Staunton, Nov. 8 – The Putin regime allows far less dissent especially on issues it considers fundamental than did the Soviet one in its last decades, Aleksandr Tsipko says. Instead, it forces most into silence and many into emigration and suffers from intellectual and moral degradation.
After detailing how he was able to make a brilliant career in Soviet times despite publicly rejecting fundamental CPSU dogmas, the senior Moscow commentator suggests no one can expect to have a similar opportunity now and that this intellectual straightjacket extends back to current thinking about the Soviet past (ng.ru/ideas/2021-11-08/7_8295_ghost.html).
Today, little remains of the ferment of perestroika or even from the period immediately before it as far as discussions of humaneness is concerned. “The unexpected has happened: the Soviet system has died and interest in anti-Soviet literature and the truth about the crimes of the Bolshevik era have disappeared at the same time,” Tsipko continues.
“Now, no one besides Metropolitan Ilarion risks saying that the crimes of Stalin were in no way distinguished from the crimes of Hitler,” he says. “The problem is not only that we have lost interest in the spiritual heritage of Russian thinkers and interest in all who turned attention to the satanic nature of Marxism and Marxist ideology.” It is more profound than that.
Putin himself continues to refer to Nikolay Berdyayev, but “with each passing day, we move further from the heritage of Berdyaev, Semyon Frank, and Pyor Struve who called for a post-communist Russia to combine the values of statehood and the values of freedom.” Instead, the first is elevated; and the others are rejected or ignored.
The situation continues to get worse, Tsipko says. In the 1990s, Yeltsin and Gaidar “openly trampled upon the values of Russian statehood, but now the ideologues of ‘the Russian spring’ of 2014 will still greater frenzy trample on the values of freedom and the values of human life.”
“Even in Soviet times,” the Moscow thinker says, “no one risked saying that the death of six million people during the famine of 1932-1933 was justified because we wer preparing for a war with fascist Germany. But today, the so-called historians of the Military History Society say exactly that,” forgetting that Hitler would not have come to power without Stalin’s help.
Tsipko says that he is “disturbed by the shocking indifference of today’s patriots to the death of millions of their own compatriots. These are people not just with dead eyes but with dead souls.”
“In Soviet times, anti-Sovietism came from both the heart as a protest against the crimes of Stalin and rom the mind as a protest against Marxist utopianism. But now, those who call themselves patriots have neither minds nor hearts,” Tsipko says.
Pyotr Struve dreamed that when the Russians freed themselves from communism, they would be able to combine respect for the triumphs of Suvorov and Nakhimov with respect for the moral feat of Metropolitan Filipp who rose up against Ivan the Terrible and against the crimes of the oprichniki.”
But today, the Moscow Patriarchate is prepared to rewrite its hagiography of Filipp so that it will correspond to the new approach of statist history that deifies Ivan.
“It seems,” Tsipko says, “that we are not in a position to restore the value of Russian statehood without rejecting the value of human life. Our patriots have forgotten that the value of human life and freedom of choice are not just the values of European humanism but the deep values of Christianity.”
Dostoyevsky showed that in the legend of the Grand Inquisitor, and “it is time for all our patriots to recognize that by justifying the murderers Ivan and Stalin in the name of the values of Russian statehood, we not only are entering into conflict with the values of European civilization but are leading the country to moral degradation.”
“If there is no difference between good and evil in the assessment of our national history, then everything is permitted,” Tsipko says. “I think that there is a deep connection between the current departure from the values of humanism and the degradation of the Russian way of life.”
“We have never given human life particular value,” he argues. “But when the authorities themselves say that life is worth nothing and that in the name of the values of statehood one can kill millions of people, then everything is permitted in ordinary life as well.”
And Russians can see that all around them: “80 percent of the children in orphanages have living parents, and 80 percent of the elderly who are kept in special homes for the aged have living children.”