Thursday, 29 August 2013

Q58: Doukhobors and Hippies?

From: Dr. Irina Gordeeva, Moscow, Russia

I am a Russian historian and my theme is a history of the radical pacifist movement in Russia in the twentieth century. I start with the tolstoyans of the beginning of the twentieth century and finish with independent peace movement of the late Soviet period.

Thank you for your site and texts very much. Could you, please, answer a question for me: Is there any information about the attitude of the pacifist doukhobors to the hippie movement?

My question refers to the problem of the different types of pacifism and their interrelations. In the archive of Olga Birukova, I found a letter by a Doukhobor who was very negative towards hippies. In the Soviet Union there were several hippie-tolstoyans. Maybe there were hippie-Doukhobors as well?

Note: Dr. Gordeeva is an expert in the field of the history of religious and social movements in Russia (history of Utopian movements, the communitarian movement, radical pacifists, "Tolstoyan" and Russian sectarianism).


I do not know precisely what attitudes Doukhobors had in the 1960s to the immigrants and do not know of any hippie-Doukhobors, so I am asking readers to submit their stories as comments below.

In 2006, the USCC and Doukhobor Discovery Centre fully supported former "hippie / draft-dodgers" who were being attacked while trying to create a memorial and hold a conference in Nelson. See: Our Way Home Peace Event & Reunion: A review of the event and news about it.

Instead of answering Dr. Gordeeva's question, I will provide some context to this history and encourage readers to contribute.

The hippie phenomenon in the 1960s had its roots in a protest against authority, against war in Vietnam, against social injustices in society. The general response was for freedom from oppression, freedom from wars, and freedom from a variety of restrictions related to the middle class norms of sex, work, fashion, and education. The era was manifested with singing of protest songs, rallies against war, sexual freedoms, use of drugs, and by experiments in cooperative arrangements and home education.

The hippie era was democratic, but also dispersed in many directions that were responding to many needs. That dispersal made the social movement ineffective.

Joan Baez with John Kootnekoff, 1973, Mir (Issue 1:1, page 5).
The photo shows Doukhobor youth meeting a lead peace protester whose husband was 'imprisoned for 20 months, for refusing induction and organizing draft resistance against the Vietnam war' (Joan Baez, Biography). Their dress is typical for the hippie-styles of the late-1960s and early 1970s. It appeared in the magazine Mir, published by Doukhobor youth.

For Doukhobors, their historic tradition of plakun trava (going against the current) matched the hippie phenomenon of questioning the life style of the day, always looking for ways to free human beings from the restrictions of the church and state. In their dominant mir community system in Tsarist Russia, authority was shared with little or no differentiation. However, villagers feared the authority held by persons outside the local village.

The Doukhobors who moved to Canada in 1899 (about 1/3, 7500, mostly followers of Peter V. Verigin) faced a new threat to their previous comfortable community structure arrangement. The prevailing trend of the North American society was private enterprise, the free market, and capitalism. The new migrants wanted their freedoms to continue, as they negotiated before immigration. But, the agreements were soon breached. In 1905 newly elected Canadian politicians required private ownership instead of communal land ownership granted to Doukhobors. This caused Verigin in 1908 to abandoned 79% (1209 mi.2) of all land homesteaded by all Doukhobors, and order his followers (two-thirds, 5000) to move to private land he purchased in the interior of British Columbia to continue their communes for almost three decades as Community Doukhobors. The one-third who stayed behind, worked their land as individual owners, became farmers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, nurses, and other professions, as Independent Doukhobors.

Within the Doukhobor communities, there were individuals known variously as svobodniki (free people), Sons of freedom or zealots, who resisted the state in terms of land ownership, public education, and the filling out of census data. They appear to have gotten their inspiration from Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his back-to-nature movement, from anarchists in opposing the state, and even from Lev N. Tolstoy who sought truth and the simple life to ensure an egalitarian society.

These zealots refused to adjust to the prevailing style of life in North America. Some of them became so vocal and extremist that they contradicted their historic roots of nonviolence and respect for ones neighbours. By going naked, releasing their 'brothers and sisters' horses and cattle in 1902, burning and bombing property (their own and others), experimenting with free marriage and sex, they essentially excluded themselves from the Doukhobor Movement. Their extremist antics were so sensational for the media and the public, that the group was condemned as a whole. A small group of warring zealots had in effect hijacked the larger peaceful group of Doukhobors.

The hippies were against war and social injustice, as have been the Doukhobors over the centuries.

The parallel to the hippie movement is closest to the extremist zealots, but there is a caveat which historians must take note. Burnings, bombings and nudity are not main-stream behaviours of Doukhobors. In fact, they are not Doukhobor in their true peaceful essence. To equate the Doukhobors as hippies is inaccurate.

What I see as the real lesson to Irena Gordeeva's question is that Doukhobors and hippies both questioned the right of the state to wage wars and instead sought an alternative society based on equality, nonkilling peace, justice and love. What attitudes the Doukhobors had in the 1960s and still have today require further study.


Extending the Dream

The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech in Washington, DC August 28, 1963, deserves to be extended to all corners of the earth.

As one of the best speeches of the 20th century, King's dream was for freedom, equality, jobs, and a release from the bondage of slavery and injustice. He hoped that people would one day judge Negroes / Blacks not by the colour of their skins, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King Statue in Washington DC.
Photo by Peter Stockdale. Oct. 20, 2011

Today in the USA there is a long way to go to achieve King's dream. Domestically, universal health care and free education should be available to all. The gap between the rich and the poor needs to be narrowed drastically if there is to be any sense of equality and justice in the country. Internationally, the bullying of outsiders by the American government needs to be recognized and sharply curtailed. For example, the more than 1,000 military bases around the world ought to be closed. And states such as Hawaii need to be returned to their native owners.

But a critique of America is not sufficient. In 2013, we need to extend that dream for a new sense of world possibilities; that we are our brothers and sisters keepers residing in one world.

My No. 1 dream is a world without wars, a world structured on nonviolent basis with love being the central power that unites us all. In this regards, Martin Luther King was inspired in the nonviolence path by earlier stalwarts Mahatma Gandhi and Lev N. Tolstoy.

In the words of King, 'I hold these truths as self-evident'. I have a dream! In the style of his words, I would like to extend King's intent into my dreams, as follows:
  • I have a dream that the military industrial complex will become a relic of the past just as slavery has become outlawed in world history.
  • I have a dream that soon governments around the world will ban nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
  • Yes, I have a dream that a growing number of governments all over will build the architecture for a peaceful nonkilling world with the establishment of Departments of Peace in their parliaments.
If we are to survive and thrive as a worthy human race, we — men and women — must think globally so that one day our children will live in a world where love is the measure of human beings, where military might is a relic of history, and where Martin Luther King's dream has taken on practical human purposes. Let love, freedom and nonviolence rein!

Also see: Martin Luther King's Dream yet to become reality in US, by Mark Mandell, North America editor, BBC News US & Canada, 27 August 2013.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Georgia Funds Doukhobor Project

The Deportation of the Tavrian Doukhobors to Georgia and Their Identity is the title of a one-year research project begun in July 2013 in the Republic of Georgia, funded by the President.

The project is being researched and produced by 3 advocates in the southern Samtskhe-Javakheti region: Gulo Koxodze, a human rights journalist; Nino Narimanishvili, editor of the Samkhretis Karibche newspaper; and, Nino Zumbadze, a member of the regional Tolerance Association.

Kuxodze (Kukhodze), who works with the Human Rights Center, proposed the multimedia project. They will produce a website, short video documentaries, and print publications dedicated to the life histories, traditions, and culture of the Doukhobors. The project began 1 July 2013, is funded for one year, and will be in Georgian and Russian languages.

Kuxodze has been in contact with 20 local Doukhobor families. She reported about them in the past, and feels an in-depth study of traditions and culture is needed now because many are very old. Though a lot of information is on the Internet, little is in the Georgian language and few have Internet access. Some reports will also be published in Armenian because their newspaper readership is primarily refugees from Armenia, many who invaded Dukhoborya — land of the Doukhobors.

This project will bring more facts to the attention of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia regarding Doukhobor historical sites. In 2012 the proposed granting of cultural heritage status to the Sirotski Dom (Orphan's Home), Gorelovka village, was unresolved. The Tolerance Center, Public Defender of Georgia, reported: "The process should be speeded up and the object granted a status of a museum and allocated two personnel to protect it."

A local Doukhobor said the Sirotski Dom should serve its original purpose, as a home for elderly orphans (widows, widowers). The elders could look after one another with professional help, and preserve their roots.

The historical and cultural value of the 1895 Burning of Arms site, peschery (grotto) and old cemetery are little known among Georgians. All sites should be submitted for the UNESCO World Heritage List for Georgia.

More about Doukhobors in Georgia.

Funded by Presidential Decree

On 17 December 2012, American educated President Mikheil Saakashvili issued a decree to allocate GEL 1 million (Georgian lari / CAN$ 631,165) from the President’s Fund for the development of the Civil Sector and enhancement of the role of free media. Funds were awarded to non-profit/ non-government (NGO) entities.

The Journalistic Development Fund, named "Zaza Daraselia," received GEL 200,000 (CAN $126,450). Zaza Daraselia is Executive Director of the Fair Elections Foundation and was an administrator of Didube-Chughureti region, Tblisi.

The Daraseli Fund fortunately got their grant due to other organizations not submitting and/or not understanding the goals of the President. The Fund awarded cultural projects — performances, attractions, exhibition space, or multimedia projects. The Doukhobor project, submitted in April 2013, satisfied conditions of the Fund as a multimedia cultural project.

The Doukhobor project will bring much needed funds to the young SK newspaper with a staff of eight. The newspaper was launched in 2003 to serve the poor south Georgian Armenian villages with many articles in the Armenian language. It nearly closed in 2012 due to no grant in 2011.

Sources by date
  1. Gulo Koxodze, Facebook.
  2. Everyday Life and Problems of Dukhabors (Part 1), by Gulo Kokhodze, Human Rights in Georgia, 25 May 2007
  3. Everyday Life and Problems of Dukhabors (The End) : Village of Old People, by Gulo Kokhodze, Human Rights in Georgia, 25 May 2007
  4. Here Women Have No Rights and They Are Blind…,” by Gulo Kokhodze, Human Rights in Georgia, 30 May 2007.
  5. Deteriorated House Will Be Restored,, 20 May 2008.
  6. Nostalgia or Unbearable Living Conditions - Dukhobors Abandon Villages in Ninotsminda District, by Gulo Kokhodze, Human Rights in Georgia, 23 January 2008.
  7. შაშკინის გადაწყვეტილე (Probate decision), video, 27 January 2010.
  8. Monitoring results of implementation of the National Concept and Action Plan on Tolerance and Civil Integration, Council of National Minorities, Tolerance Center, Public Defender, Republic of Georgia, 2010-2011. In English, Russian, and Georgian languages. (ISBN 978-9941-0-5067-1), pages 132-133, 137-138, 145.
  9. President of Georgia to Fund NGO Sector and Media,, Trend News Agency, 18 December 2012.
  10. President to Fund Two Organizations for Development of Civil Sector and Free Media,, 8 January 2013.
  11. Former education minister’s organisation receives presidential grant in Georgia, 9 January 2013.
  12. "Zaza Daraseli Fund" to Start Issuing Grants in the Near Future, Civil Society Institute - CSO Georgia, 16 January 2013.
  13. Civil Sector and Free Media Development Organizations Funded by President’s Fund,, 7 June 2013.
  14. ვის და რატომ გაახსენდნენ დუხობორები? (Who are and why should Doukhobors be remembered?), Samkhretis Karibche (Southern Gate) news, 26 June 2013.
  15. ვის და რატომ გაახსენდნენ დუხობორები? (Who are and why should Doukhobors be remembered?),, 26 June 2013.
  16. Projects Funded by Zaza Daraselia’s Foundation,, 17 July 2013.
  17. Involuntary Vacation of the Samkhretis Karibche,, 3 February 2012.
  18. Ethnic Map of Georgia, August 2012, European Centre for Minority Issues — based on ECMI assessments from 2006 to 2008.