Little Russian mentality

Little Russian mentality (malorosiistvo). An inferiority complex in some Ukrainians, particularly among the intelligentsia, with respect to the Russians. Its essential components are admiration and identification with Russian culture and imperial tradition and a denial of Ukrainian distinctiveness, accomplishment, and political aspirations. According to Mykhailo Drahomanov the mentality is typical of Russified Ukrainians, whose national identity was shaped by alien pressures. Their experience led them to absorb mostly the bad qualities of the alien Russian culture and to reject the good qualities of their own culture. For Viacheslav Lypynsky the Little Russian mentality was a sickness arising out of Ukraine's lack of statehood. Yevhen Malaniuk defined the political Little Russian complex as a lack of national spiritual sovereignty, ‘the lack of the most elementary national instinct and the paralysis of political will,’ and a ‘national defeatism’ that was manifest in self-hatred in the 18th century and later in surrender to Moscow and servility to its rulers. A similar analysis can be found in Mykola Khvylovy. Among the intelligentsia of Western Ukraine there was a somewhat analogous complex with respect to the Poles, expressed in the self-definition ‘gente Ruthenus, natione Polonus’ and labeled khrunivstvo (piggishness) by Ukrainians. Ukrainians in Transcarpathia who were devoted to Hungary were called Magyarones. There is a distinction between the Little Russian mentality and Russophilism, although the two were sometimes similar in their expression and their results.

Bohdan Kravtsiv

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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