RUSSIAN PAST AND FUTURE
INTRODUCTION: THE ORIGINS OF RUSSIA
Two artificial controversies surround the origins of Russia in Kievan Rus in the 10th century. The first is whether Kievan Rus was founded by Vikings, so-called ‘Varangians’. Russophobic ideologists of Western racial superiority, ranging from the philosopher Chaadayev (died 1856) to Hitler and racist Western academics, like to maintain that Russians were incapable of creating a State and needed Westerners to do it for them.
These racial theorists assert that the word Russian comes from a Finnish word for Swedes, ‘ruotsi’, meaning ‘rowers’ or alternatively ‘red-headed’. Though this etymology is possible, the theory ignores Arabic evidence of c. 840, before Vikings reached Russia, which says that the Slavs in the area were already called ‘Rus’. It also ignores the Russian word ‘rusy’, which means light brown and Slavic river names with the ‘rus’ component.
However, this is an academic debate. Whatever the etymology and facts, everyone agrees that Scandinavian adventurers and traders did play some unknown role in forming Kievan Rus, but were very quickly absorbed into Slav culture. Thus, names like Helga, Helgi and Ingvar soon became Olga, Oleg and Igor and the ‘Varangians’ were baptised into the Orthodox Church, which gave them both their spiritual and earthly identity. Indeed the first martyrs of Kievan Rus, Sts Theodore and John, were Vikings.
The denial of the Slav character of Kievan Rus merely shows up the racial superiority complex that many Westerners have towards Russians and indeed towards all Non-Westerners. Even today there are those who still hypocritically look down on Russians as ‘primitive’ or ‘barbarian’. And this despite the regular Western invasions of Russia (and not vice versa) and their inventions of two tribal European Wars made worldwide, Communism, Fascism, the gas chamber and the atom bomb.
The second artificial controversy is an anachronistic one centred on Kievan Rus. This concerns claims by modern Western-sponsored Galician separatists and anti-Semitic nationalists from the far west of the Ukraine. They assert that Kievan Rus was the origin of the modern Ukrainian State, which has existed for fewer than twenty years. In reality, Kievan Rus was a proto-Russian state and as a consequence the lands of Kievan Rus are still today lands of Russian Orthodox tradition and culture.
These lands include all the Ukraine, except for the tiny Uniatised and Polonised Galician far west. Under centuries of Polish and Austrian oppression this area gave rise to this modern term of ‘Ukraine’, which means ‘borderlands’ or ‘marches’. For Western ‘superiorists’, Ukraine has always been a different nation from Russia and belongs to the Western cultural sphere of influence and not to the Orthodox Church. Such claims are clearly unhistorical.
KIEVAN RUSSIA AND THE TARTAR YOKE
The conversion of Kievan Rus to the Orthodox Church came in 988, after envoys of the Grand Prince V1adimir had been impressed by the Roman Christian Empire centred in New Rome or Constantinople. Kiev imitated Constantinople and soon became the most civilised and splendid city in a very backward Europe, apart from New Rome itself. However, spread over vast distances, the highly advanced Kievan Rus State progressively broke up into smaller principalities owing to conflicts between jealous princes and nobles. The great city of Kiev on the exposed European steppe thus became vulnerable to attacks by expansionist peoples from east and west. In 1237 the Mongols swept into Russia and brought to an end the Kievan Rus period. Kiev and other advanced cities were destroyed amid great cruelty. The Tartar Yoke period - Tartar, from the Turkic peoples on Russia’s eastern frontier who joined the Mongols - has been blamed for much misery in Russian history. It set back Russian cultural and economic development by at least one hundred years, ensuring that now it was Russia which began to lag behind the technology of Western countries which Russia had protected by absorbing the Tartar shock.
At the same time the north of Russia was stabbed in the back by other invading nomads, the Teutonic Knights, on their anti-Orthodox crusade – in fact a papally-sponsored land grab. These knights were defeated by the great Russian hero, St Alexander Nevsky (+ 1263), who preferred to pay tribute to the Tartars who left the Faith alone, than to German Catholics who wanted Russians to apostatise from the Orthodox Church.
Now there grew up the legend of Kitezh, a Russian city which was saved by God by being drowned in a lake. This is an image which became an abiding symbol of the true Orthodox Russia and Russian culture, preserved intact by a miracle, despite all the foreign invaders of Russia. These invaders were to range from Tartars to Teutonic Knights, Poles to Lithuanians, Swedes to Finns, Napoleon I to Napoleon III, Turks to British, Germans to Austro-Hungarians, Communists to Nazis.
MUSCOVITE RUSSIA EMERGES
After Kievan Rus had fallen to the Tartars and later, as a result, to the Poles, and Constantinople had fallen to the Catholics and later, as a result, to the Turks, Muscovite Rus slowly became the new centre of Russian and indeed World Orthodoxy. The Princes of Moscow were descended from those of Kievan Rus. In 1380, on the field of Kulikovo beyond the Don River, the holy Prince Dmitri I of Moscow (1350-1389) defeated a Tartar army, but it was another century before Moscow dared refuse tribute to the Tartars altogether. During this time Muscovy expanded greatly though the incredible spread of monasticism northwards and eastwards. The most famous of these monastic missionaries was St Sergius of Radonezh (+ 1392).
The Tartar Khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan on the Volga were finally conquered by Ivan IV (1530-1584) only in the 1550s. (The Tartars of Crimea, with Ottoman Turkish backing, held out until the 1780s, and until then much of southern Russia had been open to their attacks). Under Ivan IV, ‘the Threatening’ (1530-84), Russia expanded. The first settlers entered a virtually empty Siberia and Russia sought to reclaim Russian territories on the Baltic Sea. In view of this and Tsar Ivan’s attempts to control ambitious and divisive nobles, some have seen in him a key figure, even though he could be unstable and very cruel, hence the mistranslation of his nickname as ‘the Terrible’. He was responsible for the deaths of several thousand.
However, we should recall that Ivan IV lived at the brutal time of Machiavelli and the massacres of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Indeed, relatively speaking, this Tsar was less bad than his European contemporaries, such as the monstrous tyrant Henry VIII in England, under whom 70,000 died. Although stories such as that Ivan blinded the architect of what has become known as St Basil’s church on Red Square in Moscow are nothing but anti-Russian propaganda, Ivan did make serious errors. Indeed, his error of surrounding himself with Polish and Italian advisors did nothing to cure his insecurity and finally his own family helped destroy his dynasty. After his death, power fell into the hands of various usurpers and civil war led to a Polish invasion and occupation of Moscow. This dark period is known as the ‘Time of Troubles’ and it was the Church which kept Russia going.
THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
Victory over the Catholic invaders led to the popular election of a noble, Mikhail Romanov, as Tsar of all the Russias in 1613. His dynasty ruled over Russia until 1917 and presided over its rise and most glorious period, which is now the object of nostalgia and regret after the obscenities of the Soviet period. In the course of the 17th century, Mikhail’s successors were able to consolidate Russia, finally freeing Kiev from Polish oppression in 1654.
In the same year the Russian Orthodox Church suffered the Old Ritualist schism, engendered by the Vatican intriguing of an apostate and corrupt Greek bishop, Paisius Ligarides, together with power-seeking Russian aristocrats or ‘boyars’. On the surface this schism was concerned with small aspects of ritual practice, but in reality it was about ever-increasing State domination of the Church. Indeed, to gain more power the State deposed and imprisoned the visionary Patriarch Nikon.
The schism lost to Orthodoxy and the increasingly Western-dominated Russian State some of the more dedicated and devout elements of the nation. Above all, having removed and slandered the legitimate Patriarch, the State weakened the Church and began persecuting the Old Ritualists. The energies of the Old Ritualists came to be concentrated on commercial activity and many of the great merchant families of late 19th century Russia were Old Ritualists.
The revolutionary, Protestantising Peter I (‘the Great’) (1672-1725) further weakened the Church, abolishing the Patriarchate of Moscow altogether and subordinating it to a Protestant-style State ministry. As a result, the Church in some ways came to resemble the erastian, State-controlled Protestant churches in Western Europe. However, this was never to the extent of, say, the Church of England, a purely ethnic and erastian institution, whose very doctrines were dictated by its heads, the monarchs.
The greatest symbol of Peter’s enterprise was his ‘window on Europe’, a new Western-style capital with a Dutch name, Sankt Peterburg, on the Baltic. Peter was the most disastrous Westerniser until the Communists and tens of thousands died laying the foundations of St Petersburg. Many Russians have felt that this placed the city and part of Russian history under a curse, which was fulfilled in Communism. The distrust by Russians of the Russian State resulted from its foundation on Peter’s alien Westernising reforms.
THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
Under Russia’s Westernised or German rulers like Peter I and the German Catherine II (also called ‘the Great’ - 1729-96), Russia expanded vastly. However, in order to protect the population from war by the invasive West, the Russian monarchy sanctioned an increase in the aristocrats’ powers over the peasantry. By the time of Catherine II peasants could be bought and sold as serfs, though not with the genocidal cruelty that Western countries used in their slave trade. Serfdom, especially that form which developed under Catherine, had serious consequences in Russian history and the revolt of Pugachev (died 1775), so bloodily put down by the German monarch, was one of them.
The growth of the Cossacks on Russia’s southern and eastern frontiers was to a large extent a result of serfdom. Poor Russian peasants escaping serfdom tended to head for the frontier (whereas in the West they emigrated to colonies overseas), where they joined the Cossacks. The latter took their name from a Turkic word meaning wanderer. Thus, the Cossacks were the equivalent of American frontiersmen. They defended the frontiers against nomad attacks and in Siberia they performed miracles of exploration, crossing some 4,000 miles of uncharted territory in barely 50 years.
In general, the spiritual and moral influence of the Russian Church meant that in contrast to America, the impact of the frontier on Russian culture was limited. It certainly did not lay the basis for a ‘Wild East’ and the genocidal massacres of native peoples, as in Western colonies in the Americas and elsewhere. The native Siberian peoples were peacefully integrated into the Russian Orthodox ethos and culture. All this was despite the terrible persecutions of monasticism, particularly by the German Catherine II, which led to the exile of the great monastic reviver St Paisius of Neamt (+ 1794). The Church was upheld by courageous and saintly bishops such as St Mitrofan of Voronezh (+ 1703), St Joasaph of Belgorod (+ 1754), St Tikhon of Zadonsk (+ 1783) and their disciples.
Another result of the serfdom which was enforced by the Westernised nobility stopped the development of private peasant farmers, much as the land-theft of the enclosures did at the same time in England. Like farm-labourers in England in the nineteenth century, the Russian peasants who remained were lumped together in the village, the land held in common and periodically redistributed. After the revolts of 1905, the brilliant, reforming Russian Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin would recognise that a class of peasant smallholders could help prevent revolt and lay the foundation of mass acceptance of private property, but he had too little time before he was assassinated by socialist terrorists.
THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
The 18th century had already greatly increased State power and brought the beginning of a critical shift in Russian historical development, the effects of which continued in the 19th century. Rulers who had been impressed by the technology of the West were determined to make Russia into a power which would no longer fear invaders from east and west. However, Westernisation applied wholesale and without discernment brought not only useful technology but also tragically disrupted native Russian Christian culture. In 1812 Russia faced its greatest threat since the Time of Troubles when the barbaric, international armies of Napoleon marched as far as Moscow before being destroyed by a mixture of prayer, patriotism and the winter. Over 500,000 invaders died.
In the mid-19th century another French invasion of Russia, this time with Turkish and British support, in the Crimean War (1854-6) led to a renewed awareness of how much Russia still lagged behind Western European technology. Efforts to strengthen the country through modernisation produced the great reforms of the 1860s, the peaceful freeing of the serfs (before the American Civil War with its 500,000 dead was able to free American slaves) and the later push for rapid industrial development. In the 19th century Russia occupied the Transcaucasus, Central Asia, the Siberian Far East and Alaska. At the same time there was a great revival of the Russian Church. This was based on a new flowering of monastic life after the persecutions of the eighteenth century, notably under St Seraphim of Sarov (+ 1833) and at monasteries like Valaam, Glinsk and Optina with their holy elders.
Western-style reforms had made Russia into a great power, but they had also introduced a deep split into Russian society and culture. As the 19th century progressed, the nobility became more and more Westernised, actually speaking French better than Russian. They drew further and further away from the Church and Russia’s Christian roots, from the clergy, merchants and peasantry, who remained faithful to traditional Christian culture. This alienation of the State and much of its ruling class from the Church and the mass of the Russian people was a key factor in preparing the way for the Western-sponsored Revolution of early 1917. On the other hand, the guilty realisation of 19th century writers, composers and artists of their distance from Russian culture and the Russian people helped produce the greatest glories of Russian culture.
THE REVOLUTION AND LENINIST-STALINIST RUSSIA
Stimulated by railway construction and investment, industrialisation under Tsars Alexander III (ruled 1881-1894) and the martyred Nicholas II (ruled 1894-1917) brought rapid economic growth. If Austria-Hungary and Germany had not invaded Russia in 1914, this would have made Russia into a society which would have overtaken Western Europe and the USA in the 1930s. Intensive industrialisation, however, also led to the growth of social unrest, notably in the socialist revolts of 1905.
Defeat in the war against Japan in the same year encouraged more attempts at social and political reform. Although initially successful, as elsewhere in Europe such reforms failed to make the regime sufficiently resilient to withstand the huge strains of World War I, which precipitated the nobility-led betrayal and revolution of February/March 1917. This was greeted with elation by the jealous Western Powers which had encouraged it and the new and feeble Russian leader Kerensky, was feted in the West, just as Gorbachev would be feted at the other end of the same century.
By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, who came from the same town as Kerensky, had appeared. Financed and sponsored from New York and Berlin, the Bolsheviks, very few of whom were Russian, filled the power vacuum created by the collapse of the monarchy. They ruthlessly set about eliminating all opposition to their Marxist dictatorship, martyring the Royal Family and, under the Red leader Bronstein (Trotsky), they started a civil war which saw millions die and millions exiled. After the civil war, the Russophobic Lenin also massacred millions in his ‘Red Terror’, having renamed the country ‘the Soviet Union’.
After Lenin’s death from syphilis and insanity, from the late 1920s the Georgian bandit Stalin used terrorist violence on a massive scale to forge a new industrial base. He collectivised the peasantry and subjected the whole country to his terror, making unexpected arrests, encouraging denunciations and putting on show trials. Millions died in his artificial famines and shootings, millions of others were exiled for years to Siberia and the Arctic, where many died in the dreadful conditions.
It was this terrorised population which faced the onslaught of yet another Western invasion under Hitler’s barbaric forces in 1941. Hitler’s pagan view that the Slavs were subhuman and therefore could be treated like animals was widespread. Members of the German Wehrmacht admitted that half of the soldiers were rapists. Displaying great courage when defending their homeland, with the strong support of the Church Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians and other peoples of the Soviet Union drove the barbaric invaders back into the heart of Germany.
As a result of Hitler’s barbarity and Stalin’s cruelty and incompetence, 27 million Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians and others died in the heroic defence of their homes, including one in four Belorussians. Russian Orthodox patriotism, not Communism, won the war. After winning this second Western European war, the Soviet Army occupied most of Eastern Europe, which Stalin retained as protection against any more aggressive Western invasions (five in 130 years, between 1812 and 1941).
The Russians and the other peoples of the Soviet Union hoped that victory would bring some relaxation of Communist tyranny, but this was not to be. From 1945 on millions more were sent to concentration camps, among them Orthodox believers and soldiers who had been captured by the Nazis. After Stalin’s death in 1953, his successor, the Ukrainian Khrushchev, soon unleashed another persecution of the Church. Within a decade his cruel and failed dictatorship had brought about his replacement by a cautious leadership which preferred stagnation to dynamism. Under Brezhnev Russian society adjusted to a regime of political conformism. Those who kept their criticism private did not fear persecution, those who were brave enough to speak out publicly continued to be killed, tortured, imprisoned or exiled as dissidents.
By the 1970s belief in the alien Communist ideology, never widespread, had more or less disappeared. Bureaucratic officials, or ‘apparatchiks’, working for the privileged ruling class, or ‘nomenklatura’, concentrated on feathering their nests in what had become a society of corrupt self-interest. Nobody believed in Communism any more – like Fascism, this German ideology was also dead. For the mass of the population, unable to profit from economic stagnation, falling standards of living and even falling life expectancy created a feeling of impending crisis. Pessimism deepened as Kremlin leaders, the dying gerontocrats Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko, proved unequal to their office and unable to control the consequences of Brezhnev’s foolish invasion of Afghanistan.
In 1985, with Gorbachev, the Soviet Union obtained a leader of the younger generation who knew that society could simply not go on living in the same way. However, he did not know what to do. He foolishly believed that a reformed Communist Party was capable of rejuvenating Communism. He even thought that this foolish belief was shared by younger officials and a majority of the Russian people. And this despite the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe of 1986, which was also a message to him about the abject incompetence and inhumanity of Communism. More open discussion was encouraged under the revolutionary policy of telling the truth, ‘glasnost’, in the hope that this would help remove conservatives and advance restructuring, or ‘perestroika’, the radical reform of the Brezhnevite political and economic system.
THE FALL OF SOVIET RUSSIA
In 1988 came the commemoration of a millennium since the Baptism of Rus. Now came what has become known as ‘The Rebaptism of Rus’, the popular and open mass rejection of Communist atheism. Meanwhile, inevitably, Gorbachev’s half-baked economic reforms produced total chaos. Glasnost was soon overtaken by demands for freedom of speech and political pluralism. Gorbachev reluctantly opened up space for political opposition and allowed a limited choice in elections in 1989. At the same time the Communist satellite countries in Eastern Europe freed themselves.
Gorbachev naively sought to base his authority on the discredited Soviet State, becoming President in 1990. Incredibly, he was still reluctant to abandon the spiritually bankrupt Communist Party, even after the failed August 1991 coup. Triumphant from his victory over Communist putschists, Yeltsin, the newly elected President of Russia, took full advantage of the nationalism unleashed by perestroika to encourage the demise of the USSR and the hated Gorbachev. The latter, feted by the enemies of Russia, went into exile in the West and became just another Communist multi-millionaire.
Having lost two centuries of acquisitions through Communist incompetence, post-Soviet Russia now had only two-thirds of the land and only half the population of the USSR. Something like 23 million Russians now lived outside the borders of the new Russian Federation, in the so-called ‘near abroad’ of the former Soviet republics. In an effort to retain some control over the ‘near abroad’, Moscow tried to create close economic and security ties within the post-Soviet CIS, or Commonwealth of Independent States. However, even within Russian borders establishing control was difficult, as the army found to its cost in Chechnya.
Keeping control of post-Soviet Russian economy and society proved difficult for a State based on an ex-Communist mafia and with a society at last free to express contempt for politicians. In 1993 this contempt came through in limited support given to the Fascist Party led by Zhirinovsky. Two years later it was the turn of the Communists to counter Yeltsin’s crazy market ‘reforms’, banditry disguised as privatisation, and they gained the largest number of seats in the Parliament or Duma.
In 1996 fear of what damage a Communist President might do to the economy enabled Yeltsin to obtain a second presidential term. Amid post-Soviet economic chaos and decadent corruption, millions of Russians and others from the former Soviet Union began to emigrate to Western countries. This would result in the formation of a second layer of Russian Orthodoxy and Russian Orthodox churches outside Russia.
DECADENCE AND HOPE
The vote for the alcoholic ex-Communist Yeltsin did not reflect popular enthusiasm for Western-sponsored economic changes. These had created huge gaps between rich and poor and undermined the stability, security, health care and excellent education system which Russians had enjoyed under the old regime. With widespread corruption and crime, jobs under threat, savings wiped out and old values undermined, more and more Russians looked to the their traditional source of inspiration in the Russian Orthodox Church. Scores of millions were now being baptised in the new conditions of freedom.
Since 2000 and the presidencies of Vladimir Putin and Dimitry Medvedev, Russian Orthodox national and international identity has slowly begun to re-emerge from the Western-imported Soviet nightmare. We should remember that over three generations terrorised Russians had absorbed far more of the Communist mentality than the other European countries which fell to Communist rule for less than two generations. The old pre-Revolutionary Russia is only now re-emerging. Russians are only now reconstructing their national identity on the ruins left behind by Communism. This slow process will take many more years, as is proved by the remains of Lenin which remain in Moscow, his statues in the provinces and the towns and streets still named after dead Communist tyrants.
Very much had been lost. Before the Revolution, for example, ethnic Russians had been listed not as Russian, but as Orthodox. Anyone of another nationality who converted to Orthodoxy was considered to have become ‘Russian’. Ordinary Russian peasants addressed each other as ‘Orthodox’ and the Russian word for peasant, ‘krestianin’, actually means ‘Christian’. In this way the word ‘Russian’ no longer had a narrow ethnic or racial sense. It had a spiritual meaning, designating anyone of any nationality or language who was an Orthodox Christian, the meaning of an inhabitant of ‘Rus’. It is this spiritual heritage of Holy Russia which is to be resurrected in post-Soviet Russia, torn between a feeble imitation of Western secularism and consumerism and various semi-pagan nationalist movements, whether Fascist or Communist. Now is the time for the awakening of Russian Orthodoxy’s international responsibility, the spreading of Orthodox ‘Rus’ and not some narrow, ethnic ‘Russianism’. Let us look at this issue in the context of the recent past.
RUSSIAN ORTHODOXY AND THE PAST
In the nineteenth century Russia had replied to the vicious atheism of the French Revolution with its ten million victims and slogan of ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’, with its victory over Napoleon and liberation of Paris by Russian armies. The national motto of the idealistic Tsar Nicholas I (ruled 1825-1855), which his successors followed, became ‘Orthodoxy, Sovereignty and National Tradition’, the equivalent of the English ‘Altar, Throne and Cottage’. This identification of the nation with the Church had a major effect on shaping Russian thought in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
After the first terrible persecutions of Communist rule, during World War II Stalin had been forced into granting limited toleration to the Church as the centre of national identity and patriotism. He had realised that he could not win the war if he continued with his atheistic persecutions. The war was the great victory of the Church as it inspired the people. However, after the war and after the martyrdoms of some 600 bishops, over 100,000 clergy and monastics and millions of laity, persecutions began again. At this time some elements in the Church hierarchy were infiltrated by the KGB. With most of the best martyred, there were some who were morally weak and so willing to obey the Soviet official line in international affairs, even denying to Western journalists that there had ever been any persecution. These decadent elements were to be found inside Russia and especially outside Russia among ‘diplomatic representatives’.
Outside Russia, all free Russian Orthodox belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). After persecutions had already become catastrophic and freedom was being curtailed, ROCOR had been set up in 1920 in a prophetic act of foresight by the Patriarchate in Moscow as the free part of the Russian Church. During the Soviet and immediate post-Soviet period ROCOR prayed for the freedom of Russia from the Soviet yoke and spiritually supported the faithful clergy and people inside Russia until victory began with the virtually peaceful fall of Communism in 1991. This victory has been seen by many as the result of the 1981 canonisation by the Church Outside Russia of the New Martyrs and Confessors inside Russia.
RUSSIAN ORTHODOXY AND THE FUTURE
Communism with its ingrained immorality and amorality, mafia networks, bribery, corruption, alcoholism, prostitution and widespread abortion, fell in 1991. However, it left a post-Soviet spiritual and ideological vacuum behind it. At first, some Russians started believing in magical neo-pagan practices, as witnessed by the ephemeral successes of native ‘faith-healers’, Western ‘evangelists’ and Eastern sects like Hare Krishna. Many others simply took on board the ideology and practice of Western consumerism, the self-flattering idolatry of money.
However, since the year 2000 such charlatanism and idolatry have been on the wane. The renaissance of the Church is now very visible, with churches being handed back, much use of religious symbolism and many appearances by clergy in the media. Since 1991, 1,000 monasteries have opened and 25,000 churches have been built or restored, at the rate of three every day.
More and more are starting to realise that the authentic Church, that of the New Martyrs and Confessors, provides the only viable alternative to the spiritual death of post-Soviet charlatanism and consumerism. Naturally, there are those who, from positions inside the Church and still infected with the self-serving Soviet mentality, try to take advantage of this and make money out of the Church and its administration, but they are a minority. Some lost intellectuals still delude themselves that real values for Russia can come from the spiritually dead secular West. Only the future will tell us how far the renaissance of the Church will go.
CONCLUSION: THE GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOXY
We hope that one day the inevitable and understandable negative reactions to Soviet Communism and the misidentification of ‘Russian’ with ‘Soviet’ will be over. Then people will understand that Russians were the first victims of the Soviets, of whom over 90% were Non-Russian, indeed Non-Slav. This will require great sensitivity on the part of contemporary Russians, so often hated all over Eastern Europe as evil tyrants and imperialists. Then former peoples of the Soviet Empire, including Russians themselves, as well as others in Eastern Europe, may see through the illusions of charlatanism and Western consumerism. Already some in Belarus, the Ukraine, Moldova and the EU Lithuania and other nations such as Greece are wondering about the mistakes of trying to integrate into the European Union and USA, which are inherently alien to authentic Christianity.
To encourage this process of self-awakening, Russia will have to carry out three tasks:
1.To adopt Orthodoxy wholeheartedly as the firm basis of her international, national, corporate, social, family and personal life.
In other words, Russia has to restore her Orthodoxy, her Sovereignty and her National Traditions. Only then could a Russian-led Orthodox Christian-based Confederation of Peoples come into being. This could unite much of Europe and Asia, repentant after the utter failure of the spiritually bankrupt EU and the US with their Western secularism, humanism and consumerism, into a Commonwealth, based on Orthodox Christian values. Only then could Russia fulfil her messianic calling of the Third Rome, bringing humanity into the New Jerusalem of the Church, despite a thousand years of persecution by eastern tyranny and western secularism alike. But all this is for now only a vision for the distant future and there is very, very far to go.
Archpriest Andrew Phillips