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Cossack social classes

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calvo View Drop Down
Chieftain
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    Posted: 20 Oct 2009 at 03:54
Following the debate of social classes among different cultures of the world; there is one society where the question of "social class" has been of particular interest to me: that is the Cossacks.

The original Cossack hosts, as formed of Tatar and Slavic runnaway serfs and army deserters, was known to be a highly militarised, yet democratic, and egalitarian society. By surviving in the lawless steppes, one man's survival depended to a great deal on the group's integrity; and the group's fighting ability as a unit.
Most commanders were elected; every 10 men elected their leader; and every leader of 10 men elected their leader of 100 men; all the way up to the commanders of 1000 men, 10000 men, up to the Ataman. Initially, the ataman was known to be not a life-time post, yet renewed after each election.
By the late 17th and 18 century, most Cossack hosts seemed to have become "stable" as they had settled their for many generations. New social classes formed, disinguishing the officers to the commoners. By the late 18th century, any Cossack officers were directly appointed from Russian military academies, who had little or no experience among the ranks; the tradition of "electing commanders" had more or less died out.

Wouldn't this loss of the egalitarian nature of Cossack society have betrayed to a great deal their origins?


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Sarmat View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Oct 2009 at 12:25
Of course it did. But the Cossacks as a whole still remained a privileged class of the Russian society.
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calvo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Oct 2009 at 04:28
But did a great social division between the Cossack rank-and-file and the commanders develop over the centuries?
At least during the early 20th century and in he 1917 revolution, when the rank-and-file troops of the regular army revolted, the Cossacks more or less remained as a cohesive unit.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Oct 2009 at 05:48
Yes, but there were also Red Cossacks during the Russian Civil War, but they formed the minority of the Cossackdom.
 
The great Sholokhov's novel covers this quite well.
 
 


Edited by Sarmat - 03 Nov 2009 at 02:14
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calvo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Nov 2009 at 23:54
Looks like a very interesting story, certainly worth a read!
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