A New Mythopoesis and the Cult of Victory
The time of late Putinism is marked by a peculiar discursive turn towards the “Cult of Victory” in the Great Patriotic War, which has acquired grandiose proportions based on the aesthetic component of church rituals and related entourages that are less and less reminiscent of Orthodoxy and increasingly point towards a pagan cult of war and the dead. The Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces of the Russian Federation sanctified in 2020, became the material embodiment of this hybrid (Figure 1).
"The Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces dedicated to the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, as well as the military feats of the Russian people in all wars" is officially named the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. It became notorious for resurrecting and legitimising numerous mythologemes from the newest Russian historiography. In April 2020, some leaked photos revealed a partially completed mosaic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu, and Minister of International Affairs Sergey Lavrov (Figure 2). The Russian Orthodox Church initially explained the presence of mosaics featuring Putin and Stalin according to the tradition of depicting historical events – in this case, the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia and the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War (World War II). However, later it was reported that the cathedral would not include mosaics of Putin or Stalin. But something remained: a huge mosaic depicting "Priests flying around Moscow with the Tikhvin icon at the request of Stalin on December 8, 1941" (Figure 3). As the newspaper Novaya Gazeta
investigated: “The source of this myth is a literary book by Nikolai Blokhin ‘Frontier’, a priest from the Russian Orthodox Church serving in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. In an interview with Russian Line, the author claimed that he heard a story about the flight in 1952 (when he was only seven years old) from Air Marshal Alexander Golovanov in the presence of Stalin’s son Vasily.”
The falsification of history and the creation of new mythologemes has long been entrusted to the pseudo-scientist Vladimir Medinsky, a former Minister of Culture and head of the negotiating delegation in the war with Ukraine.The Eclectic Intricacy of a Neo-pagan Cult or Orthodox Fascism?
Some researchers, such as Timothy Snyder (The Road to Unfreedom
, 2018), believe that Ivan Ilyin, an apologist for Russian fascism, is Putin’s ideological mentor. This point of view is supported by Vladislav Inozemtsev, who points not only to direct quotations but also to secondary signs of Russia becoming more fascist according to the criteria set out in Umberto Eco’s ur-fascism.
For political scientist Anton Barbashin, this is a problem of normalization: “All the efforts of the last almost 15 years to popularize Ilyin, an extremely controversial historical figure, were aimed at creating the image of a ‘truly Russian philosopher’, a true statesman and a real Russian patriot. In fact, Ilyin is a supporter of fascist ideology, who did not give up his sympathies even after the end of World War II.” He continues:Ivan Ilyin advocated the creation of a national dictatorship in Russia, which should be based on the exclusive role of the church, the army and paramilitary structures, and be engaged in the constant re-education of society – all for the sake of fulfilling the holy mission of “defending” the vast Eurasian space from the mass of enemies and for the sake of educating younger peoples living in this area. His philosophy is based on the cult of the “burden and torment” of the Russian people, its exclusivity and superiority. Such a vision requires national spiritual renewal, selection and homogenization of society according to the criterion of “spiritual dignity” with all the ensuing consequences for the “wrong” people. […] In 1937, Ilyin stated: “Italian fascism, putting forward the ideas of ‘Soldado’ and ‘sacrifice’ as the main civic ideas, uttered in its own way, in a Roman way, what Russia has always built: the idea of Monomakh and Sergius of Radonezh, the idea of Russian missionary work and Russian colonization, the idea of Minin and Pozharsky, the idea of enslavement of estates, the idea of Peter the Great and Suvorov, the idea of the Russian army and the White movement. Fascism does not give us a new idea, but only new attempts to implement this Christian, Russian, national idea in its own way in relation to its own conditions.” […] Ilyin lists the mistakes that Hitler and Mussolini made and ends with a warning to his future followers: “Franco and Salazar understood this and are trying to avoid these mistakes. They do not call their regime ‘fascist’. Let's hope that the Russian patriots will think through the mistakes of fascism and National Socialism to the end and not repeat them.” This article was included in the collection ‘Our Tasks', from which Putin took the quotes.
However, not everyone agrees with this analysis, believing that the administration of the Russian president prefers doctrinal pluralism in which advisers offer the people a whole set of eclectic ideological versions, where Ilyin is allocated a place among Solovyov, Berdyaev, and Karamzin, and official texts contain not fascist but moderate conservative guardianship statements.The Motive of Resurrection: From the Immortal Soul to Russian Imperial Transhumanism
In recent years, the modernist project of Russian Cosmism has been widely discussed in intellectual circles as one of the directions of revolutionary avant-garde thinking that originated in Russia in the first half of the twentieth century. The works of Arseny Zhilyaev (Figure 5, 6), Anton Vidokle, and Boris Groys are devoted to this phenomenon. As Boris Groys writes (Russian Cosmism
, 2018), Nikolai Fedorov’s philosophy of the “common task” called for a total reorientation of social relations, productive forces, the economy, and politics toward the singular goal of achieving physical immortality and material resurrection. Russian Cosmists hoped that technology would become a powerful messianic force that could fulfil the expectations already transmitted from one past generation to the next. Technology is mostly understood as an extension of the capabilities of humans in their attempt to control the external world.
Coinciding with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there have been more and more discussions about the responsibility of Russian culture for what has happened. This does not refer to the assertions that the contemporary form of Russian fascism is the flesh of flesh of high Russian culture, which has incorporated imperialism into its genetic code. But what really draws the author’s attention is the presence of a discursive gap between the attempt to understand modernity and involvement in the political life of modernity on the one hand and the research topics of contemporary artists who choose escapist gestures, retrotopia, and new cultural reactionism on the other. In this vein, the phrase ‘Russian Cosmism’ easily loses its indexation of the Russophone cultural field as a departure point for a "common task" and makes a U-turn to orient itself in the form of national transhumanism.
___________________________ https://novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/05/22/85490-steny-vse-sterpyat https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/01/23/putins-russia-a-moderate-fascist-state/ https://ridl.io/ivan-ilin-fashist-vvedennyj-v-modu/