Essence of Time. Chapter 4

(If you haven’t already, please read Chapters 1, 2, and 3 first)

February 22, 2011

Events are unfolding at such a pace that no commentary can keep up with them. In the previous episode of the program, I was asserting that it is Americans who arranged everything which is taking place in front of our eyes in Egypt and in many other North African and Middle Eastern countries. I was yelling, “Look, here are the facts! Do you not see this?”

In the meantime, US President Barack Obama publicly compared the events in Egypt to the fall of the Berlin Wall. [THE WHITE HOUSE. Office of the Press Secretary. REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON EGYPT. 11.02.2011] Are comments necessary?

Brzezinski said back in the day, that by allowing the Berlin Wall to come down and agreeing to German reunification on the West’s terms, the Russians effectively signed a Compiegne Armistice. Do you remember what the Compiegne Armistice is? It’s when, at the end of World War I, German generals were taken to the Forest of Compiegne in a railroad car, and there, like in a cage, they signed their capitulation.

So now Obama looks calmly into the camera and says, “A new Berlin Wall has fallen.” It fell wonderfully, didn’t it? An absolute triumph of democracy! The parliament has been disbanded – the first step to democracy. The Constitution has been terminated – the second step to democracy. The Constitutional Court ceased operating – the third step to democracy. That’s how quickly events are transpiring.

There’s this joke. Two guys met to drink a bottle of vodka on the street, and they are looking for a third to join. They couldn’t find one for a long time. Finally, they see some intellectual walking down the street. They offer him:

– Do you want to join?

– Sure, but what about the chaser?

– Please! What chaser!

– Well, let’s at least find a glass…

– What glass? Just drink it straight out of the bottle!

– No, I can’t drink out of the bottle.

They started looking for a glass. One soda machine doesn’t have one (remember, we used to have these), another doesn’t… All of a sudden, some drunkard falls into a puddle right in front of them, and he starts mumbling something indiscernible. The first guy tells the second, “See, our people are already partying, and we’re still looking for glass with this intellectual!”

So “our people are already partying”. They’re saying that a new Berlin Wall has come down. They’re saying that what happened is no less important than that after which the Soviet Union signed a “Compiegne Armistice”, in other words, it entirely capitulated.

And “we are still looking for a glass with this intellectual”: “Prove that the organizations which are coming to power in Egypt are evil forces and not good ones!”

 

The signatories of the Armistice of 11 November 1918

 

“Evil” and “good” are relative concepts, and I don’t want to use them. I will never demonize any movement, even the most radical one. People are fighting for their ideals… It’s important what sort of ideals they are and how they correspond with ours.

I have always spoken out, and I will continue to speak out against something else, that after seeing someone attack your enemy, you immediately start celebrating and yelling, “Hooray, hooray! This is our friend!” This someone may turn out to an even more merciless enemy than the one he’s attacking. He may reach an agreement with your enemy about something. And so on…

George Soros said that his goal was to support the Muslim Brotherhood [organization banned in Russia – editor’s note] [the financial capitalist George Soros said: “The best-organized political opposition that managed to survive in that country’s repressive environment is the Muslim Brotherhood. In free elections, the Brotherhood is bound to emerge as a major political force, though it is far from assured of a majority… As a committed advocate of democracy and open society, I cannot help but share in the enthusiasm that is sweeping across the Middle East… My foundations are prepared to contribute what they can.” Why Obama has to get Egypt right // The Washington Post. Feb. 3, .2011.] Now a campaign has begun across the world: we are being told that the Muslim Brotherhood is a social charity organization… This is very funny! And, more importantly, this is insulting for the Muslim Brotherhood, itself. There was this revolutionary, Sayyid Qutb, a martyr for said movement. He was called the “Che Guevara” or the “Lenin of Islamism”. So he was a philanthropist? Wherein lied his philanthropy? The Muslim Brotherhood killed people, and they were killed, and they suffered repressions at the hands of the authorities like martyrs. For what? For social philanthropy?

Yes, of course, one element of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political strategy is social philanthropy, the creation of organizations that help the poor, because it is much easier to infiltrate the ranks of the poor with the help of such organizations. In general, this kind of total infiltration is the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s philosophy. But this in no way means that the Muslim Brotherhood is a philanthropic organization.

The Muslim Brotherhood aims to seize power and establish a certain world order, which is written in all of their papers. And no one has abandoned the goal of creating a global Caliphate, nor of cleansing Islam of heresies and the buildup of secularism, as well as of “wicked” nationalism and the “wicked” moderate Islamic existence. All of this is called the insulting term “jahiliyyah”, which means blasphemy, a collapse into paganism (and this, perhaps, is even worse than, for example, the Christianity of you mortal enemy).

No one has canceled the goal of the Caliphate. That means no one has canceled the principle according to which the Caliphate must include the entire territory where Islam has ever existed (and moreover, this territory in Russia is quite vast). One should not make the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical movement saturated with political and metaphysical energy, an energy of ultimate aspirations according to which the entire world must ultimately begin to live “righteously”, i.e. according to the Islamic way of life, out to be a charitable society. This is shameful, disreputable, and incorrect.

Today the Americans call the Muslim Brotherhood a “good” organization! This nice Muslim Brotherhood! Prior to this, they had already begun to divide the Taliban into “nice” and “mean” ones, “good” and “bad” ones. Good ones are the ones they need. Bad ones are the ones who need to be punished.

Time will pass, and it will turn out that the only one left in the punishment list is Bin Laden. Or Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. Or another two or three people. Everyone else will turn out to be “good”. In reality, they’ll be even more brutal than Bin Laden, saturated to an even greater degree with the energy that leads Bin Laden down the historical path (or counter-historical path, to be more precise). But they will be called “good”…

The troops will leave Afghanistan, then the wave of Taliban will move into Central Asia, and from there, to our door. Sometimes I vividly see this picture: the Caucasus break like a floodgate, and all of this energy flow onto our territory…

If we have nothing to respond with to:

A) The Modernity which is developing now in The Great Far East (project #1)

B) The Postmodernity, which is developing in The Great West (project #2)

and

C) The Counter-Modernity which is developing in The Great South, which is now being constructed before our eyes (project #3); if simply come to the necessity of choosing one of these alternatives, then the death of Russia is inevitable. Because Russia has no strategic pathway within the framework of these three alternatives.

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, “Thoughts Of The Past” exhibited 1859

Russia will never be able to enter The Great Far East. It simply lacks the “human resources”, a massive number of energetic workers, who yearn for a rather humble prosperity, and who are ready to work with discipline for low wages. It lacks that mass of human beings which exists there. Other things are lacking too, certain ethical and even religious norms. It is impossible for us to enter there.

It is also impossible to enter The Great West (what many dream of, starting with our political leaders and ending with a part of our everyday people, who have been dragging themselves behind this utopia for the last 20 years). There is no place for us in this “service center”. We don’t find ourselves in its focus, which is engaged in high-tech. We don’t find ourselves in its focus, which is engaged in global financial services. We don’t find ourselves in its focus, which is engaged in services. Moreover, The Great West, itself, (at least is European part) will soon be attacked by The Great South.

It probably caught your attention, that one after another, the three leaders of the principal European nations: Germany, France, and the United Kingdom stated that multiculturalism is a utopia. And if they continue moving down the path of this utopia, then this will lead to lamentable consequences. What did they mean? What is this multiculturalism? Everyone thinks that it is a fraternity of peoples. Not in the slightest degree!

A fraternity of peoples exists around some core; it arranges itself around some center, around some sort of supreme meaning: a historical destiny, a grand historical project, a great, red-hot energy with its thirst for the Ideal. Around an Ideal, in general.

Multiculturalism, on the other hand, is something completely different. It isn’t when you take stones and arrange them into a cathedral, which serves a great purpose, but when the stones lie separately on the ground. “There is a tiny sect, and there is a great world religion; let them coexist as equals! There is an entity which is alien to us, which negates our entire history and culture, and there is our origin – let them coexist as equals!”

But with an approach like this, everything loses its meaning: all world religions, all global meanings. This is the postmodernist principle of existence.

The European heads of state have become frightened of this postmodernism, having understood what it entails. What it entails is that states will simply cease to exist. But their citizens don’t want to just give up their state; they don’t want to give up their identity, even though someone is forcing this on them very aggressively, for some reason…

Our politicians here first say that rejecting multiculturalism is bad, but then they say that it is necessary to build a unified nation, preserving other identities around it.

To build a unified nation and to preserve other identities around it is not multiculturalism! Multiculturalism is when no one builds a unified nation, and everything scatters into a mosaic of surrogate structures which are incompatible with each other. Because every culture turns into a surrogate when it rejects the universal, i.e. a hierarchy of values and building itself within the framework of a certain structure, when it rejects its mission, its dream. It cools down, becoming cold and indifferent. And at that point, it doesn’t matter whether one is dealing with a great piece of world culture, or with a piece of fantasy…

Postmodernism rejects many things. But we can’t, and have no desire to reject these “many things”! We will not manage to enter the service sector of The Great West and to adopt its norms of life in time. Simply, no one needs us there. And so, neither The Great Far East, nor the Great West have a place for us.

As for The Great South, it will pounce upon our territory. Our territory will be given to it as a consolation prize.

My mother once told me this story. She was getting ready to finish her prerequisites to apply to graduate school, and this was right after the war. The soldiers had just come back from the war; and in the room next door (this was a communal apartment), a soldier had been romancing a young lady. He would always wind up the phonograph; the music would play very loudly. But then, the soldier got bored of it all, and when the soldier was leaving the apartment with the phonograph, the mother of this young lady yelled to his back, “You must leave her the phonograph for her tarnished honor!”

The meaning here is that radical Islamism, which has, nonetheless, suffered at the hands of its former ally from Afghanistan, the United States, needs prizes. It has been offended, and in order for it to once again agree to get in the same boat with the US, it needs consolation prizes.

Nobody doubts that the first consolation prize is Israel. And the second consolation prize is Russia. “You must leave her the phonograph for her tarnished honor.” And what is there to do with a country which is neither part of The Great Far East, nor of the Great West, in a situation when The Great South needs to advance and advance?

The South wants to come North. This includes its desire to incorporate itself into our spaces, in order to gain the ability of attacking China from the north and to limit Europe’s capabilities, for example. Therefore, to bring Russia into The Great South, to hand it over to radical Islamism and Counter-Modernity as a consolation prize “for tarnished honor” is quite lucrative…

 

Raja Ravi Varma, “Harischandra In Distress, Having Lost His Kingdom And All The Wealth Parting With His Only Son In An Auction”

 

Counter-Modernity is already making its way across Russia. We just don’t see how it is making its way. After what I called “the fall”, “the dumping”, “the rejection of the birthright”, regress began…

(Speaking of this, I only outline certain topics. It will be necessary to examine them in greater detail, with specialists: to ask what regress is, how the collapse progresses, and through what ways can it be overcome. I carefully read everything that is said about this, in order to then work through these topics in a different broadcast format, slowly, methodically, turning their analysis into something like an online school or an online university.)

And so, Counter-Modernity is making its way across Russia. Russia itself is heading onto the path of counter-modernization, while all the talk is about how we must rapidly modernize. Because elements of Modernity, which we also need to discuss separately, include:

  •  Industrial growth (while we have continuing deindustrialization),
  • Growth in the quality of education (while the quality of our education is falling),
  • Growth of great cultural achievements.

Modernity is always built around the great novel. The great novel, in a way, replaces what had previously existed within the cultural core in the religious sense. It is no coincidence that the novel is referred to as “the epic of the New time”. The New time, which means Modernity.

Where is this great novel? Where is the great culture? Where are the classical forms? The fall continues: the pervasiveness of “popsa” [derogatory Russian term for intellectually and aesthetically empty pop-culture – translator’s note], the criminalization of culture, its transformation into almost a physiological surrogate, the only aim of which is either pleasure or to provide some sort of quick shots of energy. We clearly see these processes! Our territory is turning into a “regressium”, into a zone of degradation. And inside this zone, everything imaginable emerges. Archaicity is already breathing inside it.

If we are to talk about what the enemy did with Russia; then of course, he tried out technologies on it, meant to reverse historical time. Remember, long ago Georgi Dimitrov yelled at his trial, “The wheel of history moves on… and neither any measures of extermination, nor prisons or death sentences will be able to stop this wheel!” But they managed to stop and to reverse it! When they “broke the spine”, when they “threw time out of joint”, time went into reverse. And it is moving in the opposite direction.

We are falling into new middle ages, which is not the Middle Ages in their higher sense, because the Middle Ages were moving in an ascending historical current, while we are moving in a descending one. We will fall into slavery, which also will not be slavery in the strict sense of the word, because the slavery of ancient times moved in an ascending current, while the present-day slavery will move in a descending one.

Those who hope that Counter-Modernity will stop at Christianity, or that some sort of fundamentalist, archaized Christianity will become an alternative to the contemporary, are dead wrong. Because regress knows no bounds. It proceeds non-stop. It will sweep Christianity away; it will shatter its great principles just like it will shatter the great principles of all world religions… Perhaps, certain groups will refuse to submit to it. But who says that the largest group not to submit will not end up being the radical Islamist group, which would indeed stop at its “classicism”.

And who said that radical Islamism is Islam in the full sense of the word, and not a postmodernist-archaic construct?

Postmodernism lives by constructs. It creates outlines of religions and belief systems like one creates machines, out of blocks, primitively. It ignores authenticity in everything. And this ignoring of authenticity (which always disappears along with the birthright when one’s spine is broken) is also a grave threat to Russia.

The Great West wants to spread archaization across certain regions of the world, e.g. the countries of The Great South, where it intends to create this heated Islamism… Why not also spread archaization onto Russia? We, indeed, are existing in a field of utter regress. Very nice people, who are endowed with all of the potential to do good, write to our forum, among them are many young people. One of these young people, with a college education for that matter, writes, “So why does Kurginyan keep talking about lentil pottage and the birthright? It that some kind of slang, or something?” That which was a treasure of world culture is now “slang”

Do you feel where we are headed? Do you understand what deindustrialization, deculturation, and desocialization mean? Societal ties are breaking. If these societal ties existed, then the cores of political and social movements, which would have challenged the dominance of regress, would have formed a long time ago. But they are not forming, because regress is ripping them to pieces. And when I say that this situation calls for the term “salvation”, for the formation of special catacomb-type forms of existence, I hear in response: “What catacombs? We’ll just get together, organize a flash mob or something, and all of the forces of evil will fall. And we will come back to where we want.” But this is yet another regressive illusion! Nothing of the sort will happen.

We have to discuss things together which, at the same time, are very complex and very simple. Would you like me to explain how the Americans organize these “Twitter revolutions” in much simpler words? Everything happens very simply.

There’s a pyramid. An authoritarian pyramid, which is still trying to achieve modernization. One can say all sorts of bad things about Mubarak. But even in 2008, during the greatest economical drop, Mubarak had 4-5% growth! They say that the poor revolted… Do you know how much a big flatbread loaf costs in Egypt? It costs five times less than in Moscow, even ten times less.

Entirely different groups of the population rose up, having received a certain signal. This doesn’t mean that the Mubarak regime didn’t commit crimes, or that it wasn’t corrupt. But it is exactly when a regime begins to be a hindrance that it receives a death sentence, after many years of approval. The verdict isn’t dealt because corruption has reached a new high in Egypt or anything of the sort, but because something ceases to satisfy. Or because something is desired, with which authoritarian regimes are incompatible. On a profound philosophical level, authoritarian-type regimes are “bad” because they ensure development. And this development is no longer needed!

Authoritarian regimes had always believed in modernization; they believed Western words that they have to go down this path. Why did the Kemalists abandon the Ottoman Empire? Because they were promised that they would become a real European country in every sense of the word. When many years later, they said “We are a secular, modernized state, accept us as part of Europe”, they were told, “Go away!” And then the Islamist reaction began.

Of course, among the authoritarian regimes, semi-secular ones, moderately Islamic ones, and so forth, there are also ones which do not develop their countries. But, more commonly, these regimes do develop their countries. In parallel with this, corruption emerges, as well as various closely-tied families, which, of course, is disgusting, and which leads, among other things, to crimes being committed. No one is saying that the people have no basis for an organic hatred toward their regimes, without any Americans. But the problem lies not here, but within the “regime pyramid”.

Barnett Newman, “Broken Obelisk”, 1963.

The regime consists of element #1 – the ruling top brass.

Element #2 – the military-repressive apparatus.

Element #3 – the pro-American, relatively affluent part of society (I don’t want to call it the “middle class”).

And finally, there is element #4 – the popular masses.

A certain counter-modernist movement, such as the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrates the popular masses. Element #4 is placed under control through a dialogue with this movement.

Element #3 is placed under control through this very Twitter, and in general, through consumerist values and globalization. Members of this part of society travel the world. Were you in Egypt on the eve of those events, or not long before? Restaurants were full of people. Everyone had computers with Facebook. Cairo was buzzing with consumerist delights. It was precisely this part of society that then flooded the streets. Facebook and Twitter can be used to relay signals and action plans to this part of society. Quite pro-American liberal organizations already exist among them.

And so, the liberal element #3 and the counter-modernist element #4 are taken under control.

Next comes the most important question: how to break the military (element #2)? Without breaking them, one can do nothing.

How are they broken? Through “accountocracy” A considerable portion of Middle Eastern and North African authoritarian regimes allowed their officers and generals to amass large fortunes, transforming into a class of the wealthy. Since they are still bureaucrats, the officers and generals move their money abroad. As soon as they moved their money abroad, the most valuable things that they possess (as bureaucrats) are their bank accounts. And these accounts, which are mostly located in the West, become a source of leverage to influence the repressive apparatus.

The Americans practically have an “on/off switch” for the repressive apparatus. The military apparatus is methodically combed for such bank accounts, and then work with individuals begins: “My friend, you have accounts, and we can arrest them! But if you do as we desire…” (In these situations, one talks like in a movie about terrorists: “Do as I say, and everything will be fine.”) And the repressive apparatus turns itself off.

I hope it’s clear that I’m not just talking about Egypt. “This bell tolls for thee.”

When the military element is turned off, this serves as a signal, first and foremost, for the liberal element, but also for part of the fundamentalist element: “Go ahead, kids! Go ahead.” It’s terribly interesting to see how the faces change on the “kids”, how a new look emerges on their faces, how a new energy starts breaking out from somewhere inside, how they allow themselves to speak insultingly to the authorities, and so on. This is all because someone told them, “Go ahead! The repressive apparatus is paralyzed!” More than anything else, they are afraid that they will be tricked, and that it isn’t so.

And so, the repressive apparatus is paralyzed. A small but tenacious and energetic liberal crowd comes into motion. Then the Muslim Brotherhood (or any other fundamentalist organization) pulls the masses in. All of this splashes out into the streets, it sweeps the rulers off their feet, and it establishes a new format, the one which is needed.

I say again, the key question here is how to turn the repressive apparatus off. As long as it isn’t off, the liberals will be crushed before they even get to the streets. But if it is turned off, then it will turn out, all of a sudden, that one part of the military has a passion for liberalism, while the other one has a passion for fundamentalism, and that they can’t go against their own people. Naturally, they can’t! For decades, they’ve been going against them, crushing, hanging, shooting, but now they can’t. Like in Vysotsky’s song, “and then I stopped drinking, for I’d gotten tired.”

In all of these countries like Egypt and Iraq, the liberals can’t do anything by themselves, even backed by the US military; they are few; they are weak, and the majority of their own population detests them. Hence, sooner or later, this thin layer will fall away. And then it turns out that those whom Mr. Soros intends to help end up taking power, “my foundations are prepared to contribute what they can.” What kind of charity is this? Why must all of Mr. Soros’ assets be used to help a force which considers its mission to build the Caliphate, and to exterminate Western “infidelity”?

Because Counter-Modernity is what’s needed. Because its construction has begun.

There’s also another, more banal reason. In discussing it, I have to switch to the language which is the most difficult to speak.

Why proof so good? Because one can name the source. This is what such-and-such newspaper said; a different one said this, and yet another one said this. However, if we only discuss what newspapers said, then, of course, we will understand many things, but it won’t be enough.

For better of for worse (for, as they say, “with much wisdom comes much sorrow”), I have other sources. These are people who know much more about what happened in Egypt than public sources, and they talk about what public sources don’t talk about. How am I supposed to share this? I obviously can’t prove anything. I can only say that people, whom I believe, say this. People who have proven their trustworthiness over quite a long period of time…

These people don’t feel any love for Mubarak, nor do they feel any hate toward the Muslim Brotherhood. They just speak in a cold and calm manner about exactly how many people were killed during the events in Egypt, first by snipers, and then by animals bearing the proud English name “crocodile”, or “krokodil” in Russian, to whom these people were simply thrown as food. They named an enormous number.

 

John Singer Sargent, “Muddy Alligators”, 1917.

 

But what impresses them isn’t the shear number of people killed by snipers and eaten by crocodiles. What impresses them is something different: that the crocodiles ate and the snipers eliminated specifically that part of the Egyptian elite which had started to come to a certain agreement with the Chinese.

The Great South, apart from its other functions, has another very important one. The Great South is tied to The Great West not just through management, but through money. Money from The Great South has to flow to The Great West. It has to be deposited into Western accounts. But The Great South, all of these sheikhs, newly-rich bureaucrats, and so on, is becoming savvy. It understands that the Americans print pieces of paper. It understands that sending these pieces of paper to the West will not bring any real earnings, because they have no future behind them.

Then The Great South begins to quietly transfer money to The Great Far East. A connecting link emerges, which The Great West categorically doesn’t need. Categorically! Because there is nothing more dangerous than a connection between The Great South and The Great Far East (monetary, or otherwise).

All hell breaks loose. Specifically, those who are building this undesirable connection are slaughtered. After all, this is trillions of dollars we’re talking about. If money from The Great South doesn’t go to The Great West, then another global crisis will take place, with far-reaching consequences… The money is herded in the desired direction. Everything stops here.

A while ago, I put on a theater production based on Shukshin’s short stories. In it, one of the female characters talks about her neighbor, “He hurts here, he hurts there… But the the money keeps coming to his checkbook…” So here it is, first they reveal that Egyptian society “hurts here and there”, and then the “money” comes to the right “checkbook”. Egyptian society begins to pay a much steeper price for the accounts staying in the right place. It is made to buy “garbage” at the price which is dictated, and to behave itself peacefully through it all.

How does this model combine financial currents with currents of meanings?

Some pursue enormous financial interests. Others pursue interests in restructuring the entire world.

Of course, the restructuring of the entire world is much more important. But, it is the combination of financial interests and global project interests which rules the world. And to ignore the existence of financial interests would be, at the very least, naive.

We have thus discussed a series of simple questions:

– this very “money coming to the checkbook”.

– the information from our friends in Egypt.

– the manner by which the forces of authoritarian modernism become paralyzed, and how, only following this, the process of controlled revolutions begins, which establishes the format it desires in the necessary parts of the world.

In the 1970s, it was said that the Iranians have a splendid pro-American regime (“Such a splendid Iranian Shah!”) And then Khomeini’s anti-American forces came to power. But who “made” Khomeini? Where did Khomeini live? Who gave Khomeini the podium? Who brought up Khomeini’s supporters in the spirit of certain technologies? Who paralyzed all of the Iranian military leadership?

I frequently meet at international conferences with an Israeli general who, at a certain time, had arrived in Iran in order to set up the infrastructure for a military coup: the military was supposed to stop Khomeinism and to help the Shah of Iran. Following him came a high-ranking American, but not the one whom everyone was waiting for, who had said that the Iranian military ought to crush the Khomeinist scoundrels, but a different one. And this other one said that the forces of revolution and democracy must be allowed to work. In other words, a representative of the Democrats came, instead of a Republican representative. After this, the military leadership packed their bags over the course of one day and fled.

The Israeli general, whom I’m talking about, had the idea to gather all of the animals mentioned in the Bible as ever having lived in “the promised land”, from all across the world, and to bring them to his country. In Iran, too, he had acquired such animals. So now he was bumping along in automobiles with these animals, and he didn’t know whether or not he would be killed. This was an absolutely straightforward person, a paratrooper. A PhD, but a simple man. He couldn’t have made this up.

This has already been described, both by Giscard d’Estaing and by Michel Poniatowski, who had gone to Iran on behalf of Giscard d’Estaing, and by the Shah himself, and by a slew of other people – that the Americans got rid of the Shah just like they got rid of Mubarak. And this is always done as part of a certain project.

At that time, there was a different project. Iran radicalized over 1978. Afghanistan was supposed to explode with Islamism in 1979. Meanwhile, Zia-ul-Haq islamized Pakistan. Imagine what would have happened if fire from these massive radical Islamist foci would have been thrown simultaneously at the entire southern underbelly of the USSR, and the Soviet Union hadn’t broken this chain of fire? And recall that only one year later, Polish “Solidarity” began to operate actively! Would it have been better or worse then? Think for yourselves.

The process is of a very large scale, and it is gathering momentum. But we should really talk about what significance this carries for Russia. And here we shift to things which, perhaps, are even more complicated, but they are absolutely necessary.

If the current Modernity (which is no longer a universal movement, but a separate, walled-off part of it, which for this reason acquired a completely different set of traits) is project #1 (The Great Far East),

if Postmodernity is project #2 (The Great West),

if Counter-Modernity is project #3 (The Great South), then what can Russia do if there is no room for it in either of the three projects?

Put forward a fourth!

 

Diego Rivera, “Man At The Crossroads/Man, Controller Of The Universe”, 1934.

 

We must articulate, first in Russia and then globally, that if a fourth project, based on historical grounds does not take form, then the world is doomed, and we especially. The question lies in whether a fourth project is possibly in the world. What is it? And why can the Russians offer something of their own within the framework of the fourth project? Anyone can think something up, but if one examines the Soviet heritage:

a) as facts

b) as meanings

c) as something incompletely understood

d) as something unfinished –

If one were to unite this a), b), c), and d) together, then it would become clear that this complex contains a certain core. And this core indicates that during Soviet rule, Russians and all of the peoples who united around Russia, carried out not a Stalinist modernization, but an alternative project of development. While this project perhaps contained an excess of classical modernization, there was also something which obviously couldn’t be reduced to this. What is this, first of all?

Classical modernization, as I’ve already said, doesn’t just have to do with taking people out of traditional society and bringing them to factories, into industrial society (we did this, too). It has to with destroying this traditional society. Everything that it creates within the limits of the new industrial social order, it creates on the basis of this destruction, this atomization, and the creation of new matrices typical of modern society (the rule of law, the formation of national traits, building a unified political framework on the basis of a “war of all against all”, and so on).

However, the Russians (and the Soviet peoples as a whole) didn’t do this! They achieved an accelerated and very large-scale development without destroying the traditional society, even strengthening it. Regardless of what we say about the collective farm, it strengthened the traditional society.

One could say, “It was strengthened to pull people out of it in order to carry out industrialization” (collective farmers became “wood” for the “furnace” of the modern social order). No. Because the modern social order itself long represented something collectivist. As I said before, the Soviet enterprise was an enterprise-community, with its own social environment, with its own preventative health facilities, sanatoriums, and so on. And the yard of the Soviet apartment building, where a phonograph would play, was part of the same industrial collectivism.

In other words, the Russians didn’t just preserve the agrarian collectivism in the form of collective farms (one can discuss their shortcomings for however long, but they also had serious advantages, which people don’t like to discuss). They also created a new industrial collectivism. Then they began to gradually create a new postindustrial collectivism.

The process of classical modernization in relation to Russian, Soviet society had more of an erosive nature. Probably, Peter I conducted an early, successful, classical modernization. Probably, Stolypin conducted a late, unsuccessful, semi-classical modernization. But Stalin and Lenin, while the ideology was still running hot, were obviously not moving in the direction of classical modernization (which, there’s no point in pretending otherwise, they had taken an admiring look at). The whole Russian process, the whole of Russian history, the whole necessity to get something done in a mobilized fashion led them in a different direction. And now it is necessary to say what direction this was.

What was the Russian breakthrough? This famous “Russian wonder”, apart from the numbers, what else was it? What does it mean from the social, philosophical, and other points of view? What if it’s love (there was a sentimental Soviet movie called “What if it’s love”)? What if these four levels: the facts, the meanings, the undiscovered, and the rejected (I will talk about this in greater detail in later broadcasts), contained the embryonic form of the secret of a different method of development: a development without the destruction of collectivism?

Since the energy for development at the expense of the destruction of collectivism is already exhausted, and postindustrial society, which in a certain way repeats the pre-industrial, simply requires certain new forms of collectivism, it may turn out that the Russians are the ones who know how to develop without the destruction of collectivism. How to develop in a way which is alternative to Modernity.

And if they know this, and Modernity is meeting its natural demise… For if this is happening in the West, then the same thing will take place in the East. Sure, they’ll develop up to a surrogate-Western level of prosperity, but the machine will stop! If the only thing going forward is a full stop and regress via archaization, then humanity’s only chance to save development, which means saving its existence in the 21st century, has to do with the Russian Soviet heritage, understood in a completely new way.

Then the question is: should we to be proud of our fathers’ and grandfathers’ deeds? Of course, we should.

The trendiest topic now is “Well, why does Kurginyan keep on talking about the past?! We’re interested in the future!”

But one can’t advance into the future with a broken past. Of course, leaps into utopia do exist. But even up close, it is unclear which utopia they are planning to jump into. Furthermore, in order to leap into a utopia, one must push off of something. It’s not a utopia we need. We need to find a message within the hypertext called “Facts, meanings, the undiscovered, and the rejected”. That very message which is directed at the future of the world.

I do a great deal of traveling around the world, and I observe a certain complicated amalgam of feelings which Russia elicits from the rest of the world. The most basic feeling is one of contempt. Contempt for a country which has thrown its past off to the side, for a country which is moving into corruptionism and the rule of organized crime. This contempt has one set of shades in India or China, other shades in Europe and the United States, a third set of shades in the Islamic world… But this complicated amalgam of feelings, among which contempt dominates, at the same time contains some sort of sneaking expectation: what if? “What if the Russians, after they’re done messing around, will pull something out of their pocket which will turn out to be both absolutely new to world, but recognizable at the same time? And what if the new yet recognizable thing will save the world? The Russians, of course, will get into trouble again; they’ll again lay down some road at a great cost to themselves. But we will follow them down this road; and who knows, maybe we’ll end up getting somewhere. Maybe the historical process will manage to continue. How can we do without it? Perhaps then development will also continue. What else are we supposed to do if the forms of modernist development have been exhausted?

But what can we say about this message, about this secret which out history contains, apart from that we preserved collectivism while developing? “Look: there’s collectivism over here… More collectivism over here, and now it’s industrial…” But was there collectivism anywhere else? Yes, the Japanese are creating companies and corporations using, among other things, our Soviet collectivist experience. But the Russians created something much more interesting! And the educational systems contained something absolutely novel.

However, these forms of novelty related to social creativity do not exhaust all of the creative novelty found within the Soviet obsolescence, Soviet mistakes, Soviet ungainliness, and Soviet heroism. Something even more important exists within all of this. And this thing of utmost importance needs to be discussed first and foremost. Because if we’re going to play, then we need to play big, because Russians can’t play any other way…

 

Veniamin Kremer, “Great Expectations. USSR Pavilion On 1939 New York World’s Fair”, 1947.

 

What among the “idiotisms” of the Soviet era was condemned the most? The idea of the New Man. “Oh, they don’t understand that human nature is constant, that human nature is a given, that it is impossible and criminal to change Man. But they want to change Man! Why? Because they have an absurd order, and for this absurd order they need an absurd human being. They can’t accomplish anything with a normal human being. They don’t know what to do with him, so they invent a new one.”

I open the book To Have or to Be by Erich Fromm, one of the greatest philosophers and psychoanalysts of the 20th century, and I look at the beginning quotes: “The less you are and the less you express of your life—the more you have and the greater is your alientated life.” [Fromm, E. To Have or to Be? Continuum. New York, 1976]

Who delivered these great lines? Karl Marx

Here’s a different author “The Way to do is to be.

Who is this? Lao-Tse.

There is something wildly important in what was done in the Soviet Union in relation to creating a New Man. Erich Fromm, in fact, is writing about what we lost, about our mistakes, without analyzing which we will accomplish nothing.

Socialism and communism very soon turned from a movement, the goal of which was to create a new society and to form a New Man, into a movement, the ideal of which became a bourgeois lifestyle for everyone, with the bourgeois becoming the gold standard for the men and women of the future.

“The achievement of wealth and comfort for all was supposed to result in unrestricted happiness for all. The trinity of unlimited production, absolute freedom, and unrestricted happiness formed the nucleus of a new religion (of Modernity – S.K.)…  It is not at all astonishing that this new religion provided its believers with energy, vitality, and hope…”

But it soon became clear that the endless appeasement of one’s demands, the accumulation of pleasure “points” simply gives nothing. That it is all doomed to a gigantic failure. Erich Fromm calls it the failure of the age of the Great Promise. The failure of the hopes of Modernity. These very hopes, that we now once again wish to ignite in people.

“When he came to Oslo to accept the Nobel Prize for Peace (1952), Albert Schweitzer challenged the world ‘to dare to face the situation. . . . Man has become a superman. . . . But the superman with the superhuman power has not risen to the level of superhuman reason. To the degree to which his power grows he becomes more and more a poor man. . . . It must shake up our conscience that we become all the more inhuman the more we grow into supermen.’”

What is being discussed here?

That, as Fromm writes, the meaning of life is, according to the new myth (which is being planted into our society in an especially active manner, but which is becoming the myth of Postmodernity, or the myth of rejecting the ethics of modernity), “happiness, that is, maximum pleasure, defined as the satisfaction of any desire or subjective need a person may feel” (which Fromm refers to as radical hedonism), and that “egotism, selfishness, and greed, as the system needs to generate them in order to function, lead to harmony and peace.

Fromm is indignant: up to a certain time, he writes, when the devilry of Postmodernity had already emerged from within Modernity, this was absolutely absurd. “It is well known that the rich throughout history practiced radical hedonism. Those of unlimited means, such as the elite of Rome, of Italian cities of the Renaissance, and of England and France in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, tried to find a meaning to life in unlimited pleasure. But while maximum pleasure in the sense of radical hedonism was the practice of certain groups at certain times, with but a single exception prior to the seventeenth century, it was never the theory of well-being expressed by the great Masters of Living in China, India, the Near East, and Europe.

Nowhere and by no one until the 17th century.

“The one exception is the Greek philosopher Aristippus, a pupil of Socrates (first half of the fourth century B.C.), who taught that to experience an optimum of bodily pleasure is the goal of life and that happiness is the sum total of pleasures enjoyed.” But Aristippus was the only one. Even Epicurus called “‘pure’ pleasure” the highest goal, “for him this pleasure meant “absence of pain” (aponia) and stillness of the soul (ataraxia). According to Epicurus, pleasure as satisfaction of a desire cannot be the aim of life, because such pleasure is necessarily followed by unpleasure.

This means even Epicurus said that it is impossible to only “pick the flowers of pleasure”.

None of the great Teachers of the past ever claimed anywhere (including Europe), says Fromm, that the “factual existence of a desire constituted an ethical norm”. That if you want something then you should do it, and that it’s good if you do what you want. No one, he writes, ever said anything of the sort until a certain time. Everyone was discussing “the distinction between purely subjectively felt needs and objectively valid needs”. Between what influences people destructively, causing them to devolve, and what lifts them up.

 Fromm writes: “The theory that the aim of life is the fulfillment of every human desire was clearly voiced, for the first time since Aristippus, by philosophers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was a concept that would easily arise when “profit” ceased to mean “profit for the soul” (as it does in

the Bible and, even later, in Spinoza), but came to mean material, monetary profit, in the period when the middle class threw away not only its political shackles but also all bonds of love and solidarity and believed that being only for oneself meant being more rather than less oneself.

Already for Hobbes, “happiness is the continuous progress from one greed… to another”… La Mettrie “even recommends drugs as giving at least the illusion of happiness”.

De Sade, the first to follow the path of postmodernism entirely, states that “the satisfaction of cruel impulses is legitimate, precisely because they exist and crave satisfaction”.

The legitimization of anything through the very fact of its existence became possible when Modernity began to fall ill.

Modernity in and of itself means uniting reason and faith, understanding that reason and faith can coexist. From this comes modernist Islam, modernist Christianity, and so on. But a transformation emerges where Modernity falls ill. The pursuit of unlimited pleasure “forms a strange contradiction to the ideal of disciplined work, similar to the contradiction between the acceptance of an obsessional work ethic and the ideal of complete laziness…”, says Fromm. A person becomes a little broken machine. On one hand, he insanely runs around in his pursuit of endlessly indulging every urge, scoring points (“you only live once, death is ahead, you have to score as many points as you can”). But on the other hand, he turns out to be paralyzed, because he lacks the drive of entirely disciplined labor.   

Why does The Great Far East still exist? Because there is the Protestant ethic; there are Buddhist models. Because it has that which, for a certain time, preserves disciplined labor. For it is being destroyed from within by this principle of points and pleasures…

 Twentieth century capitalism is based on maximal consumption of the goods and services produced as well as on routinized teamwork.” On one hand, you have to consume as much as possible; on the other hand, you have to work as much as possible. But you can’t do both at the same time! This means a classical discontinuity between one and the other emerges inside of you. “We are a society of notoriously unhappy people: lonely, anxious, depressed, destructive, dependent”, and so forth.

Before this era, Fromm writes, “economic behavior was determined by ethical principles”. But then, “economic behavior became separate from ethics and human values”. All of a sudden, it turned out that “the good of Man” had been replaced by “the good of the system”. And under capitalism, it turned out that the good of the system is the most important.

 

Eduardo Paolozzi, “Dr. Pepper”, 1948.

 

“What are you telling us about the good of Man for?! It’s pointless to talk about it. The system is more powerful than a person; it moves on its own!”

Then what does humanism have to do with it? What does Man in general have to do with anything? How is he to exist if the system if constantly destroying him?

Then it was said that “the good of the system” is also “the good of all people”. Remember, “What’s good for Ford is good for America”… “What’s good for ‘General Electric’ is good for the people…” And so on.

“This construction was bolstered by an auxiliary construction: that the very qualities that the system required of human beings—egotism, selfishness, and greed—were innate in human nature; hence, not only the system but human nature itself fostered them. Societies in which egotism, selfishness, and greed did not exist were supposed to be ‘primitive,’ their inhabitants ‘childlike.’” Fromm writes.

People were incapable of understanding that these qualities are defined not by nature, but by the social situation in which they are immersed.

This leads to very frightening consequences. Man becomes a machine of “possessions”. Ultimately, he wants to make everything his property. Everything, including himself. The world ends up divided between the categories of “to be” and “to have”. In the middle, a third category emerges in postmodernism, “to seem”. “And now it is more important for us to seem, and to be for us is unimportant”… The concept of “being” as synonymous with “happiness” disappears.

The question here doesn’t lie in the fact that people need to have things, that these things can bring them pleasure, or that these things can serve them.

The question lies in whether it is acceptable to sell something fundamental for money and to receive compensation. If a woman says no to love and marries a man whom she doesn’t love, and gets affluence in return, then she constantly needs to confirm that she made the right decision through “the machine of consumption”. And when consumption cannot be further propelled, hunger emerges.

Why does consumerist madness emerge? Because the category “to be” disappears. Because they’re trying to present Man not as a process, but as a constant. What does it mean that “Man is a given”? What does it mean that “there’s a nature”? What nature? The nature of the beast? But Man is a thin layer over this nature.

The question of the New Man which is contained not even within socialism, but specifically within communism, and which is inseparably linked to the New Humanism and with history as a supreme value, may turn out to be a great source of good directed into the 21st century. Not only new forms of collectivism in conditions of development, the combination of collectivism and development, but also the idea of a truly New Man, the preservation of humanism (because the New Man without a New Humanism and history is a terrible thing; it’s Nietzsche’s superman)… All of this, which is found at the heart of what was called communism, may turn out to be insanely important.

It is no coincidence that 10% of the Bundestag proclaimed that they will restore not only socialism, but communism, too. It’s just that everyone has understood that if Man will not become New, then he will not be allowed to remain Old. He will be swept of the face of the Earth, like garbage.

And this is where the Russian word, which is already contained within the Russian heritage, the Soviet heritage, has a place. If a new project were really to be proposed now, one which would be new in principle, basing itself on such fundamental stones as:

– industrial and postindustrial collectivism in conjunction with agrarian collectivism

– The New Man

– The New Humanism

– History as a supreme value

and on a few other stones… If the Russians were to erect a new building on top of these stones, based on their great heritage, based on an enormous hypertext, which they have already created, and which needs to be reconceptualized… If this would all be done, then a Fourth Project would emerge.

If it were to emerge, then the world would no longer move in a fragmented state between The Great Far East, The Great West, The Great South and The Great North, which is supposed to become part of The Great South. The world would become different. It would acquire a different support base, different dynamics, like the support base and the dynamics it had when the USSR and communism existed, even if it was very imperfect. Erich Fromm called this imperfect communism “goulash-communism”. Precisely the bourgeoisification of communism is the root of why the post-Soviet madness then emerged. We need to clearly understand that this root exists, and we need to analyze it.

Now, if the Fourth Project would emerge now, in the second-third decade of the 21st century, then perhaps the 21st century would not become the century of humanity’s demise. Consequently, the stakes are enormous. Creating and realizing the Fourth Project gives us a chance to survive, to bring a new word into the world, and to break the tendencies which are destroying us, which leave us no place in this world, which the Americans are now forming. Regardless of how long we search for a place within this world, it will turn out that, de facto, there is no place for us. But if we form a different world, then we would have a place within it. And not only we, but all of humanity. And the world would be headed not towards the catastrophe of World War III and the end of history, but it would head further down the path of history. The whole world in its entirety would return to this path. And we would find ourselves not on the tail end, but in the avant-garde.

This is what is important to think about today. Because without posing such grandiose goals, all of this “minimization” means nothing to the Russian soul. It would rather die or fall asleep instead of soothing itself with the small pleasures of the pathetic surrogates, which the existing model of the world provides it with. Especially that model of the world, which it feels to be utterly incompatible with its own life.

This is the value of studying our heritage and opening the secret message for the future found within it.

 

Dmitry Nalbandyan, “Komsomol Member (V.M. Terekhova)”, 1934.

 

Source (for copy): http://eu.eot.su/?p=12588&preview=true

 

Essence of Time: The philosophical justification of Russia’s Messianic Claims in the 21st century

Sergey Kurginyan

Experimental Creative Centre International Public Foundation

 

Essence of Time is a video lecture series by Sergey Kurginyan: a political and social leader, theater director, philosopher, political scientist, and head of the Experimental Creative Centre International Public Foundation. These lectures were broadcast from February to November 2011 on the websites, www.kurginyan.ru and www.eot.su .

With its intellectual depth and acuity, with its emotional charge, and with the powerful mark of the author’s personality, this unusual lecture series aroused great interest in its audience. It served at the same time as both the “starting push” and the conceptual basis around which the virtual club of Dr. Kurginyan’s supporters, Essence of Time, was formed.

The book Essence of Time contains the transcriptions of all 41 lectures in the series. Each one of them contains Sergey Kurginyan’s thoughts about the essence of our time, about its metaphysics, its dialectics, and their reflection in the key aspects of relevant Russian and global politics. The central theme of the series is the search for paths and mechanisms to get out of the systemic and global dead end of all humanity in all of its dimensions: from the metaphysical to the gnoseological, ethical, and anthropological. And as a result, out of the sociopolitical, technological, and economical dead end.

In outlining the contours of this dead end and in stressing the necessity of understanding the entire depth, complexity, and tragedy of the accumulating problems, the author proves that it is indeed Russia, thanks to the unusual aspects of its historical fate, which still has a chance to find a way out of this dead end, and to present it to the world. But, realizing this chance is possible only if this becomes the supreme meaning of life and action for a “critical mass” of active people who have in common a deep understanding of the problems at hand.

Dr. Kurginyan’s ideas found a response, and the Essence of Time virtual club is growing into a wide Essence of Time social movement. In front of our very eyes, it is becoming a real political force.

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