Elements of Propaganda in “Essays on the Geography of the Almighty Don Host” by V.V. Bogachev (1919)
Authors: Artem Yu. Peretyatko
Number of views: 67
The paper highlights “Essays on the geography of the Almighty Don Host” (Ocherki geografii Vsevelikogo Voyska Donskogo), a textbook on the geography of the Don region, which came to print amid the Civil War thanks to the initiative of a Don Ataman, P.N. Krasnov. The paper shows that the textbook, in combination with the “Don chrestomathy” (Donskaya khrestomatiya), created in the same period, was supposed, as the authors devised it, to imbue students at Don schools with devotion to their homeland, to shape them as “useful servants of the Almighty Don Host”. The book, among other things, contained the propaganda of the military devotion of Don Cossacks.
Analyzing the text of “Essays on the geography of the Almighty Don Host” and looking at it through the lens of the Don social ideas, which existed at the turn of the 20th century, the author concludes that the majority of the ideological constructs, which V.V. Bogachev promulgated, were not novel. V.V. Bogachev, like several earlier authors, championed the importance of the Cossacks’ military devotion and argued that future generations of Cossacks should be prepared to defend their land. However, as he formulated the positive values that Cossacks stood guard of, V.V. Bogachev attached particularly great virtue to irrational love for the Motherland, regardless of whether it was justified or not. Moreover, V.V. Bogachev insisted that Cossacks were superior in their moral qualities to Great Russians whom his text styled in the obvious image of “strangers”. Although similar views could be found among hard-right Don authors before 1917, V.V. Bogachev was the first to include them into a textbook and substantiate them with a unique Cossack heritage, on top of that. The author comes to the conclusion that V.V. Bogachev’s book clearly demonstrates how, in times of war, the declared propaganda of “love for the Cossackdom” transforms into the propaganda of xenophobia with only a thin line separating it from radical nationalism.