Sunday, August 16, 2015

From Heraclitus, Kandinsky, and Sully Prudhomme back to Russia and the void

A Russian commentator (Pavel Rasta alias “Shakespeare”) captured the analogous process of empty deadening and hollowing out from within in today’s Ukraine:

Whence came are all the fascists in a country that defeated fascism? Why in Russia, which lost millions of lives, are now people who are fighting in the Nazi battalion Azov? Why in the former Ukraine have these people even come to power? Why do they praise Bandera and Shukhevych who were cutting down their grandparents? How could this happen? …

The reason goes much deeper than just politics or problems in the economy or the quality of education. There is such a word as “void” (pustota … the principle of blankness, emptiness, nothingness. … what happened to the souls of people after the collapse of [the Soviet Union] can be described this way: emptiness has settled in them. They formed a vacuum. …after the fall there was nothing. Nothing at all. Moreover, in Yeltsin’s 1993 Constitution written by Russian blood, ideas and ideals were banned altogether. The emptiness unleashed destructive forces, literally tearing society apart. Without a center of gravity in the form of idea, society begins to uncontrollably break up into petty ideological clusters. It ceases to be one. It ceases to exist as a whole.
This emptiness has been promoted by the character of the new elite, which was born out of the already degenerate and degraded communist elite from the time of the fall of the Union … In fact, the new elite has inherited the most disgusting features of the old elite, which began substituting materialism for ideas ever since N.S. Khrushchev. This elite refuses to see that it is ideas that are ​​creating and breaking empires and civilizations—either because of some kind of its limited thinking or by design. It does not matter.  … This is what Viktor Frankl called “existential vacuum.” And this is a terrible disease of the soul. But nature abhors a vacuum. And so does the human soul. …

Now imagine the younger generation … growing up in conditions of this very existential hollowness, which has become the environment.  … And that’s where fascism, an extremely brutal, harsh, uncompromising and internally coherent ideology, appears in the void, fills the void, and continues the work of consuming destruction. … But that this worldview is perverse and abhorrent in principle, no one bothered to explain to the new generation. Ideals are prohibited … in their absence the nation and the state will inevitably turn into swamp slime. … As a result, in Russia now appear openly fascist political movements … and in the former Ukraine these forces have already moved further and have come to power. That's how it became possible.

However, there is a reason for optimism … there is a process of the soul’s spontaneous resurrection, resistance and recovery. … However, the ruling elite, which still considers ideals stupid and seditious, would be the first to try to impede and thwart this resurrection.  … But look at Kiev, gentlemen. If you do not wise up, you will have every chance to see what you see now in Kiev also in Moscow.

Back in 2011, when the liberal opposition was mounting the most serious challenge to Vladimir Putin (there were reports of a prepared coup), Vaclav Havel died, and Vladislav Surkov, who managed as a self styled chargé d’affairs for a long time Russia’s internal, media, ideological and cultural politics for the Russian state and Russian President, composed a panegyric on Havel, in which he denounced his official bosses, the then Russian Prime Minister Putin and the Russian President Medvedev in the strongest possible terms. The charge of internal hollowness (pustota) is in the center of his impassioned denouncement: 

Deeply esteemed sir Havel!
We know that you are looking at us from above and that you are stunned by the unscrupulous  mayhem perpetrated by our Medvedev-Putins.
We know that your sensitive soul even without a corporeal shell understands that these unscrupulous, soulless fools have nothing to do with us, very good in general, people.
We know that you have lived and died as a velvety fighter for justice. And that’s why we can only spit on the Kremlin whores who mourn the Korean cannibal.
We are mourning you. Please forgive us, normal people, because our pathetic President and empty Prime-Minister do not bother to bow in Prague to your remains. Please rest in peace, Mr. Havel. RIP

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