Timothy Snyder ─ Ukraine and Russia in a Fracturing Europe

Timothy Snyder ─ Ukraine and Russia in a Fracturing Europe


Do you think we’re
ready to start? OK. I’m Marilyn Rueschemeyer. And I’m a research professor
at the Watson Institute. I chair the institute’s lecture
series on European politics. It gives me great pleasure to
introduce Professor Timothy Snyder, again, to Brown
University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree
with concentrations in European history
and political science. He received his doctorate from
Oxford University in 1997. Timothy Snyder is the
[INAUDIBLE] professor of history at Yale, working
mostly on Eastern Europe, he has quickly become one of
the leading American historians and public intellectuals. His book, titled
Bloodlands– Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, has
transformed our understanding of the European mass
murders of the 20th century. It received the Literature
Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Hannah
Arendt Prize, and the Leipzig Book Prize for
European Understanding. Today’s lecture on Ukraine and
Russia in a fracturing Europe will give us his analysis
of the developments since the uprising in Kiev. The topic of his last
lecture here at the Watson, if we remember correctly. OK, Professor Snyder, welcome. Thanks. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much. So premise, the title
is Ukraine and Russia in a fracturing Europe. And the way that I would like to
think about the title, the way that I would like to
think about the topic is not just to ask about
a status quo and what it looks like when
it falls apart, but to inquire, instead,
about the fracturing agent. So is there, in fact, something
which is making things fall apart? Is it just that the
center is not holding, or are there forces
at work which help the center not to hold? Are there reasons
why that falcon is getting lost in
that widening gyre and can’t hear the falconer? So my premise is
going to be to take the question as a
question about agency or a question about causality. I’m not just going to set
Russia and Europe in place against this Europe
which is falling apart, but I’m going to ask if
the predicament of Russia, the predicament of Ukraine,
the predicament of Europe have something in common, and
whether that something might be a kind of explanation. So one way to pose the
question, or one way maybe to clarify the question in
terms of political theory would be to talk
about the state. So if you look at the title,
if we think about the title again– Russia, Ukraine,
fracturing Europe– none of these entities– and
I’m just saying this as a way to warm up
for the explanation– none of these entities is a
state in an unproblematic way, which is one of the reasons
why I think attempts to explain the last five years, which is
going to be what I try to do, in terms of conventional
political science or national relations
theory tend to founder. Why am I saying
these places are not states in a conventional way? Well, what I want
to claim– I’m going to try to defend this–
what I want to claim is that statehood is actually
a question here rather than an axiom. So normally, when we wander
into an international relations problem, we assume
that statehood is the thing that is
fixed and other things might be in motion, like
maybe leadership changed, or the environment
changed, or maybe there are some new interests,
there’s new institutions. But we tend to assume that
the state is somehow fixed. But what if the state
is the thing that’s in motion, both practically
and theoretically? What I mean by that? Let’s start with Russia. Russia’s image of
itself is that it is the stable state in the region. Other places come and go. Other states are artificial. They’re fractured. They’re historically
illegitimate. They’re decadent. Whatever it might be, there
are all kinds of adjectives. Other places all
have qualifications. Russia has no qualification. Russia simply exists. It’s been there forever. It will be there forever. What I would want to
suggest is that, in fact, this very language of security,
and stability, and continuity, this very attempt to put the
existence of Russia outside of any possible
brackets reflects a very real insecurity. Russia actually lacks one
of the fundamental elements of a normal state. And I don’t a terrific
democratic rule of law state. I mean, a state. And that basic
thing which it lacks is a succession principle. So I’m talking about something
very, very, very basic, a problem in
political life since as long as political
life has been recorded. In 2011, the people who
currently run Russia chose not to have a
succession principle. So that’s one way
of characterizing faking elections, faking
elections demonstrably, and making it clear that what
you’re going to do definitely is have fake elections and
do it a demonstrative way. What that does, it’s not just
that that’s not democracy. It’s not just that that
is managed democracy or sovereign
democracy or whatever Surkov wants to call it. It is the absence of a
succession principle. And everyone, of course,
in Russia understands this, but it’s not something
you can articulate. The question of what happens
after Putin is not one then you whistle happily down the
street as you’re walking down central Moscow, but it is in
the back of everyone’s mind, I think it’s fair to say. So you’re now in
a situation where there’s no clear
succession principle, and that’s Russia’s
basic problem as a state. And I want to
suggest that that’s the source of a lot
of energy, that that’s the source of a kind of
ideological opportunity, and I’m going to try to
characterize how ideology comes in and fills that gap. Ukraine in 2013, Russia in
2011 denies it fake elections, denies itself a
succession principle. And then begins to tell a
story in 2012, and especially in 2013, about something
called Eurasia, where Eurasia is going to be
a substitute, a replacement, an alternative to
the European Union. Eurasia is an
economic organization. It’s meant to include
Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, some other places. But it’s also an
idea, and the idea, as far as one can make out, is
that the European Union, rather than being progressive,
is fundamentally decadent, that Russia, rather
than being decadent, is fundamentally sound, and
that the destiny, the direction of European history is not where
we think it’s actually towards. It’s actually towards Russia. This idea is consistent with
the suppression of democracy in 2011, because when
you suppress democracy in 2011, what do you say? You say, these protesters were
supported from the outside. You say, these people
are middle class people who have been contaminated
by their contact with Europe. This is not an authentic
movement from within. This is fundamentally
something caused by NGOs, civil society, European
money, and Hillary Clinton, personally. She also comes into the mix. She gave the signal, to
quote Putin’s famous words at the time, to bring
about these protests. So when you’re
suppressing elections, and you’re denying yourself
your own succession principle, you are simultaneously saying,
this is not our problem. This is something which
came from the outside. So in Ukraine, in 2013, the
events in Ukraine in 2013 have to be seen in the context
of a kind of political crisis which is already
underway in Russia. Because what happens
in Ukraine in 2013 is almost too much like what
happens in Russia in 2011. What happens in
Ukraine in 2013 is that when Ukrainian government
switches its own policy under Russian pressure and
after the offer an awful lot of Russian money, when the
Ukrainian government switches its own policy from, “yes,
we want an association agreement with the
European Union” to “no, we no longer want an
association agreement,” then people protest. And they protest in
the name of what? Europe. And who are they? They’re the middle
classes, right? It’s exactly the
kind of scenario which the Russian
leaders almost pretended happened in 2011 in
their own country. It actually does happen
in 2013 in Ukraine. And when it’s happened, the
Russian narrative about it, by which I mean both the
media and the leaders, is that this is not authentic. This comes from the outside. This is Hillary Clinton. This is the Obama
administration. This is Victoria Nuland. This is NGOs. This is international
civil society. Whatever it can be,
it’s not Ukraine. And along the way,
it’s suggested very strongly from
President Putin on down that Ukraine
isn’t really a society. I mean, Ukrainians logically
cannot be protesting, because there isn’t such
a thing as Ukrainians. Ukraine and Russia
are one people, says the president of
the Russian Federation, which is a pretty
extraordinary thing to say. I mean, in Russia, his
colleagues sometimes minimize this, because they
kind of think it themselves, but if I were to
stand up and say that America and Canada are one
people, that would be strange. And it is actually a strange
thing for a head of state to say. But Putin is saying
this in late 2013, and it’s part of the
rationale for why what’s happening in Ukraine
must come from abroad, because it can’t logically be
coming from inside Ukraine, because there is no
Ukrainian nation. There’s no Ukrainian society. Which brings us to the third
actor, fracturing Europe. Europe’s not a state. Everyone knows that. Europe is not a state. It’s a collection
of states, and it’s a collection of states which
exerts a kind of influence or a kind of attraction
on both Russia and Ukraine to various extents at various
times to various peoples. But what it’s not
is it’s not a state. So what that’s all
suggests is that if we want to try to get our
minds around these events, or if there is any
legitimate theoretical way to address these events,
it can’t start by assuming the existence of the state. It has to start somewhere else. And to take it a step
further, and here’s where I’m going to go to place
which I hope is new for you and innovative, if we’re going
to find an idea which could be behind this, if we’re going to
find the agent of disillusion, the force that’s doing the
fracturing, the thing which is breaking the status
quo, it’s going to have to be some
kind of idea which is comfortable with
the lack of a state. And the proposal that
I’m going to make is that the idea which
is behind all of this, or which in some way has some
causal force, is fascism. if you’ve fallen
asleep already, now that’s the point where
you’re supposed to wake up is when I say,
“fascism,” right? You’re all cued to wake up
when people say, “fascism.” So now why would this be a
reasonable way to proceed? I’ve already suggested
one reason, which is the absence of the state,
or the fluidity of the state, or the character of the
state as a question, rather than the answer. Fascism is
comfortable with that. Fascism is comfortable with
orders being done and undone, with states rising and falling. Most of the ways we
look at the world are not comfortable with
states rising and falling. Fascism is. Another reason why this
might be a reasonable way to try to explain Russian
behavior in the last five years is that other ways of
trying to do so don’t work. You can do this empirically. You can ask what political
scientists predicted any of this stuff. But you ask one by
one– how is what Russia has done in the
last five years realistic? So if you’re a
realist, you would say Russia should balance
between Europe and China, and instead, what
it’s done is it’s tried to undo the European
side, making itself much more vulnerable to China. Not very sound as
classical realism. Or if you care
about institutions, you believe the laws are real. Why has Russia, in invading
Ukraine and annexing Crimea, challenged, perhaps even
undone, the fundamental norm of international law of
territorial sovereignty? Why would you do that when
you have the longest land border in the world? It’s an odd thing to do. Or let’s say you’re an
international person. You think economics matter. Well, then why did Russia
imperil its trade relations with what is and what
must be its major trade partner, the European Union? It’s hard to explain
Russian behavior along any of these classical lines. Something else, I think,
has to be going on. When I say, “fascism,” I
mean, immediately the dogs start to salivate. What do I mean when I’m
enunciating this word? Why am I bringing this word up? Usually when we
talk about fascism, we are in the midst
of making some kind of historical analogy. We are asking, is
Trump like Hitler? It’s more like
Mussolini is the answer, but is Trump like Hitler? When we say, “fascism,” in the
West, what we’re usually doing is throwing ourselves back
towards historical analogy. If we say, “fascist,”
in Russian or Ukrainian, we’re usually calling
somebody a bad name. And both of those
acts are empty. What I want to try to do is
to suggest something else. What I want to try to
do is– oh, by the way, Trump is going to come
back into the story by the end in a different way,
in a non-name-calling way. Well, maybe I can’t
quite promise that. But Trump is going to
come back into this story, and I hope in an interesting
way before it’s all over. What do I mean? What I mean is that
there is, in fact, a fascist geopolitical
thinker who has been revived in Russia
in the 21st first century. Here, we come across
something very interesting. Because I’d ask you
to think, how many major, forgotten, 20th
century political theorists have been revived
in the 21st century? Can you think of one? And if you can, you’re helping
me, because in my opinion, there aren’t any. And I don’t mean someone like
Karl Schmidt, who admittedly is very, very popular now. Karl Schmidt was
never forgotten. Can you think of someone
who was a major thinker who was totally forgotten,
and then has been revived, and has become important? What do I mean by important? Here, we hit the classic
problem of influence. Influence, how can you know
that ideas influence people? Which I’m not going
to solve in this talk. I am just going to toss at you
a few bits of evidence which I hope are intuitively
convincing. One sign that a thinker might
be influential upon a political class is that when there is
a reading group, for example, in the Kremlin and
they read his books. That’s one sign. These are all things
that happen, by the way. Another sign that a thinker
might be influential is when all of his works are
republished in huge editions over a short period of time. That happens. Another sign that
a thinker might be influential is when
you go and you exhume his body from a faraway country,
bring it back to your country, bury it with full
military honors, and have the Patriarch of Moscow
give a long speech about it. Another sign that a thinker
might be influential is when you go to
America, buy the archive, physically bring
it back to Moscow. Another sign that a thinker
might be influential is when the head
of state regularly lays flowers on the new grave. Another sign that the
thinker might be influential is when the head of state cites
the thinker every time he does something truly extraordinary. So I cannot prove– I cannot
solve this influence question. I can’t go from beyond
correlation to causality. But these are correlates which
I take to be highly suggestive. Who was the thinker
that I’m talking about? The head of state is
obviously Vladimir Putin. Who is the thinker
that I’m talking about? The thinker that
I’m talking about is a man called Ivan Ilyin. Ivan Ilyin, does
that mean anything? Yeah, OK. Does that mean anything to? Well, it’s OK. You Ivan Ilyin was
an extraordinarily, actually, interesting thinker. In this part of the talk,
we’ve now reached the middle. What I want to do in
this part of the talk is to try to give his
ideas a certain shape. Because what I
don’t want to do, I don’t want to make the
move of just saying, “he was a fascist.” I mean, because you can show
that he was the fascist, but that in a way doesn’t
answer our question. It doesn’t answer our question
of why he’s significant, why he’s read now, why
he may make a difference. It doesn’t answer the
question even what is fascism. So an easy 500
word essay would be to prove that he was a
fascist, which could be done, and has actually been done. But what I want to
try to do, instead, is give you just at
least a preliminary sense of what is ideas were, and
how they held together. So he was born in 1883. He dies in 1954. He’s a classic figure of
the late Russian Silver Age. He comes of age, studies. He’s from Moscow. He’s from a noble family. He studies in Moscow. He studies with the
liberals, with [INAUDIBLE]. He himself, like so many
people, is left-leaning, even revolutionary in his
youth, which, of course, later he does not want
anyone to know about. He does radical things, like
defend freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. He doesn’t throw any
bomb, as far I know, but he does hide bombs for
people who do throw bombs. So he has this youthful
leftist experience. But what we’re concerned about
is his right wing philosophy. And his right wing
philosophy has a couple of really interesting parts. The first is that he is
a right wing Hegelian. So he’s a right wing Hegelian. So most of the Hegelians
that we think about usually are left wing Hegelians. Marx, right? So what the left wing
Hegelians do with Hegel is they make Hegel
about the future, and they legitimize
revolution, as opposed to being chiefly about
the past, as Hegel thought, and leaning towards a state. Marx then takes left wing
Hegelianism and says, it’s not about ideas, but it’s
about the modes of production. Ilyin a right wing Hegelian. He accepts that
there’s a dialectic. He’s accepted there’s
a spirit, which he’s quite clear is God, which
should be working itself out in history, but here he
makes an interesting move. He says, not that God is
dead, but God is feeble. God is actually unable to
work his way out completely in history. And therefore, the struggle
between good and evil between, spirit and evil, has
to be carried out by the hands of men. And then in
particular, he says– and this is where
things get interesting for [INAUDIBLE] politics. He says, one of the
signs of God’s weakness is the existence of
the middle class. So where many liberals,
and even many Hegelians would see the middle class
as something progressive, he says that the middle
class, the existence of the middle class, which,
for him, is without morals, without political courage,
totally worthless. He’s one of many
political thinkers of the time and place who just
hate the bourgeoisie while belonging to it. He thinks that the middle class
is evidence of God’s weakness. So it follows from
this that, in practice, in the great struggle
between good and evil, people have to make choices. They have to decide what’s evil. Which leads to the
second thing, which is interesting about
his philosophy. I can’t make it as
interesting as it actually is, which is that he was
also kind of chekist of God. That’s a phrase I’m stealing
from his enemies in the 1920s. He was a kind of
right wing Leninist. So where Lenin
says about Marx, we can’t allow the
forces, the changes in the means of production
just to work themselves out. We have to leap ahead, and
it’s going to be the Party and the intellectuals
who say when we’re ready, what Ilyin says is
that you can’t really trust the peasants to know
when an important revolutionary counter-revolutionary
moment has arrived. It’s the intellectuals who
know what God actually wants. And he goes into
great detail about how you figure out what God wants. I mean, extraordinary detail. It makes our American
contemporaries seem really shallow on this
point of listening to God. Ilyin studied with Husserl, if
that means anything to anyone. Husserl was an extremely
important influence on him, but his understanding
of Husserl was he used the phenomenological
reduction to hear God. So writes hundreds and hundreds
of pages about the experience of hearing God. But for our purposes,
the important thing is that it puts
the intellectual, and Ilyin personally, in
a position of privilege, where he decides–
I mean, he actually does decide what is
good and what is evil, and when we have to act. And in making
these arguments– I can’t resist saying this– he
goes to extraordinary lengths. He gets into texts,
which you would think one would not engage with,
like, for example, the Gospels. So he gets into the Gospels,
and actually debates the idea of loving thy enemy. And with tactics
which might seem either legalistic or casuistic,
depending upon your preference, he makes the argument at great
length that when Jesus said, “love your enemies,” he didn’t
mean, love all your enemies. He meant, love your
personal enemies, but not the enemies of God. And who decides who
the enemies of God are? Well, Ilyin himself decides
who the enemies of God are. And who are the enemies of God? The Bolsheviks. So in Ilyin’s
account, which is not so different from
many White thinkers, or many people who resisted the
revolution in the early 1920s, Bolshevism is not a
fundamentally political movement. It’s fundamentally metaphysical. It’s fundamentally the release
of Satan upon the earth. Satan walks the earth in
the form of Bolshevism. This is not metaphorical. He means this quite literally. Evil is here, and only
men can resist evil. How can men resist evil? Men can resist evil by carrying
out fascist coup d’etat. So then the next
step in the thought is to endorse Mussolini
and his coup d’etat in Italy as being chivalrous,
as being necessary, as being correct, as being the
only thing that could be done. If one does not support
the chivalrous– he gets this chivalry thing
directly from Mussolini. “If you do not support
the chivalrous struggle against the Devil,”
I quote, Ilyin, “you are yourself the Devil.” So very strong Old
Testament style ways of seeing this struggle. So fascism, says Ilyin,
and I like this very much, he says that “fascism
is the redemptive act of patriotic
arbitrariness,” which is actually not a bad
definition of what fascism is. It’s arbitrary. It’s patriotic. And in the end, it’s
meant to be redemptive. So Ilyin, when he’s
making his arguments, is in Germany in
the 1920s and 1930s. He has a long stay in Italy,
but for the most part, he’s living in Germany
in the ’20s and ’30s. You will not be
surprised to learn that when Hitler comes
to power in 1933, Ilyin also defends Hitler. He says Hitler is misunderstood. He says the Western press, and
especially the Jewish press is too hard on Hitler. Even the Russian emigre press
he says is too hard on Hitler. One has to understand that,
fundamentally, the stakes are good and evil, Bolshevism
and anti-Bolshevism. Hitler, he says, has
granted European culture a stay of execution. So long as Hitler and
Mussolini are in power, European civilization has
a chance of surviving. Like many fascists, he equates
Jews and Bolsheviks, Bolsheviks and Jews, and therefore approves
of Hitler’s discrimination against Jews right down to
approving the definition of a Jew by way of blood. All of that is just by
way of establishing Ilyin as a kind of fascist. I mean, there were
many, many fascists in the 1920s and 1930s. These views are not particularly
exceptional in the 1920s and 1930s. I just want to have
them in the background so they can be clear. Because what’s most
important for us is the way that
Ilyin then later, in Swiss exile after the
war, write a short summary of all of his views. In the late ’40s
and early ’50s, he writes a short book
called “Our Tasks,” which is a collection of
political pamphlets. And it is this
book which is first rereleased in Russia
in the early 1990s and has an immense career. And it’s this
book, which we know that Vladimir Putin
has read along with a number of other people. And what Ilyin does in
post-war Switzerland is that he sets out a
theory of fascist, domestic, and foreign policy. Now, he’s in
Switzerland, I can’t resist saying, being supported
by an American millionaire. There’s a whole list. When you canonize
a thinker, they’re automatically a whole lot
of things that you forget. So one of the things you
forget about Ilyin if you’re the Russian elite now is that he
was in psychotherapy with Freud personally, daily,
and that that’s how he missed the First World War. So rather, he couldn’t
be mobilized because he and his young wife
went to Vienna to have daily
psychotherapy with Freud, which is sort of extraordinary
for a whole list of reasons. And one of them is that he was
a graduate student at the time. And as someone who
has graduate students, I just can’t help but think
of the wonderful luxury of being able to say, you know,
I think what you should do this spring is go to Freud and
have psychotherapy with him personally for
the entire spring? why don’t you just do that? Anyway, but the
second thing would be that Ilyin was
supported by an American, by the money of an American
millionaire while he was in exile. That would be the second thing
which no one is ever going to say on a Russian talk show. So Ilyin, writing
in Switzerland, takes a step back,
crystallizes his views, writes these short
articles, and makes the following case for fascism. Now, remember this is
after the Second World War, after the Second
World War, when not for everybody,
but for many people, fascism had been discredited,
if not by its evil then by its defeat. This is after the
Second World War. The case he makes
has four parts. The first, it begins
with innocence. Ilyin steps back, and he
says, Russia, as a nation, is fundamentally innocent. These are the parts
that, as a historian, are really the hardest to read. Because the way he
describes Russian history is so unbelievably, and I
think, deliberately naive. But, of course, he does issue
a methodological proviso. What he says is that
history, he says, is objective, quote, and
pure, quote, regardless of what the actual
contingent facts might be. So there might be
facts which interfere with his telling
of Russian history, but that’s not important. The way that Russian history
is, is fundamentally innocent. Russia has a virgin birth. So the Russianists
in the crowd will be aware of the so-called
Norman Controversy. Were there Scandinavians, or
were there not Scandinavians? The answer is there were
lots of Scandinavians for a very long time. But Ilyin is
committed to the idea of a virgin birth of Russia. So the Slavs brought into
being Russia all by themselves. He’s also committed to the
idea of an immaculate empire, that the city of Moscow
became the largest state in the history of the
world, territorially, while fighting only
defensive wars. And he goes through every single
battle that Russia ever fought. No, literally,
over 1,000 battles, and characterizes every single
one of them as defensive. And so Russia goes from
being a village, actually just a bit a forest,
to being this empire, while facing what he
calls, quote unquote, 1,000 years of
suffering, while facing, quote unquote, endless
continental blockade from Europe. The second idea– and
you won’t be surprised. The second idea
is that the nation is organic, which he says
over, and over, and over again. I won’t belabor it. This is not a category which
I’m imposing on the documents. This is a word which
screams out of his writings. Russia is organic. You can’t, he says,
take it apart. You can only dissect it. Russian culture is
organic, fraternal, which means that anyone who
lives on Russian territory, even if they’re
not Russian, which is a possibility he really
doesn’t like to admit, but when he does, he says, they
will be automatically brought in to Russian culture. Because Russian
culture is organic. It’s fraternal. And so there can’t be
national problems in Russia. It’s logically
impossible for there to be national minorities,
a term he always puts in quotation marks. It’s logically
impossible for there to be Ukrainians, a term he
also puts in quotation marks. Because if you’re in a Russian
empire or Russian state, you’re automatically brought
into this organic unity. And then, finally,
Russia is a country– and this is where things
get really beautiful. . I mean, they do, in
a way, get beautiful. Russia is about love. Russia’s about love. Russia’s about love. When he’s writing
philosophically, the term that he uses
is spirit, [RUSSIAN]. So in the West,
people don’t have– you’ve heard all this before. People don’t really
have a spirit. They only have an idea
of an individual good. But in Russia, there’s
a national spirit, which allows people to
interpenetrate and to see each other’s– to see
good collectively. When he’s writing religiously,
he talks about heart. Russians have heart. Europeans do not have heart. Here, I’m not actually
simplifying very much. It’s a pretty
drastic conflation. He says that there’s no
distinction between religion and national identity. He says, in a striking
sentence among many, he says, “the
nation is not God.” Comma. “But it draws its
strength from God.” So he denies there’s any tension
whatsoever between Christianity and Russia. Where does this
lead politically? Here, he’s very explicit. Again, when he’s in
the religious mode, he writes, he says this
a couple of times– my prayer is a sword,
and my sword is a prayer. In other words,
religion, this business of love, heart, spirit, carves
out a certain territory. It marks a territory on a map. And that is the
territory of love. The rest of the world’s a
territory of anarchy and evil. And when he defines this in
the less religious modus, he sounds very much
like Karl Schmidt. He says the
definition of politics is the definition and
neutralization of the enemy. That’s what politics is. So in Russia, you have one
zone, in the rest of world, have another zone which is
inherently hostile to Russia. The example, exhibit A, of how
the world is hostile to Russia, in all of his writing
is Bolshevism. He does say Russians should
take responsibility for it, but he sees fundamentally
Bolshevism as a result of foreigners and non-Russians. It’s the reason. It’s like the latest example
of how the West is always against Russia. What does this
recommend– and now you’ll begin to feel the
contemporary resonances if you read about Russia,
or if you know Russia, if you’re from Russia. What does this recommend
for domestic politics? Ilyin says there should be
a leader, a capital L type leader. He sometimes calls him
a national dictator. There is no mechanism for how
this person will be chosen or for how this person
will be succeeded. This is the old leader
principle from fascism, which has the problem that,
basically, you need Aphrodite coming out of Zeus’s skull. The person has to
appear on the scene. Ilyin explicitly says,
not from history. The person has to
be unhistorical. And when he strains
to characterize this, he writes things
like, this person will be the living organ of
Russia, the instrument of her self-redemption. And who is this person? The Russian patriot who
leads Russia to salvation. So these are the criteria of
who this person is going to be. This leader, and
Ilyin elucidates this in a long book about a
future Russian constitutional social structure,
should be the head of the army, the only
executive, the only legislator, the head of the courts. So everything is going
to be concentrated in this one person. He has a couple of corrections
to pre-war fascism. One of them is that
he doesn’t think there should be a one party state. He thinks there should
be a zero party state. There shouldn’t be
any parties at all. He very much doesn’t
like political parties. He thinks political
parties can only be vessels for foreign influence. He thinks it’s civil
society as such is negative. Civil society can only
exist in its contact with foreign bodies, and that is
inherently harmful for Russia. And he retains his hostility
to the middle classes. The middle classes should be at
the very bottom of the pyramid. He defines a
corporate structure, in which the head
of state, there’s leaders at the
very top, and then you go down, down,
down, down, down. And at the very bottom, you
have the middle classes. They can exist,
but they should not be allowed to have any
political influence whatsoever. So the way the middle class
has been treated since 2011, the way civil society’s
been treated since 2011, oh, and the ritual
character of democracy. So I almost forgot. Ilyin says, there
should be elections, but there shouldn’t be parties. Or if the parties
are there, they should only be there for
ritual, decorative purposes. The elections should be public. So you should be
in public saying who you’re going to
vote for, and then you should record your vote on a
piece of paper, which you sign. So the purpose of
the elections is just to ritualize support
for the leader. What does this imply
for foreign policy? And now we’re getting even
closer to the present. What Ilyin does in all of
this work, which I hope you find inherently interesting,
because I certainly do. But even if you don’t, what
does this mean for the present? Well, it helps us
understand what Eurasia is. The word Eurasia,
whenever it’s pronounced, I think, it’s one of
these words which leads to an awful lot of confusion. Ilyin helps us to see what
Eurasia fundamentally is. Eurasia is fundamentally
the dialectical resolution of the old tension
in Russian thought between the Westernizers
and the Slavophiles. What is a Russian Westernizer? And I say this with hesitation,
because the Russian historians in the crowd, they’ll
scrub my ears later, but a Westernizer is
someone who believes that Russia is fundamentally
on the same historical path as the West, but just
a couple steps behind. So politically, these people are
usually liberals or socialists. There’s progress. There’s only one
route to progress. It’s just some people
are further along. A Slavophile a pluralist. A Slavophile says there
may not be progress. There may not be
routes to progress. There are essentially different
cultures in the world, or civilizations. Russia is one of those cultures. Politically, that can
make you a conservative. It can also make you a
certain kind of revolutionary, because you can think,
well, our culture has the source of
a utopia inside it. But it’s different
from a Westernizer. What is a Eurasianist? A Eurasianist is the person
in the 1920s and 1930s, and Ilyin is the main one,
who resolves this tension. What a Eurasian
says is, the West is not actually about
progress, and enlightenment, and liberalism, and
parliamentarism, and democracy. That is all an
artificial encrustation. The suggestion or sometimes
just the bald claim is that it’s a Jewish artifice. But the West is not actually
inherently, organically associated with progress,
liberalism, enlightenment, and so on. Those things can be
stripped away from the West, and should be stripped
away from the West. And the people who’ve
shown how that can be done are the fascists. So if the West returns
to itself and becomes a kind of commonwealth, a
kind of plural commonwealth of different fascists or maybe
just national populist states, then Russia has a
place in Europe. Then there is no tension between
Russia and everyone else, because Russia and everyone
else are basically the same. So Ilyin is not a Slavophile. He doesn’t think that Russia
is separate from Europe. But he’s also not a Westernizer
because he’s not a liberal. He’s a Eurasianist who says
that we’re all basically– let’s admit it– we’re all
basically fascists, right? And if we will all
just admit that, then there is no need for there
to be this artificial division between East and West. He solves this problem
intellectually. He also solves it in his person. Ilyin is basically
a German philosopher who writes in Russian. He writes his
dissertation about Hegel. His most important
influence was Husserl. He gives most of his
speeches in German. He writes in German as much
as he writes in Russian. All of his major
ideas are in some way in German rather
than Russian debates. His mother was German. His mother tongue was German. When he does psychotherapy,
what language is he doing the psychotherapy in
with Freud as a very young man? In German, in of course. He’s very intimately a German. In 1915, when he’s struggling
with the war and the fact that he’s not fighting in it,
he says, “the inner Germans are bothering me more than
the outer Germans.” “The inner Germans”
is a very nice phrase. And then he lives his
whole life, his whole adult life, well, from the
age of 39 forward, he lives most of his adult life
in German speaking countries. And he is comfortable with
a certain kind of Europe. He just thinks that Europe
has to be nudged along to look slightly differently. So that’s Eurasianism. How does that relate to
the Eurasianism of today? And here’s where we have
to make the one jump, or where I think the
Russian thinkers of today, including the head of state,
have made a certain jump. So Ilyin dies in 1954. He’s writing right
up until then. And when he’s talking
about fascism, he’s talking about what’s
normal not just for Russia, but for Europe. And he thinks that when he
looks around in Europe, I mean, maybe 1954 is about as late as
you can possibly think this. He looks around Europe and
he says, fascism is normal. And what are his examples? Spain and Portugal. Franco and Salazar. This is the way that
Europe is going to be. This is way Russia’s
going to be. This is normal. Historically, we know
the problem with that. So I can’t avoid a little
retrospective here. We know what’s going to happen. We know Spain and Portugal are
going to lose their empires. They’re going to lose their
authoritarian regimes. They’re going to
become democracies. They’re going to join this thing
called the European Economic Community. They’re going to join this
thing called the European Union. They’re going to have
a kind of history, and they’re going to join a kind
of body which Ilyin did not, could not have
foreseen– namely Europe. So how do you, then, interpret
Ilyin’s thought in a world where there’s a European Union? What the modern Eurasianists
do is that they say, Europe is the
source of problems. The European Union is
the source of problems. The European Union is decadent. Now you see all the
language from 2012, 2013, which comes straight from Ilyin
and from the 1920s and 1930s. The European Union
becomes the source of all of these negative,
artificial, very often sexual ideas, which are seeking to
penetrate and to transform Russia. So the move that’s made is
to replace the European Union with Bolshevism. So there is no
Bolshevism, but now everything which you have
is the European Union. Let me bring this
to a conclusion. If this is true,
what does this do? Well, it solves problems. I mean, ideologies work
because they solve problems. It solves the problem of 2011. It’s not, I think, a coincidence
that when Putin, in addition to blaming it all
on Hillary Clinton, Putin, when he’s
announcing his triumph, he cites Ivan Ilyin
December of 2011, which is the crucial
moment of the suppression of Russian democracy. And what is the
consequence of all this? The consequence is
that they not only begin to build a
system which looks very Ilyin-like after
2011, but also, they succeed in exporting
the problems. And the crucial problem with
the export is corruption. Because what is corruption? If you’re thinking
about the rule of law, Russia’s a very corrupt state. I mean, it’s down there
with Ukraine and pretty much as low as you want to go. Sierra Leone, Bangladesh–
that’s neighborhood. But if corruption
is moral corruption, you can always say there are
more gay people in the West. Then, it’s all about sexuality. So there’s a subtle–
maybe not so subtle. There’s an important
change in the definition of what corruption is. So the corruption becomes
a problem in the West rather than a problem in Russia. Then, of course, you see the
source of the idea of Eurasia, and you also see the
source of the blunders that Russia makes in Ukraine. You can really only understand
Russia’s policy in Ukraine, which was a whole series of
miscalculations and blunders, if you accept, as
Ilyin accepts, as Putin accepts, that there really
isn’t a Ukrainian people. Because so many
of the things that happen inside Ukraine,
like the protests, even like the war, which was
largely an NGO effort, only makes sense if you
accept that there’s a Ukrainian society
which does things without some kind of external
stimulus, which does, in fact, happen to be the case. And it’s only if you think that
just intervening in Ukraine is going to bring the whole
state down because there really isn’t a Ukraine that
the policy itself can seem to make a kind of sense. Of course, when you
blunder into a war, you never, ever, ever say,
“I blundered into a war.” You always blame someone else,
and Ilyin is very convincing and very useful here. At the end, when
they annex Crimea, Putin gives a speech a few
months later in which he says, “Crimea is Russia’s Jerusalem.” Make of that what you will. And as the authority,
cites precisely Ilyin. But the point about
Crimea is that that’s the moment when
they start saying that it’s all about
the Americans, that the Americans
made us do this. We didn’t have any choice. We had to do this because of
the Americans, which is Ilyin. Maybe they get it
somewhere else, but this idea that Russia
is innocent no matter what it does, of which there
are more spectacular examples, like shooting down the Malaysian
aircraft, when they shot down the Malaysian aircraft,
which they did. They say, well, this was
actually an assassination attempt on Putin,
which transforms the real victims into Russia
being a national victim immediately. And when I say immediately, I
mean, literally immediately. 3 and 1/2 hours
after the event, it was already being reported
on Russian television as an assassination attempt
on the Russian head of state. We are innocent. No matter what we are
doing, we are innocent, and it’s the West’s fault. This also helps to
explain, I think, something which is
really important, which is the basic logic of
Russia policy towards Ukraine. Russian policy towards
Ukraine, from the beginning, has always been
about Europe, and had been openly characterized
as being about Europe. The claim was that the Europeans
were behind the Maidan, right? The claim that was made
from Russia to Ukraine was that the Europeans are
forcing their Western ideas upon you. When Russia tried to
peel Ukrainians away from the protests, what they
talked about was how things like, if you wanted free
travel in the European Union, you had to first
accept gay marriage. Things like this. This was the kind of
propaganda they offered. And since then, I mean,
literally since then, Russia has and unfolded a policy
against the European Union, I think, of which
Ukraine is only one part. When you invade Ukraine and you
annex some of its territory, you’re violating the fundamental
norm of international law. That’s fundamental. It shouldn’t be forgotten. But in addition
to that, we’ve has all kinds of other interesting
things, like funding separatists and national
populists inside the European Union, most prominently,
the Front Nationale, like using media
resources, especially RT, the big Russian television
network, to support separatism and national populism inside
European Union states, like deliberately bombing
the Syrians into Germany after Merkel made it clear
that they would be accepted, and then manufacturing rape
scandals involving Muslims inside Germany, which I
think is particularly nasty, although not exceptional. This is all part, I
think, of a general policy of treating the European Union
as well as the fundamental foe of Russian policy,
which I think it is, and which is hard to
explain without some kind of ideological framework. In closing, I’ve tried
in this very brief period to be fair to Ilyin. And I want to ask a question
which is not historical. Because if I’m right, and
Ilyin has influence Russia, people take what
they need from ideas. It doesn’t have to be
coherent, or true, or faithful. But let me just ask by
way of a closing gesture. Is the Russian elite
actually being fair to Ilyin? Are they interpreting
him in a way which is actually fair to his ideas? Because when you make
the move of saying, it’s not really Bolshevism
that was the problem. It’s the European Union
that’s the problem, you’re actually doing
something very fundamental. Because what Ilyin thought
was that Bolshevism, although it came
from the outside, had become a problem for
Russia, and that Russia had to begin when Russia was free. Russia had to begin with
a self-investigation. Russia had to have a
thorough-going decommunization. Russia had to have
honest publication of historical documents
and an honest discussion of the crimes of Bolshevism,
on which he wrote bountifully. So all of the
crimes which are now put in question by
Russian memory policy, if there’s a crime,
it means that Ilyin wrote a whole book on
it– he was actually quite good– including
on the famine in Ukraine. Ilyin wrote about all these
things and bountifully. And Ilyin also thought that
the regeneration couldn’t just involve blaming all of Russia’s
problems on other people, that it had to
begin with Russia. And he proposed in his
constitutional sketches decommunization, which
involved a selection of who and who couldn’t take part
in the new Russian state. So for example, KGB
officers were not to be allowed to participate
in the Russian state, which would mean that if Putin were
going to take Ilyin literally, rather than doing dramatic
things, like reburying him and the flowers
and so on, he would have to resign from office. I raise this not just
as an ironic point, but partly as a serious point. Because it comes down
to the question of what this is all about in the end. From Ilyin’s point
of view, there had to be a renewal of Russia. There had to be
a fascist period, but he saw it as a
purge, after which Russia would become some kind of
right wing rule of law state. What is happening now in Russia
is not, to put it very briefly, is not that. There’s no sense
in which this is some kind of transitory
period towards something else. What you see is what you get. I think it’s fair to say
there’s no sense in which the Russian leaders are
following Ilyin’s means basic guideline,
which is that you have to be true and critical
of yourself, and not just of others. And I think that leads
us to a point where the fundamental influence of
Ilyin’s geopolitical fascism is a kind of permanent war of
disintegration on others, which has no endpoint, which is really
just about spreading anarchy, where there really
isn’t anything else. There’s no final goal. That’s just it for
as long as it lasts. And this isn’t a way of solving
the problem of succession, but it’s a very good way of
distracting attention from it. And it’s working for
that for the time being. OK, thanks. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Tim. My name’s Tony Levitas. I’m a senior fellow at
the Watson Institute, and I’ll try and help
along with taking questions but I’m sure that you
can handle this yourself. So if you wouldn’t mind just
saying your name before you ask a question. My name’s Bob, and
I thought this was very interesting, provocative. I was feeling tired when I came
here, and I’m woken up now. It strikes me that
you’re ascribing to Putin a kind of a fervent,
literal embrace of Ilyin’s philosophy as opposed to a more
strategic acceptance of what he has to offer. I mean, after all,
this is someone who has periodically accepted
other right wing nationals. Dugin comes to mind,
until he was marginalized. A couple of days ago, he
celebrated Zhirinovsky. So this is someone
who, it seems to me, the more readily available
and logical explanation is he strategically appeals
to right wing nationalists and Eurasianists as a
way of cementing together a broad coalition of people who
oppose the West, the Orthodox Church, and the moneyed elite. Why would you assume that he so
literally is devoted to Ilyin specifically, that
this, Putin’s policy, is an enactment of precise
understanding and reading of Ilyin. That seems, to me,
a bit far-fetched. So let me say a couple things. First, I’m not assuming. As far as one could give
evidence of devotion to a dead philosopher, I
mean, I challenge you– like even the American
case, where we’re all lovey dovey about
Thomas Jefferson and a Yale college just got
named after Benjamin Franklin, I challenge you to
think of a head of state devoting this much attention
to a dead philosopher in the 21st century. It just doesn’t happen that you
get republished everything, 25 volumes in huge editions,
that you get reburied, that you get the flowers,
that you get the march, that you get the blessing
of the Patriarch. That doesn’t happen
very often, and it makes me resist
the idea that it’s all calculated and strategic. Because if it’s
calculated and strategic, you just take what
comes to hand. For example, living people. Living people are a lot easier
to deal with than dead people in general. Because for one thing, you can
make them change their views if you need to. You can them in and out
of favor, if you want to. Actually resuscitating
a major dead philosopher strikes me as
something which goes beyond the normal
kinds of calculations that politicians make. I think it’s actually an
event of a different quality. The second is, and this
is really interesting. I’m glad you mentioned Dugin. Because one could read this
more or less worryingly. But where Dugin and
Ilyin are different is that Ilyin is a
serious thinker who is striving after some
sort of consistency, and who believes in truth. So it’s very easy from
my liberal perspective or other liberal
perspectives to mock or to make fun of like this
little bit of Hegelianism or this dialectical trick. That’s an easy game to play, and
I indulged in it a little bit. But Ilyin, as a philosopher,
is seriously after the truth. And you cannot engage him
without seeing the earnestness of it. I mean the sheer
industry of the man. He wrote 40 books, half of
them in German, half of them in Russian. Dugin is not like that. So Dugin, who is
the most important contemporary Eurasianist
rationalist philosopher, Dugin is not like that. Fundamentally, he is in
the camp of not believing that things are true,
or maybe even deep down, there’s some sentimental
bone in Dugin somewhere which thinks
that there’s truth, but in practice,
the way he operates is that it’s this
postmodern mode. It’s all just nonsense. It’s all just propaganda. You have to understand that
it’s all just propaganda, and our propaganda
is our propaganda. But he never, never,
actually pursues truth or makes serious truth claims. And for that reason, he’s
kind of ridiculous in a way that Ilyin is not. But it’s an important
distinction. Because I think a lot hangs
on– I mean, maybe I’m wrong, and maybe Ilyin doesn’t matter. And maybe Dugin doesn’t matter. But let’s assume for a
minute that these characters might matter. If Ilyin matters, that means
that you might actually be convinced of a kind of
structural picture of the world where Russia really
is always innocent, and the West really
is always guilty. And I confess, when I listen
to Putin’s Valdai speeches and so on, it really is striking
how they’ve gone more and more in that direction since 2005. If you believe in
Dugin, you’re basically capable of believing anything. Because he will shift. He will move. He will turn. Right now, sure, he says let
me tell you about the West. The West is where Lucifer fell. The West is the source
of all evil conceivable. Does he really mean that? Is it possible to take him 100%
seriously when he says that? I don’t think anyone does. I don’t think he does, either. And so a lot hangs on this,
because there are some people– and I’m moving
towards them myself– who think that
Putin does actually have some kind of worldview,
and that all the chaos is a function of the worldview. And then there are other people,
like Peter Pomerantsev, who wrote a brilliant book,
who are more of the view that it’s all smoke and mirrors,
and there’s nothing there. And so if it’s Dugin,
it’s the latter, for sure. And then what else do I
want to say about this? I guess the third
thing I would say is that even, let’s
say you’re right, and it’s like Dugin
and Zhirinovsky, these people are all getting
their concepts from Ilyin. I mean, they’re warping them. They’re abusing them. They’re simplifying
them, but they’re getting them from the
1920s and 1930s, anyway. And so even in a kind
of a minimal case, you’d want to take
this seriously. Yes, please. So my question, just
a very basic one, because I don’t understand
fascism very well, why not monarchy? If you have this view
that you just described, it seems like the
anointing of the leader by God in a traditional
monarchical way, it solves your
succession problem. What’s the point of having
a leader with a capital L who merges in
some mysterious way without that kind of
traditional apparatus? Right. OK, so let me answer that
question in three ways. The first is, where I start,
and I mean this very seriously– I’m starting with
Russia’s current problems. So no matter how elegant or
interesting I might find Ilyin, I think he only matters–
and this in a way goes back to your question as
well– I think he only matter, so to speak, objectively,
insofar as he provides solutions to real problems. And by solution, I
don’t necessarily mean a desirable solution, but
I mean a day-to-day solution. And Ilyin solves the problem
of succession the way you solve it in fascism,
which is you say, it’s not really a problem. Leaders just come
mysteriously from nowhere in a poof of smoke, like
Mussolini does in 1922, and that’s how things work. And Ilyin says that’s
justified and necessary, because there are exceptional
moments, like the Bolshevik Revolution. And the only way to fight
those exceptional moments is by an exceptional
moment above your own. And so if you think that like
the next prince or the legally elected president is going to
solve this problem for you, you’re completely wrong. It has to be someone who
comes in on the white horse with the blazing sword
of God in his hand. It has to be like that. So there’s a real
problem, which is, it’s almost a technical problem
in Russia, which is what on earth is going to come next? And then the way you solve
the technical problem is by making it a
metaphysical problem, and also by making it
someone else’s problem, by trying to make Europe
much more like you. So why not the czar? OK, let me again answer from
the point of view of Putin and from the point
of view of Ilyin. From the point of view of Putin,
there isn’t a royal family which people accept, ,
and even if there were, I don’t think the people who
are around Putin would let that royal family last very long
in any meaningful sense. So it’s not a practical
solution for Russia to bring back
whoever the Romanov heir might pretend to be. Ilyin was more
interesting about this. Ilyin was, in
principle, a monarchist. But what he said was, we’re
in an exceptional moment. And the thing about
exceptional moments is they have a tendency of
lasting for a really long time. I mean, Bolshevik rule
in Russia, Soviet rule, lasts for 69 years. He says, yes, there
should be a czar, and we should have
the rule of law. But for the time
being, necessity requires us to have this leader. It’s either this
leader or nothing else in these conditions. So from my point of view,
the succession problem is really fundamental. Because I’m looking
at this from– I’d be happy to admit this–
from a Western point, where what I worry about
is the rule of law in the remainder of the world. I worry about this acid bath
that we’re being dropped into, which we are. This is all very close to us. Much closer than we think. So when you think about
the Ukraine crisis, and you think about
Yanukovych, who was the president of Ukraine
during the revolution. He was tossed out. Yanukovych was a man who was
very close to the Kremlin, who basically gave the Kremlin all
of Ukraine’s national security secrets, who hived out the
wealth of this country, stole an unbelievable
amount of it, managed to suppress all
the other oligarchs, leaves his country
literally as protesters are being shot in
the street after he fails to impose a dictatorship. Why am I saying all of this? Because his main
political adviser was Paul Manafort, who is also
the main political adviser of Donald Trump. So this cycle of influence,
whatever ideas it involves, is actually really
closely– because there is a succession principle issue
right there that we’re facing. So it’s all much
closer than we think, which is one of the reasons
why I’m obsessed with it. Yes, sir. I’m Maxim Boycko. I’m a senior fellow here at
Watson, originally from Russia. Can you speak a little louder? Yes, I’m saying my
name is Maxim Boycko. I’m a senior fellow here,
originally from Russia, though I have a Ukrainian name. I think that just following
on the first question, following up a little bit,
what is the critical evidence that you see that makes
you think about Putin as ideological, whether his
ideology comes from Ilyin or Dugin or someone else? What’s wrong with
the, I would say, simpler model of thinking about
Putin as an authoritarian who wants to protect, control,
prolong his power? And what are the
events in Ukraine that you believe do not fit
this somewhat simpler model in which, of course,
Ilyin, Dugin, whoever, may pop up as useful
propaganda tools? But propaganda and ideology
are very different. OK, so let me start
where you ended. First of all, Ilyin does
not figure in propaganda. This is very important. Putin does not go–
for the West, anyway. Right, but that’s
not for us, right? I’m sorry? Yeah, yeah. No, he’s been revived. I’m trying to make it a
distinction between Ilyin as saying– no one
says– maybe I’m wrong, but no one says
Russia’s great of Ilyin. I mean, I think Ilyin is in a
much more intimate position, where Ilyin is there
to show that we have this important philosopher
who justifies the things that we’re doing. I mean, that may be
a kind of propaganda, but I think to dismiss
it as propaganda would be to miss an important point. Because whether or
not Putin is directly influenced by
these ideas, you’re doing something different
when you revive a figure and hold him close to you
than when you just throw out ideas that are just propaganda. Because propaganda, the
Russian version of propaganda, as you know better
than me, tends to take a much more brutal
form, where it doesn’t actually require dead, goateed
conservative philosophers from Switzerland. It just doesn’t
usually require that. They’re not usually needed. But to go to the beginning
of your question, I would resist the either/or. I would resist really
strongly the either/or that we have to say,
either there’s ideology, or he’s just practical. I just don’t think
anyone, including leaders, is either just practical
or driven by ideas. I think the two fit together
in one way or another, and that even your account
of what you’re doing yourself as a leader depends
upon concepts which bring together the data or
bring together the experience. And that’s a thing
we call ideology. I’m not saying that
ideology is just there like some kind of
bauble that influences him. It’s not like a remote control. I’m saying that I think it
solves some political problems, and that gives them
a language that brings these things together. So Ukraine, you mention it. So the middle part of your
question is about Ukraine. These things, as I
tried to caution, you can’t prove these
things, but it seems to me that the way they talked about
Ukraine, and even the moves they made in Ukraine
had a lot to do with some assumptions about
Europe being behind everything, and about Ukraine itself
not having agency. I mean, you can correct
me if you disagree, but I think a lot more
Russians hold those views now than did five years ago. I mean, right now we’re
getting close to the point where a Russian is
somebody who will tell you that Ukraine doesn’t exist,
which five years ago, wasn’t true. Or even 10 years
ago, it wasn’t true. But now it’s reached
a real extreme. And the way I tried to
pitch it in the talk is in terms of mistakes. Because if you’re
just a rational cal– I don’t think there is
such a thing as a rational, calculating authoritarian
leader, but if there were, you’d then have to
explain the mistakes. And I think they make
mistakes in Ukraine. I mean, I think in
late November, 2013, they did not think that
Ukrainians would massively protest the
association agreement. If you look at like, whatever,
[INAUDIBLE] Twitter account or whatever your preferred
source of information is, they were rejoicing when Ukraine
didn’t sign the association agreement. And then when there
were the protesters, they all went quiet
for couple days, because they didn’t
know what to say. And what they did was then
they gave Yanukovych money to put down the protests, which
also backfired totally and led to a revolution, which I
also think they didn’t want. So I think they
actually make mistakes, and part of what
I’m trying to do is to suggest that an ideology
solves some problems for you, and then it makes
other problems. And the problems that are
solved and the problems that are created is maybe
one way of sussing out, of extracting what the
important ideas actually are. Yes, please. I have a couple points. I mean, I agree with you. I think this is all interesting,
doing this genealogy of Russian fascism. It’s really important right now. I think one of the
problems I have with the way you’re
approaching it is I don’t think that you can
really have everything to run through Ilyin as a funnel. If you really want to
go about doing this, you have to go back
to the 19th century. You have to go back to
the Slavophile movement. And you can see elements in
that they play in politics now. I mean, there’s the
emphasis on personalization, or personality as the main
factor in human state, or even communal relations. There’s the skepticism in
that of abstractions like law that you find in the West. Then all of these things end
up dovetailing with fascism when that comes around. But I think, in some ways, it’s
important to think about that not so much so we can try and
figure out what Putin thinks, but it’s more important
for trying to figure out why Putin happens. Because this isn’t just Putin. This is Russian culture. So why do you have
excessive personalisation in politics, which is
one of the things that makes the whole question of the
state in Russia so ambiguous, to my mind, at least. So that’s one point. The second point, and I think
it’s been hinted at here, is that if you study a lot
of these fascist thinkers, the contemporary
ones, many of them identify Putin with the state. And a lot of the currents in
Russian fascism don’t identify with the state, like [INAUDIBLE]
Slavophiles who identify with [NON-ENGLISH], with the people. So then you have all these
complicated questions of representation. How do the people appear? This is really one of the
$1 million questions here. And the final thing, I mean,
when we talk about Ilyin from the ’20s, and
then we get to Putin in the 21st for
century, we skip over the whole Soviet experience. And this is something
that I think you have to take into
consideration if you’re talking about the succession question. Because this is another
legacy that you have to deal with the succession. You have the example
of the Politburo and the Communist
Party after Stalin. I don’t think that
Putin has just said we’re not going to answer
the succession question. It’s just become ambiguous. But this is also
another possibility. If Putin dies tomorrow,
you get another cadre. Who knows? I mean, the Kremlin is
completely opaque about this. So you don’t really know
what’s going to happen. But that’s another alternative. So you have this fascist,
conservative, 19th century, early 20th century, but you have
to include the Soviet, which is part of Putin. Look, I’m happy to concede
that other things are going on besides the ones I
talked about in my 45 minute speech. In a talk, you can only
really do one thing, and the one thing
I was trying to do was to insert a
thinker who I think is A, interesting,
B, has been revived, and C, might actually give us
some causal purchase on what’s going on in the world. I accept all of your points, but
I just don’t think any of them particularly change
the argument. With the Slavophiles, yeah, of
course with the Slavophiles. There’s an awful lot going on
in Russian intellectual life where one could trace
the genealogies. There are very important
cases like Pushkin, where they run through Ilyin,
back through Ilyin, and then to the 19th century. That’s all that’s
all certainly true. Nevertheless, I think it’s
OK and legitimate to try to suggest that there
might be one figure– and I think there is only
one– who was completely forgotten in Russia. I mean, it’s not just that
Putin hadn’t heard of him. It’s that in the early 1990s,
when Ilyin was revived, almost nobody in Russia
had any idea who he was, and now pretty
much everybody who has any kind of
political consciousness knows who Ilyin is or
has some kind of idea. That’s special. That doesn’t happen
all that often, that someone who’s a zero, who’s
gone in the culture, comes back and becomes important. And so you’re right. In a serious
treatment, I would then put that inside the context
of a lot of other things that are going on,
likewise with the fascists. So I completely agree with you. I mean, much of the fascist
movement, if not most of it, in Russia is
actually anti-Putin. And all I’m trying
to claim is that the geopolitics,
which we see, I think, emanating, like this
fundamental idea, which I see as the normative
race to the bottom, where we can’t solve
our domestic problems, but we’re going to make
sure you can’t either, and then we’re going to
race you to the bottom, and you’re going to hit first,
that could just be a tactic. I mean, it could
just be a tactic, but maybe it’s a tactic
which is easier to implement, and is somehow more elegant or
more attractive to the people that have to carry it out if
it’s embedded in this idea, Ilyin gives you, which is that
evil comes from the outside, maybe that’s significant. With the fascists,
I completely agree. It’s just that what I’m trying
to look at in particular is what’s being read
in Kremlin, who’s being cited by the
head of state, which is different from fascists. After Putin dies,
we might learn more about what those folks think. And of course, there
are various flavors, and fascism is a spectrum. And then the final point
was, yes, succession. Here, I completely
agree with you, it’s just that I think the
problem has just sharpened. I mean, I think the
problem now of succession is so unbelievably sharp,
because the communists had a real, serious
problem with succession. There was no rule,
and every time there was a drama, which often
involved people being killed. The problem is worse
without a Communist Party. I mean, literally one exists,
but it’s no longer a part. So you don’t have a Politburo. There’s no longer a
normal pool of candidates. And then Ilyin himself
even makes it sharper, because what he’s doing
is he’s legitimating no-party situation,
no-party rule. OK, there’s United Russia,
but that’s not a party in a meaningful fascist sense. If you have a fascist
party, then at least you have– I mean, I’m not
advocating this by any means, but then at least you’ll have
like a Himmler and a Goering, and you can argue
about who’s number two. The current Russian situation
doesn’t really have even that. So I think that the communist
point just makes it stronger, because I think they’ve
reached a kind of nadir of the succession problem. it’s coming out, I think, later
this summer, [INAUDIBLE] book. It’s a short history
of contemporary Russia. It’s called All
the Kremlin’s Men, and Putin is a sort of black
hole or a sort of dark star, but the whole book
is written around different figures in the Kremlin
it’s a very different approach, I think. It’s worth checking out just
if you’re thinking about it in the sense of,
what about maybe we’re personalizing too much. Maybe there are all these
other forces in the Kremlin that we don’t see. Yeah, I mean, I should move
on, but I want to mention, my take on Putin, which is not
as informed as many others, is that he is
indispensable precisely because he’s at the center,
if you want the black hole or the solar system. Model. And the question is, who else
could possibly be at the center and preserve the kind of
stability we’re used to? Again, the concern
comes with, if you follow the
no-civil-society model, and you follow the idea that
political parties shouldn’t exist, and you do
what Putin is now doing, which is
build up a plurality, the only pluralism you have
is a pluralism of security institutions. That then sets up what
the succession struggle is going to be like. The scenario I worry about is
that these people who you’re talking about will be
at the head of three or four different security
organizations that are going to be fighting it out. I fear that’s what
we’re left with. anyway. I wanted to jump in
on the back of this and ask the question from
the other side, which is the same question as you. Is what extra
purchase does imputing to Putin some sort
of coherent ideology give us for looking forward
as opposed to look back? Because that’s the
big stake, I think. So I had a funny conversation
with Masha Gessen in Chicago a year or so ago,
where she was asked to predict Russia’s future. And she said, this
is awkward for me, because I’ve made a number of
predictions that were wrong. And then I said, this
is awkward for me, because I’ve made a number of
predictions that were right. And when you make
predictions that are right, then your problem is that you
don’t want to break your steak. So what I’m going to
say is that starting from where I’m starting here,
because this Ilyin thing has been in my mind. I’ve been following
this for a while, even though I haven’t
written about it. Following this
stuff, I predicted that Russia would invade
Ukraine, where I was all alone, and believe me, the level
of mockery from colleagues was extraordinary. I predicted Russia would
invade Ukraine at a time when the consensus was,
many things will happen, but there’s not going
to be an invasion. And the reason I
predicted it was, was because I could see that
they were on this trajectory where they thought that it
was just external force, and there wasn’t really
a Ukrainian structure or society there, which
is a basic miscalculation and it led them
into places where they didn’t expect to be going. I also made some other
predictions that were correct. Like I predicted during the
Ukrainian stuff in early 2014, this is a bit more amorphous,
but that this would turn out to be mainly about
the European Union, and that we were
going to see, as time passed, that Russia
was supporting the far right inside the
European Union, which is now common knowledge. Everybody now says that, but
I actually formulated that as a prediction in early 2014. And the other thing
that I did was I predicted that Putin– this
is very obscure, and kind of risky, but I predicted
that Putin would rehabilitate the Molotov-Ribbentrop Act. Because the Molotov-Ribbentrop
Act in the 20th century is exhibit A of how all
things are permitted, now you could do anything. So I said that he
would, and then he did. I like to think he didn’t do
it because I predicted, right? But it was a very
specific prediction, and it followed from what
I was reading of what Putin was saying, and I got it right. I mean, what I’m
trying to suggest is that we haven’t had a whole
lot of perspectives on Putin which have given us a
lot of predictive power, and that maybe, just
maybe, the fact that looking at it this
way has generated correct predictions
might be another reason take it seriously. My prediction, then, is
that this struggle against the European Union cannot end. If sanctions are
ended tomorrow, I do not think they stop
funding Marine Le Pen. If sanctions are
ended tomorrow, I do not think they stop
putting Farage on RT to talk about how the
European Union is terrible. I think they don’t stop
inviting the Nazis of Europe to Saint Petersburg for
their annual conferences. I think if sanctions
stop tomorrow, all that stuff continues,
because the problem with Europe is fundamentally a domestic
problem for Russia. The existence of Europe is a
domestic problem for Russia. And where the ideology helps is
it explains that that’s normal. It’s normal that your
domestic problems are actually the fault of Europe. So the prediction would be that
so long as Putin is in power, they’re not going to stop trying
to undo the European Union. Some points, and admittedly,
some of this, I believe, has been touched upon already– So let’s touch on the part
that hasn’t been touched on. Well, Peter, Stalin,
Khrushchev did not have successors, and
yet the [INAUDIBLE] or whatever it was
at the time of Peter and the presidium sorted
things out in their own way, not without a certain amount
of instability at the time. I mean, this goes back to
what you’re saying initially, that Russia, since it
didn’t have a succession principle– or
something that I guess would be Western-organized–
succession principle is not at stake, and then you
brought up the 2011 election preparations when Putin again
is elected for his 3rd term and serves as premier. And who knows what’s
going to happen in 2020 after his fourth
term as president ends? But maybe in the case of 1425,
the onset of the Muscovite Civil War, the first one
in 1598 when the Rurikovich Dynasty collapses and then again
in 1917, lack of a succession principle, a firm
succession principle really throws things into a uproar. I think there the argument
has some validity. We’ll see what happens with
Putin with his FSB guys and the rest of his bullies,
whether they can sort things out, but I’m not
sure I can go so far as to agree with you that
Russia therefore is not a state. Second, I don’t
know on-hand, but is [INAUDIBLE] and
Mussolini, are they being read at all in Russia? Are they being published? So succession, I mean, you’ve
hit upon a current obsession of mine, but even
though I find it to be the central issue
in contemporary Russia, I didn’t actually claim
that Russia is not a state as a result. My claim
was that in all of the entities we’re talking about, the
statehood is in some sense incomplete, and that statehood
is a kind of question rather than an answer. And that’s how I set
things up, because, it goes to this question and
all of these questions. I’m trying to explain why
it is that ideology matters, and for how this ideology
could have some kind of hold. And the answer is that
fascism doesn’t have a problem with this kind of fluidity. From a fascist point of view,
such as Ilyin’s or others, you could be comfortable
with not having a succession principle, because
your idea of leadership is that the leader just
comes in somewhere off stage. You can be comfortable
with European orders rising and falling. You take for granted that
that’s going to happen. So that was part of the
preliminary argumentation for why, in this particular
world that we’re in, a fascist idea might help
to make things make sense. As far as the Russian history,
since you mentioned it, it is actually extraordinary
how much of a problem this has been for
Russia all along. So to give the example
of Putin’s Crimea speech, he talks about
Volodomir, Vladimir, and how he was baptized in
Crimea, which is not actually probably the case. But the thing I find so
interesting about that is this notion that
Russia goes back to Kievan Rus, that’s just
as true as whatever America goes back to, Birmingham. But it’s kind of true,
and it’s kind of not. But the interesting
thing is that when he cites Volodomir,
Vladimir in Kievan Rus, that was a state which had
serious succession problems. I mean, there’s this whole
myth in Russian and Ukrainian historiography that the problem
was the Mongols came in 1241. No, that was not the problem. By 1241, they were
already totally fragmented into
countless little states, and they were spending all of
their time fighting each other. And when the Mongols
came, like literally on the way to engage the
Mongols, the Ukrainian– not the Ukraine, whatever,
the Ruthenian princes, fought themselves on the
way to fight the Mongols. And then when Muscovy
is set up, as everybody who knows Russian history knows,
their own succession principle, such as they were,
which involved going down the brothers instead
of going from father to son. In order for the Mongols
to set up rule in Russia, they deliberately violated those
principles, such as they were, so that whatever principles
there were no longer operated in Muscovy. So this isn’t the case
that I was making, but I actually do
find it interesting that the very attempt to refer
back to ancient Russian history actually reveals this unending,
boiling surplus of succession problems, which they don’t
actually ever get sorted out satisfactorily, I don’t think. There are a bunch of people
who want to ask questions, and I’m taking all that time. So let me see. If we run out, let’s come back. Yeah. Thank you, Tim. It was very interesting. Michael Kennedy. Just two brief questions. Does it matter, the process
by which Ilyin becomes significant for your argument? And then secondly,
does it matter, the ways in which certain
parts of Ilyin’s philosophy are embraced and others are
diminished for your argument? I think you have something
in mind more explicit? On which side, on both of them? Yeah. Yeah, so for
instance, if we were able to trace how Ilyin
becomes significant to Putin ultimately, does it
matter the network by which it came
for your argument? Could it have
implications therefore for how is this satisfying some
kind of network besides having ideological effects? OK. And then, on the other hand,
the points that you were making about the ideology, suggesting
that Russia cannot be aggressive? Wow. Sorry? That Russia cannot
be aggressive, that all wars are defensive. That’s a great ideology
when you invade Crimea. But are there are other things
that are not convenient, that might be part of the larger
philosophy that are suppressed, and with what consequence
would those contradictions [INAUDIBLE] So both of those questions
are at the margins of what I think I can contemplate now. On the first one, As I
think you’re identifying, I’m taking the easy
road by pointing out how Putin himself cites
Ilyin, and how he cites him at critical moments. So 2011, which was actually
the parliamentary elections, he cites Ilyin. The Crimea speech, the
one about Jerusalem, he closes it by citing Ilyin. So here I’m short circuiting. I’m just saying, well, look. The person at the top quotes
him in these highly ceremonial and politically charged moments,
so therefore it must matter. And partly, I’m doing that
because we just don’t know much about the mechanism. There is actually a
Kremlin reading circle, and they did, in
fact, read Ilyin, I have on quite good authority. But who and what they said, it’s
going to be very hard to know. And it’s not like the
old Sovietological method of counting how
many times people quote which thing from Marx. The guys at the top
are free in a way that people weren’t
in the Soviet Union. So it’s very hard to do
those kinds of things. You’d have to be, I think,
almost personally closer to the system than I am. So I think it does matter. It goes back a little
bit to this question, but I would be personally
content if I demonstrated that it’s affected Putin
in the way he makes sense of the world, because how
the system actually works, beyond that is really,
really, really murky, again, going back to your
question about the [INAUDIBLE] where the head of the head
of the security apparatus was just changed a few days ago. He’s gone now. So on the parts and
how they’re left out. I mean, for me,
the critical move is how you define the
European contagion. And that contagion
language is Ilyean to me. Ilyin has this moment, which is
really interesting, where he’s trying to explain in the
’20s why fascism didn’t come from Russia, but instead
had to come from Italy, and then later
Germany is a problem. Because his view is
that Russia should have been the best
incubator for fascism. So why not Russian fascism? And his answer is that Russia is
so perfectly innocent and good that the microbes– again,
his language– the microbes of the Enlightenment
were able to infect the Russian social
body with Bolshevism. Because Russia precisely was
so innocent of Western history and so untouched
it didn’t have what he called the immune defenses
against these Western microbes. And that’s his excuse,
as it were, for why Russia isn’t the
first fascist power. So for him, it’s a
problem, because he wants to say that the
White Movement in Russia was actually the seedbed, or
the founding energy of fascism as a whole, but it
doesn’t succeed precisely because of Russia’s innocence. But anyway, the key
question is, what do you think the contagion is? And what I think has happened is
that they’ve taken the easy way out by saying– I mean, as
you always do, or often, by saying that the
existing European Union is the contagion– the gay
rights, all this other stuff. That’s the contagion. That’s the decadence,
which is the word they use, which is Ilyean. But what Ilyin might just
have said– who knows? But what Ilyin
might just have said is that you should first
be dealing with Bolshevism, that Bolshevism is
in Russia, and you can’t do anything further until
you’ve dealt with Bolshevism. I mean, that is, in
fact, what he said. And so he advocated all
kinds of historical research and decommunization, including,
as I mentioned, at the end, that the KGB officers and
members of the Communist Party shouldn’t be allowed to
hold political positions in post-Communist Russia. So ignoring that part
has obvious implications. But philosophically,
more seriously, Ilyin’s notion of
regeneration involved personal, moral regeneration. It involved accepting
that the world was evil. But remember, he’s in this. He’s in this
phenomenological, which means existential, tradition. So accepting that
the world is dark, and that the dominant
forces are evil, individuals have to
struggle against that and try to remake them. That part of the philosophy,
which Ilyin himself did embody, I mean, he was
unlikable in all kinds of ways, and no one liked him, which
is one the reasons why he was forgotten. I mean, that’s [INAUDIBLE]
confident about. if people like you,
it’s much more likely that you’re going
to be remembered, because people will make
nice speeches about you, and they’ll write [INAUDIBLE]
or whatever we call them. People will write about you. They’ll collect your
letters and so on. Everyone hated Ilyin. All the immigrants
hated him, because they thought he was so
self-righteous, and so judgemental, and so polemical,
all of which is 100%, completely true. But my point is that he really
was a morally rigid person, with a couple exceptions, but
he was a morally rigid person. He was a very judgmental
person, but he was consistent. He worked extremely hard. He was virtuous in the ways he
wanted people to be virtuous. That part, the moral
rigidity, that part has gone completely missing. Ilyin has been used entirely as
a way to export responsibility. One last question. Yes. What is it? Hi, I’m [INAUDIBLE]. So I just have a question,
just to question your premise that this ideology
is due to Ilyin. It seems to me, having
grown up in the Soviet Union, this whole
mysterious Russian soul and this whole attitude of
Russia as completely innocent, that was already the ideology. And when they
rediscovered Ilyin, they thought, OK, now it’s
conveniently written down. So I don’t know if you
have a take on that. Oh, no, no. One of the reasons why
it was so easy to skip through the whole heart and
soul, the whole [RUSSIAN] and [RUSSIAN] business, is that
it is completely mainstream. And in a way, that’s
something that I should’ve said in response to the
Slavophile question, is that it’s not that
Ilyin breaking new ground at every point, but he does put
things together in a way that’s sometimes new and comfortable. So let’s say Russia’s
had big souls. Let’s grant that the
Russians have the big souls. You can conclude the
Slavophile conclusion from that is usually something
like, we should be left alone to develop our own unique
something or other. Whereas the Eurasian take
on that is more like, we have the big
souls, therefore we’ve developed the better fascism,
but everyone else is also going to develop fascism. And we should interact with
them while they do it, which is a different conclusion. And so what Ilyin
does with the heart and the soul is that he develops
a kind of geopolitics which says, we have to
protect ourselves against those evil
European forces so long as they’re going
after our big souls with their reason. I mean, he says it. He says reason is the enemy. So long as they’re going
after our big souls with their reason, with their
minds, we have to fight them. But it’s also possible that
they will move closer to us, which is a different point. So you get a
geopolitics from it. A lot of what he
says is in Pushkin. I mean, a lot of what he says. He idolizes Pushkin. And Pushkin pioneers this thing
in the 19th century of, no matter what we’re doing,
no matter how far we go into Poland and how many
Polish uprisings we suppress, it’s always their fault, or
maybe the Ukrainians’ fault. It’s definitely not our fault
that we’re here in Warsaw, putting down this uprising. It’s definitely
the Poles’ fault. And Pushkin goes very far with
this, but also in the Caucasus. He’s very good at this. There’s this thing about
a Russian prisoner, and the one Russian prisoner
therefore makes all of Russia innocent, despite whatever it
might be doing in the Caucasus. All very useful. Pushkin has a big
fight with Mitskevich about this, over the Poles. And Ilyin loves that. He goes back to this thing. Ilyin loves that, and he cites
it, and he writes about it. So, of course,
you’re right but it’s a question of how you turn
that into a geopolitics, and what kind of
geopolitics it is. Because the Russians with
the big souls, that’s been going on forever, I grant. But until quite recently, there
wasn’t this thing about how the Ukrainians didn’t
have the big souls, and there also wasn’t– right? That’s new. The Ukrainians have big
souls until very recently. And there also
wasn’t this business about how decadence and
homosexuality and all this stuff is coming
in from Europe. That’s fairly new, at
least at this volume level. So something’s happened. Thank you very much, Timothy. [APPLAUSE]

31 thoughts on “Timothy Snyder ─ Ukraine and Russia in a Fracturing Europe

  1. Very interesting and insightful.

    One thing bothered me though – speaking of corruption mr. Snyder said "Russia is down there with Ukraine, Bangladesh etc".
    I don't know much about Bangladesh, but I'm having serious doubts that Ukraine has a level of corruption that is as low as Russia's. The corruption perception ratings that are used to "evaluate" this are very much imprecise given how much tolerance to corruption is present in Russia and how much intolerance (and general media hype) for corruption is in Ukraine – which impacts perception a lot, therefore producing results that speak nothing about a level of corruption itself, but rather of a level of intolerance to corruption – which is almost the opposite of what's measured.

  2. This is an extremely biased hatchet job, which presents a very one sided view of Ivan Ilyin's work. See here for an explanation: https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/bandwagon-of-errors/

  3. hmm… who in the world have been supporting rising and falling of states since 1970s? really bad of this gentleman to call the US a Facist state!

  4. hmm… who in the world have been supporting rising and falling of states since 1970s? really bad of this gentleman to call the US a Facist state!

  5. When Russia does a good job of remembering the dream of a secure southern warm water port; they divide and conquer better than any! Helping the Turks to discriminate poorly against there own, coupled with secret support of dissatisfied groups slowly but surely helped the Ottomans weaken themselves as much or more than the Russian Army was able to directly contribute to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. In the 90's by fanning the flames of Turkish racism and Kurdish nationalism Russia was able to distract Turkey from Russian activities in Chechnya, Georgia, and later Ukraine. Russia is now poised to link all the way from Eastern Europe to Suez using simple psychological operations (like getting the USA to see Iran as a bigger threat than their patron) and surgical conventional military campaigns (like in Syria). Linking the Volga to world trade with no enemy entanglements is a natural impulse. In the modern world however, sovereignty and treaties must still matter! All republics deserve their sovereignty decided without outside influence and Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons on the promise that Ukrainian independence was guaranteed by the West. The USA military already guards the freedom of Germany and Japan, and WW1 and WW2 rolled back and forth through Ukraine. Now is the decisive moment when by allowing Ukraine to know European Union, WW1 may finally end… or the world order WW1 initiated may not know another day of peace.

  6. At 43:21, Snyder casually states that Germany "manufactured" the Muslim rape scandals, such as Cologne. He offers no justification for this claim.

  7. There no in fact any Ukraine. True historical name of this land is Rus' (on greek-latin literation "Rusia") This is territory of ancient Russia (Rus',MaloRossia – or 'central Russia') that was occupied by medieval Poland during 16 century and renamed to so called "Ukraine" (meaning "edge" or border between Rus' and Wild steppe) . Than this term 'ukraine' was restored every time when Russian enemies want to dividing Russia into different parts – such was during German occupation in WWI and WWII. And such dividing of Russia was happened in 1991 – it was criminal and illegal, violating the laws of USSR and people's wiil referendum of 1990 when all soviet people said 'No' for dividing the country. I heard fragment of this "lecture" / Its a boring and uncompetent piece of shit. This is Goebbels propaganda that need to be punished as nazi propaganda and crime against humanity. Timothy Snyder stupid as brick, dont hear his bullshit

  8. I don't think that categorizing Russia or Ukraine as fascist is either helpful or accurate.  It's a label which carries too much of an "electric charge" so to speak.  It digs up a large number of questions and clarifications that simply waste time.  It also scares people and makes the accused side look like they can't be reasoned with.  I like Snyder a lot, and I have read "Bloodlands" and I enjoyed it, but I don't think he's on point here.  He's muddying the waters, actually, which I think it's something he does NOT want to do.

  9. this guy does a really good job, i would love to ask him about the sept 1999 apartment bombings in russia and the involvement of putin and the fsb, google "fsb ryazan"

  10. What Putin and other Russists say that's never what they think. But they understand each other correctly. Know why? Because they can see who the West reacts and reflects words from the official Russia. It is completely Satan because the evil is just parasites on the good or normal. The evil never has its own body, flesh. Only parasitism.

  11. Snyder is a hypocrite !!!!!   Why don't you start talking about 'The $5 Billion the U.S. spent to oust the last ELECTED president of Ukraine (Yanukovych) !!!  Then you may also want to explain George Soros' role in the disintegration of Ukraine !!!

  12. putins affiliation with german is well in line with Illin being a "german philosopher writing in Russian"

  13. The United States has been at war all over the globe practically since the end of WWII. Many suggest a search for oil and other resources and markets has been the motivation. We had better be careful lest we be accused of our own form of lebensraum and world domination. We can do this by showing ourselves to be on a quest for diplomatic solutions to world problems and by showing the world we have much to offer in terms of mutually beneficial friendships, help and independence. Giving. not just taking and making demands.

  14. Some of the ideas here don't fully add up. The idea of Russia as a victim is something I've sensed recently. Which in a way Russia is a victim and generally on the defense. The Mongol invasion, the Napoleonic war and both world wars. Afghanistan doesn't quite fit in that calculation though. Russia has massive strategic problems, which is what makes security a main concern for Moscow. The speech was interesting nonetheless. Honestly who knows to what extent Putin has read this Ivan Ilyn guy and for what purpose. Many people read Hitler's book Mein Kampf out of curiosity or to understand history. This doesn't make them Nazis. Russia isn't fascist at all. The closest thing to it I've seen are the nationalistic racist soccer fans. They're idiots and the general population doesn't agree with them.

  15. Timothy Snyder is a Western propagandist and anti communist at its worst .fact does not matter for him. There is no such thing as a modern day Ukrainian history , it is the biggest lie that ever told . Ukraine is part of Greater Russia and intermingled with Russia proper for at least a 1000 year since Kievan Rus state collapse by Mongols invasion.All Timothy's does is create division among people. what, so called Holomodor was not engineered by The Soviets, famine happened everywhere in the Soviet Union, including RFSSR, Kazakhstan, Georgia in the 1930s. Ukraine as it exists today never was a State, he tried to separate Ukraine as one unique separate people from Russia.Ukraine was Frankenstein state created by Stalin at the end of world war 2, the worst mistake the Soviet Union made is Incorporated Western Ukraine into Ukraine SSR, which was Polish territory , in part came to bite them at the in the final days of the Soviet Union, when Ukraine declare independent from the Soviet Union. Ukraine was an empty wheat field before the Russian conquer it, and when the Bolshevik took over , the whole Ukraine become industrialized with Russian blood, The whole Donbass region, to Kiev, Odessa, Mariopol,dniperteropovsk was built with Russian blood.by the most famous Russian are born in Ukraine, Trotsky Zinoviev Voroshilov, Malinovsky, Breznev Timoshenko, to name a few. Now Revisionist like Timothy Snyder try to rewrite history like Ukraine is a distinct unique separate people from Russian ,divide and conquer.

  16. europe is a civilization of parasites that rob other countries via usury.
    Russia is the only civilization left to keep the balance. Russia is a civilization of measure.

    Crimea had been Russian before US became a state in the 18 century

  17. ukraine is a polish word which stands for 'near margin', that is how the polish called present day western ukraine. the real name of ukraine is Malorossiya, which had been with Russia for centuries before the place was renamed to ukraine

  18. EVERYTHING IS A CONSPIRACY BY SOME NEW WORLD ORDER … BUT WHERE DID THIS SO CALLED NEW WORLD ORDER COME FROM???

    The truth is all of this new world order crap is nothing but a conspiracy theory, that was invented by USSR and the KGB back in the day, as part of the disinformation war against the west.. Russia calls this form of disinformation war for " Active measures "
    (Russian: активные мероприятия / Aktivnyye Meropriyatiya) https://www. youtube. com/watch?v=5gnpCqsXE8g&app=desktop

    The objective of Russian conspiracy theories is NOT to convince everyone that there were such a things as a new world order, but to create enough doubt, distrust, and confusion within the populous of the western nations that it will make people distrust their own government and media, it is, in other words, the good old game of divide and conquer KGB

    Putin style !!!

    So let's take a look at those people like Alex Jones on the right and this dimwit Mr Randy Credico on the fare left they are in-fact the same coin just different side of that same coin…They both accuse the Gov. agencies and corporate, banks of an evil conspiracy,,,,,
    They both like claiming that there is an emerging clandestine totalitarian world government by various conspiracy theories and the common is always about a New World Order, run by banks and business and backed up by the NSA and CIA ect ect …..

    They say it is that secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian regime..

    But then at the same time, they both will when it is convenient for their conspiracy agenda, uses the CIA FBI and government to back up their claims and theories if and when it fits into the there ideas, theories and agenda …

    But her is a thing —— I am sure that they personally believe what they are saying and even some of it sometimes, can be found to have some small truths as well in fact maybe even more than a little..

    But like all good conspiracies you will find some truth in it but the prob. with conspiracy theories is that those guys let their wild fantasy run-amok like saying there are non humans in power and those non humans are trying to use WIFI, microchips and electric to turn us into cyborgs ect ect then they will say things like the governments in the west are poisoning our food with, G,.M,Os and neurotoxins and using the food and water to help to dum us as a people down ..

    What those guys don't really understand is this all of this comes from the KGBs disinformation handbook from back in the day of the cold war and the Kremlin back then and today uses these conspiracies to discredit the US, and the west to the rest of the world and their own populous …

    The truth is this is really a form of Marxism propaganda as the fare right and the far left are seeing anything corporate and banks business ect ect is out to get the working man the little guy,,,

    Yes they will say that the so-called New World Order is run by banks and business is working to bring down the human races backed up by the federal government …
    But the Alex jones, Randy Credico, and even the Glenn Beck of this world don't really understand they are nothing but useful idiots for the Kremlin propaganda machine …

    That told…. NOT ALL and everything that Alex jones and/ or the Randy Credico of this world come with are from looney tune town… like all good lies and conspiracies, some of it has some truth in it, as any good conspiracies must have some true in it to make it look credible..

    What is really going on with the Alex jones and Glenn Becks of this world is nothing more or less than that they have become victims of god old Kremlin propaganda and have become the useful idiots for the Kremlin propaganda machine..

    Yes nothing more or nothing less than victims of KGBs Putins propaganda deception and Marxist brainwashing techniques all of this conspiracies theories are helped along by anti-western leftists and right wing nut jobs by the ex KGBs like Putin himself and today's FSB to bring down the west the EU and America,,,,
    So what is this Kremlin, Putins propaganda thing you ask …
    Well it is called Active measures and the Alex jones and the Glenn Becks in conspiracies theory world dont even know it…

    Take a look here at the link (Russian: активные мероприятия / Aktivnyye Meropriyatiya) https://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Active_measures

    Active measure is a Soviet term for the actions of political warfare conducted by the Soviet security services ( KGB )and now used by the Russian security services ( FSB) to influence the course of world events, in the Russian Kremlins favor, this includes but not limited to collecting intelligence and producing "politically correct" assessment of it,, and Active measures range "from media manipulations to special actions involving various degrees of violence".

    They included disinformation, propaganda, counterfeiting official documents, assassinations, and political repression, such as penetration into churches, Active measures included the establishment and support of international front organizations (e.g. the World Peace Council); foreign communist, socialist and opposition parties; wars of national liberation in the Third World; and underground, revolutionary, insurgency, criminal, and terrorist groups subversion: active measures to weaken the West, to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies, to weaken the United States in the eyes of the people of Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and thus to prepare the ground in case the war really occurs..

    And how do we know that this was and still is run by the Russian Kremlin ???

    We know this because we know who Vasili Mitrokhin was …..

    And who was he you ask …

    He was a KGB cold war agent that became a defector to the west that took with him KGB files regarding the Active measures programs see link https://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Vasili_Mitrokhin

    Some of the active measures by the USSR against the United States were exposed in the Mitrokhin Archive: Well known Kremlin Active measures conspiracy theories put into the western minds …

    Starting rumors that the Jewish "Control" of the Federal Reserve for a new word order and anti-Semitic propaganda has demonized the Jew as a conspiratorial, manipulative outsider, often with powers and designs of world domination helped along by the USA government and the American banks run and owned by the Rothschild jews.

    Starting rumors that fluoridated drinking water was, in fact, a plot by the US government to effect population control.]

    Starting rumors that the moon landings were hoaxes and the money ostensibly used by NASA was in actuality used by the CIA.

    Starting rumors that US, government at the top level let Pearl Harbor happen so the American industrial complex and Banks got the US public to join in and take part in ww2 .
    Use of sympathetic elements in the press to label the strategic defense initiative as an impractical "star wars" scheme.

    Fabrication of the story that AIDS virus was manufactured by US scientists at Fort Detrick; the story was spread by Russian-born biologist Jakob Segal.
    Discrediting of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), using historian Philip Agee (codenamed PONT).

    Attempts to discredit Martin Luther King, Jr. by placing publications portraying him as an "Uncle Tom" who was secretly receiving government subsidies.

    Stirring up racial tensions in the United States by mailing bogus letters from the Ku Klux Klan, placing an explosive package in "the Negro section of New York" (operation PANDORA), and spreading conspiracy theories that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination had been planned by the US government
    Everyone Against Russia: Conspiracy Theories on the Rise In Russian Media
    https:// euvsdisinfo. eu/everyone-against-russia-conspiracy-theories-on-the-rise-in-russian-media/

    TAKE A LOOK AT THIS VIDEO AND THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND !!

    Yuri Bezmenov ex KGB : Psychological Warfare Subversion & Control of Western Society (Complete) https://www. youtube. com/watch?v=5gnpCqsXE8g&app=desktop

    Yuri Bezmenov: Deception Was My Job (Complete)https://www. youtube. com/watch?v=y3qkf3bajd4&t=385s

  19. Very insightful lecture, hats off to Mr Snyder once again. The amount of Russian trolls and propaganda shills in the comments on the other hand is disturbing.

  20. Russia is so interesting to me. Obviously I have nothing but negative feelings for their leaders present or past (except that we can thank Uncle Iosef Vissarianovich for helping us win WWII) or their type of government (whatever tf exactly it can be called), but I've always had a deep and abiding respect for the toughness of the Russian people. They just seem tough as nails. I like to think of myself as a "law office Udarnik" / shock worker type, but those peeps dug canals into freezing soil with their bare hands, or bare hands plus a pickaxe or some shit.

  21. I've been watching Prof Steve Kotkin on Russia and he's very good
    but Tim Snyder is equal or better, terrific insights.
    Allow me to summary Kotkin (I'll stand correcting) :-
    a) Russia repeats itself (Tsar, USSR, Putin)
    b) it is full of contradictions : it believes it's a providential nation ; a/the premier nation
    but actually has a small economy and even smaller sphere of influence : believes itself immensely strong but lives in constant fear.
    c) rejects the West but strives to emulate it and individuals measure their success
    by Western possessions (cf Putin's washing machine)
    d) (importantly) the regime prevents Russia engaging with the west and keeps Russia
    backwards.

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