Saint Michael, The Angel of Religion

The new esoteric fashions that are springing up to fill the void left by the retreat of Christianity and the forgetfulness of the sacred, feature angels who supposedly connect us to invisible energies. Far removed from such figures, and far from maintaining our tendency towards egocentricity, the Archangel looks upwards, and invites us to do the same. Saint Michael teaches us to rediscover our sense of God. Abbé Paul Roy introduces us to this Archangel, whom we can only invoke more fully if we know him better.

After the centuries of Enlightenment, rationalism, scientism and faith in progress, our era marks a return to the sacred. Alas, the eclipse of the religious has not come to an end—rather than returning to the faith of the ancients, people remain radically modern, willing to do anything but acknowledge themselves as heirs, and prefer to build their own spirituality. Consciously or unconsciously, most are joining the ranks of what used to be known as the New Age, and what some today refer to as magical thinking. Esotericism is on everyone’s lips, attracting many souls clumsily in search of God.

Angels, spiritual beings halfway between man and heaven, are making a strong comeback in the contemporary imagination. A quick search on the Internet, however, leaves us wondering about the contemporary conception of angelic spirits: angels—in particular the “72 guardian angels”—seem to have become a means of connecting to energies and to an invisible world in which we are bathed without being aware of it, of developing our capacity for empathy and personal creativity.

This is reminiscent of the emanatist doctrine of the Platonists, who saw man as a quasi-divine being fallen to earth and enclosed in matter, separated from the original One by a ladder of intermediate beings, to be traversed in an upward direction, by illumination, to return to fundamental harmony. Thus conceived, angels are no longer ministers or auxiliaries of God, but obstacles in man’s relationship with the true God. Like the esoteric doctrines that flourish everywhere today, they lead our contemporaries down blind allies, distracting them from the profound religious quest for the true light that leads to a profound change of life.

A Powerful Defender

We have come a long way from the true nature of angels, and the figure of their prince, Michael. Far from keeping us in the egocentric attitude that characterizes modern religiosity, the archangel looks upwards, and invites us to do the same. Mi-ka-El, in Hebrew: “who is like God.” His name is a program. Saint Michael is an effective intermediary, a powerful defender of the human race, but a messenger who steps aside, so that man can once again be directed towards his Creator. The archangel thus appears on mountain tops—theophanic places par excellence in the Old Testament—to remind us that his role is none other than that of a hyphen, a signpost.

From Mont Gargan to Mont Tombe, now Mont-Saint-Michel, the sanctuaries where the Prince of Angels is venerated are invitations to contemplation of celestial things. The Prince of Angels is named in the Old Testament as the one who fights for the people of Israel (Dan 10:13), the “one of the chief princes.” In the Epistle of Jude (Jude 9), he is mysteriously designated as the one who disputed with the Devil over the body of Moses, who expired on Mount Nebo, in sight of the Promised Land, without anyone ever finding his remains. In the Book of Revelation (Rev 12:7), he leads the angels to fight the dragon—despite the latter’s counterattack, he has the upper hand, and from heaven, hurls Satan down to earth.

Saint Michael’s role in the history of the Church does not end there—soon the object of popular veneration in the East (the Copts dedicated up to seven liturgical feasts to him), then in the West (with a few excesses that the authorities were obliged to curb, as witnessed by certain letters of Saint Augustine), he appeared at Mont Gargan in the 5th century; then at the beginning of the 8th to Bishop Aubert of Avranches, to whom he gave an indication, by means of a strong pressure of his finger on his skull (the relic preserved in the church of Saint-Gervais d’Avances still bears witness to this), to build a sanctuary at the summit of Mont Tombe, an isolated rock in the middle of the large sandy bay bordering his diocese.

Centuries later, Christian peoples’ veneration for the Prince of Angels has not waned, and God allowed him to continue to intervene visibly on their behalf. When France found itself in distress, he was the messenger sent to Jehanne, the Pucelle of Domrémy, soon to be the liberator of Orléans. To prepare the children of Fatima for the apparitions of Our Lady, the angel appeared to them three times, taught them to pray and mysteriously gave them Holy Communion. St. Michael’s close relationship with the Eucharist is still visible in the rites of the Mass, where the angel is invoked on numerous occasions—in the Confiteor, in the blessing of incense at the offertory in the traditional Mass, and even in the Roman Canon (implicitly in the Supplication prayer), where the holy offering is even asked to be carried by him to the heavenly altar. On the Last Day, Saint Michael will again be our intercessor, as well as taking part in the judgment (1 Thess 4:16), as he is often depicted holding the scales that weigh our souls by the weight of their charity.

Saint Michael thus has a dual function, which is an important teaching for our spiritual life: tradition identifies him among the seven angels who stand continually before the face of the Lord (To 12, 15), and his very name is a praise of God’s infinite glory; but the archangel also presents to Him the prayers of pious men (as Raphael presented the prayers and religious acts of old Tobias, cf. To 12, 12), and he willingly serves as a messenger and intercessor.

As a divine sign, Saint Michael shows us that there is no creature too high or distant to condescend to support our misery, since God Himself became man in Jesus. An angelic model, he teaches us to keep our eyes raised to heaven, full of gratitude and admiration for the Divine Majesty, proclaiming with him: “Who is like God?” In a world so far removed from religion and yet so versed in spiritualities, could St. Michael, duly presented and venerated, serve as a bridge to bring our contemporaries back to the unity of truth and faith?

Father Paul Roy is a priest of the Fraternity of Saint-Pierre, and moderator of the site and training application Claves.

Featured: Saint Michael, by Guariento di Arpo; painted ca. 1350.

Religions and Wisdoms are the First Guarantee of Freedom and Peace

A former student at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure, Henri Hude was Professor of Philosophy at the French Saint-Cyr Military Academy. (Saint-Cyr). His latest book, Philosophie de la guerre (Philosophy of War), is a call for religions to take a philosophical and spiritual leap forward in building peace for the world of tomorrow.

[This interview was conducted by Omnes Magazine, through whose kind generosity we are able to bring you this English version].

Omnes Magazine (OM): Faced with the risk of total war, can we sum up your approach in your latest book, Philosophie de la guerre, by saying that religions are the solution, not the problem, to achieving universal peace?

Henri Hude (HH): Total war requires the use of all available means. Today, it would lead to the destruction of the human race, thanks to technical progress. The terrifying possibility of such destruction gives rise to the project of eliminating war as a condition for the survival of humankind. But war is a duel between several powers. So, to eliminate war radically, there is the need to institute a single World Power, a universal Leviathan, endowed with unlimited power.

Henri Hude.

But plurality can always be reborn: through secession, revolution, mafias, terrorism and so on. To make the world safe, there is the call to destroy all powers other than that of the Leviathan. Not only must we put an end to the plurality of political and social powers, but we must also destroy all other powers: spiritual, intellectual and moral. We are far beyond a simple project of universal imperialism. It is about supermen dominating subhumans. This Orwellian-Nazi project is so monstrous that it has a paradoxical consequence. The universal Leviathan becomes common enemy number 1 of all nations, religions and wisdoms. Previously, these were often at war or in tension. Now, thanks to the Leviathan, they are allies, friends, perhaps. The Leviathan is incapable of guaranteeing peace, but his monstrosity, now forever a permanent possibility, guarantees the lasting alliance of former enemies. Religions and wisdoms are the primary guarantee of freedom and peace. This is another world.

OM: The Holy See’s diplomacy seeks to establish a solid dialogue with Islam in order to build “bridges.” In recent history, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran worked to this end by visiting Saudi Arabia, a first for a Holy See diplomat of such rank. In 2019, the emblematic meeting between Pope Francis and Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, the most important Sunni institution in the Middle East, also marked a further step in this rapprochement (not to mention the successive trip to Bahrain). Do you think this diplomatic policy is a step in the right direction?

HH: I think so, because it is part of this logic of peace through an anti-Leviathan alliance. For who is the Leviathan? Certainly, to become the Leviathan is forever the temptation of every power in this world. The Leviathan is therefore first and foremost a fundamental concept of political science. But it also has a terrible application in the political and cultural choices made by Western elites, especially Anglo-Saxon ones. The Woke is a machine for manufacturing sub-humans. Democracy is transformed into plutocracy, freedom of the press into propaganda, the economy into a casino, the liberal state into a police state, and so on. Such imperialism is both odious and dysfunctional. It has no chance of success, except in the old, more controlled Western countries—and even then… The Pope is right to prepare for the future.

As far as Muslims in particular are concerned, the Leviathan’s strategy is to push the most violent and sectarian everywhere, who are its useful idiots, or its stipendiary agents, in order to divide and rule. Muslim religious leaders, who are as intelligent as the Pope, know this very well. Political leaders know it, too. See how they are taking advantage of NATO’s failures in Ukraine to take their freedom from the Leviathan. It is not at all a question of creating a single syncretic religion, because cheap relativism is the first principle of the sub-human culture that the Leviathan wants to inject into everyone in order to dominate everything dictatorially. It is all about finding a modus vivendi. It is about friendship and friendly conversation between people who are sincerely seeking God, not pseudo “interfaith dialogue” between modernist, relativist clerics or intellectual laymen, guilt-ridden to the hilt by the Leviathan.

OM: In the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, do the links between the Patriarch of Moscow and the authorities, or similar links in Ukraine and internal religions, make it almost impossible for religions to join forces to build peace?

HH: If you want to criticize others, you have to start by putting your own house in order. We might ask ourselves, for example, if we French Catholics do not have an ambiguous relationship with political power. In the face of Woke dogmatism, the canonization of the culture of death, invasive authoritarianism, servility to the Leviathan, the march to world war, we remain as if KO standing. Manipulated and/or careerist, we sometimes wade into guilt, asking forgiveness for existing in the public sphere.

If the Woke culture were to be universally imposed, it would be the loss of all souls and the end of all decent civilization. Resistance to the imposition of Woke culture can be a just cause of war. That is what the whole world thinks, except the West, and that is why Western soft power is evaporating so fast. This is without prejudice to the justice due to Ukraine and charity among Catholics.

OM: Is violence inherent to Islam?

HH: I would like to ask you, is cowardice inherent to Christianity? Christ said he had not come to bring peace on earth, but division. He also said that he spewed out the lukewarm. In many a Sunday sermon, there would be nothing to change if we replaced the word “God” with “Teddy Bear.”

In his book, Ecumenical Jihad, Peter Kreeft (pp. 41-42) writes: “…it took a Muslim student in my class at Boston College to berate the Catholics for taking down their crucifixes. ‘We don’t have images of that man, as you do,’ he said, ‘but if we did, we would never take them down, even if someone tried to force us to. We revere that man, and we would die for his honor. But you are so ashamed of him that you take him down from your walls. You are more afraid of what his enemies might think if you kept your crucifixes up than of what he might think if you took them down. So I think we are better Christians than you are.’”

We call blushing for Christ respect for freedom. We believe we have opened up to the world, when in fact we have abdicated all evangelical freedom. We believe we are superior to our elders, when all we are doing is participating in this lamentable evolution, which Solzhenitsyn called the “decline of courage.” To be a Christian, you must first not be a sub-human. And in order not to be sub-human, you have to be capable of resisting the Leviathan. If need be, by spilling his blood. Bismarck put thirty bishops in prison, and in the end had to abandon the Kulturkampf.

OM: Ten years ago, Pope Francis said: “True Islam and a proper interpretation of the Koran are opposed to all violence.” This phrase continues to provoke debate and divide Islamologists and theologians. What did Francis mean?

HH: I do not know what the Pope meant. The expressions “true Islam” and “proper interpretation” pose formidable problems, so the phrase can take on very different meanings. In the absence of precision, there is no way of knowing. The philosopher Rémi Brague, who knows the subject admirably, has just written a book entitled, Sur l’Islam, in which he displays a truly confounding erudition. He believes he must interpret the sentence as if the Pope were speaking as a historian of ideas. He proves that, if this were the case, this assertion would be wrong. But I do not think the Pope is speaking as a historian of ideas. (In any case, these are subjects to which the Petrine charism of infallibility does not apply).

OM: Should we understand the Pope’s statement as primarily political, confronting Muslim authorities with their contradictions and responsibilities, and inviting them to join him in building a world of peace?

HH: The Pope is no more Machiavellian than he is ignorant. In truth, we need to distinguish between force and violence. Violence is the illegitimate use of force. All the great religions and wisdoms are opposed to all violence, but none is opposed to all use of force. Every society has the right to self-defense. If the use of armed force were morally forbidden to any society in all circumstances, it would be morally obligatory to endure any aggression, by anyone, for any purpose. In other words, it would be morally obligatory to obey even those perverts who would destroy every moral principle. Societies therefore have a right, and sometimes a duty, to self-defense, armed if necessary. Some abusers understand no language but force. So, you draw a red line on the ground in front of them. “This line means that I would rather risk my life and suffer than undergo what you want to impose on me. If, therefore, you transgress this line, you will have to risk your life and suffer.” If you are incapable of this behavior, you are good for slavery.

Featured: The Return of the Crusader, by Karl Friedrich Lessing; painted in 1835.

Why does Financial Capitalism Hate Sovereign States?

The semantic and symbolic ambivalence of the term “Globalization” is what, de facto, makes possible the transformation of the process of unification of the global sphere of economy and toxic finance, of lifestyles and expressive and linguistic modes, into “an ineluctable destiny and a political project of universal liberation at the end of a natural evolution, into a civic and ethical ideal that, in the name of the supposed link between democracy and market, promises a political emancipation to the peoples of all countries.”

Indeed, the persuasive “ideology of globalization” openly promises emancipation and access to modernization, in an overcoming of trivial forms of existence, but also of political forms judged as “pre-modern,” i.e., incompatible with the new globalized order; and, secretly, it aims exclusively at the destruction of cultural and linguistic differences, of production and relationship with the world, so that all the peoples of the planet are subsumed under the depoliticized and borderless ordo oeconomicus, without States and without any dimension of meaning superior to the sovereign market.

It promises the full implementation of “global democracy” in the same act with which it eliminates the still perfectible democracies that existed during the second half of the nineteenth century, in the spaces of sovereign nation-states; in their place, it establishes the dictatorship of the cosmopolitan ruling class, hidden under the mask of the sacra voluntas of the Stateless markets. Returning to Marx’s grammar in his On the Questionn of Free Trade (Discours sur la question du libre-échange), (1848), the dominant pole returns once again to “designate with the name of universal fraternity exploitation in its cosmopolitan form (Désigner par le nom de fraternité universelle l’exploitation à son état cosmopolite).”

The “Inglobalization,” that is to say, the Westoxication linked to the neutralizing inclusion of all the peoples of the planet within the armored walls of the New World Order, entails at the same time the “Glebalization” of the peoples, condemned to capitalist polarization and the associated forms of super-exploitation; it thus favors the “passage to the West” of every area of the planet under the glamorous dictatorship of “Globalitarianism;” that is to say of the totalitarianism of the class civilization of the market. To the latter—which is all the more totalitarian, the more it manages to smuggle as freedom the slavery it generates on a planetary scale—Adorno’s words fit: “the new world is a single concentration camp that believes itself to be a paradise because there is nothing to compare it with.”

This occurs simultaneously with the reduction of humanity as a whole to the condition of a post-bourgeois and post-proletarian replebeianized mass, without Identity and without Culture. The whole world is redefined as a single depoliticized market, as a smooth and borderless plane for the unlimited flow of commodities and commodified human beings. The co-essential logic of technocapitalist globalism lies in its tendency to make all human beings “encompassed in the flow of globality.”

In this scenario of refeudalization of the capitalist bond, the most modest and elementary demands for a dignified existence acquire the appearance of luxuries inaccessible in the present, typical of those who for a time were accustomed to “living beyond their means.”

Consequently, the globalist ideology represents, to all intents and purposes, the most emblematic superstructural culmination of the de-eticized and absolute “system of needs.” The dialectical phase of capitalism was still governed by the State as a power at the service of economic mechanisms. And it is for this reason that Marx and his epigones, in the concrete historical framework in which they worked and acted, raised, by contrast, the issue of the internationalist way as a moment of conflict and counterposition with respect to the historically determined capitalist relation of force.

In its logic of development, which leads it from the antithetical-dialectical to the synthetic-speculative phase, capital enters into conflict with the State, just as it does with the bourgeoisie, with which it had coexisted and of which it had availed itself for a good part of the time of the modern adventure. It must overcome them in order to be able to impose itself absolutely. Technocapitalism absolutus is, for this very reason, post-bourgeois and anti-bourgeois.

More precisely, it must de-sovereignize the States in order to impose as the only sovereign reality the depoliticized and borderless capitalist market, with the annexed redefinition of the bourgeois pole and the proletarian pole as the new polychromatic, consumerist and unified plebs.

The dialectical character of the nation-state has been emphasized, among others, by Ralf Dahrendorf of The Modern Social Conflict (1988): “Historically at least, the nation-state has been a necessary condition of progress when unfortunately it has become a source of regression and inhumanity.” On the one hand, it guaranteed the rights associated with citizenship, the general democratic and social conquests of the subaltern classes: it generated “domesticity” connected to an immunological structure that protected its inhabitants. And on the other hand, it provoked the pathologies of imperialism and nationalism as instruments of the dominant pole. It is Engels himself who lets emerge this contradiction embedded in the figure of the national state, which guarantees its dialectical character:

The State, since it was born of the need to curb class antagonisms, but at the same time arose in the midst of the conflict of these classes, is as a rule the State of the most powerful class which, through it, also becomes politically dominant.

In short, the State is ultimately an instrument of the ruling class, but it arises to “curb” class antagonisms, to allow the dominated not to be disintegrated and (at least from the point of view of the figure of the citoyen) to have equal rights.

Even as Dahrendorf has pointed out, “no less important benefit of the nation-state was that it generalized the ancient idea of citizenship,” transforming it into a universal right for all the inhabitants of the nation-state. On this same basis, “constitutional norms were introduced to prevent wealth from being translated into the power to deny citizenship rights to others.”

In other words, the nation-state, which originally favored the genesis of modern capitalism and later also figured on multiple occasions as its protector, also dialectically became the locus of the rights and conquests of the oppressed classes. Therefore, it also ended up being a brake against the unstoppable voracity of capital, delimiting a space of rights and protections inaccessible to the purely undemocratic logic of the market.

In this perspective, Marx’s analysis according to which “modern state power is nothing more than a committee that administers the common affairs of the entire bourgeois class (ein Ausschuß, der die gemeinschaftlichen Geschäfte der ganzen Bourgeoisklasse verwaltet),” becomes true only in the context of inverted Keynesianism and the absolute primacy of the economic.

Hegel’s interpretation is more well-founded: the State was essentially the guarantor of the primacy of the political and of the solidary protection of the community, the wall that knew how to discipline the “wild beast” of the market and the “ethical tragedies” of the system of needs. And it ended, in congruence, by entering into conflict with that capitalism which had also originally found in it its own locus naturalis. In its fundamental lines, this explains the enmity between the national state and globalist capital, which has become the central figure of the post-1989 era.

The de-sovereignization of the nation-states is presented, within the framework of the New World Order, as a fundamental moment of the depoliticization of the economy and of the aggression against the State form as a compendium of eticity and the possibility of regulating the market.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre ReturnsThis article appears courtesy of Posmodernia.

The Great Substitution: The Death of Europe in Two Decades

Guillaume Faye (1949—2019) was a French writer, political theorist and an important thinker of the French Nouvelle Droite.

The debate on Islam, secularism, integration, assimilation of migrants, “communitarianism,” anti-Islamist “deradicalization,” etc., is disconnected from reality and common sense. It is intellectualized… It is a word-salad of ideological postulates and pious wishes. But the heart of the problem is practical, material, demographically quantitative and, moreover, ethnic. Ten principles should be self-evident on this issue.

1. Not only Fight the Effects of Immigration, But Above all its Causes

To want to prohibit veils in public places, to control the financing and height of mosque minarets, to refuse in schools, hospitals—and everywhere else—Islamic practices, etc.—and to do so through laws and regulations; all this is necessary. But we will have lost from the start, if we do not understand that all this is also insufficient. All this will fail if the source of the problem is not addressed. And this is both purely quantitative and demographic, but also ethnic: the exponentially increasing immigration from outside Europe of a Muslim majority and the markedly higher fertility of immigrants. This is the double cause to be taken into consideration.

2. Thinking in the Long Term and Not in the Short Term

Mathematically, if nothing is done to block the flow of immigration, if no “remigration” (return to one’s own country) is implemented, France (and the same applies to most European countries) will not be an ethnically “European” country in the second half of the 21st century and Islam will be in a clear majority. Our countries will be Afro-Arab Muslim countries that will experience pauperization and incessant ethno-religious violence, with a massive exodus of the last Europeans of origin, in addition to a probable civil war of ethnic character and endemic form. It is the iron law of demography (immigration and birth rate). In this case, the European countries will simply disappear, and their very name may even disappear.

But this medium- and long-term perspective is totally ignored by the oligarchies (the current leaders will be dead or nonagenarians when the final collapse occurs) who think and act only in the short term. It is the reflection of a society of the immediate, which does not project itself into the future, which forgets its past, which takes Prozac or smokes joints to avoid thinking about the present.

3. To Understand that the Forces Wishing the Ethnic Destruction of Europe are Working for it

These forces infiltrate the various States, the European technocracy, the media, partyocratic (including the French FN) and trade union oligarchies. They impose the immigrationist ideology and collaborate in Islamization.

Fundamentally anti-democratic (“anti-populist,” as they say in their jargon), animated by a nihilistic feeling of hatred towards the culture, history and roots of the European nations, objective allies of invasive Islam, these forces push the political authorities of the right or left to the ethnocide of the Europeans. Everything is done to let in the migratory tide and to destroy the cultural roots of European identities, especially in public education and the media.

4. Ethnopluralism is like the Water Engine: It has Never Worked Anywhere and will Never Work

It is an idea to be buried in the cemetery of utopias, like communism. There is an incompatibility of common life (territorial cohabitation) in the same political unit between ethnically different populations: especially if some of them are Arab-Muslim or African. The exceptions are nothing more than artificial bubbles composed of elites—especially for those who live in an ethnic zone, the impossibility of ethnopluralism (already revealed by Aristotle) has become more than clear.

And yet, to raise such a thing is a taboo, an ideological prohibition. A taboo, an impossibility that the immigrationist and anti-racist elites do not experience for the simple reason that these people, contrary to the “poor whites,” do not live and are never in contact with their beloved Arab-Muslim or African immigrants, who are for them only pure abstractions. That is why they spread for others—not for themselves—the concept of “living together.”

5. Fighting “Communitarianism?” Too Late!

The fight against “communitarianism” (that trick word used to mask the term “ethnic colonization”) is useless, just as the fight against Islamization and radicalization is useless. It is too late. At the beginning of the 1980s of the last century, it was still possible to think of integrating and assimilating non-European immigrants into the “Republic” and the Franco-European culture. But this is strictly impossible since they represent considerable percentages, the majority in certain urban areas. It is useless to try to improve things: it is necessary to turn the question around. That is to say, to block the migratory flows and to reverse them.

6. We must Abandon the Idea that they are “Our Compatriots.” How can They be, if They do not Want to be?

It is strictly impossible to constitute a united nation with a growing proportion of Arab-Muslim and African populations, even if they speak the language of the country. The candor of the immigrationists and assimilationists in wanting these millions of immigrants or children of immigrants to be “our compatriots” is equivalent to the hostile refusal, on the part of an increasing number of them—especially among the young—to consider themselves French—or Spanish, German, etc.—even if they have the nationality. They do not want to integrate or assimilate. More and more young people of Arab-Muslim, African or Turkish origin, all over Europe, even with legal European nationalities, consider themselves citizens of their countries of origin, while Europe is detested as a land of conquest. They have racist reflexes. That is their problem.

7. To Want to Create an “Islam of France” is a Ridiculous Utopia

Islam is not only incompatible with the “Republic,” it is incompatible with everything that is not itself, be it religion or culture. It implies a deep psychic, ethnic rootedness. De Gaulle had understood this, hence his rejection of French Algeria as an appendage of France. The idea of a moderate and reformed “Islam of the Enlightenment” is a dead end. Franco-compatible or republican-compatible Muslims are utopian minorities, or are insincere tricksters. Islam is intrinsically hostile to everything that represents European civilization. The only ideologies that have flirted with it are totalitarian: formerly Nazism and currently Marxism, with “Islamo-leftism.” And this is not by chance.

8. Against Islamic Terrorism: De-Islamizing France and Europe

It is not only by spying and trying to dismantle Islamist networks that attacks will be prevented, nor by programming ridiculous and ineffective (and counterproductive) “de-radicalization” operations in prisons (schools of crime). It is, above all, by prohibiting the entry into the territory (zero immigration) of any new Muslim immigrant and reversing the migratory flows through massive deportations. It is wrong to say it, but the risk of terrorist attacks in a Western country is proportional to the numerical importance of its Muslim population.

9. Admit that the Muslim and Arab-African Influence reaches the Entire National Territory

The cause of all problems is demographic and mathematical. Patricio Riberiro, general secretary of the Synergie-Officiers police union, stated: ” “No place is immunized: the phenomenon of communitarization and the insularity of a lot of neighborhoods can be seen everywhere, with the infiltration and invasion of schools, into sports associations. It’s an ocean in the background.” He mentioned that “the denial of reality on the part of a certain number of elected officials” reveals, in effect, “the acquiescence and intellectual connivance.” He thinks that “this cynical clientelism leads us to catastrophe.” Nothing further to add. The problem is strictly demographic, nothing more. For reasons of ideological and semantic correctness, we speak of “communitarianism,” an appalling neologism; whereas it is simply a question of an external invasion (immigration) and an internal invasion (birth rate).

On the other hand, the Algerian writer Boualem Sansal points out: ‘The Islamic order is trying to install itself in France, it is a patent fact: in many places it is already installed” (FigaroVox, “Interview” 17/6/2016).

10. Integration and Assimilation: Mission Impossible

Integration (i.e., the partial adoption of the host country’s customs, such as language, while retaining some of their original customs and practices) is possible if immigrants represent a maximum of 5% of the host population. For assimilation (the total adoption of the host culture and the abandonment of one’s own) the percentage is even lower. To the disappointment of all the discourses (of the FN, the right and the center), neither integration nor assimilation is possible for a mathematical reason: the proportion of immigrants is too high. The masses of children of African or Arab origin will never be able, with individual exceptions, of course, to be assimilated or really “Frenchified” by the school. Universal, supra-cultural, supra-ethnic France is an impossibility, the fruit of an abstract intellectual utopia constructed in times when mass immigration did not exist.

Conclusion: Solving the Global Problem will be an Enormous Shock

The problems of growing communitarianism, of “ghettoization,” of frictions and incessant confrontations with the expanding Muslim customs that degrade the daily life of the European natives; the problems of multiform criminality in constant rise, of the sinking of the level of a multiethnic public school, of terrorism, obviously; none of this can be solved by simple internal policies that will never be up to the level of the problems.

The British referendum in favor of “Brexit” has been, in reality, a desperate protest vote of the British popular classes against immigration. But will a Britain, separated from the EU—if the referendum is respected—limit immigration? It is not certain.

The general solution will come, first of all, from the reestablishment of national borders and the total interruption of all extra-European immigration, even legal, for work and family reunification. Secondly, from a resolute policy of expulsion of all illegal immigrants and immigrants in an irregular situation and “remigration” for those in a regular situation. As for those who, because of the law of the soil (which must be imperatively forbidden), are “paper French” (or of any other European nationality), their situation will be the most difficult to resolve, but it must be done.

True, these solutions require immense courage. They will provoke clashes, dramas and conflicts that will have to be faced. But continuing to do nothing will lead to an even worse situation. The equation is simple: as soon as an immigration-drainage is authorized (encouraged) by the State for forty years, with a reproduction rate two to three times higher among immigrant populations, 90 percent of whom are Muslims, and a flight of young elites, France and the other European countries will be dead in twenty years.

Featured: Scene of the Flood, by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson; painted ca. 1806. [The article appears through the kind courtesy of El Manifiesto.

Can Beauty be a Horizon for Political Combat?

What does beauty have to do with politics? Contrary to what it seems, both have a lot to do (especially when the ugly and the vulgar reign). Such is the reflection that this article raises.

“People have never been moved by anything but poets, and woe to him who does not know how to raise, in the face of poetry that destroys, poetry that promises,” proclaimed, ninety years ago, a certain tribune whose remains have recently been desecrated by the government and whom I have described, in a recent anthology, as a “poet politician.” It is true what he says—metaphorically understood, of course—about people and poetry. But it is not an easy thing to do. It is not evident that a poetic politics manages to rise above the sad prose that usually overshadows the political space, wrapped as it is in the din of passions, high and noble, sometimes, but also vile, and much more frequently. It has always been like this. Even in the times when the res publica knew its highest brilliance—Greece, Rome, the Italian Renaissance—the life of the City has been mired in the mud of turbulence, intrigues and vileness that convulse it.

In the best of cases, political action can, as I said, be noble, courageous, heroic—but as for beautiful, what is said to be beautiful, is not. What it was—and one day perhaps will be again—was an encourager, a promoter of beauty. It is enough to go to the Louvre, to visit the Prado, to pass by the Hermitage, to approach the Uffizi—it is enough to visit the inexhaustible rosary of palaces, temples and monuments that populate our Europe to verify to what point the yearning for the beautiful palpitated in the courts and cities of other times.

Was the “aesthetic taste” of our ancestors so developed, then? Was that so powerful a taste that the lords of liberalism and its democratic masses seem to have lost today?

No, it was not any “aesthetic taste” that, during millennia, spread in the world such a profusion of art. It was a “historical taste;” let’s put it that way. It was an eagerness to endure in time, to defeat death, to defeat it in the only way it can be defeated—by taking root in the collective memory, leaving engraved in stone, inscribed in marble, captured on canvas, written in words, the mark left by men in their passage through time.

What about our passage through time? How will we, the modern and postmodern, pass through it?

On what stone, marble or canvas will our mark be stamped? What monuments, what works of art will we leave? None, of course. The art that could be ours has vanished. In its place the ugly, bland or vulgar is deployed—from painting to architecture, even in our ornamentations and including music. If something manages to escape its encirclement, it does so sporadically, exceptionally. For the first time, beauty has ceased to mark the times. Except for a few rare exceptions, the only great art we know is the one in museums or in palaces, temples or ruins from other eras. Crowds of tourists run around and take selfies in front of what their era will never give them. Once the visit is over, they return to their sad neighborhoods and their comfortable apartments. Sitting on their sofas, they turn on the television.

Why has Beauty Faded Away?

Have we, then, lost our “aesthetic sense,” just as the blind man loses his sense of sight, or the deaf man loses his sense of hearing? No, it is something else. It is not any “sense” that we have lost, it is not any “cognitive faculty” that has been adulterated. The “aesthetic sense” is more than deployed when we deposit on the works of the past that contemplative, passive, inert look, with which we admire works that will leave us all the rapture we want—”oh, oh, how lovely, how magnificent!”—but they will never make Life, palpitating in them, impact us with the thrill of the beautiful.

It was beauty, instead, that struck those who crowded the Greek temples and theaters, those who crowded the Roman forums and circuses, those who crowded the cathedrals and medieval squares, those who sang the verses of our Romances, those who prayed in the Renaissance or Baroque churches, those who went to the comedy theaters, or those who walked through the convoluted alleys whose beauty, so simple, so poor even, still strikes us, the moderns, who will never be shaken by beauty when we drive through the jumble of our urban highways, when we pass without praying in front of our churches that look industrial warehouses, when we enter our industrial estates and sports centers, when we shop in our supermarkets, when we stay (oh, of course, comfort and conveniences, and rightly so, fascinate us! ), when we stay in the reinforced concrete hives that line up, haggard and sad, in the peripheral or central neighborhoods of any urban monster of any country in the world.

“The Greeks, that people of artists,” said Nietzsche, speaking of those who were undoubtedly artists to the highest degree. Not because most of them practiced any art, but because beauty was like a force that, bursting into life, gave it meaning, either through the words of tragedies and foundational texts (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Hesiod, Homer), or through the marble that made up the temples and raised the divinities before which those people recognized themselves.

But let’s leave the Greeks and come back to us—why don’t we recognize ourselves today in beauty? Because there is none! It is as simple as that. But why is there no beauty? Why have we stopped engendering beauty? For one reason—because the beautiful constitutes the highest expression of the spirit, and the spirit is for us a secondary, inessential thing; important only for leisure and amusement, even if it is a lofty, sublime amusement.

Let’s put it another way. If, contrary to the ancients, we do not create or recognize ourselves in beauty, it is because where they recognized themselves was neither in a leisure activity nor in an “aesthetic beauty.” What was at stake was a living beauty, woven on the background of a mythical space, of a sacred breath that, permeating everything, made “something”—an intangible, superior “something”—float in the air of all societies, of all times prior to modernity.

How can beauty reign when nothing like it floats in our air? How can it reign when, for us, nothing is valid unless it bears the mark of the rational? Nothing moves us outside of our prosaic wandering, our daily work and eating in order to, in the end, die. No myth sustains us. No sacred myth, it is necessary to specify—because the other myths, in the banal and negative sense of the term, we have aplenty: Money, Market, Utility; such are their names; those myths about these absolutely indispensable things, but not as foundational myths, not as instances bearing a meaning that they are incapable of giving.

And if nothing gives meaning, if nothing shapes or signifies the splendorous mystery of the world; if nothing expresses that superior, intangible and ineffable “something”—believers call it God—everything then collapses, and beauty finds no place to throb, and beauty hides, ceases to shine, and ugliness takes its place.

Our Paradox

However, our situation is still curious. Never as today, when it shines the least, has beauty been so necessary. Not only to fill the void left by its disappearance. Not only so that someday we may once again be awed by the beautiful things—but alive, but ours—that we may create again. If we need beauty, it is for something even more important. To save us. To give meaning to a life that no longer has meaning.

We have lost our way and our destiny. But, if we have fallen into it, it is for something that, in itself—and the paradox is immense—constitutes an adventure.

A thousand scientific reasons explain—and this is to be celebrated—a thousand questions about how the things of the Universe and of matter, of physics and chemistry, of biology and of the organism function and are articulated, how they are structured. But if such reasons explain the how, none explain nor can explain the what. What is this? What is this, this flower, this mountain, this sea, these trees, these men? What are these men who, living and dying, thinking and speaking, pronounce words that designate and give meaning to the flower, the mountain, the sea, the trees—to everything that, without words to name it, would never be: it would only be there?

As the Universe was during the billions of years of the Great Silence that covered everything—not even God spoke, not even anyone invoked Him or thought about Him—until certain apes decided to get down from the trees, stand up on two legs and emit the grunts that would become the words that, signifying, began to give meaning, to infuse being.

When all this is more than understood and known, what can such things as God or the gods, the sacred breath, the space of the mythical still do? They no longer paint anything; or so at least our times believe. And yet, no. Of course, they paint or can paint. Much even. For a simple reason. Because knowing everything we know about the how of things, we still know nothing about their what and their why, about their meaning and our destiny. What is this, what is that? What is the meaning of our life? Why and for what purpose do we live and die?

In reality, our lights are even dimmer than before. We find ourselves much more helpless than when a thousand images, a thousand flashes, a whole imaginary filled the abyss of existence. It filled it falsely, it is true, as far as the materiality of things is concerned; but it filled it significantly as far as its meaning is concerned. Today, on the other hand, alone and with our reason alone on our shoulders, we do nothing more than wander lost in the abyss.

And yet… Yet we have Art: “We have Art,” Nietzsche said, “in order not to perish because of Truth.” In order not to perish because of that rationality, that scientificity, absolutely indispensable—let us repeat it again and again—but which stiffens our soul.

Does Art remain for us? It would remain for us, rather, if we were able to embrace the challenge it implies. We would be left with Art—that prodigious fiction in which the imaginary displays the most authentic significance of the real—if Art became our watchword, our flag planted in the center of the City. “Artocracy,” Filippo Tomasso Marinetti called it.

This would imply a huge awakening, an artistic and spiritual rebirth as great as that of the other Renaissance. Both on the part of the creators and on the part of a society that, incapable today of considering the empire of ugliness as a catastrophe, limits itself to shrugging its shoulders when it passes by our urban eyesores, or to smiling—but mockingly—when it discovers the monstrosities of our “contemporary art.”

To do this, it would also be necessary for those who, full of identity fervor, fight in the City to include in their proposals and actions the idea—just that, the idea, and it would be a lot—that what is at stake is not only Bread and Justice, as said before; it is not only the unity of the Homeland and its ethnic and cultural continuity; it is not just the fight—exclusively defensive, today—against woke delusions. All of those things are absolutely necessary, it goes without saying. But, beyond them, it is equally necessary to launch existential and cultural ideas and projects in which a whole new way of being and existing is reflected. Ideas and projects that make us aware of the meaninglessness of a life that, crushed, among other things, by the ugly and the vulgar, is gradually falling into the abyss at the bottom of which the face of death appears, smiling like an advertisement.

But not “death by catastrophe, but puddles in an existence without grace or hope. All collective attitudes are born weak…. The life of the community is flattened, it becomes dull, it sinks into bad taste and mediocrity,” denounced, ninety years ago, the tribune who said that only poets can move the people.

Javier Ruiz Portella, journalist, essayist, writer and publisher, in Spain, whose recent book is N’y a-t-il qu’un dieu pour nous sauver? (Is There No God to Save Us?). This article appears through the kind courtesy of La gaceta de la Iberosfera.

Featured: The Cestello Annunciation, by Sandro Botticelli; painted ca. 1489 to 1490.

The Collapse of Anglo-American Liberalism, or The Genealogy of “Wokism”

A genealogy is here understood as analogous to a genetic analysis or family history. Later thinkers “inherit” or appropriate some genes from one source but some genes from other sources. Earlier thinkers would not necessarily understand, approve of, or agree with what later thinkers did with the original inheritance.

In its intellectual journey, the key question concerns the relation of the moral dimension to the political dimension.


The Hebrew prophets made the moral dimension define the political dimension. That is the whole point of being a “prophet.”

Greek Philosophy (Plato vs. Aristotle)

Plato: dualism: reason should control passion; ideal moral world (should) define the political structure. It’s the Laws, not the Republic, stupid. The role of government is negative, restrain the bad guys. Major relevant inheritors of this line of thought are Augustine, Protestant Reformation, Kant, and (yes) J.S. Mill.

Aristotle: monism: the social world is to be understood in the same way we understand the physical world. For Aristotle, this means teleology. Each institution has a goal; (b) institutions form a hierarchy; (c) the state is the supreme institution because it aims at the highest and most comprehensive collective goal. By making the state (the polity) the supreme institution, the political dimension defines the moral dimension: to be good is to conform to the natural goal of an institution. The political institution (state) has a positive/therapeutic role – to promote fulfillment; utopia (achieving fulfillment) is possible because the “form is in the matter.” Inheritors of this genetic line include Aquinas, Bentham, Reich, modern liberals, socialists, Marxists, and “wokists.”

Christianity (Augustine vs. Aquinas)

Augustine “Platonized” Christianity: As a dualist, he argued that we lived in two worlds: “passion” is the product of original sin and free will; “reason” becomes the insight or vision of the “whole” imparted to some by the mystery of God’s grace. Augustine’s “dedivinized the state,” detaching the spiritual/moral dimension from the political and legal dimensions. The moral dimension defines the political dimension. Personal (positive) fulfillment comes by participation in the spiritual/moral realm (Church). Public life (politics) is a necessary evil wherein the role of government is negative to inhibit or punish the bad guys.

Aquinas reconceptualized Christianity from an Aristotelian point of view. He transformed Augustine’s subordination of politics to morality to the subordination of politics to law understood as deriving in hierarchal and teleological fashion from divine law. The earth and all of its inhabitants are members of a divine community. The Church claimed leadership of the world by appropriating the Aristotelian notion of a totalizing and encompassing institution. The Church asserted its independence of and the subordination of political institutions to itself by claiming access to a natural law derived ultimately from divine law, codified as canon law. This sounds like Augustine but it is significantly different. The Roman Catholic Church offers therapeutic salvation through habitual practices such as the sacraments including confession and penance.

Institutionally, the hierarchical/monarchical structure of the Church terminates logically and historically in a Pope who eventually claims infallibility. Alternatively, some lay Catholics advocate integralism. This is but another way of saying the institutional/political structure defines the moral dimension.

Physical Science (a) Plato vs. Aristotle; (b) Newton vs. Descartes

(a) Modern 17th-century physics is totally Platonic, rejecting Aristotle’s naturalism and teleology. In its place we get mathematical models (Descartes, Leibniz, Galileo, Newton). Despite the popular distinction between empiricists and rationalists, every modern philosopher from Descartes onwards presumed that the mind in some way or other constructs our experience.

(b) The directly relevant contrast is between Newtonian atomism and Cartesian holistic plenum (denial of empty space and action at a distance).

The fundamental Anglo-American orientation is, historically speaking, a fundamental opposition to the concentration of power. This is originally directed against government. British Enlightenment philosophers conceptualize this opposition by opting for Galileo and (anti-teleological deterministic/mechanized) Newtonian atomism. Ethics (teleological) is replaced by moral philosophy. Initially, classical liberalism seems to be a political stance seeking a moral grounding.

Human beings are understood as atomistic strivers [Galilean Hobbes] wherein reason does not overrule passion [first law of motion, Hume] but operates, when properly contextualized (second law of motion), within a contractually harmonious social context [Hobbes, Locke, Mandeville; Hume and Smith on sympathy] sometimes guaranteed by God [Locke]. In political economy [joined by French Anglophiliac acolytes such as Montesquieu, Constant, and Tocqueville], the non-teleological moral dimension seemingly overrules the political dimension by demanding negative liberty on the assumption that self-interest is rightly understood (Bentham’s felicific calculus).

Hume will have misgivings and revert to a quasi-historical understanding. Absent Macaulay historicism, this is where the evolution and collapse of liberalism will be initiated.

French Enlightenment philosophers were not part of the liberal tradition because they were generally influenced by Descartes’ physics with its emphasis on a holistic plenum rather than atomism and hence its commitment to a kind of collectivism. This is clear in the philosophes, Rousseau, Comte but also in Marx who was swayed by the Comtean notions of sociology and scientism. The operative position was that the political (whole) defined the moral and thereby authorized a social technology. These theorists opted for social technology within a (nationalism-socialism) framework and/or fascism {totalitarian democracy (Talmon on why this is different from authoritarian conservatism)}, or (internationalist) Marxism but not “wokism.”

The German Enlightenment and its romantics were influenced by the Platonic and religious (Reformation) cultural inheritance with its emphasis on the individual control of desire as in Kant. This required Kant to reinterpret the whole of human knowledge from a transcendental Platonic perspective invoking alleged synthetic a priori guarantees for God, freedom, and immortality.

Curiously, both Kant and Hegel (Kojeve, Fukuyama) provided a moral foundation for political liberalism only recently recognized and appreciated.

Neither Kant, nor Hegel, nor Nietzsche has anything to do with Nazism. Nazism is the German version of (anti-semitic) nationalist-socialism eventually theorized as fascism (Schmitt) in opposition to liberalism and internationalist Marxism. Post-WWII Germany reverts to gemeinschaft-moral demands on their constitution as opposed to gesellschaft ones.

The Degradation of Liberalism

All modern moral philosophy began with the Renaissance (Mirandola) postulation of an individual human being choosing and pursuing his/her own directions of activity. What needs to be explained is what obligations we have to others. The negative liberty of the British Enlightenment presupposes a self (selves) pursuing its (their) self-interest properly understood. In a deterministic (Newtonian) world there is no telos that guarantees that any individual possesses an individual homeostasis or that a group of individuals has such a homeostasis that would enable proper understanding. This lack of a guarantee becomes all the more problematic in democratic societies (threat of the “tyranny” of the majority in Tocqueville and in J.S. Mill). Whatever the shortcomings of other positions, there is no knock-down argument that any individual is better off always respecting the interests of others (Hume’s sensible knave).

Absent such a guaranteed convergence, other alternatives arise. First, the British Idealists (T.H. Green, Bradley, Bosanquet) rejected the “atomistic” form of individualism. Instead, they argued that humans are fundamentally social beings who by their very nature owed obligations to help others. The British Idealists did not, however, reify the State but became what we know as Modern Liberals promoting a welfare state version of the felicific calculus in opposition to classical liberals. Other writers such as G.B. Shaw and the Fabians (Webb) promoted this view in popular culture

Second, (A.V. Dicey), socialistic ideas were in no way a part of dominant legislative opinion earlier than 1865, and their influence on legislation did not become perceptible until 1868 or dominant until 1880. Moreover (Dicey) the opposition between the individualistic liberalism of 1830 and the democratic socialism of 1905 conceals the heavy debt owed by English collectivists to the utilitarian reformers. From Benthamism the socialists inherited a legislative dogma [principle of utility], a legislative instrument [parliamentary sovereignty], and a legislative tendency [constant extension of the mechanism of government]. The specific ends of Benthamite legislation were subsistence, abundance, security, sexual equality, environmentalism, and animal rights “each maximized, in so far as is compatible with the maximization of the rest.” The principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number is inimical to the idea of liberty and to the idea of rights (Himmelfarb). Socialists acknowledge social dysfunction and even moral depravity as the product of the market economy’s threatening concentration of great power which requires, in response, using the political institution to correct or counterbalance the perceived degradation of the moral domain.

The third significant feature is the sexualization of liberalism, socialism, and Marxism. Enter Wilhelm Reich, incorporating his version of psychoanalysis into dialectical materialism. The most powerful and potentially self-destructive and socially disruptive drive in human beings is sex. In his mis-appropriation of Freud, Reich argued that neurosis (and all other dysfunction) could only be cured by having a proper orgasm understood as the full discharge of the libido in which you lose your ego and embrace your social self. Reich is the “founder of a genital utopia” (Sharaf). Reich has had a remarkable influence on popular culture from Foucault to Norman Mailer to films and pop music.

Liberalism in general has always known what it is against but not what it favors. It inherited a moral compass but it philosophically rejects custom and tradition and history as sufficient grounds. The consequence is no moral compass. Hence, the modern liberal welfare state does not have a clear conception of the nature and limits of the use of social technology. Instead, it has used social technology to redefine morality. It struggles to design education as a way of dealing with the challenges of parliamentary democracy, and continually expands the role of government until it becomes indistinguishable from democratic socialism. The perceptive Marxist critique of democratic socialism ultimately nudges it to discard the “democratic” qualifier as inhibiting long-term planning. Hence the embrace by some of “wokism” indistinguishable in practice from totalitarian Marxism and fascism.


From Hobbes to Bentham, the liberal view is that human nature is nothing but appetites. The role of liberty is to mediate between appetites unbound and the binding required by other appetitive beings. This requires removing the restrictions on appetites. The politics of emancipation in the Anglo-American world is the dialectical resolution of this role. It incorporates the satiation of one’s appetites, the right of respect for having one’s appetites and determinations (being/identity), control of education to enable the breaking up of traditional/oppressive forms of social reproduction to enable this appetitive self, as well as the political demand that this emancipated self receives the resources (reparations, career and office holding opportunities) distributed on the basis of one’s identity that enable its perpetuity. The emancipation of self requires for its realization a complete overhaul of the entire political, economic, pedagogical, and social spheres.

The alternative view of the self is that liberty is in the service of internal freedom or autonomy (self-control). That is why Mill rejected Bentham, and why he reconstructed utilitarianism to reflect all four versions of Kant’s categorical imperative, and reasserted the Platonic view that the “moral” defines the “political.” As opposed to the other forms of liberalism, Mill, following Kant, maintains that no one can or should promote or have an obligation to promote from the outside the moral perfection of another person because that contradicts and undermines the internal freedom that is a condition of moral perfection. Mill saved liberalism from itself, but it was too late.

Nicholas Capaldi is Professor Emeritus at Loyola University, New Orleans.

Featured: Collapse of the Roof, by Nicholas Evans; painted in 1978.

The Four Reformers

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), the famed Scottish writer, in his leisure hours also turned out some remarkablle fables. One of them, The Four Reformers, speaks to our own era rather precisely. It is difficult to say when it was written, but likely before 1888. His fables were collected and published postumously, in 1896.

IX. The Four Reformers

Four reformers met under a bramble bush. They were all agreed the world must be changed. “We must abolish property,” said one.

“We must abolish marriage,” said the second.

“We must abolish God,” said the third.

“I wish we could abolish work,” said the fourth.

“Do not let us get beyond practical politics,” said the first. “The first thing is to reduce men to a common level.”

“The first thing,” said the second, “is to give freedom to the sexes.”

“The first thing,” said the third, “is to find out how to do it.”

“The first step,” said the first, “is to abolish the Bible.”

“The first thing,” said the second, “is to abolish the laws.”

“The first thing,” said the third, “is to abolish mankind.”

Featured: Four Men at a Cafe, by Yiannis Tsaroychis; painted in 1927.

Natura: Ex Historia naturali

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Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (MDCCVII ad MDCCLXXXVIII)

Quantula igitur lucet natura in terra! Lumen purum ab oriente in occidentem protensum deaurat successive hemisphaeria globi. Elementum aereum diaphanum ambit; calidum et fructiferum calorem animat et omnia vitae suae initia provehit; aquae vivae et salutares ad eorum sustentationem et incrementum tendunt; alta per terras sparsa prendo vapores aereos, hos fontes inexhaustos semperque recentes reddunt; in immensas lacunas continentes dividunt. Maris ambitus tantus est, quanta terra. Non enim frigidum et sterile elementum est, sed aliud imperium, quasi primum pingue et frequens. Digitus Dei metas notavit. Cum inuadunt aquae litora occidentis, nudant orientales. Haec immensa aquarum congeries, ipsa inertis, coelestium motuum gubernationem sequitur. Iustis oscillationibus recursus et refluxus libratus, surgit et cadit cum planeta noctis; altiora dum cum planeta diei concurrunt, magnos aestus faciunt duae vires in aequinoctiis coniungentes. Nostra nexus cum caelis nullibi clarius significatur. Ex his constantibus et communibus motibus aliae variae et singulares consequuntur: terrae remotiones, depositae in fundo aquae, elevationes formantes, sicut eae super superficie terrae, excursus qui, secundum directionem istorum montium, eas conformant angulis correspondentibus; et volvens in medio fluctuum, sicut aquae super terram, flumina vero maris.

Aer quoque, levior et magis fluidus quam aqua, multis obedit viribus: longinqua solis et lunae actio, immediata actio maris, caloris rarefaciendi et frigoris densandi, continuas agitationes in se producit. Ventorum curricula, prae se agens et nubes colligens. Meteora gignunt; vapores humidos litorum maritimorum ad terrae continentium superficies transportandum; procellas determinant; distribue pluvias fecundae et benigna rores; mare commovere; agitant mobiles aquas, capiunt vel maturant flumina; flumina attollere; procellas concitare. Iratum mare in coelum erigitur, fremitum frangit contra fossata immobilia, quae nec perdere nec superare potest.

Ab his irruptionibus tuta terra supra mare elevata est. Superficies eius, floribus insignita, viridi semper viridibus ornata, millibus et millibus animalium dissimiles species, quies est; deliciarum domicilium, ubi homo naturae auxilio constitutus, ceteris omnibus dominatur, solus qui scire et admirari potest. Eum Deus spectatorem universitatis ac testem mirabilium suorum fecit. Divina scintilla animatur, quae eum divinorum mysteriorum participem reddit; et per cujus lucem cogitat et reflectit, videt et legit in libro mundi sicut in exemplari divinitatis.

Natura est exterior solius gloriae Dei. Qui studet et contemplatur, gradatim ad interiorem thronum omniscientiae surgit. Adorandus Creator omnibus creaturis imperat. Caelorum vassallus, terrae rex, quem nobilitat et ditat, ordinem, concordiam et subordinationem animantium constituit. Naturam ipsam exornat; colit, extendit, excolit; tribulos supprimit vepribusque et uvas et rosas multiplicat.

Solitudines adspice litora, tristesque terras, in quibus numquam habitabat homo: obsita vel horrentia densis, densisque atrae silvis, undique adsurgens, trunca sine cortice arboribus, flexis, tortis, caduca vetustate; prope, aliae numerosius, iam putrefactae aggeribus putrida, seminibus erumpentes obruentes obruentes. Natura, ubique iuvenis, hic decrepitus est. Terrarum ruinas harum productionum superata praebet, pro viriditate viriditatis, spatio tantum impedito percurso grandaevis arboribus, plantis parasiticis, lichenibus, agaricis, fructibus immundis corruptionis onustis. In ima parte aqua, mortua et stagnata, quia indirecta; aut palustris ager neque solidus neque liquidus, unde inaccessibilis et inutilis habitantibus tam terre quam aquarum. Hic paludes sunt aquatilium nobilium plantis, quae venenata tantum alunt, et ab immundis animalibus versantur. Inter has humiles contagias paludes et hae maiores silvae extendunt campi nihil commune habentibus cum pratis nostris, in quibus herbae utiles herbas obruunt. Nemo est tam egregius caespes, qui similis terrae videtur, aut graminis illius cui praeclari nuntiat fertilitatem; sed iuncturis duris ac spinis herbis, quae inter se potius quam solo cohaerere videntur, quaeque inter se subinde exarescentes impediunt, crassam mattam pluribus pedibus crassam faciunt. Nullae sunt viae, nullae communicationes, nullae intelligentiae vestigia in his locis silvestribus. Homo, bestiarum semitas sequi coactus et assidue vigilare, ne praeda eorum, magnorum solitudinum silentio territa, ipsa solitudine perculsa, revertitur et dicit.

Natura primitivae foeda et moriens est; ego, ego solus, vivom et suavem facere possum. Haec paludibus arefaciamus; in rivos et canales convertendo, has mortuas aquas movendo animant. Utamur elemento activo et devorante quondam nobis abscondito quod invenimus ipsi; Hanc supervacuam mattam incendite silvis: Iam semiustae iamdudum, et consumite ferro, quem nequeat ignis perdere! Mox, pro iunco et aquatico, ex quo rubeta venenum suum componit, videbimus butteras et cytisum, herbas dulces et salutares. Hanc semel inexplicabilem terram armenta bestiarum terminantium calcabunt et uberes, semper renovatos, pascua reperient. Multiplicare, multiplicare iterum. Utamur novo auxilio ad opus nostrum perficiendum; et bos iugo subditus exerceat in sulcando terram suam fortitudinem. Tunc cultura reflorescit, et sub manibus nova nascitur natura.

Quam pulchra natura colitur, cum hominis curis splendide et magnifice ornatur! Ipse summum decus, nobilissima productio est; se multiplicans gemmam pretiosissimam multiplicat. Ipsa se cum eo multiplicare videtur, ars enim sua omnia quae sinum eius occultat illuminat. Quos thesauros hactenus neglectos! Quae novae divitiae! Flores, fructus perfecti grana infinite multiplicata; utiles animalium species translatae, propagatae, sine fine auctae; species noxias, sublatas, conclusas, exterminatas; aurum et ferrum magis necessarium quam aurum, extractum de visceribus terrae; torrentes inclusi; flumina gubernant et coercent; mare submissum et comprehensum ab uno hemisphaerio ad alterum transiit; terra ubique pervia, ubique viva ac fertilis; in vallibus, ridentes camp; in campis, uberes pascuis, an uberiores messes; colles vitibus ac pomis onusti, cacumina arboribus et silvis novellis utilibus coronata; solitudines mutatas in urbes, magnas incolas, populos, qui indesinenter circumirent, se a sedibus ad ultima spargunt; crebras apertas vias et communicationes ubique sicut tot testes vigoris et unionis societatis constituunt; mille alia virtutis et gloriae monumenta: homo ille, orbis dominus, eum mutaverit, totum superficiem redintegraverit, imperiumque naturae communicet.

Sed tantum iure vincendi regit, et fruitur potius quam possidet. Retinere potest nisi semper innovatis laboribus. Si haec cessant, omnia languescunt, mutantur, inordinata fiunt, rursus in manus Naturae intrant. Iura suum revocat; delet opus hominis; monumenta lautissima pulvere musco tegit; interimit eos in tempore relicto, tantum doleat quod sua culpa majorum victorias amiserit. Haec tempora per quae homo amittit regnum suum, saecula barbariae cum omnia pereunt, semper bellis praeparantur et cum fame ac depopulatione perveniunt. Homo, qui nihil potest praeter multitudinem facere, et in societate tantum valet, solus in pace beatus, insania est se armare ad infelicitatem et ad perniciem suam pugnare. Insatiabili cupiditate, insatiabili adhuc ambitione caecatus, humanitatis sensus renuntiat, omnes in se copias vertit, et socium suum perdere quaerens, se ipsum interimit. Et post hos dies sanguinis et caedis, cum transierit fumus glorise, videt cum moerore devastatam esse terram, sepultas artes, dissipatas gentes, debiles gentes, felicitatem suam perditam, et exstinctam potentiam suam.


Featured: A Capriccio of Rome with the Finish of a Marathon, by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes; painted in 1788.

On the Extent of Political Repressions in the USSR: Through the Maze of Speculations, Distortions and Hoaxes

Viktor Nikolayevich Zemskov (1946—2015), the eminent Russia historian, carried out pivotal and decisive archival research, often in fonds that were previously closed to researchers, for over a decade (1980s to 1990s). He focused on the history of political repression in the USSR, the statistics of Gulag prisoners, the fate of those repatriated after the Second World War, the Soviet working class, and military history of Russia. In the process, he answered a grim but crucial question—how many people did Stalin really kill?

In the West, the Great Purge, or the Great Terror has acquired mythic dimensions (thanks to Solzhenitsyn), in which millions are said to have perished. But the meticulous, cool-headed work of Professor Zemskov uncovered a different—and surprising—reality: from 1930 to 1953, a total of 786,000 people were “purged.”

We are able to bring you Professor Zemskov’s foundational article on Soviet repression, which he published in 1995, in Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya (Sociological Research), No. 9. His work continues to be ignored in the West, perhaps because it denies the various Cold War myths about Russia. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya.

Human life is priceless. The murder of innocent people cannot be justified—whether it is one person or millions. But the researcher cannot limit himself to moral evaluation of historical events and phenomena. His duty is to resurrect the true image of our past. All the more so when certain aspects of it become the object of political speculation. All this fully applies to the problem of statistics (scale) of political repressions in the USSR. This article attempts to deal objectively with this acute and painful issue.

By the end of the 1980s, historical science was faced with an urgent need for access to the secret fonds of the security agencies (former and present), since the literature and radio and television constantly mentioned various estimated, virtual figures of repressions, which were not confirmed by anything, and which we, professional historians, could not introduce into the scientific discourse without appropriate documentary confirmation.

In the second half of the 1980s, a somewhat paradoxical situation emerged for a while, when the lifting of the ban on the publication of works and materials on this topic was combined with the traditional lack of a source base, since the relevant archival fonds were still closed to researchers. In terms of style and tone, the bulk of publications from Gorbachev’s “perestroika” period (and later, too) were, as a rule, sharply expositional in nature, being in line with the anti-Stalinist propaganda campaign launched at that time (we are referring primarily to the numerous journalistic articles and notes in newspapers, Ogonyok magazine, etc.). The scarcity of concrete-historical material in these publications was more than compensated for by repeatedly exaggerated “homemade statistics” of the victims of repression, which amazed the readership with their gigantism.

In early 1989, by decision of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences, a commission of the History Department of the USSR Academy of Sciences, headed by corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences Yuri A. Polyakov, was established to determine population losses. As a member of this commission, we were among the first historians to gain access to the statistical reports of the OGPUNKVDMVDMGB, the highest bodies of state power and state administration of the USSR, which had not been given to researchers before, and which were in special storage in the Central State Archive of the October Revolution (TsGaOR USSR), now renamed the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF).

The Commission of the History Department was active in the late 1980s and early 1990s; and even then we published a series of articles on the statistics of repressions, prisoners, special settlers, displaced persons, etc. We continued this work in the years that followed, right up to the present time.

The Commission of the History Department was active in the late 1980s and early 1990s; and even then we published a series of articles on the statistics of repressions, prisoners, special settlers, displaced persons, etc. We continued this work in the years that followed and up to the present time.

As early as the beginning of 1954, the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs drew up a certificate addressed to Nikita S. Khrushchev on the number of those convicted for counter-revolutionary crimes, i.e., under Article 58 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR and under the corresponding articles of the Criminal Codes of other Union republics, for the period 1921-1953. (The document was signed by three persons—the USSR Prosecutor, General Roman A. Rudenko, the USSR Minister of Internal Affairs, Sergei N. Kruglov, and the USSR Minister of Justice, Konstantin P. Gorshenin).

The document stated that, according to the data available in the USSR Interior Ministry, for the period from 1921 to the present, that is, until the beginning of 1954, 3,777,380 people had been convicted of counter-revolutionary crimes by the OGPU Collegium, NKVD troikas, Special Consultation, Military Collegium, courts and military tribunals, including 642,980 to capital punishment (see, State Archive of the Russian Federation, Ф. 9401. Op. 2. Д. 450).

At the end of 1953, the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs prepared another report. Based on statistical reports of the 1st Special Department of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs. It gave the number of those convicted for counter-revolutionary and other particularly dangerous state crimes for the period from January 1, 1921 to July 1, 1953—4,060,306 people (on January 5, 1954, a letter signed by Sergei N. Kruglov, with the content of this information, was sent to Georgy M. Malenkov and Nikita S. Khrushchev).

This figure consisted of 3,777,380 convicted for counter-revolutionary crimes and 282,926 for other especially dangerous state crimes. The latter were convicted not under Article 58, but under other articles equivalent to it, primarily, under paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 59 (especially dangerous banditry) and Article 193-24 (military espionage). For example, some Basmachi were convicted not under Article 58, but under Article 59. (See Table 1):

Table 1: Number of Persons Convicted of Counter-Revolutionary and other Particularly Dangerous State Crimes in 1921-1953

Note: Between June 1947 and January 1950, the death penalty was abolished in the USSR. This explains the absence of death sentences in 1948-1949. Other penalties included credit for time in custody, compulsory treatment and expulsion abroad.

It should be borne in mind that the terms “arrested” and “convicted” are not identical. The total number of convicted persons does not include those arrested who, during the preliminary investigation, i.e., before conviction, died, fled or were released.

This information was a state secret in the USSR until the late 1980s. For the first time the true statistics of those convicted for counter-revolutionary crimes (3,777,380 for 1921-1953) was published in September 1989, in an article by Vladimir F. Nekrasov in Komsomolskaya Pravda. Then this information was presented in more detail, in articles by Aleksandr N. Dugin (in the newspaper, Na boyevom postu, December 1989), Viktor N. Zemskov and D. N. Nokhotovich (Argumenty i Fakty, February 1990), in other publications by Viktor N. Zemskov and Aleksandr N. Dugin. The number of those convicted for counter-revolutionary and other particularly dangerous state crimes (4,060,306 for 1921-1953) was first publicized in 1990, in an article by Aleksandr N. Yakovlev, a member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, in the newspaper Izvestya. In more detail, these statistics (1st Special Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs), with trends by years, was published in 1992 by V. P. Popov in the journal, Otechestvennyye arkhivy,

We specifically draw attention to these publications, because they contain the true statistics of political repressions. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, they were, figuratively speaking, a drop in the ocean, compared to numerous publications of another kind, which gave unreliable figures, usually exaggerated many times.

The public reaction to the publication of authentic statistics of political repressions was mixed. It was often suggested that it was fake. The journalist Anto V. Antonov-Ovseenko, emphasizing that these documents were signed by such vested individuals as Rudenko, Kruglov and Gorshenin, insinuated to the readers of the Literaturnaya gazeta in 1991: “The disinformation service was at its best at all times. Under Khrushchev, too… So, in 32 years—less than four million. It is clear who needs such criminal certificates” (A.V. Antonov-Ovseenko, “Protivostoyaniye,” Literaturnaya gazeta, April 3, 1991, p. 3). Despite Antonov-Ovseenko’s confidence that these statistics were disinformation, we will allow ourselves the courage to assert that he is wrong. These are genuine statistics, compiled by totaling, for the years 1921-1953, the relevant data available in the 1st Special Department. This special department, which at different times was part of the structure of the OGPU, NKVD, MGB (since 1953 and up to now, the Ministry of Internal Affairs), was engaged in collecting complete information on the number of those convicted on political grounds from all judicial and non-judicial bodies. The 1st Special Department was not a body for disinformation, but for comprehensive objective information collection.

After Antonov-Ovseenko, another journalist, Lev E. Razgon, sharply criticized us in 1992 (L.E. Razgon, “Lozh’ pod vidom statistiki: Ob odnoy publikatsii,” in the journal, Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya, (8)1992, pp., 13-14). The essence of Antonov-Ovseenko’s and Razgon’s accusations boiled down to the fact that Viktor N. Zemskov was engaged in falsification, operating with fabricated statistics, and that the documents he used were unreliable and even false. Moreover, Razgon insinuated that Zemskov was involved in the production of these false documents. At the same time, they failed to back up such accusations with any convincing evidence. My responses to Antonov-Ovseenko’s and Razgon’s criticism of us were published in 1991-1992 in the academic journals Istoriya SSSR and Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya (see, Istoriya SSSR, No. 5, 1991, pp. 151-152; Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya, No. 6, 1992, pp. 155-156).

Antonov-Ovseenko’s and Razgon’s sharp rejection of our publications based on archival documents was also triggered by their desire to “save” their “homemade statistics,” which were not supported by any documents and were nothing more than the fruit of their own fantasy. Thus, Antonov-Ovseenko published a book in English in the United States as early as 1980 called Portrait of a Tyrant, where he named the number of those arrested for political reasons only for the period 1935-1940—as 18.8 million people (see, Antonov-Ovseenko, The Time of Stalin: Portrait of a Tyranny, p. 212). Our publications, based on archival documents, directly exposed his “statistics” as pure charlatanism. Hence Antonov-Ovseenko’s and Razgon’s clumsy attempts to present the case in such a way that their “statistics” were correct, and Zemskov was allegedly a falsifier and published fabricated statistics.

Razgon attempted to contrast the archival documents with the testimonies of repressed NKVD officers with whom he interacted in detention. According to Razgon, “at the beginning of 1940, a former head of the financial department of the NKVD, who met me at one of the transit stations, when asked: ‘How many people were imprisoned?’—hesitated and answered: ‘I know that on January 1, 1939 in prisons and camps there were about 9 million living prisoners’” (“Lozh’ pod vidom statistiki: Ob odnoy publikatsii,” in the journal, Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya, No. 8, 1992, p. 14). We, professional historians, know very well how doubtful such information is and how dangerous it is to introduce it into scientific circulation without careful checking and double-checking. A detailed study of the current and summary statistical reports of the NKVD led, as one would expect, to the refutation of this “evidence”—in fact, in early 1939, there were about 2 million prisoners in camps, penal colonies and prisons, of whom 1,317,000 were in camps (see, GARF: Ф. 9413. Оп. 1. Д. 6. Л. 7—8; Ф. 9414. Оп. 1. Д. 1154. Л. 2—4; Д. 1155. Л. 2, 20—22).

It should be noted that the total number of prisoners in all places of deprivation of liberty (camps, penal colonies, prisons) on certain dates rarely exceeded 2.5 million. Usually, it fluctuated in different periods from 1.5 million to 2.5 million. The highest number of prisoners in Soviet history was recorded as of January 1, 1950—2,760,095 people, of whom 1,416,300 were in camps, 1,145,051 were in penal colonies and 198,744 were in prisons (see, GARF: Ф. 9414. Оп. 1. Д. 330. Л. 55; Д. 1155. Л. 1—3; Д. 1190. Л. 1—34; Д. 1390. Л. 1—21; Д. 1398. Л. 1; Д. 1426. Л. 39; Д. 1427. Л. 132–133, 140–141, 177—178).

Therefore, one cannot take seriously, for example, Antonov-Ovseenko’s assertions that after the war there were 16 million prisoners in the camps and penal colonies of the Gulag (see, Antonov-Ovseenko, “Protivostoyaniye,” Literaturnaya gazeta, April 3, 1991, p. 3). It should be understood that on the date Antonov-Ovseenko has in mind (1946), there were not 16 million but 1.6 million prisoners in the camps and penal colonies of the Gulag. One really should pay attention to the point in-between the two figures.

Antonov-Ovseenko and Razgon were powerless to prevent the mass introduction of archival documents into scientific circulation, including the statistics of repressions, which they hated. This direction of historical science became firmly grounded in the documentary archival database (and not only in our country, but also abroad). In this connection, in 1999, Antonov-Ovseenko, still in the deeply erroneous belief that the statistics published by Zemskov were false, and his (Antonov-Ovseenko’s) “own statistics” being supposedly correct (in reality—monstrously perverted), again sadly stated: “The disinformation service was at its best at all times. It is alive and well nowadays. Otherwise, how to explain the ‘sensational’ discoveries of V. N. Zemskov? Unfortunately, obviously falsified (for the archive) statistics flew around many printed publications and found supporters among scientists” (A.V. Antonov-Ovseyenko, “Chernyye advokaty,” Vozrozhdeniye nadezhdy, No. 8, 1999, p. 3). This “cry of the soul” was nothing more than a cry in the wilderness, useless and hopeless (for Antonov-Ovseenko). The idea of “obviously falsified (for the archive) statistics” has long been perceived in the scholarly world as ridiculous and absurd; such assessments do not provoke any reaction other than amazement and ridicule.

This was the natural result of the battle between professionalism and dilettantism—because professionalism must win in the end. Antonov-Ovseenko’s and Razgon’s “criticism” of us was thus in the general vein of the attack of militant dilettantism, with the aim of subjugating historical science, imposing its own rules and methods of scientific (or rather, pseudoscientific) research, which from a professional point of view are completely unacceptable.

Nikita Khrushchev also contributed to the falsification of the issue of the number of prisoners, when he wrote in his memoirs: “…When Stalin died, there were up to 10 million people in the camps” (“Memuary Nikity Sergeyevicha Khrushchova,” Voprosy istorii, No. 3, 1990, p. 82). Even if we understand the term “camps” broadly, including also colonies and prisons, then even taking this into account, in early 1953 there were about 2.6 million prisoners (see, Naseleniye Rossii v XX veke: Istoricheskiye ocherki, 2001, Vol. 2, p. 183). The State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) keeps copies of the report of the USSR Interior Ministry leadership to Khrushchev indicating the exact number of prisoners, including at the time of Stalin’s death. Consequently, Khrushchev was well informed about the true number of prisoners and exaggerated it almost 4 times deliberately.

The publication of Roy A. Medvedev in Moskovskie Novosti (November 1988) about the statistics of the victims of Stalinism provoked a great reaction in society (see, Roy A. Medvedev, “Nash isk Stalinu,” Moskovskie Novosti, November 27, 1988). According to his calculations, during the period 1927-1953, about 40 million people were repressed, including the kulaks, deportees, those who died of starvation in 1933, and others. In 1989-1991, this figure was one of the most popular in the propaganda of Stalinist crimes and became quite firmly embedded in the mass consciousness.

In fact, such a number (40 million) is not possible even with the most expansive interpretation of the concept of “victims of repression.” In these 40 million, Medvedev included 10 million of those who were kulaks in 1929-1933 (in reality, there were about 4 million of them), almost 2 million Poles evicted in 1939-1940 (in reality—about 380,000), and in like manner for absolutely all the elements that made up this astronomical figure.

However, these 40 million soon ceased to satisfy the “growing needs” of certain political forces to denigrate the national history of the Soviet period. The “research” of American and other Western Sovietologists, according to which 50-60 million people died of terror and repression in the USSR, was used. Like Medvedev, all components of such calculations were extremely overstated; the difference of 10-20 million was explained by the fact that Medvedev started counting from 1927, while Western Sovietologists—started counting from 1917. While Medvedev stipulated in his article that repressions are not always death, that the majority of the kulaks survived, that a smaller part of those repressed in 1937-1938 were shot, etc., a number of his Western colleagues called the figure of 50-60 million people as physically exterminated and as having died as a result of terror, repressions, famine, collectivization, and so on, and the number of those who died as a result of repressions, famine, collectivization, etc., as a result of the repressions. In short, they worked hard to fulfill the demands of politicians and special interests of their countries in order to discredit in a scientific form their opponent in the “Cold War,” not hesitating to fabricate direct slander.

This, of course, does not mean that there were no researchers in foreign Sovietology who tried to study Soviet history objectively and in good faith. Major scientists, experts on Soviet history J. Arch Getty (USA), Stephen G. Wheatcroft (Australia), Robert W. Davies (England), Gabor Rittersporn (France) and some others openly criticized the research of most Sovietologists and proved that in reality the number of victims of repression, collectivization, famine, etc. in the USSR was much lower.

However, the works of these foreign scientists with their incomparably more objective assessment of the scale of repressions were silenced in our country. Only that which contained unreliable, many-times exaggerated statistics of repressions was actively introduced into the mass consciousness. And the mythical 50-60 million soon eclipsed Roy Medvedev’s 40 million in the mass consciousness.

Therefore, when the chairman of the KGB of the USSR Vladimir A. Kryuchkov, in his speeches on television, referred to the true statistics of political repressions (he repeatedly cited the data in the records of the KGB of the USSR for 1930-1953—3,778,234 convicted political prisoners, of whom 786,098 were sentenced to execution) (see, Pravda, February 14, 1990), many people literally could not believe their ears, thinking that they had misheard. In 1990, the journalist A. Milchakov shared his impression of V. A. Kryuchkov’s speech with the readers of Vechernyaya Moskva: “…And then he went on to say: thus, tens of millions are out of the question. I don’t know whether he did it consciously. But I am familiar with the latest widespread studies, which I believe, and I ask the readers of Vechernyaya Moskva once again to carefully read Alexandr I. Solzhenitsyn’s work, The Gulag Archipelago. I ask you to familiarize yourself with the studies published in Moskovsky Komsomolets by I. Vinogradov, our most famous literary scholar. He cites the figure of 50-60 million people. I would like to draw attention to the studies of American Sovietologists, which confirm this figure. And I am deeply convinced of it” (Vechernaya Moskva, April 14, 1990).

Comments, as they say, are superfluous. Distrust was shown only for documented information and immense trust for information of the opposite nature.

However, even this was not the limit of deceiving the public. In June 1991, Komsomolskaya Pravda published Solzhenitsyn’s interview with Spanish television in 1976. From it we learn the following: “Professor Kurganov indirectly calculated that from 1917 to 1959, just from the internal war of the Soviet regime against its people, i.e., from annihilation by hunger, collectivization, exile of peasants for extermination, prisons, camps, simple shootings—just from this alone we lost, together with our civil war, 66 million people… According to his calculations, we lost in the Second World War from its [the government’s] negligent, from its sloppy conduct, 44 million people! So, in total, we lost 110 million people from the socialist system!” (“Razmyshleniya po povodu dvukh grazhdanskikh voyn: Interv’yu A.I. Solzhenitsyna ispanskomu televideniyu v 1976 g,” Komsomolskaya Pravda, June 4, 1991).

With the wording “from its negligent, from its sloppy conduct” Solzhenitsyn actually equated all the human losses in the Great Patriotic War with those who died and perished as a result of collectivization and famine, which many historians and publicists include in the number of victims of political terror and repression. We are inclined to strongly distance ourselves from such an equation.

The estimate of these losses of 44 million people is, of course, extremely overstated. We are also skeptical of the recently accepted estimate of 27 million, which has been included in many textbooks, and also consider it overstated. Without taking into account the usual annual mortality of the population (as well as the decline in birth rate), we tried to establish the human losses (military and civilian), in one way or another related to the fighting. To the losses of the armed forces who died (11.5 million, including those who died in captivity), were added the losses of civilian volunteer formations (militias, partisans, etc.), Leningrad blockades, victims of the Nazi genocide in the occupied territory, killed and tortured Soviet citizens in fascist camps, etc. The final figure does not exceed 16 million people.

In the mass media from time to time, but quite regularly, statistics of political repressions based on the memoirs of Olga G. Shatunovskaya were quoted. She was a former member of the Committee for Party Control under the CPSU Central Committee, the commission to investigate the murder of Sergei M. Kirov and the political trials of the 1930s, during the time of Khrushchev. In 1990, Argumenty i Fakty published her memoirs, where she, referring to a certain document of the KGB of the USSR, later allegedly mysteriously disappeared, noted: “…From January 1, 1935 to June 22, 1941, 19,840,000 “enemies of the people” were arrested. Of these, 7 million were shot. Most of the rest died in the camps” (O.G. Shatunovskaya, “Fal’sifikatsiya,” Argumenty i Fakty, No. 22, 1990).

The motives of Shatunovskaya’s actions are not quite clear; whether she deliberately invented these figures for the purpose of revenge (she was repressed), or whether she herself became a victim of some misinformation. Shatunovskaya asserted that Khrushchev allegedly requested the certificate, which contained these sensational figures, in 1956. This is very doubtful. All the information on the statistics of political repressions was set forth in the two certificates prepared at the end of 1953 and the beginning of 1954, which we have mentioned above.

We are sure that such a document never existed. After all, the relevant question is: what prevents the political forces currently in power, no less interested, we must assume, in exposing the crimes of Stalinism, to officially confirm Shatunovskaya’s statistics with reference to a credible document? If, according to Shatunovskaya’s version, the security service prepared such a summary in 1956, what prevented it from doing the same in 1991-1993 and later? Even if the summary of 1956 was destroyed, the primary data were preserved.

Neither the Ministry of Security of the Russian Federation (MBRF, later the FSB of the Russian Federation), nor the Ministry of Internal Affairs, nor other bodies could do this for the simple reason that all the relevant information they have directly refutes Shatunovskaya’s statistics.

Shatunovskaya’s statement that “most of the rest died in the camps” (we must assume 7-10 million, if we count from her virtual almost 13 million “others”), of course, also does not correspond to the truth. Such statements can be perceived as reliable only in an environment dominated by misconceptions that tens of millions of people allegedly died and perished in the Gulag. A detailed study of statistical reports on prisoner mortality gives a different picture. In 1930-1953, about 1.8 million prisoners died in places of deprivation of liberty (camps, penal colonies and prisons), of which almost 1.2 million died in camps and over 0.6 million in colonies and prisons. These calculations are not estimates, but are based on documents. And here arises a difficult question: what is the share of those political among these 1.8 million dead prisoners (political and criminal). There is no answer to this question in the documents. It seems that political prisoners accounted for about one third, i.e., about 600,000. This conclusion is based on the fact that those convicted of criminal offenses usually accounted for about 2/3rd of the prisoners. Consequently, out of the number of those sentenced to serve their sentences in camps, penal colonies and prisons, indicated in Tables 1 and 2, approximately this number (about 600,000) did not live to be released (between 1930 and 1953).

The highest mortality rate occurred in 1942-1943—during these two years, 661,000 prisoners died in camps, penal colonies, and prisons, which was mainly a consequence of significant cuts in nutritional standards due to the extreme war situation. Later on, the mortality rate began to steadily decline and amounted in 1951-1952 to 45.3 thousand people, or 14.6 times less than in 1942-1943 (see, Naseleniye Rossii v XX veke: Istoricheskiye ocherki, 2001, Vol. 2, p. 195). At the same time, we would like to draw attention to one curious nuance: according to the data we have for 1954, among the free population of the Soviet Union, for every 1,000 people, there died an average of 8.9 people, while in the camps and colonies of the Gulag, for every 1,000 prisoners—only 6.5 people died (see, GARF: Ф. 9414. Оп. 1. Д. 2887. Л. 64).

Having documented evidence that Shatunovskaya’s statistics are unreliable, in 1991 we published the relevant refutation in the pages of the academic journal, Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya (see, V.N. Zemskov, “GULAG: istoriko-sotsiologicheskiy aspekt,” in Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya, No. 6, 1991, p. 13).

It seemed that with Shatunovskaya’s version the question was solved even then. But that was not the case. Both radio and television continued to propagandize her figures in a rather obsessive form. For example, on March 5, 1992, in the evening program, Novosti, the host, T. Komarova, broadcast to a multimillion audience about the 19,840,000 repressed, including 7 million shot in 1935-1940, as an allegedly unquestionable fact. And this was happening at a time when historical science had proved the unreliability of this information and had genuine statistics on hand.

On August 2, 1992, a briefing was held in the press center of the Ministry of Security of the Russian Federation (MBRF), at which Major General A. Krayushkin, head of the MBRF’s Department of Registration and Archival Fonds, told journalists and other invitees that during the entire period of communist rule (1918-1990) in the USSR, 3,853,900 people were convicted on charges of state crimes and some other articles of criminal legislation of similar nature, 827,995 of whom were sentenced to execution. In the terminology used at the briefing, this corresponds to the wording “for counter-revolutionary and other particularly dangerous crimes against the state.” The reaction of the mass media to this event was curious—most of the newspapers kept a sepulchral silence. To some, these figures seemed too large; to others—too small; and as a result the editorial boards of newspapers and magazines of various directions preferred not to publish this material, thus withholding from their readers socially significant information (silence, as we know, is a form of slander). We should pay tribute to the editorial board of Izvestya newspaper, which published a detailed report on the briefing with the statistics quoted there (see, V. Rudnev, “NKVD—rasstrelival, MBRF—reabilitiruyet,” in Izvestya, August 3, 1992).

It is noteworthy that the addition of information for 1918-1920 and 1954-1990, in the above-mentioned MBRF data, did not fundamentally change the statistics of political repressions for the period 1921-1953. The MBRF staff used some other source, the data of which slightly diverge from the statistics of the 1st Special Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Comparison of data from these two sources leads to a very unexpected result: according to IBRF information, in 1918-1990, 3,853,900 people were convicted on political grounds; while according to the statistics of the 1st Special Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1921-1953—4,060,306 people. In our opinion, this discrepancy should be explained not by the incompleteness of the MBRF source, but by the more strict approach of the compilers of this source to the concept of “victims of political repression.” When working in the GARF with operational materials of the OGPU-NKVD, we noticed that quite often cases were submitted for consideration by the Collegium of the OGPU, the Special Conference and other bodies, of ordinary criminals who robbed factory warehouses, collective farm storerooms, etc., as political or especially dangerous state criminals.

For this reason, they were included in the statistics of the 1st Special Department as “counter-revolutionaries” and, according to present-day concepts, are “victims of political repressions” (this can be said of recidivist thieves only in mockery); while in the IBRF source they are excluded.

The problem of eliminating criminals from the total number of those convicted of counter-revolutionary and other particularly dangerous state crimes is much more serious than it may seem at first glance. If the IBRF source did screen them out, it was far from complete. In one of the certificates prepared by the 1st Special Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR, in December 1953, there is a note: “Total convicted for 1921-1938—2,944,849 people, of whom 30 percent (1,062,000)—criminals” (GARF: Ф. 9401. Оп. 1. Д. 4157. Л. 202). This means that in 1921-1938 there were 1,883,000 people convicted as purely political; for the period of 1921-1953 it turns out not 4,060,000, but less than 3 million. This is, provided that in 1939-1953 there were no criminals among the convicted “counter-revolutionaries,” which is very doubtful. However, in practice there were facts when even political persons were convicted under criminal articles.

In 1997, Viktor V. Luneev published annual statistics of political convicts, taken from the source of the USSR KGB (MBRF, FSB RF) (see, V. V. Luneev, Prestupnost’ XX veka, 1997, p. 180). This made it possible to compile a comparative table of statistics of those convicted in 1921-1952 on political grounds (with the number of those sentenced to execution) according to the data of two sources—the 1st Special Department of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs and the KGB of the USSR (see Table 2). For 15 years, out of 32, the corresponding figures of these two sources coincide exactly (including 1937-1938); for the remaining 17 years, there are discrepancies, the reasons for which are yet to be clarified.

Table 2: Comparative Statistics. Convicted in 1921-1952, on Political Grounds (based on data from the 1st Special Department of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs and the USSR KGB)

The comparative statistics for the years 1921-1952 are not without some strange phenomena. Thus, according to the KGB (FSB) records for this period, the number of convicted “counter-revolutionaries” is almost 300,000 less than according to the statistics of the 1st Special Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, while the number of those sentenced to death among them is 163,000 thousand more. Of course, the main reason for this situation lies in the data for 1941, when the state security agencies took into account 23,726 people sentenced to capital punishment for political reasons, and the 1st Special Department of the NKVD—only 8011.

Two years (1937 and 1938), known as the years of the “Great Terror,” when there was a sharp rise (or jump) in the scale of political repressions, occupy a special place in these statistics. During these two years, 1,345,000 people were convicted on charges of a political nature, or 35 percent of the total number for the period 1918-1990.

The picture is even more impressive in terms of the statistics of those sentenced to death from among them. In total, for the whole Soviet period, there were 828,000 of them, of which 682,000 (or over 82 percent) fall in these two years (1937-1938). The remaining 70 years of the Soviet period accounted for a total of 146,000 death sentences on political grounds, or less than 18 percent.

Since this article is devoted to the scale, i.e., statistics of political repressions, it is not intended to investigate their causes and motivation. But we still wanted to draw attention to one circumstance, namely, the role of Stalin in this case. Recently there have been voices claiming that Stalin did not personally initiate the mass repressions, including the “Great Terror” of 1937-1938, that it was allegedly imposed on him by local party elites, etc. We should realize that this is not true.

There is a large number of documents, including published ones, which clearly show Stalin’s proactive role in repressive policy. Take, for example, his speech at the February-March Plenum of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks (b) in 1937, after which the “Great Terror” began. In this speech, Stalin said that the country was in an extremely dangerous situation due to the intrigues of saboteurs, spies, subversives, as well as those who artificially generated difficulties, thus creating a large number of the dissatisfied and irritated. This reached into the leadership cadres, who, according to Stalin, were complacent and had lost the ability to recognize the true face of the enemy.

It is quite clear to us that these statements of Stalin at the February-March Plenum of 1937 are a call for the “Great Terror,” and he, Stalin, was its main initiator and inspirer.

It is natural to want to compare the scale of political repression in the USSR with the corresponding indicators in other countries, primarily with Hitler’s Germany and Francoist Spain.

At the same time, I would like to warn against the incorrect nature of comparisons with the scale of political repression in Nazi Germany. It is claimed that the scale of repressions against German citizens in Germany was much smaller. Yes, political repressions against ethnic Germans seem relatively low, although we are talking about tens of thousands of people. But in this case we cannot stay confined in the framework of individual states, and we should put the question in a different way: what did Hitler’s regime bring to humanity? And it turns out that it is the Holocaust with six million victims and a long series of humanitarian crimes with many victims numbering many millions against the Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Polish, Serbian and other peoples.

Or another example—a comparison with the scale of political repression in Francoist Spain. Now, in the USSR there were over 800,000 death sentences for political reasons. In Spain under Franco—over 80,000, or 10 times less. Hence the conclusion is made that the scale of political terror in the USSR was immeasurably higher than in Spain. This conclusion is completely wrong, in fact; these scales were approximately the same. The lion’s share of death sentences on political grounds in Spain falls on the late 1930s—early 1940s, when the population of Spain was about 20 million people, and the population of the USSR at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War was approaching 200 million; that is, the difference in population was 10 times. Yes, in Francoist Spain there were 10 times less death sentences for political reasons than in the USSR, but the population of the country was also 10 times less; that is, in terms of per capita these indicators are the same, almost identical.

We are by no means attacking the well-known postulate that there were no politically motivated prosecutions in the United States. However, we have grounds to assert that American jurisprudence deliberately qualifies certain crimes that have a political background as purely criminal. Indeed, in the USSR, Nikolaev, the murderer of Kirov, was unambiguously a political criminal. In the United States, Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President Kennedy, was no less unambiguously a criminal, although he committed a purely political murder. In the USSR, identified spies were convicted under the political Article 58, while in the U.S. such spies are criminals. With such an approach, Americans naturally have every reason to advertise themselves as a society in which there is a complete absence of persecution and conviction on political grounds.

A grandiose mystification is the well-known myth about the total (or almost total) repression in the USSR of Soviet servicemen who were Nazi prisoners of war. The mythology is built, as a rule, in the darkest and most sinister colors. This applies to various publications published in the West and to journalism in our country. In order to present the process of repatriation of Soviet prisoners of war to the USSR from Germany and other countries and its consequences in the most gruesome way possible, an extremely biased selection of facts is used, which in itself is a sophisticated method of slander. In particular, sometimes gruesome scenes of violent repatriation of personnel of collaborationist military units are relished, and the corresponding conclusions and generalizations are transferred to the bulk of prisoners of war, which is wrong in principle. Accordingly, their repatriation, which, despite all the costs, was based on the natural and moving epic of finding the homeland of many hundreds of thousands of people, forcibly deprived of it by foreign invaders, is interpreted as a direction almost to the “belly of the beast.” Moreover, the biased facts are presented in a distorted form with a given interpretation, literally imposing an absurd conclusion on the reader, as if the repatriation of Soviet prisoners of war was carried out allegedly only to repress them in the Soviet Union, and there were no other reasons for repatriation.

However, the data presented in Table 3 do not strongly support such pessimistic assessments. On the contrary, they shatter the myth about the alleged almost universal repression in the USSR of Soviet servicemen who had been in Nazi captivity. This statistic includes 1,539,475 prisoners of war who entered the USSR during the period from October 1944 to March 1, 1946, from Germany and other countries, of which 960,039 came from the zones of action of the Allies (West Germany, France, Italy, etc.) and 579,436 from the zones of action of the Red Army abroad (East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc.), (see, GARF: Ф. 9526. Оп. 4а. Д. 1. Л. 62, 223—226). In 1945, 13 age-categories of servicemen were demobilized from the army, and accordingly their peers among prisoners of war (over 280,000) were released home. A part of the POWs of non-demobilizable ages were enrolled in work battalions—these were not at all repressed, but were one of the forms of mobilized labor force (a common practice at that time), and their assignment to the place of residence was made dependent on the future demobilization of their peers who continued to serve in the Red (Soviet) Army. The majority of prisoners of war of non-demobilizable ages were reinstated into military service. Only the special contingent of the NKVD remained (the share of the total number of prisoners of war was as follows—less than 15 percent); but we must not forget that the bulk of this category of repatriated prisoners of war were persons who, after their capture, had entered the military or police service of the enemy.

Table 3: Distribution of Repatriated Soviet Prisoners of War by Category (as of March 1, 1946)

The notion that the highest political leadership of the USSR allegedly equated the concepts of “prisoners” and “traitors” belongs to the category of retrospectively invented falsehoods (artifacts). Such “making up” usually pursued the goal of more slander and to discredit Stalin. In particular, the expression attributed to Stalin—”we have no prisoners, we have traitors”—is a fable (artifact), composed in 1956 in the writer-publicist environment, during the wave of criticism of the personality cult of Stalin. Actually, there are quite a lot of invented artifacts. They include, for example, the tale of Stalin’s “refusal” to exchange prisoners—Field Marshal Paulus for his son Yakov Dzhugashvili (in reality, this did not happen; it is a later fiction). Specially for the purpose of discrediting Stalin in Khrushchev’s time was fabricated the fake “report” of Soviet intelligence officer Richard Sorge, allegedly dated June 15, 1941 and which reported the date of the German invasion—June 22, 1941 (in fact, Sorge did not send such a report, because he did not know the exact date of the German attack on the USSR).

Medvedev suggests that up to 1946 inclusive, NKVD agencies repressed from 2 to 3 million people living on the territory of the USSR, which was subjected to fascist occupation (see, R.A. Medvedev, “Nash isk Stalinu,” in Moskovskiye novosti, November 27, 1988). In reality, 321,651 people were convicted on political grounds throughout the Soviet Union in 1944-1946, of whom 101,77 were sentenced to capital punishment (according to the records of the 1st Special Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs). It seems that the majority of those convicted from the former occupied territory were punished justly—for specific treasonous activities.

The statement widely used in Western Sovietology that 6-7 million peasants (mostly kulaks) perished during the collectivization of 1929-1932 does not stand up to criticism. In 1930-1931, just over 1.8 million peasants were sent into “kulak exile,” and at the beginning of 1932, 1.3 million remained there. The loss of 0.5 million was due to deaths, escapes, and the release of the “wrongly exiled.” During 1932-1940, in the “kulak exile,” 230,258 people were born, 389,521 died, 629,042 escaped and 235,120 returned after escaping. And from 1935, the birth rate began to exceed the death rate: in 1932-1934, in the “kulak exile,” were born 49,168 and 271,367 died; in 1935-1940—respectively 181,090 and 108,154 people (see, GARF: Ф. 9479. Оп. 1. Д. 89. Л. 205, 216).

There is no agreement in the scientific and journalistic literature on the question of whether or not to include the dispossessed peasants among the victims of political repressions. The kulaks were divided into three categories, and their total number varied from 3.5 million to 4 million (it is still difficult to establish the exact number). Here it should be noted immediately that the kulaks of the 1st category (arrested and convicted) are included in the statistics of political repressions given in Tables 1 and 2. The question of the 2nd category, kulaks sent under escort to live in “cold lands” (special resettlement), is disputable, where they were under the supervision of the NKVD agencies, which looked very much like political exile. As for the kulaks of the 3rd category, who avoided both arrest and conviction, and were sent to special settlement, there is no reason, in our opinion, to include them in the number of victims of political repression. In passing, we note that among the landlords whose property was expropriated in 1918, only those who were subsequently arrested and convicted by the punitive bodies of the Soviet power can be considered victims of political repression. The concepts of “expropriated” and “repressed” should not be equated.

We have studied the entire set of statistical reports of the Special Settlements Department of the NKVD-MVD of the USSR. It shows that in 1930-1940 about 2.5 million people were in “kulak exile,” of whom about 2.3 million were kulak peasants and about 200 thousand were “admixture” in the form of urban declassified element, the “dubious element” from border zones and others. During this period (1930-1940), approximately 700,000 people died there, the vast majority of them in 1930-1933 (see, V. N. Zemskov, Spetsposelentsy v SSSR. 1930—1960: Abstract of the dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Historical Sciences, Moscow, 2005, pp. 34-35). In light of this well-known and often quoted statement of Winston Churchill that in one of the conversations with him, Stalin allegedly named 10 million expelled and dead kulaks (see, Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. 4, The Hinge of Fate, pp. 447-448), should be perceived as a misunderstanding.

The victims of political terror often include those who died of hunger in 1933, which is hardly legitimate. After all, we are talking about the fiscal policy of the state in the conditions of a natural disaster (drought). At that time, in the regions affected by drought (Ukraine, the North Caucasus, part of the Volga region, the Urals, Siberia, Kazakhstan), the state did not find it necessary to reduce the volume of obligatory supplies and confiscated from the peasants the meager harvest to the last grain. The polemics on the issue of the number of those who died from the famine is far from being finalized—estimates vary mainly within the range from 2 million to 8 million (see, V.P. Danilov, “”Diskussiya v zapadnoy presse o golode 1932—1933 gg. i «demograficheskaya katastrofa» 30—40-kh godov v SSSR,” in Voprosy istorii, no. 3, 1988, pp. 116-121; R. Konkvest, “Zhatva skorbi,” in Voprosy istorii, No. 4, 1990, p. 86; Naseleniye Rossii v XX veke: Istoricheskiye ocherki, Vol. 1, pp. 270-271). According to our estimates, the victims of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 were about 3 million people, about half of them in Ukraine. Our conclusion, of course, is not original, since approximately the same estimates were given by historians V.P. Danilov (USSR), S. Wheatcroft (Australia) and others back in the 80s of the XX century (see, V.P. Danilov, “Kollektivizatsiya: kak eto bylo,” in Stranitsy istorii sovetskogo obshchestva: fakty, problemy, lyudi, Moscow, 1989, p. 250).

The main obstacle to the inclusion of those who died from the famine in 1933 among the victims of political terror with the formulation developed in human rights organizations of “artificially organized famine with the purpose of causing mass death of people” is the fact that the fiscal policy was a secondary factor, and the primary factor was a natural disaster (drought). Nor was it intended to cause mass deaths (the political leadership of the USSR did not foresee and did not expect such negative consequences of its fiscal policy in conditions of drought).

In recent years, the idea has been actively promoted in Ukraine (including in scientific circles) that the famine of 1932-1933 was the result of Moscow’s anti-Ukrainian policy, that it was a deliberate genocide against Ukrainians, etc. the population of the North Caucasus, the Volga region, Kazakhstan and other areas where there was a famine. There was no selective anti-Russian, anti-Ukrainian, anti-Kazakh or any other orientation here. In fact, the United Nations was guided by the same considerations, which in 2008 refused to recognize the fact of the genocide of the Ukrainian people by a majority vote (although the United States and England voted for such recognition, they were in the minority).

The losses of the peoples deported in 1941-1944—Germans, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Karachais, Balkars, Crimean Tatars, etc.—are also greatly exaggerated. In the press, for example, there were estimates that up to 40 percent of Crimean Tatars died during transportation to the places of expulsion. Whereas the documents show that out of 151,720 Crimean Tatars sent in May 1944 to the Uzbek SSR, 151,529 were accepted by the NKVD of Uzbekistan, and 191 people (0.13%) died on the way (see, GARF: Ф. 9479. Оп. 1. Д. 179. Л. 241—242).

It is another matter that in the first years of life in the special settlement, in the process of painful adaptation, the mortality rate significantly exceeded the birth rate From the moment of the initial settlement until October 1, 1948—25,792 were born and 45,275 died among the evicted Germans (excluding the labor army); among the North Caucasians (Chechens, Ingush, Karachays, Balkars, etc.)— respectively 28,120 and 146,892; among the Crimeans (Tatars, Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks)—6,564 and 44,887; among those deported in 1944 from Georgia (Meskhetian Turks, etc.)—2,873 and 15,432; among Kalmyks—2,702 and 16,594 people. Since 1949, among all of them, the birth rate became higher than the death rate (see, GARF: Д. 436. Л. 14, 26, 65—67).

History dilettantes include all human losses during the Russian Civil War among the unconditional “victims of the Bolshevik regime.” From the fall of 1917 to the beginning of 1922, the population of the country decreased by 12,741,300 people (see, T.A. Polyakov, Sovetskaya strana posle okonchaniya Grazhdanskoy voyny: territoriya i naseleniye, Moscow, 1986, pp. 98, 118); this also includes White emigration, the number of which is not precisely known (approximately 1.5 to 2 million). Only one warring party (the Red) is declared the culprit of the Civil War, and all the victims, including its own, are attributed to it. How many “exposé” materials have been published in recent years about the “sealed train,” the “intrigues of the Bolsheviks,” etc.?! It is impossible to count. It has often been claimed that if it had not been for Lenin, Trotsky, and other Bolshevik leaders, there would have been no revolution, no Red Movement, and no Civil War (we should add, with the same “success” one can claim that if it had not been for Denikin, Kolchak, Yudenich, and Wrangel, there would have been no White Movement). The absurdity of such assertions is quite obvious. The most powerful social upheaval in world history, such as the events of 1917-1920 in Russia, was predetermined by the entire previous course of history and was caused by a complex set of intractable social, class, national, regional and other tensions. In light of this, science cannot broadly interpret the concept of “victims of political repression” and includes in it only persons arrested and convicted by the punitive bodies of the Soviet power for political reasons. This means that the victims of political repressions are not the millions who died of typhus, typhoid, typhoid fever and other diseases. Nor are the millions of people who died on the fronts of the Civil War on all opposing sides, who died of hunger, cold, etc., the victims of political repression.

And as a result, it turns out that the victims of political repressions (during the years of “Red Terror”) are not counted in millions at all. The most we can talk about is tens of thousands. It is not without reason that when at the briefing in the press center of the IBRF on August 2, 1992, the number of those convicted on political grounds since 1917 was named, it did not fundamentally affect the corresponding statistics, if we count from the year 1921.

According to the available records in the FSB RF, in 1918-1920, 62,231 people were sentenced for “counter-revolutionary crime,” including 25,709 for execution (see, V. V. Luneev, Prestupnost’ XX veka, 1997, p. 180; V.N. Kudryavtsev, A.I. Trusov, Politicheskaya yustitsiya v SSSR, Moscow, 2000, p. 314). This information is part of the statistics above, mentioned at the briefing, at the press center of the IBRF, on August 2, 1992. We believe that the above statistics for the period of the Civil War are incomplete. Many victims of lynchings of “counter-revolutionaries” are probably not taken into account. These lynchings were often not documented at all, and the FSB has clearly taken into account only the number that is confirmed by documents. It is also doubtful that in 1918-1920 Moscow received exhaustive information about the number of the repressed from localities. But even taking all this into consideration, we believe that the total number of repressed “counter-revolutionaries” (including victims of the “Red Terror”) in 1918-1920 hardly exceeded 100,000 people.

Our publications with the statistics of political repressions, Gulag prisoners, and “kulak exile,” based on archival documents, had a significant impact on Western Sovietology, forcing it to abandon its main thesis about the alleged 50-60 million victims of the Soviet regime. Western Sovietologists cannot simply dismiss published archival statistics as an annoying fly and are forced to take them into account. In the Black Book of Communism, written in the late 1990s by French specialists, this figure is reduced to 20 million (see, The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, 1999, p. 4).

But even this “reduced” figure (20 million) we cannot recognize as acceptable. It includes both a number of reliable data, confirmed by archival documents, and estimated figures (many millions) of demographic losses in the Civil War, those who died of hunger in different periods, etc. The authors of The Black Book of Communism even included in the number of victims of political terror those who died of starvation in 1921-1922 (famine in the Volga region, caused by a severe drought), which neither Medvedev nor many other experts in this field had never done before.

Nevertheless, the very fact that the estimated scale of victims of the Soviet regime has decreased (from 50-60 million to 20 million) indicates that during the 1990s, Western Sovietology underwent a significant evolution towards common sense, but, however, got stuck halfway through this positive process.

According to our calculations, strictly based on the documents, it turns out to be no more than 2.6 million, with a rather extended interpretation of the concept of “victims of political terror and repression.” This number includes more than 800,000 sentenced to capital punishment on political grounds, about 600,000 political prisoners who died in places of deprivation of liberty, and about 1.2 million who died in places of expulsion (including “kulak exile”), as well as during transportation there (deported peoples, etc.). The components of our calculations correspond readily to four criteria specified in The Black Book of Communism in defining the concept of “victims of political terror and repression,” namely: “shooting, hanging, drowning, beating to death;” “deportation—death during transportation;” “death in places of expulsion;” “death as a result of forced labor (exhausting labor, disease, malnutrition, cold)” (Black Book, p. 4).

As a result, we have four main variants of the scale of victims (executed and killed by other means) of political terror and repression in the USSR: 110 million (Solzhenitsyn); 50-60 million (Western Sovietology during the Cold War); 20 million (Western Sovietology in the post-Soviet period); 2.6 million (our document-based calculations).

The question may arise—where is Roy Medvedev’s 40 million? This figure is not comparable with the above figures; there we are talking only about those executed and killed by other means, while Medvedev’s statistics also includes millions of people who, although subjected to various repressions, remained alive. This, however, does not cancel out the fact that Medvedev’s statistics are still exaggerated many times over.

In the serious scientific literature of the modern period, authors avoid making frivolous statements about the allegedly many tens of millions of victims of Bolshevism and the Soviet regime. In light of this, the book by Yuri L. Dyakov, Ideologiya bol’shevizma i real’nyy sotsializm—The Ideology of Bolshevism and Real Socialism (2009), in which, in the list of crimes of the CPSU, there is also mentioned “the destruction of tens of millions of its people” (p. 146), is in sharp contrast. Moreover, Dyakov considers the so-called “calculations” of Professor Ivan A. Kurganov (which in his time were accepted by Solzhenitsyn) to be quite reliable, according to which, due to the fault of Bolshevism, the population losses in Russia (USSR) in 1918-1958 amounted to more than 110 million people (p. 234). The position of Dyakov in his book rests on the complete disregard of the whole complex of available historical sources. The use of documentarily refuted statistics by Dyakov, on the basis of which he draws far-reaching conclusions and generalizations on the topic under study, cannot be called other than a pathological deviation from the mainstream in this area of historical science.

And the last issue we would like to highlight is the statistics of rehabilitation and its stages. Let us return to our basic figure—3,854,000 (more precisely—3,853,900) convicted on political grounds for all 73 years of Soviet power. This figure was used to calculate the number and proportion of those rehabilitated.

Rehabilitations took place during Stalin’s lifetime, but their scale was quite insignificant. The period of mass rehabilitation began in 1953, immediately after the famous events associated with the death of Stalin, the arrest and execution of Beria, and especially after the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, which condemned the cult of personality of Stalin.

The rehabilitation was led by the former Stalinist entourage headed by Khrushchev, directly involved in the former Stalinist repressions. In this case, they, especially Khrushchev, showed a well-known political foresight. In the first years after Stalin’s death, the situation was such that to continue the line of the late leader without significant adjustments—was a path of deliberate political suicide. The idea of mass rehabilitation for many reasons was politically advantageous and was literally necessary. The fact that this process was initiated and led by Stalin’s former entourage, which was directly involved in the repressions, we can formulate their internal motivations as follows: “It is better that we do it, rather than someone else does it instead of us.” The instinct of political self-preservation worked here.

The rehabilitation process had its ups and downs over time. Its first stage—the mass “Khrushchev’s” rehabilitation—covers the period 1953-1961. Then rehabilitation declined, but nevertheless continued (at a slower pace). Since 1987, the mass “Gorbachev’s” rehabilitation began, which significantly surpassed the “Khrushchev’s” rehabilitation. The number and proportion of the rehabilitated (and unrehabilitated) are presented in Table 4.

Table 4: The Rehabilitation Process, from 1953 to 1999

The term “innocently convicted” does not apply to all those rehabilitated. Indeed, hundreds of thousands were victims of entirely far-fetched and fabricated charges. But there were also many who had done concrete actions (including those of an armed nature) against the existing system. They were rehabilitated on the grounds that their struggle against Bolshevism and Soviet power was allegedly “just.” In particular, in the mid-1990s, under this politically biased and legally questionable thesis, practically all participants in the numerous kulak-peasant uprisings and rebellions of the period 1918-1933 were rehabilitated (and everyone was rehabilitated, including executioners who shot and hanged communists, Komsomol members and non-party Soviet activists).

It even came to the point that in 1996, SS Gruppenführer Helmuth von Pannwitz was rehabilitated by the decision of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office. Cossack units under the command of Pannwitz—the 1st Cossack Cavalry Division, then deployed in the 15th Cossack Cavalry Corps—participated in punitive operations in Yugoslavia. In 1947, together with other war criminals, he was hanged by sentence of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR. However, in 2001 the Military Prosecutor’s office of the Russian Federation made a different conclusion: von Pannwitz was justifiably convicted for his criminal acts and cannot be rehabilitated.

Table 4 shows that out of almost 3,854,000 convicted on political grounds (according to the personalized record available in the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) by the beginning of 2000, 2,438,000 (63.3 percent) were rehabilitated and about 1,416,000 (36.7 percent) remained unrehabilitated.

Later on, the rehabilitation process stalled, because, in fact, there was no one to rehabilitate. The bulk of the unrehabilitated were accomplices of the fascist occupiers—all those Polizei, the Karateli [death squads], Sonderkommando bosses, Vlasovites, etc., etc., who, as a rule, were held under Article 58 as political criminals. There was a provision in Soviet legislation that prohibited the rehabilitation of accomplices of the Nazi occupiers. This provision has passed into the current Russian legislation, i.e., their rehabilitation is expressly prohibited by law. In addition to accomplices of the Nazi occupiers, a number of other persons remain unrehabilitated, whose actions were of such a nature that it is simply impossible to rehabilitate them.

Such are the complex pages of national history, if we do not fantasize, but rely on the facts reflected in the documents.

To answer the question about the impact of repressions in their real scale on Soviet society, we would suggest familiarizing ourselves with the conclusions of the American historian Robert Thurston, who in the mid-1990s published a scientific monograph Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941 (1996). The main conclusions, according to Thurston, are as follows:

  • The Stalinist terror system as described by previous generations of Western researchers never existed; the impact of terror on Soviet society in the Stalin years was not significant;
  • There was no mass fear of repression in the Soviet Union in the 1930s;
  • Repression was limited and did not affect the majority of the Soviet people;
  • Soviet society supported the Stalinist regime rather than feared it;
  • The Stalinist system provided the majority of people with the opportunity to live in the Soviet Union

These conclusions of Thurston, which are almost blasphemous from the perspective of the traditions and spirit of Western Sovietology and as perceived by the majority of Sovietologists, are based on documented facts and statistics. In addition, Thurston, not being a supporter of communism and Soviet power, nevertheless in his endeavor to get to the historical truth managed to be detached from the established anti-communist and anti-Soviet stereotypes and dogmas. This is, figuratively speaking, a ray of light in a dark realm.


Featured: Still Life, by Yuri Neprintsev; painted in 1979.

What is Dictatorship?

In politics, whether we know it or not, we are always fighting against an enemy, whether stationed on our borders or camouflaged within the city. But there is also another form of enmity, much more subtle than the one that bubbles at ground level, incarnated by men who have an ideology or a culture, perhaps a religion or a barbaric anthropology, incompatible with our own. It is the enmity derived from political concepts, polemically handled and exploited against the “moral element,” the criterion by which the true capacity of resistance to the hostility and offenses of the enemy is measured.

What I want to say, now by way of example, is that certain assumed definitions, transformed into taboos, enervate the will, having previously worked the intelligence by “brainwashing,” an expression that, suspiciously, has ceased to be used at a time when political pedagogy is dedicated only to that. Some pontificate on the benefits of ethnic, religious and cultural pluralism—the pluralism of values, in short—and others suffer its consequences: loss of cultural identity, social conflict, babelization. Nor is it strange that the same people who praise “miscegenation”—vaguely in the legal system, but with more determination in public universities and in the Press and Propaganda Section of the mass media—then maintain that races (or cultures) do not exist. It has also become normal for the zealots of “defensive” pan-Melanism—Black Lives Matter is not new, it was previously invented in the 1920s—to promote as just and necessary an anti-white racism and to demand that we finance our own re-education.

War, even in its current “pacifist” variants, takes place in space, that is to say, on the earth, because to control it and to reasonably order life on it is the primary object of politics. The much more decisive and brutal quarrels over concepts are settled in time. The struggle for the meaning of words, for the “story” that obsesses all modern princely counselors—today called “political analysts” or “advisors,” young people with no experience of life, generally coming, as Jules Monnerot used to say, from an educational system dedicated to “the mass production of artificial cretins”: as opposed to those who are so by a natural disposition; those who flourish massively today are “cultivated cretins, like a certain type of pearl.” Once the political logos and dictionary have been colonized, that is, the national “political imaginary,” any capacity for resistance is radically diminished. Then, and only then, the defeat of the external or internal enemy can be presented as a victory or a political and cultural “homologation” with the executioners. Indeed, a few days ago we in Spain spoke, with a sense of opportunity, of the “afrancesados,” Spanish archetype of a colonized political imaginary.

It is therefore necessary, in a certain sense, to “decolonize the imaginary” and give back to political concepts their precise meaning, which is neither invented nor developed in a Think Tank, but is part, however modest its aliquot, of the truth of politics. It is necessary, in order to know where we stand. I do not know if “political realism” has a specific mission; perhaps, some would say, the elaboration of a “decalogue” or program that can be implemented by a political party, a faction or a movement, but I do know that its raison d’être lies in the demystification of political thought. One of the concepts that needs this mental cleansing is “dictatorship,” a frightening notion about which the greatest confusion reigns—a self-interested Confusionism, exploited by those aspiring to power, presenting their rivals as vulgar supporters of authoritarian regimes and themselves as “democrats”—as if that term had a precise meaning beyond the mental tropisms that adorn the demo-liberal right.

Everything conspires against the reputation of political demystifiers. However, writing about the war-phenomenon does not presuppose a bellicose personality; probably only a meek man can write a theory or a sociology of war. A theory of decision… an indecisive one. And a theory of dictatorship is perhaps only within the reach of someone incapable of exercising it.

It is not easy to look “dictatorship” in the face, a highly inflammable political concept that gravitates over particularly intense political situations and which is entangled with legislation of exception, states of necessity and coups d’état. People believe that a dictatorship is what the “anti-Franco vulgate” teaches, but they do not lose sleep over a government that can illegally shut down Parliament and deprive the whole nation of freedom of movement. Anti-parliamentarism has many forms and those of today are nothing like those of a century ago. It would be very interesting to write a palingenesis of dictatorship, for it is periodically reborn and its singularity should be recognized. To turn one’s back on its reality is to culpably ignore the momentary concentration of power, a reality that happens outside our moral or ideological prejudices, independently of our will. Not knowing what it consists of compromises our position vis-à-vis the enemy who does know what it is and how to use it.

Dictatorship is a fundamental institution of Roman public law. It consists of a lifting or suspension of the juridical barriers in order that the dictator, generally pro tempore, faces the exceptional political situation (sedition, civil war, foreign invasion) and restores the public tranquility to the city. Once restored the order or expired the foreseen period, the extraordinary powers of the dictator are cancelled, whose prototype is Cincinnatus. But there are also in Roman history examples of dictators of undefined undertaking (Sila) and those lifelong (Caesar), even omnímodo or, as we would say today, constituent (lex de imperio vespasiani).

Roman pragmatism had grasped the political essence of dictatorship: it is a concentration or intensification of power that opposes the pernicious effect of the impotence of the established power, besieged by the enemy, generally internal. From a conceptual point of view, it is not strictly speaking a “political regime,” but a “political situation,” transitory by definition. Any manifestation of power always generates criticism from rival parties or factions, but in a particularly intense way criticism is aroused by dictatorship, secularly associated with the personal usufruct of command.

Every dictatorship constitutes a political fact, imperfectly subjected to a legal status. Jean Bodin’s notion of sovereignty is, in this sense, the attempt to make normative a particularly intense moment of command. Such is the glory of Bodin and of the French legists of the 16th century.

During the 19th century, dictatorship gradually lost all its former respectability, as a consequence of the generalization of a new juridical ideology: constitutionalism. Liberal historiography, in its fight against the “enemy,” the absolute monarchies, reworked the classical political tradition and generalized the denigration of the dictatorial institution, arbitrarily associated with tyranny and despotism.

However, the constitutional movement has always recognized, implicitly, that political necessity knows no law when it modulates states of exception, siege and war, denominations which push dictatorship into the background. Dictatorship became a political taboo after the coup of Louis Napoléon (December 2, 1851), the most important coup of the 19th century. But the technical meaning of dictatorship remained and developed in the constitutional states of exception. For the first time, the raison d’être of the classic dictatorship was legally enunciated, but without mentioning it by name: the suspension of law to allow its subsistence. Otherwise, liberalism, which at the time was never, to a certain extent, a “neutral and agnostic” doctrinarism—a legend spread by conservative illiberalism—would never have built the prepotent European nation-states.

Dictatorship formally denies the rule it wants to ensure materially, a doctrine established by Carl Schmitt in his research on the evolution of the institution: Dictatorship (1921), a book of conceptual history, diaphanous and without equivocation, whose non-readers (a very interesting intellectual fauna) figure, against all odds, that it is an apology for Nazism. According to the German jurist, “the essence of dictatorship from the point of view of the philosophy of law consists in the general possibility of separating the norms of law and the norms of the realization of law.” At the same time, dictatorship also implies an effective suppression of the division or separation of powers. Schmitt, being in need of the necessary conceptual demarcation as a jurist, contrasts commissariat dictatorship with constituent dictatorship, categories currently received in the healthiest part of the theory of the State and constitutional theory. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s doctrine of the general will plays a crucial role in the transition from one to the other.

Hermann Heller, a brilliant jurist, like Carl Schmitt, politicized by his leftist militancy and also committed to national socialism—but the opposite side of the other national socialism—was equally concerned about legal taxonomies. Less perspicacious than his colleague, rival and friend when political or juridical realism (concepts) come into conflict with ideology (positions), for Heller, dictatorship, condemned en bloc, is nothing more than a personalistic and corrupt government (“individuality without law”) opposed to the rule of law (“law without individuality”); in short, “a political regime manifestation of anarchy.” Simplifying a lot, this is the idea of dictatorship generalized among constitutionalists since 1945, the heyday of the “Potsdam democracies.” Carlos Ollero Gómez explained very effectively the constitutional “archaism” that weighed down these regimes.

The commissariat type of dictatorship, an updated formula, at the beginning of the 20th century, of the Roman dictatorship, presupposes a prior mandate or commission, spontaneous (royal call or invitation of a parliament or national assembly to assume extraordinary powers), or forced (pronunciamiento, coup d’état). The commissioned dictator’s mission is to restore the violated constitutional order without going outside the constitution or questioning its essential decisions (form of government). A good example of this is the Spanish dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, the “iron surgeon” expected by all. Have political and legal historians ever stopped to think why dictatorship got such a good press after World War I? They should read more Boris Mirkine-Guetzévitch, for example, a left-liberal constitutionalist, and think less about the ANECA, cancer of the Spanish university.

Sovereign dictatorship, on the other hand, pursues the establishment of a new political order, using for this purpose a power without legal limitations and operating as a constituent power. Charles de Gaulle in 1958 (dictator ad tempus). This type of dictatorship is associated in the 20th century with totalitarian regimes (total states and popular democracies), while the commissariat dictatorship falls more into the field of authoritarian regimes (Boulangism, authoritarian states and, however bizarre the term may sound, “Catholic dictatorships”). The possible effects of revolution having been limited by the experience of the Paris Commune, the lessons of which led to a turning point in insurrectionary techniques, the alternative to violent subversion is from then on the surgical coup d’état or legal revolution.

In its modern (Baroque) meaning, coups d’état are “audacious and extraordinary actions that princes are forced to undertake, against common law, in difficult and desperate affairs, relativizing the established order and legal formulas and subordinating the interest of individuals to the public good.” Thus speaks, in a secret book, Gabriel Naudé, so mistreated by political ignorance. Naudé, a librarian by profession and a harmless spirit, considers coups legitimate and defensive. Their usefulness depends on the prudence of the prince and, above all, on his ability to anticipate, for “the execution always precedes the sentence”: thus “the coup is received by the one who weighs to give it.” The reputation of a coup d’état depends on those who exploit it: it will be beneficial if it is carried out by friends or allies (salus populi suprema lex esto) and disturbing if it is plotted by enemies (violation of the constitution, counter-coup). Judgment thus depends on the relative position of the observer and his commitments and objectives.

The contemporary sequel to Naudé’s Considerations politiques sur les coups d’Estat (Political Considerations on Coups d’Etat), (1639), is Curzio Malaparte’s Tecnica Del Golpe De Estado (Technique of the Coup d’Etat), (1931). Malaparte, on whom the opprobrium of the right and the left falls indiscriminately, discusses the nature of coups in order to teach how to defeat them with a paralyzing “counter-coup” (coup d’arrêt) and defend the State.

Triumphs like Mussolini’s March on Rome (1922), wrapped in an aura of political romanticism, may never happen again… in the same way. After World War II the general impression was that the coup d’état is an infertile technique. All the more reason why, because of its congenital romanticism, the pronunciamiento can no longer have any effect. From all this we can only expect, as the theoretician of the State Jesús F. Fueyo used to say, an “acceleration of disorder.”

The violence of the coup is logically unacceptable to public opinion in pluralist constitutional regimes. However, that same “public opinion,” by inadvertence or by seduction, can willingly accept what Malaparte calls a “parliamentary coup,” in the style of the one executed by Napoleon Bonaparte on the 18th Brumaire (1799). Carl Schmitt calls it “legal revolution” in a famous article of 1977, written against the non-violent and electoral strategy of the Western communist parties (the Eurocommunism of Santiago Carrillo, a senile disease of Marxism-Leninism, a political religion then beginning to decline, although they, the Western communists, do not yet know it). In reality, the same result can be reached without going through the “legal revolution.” For this, it is necessary to count on the artful political strategy of occupying the constitutional courts—much more than a “negative legislator”—to turn them into the architects of an unnamed constitutional mutation, the greatest danger for the constitutions they are supposed to defend.

But it was not these communists, neither the Soviets nor those of the West, but Adolf Hitler, who, almost half a century before the publication of Eurocommunism and the State, set up the leverage to build a constituent dictatorship with totalitarian roots. Unlike dictatorships of the other species, the authoritarian, the totalitarian dictatorship pretends to have a mission not only political, but also moral, even religious: to give birth to the new man—Bolshevik, Aryan or Khmer Rouge—by disenfranchising the old.

The futility of the Munich coup of 1923 instructed Hitler on the tactical convenience of the electoral struggle and the possibility of legally attaining power in order to activate from the government the de facto abrogation of the constitution. It is a matter of exploiting the “legality premium” to revoke legitimacy. It is precisely against this process of constitutional subversion that Carl Schmitt warned, once again the Cassandra, in the summer of 1932.

The history of the Weimar system is well known and its last gasps have a name: the Authorization Law or Ermächtigungsgesetz (1933), a bridging constitution that suspended and emptied the Weimar constitution of content, opening the door to a constituent (totalitarian) dictatorship that ended up becoming a political oxymoron: a permanent regime of exception.

One of these bridge-constitutions, the Law for Political Reform of 1977, also served as a fuse for the “controlled explosion”—as it was called during the Transition—of the regime of the Fundamental Laws. The truth is that in Spain no one was fooled at that time; or, to be more exact, only those who allowed themselves to be fooled were fooled: “From the law to the law, passing through the law.” It portrays a generation of constitutionalists that no one has dealt with that bridging constitution. In reality, these jurists have powerful reasons to avoid it, since in very few European constitutional processes its character of supreme political decision is so evident, beyond the Kelsenian supercheries and fictions about the Grundnorm or fundamental normal on which everything hypothetically depends. Another fantastic exception to constitutional normativism is found in De Gaulle, playing, for the love of France, the Solon of the Fifth Republic.

The same school as the German National Socialist law of 1933 has held the Hispanic American populism since the end of the 1990s. The case of Hugo Chavez is a paradigm that transcends Venezuelan politics: from the failure of his 1992 “coup d’état” to the success of the “legal revolution” that began with his victory in the 1998 presidential elections and his famous oath of investiture on “the dying constitution” by virtue of which he had been elected.

The politically neutralized constitutionalist has no answer to this political challenge exported to almost all Latin American republics. He is paralyzed by the paradox. It is the ankylosis of Karlsruhe.

Jerónimo Molina Cano is a jurist, historian of political and legal ideas, translator and author. He is a corresponding member of the Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas in Madrid. This article appears through the kind courtesy of La gaceta de la Iberosfera.

Featured: Cincinato abandona el arado para dictar leyes a Roma (Cincinnatus Leaves the Plough to Dictate Laws to Rome), by Juan Antonio Ribera; painted ca. 1806.