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Work of Art

Title: The Sphinx Artist: Gustave Moreau Completion Date: 1864 Style: Symbolism Genre: mythological painting Technique: oil Material: canvas Dimensions: 105 x 206 cm Gallery: Metropolitan Museum of Art “The purpose […]

Title: The Sphinx

Artist: Gustave Moreau

Completion Date: 1864

Style: Symbolism

Genre: mythological painting

Technique: oil

Material: canvas

Dimensions: 105 x 206 cm

Gallery: Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The purpose of Symbolism is to objectify the subjective (the exteriorization of the Idea) instead of subjectifying the objective (nature seen through a temperament).”

Gustave Kahn (1886)

Currently exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Gustave Moreau’s The Sphinx is one of the Museum’s few Symbolist works. Once described to me as the ‘leering drunken uncle at a family reunion’ by a Manhattan contemporary art critic, Symbolism perplexed and unnerved the Met’s directors. Consequently, there are only a few examples tucked away in the European art wing. A few Redons, a decent Böcklin and this remarkable Moreau painting largely constitute the Met’s collection. It’s certainly a pity that the Met catered to its rather prudish Park Avenue benefactors and discreetly stepped over this vital art movement. However, at least one far-sighted curator was perceptive enough to include this magnificent work, which is one of Moreau’s finer pieces.

Depicting the Classical myth of Oedipus and the Sphinx, Moreau’s painting does not showcase the Sphinx’s legendary savagery. Instead, it only hints at the potential danger Oedipus faces by including a corpse’s hand and foot at the bottom of the picture. Instead, the viewer’s gaze is meant to focus on the ongoing symbiosis between the young man and the otherworldly creature. Moreau positioned Oedipus as the dominant, masculine figure staring down the Sphinx with fixed eyes and hard features. Conversely, she gazes back at him with an inscrutable expression. Is it respect, desire, hunger, expectation? We know the outcome of a  previous victim but will Oedipus necessarily follow him or will he correctly answer the Sphinx’s famous riddle? Locked in contest, we will soon learn the outcome and its ultimate victor.

Moreau’s best paintings were those in which he froze a specific, legendary moment by providing a memorable illustration. Like Salome Dancing before Herod and The Apparition, this work captivates our attention and inspires our imagination. Both figures are raptly engaged with each other with rigid forms and striated muscles. Will the Sphinx extend her claws into the youth’s flesh or will Oedipus throw the monster down forever into the gorge below? Moreau judiciously chose oil pigments as this work’s medium and also darkened the background with a leaden sky and storm clouds. The painting’s brightest areas are the exposed flesh of both combatants. Our eyes are drawn to their luminescence and their faces are coldly burned into our minds’ eyes. Whatever the outcome, we depart from our viewing with a renewed appreciation of myth’s effect on our mortal selves.

 

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Work of Art

Title: The Suitors

Artist: Gustave Moreau

Style: Symbolism

Genre: genre painting

Technique: oil

Material: canvas

Dimensions: 343 x 385 cm

      Painted in 1853, Moreau’s The Suitors presents the viewer with an arresting scene from Classical mythology. The returned Odysseus presents himself in his palace, which is occupied by Penelope’s suitors. Intriguingly, Moreau pivoted the point of action forty-five degrees in order to draw attention to them. Instead of the wandering king, the viewer’s eyes focus on  these sybaritic youths sprawled on divans. Besotted and ephebic, they appear as effete Uranians incapable of mounting any challenge to Ulysses. Soon to be slaughtered, they and not Penelope are this scene’s victims.

Sumptuously Caligulan, The Suitors creates a fantastical tableau décadence for Moreau’s Parisian audiences.  Chimerically depicting ancient Ithaca with gilded Corinthian pediments and lapus Lazuli columns, it abandons reality for wild reveries. Moreau implies that this degeneration will be brought to a bloody end. Just as Odysseus enters the hall, dawn breaks outside and grey-eyed Athena appears in her Olympian glory. With their arrivals, order will be restored, masculinity reaffirmed and honor seated in state. Yet for one delicious moment, Moreau invites us into a world à rebours of frockcoats, corsets and bourgeois morality. Like all great Symbolist paintings, myriad underlying meanings abound in The Suitors. Inspiring curiosity and concupiscence, compelling us to look further and tantalizing us with ripe potentialities, it lingers in our minds’ eyes long after we depart from the gallery.      

 

 

 

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Work of Art

Title: The Apparition

Artist: Gustave Moreau
Completion Date: 1876
Style: Symbolism
Genre: religious painting
Technique: watercolor
Dimensions: 72 x 105 cm
Gallery: Musée du Louvre

“Des Esseintes saw realized at last the Salome, weird and superhuman, he had dreamed of. No longer was she merely the dancing girl who extorts a cry of lust and concupiscence from an old man by the lascivious contortions of her body; who breaks the will, masters the mind of a King by the spectacle of her quivering bosoms, heaving belly and tossing thighs; she was now revealed in a sense as the symbolic incarnation of world-old ice, the goddess of immortal Hysteria, the Curse of Beauty supreme above all other beauties by the cataleptic spasm that stirs the flesh and steels her muscles……a monstrous Beast of the Apocalypse, indifferent, irresponsible, insensible, poisoning, like Helen of Troy of the Classic fables, all who come near her, all who see her, all who touch her.”

—-J.K. Huysmans, À rebours (1884)

Painted in 1876, Gustave Moreau’s The Apparition continued to explore the legend of Salome’s Dance. Moreau appropriately chose to utilize watercolors instead of oil pigments for this work. By using lighter tones and blurring delineations, he succeeded in capturing a beatific vision during Salome’s contortions. In a state of physical ecstasy, Salome gestures towards a beatific vision of the rewards she passionately desires. The geriatric, withered Herod looks on in the background while all attention is drawn to Jokannan’s head. Surrounded by seraphic light, his martyrdom reminds the viewer of redemptive power and the fulfillment of prophecy.

Deeply fascinated with theophanic revelation, Moreau illustrated a fantastical vision experienced during the height of Salome’s dance. For only a glittering moment, reality blurs and the saint’s ultimate fate appears before us. Scenes of Orientalist splendor fade away into the background while the viewer exalts God’s martyred prophet. In the heights of whirling ecstasy, Salome stretches out her hand towards her dance’s ultimate reward. Moreau’s technique also served to heighten the mood and illustrate this scene’s transience. The viewer remains awed by this phantasmagorical reverie but knows that it will forever be burned into his very consciousness.

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Work of Art

Title: David
Artist: Gustave Moreau
Style: Symbolism
Completion Date: 1878
Genre: religious painting
Technique: oil

Completed in 1878, Gustave Moreau’s David continued his fascination with Orientalist and Biblical themes. Here, Moreau focuses on a specific legendary figure and his own legacy. The depiction cleverly depicts King David as a withered patriarch instead of a comely youth armed with stones and sling against Goliath. Typically, images of David fixate on his youth and early kingship with Michaelangelo’s David being a prominent example. Moreau subverts this dominant iconography and portrays David as a geriatric elder bereft of human company. Alone in his magnificent palace ensconced on a jeweled throne, he has only an angel to comfort him. Absalom’s death aged him and now he awaits death with open arms knowing that Solomon will inherit his kingdom. The sun sets in the horizon, the flame burns low in the paschal lamp and the old man’s thread will soon be shorn by his God.

Deeply evocative and illustrative of Nineteenth century Gallic fascination with the Orient, Moreau does not strive for historical accuracy in David but instead constructs an extraordinary scene. Moreau’s remarkable attention to detail clearly shows itself in this work. Intending to illustrate an imagined historical scene, he incorporated stylistic intricacy into all facets of this work. Inlaid lapis lazuli bedeck the throne’s steps, mosaicked colonnades support a gilded roof and the somnolent king dozes on a marble throne decorated with emeralds. The eye is drawn toward David but also absorbs all of the painting’s facets through Moreau’s skillful use of sunlight. Fantastical and imaginative, his vision inspires sympathy for an Old Testament king and his twilight woes. Despite David’s manifold sins, he ruled under God’s will and will soon meet his Lord in his celestial Zion.

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On the Global Oligarchy and Anarcho-Tyranny in Russia

An Interview with Dr. Andrey N. Savelev

By Alfred Smith

Andrei Savelev has a PhD in Political Science from Moscow State University. He was an elected deputy of the Fourth State Duma on the “Rodina” ticket (2003-7) and the right-hand man of Rodina’s leader, Dmitry Rogozin. He is chairman of the unregistered political party Velikaya Rossiya (Great Russia). He is the author of over 300 articles, and several books, including Political Mythology (2003), Nation and State: A Theory of Conservative Reconstruction (2005), The Image of the Enemy: Racial Studies and Political Anthropology (2007). He currently teaches courses in the Sociology Faculty at Moscow State University.

Alfred Smith is the alterego of a graduate student somewhere in the UK.  Some of his writings can be found here: www.thedevilsreview.com

Many conservatives in the West have a favourable opinion of Vladimir Putin, seeing him as true national leader who is working in the interest of the Russian people. Many of my colleagues believe him to be a conservative, even a nationalist. However, in your book Nation and State: A Theory of Conservative Reconstruction, you write that Putin is actually a liberal. In what way is Putin a liberal?

I was very surprised when I met with some Italian conservatives, they gave me a publication in which Putin was extolled as a great world leader, as some sort of model of a nationally oriented head of state. Their confusion had to do with the lack of information about the real situation in Russia, and the misinterpretation of certain rude words spoken by Putin, which were taken as ‘anti-American’ and quoted many times in the Western media. At the time I wrote a short explanation and sent it to the Italians.

Let us remember, for a start, that Athenian democracy made much use of slave labour, ritual prostitution and a monopoly on maritime trade, which more close resemble piracy. In ‘totalitarian’ Sparta the number of hangers-on (the city demos) was much smaller, while the relationship between the Spartans and the helots was more reminiscent of the relationship between landowner and tenant.  Besides, even in Athens it was not permitted to kill a slave arbitrarily. In one of the dialogues of Socrates, his interlocutor tells how the murderer of a slave was bound and thrown into a ditch before being taken into custody.

Liberal ideas appeared and began to manifest themselves in the life of the world in the context of the slave trade and the drug trade (the opium wars, for example). And now formal democracy rests on various forms of slavery (including sexual), unprecedented levels of drug addiction world-wide, and various forms of theft, speculation on commodities and financial instruments, which destroy industry and agriculture through debt bondage.

As far as contemporary Russia is concerned, I judge by the results, by the way of thinking and the actions of Putin. His aims are exclusively liberal. And the results of his governance have been deplorable for the country.  The crisis which Russia fell into in 2008 is still deeper than the one in the Yeltsin period, and Putin’s policies are largely to blame for this. The main cause of this crisis is the legalization of the capital obtained by the oligarchs. This was possible only under an ultra-liberal government. What this means is the pardoning of enormous crimes having to do with the seizure and transfer of property in previous years, during Yeltsin’s presidency. Under Yeltsin they managed to make about ten billionaires right with the law, under Putin, about a hundred.

Liberalism has various definitions.  The main mark of contemporary liberalism is not the demand for freedom of enterprise, but the globalization of the economy and the de facto liquidation of national sovereignty.  Free elections and parliamentary debates are only the façade of the political system. In Russia this façade looks filthy and absurd, but the basic blueprint, accepted in the West, has been preserved. There are no real elections, no real debates. But there are semblances of them. More important is what is behind the façade. What’s behind it is the absolute power of the oligarchy and a corrupt bureaucracy, which is tearing the country in pieces.

Putin is representative of those power groups who have transformed the Russian economy into a part of the global economy, who have changed the economy such that it no longer serves the national interest. The oligarchic order which has developed in Russia was created by the experience and the pressures of the global economy, which is promoted by unaccountable people who have no fatherland. This is not small or medium sized business – this is big business, global business which has penetrated into other countries and integrated itself with similar global businesses: Gasprom, Lukoil, Rosneft etc.  These are the main fuel and energy corporations. But that’s only the beginning of what they do. They have become involved in other arenas, including politics. Their interests are in no way connected to Russia’s national interests. The interest these corporations have in Russia is to use the energy resources of the country in such a way that the Russian people will not gain any benefit from them.

During Putin’s reign, basically all of the energy resources have been exported at a steal – the sale of oil and gas abroad has not resulted in the importation of a stream of products of equivalent value from abroad. Moreover, in Russia the use of energy resources is either kept to a minimum (for example, even in Russia’s central territories they have put the brakes on projects to hook up homes and apartments to natural gas), or the prices of these resources for the domestic consumer  are raised to the level of global prices. The oligarchs view their own country as a milk cow, which they want to milk, but don’t feel like feeding. Fittingly, this “cattle” will soon be sent to the slaughter-house. And then any responsibility they might have had for its fate will be eliminated.

The second aspect of liberalism which is relevant to our country is the formation of a liberal (that is, free from any and all responsibility) bureaucracy. This bureaucracy has basically become its own social class. It’s not only civil servants, it’s a class formed by familial ties and ethnic solidarity which is opposed to the ethnic Russian majority. This is something else we can thank Putin for. And for the ‘iron law of oligarchy’ which in this case met with no resistance from our government: any democratic system degenerates into oligarchy. In this case we see the highest officials included in the oligarchy and the formation of civil service that acts as a mechanism for the suppression of civic consciousness. Liberalism in this environment is an ideology meant to keep citizens on a short leash.  It has replaced the communist ideology, employing the same form of rhetoric, and differing only in its terminology. In the Putin bureaucracy we see not fidelity to law and national interests, but the conviction that one has the right to be arbitrary and flout the law.

Putin in this matter is a perfect model: he ignores the law both as an administrator (constitutional norms are to him unknown, and of no interest), and as a politician, constantly showing off before the whole country. The sanctions of law that are supposed to be common to all do not apply to him. He is like a driver who gets away with breaking all the traffic rules. His cynical flouting of the law is censured only by independent online journalists. Putin provides the model for all the local bureaucrats. Behind the façade of formal obedience to the law they conceal their complete contempt for law. This is their understanding of freedom: freedom to be independent of the law. But with the option of forcing citizens to follow the most absurd and illegal rules.

The relationship between the bureaucratic class and the population is one of corruption. Citizens must pay bureaucrats not only a salary (from the official budget), but also a much larger “rent” in the form of bribes. Besides this, we have to gradually lose our national inheritance in a process of official or unofficial privatization, in which the participants are the very same corrupt individuals. All of this is done outside of the law: the seizure of land, the seizure of businesses, the seizure of buildings and structures built with taxpayer money. Putin conducts himself in exactly the same way.

The liberal bureaucracy has transformed Russia into an open hunting zone, a wild west, where a few are allowed to hunt, and the rest to either observe or become the prey. All the rest must live strictly in accordance with the law and go to the bureaucrat to ask his permission for anything they wish to do.  The bureaucrat, for his part, may act in accordance with the law, or may not act at all. And this pernicious inaction on the part of the bureaucrat is his main tool of manipulation and gaining bribes.

Yet another aspect of the liberalization of Russia under Putin is the mass media, where the level of pornography has exceeded all bounds, while the reliability and completeness of information has ceased to be a priority. State television promotes freedom from restraint, free love, homosexuality, prostitution, slovenliness, ignorance and cynicism. And all of this is under the auspices of the government, which demands only complete loyalty to the regime. In the rest of the media, the most depraved and dissolute people are allowed to run things.

It goes without saying that we are speaking here not of classical liberalism, but of some degenerate form of it. But this is not just in Russia, it is a general tendency.  Rousseau believed in God and saw the advantages of preserving monarchy. Today’s liberals have no guiding principles other than the desire to constantly change their lifestyles and indulge in the most filthy sins. Putin and those like him see no barriers to their will, and recognize no authority other than their own. But they raise barriers for others, for all who have preserved some drop of traditional values. And this is their method of securing social and material benefits for themselves.

Classical liberalism was not antinational. In the French Revolution their was a savage reprisal with Tradition, but there was no difference between liberalism and nationalism. Liberalism was a form of national consciousness which had turned away from God, but was still attached to a national tradition. Not to be a patriot of one’s country and not to aim for the good of one’s people was something found only beyond the confines of European liberal thought. Now we see liberalism of the post-classical variety, libertarianism.  This involves the removal of all barriers which are laid down by traditions. Among them is the tradition of civil service.

It is no coincidence that Putin has said ‘I’m only a bureaucrat, hired for a term of office.’ We understand that a president is elected for a term.  But bureaucrats are not elected. Representatives of the people are elected.  If the representative of the people defines himself as a bureaucrat, then his administration is transformed into a private affair, into a sort of business, in which national interests serve as the product, the fate of the country. If we look at the real state of things, we see that even in his words Putin shows his rejection of any and all responsibility; I’m only hired for a term! Beyond this term, I bear no responsibility, and as a hired bureaucrat, I am just a one of the hired help.

The main thing for us is the results which the reign of Putin has brought for the country.  The colossal sums of money accumulated  over the last several years while oil prices were high have simply been stolen. With this money we could have conducted a massive modernization of our economy. But nothing has been done. Nothing at all! Not a single major industry has been created, not a single major project. The ‘national projects’ that were declared as some sort of breakthrough are now forgotten. The money was squandered or stolen, the result is nil.  The promised modernization of the education system didn’t happen: in Russian schools and universities, they have ceased to teach. The modernization of the army failed, the army is unable to function.

Putin has not carried out a single project, though he had at his disposal such a colossal sum of money as no ruler in the world ever had.  It all went into the pockets of the oligarchs. And now that the oil prices have gone South, it turns out that the electronic credits Russia received as payment for oil and gas are worthless. Now we lack the resources to provide for a more or less decent standard of living for the vast majority of the population, let alone for modernization.

Putin has committed a series of criminal acts to kow-tow to the liberal world community. He has handed over the lion’s share of Russian firms to foreign capital and the deracinated oligarchy, ceded vast territories to China, abandoned the Northern Caucuses (especially Chechnya) to criminality, and destroyed close relations with Ukraine and Belarus using ‘gas blackmail’. The harsh grimaces of this actor should not deceive us.  It is no more than an act.

 

Could one call Putin a Russophobe?

He ought to be so called.  A man who denounced as ‘idiots and provocateurs’ those who repeat the phrase of Tsar Alexander III ‘Russia for Russians!’ has clearly defined himself as a stranger to our people. He decided to interpret the thesis that ethnic Russians are the ‘state-forming people’ in a liberal manner, adding the word ‘only’: ‘only for Russians’. Of course, that was never the idea at all. But the opposite thesis seems to be the guiding principle of Putin and his followers: ‘Russia without Russians.’ And here his energy is astounding. Not only the destruction of any social action by Russians, but the colonization of the country by tens of millions of foreigners—both legal and illegal immigrants. We call this the ‘policy of replacement immigration.’ Putin doesn’t like the Russian people, so he is replacing them with another people who will be easier to control. Migrants, you know, are pleased to become slaves of the liberal bureaucracy, but the native peoples of Russia demand a welfare state and government that is accountable to them.  They’re too high-maintenance.

Putin’s worldview was formed in the Soviet secret services, where Russophobia was unquestioned. In Chekist circles Russian nationalists were always considered the most dangerous. It is no coincidence that Putin never uses the word ‘Russian’ (russkiy) when speaking of the people. I have not been able to find a single occasion in which he said ‘the Russian people’ (russkiy narod). He might say ‘Russian language’, ‘Russian culture’, but even this occurs rarely enough. ‘Russian people’ he has never said once.  Clearly he has forbidden himself to say it.

Putin’s worldview formed under the influence of Anatoliy Sobchak, one of the leaders of the ‘democrats’ who made it their goal to dismember our country and rob it blind, and then achieved this goal. For them the USSR was an ‘evil empire’, not their Motherland afflicted by communism. They struggled not against communism but against Russia. And they preserved communism, both in the opposition, and in their consciousness. Sobchak was at the same time a communist and an ultra-liberal.  There is no contradiction here. It’s only one step from internationalism to cosmopolitanism. From world revolution to betrayal of the Motherland is no step at all- it’s one and the same.

Russophobia has become the core of Putin’s politics.  Under Yeltsin it was accidental – the result of the take-over of the media and major Soviet publishers by inveterate scoundrels. Under Putin it has been given a systematic foundation.  All Russian nationalist civic organizations have been destroyed. There aren’t even any cultural organizations operating independently of the authorities. But there are fake organizations which are created by the authorities so that real ones will not arise. The authorities bring in hired provocateurs and pursue a plan aimed at creating ‘managed nationalism’. Fake radical organizations receive monetary support, and young people are drawn into them. Then the young people who have been riled up by these provocateurs are subjected to mass repression by the state.

Under Putin the infrastructure of Russian communities abroad has been totally destroyed. Russians were deceived by the supposed concern the authorities showed for them and by ‘Congresses of Compatriots’ which were front organizations. In the place of ethnic Russian communities, bureaucratic organizations were formed which are understood to be agencies of Moscow. In the best case scenario, local notables keep them on a short leash, allowing these Russian organizations to do only what suits the interest of the local ethnocracy. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Kremlin view this as an entirely ordinary state of a affairs. This is how they themselves deal with Russian civic organizations in Russia proper. What we have is an alliance between Russophobes at home and abroad.

Under Putin practically all pro-Russian media has been eliminated. There’s not a single pro-Russian television programme, not a single pro-Russian radio show, not a single pro-Russian newspaper with nationwide circulation.  There is some fictive pro-Russian media, for example the talk show ‘Russkiy Vzglyad’ (Russian View).  Of the Russian Press there remain only two publications, the journal ‘Russkiy dom’ and the newspaper ‘Russkiy vestnik’ which are distributed mainly via church parishes. The number of copies sold is quite modest. The commercial networks through which liberal publications and various ‘glamour’ and pornography are distributed are not accessible to us.

What is more the various charges filed against the remaining small pro-Russian media are used by the office of the public prosecutor to justify political repressions. All of this is documented in the annual analytical reports ‘Russophobia in Russia’. In 2010, even compared to last year which was itself pretty bad, one sees that the repressions have greatly intensified.  They’re not just shutting down publications, they’re charging people with so called ‘hate crimes’ – the number of such charges has gone way up.  The politically motivated Article 282 of the Criminal Code is constantly being used. This process has been spearheaded by high officials in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the office of the Public Prosecutor. Without missing a beat, the judges return guilty verdicts, violating constitutional norms and even elementary common sense.

Pro-Russian publishers and civic organizations are being shut down. Pro-Russian civic activists are investigated and arrested. One of the most memorable events of 2010 was the trial on the assassination attempt on Anatoliy Chubais. Public opinion has long been settled on this question. Chubais himself ought to be imprisoned or executed. To the analysts who have followed the details of the trial, it is absolutely clear that there was no assassination attempt. Chubais has orchestrated a scheme to punish his harshest critics, and that’s why we’ve had this unconscionable farce of a trial. Several times in similar situations innocent verdicts returned by jurors have been thrown out by the judges, citing various circumstances (often falsified). On the other hand, jurors can find themselves under pressure from various criminal structures, and even the authorities themselves, the judges, the administrative organs, the FSB and so on.

On the one hand we see that the people do not accept at all what the authorities are doing, and on the other hand, the repressive machine continues to operate, smashing and pulverizing all pro-Russian organizations, all pro-Russian initiatives as soon as they appear.

 

Putin and his followers are Russophobes not in word, but in deed. The policy of Russophobia in the last few years has developed to such an extent that it is hard to fathom it. It reminds one of the repressions to which the Soviet authorities subjected the ‘democrats’ of the 1960s. Something similar is going on now, but the extent of the repressions, compared to the 60s, is much greater now. These repressions target any civic activist who in any way associates himself with the Russian people and tries to speak publicly about Russian problems.

 

How would you evaluate the Russian government’s immigration policy?

Putin’s immigration policy is what we call ‘the policy of replacement immigration’: the replacement of native peoples with new arrivals, foreigners. This policy is tied to the interests of the oligarchs who take these immigrants and form them into a class of slaves who have neither social nor political rights, live under monstrous conditions and receive slave wages. The appearance of this class also serves as a mechanism for crushing the native peoples’ struggle for social rights. Because on the labour market, an immigrant who has no rights, no capacity to defend his interests, is much more profitable for an employer than a native resident, who, upon being hired, demands that his rights be observed and that there be payments into his retirement fund and other benefits.

Today it is easier to hire an illegal immigrant, who demands no more than that his physical survival be secured. This has changed the situation in Russia. Native residents have fallen into a bad situation. And it is reinforced by government decisions which are justified by the aim of overcoming the demographic crisis by bringing in immigrants.  Serious demographers from the very beginning said that this would not resolve a single problem, and would create many new ones. And they were right.

The main problem with illegal immigration is that it is destroying our sense of national community: the formation of ethnic enclaves, which have no intention of assimilating or joining with the civic communities that have formed in the Russian Federation. The situation does not even approach the American idea of the ‘salad bar’ (living next to each other, but not together), because here there is no unifying substance. In Russian this looks more like ‘vinigret’, that is, randomly and unevenly chopped up pieces of various vegetables, tossed together arbitrarily. It is impossible to predict what such cooking will taste like in the end, except that it will in no way accord with Russian traditions.

In Russia a unique situation has developed: it has never happened before that millions of arrivals from Asia, most of whom speak no Russian should colonize Russia’s central regions. It used to be that Russians were brought in to Asian and Siberian societies and basically dominated there as leaders because they excelled the other peoples in their inclination for hard work, culture, and education. They created leading industries, enlightened half barbarous tribes, and created for them the conditions necessary for their survival and defence against external enemies. Now Russia is being filled with a stream of uneducated people who speak no Russian and have not even mastered their own national culture.  This is the sort of human material which is most suitable for oligarchy.  From it arise either ignorant slaves or pitiless criminals.

Such are the foundations of Putin’s immigration policy. First he allowed massive illegal immigration numbering the millions, then with the passage of some laws, the majority of the illegal immigrants were legalized.

The main cultural centres of Russia are being colonized by these waves of millions of immigrants. An unenviable future awaits us. In much the same way Washington DC became a Negro city, with the white population living on the periphery. The same thing is happening with Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhniy Novgorod and other major cities. They are being filled with ignorant Asians.

This, obviously, is leading to catastrophe- to cultural collapse. Because the way of life and thought that defines what historic Russia is is not being reproduced. The oligarchy does not care what population is subordinated to it. A slave need not have any national characteristics, it’s just a person, just a beast of burden. What thoughts it may have, what it may strive for, is of no interest.

The oligarchy does not heed modern science, does not need culture, education, even the army. Under the heel of the oligarchy, whose leading man is Putin himself, all state and social institutions in Russia are coming apart.

The National-Patriotic Party ‘Motherland’ won a large number of seats in the State duma in 2003 and after that began to gain even wider popularity. What happened to this party. Why was it unable to progress further?

One could say that this is a Shakespearian tale. I wrote a book on this called “Motherland against the Demons’.  ‘The Demons’ are associated with the novel by Dostoevsky of the same name.

In 2003, it was not the party, but the ‘Motherland’ bloc that won in the elections. – this was a few parties and a bunch of organizations allied to them.  The ‘Motherland’ party was formed in Spring of 2004 as a result of serious friction among the parties that formed the bloc. One of these parties called ‘Party of the Russian Regions’ was renamed ‘Motherland’ and basically became dominant.  The fraction in the Duma became a party fraction. The rest of the parties were used by opponents more to organize internal divisions.  As a result of traitorous actions, the fraction decreased in size and strength.  Later the party and the fraction were taken over by opponents of ‘Motherland, illegal activities took place, organized by people in the Kremlin at Putin’s behest.

Initially, the purpose of the ‘Motherland’ party was that the party and the fraction in the State Duma would become a support for Putin, Putin as we wanted to see him.  Our hope was to tear Putin away from the liberal oligarchy and bring him over to nationalist positions.  We had a real chance to gain representation in the government. If it had not been for the actions of one of the leaders of the bloc, Sergej Glasev, in the first stage of our activity.  He decided on his own to run for president in the 2004 election, and all our agreements fell apart, in spite of the fact that the ‘Motherland’ fraction and party dissociated themselves from Glazev’s venture. This didn’t change anything.

The ‘Motherland’ party was first transformed from a partner to Putin into an organization that was at odds with him.  Then the course of events and the reforms pursued by Putin pushed the party into the most decisive opposition to Putin. It was then subjected to the harshest repressions, going all the way to outright physical attacks.  Attacks on our leaders, attacks on our activists who were running election campaigns. In one region during the elections two members of our election headquarters were murdered, in another region the leader of our regional organization together with his wife were almost killed – the attackers struck them in the head with hammers. In Moscow there were attempts to kidnap my son, and they kidnapped and beat up the son of my colleague, Deputy Mikhail Markelov. Our leader Dmitry Rogozin was told that this was only the beginning.  They made it entirely clear to him that the criminal attacks would continue, especially against people close to him.

Other illegal actions were carried out entirely in the open.  Our party lists were withdrawn from all elections.  Pretexts were invented to justify this. All the election campaigns the ‘Motherland’ party tried to run were shut down by court decisions which had obviously been ordered in advance by the Kremlin.  At first the party was excluded from the elections in Moscow.  These were crucial elections for us in which we expected to receive 30-40% of the votes.  Polls showed that this is how it would have been. But we were denied this victory and accused of extremism for a campaign ad which employed double entendre which everyone interpreted in his own way. Naturally, the judges settled on what was for us the most unfavorable interpretation and  completely ignored the linguistic analysis.  A year and a half later elections were held in eight regions – we were allowed to participate in only one of them, and that only at the last minute. Wherever our party lists were not excluded, we won second place after the party of the oligarchs Edinaya Rossiya. This we did without the financial, media and administrative resources enjoyed by our opponents.  If there had been equality of access of media and equality before the law we would have beaten Edinaya Rossiya everywhere.  The people in the Kremlin knew this, and decided that our party must be destroyed by any means available. It is precisely for this reason that repressions and felony crimes were organized against us.

The combination of political and criminal repressions forced our leader Dmitry Rogozin to resign his post as party chairman and leader of the parliamentary fraction. Those to whom he entrusted the party to save it from the attacks betrayed us- they did a deal with our enemies. The sponsors of the party basically sold it to the oligarchs. The party ceased to exist in 2006: it’s legal status was taken over, it changed its leader, its name and its ideology. Now in its place is the party ‘Just Russia’, which has no connection to ‘Motherland’ at all and has no future in politics. Because it has neither a sensible ideology nor a notable leader, nor popularity among the people.

So as not to lose our activists, we were forced to start a new party ‘Great Russia’ and prepare it for the elections of 2007. We followed all the legal procedures to the letter, but our party was not registered and was not allowed to participate in the elections. 60,000 people were denied the exercise of their rights because the Kremlin decided that no political party may exist without Putin’s approval.

On what grounds were you denied registration?

There were no legal grounds. Without exception, all the documents submitted as evidence in court were falsified by employees of the Election Commission with support from the Ministry of Justice, which we appealed to several times with evidence of the falsifications.  Naturally, we pursued several lawsuits from the regional courts to the Supreme Court. But the courts proved that they also do not rule in accordance with the law, but with the private opinion of the bureaucrat.

When we formed the party, we understood that they would try to catch us out. For this reason we took the manifesto of a registered party and used it as our own changing only the name. But we were told that the manifesto was against the law. Our argument that exactly the same sort of manifesto was not against the law, and that the party that had adopted it was registered, was rejected.  It turns out that the law is enforced with regard to one party, but not another. This magic trick was declared legal by the court.

There were several other minor complaints, which brought under suspicion a tiny number of the applications by citizens to join our party, and in no way showed any failure on our part to obey the law, were taken to be decisive. Specialists from the Ministry of Justice who testified in court openly declared that it only one clerical error (for example, a mistake about one person’s date of birth in a party of 60,000) was enough to declare our documents void.  The court agreed with this interpretation with is an outrageous violation of legal norms and the constitutional rights of our citizens.  These instructions to the court came from President Putin’s administration.

We tried to challenge each of the claims, showing in court that the affidavits of a few citizens that they did not join the party, first of all, have no witnesses; second, these affidavits were acquired in an illegal manner (by bureaucrats or policemen visiting people’s homes or places of business) and by intimidation; third, without exception all the dates of the affidavits (just like all the other documents) were signed after the deadline established by the Electoral Commission for raising questions about our documents. They also falsified the date on the document declaring the decision to deny us registration. We proved in court that the document had been backdated.  But this meant nothing to the judge.

The courts, under the control of the ruling bureaucracy, ruled in favor of the Ministry of Justice.  Similar decisions were appealed, but confirmed by the Moscow city court and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

But all of this is the technical side of it. The ideological side is that ‘Motherland’, and later ‘Great Russia’, which arose on the foundation of the same group of activist, is a party that defends Russian tradition, traditions of Russian statehood.  Many monarchists also joined ‘Great Russia’.  Orthodox Christians make up the majority of the party. Under present conditions in Russia, there is no place for such a party in government.  Such a party does not even have the right to advocate its programme, its goals and values.

In your opinion what is the most effective strategy for Russian nationalists in present conditions?

Absent the ability to legally participate in politics, the strategic choice must be in favor of scholarship, education and outreach.  What is needed is the formation of unified worldview and the channelling of that worldview into scholarly, societal, and government circles. In some places in the form of intellectual manifestoes, elsewhere in simplified forms: in the form of slogans and declarations.

Unfortunately, the majority of Russian organizations operate in reverse order. First they invent slogans and declarations, then on the basis of that they try to sketch some sort of political theory. This only leads to absurdities: National Bolsheviks, Orthodox Stalinists, Liberal Conservatives etc.

We are building our organization ‘Great Russia’ on the basis of agreement on basic principles.  We have formulated our doctrine ‘The National Manifesto’, and now we are gathering supporters.

Are there any causes for optimism in Russia?

There are causes for global optimism, because the global oligarchy has turned out to be worthless. I regard what is now happening the world as the beginning of a new era.  This is the move from domination by liberal oligarchies to new a nationalist reconstruction.

I’m not saying that the existing nationalist organizations will come to power, but that new organizations will arise, that existing elites who were focussed  the global market will change their orientation, seeing that a turn toward national interests provides their only chance for survival.

In Russia the rhetoric is already changing. Putin now says that the Americans cannot be trusted. The crisis of 2008 frightened him., everything he was counting on fell through, and his policies turned out to be completely ineffective.

This change of orientation as the old era gives way to the new will happen not in the mind of a single individual, but among many people. The desire of self-preservation will bring them to the conclusion that new rhetoric, different orientations, and even different people in power are needed. Naturally, marginal nationalist groups are not needed in power. But from the ranks of the marginalized (artificially marginalized, composed of people who were pushed aside by repressions) the most capable people will be recruited.  The economic and political elites will sooner change their orientation than be replaced.  In this sense, we have reason to be optimistic on a global scale.

In Russia we have reason to be optimistic because the global processes and our own crisis are felt particularly sharply by us.  Because in our country the bureaucracy and oligarchy are especially cynical, and are prepared to rob the people to the point that they can no longer survive.  When a person is placed in such a life or death situation, he wakes up rather more quickly.  Therefore I surmise that in Russia the processes of transformation leading us into the new era will proceed more intensively than in other countries.

The intellectual elite is, for all intents and purposes, ready.  Moving as I have lately among university professors, I see that the orientations have changed dramatically.  The socialist and communist myths have not returned.  And the liberal and globalist myths have already lost any attraction, and are sooner regarded with hostility. Research is being conducted on nationalist and patriotic ideas.  I see that dissertations are being defended on nationalism, historical conservatism, the Russian Empire, Russian emigrant philosophy. Nobody cares anymore about the travails of the Shestidesiatniki, or the journalism of Perestroika. All this is old hat, it’s boring. But the period of the Empire, Russian philosophy – this is what researchers are interested in, this is what they’re working on.

Russian conservatism is a topic that concerns and interests everyone. And I even think that at the next elections in 2012 Putin, Medvedev and perhaps some other politicians will appeal to the electorate with a totally new doctrine in which Russian conservatism will be central. They won’t talk about global problems, or foreign investment, or the expansion of Russian business in other countries. They will talk about national interests, Russian culture, Russian identity and so on. This will be the dominant theme.  After this will follow a cardinal shift in the orientation of the government and the country will turn from its self-destructive path toward renewal.

 

[Editor’s Note: Our very own Alfred Smith conducted this interview for Alternative Right magazine. There it appeared in abridged form and in two parts, under the title ‘Revolt Against Oligarchy’. You can find parts one and two here and here, respectively. Please visit the AltRight website and support their important work.]

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