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.
This 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
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.
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.