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The White Mind (and Soul)

If looking for evidence of generic, basic thinking, one could not do better than the New York Times. The international Scheißblatt promulgated by the Mexican oligarch Carlos Slim is a repository for all things uninteresting (see: leftist).

In September of last year, the paper somehow managed to outdo itself in terms of its declining quality. In an op-ed entitled “How a Russian Fascist Is Meddling in America’s Election,” Yale professor Timothy Snyder whined that through Russian interference in the presidential election, “a prophet of Russian fascism” became, in a sense, Americanized.

In this one article, the left mixes its major obsessions of The Current Year: Russian meddling in U.S. politics, online “trolls” who “attack” left-wing journalists, and Donald Trump’s supposed affinity for the anti-democratic philosophies of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. Snyder wraps up his written menses by crying for “A simpler democracy” that would be more “exemplary” than the one currently in use.

What this means is simple—Snyder wants direct democracy, no voter ID laws, and every other form of legislation that would lead to massive, Third World-style corruption. It should be noted that Snyder, whose book "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning" provides a thoroughly materialist explanation for Adolf Hitler’s “colonial” war within Europe’s own boundaries, fails miserably to either understand or correctly define the thinking of the Russian fascist, Ivan Ilyin, that he deplores.

Snyder is ultimately right that Ilyin, an aristocratic Muscovite philosopher who fled his homeland after the Russian Civil War, has enjoyed widespread appreciation in Putin’s Russia. Putin has not only quoted Ilyin in several of his speeches, but his Kremlin lists Ilyin’s "Our Tasks" as recommended reading for government officials.

But when it comes to Ilyin’s supposed fascism, Snyder fails to understand clear assertions. In his article “On Fascism,” which has been expertly translated into English by Mark Hackard, the proprietor of The Soul of the East blog, Ilyin’s writes:

…fascism committed an entire range of grave and serious errors that defined its political and historical physiognomy and lent its very name that odious pallor which its enemies never tire from emphasizing.

Specifically, Ilyin excoriates fascists like Mussolini and National Socialists like Hitler for “a hostile attitude toward Christianity,” the founding of “right-totalitarianism as a permanent…system,” and “idolatrous Caesarism” that cultivates a civic religion of leader worship.

In another essay written in 1948, Ilyin articulates the obvious truth that “the living sense of justice of a people gives a form of sovereignty its enactment, life, and strength.” Sovereignty is not an elastic waistband, nor is it a pure mathematical equation. A nation’s character and history dictates appropriate sovereignty.

For Snyder and other neoliberal functionaries, the idea that democracy can’t be exported abroad runs contrary to all of their deeply held ideals. Ilyin’s consistent support for an organic authoritarianism is the furthest thing from a Weimar-style globalist state of unending distractions. For Ilyin, life, faith, reason, and moral quality are the core columns supporting a healthy society. Contrary to the Snyder crowd, Ilyin’s authoritarianism ideal is founded upon a sense of shared liberty and harmonious patriotism.

The left’s misunderstanding of Ilyin is just another example of its broader misunderstanding of Russia, Orthodox Christianity, and faith in general. Going even further, it is clear that most paid propagandists in our university system have little clue about the White Army and the White Russian counterrevolution.

Unlike the Bolsheviks, who proselytized internationalism and who created a profoundly anti-Russian political spirit, the Whites sought not just a patriotic recovery, but a new Russia invigorated by tradition. The essence of this tradition was, in Ilyin’s own words, God. A godless Bolshevism sought to unmake Russia, the heir to the ancient traditions of the Eastern Roman Empire. The Whites fought valiantly to stop that, even amidst a general war weariness caused by the First World War.

The inherently religious crusade of the White Army can be seen in how White refugees attempted to revitalize their beloved homeland from afar. Ilyin, who lived the rest of his life in Germany and Switzerland, used his pen to keep alight the true spirit of Russian nationalism. Others, like Saint John of Shanghai (or Saint John the Wonderworker) and Vladimir Lossky glorified the Christian faith and the Orthodox tradition of "theosis" as a permanent solution to the passing fad of Communism.

More importantly, the White Movement, which eventually reached countries as disparate as Brazil, China, and the United States, protected the unique soul and spirit of the Russian nation during its long winter of Soviet rule. Through this the Whites finally achieved victory in 2000. It should not be surprising that under Putin, Russia has not only revived White thinkers like Ilyin, but has also seen a flowering of newer philosophies like Alexsandr Dugin’s Eurasianism.

For all its faults, Putin’s nation is at least a Christian and undeniably Russian state. Much to the chagrin of neoliberal imperialists, Russia has seen through the “end of history” and has resurrected its undemocratic traditions. This is truly right and just, for, as Ilyin correctly recognized, a society will always find its natural self so long as an appropriate sovereignty reigns.

Fortunately for the Christian world, thousands of Russians in the 1920s, from soldiers to simple merchants, heeded the words of the great White general Pytor Wrangel:

The battle for Russia has not ceased, it has merely taken on new forms.

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