From the pseudo-messianic idea of "Holy Rus" to imperial russism: what the ideologues of the "Russian world" preach

03 April, 10:15
"Русскій мір" - фото 1
"Русскій мір"
Photo source: Вікіпедія
While reading the "Directives of the Twenty-fifth World Russian People's Council "The Present and Future of the Russian World" from the first lines, you are plunged into a whirlpool of brainwashing.

Russian aggression against Ukraine is presented as a national war of liberation of the Russian people. And a reader who knows history inevitably asks the question: who enslaved the Russian people, that they have "to defend with arms in their hands their life, freedom, statehood, civilizational, religious, national and cultural identity, as well as the right to live on their own land within the borders of the united Russian state"? Has Ukraine really attacked Russia, oppressed it and destroyed its identity and threatened the lives of its people and the existence of its statehood? It seems that this kind of rhetoric is simply an accusation of Ukraine of what they themselves are doing against Ukraine.

However, such rhetoric and accusations clearly reflect the historical and geopolitical thinking in Russia. According to their rhetoric, the occupied territories and the frontline territory are their lands that have been occupied (illegally annexed, transferred), torn away from Russia. And there is a certain shift in emphasis in that document. These territories are not called "Novorossia" as is usual, but the lands of "southwestern Russia" within the borders of a united Russian state. Such rhetoric turns Ukraine into an aggressor and oppressor, and Russia into a victim. That is why Russia must defend itself not just against Ukraine (they do not recognize Ukraine as a subject of international law or as a nation), but against the entire West. That means that the aggressor is the West, which has attacked an entire civilization called the "Russian world."

The fact that this is a set of historical distortions and fakes is clear to any historian. However, it gets more interesting. This document elevates historical pretentious fakes, or rather imperial revanchist ambitions, to a metaphysical and religious level. For this document claims that the war against Ukraine (in their view Special Military Operation) is not just a national liberation struggle, but a struggle against the satanic West. And in this struggle, Russia is fulfilling the mission of the "Keeper", protecting the world from the onslaught of globalism and the victory of the West, which has fallen into Satanism. So there is the West identified with Satan, with evil, and there is Holy Russia, which is waging a holy war. But is the West indeed satanic, is it the personification of evil, and is Russia the Holy Rus'? Hence, is this a holy war? From a philosophical and theological point of view, there is a lot of ground to cover in analyzing these terms. A good number of Orthodox theologians have already condemned this narrative of the "Russian world" as heresy.

Of course, the West has several problems, including moral ones. And the West is aware of this and discusses prospective solutions to its problems on various platforms: political, economic, and, most importantly, academic, and religious. Let's just mention the serious discussions between Jürgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), or the Paris Statement "A Europe We Can Believe In." There are many discussions about rediscovering of the West. This is a fundamental aspect of European civilization - to doubt itself and return to its sources. This practice, as well as the identity of Europe/West as a civilization in general, was formed over centuries at the intersection of the best achievements of Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem. With mistakes, flourishing, and falling.

Russia, by raising the theme of Holy Rus' and holy war, elevating aggression to a metaphysical and religious level, and generally developing the theme of the "Russian world" from Karamzin to modern propagandists and political technologists, through Alexander Shchipkov and Ivan Ilyin, attempted to create a new civilization. However, the practices of domestic and foreign policies do not liken this idea to either European or Chinese civilization. Rather, they very obviously reflect Nazism. This idea has already been given an appropriate term: Russism.

Let ‘us look at some quotations:

After the end of the Special Military Operation, the entire territory of modern Ukraine should enter the zone of exclusive influence of Russia. The possibility of the existence in this territory of a Russophobic political regime hostile to Russia and its people, as well as a political regime controlled from an external center hostile to Russia, must be completely excluded.”

In fact, this is about the liquidation of the whole Ukrainian nation, its identity, and not the Russian one, as this document itself confirms few lines before.

This text did not appear by chance. On the third day of the large-scale invasion, RIA Novosti published an article by Peter Akopov “The New World Order” where the author clearly claims: “Vladimir Putin has assumed, without a drop of exaggeration, a historic responsibility by deciding not to leave the solution of the Ukrainian question to future generations.” In the history of the 20th century, there was already a similar Nazi attempt at a final solution to the Jewish question.

There is another claim of Akopov, mirroring the Nazi idea of "Lebensraum" (living space): “this is a conflict between Russia and the West, this is a response to the geopolitical expansion of the Atlanticists, this is Russia’s return of its historical space and its place in the world”.

Also, RIA Novosti published an article by Timofey Sergeytsev “What should Russia do with Ukraine?” where it is clearly written who should be murdered, who should be repressed, who should be "reeducated" and as a result, “Apparently, the name “Ukraine” cannot be kept as a title of any fully denazified state entity on the territory liberated from the Nazi regime.

All of this sounds like a good goal. To save Russia, which has a messianic role in this world: “The highest meaning of existence of Russia and the Russian World created by it - their spiritual mission - is to be the world's "Restrainer", protecting the world from evil. The historical mission is to time after time collapse attempts to establish universal hegemony in the world - attempts to subordinate humanity to a single evil principle”.

Well, so is their civilization, their messianism i.e. Russism.

This document also pays a lot of attention to classical conservative values. Family in particular. All this looks like excellent rhetoric about supporting the family, about protecting childhood and motherhood. And there is much more good rhetoric that is often convincing to the naïve, mostly Western conservative reader.

But the statistics in Russia very clearly indicates that the incredibly high number of divorces, domestic violence, abortions, alcoholism, social orphanhood, turns the concept of the Holy Rus’ and the messianic "highest meaning of existence of Russia and the Russian world created by it" to be nothing but a mobilization rhetoric to achieve the goal of imperialistic revanche.

About autor: Yuriy Pidlisnyy, PhD, Chair of the Political Science Department, director of the BA program "Ethics-Politics-Econimics", UCU