There are often questions in the comments about Egor Kholmogorov’s stance on various things, e.g. about how he reconciles his Orthodox beliefs with Russian ethnonationalism.
So I prepared something different from our usual fare of serious longreads – a series of translations of his social media posts, where he briefly but succinctly addresses some of the most common of these questions.
Not all of this is going to make all our readers very happy. But we make no apologies for it.
On Orthodoxy and the Russian State
One more time, friends…
I was, am, and will remain a Russian Orthodox nationalist monarchist.
For me, Holy Rus’ was always, and will always remain, more precious than the Empire, while the Russian Empire, the historical Russia – will be infinitely more precious than the Soviet Union.
In the realm of the spirit, my foremost guide is Orthodox Christianity as propounded in the traditional teachings of the Orthodox Church, while in the realm of politics, it is the vital interests of the Russian people.
I am prepared to respect the USSR to the extent that it does not contradict the Russian Empire, and in turn, I respect the Empire to the extent that it does not contradict, but continues Holy Rus’.
I am prepared to respect other spiritual traditions to the extent that they are not hostile to Orthodox Christianity, and to respect other ideological programs to the extent that their realization does not come at the expense of the vital interests of the Russian people.
If you expected some other position from me, it is not on account of my positions having changed, but on you having been mistaken in understanding my point of view. I change my position only with respect to certain topics and figures within the underlying system of moral coordinates specified above.
On the USSR
- Our homeland is Rusia.
- The USSR was a set of separatist polities on the ruins of our Motherland.
- The Russian people were deprived of their rights and political subjectivity in the USSR.
- It was precisely the administrative-territorial setup of the USSR that made it easy to dismember Russian national territories: To create the Ukraine, to give it the Donbass and Crimea, to create Kazakhstan, to give it Southern Siberia, etc.
- The cause of the collapse of the USSR was the creation of the USSR. Its disintegration was preordained and constitutionally enshrined upon its creation.
- The Declaration of the State Sovereignty of the RSFSR on June 12, 1990 did not constitute the restoration of Russian statehood, but a second round of Soviet separatism.
- Only through cruel and bloody methods was a third round of separatism avoided – the secession of the autonomous republics from the RSFSR.
- The Russians need to restore their sovereignty within Russia and the territorial unity of the Russian people within realistic borders. Our task is to transform the Russian Federation into Russia.
- All talk about “USSR 2.0” and similar schemes are but an attempt to once again deprive Russians of their statehood, to steal our homeland once again, and is therefore unacceptable.
- Glory to Russia!
So, about the inevitable discussion about civic nationalism and ethnonationalism.
I have always been, and remain, an unambiguous supporter of ethnonationalism, and an opponent of civic nationalism as a substitute – as opposed to a complement to – ethnonationalism.
This distinguishes me from many other Russian nationalists, including some famous ones.
What is important for me is precisely the Russian ethnos as an anthropological, biological, social, and ethno-demographic reality. I want the Russian people to preserve itself, to develop, to flourish, and not to reject other people. I do not want the Russian people to splinter apart, or to dissolve. And I consider my own job as helping provide the Russian people with more opportunities to improve its existence. So one can view my nationalism as a sort of political ethnocentrism.
The ethnos is a system for the reproduction of cultural life adaptations and collective reference points that are imbibed from the cradle onwards. Ethnicity is a foundational intuition, which does away with the need for its people to make contractual agreements on solidarity for collective survival and development. In this sense, one can be born into an ethnicity, one can be brought into it, one can join it, but one can’t just register with it as one would with a political party.
Russification is not about declaring oneself to be Russian; it is about living with Russians, and merging into the Russian flow of life on all levels, from the mundane and familial, to the ideational and the political. This is often quite easy, if competing identities are not so strong that they shift the intuitive solidarity of the person in question away from Russians to representatives of his ethnic group.
It is of course the case that Russian culture is more than just ethnographic culture, and Russian history is more than just ethnic history – but neither one nor the other is possible without the Russian ethnographic core. Consequently, preserving and strengthening this core is necessary, as opposed to diluting it with “multi-nationality.” The sad experience of civic nations at the start of the 21st demonstrate that their fate is to become multiracial conglomerates, subsumed by stronger and more aggressive identities – Islamic, Mexican, etc. So if I was faced with the choice of ethnic isolation, or sharing the fate of the French or American nations, I would choose ethnic isolation.
Fortunately, we need not make such a choice. The potential influence of the Russian ethnos is so great that it casually draws myriads of peoples and ethnic groups, and gently grinds them down. And I am, of course, a categorical assimilationist. My own distant ancestors were assimilated Slavs, and merged with the Russian ethnos as its northern component, which carries the N1a1 haplogroup. And I feel great about this, and I am therefore certain, that all Finno-Ugric peoples should be honored to become fully merged with the Russian ethnos. The same awaits many other peoples, and not only Orthodox ones. And this is a wonderful thing – they will leave elements of their own culture, of their language, of their historical memory, in the wider landscape of Russian culture – but in the end, they will become Russians, specifically ethnic Russians, and not just “civic Russians” under a common geopolitical roof.
Consequently, I am hardly bothered by those people who run around, ranting about their Papuan second cousin and yelling, “What, are you now going to exclude me from the Russians?” To the contrary, we are more than happy to include you – life with Russians, marry them, and such questions would not even arise with your grandchildren. It is you more than anyone else who is obsessively combing over your family tree to find some trace of foreign ancestry, so as to present yourselves as not quite Russians, or not Russians like everyone else. That is your choice, and not that of Russian nationalists.
The task of Russian nationalists, the target of our political ethnocentrism, is not to infringe on anyone’s rights, or to exclude someone from the Russian people, but to create the most favorable political conditions for securing and developing the Russian people on all levels – political unity, demographic reproduction, economic well-being, and cultural expansion. At the end of the day, the goal of Russian nationalism is to make sure that the Russian people prosper, that they are happy, and that they are surrounded by a beautiful reality that calls our soul to the heavens, instead of dragging them into the grave.
There is absolutely no reason to restrict the rights of other peoples for Russians to accomplish this. All that the Russians need to do is to not allow other people to dominate them, to impose on them that what is alien, or to take away from them that what is theirs. It is to escape such conflicts that Russian nationalists call on everyone to become Russians, in the above sense of mutual life and gradual integration.
The juxtaposition of the “ethnic” balalaika and the “national” Tchaikovsky is a false one. The balalaika is not just Russian per se, and the Iolanta is not just a cosmopolitan opus that happened to be written by a Russian. What is Russian? It is the ethnic folk song At the Gates of Batyushkin woven into Tchaikovsky’s “national” overture 1812, one of the most frequently performed works in the world music repertoire. Remove the melody, and you will have neither nationality, nor cosmopolitanism.
At the end of the day, to be Russian – it is partake of a great culture, ta great history, ta great language, a great repository of scientific accomplishments. It is to have access to all the achievements of civilization – Russian, European, Classical, and many others. At the end of the day, the Russian language hosts the world’s only complete translation of the works of Sima Qian, so even Chinese culture is not entirely remote. To be Russian is to be a complete person, it is to maximize one’s capacities for the self-realization of the human spirit, which only a few other civilizations have on the planet. And if someone wants to be English or Chinese, then it would be logical for him to go there, instead of muddying the water here.
So I see no need to hide our Russian ethnic foundation or our Russian ethnic identity, to apologize for it or to be embarrassed by it, or to consider it as something optional.