Being Who We Are

Russian journalist Mikhail Moshkin analyzes the current instability in Ukraine with a special focus on the meaning of traditional Russian identity and statehood. This translation was originally published at The Soul of the East.

The state is the actuality of the ethical Idea. It is ethical mind qua the substantial will manifest and revealed to itself, knowing and thinking itself, accomplishing what it knows and in so far as it knows it.

G. W. F. Hegel

Ukraine: Two Alternatives of Returning to One and the Same

A well-known formula, “the patient is either alive or dead,” encapsulates the Ukrainian situation in its entirety for those looking from the outside (and, most likely, the participants themselves). Either the Maidan finally topples Viktor Yanukovich over, or, a more likely scenario in light of the current events is that Yanukovich will give up everything he possibly can, handing out status positions in the government to the Maidan triumvirate, which is rapidly losing popularity for collaborating with “zlochinna vlada”—“criminal authorities” (offending Oleg Tyagnibok to top it off!). And, considering that it is impossible to return to the pre-Maidan status quo, Yanokovich will become a “lame duck,” with the 2004 Constitution in his beak and the omnipotence of the Verkhovna Rada. In a country that just collapsed into yet another economic and political pit.

Given the prospect of Vitali Klitschko’s presidency (yet how can the boxer become president if Yulia Tymoshenko is released?), the prospect of a “white-and-blue” regional separatism, the secession of Crimea, etc., are all real possibilities. We are seeing the signs thereof already. At the same time, all our political scientists and analysts should not get overly excited about “redrawing the new underdeveloped countries on the map.” The specter of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Fronde haunted Ukraine as early as 2004 as well, but even then, with Viktor Yushchenko’s victory (does anyone still remember this political figure?), the southeastern autonomous region did not come to fruition, whereas Yevgeniy Kushnarev, the chief ideologue of separatism, got off lightly. Most likely, despite the ever-present antagonism between Galicia and the Southeast, there won’t be a “divorce.”

It looks like we might end up with bad infinity. Either, after the Maidan’svictory, we return to the “orange-ism” of ten years ago, or, after Maidan is pacified, we go back to the status quo from six months ago. The Eternal Return of one and the same, one and the same, one and the same.

In other words, this is obvious.


RussiaLacking Meaningful Alternatives

More central to this question, in response to the challenge of the Maidan—a gauntlet had been thrown down without any doubt—is what Russia can say or, more importantly, do. Let us attempt to be honest with ourselves and answer the following question: why is it that we, as we stand now, have the right to restore the Eurasian space, the triune Slavic union, and so on?

Critics of “gathering the lands of Russia” are, sadly, correct that our “Babylonian” spirit is still strong. And we have yet (do we?) to transform from the New Babylon into the Third Rome. Is it the Russia of mindless celebrities that is the beacon for all those discontent with “Euro-Sodom” and globalist Americanism?

Yes, we can become the focus of hope, but only if we ourselves find meaning in our own existence throughout history.

The author of this text is neither a Communist nor a fan of the USSR, “USSR v. 2.0″ or futuristic modernist projects in general. Therefore, he can only comment distantly: Russia of the 1920-30s (even if it were thrice Soviet and socialist, it remained Russia) was a realized possibility of a different world order and a different future. Antonio Gramsci and Georgi Dimitrov were pro-Soviet Communists not because of grant money, whereas Romain Rolland and Lion Feuchtwanger composed panegyrics without any exchange for thirty pieces of silver.


Being Who We Are

Russia is capable of ceasing to be the world’s gas station (there are more suitable candidates for this purpose) and gaining self-respect:

  • If it becomes a Pan-Slavic country ready to defend its brothers in blood, language, and faith even if only against the Euro-bureaucratic pink-Liberal dictatorship, even if only against extreme Islamism;
  • If it becomes a Eurasian country restoring the great continental project, defending its peoples against the West (in its neo-Liberal and “Euro-Communist” versions) and the East (in its Chinese and Saudi-Caliphate versions);
  • If it becomes a nationalist country capable of taking care of millions of Russians left behind the post-Soviet cordon, from Sevastopol in Ukraine to Ust-Kamenogorsk in Kazakhstan, capable of becoming the “Great Bear” ready to tear apart anyone who comes in between her and her cubs.

Is there anything that Russia can offer the world other than oil of the “Ural” brand?

Something does emerge as a sketch: this is a country that remains the bastion of Right-wing conservative Christian value, and, in general, a sort of a stronghold of the “global Right” force, ready to pick up J.B. Fichte, Alexander Hamilton, and Yamamoto Tsunetomo, ejected from the steamship of Modernity. What remains to be done is small: transferring this from the sphere of declarations (they are very much at odds with reality) into the sphere of political action.

We will also have to examine our recent past, since we were considered a stronghold of the “global Left” in the 20th century. It would be most logical to treat the Soviet era precisely as a period in history. Otherwise, there is the impression that Lenin and Stalin are still alive ruling our lives on a daily basis. It is time to leave necropolitics behind.

The latter will help us stop looking for cravings toward Tradition, faith, and hierarchy in the Communist Party’s congresses and speeches of leaders. We must stop looking for traces of Rurikid and Romanov Empires in the “Red Empire,” or, conversely, we must stop searching for crypto-Communists among the likes of Alexei Kudrin, Oleg Deripaska, and Viktor Yanukovich. Without bias or wrath, we must choose all that will be useful to us (that same socially-oriented economy with, as mentioned hundreds of times, Right-wing politics), leaving Vladimir Ilyich and Iosif Vissarionovich for the historians.