March 8, 2011
I often have to answer the question: “What is metaphysics? To what degree, and to what extent it is equivalent to religion? And if it is equivalent to religion, then to which religion?”
I myself think that metaphysics is not exactly and not entirely religion. It is a certain awareness of the mystery of the universe, which today is very consistent with modern science, with the theory of evolution, the theory of all forms of the material world increasing in complexity, including those forms, which were created immediately after the Big Bang, and which continued to develop afterwards. First, within the boundaries of the non-living world, and then within the world of humanity.
If in the living world this sort of increasing complexity of forms is called evolution, if in the world of humanity this is called history, then in the non-living world…, there is not yet even an agreement on what exactly makes these forms more complex. But everyone understands that they are becoming more complex. Everyone understands that, at one time, there were no atoms, that once there were no molecules, that once there were no crystals, that once there were no organic molecules, and so on. And therein lies a certain mystery, which demands its own accurate explanation. It absolutely isn’t necessary that this mystery addresses only to a religious experience. Some junctures exist between science and religion on the question of ascension, of increasing complexity, of development, and of the metaphysics of development.
In a nutshell, metaphysics is something larger than religion. People can be non-religious, but they can have metaphysics. They can be religious; but strangely enough, they can have no metaphysics. People belonging to different religions can have the same metaphysics. And conversely, people belonging to the same religion can have different metaphysics.
I could talk about this for a long time, but since we are talking about politics and about the essence of time, I will read a poem by Tvardovsky instead, in which everything is permeated with metaphysics. And about which one cannot say, that it belongs to one religion or another. And this poem is related directly to the essence of our program.
That day when war at last was brought to end,
And all the barrels shot for celebration
There was one minute in that hour that led
Our souls to deep and profound meditation.
At journey’s end, with our homes far away,
We truly said our first farewells, left standing,
To everyone who’d fallen in the war
The living parting ways with those who’d perished.
Until that moment, at the bottom of our hearts,
All our goodbyes were never truly final.
As if in war our parts were equal parts,
And only tally records could divide us
We walked together down the paths of war –
Brothers in arms, together till it’s over,
Blessed by the solemn glory of their lot,
A step away from falling down beside them.
So only at that special moment, there and then,
A moment filled with magnitude and sorrow,
We found ourselves eternally apart;
Our ties were severed by those celebrating volleys.
The roaring steel of guns brought home at last
That we will never be among the losses.
And into mist, it moves away from us –
The coastline, filled with comrades, fading.
And there, across the wall of days and years,
They feel those waves of fireworks separate us.
They do not dare to wave “goodbye” to us.
They do not dare to say a word. They’re silent.
So this is how ashamed by our good fate,
We bid farewell to friends amid the triumph.
To those, who on the war’s very last day
Had still stood with us, ‘til a bullet found them;
To those who walked but only half the way
Of that great road the war forced us all to walk on;
Whose humble graves were dug in soggy clay
Somewhere along the Russian river Volga.
To those who at the very Moscow gates
Laid down into their deep snow beds forever,
On its front lines, the city’s last defense
In winter nineteen-forty-one, but saved her.
Who even dying could not hope to count
To rest in peace, their sanctuary sacred,
To find repose under a little mound,
Made by the hands of not a total stranger.
To all, regardless of their army ranks,
One died becoming General, another
To be a Sergeant did not have a chance,
So little time was granted to our brother.
To all who passed away, to all who left
To lie under the same great shade of banners,
Which have been lowered as the orders state;
For all, with no exception, everybody,
We said goodbye. Our guns at last grew still,
And time flew by. And over them, where planted,
The birches, willows, maple trees, and oaks
For many times grew leaves, which then descended.
But leaves will sprout again, as years go ‘round,
Our kids will grow, and grandkids’ generations,
But every celebration’s fireworks sound
Will call for memory of that great separation.
Not just because we have to keep our word,
That this is the remembrance we owe them;
Not just because, oh no, not just because
The winds of war so restlessly keep blowing.
The immortality of those who’ve turned
To earthly dust — it teaches us true valor.
No, even if the victims of that war
Became the last on our entire planet,
Could, really, we, just leaving them behind,
Live on, in private happiness, without them,
Their land not seeing with their eyes,
Not hearing with their ears, the world around us?
And walking each along our given path
At the doorstep of death, our road concluded,
Within ourselves how could we help but sense
Their reprimand, or maybe their approval?
Are we but grass? Are they but grass as well?
No. We won’t lose this mutual connection.
It’s not the power of death, but brotherhood,
That even death is powerless against it.
Tvardovskiy speaks here in an artistic form about the egregore. About the kingdom of dead, who live on in our hearts. About the unity of this egregore and those, who are now living on Earth. About how the Synaxis is unity of the living and the dead. And that only the Synaxis is the highest manifestation of the people. He talks about many things, including about the essence of time. “And time flew by”.
It is exactly metaphysics that expresses the essence of time. It talks about exactly what unites us, about how time is tied together and what role our dead and our beloved play in this unification of time, in tying time together.
Hamlet is mysterious work, wherein lie many secrets. One of those secrets, as it seems to me, is that Hamlet just really loved his father. Everyone puts on different Hamlets. But none of these Hamlets has what I consider to be the most important. He just really loved his father, he was connected with him, and that connection was real. This decodes much of what he did.
Now, let us return from Hamlet, Tvardovsky, the unity of the living and the dead, and from other things which I consider to be of fundamental, paramount significance, to what is called politics.
Since I am aware that the audience grasps some ideas entirely and some – not entirely, to one degree or another, I will let myself use several new formulas. I will present some of my thoughts to the audience, my analytical hieroglyphs, in the form of diagrams, to make what I’m talking about more clear and understandable. It seems to me that such ultimate clarity, as opposed to some residual emotional background, to discussing certain separate thoughts, but rather the clarification of my entire logic as a single mega-hieroglyph is crucial, if we want these conversations (or lectures? What else can one call them: confessions, sermons, as some people say) to have their maximum effect.
And so, what suddenly became clear from the previous program, “Judgment of Time”? What caused all of our supporters and ourselves to rejoice?
It became clear that a society exists.
That this society contains a minority (a very, very, very small minority) and a majority, and an enormous one at that (fig. 2).
This majority is patriotic; it supports Soviet values, it supports the singular thesis of our history’s greatness; it is drawn to the greatness of our country; perhaps most accurately, it can be defined as being of a historiophilic persuasion, rather than a historiophobic one. It is our majority. What is important is not only that it is ours, but that it is also the majority. Each person, sitting in his own corner, assumed himself to be the only one grieving for Soviet and, in general, historiophilic values, while an absolutely alien and insane life boils around him. And all of a sudden, it at some point became clear that there is a multitude of people like this. And that they are the ones who constitute our majority.
And so, there is this majority, which sometimes measures 85%, and sometimes 97%. And there is the minority. What did the minority say in response to this fact, which the “Judgement of Time” broadcasts uncovered, and which many other data confirmed?
The minority said, “First of all, that’s not true. Some TV show, big deal! Some active television viewers, big deal! This is not the country; this is not the society; these are small segments, and perhaps, these are even groups of crazy people, who voted multiple times. And secondly,” they said, “even if it is so, your majority are an insane mob of deplorables and idiots.” (Compare that to “Russia, you’ve gone mad,” as Yuri Karyakin [a Dostoevsky expert who became a notorious russophobic pundit during perestroika – translator’s note] said after Zhirinovsky’s victory in the 1993 parliamentary elections).
So the minority said that it’s not true, that the topic of discussion is a TV show trend, and not at all a grand narrative or a mega-tendency… But soon enough, it turned out to be very much true, because other television programs with different audiences confirm this tendency. It could be no other way, because up to 95% of our fellow citizens gained absolutely nothing from the last 20 years of reforms. About 20% of these fellow citizens are starving, another 30 – 40% can’t afford the trip from Tomsk to Omsk, much less so a trip abroad. And then it is not clear at all what they gained.
They have cellphones? But I once saw a woman of very traditional appearance who was plowing her garden with a buffalo while talking on a cellphone, in the Himalayas at an altitude of 5,000 meters. There are plenty of cellphones in Africa. So what, the only thing our people got out of twenty years of reforms are cellphones? But they are everywhere! Were cellphones even worth all this trouble? According to the lowest estimates, $2 trillion were taken out of Russia. How many cellphones could that buy, if that was the only point?! But the declared goal was something different. And, in terms of this “something different”, the people received nothing.
Therefore, first of all, this majority is real. This is a macro-process, a grand narrative and anything you please, but not a television micro-trend. Why fool oneself? And secondly, this phenomenon can’t help but take place. It absolutely had to exist, because its roots run down to the very essence of what happened in our country. So after a while, the minority begins to understand, that all of this, alas, has really happened, and that they, the minority, are an absolute and shrinking minority, counting perhaps 5, or 7, or 8%, but not even 25% (as some liberals, who try to interpret television results in this way, see in their happiest of dreams). Then, when the minority realizes this (and it realizes this pretty quickly), what do they say? They say, “Oh, is that so? Then, if it is so, if you reject all the good which we have brought you, all the truth, all our delights, then we are not the ones who are bad for not being able to get the message to you; you are the bad ones, you damned hicks, you deplorables, you dirty mob. And if it is so, then, then, then…” “Then what?”, we ask. (fig.3)
The answer, which is more or less obvious, is like this: “Since this is so, then even though we are a minority, we shall remain in power, for we are an enlightened and a sophisticated minority. Our enlightenment and our sophistication give us this right. The other thing that gives us this right is your savagery and primitiveness as the majority.”
And so, the minority is a sophisticated and enlightened minority that rules over a backward majority. Now, we ourselves, and also anyone else who is interested, calmly ask this minority, “What is this called? The whole thing, what is it called? When an enlightened and sophisticated minority rules over a backward and idiotic majority, what is this called?” What? I can’t hear you! (Fig. 4)
This is called “dictatorship”, right? This is called a dictatorship. There is no other name. This is an absolutely accurate political definition.
But first, you must say this word. You need to utter it without choking. Just say it, “Yes, our rule will be a dictatorship, and this is our dictator, right here.” Point with your finger at him.
Secondly, they need to bring it about, which means, first and foremost, obtaining an ideology to give some sort of legitimacy to the situation, because one truly cannot sit on bayonets; furthermore, they need an adequate repressive apparatus, which can be mobilized through this ideology, as well as through other means.
But the minority does not want a repressive apparatus, because they fear it even more than the majority. They obtained one several times: in the form of Korzhakov [a former KGB general who served as Boris Yeltsin’s chief of security, confidant, and adviser for eleven years – translator’s note], Lebed [a former army general, who served as Secretary of Yeltsin’s Security Council – translator’s note], and finally Putin. And several times, it went on to smack the minority upside the head. That is why it doesn’t want a repressive apparatus anymore. It understands, that as soon as the minority obtains a repressive apparatus, it will devour the minority. Moreover, the minority does not want any ideology, which could mobilize some social support base along with the apparatus. Because an ideology will cost it its lovely rhetoric and their liberal-cosmopolitan fleur, which it values much more than holding on to anything through repressive means, even if it means retaining your positions in society.
Third, but very important, is what I started with: the minority does not want to even say the word “dictatorship”, because at that moment everything will perish. Then the question arises: what is one to do?
“We are not saying that we are dictatorship; on the contrary, we are saying that democratic processes are growing under us…”
But democratic processes bring the majority to power. And the majority, according to the minority, is “backward”, a “damned mob”, “deplorables”, and so on.
“We shall not obtain an ideology that expands our social base and also mobilizes the repressive apparatus. We shall not activate this repressive apparatus in a way reminiscent of the phenomenon known as ‘dictatorship’. And we are not saying that we are dictatorship.”
So, what is the minority doing? And why do these actions guarantee in any way that it will retain its positions of power and quasi-power? Why is it so sure that it will retain its omnipotence in circumstances, when it is not only not meeting the necessary conditions, which I have enumerated earlier, but it is doing the exact opposite? What it is doing is the exact opposite: “democratization nonstop” with the face of either Yurgens, or someone else. [Igor Yurgens, the President of the Institute for Contemporary Development (INSOR), is an adviser to Former President, and current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. He promotes Russia’s merging with the West, even at the expense of Russia’s vital interests. – translator’s note]
“First of all,” says the minority in such cases (to itself, as an internal monolog, allegorically, behind a shroud of innuendo), “one needs the majority for taking power. When we were taking power more than 20 years ago, we would say, ‘We are the majority! We are the majority! Hooray-hooray-hooray!’”
Was it the majority even then? The referendum on the preservation of the USSR demonstrated something different, but that is a different topic… Regardless, they brought some masses into the streets, something was boiling over. Yeltsin was elected President of the RSFSR rather democratically, as you remember. A majority did this. Let us not paint over these unpleasant but truthful words.
So one needs the majority to take power. And when one has already taken power, why does he need the majority? It is no longer quite so necessary, because power is a substitute for it. “We are here, and are not going anywhere; just try to overthrow us.” When one has taken power, he has a great advantage.
“Second, because the majority,” says the minority (allegorically, through the language of innuendo, but they say it), “is not politically organized and not socially structured. It is an amorphous mass, a jelly, slime. And the fact that it is a majority changes nothing. In this condition, it can do nothing. And we,” says the minority, “will use all of our resources to increase and exacerbate this amorphousness. We will increase entropy instead of combating it. We will use certain resources to increase entropy everywhere. And in this sense, the majority will continue to grow, while at the same time growing more amorphous, slime-like, and deranged. It will take on other characteristics, such as apathy; or conversely, its emotional reactions will become more primitive. And we will control all of this.” This is what the minority is saying. “Since you are so unstructured and depressive, since your spine is broken, then what does it matter that you are the majority!”
“Third,” says the minority, “We are ready to suppress the majority, to continue the country’s decay, to perpetuate regress, to destroy the society and even the state, which we own, but thus prolonging our quasi-power status. We”, says the minority, “are willing to do this despite the entire experience of history.” Because the ruling class can never increase the entropy in society, send it into decay, or turn it into an amorphous slime; it needs the society to build a powerful state. It needs a powerful state, because the ruling class of a given country has to endure competition from other ruling classes. Consequently, it can’t afford to have a dystrophic soldier, nor can it have an illiterate, drunk worker. It needs a strong and educated worker; it needs a strong soldier. And this is the meaning of Marx’s formula, that capital creates its own gravedigger.
This formula (which is absolutely correct) requires one addition. The capital that participates in the historical competition and moves in the ascending current of history creates its own gravedigger. But if capital understands this, to put it crudely, it reads Marx and understands what is written, then it can scratch its head and ask itself: “And why should we move in the ascending current of history; why should we create our own gravedigger, when we can control regress, turn back historical time, suppress social potentials, primitivize society, work not as assemblers, but as destroyers, dispersers, and thus prolong our historic time?” In this, by the way, lies the essence of this time, and this is why it is fair to address it with the great words: “this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” This is what the minority is busy doing.
Meanwhile, what is the majority occupied with? It is rejoicing, having discovered that it is the majority. It is jubilant over this. It is saying, “We thought that we were the minority, we hid away in our own places, supposing that we were few. But in fact, there are so-o-o many of us! Then we need to do something!”
This joy is warranted, justified, correct, great and just. Not just because it is generally pleasant to exist as a majority (although, when you have the truth, you need to have the strength of will and of spirit to exist as a minority, too), but also because a very large truth was manifested; do you see? The problem is not only that there are many people, and that they are unhappy with what the last twenty years have brought. The problem lies in something else.
Back in the day, Mr. Rakitov (Yeltsin had such an advisor) said that “our goal is to switch out the civilization’s core”. There is a civilization (a historico-cultural personality), and it contains a core. (Fig. 5)
The core contains something called “sociocultural codes” (about the same as computer programming codes, or genetic codes). This core defines one’s personality type. Mr. Rakitov declared “our goal” (the goal of Yeltsin’s process during 1991 – 1999) to be to switch out the core of the historic personality. And to change the core means to change the principles according to which language, culture, religion, mentality – everything functions. I responded then, “No way! That is not going to happen!”
It took 20 years of the minority terrorizing the majority to figure out that they scratched the core, hit and traumatized something within this core. But it is impossible to change a core, which has existed for millennia, in 20 years! This is the same people, according to its fundamental constants. Due to its fundamental constants, it supported the Soviet system and the Soviet project, and now it resists any attempt to change these constants. It is impossible to change them like that.
It got scratched, clipped… The great Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno said that there is an intra-history and an extra-history – inner and outer history, in essence, the core of history and its periphery.
They did major damage to the periphery, perhaps they even traumatized something in the core. But naturally, they did not change the core. We are the same. And we are the majority. We live on these vast expanses, and we have some understanding of how they are organized. We took into ourselves not only these landscapes, this culture, but we also took this spirit into ourselves, this understanding of what is right, and these principles of conduct, these principles of respect to the centralized state. Because it is impossible to expand across such a territory and have such parameters without respecting all of this. We have all taken this in, and we are standing our ground. Among other things, this too is being made manifest. And there is reason to rejoice.
But as the mathematicians say, this is necessary, but absolutely insufficient. It is absolutely necessary and totally insufficient.
Let us sort out once more, carefully and calmly, what the minority is counting on. What does it wager on? (Fig. 6)
On its potentials: administrative, informational (including television), economic, political, and to some degree, even for the use of force. This is the first thing.
On the political disorganization, and what is much worse, on the majority’s lack of social structuredness (its “broken spine”).
On the acceptability for the minority (due to its, I dare to use this word in most general sense, anti-nationality or its alienation from the national spirit, its alienation from loving the Motherland, the state, and alienation even from the idea that this state is a tool of your power as the ruling class… all of this is alien, which leads to acceptability) and even a necessity of regress in order to restrain the majority. Which no rising state, no matter how brutal, can afford. Hitler is disgusting, but he could not allow the society he ruled to fall into regress. He needed both the society and the state for his sinister goals.
However, our minority considers regress possible and acceptable, and in a certain sense, even desirable.
And it uses its informational and other potentials for the purposes of corruption, manipulation, “amorphization” (excuse me for this not very common word) – to make the society, which the minority controls, more and more amorphous. (Fig. 7)
I can’t help but recall Dostoevsky, “we’ll make use of drunkenness, slander, spying; we’ll make use of incredible corruption; we’ll stifle every genius in its infancy.” This work is called Demons. It was clearly making references to the revolutionary movements of that time. But the revolutionaries did not become demons; they introduced universal education, they carried out industrialization… And what about today? “The only mandatory subject is physical education. Even this is too much. They will come at us with their fists, so we can do without PE.” The only subject is how to properly consume vodka and drugs. Everything else is elective; you have to pay for it.
Once again, why would a normal elite, no matter how brutal, never allow for its own society to regress? No matter how brutal, I stress. Because a normal elite needs the state to win in the competition with other elites! But here, it isn’t needed. This is the secret that looms behind the facade of what is happening, behind all the ceremonial declarations, and which they are constantly trying to conceal.
I ask again, what does the minority wager on? Attention! It is crucial to formulate this clearly and comprehend it in its entirety.
First. It is obvious, that it wagers on degradation and regress as a means for prolonging its pseudo-domination. To prolong domination by liquidating the object being dominated.
This is what I call “mutation”, “parasitization”, and a “perverted form”. This is the nature of our ruling class.
Second. As soon as we discover this, we ask ourselves: is this not what the mutated Soviet elite (or more precisely, anti-elite) groups were doing, as they destroyed the USSR? Is this not what they were busy doing? (fig. 8)
The Soviet system needed to move from an industrial support base to a postindustrial one. If science is really becoming a primary productive force, then the technocracy, the intelligentsia in general, is no longer just the intelligentsia. It is a new class, the cognitariat. But then the system’s support base needs to shift to this new class, while not neglecting the whole society, and continuing to lean on the workers and peasants. It was achievable. Shift the supporting base there, and the system, having slightly transformed itself, would start working in such a way, that the whole world would gasp in astonishment. And you will see a new miracle.
“Not in this life”, said the mutated part of the elite Soviet bureaucracy, “we will shift the support base, the system will transform itself, and it will have no place for us! No, we do not need any development, if we are to lose our place in the process. We need to preserve our place, at all costs.”
I already told the story once, about how I irritated my partners in conversation at a certain “elite” gathering, when I kept asking, “Where is the modernization, what has been modernized? If the fact is that after 20 years, they say that nothing has been modernized, then there is no modernization. Over 20 years, de-modernization has taken place: factories lay in ruins, education has worsened, the intelligentsia live like outcasts, the working class is being dismantled (we created it with massive effort and at an accelerated pace during the 1930s)… Where is the modernization?” Finally, one of the participants in this gathering, who was quite an elite fellow, grew angry, “Kurginyan doesn’t understand anything! We were never talking about modernizing society. We were talking about modernizing the elite.” Then I asked, “At the expense of what?” He told me, “At the expense of everything.” Another participant cried out in response, “Gentlemen, being liberals to such an extent, we can surely remain humanists to at least a tiny degree!” They told him, “No, we can’t.” And they left to drink Cognac and to devour caviar; the “round-table discussion” was over.
So, “at the expense of everything”. Retaining power is possible at the expense of everything, including at the expense of reversing historical time. Was this not the business of not only today’s pseudo-capitalist… what am I supposed to call them?… class? No, one cannot call them a class; because as I already said many times, a class is defined by ownership of the instruments and means of production, but a thief’s crowbar can be hardly considered a means of production.
So, a pseudoclass, a supergroup – it doesn’t matter, this group that is now busy doing this, is it not the heir of the Soviet anti-elite group? Is it not busy doing exactly the same thing? And if it is busy doing exactly the same thing, then it is clear how this will end. It will try to preserve itself by destroying the state. And it cannot do anything different. If it encourages regress, encourages decay; then soon or later, the state will collapse. It means that it is prolonging itself at the expense of destroying the state. And how this will end is obvious.
I then have a question: is this the same program, which was mysteriously passed on from the Soviet anti-elite to the post-Soviet one? Or is it the same elite, who are completely the historical heirs to their ancestors? Including not only on the level of ideas and programs, but also on the level the real elite substance? (Fig. 9)
And finally, I would like to know how this corresponds with global processes. (Fig. 10)
This is very important. Is this our “know-how”? Or are we once again “the weakest link” in a certain global process?
Before discussing these three questions, I will ask about something different one more time. If the minority wagers:
– on its administrative, informational, political potential, and even on the potential to use force;
– on the majority’s lack of political organization and lack of social structuredness ( its “broken spine”);
– on the acceptability and even the necessity of regress in order to restrain the majority,
if it uses its informational and other potentials for corruption, manipulation, and “amorphization”; that is, it is doing what has never been done in history (at least consciously) over millennia…
If the minority is doing all of this, and it wagers on this, then what must we wager on? What must we wager on in the case?
It is clear, that “the disassembly of the Kalashnikov assault rifle is carried out in certain way, and its assembly is carried out in the opposite order,” as the sergeants and lieutenants used to say when I went through reserve officer training at the Tamanskaya Division. Therefore, we must act in the opposite order (Fig. 11).
If they want to lean on their administrative, informational, economic, and political potentials, then we must lean on a different potential.
If they want to escalate political disorganization and social amorphousness, then we must give structure to society. To give it structure! This is our alternative to the increasing amorphousness. One must realize that it is increasing day by day. It means that we must counter this entropic process with an opposite, negentropic process. A process of social structurization, not just political organization. Because one can politically organize everything 25 times over, but if everything is socially disorganized, then all of these political organizations will not be worth a plugged nickel, and they will fall at the first challenge. Or more precisely, they will crumble into dust, as they have already crumbled many times.
And finally, the last point. If they wager on the acceptability and even need for regress in order to restrain the majority, then we must wager on counter-regress, on the opposite tendency. We do not have an ascending historical process as a given. We cannot reason in the “gravedigger’s” paradigm. Because nobody is creating a “gravedigger”. A “gravedigger” is created only, I say again, in ascending historical conditions, but it is clear that they do not exist. They clearly don’t exist! In this lies an enormous novelty compared to what Marx spoke of. Because Marx could not imagine that a ruling class would renounce dominance and facilitate regress. Or he didn’t want to. Maybe he was afraid of imagining this.
However, Jack London, in his novel The Iron Heel, described this in considerable detail. He described this, so to speak, global oligarchy, which would use things like this for its survival. Including creating an unorganized, retrogressive majority, which Jack London calls the abysmal beast. They would create this abysmal beast, and then restrain it, and then create it again, attempting to ensure their self-preservation through this, and even a peculiar type of sustainability.
And so, we must take inventory of our abilities, and we must expand all of these abilities: intellectual abilities, functional abilities…
For example, there is the Internet. Who will dominate it tomorrow? Clearly, it depends not only on who has how much money and who builds what transmitters. It surely depends on other things. And what will this Internet become? Will it mean more than television, or less? Will this organized part of the majority, which we are trying to form, be able to reach the majority through this Internet? How will it do so? How active and cohesive will they be? Because only people with values can be cohesive.
Values have a dual evolutionary role. Normally, they guard you from crimes, which would result in punishment and social marginalization. But if society does not punish or socially marginalize you for committing crimes, but rather it encourages you to commit them (this is the meaning of the current process; everything, including the laws, encourages crime, and reinforces criminal tendencies), then what evolutionary sense do values have? They become shackles! You constantly restrain yourselves, and you can’t maneuver, but your opponents can. You constantly look back at the law, because you are law-abiding citizens, but they break the law with impunity; and by doing so, they keep gaining new opportunities.
Then where is our evolutionary potential? Only in one thing. Values form powerful coherent social groups. Values give the spirit structure, if there are no values, then a “war of all against all” unfolds.
Everything that lacks values and spirit falls apart. Everything that has them can structure itself. But then this must be heated enough, and it must reign at least over your soul. Because otherwise, values do not unite; instead, they become only shackles, and they turn even the core of the majority into ineffective losers, into a part of the regressing process.
And so, all of this together:
- the inventorization of our abilities and their expansion;
- social structurization through values as a basis for political structurization;
- all of this together is the catacombs (Fig. 12).
The goal of the catacombs is not to hide inside a hole. Not to hide inside a hole, not to run away from reality, not to imitate the members of a sect. Their goal is to take action in the three above directions: the inventorization and expansion of our opportunities, social structurization as a basis of political structurization; counter-regress: this is what it means to “build catacombs”.
To be smarter and more active than the opponent.
To be more cohesive and united than the opponent.
To really be capable of ascension in a situation, when the opponent is descending and devolving along with those whom he has condemned to retrogression.
All of this together is the catacombs. (Fig. 13)
I repeat once more: the goal is not to hide inside a hole, not to run away from reality, not to start living off the land, not to imitate the members of a sect. The goal is to be more active and smarter than the opponent, to be more cohesive and united than the opponent, and to really be capable of ascension, at least inside the core. Then the periphery will get there, too.
Competition is always a competition of organization. The struggle as the extreme form of competition is the struggle between different kinds of effective complexity, which means organization. What can oppose something which is weakly, poorly, and destructively organized (pardon this formula; it seems paradoxical, but it corresponds closely to our reality)? Only effective complexity. Increasing this complexity in social structures, which are created. And the parallel process of turning these social structures into political structures.
As long as there are no social processes in this direction, there will be no political ones. For 20 years, there have been attempts to create them without social structurization; where are the results? It is sad to list the exact results. The minority’s power is based on the majority’s helplessness. On the meaninglessness and sometimes even the provocativeness of the political actors, which are created in order to mount a resistance to the minority. On the social amorphousness, which is growing thanks to the minority’s efforts. It means that something must stand in opposition to these efforts.
This is what the catacombs are. To create more complex and more effective forms, than your adversary, and to put these forms into action every day and every hour. If the essence is that the Universe developed after the Big Bang, moving from elementary particles to atoms, then to molecules and so on, to life and to humans, then reversing the process means moving toward the primitive. Conversely, resisting this reversed process means climbing back up the ladder of complexity, forward, forward, and forward! Yes, we have been thrown down and turned back. But now we must to find the strength within ourselves and to start reversing this process within ourselves. These are not empty words, “Save yourself, and thousands around you will be saved.” To save oneself, in the sense as I understand it, means to take a step forward, toward this increasing complexity. To make oneself move in that direction in spite of all the processes that demand the opposite.
I will not quote Fromm every time. But I will remind you, that he wrote about social character, and that when a dominating social character, especially a destructive one is formed, then everyone is afraid to manifest anything other than this character. They are afraid to be different. They feel marginalized.
In order not to feel marginalized, there needs to be a place, a space for alternative, powerful social characters to form. Not those, which cause the present horror, which we now have, but those which act in the opposite direction.
But it is not so easy to form them. If one spends two hours in the evening on forming this opposite character, but he spends the entire working day and rest of the day, when he needs to look for supplementary income, forming the main social character, then alas, he will end up forming the main one. And in this sense, existence determines consciousness. Not completely, but it does determine it.
Therefore, one must search for an alternative mode of being. And absolutely, it does not necessarily mean moving to the village and growing potatoes. But somehow, one must search for it! An alternative collectivism. A life together with other people who are like you. Yes, a life, not just gathering for political meetings once a month. A social life. This is crucial, and it has been done many times over the history of humanity. In Latin America, where the active part of the social majority seems to be on a lower education level and without the kind of social experience we have in Russia, they have managed to find such forms, which are not found here, including ones of the most simple kind.
When Cavallo (he is a sort of Argentinian Gaidar [whose name has become synonymous in Russia with predatory economic liberalization – translator’s note]) conducted his reforms, which caused everything to start falling apart, the people themselves started issuing social certificates for themselves. There is no money, so what were they to do? One person comes over to another for an entire evening as a babysitter. She gets a social certificate signed in her name. She can give this certificate to someone else, who would then wash her windows. Is this a primitive form? It is. But people started to create forms of living of some sort. They came together to preserve their cultural forms and their values.
Holidays… Does everyone celebrate the holidays they hold dear, if they belong to a certain historical lineage? Do they celebrate them, and how effectively, which means together with whom? If they celebrate together with someone else, then they already have catacombs. Because tomorrow, these holidays, as you know, will be annulled. Some even propose to ban them [like the government in Kiev effectively banned Victory Day in 2017 – translator’s note].
This is a typical catacomb situation, which, in light of the current education reform, reminds one only of this joke: “All of the country’s security services, after a long effort and a series of special operations, which were executed with great talent, finally uncovered the most menacing underground group of criminals, who were listening to Mozart and reading Tolstoy.” Jokes being jokes, but are things not moving in this direction?
So, under what conditions can this all be effective? If this has a foundation that brings people together. A foundation of meaning. But how can one break through to this foundation?
With the help of philosophy.
And here, one ought to read Lenin again; because in this sense, Lenin is simply a genius. His phrase that no science, no natural materialism of the people, will give us anything in the absence of philosophy; that in the absence of philosophy, we are doomed to defeat at the hands of the bourgeoisie… This is what he said: in the absence of philosophy, we are doomed to a crushing defeat by the bourgeoisie (he said this having already taken power). Saying that takes a rather uncommon person! Unfortunately, he couldn’t ensure the most important thing, that the first generation of revolutionaries, who were also philosophers, would not find themselves replaced after 40-50 years, with people so common, that they not only did not see the need for philosophy – it made them sick. And then the bourgeoisie defeated them. Not only because of this, but for this reason, too.
And so, we need this philosophy. The main philosophical question then, which is at the same time a political question, is simple and strikingly related to our program: what is the essence of our time? We call our program “Essence of Time”. So, wherein lies this essence?
The essence of our time, and the five previous broadcasts were dedicated to this topic, is that one era: era A, the era of Modernity, the content of which is Modernity, is coming to an end, and another era: era B, is beginning (fig. 14).
Era A lasted for a very long time. Now era B is coming. And we are staying on a tiny bridge between the two eras. “Blessed are they who sojourned here, in this world’s fateful hours” [Tyutchev’s “Cicero”, 1830 – translator’s note]… But what then is the content of “era A” and “era B”?
The content of “era A” is Modernity. Today, a residual Modernity exists in the East. But today, Modernity is not the only project, i.e. it exists there as one project among others. However, in “era A”, Modernity was a mono-project; there was only Modernity, and nothing else (fig. 15).
Within this massive era, over nearly five hundred years, it was believed that, sooner or later, every nation on Earth will walk the road of Modernity, perhaps while paying regards to its ethnic peculiarities and cultural individuality, but they will walk this road. And sooner or later, they will develop up to a certain social, intellectual, political, and cultural virtuous state. Then, perhaps, humanity will become one.
Yes, there was no genuine universality in this. Everyone was instead put on the level in terms of certain norms of Modernity. But this meant a universal inclusiveness. And this era lasted about 500 years. Approximately from 1460 to 1960. This era lasted for all 500 of these years.
The bourgeoisie emerged and took form. It won in the Great French Revolution and a series of bourgeois revolutions around the world (England, America, and so on). It established this mono-project model. It started down this road. But, at some moment, it began to decay. If not for the Soviet alternative project which, like a beam, bolstered the collapsing beam of Modernity, and kept it from falling over, the bourgeoisie would already have collapsed by the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, after the First World War. Fascism was the bourgeoisie’s attempt to extend itself beyond the limits of dying project of Modernity. But the Soviet project’s “beam” bolstered the collapsing “beam” of Modernity, keeping it from collapsing. But when the Soviet “beam” was knocked down, Modernity began to collapse. This is what we are observing now. This is the transition from “era A” to “era B”.
And so, “era A” is Modernity’s mono-project model with all of its principles, and “era B” is a multi-project model, when several projects exist: Modernity, Counter-Modernity, Postmodernity, and somehow, they have some sort of relationship with each other (fig. 16).
I say again.
Era A is when only Modernity exists, and nothing else.
Era B is when many different projects exist: Postmodernity, Counter-Modernity, and residual Modernity. Meanwhile, Postmodernity and Counter-Modernity, in front of our very eyes (this is the meaning of the Egyptian experience!) begin to unite and to create, correspondingly, a “Global City” and a “Global Village” in order to attack Modernity, which today is concentrated in The Great Far East.
If this scheme were to become reality, then this would mean the end of the world and humanity. Because this scheme illustrates one thing: capitalism, extending itself beyond Modernity, extending its dominance beyond the boundaries of Modernity, in any case eventually turns into fascism, into Gnosticism, into dismantling the unity of humanity; it is not capable of anything else. Nothing else can happen within the context of these three projects! (fig. 17).
Russia, which had a place within “era A”, within the mono-project of Modernity (it could, little by little, move toward modernization), has no place within the above-mentioned three-part scheme. Why?
Because residual Modernity exists today only in The Great Far East (which has a large, poor, young, and self-disciplined population).
Neither does Russia have a place in Counter-Modernity (to be more exact, if such a place exists, it is terrible).
Obviously, there is no place for it Postmodernity. None at all! But even if it had a place within Postmodernity, it is still a world of horror. It is a social, political, geopolitical, and metaphysical hell. Fromm talks about this too: a world in which even love can no longer overcome alienation is the Christian definition of hell.
But that is exactly it: a fourth project exists! Apart from Postmodernity, Counter-Modernity, and Modernity, there is a fourth project (fig. 18).
Let us call it Sverkhmodernity [Sverkh- is a Russian prefix with a meaning similar to “super”. We chose to use the neologism “Sverkhmodernity” in discussing the fourth project instead of translating it as “Supermodernity”, “Hypermodernity”, or the like, because these terms have been appropriated by the postmodernists to describe something very different, and we do not want the concept of the fourth project to be mistaken for these postmodernist terms. – translator’s note]. Later, in our next conversation, we will discuss what it is. Until then we will say that the fourth project, the project of Sverkhmodernity, contains something novel, which no communism ever contained (fig. 19):
- Something which was rejected from communism and from Soviet practice during the Soviet era;
- Something which was discredited during the post-Soviet era, and what is now gradually being vindicated (and this is the central element);
- Something which was never included in the Soviet communist system, neither in the Soviet era, nor in the post-Soviet one, neither under Lenin, nor under Stalin, nor under Khrushchev and the others, nor later.
Here are three columns: two tiny columns (“the rejected” and “the unincluded”) and one massive (what actually existed, but was discredited during the post-Soviet era) make up the foundation of the project of “Sverkhmodernity”. In any case, it is post-capitalism. It is the post-capitalist future, which has been the topic of discussion for a long time, regardless of the names used to describe it: “the era of the cognitariat”, “ the informational society”, “the meritocratic society” … But this is not capitalism anymore.
Capitalism is ending; it’s dying. There are no capitalist families that still pass down their inheritance for real, as the family’s mission, as the Rockefellers and other families had passed it down before. There is no capitalist ethic. Many other things have ceased to be.
Thus, capitalism is dying, and post-capitalism is emerging. And this exactly is the fourth project – Sverkhmodernity. And it remarkably corresponds to what was done in Soviet times. I will say it again; it was precisely the collapse of the Soviet “beam” that caused worldwide Modernity to collapse. Between 1991 and 2001. It took ten years, and it was accomplished.
Now let us talk about what we need (fig. 20).
We need a project as a goal. If the fourth project exists, then we need this project. And the program “Essence of Time” must bring together those, who need this project as a goal.
An actor is needed, which will realize this project, a highly organized social group, which is united through this project’s ideas, values, and goals.
We need a technology (how will this fourth project be realized).
We need resources (at the expense of what will the fourth project be realized? At the expense of what will the various instruments be created for its realization?)
We need human potential.
One cannot make an airplane from clay. But if there is alumina, then you can melt out the aluminum, and you can make any sort of airplane out of it. We have alumina, but aluminum for airplanes is still much too scarce.
We need this unity of five: the goal (the project), the actor, the technology, the resources, and the human potential.
Then comes the question, “What are we to do? Let’s get to work! If we have the project, then let’s discuss it.”
But it is not enough to only discuss it. Because the project is the great goal, which inspires people, which deeply motivates them to act, which transforms their human nature. But no strategic or ideal goal can exist if there is no Ideal. The goal can emerge only within the framework of this Ideal, which truly functions within the human consciousness, mobilizing it.
If the Ideal is damaged (and this was the goal of perestroika, of regress, of all this lentil pottage), then it may seem that the mind comprehends the goal, but it does not truly mobilize the individual.
The enemy’s goal is the total demolition of the Ideal. The enemy engaged itself in this, and it did not just target the Soviet Ideal. It targeted the Ideal in general. At the very least, it wanted to negate its mobilizing power. If Kozyrev [the first Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Boris Yeltsin from October 1991 until January 1996, whose policy was to unquestioningly appease the West – translator’s note] said unequivocally, “We had been discussing the national idea, but then we decided that whatever it would be, it would still cause these damned waves of enthusiasm, and who needs them? So, we decided: let money become the national idea…” At Yeltsin’s Security Council, they decided that money should be the national idea. This is a clear formula for a criminal state: The Golden Calf, The City of the Yellow Devil [referring to the short story by Maxim Gorky – The City of the Yellow Devil, reflecting his impressions from New York City – translator’s note]. Before, they had made a career out of cursing it, and then they decided to build this themselves.
Thus, if the mobilizing power of Ideal will not be restored, then all of our projects will be toys and nothing more. This means that we are faced with a triune challenge.
First of all, we must discuss reality. To examine it deeper and deeper with our conceptual apparatus. To gain a deeper and deeper understanding of how this conceptual apparatus works. This is political philosophy, the philosophy which transitions into politics.
Secondly, local groups must master this and work through it. We cannot avoid the stage of Marxist discussion groups. I am not saying that we need to study Marx all over again. I already said that, on many points, Marx has proven to be incomplete… He just could not fully perceive the magnitude of the evil that could unfold in the world, and the sophistication of this evil. And so, the theory must be studied in discussion groups. We need the discussion group stage to create a political and social actor. If we do not pass through this stage, there will simply be nothing. Nothing, and that is it.
And finally, the political question, which we have many arguments over. I often hear, “So what, we should not protest against bad infrastructure, against bad education?”
Why not protest? The issue here is entirely different. The issue is that if we act this way, we will lose the state. And having lost the state, we will lose the Motherland. The state is a means by which a people extends and develops its historical purpose. Only through an ultimate comprehension of this historic destiny, and through returning yourself to a state where your Ideal can be submitted to this historical purpose, is it possible to become a people. But the Russian people cannot do without the state; moreover, this applies to us even more than to any other people. The Russian people just cannot do without it, they feel it.
Therefore, we cannot afford to lose the state. It cannot be allowed that the collapse of the political system, or even collapse of the state (which, as I emphasize, is only a means) lead to collapse of the Motherland and the people. To the ultimate end of its historical existence.
And here I again return to Hamlet; because from my point of view, it is a political manual for those, who go deeper. The issue is not only that the “time is out of joint”. The issue is in the great phrase that the Ghost tells Hamlet, “But howsoever thou pursues this act, taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive against thy mother aught.”
I am convinced that, in the grand scheme of things, the Ghost of Hamlet’s father meant the Motherland. “Do not contrive against her, even if you understand that she is fallen. Even if you understand that she exists in a miserable state, don’t you dare to contrive against her.” Not the system, not the state, but the Motherland. History, purpose, the people, the Synaxis as the unity of the living and the dead, without which we are “but grass”, we are nothing, we are people with broken spines. It is forbidden to contrive against it.
Look more carefully, who contrives against it, including by uniting with the bastards from the minority, which clearly despises everything that has to do with the historical purpose of the Motherland. And who is trying to construct something without contriving against the Mother. And it absolutely doesn’t mean that he refuses to fight, going instead astray into some kind of sectarian ecstasy.
There will be no struggle without the conditions which I articulate again. And I will talk about these conditions again and again, because all of this must be put into place.
Next comes a very brief practical question. What do you think, if it suddenly became clear that the counter in programs like “Judgment of Time” or “Duel” counts 5 or 10 million votes… This is a fantastic dream… let’s imagine; it is a “thought experiment”, as Einstein used to say, a fantasy… Let us fantasize! What do you think, that it would not have any results of the most direct nature, either?
The essence lies in the fact that the project, which has continued for the past 20 years, called “Building Capitalism in Russia”, is dying. People just don’t want to see that it is dying, but indeed is dying! And all of these neuroses about that we are developing so well, how we are getting up off our knees and so on, are just an attempt to soothe the pain of the fact that it is now certainly dying, and that it cannot help but die.
Because its very genesis programmed it to die.
One cannot create a class out of criminals and then count on that class to rescue the country. That’s not how it’s done.
The “rescue” technologies which were used cannot be used. That’s not how it’s done.
You can’t spend all your time working for regress and then call yourself a savior. That’s not how it’s done. Gaidar would appeal to the Strugatsky Brothers, and he considered himself a “progressor”; but in reality, he is a typical regressor. And all those who were with him are regressors. [Yegor Gaidar, is the author of the predatory liberal economic reforms that plunged millions of Russians into poverty in the early 1990s. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky were famous Soviet science-fiction authors; Yegor Gaidar was married to Arkady Strugatsky’s daughter. In the Strugatskys’ novels, “progressors” were human or alien space travelers, who would infiltrate another planet’s society in order to advance it. – translator’s note]
You cannot summon regressors, if you want progress. That’s not how it’s done.
So if such results would appear (5 or 10 million voters), what do you think, would it not further accentuate the point that the project is dead? It would. If a vast social tissue were to start forming, would this by itself not influence the situation? Today’s situation is one to which Lenin’s April Theses fully apply. Do you remember what he talked about in them? He said that the situation was developing in such a way, that pressure from a properly organized majority upon the minority could turn all the processes, including the historical process, in the desired direction, and not by using violence, but through different means. Because historically, the situation had developed in such a way.
In Romain Rolland’s drama, The Fourteenth of July, the Governor of the Bastille proclaims, “Nothing can conquer the Bastille. It may be surrendered, but never taken.” In response, the revolutionary says, “It will be surrendered.” “And who will surrender it?” asks the Governor. The revolutionary responds, “Your evil conscience!”
The situation now is very unique. But there are no such forms of social activity and no such degree of self-organization, that we can speak of something like this! Therefore, we must create these forms.
Therefore, let us not get bogged down in discussing absolutely chimeric issues as we plan to organize, but let us create an “Essence of Time” virtual club. From any number of members. Considering the number of people listening to this program, tens of thousands might join the club. Or thousands, it is not important. We will create this club. Then we will do what everyone on the Internet does: try to gather together at least by regions, by local territories, to see each other face to face. I am ready to travel to attend these meetings. Because it is not possible to gather a large number of people in Moscow. Where could we gather them? On a stadium, in tents? People who don’t know each other? And what would this be? But I will attend these small meetings in different places. The most important thing is that people will get to know each other, and they will create more cohesive forms of social community.
To start, let us create a virtual club without any obligations. And then we will structure it, again, by territories. We will meet each other in reality, face to face. The mailbox for gathering activists is email@example.com
Send your information in the form of nicknames and regions, so that we could tell you something in response. We will try to figure out how many people there are in what regions, who would like to create a virtual “Essence of Time” club to discuss the Fourth Project. I will continue to discuss it in the upcoming programs. Let us take the first step and see what happens. And then one more. And another. And then maybe, as a result of these steps, we will really form something. Form what? The Actor for the Fourth Project, which we will have to not only think through, to develop, but we will need to mature it to a stage when we could start spreading the word.
This actor, with access to certain resources (in the form of TV programs or some other things), armed with certain technologies of self-induction (you can call them “catacombs”), not only having human potential, but also capable of transforming this potential, might well be able to decide something at the moment when the question will be posed: either the historical end of Russia, or the continuation of our country’s historical life.
Source (for copy): http://eu.eot.su/?p=14016&preview=true
Essence of Time: The philosophical justification of Russia’s Messianic Claims in the 21st century
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.