Saturday, December 17, 2016


NOTE: This article originally published in Johnson's Russia List, July 19, 2008

Face-Saving Fakery, Play Acting and Make
Believe in Russian History and Culture

(1) The Tatar Yoke and the Chechen Wars

"We play, we die: ig-rhyme, umi-rhyme."
[Vladimir Nabokov in his short story, "'That in
Aleppo Once.'"--punning on the Russian verbs,
igraem ("we play") and umiraem ("we die")]

(1) Fakery in Terms of Conquering and Being
Conquered: (a) Russia and the Tatar Yoke (b)
Tolstoy Looks at War against the Chechens in the 1850s


In Homo Ludens (Man the Player), his remarkable
book about how nearly all human institutions may
be linked to the concept of play, the great Dutch
historian Huizinga writes: "More and more doubts
arise as to whether our occupations are pursued
in play or in earnest, and with the doubts comes
the uneasy feeling of hypocrisy, as though the
only thing we can be certain of is make-believe."
In another passage he mentions how the sophists
"hint at the perpetual ambiguity of every
judgement made by the human mind," and he
reluctantly tiptoes up to the "deep question of
how far the process of reasoning is itself marked by play-rules. . ."[1]

Read in the context of Russian history and
culture, both ancient and contemporary,
Huizinga's book has a particular resonance.


The great émigré scholar George Fedotov has
stated that "The Mongol conquest is the most
fateful catastrophe suffered by Russia during her
entire history." He adds that "The blow to
national pride was deep and ineradicable." [2]
The Golden Horde (commonly known as the Mongols
or Tatars) descendents of the great warlord
Chingis Khan (who died in 1227), fell upon the
Russian lands in force, devastating Kievan Rus in
the campaigns of 1237-1240 A.D. Very soon the
Mongols had gained control over almost all of
what was then Russia, plus much more (China and
Persia, for example). When Tatar raiding parties
first appeared in 1223, the Russians had no idea
who they were, and they "identified them with the
peoples of Gog and Magog, whose escape from
behind the mountains where Alexander the Great
had locked them up signaled the apocalypse."[3]

The Tatars forced Russia to pay tribute (in
money, slaves, military recruits) for about two
and one half centuries (the usually accepted time
frame of the "Tatar Yoke" is 1240-1480 AD). This
is roughly the same number of years that comprise
the entire history of the United States of
America. Following the cue of early Russian
scribes (writers of the ancient chronicles),
Russian historians have most frequently
emphasized the brutality of the invaders and
glorified the Russians who resisted them. Little
or nothing is said, however, about specific
incidents of humiliation. Where do we read about
Russians being forced to get down on their knees
when a Tatar war party rode into town? Where do
we hear tales of rape and rapine? Where do we
find detailed descriptions of Russian princes
kowtowing to the Tatars? Practically nowhere,
since the Tatars did not write these things down
and the Russians made monumental efforts to
pretend they had not happened. When instances of
Russian collaboration with the Tatar conquerors
are too blatant to miss, the historians (again
following the example of the scribes), say
nothing about them. Halperin calls this "the ideology of silence."

"Among historians of Russia, neglect of the
period of Mongol domination has been the rule
rather than the exception. As Michael Cherniavsky
aptly observed, 'There seems to have prevailed a
vague desire to get rid of, to bypass, the whole
question as quickly as possible'" (Halperin
preface, p. vii). True, the Russian émigré
Eurasianist movement of the 1920s and 1930s
attempted a new approach. The Eurasianists took a
novel look at the years of the Mongol Yoke and
decided that Tatar culture, as well as Turkic and
Muslim culture, had had a tremendous impact on
Russia. The neo-Eurasianists of recent years
propagate the belief that the future of Russia
lies in the East, in economic and political
alliances with China, India, Iran, and the
countries of Central Asia, but Eurasianist views,
largely, have not abrogated the traditional
denigration of the Mongols or the widely-accepted
denial of their importance in Russian history.[4]

The major leitmotif of Charles Halperin's whole
book is the "ideology of silence" (see also p. 5,
8, 19-20, 61-62, 127, 129). The history of the
medieval Russian chroniclers is a history of
prevarication. Rather than acknowledge certain
truths that are sometimes obvious, at other times
not totally verifiable, but at least probable,
the scribes fabricated a number of myths about
Russia and the Golden Horde. These myths were
then perpetuated by Russian historians and
cultural figures, who often continue perpetuating
them right up to the present day, while adding new myths of their own:

(1) Russian resistance saved Europe from the
Tatars. If Russia had given in to Tartar
occupation, it would have been only one more step
for the Tartars to advance into Western Europe.

Rebuttal: The Mongol Horde never occupied Russia
because it had no good reason to do so. "The
institutions which permitted prolonged occupation
of China, Persia, and Central Asia would hardly
have been inadequate to govern Russia. The fact
is that Russia remained unoccupied because it had
little to offer the Mongols. It was neither part
of the steppe nor located on profitable trade
routes. Commerce in and through Russia may have
been important for the Russians but was minor
compared to the trade along the caravan routes
east and south of Sarai."[5] The advance of Khan
Batu, grandson of Chingis Khan, through Eastern
Europe may have been halted by an "accident of
history," the death of Great Khan Ugedei. The
Mongol leaders suspended their military campaign,
so this story goes, in order to attend a council
that would elect his successor (Halperin, p. 47).

(2) Prince Dmitry Donskoi's[6] great victory
over the Tatars at Kulikovo in 1380 led to a
recrudescence of Russian power and precipitated
the dissipation of the Golden Horde.

Rebuttal: Prince Dmitry's victory is highly
significant, since it marked the first time in
140 years that Russians had defeated a Tatar army
and it "shattered the legend of the military
invincibility of the Mongols."[7] But the
importance of the victory has been exaggerated,
and the average Russian is unaware of the
complexities surrounding this event. On the
famous Monument to a Thousand Years of Russian
History in Great Novgorod, for example, Donskoi
is depicted trampling on a vanquished Tatar, who
is lying on the ground, looking up beseechingly
at the Russian prince.[8] This visual image
amounts to a vast oversimplification of the
Kulikovo event and its importance in history; its
American equivalent would be something like the
tale of how young George Washington cut down a
cherry tree and then said, "I cannot lie; I did
it." It is an image of legend, rather than of historical fact.

In reality, the Russian princes were making
repeated alliances with the Tatars against their
fellow Russian princes throughout the whole
period of the Tatar Yoke. For a number of years
Moscow engaged in squabbles with Tver', which had
allied itself with Tatar Khan Mamai. Under
pressure from Moscow, Tver' was forced to submit
to a humiliating treaty in 1375, and when Prince
Dmitry advanced against the Tatars in 1380,
Tverian troops were to join his army (under the
terms of the treaty), but they failed to show up.
Dmitry's victory turned out, furthermore, to be
pyrrhic, since the Russians suffered great losses
at Kulikovo and could not mobilize another army
to continue fighting Mamai, who prepared for
another campaign against Russia. Meanwhile, in
1382, "with the connivance, in part coerced, of
the princes of Tver', Riazan, and Nizhnij
Novgorod," a different Tatar khan, Tokhtamysh
attacked Moscow, razed the city and re-instituted
the forced payment of tribute to the Tatars.

The man who really may have put the final quietus
on Mongol domination of the Russian lands was,
oddly enough, the great Central Asian warlord
Tamerlane (a.k.a. Temir Aksak or Timur the Lame).
In order to secure his rear from the threat of
Tamerlane, Tokhtamysh made concessions to the
Russians. Then, in 1395, Tamerlane himself
advanced into Russia with a huge contingent of
troops. More myths were concocted later to
explain why he did not sack Moscow (and, again,
how Russian resistance saved Western Europe). So
the new legend goes, Moscow paraded around the
sacred image of the Vladimir Mother of God in an
attempt to stop Tamerlane, whose troops had taken
the southern city of Yelets. The warlord was
encamped outside town, sleeping, when "The Queen
of Heaven appeared unto him, surrounded by a host
of warriors, and ordered him to abandon forthwith
the realm of Rus. Immediately, he retreated,
leaving Russia and Europe in peace. On the spot
of his dream the Russians built a church named
after the icon of the Blessed Yelets Mother of
God. Copies of this icon, painted as the image of
the Vladimir God Mother, hands raised in
supplication, abound in Yelets to this day."[9]

(3) Led by the heroic Russian princes, the
Russian people resisted the Tatar Yoke and
eventually drove the Mongols out of Russia. Great
Novgorod, never sacked by the Mongols, was a kind
of hero city, and Prince Aleksandr Nevsky
(1220-1263), like Donskoi, is one of the greatest heroes of Russian history.

Rebuttal: As mentioned above, the aristocracy in
charge of Russian principalities often made
alliances with the Tatars against other
principalities. As is so often the case in
Russian history, Russians had trouble uniting in
a common cause. This, of course, is not so
surprising, in that, during the many centuries
preceding the consolidation of Moscow's power,
there was no centralized "Russia" in the sense
that there was later. But Russia under the Tatar
Yoke, nonetheless, sometimes has an eerie
congruency with the Russia of today. Those in
power (the leaders of the principalities and the
church back then; today the "new oligarchs,"
power brokers from the old KGB, and others in
high bureaucratic positions) fight each other for
influence, making and breaking alliances if need be.

As for Novgorod, often declared to be the most
significant free city remaining in Russian during
the years of the Tatar Yoke, it kept its
independence by dealing diplomatically with the
Tatars. Like the rest of Russia "Great Lord
Novgorod" (Gospodin Velikij Novograd) paid
tribute to the Mongol Horde, and the city
flourished because the Mongols allowed it special
trading privileges (Halperin, p. 35, 80).
Aleksandr Nevsky, who is prominently depicted on
the Thousand Year Monument, and whose statue
stands proudly in Novgorod today, on the other
side of the Volkhov River, is not entirely the
hero he is made out to be. Nevsky certainly
deserves hero status for his victories over the
Swedes in 1240 and the Livonian Knights two years
later. But in dealing with the Tatars, Nevsky was
a pragmatist. "His collaboration with the Tatars
has been an embarrassment to patriotic
historiographers ever since" (Halperin, p. 49-50,
67; see also Rossija v bronze, p. 148-49). In The
Chronicle of Novgorod, 1016-1471, the first
mention of the Tatars (A.D. 1257) depicts them
allied with Aleksandr, who punished rebellious
Novgorodians (among them was his son Vasily): "He
cut off the noses of some, and took out the eyes
of others, of those who had led Vasily to
evil."[10] Modern-day patriots, however, need not
be so assiduous in concealing Nevsky's
conciliatory moves. After all, he was forced to
deal with enemies on both the western and eastern
borders of the Russian lands, and he deserves the
glory that he achieved under almost impossible
circumstances. The discomfort at acknowledging
Nevsky's dealings with the Tatars is just one
more affirmation of the stain on the Russian
psyche that still remains, more than five hundred
years after the end of the Mongol Yoke.

(4) Russia "learned wickedness" from the
Tatars, or, as Harrison Salisbury once put it,
modern-day Russia "still struggles against the
legacy of backwardness, ignorance, servility,
submissiveness, deceit, cruelty, oppression and
lies imposed by the terrible Mongols" (Salisbury cited in Halperin, p. 96-97).

Rebuttal: This argument is so specious that it
hardly deserves a rebuttal. Certainly there is
enough wickedness, cruelty, backwardness, etc. in
the human soul (see the history of the human race
from time out of mind) that we can't blame the
Tatars for imposing such traits on Russians.

(5) The Tatars are at fault for Russia's having "missed the Renaissance."

Rebuttal: "Russia had never been part of the
Roman Empire and was neither Catholic nor within
the sphere of medieval Latinity. . . Russian
intellectuals could hardly have participated in
the revival of a classical Latin heritage that
was not their own. The Renaissance was
intrinsically a phenomenon of the Latin West"
(Halperin, p. 122). Furthermore, Russia had its
own Renaissance of sorts, and not one easily
dismissed as creatively inferior. Its sources
were the culture of Byzantium, plus that of the
Orthodox Slavs of the South and Kievan Rus. The
period inclusive of this efflorescence of Russian
spirituality and creativity is, roughly, the
thirteenth through the fifteen centuries (much of
this time periodic coincided with the years of
Mongol domination). Fedotov (II, 344) has called
the fifteenth century the "golden age of Russian
sanctity or spiritual life" and also "the golden
age of Russian art," but he also is careful to
distinguish the Russian spirit of innovation from
that of the West, whose culture the Russians
refused to appropriate. There was no doctrinal
reason for not translating into Slavonic certain
books of secular content. Constantinople, capital
of the Byzantine Empire until 1453, had libraries
rich with secular literature, but these were not
translated. Therefore, there was "a tragic lack
in ancient Russian culture, a complete absence of
rational scientific thought, even in the
theological field. . . full-fledged scientific
investigation in Russia started only in the
nineteenth century" (Fedotov, II, 380).


As Lev Tolstoy is so fond of emphasizing in his
literary works describing politics and warfare,
the people involved often act for reasons not
entirely clear to them, and the consequences of
their actions are unpredictable. In his last
great work of fiction, "Hadji Murad" (published
posthumously, in 1912), Tolstoy presents the
subjugation of the Chechens in the Caucasus
(1850s) as a brutal game of let's pretend. The
renowned Chechen warlord and title character is
pretending to join the Russians, to fight against
his enemy Shamil, who holds his family hostage.
Meanwhile, the Russians are pretending to believe
that Hadji Murad really intends to help them,
while not for a moment really believing.

In Chapter Seventeen, the handsome officer Butler
is shown enjoying the exhilaration of warfare,
poeticizing it, playing this game to the hilt,
while averting his eyes from the Russian dead and
wounded. In the next chapter the Chechen village
just ravaged by Butler's men is depicted, and the
sheer horror of war is presented in contrast to
Butler's romantic fantasies. Meanwhile, the
Chechen warriors, who know no other rules by
which to live except the rules of the blood feud,
are often depicted exulting in the sheer joy of
battle, while praising Allah. The game, and the
rules by which it is played, are more important than the consequences.[11]

As he so often does in War and Peace, Tolstoy in
"Hadji Murad" debunks the way myths about the
battlefield quickly replace somber realities. In
Chapter Five the Russian officers engage in an
animated conversation about the recent death of
General Slepstov. In speaking of the general, no
one considers the grim fact of his demise and his
"return to the great source of life from which he
came." Rather they all imagine his gallantry in
death, the actions of a "dashing officer, falling
upon the mountaineers saber in hand and desperately hacking away at them.

"This, despite a reality that everyone. . . knew
and could not help knowing: that throughout the
war in the Caucasus, and never, nowhere in any
other war did there occur that hacking with the
swords of hand-to-hand combat, the scene that
people always conjure up and describe (and that
if such hand-to-hand combat with swords and
bayonets ever actually takes place, then the only
soldiers being hacked and stabbed are the ones running away). . ."[12]

The Russian officers, as Tolstoy makes clear,
hide behind such mythmaking in order to avoid
facing the possibility of their own death. The
Chechens, on the other hand, seem not to fear
death at all, taking refuge (exactly in the same
spirit of modern jihadists) in the grandiose
legends of the Islamic religion and their firm
belief that for them there is no other way to
live except through perpetual strife and acting
out scenarios of vengeance. As for the Russian
foot soldiers, they relate to war and death with
a stoicism typical of the Russian narod.

In light of all this mythmaking, one cannot help
thinking of the U.S. troops in Iraq and
Afghanistan today, forcing themselves to believe
that they are engaged in a noble cause. After
all, how could they go about their daily lives,
watching comrades wounded and killed, if they had
no make believe to believe in?


I'm not sure if he ever wrote about the "battle"
that marked the end of Mongol domination of the
Russian lands, but Tolstoy certainly would have
been delighted at the circumstances of this
pivotal event in Russian history. The story is
complicated, but to put it briefly, by 1480, a
hundred years after Dmitry's pyrrhic victory at
Kulikovo, Ivan III, "the Great" (1462-1505),
became increasing emboldened in his behavior
toward the fragmented Tatar Horde. He had
recently (1478) forced Great Novgorod to submit
to the power of Moscow, and cooperation between
the Horde and the King of Poland had not yet been
solidified. In the autumn of 1480 Khan Akhmad led
his troops north against Moscow, then turned
west, hoping to join forces with the Poles, who
never materialized. Waiting for their Polish
allies, the Tatars set up camp on the banks of
the Ugra River, which was the border between
Lithuanian and Muscovite territories. The Russian
forces led by Ivan camped on the opposite side of
the river. The adversaries sat there for several
days, shooting arrows across the river and
occasionally shouting out insults to one another.
Then the ice froze over. Fearing a cavalry
attack, Ivan decided to break camp and retreat.
Noticing the bustle on the other side of the
Ugra, the Tatars also anticipated an attack and
fled to the south. The Tatar Yoke, consequently,
was lifted finally, definitively, with the
Russian "victory" in a non-existent battle.[13]

In the world of Homo sapiens, as well as in the
world of various other creatures, such playing at
war is widespread, and the consequences of
non-warfare may be just as great, or greater,
than the consequences of warfare. The
anthropologist Marvin Harris has described how
the Maring, a tribe living in the remote Bismarck
Mountains of New Guinea, wages war. They begin by
holding vast pig-eating festivals, hoping that
the opulence of their feasting will demoralize
the enemy. In preparing to fight, they arrange,
through intermediaries, an appropriate site and
clear it of underbrush. Fighting begins on a day
that both sides have agreed upon. After elaborate
ritual preparations, including communing with
their ancestors, the warriors, prancing, howling
and singing, make their way to the battleground.
They plant huge shields in the ground, take cover
behind them, and began hurling insults at the
enemy. "Occasionally a warrior pops out from
behind his shield to taunt his adversaries,
darting back as a shower of arrows is launched in
his direction. . . As soon as someone gets killed, there is a truce."[14]

In a demonstration of how frequently human and
animal play-acting behavior converge, Hölldobler
and Wilson describe the ritual combat of honeypot
ants. Arranging a kind of tournament, the workers
of two different honeypot colonies behave "in the
manner of medieval knights, one on one. They walk
about with legs stretched out in a stiltlike
posture while lifting their heads and abdomens
and occasionally inflating their abdomens to a
slight degree. The total effect is to make each
ant appear larger than it really is. . . When two
antagonists first meet, they perform a formicid
pas de deux: they turn their bodies about to face
one another head-on, then stand side by side
while straining to raise their bodies ever
higher, and then often circle each other slowly
while drumming their antennae on the opponent's
body and kicking out at her with their legs. . .
All this effort is ritualized and gentle, far
short of the ants' fighting potential. Either ant
could easily seize and slash the opponent with
her sharp mandibles, or spray her with formic
acid, both actions having a fatal result. But
during the tournaments such violence rarely
occurs. After several seconds one of the
displayers yields, and the encounter ends. The
two ants then strut off on stilt legs in search
of other rivals." As with the Marings, "the
desired result is the communication of fighting
ability. All-out war is rare."[15]

Certainly there are beneficial things that humans
could learn from the ants. Unfortunately,
however, the ritualized behavior of the honeypots
described here does not mean that they, or other
ants, are capable of resolving their problems
without bloodshed. Elsewhere in their fascinating
book the authors note that if ants possessed
nuclear weapons, the world would already have
ceased to exist. On the other hand, unlike the
Maring, the Chechens, and practically all other
human social and national groups, ants never
launch raids on other ants to get back at them
for injuries to their person or pride. Ants do
not know the concept of humiliation, and,
consequently, of vengeance (Journey to the Ants, p. 63).

Taking history and turning it into legend seems
to perpetuate itself endlessly. New legends are
concocted, through ramifications of previous
legends. July 6 (New Style) is the day
commemorating the miracle-working icon of the
Vladimir Mother of God, who, as noted above, is
given credit for stopping Tamerlane as he
advanced upon Moscow in 1395. But the story told
on the tear-off desk calendar of the Russian
Orthodox Church for this date relates the
celebration of the icon to the "victory" on the Ugra:

"In 1480 Khan Akhmat brought a huge army to the
banks of the Ugra River in order to wage war with
Rus. Moscow was on the verge of being besieged.
Then the Grand Duke Ioann Vasielevich [Ivan the
Great], arming himself with the prayers and
blessing of Herontius, metropolitan of all of
Russia, and of Vassian, the archbishop of Rostov,
set out to battle the Tatars on the Ugra. For
some time the adversaries faced off against each
other, hesitating to make a decisive move.
Finally, through the intercession of the Mother
of God, a splendrous miracle occurred. The Tatars
were imbued with fear; they became frightened of
one another and fled, pursued by no one. Thus it
was that the Lord, through the prayers of the
Most Holy Mother of God, granted unto the
Christians a unique and most joyous, bloodless
victory over their enemies, thereby sparing His
demesne­the city of Moscow and all of Russia.
When the Grand Duke with his armies returned to
the capital, all of its people voiced their most
exultant joy, praising the Lord and the God
Mother for their glorious deliverance."[16]

What does a nation (Russia, or any other country)
get out of mythologizing history and play acting
games of warfare? Ultimately, one big thing,
respect: both self-respect and (they hope) the
respect of other nation states. In Russia
respect, both self-respect and the respect
Russians think that they deserve from abroad, is
still in short supply today. So the game of make
believe goes on. But not only in Russia. We in
the U.S. today are also heavily invested in
making believe. Just read some of the most recent
statements by the Presidential candidates.

[1] J. Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the
Play-Element in Culture (Boston: The Beacon
Press, paperback, 1955), p. 191, 152.
[2] G. P. Fedotov, The Russian Religious Mind.
Vol. II: The Middle Ages. The 13th to the 15th
Centuries (Harvard University Press, 1966), p. 1.
[3] Charles J. Halperin, Russia and the Golden
Horde: the Mongol Impact on Medieval Russian
History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), p. 64.
[4] The most prominent émigré Eurasianists were
N.S. Trubetskoj, P.N. Savitskij, and George
Vernadsky. For information on the
neo-Eurasianists, see James H. Billington, Russia
in Search of Herself (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow
Wilson Center Press, 2004), p. 67-94.
[5] Halperin, p. 30. Sarai was the capital city
of the Golden Horde, established by Khan Batu
near the mouth of the Volga River. See also
Geoffrey Hosking, Russia and the Russians: A
History (Harvard University Press, 2001), p. 54:
"the Mongols did not occupy and settle Rus as
they did some other parts of their empire. It had
too little to offer them in terms of either
commerce or grazing lands." In Part Six of his
book Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of
Russia (NY: Henry Holt and Co., 2002,) titled
"Descendants of Genghiz Khan," another British
historian, Orlando Figes, makes much of Tatar and
Asian influence on Russian culture and history.
He also stresses "the sense of national shame"
that memories of the Tatar Yoke still evoke in
Russians and mentions the tendency of Russian
historians to assert that Mongol domination left
no trace on Russia's cultural or political institutions (p. 366-67).
[6] In the recent "Name of Russia" contest,
which aims at determining the most influential
and illustrious personages in the history of the
country, Grand Duke of Moscow and Vladimir,
Dmitry Donskoi (1350-1389), made the semi-final
cut and was named among the top fifty. So did
Aleksandr Nevsky (1220-1263), whose life is discussed below.
[7] Entry written by Muriel Heppell in The
Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet
Union, edited by Archie Brown, John Fennell,
Michael Kaser, and H.T. Willetts (Cambridge University Press, 1982), p. 87.
[8] See Viktor Smirnov, Rossija v bronze:
pamjatnik tysjacheletiju Rossii i ego geroi
[Russia in Bronze: the Monument to a Thousand
Years of Russian History and its Heroes]
(Novgorod: Russkaja provintsija, 1993), p.
150-52. This source provides more significant
details about Dmitry and the Kulikovo battle; it
also notes that he was canonized by the Russian
Orthodox Church, but only in 1988. The book has a
photo of Dmitry on the monument, with his right
leg propped on the leg of the vanquished Tatar.
[9] Notes to the story "Temir-Aksak-Khan," in the
book, Ivan Bunin, Night of Denial: Stories and
Novellas, translated with notes and an afterword
by Robert Bowie (Northwestern University Press,
2006), p. 622-23. The information on Tokhtamysh
and the alliances between the Tverians and the
Mongols comes from Halperin, p. 56-57. The tale
of how Tamerlane panicked and retreated from
Yelets is told on the back of a post-card sized
depiction of the Yelets Mother of God (sold in
Yelets). In this account nothing is said about
the sad fact that Yelets fell to the conquerors and was sacked.
[10] Cited from the English translation of the
chronicle in Basil Dmytryshyn, editor, Medieval
Russia: a Source Book, 900-1700 (Hinsdale,
Illinois: The Dryden Press, second edition, 1973), p. 145.
[11] In Homo Ludens Huizinga devotes a whole
chapter (Ch. V, p. 89-104) to "Play and War." He
points out, however, that the concept of "total
war" and the invention of nuclear weapons have
done much to extinguish the play element in
modern warfare. Notwithstanding his reservations,
it seems clear that, even in the face of total
annihilation of the human race, men go on playing
at diplomacy and warfare today.
[12] My translations of passages from L.N.
Tolstoj, Sobranie sochinenij [Collected Works in
20 Volumes] (Moscow: "Khudozhestvennaja
literatura," Vol. 14, 1964, p. 102-07, 46.
[13] Melvin C. Wren, The Course of Russian
History (NY: The Macmillan Company, 1958), p.
173-74. Other historians provide slightly
different accounts of this "non event." See,
e.g., Hosking, Russia and the Russians, p. 85-88,
and Halperin, Russia and the Golden Horde, p. 70-73.
[14] Marvin Harris, Cows, Pigs, Wars, and
Witches: the Riddles of Culture (NY: Random
House, Vintage Books Edition, 1989), p. 63-64.
[15] Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson,
Journey to the Ants: a Story of Scientific
Exploration (Harvard University, 1994), p. 69-70.
[16] My translation from the entry of July 6,
2008, on the desk calendar Pravoslavnyj
tserkovnyj kalendar', 2008. Doroga k khramu
[Orthodox Church Calendar, 2008. The Pathway to the Temple] (Kostroma, 2007).