Friday, February 15, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Tsipko Asks ‘Which Will Die First -- the Russian State or Liberal Hatred of It?’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 15 – Aleksandr Tsipko, who helped found the Gorbachev Foundation but in recent years has promoted the revival of the traditions and values of pre-1917 Russia, says that his country today faces a most serious question: “Which will die first – the Russian state or liberal hatred of it?”

            In the current issue of “Literaturnaya gazeta,” Tsipko argues that “even though nothing remains from pre-revolutionary Orthodox Russia” and “the present-day intelligentsia has nothing in common with its pre-revolutionary forebears … liberal hatred of [that Russia and the Russian state more generally] not only lives but is flourishing” (

            This quite strange situation is, the Russian writer says, “the latest Russian mystery,” and he uses this article to explain its origins, arguing that “everything that was said and written bou the so-called Russian liberal intelligentsia a hundred years ago has an immediate relation to the present day.”

            Russian liberals hated not only the Russian state but Russia itself, Nicholas Berdyayev pointed out in his August 1909 letter to Archbishop Antony, and today, the “anti-religious and anti-Orthodox hystery” of Russian liberals “entirely corresponds” to what Antony called “liberal hatred of Rus’,” according to Tsipko.

“Like a hundred years ago,” he continues, “’religious apostasy’ among present-day liberals is closely connected with ‘national apostasy’ and what is most important with ‘state apostasy.’” But there is an important difference: for today’s liberals, Tsipko argues, “state apostasy is the main thing because they have dual citizenship and live on foreign grants.

They focus their hatred on the Russian state because that is “an entrance ticket to the liberal community and a permanent visa to Washington, Brussels, and so on.” And their hatred of the state is far more “open” and “aggressive,” as well.

That contributes to the following national problem, Tsipko suggests. “The questions put by our supposedly anti-Soviet and anti-communist revolution of 1991 thus remain without an intelligible answer.”  Is the country to build a new Russia having broken with the country’s entire past?  Or is it to “revive the traditional national Russia which reflects the mentality and political culture of the Russian people” and those values they have maintained from the past?

Given 70 years of communist rule, Russia lacks the opportunity to restore as much of its national past as did the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe, “but all the same,” it has some opportunities in that regard and they must be searched for and seized, not ignored and denigrated.

Attempting to block this “path to the nationalization of democratic Russia,” Tsipko says, once again “stands liberal hatred to traditional Orthodox Russia.”  And that “hatred to Russia … not only has not died but has risen to thermo-nuclear temperatures.” Moreover, there is no basis to hope that this liberal hatred will dissipate on its own.

Tsipko argues that Russia “will not be able to achieve even the minimum of Russianness without showing elementary respect to Orthodoxy as the national religion which really played the decisive role both in the formation of Russian statehood and in the formation of the great Russian culture.”

Despite their lack of morality and knowledge, Tsipko continues, Russia’s liberals are quite often “extremely talented and professional” and dominate many parts of the media, something that is possible because there is not “well-thought-out strategy for educating” the population to show respect to “the real conquests of the great Russian culture and Russian statehood.”

            “We constantly hear,” he continues, “that it is necessary to love the motherland but hate the state.”  But as Russians learned during World War II and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the two are intertwined. “As soon as the USSR died, their native Baku became for many Armenians and Russians an alien and dangerous territory.”

            Many people in today’s times hate the governments they live under, but they don’t speak so openly about it as in Russia. Tsipko insists that “no one has the right to convert his personal drama” in that regard “into a political problem and to inject into the consciousness of millions of people hatred to their motherland.”

            “Putin is right,” Tsipko says, “when he says that without a firm national consciousness there will not be either stability or Russia itself.”  But “the authorities have not been quick to say” what this national consciousness itself should consist of. And liberals who hate Russia are thus setting the weather with their “national nihilism.”

            “Up to the present,” the writer argues, “we do not have an intelligible explanation of what we ended in 1991 and where we are going.”  All the more so because the country “in fact has no future” if “a significant part of the intelligentsia, the so-called creative class, not only lacks national consciousness but openly despises everything on which the thousand-year-old Russian state is based.”

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