Euroexit and Russian Avant-Garde Traditionalism

Aleksandr Shchipkov, Doctor of Political Sciences, Advisor to the Chairperson of the State Duma

For a long time, it had looked as if the European values had ended in the 1990s. ‘The End of history’ did not take place and it was allowed to further run its course. Everyone could guess the direction of this trend: rights, freedoms, technologies, information, multiculturalism... unless we are forgetting something from the liberal list.

So much surprising is the current state of mind of European intellectuals, and especially the changing of their tone from the triumphant to apocalyptic one. At the start of the year, French Libération published a Manifesto by the most prominent Liberal writers and intellectuals warning that ‘Europe is in peril’ from ‘the populist forces washing over the continent’. The document shows an abundance of alarmist rhetoric: ‘Europe coming apart before our eyes’, ‘Europe is in peril’... The authors fear that the European Parliament elections in May 2019 ‘promise to be the most calamitous we have ever known – victory for the wreckers’.

The keepers of the Old World’s intellect, honor, and conscience are in a state of turmoil and confusion. Barbarians are coming! Nationalism and populism are to blame. And while everything is clear with the first culprit, the word ‘populism’ here clearly performs the function of a sticker applied to anything they may mistrust.

The excited Liberals are answered by Conservative Democrats from the other ‘end’ of Europe. For example, with a critical Christian view of globalization, as it was presented at the 25th International Orthodox Peoples Unity Fund Conference in Budapest, the city that, as we all know, has shown loyalty to Russia in recent years. The Budapest ideas remind us of a statement by conservative European intellectuals titled A Europe We Can Believe In. It was published at the end of 2017 and also mentions ‘a false Europe’, whose liberalism, according to the authors of the Manifesto, is prone to totalitarianism and beliefs in ‘inevitable progress and history being on their side’.

How are we to understand this exchange of pleasantries?

It seems that what we are seeing is a revision of the European ideology. There are different kinds of Europeans living in two different kinds of Europe, moving in different historical orbits. This situation, where one kind of Europe has decided to leave the other, can be styled as Euroexit. Or, in common parlance, the split of elites. Europeans are tormented by a sense of deadlock arising from European integration and neoliberal globalization. They have embarked on a path of doubt and painful reflection. They just need to sort themselves out.

And what is the role of Russia and the Russians in this situation? Do we welcome the conservative approach and seek a place in the future conservative EU? I am not sure. Not sure at all.

On the one hand, the liberal European project is clearly bursting at the seams. On the other hand, the new conservatives are unable to offer a new image or ideology to replace the old one. They lack passionarity. Everything they say sounds lame. You don’t come to power bearing slogans like ‘everything good versus everything bad’. This is something that the White movement in Russia had tried and failed in long ago.

The conservative ideology of the future will inevitably be avant-garde. It will be avant-garde traditionalism, if you like. The West has nothing of this kind to offer now, and if they continue squandering their time, this new ideology will have to come from the East. And this scenario may not be to everyone’s liking.

Actual de-liberalization is possible either with the collapse of the world financial system (which is only a matter of time), or with the consistent denial of modernist ideology stereotypes. To break free, the conservatives should anathematize this ideology in the same way they had once anathematized communism. Or communism anathematized the world of capitalism, which in this case is the same thing. Yet nothing of the kind is happening yet.

The today's Europe does not make many strategic decisions by itself and is therefore sterile. It is completely dependent on the Atlanticists and has no right to vote, which appears to be a state that many are satisfied with. At the same time, Europe is suffering from Russophobia. The European consciousness sees Russians either as barbarians or ‘the Reds’, simply because they are Russians. And this will not be changed even by replacing the Supreme Court with the Hague Tribunal. There is no need to build illusions.

All this calls for action and solving the two problems: ‘the problem of the West’ and ‘the problem of Europe’, at the same time.

The West is beginning to crumble, and it is our duty to help it or at least not interfere. The problem of Europe should be solved differently. We believe in traditional, Christian Europe, in the Christian world. We have come up with our own project, our own image of a new Christian Europe, in which we – the Rus'-Byzantium – are the center. And we are going to enter no other project. Since the Western Europe has not coped with the task of building a Christian world, then the new Europe is going to be us, not them.

We should take part in conferences like the one in Budapest, we should show our colors, express authoritative opinions, but we should not commit ourselves to anything. We have our own mission. If Europeans choose to negotiate coordinating our efforts – we are ready. If not, we'll manage on our own. This is the only way.

Tarusa. April 28, 2019