Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Look Into the Russian Mind

Leah mentioned this video on Facebook. Then I saw a link to it on her blog. About 15 minutes into it, I realized that one of two things was likely true: This video about the Byzantine Empire was either consciously made to lend support to President Putin and his policies, or the support President Putin enjoys is due to so many people in Russia holding the ideas espoused in this video. Perhaps both are true.

In the video one will find support for:
...Putin's persecution of the "oligarchs".
...Bizarre paronioa whch says the West is out to get Russia.
...Suspicion of private enterprise.
...Putin's selection of his successor.
...The idea that the state is more important than the individual.
...State monopoly of key industries.
...Putin's imperial desire for all Orthodox Christian and/or Slavic lands.
...Putin's re-centalization of the Russian government.
...Russia's birth-rate increase initiative.
...A defense of Russia using population importation as a means of pacification after conquest.
...Support of Putin's takeover of the vodka industry.

And that is just the start. Throughout the video if you think "Russia" every time you hear "Byzantium" you will see how at least some Russians think. At several point in the video we hear that the west has a deep hatred for "Byzantium and it's heirs" that the West itself does not understand, that it is "genetic". At the end of the video we hear Orthodox Christians worshiping. But they are not Greeks singing in Greek as did the Byzantines. No. We see Russians singing in Slavonic. The meaning is clear.

My opinion: I don't like it when Americans use God for their political agenda. I don't like it when Russians do it either. I hope most Russians don't fall this kind of propaganda.


Anonymous said...

wow - I don'think we watched the same video. What I watched was another viewpoint on the fall of Byzantium, read some Romanides on what the west did to and with this particular piece of history,and understand that separation of church and state is a very recent historical construct.
Is it good? Is having an emperor bad? For an Orthodox Christian it doesn't matter, we are not to be of the world anyway, just living out our Christian lives in it.
I have heard it said that the best governemnt for the Orthodox to live under is one that leaves us alone.
I don't understand my own government let alone the Russian Federation's, if they love Putin, more power to them, Russians are unique, not Europeans, not Asians, they are Russians and have their own ideas.
Well, I don't agree with you on this one, but I am also seeking to be unpolitical, and just Orthodox in viewpoint on everything. I also try very hard to not to see only through an American lens.
I did enjoy reading your thoughts on the matter...

Matt said...

After giving this some more thought I think that what I am seeing is not the filmakers using God to back up their political positions. Instead, I now think that something similar to what many Americans do with the Roman Republic is what is going on in the film.

We Americans, especially the political conservatives among us, often compare our political institutions and leaders to those those of Rome in the pre-Imperial years. I have in mind the Washington/Cincinatus paradigm, the taking of the names of ancient Romans Republicans by the writers of the Federalist Papers, the quoting of Cato by every conservative politician. The early tendency among some Americans, I have in mind the Adams's, to attempt to live frugally and severely, stressing virtue and fame as Romans understood the words.

So as America sees itself as Republican Rome, so Russia sees itself as the Byzantine empire. We each draw examples of how we should live from the well of those earlier civilizations.

As for the accuracy of the history of Byzantium as portrayed in the film, it is correct, I think. I don't see where you and I disagree on that matter. In my post I was only talking about how I think that history is being used by the filmmakers.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the clarification, the distinction you are attempting. The film was made by an Archimandrite, head of a monastery no less - I just didn't see the political stuff you and others did...