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Lev Gumilev 

Lev Gumilev

"Ethnogenesis and the Biosphere"








in which an attempt is made to explain the described phenomenon of ethnogenesis by comparing the data of allied and related sciences. In contrast to the foregoing, this part of the book is hypothetical, but any other explanation will not affect the description of the character of ethnogenesis given above


The Field in a System


Ethnocoenosis. Up to now, while ethnographers have built classifications by type indicators, namely, language, somatic traits (races), mode of carrying on the economy, religions, levels and characteristics of technique, the gap between superethnoi and ethnoi has seemed unfillable. But as soon as we draw attention to the systems links, it disappears. The place of descriptive ethnography is being taken by ethnic history, which records both the stable relationships between the varied elements of a superethnic system and its interaction with neighbouring systems. And then it turns out that what were considered abstractions, do really and ponderably exist. So, then, terms like 'Hellenic culture' (including Roman possessions), 'the Muslim world', 'European civilization', which has spread to other continents, 'the Middle Empire' (China is ethnically an extremely mosaic country), or 'Eurasian nomad culture' (Turks and Mongols) are not simply words but technically materialized and socially formed designations for ethnic entities of an order higher than those accessible to observer ethnographers.

In the period preceding the origin of writing, ethnic entities of this order obviously arose no less frequently and passed through the same phases of development, leaving after them memorials of flint chippings, middens, and shards of ceramic vessels, and some-times also being preserved as 'tribes' in inaccessible jungles or on separate islands.

But if that is so, then many isolated peoples, considered to be at 'early' stages of civilization, with an extremely low level of technique, are the final and not the initial phases of ethnogenesis. Such, for example, are the pygmies of the tropical forests of Africa, the aborigines of Australia, the palaeoasiatic ethnoi of Siberia, the Tierra del Fuegans, and the mountain people of the Pamirs. The degree of adaptation to the natural conditions is so high that it enables them to maintain their existence as part of the biocoenosis, without resorting to improvement of tools and weapons. But this system of relationships with natural and ethnic surroundings puts a limitation on growth of population. That is particularly noticeable in New Guinea where the Papuan youth, until recently, was not given the right to have a child until he had brought in the head of a man from a neighbouring tribe, having learned his name, because the number of names was strictly limited. In that way the Papuans maintained their balance with the natural resources of the area they inhabited. That was drive close to the zero level. In other respects they do not yield place to dynamic peoples.

Persistent ethnoi as a rule constitute a stable system that includes besides the total human stock, a certain number of elements of living nature and technically organized inert matter. This means that the ethnocoenosis (as I call the complex set I have described) includes, along with people, certain domestic animals, cultivated plants, and things as objects of use. The Eskimos are inconceivable without dogs, igloos, and kayaks, even when they attach internal combustion outboard motors to them. The Tungus are associated with reindeer and sled-dogs, Arabs with camels, Pueblo Indians with corncobs, and so on. If the disturbance or breach of ethnocoenosis is not great, it only deforms an ethnos, but if it is great it destroys it.

Sometimes, but far from always, disruption of ethnocoenosis causes the extinction of an ethnos and, along with it, of animals and plants associated with it. Often only the system is destroyed, while the components become part of other ethnoi and ethnocoenoses. But it also happens that with complete extinction of an ethnos, and disruption, of the ethnocoenosis, a recurrence of ethnogeneses continues to be observed, with certain deviations from the original type. That is called the succession of culture. The rhythms of Roman culture, for instance, continued to be felt throughout Europe for many centuries after disappearance of the Roman ethnos and after the Roman Empire perished. But if that is so, then we come up against the concept of ethnic inertia. But inertia is a physical phenomenon. And besides, how can there be inertia of a body that has ceased to exist? Something is obviously missing in my analysis, which means I must introduce a new concept. Anticipating the course of my thought, I say directly that an ethnic field exists in nature, like the known electromagnetic,' gravitational, and other fields, but! at the same time different from them. It is not manifested in the individual reactions of separate people but rather in the group psychology that affects the person.


Ethnic field. The principle of the field is realized universally in the life of the individual and of the species, in all its manifestations and in all its stages. But it is not hard to note that these manifestations themselves fall into two categories. One embraces the processes of the species' development, i.e. the transition of latent (potential) forms of its existence to developed (actual) ones. The other consists (a) in the behaviour of the elements of the organic whole (individual, colony, species), which ensures its existence, its wholeness (living unity), as such, and (b) in preservation of its form. In both these cases there is coordinated action of numerous elements of the whole, i.e. the principle of the field is manifested. But its object (individual) takes shape during development, i.e. it changes continuously both morphologically and physiologically. In accordance with that the field of development (the embryonic or morphological field) is also distinguished by dynamicity. Any field of a developing organ or young developing individual differs at any given moment from what it was the moment before. In opposition to that, the field regulates the behaviour of the elements of the organic formation, ensuring preservation of its wholeness, a relatively static behaviour that underlies the type of the given group. Clearly, however, the unity proper to the highest taxonomic groups is also extended to other aspects of their being. For us this unity is not only displayed through form but is also manifested through the behaviour of these groups in the evolutionary process in which they are involved, each as something whole and united. The existence of laws and patterns of the evolutionary process common not only to most organisms, but that are also characteristic for separate groups, testifies to this quite convincingly.

We can conclude, from the fact of the wholeness and the unity of groups, expressed in the unity of their structure and behaviour in the evolutionary process, that there are fields that govern and coordinate this process. One can call these fields phylogenetic. Since the type of a group is its fullest characteristic, we can see the essence of the evolutionary process in the evolution of types of groups. The concept of type, moreover, gets a dynamic meaning although it is still employed in a static sense.1

The studies of history, ethnography, and even of psychology thus enabled us to return to nature study in the full sense of the word. Since people are part of Earth's biosphere they cannot avoid the effect of biochemical processes that affect their subconsciousness or the sphere of the emotions. And emotions, no less than consciousness, push people to actions that are integrated into ethnogenic and relief-shaped processes. As a result, a generation with drive arises that loses the inertia of drive because of the resistance of the environment and passes into a relict state of ethno-relief equilibrium that may be disturbed by a new drive impulse, i.e. by a micro-mutation.

Supraindividual behaviour is most distinctly displayed in the collective actions of social animals. In human society the actions of the group are determined by an aim consciously set by the group or by its leader. Being guided by this aim and having definite plan to achieve it, people build towns, develop various branches of the economy, allocate the means obtained for living, and so on. Social insects also build a common dwelling for the whole colony, jointly gather and distribute food, bring up progeny, and so on.

The essence of the supraindividual behaviour of animals has not yet had adequate scientific treatment. It is often called instinctive. But what does that epithet explain? The theory of natural selection provides an answer to the origin of instincts and to the origin of all the properties in general of organisms. But (1) the explanation of these phenomena from the standpoint of this theory is as little convincing as its explanation of the whole process of evolution; and (2) knowledge of the origin of any phenomenon is not in itself sufficient for understanding its essence. And I, too, will not attempt to define precisely the nature of supraindividual behaviour and to answer what is the origin of instincts. It is possible, at the present time, that we not only do not have the factual data necessary for that, but even have not developed the concepts themselves with which it is necessary to operate in this field. But that win not pre-vent me from gathering facts relating to it, classifying them, noting the observed patterns, and trying to interpret them, starting from the general principles I have adopted.

In applying the principle of field to all the phenomena of an individual's and species' life, we concretely imagine the objects of the field's action, The reality of the individual is directly obvious to absolutely everybody. The reality of the species is not perceived so directly. But it is also unconsciously employed not just by biologists, since the concepts designating species, such as dog, crow, adder, bream, are common in everyday life.

A species manifested itself as reality through its unity. But for anyone who is concerned with systematics it is obvious that not only species but also ethnoi are realities – through historical unity, and community of historical fate or destiny.


The rhythms of ethnic fields. The conception of the role of an ethnic field is set out here in such detail because, when transferred to ethnology, it solves the most complicated problems.

We must agree on the meaning of the terms I am using. Even if they do not accord in details with those adopted in contiguous sciences, they explain to the reader ideas needed to understand what follows. Let us say that a field is a continuation of the body beyond its visible limits and consequently that the body is that part of the field in which the fines of force are so dense that they are perceived by our sense organs. It is now established that fields are in constant oscillatory motion from one frequency to another. These frequencies, i.e. 'vibrating stimuli', G.I. Akinshchikova writes,

have the peculiarity that they am transmitted unhindered from one medium to another and haw a common character of dissemination in solid, liquid, and gaseous media. Vibrations in the air medium in the 16 to 20 000 Hz band am perceived by man as sound stimuli. There are no special receptor organs in the organism for perceiving vibration itself.2

 She cites further data about the regime of normal vibrations for the internal organs and about neurological and physiological disturbances caused by the prolonged effect of vibrations on the organism. Among the vibrations affecting man are fluctuations of the activity of organs-diurnal, monthly, yearly, and long-term ones brought about by the influence of the sun, moon, changes in the geomagnetic field, and other effects of the external environment.3

That observation alone is sufficient to interpret all the assembled ethnological material. Only, it will be necessary to take the ethnic system as the standard of investigation, i.e. to pass from the organismal to the population level.

It is clear, starting from the data adduced, that the definite frequency of vibrations to which a system (in our case the ethnic system) has been able to adapt itself is the optimum one for it, on the one hand, and-on the other hand is without perspective since there is nowhere and no reason to develop it.

But these rhythms are disturbed by impulses from time to time (in our case by impulses of drive), and the system, reconstructed again, strives for a blissful equilibrium, discarding elements that interfere with this process. At the level of an ethnos an odd combination is thus observed of rhythms and excesses, bliss and creation, the latter always being agonizing.

And yet, when speaking of outbursts of ethnogeneses in various regions, I have rejected the rhythmicity of these phenomena not from general philosophical considerations but simply because the hypothesis of rhythmicity is contradicted by the observations. But fluctuations of an ethnic field (as I shall call it for convenience of exposition) with one frequency or another may be equated with a rhythm whose intensity changes during the course of ethnogenesis. Let me try to explain this by an example. A string (or tuning fork) begins to sound after being plucked (or struck), but its vibrations gradually weaken and the sound dies away. But if it is plucked again, with different force, it will sound again but louder or softer. And since there are no literal coincidences, and in nature not a single string but a huge orchestra and an acoustic hall, all ethnic fields are, dissimilar, although governed by one law, namely, damping of the original impulse arising as a consequence of excess (micro-mutation). This explanation, even if one considers it unproven (inductively), is confirmed by its explaining all the known facts, which is recognized in the natural sciences as necessary and sufficient.

We perceive the ethnic field described (or a phenomenon equivalent to it) as ethnic proximity or nearness, or, on the contrary, as strangeness or foreignness. The principle, characteristic for all ethnoi - the opposing of itself to all others ('we' and 'not we') - that is manifested in direct sensation, can be interpreted simply from the point of view proposed. When the bearer of one rhythm meets the bearer of another, the new rhythm is perceived as something strange or alien, being out of tune with the rhythm that is organically inherent in the ethnos. The new rhythm may be liked, but the dissimilarity is registered by the individual's consciousness as a fact that has no explanation, but about which there is no doubt. And the rhythms of an ethnic field are manifested in stereotypes of behaviour, inimitable, as I have already said.

Obviously it is' due to the existence of an ethnic field that ethnoi broken up by historical fate and subjected to the effect of different cultures do not fall to pieces. They can even regenerate if the causes disturbing the original rhythm of the ethnic field are removed.

From that, too, stems an explanation of the phenomenon of nostalgia. A person thrown into an environment of strangers, even though they are likeable people, feels a strange awkwardness and melancholy. But these feelings weaken when he finds fellow-countrymen, and disappear on returning home. Neither climatic conditions nor the presence of comforts has any significance in that connection.

  The interpretation proposed removes doubts about the primacy of perception of ethnos. Since a biophysical phenomenon underlies ethnic community, it is stupid to consider it a derivative of social, ecological, linguistic, ideological, and other factors.

Now I can answer why newborn children are 'unnational', i.e. unethnic. The ethnic field, i.e. the ethnos as such, is not in the bodies of mother and child, but between them. The fetus is surrounded by a bio-field, but the child, which establishes a link with its mother with its first cry and first swallow of milk, enters her ethnic field, i.e. a modified one that is then shaped by communion with the father, relatives, other children, and the whole people. But the field is weak at the beginning of life, and if the child is put into another ethnic environment, its field will be reconstructed, but not its temperament, capacities, and possibilities. This will be perceived as a change of ethnic membership, which happens relatively painlessly in childhood.

These considerations are strengthened by the data of psychology and pedagogy. A person's personality is moulded during the first three to five years of his life. According to Anton Makarenko, the Soviet educationalist, a child not correctly or properly brought up before five will require re-education. Another Soviet scholar, L.A. Orbeli, created 'an experimentally substantiated theory of the maturing of unconditioned reflexes even after a child's birth under the influence of the environment' .4 And alienation of a child under three from its mother, or rather from the person who is not so much flourishing as tender, attentive, and good, is very dangerous. Such separation often leads to a lowering of intellect, anomalies of social behaviour, heightened vulnerability, and aggressiveness. Clearly, it is not the gene apparatus that operates here but the bio-field arising through communion -the highest form of mental activity. What I have said is true not only of the person but also of the system of a higher order, ethnoi.


The ethnic field and ethnogenesis. Above I explained only two aspects of the origin of ethnoi: the path of splitting and the path of merging. But the main point of all – the element of creative becoming rather than the rearrangement of what is formed – demands attention. I have noted that the commencement of ethnogenesis al-ways coincides with a flaring of drive. To employ a metaphor, one can say that the reaction of synthesis only takes place at a high energy intensity, when the original components, the ethnic substrata, instantaneously lose their structure and are crystallized anew in hitherto unprecedented combinations.

  I have established such periods of incandescence in the second century A.D., when the Byzantine entity, was created, and in the eighth century, when the Muslim superethnos and the Tibetan and North Chinese ethnoi were simultaneously formed, in the ninth century with the formation of the European mediaeval nations, in the twelfth century with the birth of the Mongol and Jurchen ethnoi and in the fourteenth century when the Great Russians appeared. Each emergence was seemingly preceded by an incubation period, but it is impossible to disclose and describe it by study of manifest history. But having established the pattern, I can rightly draw the logical conclusion that not only did the recorded historical ethnoi arise in that way, but also those ancient ones that are preserved as relicts or are only mentioned in ancient sources.

It should be remembered that the history of mankind is not evenly illuminated. But if the dynamic processes of the ethnogenesis of Palaeoasiatics, Patagonians, Melanesians, or the Khoi-khoin are not known to us, there are no grounds for considering that they did not have an acme phase. On the contrary, one can suppose, from the pattern I have established, that all ethnoi have had their heroic age and their flowering. But cruel time has blotted out the memory of those epochs, because the traditional historical method is powerless where tradition has been interrupted and broken off, and there: is no deciphered writing. So we are limited by what it is possible, necessary, and for my purposes sufficient to do.

It is impossible to explain these phenomena, and a host of similar ones, from a premise of purposive behaviour and, consequently, of the existence of conscious choice of their fate. Here we come up against subconscious, elemental, spontaneous processes, that determine the behaviour of ethnic masses (statistically, of course). The rhythm of the 'fields' of the Chinese and nomad superethnoi differed so that friendly contact between them, even when dictated by political considerations, was never firm and long. And that was no accident.

When a rhythm is combined with others either harmony or discord can theoretically result. In the first case an ethnic merging occurs, in the second the rhythm of one or both fields is broken, which weakens the links and leads to a kind of annihilation.

But when there is an impulse or explosion of drive, the fields weakened by mutual rivalry lose their inherent rhythms and acquire a new one previously not theirs. The character of the new field depends on the force of the impulse (mutation), on the topographical conditions of the region, on the genetic code of the populations in the region, on the level of social development, on the stability of the cultural traditions, and on the ethnic surroundings, either inert or sharply hostile. Many more determinant moments can be counted, but here I shall not briefly and hastily describe the impulses of drive and their consequences, because it is better to do that separately. Ethnogenesis is initially a strengthening, usually not very long, and then a gradual fading of the fluctuating motion, while ethnic contacts are interference of the vibrations of ethnic fields. And all ethnic history consists of take-offs and falls.

So, ethnogenesis is a natural process of the biosphere that is one of the components of ethnic history and proceeds together with three constantly operating factors: (1) the social, because people have always established a certain order of relationships in their collective; (2) the technical, because there is not, and has not been, a man without tools; (3) the geographical, because the means of existence are derived from surrounding nature; and since Earth's relief and topography are varied, the ecosystems, including people, are also diverse. These three parameters are sufficient to characterize any homeostatic ethnos, but the dynamics of ethnogenesis depends on a fourth, viz. the impulse of drive that sometimes arises on certain sectors of the earth's surface, and that generates not a single ethnos but a group of ethnoi, called superethnos, i.e. a sys-tem in which the ethnoi are blocks, links, and subsystems.


The nature of a superethnos. But still, what determines the closeness of the members of a superethnic system to each other? Why are they capable of joining each other in creative bonds and cannot ex-tend them beyond invisible limits into the area of another superethnos? As we have seen, the disparity between different superethnoi is so great that forced combining of them leads to demographic annihilation. In other words, despite the fact that the French knights had been inspired by the morals of the Arabs, by the erudition of the Greeks, by the courage of the Celts or the Lithuanians, and by the indomitable energy of Polovtsy, only ethnic ruins have arisen in the regions of contact. Figuratively speaking, if two massive solids create friction during contact, then dust will be scattered -around that it is already impossible to return to the former crystalline state. The processes of destruction during contacts at superethnic level are irreversible.

But, for instance, there is also a diversity within a superethnos of (1) socio-economic Structures, (2) races of first or second order, (3) languages, (4) customs and ceremonies, (5) religions. Let us dwell on all these partial attributes and characteristics consecutively, because a desire to take one external attribute or another for the deep essence of the phenomenon constantly arises.

The 'Christian world' at the end of the twelfth century employed many languages, French, Provencal, Castilian, Galician (the same as Portuguese), Basque, Breton, Tuscan, Neapolitan (there was no common Italian language), Saxon in Southern England and Norwegian in Northern England, various German dialects, Danish, Swedish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, and Latin. Even in a big duchy or small kingdom there lived people with different mother tongues, but that did not prevent their communicating with one another. They learned the languages of their neighbours, or employed Latin as the language of culture and religion.

In the 'Muslim world', too, Arabic, Persian, Turkish dialects, Syrian, and Kurdish were used. In Byzantium, even in Constantinople alone, they spoke Greek, Armenian, Slavonic, and Isaurian, and tried to write in Old Greek.5

The conclusion from that is unequivocal; as we have already seen, language is not an ethnic attribute and different languages consequently do not prevent mutual intercourse.

It is stupid to speak of a single economic structure of the super-ethnos of the twelfth century because most of the population lived a subsistence existence and contacts with neighbours, were consequently not needed. The liveliest economic relations took place on the peripheries, precisely where mutual annihilation took place. Economic life was quite intensive in the towns, but an unfavorable growth of population was taking place in them. In congested and unhygienic conditions any infection mowed down the mediaeval burgher, but the town was again repopulated by arrivals from the countryside.

The races comprising superethnoi were very different and their combinations haphazard. In the Crusades blue-eyed blondes from Normandy and Saxony, green-eyed, auburn-haired men from Burgundy, lean black-eyed Provencals, long-nosed Italians (descendants of Syrians settled in Lombardy already under the Roman Empire), and Spaniards who could not always be distinguished from Arabs, equally participated.

Among the Muslim troops could be met, side by side, Turkomans and Sudanese Negroes, Hamites from the gorges of the Atlas, and Kurds from the slopes of Ararat. And the Arabs themselves, with splendid Bedouin genealogies, had as mothers or grand-mothers Georgians, Greeks, Italians, Sogdians, Indians, Circassians, and Abyssinians. The racial composition only proved the scale of the conquests and by no means the anthropological monolithic character of the superethnos.

There was also no similarity of cultures or 'information communications'. That was prevented in part by social barriers and the character of activity and also, to no little extent, by territorial isolation. A-boy being trained as knight or esquire had to be exercised in fencing and riding from six years old, otherwise he would be killed in the first battle; one wanting to become a priest crammed Latin; an apprentice toiled over a fabric or a potter's wheel; the peasant boy herded cows and pruned vines. All were so occupied with their own affairs that they never chattered with one another. And their professional interests were so different that the need for 'information communications' was insignificant. And though Northumberland was raided by Scots, the inhabitants of Kent or, even more so, of Bordeaux did not care about that, even though the king of both was the same. And the Caliphate broke up into territorial emirates with ease, surprising the Arab themselves, although the link between the scholars of these sovereign states was not broken. But is it that theology and philosophy determine the commonality of an ethnos?

Besides it is only worth having a chat when different opinions are met. But then debate and bickering arise. Such was the dispute of Bernard of Clairvaux and the Cluny monks against Abelard and the Paris students. But that did not undermine the wholeness of the Christian world.

Bernard was able to get the Catholic Church purged of illiterate priests and profligate bishops, and recruited two kings for the Crusade (the French king Louis VII and the German king Conrad III).

Abelard gave the Catholic Church a philosophical system, conceptualism, a Pope (Celestine II), a heresiarch (Arnold of Brescia), 19 cardinals, and 50 bishops. When excommunicated he retired to the monastery of his opponents, Cluny, where he died in 1142, reconciled with his persecutors. So what should be considered a 'node of communications'? A quarrel right to the stake, or silent, tacit agreement in the face of force? Or simply that information links are not a factor of ethnogenesis but an indicator of separate aspects.

Even more terrible was the discussion raised in North Africa in the same twelfth century by the Berber theologian Ibn Tumart against the Tuareg marabouts (hermits) about the 'unity of god'. These simple-hearted, ignorant people understood the likeness of God to man literally, in the sense that God had hands, a face, and so on. Ibn Tumart began to spread a version that quite suited him: 'His (Allah's) hand is a hand of some quality and his visage a visage of some quality, for example hearing, sight', but what those hands were was in fact beyond human understanding.6 This would seem the right moment to establish communication information; but no, the champions of  'unity', the Almohads, slaughtered the 'polytheists', the Almoravids. The theological disagreement, hardly intelligible to anyone, can scarcely be considered the cause of the bloodshed. The Berbers were simply fighting the Tuaregs as, incidentally, it is accepted to consider.

The dispute about the divine attributes did not die out in Muslim theology for a thousand years, but it did not always lead to bloody consequences. On the contrary, regular, destructive wars arose, and Were waged under other slogans, for example in defense of the right of the descendants of Ali and Fatima to exercise the duties of the Caliph. It is consequently not a matter here of scholarly formulations but rather of something else that must be sought out.

But if we discard all the apparent causes of the monomorphism of superethnoi then how can we explain the uniformity of the processes of ethnogenesis given the mutual dissimilarities of the systems? There must obviously be an invariant factor.

And there is. Let me describe it as follows: the constellation of the energy relations of space and time that deform the ethnic substrata of a region. Now let me explain what that means.

Imagine a wide tray with an uneven bottom, on one edge of which balls, of different size and weight are strewn in a row. Let us touch this row with a narrow trowel. The balls touched will roll away with various speed and the rest will stay out. The rolling ones will gradually stop and assume a new imaginary shape. If we touch the balls in another place, the figure will be different because of the dissimilarity of the mass of the balls, their inertia, and the uneven-ness of the surface on which they are moving. But the new figure, too, will be the consequence of the shove.

Now let me translate the example into reality. The impulse of drive (micro-mutation) embraces a certain region and sets the ethnoi living there into motion, which dies out through loss of drive. When the movement begins new systems arise, in relation to which the old ethnoi play the role of substrata. All the ethnoi of the region affected by the impulse will change their relation with the terrain that feeds them and with their ethnic surroundings (neighbors), which will create an apparent diversity. But since they have all received one and the same impulse, they will display features of similarity (moving in one direction). That will unite them in a superethnos.

But can we compare a superethnos with a 'cultural sphere', or an ideological conception arising simultaneously with the impulse of drive? The idea suggests itself, but it is a temptation. Conceptions, philosophemes, aesthetic canons, ethical standards, and so on, are not phenomena of nature but the work of human minds. Like things made by human hands, these values (called 'spiritual') are either preserved or destroyed by remorseless time. And al-though they are spread by preachers and prophets far faster than the ethnoi that created them migrate, it is inevitable that they will be deformed on new soil. Two examples should suffice.

By the fifth century A.D. the Christian doctrine had spread from India to Ireland and from the Caucasus to Ethiopia inclusive. And everywhere it triumphed, but - the similarity achieved by heroic deeds and martyred preachers was limited by dogma, by the details of the divine service, and by migrant literary subjects like the leg-end of the Holy Grail. And this closeness was only a moment at the peak of drive; then everything happened haphazardly. Egypt, striving for spiritual independence, became Monophysite. Nestorians arrived in Mesopotamia under the protection of the Iranian Shah. Rome itself, heading the new superethnos, went its own way. And in Arabia Islam united in itself all the heresies persecuted in Byzantium and successfully synthesized them in a creed that became a symbol of the self-assertion of the Arabs. Cultural continuity there was, but the natural process flowed past it, washing away all the dams erected by people.

The fate of the Buddhist preaching was similar. This doctrine disappeared in its homeland, Bengal, but took on such different forms in Ceylon, Japan, China, Tibet, Siam, and Mongolia, that even the dogmatic basis was lost; only the terminology and name of the Buddha, Shakyamuni, was preserved. This man, incidentally, is also esteemed by Christians as St. Joasaph. Once again, as in the legend of the Holy Grail, cultural influence does not signify ethnic closeness.

The invariant of the superethnos thus lies in the sphere of geography and is determined by the combination of the drive impulse and the topographical peculiarities of the region. If the impulse affected two, three, or four regions separated by geographical barriers, then a corresponding number of superethnoi would develop, unconnected with one another. But these superethnoi, being of identical age, would develop synchronously in contrast to others appearing sooner or later. The collisions I have described, and ones like them, would occur.

The substrata for a new ethnos are also neighboring ethnoi unaffected by the drive impulse. The ethnic surroundings always influence the character of ethnogenesis in any phase, with the exception of homeostasis. Each new ethnos is consequently a by-product as regards the preceding ethnoi on its territory and existing around it. On the other hand, the advent of a new ethnos inevitably lays its mark on neighboring ethnoi -and their development, even when this development is not broken by the activity of the newly appearing ethnos. The mechanism of ethnic development is complex, but its principle should be clear.

No, it is not only benefits and material goods that form people's stereotype of behavior. Their love and hatred are largely connected with the subconscious elemental psyche, so that the words 'mine' and 'theirs' are not abstract concepts but a sensation of really existing ethnic fields and rhythms. That is why ethnoi and their aggregates - superethnoi - exist for a thousand years and do not fall apart, like a house of cards, from chance puffs of wind or upheavals. But when drive disappears, i.e. the force vibrating the ethnic field, the symphony dies away and the ethnos (or superethnos) collapses of its own weight.


Chimeras. It often happens that ethnoi grow into and through each other. Within a superethnos that does not provoke tragic consequences, but at superethnic level such metastases create chimeric compositions 7 that lead to death. The mechanism of the process looks as follows in outline.

The superethnic system arising in consequence of an impulse is closely linked with the nature of its region. Each of its constituent parts and subsystems - ethnoi and subethnoi - finds an ecological niche for itself. That gives them a possibility to reduce the struggle for existence to a minimum and get a chance to co-ordinate them-selves, which in turn facilitates the moulding of social forms. Blood also flows in this situation, but not very abundantly, and it is possible to live. But if a new, foreign, ethnic entity invades this sys-tem, it is forced, not finding an ecological niche for itself, to live at the expense not of the territory but of its inhabitants. This is not simply neighbourhood, and not symbiosis, but a chimera, i.e. a combination in one entity of two different, incompatible systems. In zoology the combination of an animal and a helminth in the intestine is called a chimeral construction. The animal can exist without the parasite, but the latter will perish without the host. But living in his body the parasite takes part in his life cycle, dictating a heightened need for food and altering the organism's biochemistry by its own hormones, forcibly secreted into the blood or bile of the host or parasite carrier. That is the difference between the chimera and the symbiosis, whereby, for example, a hermit-crab carries an actinia on its shell, which defends it from its enemies by its stings. The actinia, moving on the crab, finds more food. With symbiosis at superethnic level both components feed on the gifts of nature and coexist, which does not exclude episodic conflicts. But all the horrors of superethnic clashes pale before the poison of a chimera at the level of a superethnos. But cross-breeding at the level of an ethnos or subethnos can engender either assimilation or a relict sub-ethnos, which does not have lethal results.

Strong, drive-tense ethnic systems naturally do not tolerate out-side elements in their environment. In Western Europe, therefore, chimeral constructions were seldom met before the twelfth century. But they appeared in the early thirteenth. As an example I would cite the state created by the Order of the Brothers of the Sword in the Baltic area, who carried on military operations with involvement of the warlike Livs, and who fed off the land by turning the Letts and Kurshi into serfs. Neither the Livs, nor the Letts needed a bloody war with the people of Pskov and the Lithuanians, but they were in a system in which foreigners were their absolute masters, and there was nowhere to take shelter. So they had to lay down their lives for an alien cause.

Another example of a marginal (border) chimera is Bulgaria. Around A.D. 660 a horde of Bulgars, under the leadership of Asparukh, driven by the Khazars from their native Caucasian steppes, captured the valley of the Danube, populated by Slavs. The Bulgars were members of a Eurasian steppe superethnos, and their symbiosis with the Slavs over the course of nearly 200 years was a chimeral system. But the Bulgars were few in number; some of them dissolved into the Slavonic medium, and some settled in the Dobruja and Bessarabia, i.e. in the borderland. In 864 the Slavicized Bulgarian king Boris was baptized, which marked the entry of his people into the superethnos I have conditionally called 'Byzantine'. But that only increased the number of elements in what was already a non-organic ethnosystem without that. Together with Greek Orthodoxy, Marcionitism, i.e. Bogomilism, arrived in Bulgaria from Asia Minor, by which the ideological confusion within the country was increased. War with Byzantium took on more and more cruel forms, until it was finished by the fall of the Bulgar Kingdom in 1018. Only in 1185 were the Bulgars liberated by Asen, the leader of the Wallachians, with the aid of Eurasian nomads, the Polovtsy (who were in a symbiosis with the Bulgarians and Wallachians).

The institution of slavery is an element of partial ethnoparasitism. The enslaving of another person has as its necessary precondition a conviction that this person is different from the slaveowner. For the Egyptians and the Anglo-Saxon planters he/she was a Negro, for the Romans a barbarian, for the Jews the uncircumcised, for Muslims the kafir (infidel) and so on.

Interestingly, the institution of debt slavery has always met resistance, which has been led by legislators – in Athens by Solon, in ancient Israel by the author of Deuteronomy, and so on; while the enslaving of foreigners was considered natural even among the Tlinkites and Aleuts, hunters of marine animals. Slave labor was not employed in that hunting, so the female slaves were used for domestic service and the males were killed during the initiation ritual.

Let us recall that the Messenian helots were outraged not by their being robbed and killed, but by its being done by the Dorian Spartans, who were also descendants of the Heraclidae. That circumstance shocked the Greeks, although they were all confirmed slave-traders.

If we change the initial point of reference, incidentally, it can be taken that the native population of a country is a component part of the terrain that the parasite ethnos exploits together with the animals, plants, and minerals. But that point of view can hardly be accepted by anyone except persons interested in this exploitation, and is constantly refuted moreover by history. Although slavery is constantly observed, the separate situations of ethnic parasitism have seldom been stable and lasting, but have often been reproduced anew.

Interethnic collisions cannot be classed as either biological or exclusively social categories, although the explanation I have suggested is a consequence of the described phenomenon of drive, as a modus of the biochemical energy of the living matter of the biosphere. Pour variants of ethnic contacts at the level of a superethnos are possible, and it is clear that the determinant factor is the degree of drive of the contacting ethnoi. If we observe a combination of a persistent ethnos in which drive is not high with an ethnos with drive, assimilation or ousting of the weak ethnos is most probable. If two or more ethnoi of weak drive coexist, they will find a modus vivendi, and will not overpower each other. If they have strong but equal drive, cross-breeding will take place, the superimposition of rhythms deforming the stereotype of behaviour and making it favourable for the individual to the detriment of the collective; such collectives are usually annihilated, because each individual is trying to five at the expense of the others. But if, when there is cross-breeding, an impulse of drive occurs, the heightened lability of the mutant populations will facilitate the rise of a new stereotype of behaviour, a new structure, and consequently new variants of socio-political institutions, in other words, of a new ethnos. That process can be compared with a chemical reaction that begins only in the presence of a catalyst and at quite a high temperature, and on the other hand with the creative process in psychology, which arises in the sphere of the emotions (subconscious). it follows from this that ethnic cross-breeding (by no means racial) cannot be unequivocally appraised. In some circumstances of place and time it will kill the ethnic substrata, in others deform them, and in a third case transform them into a new ethnos. But it never happens without trace. That is why neglect of ethnology, be it on the scale of state or country, tribal union, or monogamous family, must be qualified as irresponsibility, criminal in regard to the offspring.


The Nature of Drive


Vemadsky's theory of the biosphere. When we pose the question of the energy essence of ethnogenesis, we must indicate what form of energy creates these processes. But for that it is necessary to renounce certain Philistine notions and replace them by scientific ones. Instead of the customary attitude to one's self as an independent organism, even though constantly interacting with other organisms,

we should denote living organisms as something whole and united, because they are all functions of the biosphere, ... and an immense geological force that determines it.

  The organisms that populate Earth are not only an aggregate of individuals, but also 'living matter' that

is connected with the surrounding medium by the biogenic current of atoms: by its breathing, feeding, and multiplication.8

According to Vernadsky the biosphere is not only a film of 'living matter' on the surface of the planet, but also all the products of its life activity over geological time, i.e. soils, sedimentary and metamorphosed rocks, and the free oxygen of the atmosphere. We walk upon the corpses of our ancestors, we breathe the life of those who have been dead for ages, and we ourselves will go into that element so that our descendants will breathe us.

Everything living is a continuously changing aggregate of organisms linked together and governed by the evolutionary process during geological time. It is a dynamic equilibrium that tends over time to pass into a static equilibrium... The longer existence, if there are not phenomena of equal strength operating in the opposite direction, the closer the free energy will be to zero.9

In order to understand this principle, we must take in yet another circumstance. The inert matter of the planet is governed by the law of increasing entropy. But living matter, on the contrary, has anti-entropic properties. And all this diversity of animate and inert matter is connected by a 'biogenic migration of atoms' or by the 'biochemical energy of the living matter of the biosphere'.

This form of energy is as real and active as the others studied by physicists. And like them it is governed by the law of the conservation of energy, i.e. can be expressed in calories or kilogram-meters. Our planet has been enriched by energy over geological time by absorbing (1) the radiant energy of the sun, (2) the atomic energy of radioactive decay, and (3) the cosmic energy of dispersed elements coming from our galaxy.10

And this form of energy compels organisms to multiply and proliferate as far as possible, just as a plate of duckweed, appearing in a pond in spring, has covered its whole surface by autumn, right up to the natural boundary, the banks. The same law of maximum spread operates for all living creatures of the biosphere, and that means people, too.

But the biosphere itself sets limits to the organisms that are its components. It is a mosaic; some species of animals or plants are limited by others, and a harmony of life arises, a dynamic equilibrium of large or small-scale biocoenoses. The climatic conditions on Earth are diverse. They are determined by zonality, remoteness from oceans, change in the characteristics of atmospheric pressure, and other causes. And consequently a need for adaptation arises for organisms, ':that already limits spread territorially. The neobiocoenoses, which can be interpreted as complex systems of animate and inanimate elements, are therefore stable. Constant processes are going on in them that ensure circulation of energy among the plants and animals of one habitat, i.e. conversion of the biocoenosis.

But people are also part of the biocoenosis. The forces of the ethnic community, which crowns the biocoenosis, are expended on overcoming, constantly arising difficulties. In tranquil conditions the community lacks aggressiveness as regards neighbors and is incapable of actively changing nature, which would promote an in-crease in the number of its members through intensive reproduction. So an ethnos is created as a system in which co-ordination of the individuals is a condition of existence. But drive itself pushes people to mutual extermination for the sake of predominance in the system, and then its tension falls until it reaches zero. After that the inertia of motion rooted in social institutions and traditions maintains existence of the system, but it is doomed and passes into homeostasis. All 'arrested' ethnoi were once, of course, developing, and those that are developing now WK if they do not disappear, become 'stable' one day.

The overwhelming majority of ethnoi, irrespective of their numbers, inhabit or inhabited definite territories, forming part of the biocoenosis of a given terrain and comprising together with it a kind of 'closed system'. Other ethnoi, developing and multiplying, spread beyond their biochore, but that spread fished by their being converted into ethnoi of the first type in the newly mastered, but stabilized region of adaptation. There is a complete analogy with the cosmic processes of thermodynamics:

In a closed system entropy is continually increasing. Consequently, an organism [or a system of organisms or ethnos. -L G.] must systematically shed the accumulating entropy. Animate matter must therefore be constantly exchanged with the surrounding medium of energy and entropy. This exchange is regulated by controlling systems, which employ stocks of information for the purpose. It is quite improbable that the stocks of information arose spontaneously in the organism or system; consequently they are passed on by inheritance.11

As I have shown above, the transmission of information by inheritance noted by physicists is called 'traditions' in the language of historians, and 'signal inheritance' in the language of biologists. Proceeding from everything noted above, ethnogenesis is an energy process, and drive is the effect of the form of energy that feeds ethnogenesis.


Mutations – drive impulses. Tranquil states of the geobiocoenoses, however, are not eternal. They are broken by spasms of strange activity lethal for its bearers. Grasshoppers, peacefully hopping about in a meadow, are suddenly transformed into a swarm of locusts that flies to meet its death, destroying everything in its path. Tropical ants quit their well-built nests and set out – destroying everything they encounter – only to perish on the way. Lemmings travel hundreds of miles to throw themselves into the waves of the ocean. Micro-organisms ... they also act the same, causing fatal epidemics. How are these strange phenomena to be explained? Seemingly, we must turn again to Vernadsky's works on biogeochemistry.

The first biogeochemical principle reads:

The biogenic migration of atoms of chemical elements in the biosphere always tends to its maximum manifestation. All the living matter of the planet is a source of tree energy and can do work [in the physical sense, of course; and by 'free energy, Vernadsky understood 'energy of living matter which is displayed in a direction opposite to entropy']. Because the development of free energy capable of doing work is created by the action of living matter.12

Consequently our , planet received more energy from outer space than is needed to maintain equilibrium of the biosphere, which leads to excesses that give rise to phenomena among animals like those described above, and among people impulses of drive or explosions of ethnogenesis.

A necessary condition of the rise and flow of ethnogenesis down to its attenuation (after which the ethnos becomes a relict) is drive, i.e. a capacity for purposive supereffort. For the present I can ex-plain it only by recourse to a hypothesis, i.e. an opinion that ex-plains the noted facts but does not exclude the possibility of the appearance of other explanations. Drive is the organic capacity of an organism to absorb energy of the external medium and give it out in the form of work. In people this capacity fluctuates so strongly that its impulses sometimes sweep aside the instinct of self-preservation of both the individual and the species, because of which some people (in my terminology) have drive, perform acts (and cannot but do so) that lead to a change of their surroundings. This change equally affects the natural environment and the relations within human communities, i.e. ethnoi. Drive, consequently, has an energy nature that is refracted through mental features that stimulate a heightened activity of the bearers of this attribute that creates and destroys landscapes, peoples, and cultures.

My statement is by no means paradoxical. It is based on undisputed propositions of physiology. Sechenov long since defined the role of the environment as a physiological factor:

An organism without an environment that sustains its existence is impossible, so that a scientific definition of an organism must include the medium that influences it.13

And that includes the energy balance of the environment.

An organism gets the energy necessary for life activity, of course, not just from food, which maintains the temperature of the body and regenerates and replaces dead and dying cells. But respiration, too, i.e. the oxidizing processes in the lungs, is no less important for the organism's life. The same has to be said of the interaction with other forms of energy. electrical (ionization of the integument), fight, radiation, gravitational. All these affect the organism in different ways, but it is impossible to live without each of them. The mechanism of the conversion of energy of the environment into energy of the organism is therefore the subject of physiology. Some-thing else is important for ethnology, namely, why are the fluctuations of activity so great in man, in contrast to animals?

One can suggest two equally valid hypotheses here. An individual with drive either absorbs more energy than normal, or (with equal absorption) directs it in a concentrated way (unconsciously of course) to some aim or other. In both cases the result will be identical-the individual's higher nervous activity will be more vigorous than is characteristic for the normal individual, or peculiar to the species, as such.

Thus, when social conditions determine the direction of a person's acts, their energy will depend on the state of the organism including its genetically conditioned attributes. So we come up against several problems of biology concerning the rise of a new attribute that suddenly appears, and not as a consequence of blending. This means that the explosion of drive (or the impulse) is accompanied with a mutagen element that generates various divergences from the optimum. But most physical and psychic monsters perish without consequences for the population. People with drive, who are also products of mutation, are in this sense an exception.

Roginsky and Levin, noting the low plasticity of racial attributes compared with non-racial ones, nevertheless point out the existence even of racial somatic changes that have arisen (cross-breeding apart) over the historical period.14 The change of characteristics comes about either through adaptation to new conditions or through mutation. In the latter case a useful characteristic is taken up, but a harmful one is rejected by natural selection. Drive is a non-racial and harmful attribute, if not deadly for both its carrier and his near ones. And here is why. When there are wars outside the country, people with drive go on distant campaigns, abandoning their families and farms, which fall into decay. So it was in Spain in the sixteenth century when the conquistadors were fighting in Anahuac, Peru, and the Philippines, and regular troops in the Low Countries and France. The lack of skilled workers was so acute that even nails to build ships had to be bought in the Low Countries and Germany. But only a century before Toledo blades had been considered the best in Europe.

       But that is not the worst. With overheating by drive bloody internecine wars often arose whose victims were not only the rivals but also their families. Such were the Wars of the Roses in England, the Thirty Years' War in Germany, the Hundred Years' War in France, and the 'Three Kingdoms' in China. In these and similar wars, it was not those who fought who survived but those who artfully knew, how to keep under cover. But the peculiarities of drive as an attribute are such that it lingers on in a population through the existence of 'illegitimate children', who inherit the biological but not the social features of their parents. The presence then of systems links, both rigid (social) and corpuscular (ethnic) increases the significance of an attribute for the system as a whole, be it a 'social organism' or a superethnos. But the degree of effect on the natural environment and ethnic surroundings not only depends on the level of technique and engineering but also on the level of drive of the ethnos as a whole, passing through one phase or another of ethnogenesis. What is more, certain scientists consider that mutations do not embrace the whole Oecumene but rather definite geographical regions.

There are grounds for suggesting that our ancestors had comparatively brownish skin, black hair, and brown eyes, which are also characteristic of the majority of ram at the present time. The most depigmented racial types – blondes with light eyes – most likely developed through mutations that are concentrated mainly in Northern Europe on the coasts of the Baltic and North Seas.15

But does this mutation differ in any way from drive impulses, except that the latter arise rather more often?

One could get out of answering the question of the origin of mutations and reasons for mutagenesis, without much fuss. Biologists themselves do not answer it, justly citing as an excuse that the data they have obtained in experiments are artifacts, and that it is not correct to transfer patterns traced in the laboratory mechanically to what we see in nature. But my science – ethnology – has an absolute chronology at its disposal, and one can get rather useful results by means of this instrument.

Since I have equated the impulse of drive with a micro-mutation, we can enrich biology with data that biologists can interpret from their own standpoints, by studying the areas and dates of the impulses historically. Biological micro-mutations and, in the language of ethnology, the formation of superethnoi connected with drive usually embraces an area of the earth's surface stretching north and south, or east and west, but sometimes the axis of the upsurge of drive is at an angle to the meridian.16 But whatever topographical zones there would be in these areas (mountains, deserts, bays, gulfs, etc.), the territory remains monolithic. The relief and the ethnic substrata only determine that on the territory embraced by the outburst of drive two, three, or four different superethnoi may arise in one and the same epoch. Transference of the attribute of drive through hybridization is obviously ruled out since that would certainly be reflected in the anthropological type of the metises. Land barriers also exclude cultural exchange and borrowing through imitation. Both would easily be traceable in works of art and material culture. Obviously, we are faced with a special phenomenon that calls for special description. Remember, a new superethnos or ethnos arises from an inevitable mixing of several ethnic substrata; but does this not resemble a simple storage battery in which there must be zinc, copper, and acid in order to get a current? That of course is a metaphor, but it illustrates an energy process that is constantly fading because of the resistance of the medium or environment. But if that is so, the impulse must also be an energy one, and since it is not apparently linked with terrestrial natural and social conditions, its origin may be extraplanetary.17

When one examines the area of an explosion of drive one gets an impression that the globe is cut into strips by a light from one side of it, and that the curvature of the planet has limited spread of the impulse. On the spot of the 'impact' varied mutants appear, most of which are not viable and which disappear in the first generation. People with drive are also abnormal, but the peculiarity of this at-tribute is such that before it is eliminated by natural selection, it leaves a trace in ethnic history, and to some extent in the history of art and literature (since the two are linked with the ethnos).

       One could. put forward other hypotheses as well of the origin of drive explosions or impulses: chance fluctuations, the presence of a stray gene, reaction to an exogenic stimulus. But they all come up against facts ' that contradict them. It is not excluded that the hypothesis I have set out here will not be confirmed, but that in no way affects application of the conception of the energy character of ethnogenesis to vital problems of geography and history.


Commissures of terrains. Let me come back to the problem of the relation of an ethnos and the terrain and answer why a combination of two or more reliefs, two or more ethnoi, and two or more 'social organisms', are necessary for the rise of a new ethnos. What is that? A series of accidents? Or a regularity?

Analysis of the interaction of an ethnos (as an independent phenomenon) with the terrain has shown that they are both linked by a reverse dependence, but the ethnos is not a constantly acting landscape-forming factor and the terrain cannot be the cause of ethnogenesis without an outside influence. The relation then of the ethnic and social patterns even rules out feedback, because Earth's ethnosphere is only the background for social development and not a factor of it.

In contrast to social laws, the decisive element for ethnogenesis is the territorial one. The formation of peoples is polycentric; outbursts of ethnogenesis are not associated with the peoples' culture and life, whether developing or stagnant, and not with their racial composition, or the level of their economy and technique, but are connected with special conditions of space and time. The terrain does not of itself generate new ethnoi, because they sometimes do not arise in some spot or other, even favorable, for whole millennia. The regions of ethnogenesis are changing all the time. The process we are concerned with begins now here, now there, which means that terrestrial forces do not cause it (which I have already taken into account). We must consequently look for the source of ethnogenesis in the environment of Earth, and again turn to biogeochemistry.

Proceeding from my thesis of the nature of an ethnos as a system generated by an outburst of drive, I have the right to define an ethnos as an energy phenomenon. Since an incipient energy process always overcomes the inertia of the preceding processes, it is natural that the lower the inertia the more easily it is disturbed by an unexpected shock.

A monotonous terrain with a homogeneous ethnic population and traditions uniting the people embodied in forms of political institutions, is a massif that will react very little to a relatively weak shock. But with a combination of varied terrains a combination of different modes of economy is inevitable. Some people will catch fish at sea, others pasture cattle in the mountains, a third group will sow corn in fields, and a fourth will cultivate vineyards in the valleys. Even if they all have common ancestors, the need to adapt themselves to different environmental conditions will make them rather dissimilar to each other over several generations. And this dissimilarity will increase until the systems links between them weaken, as a result of a gradual movement of society that will take place simultaneously through the development of the relations of production, which will, for its part, inevitably entail a restructuring and reorganization of the obsolescent social system. If, as a consequence of the historical vicissitudes of the ethnos, two or three states or tribal unions arose, the stability of the system would be even less. The social and ethnic lines of development are thus interwoven into a system.

These systems are very productive in the economic sense thanks to division of labor and specialization. They have quite a good resistivity to the ethnic environment, i.e. to neighbors that are trying to conquer them, because the propensity to mutual exchange of products also extends to mutual help, but the internal drive impulse, as a rule, overthrows them with astonishing ease. The take-off moments of ethnogenesis are equally favored by a combination different cultural levels, types of economy, and dissimilar traditions. A common element here is the principle of variety and diversity, which can be interpreted in the aspect interesting me. Imagine the ethnosphere as a combination of several broad plates touching each other. This construction is struck by a downward blow. Naturally, it is not the plates that will be broken first, but the contacts between them, and then a chain reaction will start that deforms the plates themselves. As an example, Byzantium and Iran were stable systems in the sixth and seventh centuries, but the border region between them, populated by Arabs, experienced their influence. A drive impulse moved the Arabs so that a group (consortium) of followers of Muhammed was singled out. After four generations first an ethnos, then a superethnos was formed from the Ebro to the Pamirs. Since the individuals of the new mood interacted with one another, there immediately arouse an entity that was emotionally, psychologically, and behaviorally single-minded, which evidently had a physical sense. Here we most likely have a case of a kind of single rhythm. It was that which was perceived by observers as something new and unaccustomed, and not their own. Conquest is not the only form of ethnic spread and drawing of other peoples into a system. There is transplantation of a culture in the form of preaching of religion, and as an introduction of everyday object or objects d'art that alter the system which is the object. The Christianizing of the Eastern Slavs in 988 led to an extension of the ethno-cultural area of Byzantium. The sale of opium and paraffin lamps in China made her dependent on Great Britain and America, undermined daily life, and then public authority, and finally the superethnic system of the Xing Empire, which entailed not only political and social changes but also ethnic one, as for example the assimilation of the Manchus by the Chinese.

An impulse of drive is thus necessary for the commencement of ethnogenesis, but the diversity observed in reality is deter-mined by both the relief and terrain, climatic features, ethnic neighbourhood and cultural traditions, and the strength of the shock itself, i.e. the impulse. That is why all ethnoi are original and inimitable, although the processes of ethnogenesis are similar in character and direction.


Thoughts about the noosphere. As I have already remarked several times, people's conscious, deliberate activity plays no less a role in historical processes than their emotional activity, but their character is different in principle. A disinterested striving for truth gives rise to scientific discoveries that determine the possibility of technical improvements, and so create the prerequisites for growth of the productive forces. A passion for beauty shapes the mind both of the artist and of the viewer. A thirst for justice stimulates social reorganization. In short, 'human reason, which is not a form of energy but produces activity as if responding to it',18 becomes an impulse of the phenomenon called progress and is consequently associated with the social form of the motion of matter. The link between these two forms of the motion of matter, which are both present in every historical event, great or small, is obvious. According to Vernadsky, 'the evolution of species, which leads to the creation 6f forms of fife stable in the biosphere'19 (the Second Biochemical Principle), and consequently directional (progressive) development, is a planetary, global phenomenon.

But the fruits of human hands have a primordial difference from the creations of nature. They drop out of the conversion of biocoenoses in which there is a constant exchange of matter and energy that maintains the biocoenoses as systemic entities. Human creativity wrests particles of matter from nature and shackles form onto them. Stones are transformed into pyramids or a Parthenon, wool into jackets, steel into sabers and tanks. And these objects lack self-development; they can only be destroyed. Kalesnik drew attention to this difference in principle between nature and technique in the broad sense, when he also pointed out that not all man's creations possess these properties. A field of wheat, an irrigation ditch, a herd of cows, or a domestic cat remains part of the geographical environment in spite of man's influence. The anthroposphere thus occupies an intermediate place between the dead technosphere and living nature. But if so, they are in opposition. And this is a convenient place to introduce Yu.K. Efremov's amendment to evaluation of the 'noosphere', which he has called the 'sociosphere'. Is 'the sphere of the mind' really reasonable? For it tries to slip into itself the living processes that enrich our planet with stocks of the condensed energy concealed in soils and sedimentary rocks, in coal and oil. The past fife of micro-organisms gave us the oxygen of the atmosphere and the ozone layer that saves us from lethal cosmic radiation. The plants that cover the land are a factory of photosynthesis processing fight into animate matter. Animals, our lesser brethren, regulate biocoenoses and impart order to them.

But what has the noosphere given us, even if it really exists? From the Paleolithic, numerous flint chippings and accidentally dropped scrapers and choppers; from the Neolithic -kitchen mid-dens at places of settlement. Antiquity gave us the ruins of towns, and the Middle Ages the ruins of castles. Even when ancient structures have survived to our day, like the pyramids or the Acropolis, they are always inert structures going relatively slowly to wrack and ruin. And you will hardly find a person in our time who would prefer to see heaps of refuse and concrete squares in place of forests and steppes. But technique and its products are the materialization of reason.

In short, whatever our attitude to the idea of the existence of a noosphere, the polarization of technique and life is indisputable. And here we are faced with the task of defining the relation of the drive that initiates ethnoi and the sphere of consciousness that generates culture and technique.


Drive and the Sphere of Consciousness


The frame of reference. If we take as our standard the impulse of the innate instinct of self-preservation (1), individual and species, then the impulse of drive (D) will have an opposite sign. The value of D may correspondingly be either greater, or less than, or equal to the impulse of the instinct of self-preservation. Consequently, a classification of individuals into those with drive (D > 1), harmonious (D = 1), and of sub-drive (D < 1) is legitimate. The ratio of these groups determines the level of drive in the system, in my case in an ethnos. After a drive impulse tension rises rapidly but 'overheating' sets in, after which there is a slow, smooth decline, often with de-lays. If we were to plot a curve it would record the inertial process. All the values would be positive; and the limit, in practice unattainable, would be zero.

The overwhelming number of acts performed by people are undoubtedly dictated by the instinct of self-preservation, either personal or species (the latter being manifested in a propensity to multiply and raise offspring).

But drive has an opposite vector, because it forces people to sacrifice themselves and their' posterity,, which are either never born or are held in complete contempt for the sake of illusory aspirations (ambition, vanity, pride, greed, jealousy, and other passions). We can consequently treat drive as an anti-instinct or instinct with a reverse sip. And since there is no ethnos, and cannot be, that is not associated with a primary outburst of drive, it is a commensurate value for all ethnoi.

We can consequently classify all ethnoi by the degree of the growth and decline of the drive of the ethnic field. The existence of fluctuations rather complicates this principle, but not too much, because the scheme – of a rapid upsurge of drive and its slow depletion – is real for all the ethnoi known to me. It cannot be accidental. I can therefore consider the take-off moment of ethnogenesis as the similarity of the impulse that communicates to the ethnic sys-tem the inertia lost through the resistance of the environment.

Both instinctive and drive impulses lie in the emotional sphere. But psychic activity also embraces consciousness, which means that we must look for a division of impulses in consciousness such as could be compared with that described above. In other words, they must be divided into a class of impulses, directed to maintaining life, and another class directed to sacrificing life to an illusion. For convenience of reference I designate impulses of life assertion by a plus sign, and impulses of sacrifice, naturally, by a minus sign. These parameters can then be developed in a flat projection similar to the usual system of Cartesian coordinates, noting that positive does not mean 'good' or 'useful' and negative 'bad'; in physics cations and anions; and in chemistry acids and alkalis, do not have qualitative values.

One must note, in general, that only in the social form of the motion of matter is there sense in opposing progress to stagnation and regression. The search for a meaningful aim in the discrete processes of nature is an irrelevant teleology. Just as mountain-building is in no way 'better' than denudation in geology, and conception and birth are acts of the life of an organism in the same way as death is, so there is no criterion of good in ethnic processes. But this does not mean that there are no system, movement, and even development in ethnogenesis, whereas there is no 'ahead' and 'back'. There is only rhythm in any oscillating motion, and greater or less tension. So, let us agree on terms.

Only unrestrained egoism, requiring reason and will in order to realize itself as an aim, will be a positive impulse. By reason we agree to understand a capacity to choose a reaction in conditions permitting it, and by will a capacity to act in accordance with the choice made. All tactile and reflex activities of the individual are consequently excluded from this division, and equally acts performed under the compulsion of other people or quite weighty circumstances. But inner pressure - an imperative of either instinct or drive - also determines behavior. And that means it has to be excluded, along with the pressure of the ethnic field and traditions. For 'free' and 'egoistic' impulses there remains a not very big but strictly demarcated field, in which a person bears moral and juridical responsibility for his actions. 

Here again we come up against the impossibility of providing a definition unnecessary in practice. The collective experience of the human race dearly distinguishes forced acts from crimes. Killing in self-defense is distinguished from killing in order to rob or for the sake of revenge, seduction from rape, and so on. In the middle of the nineteenth century attempts were made to identify such acts, but that was groundless arguing. It is obvious in our times that how-ever reasonable a person's concern for himself is, it does not give him grounds for deliberately infringing the rights of neighbors or of the group.

A group of impulses with an opposite vector opposes 'rational egoism'. It is well known to everyone, like drive, incidentally, but is also never singled out in a single class. In all people there is a strange inclination to truth (a tendency to form an adequate notion of an object), to beauty (what pleases without preconception), and to justice (corresponding to morals and ethics). This bent or inclination varies strongly in the force of the impulse, and is always limited by a constantly operating 'rational egoism', but in some cases it proves more powerful and leads the individual to death no less unswervingly than drive. It is an analogue as it were of drive in the realm of the conscious, and consequently has the same sign. I shall call it attraction.

The nature of attraction is not clear, any more, incidentally, than that of consciousness, but its relation to instinctive impulses of self-preservation, and to drive, are such as, say, the relation in a boat between the prime mover (oar or motor) and the helm. 'Rational egoism'- the antipode of attraction - is equally related to them.

We can therefore plot the classes of impulses I have singled out as follows: subconsciousness, along the abscissa, and consciousness along the ordinate (Fig. 2).

But is such a complicated construction needed? And for what?

The relations of classes of impulses. There is no doubt about the biological nature of instinctive impulses. Both the desire to live long, and the longing to re-create oneself through offspring are biological attributes inherent in man as a species. But if that is so, the attribute's value, in the sense of its effect on the actions of the individual, must be stable, which means that, in each separate case, man's longing to live is one and the same for all people living, who have lived, and who will live. At first glance that contradicts observed reality. 

In fact there are plenty of people who value life so little that they voluntarily go to war; there are cases of suicide; parents often abandon children to the will of fate, and sometimes kill them. And that is alongside of deserters who dodge war, and those who suffer insults in order to save their life, and parents who give their lives for children, who are often unworthy and base. A vast spread of data! There would appear to be no system in the total of observed phenomena.

But let me recall here the opinion of the ancients about heavy bodies' falling faster than light ones. Only Galileo's experiment showed that the force of gravity acts equally on a bit of fluff and a cannon-ball, and the difference in rate of fall depends on an extraneous phenomenon, viz., the resistance of the atmosphere. The same happens in the problem engaging my attention.

In Fig. 2 the reverse impulse of drive lies on the same line. In algebraic summation it cancels out one part or another of the positive abscissa, and sometimes even all of it. The magnitude of the impulse D (drive) can be less than the impulse of instinct (the value of which it is convenient to take as unity), equal to it, or greater. Only in the last case do we call a person one with drive. With equality of the magnitudes, we have the ideally harmonious individual, like Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in Tolstoy's War and Peace; D rather less than unity is a Chekhovian intellectual; less still, simply a Philistine; and after him come the sub-drive tramps and vagrants from Gorky' early stories. Even lower we have cretins and degenerates.

But if the tension of drive is higher than that of instinct? Then the point that designates the individual's psychological status is displaced along the negative branch of the abscissa. There will be found the conquistadors and explorers, the poets and heresiarchs, and finally resourceful figures like Caesar and Napoleon. As a rule there are not very many of them, but their energy enables them to develop furious activity fixed and recorded wherever there is history. Comparative study of a small spread of events gives a first approximation of the definition of the magnitude of drive.

We observe the same sequence in the conscious impulses plotted along the ordinate. 'Rational egoism', i.e. the principle 'all for me', has a stable value at the limit. But it is moderated by attraction, which is either less than unity (for which I take the impulse of egoism or self-love), or equal to it, or greater. In the last case we observe altruistic scientists and scholars, artists who throw up careers for the sake of art, the law-lovers who defend justice at the risk of their lives; in short, the type of Don Quixote in varied concentrations. The real behavior of the individual we have the chance to observe is therefore an amalgam of two constant positive values and two variable negative ones. Consequently, only the latter determine the diversity of the behavior categories observed in reality.

Properly speaking, all the impulses described above come under the definition of 'dominant' accepted in psychology. But it is necessary for my purposes to distinguish several definite dominants, and to pay no attention to the others, for example libido, as without significance for my theme. And it is even more important to establish the vectorial character of the selected dominants.


Application of the conception to ethnogenesis. The proposed point of view and frame of reference yield little for study of the psychology of the separate individual. Since the level of drive is an innate attribute over a person's whole life, the ratio of the values does not change. As for attraction, it changes under the impact of other people (teachers, friends, pupils), and that means that its variability is a property of the group and not of the individual. But when we are studying ethnogenesis, the principles of the proposed conception are always convenient, though the results can only be expressed in conventional, arbitrary ratios at the present level of knowledge and possibilities. It is still beyond our possibilities to obtain numerical data. But even what we have is still very useful for analysis.

We are well aware that all ethnoi pass through several phases of evolution that are uniform in the ideal or the scheme. The many deviations from the scheme, for example breaks of development, or shifts through outside interference, are easily allowed for and excluded from examination of the main pattern. It is just as easy to allow for them later during synthesis, i.e. in restoring the real history of a people. Let us eliminate chance from the pattern, which will look as follows from the angle of ethnology.

Let us take a group of different people as an example, and assume that we know the drive and attraction of each of them. Then there will no longer be a place for each on the axes of the coordinate, but on the plane between the axes. A category of people of the same temperament, determined solely by psychophysiological constitution, will be located in each quarter (see Fig. 2).

As will be seen from the drawing, the moral criterion does not attract attention, which enables us to treat the proposed classification as a natural-historical one providing a chance of examining the object objectively.

Suppose, too, that we have the data for plotting not just one moment on the system of coordinates but, say, ten at intervals of a hundred years. We thus obtain an expression of the variations of drive for the average period of the life of an ethnos. If we had a chance to express the value of D in figures, it would be simple to draw a curve of drive, and then find an equation corresponding to this curve. But we still have to limit ourselves to description.

That, however, also yields a lot for research. The saturation of a time interval with events is always comparable with that of another interval. These ratios are graphically expressed in detailed synchronistic tables, but they have not drawn the attention of historians because a phenomenon reflected in them, viz., fluctuations of drive, has not been taken into account. These tables have now acquired sense and meaning.


The place of drive in historical synthesis. It may seem that I have paid so much attention here to the description of drive because I attach the significance of the decisive factor to it. But that is not so. The theory of drive is given attention only so as to fill the vacuum formed by one-sided study of ethnogenesis, not to replace the theory of the primacy of social development in history, but to supplement it with indisputable data of the natural sciences; that is the aim of the theoretical addition needed for historical synthesis.

There is now sense in showing the relation between the four main groups of causal effects on ethnic processes. Two of them are of the highest rank, and two subordinate. In general form this will be a scheme, but it is precisely one needed so as to separate the chance from the law-governed, which are constantly associated in any historical and geographical discipline, because the one and the other study variables that change in time and affect ethnogenesis.

The first and main factor of social development is growth of the productive forces, as a consequence of which there is a change in the relations of production and so in the organization of society. This global process is generalized in a thorough, comprehensive way by the Marxian theory of historical materialism.

A second factor, which determines not the impulse but the course of the processes of ethnogenesis, is the geographical environment, ignoring of whose role Kalesnik has rightly called 'geographical nihilism'.20 But exaggeration of the significance of the geographical environment, i.e. 'geographical determinism', also does not yield positive results. Plekhanov wittily showed that in his polemic with Labriola, when he remarked that

the Italians of today [at the end of the nineteenth century .- LG.] live among the same natural surroundings as the ancient Romans did, yet how little does the 'temperament' of the present-day losers to Menelik resemble that of the stem conquerors of Carthage.21

It could be objected that the anthropogenic effect over 2 300 years had altered the topography of Italy, yet nevertheless it is obvious that it was not the replacement of the beech forests by lemon groves and thickets of maquis that led the Italian army to defeat at Aduwa.

But these powerful factors, in combination, determine only the 'overall trend' of socio-historical processes and not 'the individual features of events and some of their particular consequences'.22 But it is just such trifles that often lead to the creation or the break-up of a consortium, and sometimes to the preservation or dispersal of a subethnos, and are rarely, yet all the same, reflected in the fates of ethnoi, and in exceptional cases may even affect the forming of a superethnos. Quite abundant examples of these historical zigzags that compensate each other in given segments of history were given by Plekhanov in the work cited, though exclusively from the history of Europe. The reader will find similar data from the history of the Far East in my Steppe Trilogy.23

One can thus single out a factor of lower rank – the logic of events – in which allowance is made, for short chains of causal connections, in themselves law-governed, but which are chance affairs for a process of higher rank. These short regularities, in turn, that are constantly broken in the course of history, depend on accidents of a second degree, and so on.24

These variations can be ignored When global processes are being surveyed, for example, the succession of formations, but it is necessary to allow for them in ethnogenesis. And it is here that the role of outbursts and fluctuations of drive comes out; they are related to the forming of the biosphere like the logic of events to the social form of the motion of matter. In other words, the role of drive in ethnogenesis is less than 25 per cent, but ignoring of this amount yields an appreciable error that confuses the results. And a miss is as good as a mile. Let me therefore continue the description of the phenomenon I have noted.

So far I have only described drive as a biologically inherited attribute, employing examples from the history of different periods. We have thus seen that history, as a science, provides a chance of tracing certain laws of the phenomena of nature. Consequently, history can be useful not only in itself, but also as an auxiliary discipline of natural science. So far, though, it has not been employed for that purpose.


Generalization. All the observations and generalizations of them adduced above help draw attention to the non-coincidence of the social and ethnic rhythms of development. The former is spontaneous continuous movement along a spiral, the second is discontinuous, with constant flashes and outbursts whose inertia is dampened by the resistance of the environment. Chronological social shifts (changes of formation) and ethnogenetic processes do not coincide in any way. Sometimes an ethnos, for example the Russian, experiences two or three formations, and sometimes it is created and disintegrates within one, like the Parthians, for example. Mankind's social development is progressive, but ethnoi are doomed to disappear.

One can now draw a conclusion. Ethnogenesis is an inertial process in which the initial charge of energy (the biochemical, described by Vernadsky) is expended through the resistance of the environment, which leads either to elimination or to ethnic equilibrium with the terrain and the human surroundings, i.e. conversion into a relict,  viz., a vestigial (persistent) state, lacking creativity. It is through high intensity of drive that the interaction between the social and natural forms of the motion of matter takes place, just as certain chemical reactions only take place at a higher temperature and in the presence of a catalyst. Ethnoi are created and maintained by impulses of drive (the biochemical energy of living matter refracted by man's psycho-nervous organization), and disappear as soon as the tension of drive slackens.

In conclusion I must clarify how far the conception of ethnogenesis corresponds to the theory of dialectical and historical materialism. It fully corresponds to it. The development of social forms is spontaneous; the change of socio-economic formations is a global phenomenon in spite of the unevenness of development in different regions; the motion of the social form of matter is forward and progressive; its direction is a spiral. Consequently it is a philosophical theory of the general laws of development, and of course a whole order of magnitude higher than the anthroposphere taken as a whole, and two orders higher than the ethnosphere, i.e. the mosaic of ethnoi in time and space. In other words ethnology is a partial case of the application of dialectical materialism, allowing for the specific nature of the theme and aspect. All natural laws are stochastic, of course, and consequently are governed by the law of large numbers, which means that the higher the order; the steadier the action of the law on the object; and the lower the order, the more the role of chance increases and so the degree of freedom.

In the first case the limit is the Galaxy, in the second the atom, because supergalactic and subatomic phenomena are investigated by different means and are otherwise perceived by our consciousness. But between them lies a gradation of the orders of phenomena. And each order requires attention and an approach to itself.

Ethnology is somewhere around the mean. The type of motion in ethnoi is fluctuation; development is inertial and discrete; stability  s ensured by systemic links and ties, and uniqueness and creation by the effect of the biochemical energy of animate matter refracted by the psyche, i.e. by drive.

Such, in my opinion, is the definition of the concept 'ethnos'. It is an elementary concept, not reducible either to social or to biological categories. That conclusion is an empirical generalization of historical and geographical facts.


The Mode of Scientific Search


From historical geography to ethnic psychology. Just as it is bad for a person to live outside an ethnos, it is bad for him to live outside the natural conditions he is accustomed to, made fit for his needs by his ancestors. I have described the mechanism of the rise of anthropogenic landscapes, and its connection with the phases of ethnogenesis. This quite rigid link also depends on the collective tuning of the ethnic system that forms the ethnocoenosis, development of which is associated, as we now know, with the level of drive and also with the character of the adaptation to the terrain, and the presence of some ethnic dominant or other. With such an approach to the subject of study, the Eurocentric idea of the superiority of technical civilization over the development of other types, it goes without saying, loses its validity. In fact, why consider the agricultural culture of India or the hunting culture of the Eskimos of Canada less perfected than the mode of life of the inhabitants of urbanistic agglomerations? Is it really only because the latter are customary for the majority of my readers?

  But if we are to break with Philistine subjectivism, we shall need a reliable criterion for comparing ethnoi and superethnic cultures, because they cannot in fact be considered wholly equivalent to one another. For that purpose we must turn again to an examination of the features of ethnogenetic processes and, without limiting our-selves to a simple description, provide an interpretation on the basis of the drive I have discovered, in which the phase of ethnogenesis and change in the state of the anthropogenic landscape will be correctives for each other.

That the difference of ethno-psychological stereotypes is determined by the climate, relief, flora and fauna of the places of ethnic development was known long before Montesquieu. These ideas al-ready figured among the Arab geographers of the tenth to fourteenth centuries, being the foundation of geographical determinism; their incorrectness then consisted not in their falsity but in the inadequacy of the explanation of the observed phenomena. The geographers of that trend did not allow for the main point, viz., the dynamics of ethno-psychological mentalities and dispositions, which changed uniformly and in a regular way over centuries. Let me explain this by graphic examples from Russian literature and history.

The Russian, or rather Great Russian, ethnos has existed a long time. Even if we do not accept the mythical Rurik and the no less mythical Oleg and Igor, the direct ancestors of the Russians were in any case already recorded after the Tatar invasion, somewhere at the beginning of the fourteenth century. They were the same Russians, but did they really behave as modern Russians do? Well, not quite the same. When Pushkin, for example, was insulted, it seemed the right thing to fight a duel. But no Russian today fights a duel when he is slandered or nasty things are said about his wife. Are we a different ethnos than Pushkin's contemporaries because we behave differently? Perhaps that should be answered in the affirmative – but perhaps not? Because intuition says that Pushkin was the same kind of Russian person as we are. The change in the stereotypes of behavior seems quite natural to us. Because three hundred years before Pushkin, in the reign of Ivan the Terrible, when there was no dueling, and duels were not known in general, how did the merchant Kalashnikov, for example, behave when his wife was insulted by the Oprichnik Kiribeevich? Lermontov described it quite accurately. Kalashnikov seized the right moment, and in an honest fist fight delivered a foul blow to the temple. He killed the offender, sacrificing his own life to do so. From the point of view of people of the time of Pushkin and Lermontov that was a gross baseness. They did not act so! If you got into an honest fight, you should fight honestly. But from the point of view of Kalashnikov’s contemporaries, he acted absolutely correctly, and even Ivan the Terrible himself said:

As for thee, brave heart, on the block shalt thou
Thy wild head lay down by the Tsar’s command;
I will have the blade made keen and sharp,
I will have the headsman wear fine, rich dress,
The great bell for thee will I bid them ring
That all Marrow-town, all the folk might know
That thy Tsar to thee of his goodwill gave... 25

But two hundred years before that no one would have tried in general to kill his insulter, especially if the latter was of high social standing – a duke or an influential boyar. An insulted man-at-arms or member of the bodyguard, a priest or a free peasant simply went off to another duchy. If they treated him badly in Moscow, he went to Tver. And if they treated him badly in Tver, he went to Suzdal; and if he didn’t like it in Suzdal he went to Lithuania. Quite a different reaction to insult.

As if they were different ethnoi. But we know that it is one ethnos and that we have met a phenomenon here not statically fixed, but processes of law-governed changes. Each phenomenon has to be taken with its past and with the outlook for its future. One can doubt that such nuances of behavior as reaction to insult have any significance for geography, but there are equivalent phenomena, though less clear, that actively shape the anthropogenic landscape.

I have already established that different ethnoi relate differently to nature, but even one and the same ethnos carries on its economy by different means in different phases of its ethnogenesis, and so influences the enclosing terrain differently.

The architecture not only of towns but also of separate settlements, moreover, even of houses and farm buildings, is a component part of the anthropogenic landscape. And that it depends on the character of the activity of the people of a given ethnos is understandable without proof.

So-called ‘national character’ is thus a myth, because it will be different for each new epoch, even when the continuity of changes of the phases of ethnogenesis is undisturbed.

The changes take place steadily, not being functionally connected either with modifications of the geographical environment or with the succession of socio-economic formations, though constantly interacting with both. But this is interference of the ‘independent variables’ that are interwoven in the historical process.


Objections. When history is treated as a function of time and all the preconceived notions and prejudices associated with it are rejected, it will appear that time does not behave uniformly, but now this way and now that. That statement is so unaccustomed that it is necessary to agree on the terms, because the definitions proposed here relate only to historical’ time but do not affect Newton’s or Einstein’s mathematical conceptions and biological time counted by the succession of generations of the species studied. One must also not apply the features described below to geological time, since inert matter has its own laws. We shall limit ourselves to the specific features of man and of the character of his formation. That, too, is no little matter.

Historical time, in contrast to physical (extended), biological, and relative (continuum), is revealed through saturation by events. What we call ‘time’ is a process of equating energy potentials that are sometimes disrupted by explosions (shocks) that restore the in-equality of energy potentials, i.e. diversity. The impulses arising in the biosphere because of these shocks are creativity manifested in a striving now for beauty (art), now for truth (science), now for justice (morality), now for power (thanks to this impulse states are created), and for victory (be it the conquest of a foreign country or the ephemeral success of an operatic tenor), and everything similar. These impulses may be positive, i.e. life-asserting, sparing everything living and valuing everything created by the hands of man, and negative, separating energy, information, and matter, in which information finds refuge. A negative impulse withdraws quants of energy from the bounds of time - and that is the real end of the process. But a positive impulse reunites energy with inert matter, receives information, and the world continues to exist all over again. Everything inimitable and beautiful disappears with loss of the energy charge. That is why the losses are so great in ages saturated with acts and deeds. But Memory opposes death, and the collective memory of ethnoi is the history of culture.


Rises and falls. According to the theory of progress there are neither the one nor the other. It has become customary, and not without certain grounds, to consider that the western peninsula of the Eurasian continent has particularly great significance in the history of mankind. As evidence the flourishing of classical Greece, Alexander the Great’s campaign, the creation of the Roman Empire, the brilliant painting of the Renaissance, the great discoveries and colonial conquests of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries are cited. But; it is forgotten, with that, that the listed ‘flowerings’ were episodes, not just on the background of world history but also on the canvas of the history of the Mediterranean basin. The flourishing of Greece was, essentially, the short-term hegemony of Athens. Alexander’s victories evolved the return blows of the Parthians, Saki, and Indians, and caused the collapse of Macedonian independence Rome - but I shall speak specially about her. And as regards the victories of the Spaniards, French, and English over red-, black-, brown-, and yellow-skinned overseas ethnoi, taken unawares, it is now already obvious how ephemeral the conquests of the conquistadors, adventurists, and traders were.

The troubled times about which European historians do not like to write, but which have been the object of my analysis, were rather longer. The declines of culture are just as important phenomena of history as its rises and upsurges. Where, then, do the whole centuries without art, literature, and philosophy start from? Let me explain.

In ages of frequent migration of whole peoples to other countries, with mutual rejection and non-acceptance of others’ cultures, and with contacts at superethnic level, the conditions for the preservation of memorials of art were extremely unfavorable. The heritage of Roman antiquity was preserved only under the ground, from which it began to be dug up by humanists in the fifteenth century. The marvelous icon painting of the time of the upsurge of Byzantine culture fell victim to the iconoclasts. The magnificent gold and silver ornaments of the Ugrians, Alans, people of Rus, and the Khazars were melted down into coins and ingots and dispersed to the ends of the Oecumene. Wonderful embroideries, fine paintings on silk, rich brocaded clothes moldered away with time, while the heroic tales and myths of the origin of the cosmos were forgotten together with the languages the rhapsodes recited them in. That is why the age of the first millennium A.D. is called ‘dark’, ‘troubled’, ‘cultural stagnation’, and even ‘barbarity’!

The roundabout way, through the history of events, has shown that this epoch was creative, tense, and tragic, and that it was not barrenness of spirit and reason that determined the observed emptiness, but the flame of hearts and passions that reduced everything that would bum to ashes.

Anyone starting to study the global patterns of ethnic history must immediately disavow the principle of Eurocentrism, which seems to many not to require proof. In fact, from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth, European peoples grabbed half the world through colonial operations and the other half by the export of goods and ideas. The last-named also brought them no little in-come.

The advantage of Europeans over other peoples was so obvious in the nineteenth century that Hegel constructed a philosophy of history on a principle of world progress which had to be realized by Germans and Anglo-Saxons because all the inhabitants of Asia and Africa, the aborigines of America and Australia were ‘unhistorical peoples’. But only 150 years passed and it became clear that European predominance in the world was not the road of progress, but an episode. America and Australia, as overseas extensions of Europe (Western), were directly linked with the same line; similar lines were traced out among ancient peoples, where they went to their natural end.

In other words, the peoples that it is accepted to call backward, are simply relicts that have outlived their flourishing and decline. One can say that the black Australians, the Bushmen, and even the Eskimos, are old ethnoi. That is why their material culture is so poor, and their spiritual culture so fragmentary. Ethnogeneses are discrete processes; therefore the concept ‘age’ is proper to ethnoi.

Very much has been said and written about the aging of peoples; historians usually understand this terminology as a metaphor. In fact, children are born and generations are consequently renewed, so what then can age? That is just what I have been trying to show, starting this time from concrete ethno-psychology, obvious for any historian or ethnographer with broad vision, rather than from general considerations of systems theory.


The principles of reference. It is sensible to base the age classification of an ethnos (any one) on an element that no system can get along without, viz., the relation of the collective to the individual. Any group limits the freedom of each of its members by the need to allow for the other members separately and for the interests of the group as a whole. An ethnos is no exception to the general rule, but the character of its effect on the persons composing it changes in the course of time, and a certain pattern is traceable in the changes.

A striving to conserve the relations between its members is characteristic of an ethnos in a static state. In a gentile society, for example, there is a rigid despotism of tradition, that fixes the place of each newborn child in life and the limits of its possibilities, no attention being paid to the level of personal capabilities. If a hero or a genius, for example, is junior in seniority to a cretin, he must, all the same, be considered lower in social position, and even may not live to the time when his talents would be employed by the collective if some extraordinary calamity like a cruel war with neighbors or an infection, when it would be necessary to treat dying fellow-tribesmen, did not come to the aid of the junior. But even then an exception would only be made for the savior of the tribe, and the principle of seniority would remain uninfringed.

Such an attitude to the individual does not just exist in gentile society. It finds clear expression, in the developed class society, in the caste system or attenuated expression in the system of estates. In any of these variants the collective fixes the place of the individual and requires only one thing of him, viz. contentment with him-self and his position, because that is the main psychological condition for the preservation of relations. This position, it would seem, does not deserve either approval or admiration. But I shall not be so categorical.

A static ethnos is guided by the same principles in its attitude to the nature around it. Nature feeds it, yielding up to it the abundance of her wealth, and the ethnos dictates to its members not to require more of nature than a given amount. In a forest 10 per cent of the trees die annually as a result of natural selection and the struggle for existence, which means that this 10 per cent can be cut for fuel and building, and not more. Similarly, the increment of a herd of ungulates can be culled for food without harm to reproduction.

And how exactly tribes of Sioux or Blackfeet knew how to determine these norms in respect of bison! The hunt was a social affair for them and any high-handedness was stopped by very harsh measures. Because of that the ethnos and its enclosing territory were in a state of dynamic equilibrium (homeostasis), that enabled people, animals, and plants to exist together for an unlimited time. But we know that this balance was achieved in any case (be it Africa, Australia, or Greenland) through an ethnogenesis that occurred at one time, and was its final phase.

History, alas, is useful only to him who learns from it. Otherwise Philistine ‘common sense’ proclaims the disastrous conception of the conquest of living nature. In 1894 the American geologist and anthropologist W.J. McGee wrote: ‘In the subjugation of the animals of the earth, men preserve only those that can be enslaved, and all others are slain’26 And it is very noteworthy that only the Sioux put forward an opposite conception, affirming that ‘everything the power of the world does is done in a circle... With all beings and all things we shall be as relatives.‘27 The conclusion is unambiguous, the Sioux were guided in their practice by the concepts of ‘geobiocoenosis’ and ‘biosphere’ although they called them differently, while civilized scientists, who are at the level of the views and opinions of their time, and are held in thrall by them, have preached that man displayed his power

by transforming the face of nature, by making all things better than they were before, by aiding the good and destroying the bad among animals and plants and by protecting the aging earth from the ravages of time and failing strength. 28

The idea that they themselves, since they had bodies, were a component of the nature whose face they were vigorously altering, which their grandsons are melancholy about now, was foreign to that American scientist and his contemporaries. Nevertheless the cult of force reigned then, which enabled Fairfield Osborn to say in 1949 that it was in fact a history of reckless, uncontrolled human energy. This energy – the drive of the system – has swept away not only plants and animals but also the Indians themselves, whose way of life and behavior were not understood and rejected by the bearers of this idea. The Americans therefore considered ‘savages’ those whose natural philosophy had outstripped their own for 300 years. As a consequence the Indians, who had managed to find an ecological niche in the biocoenosis, perished together with them, because they were justly treated as a component of nature, subject to reorganization.

As soon as individuals of a new temperament create a new ethnic entity, they put forward a new principle of communal life, and a new imperative of behavior: ‘be what you should be’. The king should behave like a king, the man-at-arms like a man-at-arms, the servant like a servant because, without rigid subordination, the new system would fall apart during a clash with an external enemy or with fellow-tribesmen who preferred the old order.

It may seem that the difference between the first and second principles is not all that great, but that is not so. In the molding of a dynamic ethnos the category of duty to the collective plays a primary role, and not right of birth as it had been before that. The king who did not answer to his position should be suspended or I killed and replaced by someone worthy; a bad knight should be exiled, a bad servant flogged. There were no rights, but there were obligations, for which rewards were proposed. The latter might be different: sometimes money (benefices), sometimes the right to hold a profitable post, sometimes the chance to share power with the rulers. But the decisive factor of attaining prosperity was any-how the business principle, and not right of birth.

A newly arising intraethnic system is usually inclined to aggression, the victims of which are neighbors. If the latter are strong, the system gets broken by their resistance; if they are weak the system triumphs and ethnogenesis proceeds rapidly. But there is a latent danger here, not so much for individuals of the new type as for the principle that carries them to victory over fellow-tribesmen and neighbors. Or rather the victory itself is the greatest threat. As soon as most of the problems are solved, duty begins to burden people and a new (third) principle takes the place of the old one: ‘be yourself.

When the man-at-arms wants to be not just the duke’s arms-bearer, but also a Remuald or a Bertrand, and the monk not simply recites the texts of the Scriptures or says the Mass, but annotates or comments on what is read, risking an accusation of heresy, and the artist signs a picture, and the merchant does not simply seek out new trade routes but institutes a firm under his name, and the peas-ant not only defends the rights of the community but declares ‘When Adam delved and Eve span, who then was the gentleman?‘, that is when a generation appears that breaks the shackles of the imperative of duty, just as earlier the chains of the right of birth had been broken.

In place of the force of duty comes the right of force limited only by the need to allow for the neighbor's also being strong and no less aggressive. The test of strength between neighbors, converted from collaborators into rivals, inevitably leads to bloody clashes, aggravated by the exasperation of the main mass, who are not ready for the development and do not want to be the object of the ambitious strivings of the members of the new generation.

The accumulated abundance of wealth and the decision of urgent foreign policy tasks free a certain number of people from a considerable part of their obligations, and then a strengthening of individualism begins, tacitly formulated by the collective in that period as an imperative- be not only the tribune who performs his duties, but also a Gracchus; not only the knight but also a Pierre Bayard; not only a member of the boyar duma but also a Vassily Shuisky; that is to say, individual features and peculiarities are manifested even more than involvement in public affairs. Previously these people had put all their forces into service to a cause determined by the cultural dominant. This difference is very characteristically traceable in art. In the Middle Ages the author of a work did not put his name on it, so that the builders who erected 286 architectural masterpieces are not known; in the age of the Renaissance the authors were brilliant personalities and were always known. And perhaps that is why, only, the ‘Renaissance’ seems a ‘blossoming’ to us. Indeed it is easier for the art historian or critic to write about one artist than to analyze collective creation.

But the development of individualism leads to a clash between active individuals, a bloody one for the most part. Within an ethnos, and often in a superethnic community (culture) fierce rivalry arises, absorbing forces that up to then have gone to dealing with external tasks. As a result the number of brilliant individuals is reduced and life becomes simpler.

In the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries the drive of the ‘Christian world’ reached its peak phase, which was very unfavorable for culture and even for the political system. The war of the Guelphs and Ghibellines led to the death of the chivalrous Hohenstaufens and the ‘Avignon captivity’ of the Popes, i.e. to turmoil of the Empire and humiliation of the Church. The Crusades, i.e. the first attempt at colonial expansion, finished in an immense defeat all round. The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Latin Empire disappeared al-together from the map of the then world, and the Livonian Order, although it survived, was converted from a bridgehead of European knighthood in the assault of the east into a tiny feudal possession on territory that neither Lithuania nor Rus disputed with it.

Such a ‘flowering’ usually provokes a reaction, i.e. a striving to limit the strife and killing. That is also encouraged by the fact that members of the generations of individualists so intensively kill one another that the proportion of them falls, while one of them, winning, slightly modifies the principle of communal life, proclaiming ‘Be like me’. This means: ‘I am great, and you (addressing anyone) should copy me, because refusal to do so is sedition or heresy; but you may not and dare not either surpass me or compare your-self with me, because that is sedition and insolence; and you dare not try not to resemble, because that is insolence, and in the final count also sedition.’ But there is no place for sedition in the newly organized collective, because the epoch just passing has so com-promised violence that the overwhelming majority prefer any regulation that makes it possible to expect defense against the despot-ism of the strong.

Sometimes the victor and the legislator are an actually existing person, Octavius Augustus and his successors, for example, but often they are an abstract ideal of a person who should be emulated or whom it is necessary to imitate. In either case the sense of the matter is not altered, and variations of the relation between physical and moral coercion are non-existent for ethnological analysis.

In spite of the external differences, ‘flowering’ and the subsequent situation, which is usually called a ‘civilization’, are not different phases of ethnogenesis. According to the principle enunciated above, which must be consistently observed, a phase of development is determined by appearance of a generation of individuals with a new psycho-nervous disposition. But here we observe only a change of proportion between already existing mentalities. A ‘civilization’, as a phase of development, is a time favorable for the accumulation of material culture, for the regulation of living, and an obliterating of local ethnographic features inherited from past epochs. It is a time when the diligent Roman Philistine- Augustus’ ‘golden mean’ - begins to flourish. The Philistine’s mentality is met at all stages of the development of an ethnos, but in the early ones he is suppressed and kept down by the knights or individualists. Here they coddle him, because he has nowhere to creep, nothing to gain, and is ready to revere the lord, so long as he is left in peace.

Healthy ‘Philistine’ cynicism inevitably follows a rebellious, mutinous epoch. In Europe it found verbal embodiment in the thesis Cuius regio, eius religio (whose the region, his the religion), when Catholics and Protestants ceased to distinguish each other -- the supreme manifestation of indifference. In Byzantium such weariness set in under the Macedonian dynasty and the Ducas (eleventh century). Then the Empire, defended by brave Slavonic varangs29 and capable Armenian officers, throve and waxed fat and – went downhill. In the culture of Islam civilization was the epoch of the Timurids, Sefewids, and the Great Moghuls; in China it was the time of the Yuan and Ming dynasties; in Rome the principate, crowned by the reforms of Diocletian. For the old Near Eastern Orient the role of reconciliator was taken on by Cyrus, king of the town of Anshan, and the Achaemenid Empire was the phase of civilization, i.e. the dying away of passions and accumulation of material wealth.

As is seen from this brief, far from full list, the phenomenon of ‘civilization’ in the sense indicated is characteristic of all peoples that did not perish before reaching that age.

The system described should, it would seem, be extremely stable, but historical experience indicates just the opposite. It was the ‘civilized’ empire of Nebuchadnezzar that the prophet Daniel likened to a colossus with feet of clay (an image that became classical). All the ‘civilized’ empires listed above fell with staggering ease under the blows of small, 'backward' enemies. Local reasons can be found for each separate case, but there is obviously something general lying in the causative depth and not on the surface of the phenomenon. Let us go into it.

In the ‘Christian world’, in fact, there was not even a shadow of agreement. Kings ignored Papal bulls. Barons fought each other, paying no attention to the proclaimed ‘God’s peace’, i.e. the truce decreed by the Church. Manichaean Cathars preached in the towns; in the countryside pagan rites were observed. And everyone struggled for himself and not for proclaimed and incontestable principles. But the integration of this mass of various strivings and aspirations built up into an ethno-cultural dominant manifested not within the superethnos but on its boundaries, in struggle with unbelievers and schismatics.

In the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries there was a splitting of this relation to the surroundings; another simplification of the sys-tern set in that wiped out the provisional boundary. In the nineteenth century an elementary thirst for enrichment, a kind of vulgarized greed, became a feature of the stereotype of behavior.

Remember that the conquistadors and the corsairs took a deadly risk, only a few survivors bringing home gold to throw about in taverns. In the nineteenth century risk was avoided and incomes were put into banks. The wars of the Huguenots against the League were replaced by voting in parliament; and duels became safe because they were stopped at the first wound. In the eighteenth century wars had already been converted into the political actions of rulers and affected only the soldiers. Sterne made his famous journey through France at the height of her war with England; and it did not occur to anyone that he, a writer, had any relation with the military operations. Even Napoleon’s conquest of Europe met with popular, i.e. unconscious-impulsive, resistance only in ‘backward’ countries like Spain and the Tyrol, where medieval traditions were preserved. And Russia was victorious in 1812 in spite of the enemy’s threefold preponderance in number of troops.

A law and order was established in Europe supported by custom and not by force. Thanks to the achievement of orderliness, it became possible to subjugate all America, Australia, Africa (with the exception of Abyssinia), and India, and economically China, Turkey, and Persia. Technical civilization was extremely developed, subordinating some of the scientific disciplines, and art and the humanitarian sciences were considered a necessary luxury for which some money (but not much) was not grudged.

In short, in place of the extinct Pax Romana arose the Pax Europaica with overseas extensions, the cause of the flourishing of the one civilization and the other being a lowering of drive – from the maximum to the optimum, right down to the turning point, after which it moved to the minimum.

With that I come to the end of my excursus, because according to the condition set at the beginning of my study, I am avoiding the aberration of proximity by which recent events seem more significant than old ones, i.e. the scale without which any study will be meaningless is violated. It is expedient only to compare the analogous magnitudes, i.e. other superethnic systems. I have therefore had to resort many times during the exposition of my conception to antiquity and the Near Eastern Middle Ages for examples, so there is no need to repeat them here.



1 The biological propositions introduced here are the result of talks with Dr. B.S. Kuzin, to whom I proffer my thanks for his advice and explanation of particularly specialized problems.

2 G.I. Akinshchikova. Somaticheskaya i psikhofiziologicheskaya organizatsiya cheloveka (The Somatic and Psychophysiological Organization of Man), Nauka, Leningrad, 1977, p 94.

3 Ibid., p 99.

4 P.V. Simonov. Vysshaya nervnaya deyatelnost cheloveka (Higher Nervous Activity of Man), Nauka, Moscow, 1975, pp 31-32.

5 Poets contrived to write in two or three languages, or in a mixture of them.

6 A. Mueller. Der Islam im Morgen und Abendland, Vol. 2. Historischer Verlag Baumgaerte, Berlin, 1887, p 641.

7 A chimera is a demon with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a dragon. Figuratively it is a combination of elements not organically united.

8 V.I. Vernadsky. Khimicheskoe stroenie biosfery Zemli i ee okruzheniya (The Chemical Structure of Earth's Biosphere and Its Environment), Nauka, Moscow, 1965, p 270.

9 Ibid., § 33.

10 Ibid., p 283.

11 M.N. Sviridonov. On the Leading Edge of Space Science. Priroda, 1966,8:112.

12 V.I. Vernadsky. Op. cit § 206

13 I.M. Sechenov, I.P. Pavlov, N.Ye. Vvedensky. Fiziologiya nervnoi sistemy (Physiology of the Nervous System), Vol. 1. Medgiz, Moscow, 1952, p 142.

14 Ya.Ya. Roginsky, M.G. Levin. Osnovy antropologii (Fundamentals of Anthropology), Moscow University Press, Moscow, 1955, pp 465-468.

15 N.N. Cheboksarov and I.A. Cheboksarova. Narody, rasy, kultury (Peoples, Races, Cultures), 2nd ed. Nauka, Moscow, 1985, pp 125-126.

16 Seven impulses altogether are traceable since the birth of Christ; judging by the end phases of ethnogenesis there would have been as many in the preceding two thousand years.

17 According to M.M. Ermolaev, who has described Earth's circumplanetary envelopes, cosmic radiation can break through to Earth's surface at night when the ionosphere becomes thinner. The question of the significance of chance blows from Cosmos remains to be tackled. See: M.M. Ermolaev. On the Boundaries and Structure of Geographical Space. Izvestiya VGO, Issue 5, 1969.

18 V.I. Vernadsky. Op. cit., §200, p 272.

19 Ibid,

20 S.V. Kalesnik. Obshchie geograficheskie zakonomernosti Zemli (General Geographical Patterns of Earth), Moscow, 1970, pp 91-96.

21 G.V. Plekhanov. On the Materialist Understanding of History. Selected Philosophical Works, Vol. 11. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1976, p 236.

22 G.V. Plekhanov. On the Question of the Individual's Role in History. Selected Philosophical Works, Vol. 11. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1976, p 308.

23 L.N. Gumilev. Stepnaya trilogia (Steppe Trilogy), Nauka, Moscow, 1970.

 24 See: G.V. Plekhanov. On the Question of the Individual's Role in History. Selected Philosophical Works, Vol. 11. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1976, pp 304, 305.

25 Mikhail Lermontov. The Lay of Tsar Ivan Vassilyevich, His Young Oprichnik and the Stouthearted Merchant Kalashnikov. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1976, pp 23-24.

26 Cited from: W.O. Douglas. The Three Hundred Year War. A Chronicle of Ecological Disaster. Random House, New York, 1972, p 127.

27 Ibid., p 18.

28 Ibid., p 127.

29 Varangs (in Russian Varyagi), foreign mercenaries hired for military service.







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