Ryan Hunter’s speech at the 45th annual Congress of Russian Americans Forum in San Francisco | Orthodox in the District

Ryan Hunter speaking at the Russian Center
Ryan Hunter delivers his speech at the CRA Forum on Saturday, 8 September 2018 at San Francisco’s Russian Center. Photograph by a participant and appearing on his blog.

The increasing public veneration of the Imperial New Martyrs in Russian society is an integral part of the comprehensive, multifaceted vision of a gradual re-Christianisation of Russian society and culture in the wake of the Soviet system’s collapse.

Source: My speech at the 45th annual Congress of Russian Americans’ Forum in San Francisco | Orthodox in the District

Notwithstanding my ambivalence toward the ever-burgeoning influence of information technology – and in particular, social media – within our present society, it has benefited me in a number of respects, over years. One of those benefits has been the fact that it has enabled me to virtually “meet” and interact with quite a number of people I would probably have never come into contact with, otherwise.

One of these is the individual who delivered the speech that is the subject of this blog post, and which is linked above and elsewhere throughout this post. Ryan Hunter is a  brilliant and articulate young scholar. A recent graduate (BA, History, 2016) and current MA candidate (European History) at Stony Brook University, his intelligence, perspicacity, and perspicuity have already garnered him considerable respect and recognition, as his invitation to speak at this conference demonstrates.

Among the numerous points raised by my erudite young friend, that it might behoove some (perhaps many) of our political leaders and media “talking heads” to consider, is this:

“None of the former Soviet states today maintain atheistic, single party communist dictatorships, and — regardless of the exact state of rule of law, due process, or democracy in any former Soviet states — none of the various political leaders in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) can aspire to anything even remotely approaching the totalitarian level of political control or terror held by Lenin and Stalin.”

The idea that the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin is simply the Soviet Union “lite” does not bear either historical or objective contemporary scrutiny. Yes, the Federation has its own national interests, and no, they are not always congruent with ours.

And yes, political, intelligence, and other operatives of the RF doubtless act, and doubtless under orders from the government, to protect those interests – as do our own, for the same reason. We live in a house with sufficient glass in its makeup, that it ill-behooves us to lob stones at Russia!

But alongside and despite all this, it is incontrovertible that the political and social changes in Russia, in particular, and the former USSR in general, since Soviet days are dramatic and, in the vast majority of cases, positive. As Ryan continues,

“Think of all the progress that has been made in Russian and American commercial relations, developing business ties, and above all the laudable work of so many citizen diplomacy groups in overcoming negative stereotypes, biased news coverage, and misguided ideological prejudices between ordinary Russians and Americans.

“Think, also, of those who, even now, sadly seek to bring to Western countries the murderous communist ideology which inflicted untold suffering on tens of millions in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and indeed worldwide.”

Sadly, some of these occupy positions of prominence among the political, academic and media “elite” here in the U.S. – and some of those are among the harshest critics of the Russian Federation.

I have commented elsewhere on the irony that the same political party, and indeed some of the same people, who were willing to appease, accommodate, and apologize for the Soviet Union in its attempt to achieve worldwide Communist hegemony now squawk like plucked chickens at the thought that today’s Russia may have legitimate national interests, and the right to pursue them. Interesting, that!

At any rate, as Ryan continues,

“We certainly need a new spirit of mutual respect, rapprochement, and détente today, but I believe that it is vital that we hail what progress our two countries have made in the last five decades.”

Indeed! And perhaps we could even begin to grow away from this foolishness of considering Russia as always and automatically our enemy.

Of course there will be times when our interests are far from congruent! (Imperial Russia played the “Great Game” for a long time before the Communist Revolution.) But that is the case with every nation, even long-time allies: every country has its own interests, and rightfully so; the trick is dealing with those sometimes conflicting interests diplomatically, rather than confrontationally, wherever possible.

It would not hurt us to recognize, for instance, the historic and cultural reality that Russia feels safer when surrounded by buffer nations, balancing those nations’ equally legitimate desire for sovereignty with the Russian need for security, in a way that does not require us to push our sphere of influence right up to the Russian border.

Russia is not quite the superpower the Soviet Union was during the Cold War; but then, we are not quite the superpower we were during that long conflict, either. Both the numerical strength of our military, and our technological edge, have slipped in the years since the 1990s, and so has our political and economic strength in the world. And poking the Russian bear is likely to push it into a closer embrace of the Chinese dragon, which would be very much to our detriment.

Russia may or may not ever be a close friend and ally; but there is no reason to view, or treat, her like an adversary. To conclude with the words with which Ryan concluded his speech,

“May this centenary year [of the murder / martyrdom of the Romanovs] be a Providential source of healing of divisions and wounds between friends, families, neighbours, and nations and peoples, especially Russia and the United States, and Russia and Ukraine. May the witness and prayers of the Imperial New Martyrs, and all their co-sufferers, be with us, in every city and country, and may they bring much-needed healing of the traumas of historical memory, the bitterness of ancient conflicts, and resentment of past wrongs. May we strive to build a world worthy of their legacy as they intercede for us all before the Throne of God!”

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Understanding Russia, Un-Demonizing Putin | Canadian Dimension

More thoughts on the man many Democrats (and some Republicans) love to hate…

Putin is essentially a straightforward, reliable and exceptionally inventive man. The Russian president is clearly a long-term thinker and planner and has proven to be an excellent analyst and strategist.

Source: Understanding Russia, Un-Demonizing Putin | Canadian Dimension

A most interesting take on Vladimir Putin, by Sharon Tennison, who (unlike most of those who comment on him, many of them negatively) has had personal experience with the man, and 30 years of experience living and working in Russia. Well worth a read! Among her comments:

“Russian President Vladimir Putin obviously has his faults and has made his share of mistakes. Yet, my experiences with him, as well as what I have heard over the years from people I trust –– including U.S. officials who have worked with him closely –– indicate that Putin is essentially a straightforward, reliable and exceptionally inventive man.

“The Russian president is clearly a long-term thinker and planner and has proven to be an excellent analyst and strategist. He is a leader who can quietly work toward his goals under mounds of accusations and myths that have been steadily leveled at him since he became the Russian Federation’s second president…

“In addition to my personal experience with Putin, I’ve had discussions with numerous U.S. officials and American businessmen who have had years of experience working with him –– I believe it is safe to say that none would describe him as ‘brutal’ or ‘thuggish,’ or the other slanderous terms used to describe him in Western media.”

Can we say, “yellow journalism,” boys and girls…?

While her treatment of Putin himself is fascinating – and I believe, excellent – one of the real gems of this piece is found toward the end, when she questions what our (by which I mean, the Western, and especially U.S., “dominant narrative,” not necessarily what readers of this blog believe!) treatment of Putin says about us. In a section entitled “Understanding the Misunderstanding,” she asks,

“So why do our leaders and media demean and demonize Putin and Russia? To paraphrase Shakespeare, is it a case of protesting too much?

“Psychologists tell us that people often project on to others what they don’t want to face in themselves. Others carry our “shadow” when we refuse to own it. We confer on others the very traits that we are horrified to acknowledge in ourselves.

“Could this apply to nations as well? Is this why we constantly find fault with Putin and Russia?

“Could it be that we project on to Putin the sins of ourselves and our leaders?

“Could it be that we condemn Russia’s corruption in order to ignore the corruption within our corporate world?

“Could it be that we condemn their human rights and LGBT issues, not facing the fact that we haven’t resolved our own?

“Could it be that we accuse Russia of “reconstituting the USSR” because of what we do to remain the world’s “hegemon”?

“Could it be that we project nationalist behaviors on Russia, because that is what we have become and we don’t want to face it?

“Could it be that we project warmongering off on Russia, because of what we have done over the past several administrations?

“Could we be accusing Russia of election-meddling because we do this ourselves?”

Touché. If we do not stand accused by these questions, we are either blinded by ideology, or simply aren’t paying enough attention.

How to Think About Vladimir Putin | Imprimis

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Our globalist leaders may have deprecated sovereignty since the end of the Cold War, but that does not mean it has ceased for an instant to be the primary subject of politics.

Source: How to Think About Vladimir Putin | Imprimis

Christopher Caldwell, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, notes, “this is not going to be a talk about what to think about Putin, which is something you are all capable of making up your minds on, but rather how to think about him,” and continues,

“Our globalist leaders may have deprecated sovereignty since the end of the Cold War, but that does not mean it has ceased for an instant to be the primary subject of politics.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich is not the president of a feminist NGO. He is not a transgender-rights activist. He is not an ombudsman appointed by the United Nations to make and deliver slide shows about green energy. He is the elected leader of Russia — a rugged, relatively poor, militarily powerful country that in recent years has been frequently humiliated, robbed, and misled. His job has been to protect his country’s prerogatives and its sovereignty in an international system that seeks to erode sovereignty in general and views Russia’s sovereignty in particular as a threat.

“By American standards, Putin’s respect for the democratic process has been fitful at best… Yet if we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the pre-eminent statesman of our time.”

In short, Putin is doing what a national leader should do: looking out for the best interests of his country, and his people. Those of us who admire him, admire him for that reason – not because we think we will always agree with him, or are naive enough to think that the interests of Russia will always be congruent with those of the West, or America in particular.

When our interests are opposed, we should act accordingly – though not in a knee-jerk or foolish way. We need to exercise rationality, discernment, and discretion, none of which seem to be strong suits of the contemporary Left.

But we need not, and should not, view him – or the Russian Federation – as an enemy, or an adversary, or even necessarily and always as a rival. There will be many times when our interests are common, or at least complementary. When that is the case, we should also act accordingly. And it is certainly foolish, and dangerous, to ratchet up the tension unnecessarily, or for domestic political reasons.

[My suspicion is that the American Left is simply congenitally incapable of believing that they lost the election – all by themselves, by their own words and actions; that a sufficiently large percentage of the American voters flatly rejected the Democratic candidate, Party, and platform to hand an electoral victory to the current President… so the outcome must have been the result of Russian meddling. It’d be silly if it wasn’t so sad – and so dangerous.]

The Russian Federation may not be the superpower that the old Soviet Union was, but it is certainly a Great Power – a very great power: large, populous, and militarily powerful – and must be respected as such. And its President should be respected as a strong and capable leader who takes his country’s interests seriously, as any good leader should do.

 


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Russia, The Royal Martyrs, and Revolutionary Modernity | Throne, Altar, Liberty

 

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The murder of the Romanovs had been foreshadowed by the beheadings of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette on January 21st and October 16th respectively in 1793, and before that by the beheading of Charles I on January 30th, 1649.

Source: Throne, Altar, Liberty: Russia, The Royal Martyrs, and Revolutionary Modernity

I have said this myself, more than once and in more than one forum, but I have never said it better – and very likely, not this well:

“The murder of the Romanovs had been foreshadowed by the beheadings of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette on January 21st and October 16th respectively in 1793, and before that by the beheading of Charles I on January 30th, 1649. There are a number of parallels between these murders. The victims, in each case, included the legitimate Royal Sovereign of the country in which the revolution was being perpetrated. He was also, in each case, the Royal Protector of a Church which claimed descent from the early, undivided, Apostolic Church and which was under attack by the revolutionaries.

“Charles I was the Protector of the Church of England which was under attack by the Puritan Calvinists. Louis XVI was Protector of the Roman Catholic Church in France which was a target of the Revolutionaries who were disciples of the rationalist Rousseau. Nicholas II was Protector of the Russian Orthodox Church against the atheistic, Marxist, Bolsheviks. In England and France, the revolutionaries tried to give a façade of legality to the murders by holding show trials in which the kings were condemned by kangaroo courts. In Russia, the Bolsheviks didn’t bother with this, they simply declared the Tsar to be guilty of crimes against the Russian people and had him shot. In each case the royal murders failed to satisfy the bloodlust of the revolutionaries, but rather merely whetted their appetite for the mass murders that were to come.

“There is a sense in which all three crimes were committed by the same perpetrators. While the term ‘left’ did not develop its political connotations until the French Revolution, when it was applied to the enemies of the Crown, aristocracy, and Church because of where they stood in relation to the speaker in the French assembly, the Puritans were definitely historical antecedents of the French Revolutionaries, just as the Bolsheviks were their ideological descendants. The Puritans, like the Anabaptists of continental Europe, were the ‘left-wing’ of the Reformation, those who thought the Magisterial Reformers had not gone far enough. They were also the first classical liberals, or, as liberals were called at the time, Whigs.

“In their thinking, and especially the secularized version of it offered in the writings of John Locke, the foundation was laid for the much more radical thought of Rousseau, which inspired the French Revolutionaries, and in turn laid the foundation for Marx, the father of Communism. In this lineage can be seen one explanation for the fact that ‘left-wing extremism’ is a far less commonly heard expression than ‘right-wing extremism.’ The latter expression is, of course, never used in good faith. It is employed by the left, to smear those who hold views that the left has decided are to be considered to be outside the pale of acceptable discourse…

“The reason ‘left-wing extremism’ has not caught on is that it is redundant. The essence of the left, its very nature, is the relentless desire for the complete overthrow of all time-honoured institutions, traditions, and order. From royalty, nobility and the Church in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to the middle classes and private property and enterprise in the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, to marriage, the family, the nation and even the biological realities of race and sex in the twentieth and twenty-first, the left has moved on from one target to another, seeking only to destroy in its hatred and rage, with its ultimate targets being the Good, the True, and the Beautiful and indeed, God Himself, for, as Dr. Johnson observed centuries ago, the first Whig was the devil.

“The left is extremism, and extremism is the left.”

Sadly but absolutely true. It’s been demonstrated over and over again.

An added bonus of this excellent essay by Gerry T. Neal – who describes himself as a “Protestant Christian, patriotic Canadian, and a reactionary High Tory with a libertarian streak, at the same time a monarchist, indeed a royal absolutist, and a minarchist” – is a detailed discussion of how Senator Joseph McCarthy, castigated as a “witch hunter” for his crusade against communists and their fellow-travelers in 1950s America, was actually far more right than wrong, noting:

“Russia has been much in the news lately as left-wing wackos have been trying to paint US President Donald Trump’s attempts to get along with Russian President Vladimir Putin and allow the two countries to peacefully co-exist as some sort of treason. In my childhood, Russia was still in the grips of the murderous, totalitarian, ideological, regime bent on global conquest that had seized power in the fall of 1917. How well I remember that at that time, the same people who are crying ‘the Russians are coming’ today, labelled anyone who warned about the Communist Kremlin’s evil designs a ‘McCarthyite.'”

Or as I have commented elsewhere, including in this blog, how ironic that some of the same people – and certainly the same party – who spent years, even decades, appeasing, accommodating, and apologizing for the Soviet Union are now aghast at the idea that the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin actually has, and is pursuing, its own legitimate national interests. Perhaps not surprisingly, an attempt at global Communist hegemony was much more acceptable to the Left than contemporary Russian nationalism!

 


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Trump Stands His Ground on Putin | Patrick J. Buchanan – Official Website

Trump Stands His Ground on Putin

By cheering Brexit, dissing the EU, suggesting NATO is obsolete, departing Syria, trying to get on with Putin, Trump is threatening the entire U.S. foreign policy establishment with what it fears most — irrelevance.

For if there is no war on, no war imminent, and no war wanted, what does a War Party do?

Source: Trump Stands His Ground on Putin | Patrick J. Buchanan – Official Website

Why, it tries to create one, of course!

(Actually, I am becoming increasingly convinced that there is indeed a war on, an undeclared war for socio-political dominance here in the U.S. – and more broadly, the West – and that the enemy is among us. But I digress…)

In any case, Pat Buchanan makes sense and says worthwhile things far more often than not, and this is an excellent example (using print-friendly version b/c the formatting on the main website leaves something to be desired). As he aptly notes,

“The worst-case scenario would be that the establishment actually believes the nonsense it is spouting. But that is hard to credit. Like the boy who cried ‘Wolf!’ the establishment has cried ‘Fascist!’ too many times to be taken seriously.

“A month ago, the never-Trumpers were comparing the separation of immigrant kids from detained adults, who brought them to the U.S. illegally, to FDR’s concentration camps for Japanese-Americans. [N.B.: they conveniently forget or ignore that this was done under a Democratic President, namely FDR: one of the most popular and famously progressive ones in history.]

“Some commentators equated the separations to what the Nazis did at Auschwitz.

“If the establishment truly believed this nonsense, it would be an unacceptable security risk to let them near the levers of power ever again.”

I cannot disagree!

Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this essay. It’s spot-on.

 


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Trump Calls Off Cold War II | The American Conservative

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Source: Trump Calls Off Cold War II | The American Conservative

The “Trump Doctrine”…? Patrick Buchanan on President Trump’s “clear, consistent, and startling” diplomatic message:

“Looking back over the week, from Brussels to Britain to Helsinki, Trump’s message has been clear, consistent and startling.

“NATO is obsolete. European allies have freeloaded off U.S. defense while rolling up huge trade surpluses at our expense. Those days are over. Europeans are going to stop stealing our markets and start paying for their own defense.

“And there will be no Cold War II.

“We are not going to let Putin’s annexation of Crimea or aid to pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine prevent us from working on a rapprochement and a partnership with him, Trump is saying. We are going to negotiate arms treaties and talk out our differences as Ronald Reagan did with Mikhail Gorbachev.

“Helsinki showed that Trump meant what he said when he declared repeatedly, ‘Peace with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.’”

I must say, I agree.

 


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At the Crucible of History: The Centenary of the Romanovs’ Murders | Ryan Hunter

Image may contain: 7 people, wedding and indoor

Source: At the Crucible of History: The Centenary of the Romanovs’ Murders | Ryan Hunter

My learned and perceptive friend Ryan Hunter shares this lovely picture and a beautiful reflection on this, the Centenary of the cruel, horrific, extrajudicial murder of Tsar Nicholas II, the Tsarina, and their family by Bolshevik revolutionaries, 17 July 1918. The family are now venerated as Passion-Bearers and Holy Royal and Imperial New Martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church. As Ryan notes,

“They are viewed by most Orthodox as martyrs (Gr. ‘witnesses’) who were killed in large measure due to their killers’ utter hatred for all religion, Christianity generally, but Orthodoxy in particularly. Others view them as ‘passion-bearers’ — those who went to their deaths with Christ-like composure, forgiveness, and long-suffering.”

Please read the whole essay, it’s excellent!

Perhaps at this time in our collective history, when there are some among our society who are championing both socialism and revolution, it is particularly important to both remember this family – and the millions of others who were slain by the Soviets, and other Communist regimes – and the fact that this, like so many other revolutions ostensibly conducted for the best of reasons (from the French Revolution commemorated by Bastille day three days ago to those in Communist China and elsewhere), resulted in violence and oppression. May we learn from that history.

Holy New Martyrs of Russia, pray for us!

 


 

Nota Bene: I find it curious that many of those who are raveningly anti-Russia on the left-hand side of the political aisle are of the same party (and in some cases are the same people) who were perfectly willing to appease, accommodate, and apologize for the Soviet Union. Apparently world-wide Communist hegemony was perfectly fine, but the Russian Federation and its President having national interests is completely unacceptable! Very interesting, that…

 


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