[ Editor’s note: Phil Butler brings us a fabulous piece today, one that jumped up to the number one read on NEO in just a day, a rare accomplishment. I warn you this is a “two read” kind of article, as it is both historical and philosophical with relatively unfamiliar Russian figures, so bookmark or archive it.
VT readers are already savvy to the theme that Putin represents a new Russia emerging, and not one that is a threat to the West in the Cold War lexicon.
What has the corrupt international crime syndicate that is running so much of the West worried is that Putin and his emerging “geopolitical alternative” is a direct threat against their power over our democracies-in-name-only, which they have been able to collect like little girls do with their charm bracelets.
This is why Putin and Lavrov have constantly offered their own alternative to the Western New World Order – an alternative that has frightened the Western power structure into conceiving of a new Cold War hoax, one that has been initiated to convince Western people they must be defended from a new threat from Russia, when the real security threat comes from our own compromised and corrupt governments.
You might want to send this link around to your personal lists, as pieces like this do not grow on trees. One of the pleasures of being an editor for VT is being able to bring you (and me) quality work like this.
I knew from day one that our partnership with New Eastern Outlook, and Alex Kalmikov there, was going to be a long term pot of gold in terms of the steady flow of top notch material we would have. Enjoy… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … June 14, 2016 –
Vladimir Putin saved Russia from the scavengers of the Yeltsin era. What’s more, he’s fundamentally re-forming the world’s biggest country in ways few understand. Unfortunately, Russia has enemies bitterly opposed to the idea of Russians taking a leadership role in the world once again.
Many people believe that Russia under Putin is a totalitarian regime. Meanwhile, fanatical followers of the Russian president defend his moves as an effort to hammer out some pseudo-American form of democracy. But neither of these characterizations of Putin are accurate.
Many have sought to study Putin, while simply applying their own ideologies either “for or against” what they believe Putin is. The reality is, there is a “third way” of reshaping Russia’s future.
It is abundantly clear that Putin, by far the best read leader in the world, is forging a new Russia politic, derived largely from the teachings of the Russian religious an political philosopher, Ivan Ilyin.
The Spirit of Law
Most reading this will not be familiar, but Ilyin’s ideas on the “conscience of law” were seeming logic, but utter genius. His belief that the need for people to understand laws in order to validate a legal society, they now reverberate in the civil uneasiness that prevails today, and especially in the so-called “west”.
Ultra-liberalism, and the fuel of ultra-capitalistic trends as we see gripping the United States, would for Ilyin signal an apocalypse.
There is no arguing that the law of and for any people, has to be understood in order to stand. Without delving deeply into Ilyin’s theories, the philosopher believed that “the people” can never identify with or be part of “the system” under rigid democratic forms of government.
In contrast, Ilyin believed the right monarchy tends to unite people to identify the state as “family”. Interestingly, Ilyin’s being a monarchist mimics some of the founding fathers of the United States, in that the values he espoused were based on religious piety and the family.
If we look down into the crevasse in between the forward ideals of Vladimir Putin, and America’s President Barack Obama, we can readily see Ilyin’s notions at work. Obama’s America, as liberal as any government in history, is on a collision course with deconstruct. America values today are naïve, irresponsible, and destructive of everything Americans have stood for for generations. Family is only a word, religion is worn like a badge of shame, and a free lunch ticket has been issued for conscience.
Laws in America are changed at the whim of a special interests. Conservative people there hold back their fear the United States is becoming a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, and only the neocons truly believe government is for them.
Misunderstanding their law, precedence, and its own governing principles, Americans do not even understand this disintegration. Similarly, Russians do not yet grasp what Putin and his fellows are up to. Somehow, they trust to be led though, and not because they are complacent like Americans.
“I have spent all my life under a Communist regime, and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Machiavelli Knew All Along
I don’t want to dig too deeply into Mr. Putin’s passion for the study of Ilyin, or Vladimir Solovyov, or Nikolai Berdyaev, or even Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, but these idealists’ brilliance are integrated into who the Russian president is. More importantly, a “third way” of government is the goal Putin, Medvedev, and even the powerful oligarchs of Russia seem bent on.
In order to see this, one has to realize the Russia that Vladimir Putin rescued from dissolution. In his characterization of Putin, the article “Vladimir Putin – The Prince”, Christopher Caldwell frames perfectly Mr. Putin’s Russia today:
“Had Russia been led by someone steelier than Mikhail Gorbachev when falling oil prices drove it into crisis in the 1980s, the collapse of Communism “might have happened only two or three decades later in a world situation quite different from the one in 1991.”
Putin’s Russia is a system of “sovereign democracy” moored between Orthodox Christianity and Machiavellian realism.”
Caldwell “nails Putin” in his review of “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin”, by Steven Lee Myers, and “Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West”, by Walter Laqueur . Or I should say, Meyers and Laqueur collectively understand Russia’s leader. What we see going on in Russia, in the world, is a metamorphosis. Those who examine Putin or Russia, with a mindset fixed on “what is”, have no understanding of Putin at all.
In order to fully understand Putin’s “end game” here, researchers need to see the transformation as if from a train window, not from the 91st floor office window of study.
I found a reference to the “third way” in the book “Metaphor and Gender in Business Media Discourse: A Critical Cognitive Study”, by V. Koller this morning. While I can assure you it is not light reading, it does shed light on the realm of study Putin and Kremlin officers are engaged in. The author analyses cognitive change within the context of business and societal strategies, and even Sun Tzu’s war arts.
My point here is, while western mainstream media parrots simplistic Russophobic chatter, Putin’s administration has set course toward real change. The Hillary Clintons of the world compare Putin to Hitler and Stalin, and try and strike fear into people over a new Soviet Empire. Meanwhile, the real ideologies are far from fascism, totalitarianism, or even formal democracy as the neocons running the show in America define it.
So the overriding question; “What is Putin’s third way”, is never asked, it’s never even hinted at. Instead, independent journalists like me are often cajoled into studying the so-called “New World Order”, the George Soros, David Rockefeller, and Jacob Rothschild machinations. When in truth the role of these men is simply part of a mechanism of decaying imperialism.
The beliefs of these people are as archaic and juvenile, as those of the Soviet system of things, or of Rome itself. The fact that westerners “believe” in democracy at all, is proof enough that failed systems die hard. Understanding Putin is impossible, for people in the other worldly view. This is evidence in a New York Times piece by David Brooks from 2014. “Putin Can’t Stop” shows us the faces behind western media and hegemony. Brooks mimics the “think tank” view with:
“To enter into the world of Putin’s favorite philosophers is to enter a world full of melodrama, mysticism and grandiose eschatological visions.”
Brooks is not unlike other self proclaimed conservatives in the United States, for he appears to live under the cloud of his own delusions, of a kind of ideological kinship with founding father, Alexander Hamilton. I call his ideas delusions for the simple reason, that Alexander Hamilton was closer ideologically to Vladimir Putin than anyone in the United States system of governing. Brooks has to know this, so making the mysterious villain of Putin must have other consequences. There is no mysticism in Russian ideals at the moment, which is unless you are an atheist or Satan worshipper.
Like Alexander Hamilton and others “monarchists” of that time, Putin has to wrestle with the dilemma confronting his Russian people. Democracy clearly will not work, for the world is lucky to still be partially in tact, even despite Wall Street and Arab Spring melting points. Debt creation and well oiled printing presses at the US treasury cannot be “the way”.
Just as certainly as believers in God will eventually rebel against agnosticism or devil worship, the people will one day soon abandon failed economics models. Putin and his advisers know this. We all do. Paul Craig Roberts’ proclamation that we have entered the “Looting Stage of Capitalism”, is the most poignant evangelical point for 2016. To synthesize his comments:
“Everywhere in the Western world a variety of measures, both corporate, and governmental, have resulted in the stagnation of income growth. In order to continue to report profits, mega-banks and global corporations have turned to looting.”
So, Putin’s Russia, even China and the other BRICS, are gravitating away from the rapidly disintegrating capitalist/democratic experiment. And this is the root of today’s crises, but there is something more, and the “third way” is both emblematic in humanity’s legacy, and from within an ethereal context.
“Spirit” and enlightenment are a component of Putin’s “New Russia”. And to grow such a construct will require a Machiavellian heart, only directed for a brave cause. Unlike his western counterparts, Putin is a religious man, bent on defending Orthodoxy, as well as “third way” ideas.
Against an Illegitimate Enlightenment
Just as the European Enlightenment undermined ideas of morality, and the notion of “Lucifer”, the new age ultra-liberalized western world has been on a mission to revamp spirituality and morals. The idea “everything is alright if it feels good”, has been fed the intravenous drug of public acquiescence, especially in America.
But the reality of human spirituality cannot be legislated out, media cannot propagandize an ancient tenant out of our systems. Just as 19th Century artists recollected the mysteries of God and the Devil as a counterinsurgency against the theoretical justification of evil’s passing, so too Putin and modern players rekindle our imaginations.
“There appears the demonism of doubt; negation; pride; rebellion; disappointment; bitterness; melancholy; contempt; egoism, and even boredom.”
And isn’t this the “demonism” that now grips the western world? One does not have to be a philosopher to see, the New World Order is a very old order. Contemptuously, New York Times authors mimic the minions of banished ruthless Russian oligarchs like Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Anyone observing these people can, with a silent prayer to the almighty, lift the veil on a real Lucifer among us. But the Biblical allusions do not stop at spotlighting soulless leaders and societies. Ilyin continues, reflecting on how the waiting word is drawn toward demonic idols.
“Byron; Goethe; Schiller; Chamisso; Hoffman; Franz Liszt; and later Stuck, Baudelaire, and others display an entire gallery of demons or demonic men and moods. Moreover, these demons are intelligent, witty, educated, ingenious, and temperamental, in a word, charming and evoking sympathy, while demonic men are the incarnation of “world-angst,” “noble protest,” and some “higher revolutionary consciousness.”
The author opens for me, a window into the back lot of some Hollywood studio lunch counter, where celebrities chat glowingly on their own leftist melancholy. They are idiots in the court of lunatics, led by a whore named Lucifera, the anti-heroine of the Italian comic book. Goodness is turned upside down, and it’s clear humanity needs to escape the cycle.
What humankind is experiencing today is one segment traversing from demonic self satisfaction into utter Satanism, confronted by men like Putin who would assert another regime.
As conspiratorial and medieval as this may sound, the world has traversed this territory many times before. Now the stage is set. Now we can understand if we watch.
“Satanic men are recognized by their eyes, by their smile, their voice, their words and deeds. We, Russians, have seen them alive and in the flesh; we know who they are and whence they come. Yet foreigners up to this point have not understood this phenomenon and do not want to understand it, for it brings them judgment and condemnation.” Ivan Ilyin (1883-1954)
Interestingly, amazingly, “the third way” is a mirror image of what American neocons express. Ilyin’s third choice, Putin’s, is the only logical solution for government for and by a people. Classic liberalism, being no more valid that the failed conservative manifestations, leaves us with this “third way”, which is a more flexible, if complex model.
In another ironic twist, both east and west have already visited Ilyin’s concepts, if only briefly. Russia first ventured into “third way” concepts before the October Revolution, while western democracies toyed with, then developed past a balanced ideal.
Russia revolted out of “the way”, and America sprinted “past” the solution to the problem of governance.
The “third way” reconciled good and evil, and the rational versus the irrational. What New York Times scholars write off as hocus pocus mysticism is in reality reconciliation.
In short, Putin and his experiments may provide the answer. For example, author Alexander V. Zenkovsky attempts to reconcile mystical realism as:
“Acknowledging all the reality of empirical world, but also another reality behind; the two domains of being are real but not equal: empirical being can only exist for the account of mystic reality.”
The “Oh So” Peculiar Russian Way (It may be “the” way)
As to Mr. Putin’s enacting this “third way” liberalization of Russia, his nation’s peculiarities and history, the whole (Russian idea), demands a more flexible system for realizing the application of liberal principles. This is something Putin has tried to explain to westerners many times, but which is also purposefully overlooked.
This Foreign Affairs piece lets us know western think tanks fully understand Putin’s strategies, but choose to convolute them for obvious ideological reasons. Author Anton Barabashin is the Managing Editor of The Intersection Project, which partners with the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding, which is affiliated with George Soros’ Open Society Foundations etc.
And his go-author Hannah Thoburn is an Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., which is closely tied to the Rockefeller family (see “Agency of Fear: Opiates and Political Power in America”, by Edward Jay Epstein). Make no mistake about it, everything is being thrown against the notion of change, by western institutions vested in their own logic. We cannot expect western capitalistic democracy to willingly deconstruct its ideals, now can we?
So, the political immaturity of Russia, is reflected in the metamorphosis we see Russia undergoing now. It is this “immaturity”, and the necessary experimentation by Putin, which present the biggest hurdles, and greatest potential for Russia and the world. Yes, Putin’s government takes on the cloak of totalitarianism at times, but this is a transient necessity.
Remember, Russia is as much a “process” as a thing. In my view, we shall soon see “Putin’s philosopher’s” ideas transform not only Russia, but the world system we currently live under now. In fact this is already apparent, looking at how pitifully ineffective leaders in the west have been in curtailing Russia’s progress.
Sanctions don’t work, vilifying Putin only makes him more loved, NATO cannot advance, Soros and the others are being kicked from Russia, at every turn the inevitable gets more real.
Finally, Ilyin wrestled with the idea liberal values could be reconciled with the public will via another approach. The civil core of society needs the lawful understanding of an authoritarian construct, while at the same time spiritual and other freedoms finalize the Utopia. Put simply, Russia is in the perfect position to experiment with a sustainable model for humanity.
And Putin is the perfect blacksmith for forging something new and improved. The people must really understand any system, in order to trust the system. And the system cannot survive in the chaos of ramped self-interest.
Communism and socialism won’t do, and neither will dictatorships, or the capitalist devil. I say we give Putin a chance. If there is no “third way”, we can always restart Babylon. It’s been done 100 times before.