Monday, January 19, 2015

Putin, Ivan Ilyin ... and well Shaker too ...: "Mr. President, do what Hercules did and clean the stables!"

Ivan Ilyin is the thinker whom Putin likes to quote most and whom he also keeps recommending to his state apparatus. Somehow, it also happens that Ivan Ilyin is Shaker's star. Interestingly, one liberal myth is that Ilyin, this leading and uncompromising anticommunist, rejected Nazism.

As it happened, I came across Ilyin's own POSTWAR  (that is, written when Nazism lost the war) statement on Nazism in Mark Hackard's translation.

In the second half of the rather short, but quite straightforward article, Ilyin lists "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." Among these grave errors, Ilyin claims, was "mixing social reforms with socialism." According to Ilyin, the errors "compromised fascism." The list of these errors is then followed by Ilyin's recommendations of how to fix them in order to save fascism's greatness and mission. One of the fixes identified and recommended by Ilyin is for fascism not to call itself fascism again. The brand became too compromised. Therefore, he wholeheartedly praised Franko and Salazar for trying to avoid what Ilyin calls merely "errors": "Franko and Salazar recognized this and are attempting to avoid the aforementioned errors. They do not call their regime “fascist”. We shall hope that Russian patriots will also reflect in full upon the mistakes of fascism and National Socialism and not repeat them."

In the first half, Ilyin's praise of Nazism is hard to miss--even after more than 20 million of the people dead in the Soviet Union and places like Auschwitz along with other factories of death and the plans for extermination of the Slavs and the Jews and other "inferior nations" and enslaving the rest of reduced humanity. In Ilyin's own words:

"Fascism arose as a reaction to Bolshevism, as a concentration of power guarding sovereignty from the Right. As leftist chaos and totalitarianism advanced, this was a healthy phenomenon, as well as necessary and unavoidable. And such a concentration will come about henceforth, even in the most democratic states: in an hour of national danger the more vigorous forces of the people will always rally to the defense of sovereignty. Thus it was in ancient Rome and the new Europe, and so it shall be hereafter.

Standing against leftist totalitarianism, fascism was correct, as it sought just socio-political reform. This quest could be successful or unsuccessful: solving such problems is difficult, and first attempts might not have made any headway. But to meet the wave of socialist psychosis- through social and consequently anti-socialist measures- was imperative. These measures had long been imminent, and waiting any further was out of the question.

Finally, fascism was right since it derived from a healthy national-patriotic sensibility, without which a people can neither lay claim to its existence nor create a unique culture."

While Saker says that he devotedly read and studied Ilyin much of his life, somehow I don't think that Putin is that well versed in philosophy and political reading. So the question is who are Putin's advisers and who is guiding his hand in promoting thinkers such as Ilyin?

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