Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Follow up to my post about the roots and nature of Ukrainian nationalism

Dear friends,

As, I promised, I am now going to reply to some of your comments concerning my recent post about the roots and nature of Ukrainian nationalism.  First, I thought of replying to your comments one by one, and then I changed my mind.  I think that there are some general and recurrent topics which I need to address because they are mentioned several times.  That would save space and time and probably make the answers more coherent.  Here are the topics which I have identified:
1) The Holodomor
2) Jews/Khazars and their role in the Ukraine
3) The proper way to refer to the Roman-Catholic Church, Papacy, Latins
4) My "general lumping and implication of all Catholics in whatever happened in Russia"

There are probably more and I am more than willing to address them, but these four are the "biggies" which I would like to address today.  Ok?  Here we go then.  First, I will address the first two topics together.

The Holodomor, Ukrainians, Russians and Jews

I am aware that this is a controversial topics and I welcome the controversy about it.  I welcome this controversy just as I welcome any historical revisionism because the very point of the study of history is to examine the clash of ideas, theories, different historiographies and interpretations.  I my opinion, no topic should ever be off-limits or "dogmatized".  Everything should be questioned, analyzed over and over again, if only because we know that history is written almost exclusively by victors and because we also know that it is mostly written by some very specific social classes (Michael Parenti writes about that).  Besides, even authors whose views can appear "heretical" can offer fantastic insights and analyses, such as the Russian Stalinist Nikolai Starikov whose Stalinism I totally reject, but whose books I find absolutely fascinating (well, except for the one on Stalin, of course).  Anyway, I wanted you to know my philosophy of history before giving you my understanding of the Holodomor.

On that topics, opinions vary from "it was a genocide of Ukrainians by Russians", to "it was a genocide of Ukrainians by Jews", to "it was a famine resulting from western sanctions against the USSR" (Starikov), to "it was an attempt by the Bolshevik regime to eradicate Orthodoxy and national awareness" to "it's all a myth and it never happened".

Let me admit immediately that I am not at all sure that I know the truth about this.  I have read a lot about it and I think that I have a decent understanding of the basic facts which very much narrow down the possible interpretations.  Still, caveat emptor, I am not an expert on this topic.  Having said that, I will offer this:

First, I am 99.9999% sure that it did happen.  I know personally met people - totally non-political, simple people - who lived through that.  There is no doubt in my mind at all that a massive famine happened in the Ukraine before the war.

Second, I am also certain that it was in no way a "Russian genocide of the Ukrainian" people for the following reasons:

1) The famine was not limited to the Ukraine, it also affected Russia
2) Bolsheviks never had any Russian national identity
3) Bolsheviks were almost all rather rabid Russophobes
4) Most key Bolsheviks were not even Russian by ethnicity
5) A type of Holodomor was first tried in Russia in 1918-1921: war communism

So it did happen, but who done it then and why?

I think that this was a combination of factors:

a) western sanctions (boycott on gold) did force the export of grains and foodstuffs
b) Stalin did want to "industrialize the agriculture"
c) The Bolshevik regime deeply distrusted all peasants (Ukrainian or Russian) for their religiosity, patriotism and what the Bolsheviks would call "reactionary class consciousness".

So the regime did order the de-Kulakization and collectivization of the Soviet rural regions.  Now, look at who was tasked with implementing this policies: mostly Soviet Commissars.  Those were mostly Jews (more about that later) and they spoke Russian amongst themselves.

Now consider the history of Ukrainian Jewish relations:

Most Jews appeared in the Ukraine during the Polish occupation when they were mostly used by the Polish invaders as overseers of the local peasantry on behalf of the Polish nobility.  One of their function was to "oversee" the Orthodox churches.  Needless to say, that resulted in a deep sense of hatred towards them from the local peasants.  Later, after the Ukraine was freed from the Polish rule, many Jews (and even Poles) stayed.  Their comparatively privileged social status and wealth earned them even more hate from the locals.  Finally, keep in mind that all of Judaism at this time was rabidly anti-Christian and that the hate which Ukrainians felt towards Jews was nothing compared to the hatred all Jews felt for all Christians, including the local.

Eventually, the pendulum of history swung the other way and Jews began to suffer from more and more mistreatment at the hands of the locals which eventually resulted in mass emigration of Jews to the West.  While Alexander Solzhenitsyn did conclusively prove in his book "200 years together" (still not translated into English due to Jewish opposition to this publication) that the Russian state did try hard to stop the so-called "pogroms" (mainly because this resulted in a terrible anti-Russian campaign in the western press), these pogroms did happen.  They were organized by locals and some did claim many innocent lives.  What is little known is that some of the worst pogroms did not happen under the "bloodthirsty and anti-Semitic Czarist regime" but during the civil war and after and that a lot of them were the fact not of White forces, but of the nationalists, anarchists, various Marxists, etc. who saw Jews class enemies, petit bourgeois and foreign agents.  Now, when the Bolshevik faction eventually seized control over the Ukraine the pendulum swung the other way again.

Most Bolsheviks were Jews (which, btw, does not mean that most Jews were Bolsheviks!), especially the local commissars.  They absolutely *hated* the Ukrainian peasantry and when the de-Kulakization and collectivization began, the found a perfect opportunity to take revenge on their former oppressors.  Hence the mind-boggling cruelty with which the Bolshevik commissars implemented the Kremlin's orders.  Mind you, the pendulum swung back again during Hitler's invasion of the Ukraine: not only did the Nazis shoot most Jews and all commissars on sight, the local Ukrainians - whether nationalist or not - gladly used this opportunity to massacre, torture, and kill as many Jews as they could.

After the war, the pendulum of history swung - albeit with much less momentum - the other way again and Ukrainian "collaborators" were hunted down and shot, but when the Ukraine became independent in 1991, the pendulum swung back again - again with even less momentum - and now we see the role of a small but very vocal Jew-hating and neo-Nazi segment in the current events.

The only (relatively) good news is that this pendulum of hate has less and less momentum for a number of reasons: many Jews have emigrated, the Soviet education system was firmly anti-racist, modern neo-Nazis are becoming more pro-Jewish and pro-Israeli (see Brevik) and Jews now have the means (finance, media, etc.) to counteract anti-Jewish propaganda.  But that hate is still there and it cannot be ignored.

Now on a superficial level, here is what the poorly educated Ukrainians understood: the order to de-Kulakize came from Moscow, the executioners spoke Russian and hated the locals, millions died.  It was easy for the nationalists to spin this as "a genocide of Russians against the Ukrainians", especially since Jews had such a huge stake in concealing their role in these events.  In politics its nevermind the truth as long as its serves a political purpose, and all the russophobes (neo-Nazis, Ukie nationalists, Jews, Anglos, etc.) turned that famine into a "Holodomor" with a capital "H" - almost as politically useful as the other "H" genocide:the one of Jews by the Nazis.

So that's my take on this one.  Next, come the issues of, well, what shall I call it?

What shall I call it?

When I began this blog I used to refer to the so-called "Roman Catholics" as Papists.  The reason for that was extremely simple and straightforward: the so-called "Roman Catholics" are neither Roman nor Catholic.  I have covered the first part (not Romans) many times here, so  will just post two links to a through explanation of this topic:

The reason why the so-called "Catholics" are not Catholic is that the word Catholic has a precise meaning in Greek: it means both "universal" and "conciliar".  The "Roman Catholic Church" wants to present itself as "universal" for purely propagandistic grounds.  When it calls itself "the Church this" or "the Church that" it lays the claim to be The One Original Christian Church. That is, of course, false for 2 reasons:

a) The so-called "Catholic Church" did break-off from the One United Christian Church (formally in 1054) and formed its own ecclesiastical entity
b) The so-called "Catholic Church" introduced a host of dogmas which are in contradiction with the faith "which the Lord gave, which was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers" (Saint Athanasios) and "which has been believed everywhere, always and by all" (Saint Vincent).  For example, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Papal Infallibility were only adopted in the 19th century!).

From the point of view of the Church, the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholics have been in heresy for almost one thousand years already precisely because they have departed from the Tradition of the ancient Church and the Church Fathers and they began to introduce innovations which were in direct contradiction with the teachings of Christ and His Apostles.  

Also, conciliar means that the highest authority in the Church is vested upon the Church councils, especially the Ecumenical Councils.  The Papists have de-facto and de-jure transferred the authority which the Church only granted to the councils to one man: the Pope.  So its either "Papist" or "Catholic" - not both.

So, as an Orthodox Christian, I cannot honestly call the so-called "Roman Catholics" Roman Catholics.  I could call them "the Frankish heretics" but that nobody would understand.  So I used the word "Papists".  Why?

Because the root cause of all Papist heresies is in their re-definition of what the notion of Pope and their maniacal insistence that all of Christianity submit to him.  Mind you, this is hardly a 19th century invention.  Check out the kind of crazy notions of the Papacy the Franks introduced in the so-called "Dictatus Papae".  And keep in mind that this is a 11th century document adopted only 20 years after the Franks left the Christian Church.  And ever since, the Papists have been willing to compromise on anything and everything except this one "idée fixe": everybody has to submit to the Pope.  So, I figured, why not call them by their own main value: the Papacy.  Nope!  I got many emails telling me that I was offending and alienating the Papists by calling them Papists.  So I tried to find a better word.

First, I asked the folks who were offended by the expression "Papist" what they would suggest.  Not a single one offered anything. I even considered "Western Christians" but I discarded that option because that would lump all the Protestant and Reformed Churches with the Papacy.  Then I thought "Latins". After all, that is an expression used in history, so why not?  I even contacted my thesis advisor (I am working on a "Master's Degree in Patristic Studies" - its not called that but its close enough) who replied that both Latin and Papist were reasonable.  But I *still* got objections that this was "offensive".  So what was I to do?

The Arabs had it simple: they called the Papist "Franks" and the Orthodox "Romans".  They still do.  Sounds great to me, but who will understand anything if I begin by writing about the Frankish role in the education of Bandera?!  Exactly - nobody.

So I am stuck between using a term which is historically false, logically false and basically misleading and using accurate terms which offend precisely due to their accuracy.

So you tell me - do you have a better suggestion?

OK, let's try that.  For the rest of today's post, and only for today post, I shall use the Arab terminology and speak of "Franks" when referring to the so-called Roman-Catholics.

BTW, if you think - like some do, they told me so - that I have an anti-Frankish obsession I will reply the following: did you ever noticed that I never speak of modern "Judaism" without calling it "rabbinical Judaism"?  Why?  Same thing!

Modern Judaism is not at all the religion of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - it is the religion of Maimonides, Karo and Luria and its key characteristic is the role of rabbis.  In fact, the correct name for modern Judaism should be "Phariseism" (as all modern versions of rabbinical Judaism are the direct descendants of the Sect of the Pharisees described in the Gospels).

Me, personally, I would be quite happy to speak of Romans, Franks and Pharisees.  But nobody would understand what I mean.  Nobody.  So I use "Orthodox Christians, Papists and Rabbinical Judaics" instead.  There I get people deeply offended.

So, again, what shall I do?

May I maybe suggest that what causes the offense is not the words I use but the factual historical reality they accurately convey?


Blaming all the Franks for the actions of some

I think that in my post about the roots of Ukrainian nationalism I have been clear when I wrote:
Though hatred of the Orthodox Christians and Russian still exists in some Latin circles, it has mostly been replaced by a desire to "incorporate" or swallow the Orthodox Church into the Papacy by means of the so-called "Ecumenical dialog". As for the rank and file Roman Catholic faithful - they simply have no idea at all about this history which, of course, is never taught to them.
And yet,  I still get accused of lumping good and decent Franks with the genocidal maniacs I describe in my historical description.

But is that really a fair accusation?

After all, one is not born a Frank (Ouch! there we go.  This sentence makes no sense at face value since being a Frank refers to an ethnicity, so one is indeed born a Frank.  So? Shall I write "one is not born a Latin" or "one is not born a Papist"?).  Being a Frank is a choice, a choice which implies some kind of acceptance, if not endorsement, for history.  The Franks tried to have it both ways, on one hand they did apologize for the sack on Constantinople, on the other hand they have not only made saints out of some of the worst enemies of the Orthodox Church, they have even pursued the very same policies!  Just look at the role of the Franks in the movements of Ante Pavelic or Stepan Bandera or in the Ukraine right now!  They are still at it, though the rhetoric has changed.  From being the "Photian schismatics", they now call us their "Orthodox brothers".  Thanks for that, of course, but when will you pretty please stop trying to convert us or side with all our enemies?!  And when will you stop making web pages like this one about some of the genocidal manics who have persecuted us?

Still, I know that most Franks are totally ignorant of the history of their own Church and that they are quite shocked when they hear about it.  But even these Franks cannot help but wonder "if we forgot about all that, why does this guy constantly bring it up?!  This is long gone, past history, what is he trying to prove?  What is his problem?!". To this, I would reply the following:

My dear Franks, what for you is past history is integral to our ethos and consciousness.  We are not Orthodox because we like golden cupolas, beautiful icons and Byzantine church singing - we are Orthodox because we try to remember it all, not only dogmas and traditions, but also our history.  This is why we read the Lives of the Saints on a daily basis - to remember our martyrs and be inspired to follow their example.  Just like the Shia have the Ashura at the core of their spiritual life, we have to Golgotha and every single martyr which died for Christ and His Church at the core of our spiritual life.  Our Menaion is full of the names and lives of our brothers which you have massacred ad majorem Dei gloriam, for us these events are not "long gone history" - they are both today and timeless and when you tell us to please stop bringing it all up, we feel that you are trying, yet again, to change who we are and silence the voices and witness of those who have massacred.  The ancient Church has always had her martyrs at the core of Her liturgical life: a martyr's relic is embedded in every single one of our church altars, every one of our antimensons also contains a small relic.  This also used to be the practice in the West - just read the western Church Fathers - which for a full millennium also used to be part of the Universal Church (formally: 33AD-1054AD).  Nowadays, of course, there is many more of you then there is of us, but tiny as we are, we still will continue to preserve the full memory of the Church as best we can and we will witness of the past even if you don't like it.  As the Chinese say: "me so sorry!".  Not.

In conclusion I will repeat what I wrote above: could it be that what causes the offense is not the events I describe but the factual historical reality they accurately convey?

Still - my offer stands: suggest to me a word to describe the Franks which would not automatically reinforce the Frankish propaganda and I will gladly use it.

Ok, that's it for today.  I have done my best to fully address some of the points which were raised in the comments section.  I apologize if I have missed some.  Please feel free to re-post them again here and I will make sure to address them.

Many thanks and kind regards,

The Saker 

PS: yes, I know and I agree that Ashkenazim Jews are predominantly Khazars.  But then, I cannot check for each "Jew" I mention whether he/she is Ashkenazim or Sfardim.  Besides, can you imagine if from now on I add "Khazar" and "Sfardi" to "Frank", "Roman" and "Pharisee"?!  LOL :-)  Right now I honestly have no energy for that...