Jacques Baud: “The goal is not to help Ukraine, but to fight Putin”

This interview comes to us through the kind courtesy of the Swiss journal, Zeitgeschehen im Fokus. In it, Jacques Baud brings us up-to-date on the Ukraine situation, while providing us with great insights, in his usual, inimitable way. He is in conversation with Thomas Kaiser. [Note: This English translation of the original German interview has been exclusively updated by Jacques Baud. Translated from the German by N. Dass.]


Thomas Kaiser-Zeitgeschehen im Fokus (TK): You cannot recognize Switzerland in a certain sense. Everything that was of importance to the state is being thrown away, almost hand-over-fist. What’s your view?

Jacques Baud (JB): We are indeed in a state of hysteria; and it is unbelievable how people forget the fundamental principles of the rule of law. This is a fundamental problem—you forget your own foundations, your own identity. Regardless of who is fighting each other, it is not our fight, and it is an advantage not to be involved in the fight, because that creates the opportunity to develop better solutions and help defuse the problem.

TK: A neutral state could make a positive contribution here?

JB: Yes, but that is exactly what Switzerland is not doing. It behaves as if it were a party in this conflict. This prevents Switzerland from finding a balanced, objective and impartial solution. This is a key point, nota bene for the international community as a whole, not only for Switzerland. The difference is only that Switzerland should be neutral.

TK: How is that relevant?

JB: This neutrality could be exploited, not to take sides, but to help solve the problem, regardless of who is guilty or innocent. These are different things. It’s like an arbitrator. He is not supposed to be a party. We have forgotten that. It doesn’t matter what the referee thinks about a participant, whether he finds him sympathetic or not, he must keep the same distance from both participants. Switzerland should be in this situation, but it does take advantage of it. I don’t mean financially, of course, but intellectually, legally and morally. The problem is that Switzerland forgets that it is not a warring party in this conflict.

TK: If you listen to the Swiss government or even to the narrative of some lawmakers, this neutral stance is completely blurred, even if they claim the opposite is repeatedly..

JB: It is also interesting that if one takes some distance to assess the conflict and does not immediately side with Ukraine, one is declared a ” Putin-Empathizer.” This is unbelievable. What I think about Putin has nothing to do with the assessment of the situation. That is the business of the Ukrainians. I have said this several times: if I were Ukrainian, I probably would have taken up arms. But that is not the point. I, as Swiss, will not give up my Swissness. In order to help Ukraine, I don’t have to become a Ukrainian; but I have to look at the big picture I have as Swiss to bring a less passionate but more constructive point of view. The journalists who criticize me are more Russia-haters than Ukraine-lovers.

TK: Where, then, might Switzerland’s role in this conflict lie?

JB: When an onlooker sees an old lady being attacked by a thug on the street, he does not encourage her to fight back, but tries to separate the two. We are in the situation of this onlooker; but our response is to give weapons so that Ukraine fights. For a Ukrainian it is legitimate to want to fight. But for a Swiss or another European, our role is to try to limit the damage. But no one is even attempting to do that in the West. When Zelensky was looking for a mediator, he turned to Turkey, China, and Israel. He did not choose a European Union country or even Switzerland. He understood that Switzerland is no longer an independent partner.

TK: Isn’t that the result of current Swiss foreign policy?

JB: Yes, it shows the nature of the problem. We have to make a difference between what we think about Putin and what we want to achieve politically. These are two different things. In addition, I always ask myself if are we so keen to blame the aggressor. Why didn’t we blame and sanction the U.S., the UK or France when they attacked Middle Eastern or African countries?

TK: Yes, this question really does arise.

JB: Paradoxically, everything we give to Ukraine today only highlights the help and compassion we have not given to those who have been unjustly attacked by the West in the Middle East and elsewhere. This will have consequences in the future. Many have noticed this with the refugees. The “blond, blue-eyed” refugees are gladly helped; the others are not. Maybe we can understand this, even if we cannot approve of it. But what is incomprehensible, remains the fact that we keep silent about one attacker, while another is punished with more than 6 000 sanctions.

TK: Is this not the well-known double standard?

JB: Yes, it is. It also doesn’t mean that you have to be in favor of Russia; that has nothing to do with it. If you look at Justitia, she is blind and holds a scale in her hand. That is exactly what is missing today. Western countries are partial and biased. The same applies to the European Union. A modern state should not be guided by passion, but by reason. These principles were established by Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau in the 18th century. Our “woke” culture has forgotten them. We let our feelings guide us and we follow them. That is the problem.

TK: Does that mean that the principles of the rule of law have disappeared?

JB: The rule of law means that decisions are not based on feelings or intuitions, but on the basis of facts. That is why modern states have intelligence services. This is about supporting decision-making based on facts and not on the basis of divine inspiration. This is a fundamental difference between enlightened governance and despotic obscurantism. Fighting a dictatorship does not entitle us to forget the principles of the rule of law. Since the Balkan War, the West seems to believe that the end justifies the means. It is irrelevant what individual ministers think as persons, they are allowed to hate Putin, that is their right as citizens —but not as ministers. Feelings cannot be the basis of their policy. Here I would like to refer to Henry Kissinger. He said in 2014, “Demonizing Vladimir Putin is not politics; it is an alibi for not having politics.” That’s what Henry Kissinger said; not Putin or Lukashenko. It behaves like a monarch, like Louis XIV who was guided by a divine inspiration.

“It is not about solving the problem of ‘war,’ but about eliminating the problem of ‘Putin.'”

TK: So, the Swiss government’s decision-making is more based on emotions than on reason?

JB: It is not the only one, unfortunately. This “management by Twitter” that has the upper hand in the entire Western world at the moment is absolutely inappropriate. It leads to this situation where you react before you know exactly what has happened.

Obviously, things don’t get better as a result. We close the doors. We do not communicate anymore. Diplomacy has stalled. In reality, it is not about solving the problem of “war,” but about eliminating the problem of “Putin.”

TK: Reacting before you know the details is common practice?

JB: Yes, after the missile attack on civilians at the Kramatorsk train station on April 8, the Swiss minister of Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian ambassador. At that time, however, only few details of the attack were known. Nevertheless, the Russians were accused. Today, factual evidence, such as the serial number of the missile, the direction of the launch, the type of missile and the strategy tend to indicate a Ukrainian responsibility. But without an impartial international investigation, a direct accusation of Russia means an endorsement of a possible war crime by Ukraine. That is not the way to run states. The fact that the political leadership is unable to take distance to the events is extremely disturbing.

TK: Without distance, it is probably extremely difficult to judge a situation adequately?

JB: In most cases, we are not able to distinguish between a war crime and “collateral damage.” In large part, this is because the media dictate an answer to us. What was provocation, what was reaction, what is propaganda? We don’t know. Despite everything, we accuse and sanction Russia. But if you want to condemn something, first you need an international and impartial commission of inquiry to find out what happened. What we are doing tends to exclude any possibility of dialogue, and that prevents the formulation of a crisis management strategy.

TK: So, the citizen and the state cannot have the same approach?

JB: The citizen can believe what he wants. What the ordinary citizen thinks is completely up to him. He can mean what he wants about Putin, about Russia. He can hate people if he wants to. But a state and state media cannot afford that.

TK: Why not?

JB: The role of a state is not to express the emotions of its people, but to represent their interests. Ukraine’s interest is to protect its citizens from an aggression. Switzerland’s interest should not be to support a war, but to support achieving a peaceful solution. Switzerland’s role should not be to blame or condemn. Today, Switzerland decided the second largest number of sanctions against Russia, but it didn’t apply any sanction against the US, the UK or Israel. In other words, we accept crimes when they are committed by some, but not when they are committed by others.

It has been known for a long time that Ukrainian militias commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. Switzerland has not condemned them. Currently, many Ukrainian war crimes are beginning to be denounced by Western witnesses and humanitarian workers. Their revelations are censored, like the revelation of Natalia Usmanova, censored by Reuters and Der Spiegel, which tells that it was Ukrainian militias and not Russians who prevented civilians from escaping through humanitarian corridors. By turning a blind eye to them, Switzerland is supporting practices that are prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, of which it is the depositary state.

“Kiev and the West are waging a media war against Russia and the Donbas republics.”

TK: This means that the West is promoting crises?

JB: Yes. In 2014, a similar mechanism was observed. Western “experts” and media downplayed the Ukrainians’ resistance to regime change. It had to be shown that the Maidan revolution was democratic. So, they built the myth of a Ukrainian army that was victorious against the rebels. After the defeat of the government in Donetsk, the excuse of a Russian intervention had to be invented to justify Western propaganda. This is how the first Minsk agreements came about (September 2014). Immediately after, Kiev broke the signed agreement to launch the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO). This led to a second defeat at Debaltsevo and the second Minsk agreement (February 2015). Once again, the Ukrainian defeat was attributed to Russian intervention. Therefore, Western “experts” continue to claim that these agreements were signed between Ukraine and Russia, which is not true. The Minsk Agreement was signed between Kiev and representatives of the self-proclaimed republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.

TK: What is the current assessment of the war situation?

JB: Today we can see that Kiev and the West are waging a media war against Russia and the Donbas republics. Russia, on the other hand, is waging a war on the battlefield. As a result, Ukrainians and the West are stronger in the information war, but Russia and its allies are stronger on the battlefield. Who will win? We don’t know. But what has been observed in Mariupol and the Donbas since mid-April tends to suggest that Ukrainian troops have been “abandoned” by their leadership. This observation is also made by Western volunteers who have left the battlefield due to the shortcomings of the Ukrainian command and are reporting this in the media.

TK: What does this mean specifically regarding Russian war objectives?

JB: Russia started with a limited objective. After that, the decision was made to go further. It wanted to demilitarize the threat over Donbas. Based on the first success, it wanted to start negotiations on the neutrality of Ukraine. This was a new objective, which was defined later. Putin saw a chance to achieve his goal through negotiations. If Ukraine did not accept it, he would adjust the objective accordingly. The Ukrainians don’t want negotiations; so Russia is proceeding incrementally until Ukraine agrees to a negotiated settlement.

“The Russians understand war from a Clausewitzian perspective: war is the continuation of politics by other means.”

TK: What were the original war aims?

JB: On February 24, Putin clearly stated the two war aims: “demilitarization” and “denazification,” to end the threat against the Russian-speaking population in the Donbas. Moreover, Putin stated that he did not seek to take over all of Ukraine. This is exactly what has been observed.

Russians understand war from a Clausewitzian perspective: war is the continuation of politics by other means. Therefore, they move fluidly from one to the other. The idea is to get the Ukrainian side to enter into a negotiation process.

TK: Has Ukraine seriously engaged in a negotiated settlement?

JB: On February 25th, Zelensky hinted that he was ready to negotiate with Russia. The European Union then showed up on February 27th with a 450-million Euro arms package to spur Ukraine to fight. On March 7th, with the goal of “demilitarization” and “denazification” nearly achieved and Ukraine having made no progress in negotiations, Russia added that Kiev must recognize the return of Crimea to Russia and the independence of the two Donbas republics. It made clear that its position could change if Ukraine did not want to negotiate.

TK: Has Ukraine responded to this?

JB: After the capture of Mariupol, the situation in Ukraine weakened, and on March 21st, Zelensky made an offer that was accommodating to Russia. But as in February, the EU came back two days later with a second package of 500-million Euros for weapons. The UK and the US subsequently put pressure on Zelensky to withdraw his offer. Negotiations in Istanbul subsequently stalled. This was a clear indication that de West didn’t want a negotiated solution.

TK: To what extent has Russia changed its goals?

JB: At the end of March, the goal of “denazification” was achieved with the capture of Mariupol and removed it from Russia’s objectives as part of negotiations.

On April 22nd, the Russians adjusted their goal. The Ministry of Defense announced that the new goal was to take control of the southern part of Ukraine up to Transnistria, where the Russian-speaking never felt being well treated.

As can be seen, the Russian strategy adjusts the goals depending on the military situation. What the Russians are actually doing is to turn their operational successes into a strategic success.

TK: Does this mean that the Russian targets reported by the media never existed?

JB: That’s right. Vladimir Putin never said he wanted to take Kiev. He never said he was going to take the city in two days. He never said he wanted to overthrow President Zelensky. He never said he wanted to take over all of Ukraine. He never said he was aiming for a victory on May 9th. He never said he wanted to declare that victory at the May 9th parade. He never said that he wanted to “declare war” on May 9th, in order to trigger a general mobilization.

So, by setting the objectives, the West can now claim Putin did not achieve them. The narrative that Russia is losing the war against Ukraine is based on these claims.

TK: What should come out of the military action at the end?

JB: Of course, we do not know what is going on in Vladimir Putin’s mind. But obviously there is a logic. The West is not making it easier for the Ukrainians, and the Russians are moving ahead. In the near future, we’ll see the Russian coalition “liberating” more territories. Some provinces have already decided to introduce the ruble as currency. So, things are slowly moving towards the “recreation” of some kind of Novorossiya.

TK: What do you mean by “Novorossiya,” and how should it look territorially?

JB: After the abolition of the official language law in 2014, not only the Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts rose up, but the entire Russian-speaking south of Ukraine. As a result, in October 2014, the Unified Forces of Novorossiya were formed, with units from the self-proclaimed Republics of Odessa, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, and, of course, Lugansk and Donetsk. Only Lugansk and Donetsk survived. The other “republics” have been brutally suppressed by the Kiev’s paramilitary forces. Today, the Russians are using the revival of the Novorossiya as an incentive for the Ukrainians to go to the negotiation table. If they don’t want, Russia will increase the pressure.

TK: Does Russia have a chance of success in this way?

JB: Nothing is certain. What can be said, however, is that the popular resistance to Russia in the territories it occupies is much weaker than Western experts estimated. Moreover, it is clear that the Ukrainian conduct of operations has not been effective. It seems that the Ukrainian military has lost confidence in its authorities, as it did in 2014.

TK: How do we know this?

JB: The testimonies of Western volunteer fighters who have returned from Ukraine confirm that the Ukrainian leadership is weak. It seems that the Ukrainian leadership itself is a victim of its own propaganda, which overestimates the performance of Ukrainian Forces. One gets the feeling that the political leadership is more satisfied with the messages conveyed by the West than with the actual results on the battlefield. Of course, the Western media uses the civilian and military casualty figures given by Ukraine to claim Ukraine’s victory and Russian upcoming defeat.

TK: What conclusions can we draw from this whole situation?

JB: Western activities will only prolong this war, while leaving no room for negotiations. This is exactly what the EU and Switzerland are doing. They are more part of the problem than of the solution.

TK: German Chancellor Scholz has said very clearly, “Russia must not win the war.” With that, the war will continue?

JB: That is childish. The operational situation shows that Ukraine is in a very difficult situation. I do not know whether Russia will “win” or “lose” this war. But I do know that Ukraine is no longer in a position to win militarily. On the political level, the situation may be different. This is debatable, and the future will tell. From a Western perspective, it is certainly a political defeat for Russia. However, for the rest of the world, this may not be the case. In fact, the new Eurasian bloc that will emerge from this conflict will be a significantly stronger contender for the West. We are used to see the fate of the world revolving around the West. But Asia will probably be the next “center of the world.” By isolating Russia politically from the West, you push it into the Asian bloc. In the long run, this could give Russia an advantage over Europe and the United States.

TK: You said that Ukraine cannot win the war. Is that because it is too weak militarily?

JB: There is almost no Ukrainian military left, so to speak. Most of the Ukrainian army is encircled in the Donbas and is being incrementally neutralized by the Russian coalition. The Ukrainian government just started moving territorial units from the west of the country to the Donbas. This has increased tensions, especially in the areas of the Hungarian and Romanian minorities, whose people do not appear keen to fight against the Russians. We see demonstrations of mothers and wives in the west of the country and in Kiev.

TK: Obviously, Western countries behave as if they do not want peace. No one urges caution. Before anything is known for sure, conclusions are drawn, condemnations are made, weapons are supplied. The war is kept alive. What do you think of the announced increase in arms deliveries?

JB: Regarding weapons, there are several things to consider. First, feeding a war and thus keeping it alive is not the job of the international community. By international community, I mean primarily organizations like the UN or the EU. Whether a country pursues this policy like the U.S. or Poland, that is their decision. But the purpose of an international organization is not to support international conflicts.

“Weapons disappear before they reach the front lines.”

JB: Second, it is not known where the delivered weapons actually go. Even U.S. intelligence agencies admit they don’t know. However, it is clear that all these weapons disappear before they arrive at the front. There are reports of a rise in crime in Kiev. In fact, Western countries are fueling what the Global Organized Crime Index calls “one of the largest arms trade markets in Europe.”

TK: So, what do the weapons bring to Ukraine?

JB: That’s the third aspect to look at. The weapons don’t help anything. The arms deliveries are based on the myth that Ukraine will win the war and Russia will lose. This idea is the result of the fact that the West has determined the objective of the Russians. Zelensky is demanding additional weapons because the Ukrainian army has already lost hundreds of battle tanks and artillery pieces. The few dozen supplied by the West will not change the situation. As in 2014, the main problem of the Ukrainian armed forces is not the determination of the soldiers, but the incompetence of the staff.

TK: How can Ukraine finance these weapons, or will the supplier states bear the cost out of solidarity?

JB: The weapons are provided to Ukraine on the basis of the “Lend-Lease” Law. This is a form of “leasing” that was introduced at the beginning of World War II to supply weapons to United Kingdom and the USSR. In other words, Ukraine will have to pay back for the weapons it receives. Just to give an idea, Great Britain and Russia ended the payment of their World War II debts to the USA in the year—2006!

Moreover, Ukraine is accumulating huge debts to international financial institutions (such as the IMF and the World Bank). The paradox is that, because of Western rhetoric about a country that is doing well and on the verge of defeating Russia, these institutions are reluctant to cancel its debt.

TK: So, the weapons supplied and the volunteer foreign fighters have no impact on the course of the war?

JB: They have only limited impact. Remember that, in Afghanistan the Taliban were able to prevail against the Western forces even though they were much more powerful. The Afghans had almost no heavy weapons, at most small arms. Neither the number of weapons nor their quality is decisive for victory. The biggest weakness of the Ukrainian armed forces is leadership.

TK: Why is that?

JB: The Ukrainian military leadership is bad because it is not able to integrate all parameters needed for planning and conducting battles. It makes the same mistakes as NATO forces in Afghanistan. This is not surprising, since the latter train the former. Besides, you have to master these weapons to get the most out of them tactically. They were developed for professional soldiers trained for months, not for casual soldiers trained in two weeks. That is completely unrealistic.

“The weapons that are being supplied to Ukraine have no military effect.”

TK: Do I understand you correctly—the efficiency of these delivered weapons is very low and leads to more destruction in Ukraine?

JB: The weapons being delivered, some of which are obsolete, will not affect significantly Russian operations or give an edge to the Ukrainian forces. They will only attract Russian fire to certain areas. For example, Slovakia has supplied Ukraine with the S-300 air defense system, which, as far as I know, has been moved to the vicinity of Nikolaev. Within a very short time it was destroyed by the Russians. The Russians know very well where this equipment is, and where the weapons depots are. In Zaporizhzhia were stored brand new weapons from the West. The Russians destroyed the depot with a missile, with pinpoint accuracy. The weapons delivered to Ukraine have no military impact on the course of the war.

A few howitzers are ineffective because the Russians can destroy them very fast. The Ukrainians, of course, have to get these systems to the front as quickly as possible. They have to do that by rail. The Ukrainians have electric railroads in the western part of the country. The Russians destroyed most of the electric substations of the network and the main railroads. Today, no electric locomotives are running on the network anymore. As a result, they have to bring weapons, such as tanks, to the “frontline” by road, one by one, using transporters. The problem is that these destructions affect not only military logistics, but also the economic life of the country.

TK: How did Russia react to these arms deliveries?

JB: It should be noted that before the Western arms deliveries, the Russians did not attack the railroad network. If the goal is to totally destroy Ukraine, then you have to do exactly what the West is doing now. If that is what we want. Whether it is what the West wants or not, I don’t know. But if this is the goal, this is the way to go.

Also, it is said that Russia currently has the largest inventory of Javelin missiles in the world. I don’t know if that is true, but it suggests that a large part of the weapons supplied by the West are not getting to Ukrainian fighters.

TK: The Gepard tank that the Germans want to supply has been decommissioned in the Bundeswehr. There is also no more ammunition for it in the Bundeswehr stocks. Isn’t that a point you mentioned earlier?

JB: The Gepard is an antiaircraft tank based on the chassis of the Leopard 1 main battle tank. It is a vehicle whose development goes back to the 1970s. It is a good weapon system, but it is no longer suited to modern threats. A weapon system also means logistics, maintenance and special training for the crews and mechanics. Furthermore, to be effective, such a system must be integrated into a command-and-control system. However, all of this cannot be accomplished in a matter of weeks. Basically, these weapon systems only draw Russian fire.

“A British volunteer fighter who returned from Ukraine speaks of the fighters sent to the front as ‘cannon fodder.'”

TK: Do Western countries have any hope that all this will help accomplish something?

JB: One thing is for sure—it doesn’t do anything. The British made a study of the weapons they had supplied to the Ukrainians. The results are extremely weak, and disappointing. They realized their weapons systems are too complicated, and the Ukrainian soldiers cannot operate them because they are not sufficiently trained. As for volunteer fighters, the picture is also disappointing. A British volunteer fighter who returned from Ukraine speaks of “cannon fodder,” of the fighters sent to the front. The British themselves realized that it was a waste of life and resources. That is why Boris Johnson started back-pedaling, after urging young people to fight in Ukraine. So, everything that is being done only serves to continue the war, without bringing a solution, or decisively winning over Russia. It only leads to the destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure.

TK: So, it is not a matter of helping the Ukrainian army?

JB: In theory, yes. In practice, no. Ukraine already has enormous logistical problems with its troops in the Donbas. It can hardly supply them with weapons and ammunition. And now they are creating a new problem with weapons that cannot be repaired. The mechanics are not trained to do this, nor are the crews trained to operate the equipment. Moreover, in the systems supplied by the West, the instructions and user manuals are in German, English or French, but not in Ukrainian. This sounds so trivial, but it is a problem.

That is why I say Germany also wants to stoke the crisis. This is the attitude of German politicians like Scholz, Baerbock, etc. They want to fight Putin “to the last Ukrainian.” That makes no sense.

TK: But if it is so obvious, why is the West going this way?

JB: I maintain that the West is using Ukraine against Russia. The goal is not to help Ukraine, but to fight Putin. In the English-language media, many analysts confirm that the West is waging a war against Russia through Ukraine. This is called a “proxy war.” This is the point. We are not helping Ukraine. Everything else is a lie. If I were Ukrainian, I would condemn Putin as much as Ursula von der Leyen or even Ignazio Cassis. Because instead of playing a mediating role, these politicians are satisfying their own ambitions by fueling the war in an unhealthy way.

TK: Guterres has let it be known that the war would stop, if Russia would stop the war.

JB: A war always has two parties, and in our case there are even three. We have Russia, Ukraine, and the so-called international community, that is, the Western world. It is clear that if the war is to be ended, it needs both parties, not just one. To this end, negotiations are underway in Turkey, but they are not really moving forward. Why has Ukraine withdrawn its own proposals? So, it is clear, the solution is not only on the Russian side.

TK: One has the impression that history is repeating itself.

JB: Yes, today we are in a similar situation as in 2014. The West does not want to talk to Putin because he is a dictator, and the West urges Zelensky not to make any concessions. Dialogue is therefore impossible. The problem is that Russia achieves operational success and increases its gains when there are no negotiations. The West hides behind the illusion of a Ukrainian victory. But the likelihood of it occurring is diminishing as time goes on, even though on a strategic and media level Russia appears to have lost.

TK: What should Ukraine have done?

JB: One only has to read the Minsk agreements to understand that their implementation essentially depends on constitutional reforms in Ukraine. These reforms, however, require dialogue with the autonomists. Kiev, however, has never taken these steps, and the West has never tried to get the Ukrainian authorities to do so.

What happened since 2014, happened because of Ukraine’s behavior. These agreements are not implemented, and the situation got worse and worse. That led to today’s situation; and this is a result of the previous history; the things that went on before.

TK: France and Germany were the guarantors of the Minsk agreements. What have they done to ensure that these agreements are implemented?

JB: The failure of the Western states is blatant. Ukrainians themselves have invented a new word. It is called “Macronize.” It means “doing everything to look worried, showing that to everyone, but doing nothing.” This sums up Western behavior.

No, the Western states have not taken up their responsibility in any way. Russia has now reacted to an armed conflict that has been going on since 2014 and started with the abolition of the official language law in February 2014. European states did nothing to bring peace. That is why Putin does not want to talk about war, because the war started in 2014. With the Minsk agreements, a solution was found. That is the situation. Guterres is a politician—and the problem is, we don’t have any space in the UN or in our country for politicians to express a balanced opinion. This is exactly as when George W. Bush said, “Whoever is not with us is against us.” We are exactly in that situation today—and there is no space in between at all; there is only good or evil.

TK: Are these developments intentional?

JB: The whole conflict is the result of a scenario carefully worked out by the West. Its basic components were laid out in 2019 in two papers published by the RAND Corporation, the Pentagon think tank, entitled, Overextending and Unbalancing Russia and Extending Russia. These describe the sequence of events that led to the Russian offensive in February 2022. In addition to that, promises were made to Ukraine that it would become a member of NATO if it instigated a war that led to Russia’s defeat, as Oleksiy Arestovych explained in an interview with a Ukrainian television station in March 2019. In fact, Ukrainians were lied to, as Zelensky noted on CNN on March 21, 2022.

As a matter of fact, the Russians knew for a long time that this confrontation would occur. That is why they prepared for it militarily and economically. This explains why they are withstanding the sanctions and pressure better than expected. This is also the reason why the West is using its imagination to elaborate new sanctions or new methods to impose them, such as abandoning the principle of unanimity in the EU. We have entered a phase of “cockfighting” between the West and Russia. As a result, the problem is that international institutions are no longer fulfilling their role as arbiters, but have become parties to the conflict.

TK: But then the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize a few years ago. Where is the commitment to peace?

JB: Obama got it, too. And Obama was the American president who kept his country at war from the first day of his mandate to the last. He started three wars, and the number of air strikes increased tenfold compared to his predecessor. I don’t think anybody takes the Nobel Prize seriously anymore at this point. It is purely political.

TK: Mr. Baud, thank you for talking to us.


A Philosophy of Victory

Essential internal reforms must logically begin in Russia. This is required by the Special Military Operation (SMO), which has intensified the contradictions with the West—and with the entire modern Western civilization—to the extreme. Anyone can now see that it is no longer safe to simply use the norms, methods, concepts, products of this civilization. The West spreads, along with its technology, its ideology, which then permeates all spheres of life. If we recognize ourselves as a part of Western civilization, then we must readily agree to this total colonization and even enjoy it (like in the 1990s). But in the case of the current confrontation, which is fatal!—such an attitude is unacceptable. Many Westerners and liberals have already become fully aware of this and have therefore left Russia just when the break with Western civilization had become irreversible. And it became irreversible on February 24, 2022, and even two days earlier—at the moment of recognition of independence of the DPR and LPR—on February 22, 2022.

In principle, everyone has the right to make a civilizational choice of loyalty or betrayal. At least with those who are involved, everything is clear—it is clear now and was clear before. At least they are consistent—after losing liberalism in Russia, they went off to their own.

It is more complicated with those who are still here. I mean those Westerners and liberals who still share the basic norms of modern Western civilization, but for some reason continue to stay in Russia, despite the rupture that has already taken place between it and the West. They are the main obstacle to real and full-fledged patriotic reforms.

Reforms were inevitable, because Russia found itself not only cut off from the West, but also essentially at war with it. On the eve of World War II, the USSR had a sufficient number of important strategic industries created by Nazi Germany. And relations between the USSR and the Third Reich were not particularly hostile. But after June 22, 1941 obviously the situation changed dramatically. Under those conditions, continuing cooperating with the Germans—legitimate and encouraged before the war—took on an entirely different meaning. Exactly the same thing happened after February 22, 2022—those who continued to remain in the paradigm of the hostile (liberal-fascist) civilization, with which we are at war, found themselves outside the ideological space that clearly emerged with the beginning of the SMO.

While the presence of Germany on the eve of WWII in the USSR was specific and single-pointed, the presence of the liberal-fascist Russophobe West on the eve of the SMO was well-nigh total. Western technologies of methodology, norms, know-how, and even, in part, values permeate our entire society. This calls for a radical revision. But who will carry it out? The people who were educated during perestroika? The liberal and criminal 1990s? The people of the 1980s and 1990s who were trained and educated in the 2000s? All of these periods were under the basic influence of liberalism as an ideology, as a paradigm, as a fundamental and comprehensive position in philosophy, science, politics, education, culture, technology, economics, the media, even in fashion and in life. Contemporary Russia knows only the inertial ruins of the Soviet paradigm and everything else is pure liberal Westernism.

There is no alternative paradigm; at least none in power or among the elite, at the level at which the civilizational confrontation should now unfold.

Today, we oppose the West as a civilization against a civilization. And we need to define what kind of civilization we are. Otherwise, no military, political and economic successes will help us. Everything will be reversible. The trend will change and everything will collapse (I’m not even talking about the necessity to explain to Ukrainians, who will henceforth be inside our zone of influence or directly inside Russia) who are we, after all? At the moment there is only the inertia of Soviet memory (“granny with a flag”), Western Nazi propaganda (“vatniki”, “occupants”), our—so far only initial—military successes and complete confusion in the local population. And here the voice of Russian civilization should sound. Clearly, distinctly, convincingly. And its peals must be heard in Ukraine, and on the territory of Eurasia, and in the whole world. It is not only desirable, it is vital, just as cartridges, missiles, copters and bulletproof vests are needed at the front.

It is most logical to begin the reforms with philosophy. It is necessary to form the General Staff of the Russian Logos, either on the basis of an existing institution (after all, not a single humanitarian institution can or will ever do this: liberalism and Westernism still dominate everywhere), or in the form of something fundamentally new. Hegel said that the greatness of a nation begins with the creation of a great philosophy. He said it, and he did it. This is precisely what Russian philosophers need today, not vague and out-of-touch agreement about the SMO. We need a new Russian philosophy. Russian in content, in essence.

And the reform of all other branches of humanitarian and natural science knowledge should start from this paradigm. Sociology, psychology, anthropology, culturology, as well as economics, and even physics, chemistry, biology, etc. are based on philosophy, are its derivatives. Scientists often forget this; but recall what “PhD” actually means, in any of the humanities or the natural sciences. PhD—“philosophiae doctor;” that is, “doctor of philosophy.” If you are not a philosopher, you are an apprentice at best, not a scientist (“doctor” is Latin for “scholar,” “learned”).

This is where the most important internal battle of starting civilizational reforms in Russia itself (as well as in the entire space of our expansion, in the entire zone of our influence) will unfold—the battle for Russian philosophy begins.

And here there is a clearly shaped pole of the internal enemy. These are representatives of the liberal paradigm—from analytical philosophy to the postmodern, to the completely feeble-minded cognitivists and transhumanists, who maniacally insist on reducing man to a machine. I’m not even talking about outright liberals and liberal progressives, proponents of the totalitarian concept of “open society,” feminism, queer studies, and the “queer culture” raised on sorority grants. This is pure “fifth column”—something like the Azov Battalion banned in Russia.

It is very easy to draw a portrait of the philosophical enemy of the Russian Idea and Russian civilization. It is not simply a question of connections with Western scientific and intelligence centers (which are often on quite close terms), but also of adherence to a number of quite formalizable attitudes:

  • belief in the universality of modern Western civilization (Eurocentrism, civilizational racism);
  • hyper-materialism—up to and including deep ecology and object-oriented ontology;
  • methodological and ethical individualism—whence the philosophy of gender (as a social option) and in the limit transhumanism;
  • techno-progressivism, the development of Artificial Intelligence and “thinking” neural networks;
  • hatred of classical theologies, spiritual Tradition, philosophy of eternity;
  • denial or ironic ridicule of identity;
  • anti-essentialism, etc.

This is a kind of “philosophical Ukraine,” scattered throughout virtually every scientific and educational institution that has anything to do with philosophy or basic scientific epistemes. These are signs of philosophical Russophobia, since the Russian Idea is built on the basis of directly opposite principles:

  • the identity of Russian civilization (Slavophiles, Danilevsky, Eurasians);
  • placing the spirit over matter;
  • communality, collegiality—a collectivist anthropology;
  • deep humanism;
  • devotion to Tradition;
  • careful preservation of identity, nationality;
  • belief in the spiritual nature of the essence of things, etc.

Those who set the tone in contemporary Russian philosophy vehemently defend liberal attitudes and just as vehemently reject Russian ones. Such is the powerful stronghold of liberal Nazism within Russia.

It is precisely this firing-point of the enemy, this high-ground, that we will have to take in the next phase. Moreover, liberal Nazis are defending themselves against philosophy no less fiercely than the Azov Battalion or the desperate Ukrainian terrorists from Popasna. They wage information wars, write denunciations of patriots, and use all levers of corruption and apparatus influence.

At this point, it is appropriate to recall a little—personal, but very revealing—incident about my dismissal from the Moscow State University (MSU) in the summer of 2014 (note the date).

From 2008 to 2014, at the Sociology Department of MSU, together with the Dean and founder of the department, Vladimir Ivanovich Dobrenkov, we organized the rigorous work of the Center for Conservative Studies, where we did just that—undertake the development of a Russian civilizational epistemological paradigm. Without hesitation, we supported a “Russian Spring.”

But, in response, we received a vicious letter from…Ukrainian philosophers (initiated by the Kyiv Nazi Sergey Datsyuk), demanding the “expulsion of Dobrenkov and me from MSU. And most strangely—but then, not very strangely—the leadership of MSU met the demand. Dobrenkov was removed from the post of Dean, and I, frankly, left of my own accord, although it looked like dismissal. I was asked to stay, but on humiliating terms. Of course, it was not Sadovnichy who resolved this issue, but he was rather gracious and open-minded and approved my appointment as the Head of the Department, which passed all voting procedures at the Academic Council of Moscow State University.

But then, something happened. The “Russian Spring” was curtailed. And the question of the Russian world, Russian civilization, and the Russian Logos was removed from the agenda altogether. But it was symbolic—the initiators of the abolition of the Center for Conservative Studies at Moscow State University were Ukrainian Nazis—theorists and practitioners of Russian genocide in Donbass and Eastern Ukraine as a whole. Exactly the same people with whom we are now at war.

This is how liberal fascism penetrates Russia. Or rather, it penetrated a long time ago; but that is how its mechanisms work. A denunciation comes from Kiev; someone inside the Administration supports it; and the next initiative to deploy the Russian Idea collapses.

Of course, you can’t stop me—over the years I’ve written 24 volumes of Noomachy, and the last three are devoted to the Russian Logos. But the institutionalization of the Russian Idea has again been postponed.

My example, of course, is not an isolated one. All or almost all thinkers and theorists involved in justifying the identity of Russian civilization have experienced something similar. We are dealing with a philosophical war. A real one—a fierce and well-organized opposition to the Russian Idea, supervised from abroad, but carried out by local liberals or just ordinary officials, passively following fashion and trends and a well-organized information strategy of direct agents of influence.

We are now at the point where the institutionalization of Russian Discourse is needed. Everyone has seen in our information war how controllable and manipulable the attitudes and processes in society are. But this is a consequence. The most serious clashes take place at the level of paradigms and epistemes. He who controls knowledge, Michel Foucault wrote, is the one who has true power. True power is power over the minds and souls of people.

Philosophy is the most important front line, and its implications are far superior to the news from Ukraine that every Russian is so avidly watching today—how are our people doing? What new frontiers have they seized? Has the enemy wavered? Herein lies the main obstacle to our victory.

What we need is a philosophy of victory. Without it, all will be in vain, and all our successes will easily be turned into defeat.

All true reforms must begin in the realm of the Spirit. And as news from the front is sought in the news—what about the institution of philosophy? Still holding its ground? Has it surrendered yet?


Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.


Featured image: “Fireworks on Victory Day,” by Mikhail Bobyshovl painted in 1961.

Democracy: The Failure of a System become Religion

What is democracy? The answer given by civics textbooks and constitutional law treatises has the merit of being simple. Democracy has its origins in the Greek demokratia, formed from demos, “people,” and kratos, “power.” It is the power of the people, the government of the people; a political system where the people are sovereign. It is close to the republic, but it is not confused with it. The word “republic” comes from the Latin res publica, which means “the public good,” “the public thing.” The republic is the political system in which power is not exercised by one person, a hereditary monarch, but by elected representatives of the people. Democracy and republic, therefore, have very similar etymological meanings, but they cover different historical realities. In theory, in a pure democracy the voting majority has unlimited power; whereas in a pure republic a set of fundamental laws, a constitution, protects the rights of all against the will of the majority. Of course, in practice, modern nation-states are neither pure republics nor pure democracies.

Lawyers and political scientists distinguish between direct democracy, where citizens meet in assemblies and exercise power directly, and representative democracy, where citizens choose representatives to exercise power on their behalf. They point out that in a democracy, rulers are chosen through free elections, based on universal suffrage and free and secret ballots. They also point out that power is exercised by the elected representatives of the majority party, who have the legitimacy to govern, but under the control of the opposition, which has the freedom to criticize the government. Finally, they agree that the system can only function when there is a separation of powers (legislative, executive and judicial, not to mention the media, which has acquired the status of a fourth power since the 20th century) and, above all, a broad social consensus around values and legal provisions, which, in the case of France, are summarized by the motto of the Republic: liberté, égalité, fraternité (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity).

Democracy as a Modern, Secular Religion

Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America (1860-1865), is said to have once declared that democracy is “government of the people, by the people and for the people,” meaning that sovereignty belongs to the people, who choose those who govern them. To this day, this principle is the theoretical foundation of Western democracies.

But to say that the people should be sovereign does not mean that they are. There is the admirable ideal and the prosaic reality. Paradoxically, the word “democracy” has become a cliché, a demagogic commonplace, a superstition, a mystification. Democracy has become over time a substitute, a surrogate, a semblance of faith, a kind of secular religion, even a religion of war. To cite only one example, that of the United States of America, the military interventions and aggressions committed by the US in the world in the name of democracy and freedom (the “democratic crusades” of the “benevolent policeman of the world” or of the “indispensable nation”), are countless.

It is not only the few cases from the turn of the 21st century, repeated in the mainstream media, nor the 400 interventions over two centuries in the whole of Hispanic America, as meticulously listed by the Argentine historian, Gregorio Selser (Cronología de las intervenciones extranjeras en América Latina, 4 vols., 2010)—the balance sheet is in fact far worse. The United States has fought or fomented government overthrows all over the world: the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, Korea, Cambodia, Cuba, Lebanon, Congo, Brazil, Peru, Dominican Republic, Iran, Guatemala, Ecuador, Haiti, Chile, Angola, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, Sudan, Somalia, Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Kosovo), Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Indonesia. Since its inception in 1776, the U.S. has been more or less at war 80 to 90% of the time. Today, it has 175 military bases in 130 countries. By comparison, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia between them have barely 30 bases abroad. In 2019, the defense budget of the United States and its NATO allies amounted to more than $1 trillion (52% of the global defense budget), while Russia’s budget amounted to $65.1 billion.

Under the guise of good intention and the defense of democracy, Washington defends above all the interests of American companies. We all know Theodore Roosevelt’s formula: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” Soft power to seduce and convince, and hard power to hit and punish! But rather than colonizing territories and peoples, US governments have made the wise choice of controlling decision-makers and gaining access to raw materials and national markets for their corporations or multinationals. The hawks in Washington are doing in Europe and around the world what they did in Central and South America—they are making sure they dominate militarily as well as economically. To do this, colonizing the elites is the most effective way. And in the end, the Empire’s allies are not simply friendly states, but rather protectorates or vassals with no real say in the matter. In the end, all have to obey. De Gaulle, who was to be a faithful, even unconditional friend of America in the most difficult moments of the Cold War, understood this well. He knew that Roosevelt hated him, that he considered him a “madman” and that he wanted to bring him down in one way or another because of his desire for sovereignty and independence.

The American myth of liberal democracy has slowly collapsed in favor of a plutocracy or corporatocracy. The values of the Founding Fathers have gradually disappeared in favor of the financial-industrial-military complex that Eisenhower warned against in 1961. And this situation was not new then. The nineteenth U.S. president, Rutherford Birchard Hayes, had already expressed concern about the evolution of such a system in his diary on March 11, 1888: “The real difficulty is with the vast wealth and power in the hands of the few and the unscrupulous who represent or control capital. Hundreds of laws of Congress and the state legislatures are in the interest of these men and against the interests of workingmen. These need to be exposed and repealed. All laws on corporations, on taxation, on trusts, wills, descent, and the like, need examination and extensive change. This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations.”

In a November 21, 1933 letter to Edward House, a former Wilson advisor, Roosevelt also made this admission: “The truth is that, as you and I know, a financial element in the great centers has owned the government since the days of Andrew Jackson.” Significantly, 15 billionaires now control the US media.

American democracy has undoubtedly turned into an oligarchy. The people still have some influence at the local level, but they no longer have much of a say at the federal level. At the top level, a tiny number of people make the decisions and reap most of the benefits. Blinded by the material comforts that the system has provided for decades, the American people have not been able or willing to see that their democracy has been progressively confiscated by their elites, that these elites have hijacked power for their own ends, and that the “deep state” has other ambitions than to help the American people, the real deep state. This lucid diagnosis is not the monopoly of dangerous radicals, anarchists, Marxists or other “anti-capitalist” revolutionaries. It is the work of a great many authors (and sometimes even presidents of the Republic) with the most diverse political sensibilities, such as Howard Zinn, John Perkins, Diana Johnstone, Michael Parenti, Eliot A. Cohen, William Blum, Noam Chomsky, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Carroll Quigley, Christopher Lasch or Paul Gottfried, who denounce this situation of capture or perversion of the democratic system and of dangerous overextension of the Empire. Among them, the vast majority have as their essential concern the scrupulous respect of the principles of the Founding Fathers, collective security and the common good of the American people.

On this point, the “conventional” and somewhat “angelic” thesis of historian Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman (American Umpire, 2013), built around the slogans “we are exceptional,” “we have made the world a better place because of our activities abroad,” “we are not an Empire” because “we are a democratic republic,” proves to be confoundingly biased and shallow, especially when compared to the historically and geopolitically sound argument of Nikola Mirkovic’s recent book (L’Amérique Empire, 2021).

However, it is rare to hear someone declare or “denounce” himself as a “skeptic” or moderate democratic, and even less as a “non-democratic” or “anti-democratic.” Even more so, no political regime would dare to define itself in this way. Democracy has been, for more than a century, a true political messianism that pursues the realization of the ancestral myth of the perfect City, of the ideal City and of the new Man. Not so long ago, Stalin (at least that’s what Yuri Zukhov says), and all the Bolshevik socialists, such as Lenin, Trotsky, Mao or Pol Pot, wanted to be partisans of a “new democracy.” Mussolini proclaimed the rejection of the “conventional and absurd lie of political equality and collective irresponsibility,” in favor of an “organized, centralized and authoritarian democracy,” “the purest form of democracy.” Not to be outdone, the doctrinaires of National Socialist Germany condemned, like their counterparts in the Soviet Union, “formal, bourgeois democracy.” The “Fuehrer State” was supposed to be, according to them, “directly democratic in the best sense of the word.” One can always dream about intentions and deny realities.

Most Europeans and Westerners today believe that freedom goes hand-in-hand with democracy, just as the stars go with the moon. There are of course false notes in the polite speeches of the “elites,” as when the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, issued his startling warning: “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties” (Figaro, June 29, 2015). There are also scandalous manipulations of the popular will, as when in 2007, President Sarkozy had the National Assembly ratify the Lisbon Treaty on the new European Constitution, even though it had been rejected by the people in the referendum of May 29, 2005. (In the Netherlands, it was the Senate that was responsible for adopting the same treaty first rejected by the people; and in Ireland, the voters had to vote and re-vote until they finally said “yes”). As the somewhat chameleonic and communist-courting poet Bertolt Brecht wrote in the aftermath of the East German uprising (June 17, 1953): “Since the people vote against the government, the people must be dissolved.”

However, the voters whose eyes are permanently unblinded are not legion and many are disillusioned. Democracy and freedom are taken for granted (even more so when the Western media compare the situation of their countries with the rest of the world), whereas in reality both are only partially implemented and sometimes even largely forbidden. In such a political and social context, to question the value and foundations of democracy, or to express doubts about the possibilities of its practical realization, is to attract the wrath, contempt and hatred of the high priests of the cult and other opinion-makers. To be accused by the media and the champions of virtue of the capital sin of antidemocracy is to expose oneself to the danger of a condemnation to silence, to a life of a pariah. A political regime and those who serve it rarely understand that one criticizes it or that one does not accept to sing its praises. Strangely enough, modern censors and neo-inquisitors have forgotten that generations of prestigious historians, jurists, philosophers and political scientists have carried out for almost two centuries, in an honest, rigorous and disinterested way, the most implacable analysis and dissection of Western democracy.

In the 1920s, the liberal philosopher José Ortega y Gasset had already denounced “morbid democracy.” In his famous lecture “De Europa meditatio quaedam,” in 1945, he warned Berlin students that the word “has become prostituted,” because it has many meanings that coexist. The word “democracy,” he said, has become “stupid and fraudulent;” its daily use, for whatever reason, resembles the invocation of a civil religion. The philosopher of law, Hans Kelsen, also wrote as early as 1929: “Democracy is the slogan that generally dominates the minds of the 19th and 20th centuries. But that is precisely why it loses its true meaning—like any other slogan.” No less lucid, the economist Joseph Schumpeter, noted in 1942 that “residual democracy” is “an organized hypocrisy.” It is reduced, said Gonzálo Fernández de la Mora (La partitocracia, 1977), to the opportunity that the partitocratic oligarchies offer to the governed to periodically pronounce on an option, generally limited, after having carried out a great operation of informing, or marketing to, the public opinion. In Du pouvoir (1945). Bertrand de Jouvenel was no less severe: “Discussions about democracy, arguments in its favor or against it, are struck with intellectual nullity, because one does not know what one is talking about.” Significantly, many intellectual and academic personalities, with openly democratic convictions, prefer to speak of “deficient democracy,” “precarious democracy,” “democratic deficit,” “impolitic regime,” “fatigue” and “exhaustion” of the Welfare State, “end of the democratic ideal,” “twilight” or “winter of liberal democracy.” Such is the case with Guglielmo Ferrero, Giovani Sartori, Angelo Panebianco, Stephen Krasner, Gaston Bouthoul, Julien Freund, Michel Sandel, Danilo Zolo, Guy Hermet, Michel Maffesoli and many others.

The Various Meanings of the Word “Democracy”

The reality is that the concept of democracy has multiple meanings that can satisfy everyone. The word has served and serves to designate and ennoble contrary doctrines and practices. With the exception of the last disciples of traditionalist thinkers, such as Maistre or Bonald, for whom only an order inspired by God is legitimate, and even of the last positivist monarchists of the Action française, everyone today declares himself in favor of democracy. But which democracy?

Historically, democracy, or rather a form of democracy, was established in Greece in the 5th century BC. But the current forms of government that claim to be its heirs only borrow its name. In the Athens of the 5th century B.C., out of a population of 400,000 inhabitants, only 10% of the men were recognized as citizens and represented their families (less than 200,000 souls); women, metics and slaves did not participate in political life. The Greeks also considered the election as an antidemocratic and aristocratic process that gave a notorious advantage to the most educated, the richest, the most gifted and the most cunning. The drawing of lots was, according to them, the only device capable of ensuring the democratic character of government.

On the other hand, neither Plato nor Aristotle claimed to be democratic. Plato believed that it violated freedom and dignity under the guise of equality. As for Aristotle, he preferred the “mixed” regime, a subtle mixture of democracy, monarchy and aristocracy. Ancient democracy thus remained for a very long time an object of study reserved to the scholars. The medieval proto-democracy having led to a dead end, and the revolutionaries (1642, 1763 and 1789) having not given their trust to the people any more than their counter-revolutionary opponents, it was not until the first waves of democratization in the 19th century (in the United States with Andrew Jackson in 1829 and in Europe with the revolutions of 1848), and especially after the First World War that mass democracy and universal suffrage began to develop in Western Europe and the West.

Democracy can be considered from two approaches: normative or descriptive. From a normative point of view, political democracy is above all a principle of legitimacy. Thus conceived, it is both the smallest and the only common denominator of all democratic doctrines: power is legitimate when it derives from the authority of the people and is based on their consent.

Let us immediately point out a major difference here. For the realist normativist (moderate liberals or conservative-liberals, who have not ceased to multiply throughout history the procedures aimed at diminishing the influence of universal suffrage, despite the fact that it is proclaimed by them as a constitutional principle), the end cannot justify the means. On the other hand, for the idealist or utopian normativist (liberal-Jacobin, socialist-authoritarian or Marxist-totalitarian), the use of non-democratic means for ends deemed to be democratic is always ultimately justified.

The example taken from French political history is eloquent. What matters for the French utopian normativist is not that the democratic system guarantees social order and the common good, internal harmony and external security, but that it maintains above all and at any cost the humanitarian values of the revisited ideal of the Enlightenment. All those who do not accept the rules of the game are thus excluded ipso facto. The power is held by the people and the “values” are in theory a function of the will of the people; but in reality, for our “progressives,” “defenders of the Republic and of Democracy,” the people can never have the power to question the “republican and democratic values,” these being able to be altered or redefined only by the members of the self-proclaimed republican elite. The same is true of the social-democratic theorist Jürgen Habermas. In the name of “constitutional patriotism,” the German philosopher wants to be the intractable censor of historical-cultural or social-identitarian patriotism. He intends to save the possibility of a “universal consensus” of substance; and to do this he expressly excludes those who are “clearly and voluntarily” (according to his own criterion), “beyond the borders of society.”

American neoconservatives and neoliberals (Alan Bloom, Wolfowitz, Hanson, Kagan, Podhoretz, Kristol, etc.), but also many of Strauss’ disciples (with their French epigones Bernard-Henri Lévy, Jacques Attali, Alain Minc, etc.) are all on the same ideological page when they defend the right to interfere, or the right to humanitarian intervention all over the world, in the name of “equality, freedom and human rights”) and advocate the universal application manu militari of the American or Western democratic model.

The irony is that since the 19th century, the arguments of European colonialists have also generally been developed on a triple register: economic (search for markets and raw materials), political (imperatives of grandeur and power) and moral (benefits of science, reason, education, progress, civilization, the Enlightenment, human rights, secular morality and/or religion). The origins and justifications of the Western right to interfere can be found much further back, not only in the Protestant jurist Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) or the economist John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), but also in the theologian and founder of the School of Salamanca, Francisco de Vitoria (1483-1546). According to the Dominican Vitoria, the following are legitimate grounds for intervention: natural law and the law of nations, the right of natural communication, the right to preach the Gospel freely, the tyranny of the indigenous rulers, the agreement or approval of the majority of the indigenous people, the alliance and the appeal for help from friendly peoples and, finally, a ground that he considers more debatable, the temporary incapacity of the indigenous people to administer themselves. One is tempted here to quote Ecclesiastes: “What was, will be; what was done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

In this case, American democratic interventionism at the turn of the 21st century, so often described as hegemonism or imperialism by its opponents, is neither new, nor original, nor modern. Strauss was fond of explaining that one should always judge political thinkers by the fruits of their ideas. But in view of the havoc wrought in the name of his ideas by his followers, one cannot help but return the argument. Relativism, historicism, non-interventionism and, more generally, the democratic realism of authors like Tocqueville, Ortega y Gasset, Buchanan, Mearsheimer or Paul Gottfried is infinitely less dangerous than the democratic humanitarianism of the Straussian warmongers or the neoliberal globalists.

From a second point of view, no longer normative but descriptive, political democracy is a system based on the competition of parties and elites, a competition arbitrated by the masses, as well as on the limitation of the power of rulers. Within this system, the majority must respect the rights of minorities. The reasoning here is centered on the concepts of electoral participation, selection of leaders, representation, opposition, control, limitation of power—but it is not at all centered on the idea of a self-governing people. However, in a democracy, the key notion is neither the number, nor the suffrage, nor the election, nor the representation—but the participation of all the citizens in public life. Everyone must play an active role as a member of the community, as part of a whole. The maximum of democracy merges with the maximum of participation.

In fact, depending on the convictions of its exegetes, democracy rests on different, if not contradictory, foundations. It can be founded either in reference to the individual without belonging—this is liberal democracy; or in reference to the masses, or to the working-class as the potential negation of other classes—this is popular democracy; or, in reference to the people conceived as a collective organism and as the privileged authors of all historical destiny—this is organic democracy. “Liberty, equality, fraternity,” proclaims the French Republican motto. Liberty is attached to liberal democracy. Equality has been exploited by popular democracies. Fraternity is at the heart of organic democracy.

Let us recall a key element that is at the heart of popular, social-Marxist democracy. At the time of its creation and development, socialists and Marxist communists castigated universal suffrage as essentially mystifying. The revolutionary minority was not to abdicate to the average opinion. “True democracy” was the one imposed and guided by the “conscious minority.” The “revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat” had to act without taking into account the refractory mass, the unconscious majority, charged with the great mission of awakening men to freedom. The exercise of universal suffrage in Western democracies could be, in this optic, only a simple propaedeutic to revolutionary action and to the seizure of power that was expected from it, at the same time as an exceptional occasion of agitation and propaganda. Lenin and all Marxists announced as the last stage of their regime the stateless and classless society; but the stage of “dictatorship of the proletariat” in charge of oppressing the bourgeois class was quickly converted into a permanent and definitive dictatorship of the minority of the Party over the whole society.

Third type of democracy: organic democracy. Here, representation takes place, partially or totally, through the municipality, the family unit, the region, the union, the professional associations or the corporations. These different forms of participation are themselves supplemented by the practice of referendums. Organic democracy is almost always held by its opponents (especially Anglo-Saxon Protestants) to be the exclusive invention of authoritarian or even totalitarian regimes (that of Franco’s or Italian Fascist doctrinaires) or of Catholicism (that of Catholic-socialist or traditionalist authors, such as Ketteler, Le Play, La Tour du Pin, Toniolo, Chesterton, Belloc, etc.). But this assertion is totally false. Social organicism has its origin in German idealism (Hegel, Fichte, Ahrens and Krause). Later, it is found in eminent liberal and socialist authors, often Freemasons, such as Renan, Carlyle, Durkheim, Duguit, de Man, Laski, Weber, Prat de la Riba, Madariaga or Besteiro. For the proponents of organicism, any political doctrine whose implementation favors the disintegration of peoples, or the erosion of popular consciousness in the sense of a consciousness of belonging to the organic entity that is the people, must be considered undemocratic.

That said, the problem of terminological confusion and the correct meaning of the word “democracy” is not reduced to the simple triad of liberal democracy, popular democracy and organic democracy. Other meanings have spread with varying degrees of success. We speak of representative or liberal democracy to describe a system based on the power of parliamentary assemblies. We evoke polyarchic democracy to emphasize the plurality of pressure groups and decision-making centers. We refer to direct democracy to name a model based on the practice of referendums. Direct or plebiscitary democracy is opposed to representative, partitocratic, pluralist or polyarchic democracy. The former, supported by the national and/or populist right, is criticized on the right and left, often with arguments reminiscent of those of the traditionalist right. Referendum democracy would be an open door to demagogy, madness, passions and irrationality. The argument is strong, but in representative democracy, the delegation, the exercise of the mandate, does not prevent the manipulation of parliamentarians by lobbies, economic arms of strong, invisible powers, nor the taking of ill-considered decisions, questionable or prejudicial to the interests of the people.

We also speak of social democracy, to define a way of life characterized by the levelling of differences in condition, or of economic democracy, to signify the will to equalize wealth. The State (Welfare State) is entrusted with the task of compensating for socio-economic inequalities through measures to protect the most disadvantaged and to redistribute wealth. Industrial democracy is also referred to as self-management or direct self-government in the workplace; or local or grassroots democracy, to avoid using the term organic democracy. Since 1997, reference has also been made to illiberal democracy, to qualify and criticize the regimes of Eastern Europe (notably Hungary and Poland) which oppose liberal globalization, without denying freedoms, and which claim control over the collective destiny and cultural integrity of their peoples. Finally, the concepts or terms of moral, populist, citizen, absolutist, prophylactic, belligerent, ballistic, strategic democracy have appeared, as well as those of market democracy, technocratic democracy, internet democracy, teledemocracy, “cyber-democracy,” “democratic governance” (a system that in reality reserves “serious” decisions for the small number of technocrats), participatory, deliberative, diversitarian, multicultural, global, globalized democracy, etc. Welcome to Orwellian newspeak!

With the latest “progressive” fads, classical democracy has been turned against itself to become a real enterprise of permanent deconstruction of Western values and institutions. Citizenship is no longer based on the equality of rights between citizens. The new social struggles claim to be articulated around identity, cultural and racial struggles. Multicultural democracy is in charge of enforcing political correctness, using coercion if necessary. It must pursue equality between groups by refusing the norm that is imposed on all. It must neutralize the majority for the benefit of the different cultural minorities. Consequently, the popular referendum must be prohibited as an instrument and expression of the tyranny of the majority. It is no longer a question of representing a pre-existing people (whose existence is denied), nor a relatively coherent collectivity, but of setting up a mechanism of representation allowing the various particular identities (homosexuals, LGBT, decolonial indigenous people, racialists and others) to assert themselves and to emancipate themselves. Democracy, writes political scientist Dalmacio Negro Pavón, “is thus reduced to political correctness defined and sanctioned by governments with the active or passive assent of the governed, previously infantilized by massive propaganda” (La loi de fer de l’oligarchie: Pourquoi le gouvernement du peuple, par le peuple, pour le peuple est un leurre [The Iron Law of Oligarchy: Why government of the people, by the people, for the people is a sham], 2019).

Aristotle, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Jefferson, etc. explained that democracy is impossible without a limited territory, an ample middle-class balancing the extremes, and a high degree of homogeneity or socio-cultural cohesion. Montesquieu taught that “political virtue,” which he identified with love of law and country, was indispensable to democracy. Generations of political scientists have insisted on the cultural (Tocqueville, Mill) or economic (Lipset) conditionality of democracy’s development. Others (such as Juan Donoso Cortès, Lord Acton, Christopher Dawson, Julien Freund, etc.) pointed out that all forms of democracy are conditional on the development of the state and have argued that all known civilizations have drawn their strength and stability from religion; that the fundamental ideas that shape Europe and the West (universalism, recognition of the value and natural dignity of the individual, distinction between religion and the State, importance of the election of assemblies since the Middle Ages) are practically all of Christian origin or have been re-elaborated or re-adapted by Christianity, and that the decline of Europe and of Western civilization has its origin in the rebellion, the abandonment or the negation of Christian roots.

Still others have emphasized the inevitable political and social consequences of the demographic suicide of the West (the famous work of P. Chaunu and G. Suffert, La peste blanche [The White Plague] now dates from almost half a century ago). But the deconstructionists and other modern utopians don’t care about that. They blithely and thoughtlessly take the exact opposite view of classical political science. In the final morbid phase of modern democracy, the totalitarian temptation is irresistible. The Orwellian newspeak is at work. Is it necessary to underline further the extent of the semantic and ideological confusion that reigns around the magic word of “democracy?”

Criticisms of the Liberal-Democratic Model

The theoretical critique, whether radical or balanced, of the liberal-democratic model has been systematized by multiple authors on the right and the left. Jusnaturalists, defenders of metaphysical natural law, have resorted to dogmatic arguments, such as the divine right of kings. Others have argued philosophically that what is true and just is independent of its recognition by the majority. German idealism (Hegel, Krause), elitist socialism (Saint-Simon, Fourier), anarchism (that of the republican Proudhon of the Solution of the Social Problem, 1848), Comtian positivism, Le Bon’s social psychology, Le Play’s empiricism, Maurras’ monarchist nationalism, Guénon’s integral traditionalism, all deny the individualistic and inorganic principle of the political representation: man is not a solitary being who constitutes the state by means of a pact, as if it were an anonymous society. He is born into a community, and his voice can only really be expressed through the intermediary bodies into which he is really inserted: family, municipality, region, professional body, etc. The jurist Carl Schmitt, for his part, has shown that there is a contradiction at the heart of the liberal-democratic regime: liberalism denies democracy (the logic of identity) and democracy denies liberalism (the logic of difference). There is an invincible opposition between the consciousness of the individual and democratic homogeneity, which presupposes the identity between rulers and ruled. In the eyes of Schmitt, liberal thought overlooks the political, because its individualism prevents it from understanding the formation of collective identities.

On the other hand, the Marxist, anarchist and syndicalist-revolutionary schools (Sorel, Labriola, Valois) have denounced in the liberal-democratic model a system of formal liberties, which become real only for the bourgeoisie. Political realist sociology (Ostrogorski, Pareto, Mosca, Michels) has demonstrated that political elites are never the product of the will of the masses, but that minorities select themselves by means of competition and self-affirmation, that political leaders are not the agents chosen by the people, but oligarchies, all the more closed in on themselves, as they belong to structured and organized parties.

All the criticisms of democracy can be grouped into two categories. Some of them concern the democratic principle itself and are generally anti-democratic. The others deplore the fact that democratic practice rarely conforms to the ideal and propose various solutions to remedy this. But often the authors adopt successively one or the other position, so that it is not easy to situate them clearly. Most of these criticisms are well known: democracy is par excellence the reign of division, instability, endemic civil war, rhetoric, the dictatorship of quantity (“the superior cannot emanate from the inferior”), disguised oligarchy, incompetence, mediocrity, corruption, influence peddling and the omnipotence of money. Democracy has no other philosophical foundation than skepticism and relativism. Until recently, many of the authors of these critiques were not so much fighting parliamentary and representative democracy in principle as the capitalist or market democracy in which it is embedded. The problems of social justice, of class struggles and of socio-economic exploitation were not then considered as accessory or subsidiary. The “social sciences” did not yet claim to have “discovered” the “real” enemy of redeemed humanity that is Western civilization dominated by the white, heterosexual, colonialist, slave-owning male, responsible for all discriminations.

Comparing “constitutional ideology” to “political reality,” many legal scholars and political scientists have criticized the abstractions, metaphors and fictions of liberal democracy.

The first example of a fiction is the principle of the division of powers (executive, legislative and judicial). In reality, the parliament regularly invades the domain of the executive when it legislates in concrete, not general, matters; the government promulgates decree-laws of general content and thus assumes the functions of the legislature; and the judges of the constitutional court exercise the supreme legislative or even constitutional function when they interpret an ambiguous, fundamental precept.

The second example of fiction: the main justification for parliament is that it streamlines discussion, ensures political transparency and expresses the national will. But the reality is quite different. Most deputies or representatives are not those whom the people consider the best, but those who belong to the class of “politicians.” Their non-imperative mandate is not enough to ensure their independence, as they are usually subject to the discipline or instructions of their party. The voter puts a ballot in the box and the parties then arrange to form a coalition government or not at their convenience. The more important the deliberations, the more secretly they are conducted by senior party officials. The same applies to the selection and nomination of candidates for election and the appointment of offices. Nor is parliament the instrument of political integration, of the submission of divergent wills to a single national will, but the means by which a political faction occupies the entire state and imposes itself on its opponents.

Third example of fiction: the liberal-democratic State intends to ensure the equality of power to all deputies and the equality of vote of all citizens. But then, why does the simple majority in the constituent assemblies undemocratically provide that qualified majorities will be needed to reform the Constitution? Why do most electoral laws establish very high electoral thresholds (5 to 10%) and majority bonuses (of 25 or 50%), so that some ballots are worth more than others? Wouldn’t the basis of the anti-democratic spirit finally be to consider that the primary goal of an election is not to allow the people to express themselves freely but to force them to elect a “stable majority” of an oligarchic nature?

To this, the realist democrat retorts that a regime based on the plurality of parties, the limitation of powers and the respect of minorities, may be execrable, but that the others are even worse. We know Churchill’s ironic or cynical phrase, “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” In Democratic Theory, the famous liberal political scientist Giovanni Sartori agrees that “anyone who wants to prove that the democratic system has a rational basis is at a dead end…. It is no accident that in the realm of rationalist philosophy one rarely encounters theories of democracy.”

The only exception to the rule is that of the rationalist Rousseau; but he is forced to resort to the fiction of the general will in order to better evade the fallible and changing will of all. In truth, it is difficult to affirm that there is more rationality among the supporters of democracy than among its opponents. The liberal Hans Kelsen, for example, readily admits that he finds it difficult to believe that the people and only the people possess the truth and the sense of the good; for this would imply a belief in a divine right of the people as inadmissible as the belief that a man is king by the grace of God. Kelsen goes even further. He admits, as do many other lucid democrats, that the cause of democracy is hopeless, if one starts from the idea that man can attain absolute truths and values. The liberal philosopher Pierre Manent also concedes that “under the guise of democracy, it is in reality an oligarchy that thrives.” He does not hesitate to add: “the minority of those who possess material and cultural capital manipulate political institutions to their benefit.”

The “democracy or dictatorship” dilemma, in which idealistic democrats seek to confine their opponents, is more seductive than it is well-founded. No political procedure is an absolute guarantee against autocracy and despotism. Even the least brilliant student of the history of political ideas knows this. Tyranny and dictatorship represent a corruption that is always possible and that also threatens, in different forms, the totality of political systems.

Real Western Democracy

Historically, the world has never known any other form of government than that of the few, of the ruling minority (the oligarchy, the establishment, nowadays the European-American-globalist “elite bloc,” i.e., all the financial, industrial and media elites, without forgetting Gramsci’s “organic intellectuals” and, of course, the so-called “experts” of the consulting firms). Moreover, every government needs the support of public opinion. Behind all known forms of government (monarchy, aristocracy, democracy—according to the classical classification; democracy and dictatorship—according to modern classification), there is always a minority that dominates the immense majority. The multiple possible variants depend on the mode of renovation of the minority and the limits and controls to which this minority submits in the exercise of power. The positions of power are never contested by the masses; they are contested by the different factions of the political class. The governed are spectators, sometimes facilitators, but rarely arbiters. When a political oligarchy is discredited, it is replaced by another in search of prestige, of legitimacy of exercise, ready if necessary to use demagogy. All political power seeks to simulate, to operate in secrecy, to control information, to manufacture consent through the mass media.

The works of Gustave Le Bon (The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, 1895), Edward Bernays (Propaganda, 1928), Lord Ponsnonby (Falsehood in War-Time, 1928), Sergei Stepanovich Chakhotin, (The Rape of the Masses. The Psychology of Totalitarian Political Propaganda, 1939), or Jacques Ellul (Propaganda, 1962) or Anne Morelli (Principes élémentaires de propagande de guerre, 2001) to name but a few, have explained in great detail how propaganda (or “communication” as we hypocritically call it today), whether “good” or “bad,” “white” (for the Good) or “black” (for the Evil), works in Western democracies. They have demonstrated that it is, paradoxically, an invention of liberal democracies and not, as is often heard, the creation and practice of totalitarian or authoritarian states alone. When today’s politically correct journalism (opinion journalism camouflaged behind the cloak of so-called news journalism) criticizes, not without corporatist ulterior motives, the “fearsome character” of the new cyber propaganda, it is the hospital that mocks the charity. In reality, the often-vaunted pluralism of the Western mainstream media is nothing but a deception, fully described by the allegory of the horse and rabbit stew.

On the evening of the re-election of French President Emmanuel Macron (April 24, 2022), an independent journalist mischievously asked in the columns of a non-conformist blog: “What is the name of the country where almost 100% of the subsidized press supports the government? What is the name of the country where all taxpayers finance, forced and coerced, media “committed” to the same side, that of the elites, the power and a huge hegemonic party that criminalizes its opponents? What is the name of the country where half of the citizens no longer trust any major media?” (G. Cluzel. BV, April 24, 2022). Of course, the almost unwavering attachment of the people of the United States of America to the First Amendment of its Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech, press and expression, makes all the difference and seems to protect them from a similar situation. But while the American citizen-voter can ignore the precepts of political correctness and say in theory just about anything he or she wants, he or she cannot do so without risking serious disadvantages in his or her professional and social life.

Politics, said the poet Paul Valery, “is the art of preventing people from meddling in what concerns them.” But public opinion is much more aware of this today. The consequence is that the oligarchy or “elite bloc”—increasingly fearful—tightens the screws that subjugate the demos. We know the hostility, contempt and fear that populist movements and popular rebellions such as the “Yellow Vests” arouse. People fear the power to which they are subjected—but power also fears the community over which it rules.

To conclude, real Western democracy is, after all, only an oligarchy elected by the people. It excludes the use of physical violence but not moral violence (unfair, fraudulent or restricted competition). Two conditions would make it possible to reform it in depth for the benefit of the people. First, the represented should be able to recover the freedom to directly control their representatives or elected officials, a freedom that has been abusively taken away from them. This would require the introduction of an electoral system with an imperative mandate; representatives would thus be obliged to respect the mandate of their respective electors. Then, for the people to be able, if not to direct and govern de facto, at least to participate durably in political life, it would be necessary for the principle of direct democracy to be widely accepted [with, of course, the referendum of popular initiative (RIP) or citizen initiative (RIC)]. A realistic ideal, which, one can well imagine, is not close to being achieved. The crux of the matter is, however, to prevent those in power from being mere transmission belts for the interests, desires and feelings of the political, social, economic and cultural oligarchy.

As the political scientist Dalmacio Negro points out, “The only effective attitude in politics is the rational criticism of reality in order to keep the spirit of collective freedom alive.” Realistic and lucid, he wisely adds that there is an essential condition for political democracy to be possible and for its corruption to become much more difficult if not impossible. It is necessary that the attitude towards the government be always distrustful, even when it is a question of friends or people for whom one has voted. Bertrand de Jouvenel said in this regard: “the government of friends is the barbaric way of governing.”


Arnaud Imatz, a Basque-French political scientist and historian, holds a State Doctorate (DrE) in political science and is a correspondent-member of the Royal Academy of History (Spain), and a former international civil servant at OECDHe is a specialist in the Spanish Civil War, European populism, and the political struggles of the Right and the Left – all subjects on which he has written several books. He has also published numerous articles on the political thought of the founder and theoretician of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, as well as the Liberal philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset, and the Catholic traditionalist, Juan Donoso Cortés.


Featured image: “World’s Constable.” Cartoon by Louis Dalrymple. Published in Judge, January 14, 1905.

Civilization State, or the Multi-Polar World

The Special Military Operation in Ukraine (SMO) is widely recognized by competent experts in International Relations as the final and decisive moment in the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world.

Multipolarity often seems intuitively clear; but as soon as we try to give a precise definition or a correct theoretical description, everything becomes less obvious. I believe that my work A Theory of a Multi-polar World is more relevant today than ever before. But since people have forgotten how to read—especially lengthy theoretical texts, I will try to share the main points.

The main actor of a multipolar world order is neither a nation-state (as in the realist theory of International Relations), nor a unified World Government (as in the liberalist theory of International Relations). It is civilization state. Other names for it are “big space,” “Empire,” “ecumenism.”

The term “civilization state” is most often applied to China. Both ancient and modern. As early as ancient times, the Chinese developed the theory of “Tianxia” (天下), the “Celestial Empire,” according to which China is the center of the world, being the meeting place of unifying Heaven and dividing Earth. And the “Celestial Empire” may be a single state; or it may be broken up into its components and then reassembled. In addition, Han China itself acted as a culture-forming force for neighboring nations that were not directly part of China—primarily Korea, Vietnam, the Indochina countries and even Japan, which is quite independent.

The nation-state is a product of the European New Age, and in some cases a post-colonial construct. The civilization state has ancient roots and uncertain, shifting boundaries. The civilization state at times pulsates, expanding and contracting, while always remaining a constant phenomenon. (This is what, above all else, we need to know about our SMO.)

Contemporary China behaves strictly according to the principle of “Tianxia” in international politics. The One Belt, One Road Initiative is a prime example of what this looks like in practice. And China’s Internet, which cuts off any networks and resources that might weaken the civilizational identity at the entrance to China, demonstrates how the defense mechanisms are built.

The civilization state may interact with the outside world, but it never becomes dependent on it and always maintains self-sufficiency, autonomy and autarchy.

Civilization state is always more than just a state in both spatial and temporal (historical) terms.

Russia is increasingly gravitating toward the same status. After the beginning of the SMO, this was no longer mere wishful thinking, but an urgent necessity. As in the case of China, Russia has every reason to claim to be precisely a civilization. This theory was most fully developed by the Russian Eurasians, who introduced the notion of a “world-state,” or—which is the same thing—”Russian world. Actually, the concept of Russia-Eurasia is a direct indication of the civilizational status of Russia. Russia is more than a nation-state (which the Russian Federation is). Russia is a separate world.

Russia was a civilization in the era of the Empire, and remained so in Soviet times. Ideologies and regimes changed, but the identity remained the same.

The struggle for Ukraine is nothing less than a struggle for the civilization state. The same as the peaceful Union State of Russia and Belarus and the economic integration of the post-Soviet Eurasian space.

A multipolar world consists of civilization states. This is a kind of world of worlds, a megacosmos that includes entire galaxies. And here it is important to determine how many such civilization states can even theoretically exist?

Undoubtedly, this type includes India, a typical civilization state, which even today has enough potential to become a full-fledged actor in international politics.

Then there is the Islamic world, from Indonesia to Morocco. Here the fragmentation into states and different ethno-cultural enclaves does not yet allow us to speak of political unity. Islamic civilization exists, but the question of its assembly into a civilization state is rather problematic. Moreover, the history of Islam knows several types of civilization states, from the Caliphate (the First, Umayyad, Abbasid, etc.) to the three components of Genghis Khan’s Empire that converted to Islam (the Golden Horde, the Ilkhan and Chagatai ulus), the Persian Safavid Empire, the Great Moghul state, and finally, the Ottoman Empire. The borders once drawn are still relevant today in many respects. But the process of gathering them into a single structure requires considerable time and effort.

Latin America and Africa, two macro-civilizations that remain quite separate, are in a similar position. But a multipolar world will somehow push integration processes in all these zones.

Now the most important thing—what to do with the West? The theory of a multipolar world in the nomenclature of theories of International Relations in the modern West is absent.

The dominant paradigm there today is liberalism, which denies any sort of sovereignty and autonomy, abolishes civilizations and religions, ethnicities and cultures, replacing them by a forced liberal ideology, the concept of “human rights,” individualism (in the extreme leading to gender and transgender politics), materialism and technical progress elevated to the highest value (Artificial Intelligence). The goal of liberalism is to abolish nation-states and establish a World Government based on Western norms and rules.

This is the line pursued by Biden and the modern Democrat Party in the U.S., as well as most European rulers. This is what globalism is all about. It categorically rejects civilization state and any hint of multipolarity. That is why the West is ready for war with Russia and China. In a sense, this war is already going on in Ukraine and in the Pacific (the problem of Taiwan)—but so far via proxy-actors.

In the West, there is another influential school—realism in International Relations. Here the nation-state is considered a necessary element of the world order; but only those who have achieved a high level of economic, military-strategic and technological development—almost always at the expense of others—have sovereignty. While liberals see the future in a World Government, realists see it in an alliance of major Western powers setting global rules in their own interests. Again, both in theory and in practice, civilization state and a multipolar world are categorically rejected.

This creates a fundamental conflict already at the level of theory. And the lack of mutual understanding here leads to the most radical consequences at the level of direct collision.

In the eyes of supporters of multipolarity, the West is also a civilization state or even two—North American and European. But Western intellectuals do not agree with this; they have no theoretical frame for this—they know either liberalism or realism, and no multipolarity.

However, there are exceptions among Western theorists, such as Samuel Huntington or Fabio Petito. They—unlike the vast majority—recognize multipolarity and the emergence of new actors in the form of civilizations. This is gratifying, because through such ideas it is possible to build a bridge for supporters of multipolarity (Russia, China, etc.) to the West. Such a bridge would at least make negotiations possible. As long as the West categorically rejects multipolarity and the very notion of the civilization state, the conversation will be conducted only at the level of a clash of brute force—from military operations to economic blockade, information and sanction wars, and so on.

Finally, to win this war and defend itself, Russia itself must first clearly comprehend multipolarity. We are already fighting for it, but still do not fully understand what it is. It is necessary to urgently dissolve the liberal structures created in the Gorbachev-Yeltsin period and establish new multipolar structures. It is also necessary to restructure the educational paradigm itself—first of all at MGIMO, MGU, PFUR, the Maurice Thorez Institute, the Diplomatic Academy, and other specialized universities. Lastly, we need to really turn to a developed and fully-fledged Eurasian school of thought, which has proven to be highly relevant, but against which the overt and covert Atlantists and foreign agents, who deeply penetrate our society, continue to fight.


Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.


Featured image: “The Course of Empire: Consummation,” by Thomas Cole; painted in 1836.

Poland and the Partition of Ukraine

In regards to Poland… The plan to hand Western Ukraine over to Poland existed even before the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO) in the Ukraine, when the West was only considering the possibility of such a conflict. NATO believed that Russia would destroy the command center in Kiev at the very beginning of the SMO, and this would be the cue for Poland. The transfer of embassies from Kiev to Lvov was linked to this.

Russia’s strategy of focusing on Donbass and liberating Novorossia, with some delay in the operation as a result of Kiev-sanctioned terrorist (Syrian) strategy by the Nazis in eastern Ukraine, as well as the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kiev, modified the initial plan. For a moment, it seemed to the West that the Russian attack had fizzled out. In this situation, the Polish scenario was postponed.

It was revived after the sorry surrender of the neo-Nazis from the Russian-banned Azov Battalion. It became clear that Russia would sooner or later liberate Donbass and then Novorossiya, and that the Nazi front was about to fall. It was at this point that the West again turned to the “Western Ukraine as part of Poland” plan. Duda’s visit and Zelenski’s unprecedented moves to integrate Ukraine with Poland—in fact, the abolition of the border—are a watershed moment. The plan, ready from the start, has become valid again.

On the one hand, this greatly simplifies Russia’s task. Now it is obvious to everyone that the Western line in Ukrainian politics has reached a critical point, and the choice is no longer between a “non-independent Ukraine” and the return of Novorossia to Russia, but where Ukrainians will live—in Russia or in Poland. This is how the dream of the EU and NATO is realized.

But for Eastern Ukraine it is not acceptable at all. It will finally become clear to everyone here what Russia came for. And this means that the pro-Russian underground will revive, and the patriots will begin to exterminate the gravediggers of Ukraine little by little on their own.

There will also be some resistance in the west of Ukraine, but it is not yet clear what will come first—the slavish aspiration to join the EU and NATO, or straightforward Ukrainian nationalism. However, this is of secondary importance: Kiev is controlled from Washington, and the local population and its sentiments are irrelevant. Russia acts as the liberator of the united Russian people, which is what it has been since the 17th century.

Apparently, that is why the question of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and the banning of the deputy of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine has become so acute. Everything indicates that integration into Poland is being prepared at an accelerated pace.

This could have been advantageous, if it were only about Novorossia for us. We will liberate the territory from Odessa to Kharkov, and in one way or another we will annex it. This is already beyond question. Western Ukraine as part of Poland is, at first glance, acceptable. For us it is ours; and the other half of the failed Ukraine goes back to what it was hoping for.
But there is another side.

First, NATO will still expand in our direction, and significantly. Even if not to the full extent, but half as much.

Secondly, the introduction of Polish troops would mean the direct participation of NATO in the conflict, which means that everything moves to a new level of escalation. The likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons increases. The question again arises about the red lines, which Russia has established with such difficulty and at such a price. And the borders between Eastern and Western Ukraine, or more precisely between Poland and Russia, will have to be defined in battles with the NATO contingent. This is highly problematic and risks moving the situation into the category of World War III.

And finally, in the third place. Russia, by agreeing to Poland’s annexation of Western Ukraine, loses its status as friend and liberator of the fraternal Ukrainian people, albeit a status that is not yet obvious to many. The state “Ukraine” no longer exists. But there are Ukrainians; and there are Orthodox Ukrainians; and in Western Ukraine they are still a majority. This is a problem. It turns out that we exchange “our” half of the Ukrainians for “someone else’s” half. And that is a trade transaction, not the fulfillment of a liberation mission.

As a private matter: the withdrawal of Western Ukraine to Poland can serve as an excellent argument for captive Ukrainians to take our side with fervor and rage and liberate what they consider “their land” under our command.

After Duda’s visit, Moscow has to solve a new dilemma. How should one deal with the direct involvement of Poland in the war against us?

Historically, the Russian Empire and then the USSR expanded westward in stages. One zone after another was conquered from Poland and the Ottoman Empire, right up to the Great Patriotic War, when Western Ukraine was also included in the USSR. Of course, this is not a linear process—there were also partitions of Poland, which for centuries ended up under the direct rule of Russia. And even earlier, there were battles for Kiev between the princes of Vladimir and Galicia. There were also repeated attempts to establish in Western Ukraine a metropolis, separate from the Great Russian metropolis. Ukraine is a frontier; a zone between two civilizations—Russian (Eurasian) and Western European; and earlier a zone between three—the Turkish-Islamic, from which the Russian Empire recaptured Novorossia, populating it with its own—both Great Russian peasantry and brotherly Little Russian Cossacks.

Therefore, changing hands was the fate of Ukraine. Hence the dual identity of being Russian, or anti-Russian. Hence the loyalty and betrayal deeply rooted in frontier culture. Taras Bulba and his son. Bogdan Khmelnitsky and Mazepa. The border runs through families, through hearts.

The activation of Poland’s role in the conflict aggravates the degree of the war between Russia and the West, civilization against civilization.
Theoretically, there are two solutions:

Agree to partition Ukraine, while trying to take as much as possible, and allowing Poland to act for itself rather than on behalf of NATO;
or go all the way with the risk of escalating the confrontation to the level of nuclear confrontation.

From the beginning of the SMO, I assumed that we would come to exactly this dilemma at some point. But it seemed to me that it would come to the fore during the fighting for Kiev. Events are unfolding according to a somewhat different logic, which does not cancel the basic geopolitical regularities, only framing them each time in an original and unpredictable way. This is what living history is all about—both to follow the lines of destiny and to deviate from them. If one raises the question of ending the SWU and any negotiations before the complete liberation of Novorossia, it is pure betrayal—only a “foreign agent” can advocate this. But the question of Western Ukraine is not so clear.

If it were not for the risk of nuclear war, I would be inclined to establish control over the entire territory of Ukraine. This would coincide with the president’s stated goals of demilitarization and denazification—in order to realize them, full control over the territory is necessary. It is clear that we would get a time bomb inside our territory. But after the excesses inevitable during military operations, normalization of both eastern and western Ukraine would require extraordinary efforts, from our side in any case. Things have become too brutal and bloody to hope for simple solutions. All of Ukraine is a challenge to our very being, and if we can deal with Eastern Ukraine, we will somehow deal with Western Ukraine as well. And, very importantly, we will preserve the church.

But at the same time, to limit ourselves to liberating Novorossia—with or without Kiev—would not be a direct “betrayal.” This plan can be considered, without betraying Russian destiny. There is room here for political realism, weighing the pros and cons, and considering the consequences. But at the start of the SMO—there was no such opportunity. It is a question of to be or not to be; and it is decided in favor of to be. The foothold of traitors is undone; and most importantly, the decision is irreversible.

With Poland the situation is different. And in some ways, it is no less complicated. If the duty of a patriot is to demand from the authorities the complete liberation of Novorossia, no matter what, then, in my opinion, in regards to the situation with Poland, the duty of a patriot is to accept the decision that the Supreme Commander-in-Chief will make.

A true victory begins with the liberation of Novorossia. After that, it’s up to God.


Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.

The Importance of Gaetano Mosca

A great book opens one’s eyes to processes that one may have missed had one not read it. Likewise, its power lies in activating one’s own abilities of thought to see more clearly what others may not notice at all or merely glimpse as a blur in the fog.

Few books I have read are better guides and eye-openers about how to think structurally, historically, and comparatively about politics generally, and the major crises of our time, crises that have largely been induced by a ruling class that has globalist ambitions, than Gaetano Mosca’s Ruling Class. Reading it can also help one be better attuned to the political fluxions that draw us toward the break-down of politics as the means for staving off those terrible forces of human destruction and rejuvenation—war and revolution, which are the inevitable consequences of a failure to adequately maintain and cultivate the powers of peace.

The ruling class of the West, which forms the core of a globalist elite, draws us into an external war—that remains at this stage a proxy war—and (most conspicuously so in the United States and Europe) a civil war that is playing itself out politically and institutionally and has already destroyed the very possibility of a common political culture.

1. Canonical and Great Books

Some books found peoples and nations; some assist in the founding of institutions; some open pathways for new types of orienting of human beings and help us forge a new reality; some provide the language and thought patterns of an epoch; some books are prophetic; and some provide the wherewithal that best defines the problem of an age. The most influential of these great books are canonical. And in spite of the ideological attack upon the canon which was part and parcel of a sweeping attempt to accommodate Western institutions to the knowledge and intellectual capacities of poorly-educated and under-read undergraduates and graduate students, canonical books exist because our world would simply not be the same were they to not have existed. This was also why it was commonly assumed amongst professors, teachers, and the professional classes that every educated person should acquaint himself with certain books at some point in his life-time.

The canon also reflects the problems of the ages and the most significant of attempted solutions—which is why it is so diverse, if I may be permitted to use a word that has become an ideological truncheon in the arsenal of managerial and progressive moral absolutes. A canonical work might not be error free, or it may be fraught with problems (Marx’s Communist Manifesto or Capital or Rousseau’s Èmile and Social Contract are obvious examples), or just simply defiant of traditional ethical appeals (Machiavelli’s Prince). Nor does the canon contain a collection of like-minded sentiments or responses to the human condition. And the idea that it is simply the point of view of white men makes no sense, given the shoddiness of the category—are people from what is now the Middle East, Northern Pakistan and Central Asia white?—or the authors of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Koran, the Analects, the Tao Te Ching, and the Bhagavad Gita, which all are canonical works?

Then there are books which, though lesser known, if read attentively, can change how you see the world forever. They may not be canonical, but they express profound insights which, if remembered, would help us greatly in making sense of our world. I consider the writings of J.G. Hamann and Herder, of Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy to be good examples of these kind of books. In the case of both pairs of thinkers, they were contemporaries of much more influential and famous philosophers—viz., the former were contemporaries of Kant, the latter of Heidegger. But whereas Kant and Heidegger remain essential to the philosophical tradition and hence to the curriculum of Philosophy (at least to that curriculum that breathes outside of the straightjacket of Analytic Philosophy), if one has attentively read Hamann et. al., then one can quickly identify a range of egregious deficiencies in the philosophies and legacies of Kant and Heidegger, and his ‘68 progeny.

Then there are books that were ignored at the time of their publication; or having made a strong impression upon a discipline or the public have faded from view, only to undergo a revival because they have been (re)discovered by later generations who see that they address something of profound importance about their lives and times. Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, for example, were “stillborn” only to be reborn; while Mises’s Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, took on a new life when the Soviet Union was collapsing.

Explosive times, invariably, call out for the most thoughtful and inventive of people to make sense of them. And great books are inevitably forged out of the explosive fall out; the materials and problems of times in great crisis. Though, we should note, that human beings are crisis producing creatures—which is why those who believe in progress invariably are forced to temper their enthusiasm when their own circumstances and age go to hell.

But let us first address the tumult of our time, which is the reason I suggest Gaetano Mosca’s Ruling Class is a must read.

2. Global Leadership Aspirations versus those Non-Compliant Critics from the “Led-ship”

We are living in a period of civil wars in the West being played out in its institutions, as the ruling political class, and the various interests it represents and deploys for its objectives, overturns (in large part by redefining the character and roles of all) traditional social institutions. It is a civil war that is rather typical of all civil wars—a ruling class furnishes the world in a way that suits its interests; but such furnishing requires great sacrifice from those whose lives are an important part of this new furnishing. And the proposed purpose, the changing circumstances, and the new future being made, do not fit well with the interests (the ways of being in the world) of those who are required to get in step with the dictates of the ruling class.

The civil war of our time, in other words, is the struggle over whether the future will be dictated by a globalist elite and those who (often unwittingly) work on their behalf, or by those who oppose the goals and means of that elite, and the sacrifices that are required to achieve it. On the one side stand those who believe they are striving for human progress, and that progress involves greater “emancipation,” “safety,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “equity.” Yet, as their critics point out, they are creating a world which is far less equitable, safe or free. They are contributing to a divide between the immensely rich, the highly paid leaders, and administrators, celebrities, elite athletes, and all those who are employed to do their bidding by supervising and instructing everyone in what to think and say, on the one hand, and the rest.

The rest are those who are meant to make up the great “led-ship,” who are to do the bidding the various leaders, the “representatives” of sustainability, global justice, world health—and pretty much anything else said leaders can think of—and thus the “rest” find themselves increasingly beholden to leaders. Irrespective of their intentions, the more vocal opponents of this ruling elite can see that they are aiding and abetting corporate technocratic globalism, and its accompanying suppliers of governance (administrative states beholden to larger global administrative powers, such as the EU, and the UN), knowledge (from big tech/media and its fact-checkers to the requirement that scientific research be funded by state-corporately authorized research institutions and bodies which comply with consensuses that are manufactured within various professional associations, again complying with corporate and state requirements, and standardized curricula crafted around ostensibly universal rights), health (Big Pharma, and WHO, medical associations, and boards), and safety (the Industrial Military Complex and international military alliances whose very existence requires manufacturing wars, which may never be won, but which help ensure a continuous resource stream from tax-payers to arms manufacturers, bureaucrats and the military so that a global standing military reserve will never cease to exist).

What to those who embrace this globalist order and its rulers and minions is a more caring, safe and compassionate, environmentally sustainable world order, is to others but mindlessness and mental enslavement, infantile indulgence, and the suppression of the more traditional institutions and roles, which have provided people with a sense of the fit between themselves and the kind of freedom that was worked out over multiple generations in the numerous spheres of sociality. Whereas supporters of globalism can be found everywhere—though, the further away one gets from the West, such supporters exist in ever smaller numbers—the opponents of this global elite do not form a natural alliance: being a traditional Muslim, Jew, or Christian does not mean that the common ground—one’s traditional faith—is very common or solid as a base for an alliance. Conflict and wars are the inevitable accompaniments of traditional life-ways. But the delusion of the globalist elites is that under their direction there will be perpetual peace.

Again, critics of the globalist elite (which take NATO as its military shield) will point out that what is happening is not that war as an existential feature of human existence has ceased, or even diminished, but the grounds for its existence have shifted, and the beneficiaries for its existence have assumed the authority of being the planetary peace-providers.

If nature abhors a vacuum, then the nature of our global administrative, financial, communication systems have created a vacuum that has been filled by a globalist ruling class—a Superclass, as David Rothkopf, who served in the Clinton administration, formulated it in his book of that name. (Rothkopf, who is not at all hostile to this elite, makes the case that while membership is relatively mobile, it numbers around six thousand people at any given time). In filling that vacuum, the global elite have required that the world adopts itself to their interests, which are the interests that support their authority. But, again, their interests, simply do not suit the overwhelming number of people who live on planet earth, and do not feel that this superclass is of any benefit to them—critics of the superclass go further and see it as a class whose ambition wildly outstrips its competence, and is thus a destructive force, far greater than what nature and our other social formations would generate.

The globalist ruling class inaugurates another fundamental break with tradition—and at the danger of repeating myself—the modus operandi of the globalist elite is its break with all real traditions, involving a kind of substitution racket, like fake gold being passed off as real gold. This particular break is that previously whereas power formations which move beyond those of outright enslavement or tyranny are historically formed symbiotically, so that a sacrificial order is established—no serious sacrifice is required of the globalist elite themselves: they can pay others to enforce others to make the sacrifices that are intrinsic to social reproduction (notably sacrifices of the independence of mind to the ruling ideas, the sacrifice of one’s faith to the higher absolutes of globalist/corporatist/progressivist ideology, and sacrifice of one’s relative economic well-being).

For all its aspirations, though, Globalism Inc. remains largely politically ineffective outside of the West, and the great geo-political non-Western globalist alternative to Western globalism, China, is one that far more carefully attends to bringing along the ruled with its ruling class—which is not to say that on certain divisive issues it will not do what ruling classes always do, i.e., brutally enforce its authority. The way it has managed to cement its authority by avoiding a civil war is to ensure its adherence to traditions in a way that makes it something of a mirror image of the West. But, to repeat, there is no natural allegiance between the traditionalism of the Chinese and those in the West, who find greater solace in their traditions than in the new elite counterfeit fabrications. To question these fabrications in the West as counterfeit, based upon (collective self-)delusions and/or deception, is now to be a “right-wing extremist,” and to question any of the ticket items that are advanced through these fabrications, and to even speak of a globalist elite is to be a dupe of a conspiracy theory, which is to say that those making a play to be the global ruling class smother resistance by ideological indoctrination, accompanied by social, economic and political enforcement.

The primary reason that the West has been the leader of the globalist agenda, from its social alliances, to policy, to ideology is because the West has been created through wars and revolutions, and the relative success of its institutions, prior to breeding a class determined to destroy them, has been the incorporation of a dynamic which enables adapting to its changing technological and socio-economic circumstances. In the West, it is not the case that those who wish to preserve their traditional way of life are wishing to leap back to pre-modern times, as, for example, has been the case in much of the Islamic world’s response to modernization. Thus, for example, in the United States, those who are most outspoken against the progressive direction of their country identify themselves as “patriots,” i.e., as defenders of the American revolution and the principles it founded and which have evolved in its wake.

Today, the ruling class in the United States has largely embraced switching the founding of the United States from the date marking the independence of a colony from a foreign oppressive power it defeated in a civil war by declaring “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” to a date which takes its founding as an act of enslavement, and its perpetuity as one of a trail of injustices that must now be rectified by those who will lead its people (who no longer are merely the citizens and their children) via the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, the media, the classroom, and wherever else people may assemble, speak, or reflect.

Of course, there are still some people who belong to the political class who are on the “wrong side of history,” the side that identifies in the United States with the founding fathers, who are appalled that the new ruling class works in tandem with the youth of the nation and its educators to overturn institutions, tear-down statues, change the names of military bases, schools and other buildings and, rewrite their history books and school curricula, so that the men who founded the United States may have their status removed and their personage shamed, and the more diverse, and the tolerant ruling class who represent the truth of power and an emancipated future may live in safety, free from the “moral odium” of their forebears. The civil war that is taking place is one which exists because the ruling class has changed. It has gone globalist, become “virtuous,” and got “woke.”

There is, I believe, no better book for making sense of what is now transpiring than Gaetano Mosca’s Ruling Class.

3. Mosca Elements of Political Science and Their Importance for Understanding the Affinities Between Totalitarian Ruling Classes

Apart from its providing a number of key elements to help make sense of the times we are living through in the West, I came to the conclusion, right at the end of my academic career, after picking the book up again for the first time in nearly fifty years (when I had been too young and stupid to realize what gold it was) that Mosca’s Ruling Class is, along with Aristotle’s Politics and Thucydides’ Peloponnesian Wars, probably the best foundational text for studying Political Science that has ever been written. (For all its greatness, I would not say that Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope is a foundational text for studying Political Science)

The Italian title of The Ruling Class (when literally translated) is Elements of Political Science, the first edition of which appeared in Italy in 1896; the English translation of the revised edition of 1923 appeared in 1939. The English title is perhaps a more catching one, and it does capture the content of the book. But I think it regrettable that in an age where Political Science is little more now than a disciplinary name rather than a genuine academic discipline that this book is rarely read by those who study Politics. Today, as would be evident to anyone who simply read the titles of papers presented at the American Political Science Association, with the possible exception of rational choice theory (which I think is irredeemably flawed by its inattention to culture and history), most who teach Political Science are morally committed political partisans who have little or no interest in exploring their role within the ruling class. Or indeed thinking outside of the two-dimensional model and its intersectional variant, which would make them and their chosen groups oppressed members of a society they wish to transform, instead of being paid employees (mostly of) the state whose task it is to educate and socially prepare the next generation for reproducing the kind of society that its “leaders”—its ruling class—deem as desirable.

As the Italian title suggests, in dealing with elements of a science of politics Mosca’s book is one that cuts across cultures, which is to say it is a structural examination, a study of the laws that lead to rulership and its class-based nature. Though the structures and laws examined by Mosca are analyzed in their historical genesis and mutations, which is to say Mosca’s study is also an historical study, as it must be given that history provides the condition of our circumstances, just as our response to circumstances also make history. Thus, it examines the changing conditions which give birth to the different social needs and opportunities for different types and classes, and hence the different priorities of governance and those who form the political class of a time and people. It is also comparativist in its approach. In his “Introduction” to the Ruling Class, Arthur Livingstone provided a good summation of Mosca’s method:

He will of course take the facts about society from any source or method that can supply them, only so they are facts—from economics, from anthropology, from psychology, or any similar science. He does explicitly reject for the political-social field any absolute exclusive acceptance of climatic or north-and-south theories, anthropological theories based on the observation of primitive societies (the question of size is important), the economic interpretation of history (it is too unilateral), doctrines of racial superiorities and inferiorities (many different race theories have had their moments of splendor), and evolutionary theories (they fail to account for the rhythmical movement of human progress—biological evolution would require continuous improvement.

The book opens with Mosca showing the inadequacy of most competing approaches to Political Science, noting that various claims to Political Science “are still, little more than philosophical, theological or rational justifications of certain types of political organization which have for centuries, played and in some cases are still playing, a significant role in human history.” Then, it proceeds to lay down the foundational fact upon which there can be political life, as well as a science of it:

Among the constant facts and tendencies that are to be found in all political organisms, one is so obvious that it is apparent to the most casual eye. In all societies—from societies that are very meagerly developed and have barely attained the dawnings of civilization, down to the most advanced and powerful societies—two classes of people appear—a class that rules and a class that is ruled. The first class, always the less numerous, performs all political functions, monopolizes power and enjoys the advantages that power brings, whereas the second, the more numerous class, is directed and controlled by the first; in a manner that is now more or less legal, now more or less arbitrary and violent, and supplies the first, in appearance at least, with material means of subsistence and with the instrumentalities that are essential to the vitality of the political organism.

Mosca then notes that “in every political organism there is one individual who is chief among the leaders of the ruling class as a whole,” but that person may not hold supreme power according to law. No head of state can rule without the support “of a numerous class to enforce respect for his orders and to have them carried out.” Indeed, it is because of the need for competing and potentially conflicting forces to be coordinated, so that peace between them reign, that a figure symbolizing unity and bearing ultimate sovereignty can act as a mediator between them. That is, it is sovereignty which is a consequence not a precondition of a larger class of “interested” parties; but once established its success depends upon a fit between the sovereign’s interests and that powerful class that commands and coordinates subordinate powers. Of course, that power is originally martial—and the Ruling Class is particularly attentive to the importance of the changing nature of armies in the transformation of ruling classes.

Mosca also notes that just as states require a unity of ends and agreeable means between the sovereign and the most powerful class which girds its authority, there is also a need to draw from the “masses” a group to facilitate and enforce the functions of the rulers. As he puts it:

and granting that he can make one individual, or indeed many individuals, in the ruling class feel the weight of his power, he certainly cannot be at odds with the class as a whole or do away with it. Even if that were possible, he would at once be forced to create another class, without the support of which action on his part would be completely paralysed. On the other hand, granting that the discontent of the masses might succeed in deposing a ruling class, inevitably, as we shall later show, there would have to be another organized minority within the masses themselves to discharge the functions of a ruling class. Otherwise all organization, and the whole social structure, would be destroyed.

…the real superiority of the concept of the ruling, or political, class lies in the fact that the varying structure of ruling classes has a preponderant importance in determining the political type, and also the level of civilization, of the different peoples.

In the chapter “Principles and Tendencies in Ruling Classes,” Mosca notes that it is the middle-class that generally supplied the personnel for the bureaucracy; that it is the moral level of the bureaucracy that signifies the moral level of the ruling class; and that the members of the bureaucracy tend to “believe in their own infallibility,” and are “loath to accept criticisms and suggestion from persons who are not of their calling.” With the expansion of the state into ever more areas of what were once considered private domains of life, and the expansion of those who work with the state, combined with those who are not of the bureaucracy generally but who are affiliated to a party and/ or committed to a political program and work in the corporate and private sector to achieve the kind of state they desire, this combination of moral assuredness and hostility to criticism threatens to generate the kind of opposition that typically leads to the overthrow of a ruling class. Just as the partitions between private and public spheres, the market and state have been pushed aside, thus indicating the death of old fashioned liberal democracy, the bureaucracy no longer has either the aspiration or pretence of being non-partisan. Its members now almost totally represent the program of the “liberal (anti-democratic) progressive.”

The totalitarian trinity of people, party, and leader(ship) has been a complete success in the United States, while most other nations still play by two party rules when it comes to the parliament, but administrations, service providers, school and university curricula, legislation regarding sexuality, policies for multiculturalism, advancement of identity politics and minorities, hate speech etc. are systematically progressive and utterly globalist. And when even it comes to the parliament, as the example of Boris Johnson and BREXIT illustrates, today there are all manner of serpentine ways that political rulers may slip from defender of the nation and its mores to employee of Globalist Inc. Ultimately the most ambitious and most driven members of a ruling class have little regard for older rules of etiquette precisely because of their own sense of moral conviction, and the ability they have to appoint and reward those who share their convictions.

The greater part of the Ruling Class is an historical analysis of the varying ruling class structures and the historical and social conditions that have given rise to them. Apart from any comparisons between Mosca and his contemporaries, who also were developing an elite theory of politics, which I touch upon below, the idea of a ruling class is most commonly associated with Marxism. But the difference between the Marxian deployment of the term to advance its own political program, and Mosca’s analysis, is two-fold—and it is this difference which I think enables us to see why Marxism is ideology, while Mosca’s work a contribution to Political Science.

First, the Marxists promise a future where there will be no ruling class. But that future could only be realized if there were a unity of purpose and such a vast coalition of interests that politics, rulership, class, and divisions between people would have ceased to exist. Thus, Marx’s claim that communism would eliminate the division of labour whist providing material abundance of a sort so that all could live according to their ability and needs. This is a unity that simply has never existed for any protracted period of time, and could only exist were different social interests eliminated—but they are generated out of the division of labour—and it is the division of labour that is the sine qua non of large-scale production, not the desire of someone to dabble in one or other form of creative productivity as it suits him.

Marx simply could not demonstrate how the elimination of the division of labour could defy everything known about economic production and create more abundance than it did when groups existed on such a small scale that what division of labour existed (such as between the sexes and the ages) was negligible. Which brings us to the second point: the Marxist future, irrespective of Marx’s own inability to see what he was doing, is nothing more than a verbal conjuration. In that sense it is the perfect means for those whose primary “skill” is rhetoric. The link between oratory, sophistry (the use of education for the advancement of one’s political power), demagoguery, and tyranny was critically observed by Plato; and that link has only become more intense within the displacement of the old ruling class by one in which verbal prowess and rationalization is fundamental to political legitimation.

Marxism is but one means by which a class, trafficking in words and ideas and persuading people to follow the objectives they lay down, and the means they authorize to achieve those objectives, has come to rule. Of course, that class needs resources; and the most common means available to it are: theft (a means used by the Bolsheviks for a relatively short while, and a means which the United States and, with the European Union, set to follow, are using in their proxy war against Russia), taxes, and donations to political parties.

Marxism did not die with the end of the Soviet-style central planning. In the West, it has survived in its non-Leninist incarnation, as an intrinsic ideological component of the Humanities curricula of elite Western universities. It has survived because it is an ideology whose endgame irreality is of no relevance to its success as an ideological way of oversimplifying reality for an aspirational ruling class keen to find a path to professional careers providing them with the power to build the world around its leadership. The particular interests of those who identify with any one of the radical variants that have come out of Marxist critique is to rule and thus decide how resources are to be deployed for which purposes by which people. This is ideologically passed off as achieving an absolute good – universal emancipation.

Marx himself appealed to a future of spontaneous universal cooperation based upon the complete mutuality of interests of the species (once the bourgeoisie were eliminated). But the impossibility of having large scale productivity and consumption growth without a market and capital investment, and of having political direction without a ruling party and state has meant that Marxism, and its various academically refined spawn, is but one piece of the ideological puzzle justifying the actuality of a ruling class that deploys a combination of value imposition, technocracy—its inevitability and spread being well noted in another very important book, James Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution—and financial control. It is achieved by a completely politicised social, pedagogical, and economic alignment or coordination of human action- what the Nazis call Gleichschaltung, which in turn requires suppressing any resistance whether of thought or deed. In so far as the process is ideological – the result of thinking built around political ideational alignments—this ruling class is far more attuned to the dangers of thoughts and words than were any inquisitors or contemporary mullahs.

In sum, while Mosca sees the ruling class as the inevitable accompaniment of all large-scale social organization, Marxism passes off the notion of the ruling class, and indeed politics itself, as but a transitory phase of social existence, whilst creating a rhetorical smokescreen for the rise of a political class that, if successful, claims to speak on behalf of universal interest and thus, if successful, should be able hold its power into perpetuity.

Typically, when Mosca’s work is raised, it is grouped along with other theorists of political elites, most notably Roberto Michels and Wilfried Pareto. Unlike Michels who had been a Marxist before becoming an anarcho-syndicalist and supporter of Il Duce, and Pareto, whose support of Mussolini was brief (Pareto died in 1923) and something of an ill-fit, given the liberal nature of his economic thought, Mosca was a liberal, but not one who was oblivious to its failures and shortcoming, and the threats posed to it by fascism—he wrestles with the problems of representative government in the book’s final chapter.

Although there was some dispute between Pareto and Mosca over who should get the prize for being the first to focus upon political elites as forming the basis of political science, the more important contrast within the elite theorists is between Mosca and Michels.

Michels’s study of the social democratic movement had led him to the observation that oligarchy was the inevitable type of all political organization; and his support for Mussolini expressed his willingness not only to embrace the fact of the inevitability of elite authority, but to endorse a political ideology in which elite power was openly factored into the political program and party.

Ironically, today, while fascism is the pejorative hurled about to discredit anyone who objects to the ticket items of globalist progressivism and corporatism, the globalist program and agenda is built around the unquestionable moral and political authority of cultural and global “leaders” who are increasingly schooled in leadership programs. The preoccupation with leadership today reaches from culture to industry to universities to politics. A jarring example of how central leadership is to politics today was to be seen in an election poster I saw nailed up all over the place in Australia’s recent election. When the poster is translated into German my point needs little further comment: ”Australien braucht einen Füherer, keinen Lügner.”

People in liberal democracies so frequently and blithely speak of politics in terms of the need for political leadership that they seem completely ignorant of the fact that unlike fascist, or communist states, in liberal democracies the most important role of the government (at least in peace time) was not to lead but to provide the conditions so that people might peaceably lead their own lives as best they saw fit.

Michels, like our present globalists, is rather typical of a certain kind of mentality that begins with abstractions and ideals about what political power may achieve if expressing the popular will, but which, in dealing with the actual requirements of maintaining political power, readily either abandons its more democratic rhetoric or simply twists it haphazardly so that it can get on with the business of directing who does what. The business of deciding who must do what—and along with this, who gets what from whom, and deciding what occurs to them, if they won’t do it, is the end of politics; and thus, a task that befalls every ruling class.

Moreover, for all the idolatry surrounding politics today, as if it is the means for solving all our problems, the state, though impossible to do without, is a blunt means (its powers are force, persuasion, and bureaucracy) of orchestrating human action. The problem with totalitarian forms of government is not that their political class makes political decisions, but the expansive combination of the range of decisions and components of life that become absorbed under their political reach and authority, and the intolerance shown towards those who question its authority.

Apart from the idolatry of progressive ideas, and leadership, the use of the state and corporations to ensconce a technocratic elite doing the ideological bidding of a globalist ruling class that demands unity in peacetime, of the sort that in a traditional liberal democratic society would only be required in wartime, is indicative of the totalitarian nature of the modern globalist project. Hence too it must control what can be said, and the best way to control that is to indoctrinate children into the values and narratives that the ruling class holds as absolute.

Also, all distinction between war and peace is being destroyed in Western democracies—we are being attacked by a never-ending series of threats requiring militant response, from the destruction of the planet due to anthropogenically induced climate change, to viruses and infectious diseases that can only be stopped if we all follow the leadership provided by pharmaceutical companies and state authorized medical “advisors,” and the numerous others who have been authorised to identify the correct information and “facts” on any topic warranting totally unified militant action.

Thus, there can never be a time when the ruling class takes a step back from its leadership role. Now we have the impending threat of an actual war—just yesterday General Milley advised the graduating class of West Point of the “increasing risk of global war.” There is, indeed, an impending threat, though the question is not only why, but whether the alliance of Western powers is actually less rather than more totalitarian than the global powers it opposes.

The great challenge of modern liberal-democracy is to maintain a political culture in which the social tensions are fecund enough to make social adaptations of a sort that prevent the political body from succumbing to either traditional ossification or progressivist delusions of governance becoming a mere shell concealing implacable wills. It is an irony that the ruling classes supporting fascism and globalism respectively positioned themselves in antithetical ideological terms with respect to the past and future—whilst both were captured by the internal dialectic of their political means: the fascists presented themselves as Rome reborn, but their emergence and the forces they mustered were all extremely modern. The globalists, on the other hand, appeal to a future free from oppression (a utopia); but they can only achieve this by the old-style means of enforced unity; what Friedrich von Hayek saw as the limited power flow of an order of taxis, which is typical of military and bureaucracy.

The Marxist tradition had gone along with the Saint-Simonian formulation that the future would be free of politics; and in its place there would simply be the administration of things. That tradition had a longer pedigree in utopian writing generally, though Rabelais’ depiction of the Abbey of Thélème had identified the nub of a tradition that runs through Rousseau, and the various socialist writers like de Mably through Saint-Simon and (in spite of their polemics against utopians) Marx and Engels: that nub was political unity. As in the Abbey of Thélème, there would be no leaders because everyone wanted the same thing and everyone did exactly what was required at the time of its requiting.

Both fascism and Marxism were born out of this faith in unity—though in the case of fascism the unity (people, state, party) required at its theoretical foundation an all-knowing, caring leader. In the case of communism, the cult of the personality was not something that was forged theoretically but developed out of necessity, as a party that had seized power in a coup, and defended it in a civil war, was faced with conflicting decisions about what to do about the food supply—should it be collectivized immediately, or allowed to operate through market inducements?—and workers who did not like the labour conditions required of them by those who had promised such liberation and now were shipping people off to prison camps.

Whether fascist or communist, these two modern responses to future-building not only required a mass that complied with what its ruling class dictated, but a mass which was ideologically committed to that ruling class and hence indoctrinated in supporting all its choices. The real difference between liberal democratic regimes and fascist and communist ones had nothing to do with abstract theories—which were, of course, prevalent enough—but with how openly one might grumble about the ruling class. One might say that the grumbling made little difference; but taking away someone’s right to grumble involves deploying state and corporate resources to that end – and hence job opportunities – it also only fuels the grumbling and discontent. Which is also partly why the levels of social discontent in so much of the Western world is so high.

The ruling class of today’s Western democracies now has no compunction in doing what the fascists, and Marxists before them did: and ultimately that is because it is the same kind of people demanding the same objective—that their will be done on earth as it is in the heaven of their ideas.

Reading Mosca will not help anyone prevent this; but reading him does help one place what is happening now in a larger, historical perspective, whilst also providing one with a healthy dose of scepticism, so that one does not fail to note that the primary interest of a ruling class is the preservation of its right to rule. In and of itself that is understandable; but the matter of whether they are doing a good enough job in facilitating the interests of the ruled is something else. And a ruling class that must control information-flows is one that has shown that it no longer cares about the interests of those they rule—which is always the beginning of their own demise.


Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books.


Featured image: “New Gods, Old Monsters,” by David Whitlam; painted 2020.

Overcoming Idols: A Conversation with Wayne Cristaudo

In this episode of More Christ, Wayne Cristaudo discusses his criticism of the roles of pride and abstraction in the modern world; how our proclivity to succumb to idolatry is at the root of what he calls ‘idea-ism’ and ideology; the primacy of contingent encounters and the Holy Spirit in his own life; and the thinkers he loves.

More Christ is a channel created by Mark Connolly, which is devoted to dialogue about the world, the cosmos, and how the Christian life and the surprises of the Spirit lead to the flourishing of life. The show’s thematics are Christian, its reach universal.



Featured image: “Phoenix,” Aberdeen Bestiary, 12th century.

Democracy and Psychotic Vocabulary

In the study of human language, the oldest and most fundamental distinction is between sign, meaning and referent. A sign is a sign, visual, sound or any other that indicates an idea, an intention, and represents it in the mental sphere. A meaning is a set of signs that expresses the subjective intention contained in the sign. Referent is the object, the thing, the element of the real world—objective or subjective—to which the meaning, and therefore also the sign, refers. If a subject knows by heart the definition of “cow,” but, when we show him a cow, he can’t distinguish it from an armadillo, a matchbox or an atomic reactor, the sign he used corresponds only to a meaning, a subjective intention, but to no element of reality.

In political discussion, and in journalistic language in general, the use of meaning without referents is a self-hypnotic habit by which the sender of the message persuades himself and his audience that he is saying something when he is saying absolutely nothing.

Whether he does this out of ignorance or malice is indifferent—for malice is nothing more than feigned or planned ignorance.

One of the most characteristic examples is the current, omnipresent and obsessive use of the expression “democratic institutions.” This is understood to mean the entities and institutions founded on laws and constitutions that institute the representative system, as well as the rule of law that controls it. It is understood that this expression defines a thing called “democracy,” differentiating it from dictatorial, tyrannical or authoritarian regimes, where rulers who represent only themselves do as they please and are subject to no law whatsoever. In Brazil, the defenders of “democratic institutions” present themselves as protectors of freedom and of the people, in opposition to the supporters of a “military dictatorship,” represented, it is said, by the current president of the republic, his sons, friends and supporters.

So far, everything is very clear, but with this conversation we don’t leave the realm of verbal meanings. We don’t touch the referent. If we now look for the entities of reality that ordinary language associates with these terms, we find them nowhere. First of all, the supporters of the “dictatorship” that they also call “military intervention” or even “constitutional military intervention” do exist; but they are rare and have not the slightest influence over the mass of the president’s supporters, who present themselves as a mass firmly resolved to fight for their own objectives, supporting the president, to be sure, but without receiving from him even an instruction or a word of an order, let alone a voice of command.

This means that when they present themselves as defenders of “democracy” against the danger of “military authoritarianism,” the supporters of “democratic institutions” pretend to fight an imaginary enemy in order not to have to declare which real enemy they are fighting and wish to destroy. This enemy is not any “dictatorship,” but the popular mass, the populist indignation that occupies the streets and wishes to impose its sovereign will on the political, journalistic and university minority of “defenders of democracy,” as well as on the eventual apostles of the “dictatorship.”

But democracy, unless I am mistaken, is not defined by the presence of such or such “institutions,” but by being “the government of the people, by the people, and for the people;” that is, the government in which the institutions, whatever they may be, are under the control of the people and not the people under their control.

When they turn against the masses of the people in the name of “democratic institutions,” the advocates of the latter are simply reversing the meaning of democracy, making it the absolute empire of “institutions” under which the people have and can have no power and no means of action. No wonder that, on his release from jail, the highest apostle of “democratic institutions” and sworn enemy of “fascist authoritarianism,” Mr. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, finds no popular support and seeks instead the support of the military class, the personification of “dictatorship.”

The language of Brazilian public debates is a set of psychotic inversions in which each speaker tries to deceive himself in order to better deceive others.


Olavo de Carvalho (1947-2022) was a Brazilian philosopher who lived in the United States. His books cover a wide array of topics, including Aristotle, Descartes, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Christian philosophy. For his work, he was honored with the Grand Cross of the Rio Branco Order, Brazil’s highest award, by President Jair Bolsonaro. His most recent book in English is Machiavelli or the Demonic Confusion.


Featured image: “Skat Players,” by Otto Dix; painted in 1920.

Did Christianity “Divinize” Jesus?

Has Jesus been “deified” by Christians? This debate, which is quite recurrent in academic circles, is essentially determined by an external view of what Christians are supposed to believe. The idea is to compare the divine dimension of Jesus as expressed in the New Testament with the divinization of the Roman emperors after Augustus—or possibly with forms of divinization in this or that other ancient civilization. However, from comparison we often pass quickly to conflation.

Let us address the question head-on. Does the New Testament “deify” Jesus in any way, or is it something else? This debate is not incidental; it has serious consequences, six of which are defined and analyzed below, even if not everyone will readily recognize them as such. It is important to point out at the outset to what extent they imply each other in a logical sequence, from “B” to “G,” if we state “Proposition A” as the idea of the divinization of Jesus.

Let us begin by mapping Proposition “A”:

A: The presumed Christian idea of divinizing a man comes from, or corresponds to, a tendency in the Greco-Roman world, or more broadly in the pagan world—it is also found in various forms in Eastern Gnosticisms, the question remaining open of locating the origin of the latter in actual history.

On “A” is then built an entire sequence of logical inferences.

From Proposition “A,” the following is then deduced:

Proposition B: Since this presumed “divinization” could in no way be the work of Jews, it was therefore the work of non-Jews, namely of “Christianized” pagans (of the Roman Empire).

From Proposition “B,” it is then deduced that:

Proposition C: It is therefore these pagans who composed the Gospels, which are thus late (after the year 70 AD; this stretch of time needed to manufacture the “divinization”). And, of course, these pagans could only have composed the Gospels in Greek.

[An impressive and lavish publication of more than 700 pages, subsidized by the French Ministry of Culture, Après Jésus, l’invention du christianisme {After Jesus: The Invention of Christianity} (edited by Roselyne Dupont-Roc and Antoine Guggenheim, Albin Michel, 2020), largely defends this thesis of the late fabrication of a Christianity that does not owe much to Jesus, “except for a meal in memory of him, and a prayer, the Lord’s Prayer” (we read on page IV). The rest has been “invented,” which requires time—on pages 21-22, Mark’s Gospel is dated 71 AD, Matthew’s and Luke’s between 80 and 85 AD, and John’s 98 AD.]

And a further consequence of “C”: Thus, before these Greek compositions [the Gospels], the Jewish Christian communities produced nothing (or almost nothing); and the traces of this “almost nothing” in the Greek Gospels would suggest that they saw Jesus simply as a man.

It is then deduced from Proposition “C” that:

Proposition D1: It was Paul, whose writing period we know (between 51 and 64), who first deified Jesus; [Among the many discussions on this subject, this one is quite comprehensive.]

Proposition D2: Under the impulse of the Emperor Constantine, the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) contributed in a determining way by making the dogma of the “Trinity,” in answer to the Arianism which made of Jesus simply a kind of superman.

From Proposition “D,” it is then deduced that:

Proposition E: Since there were Christian communities speaking Aramaic (the language of the Jews of the first century)—and even today, at least one million Aramaic speakers—and since they always professed the divinity of Jesus, they could only have come to exist in dependence on Greek Christianity, and therefore not before the end of the third century; they must only be an outgrowth of Greek Christianity in the Syriac East of the Roman Empire, or the result of the deportation of some Greek-Roman populations to the Parthian Empire.

From Proposition “E,” it is then deduced that:

Proposition F: The Aramaic (or Syriac) texts of the New Testament or Peshitta NT were therefore translated from Greek. [Peshitta simply means, “without gloss.”] Thus, these texts must be of no interest. For an exegete, it is therefore unthinkable (and dangerous for his career) to spend time systematically comparing the versions in these two languages in order to find out which is the most original. One does not do research for which one already knows the answer.

From Proposition “F,” it is then deduced:

Proposition G: The Semitic-speaking groups that held Jesus to be a man (not a God) would be, according to research, the true Christians who retained the Christianity of the Apostles. These groups, sometimes called “Judeo-Christian sects,” are referred to as either “pre-Pauline” or “pre-Nicene.” Some traces of them are to be found in the Qu’ran (which is convincingly argued—but are they pre-Pauline or later groups?).

The logic of this sequence of seven propositions from A to G is unstoppable. It rests fundamentally on proposition “A”: to speak of the divinity of Christ is to speak of his “divinization.” We shall therefore look carefully at this postulate, and then, more briefly, at its six successive implications, in particular to see if they correspond to what we know of historical reality.

PROPOSITION “A”

What do Christians believe? Is Proposition A a legitimate interpretation of their faith, or not?

In the context of this analysis, the postulate of A can be presented as follows:

“Christians believe that God is present in a man (Jesus)” means “Christians have deified a man (Jesus).” Such an understanding of the first proposition would be legitimate, if there were not a completely different understanding than that of A. Indeed, “God is present in a man (Jesus)” is clearly to be understood as meaning “God has made himself present in a man (Jesus);” the totality of Christian writings indicating this. Is it rational to arbitrarily impose another understanding?

If we analyze the problem further, we perceive that the two understandings are radically opposed. The Christian faith undoubtedly mentions a descending movement (on the part of God; more precisely what has been called “Incarnation”); whereas Proposition A supposes an ascending movement (raising a man to become “god”)—it obviously confuses a “descending” movement with an “ascending” one.

We can therefore speak of a serious misunderstanding. But this is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, the faith of the Hebrews was the victim of many misunderstandings on the part of the surrounding peoples. For pagans inclined to “deify” humans, what could the Jewish (and Biblical) expectation of a God who comes to visit His people mean? In their mind, what was the value of the Temple in Jerusalem, which was the place of an invisible and impalpable presence, following the initiative of a God to “come down?” And what could they think of the idea—or rather the hope—that this God would really come to visit His people, according to prophecies where the how is not at all clear? Moreover, were they happy that the Jews considered their practice of putting a statue in a temple and then declaring it a “god” an abomination? Throughout history, Hebrews have sometimes been tempted to reconcile these irreconcilable positions—one might say that this temptation to amalgamate Jewish and pagan cults is the ancestor of Proposition A.

This can be said all the more so since the answer to this amalgam was given in antiquity already, by a Jew. In the early 40s AD, the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher Philo († 45) noted in a passage of his Legatio ad Caium, after coming to Rome and seeing the emperor Caius Caligula there publicly displaying himself disguised as Jupiter: “God could rather change into a man than a man into God.”

As a Jew, he was shocked by this masquerade (he wrote it after 41 AD, once Caius had died). This philosopher of Alexandria perfectly understood and expressed the radical opposition existing between the Jewish religious vision and that of the pagans. He may have formulated it on his own, but it is also possible that he had heard of the Christian faith—in Alexandria he could have met many Jewish disciples of the Apostles. [According to the Acts of the Apostles (18:24-25), a former disciple of John the Baptist, Apollos, a native of Alexandria, was traveling through Asia Minor around the year 44 to speak about Christ—Paul, in Antioch, spoke to him about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which he had not heard of. Thus, this Apollos had not yet met any of the Apostles or any of their disciples; but, the text says, “he had been instructed in the way of the Lord”—in Alexandria?] Philo’s expression, “change into a man” corresponds in fact to the way of speaking of the first Jewish Christians—it is found in the apocrypha.

[In some “apocrypha,” one can read very similar formulations. Those given below are essentially taken from the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. For this very complex question, see Le messie et son prophète, Vol. I, 2005, section 1.4.2.1, “Thématique de la venue de Dieu et double Visite” [Theme of the Coming of God and the Double Visit], pp. 166ff.]

In an amplified and clarified form, it is found in the New Testament, notably in this passage by Paul, where he speaks of the “descent” of God into human nature: “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form…” (Letter to the Philippians 2:6-7).

No parallelism should therefore be intellectually possible between the Christian faith and pagan cults. It is by virtue of an internal logic, foreign to Christianity, that a system of thought can produce this confusion. To illustrate the problem, let us take the example of Islamic discourse.

For Islam, the Qur’anic text is literally revealed by God through the word of an angel dictating the text to the messenger (rasul) Muhammad. One of its verses reads as follows:

“When God says: ‘Îsa (Jesus), son of Mariam, did you say to people:
Take me and my mother for two deities, beside God?” (Sura 5, verse 116)

The internal logic of Islamic discourse therefore requires that Christians have Jesus, Mary and God as the Trinity—it is written in the Qur’an, so God has said it literally. This is taught everywhere in Islam, at least where Christians have little influence, so that this assertion is not immediately ridiculed. And if a Christian disputes this, the answer to him is already prepared in the Qur’an: “See how they lie against themselves” (Sur. 6, v.24).

In fact, the ancient Muslim commentators [Tabari, al-Baydawi, al-Zamahšarî, al-Jalalayn and other lesser-known scholars all indicate that this verse (5:116) refers to the Holy Spirit and not to the Virgin Mary. See Azzi Joseph, Le prêtre et le prophète: aux sources du Coran, p.169]—still knew that the expression “mother of Jesus” (here, “my mother”) refers to the Holy Spirit, according to a way of speaking proper to the tradition of the Aramaic Church (even today), and as the oldest Syro-Aramaic spiritual writings testify. [For example, in Saint Aphrahat (known as the Wise Man of Persia). The “maternal” dimension of the Spirit is so common in the theology of the Church of the East that Saint Aphrahat applies it to the Christian: there is a danger, he writes, that the one who marries forgets “his Father and the Holy Spirit his mother” (The Demonstrations [written between 336 and 345)].

The irony of verse 5:116 relates to the role of judge of Christians, attributed to Jesus, and not to a classical Trinitarian formulation in the Syro-Aramaic context. But a serious problem of internal Islamic and Islamological logic arises. Indeed, if this context constitutes the obligatory explanation of a verse of the Qu’ran, it also determines the framework of the birth of Islam—one is thus led to consider for Islam an original place in northern Arabia. This is unacceptable for Islam. Nor did islamology, at least for a hundred and fifty years, want a place other than Mecca, since it took the Islamic discourse as its starting point. In fact, Islamologists even invented the existence of “Mariamites” to justify the literal Islamic understanding of this verse (5:116). This invention, based on an error, has been taken up by current Islamic propaganda to comment on this verse by mocking the faith of Christians. [Cf. the presentation by Hichem Djaït in Jésus et l’islam. Indeed, it happens that in the suburbs and living only among themselves, Muslims never see a single Christian; so they believe anything about the Christian faith.] It was not until the year 2005 that this gross error was denounced, although it would have been enough for any researcher to go and ask any Aramaic (Chaldean or Assyrian) Christian for this error to be disproved.

We can see, therefore, that internal logic can prevail over knowledge or simple information, even in a milieu of researchers. This is also the case of the confusion between the Christian faith and pagan conceptions, which concerns us here. It is possible that convenience has something to do with it—one always brings back what one knows badly to what one already knows. Hearing about groups of Jewish descent who denied the divinity of Christ early on, often in summary form, some scholars have concluded that their purely human conception of Jesus is the original, true Christianity; and, therefore, that to speak of the presence of God in Jesus is a later belief, influenced by Greek pagan thought. This is logical, but wrong—the so-called “Judeo-Christian” groups to which they refer in this discussion are in fact “ex-Judeo-Christians,” in the sense that they had first been Christians then Jews. Let us read what the apostle John writes in his first letter about these ex-Judeo-Christians who “deny the Father and the Son”:

“They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us” (1 John 2:19).

What is generally overlooked in the discussion is that those Jewish Christians who first adhered to the message of the Apostles and then turned it around to do something else were thus creating a new religious phenomenon, which would even be the source of many subsequent avatars. The opposition is not, therefore, between a Jewish monotheism and a pagan polytheistic influence—but between the Christianity of the Apostles, which has a Jewish foundation, and the doctrines opposed to that of the Apostles, which also have a Jewish foundation, and which warrant the designatio of “post-Christian.”

In fact, the confusion inherent in Proposition A has created a vagueness that obscures a whole area of research on the formation of the oppositions to the Apostles. The Adversus haereses of St. Irenaeus of Lyon, which has been available to us since the mid-sixteenth century (this book, along with The Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching, previously unknown), still does not seem to be taken as a reference book for the study of early Christianity and the groups that derived from it.

It appears, therefore, that Proposition “A” does not present the faith of the Apostles, but rather presents a kind of inversion of it. This is unfortunate from a scientific or even a rational point of view. And the successive consequences which follow from it, and which form a set of convictions quite widespread in the academic world, are serious.

Let us review these consequences, B to G.

Proposition B

This proposition follows from A: the “divinization” of Jesus must have been done by non-Jews, namely by “Christianized” pagans (from the Roman Empire).

If there was no “divinization” of Jesus, the question of its alleged authors is settled. However, a word should be said about the historical framework, the lack of knowledge of which favors adherence to proposition B.

The Apostles were Jews, as were the first Popes and the vast majority of Christians for at least a century. As Paul explains, non-Jews were added to the strong Hebrew-Aramaic olive tree—and it had to be a strong olive tree because, from the beginning, the Apostles and their followers went to evangelize every part of the world then accessible, as far as India and China. The result was very quickly a diversity of communities; the common Hebrew-Aramaic “olive tree,” both Biblical and cultic, ensured unity, especially liturgical unity (the Indians of Saint Thomas still celebrate in Aramaic today). When one discovers the extent of the Hebrew-Aramaic Christianity of the Apostles in the world of that time, the idea of an influence of “Christianized pagans” leaves one scratching one’s head.

Proposition C

Preceding from the previous one, this proposal assumes that it was these Christianized pagans who composed the Gospels, and therefore late (after the year 70 AD, the time of the fabrication of the “divinization”); and, of course, they can only have composed the Gospels in Greek. Consequently, the Jewish Christian communities produced nothing (or almost nothing) before these Greek texts, and the traces of this “almost nothing” in the Greek Gospels must suggest that they saw Jesus simply as a man.

Here we come to the fundamental problem of Western exegesis, posed by German Protestants from the end of the 16th century onwards. Because of their anti-Romanism, they turned exclusively to the Greek manuscripts, considering them a priori better than the Latin texts of the Catholic Church. Of course, other languages were not forgotten—in Pantagruel, Rabelais still indicates that it is necessary to learn Aramaic (Chaldean, he writes)—but, in practice, manuscripts in these languages were greatly lacking. These became available only at the end of the 19th century, because of the scarcity of contacts with Eastern Christianity before then; and in the 20th century, following the massive immigration of persecuted Eastern Christians, more numerous links were established.

Nevertheless, even today, no serious place is given to these Christians in the academic world among teachers, and the Gospels are still presented as the fruit of Greek writers—even though one is beginning to wonder whether they are not originally narrative compositions rather than redactions. In any case, almost no one has yet undertaken a systematic comparison of the best Greek manuscript texts (divided into seven or eight irreducible families, which poses a serious problem) with the Syro-Aramaic manuscripts (which form a single family). And one continues to affirm, in a dogmatic way, that the Aramaic texts were translated from Greek. [For example, here is a random example of this dogmatism: Muriel Dubié states peremptorily that “as early as 170, the Gospels were translated from Greek into Syriac”]. Those who have doubts and want to compare the texts, like the Protestant Jan Joosten, risk a lot.

Rationally, it is however very difficult to believe that the Jewish Christians did not compose stories in Aramaic, which was their language (and that of Jesus), when they were evangelizing in all directions of the world and when Aramaic (and not Greek) was the lingua franca, the English of its time. And that’s not all. The Jews were part of an oral civilization, even though all men had to be more or less able to read the sacred writings during the synagogal worship. Thus, for the Christian Jews, if the important thing was the transmission by word of mouth and from heart to heart, writing down as an aid to memory was an original necessity. What is a sacred transmission must be engraved on stone—on parchment in this case—like the Scriptures. The Gospel in its original sense of “announcement” made of various Gospel recitals (cf. Gal 2:2; Rom 2:16 etc.) is given this rank of Scripture, as is shown by the First Letter to Timothy, probably dating from the year 57 AD.

In fact, Paul quotes a saying of Jesus in parallel with a quotation from the Torah: “The Scripture says, You shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the grain [cf. Deut. 25:4; 24:15] and again, The worker is worthy of his wages” (1 Tim. 5:18). But the second quotation exists only in Mt 10:10 and Lk 10:7.

[There is a small difference as to what the worker is worthy of: in Mt 10:10 he is worthy of saybbārā/Greek trophe, “food;” while in Lk 10:7 he is worthy of ‘agreh/Greek misthos, “wages.” In Aramaic, the key word is the verb šâw’é, expressing the idea of “suitability” (rendered in Greek by axios, “worthy,” for want of a better word): “the worker is šâw’é (it is suitable for him, he deserves) his food” (Mt 10:10—commented translation of the Peshitta by Mgr Francis Alichoran). But in Greek, what one is worthy of should not be food but honor or a reward-wage (as in Mt 20); axios estin o ergastès tès trofès autou is obviously an Aramaicism that reveals a translation.]

In the eyes of a Jewish Christian in the year 57 AD, what text could have the authority of sacred Scripture, if not an aide-memoire, such as the Gospel according to Matthew which was then used (primarily) in the liturgy as had been the Torah?

Moreover, the conviction that the Gospels existed in written form well before the first “Jewish war” (66-70 AD) is not uncommon among exegetes working on Greek—the case of John being special, as this Gospel was composed in two stages. But few still perceive that the aide-memoire of public recitation in Aramaic is the source of the translations into Greek (and into other languages), directly or on the occasion of simultaneous translations written down—it is systematically in Aramaic that the Apostles and other witnesses of the Resurrection gave their testimony; which, if necessary, was translated into Greek or Latin by interpreters, e.g., Mark, for what Peter said. [“Paul had Titus as his translator-interpreter, just as blessed Peter had Mark whose gospel was composed, with Peter speaking and Mark writing down” (St. Jerome, P.L. 22, col 1002)].

It is possible that the first writings in Greek or Latin were private, since the people of these languages no longer had an oral culture (but a written one) and were less able to memorize than the Aramaic speakers. In any case, the need for official writings was felt early on, also because of the dispersion of the Jerusalem community around 37 AD, threatened by unrest, which set the liturgical tone for the other Christian communities: Matthew urgently needed to establish a reference document for the liturgy.

[The sources that place the Gospel of Matthew in Aramaic before the Gospel of Mark in Greek allow us to place the first one around 37-38 AD, by virtue of the famous passage in the third book of Against Heresies by Irenaeus of Lyon, where there is found the matter of the publication of Mark’s Gospel. This passage presents a difficulty, however, since it seems to say that the community of Rome was founded by Peter and Paul—this is inaccurate, since in 42 AD Peter founded this community alone—and since it already existed, Paul had no intention of going there, as he wrote in Romans 15:22. The most likely explanation is that the words “and Paul” were added by a Latin copyist in honor of the Roman feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

Here is the amended text: “Thus Matthew published among the Hebrews in their own language a written form of the gospel about the time when Peter [and Paul] was evangelizing Rome [until 42] and founding the Church there. After his departure [exodos, “departure,” which never means “death”], Mark, Peter’s translator, also transmitted to us in writing what Peter preached. Luke, Paul’s companion, also published the gospel while he was in Ephesus in Asia” (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., III 1,1).

In order to date Mark late, some exegetes have attributed to the word exodos the meaning of “death,” so that the publication of Mark’s Gospel would be later than the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, thus after 64 AD. But they are then in opposition to Eusebius of Caesarea who, quoting Clement of Alexandria († 215) and Papias († ±230), clearly indicates twice that Peter is alive at the time of the publication-translation into Greek: “They [Peter’s hearers] made all kinds of entreaties to Mark, the author of the gospel which has come down to us and Peter’s companion, that he would leave them a book as a memorial of the teaching given orally by the apostle, and they did not cease their entreaties until they had been granted… Peter … rejoiced at such zeal—he authorized the use of this book for reading in the churches. Clement reports this in his sixth Hypotyposis and the bishop of Hierapolis, Papias, confirms it with his own testimony” (Hist. Eccl. II,15 par. VI,14 6).]

The challenge of exegesis then is to rediscover the interplay of Aramaic orality, from the testimonies rigorously repeated by the witnesses themselves and then by their disciples from the 30s AD onwards. If there is a difficulty in discerning these narrative testimonies in our Gospels, it is because they are frequently intertwined. This is because of the very nature of the Gospels—they are organized for liturgical use, and therefore according to the Church calendar. They are lectionaries [Apart from exegetes working on Aramaic and aware of orality, some have nevertheless asked themselves the question of the synoptic Gospels as lectionaries, such as Gordon W. Lathrop, of the United Lutheran Seminary of Pennsylvania, in Après Jésus, l’invention du christianisme, p.160]—with the exception of John, which is organized for another purpose—The Gospel of John is organized according to oral patterns in a complex structure of meditation; it is not made for basic evangelization.

This major discovery, made possible by Aramaic oral studies, sheds light on the trial and error that began nearly four centuries ago and that leads each exegete working on the Greek to imagine his or her own plans for accounting for the Gospels—and no two agree. And of course, the idea that the Aramaic Christians of Asia (and of the eastern Roman Empire) lost their texts as a result of Tatian’s Diatessaron, and then had to re-translate them from Greek in the 5th century, with Bishop Raboula of Edessa, is a kind of academic myth—a convenient myth to avoid having to take a serious look at the Aramaic texts.

Proposition D

Proposition D seeks to clarify how the divinization of Jesus would have been invented—first by Paul and then by the Trinitarian definition of the Council of Nicaea (325 AD).

It does not matter that Trinitarian definitions had existed before. The problem is a misunderstanding of the so-called Christological discussions, which some scholars have believed to be about the divinity of Christ itself, when in fact they were about how to express it. It is true, on the other hand, that “Arianism” denied the divinity of Christ. But no Arian was invited to the Council of Nicaea, which met precisely against this denial.

At the time, Christian leaders were faced with the difficulty of agreeing on formulas of faith that would enable them to cope. The discussions at Nicaea and the subsequent councils were held in Greek and were marked by Byzantine ways of seeing and reasoning, which wanted to give conceptual definitions to everything. But sometimes this created more problems than it solved. Take the example of the Aramaic term qnoma, used by Jesus and found several times in the Aramaic New Testament: it was at the heart of certain divergences, because it corresponds neither to the Greek concept of ουσια (“nature”) nor to that of υποστασιϛ (“hypostasis”). The Council of Nicaea did not take sufficient account of the differences in culture and language, which eventually led, at the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), to the exclusion of the non-Greek speaking apostolic churches, which would be called “pre-Chalcedonian.”

One can understand then the confusion caused by a certain number of inter-faith academics and by Islamologists. They believe that these sidelined churches (the Arameans of the Church of the East from now on designated under the sobriquet of “Nestorians,” and the Copts and the Armenians) defended Christologies comparable to those of groups opposed to the faith of the Apostles, that is to say, catalogued as heretics. And, in the past (and we can go back to medieval scholars), under the influence of Islamic legends, some even imagined that the Christology of Islam (which violently denies the divinity of Christ) was inspired by that of the Aramaic Church of the East—whereas, around 735, John of Damascus compared Islam with Arianism and in no way with the thinking of the Church of the East.

In fact, the idea was to link Islamic Christology at all costs to the Christological discussions of or after Nicaea, for lack of understanding but also for lack of serious research on the origins of Islam. We read until recently: “The Koran… belongs to a movement of Christians who remained pre-Nicene, i.e., churches or Christian communities that did not accept the dogma of the Trinity defined at the Council of Nicaea.” [In particular, it is the legend of the Nestorian monk Serge-Bahira who is said to have recognized the “prophet Muḥammad” while still a child and to have transmitted his Christology to him.]

In the end, only rather crude confusions seek to justify Islamic “Christology” by Christian theological debates; whereas Islam is rooted in a much earlier, post-Christian-Jewish phenomenon, which in fact goes back to the end of the Apostolic period.

It is true that a question, subtle for the historian, lies behind these confusions: what criterion can distinguish what is Christian from what is not? Is it adherence to definitions—but in what language? Before the definitions of the Councils, was there only a vast vagueness? Is belief adhering to definitions—assuming one understands something, which requires explanations that are not always clearer either? Or is it something else? In other words, are definitions fundamentally enlightening—which is what the Byzantines hoped for—or are they merely signposts?

If Christianity is primarily a life, it cannot be put into concepts and definitions. In the Gospels, in Greek, we read six times “Your faith has saved you,” or as in Mt 1:21: “he will save the people from their sins;” where the Aramaic means “Your faith has made you alive,” and Jesus gives life back to the people from their sins. Certainly, the Greek verb sozo has something to do with healing; but taken out of context, the statement “faith saves” could be understood in relation to a conceptual eternal salvation, or one disconnected from concrete life; whereas it is first of all a question of life (re)given here below by Jesus.

Therefore, if there is a criterion of Christianity, it can only be this: the Christian, whether Hebrew-Aramaic or from another cultural or linguistic area, is the one who believes that Jesus holds in Himself the power to vivify. Those who believe that Jesus is under the power of an Other, that is to say that He does not save by Himself but simply intervenes as a superman, or else believe that He is simply a model to be followed, that is to say that everyone must save himself by following this model, do not share the faith of the Apostles but another faith. They adhere to distortions of the Christian Revelation, whether they are of the first or the second type.

These distortions have generally been called heresies, thus creating an unclear catch-all (the Greek word ‘aïresis, which gave rise to “heresy,” simply means “opinion”). This vagueness does not facilitate the distinction between what is Christian and what is not, and often focuses attention on secondary aspects. What determines the Christian faith is that if Jesus saves by Himself, then the God revealed in the Old Testament is present in Him, for God alone can save-vivify. As for the way in which this presence is expressed, this is certainly already an object of the New Testament and will subsequently be the subject of many theological debates—but it is secondary. Unfortunately, these debates have often pitted different, but legitimate, cultural perceptions and expressions of the mystery of Christ against each other. In fact, all the apostolic Christian communities of the world today recognize each other fully and mutually in their faith, expressed in different languages (often not transposable from one to another—that is the difficulty).

Proposition D also leads one to call writings “Christian” that are not, either because they present Jesus as a messiah in whom God acts as an external mover or inspirer (according to the Arian-Messianist perspective), or because they present Him as a guide who, out of compassion, shows how to save oneself (such is the core of all Gnostic systems). Such writings are not Christian, and the groups who wrote them cannot be called “Christian”—nor can they be called “heterodox Jews;” they are in fact also in opposition to rabbinic Judaism (which repays them with the daily curse against the minim). This is why, instead of using the illegitimate term “Christian” for them, serious research leads to the qualification of these groups, which came after apostolic Christianity, as “post-Christians”—they exist historically and logically only in relation to the latter, from which they derive doctrines that would not otherwise stand by themselves.

The confusions linked to propositions A, B and C lead to those linked to proposition D, which is quite logical.

Proposition E

If faith in the divinity of Christ is a late invention, the Aramaic-speaking Christian communities must also be late, and they can only have existed in dependence on Greek Christianity, therefore not before the end of the third century—this is a logical necessity. It is said that they were only an outgrowth of this Greek Christianity in the Syriac East of the Roman Empire, or the result of the deportation of some Greco-Roman populations to the Parthian Empire.

This denial of apostolic antiquity of the Eastern Christians is expressed in numerous writings, for example by Françoise Briquel-Chatonnet, in her contribution to a book with the evocative title, Après Jésus: L’invention du christianisme (After Jesus: The Invention of Christianity). She speaks of a “staging” by Eastern Christians of a “conversion to Christianity” going back to the Apostle Thomas (p. 570). And in Paul-Hubert Poirier, one reads that “the expansion of Christianity” beyond the borders of the Empire dates from the 3rd century, with “the Christians beginning to use” Latin at the end of the 2nd century, Syriac at the beginning of the 3rd century only, Coptic at the end of the same century, Armenian in the 5th century, and other languages later still (p. 53). Did they not exist before? What is thus obscured is that from the first century until the great massacres by Tamerlane, Asia had more Christians than Europe. Of the twelve Apostles, only three (James, brother of John, Andrew and Peter) went West; the others went elsewhere, with the exception of James the Just, who remained in Jerusalem, considered the center of the world. To think that Christians existed only in the Roman Empire until the end of the third century is simply the result of a postulate; and this negationist postulate is fundamentally rooted in Proposition A.

Proposition F

Since the Syro-Aramaic churches are presumed to have existed only in the late period of time, their New Testament texts were therefore also presumed to have been translated from the already existing texts—i.e., from Greek.

But if the reverse is true, i.e., if early Christianity is no further West of Jerusalem (in the Greek Roman Empire) than East of it (in the Parthian Empire), it becomes essential to compare the best Greek and Syro-Aramaic manuscripts. And then, the Aramaic texts turn out to reflect a state of the text much earlier than the best Greek manuscripts, which appear to be the work of translators (various in fact and in various Greek dialects, which is the main reason for the existence of seven or eight irreconcilable families of Greek Biblical manuscripts). These Aramaic texts can shed light on most of the obscurities of the Greek or Latin texts, even if there is reason to believe that the translators did their best in the context that was theirs.

Proposition G

Since there were groups of Semitic language holding Jesus only as a man, one imagines that they preceded the churches of the same languages (Aramaic, Coptic); and that it was they who preserved the true Christianity of the Apostles (the Greek Christians having invented the divinity of Jesus). They are often referred to under the vague term of “Judeo-Christian sects,” or pre-Pauline or pre-Nicene groups. We have seen above how these labels are misleading. If Semitic or even other language groups speak of Jesus in opposition to the faith of the Apostles which is really known to us through the New Testament (which we can understand through the Aramaic texts even better than those in Greek or Latin), they are post-Christian groups.

The concept of “post-Christianity” was coined to designate the phenomenon of “leaving Christianity” that marked the 19th and 20th centuries, from the point of view of institutions (we also speak of “secularization”). But there is no reason to take into account only the institutional aspect. If we consider the theological aspect (or in other words, that of the Apostolic faith), we can and must look at the phenomenon that begins towards the end of the Apostolic era, that of groups of Judeo-Christians who questioned the faith they held from the Apostles, and who then organized themselves into groups and doctrines opposed to the Apostles (while keeping many traits of original Christianity).

These groups and doctrines, which would later be called “heresies,” are strictly speaking counterfeits (in the sense that a counterfeit is made to resemble the model, but it is no longer the original). These counterfeits, which constitute exactly post-Christianities, are fundamentally and historically of two types, corresponding to the two axes of Christianity (and thus to the two possible ways of counterfeiting it. See here):

Conclusion

The Propositions, from A to G, form a logical system. For this reason, it is enough that only one of these seven propositions turns out to be contrary to the data of serious research for the whole to be invalidated. There is no lack of reasons to question each of these propositions, starting with the first one, which is the most important—and which is even the key to the others. There has never been a “divinization” of Jesus, but rather a consideration of the plan of a God who revealed Himself in order to come and save humanity, which only He can do. The question remains open as to what God will do next, as a Second Coming of Christ is foretold. This is another question, which is not simple either, since Muslims also expect a second coming of Jesus, but it is not the same. It is understandable that some minds find all this very complicated and try to reduce their perception of Christianity to their logical and ideological schemes, from A to G.

It is therefore a new coherent and logical approach to Christian origins that must be promoted and explored, in accordance with Revelation and historical and anthropological data that are not censored or distorted by postulates. Such new orientations will not go without opposition—the seekers of truth are rare—but this is a characteristic of our time in almost all areas, alas.


Theologian and Islamologist, Father Edouard-Marie Gallez is the author of the magisterial  Le messie et son prophète (The Messiah and His Prophet), published in Paris in 2005 (and awaiting an English translation), which is an 1100 -page study that reconnects the origins of Islam to factual history by showing that the Koran and Islamic legends developed gradually over time. This study paved the way of current research into early Islam. See Roots of Islam and the Great Secret. Father Gallez also participates in research groups on early Christianity and its influence.


Featured image: “Traditio Legis,” mosaic, Santa Costanza, Rome, 4th century AD.

What Political Commitment for Christians?

The political commitment of Christians in our liberal democracies is not at all obvious, so much so that these democracies oppose the teachings of the Church on many subjects.

Let us first bring to mind the context. Christians cannot be indifferent to politics, understood as a form of higher charity. But in our societies, Christianity is now in the minority and rejected as a public reference. It has therefore become difficult to have an influence by explicitly claiming it. And yet Christians cannot blend anonymously into society. Indeed, they cannot avoid speaking up and becoming visible, if an issue at hand is directly religious. But even if it is a matter of natural law, and when it is unknown to society (marriage for all), Christians are quickly identified as such. The old dilemma is therefore not very helpful—one will always act “as a Christian,” obviously, but also in each case “inasmuch a Christian” without exclusion a priori.

Does the Magisterium give a clear answer as to the directions to take? The principles (the Social Doctrine of the Church) are solid. But the political position has varied considerably—at first hostile to political modernity (19th century), it then oscillated, at least until the Second World War, between restating the principles and a de facto accommodation. Then it tried Christian democracy, which seemed a convenient and promising compromise, but which finally failed, leading to the present position. If it can be summarized, the Doctrine seems to recommend democracy and human rights, like the rest of society—but (at least for John Paul II and Benedict XVI) with an underlying understanding that is quite different from the prevailing one, and more than a little nuanced between the popes. In any case, it is not disrespectful to say that the impact over time has been and remains inconclusive. The only clear case of success, that of John Paul II in the East, was no ordinary political struggle.

It should be remembered, moreover, that the Magisterium exercises its full authority only on faith and morals (the moral foundations), not on decisions of political prudence. The light it sheds is therefore very important, but it leaves open various possibilities, while remaining faithful to the principles. This does not mean that magisterial teaching should be neglected—far from it. But it is not a ready-made manual. This fact is often forgotten when positions taken here and there in the Church are taken without caution. Conversely, it is difficult in practice to claim to be a Catholic in politics while going against this or that expression of the Church of the moment, even if one remains within the legitimate margin of autonomy. For example, a party claiming to be Catholic but restrictive on migrants would probably be criticized in an uncomfortable way.

What References in the Past?

Do we have references in the past? Less than we think. The era of Christianity was too different. Christian democracy did not survive and was a flash in the pan—in a way correlated with the illusion, common at the time, that there was a misunderstanding with the modern world, which just had to be dispelled. But what has emerged is that, as the popes of the nineteenth century perceived (despite their errors and blunders), there are elements of strong and structural opposition between this world and the Christian. In the end, the model of the first Christians seems more inspiring. It is true that there was no democratic political struggle in the Roman Empire, but the dilemma was already known—not to deny the society in which one lives and its elements of legitimacy, while recognizing points of irreducible opposition. And within this framework, the positions could be diverse. Thus, the question of the Roman army—some thought that it was out of the question to fight in it; others made the opposite choice, without denying their faith.

This does not tell us what choices should be made concretely. All the more so since the Christian world is divided politically, with, to simplify things, a basic polarization between “conservatives” and “progressives.” The former are more numerous and transmit the faith better; but the latter, although weakened, hold more levers. That said, the Catholic spectrum thus drawn does not merge with the political spectrum in society, as it is significantly more skewed to the right. The “progressive” Christian is very rarely on the extreme left: he or she will be an ecologist or a Socialist Party member, but often LREM or even LR, like the majority of practicing Catholics. The “conservative” Christian is readily classified by the system as being on the right, or even on the extreme right.

These oppositions also seem irreducible; first of all, of course, on questions of morality and society. In theory, the Doctrine gives clear-cut answers. But not everyone adheres to them (contraception); and the question of what is possible remains open; and thereafter, the division is often sharp (marriage for all). Then there are the migrants. The disagreement between Christians is very bitter here, with the current pope having moreover committed himself radically to one side. Less harsh, but nevertheless clear, is the opposition on Europe and more broadly on the national question. Finally, in the vast field of economic and social issues, including ecology, there is a very wide range of opinions, with considerable differences. This simple reminder shows that it is not possible to unite under one banner the positions in question, whether explicitly Christian or not.

In such a context, frustrations are inevitable on both sides; and not only because the Magisterium seems to support some over others. The “progressive” side suffers from the retreat of this current compared to the 1970s and 1980s. Above all, since the opposition between the dominant spirit of our societies and the Christian faith is denied or relativized, we end up in the wake of the former; and, in practice, the political action we carry out is confused with that of the left or the center. Moreover, the committed progressive is troubled by the right-wing vote of the majority of Catholics, as well as by the insistence of the “conservatives” in regards to matters societal, which is much more visible and the only one associated by the public with Christianity.

Finally, there is difficulty with a magisterial doctrine that remains traditional (despite certain declarations). Hence the temptation of an exacerbated ethic of conviction, notable on the subject of migrants—but there again without any political effect of its own.

The malaise is no less real on the “conservative” side. This may be because of the fact that they are out of step with the hierarchy—not so much on principles as on certain declarations, such as on migrants—but even more so because of frustration over the poor results obtained, for example in societal struggles. This is because we are opposed to the heavy tendencies of society, the relativist paradigm that dominates it. Moreover, on this side also Christian discourse is in the minority, although less than on the left.

The balance sheet therefore does not appear to be encouraging. One can recognize an ardent obligation as a Christian, but in practice it is difficult to implement it in a way that can be identified in Christian terms; the dispersion of efforts is considerable; and the political field does not immediately appear to be fruitful for the Christian who wants to act explicitly as such. But it would be wrong to leave it at that. First of all, of course, what makes an action good or bad is not primarily the result obtained—which for the most part depends on God. It is not up to us to carry the future of humanity on our shoulders; this does not prevent us from doing what we have to do, where we are and where we can; and if possible, intelligently. Doing good around us, including in political matters, is always possible, and obtaining real results, and by making explicit how this manifests our Christian faith whenever possible or pertinent.
Another thing is the manifestation of Christianity in society and in history. Let’s look at its lessons—how many cases of collective successes are there that are the fruit of Christian action, consciously and in principle? I am, for example, one of those who admire Christianity in spite of its defects and limitations; but it was never defined as an objective to be reached; it was given in its time. It will be the same in the future.


Pierre de Lauzun, a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique and a graduate of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, has worked in banking and finance and has published, among other things, Philosophie de la foi, La finance peut-elle être au service de l’homme? and Finance: un regard chrétien. This article appears through the kind courtesy of La Nef.


Featured image: “Christ Before Pilate,” Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, 6th century.