After the completion of the 500-year history of the Roman republic, an imperial monster was born, a new type of government – based on the sole, autocratic, inherited power of the deified emperors. The emperor became “the law that breathes,” the “law of life.” This model of statehood was borrowed by Russia and, illuminated by Orthodoxy, became akin to it – becoming the “flesh and blood” of Russian folk culture and mythology.
In Circassia, as a result of a long and stubborn resistance of the Russian empire, the ancient polis political tradition, which goes deep into the Circassian and ancient history, incredible in its beauty, power and strength, was interrupted. Beslaney, Kabarda, Abadzekhia, Shapsugia, Ubykhia, Bzhedugia, Janet, Natukhai, Mohosh, Temrgoy were not “tribes” – they were polities, republics, policies of the Circassian type, with a rather complex political organization, in comparison with which the Russian imperial system was primitive and barbaric. The Russian soldiers and officers who invaded Circassia, these “ethnographers” with buckshot instead of a notebook, saw only burning, detached wretched huts and drew far-reaching conclusions from this fact. Here’s how Venyukov did it:
“… scattered among the local mountains, along the valleys and slopes, in small auls, or even separate sakles made of wattle fence coated with clay or planks and logs, the dwellings of the mountaineers by their very location proved that individual family life is highly developed here, but no public, and even more so the state … the highlanders … were not able, on their own, to form correct civil societies … they did not have permanent leaders … That’s why Count Evdokimov, giving justice to their courage, their chivalrous honesty … in some cases he called them rams, and even those with which the shepherd would have a lot of trouble. That is why he drove them to Turkey. “
Elsewhere, where Circassian chivalry is spoken of, Venyukov has another observation that is very important for us. This is “honest keeping of the terms of the armistice” by the Circassians. These words of Venyukov contain the whole tragedy of the collision of the Circassian politicians and the Circassian political organization with imperial, despotic structures. Circassians are chivalrously honest – and therefore they are “rams”. But these are very strange rams – they do not want to have a man as a shepherd, but instead of a shepherd they have a common and one law for all.
These strange rams are proficient in oratory, strive to follow and fulfill the concluded agreements, passionately trying to force Russia to conclude a peace treaty with their pitiful “raids”. Fools and rams with a knightly culture, the Circassians did not seem to understand that the word given to “rams”, “savages” was nothing for the empire – it was just a tactical move, a trick, just one more knot in the web of slavery with which they entangled Circassia. What can you do with the people, who saw, felt and realized all this so clearly? What to do with such a people who clearly saw the difference between law and arbitrariness? How can such a people become part of a people for whom law and arbitrariness are one and the same? The fate of such a strange and savage people is extermination, genocide and exile.
The power in the Circassian polities was truly democratic, that is, the power of the temporary majority – today you are a leader, and you are supported by the majority, but one mistake, a bad, unsuccessful speech, a false or incorrectly spoken word, a bad act, cowardice, deception or crime – and a leader, the ruler ceases to influence the minds of people. Circassian politics is the eternal struggle of numerous parties, groupings, forces and their leaders-orators. And this is a sign of a civilized, complex, not primitive society.
Primitive societies are united and content with satiety and peace under the rule of one single and eternal mute leader. Such primitive societies respect only strength, are held together by servility and servility to the father-ruler, and all subjects are children, that is, mentally retarded and infantile, who do not have their own property, will, reason, interests and goals.
The problem of the Circassian society, as the conquerors saw it, was not that the Circassians did not have leaders, but that, according to Venyukov, they did not have “permanent leaders” – everything changed very quickly in Circassian politics. So, in the Crimean War, when Russia stopped its ever-troubling raids, abductions and sale of people into slavery, cattle thefts, burning of crops and settlements, the war party lost its support and support – and the Circassians stopped their campaigns for the Kuban, everything calmed down on the line. And the reason for this – not the lack of strategic thinking – the Circassians hoped, as at the beginning of the war, for a peace treaty, the conclusion of an “eternal peace”, the ideas of which were voiced on behalf of all Circassians by Haji Berzek at a meeting with the Russian tsar in 1861.
The Circassian policy is not an invention and not my fantasy. Suddenly, after a long reading of various sources, a single, holistic picture began to take shape. How could it be possible not to see this in the Circassian culture, not to catch it, not to feel it? Not to see that the political Circassian sphere, as well as in the Greek one, is “a continuously lasting scene … arising from a sociable complicity in words and deeds …” (Hannah Arendt). That the Circassian polis was also not strictly territorially and geographically localized – it represented the “organizational structure” of the population of Beslaney, Janet, Shapsugia, etc., as it develops “in mutual action and speaking.”
Barbarians see the state in palaces and columns, blue uniforms and gauntlets, artillery and general arrogance, taxes and fines … But the whole point is how people “mutually act and speak.” Circassian politics is an arena of valor, glory, self-sacrifice in speeches, deeds, deeds in the name of the common good – on the battlefield, in court, at a national assembly, lawmaking, peace negotiations with other nations. The Circassian public, political space was a living reality. But now it is only a dream, which has become a consequence of the ever-increasing degradation and withering of the Circassian culture. This degradation has reached such a degree that for many Circassians it is a nightmare dream. They repeat over and over again – the Circassians were not united, looking at their people through the eyes of a people-conqueror, people-empire; looking at their people in the past as a bunch of some fools who could not understand the most primitive idea, still understandable to Neanderthals – “in order to win, the people must be one.” How many such clever, arrogant and arrogant modern Circassians do we still have to observe?