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Egor Kholmogorov

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ryzhenko-zontik

Pavel Ryzhenko (2008): Umbrella.

The latest in our series of translations of Russian national-conservative intellectual Egor Kholmogorov, as promised.

In his latest article, published at Vzglyad, Kholmogorov demolishes twelve myths about the Bolshevik revolution, using a recent article by the Russian novelist Zakhar Prilepin as a foil. Why Prilepin? Who is he, anyway? You won’t find many mentions of him in the Western media, like you would of Vladimir Sorokin, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, or Dzerzhinsky admirer turned maniac Russophobe Svetlana Alexievich – writers that take a “handshakeworthy” anti-Russian stance. However, Zakhar Prilepin enjoys far more popular acclaim within Russia itself than any of those third rate entities – the only modern Russian literary authors comparable to him in eminence are Boris Akunin (historical mystery), Viktor Pelevin (satire), and Sergey Lukyanenko (sci-fi).

Part of the reason is Prilepin’s background. He has nothing to do with the Moscow intellentsia; he is the quintessential Russian redneck. Worked as a laborer, a security guard, and with the OMON riot police. Chechnya vet. Went into journalism in the 2000s, but found his true calling in artistic literature: Writing socially critical novels, typically about life in the Russian podunks (he himself hails from the rustbelt city of Nizhny Novgorod). Worst of all, he is a vatnik, a Communist (a National Bolshevik, to be precise), and a Donbass supporter. Most definitely not handshakeworthy – especially since he doesn’t exactly keep his politics on a backburner. Prilepin is also Chief Editor of Svobodnaya Pressa, an intelligent online journal and media success story that enjoys 15 million monthly visits (they even once translated one of my articles). He also pals around with DNR bigwigs and has even gathered a batallion for the War in the Donbass, though its more PR spectable than anything else.

As one of Russia’s leading “patriotic”/vatnik intellectuals, and one of the most authoritatative spokespersons for what Russian Neo-Stalinists actually think, a point by point critique of Prilepin’s apologia for the Bolshevik Revolution has value beyond just another recitation of Bolshevik crimes and hypocrisy (of which there is no shortage of anyway). Moreover, even if you substantively or wholly disagree with Egor Kholmogorov’s critique, I hope that this translation will at least help you get a better picture of the actual state of the debate about the Soviet legacy amongst normal Russians, beyond the banal (not to mention 90% wrong) Western representation of it as a binary struggle between a Stalinophile Kremlin and pro-Western liberals.

Translated by: Anatoly Karlin (intro to #5) and Fluctuarius Argenteus (#6-12).

Original: https://vz.ru/columns/2017/11/8/894324.html

***

Twelve Myths of the Bolshevik Revolution: A Conservative Refutation

The defense of Lenin and the Bolshevik regime in Zakhar Prilepin’s recent article is so representative of the genre that one can barely leave it uncommeted.

The Great October Revolution lies in ruins on its centenary. The essence of its defeat lies in that even the modest apologists for Bolshevism hardly ever cite their actual programs, slogans, and values. Nobody knows says that the Revolution opened the path to socialism and Communism all over the world, nobody expresses joy over the collapse of the bourgeoisie and the Tsar’s henchmen, and their replacement by a workers’ state. Nobody says that the light of atheism shone through the darkness of clerical obscurantism, nobody insists that the Bolseviks gave the land to the peasants, the factories to the workers, and peace to the people.

The justification of the October Revolution, of Bolshevism, and of Soviet power – in short, the entirety of Red apologetics – now occurs from within patriotic, nationalist, conspirological, populist, and even Christian Orthodox frameworks, all of which were mostly or entirely antithetical to the Communist value system itself. In practice, this consists of sophistic manipulations of Hegel’s “Cunning of Reason.” That is, the Bolsheviks wanted one thing, but something entirely different happened in reality, and it is actually this unconscious benefit which constitutes the real blessing of the revolution.

This form of apologetics was invented as early as the 1920s by the National Bolsheviks, from Ustryalov – who viewed Lenin as a patriot and a great stateman, and the Whites as agents of foreign powers in the form of the Entente – to Klyuev – who saw the Bolsheviks as liberators of the more authentic, pre-Petrine, “Kerzhen” Russia. But the value of all these apologetics was most poignantly demonstrated by the execution (Ustryalov, Klyuev) or imprisonment (Karsavin, Savitsky, Shulgin) of everyone who glorified Bolshevism through prisms other than Marxism-Leninism. Sure, the Bolsheviks were not averse to using smenovekhovstvo – the White emigres pushing for conciliation with the Soviet regime – for their own purposes, but they most assuredly did not subscribe to their vision of their historical mission as patriots, regatherers of the Russian lands, and custodians of the Russian state.

Why do people still bother with Red apologetics today?

Partly, on account of inflexibility. Russia in the 1990s was infested by ghouls, screeching that they had freed us from Lenin, the Communists, and the revolutionary heritage – which quietly freeing us of the contents of our pockets. And since this looting occured under the banner of anticommunism, it is no surprise that pro-Soviet discourse grew popular, since it, at least, did not brook this mass looting.

For all intents and purposes, Red apologetics was an apologetics for a social state; for public property, that had been created by the common labor of the Soviet people; for the Army, cosmonautics, the military-industrial complex, the Navy, the research centers, and so forth. And this was logical.

To my shame, there was a period, when I myself, despite never having imbibed the Leninist spirit, partook of similar activities. The most popular aspect of these apologetics was the Stalinist one – yes, the Revolution may have been horrific, but then came along Stalin and set everything right again…

But this train has passed. Russian society now faces new challenges, in which the political canonization of Bolshevism, Leninism, and Stalinism are not the friends, but the enemies, of our future.

And yet the Red people are still stuck in their polemics about Gaidar and Chubais. For instance, take the issue of creeping separatism in Tatarstan. It is impossible to solve it from a neo-Soviet position, because it was Lenin who created the Tatar ASSR and accomodated the Sultan-Galievs. The Ukraine, which demolished all its Lenin monuments, was his beloved child. In reality, regardless of which question we consider, appeals to the Soviet experience are block brakes on our future progress. It is either a false alternative to the liberal solution, or it is the liberal solution. Therefore, it is of no surprise that we are hearing increasingly Bolshevik overtones in the rhetoric of our liberal cliques, for example, in the matter of anti-clericalism. The Zyuganov era of traditionalist-friendly Communism is coming to its inevitable end, and is becoming displaced by a new era of Communist liberalism, which is hostile to the Russian traditional values that are held in equal contempt by both liberals and conventional Communists. [1]

It is precisely this form of apologetics that was advanced by Zakhar Prilepin in his recent article 12 Points about the Revolution and the Civil War. His defense of Lenin and the Bolshevik order is so representative that the urge to deconstruct it is irresistable, so that is what we shall do, point by consecutive point.

1. The Bolsheviks did not overthrow the Tsar – they overthrew the liberal-Westernist Provisional Government.

The Bolsheviks were the most categorical supporters of overthrowing the autocracy amongst all the Russian opposition parties. They excluded the possibility of keeping the monarchy even in a purely constitutional form; they were the most consistent republicans.

The Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party considers its immediate political task to be the overview of Tsarist autocracy and its replacement by a democratic republic,” read the program of the RSDRP accepted at its 2nd Congress, the very one where Lenin’s supporters constituted the majority, and henceforth came to be known as the Bolsheviks.

The Bolsheviks didn’t play a major role in the overthrow of the monarchy only because the party was still very weak as of February 1917.

But they more than compensated for this through their murder of the royal family, which, besides the innate abhorrence of the murder of the children and the servants, constituted the true overthrow of the Russian monarchy. As many historians and legal theorists have pointed out, the abdictation of Nicholas II in March 1917 was legally null and reversible, whereas death was final.

2. Prilepin, arguing that the Civil War between Whites and Reds was started by the Februarists (Kornilov, Alekseyev, Savinkov), poses this rhetorical question: “Do those who oppose Lenin and the Bolsheviks really believe that Russia would have been better off in the 20th century if it was governed by liberals, revolutionaries with a penchant for terrorism, and generals who broke their vows”?

Unfortunately, the majority of our readers are still not sufficiently familiar with the history of the anti-Bolshevik resistance, and might therefore be inclined to agree with this assertion. But that doesn’t make it correct.

The leaders, the real icons of the White movement – generals Drozdovsky, Markov, Kappel, Yudenich, Kutepov – were convinced monarchists. The only consistent republican amongst the leadership was Denikin. The position of Admiral Kolchak remains unclear.

The rest in one way or another expressed support for monarchy. Moreover, despite the dissatisfaction of Entente emissaries, the White movements continuously moved rightwards throughout the years of the Civil War towards a more definite monarchism, culminating in a Zemsky Sobor in Vladivostok in 1922.

General Kornilov: “I was never against the monarchy… I am a Cossack. A true Cossack cannot be anything but a monarchist.

General Alekseyev: “In the course of time Russia has to move towards a restoration of monarchy.

General Wrangel: “The Tsar must appear only when the Bolsheviks are vanquished.

Even the republican Denikin admitted that half of his Army consisted of monarchists.

But to honestly answer the question of whether it would have been better for Russia to be ruled by liberals, retired Social Revolutionary pyromaniacs, and turncoat generals in the 20th century, it is merely sufficient to pose the following questions:

“Would Savinkov, the terrorist Social Revolutionary, have implemented general collectivization, dekulakization, and the expulsion of people whose lands and property had been seized, into areas of permafrost, where they died of hunger?”

“Would Kornilov, the general who betrayed the monarchy, has created a system of concentration camps covering the entire country, where people would have been sent for telling a joke about himself, or for stealing a sheaf of wheat from one of Savinkov’s collective farms?”

“Would Kerensky, that undoubted leftist scoundrel, have issued orders blocking relief to the famine-stricken oblasts of Malorossiya, the Kuban, and the Volga, and instead barred their denizens from leaving the disaster zones?”

“Would Denikin, the republican, have signed off on lists of hundreds of names to be executed and approved the requests of local secret police HQs to raise the shooting quotas?”

“Would Milyukov, unrivalled in his liberal vulgarity, have closed churches, shot monks, priests, bishops, and hole fools, tear off crosses from children’s necks and open up holy relics for “examination”?”

An honest answer to these questions demonstrates how even a regime of incredibly odious Februarists was still far preferable to Bolshevik tyranny. Even the most authoritarian right-wing regimes are incomparable to leftist totalitarians in the scale of their repressions and destruction. Pinochet is not Pol Pot.

Furthermore, we can see why even the Februarists were preferable to Communist power by the example of the 1990s. In those years, the new Februarists encountered fierce political, ideological, and sometimes violent resistance from the national-patriotic forces. In the end, before a single decade passed, and Russian February ended, voluntarily surrending power to Putin, who began the process of state rebuilding. Why would the 1920s have been any different?

3. “Supporters of the idea that the Revolution was financed by German and British money should try to explain, first, whether they actually obtained the advantages they sought; and second, identify the goals that both pursued by intervening against Soviet Russia, if the Bolsheviks were indeed their agents.

Nobody ever suspected the Bolsheviks of acting in the interests of the Entente. It is the Februarists, overthrown by the Bolsheviks, who were probably English agents, whereas Lenin and his colleagues are, not without justification, seen as German agents.

There were no even minimally significant clashes between the Bolsheviks and the German Army, which occupied a large portion of Russia under the Brest Peace. Lenin and his government was absolutely loyal to Germany up to the last day of the Hohenzollern monarchy, with tremendous benefits to the German war effort – a large part of the Army was freed from the Eastern Front and hurled west instead, helped along by food supplies from the Ukraine.

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Lenin was most scrupulous about keeping his side of the German contract, up to and including pressuring even his own party to ratify the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. It is sufficient to recall that on March 1, 1918 the Bolsheviks matter of factly surrendered Kiev, liberated from the Petlyurites on February 8 as a result of a workers’ uprising.

The enduring nature of the Bolshevik-German alliance is testified to by its quick resurrection under Germany’s new republican rulers, despite them having suppressed all attempts to seize power by Moscow-backed Cominternists.

4. “When discussing the exile of part of the aristocracy from Russia, and its replacement by “cooks and bandits,” as some of us say, it is worth recalling, that Lenin, too, was a noble, as were many of the most prominent Bolshevik figures and leaders of the party” [there follows a discussion of the noble descent of Lenin, Ordzhonikidze, Mayakovsky, and even the Chekist, Gleb Bokii].

There is nothing new about some members of the aristocracy defecting to anti-aristocratic movements. One can cite many other historical examples, from Pericles in Ancient Athens to Philippe I, Duke of Orléans.

The list of names mentioned by Prilepin himself show that the numbers of noblemen amongst the leaders of the Bolsheviks was negligibly small (especially when your exclude Polish nobles such as Dzerzhinsky, who hated everything Russian and were considered revolutionaries a priori in the Russian Empire).

Moreover, the degree of Lenin’s noble stock shouldn’t be exaggerated; his father, Ilya Ulyanov, was the son of a petty bourgeois, and only acquired the rank permitting him to pass on his noble status seven years after Vladimir’s birth.

Relations between the Bolsheviks and the nobility was determined not by individual relationships, but by the political philosophy of Bolshevism, the essence of which was class war – and the nobility, just like the priesthood, the bourgeioisie, and well-to-do peasants peasants were seen as class enemies, destined for destruction.

5. “75,000 former Tsarist officers served in the Red Army (62,000 of whom were of noble origin), whereas the Whites only attracted 35,000 of the 150,000 officer corps of the Russian Empire.

Prilepin’s numbers are an arbitrary fiction concocted by the Soviet researcher Alexander Kavtaradze in the book Military Specialists in the Service of the Soviet Republic 1917-1920. His speculations were refuted in Sergey Volkov’s ground-breaking research manuscript The Tragedy of the Russian Officers.

Kavtaradze arbitrarily sums up completely different categories, such as:

1. The 8,000 officers who voluntarily signed up with the Bolsheviks to participate in the “curtain forces” shielding Russia from German forces in the spring of 1918. These were men who wanted to continue fighting the German enemy, but were betrayed by the Bolsheviks, and subsequently, a signifcant number of them left the Red Army, or even joined up with the Whites.

2. The 48,000 former officers conscripted into the Red Army from 1918-2020, often coercively.

3. The 14,000 imprisoned White officers, who entered the Red Army to save their own life. These former officers constituted around a quarter to a third of the command of the Red Army, but their percentage steadily declined, since the Bolsheviks didn’t trust the Tsarist military experts.

It also a manipulation to put the numbers of the officers corps of the Russian Empire at 150,000. That was the number of officers in the active Army, whereas the numbers given as serving the Bolsheviks included all officers, regardless of where they were in 1918 – in the rear, in hospital, etc. According to Volkov’s calculations, the size of the Russian officer corps was 276,000 at the end of 1917. Consequently, less than a quarter of all Russian officers ended up serving the Reds.

For comparison, there were 170,000 officers who took part in the White movement, of whom 55,000 died in the Civil War, and a similar number of whom ended up in the emigration.

So you still want to talk about how the cooks and bandits deceived and defeated the wonderful, blue-blooded Russian nobles, who didn’t at all renege on their oaths to the Emperor?” asks Prilepin.

The quality of the officers who went to the Bolsheviks should be discussed separately.

The Russian Army command could be separated into two main groups by 1917.

The first group were the cadre officers of the Imperial Army, like Roschin in The Road to Calvary by Alexey Tolstoy. This category was seriously depleted by the war, especially in its early stages, which predetermined the discipline crisis in the Imperial Army.

The second group constituted officers produced by the exingencies of wartime, such as the poet Nikolay Gumilev and Alexander Blok, Telegin from the aforementioned Road to Calvary, the notorious ensign Nikolay Krylenko, etc. These people were, essentially, ordinary intellectuals in epaulettes, neither from military families nor possessing serious military training.

General Gurko spoke with distain about the “clerks and bathhouse attendants” turned officers. A significant part of them, ensigns, didn’t differ much from ordinary soldiers, and from the civilians, whose ranks they had recently withdrawn from. The vast majority of Red officers came from this group, while cadre officers constituted no more than 6% of the command.

Wikipedia currently lists 385 Tsarist generals who served in the Red Army. For comparison, there were close to 4,000 generals in the Imperial Russian Army in 1916, and even more by the end of 1917. No more than 10% of the generals went on to serve in the Red Army.

There were practically no top-level commanders from the First World War; for the most part they were either staff generals (Mikhnevich, Manikovsky, Zayonchkovsky), or dashing colonels, who got their high ranks in the war. Even more telling is that the Bolsheviks did not entrust these generals with indepenent command, instead using them more as as specialist consultants, and surrounding them with commissars. One rare exception was major-general Vladimir Olderogge, who finished off Kolchak’s army in Siberia in 1919.

However, the ultimate fate of most of the Tsarist generals and officers who went to serve the Bolsheviks is even more germane.

They were destroyed in 1931 in the Vesna case, fabricated by the OGPU. A total of 3,000 people were arrested, and many of them – including the aforementioned Olderogge – were shot. In 1937-38, those who had hitherto received only prison sentences were also shot: The great military theorist Svechin, generals Sytin, Verkhovsky, Morozov…

Consequently, we come to the following conclusion: Either the Soviets inducted enemies into the Red Army, who served it insincerely; or the Bolsheviks deliberately destroyed the officers and generals who believed them and chose to serve them out of their love for the Motherland.

6. “The Civil War was unleashed by the Whites…

The first event of the Civil War in Russia was the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd and Moscow that included such acts as the shelling of the Kremlin – that is, an usurpation of power.

Apparently, the author assumes that all citizens of the former Russian Empire had to accept the usurpation simply because some Congress of the Soviets in the capital proclaimed the transfer of power to something called the Sovnarkom.
If every usurper has the right to unconditional submission, then Major Prilepin is out of place in the Donetsk People’s Republic military. By his own logic, they are typical mutineers who failed to accept the self-proclaimed régime in Kiev and “unleashed” a war by refusing to submit to Maidan usurpers.

Fourteen (14!) foreign countries intervened in the Civil War – and, in this situation, blaming its victims on Bolshevism alone is utter hogwash.

Painting the Bolsheviks as Russia’s defenders against intervention is an old propaganda stunt.

The Entente intervention sought to contain the consequences of their largest ally’s withdrawal from the Great War, then in full swing, and the signing of a separate peace treaty by its usurper government.

Neither Britain nor France nor the US sought to annex a part of Russian territory or overthrow the Bolsheviks by military force (however successful those attempts could have been), and lent a very scanty aid to the anti-Bolshevik resistance while being very assertive in demanding gold in exchange for said aid.

In Spring 1919, the Entente decided to completely cease all military intervention in the Russian Civil War. None of the different “interventions” ever posed any credible threat to the Bolshevik régime.

7. “The first pieces of legislation adopted by the Bolsheviks after their rise to power had nothing repressive in their nature. The Bolsheviks came as unprecedented idealists, liberators of the people, and democrats in the best sense of the word”.

On October 27th (November 9th New Style), the Soviets promulgated the Decree of the Press, its fourth decree up to that date.

It justified and introduced criteria for a repressive crackdown on all “bourgeois” press outlets by the Sovnarkom. They were three in total: calling for “a n open resistance or disobedience to the Government of Workers and Peasants” (i.e., when a legitimate government refuses to defer to usurpers); attempts at “fomenting dissent via grossly obvious perversions of fact” (i.e., any information the Bolsheviks deemed unfavorable to their cause); and calling for “acts of patently criminal or felonious nature” (i.e., given that no Penal Code existed at the moment, acts of any nature the Sovnarkom didn’t like).

Over November and December, the preaching of violence in Soviet acts intensified: confiscation of private printing presses and reserves of paper (November 17th, this and the following dates New Style); state monopoly on public notices (November 20th); demands for arrest and trial “by the revolutionary court of the people” for anyone deemed “harmful to the people’s cause” (November 18th); explicit ban on direct and intermediary negotiations with the “leaders of the counterrevolutionary insurrection” (December 8th); arrest warrant for the leadership of Constitutional Democrats branded as the “party of the enemies of the people” (December 11th).
So much for “democrats in the best sense of the word”.

8. “Faced with an impeding collapse of the Empire collapsing and separatist movements at its fringes, the Bolsheviks immediately shifted their tactics and rapidly reassembled the Empire, only permanently losing Finland and Poland, whose being a part of Russia is even now seen as irrelevant and superfluous anyway. The Bolsheviks have done nothing to merit the title of “wreckers of the Empire” – even if they called their offensive campaigns “internationalist”, their result was a traditional Russian territorial expansion.

The Bolshevik Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia, eulogized by Prilepin, explicitly allows for a “right of nations within Russia to free self-determination, including seceding and creating an independent state.

It turns out that Bolsheviks were typical hypocrites – when different nations actually tried to use the rights they were entitled to, they immediately “shifted their tactics” and turned to “territorial expansion”. Seems very familiar in the light of how the Bolsheviks treated all other human rights.

And, of course, the Bolsheviks did not expand to any territory in the end.

By the time the Civil War ended in the Russian Far East, they had lost the Baltics, Western Ukraine, and Western Belarus, ceded to Poland by the Riga peace treaty, as well as Bessarabia, annexed by Romania. Stalin took all of this back in 1939, no thanks to Bolshevism but thanks to World War II and a deal with Hitler (and none of this, save several districts transferred from Estonia and Latvia, was added to the territory of Soviet Russia proper).

The territory that got misplaced on the road to Communism included even the Uriankhai Krai (now the Tuva Republic), only reintegrated in 1944. Permanent losses included regions of Western Armenia ceded by 1921 Moscow and Kars treaties to “our friend Kemal”: Kars, many times washed by the blood of Russian soldiers, and Mount Ararat.

After recognising Finland’s independence, Lenin, in a gesture of largesse, gave up Vyborg, conquered by Peter the Great from the Swedes.
In 1940, Vyborg returned to Russia only thanks to Marshal Mannerheim. His obstinate resistance to Soviet forces caused Stalin to abandon plans for a puppet Democratic Republic of Finland led by Otto Kuusinen. Instead of signing a treaty with the puppet state, voluntarily ceding a good half of Karelia and drawing the border south of Vyborg, the Soviet Union was forced to sign a full-fledged peace treaty with harsh conditions.

The Soviets did exactly zilch in terms of expanding Russian territory until the very capture of Lvov during Stalin’s “liberation campaign” against Poland. However, Lvov would have become a part of the Russian Empire anyway had the Tsar not been deposed. Under Stalin, Lvov became a poisoned gift that contaminated the Ukraine with the most radical strain of nationalism.

9. “Point one: there’s no Tsar. Point two: there are only White generals who are mostly okay with divvying up the country. And there are Bolsheviks who are against this divvying up.

Eulogizing about Leninist national and territorial policy is a particularly arduous affair for Prilepin. He resorts to parroting the Liberal thesis of “all empires are bound to collapse” and appealing to a treaty between Britain and France regarding the “partition of zones of influence in Russia”.

Let’s start with an outright hoax. The Whites were fighting for a united and indivisible Russia. This was the chief slogan and the main goal of the White movement. Gens. Kolchak, Denikin, and Wrangel alike were adamantly against recognizing any separatist statelets that had sprung up in the territory of the Russian Empire.

As has been said, treating a British-French agreement signed on December 23rd 1917 and establishing zones of responsibility of Entente powers in the South of Russia, with the Great War still ongoing, as a “partition of Russia between Britain and France”, is entirely baseless.

The author may fulminate against the idea of Bolshevism as the culprit that had planted the bomb under Russian territorial unity as much as he wishes to. But nothing can be done to disprove the fact that the Bolsheviks established a “Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic” in 1925, rechristened the Kazakh Republic in 1925, its capital until that year having been Orenburg. Such was the revenge of the Bolsheviks against the Orenburg Cossack Host for their resistance. That Russian city having been transferred away from Kazakhstan and back to Russia is nothing short of a miracle. Many other parts of Southern Siberia were much less lucky.

The Soviets, everywhere they could reach, created republics with a right to autonomy and secession, created “titular ethnicities” [2], granted them development funds, constructed their histories and gave them Latin-based writing systems (something reattempted by Nursultan Nazarbayev with much fanfare). [3] Terry Martin’s study The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 is a terrific analysis of this process.

Mykhailo Hrushevsky, the founding father of Ukrainian separatism, came to enact in his capacity as President of the Ukrainian Soviet Academy of Sciences more than he ever could dream of as President of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, – turning millions of Little Russian peasants into “Ukrainians”.

Ukrainization was a central policy of the Soviets in 1920s – 1930s and never ceased completely in later eras. Indeed, Stalin did dampen those processes somewhat (even though he upgraded Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Karelia-Finland from autonomies to full-fledged Soviet republics, the latter fortunately abolished by Khrushchev), but they never stopped for the entirety of the Soviet régime.

Finally, the artificial borders chartered by Communists exploded in 1991 thanks to Liberals.

Who is to blame for falling to the ground – the one who laboriously sawed the chair’s legs or the one who carelessly parked his rear end on its seat?

10. “They say Patriarch Tikhon anathematized the Bolsheviks, and that’s why one cannot support them. But neither did he bless or endorse the White movement.

The Patriarch did not anathematize the Bolsheviks, only those who enacted cruel persecutions against the Church and Orthodox Christians, those who murdered priests, robbed churches, stripped decorations from icons, desecrated holy vessels, and so on.

However, he did censure Bolsheviks proper in his epistle dated October 13th (26th) 1918, and his words are a dreadful argument against Prilepin himself:

Our great Motherland is conquered, diminished, and dismembered, and, as a tribute imposed upon her, you secretly send to Germany the gold that doesn’t belong to you.

No one feels safe anymore. Everyone lives in constant fear of searches, robbery, eviction, arrest, and execution. Innocents are taken by the hundred, tortured in prisons for months, often put to death with no trial or jury, even an expedited trial that you introduced.

The executions affect not only those guilty before you in some way but even those who are patently blameless but taken as “hostages”. Those unfortunates are murdered as a revenge for crimes enacted by people who not only don’t have opinions similar to theirs but also support you or have convictions comparable to yours.

First, under the name of “bourgeoisie”, you robbed well-to-do people; then, under the name of “kulaks”, you turned to robbing richer and more diligent peasants, thus multiplying poverty, even though you must realize that, by ruining a great multitude of individual citizens, you destroy public wealth and lead the entire country to destitution.

In this context, it seems that the point of whether the Patriarch, taken hostage by the Bolsheviks and subject to constant mortal danger, supported the Whites or not is moot.

11. “The Bolsheviks nationalized the industries, harming the interests of large-scale capitalists by siding with those of the laborers. The class most interested in the Civil War were, metaphorically speaking, the Russian Forbes 500…

The identity of the laborers that the Bolsheviks sided with is rather unclear. Were they factory workers doomed to several years of devastation, famine, and non-functional plants? Or peasants, anguishing from the terror of Prodrazvyorstka and Kombeds [4] and later rising up in the Tambov rebellion [5] (and many others), suffocated with chemical weapons?

When the “exploiters” were in charge, Russian economy grew by 8% a year; it took the Soviets more than a decade to reach its 1913 levels.

Regarding the “Russian Forbes 500”: with the exception of Russia’s richest man Nikolay Vtorov, murdered in 1918 in Moscow under suspicious circumstances, the others emigrated and saw the twilight of their years in Paris or Monaco. In the 1920s, Mikhail Tereshchenko’s 127-meter yacht, the Iolanthe, was the world’s largest yacht afloat.

Meanwhile, the living standards of the proletariat liberated from the yoke of capitalists and Tsarist social legislation was graphically described by poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, the chief panegyrist of Bolshevism: “Workers sitting in the dark, munching on damp bread.”

This was all peanuts compared to what came next: a system of forced labor, the main know-how of Stalinist industrialisation. Having no means of concentrating enough capital to fulfil his 5-year plan, Comrade Stalin found an elegant solution – dumping the costs of the other industrial factor, labor itself, to near zero.

For the first time in history, the world saw a modern industrialisation based on slave labor. The Bolsheviks were successful in annihilating private capital. The state remained the sole capitalist. And it was the state, not individual businessmen, who conducted negotiations with workers, with the barrel of an NKVD pistol as its ultima ratio.

While their comrades in both Europe and America successfully campaigned for better wages and welfare and formed the system of the social state, Russian workers spent decades in slave-like conditions and deemed themselves lucky if they weren’t converted from slaves of the 5-year plan to bondsmen of the Gulag.

12. “The main victor of the Civil War was the Russian people. The Russian Revolution of November 7th 1917 is an achievement, a victory, and a tragedy of the Russian nation. It is fully responsible for it, and has every right to be proud of this momentous achievement that changed the course of world history.

I won’t contest that the Russian people emerged victorious from the Civil War. If many, all too many Russians hadn’t thrown their lot with Bolshevism, either actively or by submission, no Latvian riflemen or Chinese volunteers could have led Lenin and his gang to victory.

The Russians, however, won a victory over themselves and their kin who dared to side with honor, God’s truth, and a tormented Fatherland, the united and indivisible Russia. This victory led all who kowtowed before Bolshevism to decades of poverty, terror, slavery, and Kafkaesque everyday life. Their only daily consolation was the hope of suffering for the greater good, a Grand Project.

No one reminded those people that only recently Tsarist Russia had completed one of the most astounding projects in the history of mankind, the transcontinental Trans-Siberian railway. It was achieved with no waste or exhaustion, no payment of tens of thousand of human lives for an infrastructural breakthrough.

Every human community, including the Russians, has a basic set of values and goals. Spiritual: spreading its worldview and faith, bolstering its national character and original creativity in national culture. Material: increasing the welfare of the nation and expanding their numbers. (Geo)political: increasing its national habitat and the security of its borders.

The Russians failed to achieve any of those goals over the 20th century as a direct consequence of the Bolshevik coup.

The Russian Orthodox Church endured a most savage persecution that put it on the brink of extinction. The originality of Russian culture was forcibly erased, having just reached its fin de siècle apex. Russians were subjected to decades of horrific poverty, terror, and famine, falling into a demographic abyss of enormous proportions.

The Bolshevik period ended with a rapid contraction of Russian borders, a reduction of Russian habitat, and our people turned, even within Russia itself, into second-grade citizens.

If this passes as a victory, then our goal is not to triumph over ourselves in this fashion once again.

Translator’s Notes

[1] This entire paragraph does not appear in the Vzglyad text, but did appear in Kholmogorov’s original draft. I considered it too good not to translate and publish anyway. – AK

[2] A semi-official term for ethnic groups whose name coincided with the name of an autonomy of a full-fledged republic in both the USSR and modern Russia (even though they weren’t/aren’t necessarily the most populous ethnicity), e.g. Kazakhs in Kazakhstan, Ukrainians in the Ukraine, Bashkirs in Bashkortostan, etc. Most of the time, the “titular” ethnicity was/is given the largest leeway possible by the central Soviet/Russian government.

[3] Reference to a recent decree of the Kazakh President proclaiming the shift the Kazakh alphabet from Cyrillic- to Latin-based , to be completed by 2025.

[4] The Prodrazvyorstka was a Soviet policy of forceful grain confiscation, formally reimbursed with a nominal fee much lower than the market price, leading to mass pauperization of peasants and famine. Kombeds (Poor Peasants’ Committees) were organs of Soviet power in rural settlements, mostly charged with enacting said policy.

[5] A 1920-21 peasant insurrection in the Volga region caused by mass grain requisitions and other forms of Soviet-sanctioned abuse, leaving more than 200,000 civilians dead. Often claimed as the first documented use of chemical weapons in internal conflict.

 
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unsolved-socialism-problem

The latest in our series of translations of Russian national-conservative thinker Egor Kholmogorov.

Translated by: Fluctuarius Argenteus; slightly edited by AK.

Original: http://zavtra.ru/blogs/pravoslavnyij-sotsializm

***

Socialism Not Dead: Paradoxes of an Unsolved Problem

It may seem strange that, at the turn of the 21st century, the word “Socialism” is back in the popular political idiom. The final decade of the preceding century seemed to have been the time of its complete (and, so it would seem, irreversible) annihilation.

Soviet-style “Real Socialism” ended in a pathetic disgrace, striking its colors at the sight of a sausage pointed at its heart. Who would have thought that churning out missiles, dams, and factories wouldn’t be enough to sustain a planned economy based on communal property? It was also necessary to grant the Socialist people access to consumer goods at least remotely comparable to those available under Capitalism; otherwise, falling behind not only in living standards but also in technology became inevitable. Soviet Socialism collapsed under the weight of this contradiction, while China enacted reforms so deep that, while looking at Chinese billionaires, one can’t help but wonder whether it’s still Socialism or a “Red Capitalist” oligarchy of the Chinese Communist Party – quite probably no worse than any other oligarchy in history.

Meanwhile, the Capitalist world with its triumphant Liberalism seemed to have scored a doubtless moral victory. Not only did it outpace Socialism, it completely consumed it. All more or less sensible Socialist ideas were incorporated into the structure of the “welfare state”, leaving “Real Socialism” with such dubious achievements as complete socialization of property or pedantic ideological censorship. Socialism appeared to have been entirely devoured and digested by a Capitalism that had reached in this struggle a new stage in its historical evolution.

A quarter of a century after this victory over Socialism, the foundations of the global Liberal order are more and more visibly shaken. Within the US Democratic party, Hillary Clinton’s Liberalism, oriented at racial and sexual minorities, has been challenged by “Democratic Socialist” Bernie Sanders who is cajoling White American workers into rising against the 1%, the Wall Street loan sharks. Socialist? US Presidential candidate? Early 21st century? It seems patently absurd. Meanwhile across the pond, the Labour party in the UK eschewed fine-looking bureaucrats in favour of Jeremy Corbyn, a Socialist, an anti-militarist, and general diehard Leftist. One of his first acts as leader of the Shadow Cabinet was creating a committee for a new economic policy, including such anti-inequality fighters as Thomas Piketty and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz.

All of a sudden, we not only see a ressurection of Socialism in two of the leading countries of the Capitalist world, but positioning itself as a powerful political political alternative to the dominant Liberal mainstream. If we take into account that this mainstream is also under attack by right-wing populism of the likes of Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen (the program of the latter replete with anti-Capitalist and anti-Globalist vocabulary), the Liberal “end of history” seems to have ended quite rapidly. If this wave hasn’t reached us yet, it is only because both our Liberalism and our Capitalism are quite peculiar, and our political system doesn’t operate under Western-style rules. However, one cannot completely shut oneself off from a revolution of ideas, and it seems likely we will soon hear the march of a new Socialism here in Russia.

What is the cause of this 2010s Socialist re-revolution? The return of economic conditions that had caused the heyday of Socialism in the 19th century and were drastically changed in the 20th. The driving force of the Socialism of two centuries ago was a contradiction between the ideals of civil liberty and equality brought about by the French Revolution and the Enlightenment, and an absolute economic inequality typical of ancien régime Europe. The latter became more prominent and intolerable at the start of the Industrial Revolution, when hundreds of thousands of proletarians became concentrated in the stench and stuffiness of the working-class suburbs of developed countries.

Liberalism was faced with a monstrous and insoluble contradiction: why, after declaring human rights and liberties in thought and politics, giving equal rights to all social strata and doing away with the feudal ladder of estates, should it remain the guardian of a gap between wealth and misery, the protector of economic inequality? The situation of defending equality in the sphere of ideas, less important for most of the people, and championing inequality in the sphere of the stomach, of much greater everyday importance, seemed entirely ridiculous.

Excuses invented for explaining why some people are poor and some rich pushed those who considered this to be an injustice to certain solutions. “Private property is inviolable, you have no right to infringe upon it, therefore, you dare not touch the wealth of others,” said the wealth apologists. “It simply means that property is theft, and it must be destroyed or redistributed to close the gap between wealth and poverty,” replied the champions of the poor. “Liberty is not the equality of results but that of opportunities. We should be equal at square one, and then let each one gain according to his energy and talents,” said the wealth apologists. “Then we should socialize the work effort, and then we’ll have a common result: From each other according to their ability, to each other according to their needs. Also, let’s create truly equal opportunities, because the prospect of equal chances for millionaires and have-nots is a bald-faced lie,” replied the champions of the poor.

The ideas, methods, and moral high ground of the Socialism of yesteryear stemmed from a European yearning for equality, described by Alexis de Tocqueville, and the angst caused by the monstrous material inequality in the Europe in an age when the gaps between wealth and poverty were insurmountable. These gaps are the subject of a spirited dialogue between a young Rastignac and a cynical, conniving Vautrin in Honoré de Balzac’s Le Père Goriot. Vautrin explains to Rastignac, then a young idealist, that his chances of making good money thanks to learning, personal qualities, and industriousness are equal to zero. The only way of winning a fortune is getting it from somebody who already has it, by way of inheritance or marriage. The only way of becoming rich is being rich.

The world that spawned most Socialist theories, especially those of Saint-Simon, Proudhon, and Marx, was not a liberal world of free competition and equal opportunity. It was a polarized world devoid of a middle class: the 1% of haves and the 99% of have-nots.

What did this mean in practice? All talk of alleged opportunity in life granted by a Liberal version of Capitalism seemed naught but a myth. Big money was a magnet that attracted even bigger money. The lion’s share of national income, regardless of the pace of its growth, was distributed in the same proportion that was fixed in the structure of national capital. Simply put, those who controlled the majority of wealth gained the majority of income while making little to no effort.

America was the sole exception, with a lower concentration of wealth and a higher share of income distributed through free competition. Hence the image of the USA as a Promised Land, a land of opportunity, a magnet for migration. A good way of making money in Europe was moving to America (with the possibility of returning to the Old World with newfound wealth in tow left open).

No industrial growth, no Socialist attacks on the government or the bourgeoisie could change anything in the structure of this world until the start of World War I. This explains the revolutionary character of European socialism and the borderline utopian radicalism of its proposed solutions: Total socialization of industry, expropriation of the ruling classes, dictatorship of the proletariat, dreams of a World Revolution.

piketty-capital-income-ratio-europe

Source: Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty. Not part of Kholmogorov’s article.

This World Revolution did come to pass – but it started not in 1917, but in 1914. As brilliantly demonstrated by Thomas Piketty in Capital in the 21st Century, the Great War kickstarted a default of old European wealth. The horrors of war, the collapse of world trade, the Russian Revolution with its devastation and expropriation of the wealthy classes, the defeat and hyperinflation in Germany and Austria, the demographic crisis and budget deficit in the UK and France, the impeding dismantlement of colonialism – all of this led to a catastrophic decline in capital concentration in Europe.

piketty-russia-inequality-history

Source: From Soviets to Oligarchs: Inequality and Property in Russia 1905-2016 by Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty, and Gabriel Zucman (2017). Not part of Kholmogorov’s article.

The revolutionary role of Russia, whose bourgeoisie was sacrificed at the altar of transformation, consisted not so much in socializing property and launching the Socialist experiment as in crashing the world rent. The enormous Russian debt that had fed millions of rentiers all over Europe turned into dust in the blink of an eye and doomed the rentier civilisation to extinction.

From the 1920s to the 1940s, the level of capital concentration in the world capitalist system continued its decline. Contributing factors included the Great Depression that had finally made its way to America, the devastation of World War II, the post-war wave of nationalisations, and tax deductions for national reconstruction. The ratio of capital to national income fell from 6:1 under the old regime to 2:1, i.e. the entirety of concentrated capital (be it in the form of real estate, shares, or foreign assets) became equal to only two years’ worth of national income.

What were the socioeconomic consequences of this Great Default? The grip of Capital loosened, its magnetic effect wasn’t as far-reaching, and the problem of economic equality was tackled within the framework of global Capitalism, without employing the radical recipes of fin de siècle Socialism. More precisely, those radical recipes were relegated to countries that were lagging behind in industrial development, such as Russia and China. The main goal of this radicalism was a wilful, determined achievement of an industrial breakthrough. Socialism in so-called Socialist countries was most concerned with productivity and not wealth redistribution.

Western countries, however, having no need for a “great leap forward”, were able to afford the luxury of a “Socialism sans Socialism”. Social Democracy, Christian Socialism, Swedish Socialism, Social Reformism all followed the same model. Without abolishing private property as such, without creating a dictatorship of Leftist parties, by limiting themselves to a selective nationalisation, they achieved economic equality by fostering a system of high wages and a well-developed social sphere, ushering in the welfare state. Essentially, it was a huge Ponzi scheme organized according to Keynesian precepts: The state took away a sizable portion of incomes via taxation in order to redistribute this money, also as income but under a more egalitarian distribution.

This was the zeitgeist of the treinte glorieuses of 1945-1975, when all Western governments followed, with slight variations, a single socioeconomic policy targeted at bringing social inequality as far down as possible, raising national income redistributed as salaries to the detriment of rents, dividends, etc., and widening the social responsibilities of the state. It was the age of a rising middle class, the 40% that follow the 10%-strong strata of the wealthy; this class laid claim to 30-40% of national wealth as opposed to just 5% before World War I. The 50% of the poor were stuck with the same 5% as before, but at least they gained a much greater chance of breaking out of poverty by dint of education, good work, entrepreneurial spirit and general savvy.

The social lifts seemed to be working. A peculiar anthem of the era is Chuck Berry’s tongue-in-cheek 1964 song You Never Can Tell, the accompaniment to John Travolta’s and Uma Thurman’s wild gyrating in Pulp Fiction. It’s the story of a young Black couple from New Orleans that makes decent money, buys a house, mail-order furniture, a fridge, a phonograph, even a used jalopy… New capital growth was slow but steady, not in the form of rent or foreign bonds but mostly as real estate, shares and equity.

The most positive Soviet-era memories of those who were impacted by the system are based on largely the same processes, just disguised with red banners and “Glory to the Communist Party” posters. The income levels of Soviet workers were incommensurably lower, as was the quality of consumer goods offered by the market (it took a long time to realise that the Western market of the era was just a mechanism for redistributing wealth that was gained through not entirely market-based means). However, the Soviet system was infinitely more helpful with regards to restoring and accumulating… capital. It was even explicitly called “capital construction.” Most Soviet citizens were granted, entirely free of charge, real estate that was worth many years of individual income and still commands an impressive market price. And so construction proceededly rapidly apace to build the cosy, even slightly bourgeois world of 1970s Soviet comedies.

The Socialist system, like that of the West, followed the route of reconstructive capitalism. Meanwhile, Socialism as an idea gradually fell out of favor over the 20th century as its main raison d’être, inequality, disappeared. The semi-Socialist policies of Western countries created a perfect model village of Capitalism: Low inequality levels, broad opportunities, intensive social lifts, high levels of welfare, a wide availability of consumer goods thanks to a developed and flexible market. All of it seemed like a brilliant alternative to Socialist experiments: Socializing not wealth, not industry, but revenue, redistributing it so that everyone could decide where to spend it within a wide spectrum of options.

An ideal world of freedom and equality finally seemed to be within grasping distance. It also had a place for racial and gender equality, the 1960s becoming a triumph for equal rights activists of all stripes. At the same time, Socialism was quagmired in internal antagonism, the total control of the state eroding all freedom and neutering the enjoyment and variety of everyday life.

piketty-top-income-tax-rates

Source: Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty. Not part of Kholmogorov’s article.

However, the economic developments of the treinte glorieuses were the gravedigger for both Soviet Socialism and Western Welfare Capitalism. They signed their own death warrants themselves. A natural accumulation of capital was underway, via saving a part of income in the West or direct capital giveaways by the state in the USSR. But a feature of capital is that it “magnetizes” and draws income. The owner of capital tends to rent-oriented, not work-orientated, behavior. This “capitalist” wants to gain interest and rent, to make his capital inheritable, to pay the lowest taxes he can, and thoroughly despises the have-nots whose claims to a share of his income seem to him most outrageous.

The late 1970s saw the rise of a new Capitalism with many faces, from British Thatcherism to US Reaganomics to the waves of privatization that swept away the Soviet system and its socialist economy. It was a massive uprising of capital that wanted back its right to extract revenue and spend it on itself without sharing with society. Just like the pendulum swinging towards Socialism in the early 20th century, its return towards pure Capitalism at the end of the century was most pronounced and most socially destructive in Russia. A savage, dog-eat-dog oligarchic Capitalism that took sway in the country freed itself from practically all burden of social responsibility. It was a tyranny of wealth limited only by the garrotte in the hands of thugs, be they mafia racketeers or bureaucrat raiders.

However, it would be unreasonable to claim that the nature of the processes that transpired in those decades was drastically different in Russia, Europe, and the US. It was a time of large predatory fortunes, scams and profiteering, social polarization, and growing inequality everywhere. Americans and Western Europeans, accustomed to slogans of “equal opportunity,” suddenly once again found themselves in the era of Rastignac, when the only way to get rich – was to be rich. Also, the very notion of wealth had changed: It was no longer a reasonable, comfortable prosperity, but a blatant, tacky luxury.

In The Price of Inequality, Stiglitz describes the behavior of modern American business as “rent-oriented.” Nobody wants to improve real economic indices, nobody wants to make money, everybody wants to live as a rentier off unfounded bonuses, “golden parachutes,” and other forms of self-financing so common in American corporations. Is it that different from Gazprom cleaning women?[1]

At the other end is the growth of inflamed poverty: according to Stiglitz, the life expectancy of US White men with no college education is plummeting at the rate of 1990s Russia. Over the last 15 years, everyone and their mother have talked about the “death of the middle class.” Piketty projects that at the current rate of increasing inequality, Europe will return to 19th century levels by 2050: 10% of the population will own 80% of capital, and 60% of all income.

The society built by the global anti-Capitalist uprising of the early 1900s is becoming a thing of the past, as is faith in market-based self-regulation of Capitalism, allegedly evolved enough to solve social issues. It turns out that self-regulation played no part whatsoever, and the growth of economic equality occurred due to a catastrophe that had wiped out the “old money,” paving way for a unique Social-Capitalist system. Conversely, growing capital concentration, seemingly normal for a self-regulating capitalism, simply reproduces inequality.

A Neo-Socialism is the natural response of a society that enshrines equality to the emergence of a new inequality. Will it be different from classic Socialism? It will be, and rather strongly so.

Destruction of private property and socialization of the means of production proved to be a rather dubious road to Socialism. In practice, they only led to the creation of a new class – the nomenklatura, a decline in individual initiative, logistic and planning errors leading to shortages and even famines. And, in the long run, they failed to prevent the restoration of Capitalism in its most savage incarnation. In addition, small-scale private property continued to develop even if when it all private property was nominally abolished.

The utopia of complete socialization is opposed by the following fact: As material progress unfolds, a human being demands more, not less space for individual existence and self-expression. The ideal of a normal human, as it turns out, is his own house, not an army barracks. Collectivism invariably leads to a tyranny of mediocrity and dooms the societies that adopt it to backwardness in scientific-technical development.

Under these conditions, Neo-Socialism presupposes, above all, the socialization of income and prohibitive measures on capital concentration. The world of future Socialism is a world where all offshores are annihilated and each and every fatcat is subjected to high income and property taxes, with inheritance laws hampering the transfer of super-wealth. This nullifies the magnetic effect of large capital, and most of income is redistributed as wages in the context of free labor and a free market. From an instrument of optimizing income, the market turns into an instrument of optimizing expenditure.

Here, however, the New Socialism faces several classic pitfalls, already singled out by Joseph Schumpeter in the mid-20th century. The impossibility of super-wealth, limiting unfair and imperfect competition, monopolism, and profiteering lead to the waning of that very entrepreneurial spirit that nurtures the Capitalist economy. There will a dearth of those interested in starting a new business to beat all competitors and make a nice buck. And, needless to say, an “inventor and innovator” certificate[2] is a feeble substitute for super-incomes.

The only remedy to entrepreneurial crisis within Neo-Socialism could be a change in business philosophy: Stop chasing big money and instead take pride in the individuality of your business, its attractiveness and social relevance. This, however, only works for small and middle-sized businesses, while bigger enterprises require investments (including non-returnable ones) and risks so enormous that a small-time businessman can only afford it if he is aiming for a super-income. An alternative is a planned, state-run innovation policy, a “Communism of ideas” that will be of dubious long-term efficacy.

A society that guarantees a relative equality of income would be doomed to low economic growth. However, it is precisely the form of economic growth stabilization – especially within the core of the Capitalist system – envisioned by Neo-Socialist economists, Piketty above all.

Another question inevitably brought forward by Neo-Socialism is its relations with globalization. In a Neo-Liberal world, globalization is a world market system that forces the expenses of wealthy and developed countries on the poor and undeveloped by creating “common markets” that stifle economic development. They confine poor countries to the lower stages of technological chains while keeping the rights to ideas and the final product in the hands of developed countries. This is exactly the principle of the Transatlantic and Trans-Pacific Partnerships, modern attempts to cement the eternal commercial dominance of the US.[3]

An alternative to this economic globalism is economic Nationalism; the greater the drop in economic growth and surge in inequality, the more that will it be visible. Countries with independent industrial potential and inner market resources will isolate themselves from the rest of the world as much as they are able to, from imports to economic immigrants, in order to maintain their development level despite in spite and at the expense of others.

This Nationalist alternative is seen as the greater threat to the Neo-Socialist project. Its defenders keep putting a lot of effort into criticising Nationalist and Protectionist ideas and rallying to the defence of Smithian dogmas of “relative advantage” that lead to international division of labor and creation of common markets.

Nevertheless, preserving global markets under a Neo-Socialist policy would require a serious “leveling of fortunes” everywhere on the planet. Wealthy countries, much like wealthy people, would be compelled to spend most of their wealth to improve the living standards of the poor up to a certain “golden mean.” According to modern GDP per capita statistics, it would be represented by the living standards of a Turkey or a Mexico – probably even lower in reality, because rich countries create much of their GDP and national income by virtue of being rich. Were they to be more modest in their lifestyle, much of their national product simply wouldn’t be produced.

Is it possible to downgrade the living standards of rich countries and prop up the poor ones to even slightly reduce global inequality? One may well doubt this, especially considering that for most of humanity, it is the quality of life in the developed countries that really matters, not the tyranny of averages. Everyone in the world dreams of a Lexus, not a Zaporozhets.[4]

And now we re-encounter a fundamental contradiction within the Socialist dream. It is inspired by a global historical trend towards equality and social justice, but the justice in question turns out to be a tyranny of mediocrity, the erasure of extremes of arrogant wealth and abject poverty. But how is the value of this justice comparable with the imperative of development that presupposes certain extremes? To move forward, one must desire to be the best, which is impossible without a certain, sufficiently wide score chart – even if it comes at the expense of others.

Combining the values of justice and equality with the values of development is a task yet unsolved by the New Socialism.

***

Notes

[1] Allusion to a news item at around the time of this article’s writing featuring a woman employed as a cleaner in the Gazprom office who had reported the theft of her Christian Dior handbag worth $26K.

[2] Allusion to the Soviet practice of rewarding technical and industrial innovators with honorary diplomas and certificates, as opposed to patent rights or other, more substantial awards.

[3] A cheap rear-wheel-drive supermini mass-produced in the USSR (and then, briefly, in independent Ukraine) in 1958-1994 that became a byword for shoddy, uncomfortable, and breakage-prone cars in (post-)Soviet culture.

[4] On January 23, 2017, the US announced its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific trade agreement.

***

Translator’s Note

The article was written in April 2016 and reflects the political and economic situation of the era.

 
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The conventional view of nationalism is that it was a product of mass literacy and the modern state, underpinned by schoolbooks and Tombs of the Unknown Soldier. Recent years have seen challenges to this historiographic consensus at both a general level (e.g. Azar Gat’s Nations), and with respect to specific peoples (Robert Tomb’s recent The English and Their History comes to mind).

Our latest translation of Russian conservative intellectual Egor Kholmogorov is more than just a Russian contribution to this debate. It makes the much more radical argument that not only was Russia not a laggard in the process of nation-building, as European historiography has long claimed, but was at the very forefront of this process for longer than a millennium, from Novgorod’s implicit devotion to the Russian commonweal in the 13th century to Russia’s defense of a “Europe of Fatherlands” against the globalist tide of national annihilation today.


russian-mammoths

Mammoths and Patriots on the Russian Plain

A Brief History of Russian National Sentiment

by Egor Kholmogorov

Translated by Fluctuarius Argenteus

Original: https://um.plus/2016/04/09/rossiya-rodina-mamontov-i-patriotov/

Sometimes I hear that saying “patriotism as a national idea” is akin to saying that water is wet. However, this argument comes from people with a very superficial understanding of how difficult it is to be patriot given that, unlike a comfortable cosmopolitanism, patriotism is the path of struggle. Also, they fail to realize how important the contribution of Russia and Russian culture is to shaping the very phenomenon of a patriotic consciousness in the modern world. The Russians developed patriotism as a national idea far earlier than most European nations. And it is Russia that keeps its faith in a “Europe of Fatherlands” or a “World of Fatherlands” in today’s age of identity erasure.

“Russia is the Motherland of elephants.” This zinger, coined as a mockery of Russian patriotism[1], is, however, entirely true, with a slight correction: Russia is the Motherland of mammoths. It is thanks to the hunt of those majestic beasts that the first humans on the Russian Plain, then half-concealed by the Great Glacier, created a culture highly developed for its time. Nowadays, archaeologists even speak of a “mammoth hunter civilization.”

Indeed, even nowadays the remains of long-term housing built out of mammoth ivory, exhibited at the museum of Kostenki village, Voronezh Oblast, are no less amazing than some stone ruins from Oriental or European antiquity. Overall, it seems that the mammoth joke is on the jokers.

With the same minor correction, one can claim that Russia is the Motherland of patriotism. Of course, patriotism is a word of Latin roots, also hearkening back to Greek. Of course, the cult of pride for one’s country, its history and its heroes, was developed in Greece and Rome, and new European nations learned this art from the ancients (for example, Old Rus’ via Byzantium).

But there are different kinds of patriotism. “The thrust of the Greek notion of freedom was directed at their closest neighbors: being free meant not being dependent on them”, as noted by Robert Wipper (1859 – 1954), one of our foremost Classical scholars. Only two or three times out of the entirety of Hellenic history the Greeks showed a capacity for working together and for a Pan-Hellenic patriotism, but even 300 Spartans, defending a bottleneck that led to the heart of Greece, believed they were fighting for “Laconic law.” The Greeks saw Hellas not as a common home country but as a common space for competing hometowns, peaceful if possible (at the Olympic Games).

Roman patriotism was more similar to ours. It was a not solely urban but also imperial patriotism, that of a city turned superpower. The history of a city that defended its freedom from foreign invaders and domestic tyrants, vanquished all of its neighbors, and transformed into a worldwide Empire formed the archetype of a patriotic myth for future generations.

The Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg houses a sculpture by Vasily Demut-Malinovsky (1776 – 1846) named The Russian Scaevola. A very Classical-looking Russian peasant with an axe is chopping off his arm bearing a brand of the letter N, meaning “Napoleon.” This patriotic legend was born as an imitation of a celebrated Roman historical myth. A young Roman patrician named Gaius Mucius, nicknamed Scaevola (“Left-Handed”), attempted to assassinate Porsenna, the Etruscan king. When he was caught and subjected to torture, he placed his right hand on a brazier and endured the pain until it became completely charred. Porcenna, terrified by the Roman’s defiant fortitude, sued for peace with his city.

However, it was the city that formed the nucleus of Roman patriotism. If Russia truly were “Muscovy”, if Moscow had been seen as a creator of a new world and not as a unifier of Russian lands, then we could have developed a Roman-styled urban patriotism.

But Russian patriotism existed long before the rise of Moscow, and had at its forefront not the City, but the Land. Russian patriotic consciousness is the oldest national consciousness among European peoples. There is no France yet, only a “Western Frankia.” There is no Germany yet, just the Holy Roman Empire, which would only have the “of the Germanic nation” appended to its name in 1512. England, only recently under the rule of Danish kings and separated into territories of Danelaw and Saxon Law, has fallen under the sway of new conquerors, the haughty Normans marked by both Frankish arrogance and Norse ruthlessness. Meanwhile, a Russian chronicler is already penning the title of his work containing the question: “From whence came the Russian Land?”[2]

150 years before that, Russian envoys already come to Constantinople bearing the words, “We are of Russian kindred”, and they come, as the chronicle puts it, “from the great Russian prince, and all other princes, and all people of the Russian land.” The oldest historical document mentioning the Russians, the Annales Bertiniani from the year 838, already contains this “Russian kindred” formula (id est gentem suam, Rhos vocari dicebant). The chronicler still remembers the differences between Polans, Drevlians, and Vyatichi[3], he knows that Russian princes united Varangians and Slavs, but the unity of this society named “Rus’” seems to him indisputable and beyond all doubt. The first Russian chronicler deliberately constructs the image of Russian history as that of a unified people creating a unified country and subject to a unified authority. The same is discussed by Hilarion of Kiev (11th century) in his Sermon on Law and Grace with regards to Prince Vladimir: “For he was the sole ruler of his land, bringing all neighboring countries under his sway, some of them by peace, and the unruly ones by the sword.

Those three elements – Land, People, Empire – are, in their unity, the true formula of Russian patriotism, inherited by Russia from the times when Western European peoples had no patriotic consciousness to speak of. Only in 1214, when French king Philip II Augustus crushed the joint forces of the Holy Roman Empire and England near Bouvines, can we discover a semblance of French national pride. Only three decades later, an anonymous Russian scribes writes the Lay of the Ruin of the Russian Land, a haunting patriotic manifesto lamenting the destruction of Rus’ in the flames of the Mongol invasion.

Due to the vagaries of history, the tale of the destruction per se is not extant[4], yet we can still read the preamble, a veritable hymn to old pre-Mongol Rus’ demonstrating the height of its patriotic sentiment. The Lay is a love-letter to the Russian Land, a paean to its beauty and wealth. In my opinion, the text should be learned by heart as a part of school curriculum.

“Oh Russian Land, bright with brightness and adorned with adornments! Many are thy beauties: thou art adorned by many lakes, rivers and wells famed in thy lands, mountains, steep hills, tall oak woods, clean fields, marvellous beasts, diverse birds, countless great cities, marvellous villages, vineries of monasteries, houses of the Lord and redoubtable princes, honest boyars, noblemen aplenty. The Russian Land is filled with everything, oh true Christian faith!”

But it is not just the beauty of nature of Rus’ that he relishes; it is also its might, its dominion over other nations and the prestige of its rulers:

“From here to Hungarians and Poles and Czechs, from Czechs to Yotvingians[5], from Yotvingians to Lithuanians to Germans, from Germans to Karelians, from Karelians to Ustyug[6], where live the pagan Toymichi[7], and beyond the Breathing Sea[8], from the sea to Bulgars, from Bulgars to Burtasians[9], from Burtasians to Cheremis[10], from Cheremis to Mordva[11] – everything did the Lord bring under the sway of Christian people. The pagan lands submitted to the Grand Prince Vsevolod[12], and his father Yuri, prince of Kiev[13], and his grandfather Vladimir Monomakh[14], with whose name the Polovtsy[15] scared their children in their cradles. And Lithuanians dared not crawl out of their swamps, and Hungarians fortified their stone cities with iron gates so that the great Vladimir would not strike at them, and the Germans rejoiced, living far away beyond the Blue Sea[16]”

This common national memory, the idea of the Russian Land as a unity was the force that kept Russia from disintegration and destruction during the years of the Mongol yoke. Serapion, Bishop of Vladimir (? – 1275), lamented that “our majesty is brought to the ground, our beauty is dead, our wealth profits others, our works inherited by pagans, our land is the legacy of outlanders.” This, by the way, is the best answer of a contemporary of the Mongol invasion to those that today would present this incursion from the East as a time of friendship and cooperation.

“We cannot relish our own bread.” This formula of Serapion’s is a precise description of centuries-long Russian woes that intensified in the years of the Horde: we cannot have the joy of relishing our bread, it is either won with blood and tears, or stolen by foreign invaders, or the harvest fails. A simple Russian dream: to relish our own bread.

Nevertheless, that dream required fighting for. The Russians afforded particular reverence to those that would fight for Rus’, like Saint Alexander Nevsky. For Novgorod, he was both protector and hangman when he forced a rich mercantile city untouched by the Mongol invasion to pay the tribute imposed by the Horde. This was done to relieve the burden of other Russian lands, pillaged and impoverished. He chopped heads off, drowned peolpe, gouged eyes out; he should have been remembered as a tyrant. Yet here are the words of a Novgorod chronicler in the First Novgorod Chronicle (oldest recension) regarding the prince’s passing: “Merciful Lord, reveal Thy Countenance to him in the ages to come, for he labored much for the sake of Novgorod and the whole of Russian Land.”

“For the whole of Russian Land”, words written in Novgorod, a city oftentimes presented today as something of an independent state forcefully subjugated by Muscovy. However, in spite of all trade ties to the West, Novgorodians gave priority to a Pan-Russian patriotic sentiment, even judging the prince that had harshly mistreated them from the viewpoint of an integral Russian cause, and not just that of their city.

That is the ideological foundation of the unified Russian state, the great Russia, which appeared not with a delay compared to Western Europe, but with a lead. Dmitry Likhachov (1906 – 1999) noted in his book Russian Culture of the Period of Russian Nation-State Formation (1946): “The origins of national elements of specific cultures are more or less simultaneous everywhere in Europe, but only in Russia do they receive support in the form of a proper Russian nation-state. That is why the national character of 14-15th century culture of Rus’ is more pronounced than in that of England, France, or Germany of the same period. The unity of the Russian language is much stronger than that of French, English, German, Italian national languages. Russian literature is much more subordinate to the theme of state-building than that of other nations…”

I cannot agree with Lev Gumilyov’s (1912 – 1992) statement claiming that “they came to the Kulikovo Field[17] as men of Moscow, Serpukhov, Rostov, Beloozero, Smolensk, Murom, etc., but returned as Russians.” The desire to frame the great battle as a turning point is understandable, but the warriors came to fight, came as Russians already, not only those from from the Vladimir Principality and its vassals, but also from Lithuanian-held Rus’. They realized quite well that the true Pan-Russian cause was that of Moscow and not Lithuania. Simeon the Proud, the uncle of Dmitry Donskoy, the victor of Kulikovo, already claimed the title “of all Russias”[18], and the Byzantine emperor referred to him in his epistles as riks pasis Rossias, “the king of all Russia.” Therefore, the warriors of Kulikovo were already fighting for Russia and just Moscow.

Thanks to Joan of Arc, the French got the idea that Englishmen have no right to claim La Belle France for themselves. The Hundred Years’ War in general played an enormous part in developing national awareness in European peoples. It would suffice to compare two versions of the same chronicle written by the famous Jean Froissart with a difference of several decades and describing the same events. The first version is steeped in chivalric ideas, the second one is inspired by the concept of nationality. Froissart interprets the same act first as conforming to the concept of honor, then as typical of English or French character.

In spite of this dichotomy, it is hard to imagine a 15th or early 16th-century French or English king justifying his claims to a certain territory with a national principle, not defending his own domain but demanding to cede a different one “because Frenchmen live there.” At the same time, barely freed from the yoke of the Horde, Russia begins an irredentist struggle for Russian lands. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Livonia are seen as thieves of “ancestral lands” inherited by Russian princes from their forefather, Prince Vladimir.

The Papal envoys, while attempting to cajole Vasily III into a war with distant Turkey, got the following reply from the boyars: “The Grand Prince wants his ancestral domain, the Russian Land” (at that particular moment this claim also included Kiev). Those demands were invariably followed by lengthy historical justifications of the rights Russian state that would shock European diplomats.“Russian diplomats skilfully used their historical learning and created a complex theory of Muscovite princely power that elevated the prestige of the Russian monarchy… It was a creative political ideology that directed the politics of the Russian state towards the defence of national interests and culture in the complex milieu of European civilisation”, writes Dmitry Likhachov in National Consciousness of Old Rus’.

At that time Europe was engulfed in wars of religion. The battle of Catholics and Protestants almost succeeded in stamping out the sprouts of nascent national consciousness. Only horror and revulsion at the atrocities inflicted by kin and kith speaking the same language keeps national consciousness alive in spite of religious boundaries. European nations mostly grew out of a rejection of religious schism, and this was a positive and unifying side of European nationalism. But it was also marred by a certain Hellenic particularism, all too often national bigotry was directed at closest neighbors and formed a nation based on this hostility. What are the French without hating Englishmen, Germans, or Spaniards?

Russian national awareness evolved in a different way. It was not directed against a neighbor. Even the attitude towards Poland-Lithuania, in spite of incessant hostilities, never developed into an ethnophobia. If Russophobia is an unfortunate fixture of Polish national awareness, the Russian side of the conflict limited itself to “I’ll have my revenge and then forget.” Russian self-awareness was based on a positive patriotism, on love for one’s own land, people, culture, and ruler. The rejection of others expressed itself not in hatred but in a good-natured gibe similar to the manner in which The Lay of the Ruin describes the neighbors of Rus’.

The “foreign” becomes a threat only if it is injurious and harmful to Russian identity. It is menacing not as an external but as an internal threat, as demonstrated by the Time of Troubles. Russia has no difficulty in repelling invaders but wasted much effort on surpassing internal conflict that almost wrecked the state itself. Ivan Timofeev (ca. 1555 – 1631), one of the most acute observers of the Time of Troubles, saw the root of all evil in an obsession with all things foreign that had engulfed Ivan the Terrible and Boris Godunov. He chastises the first Russian czar for straying from national identity:

“He slew many nobles of his czardom that were loyal to him, others he exiled into lands of heathen faiths, and instead of them he favored those who had come from foreign lands… That is why we are surprised: even people of moderate reason would have understood that one cannot trust one’s enemies forever. And he, a man of such great wisdom, was laid low by his own weak conscience, willingly putting his head into serpent’s jaws. All enemies that came from other lands would have never defeated him if he hadn’t surrendered himself into their hands. Alas! All of his secrets were in the hands of barbarians, and they did what they pleased with him. I will say nothing more – he was a traitor to himself.”

Timofeev reproaches the common folk as well. “Their tongues grew mute and their mouths were shut with bribery; all of our feelings were weakened by fear” is his description of Boris Godunov’s rise to power, the ascendancy of a man who was seen by many as a criminal and a child-murderer. The same complacence in the face of wickedness at the beginning of the Time of Trouble is lambasted by Avraamy Palitsyn (? – ca. 1625), who speaks of “a mad silence of the entire people.”

The restoration of the country begins with a loud patriotic proclamations: the epistles of Patriarch Hermogenes (ca. 1530 – 1612), calling Russia to resist brigands and invaders; the letters of the Nizhny Novgorod volunteer army[19] calling to “stand united against common enemies and Russian brigands that spill our own blood in the country.” Patriotic rhetoric and patriotic awareness were the remedy that nursed Russia back to health in the moment where its statehood was in tatters. The Chronograph (1617)[20] describes the Council of the Land that elected a new dynasty[21] by painting a picture of national unity: “From the borders to the hinterlands of the Russian land the Orthodox people, men both meek and powerful, rich and poor, old and young, were granted the generous gift of life-giving wisdom and illuminated with the light of virtuously minded concord. Even though they came from different lands, they spoke with one voice, even though they were dissimilar as they lived far apart, they were gathered in one council as equals.”

The Time of Troubles and the heroism of Minin and Pozharsky’s resistance army are a damning argument against the popular myth that denies the existence of the Russian nation in that period. On the contrary, Russia, in the depth of its national and patriotic consciousness, was a step or two ahead of even the most progressive of neighbouring countries, where even a century later collusion with foreigners against one’s own nation was not considered dishonorable and considered a legitimate political instrument.

In Russia this was already unthinkable. There, patriotic consciousness was a hallmark of identity, which enabled the reunification of Ukraine, the patriotic heroism of the Great Northern War that required a mighty collective effort of the entire nation to carve out a space among great European powers, the brilliant achievements of Catherine the Great, the majestic victory over Napoleon in 1812. The last war is particularly remarkable: not only ex post facto, but even during the campaign itself it was seen as, and called, a Patriotic War. All gestures and words of the actors in this patriotic drama were made for the cause of the Fatherland.

The Russian propaganda machine left Napoleon no chance to subjugate the Russian people or entrench his dominance. The narcissistic conqueror was opposed not only by soldiers but by artists of rhetoric, from patriotic admiral Alexander Shishkov (1754 – 1841) who wrote the czar’s manifestos to populist propaganda virtuoso Count Fyodor Rostopchin (1763 – 1826) and his broadsides[22]. Without understanding the cultural and symbolic background we can never understand the most important of historical events, from the Battle of Borodino, fought mainly for political reasons, where every Russian officer saw death or injury as the highest honor, to the epic and terrifying fire of Moscow. Russia opposed Napoleon not only with a superior fighting spirit but also with a superior, elaborate patriotic ideology.

Even in Europe, German nationalism was not a predecessor but perhaps a byproduct of Russian patriotic resistance to Napoleon. Russia created a vast network of resistance, inspiring many European minds. Alexander Svechin (1878 – 1938), a prominent military theorist, gives the following description of the German front of Russian propaganda wars:

Russia organized a German Committee under the de facto leadership of Baron Heinrich von und zu Stein, the political head of the German national movement, who consented to leading the Russian propaganda effort. With a brilliant cadre of German patriotic officers that had resigned Prussian service when Prussia had been strongarmed into an alliance with Napoleon, Stein decided to create a German Legion staffed with German deserters and prisoners of war from La Grande Armée. The Legion was intended as a revolutionary challenge to a Germany enslaved by the French and then the core of an armed insurrection within Germany itself.

A fine example of propaganda tracts published in Saint Petersburg in October 1812 at the printers of the Senate, financed by an absolute monarch, is the “Brief Catechism of the German Soldier” written by Ernst Moritz Arndt by special commission. It claimed that German soldiers used to have their own emperor, but then they made a pact with Satan and Hell in the guise of Napoleon. People who were once free became slaves and are being sent to far-flung countries to turn free and happy peoples into slaves just as themselves. A German emperor sends a German soldier to war; must he fight? No, says Arndt; the idea of monarchy is subordinate to that of the nation and Fatherland. If the sovereign forces his soldiers to oppress the innocent and violate their rights, if he conspires against the happiness and freedom of his own subjects, if he colludes with the enemies of his own nation, if he allows his population to be robbed, dishonored, and raped, then following the orders of such a sovereign would be an affront to divine law. German honor commands the German soldier to break the sword that German despots force him to raise for the cause of his nation’s enemies, the French. The soldier must remember that the Fatherland and nation are timeless and deathless, while monarchs and all kinds of superiors will stay in the past with their petty ambitions and disgraceful misdeeds…

The success of propaganda among German regiments that defended Napoleon’s operation lines in 1812 was largely instrumental for the Berezina battle plan, an encirclement of the La Grande Armée core that had delved too deep into Moscow.

This fact seems like a veritable mockery of the popular Western “time zones of nationalism” theory formulated by Ernest Gellner. Allegedly, national consciousness in Europe develops from West to East. The further to the West, the more developed the national sentiment, the stronger its civic nature. Conversely, the further you look to the East, the more tardy and ethnocentric the national sentiment there.

As we can see, this is patently untrue. Russian national sentiment is not younger but older than German, or even the French and English. It is the oldest among the modern peoples of Europe, based on an identity of the Russian Land already pronounced in 10-11th centuries. There is no reason for assigning the Russians a more recent birth date. At the same time, the Russian self-awareness is perhaps not the most but the least ethnocentric, sometimes overly so, causing certain inconveniences for the Russians themselves.

The object of this sentiment is not the place of a particular ethnic group among others but the Fatherland, the Russian Land, its beauty and grandeur among other lands.

The Russians were indeed late in realising the ethnic aspect of nationalism, not due to an alleged backwardness, but because they were late in encountering ethnic nationalism directed against them, mostly in the western borderlands of the Russian Empire. A certain part was played by the German nationalism in the Baltic region; having clashed with it, Yuri Samarin (1819 – 1876) formulated his idea of Russians as a nation that needs equal rights within its own empire in his Letters from Riga (1849)[23].

In spite of the “time zone” theory, German nationalism – in the form of a Pan-German, unifying, state-driven national sentiment – was not a predecessor but a product of Russian patriotism that manifested in the anti-Napoleonic struggle. Russia stimulated German nationalism as an opposition to a Pan-European empire, not imitated it. Russia became a protector of identity and national diversity in Europe in spite of all attempts to forge it into some faceless union.

Nowadays, Russian patriotism preserves the same importance. As justly reminded by Vladimir Putin: “For Russia, for a Russian person […] the patriotic sentiment is very important, the sense of national belonging that is now, to their chagrin, being eroded in certain European countries.” In today’s Europe, the eyes of those who seek to preserve their national identity, those who are patriots and nationalists in the best sense of the word, are fixed upon Moscow. Conversely, those who yell the loudest about a “Russian menace” and a “European unity in the face of Russian aggression” are mostly partisans of a complete erasure of European faces and borders, oriented towards the EU Quarter of Brussels and the White House.

As I have attempted to demonstrate, this is really old news. Russia is still the Motherland of patriotism in Europe, and now, in defiance of an artificial denationalisation imposed by Communism, we are returning to our old mission – keeping the flame of nationality in Europe, preserving it as a Europe of Fatherlands and not a public thoroughfare.


Notes

[1] The origins of this memetic phrase are in the so-called Anti-Cosmopolitan campaign enacted in the final years of Stalinism (1948-53); one of its prominent traits was the “discovery” Russian “firsts” in science, invention, the arts, etc.; many of such “discoveries” were based on dubious or outright falsified data. The “Motherland of elephants” joke was born as a parody of this propaganda blitz.

[2] An allusion to the Primary Chronicle, a.k.a. The Tale of Past Years (ca. 1110), Russia’s oldest surviving historical chronicle traditionally attributed to Nestor (ca. 1056 – 1114), a monk of the Kiev Monastery of the Caves. Its first words, often interpreted as the work’s title, are “These are the tales of past years, of where the Russian Land comes from, of who reigned the first in Kiev, and of how the Russian Land came to be.”

[3] Early East Slavic tribal groups.

[4] The anonymous 13th-century work only survives in fragments and quotations, most of them limited to its poetic preamble.

[5] Baltic tribal group.

[6] Modern-day Velikiy Ustyug, a city in the far Russian North.

[7] An obscure Finno-Ugric tribe.

[8] The White Sea or the Arctic Ocean.

[9] A defunct Volga ethnic group of unknown origin.

[10] An ancient name for the Mari ethnic group, in the modern-day Mariy El Republic of Russia.

[11] A Finno-Ugric ethnic group, in the modern-day Mordovia Republic of Russia.

[12] Vsevolod the Big Nest (1154 – 1212), Grand Prince of Vladimir.

[13] Yuri Dolgorukiy (ca. 1099 – 1157), Grand Prince of Suzdal and Kiev, founder of Moscow.

[14] Vladimir Monomakh (1053 – 1125), Grand Prince of Kiev. Famous, among other things, for organizing successful collective Russians expeditions against steppe nomads.

[15] Russian name for Cumans, nomads of Turkic origin.

[16] The Baltic.

[17] The battle of Kulikovo (1380) was fought by a Muscovy-led coalition of Russian principalities and was the first major Russian victory over Mongols in decades.

[18] This traditional English translation of title is something of a misnomer, a more precise one would be “of the whole of Rus’” or “of the united Rus’.”

[19] A popular resistance force organized in 1611 in the Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod by the merchant Kuzma Minin and the nobleman Dmitry Pozharsky with the goal of suppressing roving bands of brigands, expelling Polish invaders, and preventing the complete collapse of the Russian state. It was instrumental in defeating the Polish garrison in Moscow in 1612 and restoring an independent Russian monarchy in 1613.

[20] Compendium of Russian and world history from Biblical events to recent times, including the events of the Time of Troubles.

[21] An irregularly convened assembly of delegates from all estates of Russian feudal society (sometimes including peasantry) that discussed and voted on the affairs of the state, active ca. 1549 – ca. 1683. The Council of 1613 was particularly important for electing a new dynasty (the Romanovs) to take the vacant Russian throne.

[22] As governor of Moscow during the Napoleonic invasion, Rostopchin became famous for the mass printing and distribution of colorful broadsides with grotesque caricatures and easy-to-grasp text, written in a deliberately folksy style, that satirized the enemy and called for a mass popular resistance.

[23] In 1846, as a government inspector, Samarin travelled through what now is Latvia, documenting many facts of abusive and arrogant attitude towards Russia and the Russians by privileged Baltic German nobility amid the tacit or open support of Russian government officials. Drawing from those experiences, he published a pamphlet titled Letters from Riga (1849), considered one of the first Slavophile manifestos and a seminal document of modern Russian nationalism. The publication caused a scandal that led to Samarin’s brief imprisonment and exile for “fomenting anti-government dissent.”


Translator’s Notes

  1. Several abridgements were made in accordance with the author’s wishes.
  2. The translator took the liberty of making the text more accesible to readers not possessing an in-depth knowledge of Russian history. All names were rendered in their full form, and mentions of most Russian historical figures come with birth and death years for easier reference.
  3. Only names, events, etc. that cannot be identified with a quick Google or Wikipedia search were annotated. So were several allusions to historical events known to every educated Russian but obscure in the West.
 
A Russian Conservative on James Damore
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Prosvirnin is the most talented writer. Limonov has by far the most colorful personality. Dugin has been the most effective at promoting himself in the West. Prokhanov probably has the most name recognition in Russia. Galkovsky created the most powerful memes. Krylov provided the esoteric flavoring.

And yet out of all of Russia’s right-wing intellectuals, there is perhaps none so unique as Egor Kholmogorov.

egor-kholmogorovThis is ironic, because out of all of the above, he is the closest to the “golden mean” of the Russian nationalist memeplex.

He is a realist on Soviet achievements, crimes, and lost opportunities, foregoing both the Soviet nostalgia of Prokhanov, the kneejerk Sovietophobia of Prosvirnin, and the unhinged conspiracy theories of Galkovsky. He is a normal, traditional Orthodox Christian, in contrast to the “atheism plus” of Prosvirnin, the mystical obscurantism of Duginism, and the esoteric experiments of Krylov. He has time neither for the college libertarianism of Sputnik i Pogrom hipster nationalism, nor the angry “confiscate and divide” rhetoric of the National Bolsheviks.

Instead of wasting his time on ideological rhetoric, he reads Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century and writes reviews about it on his website. And about 224 other books.

And this brings us to what makes Kholmogorov so unique: He is an extremely well-read autodidact.

This allows him to write informed and engaging articles on a very wide variety of different topics and breaking news.

In my opinion, Kholmogorov is simply the best modern Russian right-wing intellectual, period.

Unfortunately, he is almost entirely unknown in the English-speaking world; he does not angle for interviews with Western media outlets like Prosvirnin, nor does he energetically pursue foreign contacts like Dugin. Over the years I have done my very small part to remedy this situation, translating two of Kholmogorov’s articles (Europe’s Week of Human Sacrifice; A Cruel French Lesson). Still, there’s only so much one blogger with many other things to write about can do.

Happily, a multilingual Russian fan of Kholmogorov has stepped up to the plate: Fluctuarius Argenteus. Incidentally, he is a fascinating fellow in his own right – he is a well recognized expert in Spanish history and culture – though his insistence on anonymity constrains what I can reveal, at least beyond his wish to be the “Silver Surfer” to Kholmogorov’s Galactus.

We hope to make translations of Kholmogorov’s output consistently available on The Unz Review in the months to come.

In the meantime, I am privileged to present the first Fluctuarius-translated Kholmogorov article for your delectation.

***

A New Martin Luther?: James Damore’s Case from a Russian Conservative Perspective

google-image

Original: https://tsargrad.tv/articles/triumf-gendernyh-sharikovyh_79187

Translated by Fluctuarius Argenteus:

Google fires employee James Damore for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.

– You persecute your employees for having opinions and violate the rights of White men, Centrists, and Conservatives.

– No, we don’t. You’re fired.

A conversation just like or similar to this one recently took place in the office of one of modern information market monsters, the Google Corporation.

Illustration to the Google scandal. James Damore fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes”. Source: Screenshot of Instragram user bluehelix.

Google knows almost everything about us, including the contents of our emails, our addresses, our voice samples (OK Google), our favorite stuff, and, sometimes, our sexual preferences. Google used to be on the verge of literally looking at the world with our own eyes through Google Glass, but this prospect appears to have been postponed, probably temporarily. However, the threat of manipulating public opinion through search engine algorithms has been discussed in the West for a long while, even to the point of becoming a central House of Cards plotline.

Conversely, we know next to nothing about Google. Now, thanks to an ideological scandal that shook the company, we suddenly got a glimpse of corporate values and convictions that the company uses a roadmap to influencing us in a major way, and American worldview even more so. Suddenly, Google was revealed to be a system permeated by ideology, suffused with Leftist and aggressively feminist values.

The story goes this way. In early August, an anonymous manifesto titled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber was circulated through the local network of Google. The author lambasted the company’s ideological climate, especially its policy of so-called diversity. This policy has been adopted by almost all of US companies, and Google has gone as far as to appoint a “chief diversity officer”. The goal of the polity is to reduce the number of white cisgendered male employees, to employ as many minorities and women as possible and to give them fast-track promotions – which, in reality, gives them an unfair, non-market based advantage.

The author argues that Leftism and “diversity” policies lead to creating an “echo chamber” within the company, where a person only talks to those who share their opinions, and, through this conversation, is reinforced in the opinion that their beliefs are the only ones that matter. This “echo chamber” narrows one’s intellectual horizon and undermines work efficiency, with following “the party line” taking precedence over real productivity.

In contrast to Google’s buzzwords of “vision” and “innovation”, the author claims that the company has lost its sight behind its self-imposed ideological blindfold and is stuck in a morass.

As Google employs intellectuals, argues the critic, and most modern Western intellectuals are from the Left, this leads to creating a closed Leftist clique within the company. If the Right rejects everything contrary to the God>human>nature hierarchy, the Left declares all natural differences between humans to be nonexistent or created by social constructs.

The central Leftist idea is the class struggle, and, given that the proletariat vs. bourgeoisie struggle is now irrelevant, the atmosphere of struggle has been transposed onto gender and race relations. Oppressed Blacks are fighting against White oppressors, oppressed women challenge oppressive males. And the corporate management (and, until recently, the US presidency) is charged with bringing the “dictatorship of the proletariat” to life by imposing the “diversity” policy.

The critic argues that the witch-hunt of Centrists and Conservatives, who are forced to conceal their political alignment or resign from the job, is not the only effect of this Leftist tyranny. Leftism also leads to inefficiency, as the coveted job goes not to the best there is but to the “best woman of color”. There are multiple educational or motivation programs open only to women or minorities. This leads to plummeting efficiencies, disincentivizes White men from putting effort into work, and creates a climate of nervousness, if not sabotage. Instead of churning out new ground-breaking products, opines the critic, Google wastes too much effort on fanning the flames of class struggle.

What is the proposed solution?

Stop diving people into “oppressors” and “the oppressed” and forcefully oppressing the alleged oppressors. Stop branding every dissident as an immoral scoundrel, a racist, etc.

The diversity of opinion must apply to everyone. The company must stop alienating Conservatives, who are, to call a spade a spade, a minority that needs their rights to be protected. In addition, conservatively-inclined people have their own advantages, such as a focused and methodical approach to work.

Fight all kinds of prejudice, not only those deemed worthy by the politically correct America.

End diversity programs discriminatory towards White men and replace them with non-discriminatory ones.

Have an unbiased assessment of the costs and efficiency of diversity programs, which are not only expensive but also pit one part of the company’s employees against the other.

Instead of gender and race differences, focus on psychological safety within the company. Instead of calling to “feel the others’ pain”, discuss facts. Instead of cultivating sensitivity and soft skins, analyze real issues.

Admit that not all racial or gender differences are social constructs or products of oppression. Be open towards the study of human nature.

The last point proved to be the most vulnerable, as the author of the manifesto went on to formulate his ideas on male vs. female differences that should be accepted as fact if Google is to improve its performance.

The differences argued by the author are as follows:

Women are more interested in people, men are more interested in objects.

Women are prone to cooperation, men to competition. All too often, women can’t take the methods of competition considered natural among men.

Women are looking for a balance between work and private life, men are obsessed with status and

Feminism played a major part in emancipating women from their gender roles, but men are still strongly tied to theirs. If the society seeks to “feminize” men, this will only lead to them leaving STEM for “girly” occupations (which will weaken society in the long run).

It was the think piece on the natural differences of men and women that provoked the greatest ire. The author was immediately charged with propagating outdated sexist stereotypes, and the Google management commenced a search for the dissent, with a clear purpose of giving him the sack. On 8th August, the heretic was revealed to be James Damore, a programmer. He was fired with immediate effect because, as claimed by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, “portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace”. Damore announced that he was considering a lawsuit.

We live in a post-Trump day and age, that is why the Western press is far from having a unanimous verdict on the Damore affair. Some call him “a typical sexist”, for others he is a “free speech martyr”. By dismissing Damore from his job, Google implicitly confirmed that all claims of an “echo chamber” and aggressive Leftist intolerance were precisely on point. Julian Assange has already tweeted: “Censorship is for losers, WikiLeaks is offering a job to fired Google engineer James Damore”.

It is highly plausible that the Damore Memo may play the same breakthrough part in discussing the politically correct insanity as WikiLeaks and Snowden files did in discussing the dirty laundry of governments and secret services. If it comes to pass, Damore will make history as a new Martin Luther challenging the Liberal “Popery”.

However, his intellectual audacity notwithstanding, it should be noted that Damore’s own views are vulnerable to Conservative criticism. Unfortunately, like the bulk of Western thought, they fall into the trap of Leftist “cultural constructivism” and Conservative naturalism.

Allegedly, there are only two possible viewpoints. Either gender and race differences are biologically preordained and therefore unremovable and therefore should always be taken into account, or those differences are no more than social constructs and should be destroyed for being arbitrary and unfair.

The ideological groundwork of the opposing viewpoints is immediately apparent. Both equate “biological” with “natural” and therefore “true”, and “social” with “artificial” and therefore “arbitrary” and “false”. Both sides reject “prejudice” in favor of “vision”, but politically correct Leftists reject only a fraction of prejudices while the critic calls for throwing all of them away indiscriminately.

As a response, Damore gets slapped with an accusation of drawing upon misogynist prejudice for his own ideas. Likewise, his view of Conservatives is quite superficial. The main Conservative trait is not putting effort into routine work but drawing upon tradition for creative inspiration. The Conservative principle is “innovation through tradition”.

The key common mistake of both Google Leftists and their critic is their vision of stereotypes as a negative distortion of some natural truth. If both sides went for an in-depth reading of Edmund Burke, the “father of Conservatism”, they would learn that the prejudice is a colossal historical experience pressurized into a pre-logical form, a collective consciousness that acts when individual reason fails or a scrupulous analysis is impossible. In such circumstances, following the prejudice is a more sound strategy than contradicting it. Prejudice is shorthand for common sense. Sometimes it oversimplifies things, but still works most of the time. And, most importantly, all attempts to act “in spite of the prejudice” almost invariably end in disaster.

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Illustration to the Google scandal. A fox sits gazing at the Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber exposing the ideas of the fired engineer James Damore. Source: Screenshot of Instragram user bluehelix.

However, the modern era allows us to diagnose our own prejudice and rationalize them so we could control them better, as opposed to blind obedience or rejection. Moreover, if the issue of “psychological training” ever becomes relevant in a country as conservative as Russia is, that is the problem we should concentrate on: analyzing the roots of our prejudices and their efficient use.

The same could be argued for gender relations. Damore opposes the Leftist “class struggle of the genders” with a technocratic model of maximizing the profit from each gender’s pros and cons. This functionalism appears to be logical in its own way, but is indeed based on too broad assumptions, claiming that all women are unfit for competition, that all of them like relationships and housekeeping while all men are driven by objects and career. And, as Damore claims biological grounds for his assumptions, all our options boil down to mostly agreeing with him or branding him as a horrible sexist and male chauvinist.

However, the fact that gender roles historically developed based on biology but are, as a whole, a construct of society and culture does not give an excuse to changing or tearing them down, as clamored by Leftists. Quite the contrary: the social, cultural, and historical determinism of these roles gives us a reason to keep them in generally the same form without any coups or revolutions.

First, that tradition is an ever-growing accumulation of experience. Rejecting tradition is tantamount to social default and requires very good reasons to justify. Second, no change of tradition occurs as a result of a “gender revolution”, only its parodic inversion. Putting men into high heels, miniskirts, and bras, fighting against urinals in public WCs only reverses the polarity without creating true equality. The public consciousness still sees the “male” as “superior”, and demoting “masculinity” to “femininity” as a deliberate degradation of the “superior”. No good can come of it, just as no good came out of humiliating wealth and nobility during the Communist revolution in Russia. What’s happening now is not equal rights for women but the triumph of gender Bolshevism.

Damore’s error, therefore, consists in abandoning the domain of the social and the historical to the enemy while limiting the Conservative sphere of influence to the natural, biological domain. However, the single most valuable trait in conservative worldview is defending the achievements of history and not just biological determinism.

The final goal of a Conservative solution to the gender problem should not be limited to a rationalist functionalization of society. It should lead to discovering a social cohesion where adhering to traditional male and female ways and stereotypes (let’s not call them roles – the world is not a stage, and men and women not merely players) would not keep males and females from expressing themselves in other domains, provided they have a genuine calling and talent.

The art of war is not typical of a woman; however, women warriors such as Joan of Arc leave a much greater impact in historical memory. The art of government is seen as mostly male, yet it makes great female rulers, marked not by functional usefulness but true charisma, all the more memorable. The family is the stereotypical domain of the woman, which leads to greater reverence towards fathers that put their heart and soul into their families.

Social cohesion, an integral part of it being the harmony of men and women in the temple of the family, is the ideal to be pursued by our Russian, Orthodox, Conservative society. It is the collapse of the family that made gender relations into such an enormous issue in the West: men and women are no longer joined in a nucleus of solidarity but pitted against one another as members of antagonistic classes. And this struggle, as the Damore Memo has demonstrated, is already stymieing the business of Western corporations. Well, given our current hostile relations, it’s probably for the better.

 
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Summary of the Russian nationalist response to #ParisAttacks.

A Cruel French Lesson, by Egor Kholmogorov appeared in the November 14 issue of Komsomolskaya Pravda, one of the leading Russian dailies. It outlines what is pretty much the standard right-wing conservative Russian position on the #ParisAttacks.

Some context: After the terrorist strikes, many outspoken Russian liberals rushed to wrap their digital selves in the French flag; a status signalling action made easy by Facebook’s provision of a French flag avatar coloration app (one could cynically add: To mark the most significant event in the world since the US legalization of gay marrage). This is in stark contrast to the relative silence over the Russian victims of the terrorist downing of the aircraft over the Sinai – and for that matter, the silence in regards to Lebanon, and for that matter, for Syria pretty much nonstop since 2011. (The Egyptians at least were commendably consistent, bathring the Pyramids in the flags of all four of the aforementioned nations).

To be sure, many Russians who adopted the French flag did so on the fly, with no intentions of making any overtly political point. However, some of the more ideologically pro-Western Russians were more to the point in justifying increased attention for French versus Russian victims of jihadi terrorism. For instance, the Russian liberal “hipster” publication GQ was very explicit in defending its decision to feature the Paris Attacks over KGL9268 on the grounds that they idenfied with the City of Lights as a “permanent festival,” whereas for them their own homeland was a permanent “territory of woe” and thus unworthy of any particular attention (this binary characterization might seem rather optimistic to anyone actually familiar with the Parisian banlieues). An English language illustration of this phenomenon is this Foreign Policy piece by Julia Ioffe, which bizarrely justifies the discrepancy in terms of the better performance of French special forces at Bataclan relative to Nord-Ost (no mention being made of the fact that the Chechen terrorists in 2002 were ten times as numerous and far better equipped).

Bearing this in mind, the patriotic and conservative types – seeing such widespread attitudes in the Russian media as an implicit endorsement of the theme that Westerners are first-rate peoples and the center of civilization, as opposed to disposable Russians in peripheral Eurasia – have not been overly concerned with sensitivity right now, which is clearly expressed in Kholmogorov’s article. He is not writing for Westerners, but for Russians on his side of the domestic culture war.

To be sure, translation ≠ endorsement, and there are several points one can take issue with him on. There is too much butthurt over Charlie Hebdo, which – contrary to its high media profile – is in reality a very low circulation publication in France itself. Furthermore, the French state obviously has no obligation to apologize for it. Tying the emergence of ISIS to France’s Levantine policies between the wars is far too radical a causal stretch and besides the point in relations to current French policies anyway. Perhaps most critically of all, the Russian obsession with the West – most prominent amongst the Westernists, of course, but still making itself felt, if in an inverted form, amongst nationalists like Kholmogorov – is perhaps unseemly and even maladaptive, since ironically one could say that this merely reflects and confirms Russia’s status as a peripheral country.

Nonetheless, I believe the vast majority of the points Kholmogorov makes are fair and to the point, and moreover the fact that something so “politically incorrect” can be published in a major Russian daily – can one imagine anything similar in The New York Times? Or even The Daily Mail? – testifies to the fact that Putin’s Russia, ethnically blank slatist as it might formally be, is nonetheless as good ally as any to those Europeans who still support European civilization and self-determination.

***

A Cruel French Lesson

by Egor Kholmogorov

http://www.kp.ru/daily/26458.7/3328330/

The hideous acts of terrorism in France strongly resemble a fast-forward video of the decades long terrorist war that has been waged against Russia. The massacre at the Bataclan theater is basically a French version of Nord-Ost…

So we in Russia understand what is now happening with the French like few others.

But this tragedy occured at a rather inconvenient time in relations between the two countries. It came on the heels of a French magazine’s vulgar lampooning of the victims of the terrorist attack on our aircraft over the Sinai. I have not seen a single public apology from the French. Our officials are the only people who have tried reassuring us that real French people are ashamed about this… Thus, all expressions of sympathy, alas, have to begin with a caveat: “Regardless of your mockery of the terrorist attack against us, we do really feel for you.”

We feel for you because we ourselves have felt such tragedies on our shoulders. We sympathize, and we sympathize sincerely.

But approaching this with a cool head, one can’t deny that this case is also a matter of France paying the bills, and for multiple accounts at once.

The terrorists shouted, “This is for Syria!” And this is, at some level, “For Syria” – not in the sense that French aviation is bombing ISIS, but in that when France after the First World War received a mandate to govern Syria, it first divided that territory into five states along confessional lines: Christian, Alawite, Sunni, Druze, and Armenian. Then it took them and used them to glue together two states – Syria and Lebanon, thus laying the foundations for civil war in both countries. Had they either kept Syria unified, or properly divided, there would have been no ISIS.

Two years ago, President Hollande rattled his sabre harder than anyone else in pushing for an American intervention in Syria [against Assad], and was only narrowly stopped at the last moment by Vladimir Putin.

It was Hollande and his predecessor Sarkozy who supported the overthrow of Gaddafi, who welcomed the Islamic Revolution in Egypt, who seeded the flames of war in Syria and in so doing became directly responsible for the creation of ISIS, Al-Nusra, and similar demons, for the spread of their activities to France and all Europe, and for the overwhelming waves of refugees.

When in January murderers took care of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo, instead of a sane adjustment to security and migration policy, Hollande was only interested in preventing Marine Le Pen from getting any political kudos and kickstarted the hysterical tolerance campaign “Je suis Charlie.”

Moreover, the objects of sympathy should not have been a bunch of talentless hacks, but those French citizens who were in danger of becoming victims of terrorism in the future!

Migration policy should have been tightened, and border controls strengthened. A campaign should have begun to fight against terrorist organizations globally and against the Islamist underground in France itself.

Instead of this, the orgy of “tolerance” continued, as Hollande occupied himself with weightier matters, such as saving the Kievan junta and clamping down on Mistral sales. France became a best friend of Qatar – one of the main sponsors of radical terrorism, including ISIS.

And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you…

The most horrifying fact of this strategy is that the killers in the Bataclan spoke good French with no accent. This means that they are not recent immigrants, recently arrived from the Middle East. These are French high school graduates, perhaps – French citizens, to whom they tried to teach the lessons of tolerance.

There is a hard-hitting film from 2008 starring Isabelle Adjani called La Journée de la Jupe. A female teacher in an immigrant quadrant of Paris, despairing of the thuggery and unwillingness to learn of her students, and tired of their barbaric morals, finds a gun in the possession of one of them. She grabs the gun and proceeds to take the class hostage, and force the impudent rascals to study the biography of Molière and respect women at gunpoint. The police and bureaucrats dance about in the background, convinced that the “intolerant” teacher is the main threat. Special forces prepare to storm the classroom. But in the end, the gun ends up in the hands of one of the pupils, and there begins a bloody massacre. This is a very enlightenening film that everyone should watch today.

So it is impossible to say that the French themselves are unaware of what is happening with them. And it is no accident that the Front National of Marine Le Pen is France’s leading party. But the political system there has been specially arranged in such a way that even with a plurality of the votes, the National Front still get the smallest amount of seats in Parliament. This means that the situation will only change when the Front National starts getting more than 50% of the total votes.

Dictatorships can always be excused away by the fact that the incompetence of the man in power is paid for by the sufferings of people who never elected him. But France is a democratic country. It has political leaders who were ready to rearrange politics in a way that could avert tragedy. They could have voted for Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002 and 2007, and for Marine Le Pen in 2012. They not only could have, but should have, voted for Marine in 2012. But instead, the French elected Hollande and his party of tolerant hypocrites.

Today has revealed the frightful cost of that decision. The streets of Paris have been stained with blood, as mobs of fightened and bewildered people rampaged through the city.

But will even this shock change anything? If, regardless of the newly introduced State of Emergency, the regional elections of December 6th go ahead – will the French finally be ready to put a stop to all this, or will they continue to vote for freedom for terrorists, and equality and brotherhood with bandits?

I am afraid that the answer to this horror will be a continuation of the same old, same old. Western propaganda has already adapted an essentially totalitarian tenor: “We will rally all the more closely around the values of multiculturalism, we will not allow any expressions of extremism, this is all Assad’s fault, if only he had stepped down – none of this would have happened…”

Unfortunately, it has become clear that what we are seeing is a live translation of the fall of the Roman Empire under the onslaught of the barbarians. The same stubborn refusal to understand what is going on, the same unpreparedness to take serious decisions, the same vacillation and buffoonery in the moment of mortal danger. It would be great if wonderful France were to finally find its Jeanne D’Arc.

But that is hard to believe.

Therefore, Russia’s main task is to learn its lesson – and to defend itself. To defend its territory. Its people. Its aircraft.

To support its allies. To remove the contagion of terrorism from the Middle East and everywhere else. To be prepared to settle accounts not just with its perpetrators, but also its sponsors.

And to avoid hoping that either the French state or Europe will learn any lessons from this. That they will change their politics, join us in fighting our common enemy, or stop behaving like an elephant in a china shop in the East. To plan our moves on such hopes would be nothing more than self-deceit.

But with the French, we sympathize. Stay strong!

 
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Russian conservative Egor Holmogorov argues that Muslim immigrants in Europe and Russia can’t have their cake and eat it too: Either they take responsibility for “lone wolf” terrorists, or they stop demanding privileges as a community.

Human Sacrifices

Europe has just undergone a week of human sacrifices.

1

The French writer Dominique Venner committed suicide at the altar of Notre Dame de Paris.

At first, it was suggested it was a protest against the legalization of gay marriage in France. But the note Venner left behind – who was, incidentally, a specialist on Russia and the history of our Civil War – allows us to place his action in a wider context: This was not so much a protest against a specific law, as against the cultural, civilizational, religious, and moral suicide of Europe. Let me acquaint the reader with the full text:

“I am healthy in body and mind, and I am filled with love for my wife and children. I love life and expect nothing beyond, if not the perpetuation of my race and my mind. However, in the evening of my life, facing immense dangers to my French and European homeland, I feel the duty to act as long as I still have strength. I believe it necessary to sacrifice myself to break the lethargy that plagues us. I give up what life remains to me in order to protest and to found. I chose a highly symbolic place, the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, which I respect and admire: she was built by the genius of my ancestors on the site of cults still more ancient, recalling our immemorial origins.

While many men are slaves of their lives, my gesture embodies an ethic of will. I give myself over to death to awaken slumbering consciences. I rebel against fate. I protest against poisons of the soul and the desires of invasive individuals to destroy the anchors of our identity, including the family, the intimate basis of our multi-millennial civilization. While I defend the identity of all peoples in their homes, I also rebel against the crime of the replacement of our people.

The dominant discourse cannot leave behind its toxic ambiguities, and Europeans must bear the consequences. Lacking an identitarian religion to moor us, we share a common memory going back to Homer, a repository of all the values ​​on which our future rebirth will be founded once we break with the metaphysics of the unlimited, the baleful source of all modern excesses.

I apologize in advance to anyone who will suffer due to my death, first and foremost to my wife, my children, and my grandchildren, as well as my friends and followers. But once the pain and shock fade, I do not doubt that they will understand the meaning of my gesture and transcend their sorrow with pride. I hope that they shall endure together. They will find in my recent writings intimations and explanations of my actions.”

Despite the blasphemy implicit in suicide, Venner acted, nonetheless, as a man of the Christian faith. In this sense, his action was the opposite of that of another “hero” of the contemporary European resistance, Anders Breivik. Breivik carried out a massacre in protest, killing people who for the most part had nothing to do with Norway’s immigration policy.

He acted like his Viking forebears, who, if one was to believe the sagas, bestowed the title of “Child Lover” on those rare warriors who refused to impale babies on the end of a spear. Breivik, by the way, behaved honorably in court, and was fully prepared to face the death penalty if he was sentenced to it; and in the end, he achieved a moral victory in his case – a most astounding outcome, considering the sheer ghastliness of his crime.

Venner took an entirely different road.

Under the formal cover of a pagan sacrifice, worthy of the heights of Roman valor, he demonstrated a Christian soul – taking not other lives, but his own, all for the sake of awakening the human spirit. That this splendid action incited hysteria on the part of the FEMEN stripper troupe, who didn’t hesitate to carry out another of their “actions” at the place where Venner died, testifies to the impotent rage of the demons of both the pagan and Christian worlds.

Speaking of FEMEN, it’s quite a fascinating story; full of impudence in Russia and Ukraine, they have suffered a crushing moral defeat in Europe within less than a year. First, the Archbishop of Brussels Andre-Joseph Leonard reacted to their shrieking delirium with Christian patience and humility; now, they have brought eternal contempt on themselves through their dancing on a person’s place of death.

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There remains only one question: Why are these ladies so free to violate social order in ostensibly law-based states? How are they able to break into Notre Dame and create a pigsty there for the second time in 6 months? It would seem that the French Ministry of Internal Affairs has no answer to this question.

Anyway, continuing. Dominique Venner didn’t so much carry out his action to ban homosexuals from adopting children – that is but one of the many facets of Europe’s suicide – as to finally end this epoch, in which a soldier of a European army – living in his own country, and his own city – could just have his head cut on the streets.

2

After two Muslim fanatics cut off the head of one of Her Majesty’s soldiers in London, the British authorities advised servicemen not to go out in the streets in their uniforms, or best of all to not to leave their barracks at all. But isn’t this how hostile troops behave themselves in occupied territories? “Achtung! Partisanen!” The last time London experienced occupation was nearly a thousands years back, and it must be a new feeling for the Brits, especially considering that the occupying isn’t done by them, but to them – with the full agreement and support of Her Majesty’s government and parliament, which are now preoccupied with far weightier issues – say, the legalization of gay marriage.

“Islam has no responsibility for what just happened, and Muslims make great contributions to British society,” British leaders rush to proclaim, as always. Doing anything possible to avoid offending Muslims is evidently given a higher priority than expressing sympathy to the family and close ones of the deceased, or to soothe British society.

Is it really the case that Islam as a religion has no relation to the terrorist actions of so-called “Islamic fanatics”? The scoundrel who cut off that soldier’s head; the scoundrel Syrian rebel who ate the lungs of one of Assad’s soldiers to shouts of “Allahu Akbar!”; the scoundrels-in-training crawling out from Stockholm’s attics under that same slogan, cleansing the city of the remaining Carlsons and then posting their exploits on YouTube – all these soldiers in Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, fighting in an incipient war of civilizations and races (enjoy the word while you still, before it’s banned like it was in France) – can we really say that all this “has no relation to Islam”?

In my opinion, we can’t say that for several reasons.

3

First, there are many murderers and arsonists who do their deeds “in the name of Allah,” and they didn’t all appear in just the past decade. If you do a head count of murderers, who killed unarmed people while calling on Mohammed, their numbers would have long since stretched into the thousands. Second, these same killers genuinely believe that they good Muslims, fulfilling the the commandments of the Prophet; their atrocities are part of jihad, and they consider themselves deserving of a martyr’s glory and ascension to heaven.

No doubt there are quite a lot of people in the world who consider themselves Napoleons, messengers from space, and channelers of extra-terrestrial wisdom. But the majority of such people are sitting in mental hospitals soon after writing their first “manifesto,” not holding discussions with major politicians and social forces; they are not sought after or used by intelligence services; their delusional ravings are not the subject of any dissertation, except for those to do with psychiatry.

But let’s assume that one fine day not just one patient were to fancy himself a Napoleon, but that a thousand patients were to start imagining someone as a Napoleon, another – as a Murat, and a third – as a Davout, and – swapping their antique cannons for grenade-launchers and armored vehicles – they were to set off to conquer Egypt. At that point, it would be difficult to continue speaking of this as just some banal insanity.

It’s perfectly obvious that these people’s “Napoleonism” would become a mass social cult. Insanity takes people one by one, whereas a collective fleeing from reason is something else entirely. The facts remain facts: That collective insanity that cuts off the head of soldiers, devours lungs, or simply burns down the foundations of Swedish socialism goes under one particular name – “Islam.”

We can, of course, pretend that they are all impostors; that all these scoundrels are simply trying to associate themselves with the religion, while having nothing in common with the real Islam. This is unlikely, but theoretically possible.

But consider this fantasy scenario: Some person appears takes your name, copies your physical appearance and habits, and memorizes all your speech patterns and ideas. Then your impostor commits all the horrific crimes mentioned above, as if in your name. What would you do? Most likely, you would spend all of your time, energy, and nerves on unmasking, stopping, and perhaps destroying the usurper.

It would be logical to expect analogous actions on the part of official representatives of Islam as regards the tens of thousand of “individual maniacs and crazies, who bring shame on the good name of Islam.” But we don’t see any evidence of such actions. All we get in response to crimes committed in the name of Allah are meandering official expressions of condolence, as well as slightly less official rationalizations of the “boys will be boys” kind.

From one murder to another, there is no evidence of any real battle with Islam’s supposed “evil twin” in the official pronouncements of the majority of Muslim public figures throughout the world. So there appears an entirely reasonable question: Maybe there is no twin after all?

If anything, the reactions of Muslim community leaders in answer to these questions only serve to reinforce fears. As a rule, they begin to insult the questioners, accusing them of Islamophobia and threatening them with violence. If we are talking about Islamic impostors – that is, the supposed worst enemies of Islam – then it would make sense for Muslim leaders to see allies in those who combat them. But that is not so.

The nature of the reaction to a pointed rejection of aggressive Islamism can be described in detail by the religious expert Roman Silantyev, or the Senior Archedeacon Andrei Kuraev. (Daniel Sysoyev can no longer do that – he was shot in the head by a killer, in the name of Allah, on 20 November 2009). {Translator: Silantyev was threatened from some quarters after publishing a history of Islam in Russia; here is Wikipedia on Sysoev}.

Quite recently, on 27 April, there erupted a remarkable exchange on our program with Anatoly Wasserman, “Wasserman’s Reaction,” between Andrei Kuraev and the prominent mufti Nafigulla Ashirov. In response to Kuraev’s theses, which were essentially the same as mine above, the mufti began to make practically open threats against the Archdeacon, saying, “I would not want hot-tempered youth to get mad at him and for something to happen to him.”

Consequently, the official position of Muslim public figures isn’t so much that “killers don’t have any relation to Islam,” but that there are “hot-tempered youths, who take things a bit too literally.” At least, this is how we are compelled to understand things in practice. There is no true and peaceful Islam, standing against a cruel and barbarian False Islam of fanatics. But there is an “Islam of youths,” which is neither afraid to kill nor to die, or to commit any manner of atrocities in the name of God. And there is an “Islam of elders,” which consists of the understanding that going too far against the grain could get you killed, and that life is preferable.

4

I think there is value in recognizing all this, at least as regards our immigration policy. There is no need for Christian European countries to allow in immigrants from Muslim countries, whose countries could come to be interpreted as little more than “youthful pranks.”

And since much of the case for immigration from these countries is made on the basis of Europe’s demand for labor (there really isn’t any such demand – it is just a typical case of “labor spam,” which I wrote about quite recently), there is no reason to allow in the representatives of the “Islam of the elders” either.

We can also formulate another principle, which is pointedly ignored by politically correct politikany in Europe, and those who follow in their footsteps in Russia (although the racial-confessional resistance against political correctness here is so great that our bureaucrats can at times, from the simplicity of their souls, even blurt out something that the majority agrees with).

If large numbers of Muslims arrive, settle in enclaves, and demand that their rights be taken into account and recognized – the wearing of the hijab, forbidding “insults to religious feelings” – which typically lead to the banning of crosses, Christmas trees, etc., then the least we could expect is that they should not commit religiously motivated crimes.

If such crimes are committed, then responsibility has to be shared by the entire religious community. They can’t present themselves as one community, demanding privileges and concessions, but then transform into a medley of individuals that don’t speak for each other the moment there appears an acrid smell smell in the air. Either there is a Muslim community in front of the European countries – in which case that community can talk of its rights only if it is prepared to carry responsibility for the actions of its members; or it is a collection of individuals, in which case the phrase “the Muslims of Britain, Belgium, Moscow demand…” should have no meaning.

Thus far, the actions of the official Muslim representatives as regards terrorists most resembles the famous parable about the liberals and terrorists during the campaign of the People’s Will to assassinate Alexander II.

Paraphrasing for our times, we can say that today the main difference between “terrorist” and “official” Islam amount to the following: The terrorist says, “Surrender, or I’ll cut someone’s head off,” while some officious mufti echoes, “Our youth is hot-tempered, prone to take offense. Surrender, or it will cut someone’s head off.”

Reader comments

The comments below are drawn from Vzglyad, where the article was reposted.

Lena M: For Russia to cool down the Muslim wars, it needs another Stalin. We do not have such a one… a pity. Chechnya is confident in that it holds Russia on its knees. It’s like in a zoo: The wolves think that man feeds them, because he is afraid of them. The wolves don’t consider that a man could destroy them just like that, because there’s no need to feed them. Cursed democracy)) Two nice bombs – and we lose our Gold Olympic medals in wrestling))

дядь Леша: And after all is said and done… Islam has a centuries-long record of peaceful and accomplished life in Russia. And it continues to exist like that today, despite the new arrivals. So I consider Kuraev’s generalizations to be a form of gaponstvo – and the reaction of the mufti to his “theses” to be entirely appropriate.

Translator notes

The translation of Dominique Venner’s farewell letter was done by Greg Johnson blogging at Counter-Currents. I copied it from there directly so that the text would not have to go through two rounds of translation.

Apart from that, it would probably be a good idea to remind readers that Russian Spectrum translations do not necessarily reflect editorial opinion.

(Republished from Russian Spectrum by permission of author or representative)
 
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Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.