I hate saying it, and will probably be hated for it. So I am going to have that great writer about the poor and disenfranchised, Maxim Gorky, say it instead. Most people I met in the Crimean self-defence brigades seem the same as the ones now being given weapons to take over government buildings in East Ukraine, calling for a referendum they apparently don’t understand themselves. I mean, not literally the same, but the same kind. People with no personal resources and with absolutely nothing to lose. The kind of people Gorky grew up with in his terrible, starved, violent childhood among pre-revolutionary Russia’s poorest of the poor.
‘A long time afterwards I understood that Russian people, through the poverty and barrenness of their lives, love to entertain themselves with grief, they play at it like children, and are rarely ashamed to be unhappy. In their endless daily toil grief is a holiday and fire is fun; on an empty face even a scratch is an adornment…’
From My Childhood, 1913