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The Power of One Man over a Slavish People

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The European Health Spa was a modest gym situated in Kansas City back in the old days. It was a preposterous name because the establishment was neither European nor healthy nor a spa; they didn’t even offer mud baths. In any event, between exercises one night in the mid-1970s, a Russian expatriate named Lev asserted that the Russians are “a slavish people.”

That assessment might have been intended as an insult due to Lev being a Jew. Anti-Semitism was rife in imperial Russia, and Jews continued to suffer the occasional pogrom in their shtetls even after the commies took power. But regardless of how Lev meant it, there must be something rather slavish about a people who would think positively, as many Russians did, of a monster like Joseph Stalin.

Slavery in Russia mainly took the form of serfdom. People were bound to the land they worked. So if one inherited a farm, people came with it. There were a number of reforms and tweaks to Russia’s system of servitude going back to Peter the Great. But the serfs were finally given their “freedom,” such as it is in Russia, by Tsar Alexander II in 1861. That happens to be an important year for slavery in America. And imagine: manumission (freedom) by royal decree. How very different from what it took to free America’s slaves: a conflict between brothers that is still our bloodiest war.

Lev didn’t go into any detail about just why the Rus continue to be a slavish people, but one thing about slaves is that they take whatever is given to them. It doesn’t occur to........

© American Thinker

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