron. Philosopher Georges Florovsky was initially a supporter, but backed out of the organization claiming it "raises the right questions", but "poses the wrong answers". A significant influence of the doctrine of the Eurasianists can be found in Nikolai Berdyaev's essay "The Sources and Meaning of Russian Communism".

Several organizations similar in spirit to the Eurasianists sprung up in the emigre community at around the same time, such as the pro-Monarchist Mladorossi and the Smenovekhovtsi.

Several members of the Eurasianists were affected by the Soviet provocational TREST operation, which had set up a fake meeting of Eurasianists in Russia that was attended by the Eurasianist leader P.N. Savitsky in 1926 (an earlier series of trips were also made two years earlier by Eurasianist member P. Arapov). The uncovering of the TREST as a Soviet provocation caused a serious morale blow to the Eurasianists and discredited their public image. By 1929, the Eurasianists had ceased publishing their periodical and had faded quickly from the Russian émigré community.

Late 20th century

Eurasian world for eurasianist political movement

The ideology of the movement was partially incorporated into a new movement of the same name after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, when the Eurasia Party was founded by Aleksandr Dugin.


See also: Foundations of Geopolitics

Former Warsaw Pact countries

Neo-Eurasianism (Russian: неоевразийство) is a Russian school of thought, popularized in Russia during the years leading up to and following the collapse of the Soviet Union, that considers Russia to be culturally closer to Asia than to Western Europe.

The school of thought takes its inspiration from the Eurasianists of the 1920s, notably Prince Nikolai Trubetzkoy while P.N. Savitsky. Lev Gumilev is often cited as the founder of the Neo-Eurasianist movement, and he was quoted as saying that "I am the last of the Eurasianists."[1]

At the same time, major differences have been noted between Gumilev's work and those of the original Eurasianists.[1] Gumilev's work is controversial for its scientific methodology (the use of his own conception of ethnogenesis and the notion of "passionarity" of ethnoses). At any rate, Gumilev's work has been a source of inspiration for the Neo-Eurasianist authors, the most prolific of whom is Aleksandr Dugin.

Gumilev's contribution to Neo-Eurasianism lies in the conclusions he reaches from applying his theory of ethnogenesis: that the Mongol occupation of 1240–1480 AD (known as the "Mongol yoke") had shielded the emergent Russian ethnos from the aggressive neighbor to the West, allowing it to gain time to achieve maturity. The idea of Eurasianism contrasts with Konstantin Leontyev's Byzantism, which is similar in its rejection of the West, but identifies with the Byzantine Empire rather than with Central Asian tribal culture.

Eurasian Economic Union

Main articles: Eurasian Economic Union and Enlargement of the Eurasian Economic Union

The Eurasian Economic Union

The Eurasian Economic Union was founded in January 2015, consisting of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and observer member Moldova, all of them being previous members of the Soviet Union. Members include states from both Europe and Asia; the union promotes political and economic cooperation among members.

"Greater" Russia

Not to be confused with Great Russia.

Russia growth 1613–1914

The political-cultural concept espoused by some in Russia is sometimes called the Greater Russia and is described as a political aspiration of pan-Russian nationalists and irredentists to retake some or all of the territories of the other republics of the former Soviet Union and territory of the former Russian Empire and amalgamate them into a single Russian state. Alexander Rutskoy, the Vice President of Russia from 1991–1993, asserted irredentist claims to Narva in Estonia, Crimea in Ukraine, and Ust-Kamenogorsk in Kazakhstan, among other territories.[2]

Before war broke out between Russia and Georgia in 2008, Aleksandr Dugin visited South Ossetia and predicted, "Our troops will occupy the Georgian capital Tbilisi, the entire country, and perhaps even Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, which is historically part of Russia, anyway."[3] Former South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoity is a Eurasianist and argues that South Ossetia never left the Russian Empire and should be part of Russia.[4]


See also: Hellenoturkism

The Greek poet, Turkologist and Sinologist, Professor of International Relations and Geopolitics Dimitri Kitsikis, was involved in promotion of Turkish–Greek friendship and eurasianist historiosophy and geopolitical concepts.[5]


See also: Hungarian Turanism

The Hungarian far-right party and movement, Jobbik, espouses a form of Hungarian nationalism that fosters kinship with other "Turanian" peoples, including the Turkic peoples of Asia.[6]


The political activist Silviu Brucan, was involved in shaping eurasianism as a geopolitical concept, with articles focused on Russian politics that were published in a monthly magazine called Sfera Politicii.[7]


See also: Turanism

Distribution of the Turkic peoples in Eurasia.

Since the late 1990s, Eurasianism has gained some following in Turkey among nationalist (ulusalcı (tr)) circles. The most prominent figure who is associated with Dugin is Doğu Perinçek, the leader of the Patriotic Party (Vatan Partisi).[8] Some analysts of modern Turkish politics have suggested that the ultra-nationalist and secular elite that are also affiliated with the members of the Turkish military, who have come under close scrutiny with the Ergenekon coup case, have close ideological and political ties to the Eurasianists.[9]

In literature

In the future time depicted in George Orwell's novel "[url]Nineteen Eighty Four[/url]", the Soviet Union has mutated into Eurasia, one of the three superstates dominating the world.

Similarly, Robert Heinlein's story "Solution Unsatisfactory" depicts a future in which the Soviet Union would be transformed into "The Eurasian Union".

See also

• All-Russian nation
• Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation
• Donetsk
• Eurasian Economic Union
• Eurasian Observatory for Democracy and Elections
• Intermediate Region
• Manifest destiny
• Turkey-Azerbaijan relations
• National Bolshevism
• Neo-Sovietism
• Nostalgia for the Soviet Union
• Novorossiya (confederation)
• Russophilia
• Russian irredentism
• Slavophilia
• Soviet Empire
• Territorial evolution of Russia
• Nikolay Vasilyevich Ustryalov

• Geography portal
• Asia portal
• Europe portal
• Politics portal


1. Laruelle, Marlène "Histoire d'une usurpation intellectuelle: Gumilev, 'le dernier des eurasistes'? (analyse des oppositions entre L.N. Gumilev et P.N. Savickij" in Sergei Panarin (ed.) Eurasia: People & Myths, Moscow, Natalis Press, 1993 (Russian lang.)
2. Chapman, Thomas; Roeder, Philip G. (November 2007). "Partition as a Solution to Wars of Nationalism: The Importance of Institutions". American Political Science Review. 101(4): 680. doi:10.1017/s0003055407070438.
3. "Road to War in Georgia: The Chronicle of a Caucasian Tragedy", Spiegel, August 25, 2008.
4. Neo-Eurasianist Aleksandr Dugin on the Russia-Georgia Conflict, CACI Analyst, September 3, 2008.
5. Giorgios K. Filis – Russia and Turkey in the Geopolitics of Eurasia & Theory of Median Space
6. Evelyne Pieiller, "Hungary Looks to the Past for Its Future," Le Monde Diplomatique, English ed. November, 2016.
7. Brucan, Silviu. "Geopolitics and Strategy" (PDF). Sfera Politicii. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
8. Mehmet Ulusoy: "Rusya, Dugin ve‚ Türkiye’nin Avrasyacılık stratejisi" Aydınlık Dec. 5 2004, pp. 10-16
9. [1] Emre Uslu: Turkish military: a source of anti-Americanism in Turkey. Today's Zaman, July 31, 2011.


• The Mission of Russian Emigration, M.V. Nazarov. Moscow: Rodnik, 1994. ISBN 5-86231-172-6
• Russia Abroad: A comprehensive guide to Russian Emigration after 1917 also some Ustrialov's papers in the Library
• The criticism towards the West and the future of Russia-Eurasia
• Laruelle, Marlene, ed. (2015). Eurasianism and the European Far Right: Reshaping the Europe–Russia Relationship. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-1-4985-1068-4.
• Stefan Wiederkehr, Die eurasische Bewegung. Wissenschaft und Politik in der russischen Emigration der Zwischenkriegszeit und im postsowjetischen Russland(Köln u.a., Böhlau 2007) (Beiträge zur Geschichte Osteuropas, 39).

External links

• The Fourth Political Theory - Eurasianism
• Evrazia
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:11 am

Part 1 of 5

D.S. Mirsky: A Russian-English Life, 1890-1939 [EXCERPT]
by Gerald Stanton Smith, Professor of Russian, Oxford University and Fellow G.S. Smith



pg. 138

adolescent, in strong contrast to Mirsky, Trubetskoy conceived a violent antipathy towards Western culture, and British attitudes in particular.

Savitsky was an economist and geographer who had been a favourite pupil of P.B. Struve and had worked with him in the White administration in the Crimea. He responded immediately to Trubetskoy’s early publications, and he was to prove the most enthusiastic and persistent proponent of Eurasianism among the original quartet. He was also the most prolific author among them; indeed, he was something of a graphomaniac, and the knotty loquacity of his writings is one factor that has deterred scholars from tackling his archival legacy.47 Mirsky eventually came to view him as a self-righteous bigot.48

Florovsky was an Orthodox theologican, and very soon publicly distanced himself from the movement.49 Florovsky and Savitsky, however, were brothers-in-law, and apparently retained a close personal relationship. Florovsky was replaced as the Eurasian house theologian by Lev Karsavin (1882-1952), the ballerina Tamara’s brother, who suffered all his life from not being as rich and famous as she was.50 He was one of the group of intellectuals expelled from Russia in 1922, and he became closely involved with Eurasianism when he moved to Paris in 1925. The presence in the same place of Suvchinsky and Karsavin was one factor that altered the centre of gravity of the movement for a while at this point.

Suvchinsky was the least distinguished of the four founders intellectually. He contributed a number of culturological essays to the various Eurasian publications, but none of them really repays careful study because his thought is so slipshod; they consist mainly of verbose emotional gestures. Mirsky’s letters to Suvchinsky teem with ever-harsher instructions about how he should tighten up his thinking and clean up his style. Suvchinsky was by nature a parlour intellectual, fond of the sound of his own voice and loving to hold court. How he managed to support himself is an enigma, unless he really did manage to allot himself a salary from Eurasian funds; his third former wife, Vera, contemptuously referred to him as ‘a genuine parasite’. He was something of a sexual predator, and he married four times, all the women concerned being between 18 and 22 years old at the time. His fourth marriage, in 1933, was something of a Eurasian dynastic event, to Marianna Karsavina, one of the daughters of the philosopher. Karsavin, incidentally, was conned into thinking that Suvchinsky was a millionaire.

As a body of doctrine, Eurasianism has been much more frequently summarized than critically examined. This is partly because the publications are so extensive, and partly because they are still difficult of access; there does not seem to be a single repository anywhere in the world where all the Eurasian publications can be studied together.51 The anonymous preface to Exodus to the East spelled out the fundamental ideas. The sentence from it that became most famous also marks the limit of the usual notion of what Eurasianism amounted to: ‘The Russian people and the peoples of the “Russian world” are neither European nor Asiatic.’

The Eurasian people, one but only one constituent among whom are the ethnic Russians, inhabit that geographically distinctive space which stretches from the Baltic to the Pacific, and from the Arctic to the mountain ranges that provide it with a southern border. In terms of climate and vegetation it is divided into four broad ‘flag-like’ strips that run east-west; reading from north to south they are made up of tundra, northern forest, steppe, and desert.52 Eurasian history is essentially the process of human confrontation with and assimilation of this space. This history begins not with Kievan Christianity but with the unfortunately named Tartar yoke, which the Eurasians viewed as a positive phenomenon rather than a catastrophe that gave rise to Russia’s notorious ‘backwardness’. Under the Mongols the Eurasian space was first brought under unitary rule; it functioned efficiently as a political and economic entity and successfully defended itself against Catholicism and Protestantism and the false beliefs and economic exploitation indivisible from them.

A definition of national identity, subsuming and transcending ethnicity, sprang from the geopolitical basis. The Eurasian mentality, according to Exodus to the East, is continental, nomadic, and tolerant in religious affairs. Nevertheless, a central administration came about that gave a coherent political articulation to ‘continent Eurasia’ as a geographical space, further integrated by growing adherence to the Russian Orthodox Church and the use of the Russian language. The outlook of the people who inhabit the landlocked and featureless expanses of Eurasia was and remained utterly different from that of the peoples who inhabit the regions west of the Elbe, with their peninsulas and islands riven by mountains and short rivers flowing fast to nearby seas. In this setting there developed individualism, participatory democracy, aggressive chauvinism, rapaciously acquisitive materialism, religious intolerance and eventually secularism, and a ruthless hunger for technological development; these attitudes drove the acquisition of sea-borne empires founded on myths of national supremacy and on the enslavement or even extermination of aliens rather than the Eurasian process of comparatively benign enserfment of the native lower orders. The reforms of Peter the Great betrayed the Eurasian idea of importing alien Western concepts and structures of government, leading to a loss of organic unity, a growing alienation between rulers and ruled, and the eventual revenge of the ruled in 1917. The revolution was taken over from the top, however, by fanatical adherents of Marxist Communism, the most obnoxious of all the ideologies that had been foisted on Russia from the West. The Eurasians thus accepted the legitimacy of the Russian revolution, but rejected the legitimacy of Bolshevism.

The four founding ideologues of Eurasianism were all Russian men of the same generation as Mirsky. Like him, they just had time to complete at least a substantial part of their higher education in their native country before


to an old Russian unit of linear measure, just over one kilometer, and it also refers to the posts that indicated these distances along the sides of the main roads; it has often been translated as ‘Mileposts’. Tsvetaeva had published a collection of poetry with this title in two editions in 1922. The inside cover announced that the journal was ‘edited by Prince D.P. Svyatopolk-Mirsky, P.P. Suvchinsky, and S. Ya. Efron, with the closest cooperation of Aleksey Remizov, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Lev Shestov’.


Mirsky made his single most controversial contribution to literary polemic in the Russian émigré community in connection with the launch of Byorsts. On 5 April 1926, at the same location, 79 avenue Denfert-Rochereau, where Tsvetaeva had given her reading in February, he delivered his lecture on ‘The Ambience of Death in Pre-revolutionary Russian Literature’. The occasion was announced as being organized by the editorial board of Byorsts, and it was chaired by Suvchinsky. The lecture was attended by many famous figures who after it were to become Mirsky’s implacable enemies; they included Adamovich, Aldanov, Bunin, Gippius and Merezhkovsky, Khodasevich, and Zaitsev. Khodasevich left a description of Mirsky’s performance; in an undated letter to Prince Shakhovskoy, he minimizes the number of important people who were there:

SV. M. just gave a proclamatory lecture; he’d sent out invitations to take part in discussion following it. Of those invited, only Bunin, Aldanov and I turned up. We didn’t sit through to the discussion – we left after the lecture, which was rubbish of a kind nobody (even I) expected from Svyat. It was a disaster for him, and Bunin, Aldanov, and I celebrated in a bar.76

When the text of the lecture was published the following year in the second issue of Byorsts, Mirsky added a postscript, saying that it aroused

the indignation of the entire émigré sinedrion.77 I can only rejoice in the indignation of the majority of my accusers. As for the epigones and nihilists who take pride in their corpse-like odour, I would not wish to hold any opinions in common with them, and I consider their condemnation the highest form of praise.78

Zinaida Shakhovskaya, the sister of the ‘well-intentioned’ Prince, was present at this occasion; she accompanied the Remozovs. She reports that Mirsky spoke ‘with exemplary cleverness’, at one point declaring emphatically: ‘as the eminent Russian writer Kundyshin once said’. When they were all leaving the building someone asked in confusion: ‘Forgive me, Dima, I can’t quite seem to recall who Kundyshin was.’ ‘He wasn’t anybody,’ said Mirsky solemnly, ‘I made him up.’79

This address did indeed mark a parting of the ways for Mirsky with the established powers of the emigration; after it, he published nothing in the Russian émigré press that was not edited by himself. The first sentence of the piece is categorical: ‘The entire literature of the last reign is shot through with a spirit of death and decay.’ The subsequent argument, in characteristic fashion for Mirsky’s critical writing, images the sociological through the somatic, and contrasts sickness with health. Mirsky explains that he is talking about ‘historical death, the death of a cultural formation, the body of culture’, and he has in mind what he customarily refers to as ‘Petersburg culture’, that is, Russian culture from the early eighteenth century to 1917. The culture of the dvoryanstvo was mortally wounded by the Decembrist debacle, and the culture of the intelligentsia that succeeded it was mortally wounded by the rout of the People’s Will. By the early twentieth century, says Mirsky, Petersburg culture had an ‘upper storey’, inhabited by the ‘decadents’ and the religious philosophers, and a ‘lower storey’, in which lived the Chekhovian intelligentsia and the revolutionary parties, which had ‘lost their soul’. There was no staircase connecting them. The writers of the lower storey, says Mirsky, had no sense of purpose, and the most symptomatic case among them was that of Gorky’s ‘passionate thirst for truth and tragic inability to find it’. Bunin, Artsybashev, and Andreev were all obsessed by the theme of death. On the upper storey, the ‘decomposition of the spirit’ that came out of Dostoevsky and Solovyov [Soloviev], the latter with his ‘mystical eroticism’, degenerated into ‘subterranean necrophilia, pathophilia, and a love for non-existence’, the latter most strongly expressed in the poetry of Gippius. When the Revolution brought about the historical death of ‘Petersburg Russia’, the inhabitants of the upper storey ‘greeted it like the Juggernaut, with a frenzy of horror and self-destruction’. The tonality of Russian literature began to change; it underwent what Mirsky calls, emphasizing the phrase, a liberating impoverishment. In explaining what he means, Mirsky resorts to his pet surgical metaphor:

In literature this was connected with formalism, futurism, and acmeism. The significance of all three lay in their amputation of the spirit, which was so far gone in decomposition that it could not be healed. But ferrus sanat, and to save the organism the decomposing spirit was removed. This operation may not have saved us, but had it not happened, it would have been impossible for us to be saved. (Thus, the Revolution itself was a crisis that could have been followed by either death or recovery, but without it recovery was impossible.)80

The remaining sentences of ‘The Ambience of Death’ hint that recovery is in progress, saluting the birth of ‘a new phase of the Russian spirit’, a ‘Renaissance of the Heroic’, which has been foreshadowed in the work of Cumilyov, and which can be found at its best in Pasternak and Tsvetaeva, and in ‘many of the young writers working in Russia’.81 This peroration could well be read as a manifesto for what was to come in Vyorsts.

Mirsky’s lecture and its later publication had unpleasant ramifications. ‘The problem of death’ and ways of ‘overcoming’ it formed a substantial element in the intellectual fabric of modernist Russian culture, and were articulated principally in the thought of Nikolay Fyodorov (1828-1903), with which Mirsky toyed when he was a Eurasian and which he then swiftly rejected when he became a Marxist. Though this aspect of his work seems not to have been much remarked upon by his contemporaries or his more recent critics, Fyodorov was manifestly obsessed by the idea of resurrecting the dead as a way of avoiding the necessity for human sexual reproduction, for which he had a pathological aversion – few others have tried to build a philosophical system on loathing for female genitalia. Strikingly, those Russians who became most vehement on the subject of the ‘culture of death’ in the mid-1920s were themselves physically sterile: Mirsky, Khodasevich, Gippius, and Bunin in the emigration, and Mayakovsky back in Russia. Which of their ways out was the most deplorable: Mirsky’s Stalinism, Khodasevich’s nihilism, Bunin and Gippius’s sour misanthropy masquerading as Christianity, or Mayakovsky’s suicide?


The three issues of Vyorsts were fairly standard in terms of the way Russian ‘thick journals’ and literary almanacs tend to be put together. Poetry and fiction lead the way, followed by critical articles, and then come reviews. The principal formal innovation in Vyorsts was to reprint a substantial text as a supplement bound in with each issue. What mattered most about Vyorsts was that works by authors resident in the USSR are presented side by side with émigré writing, as represented chiefly by Remizov and Tsvetaeva. The marginal place occupied by Shestov’s work in the journal is particularly remarkable; he was named as an associate editor, but the only piece by him that appeared in Vyorsts was transferred into the first issue from Contemporary Notes because of delays in publication by that journal.82

The first number of Vyorsts occupies 269 closely printed pages of very good quality rag paper, using a bewildering variety of founts and both New and Old orthography. It includes five outstanding items. The first is Tsvetaeva’s Poem of the Mountain, written in Prague in 1924, and the greatest love poem in twentieth-century Russian literature. After it came nearly 100 pages of miscellaneous literary matter, punctuated by one of the most extraordinary pieces of sentimental whimsy Remoziv ever created. Under the title ‘In very Truth’, it is an open letter addressed to the writer Mirsky several times said was the greatest of his time, Remizov’s old friend Vasily Rozanov, the seventieth anniversary of whose birth fell in 1926, but who had died in 1919. Remizov brings Rozanov up to date on what has happened in Russian culture since then, with heavy emphasis on his own doings.83 Not too many pages later comes a factually expert and copiously illustrated overview of the music of Stravinsky by Artur Lure.84 Lurie continued this survey in the third issue of Vyorsts with a piece on Stravinsky’s two controversial operas, Mavra (1922) and Odeipus Rex, which was brand new when Lurie wrote about it in May 1927. Lurie’s first essay is followed by some turgid stuff by Suvchinsky and Mirsky’s perfunctory ‘Poets and Russia’.

After Mirsky’s contribution comes a magnificent essay, ‘Three Capitals’, on the hoary theme of the contrasts between Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev; this one, though, has never really been bettered. It is signed ‘E. Bogdanov’, which was a pseudonym adopted for his own good reasons by the religious philosopher Georgy Fedotov (1886-1951), who had left Russia only the year before. And in the reviews section comes Mirsky’s devastating survey of Contemporary Notes and The Will of Russia, which he reads as the sepulchers of the right and left wings respectively of the old Socialist Revolutionary Party. It was in this context that Mirsky delivered an insult that has never been forgotten or forgiven; he describes Vladislav Khodasevich as ‘that little subterranean Baratynsky, the favourite poet of everyone who doesn’t like poetry’. The supplement to the first issue of Vyorsts presented the complete text of The Life of the Archpriest Avvakum, which had been specially edited and copied out for the purpose by Remizov.


Predictably, the first issue of Vyorsts was met largely with contempt by the leading lights in émigré literature; equally predictably, it was Khodasevich who eventually made the heavyweight pronouncement, prompted by Gippius.85 Khodasevich’s long article in Contemporary Notes was the first systematic attempt to destroy the credibility of the man Khodasevich calls ‘our worker-peasant prince’ by writing him off as a politically motivated opportunist, who would uncritically and unscrupulously say anything whatsoever to promote the Soviet cause; there is a constant insinuation that Mirsky has somehow been bought and is acting under instructions from Moscow.86 The next public assault on Mirsky of this kind would come from the Soviet dramatist Vishnevsky after Mirsky had returned to Russia, and there is a ghoulish similarity in tone between his article and Khodasevich’s. The personal animus in both is unmistakable.

Khodasevich points out that the émigré contributors to Vyorsts were all against Lenin’s revolution when it happened, but insinuated that they were too cowardly to do anything overt: ‘One of the editors, S. Ya Elfron, took up arms against it. Where Messrs. Suvchinsky and Bogdanov, Prince Trubetskoy, Svyatopolk-Mirsky himself, and the others were at the time – we know not.’ This is an obvious provocation, fishing to get Mirsky the proto-Communist to declare his credentials as a White officer, which Khodasevich must have known about full well. Meanwhile, the now whiter-than-white Khodasevich had originally accepted the revolution, and remained in Russia until 1922, working for Soviet institutions.

The editors of Contemporary Notes were hesitant about publishing the piece by Khodasevich, and in the esvent it came out with significant cuts, which have never been described in detail.87 Whatever these were, there cannot be much doubt about the main reason for the editors’ hesitation. In another provocative phrase that was left in the article, Khodasevich accused Suvchinskiy of gleefully anticipating a ‘good old Russian pogrom’ – ‘which is not very polite in a journal where one of the editors is S. Ya. Efron, and among the contributors are Pasternak, Babel, L.I. Shestov and Artur Lurie’. The editors of Vyorsts deal with this accusation and several others in their indignant repudiation of this slur.88 All the members of the editorial board of Contemporary Notes happened to be Jewish; Khodasevich was the son of a Polish father and a mother who was an ardent convert to Catholicism, the daughter of a notorious Jewish anti-Semite.

Like Mirsky, Khodasevich was a sterile and deeply neurotic man, but unlike Mirsky, he always opted to cohabit with women. He reached the age of 40 in 1926; the fount of his superb poetry dried up soon after. The studied Pushkinian form of his poetry articulates one of the most devastating expressions in Russian of the spiritual aridity that Mirsky spoke about so often with reference to postwar Europe.89 But Khodasevich drew conservative conclusions, while Mirsky did the opposite. Instead of poetry, Khodasevich subsequently gave himself to writing literary journalism of increasing biliousness, and to his obsession with card games. He never wrote literary history on the scale that Mirsky did; instead, he tended to do the opposite and write concise personal memoirs about the writers he had known, and they are among the very best of their kind in Russian. Notwithstanding the radical difference in their politics, Khodasevich’s literary views and many particular emphases in them are very similar to Mirskyi’s, and the acuity of his literary judgment is the equal of Mirsky’s; he is the only Russian contemporary besides Gumilyov of whom this can be said. The spectacle of the two most gifted critical minds of the emigration tearing at each other in the way Mirsky and Khodasevich did is one of the most dismal in the unhappy story of Russia Abroad.

Khodasevich’s allegations about the editors of Vyorsts tuckling to the Soviets were countered, unbeknownst to him, from the horse’s mouth. The editors of Vyorsts sent a copy of the first issue to Russia; to whom it was addressed is not clear, but it came into the hands of the appropriate official, M. Arseniev, Political Editor of the Leningrad branch of the Soviet censorship, Glavlit (Foreign Literature Sub-Section). His report is concise and to the point:

A collection of work by Russian authors, published, so the preface says, for genuinely Russian people presently living outside the country. The entire collection is saturated with an anti-Soviet tendency and with hatred for the Bolsheviks. The collection is alien to our ideology. Conclusion: ‘Prohibit’.90


Mirsky visited Tsvetaeva in St Gilles-sur-Vie in the Vendee soon after 15 July 1926.91 By this time, their relationship was starting to cool off; Tsvetaeva was deep into her next obsession after Mirsky, the triangular epistolary relationship with Pasternak and Rainer Maria Rilke that has been extensively documented and discussed.92 As for Mirsky, this was the time that he was feverishly putting the finishing touches to his History. On 30 September 1926 Mirsky wrote one of his best staff officer’s dispatches to Suvchinsky:

I was at Shestov’s yesterday. He reproached us, and I think he’s right, for not paying any attention to the Orthodox philosophers, Berdyaev and so on, and he says that we should at least write something about The Way,93 and about Ilin’s book (Resistance to Evil).94 This seems essential to me, but 1) we can’t have a Yid writing about it, 2) Ilin and Karsavin don’t inspire my trust, and consequently it has to be you that writes it – tertium non datur. I’ve had a letter from Marina where she 1) demands a reply about whether we agree to give her 2,500 francs for Theseus and if so when, and if we can’t agree we’ve to pass it on to The Will of Russia! I don’t think this amount excessive, but this kind of ultimatumish behavior is completely improper 2) She demands a reply about whether Seryozha [Efron] will be getting 500 francs per month, and if not, she’ll get him another position and he’ll work for Vyorsts only in the time he has free from his duties 3) Finally, she’s very much against Schmidt.95

One other thing – the distribution of Vyorsts. It’s shamefully badly set up. Efron is an incredible arsehole.

Shortly before he vented his feelings in this way, on 6 September 1926, Mirsky wrote, from what was now after the death of his mother the house he and his sisters owned at Courbevoie, to Salomeya Halpern about Marina Tsvetaeva, and informed her that he was sending some money to the poet at St Gilles. This was the beginning of the financial support system Mirsky and Halpern organized; for six years it constituted the nearest thing Tsvetaeva had to a regular income.

During the winter of 1926-7 Mirsky was putting together what became the second issue of Vyorsts. On 23 January 1927 he told Suvchinsky:

I do not wish to continue publishing Vyorsts according to the formula as it is now. I wouldn’t mind, but two factors get in the way: a growing and completely insuperable revulsion (not in the figurative sense, but simply inhibition, impossibility) towards Efron and Marina. Any dealings with them whatsoever, spoken or written, are complete torture for me. I’m exaggerating a big, but this is a very serious matter. Secondly, my role as drummer-up of funds is even more revolting for me than having to deal with the Efrons. It’s absolutely not my line, and no matter what you might say to me about my obligations and so on, I’m getting totally impotent in this respect – I just can’t rise to it [the sexual innuendo is more explicit in Mirsky’s Russian] – there’s nothing more to say. And so I propose the following scheme: instead of these huge bricks of ours let’s publish small collections of articles. I’d say we could bring out the first one by summer, made up of you, me, maybe Fedotov, maybe Karsavin or Shestov … not both of them …. And a new title (not Vyorsts), but we could put Vyorsts Publishers on it. What think you?

There were several other reasons for this change in attitude. One of them involved Pasternak. On 12 January 1927 Tsvetaeva wrote a letter to Pasternak accompanying one by Mirsky to the poet, which Mirsky had left with her to send on to Moscow. He was forced to do this because she had refused to give him Pasternak’s home address, and she implored Pasternak not to give it to him either, but to fob him off with something institutional. Tsvetaeva eventually sent off the letter on 9 February 1927, and added another note:

The last milestone 9versta] on your road to him: please send your letter to him open, so as to teach the critic hierarchy and the prince, politeness. (A note on Hierarchy: a poet and a critic cannot have a secret from another poet. I never name names, but in a context like that ours sound right.) Your letter to him, the open one, naturally, I shall not read.96

The letter sent on to Pasternak by Tsvetaeva was written by Mirsky from his university address in London on 8 January 1927. He enquired whether or not Pasternak had seen Vyorsts, and then switches to enthusiastic flattery:

After such material subjects I do not dare to write what I would wish to – of that great attachment that I have long felt towards you as the author especially of My Sister Life, a book which is however so bottomlessly full of content that, plunging down into it ever more deeply as I constantly do, I still do not know whether I have reached its final circle and concentration. If I could dare to hope that my evaluation might be of interest to you, I would like also to tell you that there has not been a poet such as yourself in Russia since the Golden Age, and that in Europe now there can be a contest only between you and T.S. Eliot.

I shall ask Marina Ivanovna to send this on to you, but I would be happy if you would reply to me directly at the address above and let me know yours.97

It is not difficult to imagine Tsvetaeva’s fury when she read Mirsky’s letter before sending it on – as she must inevitably have done, despite her assurance to the contrary – and discovering that Eliot rather than she was mentioned as the equal of Pasternak.

On 5 June 1928, writing to Suvchinsky, Mirsky expressed a vigorously coarse reaction to the last book Tsvetaeva published during her lifetime, which had just come out after a long delay; it finally brought together her poetry of the Prague period:

I just received Marina’s poems. I reread a lot of them and was deeply moved – what a fucking poet she is, all the same! (Kakoi vse-taki, ebi ee mat’, poet!) The one bad thing is that she wasn’t thrashed enough early enough. These years, 1922-25, are her best. Her rising line continues up to Rodzevich and with Rodzevich it breaks off.98

In a letter of 18 June 1928 to Salomeya Halpern, Mirsky says that he had attended a poetry reading the day before, by ‘that woman’ – Marina Tsvetaeva. This same date is found beneath the dedication to Mirsky in the book he reported on to Suvchinsky, After Russia: ‘To my dear friend Dmitry Petrovich Svyatopolk-Mirsky, to remind him of that Villette, that London, and that Vendee. Marina Tsvetaeva, Meudon, 17 June 1928.’99 The dedication is an obvious reproach for what happened in the preceding two years between the best poet of the emigration and her best critic.
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Part 2 of 5


The 285-page second issue of vyorsts is a manifest step down from the luxurious first. It is printed on poor-quality paper that makes it half as thick as the 1926 issue, and it has no illustrations; the first carried excellent glossy portraits of Pasternak and Tsvetaeva (demonstratively on the same page), and also studio portraits of Remizov, Shestov, and Stravinsky. The first eighty-three pages contain Tsvetaeva’s verse drama Theseus, about which Mirsky and Suvchinsky wrangled painfully with the author, trying to point out that it was far too long for their purposes and that the fee was more than they could afford. They eventually yielded, but Mirsky found Tsvetaeva’s insistence hard to forgive.

The vivid phrasing and compressed argument of Mirsky’s own essay here, the revised text of the lecture he had given in 1926 on ‘The Ambience of Death’, make it jump off the crumbling pages to this day, made even more lively by its drab, droning context. At the head of the bibliographical section, Mirsky’s survey of current Russian literature is another superb piece of compression; it looks briefly at the recent posthumous edition of Esenin, and then turns to some of the major achievements of Russian fiction of the mid-1920s, all of them by writers resident in Soviet Russia except the first, Maksim Gorky. One sentence in this review of The Artamonov Business is of particular interest in view of the fact that less than a year after he wrote it, Mirsky would meet Gorky personally and claim that he had rediscovered Russia in him. Mirsky says that into the characters of Kuzma and Tikhon ‘Gorkyi has poured all the tormented history of his own quest, in its helpless hopelessness the most tragic drama of the Russian soul. There can be no doubt that with this hopeless blundering Gorky carries a cross for all of us, we of little faith, we strutters on the spot, we Khlestakovs of the spirit ….’100

The most distinctive feature of the 1927 issue of Vyorsts was the contributions by a number of non-Russian critics, all of them commissioned by Mirsky and translated by him. His Pontigny colleagues Bernard Broethuysen and Ramon Fernandez appear here. The single most remarkable item is an essay by E.M. Forster, ‘Contemporary English Literature’, the original of which was apparently lost with the archive of Vyorsts.101 Mirsky had originally approached I.A. RIchards for a contribution, but he can surely not have been disappointed; the essay may be read as a concise version of Forster’s Aspects of the Novel, which was among the many classic books of the period that Mirsky reviewed for the London Mercury.102 The substantial review by Mirsky of T.S. Eliot’s Poems, 1905-1925 in the 1927 Vyorsts, and several other less significant items, make this issue stand out among the publications of the Russian emigration for its serious and well-informed attention to contemporary non-Russian culture. The Eliot review was the end result of a rather different plan by Mirsky, which he mooted in his letter to Suvchinsky of 11 March 1926: ‘I’ve had the idea of doing a verse translation (vers libre, like the original) of T.S. Eliot’s long poem The Hollow Men (4 pages, about 100 lines), a work of genius in terms of the concentration of its feeling for the death and impotence of post-war Europe, and it really is a very important piece in artistic terms.’103

The literary supplement of the 1927 Vyorsts is a sixty-page passage from Rozanov’s The Apocalypse of Our Time. Janko Lavrin, who had been a journalist colleague of Rozanov in St Petersburg, remembered this publication particularly well, though he thought it had been in the 1926 issue. He characterized The Apocalypse as ‘one of the most biting and vicious attacks on Socialism, Communism and so on’, and surmised that when Mirsky reprinted it he can still only have been ‘flirting’ with Communism.

Mirsky directed a mounting barrage of protests at Suvchinsky while the third issue of Vyorsts was being worked out. By 27 May 1927 he was getting desperate; he wrote to Suvchinsky, using his now familiar numbered points:

What to do about Byorsts I don’t know. It looks as if I have no options left for raising money. When I ask people about it, their answer is: 1) why do you publish such thick books? 2) why is nobody buying it? I had hoped to sink into Vyorsts my part of the proceeds from our house in Asnieres 9i.e. Courbevoie], but it still hasn’t sold, and I don’t know when it will. I could contribute from my earnings, but then I’d have to write much more in English than I’m doing now, and this would exclude the possibility of writing for Vyorsts. The Eurasian publishing house might advance us a certain amount. You can’t deny that Vyorsts is serving the Eurasian cause and has done a lot to propagandize Eurasian ideas.

Mirsky had become even more exasperated by 12 June 1927:

I’ll do all I can to get out the third issue of Vyorsts. But on the following conditions, which are absolute: 1) if you produce an article for it. This is a sine qua non and if you don’t produce one, there is decidedly nothing I can do; b) if you swear a solemn oath that you will never in any way try to persuade me to continue Vyorsts after No. 3. I’m fed up to the back teeth with it. I’ve got nothing out of it except enormous unpleasantness; none of the contributors interest me at all, apart for you, Avvakum, and Rozanov (and Pasternak, Bable, and others).

This might reasonably be taken to indicate that a breach of relations was imminent, but in fact the opposite happened. Mirsky and Suvchinsky soon made common cause in ventures quite different from those represented by Vyorsts.

If the first issue of Vyorsts had not been in any real sense ‘Eurasian’ except for the formal association with the name of Suvchinsky, the contents of the second and third have a much stronger connection with the movement.104 However, N.S. Trubetskoy appeared in the first two issues, his precise scholarly tone contrasting strongly with his surroundings on these occasions. His essays are both literary rather than linguistic.105 In the 1926 issue he published his celebrated article on one of the most interesting works of late Old Russian literature, Afonasy Nikitin’s Journey beyond the Three Seas, attempting to read it as a creative work rather than as a linguistic monument.106 To the 1927 issue Trubetskoy gave another pioneering study, on the metrics of the Russian folk chastushka, based on original material recently brought from Russia whose intermediacy is a puzzle. 107 The Eurasian flavor of Vyorsts was intensified not so much by Trubetskoy’s contributions as by the articles in the second and third issues by Lev Karsavin. His ‘Without Dogma’ in the 1927 issue is mainly about the historiographical conceptualization of the Russian Revolution, and it is a very good example of the persistent tendency in Russian high journalism to make enormous generalizations without adducing very much accurate documentation; but it does contain some valuable thoughts about historicism. The 1928 item, ‘Russia and the Jews’, was prefaced by a cautious note from the editors, and followed by a riposte from A.Z. Shteinberg, and then another piece by him, on Dostoevsky and the Jewish question.108

The other surviving patriarch of Eurasianism, P.N. Savitsky, contributed a characteristic ‘geographical essay’, ‘Towards an Understanding of the Russian Steppes’, to the third issue of Vyorsts. It is so clotted with interpolated quotations, reference material, and unexplained technical terms that it could serve as a useful model of how not to write an article, except perhaps a pseudo-scholarly one. The growing impression that some sort of maniac is at work is confirmed when after nearly thirty double-columned pages of this stuff, there is a precise date of writing following the author’s signature. The fact that Savitsky was capable of producing this amount of verbiage is surpassed by his apparent belief that it matters that he did it on 10 May 1927. And after he has signed off, Savitsky opens up again because of two new sources that he had devoured since his first discharge finally petered out.

For the third issue of Vyorsts, the editors abandoned the idea of reprinting a substantial text, and instead published three letters written in 1899 by Fyodorov, whose ideas were being taken very seriously at the time by several Eurasians. A long introduction by one of them, N.A. Setnitsky, attempts to point out the contemporary relevance of this material. Mirsky was to deal with this interest in Fyodorov among the Eurasians when he became a Marxist and came to think of Fyodorov’s writings as one of the snares on his way to enlightenment.109

The most remarkable contribution to the 1928 Vyorsts, though, came from Nikolay Berdyaev, who had published several articles in the immediately preceding years that take a respectful but eventually negative view of Eurasianism. His ‘Russian Religious Thought and the Revolution’ is an extended and slightly breast-beating historical account of the relations between the Russian intelligentsia and the revolutionary movement, in the spirit of ‘where it all went wrong’. The writing is fatally fluent and stylistically flat, with absolutely no sense of ‘the resistance of the material’ that Mirsky celebrated in the prose he liked. There is no more striking contrast than that between Berdyaev’s self-indulgent rambling and Mirsky’s crisp and specific discussions of similar subjects.

The principal difference between the last issue of Vyorsts and the two that preceded it was announced in the introductory matter: there would be no reprints of literary work originally published in the USSR. The editors claimed that they had achieved the object of their previous policy and compelled the readers outside Russia to take this writing seriously. The most provocative item in the 1926 issue was a reprint of the 1925 Party declaration on literature and the responses to it by a number of eminent writers who included Bely, Veresaev, Leonov, Shklovsky, Pasternak, Pilnyak, and A.N. Tolstoy. There is also a reptilian paragraph by one of Mirsky’s future colleagues when he became a Soviet literary critic, G. Lelevich (1901-45); at the time, this Party veteran had already failed as a poet and was becoming a militant proletarianist critic. Khodasevich made great play with all this in his essay in Contemporary Notes, alleging that the editors of Vyorsts were illustrating their conviction that literary life had now been liberated in Russia, and confronting it with his own material showing that the opposite was the case.

The selections from Soviet fiction in the 1927 issue are magnificent. They include extracts from three of the novels that Mirsky discussed in the bibliographical section of the same issue: Artyom Vesyoly’s Insurrection, Tynyanov’s wonderful historical novel Kyukhlya, and Bely’s remarkable Moscow under the Hammer. Two important names are absent from these lists of Soviet authors. In his letter to Leonard Woolf about the aims of Vyorsts, Mirsky specifically mentioned Mandelshtam and Shklovsky as authors he hoped to publish, but they did not appear. The authors selected for reprinting in Vyorsts reflect Mirsky’s taste, and his critical articles of the mid-1920s are full of praise for these two figures.

Vyorsts was Mirsky’s finest contribution to the cultural legacy of the Russian emigration, but it was achieved at the price of tremendous strain. He acted as the staff officer he was trained to be – constantly reassessing the situation, making plans, chivvying his associates to get things moving in the required direction, and threatening disciplinary action when they failed to do so. He got very little support from his co-editors; Suvchinsky in particular was continually letting him down. Tsvetaeva’s claim in various letters that it was her husband Efron who bore the main burden of producing Vyorsts is yet one more example of her self-aggrandizement, this time vicarious; he seems to have been used only for secretarial work, and Mirsky continually complains about his slackness. Meanwhile, Efron was being paid, while Mirsky was shelling out. The quality of Suvchinsky’s individual contributions to Vyorsts is truly abysmal, but fortunately there are only two of them. One stroke of good fortune was that Suvchinsky was originally supposed to write on Stravinsky, but Lure stepped in admirably when Suvchinsky failed to produce.110

It is quite clear from Mirsky’s letters that hardly any copies of Vyorsts were sold to the reading public, and that to the bitter end Mirsky was responsible for finding the money to meet the fees and production costs of the enterprise. There was no change of the series being sold to readers in Russia. In November 1926 Mirsky considered one obvious way out, analogous to the way later taken by Nabokov – to cross the language barrier, produce an English version of the more important items from the journal, and bring in a representative to handle sales in the USA. He produced the appropriate flyer, but nothing else happened.

On 27 February 1927 Mirsky wrote to Suvchinsky, expressing more strikingly than anywhere else that commitment to concision that makes his own émigré writing so bracing:

[You] can’t publish a journal that nobody buys – and if, as you assert, everybody is reading it, then it’s clear that we have to publish it in such a way as the readers can buy it, and for this there’s one condition, and this is the main thing – to write shorter pieces, which our contributors don’t know how to do – and not to print what’s not strictly necessary …. There’s nothing that can’t be fitted into 8 pages of our format …. Long articles are a holdover from the period when paper and production costs used to be cheap. That kind of writing is like still taking a dormouse from Paris to Berlin.111 I can’t forgive myself that we published Theseus. But in any case, if you can, have a word with that woman. I’ll write to her and tell her to have a word with you.[/quote]


Mirsky’s dealings with Eurasianism and the Eurasians in 1926-9 constantly confronted him with the problem of religious faith. Adherence to Orthodoxy was a fundamental tenet of Eurasianism; and Suvchinsky was a communicant member of the Church – though his then wife Vera told me that he only went to services to listen to the singing. The religious concerns of Eurasianism came to the surface in the second and third issues of Vyorsts, as we have seen, at first in connection with Karsavin and the question of the Jews.

In writing to Suvchinsky, rather than the neutral evrei (Jew), Mirsky persistently and naturally uses a word I have unavoidably translated as ‘Yid’ (zhid), which is now as thoroughly taboo in decent Russian company as it is in English. For a man of Mirsky’s generation and background this would probably have been a habitual term that did not necessarily imply any animosity or contempt. In this regard as in so many others, Mirsky was something of a special case. In general, in the social circles in which he grew up, and especially in the elite reaches of the officer corps, anti-Semitism was endemic and virulent. It is quite likely that Mirsky was not personally acquainted with anyone Jewish before 1918, just as he was not personally acquainted with any professional women; there was no reason why such people should have crossed his horizon. The one exception can only have been the schoolmate with whom Mirsky made his literary debut, Victor Zhirmunsky, the son of a prosperous Petersburg laryngologist. In view of all this, Mirsky’s subsequent attitude is remarkable, because in his adult life and writings he seems to have been without prejudice. If anything, he was somewhat philo-Semitic. He several times went out of his way to point to the superior cultural achievements of Russian Jewry compared to those of ethnic Russians since 1917; suffice it to mention Pasternak, Mandelshtam, and Babel. There were many others. Mirsky rather blots his copybook writing to Suvchinsky on 4 March 1927 when he observed that ‘the only idea of Trubetskoy’s about the Yids known to me is that all Yids are exhibitionists, which by the way is true’.112 But he restores something of his credibility when he responds spiritedly to the manuscript of Karsavin’s article on 11 March 1927:

Karsavin’s article is not bad either, and mine will be a defence of the Jewish periphery, starting with Philo.113 Objectively, Karsavin is absolutely wrong when he asserts that the Jews of the periphery are all second-rate, ‘except perhaps Spinoza’ (that ‘perhaps’ is absolutely ridiculous). In Russia this may be the case (but what about Trotsky and Pasternak, though), but in Europe the entire nineteenth century is full of an absolutely disproportionate amount of Jews ‘in leading positions’, such as Marx, Heine, Disraeli, Lassale, Minkovsky. And at the present time in France and Germany there’s more of them perhaps than non-Jews (Bergson, Einstein, Freud, etc.). The periphery is a legitimate and inalienable manifestation of Jewry.

Whatever the case, Mirsky was obviously far too intelligent a person to be a racist. As with everything, the basis of his attitude was intellectual. During his discussions with Suvchinsky about the possible contributions to Vyorsts on the Jewish question, he stated: ‘In the West the Jewish question is increasingly being put in purely racial terms, to the exclusion of others. Therefore perhaps it would be better to emphasize that we’re talking about the Russian-Jewish question, where putting things in any specifically racial terms is out of date.’

The Russian Orthodox Church in Mirsky’s time tended to take a much less rational view of this matter than Mirsky did. Inevitably for a person of his age and social background, Mirsky had been brought up in the Church, and we have seen evidence of his mother’s piety, especially with regard to the journey to the new shrine of St Serafim in 1904. All Mirsky’s public life before he left Russia, especially his army service, was conducted in a context of ritual observance of the Church’s rites. Whether or not Mirsky’s short-lived marriage began with a religious ceremony, we do not know. Religious observance was especially prominent in the White army, and formed one of the few elements of a genuinely shared ideology in the movement. In emigration, however, the practice of these observances inevitably loosened. The Church was a prime focus of Russian émigré life in London and Paris; but there is no evidence that Mirsky was a communicant member in London, and very little evidence that he went to services in Paris. The argument with Roger Fry suggests that in 1925 Mirsky was still far from being an atheist; but the exchanges with Shakhovskoy suggest equally strongly that Mirsky viewed the ‘dark’ side of religion and the Orthodox Church with mounting revulsion. Mirsky dealt with his religious evolution in a curt paragraph of his intellectual autobiography:

Since I was inwardly inclined towards materialism, it was not the religious and mystical side that appealed to me most in Eurasianism, although neither did it repel me … For twenty years my ‘reason’ succeeded in imposing on my ‘heart’ an idealist and theological chaos that my common sense refused to take seriously, but which was enough to inhibit any shift in my intellectual conscience.114

Mirsky locates the final break at the time Eurasia came to an end, in September 1929:

My materialist ‘heart’ rebelled against this so-called ‘reason’ which had held it prisoner for nearly a quarter of a century. The chains were worn; it needed only one last effort to break them. Pokrovsky had already swept away a good deal of idealist refuse. I had made contact again with Marx.115



Chapter 6: Writing Politics

Any émigré intellectual who wishes to remain alive must either lose his nationality or accept the revolution in one way or another.

-- D.S. Mirsky, 1931


The final phase of Mirsky’s life in emigration began with an event that explicitly raised the idea of his going back to Russia: during the Christmas vacation of 1927-8 he went with Suvchinsky to visit Maksim Gorky in Sorrento. Many years later, Suvchinsky told Veronique Lossky: ‘One day Mirsky asked me to go with him, and we spent Christmas at Gorky’s … We were followed the whole time. Gorky tried to persuade us to go to Russia, saying “I’ll fix you up”, and he convinced Mirsky and me.’1 Suvchinsky told me: ‘I had known Gorky back in Petersburg-Petrograd and met him at Shalyapin’s. D.P. didn’t know him and asked me to introduce him. I exchanged letters with Gorky and we got visas through the poet Ungaretti, which at that time was not easy.’2

On what basis exactly Gorky promised Mirsky and Suvchinsky that he could ‘fix them up’ in Russia is a puzzle, because Gorky’s own standing at this tie was not at all clear. He had been given his marching orders by Lenin in October 1921 because of the persistent criticism he leveled at the new regime, chiefly in his journal Untimely Thoughts, on the basis of its record in human rights and freedom of information; he had not been back to Russia since.3 Gorky lived at first in Germany; in the spring of 1924 he moved to Sorrento. Mussolini would not allow him back onto Capri, where Gorky, as a political exile with a massive international reputation and correspondingly large income, had created a refuge for the Russian revolutionaries before 1914. In his rented villa in Sorrento he lived as before with a substantial entourage, which now included two additions of particular significance: the enigmatic Moura Budberg4 and also the more obvious eyes of the NKVD in the form of Gorky’s ‘secretary’, Pyotr Kryuchkov.

It is clear from Mirsky’s letters to Suvchinsky in the run-up to their visit that Mirsky not only made the necessary arrangements, but also paid Suvchinsky’s expenses. Giuseppe Ungaretti (1881-1970) was employed at the time in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome; he was the Italian literary adviser to Commerce, and Mirsky would have known him in that connection. Mirsky may not have been personally acquainted with Gorky, but the latter certainly knew who he was. Gorky had noted and commented on the publication of Vyorsts in one of his regular reports about what was going on in Western Europe, a letter of 24 July 1926 to A.K. Voronsky in Moscow:

The editor is Prince Svyatopolk-Mirsky, apparently the son of the one who promised to make a ‘spring’ in 1901-2. He’s a very clever and independent critic who writes superlative characterizations of Zaitsev, Merezhkovsky, Khodasevich and others. There are reprints of Artyom Vesyoly … Babel … Pasternak … But the Eurasians are in here too – Lev Shestov, Artur Lurie, and of course, Marina Tsvetaeva and Remizov. It’s a princely affair.5

In a letter written from Sorrento on 6 January 1928 to the novelist Olga Forsh, Gorky speaks of ‘the Eurasian Suvchinsky, who is living at the Minerva6 together with one of the descendants of Svyatopolk the Accursed’.7 Since Mirsky was anything but the kind of person who paid visits to celebrities just because they were celebrities, there must have been a weighty reason for his approaching Gorky. He had no illusions whatsoever about the ambiguities of Gorky’s personality and political stance; in his writings Mirsky had mercilessly formulated the ethical reservations about him that were standard among the émigré intelligentsia:

With an enormous insight into reality, Gorki has no love of truth. And as he has no motive to restrain him from telling half-truths, and insinuating untruths, his essays more often than not become grotesque distortions of reality. This practically nullifies his moral weight in the eyes of all Russians. And it seems Gorki will be richly repaid for his contempt of the Russian people. Even now he is not taken seriously except by foreigners, for the Bolsheviks use him only as a convenient signboard to be contemplated from beyond the pale.8

Side by side with remarks of this kind, though, Mirsky had constantly stressed Gorky’s pre-eminent status among living Russian writers, and spoken warmly of his efforts to maintain links between the divided worlds of Soviet and émigré culture. The obvious reason for going to see Gorky would have been in order to forge such a link, presumably with reference to the Eurasian movement, because at this stage Mirky did not want to go directly to an official Soviet representative. Meanwhile, several significant but inconclusive pointers suggest that in 1927 the Eurasian leadership did attempt a direct rapprochement with the Soviet authorities, as we will see.

To get Gorky back to Russia was an important objective of Soviet policy. Khodasevich observed in 1925: ‘The most compromising thing about the Bolshevik paradise is that those who adore it would do anything rather than live there.’9 He was referring specifically to Erenburg, but Gorky was the prime illustration of this notion in the public mind. After Gorky settled in at Sorrento, a stream of Soviet writers started to visit, always with the permission of their own and the Italian authorities, neither of which was easy to secure. His visitors eventually included several representatives of the new literary elite, both Party members and fellow-travelers: the poets Aseev and Marshak, the novelists Babel (whose Italian visa was facilitated by Mirsky), Olga Forsh, Vsevolod Ivanov, and Valentin Kataev, and the playwright Nikolay Erdman. In the autumn of 1927 Sholokhov was on his way, but he was refused an entry visa by the Italians. Just before Mirsky and Suvchinsky went to see Gorky, Anastasiya Tsvetaeva had paid him a visit, and towards the end of it she went to see her sister Marina in Paris; there may well have been some direct connection between this visit and that of the two Eurasians.10

Also in the autumn of 1927, Gorky was visited by Kamenev, who had just been appointed Soviet Ambassador to Italy;11 this seems to have been the moment when an agreement was struck that Gorky would come back to Russia. How and when he would come, though, was a ticklish business. For one thing, the state of Gorky’s health was more than a politically convenient excuse for his spending at least the winters outside Russia. But the main problem was, of course, the delicate relationship between Gorky and Stalin. Gorky had immaculate credentials as a close personal friend of Lenin, and such people were increasingly felt to be a threat by his successor.

Mirsky expressed the public face of his private feelings about his visit in a letter he wrote to Gorky from London on 2 February 1928:

I have been meaning to write to you ever since I left, and I still can’t find the right words to tell you what an enormous blessing our meeting was for me. I probably never will be able to, but I feel that I was not in Sorrento but in Russia, and that this time I spent in Russia really straightened me out. There is no other man who could bear Russia within himself like you do, and not only Russia, but also that quality without which Russia cannot exist – humanity…. As we were leaving, Suvchinsky said to me ‘We never saw Tolstoy, though!’ Tolstoy was the only person we could think of. But you are more Russian, you ‘represent’ Russia, more than Tolstoy did.12

Writing a week later, on 9 February 1928, Mirsky put to Suvchinsky a leading question, and answered it himself: ‘I keep asking myself what divides us (me) from the Communists? Only first principles.’ Mirsky attributed particularly great important to the visit to Gorky in the account of his intellectual development that he wrote after he had joined the Communist Party in 1931:

Leaving aside the unforgettable impression made on me by the great charmer that was Gorky, this visit was our first direct contact with ‘the other side of the barricade’ and our first breath of pure materialist air from regions uninfected by the metaphysical miasma we had been breathing.13

At this time, though, the thoughts of going back to Russia that Mirsky says were stimulated by the visit to Gorky were left to lie fallow; nearly three years went by before Mirsky next contacted him. As we shall see, Mirsky was not at first thinking in terms of going back for good. In fact, until about a year before he actually left for Moscow, he seems to have conceived the enterprise as a visit and no more. Gorky’s example, or perhaps even Gorky’s own advice, may have suggested that it would be possible to go and come back.


Instead of turning irrevocably east, Mirsky did the opposite. He finally paid his long-mooted visit to the USA in the summer of 1928, as a result of an invitation from Columbia University that had been brokererd by Michael Florinsky. After this visit, Mirsky considered taking up a permanent academic appointment in America. The idea of America had been part of his consciousness since his earliest days in emigration: through the intermediacy of Bernard Pares, whose connections with American Russianists were of long standing, Mirsky’s books had found parallel American publishers, and he had contemplated a lecture tour as early as 1924. After Florinsky moved to New York in 1926, one of his first letters sounds Mirsky out about a possible job at Columbia University. Later, Florinsky offered to fix up a lecture tour so that Mirsky could have a look round. On 6 December 1926 Mirsky replied that he would be glad to come, but ‘for this I’d like to receive a goodly amount of dollars, since three weeks on the ocean is worth that’. He also said that he could only be released in the summer term. On 14 February 1927 Mirsky told Florinsky that he had had an invitation from Clarence Manning14 to give a lecture series from 1 to 15 July 1928 for 600 dollars. Very soon after this, though, Mirsky made an abrupt about-turn, telling Florinsky: ‘I must say honestly, though, that I absolutely don’t want to come to America, and I’ll take it on only out of a sense of duty. To hell with it [Nu ee sovsem]. I attach three copies of my biography.’

Eventually Mirsky sailed for America on 27 June 1928. Two letters survive that he wrote to Suvchinsky from New York. In the first, he hints that something to do with the Eurasian connection had gone seriously wrong there. Malevsky-Malevich had been active on behalf of the Eurasians, and Mirsky took a dim view of the results:

Unfortunately, I’m not seeing much of the Americans. The Russians are mediocrities, on the whole worse than those in Paris, with a few exceptions. I haven’t seen any Eurasians and I think it’s not worth it, I can see from here they’re mediocrities. Malevsky has debauched himself here to the limit. Perhaps I’ll still try and say a few warm words to them.15

In the second letter from New York, written on 9 August, Mirsky claims to have established a link with the Department of State and to be trying to fix up a meeting with the head of the Russian section for Suvchinsky or Arapov when that person is next in Paris. Whether anything came of this is unknown, but it seems unlikely that anything did. Mirsky gave three lectures at Columbia, Cornell, and Chicago. The lecture at the University of Chicago was delivered on 31 July in the Harper Assembly Room, and its subject comes as rather a surprise in the light of the way Mirsky’s views were developing at this time: ‘Elements of Russian Civilization: Russia and the Orthodox Church’.16


Meanwhile, at the same time as he was planning his trip to America and writing his major historical works in English, the main concern of Mirsky’s practical life increasingly became Russian politics, and in particular the politics of the Eurasian movement. The letters to Suvchinsky show that from about the middle of 1926 Mirsky was constantly offering advice about the policy decisions that were being taken by the Eurasian leadership.

Mirsky was not the only, not yet the most influential, newcomer to the leadership of the movement at this time. Lev Karsavin became involved with Eurasianism soon after he arrived in Berlin in 1923.17 Karsavin’s candidacy for a leading position in the movement was initially treated with considerable reservation by Trubetskoy and Savitsky, but Suvchinsky apparently convinced them to take him on purely as an expert adviser. In talking about Karsavin in this connection, Suvchinsky uses the current Soviet slang term for an expert, spets, which Savitsky thought deeply suspicious when the branch of expertise concerned was religion. Mirsky’s reaction to Karsavin was similar, and ominous; he wrote to Suvchinsky on 8 August 1926:

Forgive me, but I can’t help sensing in [Karsavin] something that is in the highest degree spiritually unsound … -- his entire approach is the purest utilitarianism, isn’t it? He’s a nihilist and a blasphemer, and his very theologizing looks to me like a sort of refined defamation.

The generation that was born in the years of Dostoevsky’s evil deeds (Notes from Underground, 1864-1881!) will not bring forth sound fruit. And if you take him on purely as a spets in theology, isn’t that doing things the Latin way? Does Orthodoxy really have any familiarity with this kind of spetsish theologianizing that has no connection with the spiritual essence?

Karsavin moved to Paris in July 1926 and settled in Clamart, where Suvchinsky and also Berdyaev (and later Tsvetaeva) lived. That autumn Karsavin instituted a Eurasian seminar there; it became the ideological engine of the movement. This was the first articulation of the schism between Paris and Prague that was to wreck Eurasianism in 1929.

Three other men became prominent in the Eurasian movement at the same time. Vladimir Nikolaevich Ilin (1890-1974) was another philosopher who had been expelled from Russia in 1922; he had contributed an essay to the Eurasian volume of 1923 on East-West ecclesiastical relations. He was resident in Prague. The legal scholar Nikolay Nikolaevich Alekseev (1879-1964) was also resident in Prague; from 1926 he began publishing essays that attempt to construct a Eurasian theory of the state and law. Finally, Vasily Petrovich Nikitin (1885-1960) began contributing essays to Eurasian publications on the relations between Russia-Eurasia and the Middle East.

The contemporary published documents give no precise indication about how the Eurasian movement was formally managed. Though the Eurasian Chronicle contains a good deal of information about various events, there are no systematic reports of when and where meetings were held or how many people attended them, not to mention any financial accounts. It may well be that there was in fact no formally constituted structure, no protocols and formalized proceedings. Some evidence about the high command of the Eurasian movement after 1925, though, has emerged from the previously secret materials that have become available since the downfall of the USSR.

The earliest such documents are two ‘Protocols’ of March 1923 in which ‘the three Ps’, as they call themselves – Arapov, Suvchinsky, and Savitsky (who shared the first name Pyotr) – discuss Eurasian publishing policy, and another ‘Protocol’ of June 1923 in which the same three set out a concise definition of the nature and aims of the movement. Their concluding paragraph is of considerable interest:

In practical matters, the first and foremost essential is circumspection. Effort should be concentrated in the first instance on spreading the spiritual influence of Eurasian ideas in Russia, and in the second, on the creation of a circle of persons spiritually connected with each other and variously gifted in terms of action.18

In 1927 Karsavin left Paris to take up a teaching post at the University of Kaunas in Lithuania, but he remained an active Eurasian until the schism of 1929.19 He lived in Kaunas until 1940, when his university removed to Vilnius. He lost his job after the Soviet occupation in 1945, and was duly arrested on 9 July 1949. He was then interrogated, mainly about the Eurasian movement.20 He stated that in 1926, when he first became involved, there was a Council (Soviet), which consisted of five men. In the order in which Karsavin names them, and which seems to indicate a hierarchy at least in his mind, they were: Trubetskoy, Savitsky, Suvchinsky, Arapov, and Malevsky-Malevich. At a congress in Prague in 1926, this Council chose a four-man Politbyuro – the Soviet-style term is indicative – which consisted of Trubetskoy, Suvchinsky, Malevsky-Malevich, and Arapov. The Council was then expanded; Karsavin himself joined it, but according to his own testimony he soon resigned. Three others joined the Council in or around 1926, precisely at what date Karsavin does not say; they were ‘the former Russian consul in Persia, Nikitin; colonel of the Tsar’s army Svyatopolk-Mirsky; and the officer Artomonov’. If this statement is accurate, it means that in the run-up to the schism the governing body of the Eurasian movement consisted of eight men, of whom Mirsky was one.

Karsavin himself seems to have been involved only in the public activities of the Eurasians. There was, though, another side to the movement, which Karsavin does not discuss, but which may be inferred from a passage in Mirsky’s essay of 1927:

In practical politics the Eurasians condemn all counter-revolutionary activity, not to speak of political terror or foreign intervention. They do not, however, abdicate from making propaganda for their ideas in the U.S.S.R., and signs are not lacking that these ideas are being favourably accepted inside the Union by ever-increasing numbers.21

Behind this coy reference to propaganda for their ideas in the USSR there lay in fact an extensive covert operation.

All the published accounts of Eurasianism suggest that it began as a purely intellectual enterprise, but was then hijacked and betrayed in about 1925-6 by politically motivated scoundrels, with Mirsky prominent among them. The story is usually told as a decline and fall from the innocence of the preternatural spiritual quest of the Russian intelligentsia to a Boshevik-bedevilled mess of cynical politicking.

This interpretation is not seriously defensible. Apart from anything else, the financial support that enabled the Eurasian movement, the ‘Spalding money’, came from a source whose motivation may not have been purely philanthropic, to say the least, and it was secured not by the Continental intellectuals but, according to most accounts, by Malevsky-Malevich, and negotiated with the aid of Arapov. Malevsky-Malevich and Arapov were quite different from Trubetskoy and Savitsky. They came not from intelligentsia, but from the executive arm of the old Imperial ruling class. Like Mirsky, they had both been career army officers in crack regiments, and they had served in the high command of the White armies during the Civil War. Exactly how much Mirsky knew about their activity when he wrote the passage about not abdicating from making propaganda in the USSR is unclear, but there is considerable circumstantial evidence to suggest that in fact he knew a great deal.

The role of Savitsky in all this is enigmatic. He was by no means a closeted intellectual of the kind that Trubetskoy made himself out to be.22 There is abundant evidence to suggest that Savitsky really did believe that the Eurasians could take power in Russia, that he fancied his own chances of assuming a leading position, and that he was deeply involved in political manoeuvring and covert activities. He made at least one covert trip to Russia, in the latter half of January and early February 1927, and boasted about the warmth of his reception, especially the fact that he was able to take Communion at a Moscow church.

The most detailed account published so far of the covert activities of the Eurasians comes from another source that only became available after the collapse of the USSR. On the night of 9/10 October 1939, just over a year after he was repatriated to Russia, Sergey Efron was arrested, and subjected to lengthy interrogation.23 The main focus was his participation in the Eurasian movement. His captors’ task was to build the case that the Eurasians had been a prime focus of anti-Soviet activity in the emigration, and to incriminate everyone who had been involved in it.24 Efron appears to have conducted himself with immense fortitude under interrogation. There is no reason to suppose that he told anything but the truth when his mental balance was judged to be disturbed; he was confined for a while in the psychiatric section of the Butyrka Prison after attempting suicide, and he was repeatedly beaten. The contents of these interrogations are grotesque to a degree that makes Darkness at Noon seem infantile. Efron repeatedly ‘confesses’ that he did indeed make contact with various Western intelligence services, but his equally genuine insistence that he did so under instructions from his GPU controller is unacceptable to the NKVD interrogator of 1939, because this aspect of the truth does not fit his brief, which was to prove that Efron was working against the USSR as a hired agent of foreign powers and not on behalf of it as a willing collaborator.

Efron stated that the Eurasians had two principal political goals for the future of Russia: first, the replacement of the economic monopoly of the state by state capitalism; and secondly, the replacement of Communists in the Soviet administrative structure by Eurasian sympathizers. To work for these goals there was a covert wing within the movement in emigration. Its activity was divided into three sectors. The first sector, said Efron, was concerned with the dispatch of Eurasian literature into the USSR, using in part the Polish diplomatic bag. This sector was organized by Konstantin Rodzevich and Pyotr Arapov. The second sector was concerned with sending emissaries into the USSR. This was undertaken through a body that Efron refers to as ‘the Trust’. Efront does not immediately say who ran this sector, but from his subsequent answers it is clear that the principal figure involved was also Pyotr Arapov. The task of the third sector, much less covert, was to spread Eurasian propaganda among Russians in France. This activity was organized by Efron himself; he would arrange meetings and discussion sessions, to which Soviet citizens living abroad as well as émigrés would be invited.

With the hindsight of seventy years, these goals and methods may seem intrinsically unrealistic, but in fact they represent one particular facet of the extensive practical efforts to undermine the Soviet regime that began in the emigration when the regime itself began, and ceased only with the collapse of the USSR in 1991. From the perspective of the post-Soviet period, one fundamental similarity between the Eurasian programme and that of Stalin’s CPSU is more striking than anything else: the Eurasians had no respect for what Mirsky once called ‘the paraphernalia of liberal democracy’, by which he meant government by popularly elected representatives. Mirsky explained Eurasian thinking on this point as follows:

They have given the name of ‘ideocracy’ to the system of government they propose. They visualize it as exercised by a unique party united by one idea, but an idea accepted by the symphonic personality of the People. Here again Communism and Fascism have to be regarded as rough approximations to a perfect ideocratic state. The insufficiency of Fascism lies in the essential jejuneness of its ruling idea, which has little content apart from the mere will to organize. The insufficiency of Communism lies in the only too obvious contradiction between a policy that is ideocratic in practice, and the materialist philosophy it is based on, which denies the reality of ideas, and reduces all history to processes of necessity.25

In Mirsky’s mind, this contradiction was soon to be resolved, as it was for so many others, by an acceptance of Stalin as the embodiment of ‘willed necessity’ (to cite a standard Soviet definition of freedom); Mirsky thus found a focus for the voluntarist principle that was central to all his positive judgments. But the fundamentally anti-democratic position of Eurasianism made it vitally cognate with the Soviet system, so that the politically minded Eurasians could reasonably think in terms of taking over that system and re-ideologizing it rather than conducting another revolution that involved the masses.

The most intriguing aspect of Efron’s deposition of 1939 concerns what he refers to as ‘the Trust’. This has long been known to have been the cover-name used for the most successful operation mounted by the Soviet secret service in the 1920s. Its activities have been described several times in English and elsewhere, but the Eurasians make hardly any appearance in these accounts.26 The Trust was a fictional anti-Soviet organization on Soviet territory invented by the GPU to smoke out, draw in, and eventually control anti-Soviet activity based abroad. The only authoritative account of this organization by someone who was actually involved with it outside Russia was written by S.L. Voitsekhovsky, a former White officer who was in emigration from September 1921 and seems to have become involved in covert activity very soon after that.27 Voitsekhovsky never makes clear the precise relationship between the émigré monarchist organizations on the one hand and the Eurasians on the other. This would appear to be because for him, as for many others, the relationship never actually was clear at the time. They evidently used the same channels of communication and shared some personnel, principally Pyotr Arapov. Several Russian scholars have stated with great confidence on the basis of archival documents that the Trust in fact penetrated the Eurasian movement via Pyotr Arapov as early as December 1922.28 Arapov did not simply write letters and send money into Russia; he was also a courier.

Pyotr Semyonovich Arapov remains one of the most enigmatic figures in Mirsky’s life. Apparently a few years younger than Mirsky, he was a nephew of General Vrangel, commanded his personal escort during the Civil War, and earned a reputation for ruthless cruelty.

Chapters Four through Seven examine Aufbau's rise and fall in Munich from 1920 to 1923. Aufbau gained its initial impetus from the cooperation between former volkisch German and White emigre Kapp Putsch conspirators located in Bavaria and General Piotr Vrangel's Southern Russian Armed Forces, which were based on the Crimean Peninsula in the Ukraine. Scheubner-Richter led a dangerous mission to the Crimea to specify the terms of mutual support between his right-wing German and White emigre backers in Bavaria and Vrangel's regime. The Red Army soon overran the Crimean Peninsula and sent Vrangel and his soldiers fleeing, but Scheubner-Richter nonetheless turned Aufbau into the dynamic focal point of volkisch German-White emigre collaboration.

-- The Russian Roots of Nazism: White Emigres and the Making of National Socialism, 1917-1945, by Michael Kellogg

In emigration, he seems to have been prominent in both the militant monarchist and the Eurasian movements. Under interrogation, Sergey Efron said that Arapov told him that he was connected with the intelligence services of Poland, Germany, and perhaps England; and that he had made these connections at the behest of the GPU. It seems abundantly clear that Arapov had been a Soviet agent from the start, but his motives and procedures for becoming one have gone with him to his unmarked grave. Suvchinsky and Savitsky knew about his connections with the Trust and his trips to Russia, but they seem to have taken all this at face value.

The nature of Mirsky’s relationship with Arapov, and some details of Arapov’s activities, can be reconstructed from the many passing references to him in Mirsky’s letters to Suvchinsky. Arapov lived with the Golitsyn family, Mirsky’s old friends, at Chessington in Surrey. He appears to have had no regular employment, but nonetheless to have been able to travel frequently between England and the Continent without difficulty. Mirsky first came into contact with Arapov late in 1922. The evidence in Mirsky’s letters to Suvchinsky about Arapov indicates that Mirsky regarded him as a ruthless, even unscrupulous man of action whose limited intellectual capabilities were an invaluable corrective to the endless theorizing of Savitsky and Suvchinsky. A firm friendship developed between the two men during the 1920s. Mirsky says several times that he misses Arapov badly when the latter is away on his various missions; it can be inferred from Mirsky’s letters to Suvchinsky that Arapov went to Russia in February 1925, February 1928, and December 1929. There may well have been other trips; the first of them may have taken place in September 1924.29

In strong contrast to his attitude towards Aropov, it is clear from the letters to Suvchinsky that Mirsky soon came to detest the other leading Eurasian who was based in England, Pyotr Nikolaevich Malevsky-Malevich (1891-1974). The latter published a New Party in Russia (London, 1928), which Mirsky derided almost as sarcastically as he did Spalding’s effort of the same year.30 The fact that these two books, the only contemporary accounts of the Eurasian movement in a language other than Russian, were published in English in London, suggests that they might have been undertaken as an effort to convince some paymaster of the value that was being obtained for his money. Where Malevsky-Malevich’s funding came from is obscure; like Arapov, he seems to have been a frequent international traveler on Eurasian and other business – he was certainly the principal Eurasian connection with the USA – but not to have held any kind of salaried post. Whatever may be the case, Malevsky-Malevich remains the most mysterious figure in the Eurasian high command.
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Part 3 of 5


Mirsky was back in London from America on 28 August 1928. In the first fort-night of October he sent off to Suvchinsky in Paris his first contributions to the newspaper that had been proposed in Eurasian circles.31 Mirsky then wrote an enigmatic letter to Suvchinsky on 16 October in which he outlines a project he calls ‘hommage a l’URSS’. He tells Suvchinsky that John Squire had promised an article on Lenin, and that on Leonard Woolf’s advice he had written to Maurice Dobb, Kingsley Martin,32 and Lowes Dickinson.33 Mirsky asks Suvchinsky what he should tell ‘these gents’ about fees. It looks as if this was a plan to get some prominent British left-wingers to write something about Soviet Russia.

Mirsky wrote to Salomeya Halpern from London on 6 November 1928 that he had been impossibly busy with Eurasian business during his recent time in Paris and unable to find the time to see even her. He did find the time to meet Mayakovsky on this occasion, though, and described him in this letter offhandedly – showing his own customary lack of seriousness towards Halpern – as ‘a very serious man’. For the public record he later said something much more substantial:

A future biographer will be faced with establishing to what extent this soul, ‘squeezed out’ of his work, found its revenge by manifesting itself in life. People who knew Mayakovsky well will perhaps write about this. On people who knew him superficially (like myself) he made, in the last years of his life, an impression of the greatest self-restraint and of feeling a sense of responsibility for every word he said.34

This meeting with Mayakovsky undoubtedly fuelled Mirsky’s push to have Tsvetaeva’s notorious salutation to him published in Eurasia.

The salutation itself has a headline in small type that runs over two columns: ‘V.V. Mayakovsky in Paris’, and beneath it: ‘V.V. Mayakovsky is presently a guest in Paris. The poet has given more than one public reading of his work. The editorial board of Eurasia offer below Marina Tsvetaeva’s salutation to him.’ Tsvetaeva’s words are set in two vertically parallel columns:

On 22 April 1922, the eve of my departure from Russia, early in the morning, on the completely deserted Kuznetsky I met Mayakovsky. ‘Well then, Mayakovsky, what message d’you want me to pass on to Europe?’

That the truth is over here.’

On 7 November 1928, late in the evening, as I was coming out of the Café Voltaire somebody asked me:

‘What d’you say about Russia after hearing Mayakovsky?’ – and I replied without hesitation: ‘That the power is over there.’

This item was not carried demonstratively on the front page of the first issue of Eurasia, as has sometimes been asserted, but as a tiny item squeezed into the top right-hand corner of the back page. This is telling evidence about how few people have actually ever seen the original; a complete run of the newspaper is perhaps the rarest of all Eurasian printed documents.

The first issue begins with an anonymous editorial that takes up half the front page and does not mention Eurasianism by name at all; instead, it speculates about various attitudes towards the Russian revolution and the building of the New Russia. An article by Trubetskoy, ‘Ideocracy and the Proleteriat’, begins at the top of the extreme right-hand column of the first page and continues on the top right-hand third of the second page. Its tone is strongly pro-Soviet, endorsing the dictatorship of the Party. The article continues in the second issue on 1 December. This was to be the only article Trubetskoy contributed to the newspaper. The dominant think-pieces that carry a signature in the first and other early issues are by Karsavin; his ‘The Meaning of Revolution’ occupies what Russians call the ‘cellar’ at the bottom of the first and second pages, and spills over onto the third. The middle sections of thepaper bring on some much more obscure figures. ‘An Assessment of the Economic Situation of the USSR’ by A.S. Adler, and ‘Points of Departure of Our Politics’ by N.N. Alekseev both manage to end on a hyphenated word on page 3 and continue on page 4, but at least they both end there without further spillage. The first issue also contains three anonymous items containing summary information, one concerning economic developments in the USSR, the second concerning major international events, and the third concerning events in the Russian emigration. Nikitin occupies the cellars on pages 5 and 6 with ‘The East and Us’. Then, relegated to the back as usual, come cultural affairs. There is a turgid survey article of current French literature over the odd signature ‘Ajaxes’, which the letters of Mirsky to Suvchinsky reveal to have been a pseudonym used by Malevsky-Malevich. And finally, at the back, comes Mirsky.

At some stage during the early work on the paper, Suvchinsky drafted an article under the title ‘The Revolution and Power’, which is a kind of pro-Soviet manifesto and eventually appeared in No. 8 on 12 January 1929. The manuscript text was shown to Trubetskoy, who wrote a letter strongly objecting to it. On 1 December 1928 Mirsky wrote to Suvchinsky that he had just seen Malevsky-Malevich, who had shown him Trubetskoy’s letter about this article. Mirsky responded:

This is of course a very serious crisis, and in my opinion we should try and deepen it, i.e. go for a final break. It’s clear that this is what Trubetskoy wants, and I don’t blame him all that much, knowing how much of a burden Eurasianism and politics are for him as a brake on his scholarly activity. But on the other hand we must not allow this completely unpublic-spirited man to put a brake on the work of Eurasianism. In my opinion there can be no question of any kind of ‘bans’ on the paper by Trubetskoy, nor of a kurultai [Eurasian council of state] to wind it up. We must accept the challenge and sever the diseased member (luckily not the prick, as it happens).

The conclusion of Mirsky’s argument is outrageous, and typically maximalist: he urges that two of the pillars of the movement be expelled from it:

Meanwhile, this incident demonstrates that the present organizational system of Eurasianism (‘the ‘group of five’) is completely unsatisfactory. It is essential to ‘democratize’ Eurasianism, to make it into a party … [We] need a big congress, with the central committee + representatives of the local organizations. There is no need to chase after representation from the USSR (which will in fact be representation by the GPU). The congress must be public (or at least open) and be of an agitational nature. The only alternative is a retreat to intelligentsia positions, turning [the movement] into a purely ideological circle, but even in that case it’s essential to distinguish it from the underground. But the thing I do insist on unconditionally is the immediate expulsion of Trubetskoy and Savitsky from Eurasianism, unless of course they submit unconditionally. But any more negotiations with them are impermissible. I understand that this break will be painful for you, but it’s essential, for otherwise Eurasianism is doomed to rot alive. (Each of us rotting individually is enough.) We must acknowledge the position that has already been created (and created by you). Eurasianism is you and the Paris group. There is nothing else worth talking about.


The seventh issue of Eurasia, published on 5 January 1929, carried Trubetskoy’s letter stating that he was leaving the editorial board and the Eurasian movement as a whole. From the tenth issue onwards the newspaper has an increasingly perfunctory feel. It may eventually become possible to establish the authorship of the anonymous articles and those signed by otherwise unknown persons and, in particular, to establish whether or not any of these pieces came from Soviet sources. The letters to Suvchinsky make it clear that even Mirsky did not know who had written some of these items. They are for the most quite unreadable; hindsight makes them risibly wide of the mark as the pointers to the future they were intended to be – even before Marxist inevitability entered the scene.

The unsigned leaders spelled out an increasingly hard pro-Stalin line, especially in discussing the left-wing and other deviations that had recently rocked the Soviet political boat. A series of anonymous articles on ‘The Problem of Ideocracy’ began in No. 12, published on 9 February 1929, and went on and on; as we shall see, these articles were written by Suvchinskyi, and subjected to increasingly harsh criticism by Mirsky in his eltters. The summaries of economic developments and the reports of what was going on in the USSR at the time, though, retain some interest since they manage to maintain a critical edge.

The single fresh voice to appear was that of the only woman to have made a serious contribution to Eurasianism, and then, as we see now, when it was staggering towards its demise: this was Mirsky’s protégée Emiliya Emmanuilovna Litauer, who contributed an extensive series of reviews on philosophical topics. They began with a piece on Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit in No. 2 and went on to tackle some more of the most serious publications in current Continental philosophy; this is technical philosophy on a high level of competence, and it contrasts strongly with the woolly ‘philosophizing’ of such as Karsavin and Suvchinsky.

The latter issues of Eurasia did succeed in attracting some advertising, which to the mentality of seventy years later is much more attractive as literary text than the ponderous articles that precede it. The advertisements tout the services of various Russian-speaking lawyers and doctors in Paris, along with some tailors and oculists; as always, the patent medicines are the most arresting items on offer.

On 26 January 1929 Mirsky informed Suvchinsky that he was so busy writing a big book – he was referring to Russia: A Social History – that he now had too little time to write serious articles for Eurasia. On 13 March 1919 Mirsky tried again for a showdown with Suvchinsky:

When I come over I want to confront directly the question of what we’re doing and what we want. It’s not a matter of the content of Eurasianism, but the way it impinges on real life. Do we anticipate taking power? Are we educating a younger generation? Are we addressing problems that are of general use for anybody besides ourselves? Are we trying to influence Stalin?

The file that was kept on Mirsky after his arrest states that on 24 April 1929 he took part in a meeting of the Eurasian Council; but what transpired has not been discovered so far. On 14 May 1929 Mirsky wrote one of his most peremptory letters to Suvchinsky, treating him now almost like a child. This is the ultimate example of Mirsky’s ‘numbered points’ procedure. He is reacting to the draft of an article, and begins by objecting to the way Suvchinsky makes his philosophy too overt. This is the beginning of a sustained assault:

Secondly, I object to your manner of philosophizing; in the articles about ideocracy, you’ve started writing without knowing how you were going to finish. You’ve been doing your thinking in public. This spadework should be done in private behind closed doors (in the bog, maybe). Thirdly, the philosophical part must be either a) immediately comprehensible, or b) if that is not possible, it must be written in absolutely precise and sustained terminology, and that terminology must be as far as possible 1) uniform, 2) avoid phenomenological language, which is alien to us, and stay close to Hegel, 3) when a new term or one that is not generally understood is introduced, a precise definition must be given immediately (which in the case of new concepts will even precede the appearance of the term itself, thus: this is what we call this process (or these facts)); for example, it took me a long time to understand in which of very many senses you were using the word ‘anthropology’, 4) if a concept is not absolutely new, then you shouldn’t dream up a new word for it, 5) the main thing is to stay completely away from unusual words that do not have an absolutely precise meaning.

In August 1929 Mirsky’s biography of Lenin was commissioned, and he set to work on the reading that would, as he soon asserted, redefine and clarify his entire attitude, leaving all half-way houses behind. On 1 September he peremptorily told Suvchinsky that with Efron and Rodzevich he had decided to close the newspaper after the next issue. He also emphasized that there was no further reason for him to stay in the same organization as Malevich. It took the rest of the year for the affairs of the newspaper to be wound up.

By the time the newspaper closed, Mirsky had published about forty separate items in it. Not surprisingly, his original role was that of the leading spokesman on literature and culture. His first two contributions appeared together in the back pages of the first issue. One of them is an essay on Tolstoy, a pendant to the magnificent articles in English of 1928, the centenary of Tolstoy’s birth, and it concludes with the noblest declaration of his sense of personal ethics that Mirsky ever set down. His familiar emphasis on the creative will is replaced here by a stress on the ethical implications of the passivity he could not tolerate:

Tolstoy’s prophetic inspiration was eventually more powerful than the commandments he invented. We do not believe him when he says that to serve the cause of social justice it is better to do nothing. But the fact that each one of us bears within ourselves responsibility for present untruth; that not a single one of our submissions to this untruth is morally indifferent; that he who is not with the truth is against it, and that there can be no neutrality in this argument; that the first obligation of a man and a Christian is his obligation towards the community of his brothers; than any wealth of the one is founded on the poverty of others, and is therefore criminal and ought to be abolished – all this remains true, and it was all said by Tolstoy more loudly, more powerfully, and more pitilessly than by anybody else, and Tolstoy will always remain the Teacher.35

The second item by Mirsky in this first issue, though, contrasts strangely with the ringing confidence of the piece on Tolstoy. It is a review of the younger Soviet poet Bagritsky’s collection The South-West, an dis crushed in small type onto the back page underneath Tsvetaeva’s greeting. Mirsky singles out and cites one poem from the book as ‘not only one of the best lyric poems of the post-revolutionary period, but one that both in terms of its theme and its tone must necessarily be very close for many men of our generation’:

Against black breath and faithful wife
We’ve been inoculated by greensickness.
Our years have been tried by hoof and stone,
Our fluids suffused with evergreen wormwood.—
Wormwood that’s bitter upon our liops …36

Mirsky supplied some more pieces to Eurasia on literary subjects as 1929 went on, none of them up to his highest standards except for two, which discuss Khlebnikov and Chekhov.37 There are two articles, again characteristically on rising Soviet authors – one on Nikolay Tikhonov and the other called ‘Prose by Poets’, one of his old warhorses. There is also what became almost the final word Mirsky published about Russian émigré literature; his opinion corresponds very closely to what he said on the same topic for Slavisch Rundschau. And there is another interesting piece on literature and cinema.38

Mirsky contributed his most significant articles to Eurasia on non-literary subjects. They are the most explicitly pro-Soviet items in the newspaper. Mirsky’s largest contribution was a doggedly factual thirteen-part series on ‘The Nationalities of the USSR’. It reads in fact like a translation of the appropriate parts of his Russia: A Social History. In a series of purely political articles Mirsky contributed between January and March 1929 he speaks explicitly as a Eurasian, examining the compatibility of Marxist and other ideas with the standpoint of the movement. They begin with ‘The Proletariat and the Idea of Class’ on 19 January, continue with ‘Our Marxism’ on 2 February, ‘Three Theses on Ideocracy’ on 9 February, ‘The Problem of the Difference between Russia and Europe’ on 23 February, and culminate with a three-part discussion of ‘The Social Nature of Russian Power’ that ran to the end of March. In these articles, Mirsky essentially redefines Eurasianism in the spirit of his nascent Marxism; the end result is to present the case that there is no further justification for the independent existence of Eurasianism itself.

The schism in the Eurasian movement, and the political articles Mirsky contributed to the newspaper in 1929, it goes without saying, related to the contemporary events in Russia and elsewhere that made this year a turning-point. In Russia, Stalin decisively consolidated his power. In 1927, he had eliminated the Left Opposition – Trotsky and his followers. In 1928 he conducted the elimination of the Right Opposition, the comrades who had supported him against Trotsky – chief among them Kamenev and Zinoviev, who were soon followed by Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky. Stalin then brought back Radek, Zinoviev, and Kamenev, humiliated and cowed. In December 1928 the extension of Soviet power to the countryside, the brutal anti-kulak campaign, began. On the industrial front, the Shakhty trial was mounted at the same time. In February 1929, Trotsky was expelled from the USSR. The collectivization of agriculture and the first Five-Year Plan were pushed ahead. Elsewhere in Europe, the first triumphal Nazi rally was held in Nuremberg as the party’s elected representation rose in the Reichstag; the British parliament acquired a precarious Labour majority;39 and in the USA, on ‘Black Thursday’, 24 October 1929, the New York stock market collapsed. On 17 October 1929 Mirsky ended a letter to Suvchinsky with an eloquent sentence: ‘In my room are installed as the only decorations a World Map (published by Moscow Worker Press) and a portrait of Stalin looking at it.’

On 31 October 1929 Mirsky wrote Suvchinsky what is essentially his farewell to Eurasianism, a letter also tantamount to a farewell to Suvchinsky as a serious ally. The disenchanted attitude towards the USSR here is particularly remarkable; Mirsky had no illusions whatsoever about the way he and the others were viewed by the Soviet authorities. He thinks about his own possible contribution in terms of service, as a subordinate working to external command:

[The] authorities will never agree to let in a group of people who wish to develop a new ideology … [As] a group we can be useful only through what we do here. Only here can we retain the external independence that alone can give us some kind of authority. Over there we can work only as individuals, and then only if we entirely and unconditionally enter the orbit of the C[ommunity] P[arty] (which I personally would agree to do, but I shan’t go there for a long time yet because I think there’s a greater need for me here, if I’m needed at all)… As far as I’m concerned, the ideology of Eurasianism was only a means, a working hypothesis, which has no fulfilled its function. I’ve said all this (approximately) to Arapov too, and he accuses me of defeatism, aber ich kann nicht anders.

In his next paragraph, Mirsky unwittingly foretells his own personal fate; ‘to be sent to places far removed’ was the Tsarist administration’s language for internal exile, and it persisted into the Soviet period:

Going back to practical matters, and once again absolutely condemning the idea of transferring to the Union, at the same time I would very much welcome it if you made a trip there, with Arapov or without. With your well-known ability to butter up and charm people, such a trip might bring good results. But of course one can only consider this if there is a favorable solution to our practice problems. Any kind of transition from visit to residence will of course end badly, most likely of all in places more or less far removed.

Mirsky goes on to dismiss the course he was shortly to take:

One could still think about Gorky, but you understand of course that a connection with Gorky can only come about as a result of the liquidation of organized Eurasianism and a transition to a broad alliance of non-party Leninist-Stalinists. I would welcome an alliance of that kind, of course, and there is a place in it for us. But in practice I don’t believe in it. Everything that has ever been done on Gorky’s initiative has always been afflicted with sterility.

On 11 November 1929 he told Suvchinsky: ‘I’m writing to you just after finishing the Leader’s October article.40 I’ll read the rest of it on the way to Oxford, where I’m going with Arapov to give a lecture.’ This was the occasion when Mirsky was observed by Isaiah Berlin, who gave me a completely different account of what went on that evening from the published account of the meeting. The report in the Oxford Magazine summarizes a familiar line of Mirsky’s about Pushkin’s non-metaphorical style; Berlin, however, insisted that Mirsky was drunk and incapable of coherent speech and thought.41

This was probably one of the occasions on which Mirsky stayed with the Spaldings; in the words of the daughter of the family: ‘In those days we lived in Shotover outside Oxford and I seem to remember that Prince Mirsky mostly stayed in a cottage, then called Domic [Russian domik, ‘little house’], with the Narishkins at the bottom of our garden.’ This may have been the same visit Miss Spalding was speaking about when she said: ‘I certainly remember my parents being much put out when they had invited a number of people to tea to hear, as they expected, Prince Mirsky talking along White Russian lines, to find that over night he had turned Red.’42


Mirsky actually proclaimed himself a committed Communist in a letter written to Suvchinsky from London two days after the trip with Arapov to Oxford, on 13 November 1929. Two years later he published an account of how his conversion came about. It points to several factors that influenced his decision. In particular, Mirsky named three living men who played a part in converting him to Marxism. Two of them were Russians. The first, as we might expect, was Gorky, whose ‘Marxism’ was of an extremely peculiar kind, indistinguishable in fact from Nietzscheanism. The second was the historian M.N. Pokrovsky, whose work Mirsky translated, as we have seen. The third was an Englishman, Maurice Dobb (1900-76), lecturer in economics at the University of Cambridge from 1924, and a founder member of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1920. In Mirsky’s reference to Dobb, the use of the word ‘realities’ is piquant:

The third source of help was a growing acquaintance with Soviet realities – especially with the great economic achievement of the period of recovery. Maurice Dobb’s Economic Developments in Soviet Russia was of particular assistance. It made me finally understand that the Nep was not transforming Russia into a peasant bourgeois community, but was indeed heading towards Socialism.43

On 11 November 1929 in London, after watching Battleship Potemkin, Mirsky met Eisenstein and Aleksandrov,44 and with the latter, as he told Suvchinsky, he had ‘a long and interesting conversation – he spoke about Soviet construction, the state farms, and all this in such an encouraging spirit (very concrete) that I was even more confirmed in the general line’. Mirsky’s next letter to Suvchinsky, written on 13 November, is characteristically categorical:

Workers of the World, Unite!

That Marxism is correct as a theory of history is for me not conditional but absolute. … I assert the absolute value of Marxism as a historian, and this is my considered and tested conviction, formed precisely through the study of precapitalist periods. The only matter in which I do not go along with current Marxism is that I do not draw conclusions of a metaphysical nature from the absolute correctness of historical materialism.

The last letter to Suvchinsky of the intensive series that began when Mirsky became seriously involved with Eurasianism in 1926 was written on 22 January 1930. Mirsky tells his friend that he has got down to writing his biography of Lenin. To judge from the remainder of the letter, nothing untoward had happened between the two men. But there was then a sixteen-month break in the correspondence, at least from Mirsky’s side; he next wrote to Suvchinsky on 21 May 1931. What went on in the interval is impossible to reconstruct in any detail on the basis of the evidence currently available. Mirsky had nothing further to do with organized Eurasianism, except to pour scorn on it in his account of his conversion to Marxism. But it was in April 1930 that relations between Mirsky and Suvchinsky’s wife, Vera, reached a crisis, and the break with Suvchinsky doubtless had something to do with this.


In October 1928, just before the launch of Eurasia, Dorothy Galton (1901-92) was appointed secretary to Bernard Pares at the School of Slavonic Studies and came into contact with Mirsky.45 In her published account of her relationship with Mirsky, Miss Galton set down one of the most striking representations we have of Mirsky’s social demeanour as it appeared towards the end of the émigré period:

His memory was prodigious and he had a profound knowledge of at least four literatures. His post at the School, as all lectureships in those days, only provided a small salary, but he probably earned additional money from his books, lectures and articles; it must have been on the rare occasions that he had such a windfall that he would ask me out to dinner. He loved good food and drink; I have seen him start with oysters and Bass, go on to white and red wine, and end by drinking a quarter-bottle of port, while I sipped a little of the wine. Meanwhile, instead of conversing, he would recite poetry in any of his four languages.46

Mirsky’s letters to Miss Galton provide ample evidence that during his last years in emigration, after he had made his decisive move to the left, he continued the pattern of life he had established in 1922, supplementing his salary included. The very first of Mirsky’s surviving letters to Dorothy Galton, written from the up-market resort of Talloires in Haute Savoie on 20 July 1929, reveals that at some time he had signed up with Gerald Christy’s Lecture Agency. Exactly how much work came his way through this organization is not clear, but in a c.v. probably written in 1931 Mirsky states that besides the lectures in America and to the Bronte Society that we already know about, he had lectured at the Royal Society of Literature, the English Association, something called the Ethological Society, the Tolstoy Society, the Philosophical Society (Newcastle upon Tyne), the Literary and Philosophical Society (Hull), ‘etc.’ Of these occasions, by ‘the Tolstoy Society’ Mirsky probably means the lecture he gave on critical assessments of Tolstoy at a Tolstoy Memorial dinner on 6 November 1928. He had accepted this assignment on 28 October 1928 from the PEN Club; it was presided over by John Galsworthy.47 At the time he composed this c.v. Mirsky had in progress a course of lectures on ‘Intellectual Europe of the Present Day’ at the City Literary Institute. As before, Mirsky was in London only during term-time.

The only doctoral student Mirsky supervised to completion in his last years in London was Elizabeth Hill, who took her undergraduate degree at the School in 1924 and finished her thesis in 1931. Mirsky wrote a preface to her first book.48 Elizabeth Hill was the only person who gained both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Mirsky’s subject during his time at the School. In her words, ‘We admired his brain and originality, but he was shy and remote in his dealings with us.’49

In the autumn of 1929 Mirsky discouraged E.H. Carr as a potential graduate student. On 1 November, Carr noted in his diary: ‘Letter from Pares who wants me “to meet Mirsky” to take Ph.D. degree!’ Then, on 19 November: ‘Went up to see Mirsky: an amusing talk; he doesn’t care whether I take a degree or not.’ And finally, on 27 November: ‘Mirsky lunched with me: got some interesting details out of him. A strange creature.’50 Mirsky kept in touch with Carr and wrote a preface, which is very outspoken, to his first book, as he had to Elizabeth Hill’s.51 According to Carr, ‘It is quite worthwhile. He said that he had written it because otherwise Pares would have done it, and this would have spoiled the book.’52

Mirsky supervised part of the doctoral work of Andrew Guershoon Colin, Bertha Malnick, and Helen Muchnic,53 all of whom went on to publish significant work in the field of Russian language and literature. But his attitude towards his teaching was becoming more and more casual, as his initial communications with Carr suggest. And his relations with his boss, Bernard Pares, soon began to deteriorate.

The earliest evidence of serious trouble between Mirsky and his Director came soon after the end of the work on Eurasia. On 24 January 1930 comes the first of a series of letters to Florinsky that demonstrates just how unsettled Mirsky was becoming; he is still aristocratically arrogant, though, and yet again uses numbered points:

I have suddenly (not altogether suddenly) concluded that I need to move to America. Could you perhaps help me in this, perhaps through the good Shotwell? Most of all I would like a one-year stint at a University so as to have a look round, and then either find something better or come back here. Cohabitation with Pares, a la longue (though non-consomme) is becoming intolerable. And there are no prospects for anything better. My communism notwithstanding, I really can’t go to the USSR,-- I’m socially alien no matter what. There remains America. I very much rely on the assistance of you and Shotwell. I would point out the following: 1) My speciality is not literature but history; 2) Most of all I would like to get to Stanford because of the climate (and the proximity of Hollywood), and also it seems they like inviting guest speakers there, and they have a leftish inclination; 3) I absolutely don’t want to go to Columbia.

Mirsky followed this up on 30 January: ‘I apologise for sticking to you like a leaf in a bathhouse. I have just found out that there is a vacancy at Stanford University for the chair of Russian history. Do you not think that this is the hand of Providence and that I ought to do something?’ Five weeks then went by. Mirsky wrote again to Florinsky on 7 March:

My plans for America have been put aside for the time being, it may well be that I’ll come to America next summer, since (this is confidential for the time being) California University looks as if they’re going to invite me. I’ve had a massive scandal with Pares that ended with making things up like a lovers’ quarrel.

How are your intimate feelings? In all respects I’m in a very indeterminate and transitional state – l’age dangereux. Perhaps by the end of the year things will become clearer.


The most striking manifestation of this ‘dangerous age’, or mid-life crisis, concerned Mirsky’s personal life. It involved Vera, the wife of his closest friend, Suvchinsky, and took place in the spring of 1930.54 Vera told me that he had met Mirsky ‘as a Eurasian’ before she came to Paris, in 1924 or early 1925, and thought about marrying him then. Vera was born in St. Petersburg in 1906, the daughter of Aleksandr Guchkov (1862-1936, one of the most colourful politicians of the Duma period of Russian history;55 his grandfather had been an Old Believer peasant, but his father made a fortune as a Moscow merchant. Vera’s mother, who was in her daughter’s words ‘religious and eccentric’, came from the musical Ziloti family; one of her brothers was a famous conductor, the other an admiral. Vera herself was named after her godmother, the great actress and theatrical impresario Vera Kommisarzhevskaya. She attended the Taganskaya gimnaziya in Petersburg – one of the top two for girls, according to her own account – before continuing her schooling in the Caucasus after the family fled south in 1917. When they arrived in Berlin, Vera went to the Russian gimnaziya that had opened there, one of her classmates and friends being Nabokov’s sister Olga. She then went to Berlin University for two years, reading philosophy, but left to get married before taking her diploma. She came to England several times before 1925, on visas arranged by Bernard Pares, who had known her father before the revolution.

Vera married Pyotr Suvchinsky in Paris towards the end of 1925, and after that came to know all the principal Eurasians. She claimed the credit for making Mirsky revise his opinion of Tsvetaeva; and she was present when Mirsky and Suvchinsky met the poet in person at the end of 1925.56 In the summer of 1928 she spent some time at Pontaillac with Suvchinsky, the Karsavin and Nikitin families, and other Eurasians; it was during this summer sojourn that much of the immediate planning for Eurasia must have been done. During this time, on 1 September, Marina Tsvetaeva wrote Vera an extraordinary letter of affection.57 But Vera was much more fond of Efron than of his wife; and she felt great sympathy for their daughter, Alya, who was six years younger than she was.

Vera kept seven of her letters from Mirsky. They all date from the first half of 1930, and they constitute the only substantial first-hand evidence there is about Mirsky’s intimate life where a person of the opposite sex is involved. They are also the only documents that show Mirsky slackening his intellectual control. The first of them dates from 12 March 1930, and was probably written in London. Mirsky refers to Vera’s husband Suvchinsky by his pet name, ‘Petya’:

My dear sweet Vera, I’ve reread your letter many times, and thought about you weeping as you wrote, and about much more besides, and that night couldn’t get to sleep for a long time…. I mentally wrote you a letter on all these subjects, but [perhaps] it’s better that it should remain for the time being unwritten. Now my only task is to live through these sixteen days without loosening my grip and without yielding to provocations (from within myself). I think I’ll manage it, thanks specifically to what you call my lack of seriousness but which is in fact my unconscious optimism (purely dialectical, i.e. relating to this specific stage). Yesterday I sent you some very foolish poetry and I’m afraid I overtaxed your patience with it, but really I’ve been completely obsessed with that rubbish for three days now.

In spite of all that Lenin is progressing well and keeping me going. Up to yesterday the task was overfulfilled by 9Q%. Without Lenin I don’t know what I’d do (and today I’m 11% over).

When he mentions here that ‘Lenin’ is progressing well, Mirsky refers to the biography of Lenin that he began in August 1929 and finished in May 1930. It is the most dated of all Mirsky’s books to read now, its categorical assertion of truth contradicted by the evolution of history since 1930 so comprehensively as to make what Mirsky says verge on the surreal. However, despite the absence of explicit autobiography that characterizes all Mirsky’s writings, Lenin is at the same time of all his books the one in which his own personality seems to be most profoundly engaged. Lenin had no sympathy for the whining and posturing of the intelligentsia; the fact that they were whining and posturing about such issues as the liquidation of those with whom one does not agree is apparently as unimportant to Mirsky as it was to Lenin. He finds in Lenin what was undoubtedly his own ideal, a synthesis of thought and action, where being is indivisible from consciousness:

Lenin’s life was ultimately all action. But, unlike the men of action of previous history, action in him was not dissociated from theoretical knowledge. His political career is explained without omission in his written work. Every one of his acts sprang from knowledge that was organically related to theory. They were not the outcome of those short cuts that go by the name of intuition, but were matured and carried out in the full light of logical consciousness. The complete harmony between action and understanding which we find in Lenin is the first announcement of a new age, the age of Socialism, whose main characteristic will be the absolute ‘transparency’ of its activity in the light of its own understanding.58

Meanwhile, the man who wrote this paean to the willed suppression of the emotions and inflexible self-dedication to the cause was – for the only time in his life, so far as we know – thrashing about in a paroxysm of self-abasing emotion. The day after his first letter to Vera, he wrote to Michael Florinksy:

Right now my life is taking a highly dramatic turn (not in the political sense) and I am completely unable to foresee how it will develop, but in any case to leave for America would be extremely desirable. Otherwise all I have left is the road to the USSR, which I could easily take tomorrow, but restrain myself for the time being for reasons of a purely personal nature.

In the middle of all this, during the Easter vacation of 1930, in fact in early April, Mirsky made the most spectacular of all the eating trips that we know about, to the Hotel Terminus, Lyon Perrache. The Guide Bleu of the period, his standby in these matters, proclaims it to be: ‘etablissement de luxe, vieille reputation, specialite de poulardes a la gelee et de quenelles Morateur’.59 By 7 April Mirsky had apparently passed through Paris and seen Vera; he wrote to her on that day from Lyon, practically abandoning punctuation, and making a pathetically childish sexual boast:

My dear unique beloved Vera my sweet. Very soon after the train left the girl you liked came up to my window and started smiling at me very charmingly at which I also began smiling at her and then she came and sat down next to me and I had a conversation with her, je m’imaginais that she was your representative. I was very happy. But the lady who had been travelling with me on her own at the far end soon started getting so obviously bored and not knowing where to put herself and fidgeting that I felt absolutely awkward and in Dijon just so she wouldn’t fidget I bought her Vu, Cinemonde and Detective,60 but as for conversing, I didn’t do that all the way to Lyon. I even didn’t take advantage of the tempting possibility of raping her in a tunnel we were in for a long time. Please signale ca to Petya. However, the whole way here I was thinking only of your perfections which more and more amaze and impress me. Really I can’t understand how it can be that you exist in the world. Where did you come from? Sweetie?

I had dinner here at Morateur’s; he was very gracious and tried to make me get more wine going but I was just as firm as I was yesterday with the Arapovs.61

On 10 April 1930 Mirsky wrote again to Vera:

[Pages 187 to 401 MISSING]
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:08 am

Part 4 of 5

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:44 am

Part 5 of 5

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:44 am

Difference Between Bolsheviks and Soviets
Accessed: 7/17/19




Bolsheviks literally meaning majority in Russian, was the dominant faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. The Bolsheviks, founded in 1905 by Vladimir Lenin, came to power in Russia in 1917 during the famous ‘October revolution’, and established Russian Soviet Federative Socialistic Republic, which was the chief construct of the Soviet Union. The party ultimately christened to Communist Party of Soviet Union. The party workers were governed by the principle of democratic centralism, the core theme of a communist party structure.

In pre-revolutionary Russia, the term ‘Soviet’ referred to a local revolutionary council, and after formation of Soviet Union, the term meant an elected body at local, regional, and state levels.


1. Prior to 1914 there were wide-spread discontent among Russian peasants due to high rent of land, and among the workers due to prolonged depression and unemployment in the economy. The Tsarist regime became hugely unpopular due to its undemocratic and repressive methods of functioning. These provided fodder to the Russian Social Democratic Party, of which Bolsheviks were a part. Later Bolsheviks split from the parent party to undertake their own manifesto.

2. Soviets believed in non violent movement as means of change, and emphasised on a capitalist development and formation of a democratic government. On the other hand Bolsheviks under Lenin idealised in illegal organisations and armed struggle as the ultimate means to achieve change.

3. The ideology of the Soviets was a society in agrarian structure, where the peasants would be the owners of land they cultivated & the society would be in the form of village commune. The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, dreamt and propagated industrial form of socialism where the workers’ council would form the Supreme Soviet.
The Soviet Revolutionaries ultimately split into two parts, Right SR and Left SR. The Right SR were close to Mensheviks in their concept of socialism and Left SR came close to Bolsheviks and became part of the first Bolsheviks led Communist government of Russia in 1917 in which Trotsky was elected as president.

4. The Soviets argued that an attempt to immediately install socialism in Russia would be fruitless as the working class would face the hardship in effect. But the outbreak and spread of civil war forced the Bolsheviks to tread the path of immediate socialism in Russia.

5. In the year 1914 Russia’s war against Germany was supported by the Soviets. Bolsheviks not only condemned and opposed the government, but also took help of the Socialist Party of Great Britain to showcase their view on the Soviet’s decision of war.

6. The Soviet revolutionaries’ movement & agitation were scattered, incoherent, and sometimes self-contradictory, whereas the Bolsheviks displayed more coherence, sustainability, and determination in their agitation.

7. The Soviets as revolutionary never undermined the interest of the under-privileged class, whereas, the Bolsheviks subordinated the interest of the working class to the methodology of revolution.

8. Bolsheviks favoured a party of disciplined, radical, and professional members, whereas Soviet revolutionaries emphasised on a mass-based liberal party.

9. Lenin’s view was that proletariats must lead the movement against the Tsarist regime and that dictatorship of proletariat must be established. The Mensheviks and Soviets denounced the theory and argued that direct transition from a backward state to dictatorship was not possible and that a bourgeois class must be created in between.

10. While in power, the Bolsheviks under Lenin’s guidance put workers’ power under state power. Industrial workers were exposed to military discipline, labour book was introduced, and labour desertion was considered as punishable offence. Mensheviks opposed this move and argued that to make revolution truly bourgeois, the workers and trade unions should be left free from state control.

11. During 1922, with the end of civil war, the Bolshevik-led government encouraged state controlled capitalism. All big industries were under direct state control, smaller industries and agriculture were run on cooperative basis. The socialists vehemently opposed this move arguing that a socialistic society should be free of any capitalistic element.


1. Bolsheviks were part of Soviets who later split to pursue their own manifesto.

2. Bolsheviks believed in armed struggle, whereas Soviets believed in non-violent means.

3. Bolsheviks propagated industrial form of socialism, but Soviets believed in agrarian form of socialism.

4. Soviets believed in smooth transition of society, Bolsheviks emphasised on immediate transition.

5. Bolsheviks’ movement was more organised than that of Soviet revolutionaries.

6. In 1944 Russia’s war against Germany was supported by Soviets, but opposed by Bolsheviks.

7. Unlike Soviets, Bolsheviks gave more importance to methodology of revolution than the interest of proletariats.

8. Bolsheviks favoured radical party members, Soviets preferred more liberal members.

9. Unlike Soviets Bolsheviks did not believe in creation of a bourgeois class in the process of transition.

10. Bolsheviks while in power, put trade unions under state control, which was opposed by Soviets.

11. Bolsheviks tried to impose state controlled capitalism, whereas Soviets opposed arguing that socialism should be devoid of any element of capitalism.



1. The Bolsheviks and Soviets: Retrieved from

2. The Socialist Party of Great Britain: Retrieved from

3. Bolshevism & Menshevism: Retrieved from
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:13 am

Part 1 of 2

Chögyam Trungpa
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/30/19



They kept pouring in, their numbers rising from thirty thousand [30,000] to seventy thousand [70,000].....

At one point during this stage of her life she had an inexplicable insight. Freda "saw" that Tibetan Buddhism would not only travel to the West but would take root there. And the ones who would bring it about would be the tulkus, Tibet's recognized reincarnated high lamas and spiritual masters, who held the essence of the teachings.....

In the early 1960s, Buddhism was still virtually unknown in the West, outside of a very small handful of scholars ... In the eyes of the intellectual Buddhist scholars, Tibetan Buddhism was regarded as degenerate -- shrouded in the magic and mystery fostered by those shamans of the Bon religion that existed in Tibet before Buddhism took root. There was too much ritual, too much Tantra, too much mumbo jumbo....

There was also the matter of reincarnation itself, which in the predominantly Christian West was still regarded as heretical. People had been burned at the stake and been killed en masse (such as the Cathars) for believing such anathema. In the 1960s and 1970s reincarnation was still a taboo subject. The Tibetans, however, not only completely accepted reincarnation as a given fact of life, they went farther than any other Buddhist country by devising a system to find specific rebirths of accomplished spiritual masters who had forsaken higher states of consciousness after death in order to be reborn in an earthly body solely to continue to teach others how to reach the same exalted state they had achieved. The voluntary return to this vale of tears was seen as the highest mark of altruism, brave and noble beyond measure. These were the tulkus, titled rinpoches, or "Precious Ones." They were the cream of Tibetan society, revered, feted, and sometimes unwittingly used as pawns in others' games of corruption. These were the people Freda was now planning to bring to the West to plant the seeds of the Buddha's teachings into American, European, and Australian soil for the first time.

Finding the right candidates, however, posed an enormous problem. The entire community of Tibetan refugees was in total disarray, with lamas, yogis, householders, carpenters, tailors, and others, mingling together in a homogenized, indistinguishable mass formerly unheard of in the conservative, strictly hierarchical society of old Tibet, where Tulkus were kept apart from the hoi polloi for fear of contamination ....

Undeterred by, or unaware of, these seeming obstacles Freda forged ahead with her dream. She had seen for herself what she thought were exceptional, special qualities in the handful of tulkus she had come across amid the mayhem of the camps. To her eyes they exuded an unmistakable refinement, wisdom, maturity, and dignity way beyond their years, which she was convinced would be as attractive to Westerners as it was to her....

Trungpa was installed as the principal of the Young Lamas Home School, and Akong was its manager. When all was complete, Freda had an audience with Nehru to thank him profusely for his help. Nehru smiled and said in a low, quiet voice, "It was not for you I did it." Nevertheless Freda had single-handedly planned and brought into being the Young Lamas Home School. She had succeeded in her pioneering task to bring the tulkus into the twentieth century, and she was on her way to realizing the next stage of her vision -- to bring them to the West.....

The tulkus were learning English and their lessons on the modern world with varying degrees of success. Freda's star student, Trungpa Rinpoche, however, was making exceptional progress, and Freda's aspirations for him became increasingly ambitious. He had a natural aptitude for English and had taken to reading the poets that Freda presented him with, especially T.S. Eliot. He was keen on history and geography too. Freda decided that he was ready to try to get into Oxford, her own university, where he would receive the finest education the West had to offer. With such credentials he would be perfectly equipped and have the clout to bring the sacred Buddhist teachings to the outside world in a language it could understand.

With the help of John Driver, an Englishman who was also tutoring Trungpa, Freda set about getting a Spalding Scholarship for Trungpa, and succeeded. In early 1963 Trungpa set sail for England accompanied by Akong Rinpoche, to enter into the arcane, privileged, and hallowed halls of Oxford University. It was another epic journey into the unknown, heralding as many adventures, pitfalls, and triumphs as they had met in their escape from Tibet.

-- The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi, by Vicki Mackenzie

On January 17, 1960, they crossed the border into India.

Rinpoche spent nearly four years in India, where he encountered a world vastly different from Tibet. He had grown up in an essentially medieval culture, and a very unusual one at that. It was one of the very few places on earth, at least in the twentieth century, where spirituality was uppermost in the minds and hearts of almost the entire population. Tibet was certainly not an idyllic society. Rinpoche often said that there was it great deal of corruption in Tibet, and that this was a contributing factor in its occupation by the communist Chinese. At the same time, he loved the land and the people, and he was completely immersed in a Buddhist world there.

In Tibet, he had been a very special and privileged person. In India, the Tibetans were refugees and were not generally treated very well, although kindness was extended to them by the Indian government and many individuals living in India. However, Rinpoche was no longer a person of high status, as he had been. He told me that, not long after arriving in India, he was invited to an English garden party. The hostess was passing around a tray of cucumber sandwiches, which she offered first to Rinpoche. He took the whole tray, thinking that she had made a nice lunch for him. Later, he was quite embarrassed by this.

Many of the Tibetan refugees ended up in camps. He stayed in the camps for a short time, but then he was able to relocate to Kalimpong, which was close to the seat that His Holiness the Karmapa established in Sikkim after escaping from Tibet. While he was in Kalimpong, Rinpoche studied thangka painting, and he produced beautiful paintings of Padmasambhava and his consort Yeshe Tsogyal, as well as other subjects. Later, he was able to bring these paintings with him to the West, and one of them hangs in my house today. He became friends with Tendzin Rongae, a wonderful thangka painter who had also recently arrived from Tibet and helped Rinpoche with his painting. Rinpoche became close to the entire Rongae family. While in Kalimpong, he learned that Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche had also recently entered India and was living a few miles away, about an hour away by foot. Rinpoche used to walk over to see Khyentse Rinpoche and to receive teachings from him. Dilgo Khyentse was over six feet tall, very unusual for a Tibetan, and he had enormous warmth and presence. During this time, Rinpoche became friends with Khyentse Rinpoche's nephew Ato Rinpoche.

India is a significant place for Tibetans because it was the home of the Buddha and of many of the great teachers whose works are studied in Tibet. One could say that India is for Tibetans what the Middle East is for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. There are many Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India. Rinpoche was able to visit Bodhgaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment, and other important sites.

In India, Rinpoche was also exposed to many non-Buddhist cultures for the first time. He came to love Indian food and to appreciate many things about the Indian culture. He encountered people from all over the world there. In particular, he met several English Buddhists who were extremely kind and helpful to him. Freda Bedi was one of these. She was an Englishwoman who had married an Indian, Baba Bedi. She worked for the Central Social Welfare Board of the Indian government helping Tibetan refugees, and she was so affected by her involvement with the Tibetans that she became a Buddhist herself. After her husband's death, she was one of the first Westerners to become a Tibetan Buddhist nun.

Rinpoche met her at the refugee camp in Bir, and she formed an immediate bond with him. From the earliest contacts he had with Westerners, he shone out like a light or a beacon to them. Lama Govinda, a Westerner and an early writer about Tibetan Buddhism, reported this quality. Lama Govinda met Rinpoche in northern India, just after Rinpoche's escape from Tibet. Many Tibetan refugees stayed at Lama Govinda's house in the Himalayas on their way south, and he said that Trungpa Rinpoche was the brightest of them all.

Freda Bedi helped Rinpoche resettle in Kalimpong, and later she asked him to help her establish a school to train young Tibetan monks, the Young Lamas Home School, in New Delhi, which moved to Dalhousie after about a year. He was delighted to do this, and with the blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Rinpoche became the spiritual advisor to the young monks at the school.

This was the first time that Rinpoche had ever lived in a secular society, and although at first he found it quite strange, he soon took to it. He went to meetings of a British women's club so that he could hear the poetry of T.S. Eliot read, and he used to go to the cinema in New Delhi. On his way out of Tibet, close to the border with India, he was exposed to alcoholic beverages for the first time. In one of the villages where they stopped, you couldn't drink the water, and everyone drank a kind of Tibetan beer. He had been hesitant to imbibe any alcohol since it was a violation of his monastic vows, but once he gave in, he enjoyed the experience, an din India he started to drink occasionally, though not openly. Tendzin Rongae and Rinpoche liked to get together and drink from time to time.

On the way out of Tibet, Rinpoche had fallen in love with a young Tibetan nun, Konchok Paldron, who was part of the escape party. He became clandestinely involved with her while he was in India. She was living in the refugee camp in Bir. She visited him at the Young Lamas Home School, and they took a mattress up on the roof of the building, where they spent the night together. She became pregnant and gave birth to Rinpoche's eldest son, Osel Rangdrol Mukpo, a short time before Rinpoche left for England. When she was pregnant, she made a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya, and their son was born there. She could no longer be a nun, so after Osel was born, she worked as a road laborer to support herself for some time. Later, she married and had another child.

Around this time, Rinpoche received a Spaulding [Spalding] Scholarship to attend Oxford University. This had come through the intercession of Freda Bedi and John Driver, an Englishman who tutored Rinpoche in the English language in India and helped him with his studies later at Oxford. The Tibet Society in the United Kingdom had also helped him to get the scholarship. To go to England, Rinpoche needed the permission of the Dalai Lama's government. They would never have have allowed him to leave if they had known about his sexual indiscretion, nor do I think it would have gone over very well with the Tibet Society or his English friends in New Delhi. He and Konchok Paldron kept their relationship a secret, and it was a long time before anyone knew that Rinpoche was the father of her child. This caused him a great deal of pain, although I also think that he hadn't yet entirely faced up to the implications of the direction he was going in his relationships with women. At that time, in spite of the inconsistencies in his behavior, he still seemed to think that he could make life work for himself as a monk. Rinpoche continued to stay in touch with Konchok Paldron and his son Osel, and a few years later, he returned to see them and to make arrangements for his son to come to England.

Rinpoche sailed from Bombay for England early in 1963, on the P&O Line, accompanied by his close friend Akong, who was to be a helper and companion to him at Oxford. Rinpoche had been working very hard on his English, but when he left India, he was still struggling with the language, speaking what would be called a form of pidgin English. When Rinpoche and Akong docked in England, they were welcomed by members of the Tibet Society, and before his studies started at Oxford in the fall, Rinpoche spent time in London, where he met many of the most prominent members of the English Buddhist community. He was invited to give several talks at the Buddhist Society, and he attended a kind of summer camp they sponsored each year, where he gave a number of lectures.

Remembering High Leigh SUMMER SCHOOLS

The Buddhist Lodge (now The Buddhist Society, London) ...

-- The 90th Anniversary of The Buddhist Society 1924–2014, by The Buddhist Society

... When he went up to Oxford, he had quite a challenge trying to bring his English up to speed so that he could understand the lectures and the books he was given to read. Rinpoche wanted to learn as much as he could about English history, philosophy, religion, and politics, but it was pretty tough going for him at the beginning. John Driver, who he had met in India and who had been instrumental in bringing him to England, returned to England and helped Rinpoche a great deal with his lessons, and Rinpoche never forgot this kindness. In the evenings, Rinpoche attended classes in the town of Oxford to improve his English. Years later, he still remembered how his teacher had made the class say words over and over, to improve their elocution, such as "policeman, policeman, policeman." Rinpoche proved himself a brilliant student of the English language. By the time he left England for America, his English vocabulary exceeded that of many of his students.

At Oxford Rinpoche was befriended by the Jesuits, who thought that his tremendous enthusiasm for learning about the Christian religion made him a good candidate for conversion. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but Rinpoche enjoyed their company and felt that here at least he had found Westerners who had some understanding of a wisdom tradition, even though it was not his own.

-- Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa, by Diana J. Mukpo, Carolyn Rose Gimian

David Chadwick: [Trungpa] Rinpoche said that until he met Little Joe, the Peyote Road Man, Suzuki Roshi was the only sane man he'd met in America. Rinpoche said that after he left Tibet he never heard of his teacher again and he felt so sad and alone and then when he met Roshi he felt that he had a friend. He said that all the people supporting him in England were only making things worse -- the whole Christmas Humphreys crowd.

-- Interviews: Bob Halpern cuke page, by Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, by David Chadwick

Chögyam Trungpa before 1959
Title Tulku
Born March 5, 1939
Nangchen, Kham region, Tibet
Died April 4, 1987 (aged 48)
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Cause of death Myocardial infarction and Liver cirrhosis[1]
Religion Buddhism
Nationality Tibetan
Spouse Lady Diana Mukpo
Children Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Tagtrug (Taggie) Mukpo, Gesar Mukpo
School Vajrayana
Lineage Kagyu and Nyingma
Senior posting
Teacher Jamgon Kongtrul of Sechen
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Khenpo Gangshar
Predecessor Chökyi Nyinche
Successor Choseng Trungpa
Reincarnation Trungpa Tulku

Chögyam Trungpa (Wylie: Chos rgyam Drung pa; March 5, 1939 – April 4, 1987) was a Buddhist meditation master and holder of both the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages, the eleventh Trungpa tülku, a tertön, supreme abbot of the Surmang monasteries, scholar, teacher, poet, artist, and originator of a radical re-presentation of Shambhala vision.

Recognized both by Tibetan Buddhists and by other spiritual practitioners and scholars[2][3] as a preeminent teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, he was a major figure in the dissemination of Buddhism to the West,[4] founding Vajradhatu and Naropa University and establishing the Shambhala Training method.

Among his contributions are the translation of numerous Tibetan texts,[5] the introduction of the Vajrayana teachings to the West, and a presentation of the Buddhadharma largely devoid of ethnic trappings. Trungpa coined the term crazy wisdom.[6] Some of his teaching methods and actions were the topic of controversy during his lifetime and afterwards.


Early years

Khenpo Gangshar (left) and Chögyam Trungpa

Born in the Nangchen region of Tibet in March 1939, Chögyam Trungpa was eleventh in the line of Trungpa tülkus, important figures in the Kagyu lineage, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Among his three main teachers were Jamgon Kongtrul of Sechen, HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and Khenpo Gangshar.

The name Chögyam is a contraction of Chökyi Gyamtso (Tibetan: ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྒྱ་མཚོ་, Wylie: Chos-kyi Rgya-mtsho), which means "ocean of dharma". Trungpa (Tibetan: དྲུང་པ་, Wylie: Drung-pa) means "attendant". He was deeply trained in the Kagyu tradition and received his khenpo degree at the same time as Thrangu Rinpoche; they continued to be very close in later years. Chögyam Trungpa was also trained in the Nyingma tradition, the oldest of the four schools, and was an adherent of the ri-mé ("nonsectarian") ecumenical movement within Tibetan Buddhism, which aspired to bring together and make available all the valuable teachings of the different schools, free of sectarian rivalry.

At the time of his escape from Tibet,[7] Trungpa was head of the Surmang group of monasteries.

Escape from Tibet

On April 23, 1959, twenty-year-old Trungpa set out on an epic nine-month escape from his homeland.[8][9] Masked in his account in Born in Tibet to protect those left behind,[10] the first, preparatory stage of his escape had begun a year earlier, when he fled his home monastery after its occupation by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).[11] After spending the winter in hiding, he decided definitively to escape after learning that his monastery had been destroyed.[12] Trungpa started with Akong Rinpoche and a small party of monastics, but as they traveled people asked to join until the party eventually numbered 300 refugees, from the elderly to mothers with babies – additions which greatly slowed and complicated the journey. Forced to abandon their animals, over half the journey was on foot as the refugees journeyed through an untracked mountain wilderness to avoid the PLA. Sometimes lost, sometimes traveling at night, after three months’ trek they reached the Brahmaputra River. Trungpa, the monastics and about 70 refugees managed to cross the river under heavy gunfire,[13] then, eating their leather belts and bags to survive, they climbed 19,000 feet over the Himalayas before reaching the safety of Pema Ko.[14] After reaching India, on January 24, 1960 the party was flown to a refugee camp.[15][16]

Between 2006 and 2010, independent Canadian and French researchers using satellite imagery tracked and confirmed Trungpa’s escape route.[17] In 2012, five survivors of the escape in Nepal, Scotland and the U.S. confirmed details of the journey and supplied their personal accounts.[18] More recent analysis has shown the journey to be directly comparable to such sagas as Shackleton’s 1914/17 Antarctic Expedition.[19] In 2016 accumulated research and survivors’ stories were published in a full retelling of the story,[20] and later in the year preliminary talks began on the funding and production of a movie.

Early teachings in the West

In exile in India, Trungpa began his study of English. In collaboration with Freda Bedi, who had initiated the project,[21] Trungpa and Akong Tulku founded the Young Lamas Home School and, after seeking endorsement from the Dalai Lama, were appointed its spiritual head and administrator respectively.[22]

In 1963, with the assistance of sympathetic Westerners, Trungpa received a Spalding sponsorship to study comparative religion at St Antony's College, Oxford University.[23][24] In 1967, upon the departure of the western Theravadan monk Anandabodhi, Trungpa and Akong Rinpoche were invited by the Johnstone House Trust in Scotland to take over a meditation center, which then became Samye Ling, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the West (future actor and musician David Bowie[25] was one of Trungpa's meditation pupils there). In 1970, after a break with Akong, Trungpa moved to the United States at the invitation of several students.

Shortly after his move to Scotland, a variety of experiences, including a car accident that left him partially paralyzed on the left side of his body, led Trungpa to give up his monastic vows and work as a lay teacher.[26] He made that decision principally to mitigate students' becoming distracted by exotic cultures and dress and to undercut their preconceptions of how a guru should behave.[26] He drank, smoked, slept with students, and often kept students waiting for hours before giving teachings. Much of his behavior has been construed as deliberately provocative and sparked controversy. In one account, he encouraged students to give up smoking marijuana, claiming that the smoking was not of benefit to their spiritual progress and that it exaggerated neurosis. Students were often angered, unnerved and intimidated by him, but many remained fiercely loyal, committed, and devoted.

Upon moving to the United States in 1970, Trungpa traveled around North America, gaining renown for his ability to present the essence of the highest Buddhist teachings in a form readily understandable to Western students. During this period, he conducted 13 Vajradhatu Seminaries, three-month residential programs at which he presented a vast body of Buddhist teachings in an atmosphere of intensive meditation practice. The seminaries also had the important function of training his students to become teachers themselves.[27]

Introduction of the Vajrayana

Trungpa was one of the first teachers to introduce the esoteric practice of the Vajrayana to the West. According to Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, "The one who mainly spread the Vajrayana in the West was Trungpa Rinpoche."[28] In contrast to its traditional presentation in Tibet, where the esoteric practices are largely the domain of the monastic sangha, in the US Trungpa introduced the Vajrayana to the lay sangha.[29]

The presentation of these teachings gave rise to some criticism. According to Trungpa's former student Stephen Butterfield, "Trungpa told us that if we ever tried to leave the Vajrayana, we would suffer unbearable, subtle, continuous anguish, and disasters would pursue us like furies".[30] Other Vajrayana teachers also warn their students about the dangers of the esoteric path.

Butterfield noted "disquieting resemblances" to cults, and "to be part of Trungpa's inner circle, you had to take a vow never to reveal or even discuss some of the things he did." But Butterfield also notes that "This personal secrecy is common with gurus, especially in Vajrayana Buddhism,"[31] and acknowledges that Trungpa's organization is anything but a cult: "a mere cult leaves you disgusted and disillusioned, wondering how you could have been a fool. I did not feel that charlatans had hoodwinked me into giving up my powers to enhance theirs. On the contrary, mine were unveiled."[32]

Meditation and education centers

The purkhang at Karmê Chöling

In 1973, Trungpa established Vajradhatu, encompassing all his North American institutions, headquartered in Boulder, Colorado. Trungpa also founded more than 100 meditation centers throughout the world. Originally known as Dharmadhatus, these centers, now more than 150 in number, are known as Shambhala Meditation Centers. He also founded retreat centers for intensive meditation practice, including Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, Karmê Chöling in Barnet, Vermont and Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

In 1974, Trungpa founded the Naropa Institute, which later became Naropa University, in Boulder, Colorado. Naropa was the first accredited Buddhist university in North America. Trungpa hired Allen Ginsberg to teach poetry and William Burroughs to teach literature.

Trungpa had a number of notable students, among whom were Pema Chödrön, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Anne Waldman, Diane di Prima, Peter Lieberson, John Steinbeck IV, José Argüelles, David Nichtern, Ken Wilber, David Deida, Francisco Varela, and Joni Mitchell, who portrayed Trungpa in the song "Refuge of the Roads" on her 1976 album Hejira.[33] Ginsberg, Waldman, and di Prima also taught at Naropa University, and in the 1980s Marianne Faithfull taught songwriting workshops. Lesser-known students Trungpa taught in England and the US include Alf Vial, Rigdzin Shikpo (né Michael Hookham), Jigme Rinzen (né P. Howard Useche), Ezequiel Hernandez Urdaneta (known as Keun-Tshen Goba after setting up his first meditation center in Venezuela), Miguel Otaola (aka Dorje Khandro), Francisco Salas Roche, and Francesca Fremantle. Rigdzin Shikpo promulgated Trungpa's teachings from a primarily Nyingma rather than Kagyü point of view at the Longchen Foundation.[34][35]

Shambhala vision

In 1976, Trungpa began giving a series of secular teachings, some of which were gathered and presented as the Shambhala Training,[36][37] inspired by his vision (see terma) of the legendary Kingdom of Shambhala. Trungpa had actually started writing about Shambhala before his 1959 escape from Tibet to India, but most of those writings were lost during the escape.[38]

In his view not only was individual enlightenment not mythical, but the Shambhala Kingdom, an enlightened society, could in fact be actualized. The practice of Shambhala vision is to use mindfulness/awareness meditation as a way to connect with one's basic goodness and confidence. It is presented as a path that "brings dignity, confidence, and wisdom to every facet of life." Trungpa proposed to lead the Kingdom as sakyong (Tib. earth protector) with his wife as queen-consort or sakyong wangmo.

Shambhala vision is described as a nonreligious approach rooted in meditation and accessible to individuals of any, or no, religion. In Shambhala terms, it is possible, moment by moment, for individuals to establish enlightened society. His book, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, provides a concise collection of the Shambhala views. According to Trungpa, it was his intention to propagate the kingdom of Shambala that provided the necessary inspiration to leave his homeland and make the arduous journey to India and the West.[39]

Work with arts and sciences

From the beginning of his time in the US, Trungpa encouraged his students to integrate a contemplative approach into their everyday activities. In addition to making a variety of traditional contemplative practices available to the community, he incorporated his students' already existing interests (especially anything relating to Japanese culture), evolving specialized teachings on a meditative approach to these various disciplines. These included kyūdō (Japanese archery), calligraphy, ikebana (flower arranging), Sadō (Japanese tea ceremony), dance, theater, film, poetry, health care, and psychotherapy. His aim was, in his own words, to bring "art to everyday life." He founded the Nalanda Foundation in 1974 as an umbrella organization for these activities.[citation needed]


Trungpa visited Nova Scotia for the first time in 1977. In 1983 he established Gampo Abbey, a Karma Kagyü monastery in Cape Breton. The following year, 1984–85, he observed a yearlong retreat at Mill Village and in 1986 he moved his home and Vajradhatu's international headquarters to Halifax.

By then he was in failing health due to the auto accident in his youth and years of heavy alcohol use. On September 28, 1986, he suffered cardiac arrest,[40] after which his condition deteriorated, requiring intensive care at the hospital, then at his home and finally, in mid-March 1987, back at the hospital, where he died on April 4, 1987.

In 2006 his wife, Diana Mukpo, wrote, "Although he had many of the classic health problems that develop from heavy drinking, it was in fact more likely the diabetes and high blood pressure that led to abnormal blood sugar levels and then the cardiac arrest".[41] But in a November 2008 interview, when asked "What was he ill with? What did he die of?," Trungpa's doctor, Mitchell Levy, replied, "He had chronic liver disease related to his alcohol intake over many years."[42] One of Trungpa's nursing attendants reported that he suffered in his last months from classic symptoms of terminal alcoholism and cirrhosis,[43] yet continued drinking heavily. She added, "At the same time there was a power about him and an equanimity to his presence that was phenomenal, that I don't know how to explain."[44]

Trungpa is reported to have remained in a state of samādhi for five days after his death, his body not immediately decaying and his heart remaining warm.[45] His body was packed in salt, laid in a wooden box, and conveyed to Karmê Chöling. A number of observers have reported that his cremation there on May 26, 1987, was accompanied by various atmospheric effects and other signs traditionally viewed as marks of enlightenment. These included the appearance of rainbows, circling eagles,[46][47] and a cloud in the shape of an Ashe.[48][49]

Continuation of the Shambhala lineage

Upon Trungpa's death, the leadership of Vajradhatu was first carried on by his American disciple, appointed regent and Dharma heir, Ösel Tendzin (Thomas Rich), and then by Trungpa's eldest son and Shambhala heir, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

The next Trungpa tülku, Chokyi Sengay, was recognized in 1991 by Tai Situ Rinpoche.
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