jueves, 24 de enero de 2008

Russia is Returning

Autor: Konstantin Cheremnykh. Fuente: RPMonitor Russky Predprinimatel Foundation. Date of publication in Russian: November 20, 2007.

Recovering from the aftermath of national catastrophe, Russia is to extend its mission to Europe


A generally accepted liberal view, dominating in global media, distorts reality as a funfair mirror. This distortion impedes apprehension of Russia’s role in the world, as well as the role of crucial periods of its history when it changed its shape and borders.

In particular, the decision of Peter I to build a new capital on the marshy coastline of the Baltic is routinely interpreted, not only in papers but in modern historical monographs, as Russia’s laudable turn to the free-market values of the West, as opposed to Asiatic autocracy.

Any guest of St. Petersburg could understand the primitiveness of this interpretation. The principle of city planning has nothing to do with the unbridled element of free market. Saint Petersburg is a city built in accordance with a firm expression of state will.

It is true that Peter I was committed for closer relations between Russia and Europe. What fascinated him in Europe was however not free market miracles but the great scientific, technological and cultural potential of the continent, which he recognized as essential to unfold Russia’s own unused potential and upgrade the nation to the position enabling it to fulfill its own mission in the world.

It is even more significant that greatest European minds and talents of that time perfectly understood and enthusiastically associated themselves with this intention. Many of them not only spent years in Russia but associated themselves with this nation, married Russian women, acquired Russian citizenship and became an integral part of Russian science and culture. The long list of St. Petersburgers included mathematician Leonard Euler and industrialist Alexander von Stiglitz, while the equally famous archeologist Heinrich Schliemann left this city only because of being enchanted by a Greek lady who became his second wife.

It was the same primitive generally accepted view on the relations of Russia and the West that mislead international analysts in their assessment of the «St. Petersburg team» and the present leadership of Russia in particular. The miscalculation of the «St. Petersburg team» was based on the assumption that St. Petersburg, as Russia’s westernmost city, is pretty convenient for using Russia’s «window to Europe» (as Peter I explained his plans in Pushkin’s «Bronze Horseman») as a hole for pushing a new tradition, destroying the old one, on the model of spring 1917.

Today it is clear that this effort of 1990-91 was not more successful than the similar effort of 1917; that the «St. Petersburg team» is not going to serve in the same role as the hapless Provisional Government; that the new political establishment, originating from this city, is going not to facilitate Russia’s dissolution in a global free marketism but to elevate Russia to the role of an indispensable subject in a new multipolar world system.

Developing his plans of access to Europe via the Baltic, Peter the Great relied upon a people which had a very specific historical experience. This people, withstanding for ages to a lot of superior adversaries, was surprisingly few as compared to the huge scale of the territory they populated – which meant that in order to keep the nation afloat, they had to live in a regime of permanent mobilization. What Peter intended to do was to multiply this potential to the scientific achievements of Western Europe.

Not surprisingly, the division of Russia’s history into a «pre-Peter age» (dopetrovskoye vremya) and the following period is most typical for economic studies. In the pre-Peter times, Russians could only make suggestions about the treasures of their land’s mineral wealth, not speaking of the value of these resources when refined; meanwhile, the distance between the mainland and the sea had to be covered by means of physical dragging boats from one river basin to another; this experience is imprinted in the names of old towns like Volokolamsk and Vyshni Volochok (from the verb «volochit» – to drag). The times of Peter the Great gave birth to a Russian term for a dyke lock, «schluz», in which one easily recognizes the German word for a lock. Other German words, introduced in the early XVIII century, comprised the whole glossary of mining industry – the central term, «shakhta» from «Schacht», eventually included into the vocabulary of strategic defense in the meaning of a silo.

The most powerful Russian fortresses, including those of Brest and Sevastopol, were designed by German engineers; the most glorious names in the Russian Navy include the names of Littke and Krusenstern; the best clinics of St. Petersburg are named, until today, after XIX-century physicians Erismann, Ott, and Rauchfuss. The enormous heritage left by Germans in the most advanced spheres of industry, culture and essential public services makes clear why the two nations, despite the immense toll of the terrible wars in which they collided in the past century, so naturally seek for new understanding and cooperation. The permanent and most sophisticated adversaries of both nations have miscalculated the fact that the German intellect has been complementary to the Russian mind – at least since the time of friendship of Tsar Peter with engineer Franz Lefort – whom Peter called not by name or surname but simply: mein Herz.


So, what attracted the Europeans in Russia? Definitely not only business opportunities, as human fascination with distant lands emerges from different motives. They were attracted with the whole combination of landscape, tradition, belief, scientific daring and creative state will which is defined as civilization. The very fact of involvement of best European minds in the transformation of Russia – not only investors and temporary advisors but also creative thinkers, engineers, inventors and naturalists, who settled here once and forever, is the best evidence of the existence of a peculiar Russian civilization.

In this peculiar civilization, social functions did not coincide with those in the West. Why do we say that in Russia, a poet is «more than a poet»? Most usually, a Russian poet is not an ironist and an execrator but a partner and advisor of the state power. Asking why the image of Peter I was so essential for Alexander Pushkin, look at the place where Pushkin studied and later lived with his family: Tsarskoye Selo, the suburb of St. Petersburg that would not exist without Peter; the place then already famous for its royal palaces, but also for the Royal Military Engineering School.

The country where a villager was recruited for fourteen years of military service was also a country where a nobleman was supposed to be an officer; the students of the school in Tsarskoye Selo included philosopher Chaadayev and poet Lermontov. The area of the town where the school was opened and exists today has been known, also throughout the Soviet time, as Sophia, after the name of the now renovated cathedral built for the young officers. The minds brought up in this place could be bitterly critical towards the reality of their time, but none of them would commit to strife against their own nation: patriotism was as natural for them as breath.

In this civilization, state policy used to peacefully coexist with lyrics, and belief with military engineering in a common cause, unifying a Tsar and a poet, a scientist and a priest; that was a prerequisite for survival, and an impetus for daring.

From the above-described peculiarities, as well as from the geographical map, it is obvious that one of the most characteristic features of Russian civilization was expansion. However, expansion across land and even seas has got restrictions, realized more clearly with universal education and Christian belief. Therefore, already in 1870s, when not every engineer could imagine a human rising above the earth, Russian philosophers – from the school later defined as Cosmist – introduced the idea of space travel into human minds.

Nikolay F. Fyodorov, the founder of this school, not just dreamed of other worlds. He forecasted that a human, colonizing these new worlds, would use them as thesauri of human memory, rising to the capacity to re-establish the images of the great sons of the planet from its far past. What he prophesied was not just technical progress but the increasing power of a human to connect the past and the future times together, as well as the cultural poles of the West and the East. The philosopher spent years in then backward Central Asia; his book «Philosophy of Common Cause» was first published in Vernyi (present Almaty).

In the same natural way for the civilization of Russia, Fyodorov’s most devoted pupil appeared to be the person whose name is honored by any space researcher – Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the inventor of the first Russian missile, the founder of a new science later developed by Friedrich Zander, one more great Russian German, and later by Sergey Korolev. Their scientific endeavor was crowned in 1961 with the first manned spaceflight; the last name of the cosmonaut, Gagarin, almost mystically coincided with the real name of philosopher Nikolay Fyodorov, who was an illegitimate son of Count Peter Gagarin.

One more mystical coincidence was revealed to me as recently as in 1997, when I was lucky to be present at the first joint conference, organized by Russian clergy and Russian nuclear scientists. It was a real discovery to realize that the location of the top Soviet center of nuclear research in the ancient city of Sarov, Nizhny Novgorod Region, shaped the minds of scientists and enabled them not only to overcome the ages of history but also the seemingly astronomic gap between belief and science. One of the speakers, representing the Nuclear Research Center, confessed that during decades of his life, he had been fascinated with the similarity of the silhouette of a missile and Sarov Monastery’s bell tower.

One more decade later, on September 9, 2007, Russian scientists celebrated the jubilee of the Soviet nuclear program in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior; scientists and clergymen shared the spirit of a great cause, elevating a human from mundane life. Since that day, the great Russian devotee, Right Reverend Seraphim of Sarov has become the protector of Russian nuclear physics.

The cemetery in St. Petersburg, where Vladimir Putin’s father is buried, is also named after St. Seraphim of Sarov. This coincidence is also ostensibly random. However, any miracle in the human history, as well as the miracle of birth of a new species in nature, is a random event which generates a new quality, a fusion of origins; thus, the address to the fathers brings us to family history which is equally impossible to be rewritten as the ancestral features of a particular civilization.

The harmony of faith and scientific progress, manifested in the Christ the Savior ceremony, was a great inspiration for Russian scientists and a black day from the haters of the Russian – as well as the entire human – civilization; this harmony was for them like a bur in the throat. The names of journalists, condemning this event with use of animal images, seemingly praying in aid of Pagan idols to impede progress, comprise a picture gallery of haters of civilization, of Christianity – and, naturally, of Russia.

In his «Philosophy of Common Cause», Nikolay Fyodorov foresaw the arrival of these adversaries of the fusion of belief and science, of those who would intentionally contrapose the two propellant powers of human ascent to one another, in order to ruin both.

St. Seraphim of Sarov forecasted the same; for protecting Russians from this invasion, he dug the famous Diveyevo groove, which Antichrist is unable to cross. Exactly on this land, from where Citizen Minin and Count Pozharsky started their march towards the occupied Moscow, the prophecy of the Saint came true: the channel between the man and the space built the shield that protects Russia not only from military invaders but also from spiritual assaulters.

In Nikolay Fyodorov’s view, the source and center of this adversary of Russia was England, «which tries to use all the other nations, especially Russia, as slaves for extraction of raw goods from which England would just produce refined goods in order to sell them back to the same village of the earth which had generated and extracted the product». Thus, the view that Russia’s role of a humble provider of raw materials for superior creatures is a colonial role is not new.

The forces of evil in Fyodorov’s description have got very discernible and perfectly recognizable features: fascination with luxury, contempt towards the poor and to the producing class of their own nations; «Pagan attraction to the manufacture of luxury and a desirably unbridled play with these toys»; imposing freedom of trade for the same purpose as wars, and unleashing real wars for resources – which is «not only political economy, as for Darwin and his followers science is just an instrument of war, while the logic of history is the logic of wars for abstract values... These teachings favor only differences, only those features which lead to hostility; they hate even the dreams of such a time when a wolf would graze with a lamb, and a Slav would become a brother to a German».


These words were written three decades before Great Britain undertook all possible efforts to drag Russian into a war against Germany; five decades before London Bank’s president Montagu Norman credited the Nazi regime; six decades before the Fulton speech of Churchill; ten decades before Mikhail Gorbachov took lessons of perestroika from Margaret Thatcher, with an ensuing national catastrophe.

Fifteen years after this catastrophe, the masks are off: the most hostile challenges for Russia are heard from London; the same London becomes the favorite place of residence for the most haughty and arrogant luxury-lovers. And the same London becomes the cradle of new Darwinism, mixed with new Malthusianism. From here, the World Wildlife Fund launches crusades for protection of gorillas, insects and any beings but human; from here, carnage in the Third World, corresponding with the UN-blessed ideological imperative of reduction of the human race; from here, individual indicators of carbon dioxide spread across the globe, implying the same Malthusian dogma in order to crush the great desire of humans to expand their civilization.

«Ecologism is equal to Nazism» – I heard this formula from a scientist from Sarov at the 1997 conference in St. Daniel Monastery. This definition marked the recovery of the Russian scientific community from the Gorbachev-favored information theory, the back side of the Malthusian medal, dubbed postindustrial but essentially being anti-industrial. This anti-industrialism, like Antichrist, used to hide itself under various fair-faced masks like «sustainable development theory» or «global warming challenge» – since the times when Nikolay Fyodorov, in his debate with Lev Tolstoy, said with irony: «Cattle-lovers are today plenty».

Russia’s recovery from this ideological disease is evident from the fact that today’s Russian scientists most convincingly refute the «ozone hole theory»; from the miserable impotency of greenie movements in Russian public policy; from the voice raised by Vladimir Putin for the poorest peoples of the Earth. The inspiration of a Russian with the idea of development is as natural as a Russian’s yearn for a fairer world order. Even in the popular movies of today, the image of a Russian in the Third World is the image of a protector and civilizer, who brings rescue and hope to the weaker peoples, and not plunges them down into primordial wilderness – thus determining the essential difference between the Russian and British definition of an empire.

Meanwhile, those who had been frantically trying to excoriate the word «empire» from our lexicon, along with the progressive meaning of expansion and colonization, are now increasingly unmasked before the international audience on the bleeding soil of Iraq, where the achievements of technology and culture are swept away for the sake of abstract values of free trade and formal democracy.


«Nature, since it is governed by human mind, will become an expression of intellect and passion, and thus become beautiful», wrote Nikolay Fyodorov, who recognized Darwinists, who «select examples for a Human in the kingdom of animals», as the worst incarnate of global evil. Elevation of humans from the beastly domain of darkness was associated in his mind with deliberate and planned transformation of nature. He viewed this effort as the highest mission of a state leader:

«As the initiator of a fraternal and paternal endeavor, the Sovereign is obliged to be the warrior against the dividing distance, which is the major condition from hostility and discord. He is to serve as the commander-in-chief of the levee en masse for this truly Christian battle, supposed to crash alienation and top open the way from the densely populated places to a low-populated areas, an exodus which still implies an intimate connection of the colonists with the land of their fathers; the crucial case in this effort is the construction of the Siberian railroad».

This battle against the wilderness, determined by the author as «regulation of nature», is the necessary precondition for keeping the nation together, as well as for fulfillment of its global mission. His great contemporary Dmitry Mendeleyev, internationally known as a genius in chemistry, was also a statesman, whose task, given by Emperor Alexander III, was to outline what is now defined as «transport corridors» for the sake of further industrial and agricultural development, for production of refined goods, for connecting the remote areas of the huge Russia with its central regions, and only secondarily – for benefits of trade. Mendeleyev’s works on transport corridors were reprinted at the onset of Soviet industrialization program; in an introduction to the book, the great scientist was introduced as «not only a state planner, but a world planner».

This recognition of Mendeleyev as a philosopher by the planners of the new era explains much about the background of the enthusiasm of Russians in labor, as well as in the most terrible of known wars. Mendeleyev’s ideas were naturally renewed and integrated into the industrialist concept of Soviet Russia. However, the philosophers of the same generation, who found themselves in emigration as enemies of the Soviet state, did not denounce the ideas of progress along with Bolshevism; moreover, they conserved and transferred to the future the religious interpretation of progress. «Economic activity suggests creative work of a human over the nature; possessing the powers of the nature, a man creates what he wants», wrote Rev. Sergius Bulgakov. «The artificial world is born beside the natural world, and this world of new powers and new values increases from one generation to the other, opening (...) borderless prospects for creation of culture... Economic activity is the function of life, a Divine fire, brought to birth by creative love».

The Russian Orthodox and Russian Communist thinkers, fascinated with the idea of development, were not divided. The real frontline lay not between freedom and coercion, and not between material equality and inequality: these dichotomies are secondary. The real frontline of the period of human history, now approaching its logical end, lay between development and degeneration, the Promethean desire of Heaven and the panicky cult of Earth.

The generation of Vernadsky and Bulgakov, Chizhevsky and Bogdanov, Zander and Sikorsky was brought up in the times of Alexander III, the most consistent and sedulous follower of Peter the Great. Only two years ago, the statue of Alexander III was installed at the entrance of the Marble palace in St. Petersburg, in the place of Lenin’s armored car. This happened almost simultaneously with the decision of the Russian State Duma to introduce a new National Day – The Day of Russian Unity, timed to the date of arrival of the volunteer army of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky in Moscow in 1612, putting an end to the Time of Troubles.

Contrary to superficial interpretation, this change in the calendar is not a challenge to the Communists or to Warsaw (as in 1612, Moscow was liberated from Polish troops). It is a challenge to those forces of evil which tried to discredit the values associated with development and sovereignty, with progress and competitiveness of Russia. The decision to introduce this holiday implies recognition of an unpleasant and sobering fact that in the aftermath of the national catastrophe of 1991, the nation was thrown farther backwards than during the disaster of World War I. The task of revival of the once formidable and diversified industrial potential is much harder today than it was in 1917 when the secure potential of Russian Empire’s industry fell in the hands of the Bolsheviks. Thus, the date of November 4 indicates that liberation is available through development, through the rule of a Sovereign in the higher sense, formulated by Nikolay Fyodorov.

This essence is yet slightly understood by the nation, as well as the essence of the new changes in the Russian government, in which the strategic functions of economic management are alienated from the liberal-minded Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and conveyed to the Ministry of Regional Development – under a new leadership, and with a new mission.

In his turn, Victor Zubkov, the person selected for the role of «Prime Minister of transition», is more than an old friend of the head of state. He is the first Prime Minister with a higher agricultural education, and a person who – in his capacity of Assistant Deputy Mayor and later head of Tax Service – was responsible in the 1990s to combat sabotage of gangsters, who overtook wholesale trade and blackmailed the second largest city of Russia with shortage of food.

One the eve of the government reshuffle, mass media predicted the resignation of Agroindustry Minister Alexei Gordeyev. Instead, Putin expelled German Gref – the greatest enthusiast of Russia’s entry in WTO and «withdrawal of the state from economy».

This change is more significant than Russia’s withdrawal from the CFE Treaty. It indicates that Russia is getting rid not of particular persons or particular obligations. The nation is getting rid of the lies which once infected the undereducated dogmatic Marxists of 1980s, returning them to Adam Smith and eventually to Maltus; of those lies which imposed on them the temptation of free market which was expected, by definition, to crush not Communism but Russia – as this temptation suggested a wipeout of capitals and labor from half of the country, disintegration of the domestic economy into richer and poorer regional markets, and division of Russians into regional tribes hating one another.

The nation’s consolidation during the current election campaign is one example of the failure of this evil efforts; the completion of the dam, protecting St. Petersburg from the wild element of floods, in another.

Recovering from the Smith-Malthusian disease, Russian returns to its essence. In its new quality, like in the times of Peter the Great, Russia will again require partnership with Europe – not in order to borrow the abstract values of globalist economics but in order to convey its mission to the continent.


Today’s difference between Russia and Europe lies not in the geography, not in the traditions of economic management and not in belief. When MPs of the hostile Poland insist that the EU introduce The Day of Life, and the Eurobureaucracy resists, Russians would rather choose the side of the Poles and not of the Eurobureaucracy.

Today’s Europe is not so much affected with dependence from the United States than infected with a virus of neo-Malthusian misanthropy. I was shocked with a public poll in Germany, in which the majority of respondents identified personal health as their highest value, the career and wealth lagging behind, and love and family sunk to the bottom. This is more than prejudice: that is a disease of civilization. Such a kind of hypochondric phobia, tethering the mind with chains of misanthropy, may plunge Europe into a darker time of troubles than the United States. But Europe is too indispensable for us; we are too obliged to the European intellect and culture to indifferently watch it degenerating from the effects of imposed Malthusian spell, demolishing not only to the European culture but the Christian tradition.

We need a Europe with which we could jointly turn rivers and pull down mountains – starting, for instance, with resuming uranium extraction in the abandoned mines of Eastern Germany. We have to dig through the debris of anti-civilizational rubbish to path our way to the classical harmony of the genuine continental Europe, to its beauty which once fascinated Peter I; to the culture in which higher definitions emerged in the same way as in the Russian language. In English, there is no adequate equivalent to Geistlichkeit – Dukhovnost, which does not contradict to Wirtschaft – Khoziaistvo. Wirtschaft is not «economics» living according to the Smith-Malthusian law of jungle, but a result of regulated, deliberate, and resolute progressive transformation of the nature by a Man. Returning to our essence, we expect the same from the great civilization of the European continent, as its revival would embreath an actual sense into the term of Eurasia.

In this effort, Greece, the cradle of classical European culture, could play a role of a precious and robust bridge. Looking back at the historical master plan of Peter the Great, Nikolay Fyodorov explained the foundation of Saint Petersburg with the Tsar’s will to return to Constantinople, the place where Russia was Christianized. The joint spiritual endeavor required today is comparable to this dream.