The Battle for History – Part III

Author: Vladimir Karpets

Translator: Yulian Orlov

Zavtra no. 22 (915), 1 June 2011


Very recently, on May 23rd of this year [2011], the famous journalist and poet Aleksei Shiropaev made an appearance at a round table in the State Duma called “The Russian Question on the Eve of Elections” on behalf of the so-called National-Democratic Alliance. His speech can be considered a breakthrough; that is, for official structures like the State Duma. National-democratic (or national-liberal) is what that part of the Russian nationalists calls itself which most radically rejects historical Russia and openly propagates her breakup into independent “Russian republics” oriented towards “Western civilization” and market-liberal reforms. “We national-democrats are of the opinion that a correct solution to the Russian question is directly related to rejecting the imperial character of Russian statehood,”  Shiropaev said, “Through constitutional procedures, Russia should be transformed into a symmetrical federation consisting of equal subjects: national republics, which includes Russian republics formed on the basis of Russian-populated regions and provinces that are not part of any already existing national-governmental formations. (my italics — V. K.). We see seven Russian republics in the Russian Federation. They are distributed as follows: the Far East, Siberia, the Urals, the Volga, Central Russia, Southern Russia, and the Russian North.”

The italicized words leave no doubt as to what is really meant here. There have long been discussions between the national-democrats themselves and on their websites about independence for Siberia, “Kazakia”, “Zalesye”, “Ingermanland” [1]. 

“Russia cannot be remade. She can only be done away with (of course, bloodlessly and in a civilized fashion)”, says the very same Shiropaev. “Who has run roughshod over man, his freedom, spirit, and thoughts more than Russia? And the Russians are victims and hostages of that Evil. And those who share our fate as well, voluntarily or involuntarily… Russia is a historical anomaly that was birthed by the Horde’s violence against the Russian character” – this is from Shiropaev’s famous article “The Murky Motherland.”

The national-democrats openly acknowledge that they do not need Russia. “Finally, we see that nationalism will lessen the borders of the concept of Russia to even less than those of the Princedom of Muscovy in 1547”, — they themselves acknowledge while still seeing themselves as the only “Russian nationalists.”

But why Shiropaev in particular?

I remember him well at the end of the ’80’s. He was an Orthodox monarchist. But Aleksei is, above all else, a poet. And as a poet, he could not reconcile himself with those moral and aesthetic limits that Christianity carries within it – and those which Russia (which was born from Orthodoxy) carries. Count A. K. Tolstoy [2], who was actually a predecessor of Shiropaev and also rejected Moscow and loved Novgorod, agonized over the very same questions. Shiropaev has an additional strong feeling about Orthodoxy being the product of import and “foreign.” All of this together overwhelmed him and is the cause of his radical turn. His book “Prison of the People” (2001) is a cry. Aleksei Shiropaev could not withstand the extreme pressure of what A. Blok called the “antinomies of Russian history.” His political position (not his poetry) is a gnoseological fracture.

I dream about the appearance of the concept of the Russian burgher, a concept that entails the idea of freedom from the psychopathic drive towards the ‘liminal and transgressive’, from ‘existencelesness’ and ‘God-bearing’ [3]… As follows, cultural, social, and above all psychological bourgeoisness are fundamental to national-democracy.” 

But the problem is that this “burgher” himself has no need at all for the poet Shiropaev. He will be cast out like a used object (in the best case).

We will add one more thing. in his apologetics of democratic freedoms and “bourgeois values”, the “neopagan” Shiropaev, who has rejected Russian Orthodoxy, appears to be a pure “Christian personalist”, not even of a Catholic or Protestant kind, but of a purely Western type… 

In itself, the realization of national-democracy’s goals (which would apparently save the Russian people from the “state of priests and coppers” and the “violence of the blacks”) would mean the end of the Russian people. Whatever the fate of the “Russian sub-ethnoi” may be, they would, in any case, be another people entirely. They would become part of other empires: whether European, American, Chinese, or the Islamic Caliphate. They would have reservation rights. Today, large empires are being created and recreated, and he who does not work on his own is working on someone else’s.

And now for the most important part. The Medvedev administration itself has unleashed national-democracy “from the lamp.” It has been conceived not in the least through “de-Stalinization.” Aleksei Shiropaev writes: “Real, deep de-Stalinization will inevitably become a criticism of historical Russia as such… True de-Stalinization presupposes a consequent historiosophical and culturological revision up to and including the era of Ivan the Terrible and even further: all the way back to the destruction of Novgorodian democracy by Muscovy.”

Why has this process been started – all the more so on the eve of elections? Because of the interests of those “in the greedy crowd standing by the throne” [4] at the Old Square for a new conversion of power into property by way of separatism. But also for those who, in turn, stand behind the first group on both sides of the border, those “without faces and spines”, agents of the “nothing that nothings” [5].


Translator’s notes:

[1]: “Kazakia” is one of the republics that Shiropaev proposes. It would roughly cover the Don area. “Zalesye” is a historical name for the area to the northwest and northeast of Moscow. Finally, “Ingermanland” refers to the area directly south of and including Saint-Petersburg.

[2]: Count Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy (1817 – 1875) was a poet and dramatist. He is now mainly famous for his historical plays and the novel Prince Serebrenni (Князь Серебряный, 1862), which deals with a prince torn between his disgust of Tsar Ivan the Terrible and his desire to serve his homeland. Tolstoy would eventually commit suicide at his manor house.

[3]: “God-bearing” (богоносный) is a Russian term used to describe either the Russian people or the Russian state. It refers to Russian Orthodoxy and the country’s universal mission.

[4]: A line from Mikhail Lermontov’s Death of the Poet (Смерть поэта, 1837) written shortly after Aleksandr Pushkin’s death in a duel. The poem can be read in English here.

[5]: A reference to the book “The Prince of This World” (Князь мира сего, 1970) by author Grigori Petrovich Klimov (1918 – 2007). Klimov’s works primarily dealt with the health and decay of states and ethnoi. 

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