It’s been one year since we lost Victor Loupan, the head of the Editorial Board of Russian Mind. He was a brilliant professional, prominent journalist and publisher, documentary filmmaker, author of books and countless publications in mass media. He was a man of many talents, he was a man with a big heart. As a member of the Patriarchal Council for Culture since 2010, he managed to do a lot to preserve the spiritual heritage of the Russian émigré.
For twelve years, Viсtor Nikolaevich was the front man and soul of Russian Mind. Always positive, full of energy, ideas and plans, he will live forever in the memory of people who were lucky enough to meet this extraordinary person on their life path.
Today we recall the wise thoughts of Victor Nikolaevich, which he generously shared with the readers of Russian Mind.
KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG
(Russian Mind, January 2015)
It is probably wrong to say that the past year was good for Russia in terms of its historical, geographical and, finally, spiritual context. Not only because of the too far-reaching, almost metaphysical confrontation, but because of the civilisational nature of the conflict that has erupted to tear us – both me and you – into pieces. For in emigration, in exile, far away, in dispersion (name it whatever you like), it is in the souls of all of us that we keep close to those memories, to that culture, to that truth, after all, among which we were brought up, grew up.
Let’s remember the year of 2013. It was so calm! And then, in 2014, the events developed suddenly in such a way, that sometimes one couldn’t believe that it was real. When the sanctions were only discussed, I thought – it’s a bluff! What sanctions? And moreover, against Russia? But it wasn’t a bluff. Then suddenly they started voicing that sanctions would be even good for Russia, because Russia had always made breakthroughs when it was hard for it. No one is talking about it now. But everyone is watching with their mouths open, and saying to themselves – but how will all this end? After all, sanctions are bad – not only for Russia, but also for Europe. For that Europe in which we live. For that Europe that seemed to us an island of loyalty, prosperity, modesty. And which suddenly took extreme, aggressive measures against Russia, while Russia did nothing against Europe.
It is clear to everyone that Russia is neither Cuba, nor Iran, nor Venezuela; that it is simply dangerous to go into confrontation with it. That it is a strategic power on which a lot depends. <…>
Historians believe that the 20th century, in fact, began in 1914, and not in 1900. For until 1914, people lived according to the principles and standards of the 19th century. The fateful year of 1914 was not only the year of the beginning of the First World War which no one could have imagined, but also the year opening a new historical process, which by the end of the war would lead to the collapse of empires, to communism, to fascism, to qualitatively new realities, without which the 20th century is simply unthinkable. In 1914, no one could even imagine Europe without the Kaiser and the Tsar, without the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but with Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, with Auschwitz and the Gulag. But it did not just happen – realities in which we live now, grew out of it. Or, more accurately, realities in which we lived until now.
I know that analogies in history are most often erroneous and vicious. But, despite this, I can’t get rid of the idea that in 2014 a new era is being born. An unthinkable era that is being born before our eyes. I say “unthinkable” not necessarily in the bad or good sense of the word, but in its literal sense – era which simply cannot be thought of, which is impossible to be imagined.
Unthinkable was the French Revolution of 1789, which, by the way, launched the 19th century. The Russian Revolution of 1917 was already a variation on a theme. Unthinkable was the First World War and so was the Second World War which was in fact the continuation and variation of the First World War. The collapse of the USSR was another collapse of another empire. But what is happening, or rather, begins to happen in 2014, is truly new. Ukraine is an occasion – and a foothold, of course. A local battlefield, if you will, in a global agitation. With a new alignment of forces, with the determination of new priorities.
Some analysts believe that the current global chaos is the beginning of the US agony. And that, trying to survive, the Americans are provoking worldwide chaos. Being unable to control the situation as they did only 20 years before, they generate conflict zones everywhere, meddling in matters that don’t concern them. Yes, it might even be plausible. But no more than that. For the foreseeable collapse of the United States will still be another collapse of another empire.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN AND WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
(Russian Mind, January 2018)
In January of every new year many of us ask themselves this traditional question: ‘What is in store for us? What is going to happen this year?’ Or, as the famous rock singer Yuri Shevchuk wrote in his song: ‘What is going to happen to the motherhood and to us?’
The matter is not that we are particularly concerned for the future. The matter is that anxiety is a part of the human nature as life is an unpredictable thing. In the Gospel there is even a parable of the rich fool who is going to build larger barns in order to store all his grain and goods in them, whereas God is going to take his soul that same night. Being aware of and realising all this, we nevertheless try to plan and build our future. And that is why the questions ‘What will happen?’ and ‘What is to be done?’ are not only logical, but also vital. <…>
In mid-December the renowned French intellectual Pascal Bruckner published a sensational article, entitled The Twenty-First Century will not Belong to America. The publication shocked many Europeans by its pessimism, given the fact that the author is pro-American and famous for his liberal views. <…>
Since the beginning of the twentieth century Europe has regarded Washington as some sort of an ‘alpha male’ that always, especially at the most critical moments, forces all who dare oppose it to submit to its authority. However, all alpha males with time grow old and decrepit. This is a law of nature. Old and frail male lions are always driven away from their prides, so they die of hunger alone in the desert, where even hyenas are not afraid to bite them.
Likewise, 100 years ago, the once powerful British Empire, on whose vast expanse ‘the Sun never set’, lost ground. Like the USA, it also struggled with Russia for Central and South Asia over decades. The famous British writer Rudyard Kipling used the strange term ‘the Great Game’ to describe this geopolitical process.
Both the British and the Russian Empires eventually collapsed. The latter was replaced by the Soviet Union, while the former was replaced by the United States of America. The new ‘Great Game’ became known as ‘the Cold War’ and expanded into a global conflict. The Soviet Union eventually ceased to exist, and it was succeeded by the Russian Federation. Just a few years ago a new ‘Great Game’ between the Russian Federation and the USA began. It was an uneven fight, and according to all estimates Russia was destined to lose this battle. But this did not happen. Today, only the blind cannot see the withdrawal of America from world politics.
Thus, what will the world look like without the USA’s ‘responsive guidance’? Will it be better, more prosperous and peaceful? Should we rejoice at this outlook for the future? Answers to these questions may vary greatly. But even the most competent and perfectly informed experts are unable to make unbiased assessments as to where the current political process is leading us to.
A leading political scientist and expert in international relations Zbigniew Brzezinski in his sensational book, entitled The Grand Chessboard, compares world politics with a giant chess game. In my view, this metaphor is rather loose. In chess, at the end of a game only a few pieces are left on the board, whereas all other pieces have been taken. In my opinion, modern world politics bears more resemblance to the Chinese game of Go – a board game of deep strategy. Unlike chess, Go has very simple rules, yet it offers plenty of possibilities. The aim of this game is to surround more territory than your opponent. And it is the finest example of modern-day geopolitics. <…>
Today nobody can oppose the global tendencies. Strange as it may sound, that is particularly true for the United States. They are the principal creators, promoters and ideologues of globalism. The above-mentioned Zbigniew Brzezinski long ago warned his compatriots that their own undertakings were dangerous. He wrote that the United States was at risk of being absorbed by the system of transnational network structures. He also said that the American society was stimulating the development of such global social tendencies that erode the traditional state interest. To put it simply, he was speaking of the suicidal tendencies of the American society. In other words, it means that the countries that tend to distance their political and social models from the American ones – Russia, China and several other states – have a better chance of survival.
War Against Russia
(Russian Mind, November 2020)
The exodus, the 100th anniversary of which we are commemorating today, seemed in 1920 to be a logical outcome of a lost battle against the ideological enemy. But this outcome turned out to be fateful. Hundreds of ships overloaded with people left the Crimea, not actually realising what was happening to them. But they paid not only for the lost battles, they also paid for the fact that they could not preserve and maintain what they seemed to love so much. For decades, millions of the White army emigrants believed that “Russia no longer exists”. But they were packed and ready to go, hoping to return. Return to where? Because Russia “no longer exists”! Return to a cheap wood print?
Of course, Russia did not die or did not just “survive”. The Bolsheviks, who hated the Russian Empire, would recreate it very soon after the collapse. Geographically, by 1940 the USSR was like the Russian Empire excluding Finland and Poland, and by 1945 the Kuril Islands were added as a revenge for the 1904 war lost to the Japanese.
For the Russian émigré, the 1920s and the 1930s were a period of growing confusion. The Allies had recognised Soviet Russia one after another. Moreover, the Soviet embassies opened in historical imperial buildings. And this fact clearly indicated that the West perceived the USSR as “a historical successor of historical Russia”. <…>
So how can we determine the meaning of the Great Russian exodus a hundred years later? The Soviet Union no longer exists. But its aspects are manifested in today’s Russia. The Soviet Union was a paradoxical successor to Russian imperial greatness. But the Russian Federation is a clear successor to both tsarist Russia and the USSR.
Russian revolution of 1917 began for a reason, it did not happen suddenly: it had been prepared for a long time, they dreamed about it without understanding what its essence was. Wrangel also did not understand what he was doing: he wanted to save the army and return to fight against the Reds. He had never returned… Lenin and Trotsky made a revolution, then the USSR was built by Stalin.
During the distant First Chechen War, your humble servant happened to present in the field tent of a young senior lieutenant. I liked him immediately. His special officer bearing gave him an appearance of a “white officer” reminiscent of The Days of the Turbins. Clippings cut from newspapers and magazines were pinned above the lieutenant’s bed. Unfamiliar formidable Soviet officers silently looked at me from the slightly moving tarp of the tent. And suddenly I recognised General Denikin. The fact that he was surrounded by the “Reds” who drove him across the steppes, surprised me. It did not embarrass the young lieutenant in the slightest, he just reacted: ‘The civil war was a war against Russia, which was fought by the hands of the Russians’. I had never heard a more precise definition.
CHRISTMAS AND CONSUMPTION CULTURE
(Russian Mind, December 2021)
There are many signs of de-Christianisation of Western society. But none of them is as obvious as the rejection of the very mention of the Nativity of Christ. Holidays and vacation periods still continue, for now, to be called “Christmas” or “Easter” holidays, as if due to tradition or habit. Although this is already a kind of paradox in the context of the current radicalisation of the struggle against cultural, religious, family, civilisational traditions and the values arising from them. Nowaday in the West, Christmas is not real Christmas, but the main riot of the year, in essence, a blasphemous cult of consumption. People frantically run around the shops crowded with customers and, – if they do not find what they are looking for, because everything is being bought up, – then they take any random things. Even on credit. <…> People save on vacations, give up travel, fail to buy books or go to the theater or cinema, but still spend money on Christmas gifts.
The fundamental family and religious tradition associated with the celebration of a joyful event – the birth of the Infant Christ – continues to be a family one and a reason for meeting in an extended circle of the family, but now joy level more and more relies on financial component – receiving or giving gifts.
The Catholic Church and various Protestant congregations are trying to struggle against the commercialisation of the great Christian holiday, but they are not doing well. Moreover, usually half-empty churches are suddenly replenished with parishioners on Christmas Eve. Or rather, that category of people who visit the church twice a year – at Christmas and Easter. These are already unbelievers or little believers who enter the church out of old memory, out of habit, due to the memory of how their parents took them there in childhood. <…>
Over time, the established and strengthened Christian civilisation abolished pagan customs, and now we know little about them. But manifestations and even bursts of pagan Bacchanalia periodically appear. The Great French Revolution was one of them. Not only because of the martyrdom of thousands of Catholic priests, but also because of the grotesque change in the calendar, the cancellation of the countdown from the birth of Christ, the change in the names of the months of the year and other nonsense, in particular, the renaming of Notre Dame Cathedral into the Temple of Reason.
Fascism, especially in Germany and especially among SS personnel, was permeated with pagan mysticism with its rituals, processions, temples and other devilry. The well-known Soviet period in the history of Russia and the eastern part of Europe also bore a pseudo-religious, pagan character. The cult of Lenin, the cult of Stalin, the cult of the Revolution, the infallibility of the Communist Party, national holidays with staged processions, figures of martyrs, such as Pavlik Morozov, Pavel Korchagin, Alexander Matrosov, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, the closure and destruction of churches, the unprecedented physical extermination of priests and persecution of believers, the ban on all religious holidays and rituals – all this speaks of the pagan essence of the regime. Despite claims to be scientific and knowledgeable, the pseudo-religious essence of communist ideology is undeniable.
Today many Western analysts and generally thinkers are surprised to note the depression of society. The cult of profit has not justified itself for a long time, because the number of the poor has been constantly growing. Belief in democracy and equality is also going through hard times. Racial, ethnic, gender and other minorities consider themselves disadvantaged. When criticising the “androcentric society”, the younger generation actually rejects the foundations and essence of Western civilisation. Islamisation, especially in European society, occurs as if Islam fills the spiritual emptiness of a society that has renounced the Christian faith and civilisation to remain essentially naked and defenceless.
Taking the example of what the holiday of the Nativity of Christ has become, one can notice the substitution of the Christian religion of love with the pagan religion of consumption. Love for one’s neighbour has been replaced by love for an object acquired for money. <…>
And yet it is human nature to strive for something uplifting. People need positive dynamics that can bring them satisfaction. The satisfaction that they contribute to something important and good, proving that their existence is not meaningless, but is filled with the essence, which is commonly called the “meaning of life.”