IN his work Problems of Leninism, Stalin set development of national cultures as an immediate objective; he had, as an eventual objective, the fusion of these cultures into a single "socialist culture."
Communist propagandists always stress the first of Stalin's objectives; and they divert attention from the extensive efforts already being made to realize the second one. These efforts consist of imposing Soviet Russia's Eastern cultural heritage on parts of the Soviet sphere, such as Czechoslovakia, where the national heritage is specifically Western. It is, in fact, as much or more a Russian thing than a Socialist thing the Communists are imposing.
Few people realize how deep and historical is the cultural gulf between Russia and the West. In the development of that gulf there were three stages: the doctrinal schism between the Churches of Rome and Byzantium ill 1053, which was reinforced by the great difficulty of communication between East and West imposed by marauding Arabs; the first Crusades, beginning in 1096, which strengthened the Church of Rome; and the Tatar invasion of Russia beginning around 1237, which completely cut off Russia from the Western world for some two hundred years.
Even before the schism a good foundation for a separate and autocratic development in Russia was laid by Vladimir I of Kiev who became a Christian in the year 989, brought Greek priests from Byzantium, and established the Christian church as an institution firmly under his control as the monarch. He imposed Christianity from above, and all that went with it in the way of cultural life, literature, art and poetry, and subjected them to the authority of the crown. In the centuries that have followed, Russia has never departed very far from this pattern. For a short time in the tenth and eleventh centuries, and even in the twelfth, a splen