Western Europe, particularly after the sixteenth-century
Reformation, the Christian religion motivated individuals to engage
in some kind of profitable economic activity. Economic success
strengthened the belief of the faithful that they were the “chosen”
ones, destined for future individual salvation. Western Christianity
roused Europeans to seek economic prosperity. It encouraged them to
develop civil society as a means of protecting their business
interests and civil rights.
contrast, in Russia the Orthodox religion promised its people not
individual but collectivist salvation. The Russian people were
prescribed by their religion to engage in a centuries-long quest for
a “true” Christian tsar, to pin their hopes on his ability to
resolve their grievances in this world and ensure their salvation in
gradual secularization of these beliefs crystallized into two
divergent value systems. In the West, professional success became
one of the chief criteria for the evaluation of a person’s activity.
In Russia, the idea of bringing closer the existing, imperfect world
to the divine order resulted in the rise of a collectivist movement
in search of a better future based on collectivist foundations. This
luminous future was to be achieved not through individual enrichment
but by strict adherence to the ideal of social justice. With the
collapse of tsarism in 1917, the charismatic power of the Communist
leader replaced the divine authority of the emperor as the force
that showed the way to the radiant collectivist future.
Orthodox Church by its precepts greatly enhanced the sanctity and
legitimacy of the Russian autocracy. The tsar was not merely an
absolute ruler but one whose authority was derived from God. There
were no recognized formal limits on his political authority and no
rule of law to curb his arbitrary will.
state, like the Russian autocracy, which completely dominates
society and treats its subjects as its property, is sometimes
referred to as patrimonial. It stifles the freedoms of private and
public life and inhibits the emergence of organized associations and
self-governing bodies that would represent the interests of
different sections of society. In other words, it suppresses all
those things that characterize modern forms of the political life of
the state. Russia remained firmly in the grip of the autocracy
practically right to the very end of tsarism in 1917, when it was
supplanted by a Communist dictatorship.