Many westerners, especially elder American conservatives, will frequently claim that the Russia of Vladimir Putin remains under the yoke of Soviet communism. Putin is called either a socialist or a communist, and depending on who you speak with, Putin’s communism will either be hidden by a façade of traditionalism, or explicit when the Russian state takes actions against enemies and threats, be they foreign or domestic. As such, these two claims require two different responses. My view is that those who refer to Russia as communist and socialist are patterning themselves after leftists, who use similarly emotional terms such as “fascist” or “white supremacist” to undermine and delegitimize their ideological opponents. Calling me a fascist does just as little to explain my actual beliefs as does calling Vladimir Putin a communist fails to explain any of the actions he has taken or his personal beliefs. Such terms are thrown around by ignoramuses so that they can justify to themselves why they do not have to take seriously those who oppose their views, and so that they never run the risks of having their views challenged, cutting off an avenue of potential intellectual growth and personal development.
Russia does not overtly espouse or promote communism. Russians are proud of the achievements of their nation during the Soviet times, but this does not mean that the Russian citizenry desires a return to communist ideology. Some Soviet policies were good for certain segments of the population, and thus older Russians who remember these policies may desire their return. However, the worth of these programs is not something that can be determined by the era or the state ideology under which they were first enacted. The Soviet Union, like all modern states, had to balance the tension between the realities of power and ideology. The needs of a nation and a state remain constant regardless of the ideology or type of government currently in power. This is why, for example, the Russian Empire, Soviet Union, and modern Russia sought influence and expansion in Western Europe. The territorial or ideological domination of Russia’s western-most neighbours provides St. Petersburg or Moscow the territory it needs to be able to defend itself from French or German aggression. A similar pattern is seen in Russia’s perennial pursuit of a blue water navy. As long as there exists a Russian state, these interests and goals will be pursued. Their ideological justification may change, but the realities of geography and security will dictate Russia’s actions in these fronts.
The policies of the Soviet Union should thus be judged in relation to how they relate to the needs of the nation and state (realpolitik) and that of state ideology (Marxism-Leninism). This can be difficult, because every policy enacted by the Politburo will be claimed to be in the service of achieving communism; however, it is possible to determine the legitimacy of a policy regarding the legitimate interests of the nation and state. For example, the persecution and murder of Christians by Soviet authorities was not in the interests of the nation (the people), but placing nuclear warheads in Cuba as a counter to American warheads in Turkey was. During the Cold War, American leadership was able to recognize the legitimate interests of the Soviet state, and the reverse is likewise true. This is why the Soviets removed their missiles, as did the Americans. Essentially, the Cold War was an exercise in two powers attempting to get as close to the other’s red lines as possible without crossing them.
Furthermore, it should be noted that ideology often is of secondary importance when considering the needs of the nation and state. For example, we can look to America, which espouses liberalism and democracy across the globe, denouncing nations who “violate the rights” of their citizens. So assured in their correctitude, American embassies will promote liberal ideology in the form of banners and flags even when the values espoused by these ornaments opposes the norms and values of the host nation. Yet, America will not risk antagonizing its Islamic allies in the Gulf, more specifically Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, an absolute Islamic monarchy which, by American moral standards, oppresses women and religious, ethnic, and sexual minorities. Of course, I could bash America for not living up to the principles it espouses, or for its cynical willingness to throw away liberal ideology for the sake of pragmatism. But again, bashing America is not the purpose of my invocation of Saudi Arabia, rather I seek to demonstrate how the concrete concerns of state, nation, and power will trump ideology, because these interests are of bedrock significance for the continued existence and propagation of the nation and the state that rules it. As such, ideologies seem to have a life expectancy. In the example of the Soviet Union, we see how the needs of both the state and nation necessitated the abolishment of the Communist system, as market liberalization and political transparency could not exist under Marxism-Leninism. Soviet communism died, the Soviet state died, but the nations of the former Union survived.
I bring up the interests of states in regard to the claims made against modern Russia because people often conflate the interests of Russia with being ideologically motivated, and thus based upon communism. Nations and states will always have competing interests. This does not mean that these interests or the nations that possess them are evil. The methods by which interests are pursued can be evil, but the interests themselves are a product of natural circumstances and needs. Thus, when Russia and America have conflicting interests, it is needful for both parties to arrange some form of compromise to avoid escalation and conflict. This is why diplomacy was invented. Russia’s opposition to American interests is thus less likely a result of ideological differences, but rather security, economic, or other political concerns. This should always be one’s first assumption regarding the interests and actions of both parties. When one denounces Russia as communist, they also denounce any actions the Russian state takes, because it is presupposed that any action Russia takes in the world stage is in the service of its communist ideology, and thus nothing Russia ever does can be legitimate in the eyes of the West. Of course, ideology does influence state policies, which is why I said the Cold War was about the testing of red lines. Both parties had to test each other so that they could know when and how to pursue their interests without instigating a world war whilst never appearing to compromise with the opposition to save face domestically.
Thus, as a Westerner, one is more than willing to oppose Russia and Russian interests if they seem to conflict with one’s own. There is nothing wrong with this, however there is no need to justify one’s own interests by denouncing the interests of another as being informed by the given ideological boogieman of the day. Russia poses a challenge to American hegemony, and thus it can be expected that America would seek to oppose and delegitimize the interests of Russia. Russia is not evil in challenging America, and America is not evil for seeking to preserve its leadership of the world. America is evil for other reasons, but regarding the interests of state actors, it is less about the particular actions or interests of the state, but about our affinity towards that state. I have an affinity for Russia for a number of reasons, therefore I can justify Russia’s actions, but this does not mean that I believe America’s interests are illegitimate. I may not care about America’s interests because I do not feel affinity for America, but the interests in and of themselves are not what is in question.
The claim that Russia is ruled by clandestine communists does itself have grounding. I first heard about this theory some years ago, under the name of Chekism. Essentially, Chekism is the belief that the Soviet and now Russian security service essentially rules Russia as a deep state. However, considering the brutal and occult nature of the Soviet secret police, Chekism has to it a negative spiritual dimension. In many ways, the Chekists mirror the ideology and practices of the Satanic organization Order of Nine Angles. Both groups demand human sacrifice for their cause, and the pretenses of Satanism and Communism themselves fall away as sacred murder and domination become the sole guiding current for these groups. In contemporary Russia, the term Siloviki is used to describe the prevalence of former intelligence and security operatives in positions of institutional power in Russia. It is undeniable that many former KGB men have risen to political power in Russia. What is questionable is the cause and purpose for such appointments. Now I denounce Chekism as it existed under the Cheka and NKVD. So far as Chekism persisted in the KGB and if it persists in the post-Soviet FSB, I denounce also. However, I do not think the KGB should be likened to occult groups like the Jesuits or Freemasons. I think one is able to attribute enough sins to the KGB without inventing new accusations to place upon them. Of course, I am one who believes in conspiracy, so I do not reject the theory of Chekism out of hand, but because I do not find it credible.
Depending on which Chekist theorist one listens to, the collapse of the Soviet Union was either an impediment to Chekist power, or its ultimate fulfillment. As the KGB sought political power and influence over the Soviet Union, the politburo and Communist Party attempted to weaken the KGB by tacitly embracing liberalism, which in turn resulted in the political collapse of the Soviet Union. Thus, with Russia having been politically destroyed, with regional governors and oligarchs fielding what were essentially private armies in the 90’s, the only organized power block that could re-establish the apparatus of the Russian state and military were the networks of the former KGB. Also, the Russian Orthodox Church itself was, from a material and political standpoint, decimated by seventy years of communist rule. For the Church to be re-established, it would likewise need secular support, and as the former KGB was the only group with such power, it is understandable why the Church and former KGB would maintain and develop their relationship. I think in regards to the Church, we should look to Rome and St. Constantine, where for centuries the state security services of the Roman Empire persecuted and killed Christians, but then upon the conversion of St. Constantine the powers of the state were used in support of the Church.
The other Chekist theory involves the belief that the security services of the Soviet Union were essentially puppet masters on the same level of the Illuminati of the 1700-1800’s. In this view, the Chekists planned and orchestrated a false Soviet collapse in 1991, and behind the scenes retained unbridled control of the former Soviet republics and political and cultural influence in America. Now on the surface this idea seems ridiculous. Russia gained nothing from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Maybe in the 90’s, when many of the books on Chekism were written, it appeared that Russia was going to be integrated into Western political and economic institutions. However, Russia, since the rise of Putin and the Siloviki, has been unable to ingratiate itself with the Western elite, and has since rejected the norms of Western politics, culture, and values. On a cultural and moral level, at least at the elite level, America is far more culturally socialist than current Russia, possibly even than the former Soviet Union. The seeds of modern American progressiveness may have been nurtured by Soviet spies, however I think that American socialism, as it is being developed, is more so the product of the Frankfurt School Jews, who tailor-made a particular variant of socialism that could be integrated and interface with the particularities of the American and European civilization. I do not see the Frankfurt School as particularly under Soviet dominance or influence, but rather, the people and spirit which instituted both are the same. Furthermore, the Russia of today opposes the supposed values that the Soviet Union instilled in America in the form of progressivism. With supposed Chekist control of Russia, one would imagine there to be a coalescence between Russia and progressive America, but as America becomes more liberal, Russia becomes more conservative. Under Chekism, the political and cultural developments of the past twenty years make little sense, and Chekist control over Russia seems to have completely backfired. Thus, the Chekists are seemingly either incompetent, and thus not a threat, or they are so many levels beyond us, that it is impossible to accurately understand their actions and ultimate goal. If Russia is Chekist, then the goals of Chekism are clearly not Marxist-Leninism. I think Chekism as a political concept is Satanic, so a believer in Chekism could argue that Russia is Satanic, but clearly not communist.
I liken Chekism to the Order of Nine Angles because to be an initiate of the ONA, one has to live another life for a time, usually joining a religious (i.e. Christian) religious order. The ONA initiate is tasked with fully immersing themselves in that religion, to live it and even believe it, all while keeping at the core of their being a remembrance of their true allegiance. An ONA member made the news some years ago for spending time as an Orthodox monk is Serbia. The insidiousness of the ONA is essentially that of Chekism, and it is interesting to note that the founders of the ONA have links to Western intelligence agencies. Of course, because a Chekist, like an ONA member, would so thoroughly become that which they pretend to be, it would be nearly impossible to recognize the occult operator until his betrayal. This brings us to Vladimir Putin. I invoke the ONA so as to show that I am aware of the possibility of a man like Putin being a Judas in waiting. From henceforth I will demonstrate why I hold Putin in such esteem, erstwhile remembering that ultimately, we put our trust in no particular man.
I think the KGB, like the See of Rome, came to power by accidents of history. When the Western Empire collapsed, Rome was the only political institution with power, and thus when the realms of Europe were being formed, Rome took leadership in their establishment and rule. Likewise, when the Soviet Union collapsed, it fell to the KGB to pick up the pieces of power. The KGB were seemingly not an ideological institution, or we would see modern Russia again saddled under the communist yoke. The KGB served the interests of the state, and if communism laid outside of those interests, it was abandoned. It also should be noted that membership in the KGB was not necessarily indicative of a belief in communism. For many university-educated Soviets, work for the state was the only opportunity available to them under socialism, lest they be made to work the field or factory.
I do believe that Vladimir Putin is a Christian. I cannot speak to the depths of his beliefs, however I do believe that his faith is genuine. Being religiously active in Russia is of little political gain to Putin. Although most ethnic Russians claim to be Orthodox, they are at best nominal. Putin could simply ignore the Church and espouse American/Democrat style secularism or pluralism and not be harmed politically. And yet, Putin makes his faith evident, and even allocates state funds to restore and build churches and monasteries. Again, Putin uses the power of the state to aid the Church, for seemingly little political advantage. Yes, the Church supports the Russian state so far as the state supports the Church, but this is happening in a largely irreligious society. Regardless of the nature of Putin’s faith, I believe he wears a cross and goes to church to lead by example. Putin, as the father of the Russian nation, is demonstrating what a Russian should be and how they are to act. He is setting the archetype for the restored Russia, for what he hopes Russia will be in the future. He is not in a position politically to denounce secularism or nominalism, neither can he (no should we want him to) establish an Orthodox theocracy, so instead he directs the nation by example. Religious plurality is unavoidable in Russia, and as the leader of such a large and diverse country, Putin cannot denounce the beliefs of his citizens. But of course, the Tzar was in the same position, and did make accommodations for non-Christians, including distribution of non-Christian equivalents to Christian military medals. This may not be ideal, but it is the nature of political power.
Russia will not convert overnight, as it falls to the Church to mission and make converts. The Church has done this, as clergy such as the martyred Fr. Daniel Sysoev have worked and died in service to the internal conversion of Russia. Putin is laying the foundation for a restored Russia, including the establishment of political, military, and spiritual norms. The Russia of today is not that restored Russia, and it will probably take another 50 to 60 years to see it. Ultimately, we can only judge Putin and today’s Russia based on the Russia of the future. Currently, I support and admire Putin for what he has done, in service to what he appears to be attempting to do. Of course, if Russia were to be reformulated as a neo-Soviet Union, Putin would justly be demonized, however given the current trends happening within Russia, a return to communism seems laughably unlikely. I want to see a restored Holy, Orthodox, monarchical Russia. However, I know these views are not shared by many nations and individuals. The interests of such a Russia would be opposed to the interests of many nations, and thus I can understand why some nations would be working against Russia to see such a restoration fail to happen. Ultimately, the fate of Russia is left to God, but in the meantime infantile accusation and claims of crypto-communism should be rejected.
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