Kul'túrnost' as a standard of behavior is an inflexible and fragile ideal.  To be "polite", in the Western sense, is to engage in a pleasant and fluent process of compromise.  To be kul'túrny, involves an uncomfortable and demanding balancing act.  For although it is universally accepted that one should be so, and the rules for what one must not do seem both strict and uncompromising what one should do is much harder to ascertain.
 



"The rules" degenerate into weapons of self-defence.  "Warmth" is violated and invaded.  Kul'túrnost' is therefore volatile and unstable a field of battle and this is the most important difference between it and politeness. Once in a while, of course, balance is achieved, but nearly always as a result of individual strength and integrity.  This lends a fragile and intensely personal quality to the whole field of "intermediate" communication, as well as to any human edifice built up in this sphere.
The roles of kul'túrnost' are unstable and rigid, and have a meager vocabulary of expression.  One must "charge" them with personal responsibility and secret knowledge, or see their meaning disintegrate altogether.  Russians as well as foreigners therefore often describe the Soviet public as grey, monotonous, uniform (odnoobrázny), lacking the color and variation typical of the West.  The uniformity of behavior is mirrored in other public realms as well: in material culture, the same dress, housing, food, even kitchen utensils, book-covers or cafeteria-furnishings are found from Leningrád to Vladivostók.  "Enforced pluralism" leads to its own kind of uniformity: Lídiya Fëdorovna (83) remarked nostalgically that classes had disappeared since the Revolution, and with them all clear and colorful distinctions between people.  Rich and poor live door to door in the same kommunálka.  "Sameness" also permeates ideology.  The same slogans embellish walls, the same phrases are quoted in books and speeches.  While Western media restlessly search for sensation, Soviet news-men stress continuity.  Even when potentially prestigious change is at issue, "we continue to follow the Party line, loyal to our Leninist traditions."  And when Western politicians pride themselves in pluralism, Soviet leaders ponderously proclaim the fight for unity and incorporation: monolítnost', splochënnost'.  This pervasive ideological monotony is often cited in support of the totalitarian model.  But since lack of variation in public behavior is a result of Limbo (weak general rules), it is natural to ask if ideological uniformity may not be explained in the same way.  If this assumption is correct, the impression of ideological monotony must (as with kul'túrnost') be incomplete.  Under the drab facade, ideology is pervaded by fragility and "explosiveness".  It is "grey" and meaningless only as long as it is not "charged" by personal responsibility and secret knowledge.