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Russia’s Joyful Determination – Tartakovsky

Russia’s Joyful Determination

By Joshua Tartakovsky

 

Even if Russia is a mystery to practically everyone, including Russians themselves, my recent time in Moscow left me with greater optimism regarding this nation’s future. The ongoing sanctions against the country; attempts by the West to cripple the economy; a campaign of demonisation of Russians and of President Putin by the Western corporate media (which goes at great length to distort and obscure facts while presenting Russians in a very negative light, relying on subconscious but now legitimate Russophobia); the decline of the ruble against the dollar and Western support for the pro-fascist regime in Kiev – all have failed to foster a spirit of melancholy, depression or fear.

That is not to say that life in Russia is perfect or that Moscow is necessarily indicative of the rest of the country. Indeed, in rural areas of the country, people have been affected to a much larger degree by the economic decline than in Moscow, and yet, over 80% of the population supports the course taken by President Putin. Indeed, those who take issue with Putin, and advocate that Russia bend backwards to please the US, are generally part of a small, affluent, but politically irrelevant liberal minority, one which resides in the large cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

In a trip to Moscow prior to this one, taken at the end of April 2015, I was left with a different impression. The mass suffering and destruction I witnessed in Donetsk seemed to escape the notice or attention of many Muscovites, who seemed more interested in living a luxurious life style than in the pain and suffering taking place next door. It was almost as if residents of this great metropole were hoping to escape, ignore or evade the news from Ukraine, more concerned about remaining unaffected in their artificial bubble. Indeed, the assumption driving the Western approach to Russia has been that following the collapse of the USSR – and the fact that Russia is forbidden by following a particular ideology in its new constitution – most Russians under Putin wish to live a comfortable and affluent life, and if faced by sanctions they’ll withdraw their support from “bad guy” Putin.

Perhaps it was the lovely late summer weather that caused the many Muscovites who were out in the parks and streets to be in high spirits, but my impression was that a deeper phenomenon was in play. Museums and churches were packed with people. Residents enjoyed each other’s company in parks, even while spending less. And people did not seem subdued or concerned, but rather, more determined and proud of their identity and country.

Despite the sanctions, most people did not have worried looks on their faces, but seemed to embody a strong character and determination.

What may explain this resilience and inner strength, seemingly oblivious to the demands of the so-called “international community” and to the massive campaign of disinformation and hate launched by the Western corporate media, replete with horror stories on “Putin’s Russia” that leave one with the impression that Muscovites are depressed, living under tyranny, and devoid of life and joy?

It appears that the Western approach to Russia failed to take into account several basic facts, of which those familiar with Russian history and culture would be aware.

First, Russians no longer need the approval of the West to be happy or confident. Russians remember well that during the Yeltsin years, when they were supposedly enjoying the fruits of Western democracy and a time of prosperity following seventy years of the Soviet Union’s existence. In reality the country was privatized by the order of economists sent by Western-dominated financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, and massive hunger ensued as the country was subject to new dictates imposed the Washington Consensus. Russia was “loved” by the world then, but that did not help Muscovites who needed bread to survive the night. Now that Putin is being demonized by the major Western countries, who also supported a violent coup led by neo-Nazi groups in Kiev and aid Islamist groups bringing total destruction to Syria, many Russians must realize that the alternative the West envisions for Russia is not a prosperous state, but a subdued and subjugated colony. With the difficult 1990s serving as a precious lesson, most Russians now realize that they no longer need to seek the West’s affirmation to exist happily, and that as long as they live by the moral standards they set themselves, they can appreciate the gift of inner peace, knowing that they are forging the right path regardless of international criticism.

Secondly, many Russians have come to understand that as Washington does not accept basic decency among countries as a value. The Euro-Atlantic powers have supported the rehabilitation of Nazism in Ukraine while voting in the UN along with Canada against a resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism, betraying the common legacy shared with the Soviet Union in the common struggle against Hitler. We witness the “indispensable nation”  violating the basic norms of human decency, but now its information campaigns, threats and hostile actions are not greeted with fear, but with even greater resilience.

Thirdly, Russians have proven to themselves, perhaps with some degree of surprise following several decades of a loss of ideology, that they actually do have an internal reservoir of untapped strength and that there are certain values they hold dear, values for which they are willing to sacrifice. Russians, who are not strangers to sufferings endued by hardships when being confronted by Nazi Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, for example, rediscovered a pleasure in realizing that there are still values worthy of struggle. In other words, Russians have essentially seen that there are certain essential Russian values – such as basic decency, opposition to blind chauvinism and senseless killings, love for one’s neighbor and justice – to which they still adhere. Hardships that expose these values within them are to be welcomed rather than feared. Russians know that the post-USSR Russian Federation has not been an aggressive country on the international stage and has not bombed countries into submission for the sake of controlling their markets as the US, UK and France, have done. Therefore, since they realized that they behaved rather decently, they are prepared to bear the burden of indecent behavior or retribution by the West.

Fourthly, Russians have turned back to communal values, a spiritual and religious outlook of life, and a reliance on one’s intuition and mystical knowledge rather than the split between the heart and mind common to the West, as evidenced by the revival of Orthodox Christianity. Many Russian citizens have turned to their native faith – whether Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, or Islam – and returned to traditional values such as the importance of family and community rather than adopting European post-modern values guided by atheism.* These spiritual traditions, suppressed for decades and now reemerging, emphasize to present-day Russians that they are part of a long and glorious history spanning centuries, and that their own traditions contain spiritual and emotional riches which can provide their lives with meaning and spiritual knowledge. Russians now better realize that they are not empty slots but have roots. Now revived in a  religious and cultural rebirth which seems to be taking place, they are more powerful than the pain endured by financial losses, as they remind Russians that life has meaning, that the wisdom of the heart is stronger than the heartless rationality of productivity and “progress,” and that they can rightly be confident and proud of their own heritage and history. Russians have discovered, in other words, that they are not just a country, but a civilization, and that they can be confident in their own identity.

This joy of rediscovery of one’s strength outweighs most other difficulties, not that these difficulties should be underestimated.

Doubtless not all Russians share the view outlined above. Some, a majority of whom belong to a pro-Western middle class working in sectors related to the global circulation of capital, have an idealistic view of the West and seek to be part of it. They do not wish to stand apart from the West and do not wish to undergo economic difficulties. Some of their criticism may be justified, while other aspects may be downright childish and naive. To praise the West as perfect while turning a blind eye to Wall Street’s imperial wars, or to condemn the inauguration of a major mosque in the capital while viewing themselves as part of liberal, multicultural Europe, reveals a certain lack of sound reasoning, wishful thinking, and a needless inferiority complex. The debate between Westernizers who saw Russia as part of the West and Slavophiles who viewed Russia as a civilization in its own right harks back at least a century ago to the points raised by Herzen, Kireevsky, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Today a majority of Russians would appear to hold the Slavophile position, proud of their identity and culture and determined to continue on their own civilizational path.

For these reasons, I left Russia more optimistic than several months ago. Russians have, in my opinion, demonstrated not only that they are determined to stay strong despite attempts at isolation and “containment,” thereby paving the way for a future multipolar world, but have also done so with a new-found joy and surprise at the discovery of values demanding righteous sacrifice. They have a rich and glorious civilization of which they must be proud, rather than ashamed, and which is strong enough to deflect efforts to subjugate it or destroy it. While it has been said long ago that Russians tend to adapt quickly to times of crisis, it also appears that this time they are also invigorated by the realization of inner strength. There are unique virtues and traditions which are not simply abstractions, and through struggle they reveal a spirit that exists within us.

 

Added Note:

* It should be noted that there are many other religions besides the Abrahamic religions in Russia which have large followings, some of which have maintained themselves in certain regions historically, while others are the results of religious activism. In Russia, there are multiple strong movements of indigenous Pagan revival, Buddhism, and even conversion to Hinduism in certain regions (which is closely related to the revival of local Paganisms, but usually occurs in regions where the original Paganism does not have many remnants to build upon). In any case, there is a revival of traditional religiosity and spirituality in Russia that stands in stark contrast to the materialism, agnosticism, and atheism which has been rising in Western countries. – Ed.

——————

Tartakovsky, Joshua. “Joyful Determination.” The Soul of the East, 10 October 2015. <http://souloftheeast.org/2015/10/10/moscow-sanctions-morale/ >.

 

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The War on Russia – Dugin

The War on Russia in Its Ideological Dimension: An Analysis from the Perspective of the Fourth Political Theory

By Alexander Dugin

(Edited by John B. Morgan, Editor-in-Chief, Arktos Media)

 

The coming war as concept

The war against Russia is currently the most discussed issue in the West. At this point it is only a suggestion and a possibility, but it can become a reality depending on the decisions taken by all parties involved in the Ukrainian conflict – Moscow, Washington, Kiev, and Brussels.

I don’t want to discuss all the aspects and history of this conflict here. Instead I propose to analyze its deep ideological roots. My conception of the most relevant events are based on the Fourth Political Theory, whose principles I have described in my book under the same name that was published in English by Arktos Media in 2012.

Therefore I will not examine the war of the West on Russia in terms of its risks, dangers, issues, costs or consequences, but rather in an ideological sense as seen from the global perspective. I will therefore meditate on the sense of such a war, and not on the war itself (which may be either real or virtual).

Essence of liberalism

In the modern West, there is one ruling, dominant ideology – liberalism. It may appear in many shades, versions and forms, but the essence is always the same. Liberalism contains an inner, fundamental structure which follows axiomatic principles:

  • Anthropological individualism (the individual is the measure of all things);
  • Belief in progress (the world is heading toward a better future, and the past is always worse than the present);
  • Technocracy (technical development and its execution are taken as the most important criteria by which to judge the nature of a society);
  • Eurocentrism (Euro-American societies are accepted as the standard of measure for the rest of humanity);
  • Economy as destiny (the free market economy is the only normative economic system – all the rest types are to either be reformed or destroyed);
  • Democracy is the rule of minorities (defending themselves from the majority, which is always prone to degenerate into totalitarianism or “populism”);
  • The middle class is the only really existing social actor and universal norm (independent from the fact of whether or not an individual has already reached this status or is on the way to becoming actually middle class, representing for the moment only a would-be middle class);
  • One-world globalism (human beings are all essentially the same with only one distinction, namely that of their individual nature – the world should be integrated on the basis of the individual and cosmopolitism; in other words, world citizenship).

These are the core values of liberalism, and they are a manifestation of one of the three tendencies that originated in the Enlightenment alongside communism and fascism, which collectively proposed varying interpretations of the spirit of modernity. During the twentieth century, liberalism defeated its rivals, and since 1991 has become the sole, dominant ideology of the world.

The only freedom of choice in the kingdom of global liberalism is that between Right liberalism, Left liberalism or radical liberalism, including far-Right liberalism, far-Left liberalism and extremely radical liberalism. As a consequence, liberalism has been installed as the operational system of Western civilization and of all other societies that find themselves in the zone of Western influence. It has become the common denominator for any politically correct discourse, and the distinguishing mark which determines who is accepted by mainstream politics and who is marginalized and rejected. Conventional wisdom itself became liberal.

Geopolitically, liberalism was inscribed in the America-centered model in which Anglo-Saxons formed the ethnical core, based upon the Atlanticist Euro-American partnership, NATO, which represents the strategic core of the system of global security. Global security has come to be seen as being synonymous with the security of the West, and in the last instance with American security. So liberalism is not only an ideological power but also a political, military and strategic power. NATO is liberal in its roots. It defends liberal societies, and it fights to extend liberalism to new areas.

Liberalism as nihilism

There is one point in liberal ideology that has brought about a crisis within it: liberalism is profoundly nihilistic at its core. The set of values defended by liberalism is essentially linked to its main thesis: the primacy of liberty. But liberty in the liberal vision is an essentially negative category: it claims to be free from (as per John Stuart Mill), not to be free for something. It is not secondary; it is the essence of the problem.

Liberalism fights against all forms of collective identity, and against all types of values, projects, strategies, goals, methods and so on that are collectivist, or at least non-individualist. That is the reason why one of the most important theorists of liberalism, Karl Popper (following Friedrich von Hayek), held in his important book, The Open Society and Its Enemies, that liberals should fight against any ideology or political philosophy (ranging from Plato and Aristotle to Marx and Hegel) that suggests that human society should have some common goal, common value, or common meaning. (It should be noted that George Soros regards this book as his personal bible.) Any goal, any value, and any meaning in liberal society, or the open society, should be strictly based upon the individual. So the enemies of the open society, which is synonymous with Western society post-1991, and which has become the norm for the rest of the world, are concrete. Its primary enemies are communism and fascism, both ideologies which emerged from the same Enlightenment philosophy, and which contained central, non-individualistic concepts – class in Marxism, race in National Socialism, and the national State in fascism). So the source of liberalism’s conflict with the existing alternatives of modernity, fascism or communism, is quite obvious. Liberals claim to liberate society from fascism and communism, or from the two major permutations of explicitly non-individualistic modern totalitarianism. Liberalism’s struggle, when viewed as a part of the process of the liquidation of non-liberal societies, is quite meaningful: it acquires its meaning from the fact of the very existence of ideologies that explicitly deny the individual as society’s highest value. It is quite clear what the struggle opposes: liberation from its opposite. But the fact that liberty, as it is conceived by liberals, is an essentially negative category is not clearly perceived here. The enemy is present and is concrete. That very fact gives liberalism its solid content. Something other than the open society exists, and the fact of its existence is enough to justify the process of liberation.

Unipolar period: threat of implosion

In 1991, when the Soviet Union as the last opponent of Western liberalism fell, some Westerners, such as Francis Fukuyama, proclaimed the end of history. This was quite logical: as there was no longer an explicit enemy of the open society, therefore there was no more history as had occurred during the modern period, which was defined by the struggle between three political ideologies (liberalism, communism and fascism) for the heritage of the Enlightenment. That was, strategically speaking, the moment when “unipolar moment” was realized (Charles Krauthammer). The period between 1991 and 2014, at the midpoint of which Bin Laden’s attack against the World Trade Center occurred, was the period of the global domination of liberalism. The axioms of liberalism were accepted by all the main geopolitical actors, including China (in economic terms) and Russia (in its ideology, economy, and political system). There were liberals and would-be liberals, not-yet liberals, not-liberal-enough liberals and so on. The real and explicit exceptions were few (such as Iran and North Korea). So the world became axiomatically liberal according to its ideology.

This has been the most important moment in the history of liberalism. It has defeated its enemies, but at the same time it has lost them. Liberalism is essentially the liberation from and the fight against all that is not liberal (at present or in what has the potential to become such). Liberalism acquired its real meaning and its content from its enemies. When the choice is presented as being between not-freedom (as represented by concrete totalitarian societies) or freedom, many choose freedom, not understanding it in terms of freedom for what, or freedom to do what… When there is an illiberal society, liberalism is positive. It only begins to show its negative essence after victory.

After the victory of 1991, liberalism stepped into its implosive phase. After having defeated communism as well as fascism, it stood alone, with no enemy to fight. And that was the moment when inner conflicts emerged, when liberal societies began to attempt to purge themselves of their last remaining non-liberal elements: sexism, politically incorrectness, inequality between the sexes, any remnants of the non-individualistic dimensions of institutions such as the State and the Church, and so on. Liberalism always needs an enemy to liberate from. Otherwise it loses its purpose, and its implicit nihilism becomes too salient. The absolute triumph of liberalism is its death.

That is the ideological meaning of the financial crises of 2000 and of 2008. The successes and not the failures of the new, entirely profit-based economy (of turbocapitalism, according to Edward Luttwak) are responsible for its collapse. The liberty to do anything you want, but restricted to the individual scale, provokes an implosion of the personality. The human passes to the infra-human realm, and to sub-individual domains. And here he encounters virtuality, as a dream of sub-individuality, the freedom from anything. This is the evaporation of the human, and brings about the Empire of nothingness as the last word in the total victory of liberalism. Postmodernism prepares the terrain for that post-historic, self-referential recycling of non-sense.

The West is in need of an enemy

You may ask now, what the Hell does all of this have to do with the (presumable) coming war with Russia? I am ready to answer that now.

Liberalism has continued to gain momentum on a global scale. Since 1991, it has been an inescapable fact. And it has now begun to implode. It has arrived at its terminal point and started to liquidate itself. Mass immigration, the clash of cultures and civilizations, the financial crisis, terrorism, and the growth of ethnic nationalism are indicators of approaching chaos. This chaos endangers the established order: any kind of order, including the liberal order itself. The more liberalism succeeds, the faster it approaches its end and the end of the present world. Here we are dealing with the nihilistic essence of liberal philosophy, with nothingness as the inner (me)ontological principle of freedom-from. The German anthropologist Arnold Gehlen justly defined the human as a “deprived being,” or Mangelwesen. Man in himself is nothing. It takes all that comprises its identity from society, history, people, and politics. So if he returns to his pure essence, he can no longer recognize anything. The abyss is hidden behind the fragmented debris of feelings, vague thoughts, and dim desires. The virtuality of sub-human emotions is a thin veil; behind it there is pure darkness. So the explicit discovery of this nihilistic basis of human nature is the last achievement of liberalism. But that is the end, and the end also for those who use the liberalism for their own purposes and who are beneficiaries of liberal expansion; in other words, the masters of globalization. Any and all order collapses in such an emergency of nihilism: the liberal order, too.

In order to rescue the rule of this liberal elite, they need to take a certain step back. Liberalism will reacquire its meaning only when it is confronted once more with non-liberal society. This step back is the only way to save what remains of order, and to save liberalism from itself. Therefore, Putin’s Russia appears on its horizon. Modern Russia is not anti-liberal, not totalitarian, not nationalist, and not communist, nor is it yet too liberal, fully liberal-democrat, sufficiently cosmopolite, or so radically anti-communist. It is rather on the way to becoming liberal, step by step, within the process of a Gramscian adjustment to global hegemony and the subsequent transformation this entails (“transformismo” in Gramscian language).

However, in the global agenda of liberalism as represented by the United States and NATO, there is a need for another actor, for another Russia that would justify the order of the liberal camp, and help to mobilize the West as it threatens to break apart from inner strife. This will delay the irruption of liberalism’s inner nihilism and thus save it from its inevitable end. That is why they badly need Putin, Russia, and war. It is the only way to prevent chaos in the West and to save what remains of its global and domestic order. In this ideological play, Russia would justify liberalism’s existence, because that is the enemy which would give a meaning to the struggle of the open society, and which would help it to consolidate and continue to affirm itself globally. Radical Islam, such as represented by al-Qaeda, was another candidate for this role, but it lacked sufficient stature to become a real enemy. It was used, but only on a local scale. It justified the intervention in Afghanistan, the occupation of Iraq, the overthrow of Gaddafi, and started a civil war in Syria, but it was too weak and ideologically primitive to represent the real challenge that is needed by liberals.

Russia, the traditional geopolitical enemy of Anglo-Saxons, is much more serious as an opponent. It fits the needed role extremely well – the memory of the Cold War is still fresh in many minds. Hate for Russia is an easy thing to provoke by relatively simple means. This is why I think that war with Russia is possible. It is ideologically necessary as the last means to postpone the final implosion of the liberal West. It is the needed “one step back.”

To save the liberal order

Considering the different layers of this concept of a possible war with Russia, I suggest a few points:

  1. A war with Russia will help to delay the coming disorder on a global scale. The majority of the countries that are involved in the liberal economy, and which share the axioms and institutions of liberal democracy, and which are either dependent upon or directly controlled by the United States and NATO, will forge a common front once more behind the cause of the liberal West in its quest to oppose the anti-liberal Putin. This will serve to reaffirm liberalism as a positive identity when this identity is beginning to dissolving as a result of the manifestation of its nihilistic essence.
  2. A war with Russia would strengthen NATO and above all its European members, who will be obliged once more to regard American hyperpower as something positive and useful, and the old Cold War stance will no longer seem obsolete. Out of a fear of the coming of the “evil Russians”, Europeans will again feel loyal to the United States as their protector and savior. As a result, the leading role of the U.S. in NATO will be reaffirmed.
  3. The EU is falling apart. The supposed “common threat” of the Russians could prevent it from an eventual split, mobilizing these societies and making their peoples once again eager to defend their liberties and values under the threat of Putin’s “imperial ambitions”.
  4. The Ukraine junta in Kiev needs this war to justify and conceal all the misdeeds they carried out during the Maidan protests on both the juridical and constitutional levels, thus allowing them to suspend democracy, that would impede their rule in the southeastern, mostly pro-Russian districts and would enable them to establish their authority and nationalistic order through extra-parliamentary means.

The only country that doesn’t want war now is Russia. But Putin cannot let the radically anti-Russian government in Ukraine to dominate a country that has a population that is half-Russian and which contains many pro-Russian regions. If he allows this, he will be finished on the international and domestic levels. So, reluctantly, he accepts war. And once he begins on this course, there will be no other solution for Russia but to win it.

I don’t like to speculate regarding the strategic aspects of this coming war. I leave that to other, more qualified analysts. Instead I would like to formulate some ideas concerning the ideological dimension of this war.

Framing Putin

The meaning of this war on Russia is in essence the last effort of globalist liberalism to save itself from implosion. As such, liberals need to define Putin’s Russia ideologically – and obviously identify it with the enemy of the open society. But in the dictionary of modern ideologies there are only three primary iterations: liberalism, communism and fascism. It is quite clear that liberalism is represented by all the nations involved in this conflict except for Russia (the United States, the NATO member states, and Euromaidan/the Kiev junta). This leaves only communism and fascism. Therefore Putin is made out to be a “neo-Soviet revanchist” and a “return of the KGB”. This is the picture that is being sold to the most stupid sort of Western public. But some aspects of the patriotic reaction emanating from the pro-Russian and anti-Banderite population (i.e., the defense of Lenin’s monuments, Stalin portraits and memorials to the Soviet involvement in the Second World War) could confirm this idea in the minds of this public. Nazism and fascism are too far removed from Putin and the reality of modern Russia, but Russian nationalism and Russian imperialism will be evoked within the image of the Great Evil that is being drawn. Therefore Putin is being made out to be a “radical nationalist”, a fascist and an “imperialist”. This will work on many Westerners. Under this logic, Putin can be both “communist” and “fascist” at the same time, so he will be depicted as a “National Bolshevik” (although this is a little bit too complicated for the postmodern Western public). It is obvious that in reality, Putin is neither – he is not a Communist nor a fascist, nor both simultaneously. He is a political pragmatist in the realm of International Relations – this is why he admires Kissinger, and why Kissinger likes him in return. He has no ideology whatsoever. But he will be obliged to embrace the ideological frame that he has been assigned. It is not his choice. But such are the rules of the game. In the course of this war on Russia, Putin will be framed in this way, and that is the most interesting and important aspect of this situation.

The main idea that liberals will try to advance to define Putin ideologically will be as the shadow of the past, as a vampire: “Sometimes they come back.” That is the rationale behind this attempt to prevent the final implosion of liberalism. The primary message is that liberalism is still alive and vital because there is something in the world that we all must be liberated from. Russia will become the object from which it must be liberated. The goal is first to liberate Ukraine, and by extension Europe and the rest of humanity, who will likewise be depicted as being under threat, from Russia, and in the end Russia itself will be said to be in need of rescue from its own non-liberal identity. So now we have an enemy. Such an enemy gives to the liberalism its raison d’être once more. So Russia is being made out to be a challenger from the pre-liberal past thrown into the liberal present. Without such a challenge there is no more life in liberalism, no more order in the world, and everything associated with them will dissolve and implode. With this challenge, the falling giant of globalism acquires new vigor. Russia is here to save the liberals.

But in order for this to happen, Russia is being ideologically framed as something pre-liberal. She must be either communist, fascist or at perhaps National Bolshevist Russia. That is the ideological rule. Therefore, in fighting with Russia, or in considering to fight her, or in not fighting her, there is a deeper task – to frame Russia ideologically. It will be done from both the inside and the outside. They will try to force Russia to accept either communism or extreme nationalism, or else they will simply treat Russia as if it were these things. It is a framing game.

Post-liberal Russia: The first war of the Fourth Political Theory

In conclusion, what I propose is the following:

We need to consciously counter any provocation to frame Russia as a pre-liberal power. We need to refuse to allow the liberals to save themselves from their fast-approaching end. Rather than helping them to delay it, we need to accelerate it. In order to do this, we need to present Russia not as a pre-liberal entity but as a post-liberal revolutionary force that struggles for an alternative future for all the peoples of the planet. The Russian war will be not only be for Russian national interests, but will be in the cause of a just multipolar world, for real dignity and for real, positive freedom – not (nihilistic) freedom from but (creative) freedom for. In this war, Russia will set an example as the defender of Tradition, conservative organic values, and will represent real liberation from the open society and its beneficiaries – the global financial oligarchy. This war is not against Ukrainians or even against part of the Ukrainian populace. Nor is it against Europe. It is against the liberal world (dis)order. We are not going to save liberalism, per their designs. We are going to kill it once and for all. Modernity was always essentially wrong, and we are now at the terminal point of modernity. For those who rendered modernity and their own destiny synonymous, or who let that occur unconsciously, this will mean the end. But for those who are on the side of eternal truth and of Tradition, of faith, and of the spiritual and immortal human essence, it will be a new beginning, ABSOLUTE BEGINNING.

The most important fight at present is the fight for the Fourth Political Theory. It is our weapon, and with it we are going to prevent the liberals from realizing their wish of framing Putin and Russia in their own manner, and in so doing we will reaffirm Russia as the first post-liberal ideological power struggling against nihilistic liberalism for the sake of an open, multipolar and genuinely free future.

 

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Dugin, Alexander. “The War on Russia in Its Ideological Dimension: An Analysis from the Perspective of the Fourth Political Theory.” Open Revolt, 11 March 2014. <http://openrevolt.info/2014/03/11/alexander-dugin-the-war-on-russia-in-its-ideological-dimension/ >.

 

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What Eastern Europe Can Teach the West – Morgan

What Eastern Europe Can Teach the West

A report from Ukraine and Hungary

By John Morgan

 

Introductory Note: Our audience should keep in mind that this article was written on May 2, 2014, and was written from a limited perspective. Therefore, it does not take into account the many negative consequences of the Ukrainian revolution which occurred in later months due to the anti-Russian chauvinism of the Western Ukrainian government. However, despite this issue, John Morgan presents many valid points on philosophical and strategic matters, and it is for that reason that we choose to republish it here. – Daniel Macek (Editor of the “New European Conservative”)

***

Before I begin, I want to make a disclaimer. I’ll be discussing a number of groups that I’ve had contact with, but I don’t want that to be seen as an unqualified endorsement of any of their programs or policies. I think that all of them are interesting, but I’m not here to act as a spokesman or promoter for any of them.

I’ll begin by describing two scenes that I witnessed in January of this year. The first was in Kiev, in the Ukraine, the night I first arrived, as I was approaching the Maidan, or Independence Square, in the center of the city. From far away, I could smell the smoke wafting from the many barrel fires used by those camped out on the Maidan for warmth and for cooking. As I got closer, I could hear the sounds from the speakers attached to the stage that had been set up by the revolutionaries. As I was to learn later, the revolutionary committee maintained a 24/7 schedule on the Maidan. Whether one ventured there at 4:00 in the afternoon or 4:00 in the morning, there was always something happening: either a speaker, a musical performance, a patriotic drama, or some such thing. This was true of the entire Maidan: It was just as bustling in the middle of the night as during the middle of the day. The protesters wanted to make sure that the government understood that their rage was not a passing phenomenon.

When I reached the square, I could see that it had been transformed into an enormous, self-sufficient city of tents and other makeshift structures. This miniature city-within-a-city extended for many blocks in both directions, to the barricades that had been hastily set up against the police the previous month and that were still being guarded by volunteers. Occupy Wall Street had nothing on these guys. Hundreds of activists had been living there for over a month, in the middle of winter, and would continue to do so for many weeks thereafter, knowing full well that the police might attack them at any moment and possibly even kill them. Some of them are still camped there as I speak. Flags and patriotic slogans festooned everything. There was no doubt in my mind, as I surveyed the scene, that change was inevitable.

The other image I want to convey is something I saw only a few days later, in Budapest, Hungary. I was invited to the Annual Congress of the nationalist party Jobbik, or the Movement for a Better Hungary, the only party in Hungary today that stands as a serious rival to the ruling Center-Right party, Fidesz. The Congress was held in an indoor sports arena on the western outskirts of the city.

When I arrived, the first startling fact was that, unlike most events of a similar nature that I’d attended in Western Europe or the U.S., there were no protesters. It came as a surprise to me that views considered “extreme” in the West are usually considered normal in the East. The second startling thing was the size of the audience. This wasn’t a hundred or so people, as is typical for nationalist-related events I attend. This was an entire arena that could seat thousands. In addition to the bleachers, the floor had been filled with chairs. Both were filled to capacity.

The day’s program consisted of speakers and musical acts, with many of the speakers and performers beginning their presentations with the cry of “Talpra, Magyar!” which was always echoed by the audience. This means, “Arise, Hungarians!” and are the opening words of the poem, “National Song,” that was written by the Hungarian poet Sandor Petofi for the 1848 revolution. The enthusiasm of the participants was palpable: They were motivated to save their people. And this is no marginal phenomenon. Three months later, in the national parliamentary elections, Jobbik went on to win over 20 percent of the vote and establish itself as the second-most powerful party in the nation.

My immediate reaction to the events both in Kiev and Budapest was the same: “Something like this could never happen in Western Europe or the United States.” But the main thing that these experiences taught me is that concern for the future of our people, which I was accustomed to seeing consigned to the margins of society, is no fringe subculture in Eastern Europe. There, nationalism—by which I mean genuine nationalism, and not what masquerades under that name in America today under the auspices of Fox News and such—is still very much a mainstream phenomenon.

What Is Happening in Ukraine

I don’t want to discuss the politics of the Ukrainian situation in great detail, since there has already been so much written and said about it. The one comment I’ll make is that, outside of Ukraine, it is always framed as a dispute over geopolitics: Russia or the EU. I can say only that, while that was certainly a catalyst, that was not the main issue for most of the people I talked to. For them, the Maidan movement was about getting rid of the Yanukovich regime, which was seen pretty much universally, as far as I could tell, as corrupt, anti-democratic, and self-serving. And certainly, the activists I talked with were more interested in ensuring the existence of an independent Ukraine as opposed to one that was merely a vassal of Washington, Brussels, or Moscow.

I was invited to speak to the Kiev revolutionary council by some friends in the nationalist party Svoboda, or “Freedom,” who were familiar with my work with Arktos. In the last election in 2012, Svoboda won more than 10 percent of the national vote, and is likely to do much better in the upcoming election, so, like Jobbik, it is more than a marginal phenomenon. Svoboda’s platform is one of anti-liberalism and anti-Communism, as well as opposition to immigration, and it calls for a return to spiritual and traditional values. (As a side note, I’ll mention that I was informed that the term “European values” is code for “traditional values” in Ukraine, which is understood to mean those values that prevailed before Communism and, later, liberal rule.)

My speech was held in the Kiev city council building, which is just off the Maidan. Members of Svoboda had stormed and occupied the building a month earlier, in early December, and it had been converted into a revolutionary headquarters. Different areas of the building had been assigned to the various political parties involved in the Maidan, and Svoboda itself occupied the main hall. Once the guards at the entrance let me in, I was greeted by the strong smell of a building in which many men were living, but which obviously hadn’t been cleaned for some time. I went there several times, both during the day and at night, and people were always busy at work on something related to the Maidan. For me, it was a unique, inspirational experience to be at the nerve center of a revolution in progress.

In the main hall, chairs had been set up auditorium style so that those volunteering on the Maidan could sit and rest during breaks. Films were projected on a screen at the front of the hall, most of them about activists who had been tortured or killed by the police. Off to one side of the hall, next to a Christmas tree, was a collection of sleeping bags, where Svoboda’s volunteers got some rest whenever they could.

Many of these people came from other parts of Ukraine, and had been away from their families and friends for weeks, just to serve the cause of the Maidan. The walls were adorned with the flags of the various parties, as well as the image of Stepan Bandera, the founder of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists that had opposed the Soviets in the mid-twentieth century, and who continues to serve as an inspiration to nationalist activists today. Once again, I was impressed by the austerities these people were willing to undergo for the sake of their people.

My own talk was on “European Values and European Patriotic Movements.” In essence, I said that the most important issue facing the Maidan wasn’t Ukraine’s geopolitical orientation, but rather how best it could orient itself to combat liberalism. To underscore my point, I outlined some of the many horrors that liberalism has wrought in North America and Western Europe in recent decades. My talk seemed to be well-received, and many people approached me afterwards with questions. It became apparent that while some Ukrainians still aspire to the mirage of the lifestyle that they imagine we have here in America and Western Europe, many of them also understand that America today represents something that should be avoided at all costs.

I’ll mention another anecdote from that evening. After my talk, a rumor started to spread through the Maidan that the police were going to storm it that very night. This turned out to be false, but we had no way of knowing that. An old man who had listened to my speech approached me and asked, “Aren’t you afraid of being beaten?” At first I laughed, but upon reflection, I realized that what he was suggesting was a real possibility. As one of my Ukrainian friends had told me, “Once they find out you have an American passport, they’ll let you go, but if they come charging in here with truncheons they’re not going to bother to ask you first.”

I realized that I had never had to think about such a thing before. I’ve been publicly associated with what could be loosely termed the “New Right” for about seven years now, but I’d never had to worry about much more than being heckled by antifa or getting an occasional nasty e-mail. But here I was faced with the prospect of actual, physical violence. Had the police attacked that night, would I have been able to stand firm, as so many others did at the Maidan, in the face of the possibility of being injured or killed? I hope and believe that the answer is yes, although I have no way of knowing for certain until the moment actually comes.

This brought home for me the fact that activism for us in the West tends to be something very abstract, a battle waged in the pages of journals or in online comments sections rather than on the streets. In the East, it still has a very palpable, existential character, with real and immediate consequences. I think this is something that we would do well to keep in mind as we go about our activities. Identity is not an idea, but something we embody and live, and as such, it should be something visible in the world around us, insofar as we have the ability to affect it. The struggle in the world of ideas is important, certainly, but ultimately this is not merely a debate, but an attempt to reshape and redefine the world—a world that is always going to fight back.

No matter how one looks at it, there are certainly aspects of what has been happening in Ukraine since the revolution that are worrisome—as in any revolution, I suppose. Nevertheless, when viewed from the perspective of European nationalism, I think the fact that, regardless of whatever one thinks of the ends they were pursuing, thousands of ordinary Ukrainians were willing to give up their time and comforts for the sake of living in tents for months, and to risk their lives for the sake of their nation—and certainly without the sense that they were being manipulated by outside forces—is something that should inspire anyone looking for real nationalist activism in the world today.

The Story of Jobbik

The story of Jobbik is much less dramatic, since it is a traditional political party pursuing power through the democratic process in Hungary, and the political situation there is quite stable at the moment. What makes Jobbik particularly interesting is the degree of its success and the ideas it propagates. Thus far I have encountered nothing like it in European politics. Jobbik was founded just over a decade ago, in 2003, and when it fought its first election in 2006, it won less than 2 percent of the vote. As I mentioned before, in this month’s election Jobbik won more than 20 percent of the vote, which, in terms of sheer numbers, ranks it as the most successful nationalist party in Europe apart from the National Front in France.

I believe Jobbik has attained this success by appealing to the growing dissatisfaction of many Hungarians with their membership in the European Union, since exiting the EU is one of the planks of the party’s platform. Increasingly, Hungarians are beginning to see the EU as nothing more than a way for the major Western European powers to amass cheap labor while Hungarians see few benefits in return. Likewise, many Hungarians, especially in the countryside, are beginning to worry about the gradual erosion of their traditional values and customs. Jobbik stands for a return to those values, and plans to increase incentives for Hungarians who are working abroad to come home, and to ensure that immigration, which is currently not a major factor in Hungarian society, stays that way. Jobbik also makes an issue out of the international capitalist system, which it claims is the primary force eroding all cultures and traditions in the world today. Jobbik favors a return to a more locally-based economic model.

Much of the rest of Jobbik’s program is highly unorthodox. Jobbik favors stronger ties with Turkey, Russia and Germany, all of which have been Hungary’s historical enemies, but which Jobbik sees as essential for constructing a bulwark against the continuing encroachment of American and Western European liberalism, under the auspices of NATO and the EU. Notable in this regard is Jobbik’s close cooperation with the Eurasia Movement in Russia of Professor Alexander Dugin, which is worth discussing in its own right.

Professor Dugin has long been an unofficial adviser to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, in addition to his prodigious work as an author (my own Arktos publishes his books in English) and as a professor at Moscow State University. All of his work is directed at combating the prevalence and proliferation of liberalism throughout the world, and is unique in that he is one of the few to attempt to apply the ideas of the European “New Right,” as embodied by such thinkers as Alain de Benoist, to geopolitics. The spiritual traditionalism and perennial philosophy that was originally taught by figures such as René Guénon and Julius Evola is also central to his thought. Many of Jobbik’s writings, programs and public statements show the influence of Professor Dugin and his work.

One of the most controversial aspects of Jobbik’s program is its desire for alliances with Asia and the Middle East, and the Islamic world in particular. Jobbik views the anti-Islamic stance assumed by many other nationalist parties in Europe as an error. Jobbik’s leader, Gábor Vona, said in a widely publicized statement last year that the Islamic world is the best hope in the world today to combat liberalism—although what is usually left out is the rest of that sentence, in which he said, “and I say that as a Catholic.” This statement alarmed many, but it has usually been misrepresented, since Mr. Vona has made it clear elsewhere that he doesn’t favor immigration from Islamic countries into Europe, doesn’t favor the Islamicization of Europe, and doesn’t think Turkey belongs in the EU.

Jobbik’s attitude is consistent with the metaphysical perspective of the aforementioned traditionalism of Guénon and Evola, which holds that all traditional religions share a common core and that all stand in opposition to liberalism and the excesses of the modern world. I don’t think it’s possible to understand Jobbik without some understanding of traditionalism. After Jobbik’s congress in January, I spoke with a man who was introduced to me as one of their top ideologues, who said to me, “Politics is nothing; traditionalism is everything!”

One of the party’s major magazines, Magyar Hüperión, contains translated essays by the central thinkers of traditionalism (including Guénon, Evola and Frithjof Schuon), along with articles on politics from a traditionalist perspective. Traditionalism is one of the major elements of Jobbik’s worldview, so one can understand Mr. Vona’s statements only in those terms. When he calls Islam one of the major forces that can combat liberal values—as can all traditional faiths—he does so in reference to Islam as a religion, rather than as a call for an alliance with the more radical and distasteful elements of political Islamism and jihad.

Why Not Here?

Why can’t nationalist movements be successful here? I think the answer is simply that the cultural foundations for such movements are still present in Eastern Europe while they have long since been eroded here. Whatever one may think about the Soviet Union, for half a century the Iron Curtain prevented Cultural Marxism and the worst excesses of liberalism from penetrating into the East. Thus, those societies remained ethnically cohesive and retained a strong sense of national identity, and even their religious institutions, while officially suppressed, only grew in strength by being cast into a dissenting role. Those are the factors upon which any sense of a national or ethnic culture must be founded. This is not to say that liberal trends that threaten to cancel out this advantage are not taking root in Eastern Europe. They are–particularly in the urban areas. But the rot hasn’t yet proceeded to the point where change has become impossible.

So the question is: What can Eastern Europe teach the West? Since the vital foundations of identity, culture and religion have already largely evaporated in any real sense, what is left for us? The situation is dire.

Nevertheless, I think Eastern Europe, and also what I have seen taking place in my own publishing house Arktos, can be instructive. My conclusion is that if any progress is to be made, we need to approach the problem culturally, and in terms of ideas, rather than politically. Any political movement is doomed to failure unless it can reflect the desires of a large number of its community. At the moment, what we are offering is not what most of our people desire. For that to change, we have to influence the culture. This is what the European “New Right” has been saying for nearly half a century now. Little attempt has been made to put this into practice, but I think this is the way forward. More importantly, I think we need to inspire the passions and imaginations of our people, which we have also been failing to do.

The Identitarian movement, which has been extremely popular among the youth in Europe in recent years is, in my view, the first spark of such a development. The Identitarians have shed the old language and hang-ups of conservatism without sacrificing its values, and are winning popularity by adopting many of the tactics of the radical Left: street-level activism, snazzy videos, and the like. In short, it’s cool. Also, the Identitarians have recognized what the core issue really is: identity, going beyond mere politics and ideology to something visceral. People can feel what it is to be a Hungarian or a Frenchman—it is something obvious. It’s not something that needs to be expressed in words or concepts.

Identitarianism is good for Europe, and I have hope for it; the problem is how to transfer it to the United States. What sense of identity do the majority of those of European descent have in America today? Perhaps here in the South, something still remains of the venerable Southern tradition that could still be revived. But the situation in the rest of the country seems hopelessly tragic.

Identity has become a matter of consumerism: your identity is the slogan on your shirt or which television series you like. Appeals to the benefits of the American identity of the 1950s or earlier, for most Americans today, is something as foreign and unappealing as asking them to assume the identity of ancient Egyptians. Some have suggested “white nationalism” as a solution to this problem. For me, this is insufficient, first because it’s a slippery concept in itself, and also because I find it hard to become enthusiastic about the idea that I’m “white.” A Hungarian or a Pole or a Swede has an entire history and tradition to look back on. “Whiteness,” to my mind, is too vague.

If Americans don’t have an identity to draw on, what remains? We still have the remaining factors of culture and religion to consider. Again, Eastern Europe is still rich in these things, and they are what form the basis of nationalist politics there. In America today, all we have is consumer culture and liberal platitudes. The heady days of America’s early years, which produced such wonders as Transcendentalism and the American Renaissance in literature, are long gone. And most of what passes for “religion” these days is either thoroughly compromised by liberalism or else thoroughly moronic—often both.

But what I have observed through my dealings with Arktos’ readers is that there is a great hunger, especially among young people, for new perspectives on culture, politics, and religion that are suffused with the authentic values of the traditional West, to give them something to aspire to. What they want, I believe, are new ideas and myths to inspire them and to give them a sense of purpose.

This does not mean merely conservatism in a new guise; what is wanted is more radical thinking, in the sense of going beyond the limits of what is normally considered Right-wing. In some cases, it may even involve synthesizing ideas and approaches more traditionally identified with the Left. Likewise, conservatism in the West has decayed to the point that even much of what would normally have been traditional or “Right-wing” in Western thought in previous eras now seems new and revolutionary if presented in the proper way.

It should be clear by now that the ideals that first took root in the 1960s and that have dominated our society ever since are becoming more and more shopworn. The reality that young people see around them today is full of evidence of the failures of the attempts to enact these ideals. More to the point, they are growing tired of hearing these same old catchwords trotted out again and again. I firmly believe that the cultural vigor of the West as a whole is passing, if it hasn’t already passed, from the Left to the Right. By this I don’t mean the Republican Right, which is just as liberal as its opposition, but rather what Evola termed the “true Right”—the Right founded on the timeless principles and traditions of our people.

If we continue to offer fresh perspectives in an intriguing manner, and if people continue to respond to them, I think the rest will follow. It is not enough to offer a critical, purely negative view of our civilization as presently constituted. We must offer a positive, constructive alternative vision of what we want that can be attractive to people, and that indicates to ourselves where we want to be heading.

In our own modest way in Arktos, we are trying to offer the appetizers to inspire a greater hunger in our people for a more authentic mode of living and being. Books about the realities of race and of social trends are important, and we must continue to promote them. However, I think it is even more important to offer new ideas in politics, culture, philosophy and religion, and also to produce more creative works that reflect our worldview: fiction, poetry, art, music, videos, and hopefully one day even fully-fledged films. Nothing can inspire people more than a creative vision with which they can readily identify. I hope many more groups will follow in Arktos’ footsteps in this regard.

I’ve mentioned religion, and I think I should delve into this briefly. This isn’t universal, but I have noticed a distinct attraction among many young people towards more traditional forms of spirituality and the sorts of books that Arktos publishes in this area. Traditionalism is certainly part of that. I think this is only natural, since religion at its best offers one of the last refuges of authenticity amidst a society that has become mostly plastic and virtual. And certainly many of the most highly motivated movements and activists I have known on the Right have drawn their sense of purpose, at least in part, from a sense of the spiritual.

This is particularly true of Jobbik. I think the sacred must be an integral part of any attempt to forge a new nationalist culture. This is not to say that we should attempt to propagate a specific religion, as I think such an effort could create divisions, but the cultivation of authentic forms of spirituality, provided that they are consistent with our own norms and values, is a worthy undertaking. A spiritual sense of purpose is the most highly effective way to inoculate oneself against the diseases and temptations of the liberal world.

Hopefully, all this will lead to something corporate America learned was the key to power decades ago: the creation of a subculture, and the identity that follows from that. And, given the right circumstances, a subculture can very quickly influence the prevailing culture. If this happens, it might not even be necessary to have a political movement as such—the perspectives we offer will become commonplace and second-nature—in effect, an identity, and society will be inevitably transformed as a result. I realize this may sound overly idealistic, but the power of ideas and cultural forms should never be underestimated.

In conclusion, then, I’ll say that what Eastern Europe has shown me is that the political struggle is only the outward form of a battle that is really more cultural, and culture rests on what lies within each individual who participates in it. In order to be willing to sacrifice the comforts of home and camp out in the freezing cold, or to risk being hit by a policeman’s baton, a solid sense of identity is required.

Unfortunately, what Eastern European nationalists are born and instilled with is something that we must strive to create for ourselves, if we want to form the basis of something capable of transforming the societies we live in. And once we have achieved that for ourselves, we will provide an example that others will strive to imitate. As that great politician Gandhi once said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.” I think we can do this.

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Morgan, John. “What Eastern Europe Can Teach the West.” American Renaissance, 2 May 2014. <http://www.amren.com/features/2014/05/what-eastern-europe-can-teach-the-west/ >.

 

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