Sunday, 23 February 2014

Israel's Role in Ukraine

In the events that have unfolded in Ukraine during the past weeks, the role of Israel is by far the most interesting. As far as the Americans and the European Union are concerned, it is a question of pursuing old-fashioned power politics vis-à-vis Russia with a view to minimising the latter's influence in Europe. The role of Israel, on the other hand, can be adequately appraised only by taking into account the financial interests of the following individuals, whose plight was reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on 2 July 2013:

"In the past decade, wealthy businessmen from the former Soviet Union have flocked to Israel in private planes via the Moscow-Tel Aviv route. Once here, they buy mansions in wealthy communities and get around in luxury cars. Most of them have come to Israel to escape the grasp of Russian President Vladimir Putin. They live below the radar, zealously guarding their privacy and hiding their assets and Israeli citizenship. [...] Many of them fear that if their Israeli assets and citizenships were revealed, it would complicate their relations with Russian authorities or hurt their business interests."

Gone are the days of cowboy liberalism when Western tycoons and businessmen would treat Russia with the condescension of a colonial lord towards his African subject. The economic system currently in force in Russia is corporative in nature: the state works with the businessmen, and those amongst these businessmen, Khodorkovsky being a case in point, who object to the interference of the state into their financial dealings can count on heavy reprisals.

The oligarchs of Russia are left with no choice but to cooperate with Putin, lest they suffer the same fate as Khodorkovsky. Some of these oligarchs prostrate themselves with great gusto at the feet of the ruler in Kreml, but the modus vivendi that they have found with Putin is an uneasy one. After all, these oligarchs are in possession of state assets of the Soviet Union purchased at a fraction of their actual value. At some point in time these assets will have to be returned to their rightful owners: The Russian People.

The long term aim of these oligarchs is to determine the political culture as well as the legislative framework of Russia in such a way that their property is shielded from being expropriated by the state. The procession from liberalism towards corporatism, which in the future could lead to further centralisation, is a process that these oligarchs are at pains to reverse. The first step towards such a reversal is to prevent Putin from extending his sphere of influence into their safe havens in the former Soviet Union, of which Ukraine is the most important.

Press TV was one of the few news outlets to report on the Israeli involvement in the riots in Ukraine:

"A former Israeli army officer is playing a leading role in the anti-government protests in Ukraine [...]. [This] unnamed Israeli was commanding a group of 20 Ukrainian militants while four other Israelis, who had also previously served in the army, were said to have taken part in opposition rallies in Ukraine's capital of Kiev. They were born in Ukraine but migrated to Israel and joined its armed forces before returning [to Ukraine] for the demonstrations [...]"

The Press TV report went on to state

"that an Israeli tycoon provided financial support to the opposition in Ukraine [...]"

On 16 December 2013 Jerusalem Post reported that

"some young Jews working for international organizations such as JDC, Hillel and Limmud have taken to the barricades [in Ukraine, and they were] 'really active' in offering support as well as 'organizing the barricades'."

One may well be tempted to view these young Jews as useful idiots, but it is far more plausible that they were in fact provocateurs with a political agenda of their own. Ukraine is not just a safe haven for oligarchs on the run from Putin; it is also a country in which Israel exerts a high degree of political influence.

What should be troubling to Russia is the extent of the cooperation between Ukraine and Israel in the fields of military and intelligence. During the European Championship in football in 2012, which was held in Poland and Ukraine, Mossad was partly in charge of security. And the cooperation went much farther than the overseeing of sports events:

(i) Exchange of security information between the two countries; such an exchange is most likely skewed in Israel's favour.

(ii) Cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism.

(iii) Israel is granted wellnigh unlimited access to Ukrainian databases; this facilitates the halting of the influx of undesired elements into Israel as well as the apprehension of potential or imagined terrorists.

Indeed, the cooperation between Israel and Ukraine in the field of intelligence is so extensive that Israel saw it fit to appoint Reuven Dinel, a former Mossad agent, as ambassador to Ukraine. It is worth noting that Dinel was caught spying in Russia during the 90s and was subsequently declared persona non grata. So tarnished was Dinel's reputation that Turkmenistan refused to grant diplomatic status to this enemy of Russia. Ukraine had no such qualms.

Ukraine is today a veritable den of russophobic Israelis. On the one hand, Israel's interests coincide with those of the West in the sense that they both wish to limit the Russian sphere of influence, whereas on the other Israel is advocating the agenda of oligarchs with dual or multiple citizenships jealously clinging on to assets stolen from the people of Russia.

Russia has no choice but to treat Israel as an enemy state.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

How Mongols Saved Russia

Some months ago Pavlo Lapshyn, a Ukrainian studying in England, stabbed an aging Muslim man of South Asian origin to death in an unprovoked incident. Pavlo's blind hatred of the Muslims made no sense to his shattered father: after all, Pavlo's own grandmother, Raziya Halili, was a Tatar Muslim. The father recounted how the grandmother would shower her grandson with love; hence he was at a complete loss as to Pavlo's animosity towards the Muslims.

Pavlo Lapshyn is clearly ashamed of his ancestors, and the different traditions of the world do not have pleasant things to say about men like him. According a proverb, presumably of Native American origin, "the whole universe conspires to destroy the man who is ashamed of his own ancestors." The Bible is perhaps even more candid in regard to this matter: "The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures" (Proverbs, 30:17). According to the great Confucius, filial piety (hsiao) is a virtue that no honourable man can do without. Indeed, it is my firm view that one of the secrets to the longevity of the Chinese civilisation is its cult of ancestors.

Pavlo Lapshyn's hatred of his own ancestors, for which an innocent immigrant in England had to pay a heavy price, should not be viewed as an isolated incident; rather his revolting conduct is symptomatic of a social disease with which large segments of the Ukrainian society is infected.

The Ukrainian battle against Russia has a vital mythohistorical dimension which is often lost sight of: Ukraine is the custodian of the slavic heritage, whereas Russia is the bastard remnant of the Mongol yoke.

This mythohistorical narrative, hailing from the West, has created much discord in Russia during the last two centuries. Russians are no strangers to blaming the Mongols for a variety of social ills, from the apparent lack of democratic institutions to alcoholism. In the writings of Vissarion Belinsky, a mediocre thinker who had a significant impact on Russian intellectual life in the ninteenth century, the abiding Mongol tyranny was the cause of Russia's misfortunes. In a famous denuciation of the pro-Czarist intellectual Nikolai Gogol, Belinsky accused him of being a lover of the Mongols:

"You [, Nikolai, are a] defender of the [rulers'] whip, you [are a] prophet of ignorance, [...] you [are a] champion of the Mongol way of life. Behold the ground underneath your feet. You are on the verge of perdition."

According to Belinsky, the Russian czardom was a continuation of the Mongol rule. He was partially right. After all, Ivan IV (1530-1584), known as "the Terrible" in the West, was directly related to Gengis Khan, whereas Emperor Boris (1551-1605) hailed from the Golden Horde.

Mongol ancestry amongst the Russians is actually quite commonplace. Lenin, for instance, had two grandparents who were Kalmyks, and by all accounts he was not at all troubled by his Mongol ancestry. Stalin, for his part, was certainly no Mongol, but he clearly liked the idea of being one (cf. picture), much as I do.

The game called Blame-the-Mongol is still considered a worthwhile pastime in Ukraine, whereas this is no longer the case amongst the majority of the Russians. In Russia, "various segments of the elite [...] have started to either directly or indirectly associate themselves with the great Mongolian warrior [Gengis Khan] and his empire."

Russia's tilt toward the East makes sense not only from a strictly geopolitical point of view; it is also a question of embracing your past and who you really are.

According to the narrative of the European historians, the Mongol yoke insulated Russia from the liberating influence of European ideas. This ridiculous claim of the European historians should be treated with utmost contempt by the Russians. Papist absolutism, pigheaded Protestant fideism, Catholics and Protestants slaughtering one another in the millions during the religious wars, the extermination of the natives of America, and pseudoliberal thinkers like John Locke deeming property more valuable than human life are also the products of the Europeans' propensity to the universalisation of their tribal whims.

To this provincialism of the Europeans one should counterpoise the genuine ecumenism and humanism of the Mongols. The Mongols advocated non-interference in religious matters and they were passionate patrons of the arts. In comparison with the openminded and tolerant Mongols, John Locke, ironically considered a great champion of freedom in the West, comes across as the hypocritical and murderous Puritan that he was:

"It is impossible either by indulgence or severity to make papists [...] friends to your government, being enemies to it both in their principles and interests, [...] they ought not to enjoy the benefit of toleration, because toleration can never, but restraint may, lessen their number, or at least not increase it, as it does usually all other opinions which grow and spread by persecution, and recommend themselves to bystanders by the hardships they undergo [...]. But I think it is far otherwise with Catholics, who are less apt to be pitied than others because they receive no other usage than what the [...] cruelty of their own principles and practices they are known to deserve [...]."

These were the perverse European ideas from which Russia was shielded by the Mongols' alleged yoke. The Mongol might was legendary throughout the known world. The Mongol fury would turn Baghdad into ashes within the space of a few hours and it made the whole of Europe tremble in fear.

According to the great Soviet historian Lev Gumilev, the Mongols were no impediment to the blossoming of the Russian civilisation. To the contrary, the Mongols saved Russia from being overrun by the European hordes, whose murderous track record in their colonies is well known to us all. Without the Mongols, the whole of Russia would have become latinised, and the Russians would have been no more than a footnote in the history books of today.

Gumilev's school of thought has given the Russians an indigenous historical narrative that does justice to all those who have contributed to the making of the great Russian civilisation, including the Mongols. And it should surprise no one, that President Putin, who is a great intellectual in his own right, frequently quotes Gumilev in his speeches. The unveiling of Gumilev's bust at MGIMO, Moscow's elite university for aspiring diplomats, is another testimony to his exalted standing amongst the Russian intelligentsia.

Russia has at last come to terms with its past, whereas Ukraine is still beholden to a historical narrative befitting village idiots.

To the Ukrainian who beats his chest over his European grandfather, but who is too ashamed to admit that his grandmother was a Mongol, I have the following to say: a mad dog's death would be too kind a fate for people like you. And it is my ardent hope that at least an iota of your consciousness remains while worms and maggots gnaw away at your decomposing flesh.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Russian Justice

People occasionally ask me what history book they should read in order to increase their knowledge of Russia's past, and my reply is always, "NONE!" If you wish to understand Russian history, you should read the spiritual counsels of Theophan Zatvornik, the epistles of Nil Sorsky, and the novels of Ivan Turgenev.

How could you fathom the idealism of the Narodniki, the young aristocrats who went to live amongst the peasantry, unless you understand what Sorsky has to say in regard to renunciation? And how could you discern the rationale behind the heavyhanded approach of the Bolsheviks unless you understand why the Narodniki were hounded out of the countryside by the peasants whom they held in the highest esteem?

The ignorance of the Russian peasantry is legendary. Well-meaning doctors who went to the villages to attend the sick were often accused of being witches and murdered in the most barbaric fashion. When Russia lost the war against Japan in 1905, there was the widespread belief amongst the Russian peasantry, that the Japanese had transformed themselves into microbes and crawled into the boots of the Russian soldiers, thus rendering them motionless. Russia had been defeated by occult means. How do you deal with such astounding nescience? There were two solutions:

(i) Let the peasants continue leading a life of blissful ignorance. You will do them no good by educating them. After all, as the Bible says, "he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow."

(ii) The second solution was that of Stalin: the Russian peasantry would have to change its ways - by force, if necessary. As Marx had pointed out during one of his truly Hegelian moments of inspiration, "the classes and the races, too weak to master the new conditions of life, must give way." The despicable creatures who have never read Marx, and who are too stupid to understand Hegel, see in these words a call for genocide on the part of Marx, whereas, to the contrary, Marx is merely explicating the laws of history. The races who would be vanquished were those who remained ignorant of the mechanisms determining the course of history, and this tragedy could be averted by educating the masses so as to enable them to pursue a line of action in accordance with their own best interest. Stalin saw it as his sacred mission to guide the Russian peasantry out of obscurantism; thus he sought to ascertain that the people whom he loved were not sacrificed on the altar of history. And those, such as the feudal Kulaks, who resisted this act of liberation, would have to be crushed by the iron fist of the state. Stalin knew very well that what he set out to do would be controversial, and he had the following to say to his detractors: "when I die, my people will defile my grave with litter; but much later they will understand that I did the right thing."

This conflict between those who wish to let things remain as they are and those who wish to bring about a revolutionary change to the Russian society is at the heart of Turgenev's novel Fathers and Sons. On one side you have the weary generation of the fathers, whereas on the other you have Yevgeny Bazarov, a character as inritiguing as Ivan Karamazov. Bazarov excels as an intellectual, and he intimidates his foes with his extensive knowledge of the different branches of philosophy. Not only does Bazarov embody the Russian ideal of ferocious intellectuality; he is also a precursor to the Bolsheviks.

People who think that Bolshevism was some sort of a Jewish conspiracy betray their appalling ignorance of Russia's history. 80% of the officers in the Red Army were former Czarists. Furthermore, without the support of the Russian people, there is no way the Bolsheviks could have defeated more than a dozen foreign interventionist powers along with the Whites. Even the two symbols adopted by the Bolsheviks were as Russian as they could get: the hammer signifying the urban workers of Russia and the sickle signifying the peasantry.

The Bolsheviks were deeply Russian. They personified the Russian ideals of universal learning, and they displayed a genuinely Christian sense of justice, as outlined in the epistles of Sorsky: "do not waste your money on the decoration of the churches; distribute it amongst the poor instead."

The messianic sense of justice dictated that the Bolsheviks bring redemption not only to the people of Russia, but to the whole world. The Bolshevik hatred of Russia's feudal lords would be extended to the ruling elites all over the world. The world had never seen anything like the Bolshevik scourge; one day this scourge shall return.

It is incumbent on the young Russians to follow the example of Lenin and meditate on the toughest works of philosophy: Kritik der reinen Vernunft by Kant, Phaenomenologie des Geistes by Hegel, and Das Kapital by Marx. Great philosophical ideas engender great men. Once this knowledge has been assimilated, the gates of fury shall once again burst open, the Scythian hordes shall once again lay siege to the world, and any force impeding this sacred onslaught shall be pulverised.

Chinese Success, Indian Failure

The study of colonialism is a study in pathology, and it is so because the colonial masters sought to construct a specific kind of bastard-breed in the colonies. According to Lord Macauley, the longevity of the British colonial rule hinged on whether one succeeded in manufacturing an obedient elite of colonial subjects or not. These native middlemen may have yellow, brown, or black faces, but they ought to be decidedly British in terms of worldview, tastes, and manners. The extent of the British success in this respect varied from place to place. The Chinese proved difficult to reform for several reasons, the chief amongst which were as follows:

(i) The language barrier: The native languages of China are not Indo-European; for a Westerner, the mastering of these languages would require an excessive amount of time and effort. The colonial masters never succeeded in penetrating the Chinese mindset.

(ii) The collective memory of (recent) greatness: China was the world's leading power until the eighteenth century; this fact was never forgotten by the Chinese. The eclipse of Chinese supremacy is temporary and China is slowly reverting to its place of pre-eminence. The following facts provided by James Petras and John Hobson are worth pondering:

(a) "As early as 1078, China was the world’s major producer of steel (125,000 tons); whereas Britain in 1788 produced 76,000 tons."

(b) "[China's] innovations in the production of paper, book printing, firearms and tools led to a manufacturing superpower whose goods were transported throughout the world by the most advanced navigational system."

(c) "China’s ‘agricultural revolution’ and productivity surpassed the West down to the 18th century."

(d) "China possessed the world’s largest commercial ships. In 1588 the largest English ships displaced 400 tons, China’s 3,000 tons. Even as late as the end of the 18th century China’s merchants employed 130,000 private transport ships, several times that of Britain. China retained this pre-eminent position in the world economy up until the early 19th century."

(iii) A uniform native culture: What I find admirable about the Chinese is their collective spirit. This spirit is not something unique to the Chinese; one encounters it amongst the Japanese and the Koreans as well. The Prussian virtues for which the Germans are occasionally lauded are a second nature to the Chinese. This vitality to the Chinese civilisation is intrinsic in nature, ensuing as it does from a spiritual-cum-philosophical substratum. The Confucian ideal of learning encourages one to abide by the dicates of those who know better. There are few places in the world where learned men are held in as high an esteem as in China. The reliance on the judgments of a selfless intelligentsia is the best way of ascertaining that the right decisions are made in the economic realm. The Chinese ideal of statesmenship signifies the politics of the future. The post-colonial nations who care for their own well-being must disband their western pseudo-democratic institutions and adopt the genuinely democratic Chinese model: a well-functioning welfare state matters far more than parliamentarianism and a free press.

China has succeeded where so many post-colonial nations have failed. In this regard, it is of interest to contrast the Chinese success with the Indian failure. The Chinese were never blinded by the ideological superstructure of their colonial masters and concentrated the surplus of their efforts on the rebuilding of their great nation as soon as the imperialists had been defeated, whereas the Indians succumbed to the ways of the white man and are - till this very day - more concerned with fighting the white man's wars, whether against China or as tools reinforcing the white man's racial stereotypes in the latter's war on the black man.