Hear Alan James’ maiden voyage on “The War Of Perception”. Alan is subbing for Peter Schaenk. He is the “Sperm Whale” of egomaniac, patriotard broadcasters. Don’t miss this exciting debut and bring plenty of Taco Bell!
1. The thesis of Russian history, that which informs the rest, is her medieval heritage. From Ruirik to the Time of Troubles, Russia, though suffering, developed an integral unity, that of the Orthodox faith, the iconic monarchy and the independent communal form of landholding. With many fits and starts, this is the sort of Russia the Mongols froze in the 13th century.
This is the classic medieval European pattern: the free homestead (communal or otherwise), a monarchy who reigned, but dealt solely with defense, and an independent monastic church that set the tone for Christian worship. All of these institutions are fairly well known to any student of Russia, and their overlap is substantial. Nevertheless, Russia, in the Middle Ages was a Christian anarchist collective, based on tradition rather than law, ritual rather than a constitution. Medieval Ireland shares with Kievan-Rus many of the same institutions and biases. Collective independence and a pronounced communalism, itself bound together by ritual, was the norm, and functioned as the basic “constitution” of the era. Bureaucracy was unknown, and open coercion was a penalty known only to the upper classes. In Russia, as elsewhere, progress was considered inversely proportional to the elimination of communal liberty and the erection of bureaucracy.
The Mongols firstly, then the Time of Troubles, secondly, destroyed this organic unity. In addition, the battle between the Non-Possessors and the Josephites, as well as the example of Novgorod, existed as potential and actual fissures in the organic nature of medieval life. The Mongols imposed on Russia something akin to the Normans in England and later, Ireland. What had at one time been ritualistic and traditional, became increasingly bureaucratic and stratified. However slowly this movement developed, it is easily discernable in Russian life and became the very life blood of the anti-statist criticism of the Slavophiles.
Novgorod remains as the central westernized institution of Old Russia. She was an oligarchy, controlled by the higher levels of the merchant guilds. In terms of control, Novgorod was the most “absolutist” entity in medieval Russia. All aspects of urban life were controlled by the guilds, leaving the working class population without representation, and they cheered Ivan III’s conquest of the city. Far from being a “model of democracy” as countless Russia-commentators have said, Novgorod was a money-based absolutist republic, introducing to Russia elements of the occult through the Judiazers and the Kabalah, long active within the corrupt urban milieu of the Hanseatic League. Her constitution can best be described as an authoritarian oligarchic regime, and remains the cause celebre of Russia historians today.
The Mongols forced the princes of Moscow to become the realm’s major tax collectors. In fact, they were building a solid basis for rebellion, but it instructed Russia in the art of Machiavellian centralization, only to reach its apogee in Catherine II and her true successors, the Leninists. The state as somehow “molding” the citizens of an already developed ethnic unity became the basic social theory of monarchy as it moved from its iconic, medieval phase, into its modern, absolutist phase under Peter I. As militaries grew in power and expanse, they grew in expense, and as such, serfdom began to show itself in outline. Serfdom developed from two things: the suffering of the Time of Troubles, as well as the reaction of the service nobility to the greater expenses incurred by increasing westernization. Boris Gudenov faced a Russia without resources and without a future unless some method of tying peasants to the land was found. But what had become a temporary solution to a national emergency became Russia’s own peculiar institution, an institution that prohibited the state from ever reaching out to the peasantry, and eventually alienated them completely.
Nevertheless, Old Russia was prosperous and basically literate. Her ritual was the defining element in her life, and entered every aspect of Russian liveliness. It is not a stretch to call the Old Ritual the very “constitution” of Old Russia. Authority ruled rather than open power and law was based on the universally known and understood customary codes of the realm, the Russian version of the Brehon laws in Ireland.
At the same time, the main ideological battle of the medieval world developed, the basic argument over monastic landholding. This battle concerned not merely the monasteries, but the nature of the Christian life and its relation to worldly power. Such a debate was to break out under Tsar Alexis within the Zealots of Piety, between the Old Rite and the Nikonian movement. Russia historians regularly underestimate the impact this debate had on the subsequent fate of Old Russia.
The rejection of monastic landholding was a Christian anarchist vision of social life. A Russia based on agrarian tradition, the small parish and monastery based on ritual rather than law or “rule.” It was Old Russia, uninterested in global domination, but as being the New Israel, or, what amounts to the same thing, the Third Rome, ideas to be explicitly rejected by “reforming centralizers” later on. The Ukrainian idea of Sobornopravan’ was the central thought of the non-possessors: the idea of an elective parish/monastic system, decentralized and based on the ancient tradition of the church, guarded and manifested in the hierarchy, who, themselves, were to, like the Tsar, function as living icons rather than as rulers; examples based on prayer and struggle rather than synodal functionaries and political officers.
The resultant victory of the Josephites, as well as the Time of Troubles, were soon to rip Russia apart. The Josephites were not impious people, and many saints developed from that system. But its affects were corrosive. Monasteries began to be seen as repositories of state power, helping to build a global empire based on wealth and power rather than the life of Israel, based on tradition and ritual. Rites and traditions became something external from practice, something “codified” and part pf a “rule,” hence isolating it from society, making it a “power” to use against people, rather than an authority that derives from being a part of the construction of sanctity. The Josephites became the “educators” of Russia, and was the first step into bringing Russia into modernity. The church was now a unit, an entity in itself, rather than being an independent organism, a way of life rather than a cold set of monastic customaries. Nikon, as well as Peter I, would have been impossible without the Josephites.
Similarly with the Time of Troubles. Old Russia was forcibly buried with endless war, political instability and its resultant regime of serfdom. Old Russia was literally burned to the ground by invading Poles, brigands, Swedes and an oligarchic regime under Shuskii that sought to make Novgorod, rather than Moscow, the ideological center of the realm. The dislocation was severe: Starvation, empty land, chaos and disease created the Romanov dynasty, who was elected by a large council of the land to bring Russia out of chaos. And despite the manifest holiness of Patriarch PHILARET, and the Tsars Michael and Alexis, Russia was never to be the same, and the antithesis of Old Russia was slowly erected. What was built after the time of Troubles was an absolute monarchy based on western models, rather than the iconic model of medieval Ireland, Montenegro and Ukraine. The tsar became an Emperor under Peter, and began to openly coerce is increasingly alienated population. Its result was the Old Faith movement, Razin, Bulavin, Pugachev and Lenin.
2. The Antithesis of Old Russia will come in the form of the service state, based on the ideology of “Enlightened Absolutism.” High taxes for the purposes of reconstruction, increasing encroachments on Cossack autonomy, Russian penetration into Central Asia, and the emergence of the Old Ritualists led to the creation of a state increasingly divorced from the people, and increasingly able to extend its tentacles into all aspects of Russian life. Again, this process, begun by Alexis, will reach its apogee under Catherine.
It needs to be mentioned that this is the moral fault of no one. Enlightenment as brought upon Russia by force of arms and from the chaos of the Troubles. The massive military state and the “official church” were creation of the Enlightenment, not of the medieval world, who knew of no such institution. While the medievalist and Old Ritualist sees an independent church, one that animates the entire social edifice, the modern sees, like Pobedonostyev, an “official church” whose primary purpose is to legitimize a system of state that is no longer organically connected to the land. This was what motivated Razin, the Cossacks and the Old Rite. They demanded nothing more than a return to medieval social forms. They did not reject modern arms, but did reject the more draconian discipline in European armies and its immense expense. They did not decry progress (however defined) but they refused to see it outside of the moral order, the order of Old Russia. Progress did not protect Russia from Napoleon, and certainly not against Germany in World War I. But it did bankrupt the lower nobility and enslave the peasants. Russian history shows that the peasant commune protected peasants from pauperization, while the popular militia protected her from external enemies.
It remains the case that the most absolutist state of all is democratic and parliamentary. Only in modernity has it been the case that the state has it in its power to shape all of life. Medieval regimes werre based on the autonomous commune and independent corporation, the technology of domination had yet to develop in such a way so as to enslave these institutions. That was left to absolutist governments, whether royal or parliamentary. Old Russia was based on autonomous communities, rural, urban or ecclesiastical. The prince and his retinue itself also constituted an autonomous community, as it rarely had the power to control the mass of the population. When that began to change, Russia became an Empire.
The transition to empire was a disaster for Old Russia. The trauma of the Troubles and the defection of the Old Rite made it possible to create a New Russia based on western European absolutist models. While under Alexis is went in fits (it certainly did not suit his temper, but it did suit the times), under Peter I, it became systematic. Under Catherine II, it became institutionalized. In this era, Russia went from a royal government, based on medieval ideas of autonomous communities, to a European monarchy, based on some version of Hobbesianism. The commune was gradually removed from juridical independence (as Ivan IV had enshrined it), and its old police functions were replaced by the service nobility, who were given full legal control over the peasants, though it remains unclear to what extent any residual communal organization functioned. The upper reaches of this nobility became the Petrograd elite, who were to fetishize service promotion and the state itself, leading to a radical secularization of social relations and the first formal acceptance of class divisions.
In this era, the church became a department of state. Parishes lost their right to elect clergy. Monasteries were closed on a large scale, while those remaining were placed under state supervision. Catherine II closed a full third of monastic establishments, with only token opposition from the overawed synod. The clergy became a terrified, cowed, impoverished and increasingly alienated estate. The bulk of the peasantry were either of the Old Rite, or were highly sympathetic to it. The Old Faith became a weapon against Enlightened Absolutism and the assault on communal liberties. Independent estimates of the era place the Old Faith, by the 1840s, at over 20 million people, overwhelmingly peasants and merchants (though official statistics put their strength at only several million). While the Official Church did produce saints and was capable of producing holiness, these increasingly became the exception, rather than the rule. Aristocratic homes became European, and the Orthodox tradition became perfunctory. By the middle of the 19th century, most of the oligarchy abandoned Orthodoxy, or at least, treated it as a cultural relic, something to be attached to emotionally as the faith of their grandparents, but their social life revolved around British or French social ideas. Atheism in the intellectual class was the result, with the Slavophiles developing as an apologia for the Old Faith and for Old Russia, to be called obscurantists, curiously by both secularists as well as the official church. The Slavophiles, to a man, rejected the artificial monarchy of Nicholas I and its clumsy attempt to enlist church authority to buttress its claims. Under Nicholas I, the Old Faith was persecuted with increasing vigor, while the synod itself became merely a spokesmen for Imperial policies.
3. The synthesis was the 19th century, the attempt, unpolished and half-hearted, to synthesize Petrinism and Orthodoxy. And while this movement, typified by Nicholas I, Alexander III and Nicholas II, produced some fruit, such as Optina and Sarov, it was a failure, and the state toppled under the pressure of World War I. The Imperial monarchy remained as the last bastion of an earlier era against parliamentary absolutism represented by the revolutionaries of 1848, but as it had no organic links with the people, it was a paper tiger, to slowly decay and crumble, suffering the same fate as Austria- Hungary. Nicholas I was not a bad man, nor was Alexander or his ill-fated son. On the contrary, they were good men, with the best of intentions. Nevertheless, they were saddled with a system inherited from Peter and Catherine II which was isolated from the peasants, destroyed Cossack autonomy, and attacked any deviation from the positions of Nikon and the gradual westernization of Orthodoxy.
By 1800, Russia was confused and disoriented. The Old Faith was permanently removed from the country, leaving the church to its less committed brethren. Saints of the era, such as St. Seraphim of Sarov, were more or less sympathetic to Old Russia (St. Seraphim prayed with the lestovka, for example). St. Tikhon of Zadonsk regularly used the Old Books in his services, and many others, such as St. Theophan, ended up in reclusion. Elder Zosima was hounded by the official church authorities, as was St. Seraphim, while the institution of eldershipv at Optina itself came under attack in synodal quarters. Only officially sanctioned forms of worship were permitted, and deviation from the New Ritual and the New Architecture were frowned upon. Russian church music changed from the Old Faith to the Baroque, architecture fell into a pseudo-classicism, and the tradition of the church was Latinized. All seminary education was performed in Latin, and iconography became almost purely Florentine. Without the Athonie injection of St. Paisius Velichkovsky, who completely revivified monastic life in Russia, the Russian church would have become a purely Latinized, western sect.
In 1800 Russia was laboring under a serfdom that had destroyed the old commune, and, though not as evil as the Leftists would like to make it, slowly but surely enslaved the Russian peasantry. Royal decrees against the buying and selling of peasants were routinely ignored, and families were regularly broken up in slave auctions, though again, officially illegal. Instead of looking to the peasantry, the state looked to the service class. Instead of attempting to make peace with the Old Rite, they were hounded and regularly assaulted. To their credit, the ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchy have publically repented of these sins, pronouncing, apologetically, the Old Faith completely Orthodox. Nevertheless, it did not stop the dissolution of Russia, which was driven by the institutional rejection of its lifeblood, the ancient faith and sense of being the New Rome.
Hence, though it is painful to utter, the Bolshevik revolution, with all its bloodshed and persecution of the faith, was a necessary cleansing of the Russian landscape. St. John of Shanghai said something similar:
Significant portions of the Russians, who have gone abroad, belong to the intelligentsia which in the last days before the revolution, lived according to the ideals of the West. Although they were children of the Orthodox Church, confessing themselves to be Orthodox, the people of that class had in their world outlook strayed far from Orthodoxy. The main sin of these people was that their beliefs and way of life were not founded on the teachings of the Orthodox faith. They try to reconcile the rules and teachings of the Church with their western habits and desires. For this reason, on one hand they had very little interest in the essence of Orthodox teaching, often even considering the Church’s dogmatic teachings completely inessential, but on the other hand, they fulfilled the requirements and duties of the Orthodox Church only in so far as this did not interfere with their more European than Russian way of life. This gave rise to their disdain for the feasts, to their going church for only a short time and then only to satisfy a more aesthetic than religious feeling and to a thorough misunderstanding of religion as the main foundation of man’s spiritual life. Many, of course, were inwardly otherwise disposed, but they lacked the strength of spirit and the ability to display this in their way of life.
In the social sphere, this class also lived by the ideas of the West, without giving any room to the Church’s influence. They strove to rebuild the Russian way of life according to western models, especially in the field of government. This is why in the last days, a particularly bitter struggle was waged with the government administration with the result that liberal reforms and democratic structuring of Russia became a new faith. Not to confess this new idea meant that you were backward. Seized with a thirst for power and utilizing the struggle with the monarchy, due to widespread slander against the Royal Family, the intelligentsia brought imperial Russia to its downfall, making way for a communist government. Then, unable to reconcile to the thought of losing the power that they had waited for so long, they declared war on the communists. In the beginning, it was mainly out of their resistance to ceding power. The struggle against the Soviets involved large sections of the populace; especially drawing in the youth in a fervent uprising to reconstruct a “united indivisible Russia” which was the goal of their lives. There were many feats of valor displayed by the Christ-loved Russian army, but the Russian nation proved itself unprepared for liberation, and the communists turned out to be the victors.
In other words, it is the Orthodox church itself that is at fault in 1917. They refused to speak out against the slaughter of World War I. They never put forth a plan for land reform, and never reached out to the peasants. They were an isolated sect who ruled at the whim of Rasputin. Despite manifestly holy men such as St. Tikhon and St. Joseph the New Martyr, the church suffered under the Bolsheviks as a lumbering, sleeping giant. A new Babylonian captivity emerged.
1. Yet, the captivity bore fruit. Rather than a complacent position of worldly power, the church found herself in her natural state: a tiny persecuted minority, scattered over the face of the globe, misunderstood, fractious and disoriented. The ROCOR brought the Orthodox faith to the world, producing for us Archbishop +AVERKY, Blessed Seraphim Rose and St. John Maximovitch himself. From this comes the beginning of a new dialectic, one that exists here and now. If Old Russia is the thesis of the first motion, then the USSR is the thesis of the next. From this thesis comes its antithesis, or the rebuilding of church authority after 1990. Regardless of the irregularity of the present Moscow Patriarchy and its involvement in ecumenical relations, it is reintroducing Orthodoxy to a generation who knows its faith only second hand. And yet, with this is danger.
The danger should be clear: complacency. There is no reason for the modern Russian church to be a part of the state system, or to desire worldly power and authority. Bureaucracy and institutions are almost inherently opposed to the spirit-based religion of the Orthodox truth. A synod, to repeat, exists only to protect the tradition, or even better, it exists to manifest this tradition, a tradition being lived by the people. It is a part of the church, not above it. It can only make decisions based on the life of the faithful, clergy and monastics, rather than developing its own ideas on church life. It is common misconception that an Orthodxo synod, or even more vulgar, the patriarchy, functions as a papacy, making decisions on doctrine and practive, and using the state to enforce these rules. In reality, this is a corrupt and fallen understanding of church authority. Khomiakov wrote on this subject:
THE SPIRIT OF GOD, who lives in the Church, ruling her and making her wise, manifests Himself within her in divers manners; in Scripture, in Tradition, and in Works; for the. Church, which does the works of God, is the same Church, which preserves tradition and which has written the Scriptures. Neither individuals, nor a multitude of individuals within the Church, preserve tradition or write the Scriptures; but the Spirit of God, which lives in the whole body of the Church. Therefore it is neither right nor possible to Look for the grounds of tradition in the Scripture, nor for the proof of Scripture in tradition, nor for the warrant of Scripture or tradition in works. To a man living outside the Church neither her scripture nor her tradition nor her works are comprehensible. But to the man who lives within the Church and is united to the spirit of the Church, their unity is manifest by the grace which lives within her.
Wherefore it must be understood that Creeds and prayers and works are nothing of themselves, but are only an external manifestation of the inward spirit. Whereupon it also follows that neither he who prays nor he who does works nor he who confesses the Creed of the Church is pleasing to God, but only he who acts, confesses, and prays according to the spirit of Christ living within him. All men have not the same faith or the same hope or the same love; for a man may love the flesh, fix his hope on the world, and confess his belief in a lie; he may also love and hope and believe not fully, but only in part; and the Church calls his faith, faith, and his hope, hope, and his love, love; for he calls them so, and she will not dispute with him concerning words; but what she herself calls faith, hope, and love are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and she knows that they are true and perfect.
And even more powerfully, he writes,
Oppressed and persecuted by enemies without, at times agitated and lacerated within by the evil passions of her children, she has been and ever will be preserved without wavering or change wherever the Sacraments and spiritual holiness are preserved. Never is she either disfigured or in need of reformation. She lives not under a law of bondage, but under a law of liberty. She neither acknowledges any authority over her, except her own, nor any tribunal, but the tribunal of faith (for reason does not comprehend her), and she expresses her love, her faith, and her hope in her prayers and rites, suggested to her by the Spirit of truth and by the grace of Christ. Wherefore her rites themselves, even if they are not unchangeable (for they are composed by the spirit of liberty and may be changed according to the judgment of the Church) can never, in any case, contain any, even the smallest, admixture of error or false doctrine. And the rites (of the Church) while they are unchanged are of obligation to the members of the Church; for in their observance is the joy of holy unity.
The church functions not through external authority, but by the organism of its life. The Nikonian church forgot this, and, adding the victory of the Josephites and the creation of absolutism, created a church that was typified by its external synodal organization which was often opposed to the inner life.
2. The union of the ROCOR/MP has positive elements, but it also has negative ones. Institutions quickly become self-serving, with its own “private jokes and vices,” as Fr. Seraphim dryly noted. Once
it becomes part of the world, it will have to pay its price, which is conformity, aristocracy, bureaucratization and a certain separation from the faithful. Already the ROCOR is pretending it did not create the Greek Old Calendar movement under Metropolitan St. PHILARET. It is already being attacked by feminists for not having enough female representation in its synodal system. It has turned a blind eye to the irregularity of many of the MP’s bishops and the long standing support of the Old Regime, as evidenced by the opened KGB archives. The Romanian church is facing the same struggles. It remains the case that Alexei has publically asked forgiveness of his pro-Soviet role, and that forgiveness should be given, not used as an excuse to “run one’s own show.” Nevertheless, the intentions of the MP should remains suspect, particularly as regards ecumenism and becoming an “establishment” church. Archbishop Ilarion of Smelyansk (ROAC) has issued the following statement, one that should be taken seriously,
On at least three different occasions, the Moscow Patriarchate has committed transgressions, any one of which would be enough to cause it to fall away from the Church completely. It was only in 1961, after their triple fall into schism, that the MP adopted their heretical (ecumenical) confession of faith.
The MP’s first schism came in 1927, when Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) usurped the authority of the Sobor of Bishops, delineated a ‘new course’ for the Church in relation to the godless authorities, and subjected the Bishops who refused to embark upon this course to unlawful repercussions. Metropolitan Sergius started to exercise the full scope of power as Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, although the legitimate Locum Tenens, Metropolitan Peter (Polyansky) was still alive, and even tried to talk some sense into Metropolitan Sergius through his letters from exile. The major part of the episcopacy of the Russian Church recognized Metropolitan Sergius’ actions as uncanonical, as also his usurpation of church authority, and broke canonical communion with him. The MP’s second schism came in 1936, when, after the NKVD’s false report of the death of Metropolitan Peter, Metropolitan Sergius unlawfully declared himself Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, and took over the Diocese of the Patriarch. Together with this, in an article in the ‘Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate’ for 1931, Metropolitan Sergius officially announced that the powers of Deputy automatically cease with the death of the person he is filling in for, which was quite correct.
The MP’s third schism came in 1943, when three bishops who had been sent for by Joseph Stalin, together with several other like-minded bishops, elected Metropolitan Sergius as ‘patriarch.’ This meeting of 19 bishops, which they announced as as a ‘Sobor of Bishops,’ had received no authority of any kind to elect anyone patriarch, not only because at this meeting only an insignificant part of the hierarchy of the Russian Church was represented, but because, according to Determinations of the Local Council of 1917-1918, the election of a Patriarch was the exclusive prerogative of the Local Council. The canonical episcopacy of the Russian Church, represented by its two ‘branches,’ – the catacomb Church and the Church in exile – refused to recognize Sergius as ‘patriarch,’ and thereby confirmed the utter fall of the MP, headed by him, into schism.
From schism the MP moved to heresy after it entered into the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1961, which meant its participation in ecumenism. Upon entering the WCC, the MP delegation signed the ecumenical organization’s confessional ‘basis,’ thereby admitting on behalf of the entire MP that they have the same confession of faith as the WCC. Many of the documents of the MP dating from the 1960’s contain an open confession of the heresy of ecumenism. By these actions, the MP has given all Orthodox Christians sufficient reason for separating themselves from it as a heretical association, in accordance with rule 15 of the First/Second Council.
As to whether or not the heresy of ecumenism continues to be part of the official creed of the MP, it is enough to note that not only has the MP never repented of this heresy, but it has refused to withdraw from the WCC. At each of the last four Sobors of Bishops of the MP (1994, 1997, 2000, 2004), the hierarchy passed heretical decisions confirming the participation of the MP in the ecumenical movement and expressing the totally free voice of the hierarchy of the MP. This means that any attempt to claim that the MP’s participation in the heresy of ecumenism is forced upon them by the godless authorities is unsubstantiated.
Now these issues do not invalidate the holiness of many MP faithful. It does compromise the church as the manifestation of the Spirit on earth, however. Large churches create barriers between the faithful and the clergy, it produces a facade of worldly power, despite the personality of the hierarchs themselves. But if the Nikonian absolutism is the second antithesis, then the “age of Alexei II” is the new antithesis. What, then, is the new synthesis?
3. It can only be the reintroduction of some of the key ideas of Old Russia. It will, so to speak, be the final movement in the Russian dialectic. Holy Russia, not the Holy Synod, needs to be reborn. Parishes and monasteries should be kept as small as possible (though multiplied in number), so as to preserve the atmosphere of the family, headed by the priest, the “patriarch of the family” offering up the sacrifice as a unit, rather than as an institution. The extended family should be promoted as a restoration of the old patriarchal understanding of both church life and the economy. Not as a relation of institutional power, but of familial and ritual authority. Such institutions should run their own lives, educational institutions, parishes and sketes, rendering the state irrelevant except for national defense. A restored monarchy should rule as the Kievan Grand Princes, as icons of faithfulness and tradition rather than as bureaucratic institutions. Its army should be a popular militia along the lines of the Cossack host and the militia of Minin which drove out the Poles. The extended family unit, known in Slavonic as the zadruga, should be armed, and capable of being called to national service in times of emergency, and such familial institutions themselves should become organized into pan-Russian and Orthodox federations on the anarchist and Proudhonian model.
In order to rebuild the Russian family, the countryside and the full, lived tradition of communal life, nothing less can be expected. The Putin government has been positive in that it has partially neutralized the oligarchy and its organized crime sister organizations, but it should be seen only as a temporary phenomenon, as a means of cleansing so theat the family and church can begin to resurrect Holy Russia and the Old Faith, to being defending itself through the communal and zemstva model, themselves being represented in a national federation of Russian Orthodox communities. There is no reason why the same cannot be done in an independent Ukraine, Moldova and Serbia, each living its own life according to the wishes of the federation, but completely autonomous otherwise. The worship of empire is the worship of worldly power, the lower world of cause and effect, the world of the fallen Adam. An “official church,” as opposed to the national church, the church as a national expression of a universal truth, quickly degenerates into a political tool, a set of offices to be coveted and won, rather than the ascetic struggle to be waged. That 19th century synthesis has been passed, and its results were disastrous: revolution, secularization and denationalization.
Anything else will plunge Russia back into its old errors: of the blind following of western capitalist, technophiliac, statist and bureaucratic models. The very models that created the Old Faith rebellion, Pugachev and the alienated intelligentsia. Without self governing communities on the example of the Sobornopravnist’ ideal, alienation and bureaucratization can be the only result, with ritual becoming a perfunctory exercise rather than truly intimate experience.
State power, as well as the domination of the episcopal synod is a fetish, a compromise with the world and its demands. The True Faith operates locally, though families, the zadruga and commune and skete, the non-bureaucratic elements of the Orthodox tradition on the exemplar of the Hesychasterion and hermitage. It is as a decentralized federation of local communities that the faith has historically been at its strongest, and at its weakest when it is fetishised as an appendage to state or economic power. Sobornost’ and Sobornopravanist’ is the manifestation of Old Russia, Kievan Rus, of the Old Faith and the Ukrainian Cossack tradition. The free community bound by ritual and devotion to the agrarian life of the Old Faith is the sole method by which Holy Russian can be reborn, and that the Old Faith can return and the world can at least have one island of sanity.
The state is an object of concern for all Orthodox. It’s role in salvation history, at best, is a highly mixed record. It has oppressed the Orthodox community as much as it has helped it. Furthermore, Orthodox groups throughout history have fought the state in the name of liberty and the faith, such as the Cossacks, the Serbian Haiduks, the Montenegrin clans and the Old Believers, all of which have rejected the modern state. More often than not, the state has been an enemy of the nation, as well as the Orthodox faith. As I have written elsewhere, the distinction between the nation/ethnos and the state is as following: The state is a hierarchic and bureaucratic organization that thrives on threats and open coercion. On the other hand, the ethnos is an organic reality, an extended family of persons bound together by a common tradition. Such commonalities, such traditions, are the reaction to periods of suffering. Hence, ethnic tradition exists because they are structures that have come into existence as a reaction to terror, genocide, occupation, colonialism and other dangers and evils. From this derives the moral importance of ethnic and religious tradition. They are not arbitrary statues or ideas, but are structures of survival that have developed in order to provide cohesiveness under a reign of suffering. Unfortunately, this kind of suffering, from Solomon to Peter I, has often come from the “Orthodox” state itself.
Being an ethno-anarchist is not a rejection of authority or order, but a rejection of the modern state and, more specifically, the rejection of the state as defined as a series of bureaucracies, interlocking, that live, parasitically, off of the accumulated tradition of a people, both religious and ethnic. If the state derives its legitimacy as the defense against internal enemies, Russian historians might do well to ask what protects the people from the state, which has been as violent towards its own people as have foreign invaders. The ethnos functions as a family does. As the family is a natural institution, existing prior to civilization, so is the ethnos, and they function in an analogous fashion. The state, however, represents the worst of civilization: the crystallization of elite authority and tradition into a series of coercive agencies. Tradition, religion and the ethnos exist not as the motive force for state action, but as excuses for state coercion. “Political theory” deals with various excuses for state power, rather than ideals to be realized in struggle.
As far as Russian history is concerned, the state has, with few exceptions, been the enemy of Orthodoxy. From Peter I on, the state has sought to control and dominate Orthodoxy, and destroy its monastic core. While there were substantial improvements after the reign of Nicholas I, the Orthodox church, as the hierarchic level, was distant and reserved. The Old Faith, as well as the Cossack host, alone, sought to preserve the medieval, communal and decentralized tradition represented by the notion of sobornost’. If the Roman-style monarchy is Orthodox, so is the free commune of Pugachev, or the krug of the Cossack Host. Thinking synodically is the diametric opposite of republicanism, which in reality is the rule of the wealthy under the appearance of “universal” values.
Old Russia was and is represented by the Old Faith and the Cossack uprisings under Bulavin and Pugachev. In short, their programs were identical: a popular monarchy, the free peasant commune and the Old Faith: the three ancient pillars of justice. In opposition is the “Egyptian” rule of technology, centralization and oligarchy, the three pillars of injustice. Such as view is echoed in early medieval Ireland and medieval Serbia. Society was divided up into self governing communes, who elected their clergy and were loyal to local custom. Local monastics offered spiritual guidance and sainthood, not to mention education and social welfare. The state, if it can be called such, was represented by a monarch with a tiny retinue of supporters. His role was purely to defend the faith from outside influences, as he had little role in the functioning of the mir or rod.
As an example, here is the largest statement of Pugachev’s program that had been preserved:
By this decree, with sovereign and paternal mercy, we grant to all hitherto in serfdom and subjection to the landowners the right to be faithful subjects of our crown, and we award them the villages, the old cross and prayers, heads and beards, liberty and freedom, always to be Cossacks, without recurring levies, soul tax or other money taxes, with possession of the land, the woods, the hay meadows, the fishing grounds, the salt lakes, without payment or rent, and we free all those peasants and other folk hitherto oppressed by the malefactor gentry and the bribe takers and judges of the towns from the dues and burdens placed upon them. We wish you the salvation of your souls and a peaceful life here on earth, for we too have tasted and suffered from the malefactor gentry much torture and hardship. Those were gentry in their lands and estates, those opponents of our rule and disturbers of the empire and ruiners of the peasants–seize them, punish them, hang them, treat them in the same way as they, having no Christian feeling, oppressed you, the peasants. With the extermination of these enemies, the malefactor gentry, everyone will be able to enjoy a quiet and peaceful life, which will continue for evermore. (July, 1774).
Had the Russian crown gradually brought this agenda to reality, the monarchy could have been saved. It is the difference between a bureaucratic and a popular monarchy. There is no biblical code that permits the slavery of one Israelite by another, and hence, the landlords were not members of the church, but schismatics. This quote from Pugachev is an excellent example of national, and Orthodox anarchism, and is the very statement of the Russian Idea on these matters. The Enlightenment brought Russia the bureaucratic state, serfdom and landlordism. Sobornost’ was eliminated from the church hierarchy, which itself was dominated by the state, the procurator and by the dominant urban hierarchs. To save medieval Russia, rebellion was the only option.
From the Sechem covenant in the Old Testament to modern ethnic populism, this is the model for Orthodox organization. It is as the center of the Ukrainian idea of sobornopravnist,’ as well as the Cossack krug. It will resurface again among the Cetniks and Haiduks of Serbia and in the mentality of some Eurasianists and the Irish organization Republican Sinn Fein. There is nothing new, therefore, about the nation, or the religio-ethnic idea, rejecting the state as such and opting for the rule of the people in the best sense, that of the rule of the faith and custom, the crystalized experience of the people.
There is certainly nothing contradictory in nationalism and populism, properly considered. It rests on the distinction between state and nation, with the latter as the origin, the former as the parasite. In eastern Europe, as well as in Celtic Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England, the idea of ethnic and religious belonging certainly predated the modern state. In Ireland, the state did not exist, but the Law did, under the Brehon code. How few political scientists have analyzed the notion that Law can exist without the state, and be fully accepted by all, but it was the case in Ireland and England, as well as in Serbia. The medieval idea is best represented by the free commune governed by experience, that is, custom.
The Old Believers, as well as the Cossacks, who often fought together in the unfortunate 18th century under the pseudo-tsars of the era, represented the highest development of paleo-nationalism and ethnic/national populism. As the Russian state began to take European forms, such as the domination of technology, coercion and violence as a regular way of dealing with problems and a captive and frightened church, rebellion was imminent. The notion of a popular Tsar, a tsar who ruled in the medieval form as the icon of piety and the defender of the church rather than as the task-master and tax-master. The Old Faith realized their life was dying, the life of sobornost’ and the common mind (represented by common movements during church services) and thus sought the protection of the forests and bogs (as did the Gaelic Irish), to preserve what was left of Old Russia. Old Russia died with Peter I, and was only revived, to a limited extent, under St. Nikolai the Martyr Tsar, who did not have time to fulfill his mandate.
Order exists through tradition and paternal authority. Decisions were taken by the sobor, where all needed to agree on a course of action. Mutual aid was at the center of the Old Rite, based on asceticism and the limitation of wants. Bothering with technology and money was viewed as involving the Orthodox faithful in the world of Satan, who, according to the Scriptures, controls all the states of the world. The Old Faith never had a modern state, nor do the Hasidic Jews or Amish in America, and yet order was maintained and a certain degree of prosperity and open displays of happiness were regular features of such communal lives. In addition, despite small numbers, the above groups all had an influence on their respective communal lives far out of proportion to any kind of traditional state power.
As the Orthodox faith exists outside of episcopal control, so does order and law outside of state systems, who, as always, are a law unto themselves. Traditionally, in the Orthodox faith, both east and west, bishops were servants, rather than masters of the Orthodox church, officially defined as the entire body of faithful struggling to live the monastic life dependent on their surroundings. The skete and hermitage was the spiritual center of the society, and, specifically in Ireland, the bishop was under the authority of the abbot, and existed solely to ordain priests, etc. There is certainly nothing sacred or “traditional” about bishops as dominating parishes and monastics, and certainly nothing sacred about the centralized state, something explicitly condmend in the Law of Moses.
As far as the nature of the state is concerned, here are a few quotes from an anonymous tract on Satan and the state:
The satanic nexus with “The State” is also described or implied in Daniel 10:13, Ezekiel 28:12-19, and Revelation 17:1-7. In these passages, Satan is called “the prince of kingdom of Persia” and the “King of Tyre”. Plus, the “kings of the Earth” are described as having an intimate and illicit relationship with Satan by way of his “scarlet beast” and the “woman” who is carried by it. So once again we find a direct link between Satan and the earthly rulers that God ordains. The devil certainly controlled these kings, assuming they were historical figures. Perhaps he even possessed them. Hence, we have more evidence to suggest that “The State” may credibly be considered part of the kingdom of Satan, and only ordained by God in the sense that the devil himself is ordained by God – to fulfill His purposes and to glorify Him.
The Scriptures indicate that “The State” is often a “minister” of judgment ordained by God ( cf. Isaiah 3:4-5, 12-15 ). To varying degrees, in each judgment situation, “The State” becomes “the rod” of God’s “anger” and “the staff” of His “indignation” ( Isaiah 10:5 ). It receives a “charge” from God to punish the people who are objects of His terrestrial “wrath” ( Isaiah 10:6 ). The Bible says that Lord himself brings “calamity” on people (Isaiah 45:7 ). “The State” is often a judgment against the people over which it rules (particularly outside of the theocracy of Judah ), although God has also used “The State” to judge foreigners during the Old Testament theocratic kingdom. Yet “The States” that serve God in this way are often at least as wicked as the ones they judge, showing that not all of God’s ordained servants ( cf. Romans 13.4 ) are upright in character. Casting aside popular myths to the contrary, “The State’s” evil nature and bad character are realities to be expected.
The church is governed not by synods, but by tradition and former examples of holiness. There is no synodal decision that can ever be considered valid that had not already existed in the hearts of the simple faithful. As a result, one is on solid ground in condemning Nikon (though not his followers), because, given the size of the rebellion against his reforms, his reforms were merely top-down commands, rather than part of the natural development of the Orthodox faith incarnated in the people via the Holy Spirit. At the same time, society is also so governed, as a family, through patriarchal authority that seeks to rule by example and exhortation rather than violence.
As Solomon takes the reins of Israel, he immediately uses his power to import foreign gods, multiply wives and engage in international alliances that also serve as examples of illegitimate ecumenism. It might be noted that the above three items are all the same. Making alliances with pagan states means taking some of their women as “wives.” At the same time, these women are permitted to bring their own gods to the temple, and hence, Solomon is expected to at least give some veneration to these pagan entities. Hence, Solomon died in heresy, and is the ultimate example of a heretical and illegitimate king, regardless of his other talents. Similarly, Peter I of Russia, upon taking power, confirms all the fears of the anti-Nikon resistance. He introduces extreme methods of tax collection, forced labor projects and an all out assault on religion and tradition. Peter I is in no manner distinct from the USSR, and serves to prefigure it. Tens of thousands died in peter’s forced labor camps in order to build his new capital and other industrial projects throughout Russia. Once he ties serfdom to industrialization, the demonic nature of the Russian tsardom in the 18th century is clear. While serfdom is an evil, it is not nearly as bad as the modern commentators claim. On the other hand, the rule of Mammon is made clear when Peter I decided to engage in the forcible enserfment of peasants and then attach them to modern industrial enterprises under appalling conditions. Old Russia rose against him in the revolt of Bulavin.
The uprisings of Razin, Bulavin and Pugachev were aimed at restoring an ethno-anarchist model of life, albeit in rather inarticulate ways. One element revolved around the organic nature of the Old Faith as opposed to the purely hierarchic model of Nikonian Orthodoxy. Another centered around the ethnic commune and Russian tradition over the cosmopolitan coercion of Peter, Anne (I and II) and Catherine (I and II). It centered around rural communalism and decentralization rather than the urban centralization of capital and foreign/heterodox control. It stood of happiness over utility. It stood for Russia over the west. When Bulavin and Pugachev were defeated, the Cossack autonomy was eliminated and the Old Faith butchered with even greater ferocity. Russia became a top-down coercive monarchy, rather than the New Israel. It became pagan rather than Christian for power was pursued for the sake of wealth and control, and the new, often non-Russian service class tormented their peasants to afford the latest European fads such as new carriages and their developing roulette addiction.
Romantic nationalism, in an ethno-communal sense, stands for the organic over the artificial. If this is true, than the abstract individual and untrammeled desires are the most modern and fraudulent of all. What is natural, what exists prior to civilization is the family, the ethnos and the proper worship of God in spirit and truth. Civilization does not need to exist for all three of these things to function. God is revealed in the symbols of nature, but is obscured in modern times where nature is merely raw material. The veneration of the ever perishing natural world is itself a product of the Enlightenment. Culture is the humanization of nature, bringing it into the symbolic world of belonging. Trees are not merely trees but symbols of a higher reality, as evidenced by the Russian veneration of the birch, and the Celtic veneration of the oak. Natural objects become sacramental objects in the Old Faith, they become markers of identity, as the Cossack sees the steppe, and the Montenegrin militiaman sees the mountains and crags. Nature itself becomes part of the language of life. Modernity sees it as either raw material to be exploited, or the suburban, tree-hugging sentimentality of fashionable environmentalism.
Herder and Rousseau show man living in accordance with nature and the tradition that such interaction helps to create. It is Hegel and Locke that sees rationality and utility over organic connection. Without the connection of community to nature and to custom (certainly no contradiction), alienation, ill-health and mental illness result. These are the result, not of biological processes, but of alienation; the masks that modern civilization forces people to wear given their various social roles. They are an exploited, subject people dominated by the whims of fashion and media control, from which their identity, clothing and even language derive. The ultimate reality of natural and organic living is the sobor, the peasant commune and the love of tradition. State/episcopal power exists not to guard tradition but to manipulate it according to the interests of power and utility. As James Billington writes in reference to the development of the Old Belief,
The defenders of the Muscovite ideal of an organic, religious civilization were being confronted in their own land with a sovereign secular state similar to those of western Europe. The year 1667 accelerated this trend through the formal transfer of Kiev from long years of Polish overlordship to Muscovite control and the promulgation of new decree insuring national control over all foreign trade. The process of freeing autocratic authority from any affective restraint by local or conciliar bodies had already been accomplished in the early years of Alexis’ reign by the crushing of town revolts and the abolition of the zemsky soborny. (Icon, 145).
A Dutch witness to Russian live under Alexis writes, (quoted in Averich’s Russian Rebels), that commoners petitioned the tsar
concerning the intolerable great taxes and contributions, whereby they were overburdened for some years. . . .so with their wives and children they were thereby ruined; besides which the great oppressions which the boyars did daily lay upon them and that they were not able to hold out any longer. Yea, they desired rather with their wives and children to undergo a present death than to suffer any longer in such transcendent oppression. (57)
And Paul Averich writes, dealing with Bulavin and the Old Rite,
They saw the deeds of Antichrist not only in Peter’s irreverent mockery of religious worship but also in the ruthless accumulation of power at the expense of the people. For them the centralized state was an artificial body forcibly grafted upon Russian society, an alien growth weighing heavily upon the poor and responsible for their suffering. . . .They [rebels] were particularly numerous among the Cossacks and streltsy, semi-autonomous groups which, threatened with the loss of traditional privileges and status, expressed their social grievances in religious dissent. The Old belief, paradoxically [sic] was a deeply conservative movement that simultaneously became a restless and even revolutionary force in Russian life.
And Nickolas Lupinin writes in his Religious Revolt in the 16th Century,
What the council of 1682 actually did was to structure a system of repression against the Old Believers. It was the first time in Russian history , as Kartashev notes, that the spirit of the western inquisition had been manifested. Over a half a century of continuous foreign influences had helped to foment the notion of counteracting any opposition.
The Old Faith, the Cossack krug and the medieval communal tradition rests on three ideas, that of the popular monarchy, the free commune and the ancient Faith. Each exists for the other, and none can exist without the other. There is no right action outside of right belief, and all right action depend on correct ideas of God and his relation to man.
The popular monarch is an icon of the Trinity, his job is to defend the Orthodox people from the heretics and schismatics from within and without. As God says to Moses concerning political virtue, “Thou shall not receive the voice of a lie; neither thou shalt bear false witness to the wicked. Thou shall not follow the multitude to do evil; neither thou shalt yield in judgement, to the majority opinion, that stray from the truth (Ex. 23:1-2). And again, in chapter 18:
Be thou to the people in those things that pertain to God, to bring their words to him, and show the people the ceremonies and manner of worship, and the right way to walk in God, and the work that they shall do. And to provide for all the people able men, such as fear God, in whom there is truth, and that hate avarice and appoint them rulers over thousands, hundreds fifties and tens.
And for kings who overstep their bounds and begin to worship their own power, God says to Jeroboam through Ahias, “For as much as I exalted thee among the people and made thee prince over Israel, and rent the kingdom away from David and gave it to thee, and thou has not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed them with his whole heart, but thou has done evil in my sight, and has made strange gods to provoke my anger.” (3 Kings 14:7-9).
The monarchy is a symbol of Gods power, and the unity of the law. He does not dominate, as the Orthodox life knows no such institution, but acts in a mystic capacity rather than in a bureaucratic one. He is a living icon rather than a politician, a charismatic personality rather than a tax collector. His job is to defend the faith and oversee the communes. Ecclesiasticus writes, “Have they made thee ruler? Be not lifted up: be among them as one of them.”
The free peasant commune was always at the forefront of the Old Faith and the rebellions against bureaucratism under Bulavin and Razin. The free commune, as is traditional, should elect its leaders and law enforcers, all should be represented in the capacity of heads of households, for the economy is based on the natural institution of the extended family, of which both the parish, commune, ethnos and labor association is a natural outgrowth. This was largely the case in medieval Serbia, Ireland and the Cossack host, and remains part of their nationalist heritage even until today. Kingship and commune and based on law, which itself is based on custom, ethnic tradition and the canon laws of the church, all of which are, in turn, based on experience, survival and suffering. The commune (or labor association/artel in a more industrial capacity) should exist in coordination with the local parish and monastery for instruction and social welfare measures. Forming a web of institutions that serve both for the worship of God and for the fulfilling of natural needs.
J.J.Rousseau writes concerning this,
Iconceive that there are two kinds of inequality among the human species; one, which I call natural or physical, because it is established by nature, and consists in a difference of age, health, bodily strength, and the qualities of the mind or of the soul: and another, which may be called moral or political inequality, because it depends on a kind of convention, and is established, or at least authorised by the consent of men. This latter consists of the different privileges, which some men enjoy to the prejudice of others; such as that of being more rich, more honoured, more powerful or even in a position to exact obedience.
And concerning community in relation to the passions
It must, in the first place, be allowed that, the more violent the passions are, the more are laws necessary to keep them under restraint. But, setting aside the inadequacy of laws to effect this purpose, which is evident from the crimes and disorders to which these passions daily give rise among us, we should do well to inquire if these evils did not spring up with the laws themselves; for in this case, even if the laws were capable of repressing such evils, it is the least that could be expected from them, that they should check a mischief which would not have arisen without them.
But all of this must be based on the ancient Orthodox faith, for that which is foreign to it is the result of egocentric philosophizing and theorizing. Heresy exists due to the ego. God made it very clear to Moses that there was an immediate unity between justice and truth, between believing rightly and thus behaving rightly. Wants are not needs, and as the capitalist economy is drawing in debt and more and more people reject the system, the system of wants must be transformed into the system of needs. As capitalism functions by provoking wants into needs, wants that did not even exist yesterday, but are demanded today, as Ecclesitsticus says, “Watching for riches consumeth the flesh, and the thought thereof driveth away sleep. . . He that loves gold shall not be justified, and he that followeth after corruption shall be filled with it.” There is no love of gold without corruption, it is one and the same thing. And the prophet Jeremiah says, “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith Jehovah, if thou wilt return unto me, and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight; then shalt thou not be removed; 4:2 and thou shalt swear, As Jehovah liveth, in truth, in justice, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” (4:2). And again in chapter 7, “For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute justice between a man and his neighbor; if ye oppress not the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your own heart; then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, from of old even for evermore.”And again, “Hear ye the word which Jehovah speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: thus saith Jehovah, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them.” And again, Jeremiah is commanded to say to the king,
Thus said Jehovah: Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word, And say, Hear the word of Jehovah, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates. Thus saith Jehovah: Execute ye justice and righteousness, and deliver him that is robbed out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence, to the sojourner, the fatherless, nor the widow; neither shed innocent blood in this place. For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith Jehovah, that this house shall become a desolation” (22:1-5).
Economic production, worship and ethnic belonging all belong to the order of the permanent synodia, the connection of one man to another, and one family to another as being one in the Old Faith. All is to be decided by the synodal system, from agricultural duties to the ruling of a local parish or dioceses.
Nothing should be done by episcopal authority that is not already part of the local parish and monastic tradition. Such a vision, in the thought of the sobor, is applicable in the economic realm as the family as in the ethnos. Such a vision, however, is foreign to the modern, bureaucratic state. Rousseau is the center of synodal thinking, though not a believer in Christ himself. It is striking to what extent his famous idea of the General Will is similar to the idea of the synod. He writes, “There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will; the latter considers only the common interest, while the former takes private interest into account, and is no more than a sum of particular wills: but take away from these same wills the pluses and minuses that cancel one another,and the general will remains as the sum of the differences.” And again,
The first and most important deduction from the principles we have so far laid down is that the general will alone can direct the State according to the object for which it was instituted, i.e., the common good: for if the clashing of particular interests made the establishment of societies necessary, the agreement of these very interests made it possible. The common element in these different interests is what forms the social tie; and, were there no point of agreement between them all, no society could exist. It is solely on the basis of this common interest that every society should be governed.
I hold then that Sovereignty, being nothing less than the exercise of the general will, can never be alienated, and that the Sovereign, who is no less than a collective being, cannot be represented except by himself: the power indeed may be transmitted, but not the will.
This is the social ideal of the synodia, rather than “democracy” or “republicanism,” which stand at opposite poles from one another. Rousseau continues concerning law, “But when the whole people decrees for the whole people, it is considering only itself; and if a relation is then formed, it is between two aspects of the entire object, without there being any division of the whole. In that case the matter about which the decree is made is, like the decreeing will, general. This act is what I call a law.” In the Orthodox synod, it is the whole people, monks, clergy, bishops and the laity who are charged with ratifying canons and comparing them with established experience, i.e. tradition. Again, this is a synodal, rather than republican or democratic thinking, both of which only deal with the collecting of individual wills, doubtless manipulated by those who have the power to substitute appearance for reality.
God commanded to Moses that all the first fruits of one’s labor be dedicated to God. In other words, all labor, whether in the fields of factories, is Eucharistic and partakes of grace so long as it is done within the order of the synod. And hence, all social relations are brought under the concept of sobornost’ in the sense that all derive from the natural, extended family structure. For the corporate worship of God is familial in the parish organism, and is analogously related to the monastic synodia, as well as the council of the parish and the council of the diocese, as for the producer’s and farmer’s associations. All partake of the synodal structure, and this is stated by Moses, “All the children of Israel shall camp with their troops, ensigns and standards, and the houses of their kindreds, round about the tabernacle” (Numbers 2:2).
For the poor Moses is commanded, “If thy brother be constrained by poverty, sell himself to thee, he shall work with thee until the year of the jubilee, and afterwards he shall go out with his kindred and return to them and their possessions. For they are my servants, and I brought them out of the land of Egypt, let them not be sold.” Hence, the economics of the Orthodox church. Debts may not be accumulated for more than seven years, as all the extended families of Israel are equal. No one has the right to accumulate riches on the backs of others. Serfdom is condemned so long as it is more than seven years, where, according to God, all debts and profits are to be returned to their original owners. Land bought via speculation is to be returned and any serf is to be freed. Hence, the rebellions of Pugachev had the Law of Moses on its side, for the concept of the jubilee, central to Israelite economics, was forgotten and fellow Israelites were oppressed. Poverty is unavoidable, as is profits. But the Law makes it clear that such fruits are temporary, and are to be returned to the original family synodia after six years of enjoyment. As a result, no aristocracy or oligarchy can be formed according to law. This is nearly identical to the Brehon laws of ancient Ireland, where land was held by the tribal unit, including the parish and monastery. After a certain period of time, about six years, a client of a lord can be let go, taking the usufruct of his labors. As Celtic scholar Michael Ragan has written,
The land held by a tribe or clan was divided into holdings by the smaller groups (family and sept) in a more-or-less permanent arrangement. Each smaller group’s holdings were considered separate and was not interfered with by any other group of the tribe. Land held by an individual was under one of five arrangements.
1. The Tribe or Clan chief held a portion of mensal land for as long as he or she held office. In this case, mensal land means property set aside to support the additional responsibilities of rulership.
2. The portion of land held by the individual clan member or tuath.
3. A portion of individual clan member holdings assigned to a tenant. Such assignments were usually under a seven-year contract and could be sub-let to another tenant. However, the original tenant retained responsibility to the original holder. Fees were paid for such tenancy were usually in cattle, hogs and/or a share of crops grown.
4. The larger part of arable tribal territory was held in general trust. It belonged to the people in general and was normally allotted into sub-divisions for the various septs and families. None of this was considered “private property,” but was occupied by free members of the sept on more or less permanent basis. Every freeman had a right to a share. Land so held was not assigned for a fixed term, as it remained liable to occasional reassignment, usually every three or four years. It was also subject to gabhalaichean (Anglicized to gavelkind), a method whereby land held by a deceased tenant was redistributed. While these provisions may seem rather tenuous, individual rights were guaranteed. An individual could not be removed from his holdings until time of gaveling. Even then, each individual kept his crops and was compensated for unexhausted improvements. While the person might lose one farm, it was always replaced by another.
5. Non-arable or wastelands, such as bog, forest or mountain, was considered common land. It was not appropriated by individuals, but was available to all free citizens for grazing, hunting, procuring food and firewood etc. There was no need or desire to subdivide or fence the common land. All cattle grazed at will without distinction.
Every Tribesman was required to pay subsidies to the Chief according to individual means. Those who held tribe land and used commons-land for grazing paid such subsidies. However, this was not considered land rent. A tribesman under the protection of a chief and used commons-land was called Ceíle. Some Ceíle had stock of their own, but most did not. Those that did not own stock could receive such stock from the chief, Nemedh or Aíre at a designated rate of payment. This custom of receiving and taking stock on hire was universal in Ireland and regulated in great detail by the Law.
This rather lengthy citation merely shows that in Ancient Ireland, certain similarities between landholding rights, family law and that f the Mosaic tradition are made clear. This is much part of the medieval mind as the later developing feudalism.
According to Moses speaking in Leviticus, there is to be little work done every seventh year, as the land, as well as laboring families, need rest. This is a time for prayer and service to the poor and to the ethnic community (ch. 25). Whatever grows in the fields should he donated to the poor, as should anything left over, left in the fields, since the last harvest. Every fiftieth year all economic relations should be “reset,” according to the Law, and each family against starts out with what was theirs at the beginning. Exploitation, by state or by private actors, is explicitly rejected by the Old Testament. All that has been sold can be redeemed (cf. verse 29).
Hence, the remnant of Israel, the True Orthodox, in order to live proper lives, must form economic and social synodia, pooling resources to the extent each family can allow, and organize themselves in separate communities from the corrupt “Egyptian” society around us. The home should be a small monastery, as St. Nikolai Velimirovic states, tightly connected with the agricultural commune or labor association, seeking spiritual assistance as well as occasional financial assistance from the local monastery. This is the natural economy, the social life based on the cell of the extended family, and extending itself perfectly into the labor association, parish, and diocese, each under an elected synod, with elections based on holiness and truthfulness. Media and entertainments should also be based on such institutions, thus relieving Orthodox families from depending on the corrupt and oligarchic media system of the Regime.
As far as Putin’s Russia is concerned, the state has an important role. While far from ideal, the Russian state under Putin and his successor is important to destroy the power of the western-supported oligarchical and American/Israeli based Mafia. Decentralization makes little sense if such a procedure will merely give power back to organized crime groups. Hence, such power, preferably led by a popular militia such as the one led by Kuzma Minin during the Time of Troubles, is needed to cleanse Russia from its criminal element. Once that is done, and a popular and local Cossack-style militia is created, decentralization and re-ruralization can take place in a context of security. Thus, the Russian state is necessary to cleanse Russia from elements that the System of power in the west has helped to create. Any movement for decentralization and sustainable living needs to go through phases, with the cleansing phase the first.
This brief treatment of complex ideas is written solely to provide some form of theoretic foundation for the restructuring of Orthodox society no matter what country in which one finds himself. As the capitalist system shows tremendous structural weaknesses, such as debt, and contradictions, such as the frantic extension of credit to move inventory, shocks to the system may well bring its collapse. In such as case, a “plan” of sorts should be in place so that Orthodox people can live rational and holy lives outside of the mainstream society. Social Nationalism stands for the building of alternative sub-cultural communities that slowly but surely develop in such a way that the state is rendered irrelevant. It stands for statelessness, but also for community, and a community governed by tradition and canon law, which is merely a crystallization of tradition and the experience of Orthodox generations throughout history.
The institutions of such a society are not “revolutionary” in the sense that they are something new, but precisely in the sense that those, such as Razin, the Cossacks or the Irish Republicans, are reaching to reestablish something that had existed before. In medieval Ireland, Serbia, within the Cossack host, the Haiduks and the Old Believer communities, such an ethno-anarchist model has been in existence for centuries. Reestablishing it, based on the Law of the Old Testament, is a necessity for the creation of rational structures in an irrational world.
What is sobornopravnist’? It is nothing less than the politico-social theology of the Orthodox church, one deriving its substance from the life of the Old Testament, which, itself, is a largely political and ethical handbook of the Church, along with a few changes instituted by Christ Himself, though keeping the ethical teachings of the Old Testament intact. Christ quoted from the Old Testament on a regular basis, and sought to recreate Israel from the ashes of Pharaseeism, which culminated in the Orthodox faith and tradition. It is a mentality rather than a set of well defined ideas, as well as a basis for social and economic organization.
The defenders of royalism, that is, of the sacerdotal, decentralized form that typified early Russia and Serbia, have refused, practically to this day, to formulate any sort of coherent theory where the ideas of social Orthodoxy can appeal to the masses of farmers and workers in the western world. This very brief paper will, it is hoped, be a beginning of some new ideas of royalist and neo-medievalist political thought to counter the empty slogans of the republicans and parliamentarians who insist that history has largely stopped with them.
Modern political thought is a void. Political theory in the academy is controlled by a handful of elite foundations who finance current journals and publications whereby these organizations decide on the “big names” in this field which provide, in turn, the acceptable “parameters” of “responsible debate.” This is normal in all academia, from evolutionary orthodox in biology to a saccharine liberalism in “social theory.” It is, like everything else in modern faux-profundity, a lie, or more precisely, an image, an image that masquerades as “reality,” while at the same time, cloaking those who actually make the socially relevant decisions, the Kantian “noumena” properly considered, largely working in secret and, again in Kantian terms, are “unknowable.”
As the western world begins to breath its last, drowning in debt, mental illness and a low birth rate, Orthodox strugglers must be prepared for the coming cataclysm with a coherent theory, or rather, a vision, of communal liberty, economic equality (as mandated in the Law of Moses) and neo-medieval sacerdotal monarchy to replace the dying “democratic oligarchy” that typifies the pageant of bankers and buccaneer capitalists which goes by the generic name of “American politics.”
To begin with, it needs to be made clear, that, within Orthodox doctrine, the church has:
. . . neither a pope as its visible head, nor arbitrary personal opinions as authoritative (emphasis supplied) dogmas, but only the Bible and the science which interprets it, and to both these it ascribes absolute validity and authority. It is neither a single human being, nor a multitude of human beings taken together collectively; neither is it any centralization or decentralization; but on the contrary, it is the truth alone that recommends unity, . . . The criterion of saving knowledge is the definitions and dogmas of the seven Ecumenical Councils; accordingly, if anyone keeps in line with this view, he is also within the truth.
Fr. Weidmer also writes, in a seminal essay on the Sobornopravnist’ tradition:
Divinely revealed truth is handed down. It is not to be tampered with by popes, patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops, bishops, priests, or laity. Ukrainian Orthodox should bear this in mind as they contemplate their future, not only in Ukraine but throughout the worldwide Diaspora. There is not one kind of Orthodoxy for Ukrainians in the “old country” and another for “foreigners” in the United States (for example). There is also no validity to the view propagated by ’slick orthodoxy’ [e.g., SCOBA and its counterparts] that to be orthodox one needs their ’recognition.’ Neither Ukrainians nor any other Orthodox are ‘required’ to be in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in order to be Orthodox. This concept is a subordination principle, an autocratic concept, completely foreign to Orthodoxy and the conciliarism of the Ecumenical Councils. It smacks of papism and is an usurpation of authority.
In respect of the Church of Ukraine, he continues:
All church offices were elective from highest to lowest, the metropolitan was elected by the National Sobor, the bishop by the Sobor of Bishops with representatives of lay people, the parish church administration by the parish — the parish elected the candidate for ordination, but the bishop blessed and ordained him. All church offices were held by people of Ukrainian origin, and the election of church offices brought the church and nation closer. “The lay element in the church created a remarkable and interesting church organization — the church brotherhood, which led a broad church-cultural and educational development and staunchly defended the Ukrainian Church.” [quote sources in the original]
The question for all Orthodox people is not merely the notion of “church government,” itself a cliche, but of the Orthodox way of life in respect to this government, that is, the notion of sobornost’. Administration never has autonomy in respect to what it administers; it is a slave to the tradition and mystic life of the church and its monastic core. The Orthodox, agrarian and ethnic tradition (actually, three sides of the same triangle) provide a means whereby society can be regenerated and restored, Christianity can return to its Orthodox roots, and the local can prevail over the international and “papal.” Administration, if it takes a life beyond tradition and local custom, strangles the latter, demanding that everything be sublimated under the Procrustean bed of ideological fashion. Hence, the policy of the Antiochean Orthodox jurisdiction in America today, where conciliarity has been abolished in favor of the administration under its dictatorial bishop PHILIP, is an error of the first magnitude. Tradition lives within the lifeblood of the people, the local institutions (so long as they are truly independent) exist independently of central authority. Modernism, however, needs to be imposed by force, and hence demands “bureaucracy” and “administration.”
The idea of “national anarchy,” or even better, the Hegelian syndicate, is merely a restatement of the ideas of Johann Herder and Mikhail Kostaramov. It is related to the notion of sobornost’ or the rule of the council, defined as ethno-religious particularity; its tradition and way of life, with respect to only its inner principle, i.e. the content, rather than its external coating, the “administration,” the realm of money and power. In ancient Israel, it is represented by the tribal organization of Shechem, and the existence of decentralized shrines, later to be abolished under the rule of the temple, and, in turn, the temple itself became paganized under Solomon the Apostate, in an almost mirror image of papism and its deification of “bureaucracy.” In other words, when the local was overthrown in favor of the central, local tradition was lost, and the church, the people of Israel, became pawns in the power politics of Solomon. Thence, the power of the center became autonomous from the tradition (in Israel’s case, due to its involvement with the pagan Tyrian economy, itself a descendant of Nimrodian, Babylonian materialism, a mentality in complete power in the modern west as of this writing), took on a life of its own, and, as a result, was vulnerable to making itself part of “the world.”
The neo-papal mentality provides a top-down orientation to church and state; grace and law exist as the constructs of elites, to be dispensed to us benighted natives. The reality of the Orthodox ethnic tradition is another matter entirely. But it is this distinction that animates present Orthodox modernism, and, thence, of the obsession with bureaucracy and central control that typifies the OCA and Antiochean jurisdictions in America today.
Church and state are governed by the local sobor, in the broadest sense of that word, viz., the way of life of a local parish, skete or brotherhood. Doctrine is “put in motion” by the day to day lives of the faithful, animated itself by the local parish family and the local skete, each existing in a realm of equality. Without the local skete or hermitage, a perennial aspect of Orthodoxy in Europe, the parish ends up a rather mechanical and perfunctory set of rites rather away from the understanding of the faithful, and particularly a faithful in modern America who is more often than not dictated to by media and fashion. It is the life of the parish, the local tradition and the ethno-communal imperative that is at the root of church government, and is at the basis of law, justice and a future world order. It is “anarchistic” in that it rejects a powerful central administration and defines justice as congruent with local Christian custom (about the last thing the black-clad collegiate, upper middle class “anarchist” would say); it is “reactionary” in that it is based on the traditional life of the village, skete and parish family, where political and economic decisions are made communally, a tradition as old as its fight against “civilization,” itself deified in the person of Janus, the two headed god of civilization, depicted as bringing the benighted herd into elite, high-tech civilization with its social science, control and regimentation of all aspects of life.
“Anarchy,” in a certain atavistic way, merely refers to the absence of centralized structures of rule, or even better, the absence of administration, but an acceptance of authority; these of course, being two very different things. The patristic tradition realizes only the relation of bishop to congregation or monastery, not to distant patriarchs or synods. When the synod, in a narrow sense, begin to believe themselves to be above local custom and the very font of truth and justice, however, problems develop, and the church is vitiated, alienation is the result.
If law is based upon local tradition and ethnic custom, then law is a decentralized idea ipso facto. What rules is the ethnos, represented at the parish, village, region or monastic level, and, in fact, is a naturally developing synthesis of all of these, despite often serious outside shocks; in reality, the commune, in the broader sense meant by Kerevskii, is precisely a synthesis of the means and results of the community responding and adjusting to those outside shocks. Without these, there is no Orthodoxy, but rather a set of abstract Christological statements without living tradition and the day to day devotion that is at the center of the church. This is the result of “Americanization” (a code word for not having to listen to anyone from the old country), leading to a perfunctory, theologically minimalist worship that lies at the heart of American vulgarity.
The relation of bishop to parish or monastery is a mystical one, one based on prayer and the shared ascetic struggle rather than of domination. There is not a separation in a modern, nominalist or bureaucratic sense; nor is there any kind of institutionalized authoritarianism. All other things being equal, is a structure and hierarchy based not on power, but on prayer and struggle, the life of the church and the reception of grace being a radically egalitarian venture (so to speak), with hierarchy being understood only relatively. Insofar as the confrontation of heresy in concerned, this is as much the concern of the laity and monastics, in correcting their bishop, as well as the reverse. Today, it is the bishops, by and large, who are the bought purveyors of heresy under the guise of being “relevant.”
Thus, the sobornopravnist’ idea approaches Orthodoxy as a local affair, and approaches it as a decentralized group of dioceses and monasteries largely self-governing and dependent on the ancient tradition of the church as its constitution. Freedom, hence, is the freedom from internal passions (relevant to individuals as well as “institutions”), those passions, such as lust or greed, that enslave the individual as much as any external administration. Such passions can turn the relation between abbot and monk, pastor to parishioner, or bishop to priest as one of alienation and control, where the institution is seen as a foreign oppressor, or as a bind based on love and devotion to the common tradition. This is the idea of authority: authority over the passions and, hence, the development of the inner freedom absolutely necessary for the rational life. The approach approximates that of the Russian non-possessors and Old Believers, those who believed in a monarchy that was sacerdotal rather than administrative, and the rule of the ancient canons and Russian tradition over any speculative system of theology, eventually vitiated by Peter. This mentality is also to be found, significantly, in the monastic structure of early medieval Ireland, prior to the Norman invasion which imposed the Roman, top down diocesan structure ultimately dependent on Rome and those who ruled her.
Rather than depending on a strict rule, monks approach their lives as the Athonite hesychasts do as well as the Irish Culdees: based on the individual hermit or skete, struggling through various individual- based ascetic practices under the guidance of an experienced elder. The tradition was local, and based on the lives of the saints who had gone before rather than on any formal rule or ideology of life strictly considered. Local Orthodox, within this tradition, meet on occasion to strengthen one another in the faith, abjure heresy and develop further the local Christian life.
Establishment “anarchism” is a fraud in that it provides an outlet and justification for individual passions, somehow themselves to find a home in the “collective,” which is always a vague, ideological term with, at root, nothing to hold it together. The addition of the word “national” or “ethno” to anarchism is precisely to provide that root, that of the ethnos, local tradition and local democratic life, or more precisely, the notion of representation, where local ethnic custom is the basis for law and inspiration. It is never an invitation to heresy, but it must be borne in mind that the Orthodox dogma which we follow is derived from the collective tradition of the Orthodox people and their local traditions, brought together in the ecumenical synods. Nothing that did not agree with this local “sobor” was ever accepted as authoritative , and what was considered authoritative was not so much what bishops voted on, but rather what the tradition of the church had ratified over time. The local sobor, referring to a way of life rather than an administrative structure, is the cell, the “individual” of the Orthodox church, and it itself is responsible for the confrontation of heresy and schism. It was these cells who came together to destroy Arianism or monophysitism, notthe emperor or the patriarch.
The local parish, the ethnic tradition, the skete or hermitage; this is the basis of Orthodox tradition and local rule, it is even the basis of the ecumenical mindset of the church, and can be reduced no further than this. Only when the state and church become centralized, such as the Israelites under Solomon, Russia under Peter, or Ireland under the later Normans does heresy and the worldliness of “administration” find a doorway to invade the church, the rites become sterile and perfunctory, and the church becomes a department of state, a pleasant set of rituals that connect the individual in a sentimental way, to their ancestors. What is more interesting is that the Nimrodian mentality of the ancient world is at the origin of this idea: the ideas of “civilization” and “enlightenment.”
The ancient hesychast tradition is based on local hermitages, bound together not by formal ties, but by tradition and the methods of prayer: interior silence, the Jesus prayer and the liturgy. It does not point to the “right synod” to belong to, but rather to the joy of Orthodox life, Christ and his peace. Vassian, the Russian non-possessor, says this:
Where in the tradition of the Gospels, Apostles, and Fathers are monks ordered to acquire populous villages and enslave peasants to the brotherhood? …. We look into the hands of the rich, fawn slavishly, flatter them to get out of them some little village. … We wrong and rob and sell Christians, our brothers. We torture them with scourges like wild beasts.
The state and the economy are at best necessary evils, at worst objects that will distract us from the love of the Trinity and the mystical life. The mystical life by definition does not require the formal power of the state or even of the synod, but a truly Orthodox approach to God through prayer and struggle. It took SCOBA to convince us all that such things were not necessary.
Archimandrite Gregorii of Athos says:
The roots of neptic life and of hesychia in accordance with God are found in the Old Testament. The Prophet Moses received experience and knowledge of God on Mount Horeb, when faced by the strange sight of the blazing bush, which did not burn, he was initiated into rejecting every worldly belief, reflected in the removal of his sandals, and to contemplate in reflection and riddle the mystery of the divine Incarnation. . .The holy Apostles worked exclusively in the world and in the midst of distractions, noise and danger, but deep inside they remained hesychasts and workers of nepsis and prayer. Their apostolic work was not a social reform program, but the rebirth of souls through Christ.
And St. Gregory Palamas writes the following:
It is for this reason then, that the lover of perfect communion with God avoids the technologically assisted life, and chooses the monastic and un-structured state, and he eagerly offers himself to the sanctuary of stillness, without the obligations or worries of life, relieved from all other (worldly) relationships. Thus, having released his soul from every material bond, to the extent that this is attainable, he attaches his nous to the unceasing prayer to God, and having, through it, concentrated the nous entirely into himself, he finds a new and secret ascent to the heavens, the intangible obscurity of the apocryphal stillness, as one would say. And having precisely concentrated his nous into himself with secret bliss, in a state of utterly simple but perfect and sweet tranquility, and in genuine silence and speechlessness, he flies above all creation. And thus, having been removed from himself and become entirely God’s, he sees the glory of God and contemplates divine light.
Even more telling, St. Basil writes:
Because I propose a perfect community of life, where the attribute of ownership takes place automatically, the community is freed from opposition, and every turbulence, squabble and quarrel end with the stomping of a foot; everything is owned in common, souls, opinions, bodies and all those by whom the bodies are fed and healed; God is in common, reverence is in common, salvation is in common, contests are in common, sufferings are in common, and so are the rewards, which are received by many; and no one is left alone, as he is always with the others. What else could equal such as state? Is there anything more blessed?”
The basis of the Orthodox life then is the mystical contemplation of God, hence all Orthodox people, regardless of their state, are required to take on the discipline of monastics according to their strength, and build their homes into small monasteries. It might be worth noting that the Russian Domostroi, the ancient Russian rule for home life, insisted that the head of the family recite Matins, Vespers and the Midnight service every day with the family, and this at a very minimum.
For the sobornopravnist’ mentality, the church, its teachings and traditions as manifest in the day to day life of the people are the basis of law and grace. The state provides an artificial border, one that is not co-determinous with the ethnic or religious tradition of the Orthodox people. The Orthodox are loyal to the tradition of the church or to the Slavic, Greek or western medieval tradition that embodied the life of the saints, and the communities of struggle.
In Russia, the Petrine mission is an arcane and occult experiment to vitiate the ancient tradition of Orthodoxy by bringing the Russian tradition, represented by the trans-Volga elders, sketes and the caves, under the control of Janus, or the initiator into “civilization” and “social management.” The basis of Peter and Petrinism is an arcane one, one that is secret, but one that reaches into the very depths of ancient, post-Edenic and post-Noachide life.
Peter’s crimes against the Orthodox church are as horrifying as the Bolsheviks. Establishment historians have erroneously claimed that Tsar Ivan IV was the manifestation of evil, while often giving Peter a pass in the name of “Enlightenment.” However, the Nimrodian ideology behind Peter’s agenda, and even the very name of Petrograd, deserve attention.
Dimitri Pospielovsky, in his The Orthodox Church in the History of Russia, might be read as the official OCA version of Russian church history. It is that. But it is skillful in bringing out the criminal nature of Peter’s system, especially chapter 6. The abolition of the patriarchate, taken by itself, is proof of the totalitarian tendencies of the Petrine agenda, one where, like Janus, Peter becomes lord of heaven and earth, dictating to the now headless church his modernizing and Enlightenment agenda.
In 1691, one of the best educated Orthodox apologists in Russia, Fr. Sylvester (Medvedev) was executed, because he had been confessor to Sophia, Peter’s half sister and one-time rival for power in Muscovy. Abbot Abraham was tortured and murdered by peter’s agents in 1697 because he had written a tract criticizing Peter’s lack of respect for human life. Peter secularized dozens of monasteries, and converted others to hospitals and barracks.
Peter forced bishops to swear that he, not Christ, was their “ultimate judge.” The monastic population declined from 25,000 to 14,000 by 1738 due to forcible secularization of certian monastic houses. The Petrine agent, Theophan Prokopovic, saw to it that six bishops were tortured for criticizing Peter’s abolition of the patriarchate, among other crimes of conscience. Peter’s successors, including Anna, began a major program of secularizing monasteries and confiscating their incomes.
Peter made it his business to forcibly bring Russia “Enlightenment.” Thousands were killed in forced labor projects, especially the creation of Petrograd, where the city, designed to be a monument of Peter “conquering nature,” was literally built on the thousands of bodies of Cossacks who had frozen to death in its construction (most of whom were Old Believers) as a symbol of his triumph. Quite literally, the corpses of the Orthodox traditionalists were the very “fertilizer” of Peter’s vision.
The word “Peter,” here referring to the city of Petrograd, or the “City of Peter,” is of ancient origin, and is a generic name for all the gods of pagan antiquity, from Mesopotamia to Rome. In other words, Peter did not name his city in some sort of egocentric fit, but as a message to those similarly initiated, In the Lucilli Fragments, it is clear that Pater, or Peter, was the generic name for the chief god of the city, whose rites were sometimes carried out by the familial patriarch, leading to a confusion of pater as father, and peter as city god. Most commonly, Peter referred to the chief god of the city, and referred to a father only in a derivative sense. Hence the chief god of the Romans was Ju-peter, or Zeus-Peter, the chief and father of the gods of the city, the city itself being a microcosm of the Promethean drive to conquer nature in the name of the human will, which, more specifically, means the will of the elite who have the wherewithal to impose their views on the society at large.
The Peter was also a name given to all phallic symbols, specifically the symbol of the stone pillar, something conspicuous in Peter’s “neo-classical” architectural program, which included many of these pillars in his vulgar neo-classical tastes in his city, as well as the many statues of Roman gods he included as part of this architecture, a symbol of Peter’s own tastes.
The name Petrograd, or St. Petersburg, has an arcane meaning. The temple of Apollo in Turkey is referred to as the “Patara,” and the oracle of Apollo there referred to as the Pataraus. Apollo is the god of science and enlightenment, which provides much light on the purpose of the city and its true meaning in Russian history. But the notion of “bringing civilization” to Old Russia is older even than the temple of Apollo.
Since all the gods of the ancient pagan pantheon were related and in fact, interchangeable, paganism as a system of thought can be traced to Nimrod, the Hunter, himself. The first mention of Peter as a name for the phallic god is in Mesopotamia. In the book of Exodus, Baalam, the chief of the pagans, is referred to as the Pethor of Mesopotamia (Deut. 23:4). He is called this because he “sits on the chair” of Nimrod as a “successor.” Baalam and Nimrod are the same name, meaning “conqueror of a people.” In Greek, the name is Nicklaus. The name of Baalam’s “ecclesiastical center” is the Peter, or the house of the stone phallic pillar, on the Euphrates (cf. The excellent article by Ernst L. Martin, “Simon Peter versus Simon Magnus”). Hence, Petrograd, or Peter’s Peter on the Neva. The agenda was identical: social control, regimentation and “rationalization.” Nimrod himself was said to have brought reason and proper government to his people very soon after the flood waters had abated. Pushkin seems also to have made this connection in an arcane sense in his “Bronze Horseman.”
Yet, Apollo too, was a hunter, and yet another example of the identical phenomenon: civilization as crashing upon a formerly free, communal, mobile and god-fearing people. Hugh Nibley, in his excellent, “The Hierocentric State” writes, “This is the old story of Nimrod, who revolted against God, ‘and became a hunter of men’ who founded that abominable state from which all kings of the earth take their authority. Even Apollo was in the beginning a deadly hunter who came from the steppes of Asia and slew the great serpent that guarded the holy spring of Delphi, so that he could gain control of the spot to which all Greeks brought their tribute, and thereby become their ruler.”
Janus, mentioned already, is yet another manifestation of this same mentality, manifest identically from Prometheus, Tammuz, Nimrod and Apollo, the god of civilization and “Enlightenment.” The technology that will create a “deified humanity” completely triumphant over material nature is the nature of this “Enlightenment.” Janus, according to Plutarch, was the first to bring civilization to earth after the flood, build cities, and introduced the “life of reason” to “savage humanity.” After his death and subsequent deification, he was refereed to as Pator. He is the father of the Babylonian, banking- based system of rule specifically, and of paganism in general. But Janus has two other attributes that place him close to Peter the Great. Firstly, he has control over the calendar, as Peter changed the calendar later, from the ancient calculation of the age of the earth to one based on western models, based on the birth of Christ. According to Ovid, Janus/Pator also held “the keys” to heaven and earth, and was lord over both, just as Peter sought to secularize the church, making himself lord of the sacraments as well as politics. He was the “keeper of the keys” into the pagan promised land, that of a completely automated and “rationalized” society.
It seems clear, from Nimrod to Xerxes to Solomon to Peter, that centralization is the promotion of the Will, whether that of an initiated monarch, or that of the techno-elite in modern America, over that of Divinity, and man’s relationship to him and his Creation. Hence, the most strict of the Orthodox tradition, the heseychasts, Old Ritualists, skete dwellers, Irish Culdees, the Northern Hermits of Russia, and many others, all demand local control, local communalism and the worship of the tiny community or skete. Centralization means mechanization, bureaucratization and rule of law rather than the Rule of Law; it is the rule of man, and hence, that of money, man’s great motivator according to modern, western ideology. In his excellent history of the Old Testament, Bernhard Anderson writes of the ancient Israelite organization prior to Solomon: “The twelve tribes were bound together not by a centralized government, but by a common devotion to Yahweh, the God of the Covenant, and by common religious and legal responsibilities. The Confederacy by its very nature encouraged a high degree of tribal independence. God alone was ruler of the Israelite tribes.”
In the Old Testament, this rebellion against Solomon and his apostate sucessors was found in the smaller sects of the desert openly praised by the prophets and later church fathers. The Rechabites refused to accept the innovations of the centralizers and syncretists of the House of Achab (cf. Jer. 35), and hence became communalists of the desert, living the wilderness ideal, as many hermits in the Christian era imitated. The Rechabite connection to later “desert-skete” movements has not, to my knowledge ever been studied, yet the connection is glaring, particularly in the writings of St. John Cassian. The Rechabites were a reaction to Caananite “civilization” and its obsession with honors, centralization and technology, synthesized in human sacrifice to the various Baals in exchange for worldly success. Their ritual was strictly Yahwehist, with little by way of ornamentation and pomp. They refused to drink alcohol, which they correctly associated with decadence and the worship of wealth, power and the leisure it afforded. They connected civilization with all the vices the Covenant Community (which Orthodoxy is the sole and only descendant) were required to condemn and violently destroy, the very vices of Nimrod, having found their expression at the time in Tyre and other pagan civilizations of Caanan. The Rechiabites are mentioned by St. John Chrysostom (Ep. 52-3) very favorably, and its has been said that when the Jews were stoning the Apostles, specifically James, the Rechabites attempted to intervene and stop the execution.
The Rechabite/skete ideal is connected both with the positive affirmation of the non-civilizational desert ideal which all Orthodox are required to imitate according to their strength, as well as the negative reaction to centralization and civilization, which, by its very nature, create classes, one- dimensional men, and bureaucracy, leading in turn, to a group of parasitical elements in society such as bankers and lawyers, who manipulate the culture for their own ends. Centralization is pagan at its core, in that it requires continual human sacrifice in terms of warfare and the continuing building of cities and dams, as well as high taxes and the rapacious nature of the wealthy classes who depend on the structured existence of the city for their power. St. John Chrysostom’s high regard for the Rechabites is immediately connected to his contempt for the Byzantine/Greek upper classes and the (pagan) system they had erected to promote and protect their agenda.
Following the tradition of the Old Testament, the Orthodox reaction to centralization and civilization is to reject the strictures of power that permit a tiny, billionaire elite to create, control and administer the “culture” of the modern west. Anyone who attempts to criticize the monstrous nature of western culture while refusing (often out of fear) to deal with those who control it end up as sterile, cliche-ridden rants against “porn” or “bad manners.” All those who are part of SCOBA, the Phanar-based liberal and ecumenist movement in Orthodoxy demand strict “obedience” to their bishops and the erection of a wealthy, centralized structure of “seminaries” and programs to more easily facilitate liberal control and the creation of non-spiritual “priests” who thus oversee the hierarchical control over religious life at the local level. The fact that the OCA was financed by the YMCA in Geneva and the Archer-Daniels- Midland Corporation of Kansas City (which finances and partially controls the World and National Council of Churches, along with the Rockefeller Foundation and the various fronts for Sorosian interests) underscore the dependence of ecumenism on corporate capital and the structures of bogus legality to protect their interests.
There is an immediate connection between the ideology of Nimrod, manifest in both Tyre and Solomon’s peculiar brand of ecumenism, and the modern pantheon of “celebrities” so vigorously promoted by the wealthy, who serve to legitimize and mentally institutionalize corporate liberalism among the sheep-like, massified American public. When Metropolitan PHILIP of the AOC demands Orthodoxy (or what he imagines Orthodoxy to be) become part of “American life,” as he so often intones in the pages of the execrable Word magazine, what aspects of American life does he have in mind? Since all American “culture” partakes of the Sorosian corporate liberal and fashion elite, to submerge Orthodoxy into American life is somewhat akin to mixing whiskey and grape juice. He and his ilk desire complete control, hence, he must destroy the monastic and sobornost’ idea in Orthodoxy.
Civilization demands mechanization, bureaucratization and a faux-legality which rests on the former, so as to justify and protect the interests of those who have the power to erect and administer such a structure. This is urbanism and the obsession/fetishization with mind/will, which in turn leads to the control over nature of the sort found in the Enlightenment idea of science (both natural and social) leading to complete social regimentation, ironically in the name of freedom and progress. The mind/will mentioned can only be that of a tiny elite, who civilization and the state serve to protect. When the Regime speaks of individuality and “freedom of choice” the question rests in the reserve of the manipulator. When it is seen in its proper, concrete and contextualized form, one sees that “freedom of choice” only has social and political import when it is that of the wealthy. The poor cannot demand freedom of choice for themselves and reserve it from everyone else. “Freedom,” in the vculgar, American, utilitarian sense, can only mean freedom for the wealthy do dominate all else, since the freedom of the poor means little, since they do not have the ability to dominate anything, but only to swim in the fishpond dug by the elite. The individualism of liberalism and its synonym, democracy, is precisely the freedom of the elite to mold the culture as they see fit. This elite can be political, economic, media or eccleastical, often working in some sort of coalition, as can be found formally and informally in the WCC, SCOBA, the Trilaterals, Bildebergs, Open Society Institute or Bohemian Grove.
International NGOs such as Oxfam are blaming monsoonal flooding on global warming, and getting the natives all riled up against, well, countries where white people live. Before, the mantra was always about cutting “greenhouse gas” emissions, but there has been a subtle shift where one increasingly sees demands that western nations open (!) their borders to these “climate refugees.” NWO synergy at its finest.