Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Russia’s Democrats have Helped Putin and Siloviki Restore Culture of Death as Country’s Ideology, Tsipko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 17 – Because so many members of the democratic opposition insist on viewing the Bolshevik revolution as a positive development even though they decry Stalinism, they have made it far easier for Vladimir Putin and his siloviki to restore “the culture of death” as the ideology of Russia today, Aleksandr Tsipko says.

            That is because the democratic opposition fails to see that it was the Bolshevik revolution which not only enshrined the idea that opponents of the regime should be wiped out but also set the stage for the rise of fascism in Europe, the senior Russian scholar and commentator says. Indeed, they deny both (

            For most of the generation of the Sixties, Tsipko says, “all misfortunes arose from the fact that Stalin distorted ‘the democratic essence of Lenin’s October.’” But for others in that generation like himself, Tsipko continues, “the source of unfreedom in Soviet times was the Bolshevik revolution itself.”

            Because of the unwillingness of the democratic opposition to condemn Lenin and the Bolsheviks for their murderous attack on the old Russia and the new, they “did not want to see that the Great October and Lenin gave rise first to the fascism of Mussolini and then the Soviet Russia of Stalin did a very great deal for the coming to power in Germany of Hitler.”

            Russia’s democrats today thus fail to recognize that “the class racism of Marxism led to the ethnic racism of Hitler.” And they do not see that the elevation of the state as the arbitrary arbiter of all human life did the same thing for the Soviet Union and in the last several years has done the same thing in Putin’s Russia.

            Lenin and the Bolsheviks were committed to the idea that “the individual is not an end in himself” and that those in power should be willing to engage in mass murder in order to achieve their ends. As a result, “the entire history of the Russian 20th century can be written as a history of the rejection of good sense and the forgetting of the instinct of self-preservation.”

            “Up to now, we do not understand that the fate of the nation depends not only n its intellectual and natural potential and on the development of its economy but also on how deeply rooted there is in mass culture the instinct of self-preservation and the fear of all who sow destruction and death,” the scholar says.

            He argues that “if you value human life and really profess European values, then for you, the individual is an end in himself.” But “after ‘the Russian spring’ of 2014, after proclaiming that ‘Russia is not the West!’ the philosophy of death became our state ideology” just as it has so often been since 1917.

            “In Soviet times,” Tsipko writes, “we were prepared to die for the communist utopia, and now, after ‘the Crimean spring,’ many are prepared to die for Russia to become a center of civilization equally important to the United States. This in principle is impossible.” Russia has nuclear weapons but it is not in a position to be a superpower “in the real sense of the word.”

            He continues: “Representatives of the present-day intelligentsia who do not conceal their sympathies for Marxism and up to now regret that in the new Russia, there is not sufficient respect for the theoretical inheritance of Karl Marx must know” what Lenin made of this by claiming the right to kill any and all opponents.

            “The philosophy of death and the concealed or open propaganda of indifference to human live has become dominant in the Russia of ‘Crimea is ours.’ Today,” Tsipko continues, “it is difficult to say who is losing wisdom and the instinct for self-preservation, the powers that be of the ‘deep’ people.”

            But one thing is clear, he argues. “The current combination of the neo-Bolshevism of our liberals, the victory of the 1991 revolution, with the power of the siloviki is something unique which has never been the case before in the history of Europe.” Neither group is prepared to denounce violence for its own ends, although the reasons are somewhat different.

            “We have a symphony of indifference to the value of human life, characteristic for the neo-Marxists” in their assessment of Lenin and also characteristic of the siloviki who rule Russia today because of their Soviet background. The first don’t regret the destruction of the Russian Empire; the second see the end of the USSR as the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the age.

            This doesn’t promise to end well, Tsipko says.  “The bearer of Russian ‘arbitrariness’ has become our supreme commander, a man not simply with unlimited power but one in the hands of which is the nuclear button and thus the fate of all humanity.” The danger in this is “insufficiently recognized.”

            And that is frightening because “we live in a country where no one is in a position to say to its leader, ‘You are wrong!’ That was true only under Stalin and certainly under Hitler. But all three systems, theirs and Putin’s, have been based on a philosophy of death. In Putin’s case, that is especially disturbing because of the power of the weapons under his command.

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