Much depends on on who your parents are, what is your neighborhood and which generation you belong to. But one thing is absolutely certain: the Russian civilization is there to shape you up into a very tough human being.
During the last two decades, the notion of krutói (“tough”, “hard nut”, “smart”) became very central for our definition of success. But even though the meaning is new (krutói means originally “steep” or “hard-boiled”), the concept is centuries-long. In it, you can find something in common with the religious search for purity, or the American obsession with self-help and self-improvement. But the starting point is different.
It’s the eternal Russian admiration of power. Our universe is choke full with predators—some benign, but many not—cruising and looking for prey in competition with each other. It’s about where in the food chain you want to place yourself.
Topping from bottom
No one insists on depredation. But this world is not for the fragile. Even if your meek predisposition or your charitable ethics command you to linger on the very bottom, it pays to be krutói. You can duck, you can run, you can hide, you can talk your way out of trouble—the better you do it, the longer you last.
As a Russian, this is a quest nothing can exonerate you from. Ever wondered why spoken Russian sounds so tough, our ladies look so gorgeous, and our men act so macho in online forums? Here’s your answer.
No one knows what kind of riches waits for us at the end of this quest. Yet, if you one day find yourself reincarnated somewhere in Russia, expect everyone telling you in a zillion ways to pull up your britches and beating your ego into shape.
– Dima Vorobiev