Poland, Central-Eastern Europe, and Russia, part 2.
by Prof. Andrzej Nowak
Fragment of ascotv video-presentation June 7, 2022
[…] I think there is also an element in understanding what it is that Russia brings to the social and spiritual relations of our lands that have been subjugated to it – and that is part of its historical identity as well.
This is a special kind of lie. Lying, of course, is not a unique feature of Russia. Lying is always present in the relations between political communities and within these communities – it is an inherent feature of politics. But the level to which lies and the denial of reality have risen in Russia does, in my opinion, deserve to be treated separately. To be put into a separate category. This was recognized, in a certain symbolic sense, as early as the eighteenth century, when the concept of the “Potemkin villages” appeared, which you are probably familiar with. This is a symbol of a kind of pseudo-reality that is constructed to deceive foreign countries. I want to remind you that the very notion originated from the route of the passage of Catherine the Great, that triumphal passage of Empress Catherine II towards Novorossiya, as it was called – the area annexed by the Russian or Imperial army, at the expense of Turkey in the 1870s and 1880s. The drive-by was organized by Catherine’s morganatic husband, earlier lover, and long-time advisor, Grigory Potemkin. Along the route of the drive, Potemkin ordered the construction of facades of houses, beautifully painted behind which there was nothing, but which gave the impression that Catherine was already driving through a land “flowing with milk and honey,” already wonderfully urbanized in modern houses of the Dutch type.
However, it so happened that Denmark’s ambassador, accompanying this procession, simply decided to look behind those facades. He was the first to describe in his account of the trip what a “Potemkin village” was all about. However, you could say it is a humorous and not-so-harmful kind of lie. Moreover, not all that rare; I don’t know if familiar, but not all that rare.
Another guest from France who visited Tsar Nicholas I in 1843 was convinced that he would visit the most conservative ruler who would save the old order from the onslaught of unbridled liberalism and revolutionary forces that had already taken over the West. This was Marquis Astolphe de Custine, whose parents had been beheaded by the French Revolution and he was making a pilgrimage (almost) to St. Petersburg in the hope that the capital of this conservative system was there. When he returned from this trip, some four years later (the trip took place in 1839), he published his book “Russia in 1839“; it was in 1843. Furthermore, this is the harshest indictment of Russia for being an empire of lies – first of all, lies at every turn, a total denial of reality such that Custine had never encountered in any Western country or even in the legacy of the French Revolution. Furthermore, he described it in detail in this book which, of course, became a great scandal, so to speak, from the point of view of Russia in the mid-19th century.
In Poland, the first person to describe this lying principle of the Russian system was Maurycy Mochnacki. Before I get to it…, I want to give you a specific illustration of this level of ability of the Russian tradition to lie about reality. It is indeed a meaningful illustration.
I do not know if you have encountered the term “New Chronology.” This is a view of universal history produced, as it were, in Russia over the last 40 years by a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a prominent mathematician, Anatoly Fominko. Supported by several other scholars, Fominko was also cheered on by the very famous 20th-century mathematician, Andrey Kolmogorov, a member of many of the most important mathematical societies worldwide. Books presenting the “New Chronology” sell millions of copies in Russia today and are particularly popular. The former advisor to President Putin, still a very influential politician, Sergey Glazyev, went on record stating that “this should be the basis of Russia’s new ideology – just this “New Chronology.”
What is it based on?
Well, on the “fact” that there was no antiquity and no mid-medieval period, and that universal history begins around the year 1000, according to the Old Style. Everything else was invented by Western French and Jesuit forgers in the 16th century. Christ was crucified in, and I think he mentioned, the year 1184 in Constantinople; Haghia Sophia is Solomon’s Temple. The real Solomon was Suleiman the Great. I am not making anything up here. It is all in this “New Chronology”!
Furthermore, China, Japan, Babylon, or Egypt have a history beginning… only after the year 1000. They simply did not exist before, and their entire history is based on a historical template created in Europe in the 16th century. So, when you think about it, it is tough even to imagine that someone can believe in this book – well, millions of Russians do! Gary Kasparov, the famous chess player, also believed in it for some time, but fortunately, he distanced himself from it and is today a strong opponent of Putin’s regime.
Nevertheless, I am talking about the phenomenon. I know that there are flat-earthers, that there are believers of various theories all over the world. However, the degree of consistency to which these kinds of fiction are accepted indicates a cultural background for this kind of phenomenon.
I could discuss many other details of this “New Chronology,” but this is the most popular phenomenon of the historical imagination in Russia today. No longer Eurasianism, but the “New Chronology.” Fomienko is still alive and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences with the title of distinguished professor of Moscow State University named after Mikhail Lomonosov. By the way, excuse me, I have a string of associations here -– maybe I should stop now since I have such an overlap between the two. However, it was the patron of this university, the oldest in Russia, opened in 1755, Mikhail Lomonosov, who was treated as a natural Russian genius, who started his career at the court of Empress Elizabeth II with the statement that the Rus was created by itself, that there were no Vikings, no Varangians. He stated that we created everything ourselves.
Well, I would say this is a lie of a lesser caliber because it is about one event, true enough. Nevertheless, it made him such a national hero for the Russians. He finally said that we did not owe anything to any outsiders; some Vikings came here according to the first chronicles and founded Novgorod and Kyiv, but Lomonosov proves that it is all a lie. We were always here. Russians, actually, not even Ruthenians, but Russians. Well, this kind of attitude towards a reality that can be freely manipulated to satisfy, I would say, the currently valid version of the “Imperial Truth” is something unusual when talking about the truth. Moreover, with all due respect, in a sense – or in quotation marks – for the ability to lie to millions of people or hundreds of millions of people by the global media of the contemporary West, I have the impression that this Russian talent is also worth some different treatment. And now the conclusion.
This talent for lying is not only and not primarily turned to manipulate its own subject population. But it is used to confuse, excuse me for a kind of colloquialism, those who feel lost in the modern world and are ready to believe the perpetrators of the lie that Russia is the last defender of the Cross – that Putin’s Russia is its last defender. That Putin is simply the defender of the old moral order in the world. We have a kind of paradox that needs to be emphasized here. The very people who broadcast this message in Moscow, who find their audience in Poland, in Germany, in France, in the USA, the same people, are at the same time producing another message – one addressed to the old party comrades of the communist parties which, after all, still exist all over the world.
This message sounds like this: “Russia is the only hope for the Left in the world because Russia inherits the traditions of Stalin, and it was he who defeated fascism, he who saved the world from fascism, and today Russia is saving the world from fascism whose only face in the world today is that of the Americans.”
I am not trying to justify the various manifestations of American imperialism; my point is the reduction of all evil to singular, American imperialism from which this traditionally leftist/progressive Russia, the depositor of the traditions of the Bolsheviks and Stalin, and who saved the world from fascism, is rescuing it.
Simultaneously, same contemporary Russia broadcasts a message of this kind, addressed to specific audiences in Europe: “Well, only we will help you regain your sovereignty. You, the Basques against Spain, you the Welsh against Britain. You the Scots against Britain, the English.” This is also just one example of the application of this multi-layered, I would venture to say – strategy of lying, where these lies are not at all logically connected, but this is what Fyodor Stepun, a philosopher from the early 20th century, labeled “the Russians lack of a logical conscience.” Logical conscience – I do not mean conscience in general, just a logical conscience. It means they can say with a stone face that two plus two is 17, … or -4. They can say it and prove it. The mathematician Fomienko is an example of this way of thinking. The same goes for the mathematician Kolmogorov.
Well, this very phenomenon is worth reminding us that we should not take this alternative seriously in the role in which Russia casts itself in various meanings concerning the Western world or with us saying, “we will save you from this evil globalism, even though globalism is a real threat in its various forms.” It is undoubtedly Vladimir Putin’s Russia that does not want to fight against it. Vladimir Putin’s Russia wants to realize its imperial interests in conjunction with anyone who will allow it to realize those interests. Anyone can be the “Western partner” with whom Russia will cut a deal to rebuild its sphere of dominance in Eastern Europe. It could be Henry Kissinger and John Mearsheimer coming from his school, the most influential representative of the so-called “realist” school in America. It could be Chancellor Scholtz or his SPD predecessor, Chancellor Schroeder, employed directly with Russian money. It could be President Macron acting in the name of European appeasement. Of course, it could also represent some radical neo-pagan formation, which was also the object of Russian agents’ and even the KGB’s tentacles in the 1980s, suggesting that the right-wing, the hard right-wing, should be neo-pagan and should reject Christian weaknesses. With this mission, Alexander Dugin, the main ideologist of contemporary Russia, went in 1982 to the West to look for such neo-pagan contacts. Furthermore, at the same time, Russia belts out the same message, “just give us control over at least the eastern half of the continent, then we will save Christianity.” Without us, you will not save Christianity. Without Putin, we will not save Christianity, and many Catholic Christian circles also take this offer seriously in the West and Poland. I know some experts on Russia, who think that this kind of declaration should be taken seriously. I think that if we forget about the concept, accompanying the whole strategy of Russia since at least the beginning of the 18th century, of deceiving, lying, and manipulating those Western partners whom they want to drag into the strategy of a new partition of Eastern Europe, we will not understand anything from this game that Russia is playing by treating it seriously as a center of some kind of hope.
Russia, I said, should not be demonized; Russia does not have unlimited possibilities. They depend only on the response of these Western partners. If Catholics in the West, in Poland, chose to not look for hope in Russia, they should look for hope in the tradition of John Paul II and those saints whose names we have called here. If the Germans choose to look for such hope, not in Russia, they have the tradition of St. Boniface. If the French seeks renewal of their Christian tradition not in Putin but Chartres – Russia will be helpless.
If, on the other hand, these lies will continue to be voiced with impunity and will not be exposed effectively, we will fall victim to this next phase of aggression, which will not stop the coming threat, corrupting Western civilization. However, we will only accelerate this crisis of Western civilization because morality, based on “appeasement” to satisfy the aggressor, and closing one’s eyes to the rape and recognizing that nothing is actually happening because it is necessary, in the name of order, in the name of stability, allowing Russia to rape, to kill, to expand its borders militarily is wrong. This kind of morality will certainly not stop any globalism or moral or cultural threat from corrupting the Western world.
To conclude, let me read from Maurycy Mochnacki an excerpt mentioned earlier. I have also quoted him before, but I cannot resist citing his diagnosis of Russian policy formulated in 1832 in an article on the nature of the Moscow partitions printed in the “Pamiętnik emigracji polskiej” [“Memoirs of the Polish Émigrés”], under the wings, so to speak, of Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski.
I quote: “The policy of the tsars has three separate epochs. In the first one, they instigate and plant mines in the middle of a neighboring country that they wish to control. It is a time of invisible influence, bribes, and promises. In the second, they intervene openly. First, they guarantee, then they protege the unfortunate neighbor always at its own request. It is a time of baiting the western courts. Moscow diplomats develop their talents amidst these circumstances. It praises the tsar’s disinterestedness, generosity, and love of peace. It gives a fair appearance to the treacherous movements of his armies while it tries to partly deceive Berlin and Vienna and involve them in certain participation in the robbery. When, at this cost, a partition without victories has been half accomplished, only then, in the third and last epoch, Moscow’s policy begins to be conservative. The tsars quell revolts, populated Siberia with troublemakers upsetting the order, and ruled a country that, according to words and newspapers, should consider itself happy to lose its independence, be rid of internal disturbances, and pay tribute to the Empire of All-Russia.”
This is precisely the prospect that Russia now presents to European politics. There will be order, there will be orderliness, but how much of it will allow Russia to seize as much of it as it wants. For the time being, this is only ¼ or ½ of Ukraine’s territory, and in a few years – the time will come for another country. Thank you.
Translation from Polish J. Czarniecki
The entire presentation in Polish can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae_H_pG_xBY