Man needs hope as much as the air he breathes. Lacking air, he feels asphyxiated; without hope, he falls into discouragement and despair.
The upshot is that, when beset by life’s trials or in times of crises that affect countries, peoples and civilisations, he strives to find reasons for hope.
A Russian “Charlemagne”? No one, with the possible exception of a die-hard minority of optimists, is unaware that the Christian world is going through one of its most serious civilisational crises.
Thus (and most often subconsciously) a desire arises to find some paladin or great historical figure, like Charlemagne, to counter the new “barbarians” that are corroding nations through immorality and the increasing spread of socialism.
Looking at world leaders, many see hope in a former KGB colonel (the former Soviet political police) as a possible saviour.
And yes, he is no other than Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
Are His Beautiful Words Sincere?
We see him denouncing the West’s moral decadence, the imposition of pro-homosexuality laws, euthanasia, and the loss of moral values.
We see him declaiming in the Duma (the Lower House of the Russian Parliament) last December 12 on “the need to defend the traditional values that have formed the foundation of every civilised nation for thousands of years.”
We see him decry the West’s “recognition of equivalence between good and evil,” and we see him state that Russia, on the contrary, “has a conservative point of view” which“prevents it from falling backward into chaotic darkness and the state of primitive man.”
The Savior of Ukraine from a “Corrupt Europe”?
Some have gone so far as to see Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea as a way of saving them from the moral corruption that the European Union imposes on its member countries.
For such people it would seem there is no alternative to the false dilemma of falling prey either to the claws of organised moral corruption in the European Union (which Ukraine seeks to join to defend itself from Russia) or those of political and economic corruption in a dictatorial regime like Putin’s.
Putin is adept at exploiting the religious sentiments of his people and their aversion to the anti-natural vice the West exalts so much. He also knows how to spark the admiration of many outside Russia who remain faithful to the principles of natural and revealed morals.
KGB’s Psychological Tricks
But how hard is it for the KGB—one of the most sinister and efficient institutions ever created by human wickedness—to have one of its agents, well-trained in so many arts, including the clever use of psychology, to say beautiful words?
In his well-documented book, The New Cold War – Putin’s Russia and the Threat to the West, after showing how the KGB prepared Putin’s political career, Edward Lucas thus describes that organisation:
A KGB career was a red-hot sign of distinction in the Soviet Union. Apart from the Communist leadership itself, the KGB had been the country’s most knowledgeable, efficient, and privileged organisation. It not only attracted the brightest people; it gave them a formidable training and an unbeatable network of contacts. They harboured a sense of great superiority.… For many, that sense was stoked by special training in psychological tricks—how to manipulate strangers, to gain their trust or break their resistance. In a perverse sense, KGB officers felt themselves to be almost a lay priesthood: omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
One cannot but suspect that Putin’s conservative statements are nothing but “psychological tricks” he learned from his KGB masters.
In an interview with the European media during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Putin nuanced his position on the homosexual lifestyle:
“If you want my personal attitude, I would tell you that I don’t care about a person’s sexual orientation,” Mr. Putin told BBC reporter Andrew Marr in Sochi.
“Famous gay people like the British singer Elton John were popular in Russia, he said.
‘I’ve honoured several members of the gay community in this country but for their personal achievements, regardless of their sexual orientation,’ he added.”
A Confusing, Anti-American Ideology
Putin is not restrained by any moral principles when he needs to carry out his plan for Russian expansionism. He invaded Georgia without sufficient reason and is now slicing off pieces of Ukraine, beginning with Crimea.
Though he does not present a clear and consistent ideology, his policies appear to be influenced by the theories of Aleksandr Dugin. In his book, The Fourth Political Theory, Dugin is presented as “an adviser to Vladimir Putin and others in the Kremlin on geopolitical matters, being a vocal advocate of a return of Russian power to the global stage, to act as a counterweight to American domination.”
Dugin’s theories posit that liberal democracy, Fascism and Marxism, have all failed. According to Dugin, what is needed now is “[to] sift through the debris of the first three to look for elements that might be useful, but that remains innovative and unique in itself.” Therefore, this new and confusing ideology would have bits and pieces of liberalism, Fascism and Marxism, in the pursuit of its goal: the destruction of American influence.
Eurasia v. United States
Dugin advocates a union of Russia with Asian countries forming a so-called Eurasia. Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University summarises this theory:
The Eurasian ideology draws an entirely different lesson from the twentieth century. Founded around 2001 by the Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin, it proposes the realisation of National Bolshevism. Rather than rejecting totalitarian ideologies, Eurasianism calls upon politicians of the twenty-first century to draw what is useful from both fascism and Stalinism. Dugin’s major work, The Foundations of Geopolitics, published in 1997, follows closely the ideas of Carl Schmitt, the leading Nazi political theorist. Eurasianism is not only the ideological source of the Eurasian Union, it is also the creed of a number of people in the Putin administration, and the moving force of a rather active far-right Russian youth movement. For years Dugin has openly supported the division and colonisation of Ukraine.
On March 9 of this year, commenting on the successful annexation of part of Ukraine, Dugin further clarified his anti-Americanism:
A new great Continental Association is formed, as a confederation of Europe and Eurasia, the European Union and the Eurasian Union. Russian, Ukrainians and Europeans are on one side of the barricades, the Americans on the other. American hegemony and dominance of the dollar as well as domination of Atlanticism, liberalism and the financial oligarchy is ended. A new page in world history begins. The Slavs are reunited not against Europe, but with Europe in the framework of a multipolar polycentric world. From Lisbon to Vladivostok.
Putin and Mussolini
Putin recalls another sad figure who also presented himself as a new saviour of the values of Christendom: Benito Mussolini.
Mussolini, the son of an anticlerical socialist, was a socialist leader and editor of the party’s newspaper until he adopted a new and confusing position, anticommunist but also authoritarian and interventionist. Seizing power in 1922, he served as model for various totalitarian parties around the world, including Germany’s. Deposed in 1943, he made a comeback with a clearly socialist sham republic in north Italy, the so-called Republic of Salo.
But is there no alternative other than Putin’s dictatorship or the secularist dictatorship of the European Union, which imposes same-sex “marriage,” abortion and euthanasia?
Natural Hope and Supernatural Virtue
To answer this question we need once more to speak about hope. True hope is not one that places its confidence in men, but in God. It is the theological virtue which, along with faith and charity, unites us with God in supernatural life.
In 1917, during the cataclysm of the First World War, Our Lady appeared in Fatima and explained that war is a punishment for the sins of men. And she asked for a conversion of the world, the devotion to her Immaculate Heart, and the consecration of Russia in order to avoid an even worse war.
Men’s response was to wallow in the sins of the so-called Roaring Twenties, marked by an unbridled enjoyment of life, abandonment of traditional morality, and madness in fashion and modern art.
The end result was the chaos which overtook Europe, the Communist Revolution in Russia, and the huge growth of socialist parties in the West. Endless strikes marked European life, and agitation ruled the streets.
It was at that point that various types of Fascism appeared, catering to human hopes with a false solution that shunned the organic order created by God: state intervention imposed with an iron fist. After a while, it led to the terrible catastrophe of the Second World War.
History repeats itself. Once again, men are rejecting the only hope that does not deceive because it comes from God, Mary’s call for conversion at Fatima, and are creating a false dilemma between two equally damnable evils.
Let us turn our eyes to God, implore His mercy, and fearlessly fight the errors of our time without gullibly swallowing any false solutions proposed by His enemies.
In the chapel of Rome’s Lateran Seminary is a beautiful painting of Mary Most Holy titled Mater Mea, Fiducia Mea (My Mother, my Confidence!). Let us turn to her, asking for help in this calamitous situation. She will not disappoint us.
1. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), pp. 19-20.