Russia: An Introduction

So, the shit storm settled and I have emerged from it with the intention of getting back on the horse. And as I was doing before my little hiatus, I intend to put a spotlight on alternative mythologies for the sake of expanding the fantasy genre. After having dealt with some ideas out of East Asia and South Asia, I turn towards North Asia, where I find… a bunch of white people.

Ah, Russia, the drunk uncle in the Caucasian family. There’s a lot of things about the Russian people that we don’t really understand in the west. From the moment you cross the Slavic countries in Eastern Europe you will find quite quickly that people stop understanding what the fuck is going on in Russia. But that won’t stop us from doing a ceremonial war dance across from them like Kirk and Spock going after some Vulcan booty.

So when faced with the prospect of covering the culture of Russia, I decided they really deserved to have every post this week devoted to them. Because, come on, have you seen their dash-cam footage? These people are fascinating. So may I now present you with…

Russia: An Introduction

Not long ago, during the early onset of our current Russia-Ukraine issue, I heard an analyst describe Russia as being a place where there had never been an “enlightenment” and that they had been stuck in an undeveloped cultural state for longer than the rest of the world. The idea was that the Russians had never been exposed to outside influences and had never had that mind-opening worldly experience that other countries have had.

This is bullshit.

The truth is that Russia is the other side of the coin for western development in almost every way possible. They’ve absorbed a great deal of cultural influence over their development just as every other country has and they decided to turn left every time everyone else turned right. When the great schism divided Christianity, the Russians chose Orthodoxy over Catholicism. When everyone else went capitalist, they went communist. When everyone worked towards peaceful coexistence within greater financial alliances, they elected a bond villain.
Pictured: A ruthless killing machine… and a fluffy leopard!

This is due to a long, rich history of Russians forming one true mentality among their people: “Fuck it, we’re Russian”.

The Beginning

To truly understand the Russian people you first have to understand where they come from. During the 9th century a nation formed from the East Slavs by the name of Kievan Rus’. This nation was ruled from the city of Kiev (which some of you may recognize is currently in Ukraine) and was essentially what happens when Eastern Slavs came in contact with migrating Varangians of the Scandinavian regions. In other words, the “Rus” people of Kievan Rus were the results of the Slavs being crossed with Vikings. And as anyone with any passing knowledge of history knows: whenever you cross breed any regular group of people with Vikings, the results tend to be soaked in blood and alcohol.
And whatever this guy had.

Kievan Rus was relatively stable, besides some splintering of their power in the early 13th century, before encountering something no other part of Europe had to face: Mongols. You see, despite being the offspring of barbarians themselves, the Rus people weren’t exactly prepared for the hordes to the east. Any scholar will tell you that a great deal of cultural, political and societal changes that started in the 13th century (and still felt today) were driven by one very important detail: You do not fuck with Genghis Khan.

During his lifetime, Khan accomplished a lot: he unified the Mongols, conquered the biggest empire anyone had ever seen, and killed enough people to change the weather. But for the sake of this story we’ll focus on when he did something no one else has really done in history: he made the Russians his bitch.  Though he died before the two decade long invasion was complete, by the time his heir and his army were done with the region, Kievan Rus ceased to exist and half of the Rus population died from complications of screaming Asian men.

Out of the dust, Kievan Rus divided into three separate entities: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The Russians formed a new Duchy in Moscow under the control of the Mongols and Tartars and went about continuing to do that surviving thing that was all the rage at the time. During the reign of this Duchy they were faced with frequent attacks by their Mongol overlords, a miniature ice age, and repeated bouts of a pesky thing called the plague roughly once every six years. If iron is forged in fire and quenched in water, Russia was forged in shit, plagues, and Mongols before being quenched in Vodka.

The Result

By the time that the Russian Empire officially came into existence they had been saturated in just about everything the Eurasian continents had to offer. They’d had sex with Vikings, survived being invaded by Mongols, had refugees come to them from the Byzantine Empire, and experienced a mini ice age. The cultural mixture was probably one of the biggest melting pots possible, even having their own version of Thor and, in accordance with the forming philosophy of “fuck it, we’re Russian”, a wizard who found immortality by kidnapping the goddess of death after hiding his soul in an egg.
Even Voldemort didn’t think of that one.

The growing consensus of “fuck it, we’re Russian” was understandable. After all, if the plague, Mongols, and Mother Nature can’t end your civilization – what can? This was something most of us in the modern world weren’t even aware of until we discovered a plethora of dash-cam videos coming out of the country that showed us the world going insane as Russians casually and calmly continued driving through it. Even as a meteor streaked across the heavens and exploded over one of their cities they didn’t make so much as a peep on the videos. For most people this would be a time to crap your pants, but for the Russians seeing the heavens rain down fire and death was simply “inconvenient”.

And the thing is, that image right there is a hoax. It’s only a believable hoax because the sheer lack of fucks to give in all of the confirmed videos has led us to believe that this was almost exactly what happened in at least 90% of the cars that saw that shit.

But here’s something to really blow your mind: those dash-cams were installed for “insurance purposes”. This is something that is done by store owners and people who imagine someone is going to be injured on their property. That means so much shit goes down for the average Russian driver that the only reasonable solution was to make sure they got all of it on tape just so they can be sure they don’t get sued.

And that’s the only fuck they truly give: you cover your bases. Christopher Titus once said that people from dysfunctional families are better equipped to deal with things going down because they could see the shit about to hit the fan and step out of the way. Russia is an entire country of these people because, once again: frozen shit, Mongols, Vodka.

Foreign Relations

Of course, the big thing about the Russian culture is that they’ve officially had enough of everyone’s crap. Through their formative years they were exposed to influences from the North, South, East and West in spades. And the thing they learned most was that everyone sucks. So once they had an empire of their own, they grew to have a love-hate relationship with… everyone.
I believe some of them wanted to call it the “diplomat”

And during this time they started to see every decision their neighbors made and decided collectively they wanted to go the other direction. Eventually this resulted in the decision to overthrow their government and go communist because, “hey, what could go wrong? Fuck it, we’re Russian.”

Turns out, a lot could go wrong and eventually Joseph Stalin was in charge. This wound up fairly bad for everyone involved. However, it prepared Russia to do something that brought them center stage in global events: World War 2. You see, when you take the Viking-blooded Slavic survivors of everything Eurasia could offer, you end up with someone with a grand sense of “fuck it all” and a talent at not dying. This was incredibly useful at the time since the Nazis were fairly good at killing things. The Russians were perfect for an all-out global conflict and the stories of how little a fuck they gave will echo on throughout time.

Hell, one of the first female tank drivers in the world was a Soviet tank driver. How did she end up being the first? She bought the tank herself after her husband died and donated it to the army on the condition she could be the one to drive it. In order to get revenge, she sold all of her possessions to buy the thing and then turned around and strong-armed the infamous Soviet army with the only thing one could use as leverage in WW2: a tank.

So the irresistible force met the immovable object and they butted heads for a while. But before long, as George RR Martin has been threatening for years, winter came and a lot of people died – more than the rest of the fronts combined, in fact. Millions of people died on the Eastern Front as the Germans desperately tried to slog through snow, ice, and every Russian Joseph Stalin felt could carry a gun. To this day it’s surprising that the German word for “stupid” doesn’t also mean “Russian ground war in the winter”. And the surviving Russians, for their part, semi-comfortably shattered the Germans into ice cubes via sniper rifle.

As the Russians stood over the smoldering remains of Berlin, they soon made eye contact with their soul-mate: America. And the confused feelings that stirred in both countries resulted in 50 years of test fires of nuclear bombs in an attempt to make a mushroom cloud that looked like a heart. The Russians, full of insecurities, continually made the effort to make sure their bomb was bigger – eventually culminating in the Tsar Bomba, an attempt to make a heart shape that could be seen from space.
They still only ever came out looking like mushrooms and mile-high dicks.

During this time, the Germans, still punch drunk and confused about what all just happened, managed to hit the Russian nail on the head with a disco group that decided to sing about Russia while one of them dressed like Genghis Khan.

I really could have just shown the video and called it a day.
(I write books. I am not Russian though, so there is a little bit of hope in them.)

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