all his threads are magnificent.
I've read enough history, old and new, determinist and rationalist, to be pessimistic about the future of "Russia." It's always been a left-over periphery, it's sometimes been enough of an antagonist to influence someone else's core, but it has never been a self-sufficient cultural center.
I discovered through genealogy and old photo albums that I'm 1/4th Belarusian Jew, and that the aspect of my lineage I'm not discouraging of fled the Pale of Settlement for Moscow in the 1860s and fled Moscow for Boston in the 1880s. I also discovered that "there is insufficient evidence" to say that "beyond the pale", used to describe something so outlandish and horrible that it's considered well outside the norms of everyday civilization, originally referred to Russia.
But it feels pretty truthy.
Civilization? Prussia, Galacia, Pomerania (Austria/Germany, Turkey/Armenia, Germany/Poland). The Pale? Minsk, Kyiv (Belarus, Ukriane). Beyond The Pale?