Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Media Manipulation of the Masses

Þis (This) documentary by Sofia Smallstorm about Sandy Hook shows why our first instinct toward the ‘official narrative’ of almost any event presented by the main press organs in the West should be mistrust.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Technological Enslavement of Mankind

The vote in the United Kingdom is surely a step in the right direction, and something to be celebrated, but there is still much work to be done.  In particular:

 . . .

Great Manipulator: power and magic

“De vinculis in genere”

In his book "Eros and Magic in the Renaissance", Culianu, referring to the work of Giordano Bruno, the famous scientist and magician of the 15th century, reveals one of the secrets of the formation of the type of society that the founder of the Situationist, one of the ideologists of the spring of 1968, left nonconformist Guy Debord, called the "society of the spectacle”. This is the concept of "the Great manipulator".

The historian of religions examines the book “De vinculis in genere". Culianu notes that the value of this dark book exceeds many well-known works on political and social theory. According to their cynicism and candor, it is comparable only with the "Prince" of Machiavelli. But if the figure of the "Prince", a political adventurer, sovereign, as Culianu notes, in the modern world is on the brink of extinction, the magician's figure standing in the center of Bruno's conception is the prototype of the impersonal mass media systems and mechanisms of brainwashing, which carry out the dark (occult) control over the masses in the western world.

The name of Bruno’s book “De vinculis in genere" is translated as "about links in general," and refers to the magical manipulation of individuals and the masses, to the establishment of the remote control on people, regardless of hierarchical structures of coercion and punishment of direct power.

The concept of links “vinculis” is chosen by Bruno not by chance. Culianu notes that Giordano Bruno is in many ways the successor of another Renaissance Neoplatonist, Marsilio Fichchino, and brings to a logical but an unexpected end of the analogy of Eros and magic undertaken by founder of the Platonic Academy in Florence. For Fichchino as for Bruno, any magic is based on Eros, including what may be called the magic of social or political. In addition, between magic and erotic attraction there is an instrumental similarity; the magician like a lover, the author notes, builds a network or trap around an object of his interest. The art of love or seduction is structurally similar to the magician's task. Ficino actively uses in respect of magic and lovemaking the term “rete” - network, as well as words such as illex, illecebra, esca, meaning the trap, trap, snare, decoy.

The task of the magician is to build a network, to connect, to achieve its indirect effects. Bruno puts forward a model that consists of manipulated individuals or masses, and the magician or the Great Manipulator actively uses nets and traps, and other tools of "binding". The most important prerequisite for the existence of such a system is the knowledge of human desires. Bruno notes that the operation of such a plan requires subtletly, as the manipulator’s task is not directly stultification or propaganda, but creates the illusion of satisfaction of human needs and desires. Because of this, he needs to know and anticipate the needs, desires, and expectations of society. Otherwise, no "binding" can be established between the individual and a manipulator.

Peter Culianu says that the erotic magic system of Bruno aims to allow the tool to control the isolated individuals and the masses. “Its fundamental presupposition is that a big tool for manipulation exists – Eros in the most general sense of the word: that which we love. "Giordano Bruno reduces all human passions, all feelings, both lowland and sublime to love, because vanity is love of honor, greed is love of wealth, envy is love of self, which does not tolerate equality and even the superiority of another. Hatred, which is particularly Bruno stands out as a monitoring tool, it is also love, but with a negative sign. The most successful manipulation, Bruno says, is feasible if it is possible to ignite the manipulated self-love, Philautia, selfishness. In the study we found his description of love as "the most exalted relationship, the most common and the most important." In the magical formulas used in book of Bruno, love is called "the great demon” (Daemon Magnus).

Magical effects on society using human passions, resulting in love, are carried out through indirect contact (virtualem seu potentialem), namely through the use of visual images and sounds (universal occult tools), to establish control over the visible and audible. Through these secondary gates, the manipulator can go up to his primary purpose, called porta et praecipuus aditus “main gate” and vinculum vinculorum “link of links" - a fantasy. It should be borne in mind that the imagination in the Middle Ages was understood in accordance with the teachings of Aristotle. Imagination was thought to be a device, which performs the function of a mediator between the body and the soul, the senses and the intellect. Under the name of fantasy or internal sense, it transforms the testimony of the five senses in the phantasms, images that can only be understood by soul. The device of the imagination is an interpreter translating from the language of the senses in the phantasms language and vice versa.

Fantasies and imagination have the advantage of the world of visible phenomena and feelings in the same way as the soul has the advantage over the body. Interestingly, Gilbert Durand, the French sociologist of 20th century, came to the same conclusion. He elaborated substantiated sociological theory, according to which specific types and modes of imagination, its symbolic structures, and archetypes predefine all the important elements of the social sphere.

With the understanding that there is a connection between the universal pneuma, the particular matter that forms the imaging apparatus, and the local use of the power of Eros, which is a force connecting this substance, it is possible to manage the individual consciousness by means of a particular reaction to images and phantasms insofar that in the majority of cases, it is not man that governs his imagination, but his imagination that governs him.

The conclusion of the treatise of Giordano Bruno is that everything is manipulable, and that love, as the force that permeates the world, is the only possible tool of manipulative magic, while imagination, and control over the imagination through audio-visual images is a form of power. The manipulator creates network connections based on the effect between him and different people, thereby causing them to act according to his will. Thus, he is like a spider at the center of the network of connections and interactions. It is particularly important that, according to Bruno, the manipulator must be absolutely indifferent to any external influence, and therefore any form of love, including love for goodness, truth, or even evil.

The Great Manipulator and modernity

The traditional, classical, Platonic scheme of organizing state and society which was characteristic of ancient and medieval states resembles a pyramid. Power is organized in accordance with the merits of the latter hierarchy from top to bottom and is realized in a “command-obey” style. It was against this authoritarian dictatorship of ideas that Modernity rebelled in the name of the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

The social world, built around the Great Manipulator, is different as it is organized along the principle of network connections surrounding the anonymous magician who exercises not direct, but indirect, implicit control by subordinating the imagination. He does not maintain simple propaganda, but instead by creating the illusion of meeting expectations and human feelings, he exercises skillful control over subordinates by dominating the zone of fantasy. In order for the Great Manipulator to exercise this power, it is crucial that people remain susceptible to their passions and that society consists of people who are not involved in a common cause, but are rather dissolved into uncoordinated, selfish, and self-centered groups and coteries. Instead of hierarchy, there is but a network; instead of direct submission, there is control; and instead of a common cause, there is selfishness and an absence striving towards the divine, replaced by naked sensuality or indifference.

Is the modern world really secular? If we compare Culianu’s concept of the state organized by the magician to the model of Bruno’s Great Manipulator and the society around us, we see striking similarities. Power is exercised through control of the imagination, and society is a mere network. It is no accident that today the concept of the network society has emerged and has become almost common use not only in the specific scientific community, but also, surprisingly enough, modern sociology uses the same language as Bruno’s magical treatise.

In the modern world, control of the imagination is exercised by means of audio-visual media, television, cinema, Internet and virtual reality computer games, ubiquitous and luring advertisements, and the employment of millions of images. Modern society is a society in which the cult of selfishness and sensual gratification reigns. And, yes, sexual energy, is stimulated, sublimated, and manipulated in this way in society which is permeated with sensuality and sexuality, a society which screams about itself and establishes selfishness as the social norm. This is a society of inexplicable frenzy, the triumph of the corruption of the spirit and the flesh - the total shift of attention to the mere carnal side of life which is rationalized and logically explained in Giordano Bruno’s conceptualization.

With good reason, modern society may thus be called magical society, or the society of the Great Manipulator if we connect the position and the conclusions Giordano Bruno, the data of modern sociology, and a mere ordinary observation of the surrounding social reality. Is this a coincidence? Perhaps there is a direct link between the current situation and the work of Giordano Bruno. Maybe the work of Bruno is a telling symptom of the general trajectory of the movement of the Western spirit. The fact remains that this figure, as a philosopher and magician, has traditionally attracted the attention of all occultist organizations of the West which, claiming the highest knowledge, also claim power.

Source:  Alexandr Bovdunov, ‘The Great Manipulator: Magic and Modern Society’, http://katehon.com/article/great-manipulator-magic-and-modern-society, accessed 16 June 2016

The Orthodox Church can help us escape from this web of self-love, distraction, and manipulation, however, if we will listen to the teachings of the God-bearing saints:

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Welcoming Sumor (Summer) - 2016

The Southerner delights in myth-telling, which is to say, truth told through story rather than by rational argument.

Summer in the Souð, with its warm, relaxing air, only tends to strengthen this ingoading of his, as one may see in this poem by the Georgia poet Paul Hamilton Hayne, ‘A Dream of the South Winds’:

O FRESH, how fresh and fair
Through the crystal gulfs of air,
The fairy South Wind floateth on her subtle wings of balm!
And the green earth lapped in bliss,
To the magic of her kiss
Seems yearning upward fondly through the golden-crested calm!

From the distant Tropic strand,
Where the billows, bright and bland,
Go creeping, curling round the palms with sweet, faint undertune
From its fields of purpling flowers
Still wet with fragrant showers,
The happy South Wind lingering sweeps the royal blooms of June.

All heavenly fancies rise
On the perfume of her sighs,
Which stoop the inmost spirit in a languor rare and fine,
And a peace more pure than sleep's
Unto dim, half-conscious deeps,
Transports me, lulled and dreaming, on its twilight tides divine.

Those dreams! ah me! the splendor,
So mystical and tender,
Wherewith like soft heat-lightnings they gird their meaning round,
And those waters, calling, calling,
With a nameless charm enthralling,
Like the ghost of music melting on a rainbow spray of sound!

Touch, touch me not, nor wake me,
Lest grosser thoughts o'ertake me,
From earth receding faintly with her dreary din and jars,--
What viewless arms caress me?
What whispered voices bless me,
With welcomes dropping dewlike from the weird and wondrous stars?

Alas! dim, dim, and dimmer
Grows the preternatural glimmer
Of that trance the South Wind brought me on her subtle wings of balm,
For behold! its spirit flieth,
And its fairy murmur dieth,
And the silence closing round me is a dull and soulless calm!

Source:  Poems of Paul Hamilton Hayne: Electronic Edition, http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/hayne/hayne.html#hayne105, 1999, p. 105, © This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.

Russians, though living in a far different climate, likewise seem drawn to myth-telling.  In particular, we hope this musical composition by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, ‘The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh’, will prove, along with Mr Hayne’s poem, to be an enjoyable way to enter into summer.

About the legend of Kitezh:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Is Pluralism Enough?

Fr John Strickland, reflecting on the Renaissance of Western Europe, wrote,

 . . .

For Burckhardt, the Renaissance (for the first time a distinct period in history) became the moment of cultural liberation, the breakthrough into the modern age of humanism, individualism, and secularism.  . . .

At the heart of this breakthrough was the Renaissance’s reflection on the human condition. Traditional Christianity, as I have noted in earlier posts, contained within it an exalted view of the human being, made in God’s image and made for a relationship of immediate and eternal communion with God. In eastern Christendom Orthodox Christianity had maintained this anthropological optimism about man, but in the centuries that followed the Great Schism of 1054 a more pessimistic view of man had been established in the west. By the time Petrarch appeared in fourteenth-century Italy, this pessimism was great indeed. Soon it would be challenged directly by leading Renaissance humanists such as Giannozzo Manetti (d. 1459). His On the Dignity of Man boldly confronted one of the middle ages most widely published and influential anthropological treatises, Pope Innocent III’s The Misery of the Human Condition. Even more famously, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (d. 1494) issued his own On the Dignity of Man as a corrective to the pessimistic anthropology that had come to choke the culture of western Christendom.

Burckhardt himself regarded the “rediscovery” of human dignity to be the central achievement of the Renaissance, which alone was sufficient “to fill us with everlasting thankfulness.” He actually paraphrased Mirandola’s treatise as the conclusion to his study of Renaissance anthropology.

The statement is remarkable. The human being is no longer the plaything of the passions, no longer enslaved to the “evil desire” identified by Augustine as the Achilles Heel (to use a classical allusion) of the human will. Man is no longer subject to the demons. He is completely free to choose the good for himself. He is autonomous.

“I have set thee,” Burckhardt (via Mirandola) has the Creator say to Adam,

in the midst of the world that thou mayst the more easily behold and see all that is therein. I created thee a being neither heavenly nor earthly, neither mortal nor immortal only, that thou mightest be free to shape and to overcome thyself. Thou mayst sink into a beast, and be born anew to the divine likeness. . . . To thee alone is given a growth and a development depending on thine own free will.

Remarkable! This, readers of my blog will recall, had been the claim of Pelagius, the fourth-century heretic who claimed that human salvation is merely a matter of choosing freely to save oneself by embracing the Christian life. Against Pelagianism Saint Augustine had developed a doctrine of original sin that asserted man’s powerlessness in the face of evil and led to doctrines of predestination and universal human depravity. In the Christian east, by contrast, church fathers never embraced such a pessimistic view and spoke of human free participation in the life of God. But in the west, under the long and brilliant influence of Augustine, a series of pessimistic views about man came to prevail and led, over the centuries, to the desiccation of the human experience of paradise, of man’s participation in the kingdom of heaven.

The humanist breakthrough of the Renaissance, then, was not only a reaction against the anthropological pessimism of the medieval west, it was a kind of parallel to the optimistic anthropology of the Orthodox east. But this parallel was, tragically, blind. So little spiritual communion existed between eastern and western Christendom after nearly five centuries of division that Italian humanists showed little interest in the former. Plenty of western scholars were beginning to take an interest in “Greek learning”–most notably Petrarch himself–but theirs was not a theological interest. For them, the wisdom of the Greeks was the pagan Plato, not the Christian Palamas.

Whether medieval scholasticism’s tendency to “know about God rather than know him” was responsible, or something deeper in the fabric of western culture, the first humanists of the Italian Renaissance broke free of traditional Christian anthropology to join Mirandola in assigning to modern man a secular horizon for his fulfillment. Still driven instinctively (though perhaps unconciously) by traditional Christianity’s transformational imperative, but desiccated of the spiritual experience of paradise, he was now free to build a utopia.

Source:  ‘An Eastern Perspective on the Western Renaissance’, https://johnstrickland.org/2016/05/15/an-eastern-perspective-on-the-western-renaissance/, accessed 11 June 2016

The foundation of the American Empire is built squarely upon Renaissance ideas:  human perfectibility without Grace, rationalism, a cosmos of dead matter that must be given new shape and meaning by man (since he is now God), secularism, individualism.  Such utopias of the Kingdom of Man usually tend toward extreme centralization (the terrors of utopia are easier to impose on the willing and the unwilling under that kind of system), and it is no different in ‘exceptional’ America (or, rather, in the America that has arisen since the end of the War of Northern Aggression, when New England culture gained dominance over all the States). 

The Southern Agrarians have tried to mount opposition to these forces that have developed in American culture.  H. Lee Cheek, Jr., wrote of their efforts,

Among the contributions to I’ll Take My Stand, Allen Tate’s “Remarks on the Southern Religion” is usually interpreted as the most acerbic, immoderate, and unusual essay in the collection. All too often the essay is read as an apologia for violence or an eccentric defense of tradition. In fact, Tate–like his fellow Agrarians–was seeking to remind his readers of the religious and political society that was once the South. More importantly, Tate’s essay is a plea for a recovery of what has been lost: a humane social order. 

Nourished by daily labors in the fields, it was the properly ordered agrarian community that produced a more stable and wholesome environment for families and workers than industrialism could offer. According to Tate, an agrarian environment encouraged a life more conducive to religious and ethical living as well. In regard to farming, the experience of tilling the soil and harvesting crops embodied a sense of self-sacrifice and an attachment to a shared community. Farming was by its very nature a communal, rather than a solitary act. The primary aesthetic and spiritual needs of humankind were best fulfilled by the structure and corporate nature of an agrarian society. Tate’s close friend and fellow Agrarian, Andrew Lytle, convincingly reaffirmed this sentiment years later: “Agriculture is a limited term. A better one is farming. It is inclusive. Unlike any other occupation, farming is, or should be, a way of life.” 

Genuine cultural renewal could not take place without appreciating the agrarian worldview—grounded in a connection to the soil and love for the Creator that was increasingly less palpable to Tate’s generation, and at the end of 20th century even the memory of such an existence is quickly fading.

 . . .

The Southern and agrarian tradition in America produced a very different understanding of what was really most important. Against the tendency to endorse a theocratic and unitary form of life, this experience accommodated divergent theological and political understandings of order and sought to nurture an ecumenism grounded in the acceptance of dissent and a diffusion of political power.

Liberty was conceived in terms of its corporateness, a societas, combining the family and larger units of an interconnected citizenry with each other to form associations. Instead of the rigorous moral codes found in New England, the Southern colonies were more dependent upon the English model of ecclesiastic and civil subsidiarity, relying on representatives nearest the situation to provide order and preside over the deliberation of disputes. In essence, the religious and political developments within the South were founded upon a spirit of localism in theory and practice. The movement towards “establishing” state-sponsored churches met, for example, with great success in New England, while in the South a decentralized theory of control and the habit of localism in matters of church and state insured a greater autonomy and forbearance among the associations of the faithful and governing authorities.

 . . .

Even though the Agrarians were an assortment of representatives with many theoretical and geographical differences, they were united by an unwillingness to accept consolidationist measures, regardless of the form, and insistent upon protecting a decentralized, group-oriented society, as defined in a variety of ways.

 . . .

Source:  ‘Agrarianism and Cultural Renewal’, http://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/review/agrarianism-and-cultural-renewal/, accessed 10 June 2016

Instead of New England’s centralism and uniformity, the South has taken hold of the other side of the political dialectic:  localism and variety. 

Richard Weaver, one of the later Southern Agrarians, wrote in Visions of Order,

 . . . The truth is that if the culture is to assume form and to bring the satisfactions for which cultures are created, it is not culturally feasible for everyone to do everything “any way he wants to.”  There is at the heart of every culture a center of authority from which there proceed subtle and pervasive pressures upon us to conform and to repel the unlike as disruptive.  . . . 

At this center there lies a “tyrannizing image,” which draws everything toward itself.  This image is the ideal of its excellence.  . . . This is the sacred well of the culture from which inspiring waters like magnetic lines of force flow out and hold the various activities in a subservience of acknowledgment.  Not to feel this magnetic pull toward identification and assimilation is to be outside the culture (Wilmington, Del.: ISI Books, 2006, pgs. 11-2).

Now, Mr Weaver’s truth about the ‘tyrannizing image’ in culture poses great difficulties for the South, trying as she is to build a culture out of ecumenism, out of a ‘pluralistic Protestant establishment’ (M. E. Bradford, ‘Where We Were Born and Raised’, The Reactionary Imperative, Peru, Ill.: Sherwood Sugden and Co., 1990, p. 132).  For pluralism/ecumenism deny that ultimate truth can be known by man, which leads, as Solzhenitsyn said, to apathy for truth, and then, if the process is not halted, hatred of truth.  Pluralism is the negation of truth and thus of culture, splintering them and individualizing them; she is the mother of relativism.  The only heresy, the only outrage, in such a stage of social life is to declare something a heresy.

Most would probably say that the Bible is this sort of cultural unifier in the mostly Protestant South, but per Protestant doctrine, each believer, free from the influence of any other, is the final arbiter of what the Holy Scripture says, that is, of dogma.  This leads not to unity but to deeper and deeper divisions - ultimately to chaos.

But the flourishing of the literary, musical, and other arts in Dixie is not a witness to disharmony in the Southern soul, but to her grasp in some measure of an absolute, unifying truth that imparts order within and without.  The trouble for the South has been where to locate that truth.  Because of the effects of the Great Schism and the Reformation on the Church in Western European civilization, not a few Southerners have been put off by the disagreements over doctrine they see in the Western denominations.  William Gilmore Simms put into words this Southern frustration in his oration Poetry and the Practical:

And the churches, and the expounders of the Faith, themselves, have done not a little towards lessening their own authority, in the variety of the doctrines, and the caprices which mark their requisitions.  The simplicity of divine Truth is impaired, if not mutilated, in the complexity of dogmas, and the very draperies of doctrine are calculated to obscure, if not to crush out the vitality in that Faith, which they were only designed to clothe.  When rival churches array their hosts for conflict, the very identity of truth grows questionable, and we know not well what to believe unless we call in the help of other teachers.  It is, therefore, with no lack of reverence for these, that I declare the conviction that God has not confided us to these only.  He has not left himself without other witnesses, thronging earth and air, thronging your common highway, all of whom cooperate for his glory, and as dutiful ministers to the eternal needs of man.  . . . Nature, through which we behold God himself every where about us, is full of her ministries.  . . . These are required to . . . impress, in some degree, and through some medium his moral and spiritual senses.  . . . Earth, ocean, sky, all speak to him in turn, with ceaseless varieties of aspect, compel his admiration, awaken his curiosity, inspire him with wonder, with awe and with affection (Fayetteville, Ark.:  U of Ark. Press, 1996, pgs. 26-7).

So, having little success with the divided Western denominations, Mr Simms and the later Agrarians have tried to transcend them, to supply for the unifying image the order of nature, the farming way of life, complete with its own religious overtones. 

There is some wisdom in preaching this sort of naturalism.  For the pre-Christian heathen peoples were made ready to accept the Gospel as they gained virtues by the hard work of body, mind, and soul as farmers, herdsmen, woodsmen, etc., and then as they contemplated the eternal Logos in His creation in which they lived and worked.  These blessings of virtue and insight will always be within reach of those living close to the land.  But since this naturalism is only a supplement to the full Christian revelation, it provides little shielding against the furious axe-blows of nominalistic Progress that are savaging the South.

Southern culture has been able to successfully bear witness to some aspects of the truth that it has gleaned from the Western denominations, from the ‘book of nature’, from experiences in the War, etc., but because of the South’s uncertainty over the real source and content of the full, undistorted, and absolute truth (which are only found within the Holy Orthodox Church), and her resultant tilt toward pluralism, her culture has been waning and not waxing through the years.

Among the other things within the full Christian revelation of the Orthodox Church (the original Christian Church, to which all Europe belonged before the Schism got underway round about the 9th hundredyear, and became official in 1054) that would help in the Southern battle against Modernity and for tradition is the idea of mystery, of paradox (i.e., that contradictory things may be united into one without division or confusion).  This absence is the result of Aristotle’s and St Augustine’s rationalistic, speculative theology and philosophy in the West (and is to be found in both Protestant and Roman Catholic doctrine); such speculations must be rejected if we are to regain some cultural stability. 

The Orthodox Church has always held to this teaching about paradox.  It is seen clearly in her teaching about the Holy Trinity (three Persons sharing one nature, one life; not an Augustinian simple essence from whence arises a structure of impersonal entities who are defined merely by function and relation); the Lord Jesus Christ (one Person possessing two natures, divine and human; indeed, He has united Himself with the whole cosmos He created through His union with our flesh.  But this union is not possible in Protestant and Roman Catholic theology; God’s dealings with the creation in their teaching will always be through some created intermediary - the Bible or created grace or etc.); humanity (many persons sharing one nature, one life); and the Church (the union of the Divine and the human that forms Christ’s Body). 

But how can this help?  Because every society needs both unity and diversity to be healthy, not just one or the other.  To have one without the other leads to grave problems, to an unending swing of the pendulum between the one and the many:  from calcified, oppressive centralism and uniformity on the one hand, toward revolutionary democracy and chaotic individualism on the other, and back the other way in hopes of finding stability again. 

In an Orthodox country, there is both unity and diversity.  At the center, giving unity, life, strength, and direction to all in the society, is the Orthodox Faith, or rather, the God that it proclaims.  He is the ‘tyrannizing image’.  Not the Pope of Rome; not the Bible; not a charismatic preacher.  But the One True God, the All-Holy Trinity:  Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Salvation of all the people in Him through the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the goal of an Orthodox country, and both Church and State co-operate toward this end.  They are fellow-workers in this greatest of creative acts (i.e., the making of new creations, of sons of God).  They do not compete with one another for worldly glory and conquest.  The authorities of both seek to turn the gaze of their countrymen, whom they know and understand to be their extended family, to the Kingdom of Heaven.

But diversity is not lost.  While all hold to one faith, there have always been different ways of expressing it.  In Western Europe before the Great Schism, and elsewhere in the Orthodox world, there were and are different forms of the Divine Liturgy used among the different peoples, (Mozarabic in Spain, Gallic in the French lands, Celtic, Byzantine, and so on).  Chanting/Singing styles differ, as do icon styles, church architecture, and so on, amongst countries and regions.  The Orthodox Church does not stifle local cultures but acts as a leaven within them, bringing them to their full stature:  i.e., the full manifestation of an image of Christ seen in the whole life of a people that is unique to them and to them alone, who bring it into being with the help of the Holy Ghost from the unique gifts of soul, body, mind, past, present, land and water features, etc. available to them.

And while bishops and priests have been given a special duty to guard and teach the Faith and administer God’s Grace in the Sacraments, they remain one with the rest of the members of the Church.  There is no clericalism, no artificial division, no caste system.  The Orthodox Church is one Body.  Bishops, priests, deacons, readers, monastics, abbots, laymen, parish councils, and such all have their own particular role in the Church, in defending and spreading the Faith, in helping one another toward salvation. 

This oneness and manyness in the Orthodox Church is incarnated politically in that villages, towns, monasteries, and other ‘little platoons’ (to use Burke’s famous phrase) in Orthodox countries are largely autonomous from the interference of national authorities while nevertheless remaining loyal to them, and serving them when the fatherland in some time of need requires it.

In the Roman Catholic Church, this is not so.  Local cultures are subordinated to the Latin language and culture, which is absolutist and centralized.  Church life is subordinated to the Pope and bishops/Magisterium.  In the Protestant churches, reacting against the Roman Catholic hypercentralism, they have given greater freedom to local churches, pastors, laymen, etc. but now have little to no source of unity that can call forth a manly defense against attacks on the social fabric.  Both imbalances are deadly for a healthy culture in the long run.

Orthodoxy, having the fulness of the Faith, is free of these defects and therefore gives a much greater fullness and wholeness to life in this world than what the West has been able to offer since the Schism.  Here is a little of what Archimandrite Vaseleios had to say about life in Orthodox countries in What Is Unique about Orthodox Culture:

The liturgical community accepts everyone.  Each person fits in, finds his place.

Equality does not mean levelling – that is a disaster, a process which is unnatural for all.  Equality within the Church means that each person finds his own rhythm.  That he delights in his life.  That he finds the glory in humility, the wealth in voluntary poverty, the true, total marriage with the grace of God through purity of life. (2nd ed., E. Theokritoff, trans., Montreal, Quebec: Alexander Press, 2001, p. 14)

This is another seeming paradox:  Embrace of absolute Truth by a people leads not to absolutism (hypercentralization) in politics, etc. but to the healthy, easy-going subsidiarity (or conciliarity) for which the South has advocated.  But should they reject it for partial truth (as with ecumenism/pluralism), then various social maladies arise and freedom disappears.

Speaking more broadly about the ends of man and society, culture and politics, he said:

Man, whether he believes or not, or even if he thinks he believes or thinks he does not believe, desires Theosis (deification) by grace, the undescribable theosis which is granted by the Theanthropos [i.e., God-man--W.G.].  Whatever is given to man, which does not have theosis as its ultimate end is unworthy of him; it devalues both those who give it and those who receive it because it does not conquer death.  Man finds comfort, not when he is conscripted into a certain group to march against others, but when he is enjoined with everyone on behalf of everyone.  When one is enlisted with Him who was crucified in order to save His friends, then everyone becomes His friend, even those who crucify Him.

 . . .

We are able to receive a little of the grace of God which was the Lord’s “before the existence of the world.”  (John 17:5)  This timeless and uncreated glory is shared impassibly and is partaken of in its entirety.  Therefore, when a person receives a certain grace as an energy of the Holy Spirit, he receives in this manner the whole intelligible pearl of the Holy Spirit.  It is the same with Holy Communion such that by receiving a holy pearl, a very small part of the Lord’s body and blood, yet one receives the entire Christ.  And that which we deeply desire is actualized:  everyone receives not merely a fragment, mechanically divided, but takes the whole, which is given divinely.  We do not become a mere part of the whole, but rather the whole is recapitulated within each of us.  Thus through this same grace, through this same gift, everyone is liberated because he receives the whole; at the same time we are all united because we represent the same fullness.  There is an interpenetration (perichoresis) of true unity and true freedom.  Thus we transcend, not only from the wisdom of ancient Greece to the foolishness of the Gospel, that is, living the experience of salvation, but we surpass the democratic system as well.  The conciliar form of governance is actualized:  human society living the Trinitarian mode of existence by grace (Europe and the Holy Mountain, 2nd ed., C. Kokenes, trans., Montreal, Quebec: Alexander Press, 1999, pgs. 22-3, 26).

By accepting the deformations of life that have arisen from the revolutions of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism and the Renaissance-Enlightenment as normative; by accepting pluralism more and more as her plumbline, the South is left with a paltry alternative to an authentic Christian culture:  the ‘humane social order’ with its dim understanding of the good life and how to achieve it, in which means (decentralization, sane farming practices, clean environment, strong economy, etc.) are confused with ends (theosis/salvation), in which Christianity may only manifest itself in a man’s closet or within the walls of a church, but not in public (that would be an unacceptable ‘establishment of religion’), leaving the field of culture wide open for domination by other claimants:  scientism, environmentalism, constitutionalism, etc.

Allen Tate and the Southern Agrarians past and present as a whole were right about many things, but they went terribly wrong in dismissing the ‘Russian or Eastern European mind’ (i.e., the Orthodox Faith) as ‘quite simply supernaturalism or the naïve religion of the entire horse’ (Allen Tate, ‘Remarks on the Southern Religion’, I’ll Take My Stand, Baton Rouge, La.: LSU Press, 2006, p. 163).  This Orthodox Church that they so easily belittled, this union of Heaven and earth, this New Eden, this Body of the Crucified, Risen, and Ascended Lord Jesus Christ, is the only hope of cultural renewal the South, and every other country, has got.  Any other house of salvation has mixed the pure gold and silver and the precious stones of Orthodoxy with the straw and chaff of man-made religions, and will be unable to withstand the cataclysmic hellfires Modernity has lit throughout the South.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Who Is Vladimir Putin?

‘I saw a stone cold killer.” That’s former Defense secretary Robert Gates, on looking into Vladimir Putin’s eyes.

The histories of the Syrian civil war will record an abundance of bloody red lines. History will recall how Assad retained power by etching bloody scars on the lungs, stomachs, and bodies of his people. It will remember how Iran and its proxy militias, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah — those self-ordained servants of the oppressed — forged “justice” by painting Sunni blood on Syrian streets. It will remember how ISIS turned ancient cities into factories of death, enslaved the innocent, and exported terror. And history will remember how Russian president Vladimir Putin skillfully used slaughter as his strategy, while President Obama sat impotent.

Slaughter: At present, that’s Russia’s primary focus in Syria. Assessing the collapse of U.S. resolve — first on Assad’s use of chemical weapons, then on supporting the Free Syrian Army, then on demanding that Assad step down — President Putin sees opportunity in the slaughter of civilians in western and northern Syria. He sees opportunity for two reasons.

 . . .
Source:  Tom Rogan, ‘Putin’s Syria Red-Line Strategy’, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/431391/vladimir-putins-syria-strategy-slaughter, accessed 10 June 2016

This is the nonsense one has to beware of coming from the propaganda organs of the American Empire, even those masquerading as conservative journals like National Review.  Arjun Walia wrote further:

Dr. Udo Ulfakatte is a top German journalist and editor and has been for more than two decades, so you can bet he knows a thing or two about mainstream media and what really happens behind the scenes. Recently, Dr. Ulfakatte went on public television stating that he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, also adding that noncompliance with these orders would result in him losing his job. He recently made an appearance on RT news to share these facts:

I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years, and I was educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public. But seeing right now within the last months how the German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia — this is a point of no return and I’m going to stand up and say it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do and have done in the past because they are bribed to betray the people, not only in Germany, all over Europe.

It’s important to keep in mind that Dr. Ulfakatte is not the only person making these claims; multiple reporters have done the same and this kind of truthfulness is something the world needs more of. One (out of many) great examples of a whistleblowing reporter is investigative journalist and former CBC News reporter Sharyl Attkisson. She delivered a hard-hitting TEDx talk showing how fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.

Another great example is Amber Lyon, a three-time Emmy award winning journalist at CC, who said that they are routinely paid by the US government and foreign governments to selectively report and even distort information on certain events. She has also indicated that the government has editorial control over content.

Ever since Operation Mockingbird, a CIA-based initiative to control mainstream media, more and more people are expressing their concern that what we see in the media is nothing short of brainwashing. This is also evident by blatant lies that continue to spam the TV screen, especially when it comes to topics such as health, food, war (‘terrorism‘), poverty, and more.

 . . .

So who is President Putin?  A cold-blooded killer?  Or someone entirely different than the caricature portrayed by the Western press?  Here is an account from Dr Matthew Johnson that will hopefully balance the picture a bit:

Vladimir Putin is fairly mute about his own religious views. Being a member of the Communist Party is no evidence of atheism. Its evidence only of conformity. Party membership was essential for having any a career of any substantial kind, especially in the security services. Military and police careers were, as in all societies, attractive to patriots and nationalists, though it had to be a “Soviet” rather than a specifically Russian nationalism. However, he does say that he was secretly baptized by his mother at 18 months in Petersburg at the Cathedral of the Martyrs Alexandria and Antonia of Rome. From this, it is safe to say that Putin was secretly taught the faith from a young age.

According to his mother, it was the day of St. Michael and all the Angels, so it had to be November 21st. Putin's views are, in hos own words, to be internal, and never the subject of a show. The cross that his mother gave him at the Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem he wears always. In his house many years ago, a fire broke out from the heating unit of the sauna malfunctioning. Worried that the cross, which he had left near his bed, was gone forever, once of the workmen found it perfectly intact in the midst of all the rubble.

Putin stated on Larry King that he sees this event as a miracle and a “revelation.” His personal commitment to Orthodoxy never wavered afterwards. Normally he goes to obscure, rural churches to spend the holidays, wishing to avoid the cameras and distractions of the major cities. His natural constituency is the Orthodox population, who, as polls have stated since the mid 1990s, trust the patriarch more than anyone else in Russia, even more than Putin himself.

Unlike Slobodan Milosevic, Putin is clearly comfortable and at home in an Orthodox setting, and his ritual movements are smooth and comfortable, not jerky and artificial as might be expected for a hypocritical display. Milosevic was noted for his awkwardness in Orthodox churches in the 1990s, suggesting he had no experience in them. The only time he seemed slightly stiff is when, upon kissing an icon, the background noise was of hundreds of cameras taking pictures.

 . . .

Back in 2001, Izvestia interviewed Putin's spiritual father, the Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) of the Sretensky Monastery. This was December of 2001, probably prior to anyone really knowing too much about his policy agenda. The Archimandrite stated:

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is really an Orthodox Christian really, and not nominally. He confesses, receives communion and is aware of his responsibility before God for the ministry entrusted to him from on high and for his immortal soul. The burden and severity of the problems he is undertaking to solve and his responsibility for these is truly enormous. Anyone who really loves Russia and wishes her well can only pray for Vladimir Vladimirovich whom the Providence of God sent to deliver Russia.

The Archimandrite was himself sent to prison by the old KGB and had members of his family perish because of them. Thus, Putin's background in this organization did not initially endear him to the President. However, he soon was convinced of Putin's Orthodox mind. In his book, the Archimandrite writes:

Combining the modern Russian state with past forms, Putin has undertaken a huge effort to connect it to the heavens. The construction of churches, the reconstruction of destroyed parishes, monasteries and the revival of Russian shrines has become an urgent matter for Putin. For the dark, soulless landscape that was imposed on Russia after 1991 – one dominated by nihilism, anger, and nonsense mercantile scams – Russia was in a condition completely unsuitable for any future development. Anything built in this context, any laboratory or university, immediately plunged into the abyss of a toxic lifestyle. The restoration of churches and monasteries is truly the creation of huge sewage treatment plants which are to filter and processing the fetid waste of the 1990s. It is the construction of spiritual filters through which passes the poisoned spirit of the Russian people.

In his visit to Valaam, Putin stated that “without Orthodoxy, there would be no Russia.” On the website of the Valaam monastery, they speak of the sincerity of the President's faith. They state that visiting the northern shrines was a “turning point” for Putin and began a sincere conversion. He ensured that there was a minimum of meetings and no talk of politics. On August 16th of 2001 Putin first began his pilgrimage and acted like an “ordinary believer.” He walked the three kilometers to the main monastery to St. Nicholas' skete. He then decreed that the island of Anzer be granted officially to the church and more specifically, the monastery of Solovki.

On the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Rus under St. Vladimir, Putin stated:

Today, when people are again looking for moral support, millions of our fellow citizens see their Russian Orthodox religion as a beacon. Trust the wise pastoral words of the Russian Orthodox Church. Her selfless, educational and social service demand respect. Her public authority and peacekeeping efforts aimed at strengthening the harmony and stability of Russia, as well as her efforts to restore the historical ties among peoples, and especially with our compatriots abroad, has been her legacy. It is also important that a new level of state-church relations has developed. We act as genuine partners and as co-workers in solving the most pressing domestic and international challenges in the implementation of joint ventures for the benefit of our country and people.

On the 90th anniversary of the restoration of the Patriarchate, Putin stated:

The Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church helped the people survive the agony of the 20th century. It helped defend the faith, to unite the flock and to save not just the church, but the ideas of Christianity. And later, already in a revival of religious life, the Church has helped continue his tireless service. And today, we appreciate the desire of the Russian Orthodox Church to return the ideals and values to Russian society that for centuries were our spiritual landmarks (Putin, 2007).

It is common to condemn Putin for being a “KGB agent.” the truth is that the security services of any nation attract nationalists. Few doctrinaire Marxists existed in the USSR. This is the exclusive domain of capitalist universities. Putin has condemned Marxism and communism. He has stated that the fall of the USSR was a great “catastrophe.” Indeed it was: Solzhenitsyn said the same. The destruction of the Soviet economy in a few years and its liquidation into the bank accounts of a few Jewish oligarchs is well known. The USSR was preferable to the 1990s in Russia. The life expectancy of the Russian male went down to under 60 years.

To be a career man of any kind in the USSR, one had to join the party. Spouting a few slogans that no one believed is a minor price to pay for the ability to feed one's family. Putin clearly (albeit secretly) rejected the party's atheism. He was and is a Russian nationalist. My book, Russian Populist: The Political Thought of Vladimir Putin shows this at great length. I've translated some speeches and writings that have not seen the light of day in the west. The revelations of Putin's secret baptism make sense out of his post-soviet career and ideological development.

Source:  ‘Putin’s Orthodoxy: A Few Ideas about His Religious Views and the New Russia’, http://www.rusjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Putin_ROC.pdf, accessed 1 June 2016