Sunday, August 20, 2017

‘Self-Loathing Orthodox Christians’ Emerge as Force to Be Reckoned with in Russia, Sociologist Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 20 – For many years, Western sociologists have talked about “self-loathing Jews,” people who by their origins are Jews but base their identity on denying and opposing everything Jewish. Now a St. Petersburg sociologist is suggesting that an analogous group has emerged in Russia, “the self-loathing Orthodox Christians.”

            Elena  Ryigas, a scholar at the Sociological Institute in the northern capital, says this term refers not to those who call themselves Orthodox but don’t take part in the life of the church but rather to those who are fully “churched” as far as practice is concerned but who dissent from what they see Orthodoxy having become (echo.msk.ru/blog/elena_ryg/2039968-echo/).

                Up to now, these people form an insignificant minority, she writes; but because they are middle class and display a high level of social activity, they are worrying the church hierarchy by their constant raising of “inconvenient questions” about church financing, the election of hierarchs or “simply by citing too often the holy word.”   

            Deacon Andrey Kurayev explains their appearance by the fact that “the Russian Orthodox Church was too rapidly transformed from an oppressed Church into a corporation” which enjoys the full backing of the state and does what it wants regardless of its own rules or the laws of the state.

            Many who can be described as self-loathing Orthodox, Ryigas suggests, might seem to be good candidates for shifting to another denomination altogether.  But instead, they are standing their ground within the church but forming various groups like Stalinists, Mizulinists and Milonovs especially after the patriarch met Pope Francis in Havana.

            According to the sociologist, “the Orthodox church is gradually becoming like one large communal apartment,” in which the original residents are being openly challenged by new ones, some of whom simply assert that they are Christians rather than members of any particular faith, including that of the Russian Orthodox Church.

            In many respects, Ryigas says, “the self-loathing Orthodox are really closer to Protestantism and Catholicism” than to the ROC. They are more active in social work than are traditional Orthodox.  Indeed, in some ways, they are like many who say “’I don’t need the church; God is in my soul.’” 

            As the number of churches have grown, there has been observed a trend toward “self-organization of those believers” who are not prepared simply to obey the priest in all things.  They use the church as a kind of base, but in fact have “emigrated” into a kind of Kitezh in which they are on their own.

            “The relationship between state Orthodoxy and the internal Kitezh city” is complicated. Both say they are for the same things, but the one does one thing and the other something quite different.  And that makes the self-loathing Orthodox a new “variety of religious opposition and even dissent.”

            Such ideological competition can play “a positive role” in many cases, Ryigas says, but not in this one.  The clash between the official church and the self-loathing Orthodox will only grow, she suggests, and last as such religious disputes tend to “no less than 40 years” before one group succeeds in suppressing or displacing the other. 

Ethnic Russians Face Same Challenges American Whites Do, Nationalist Commentator Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 20 – Many have focused on the ways in which Moscow has promoted radical white nationalism in the US and why some American whites view Putin’s Russia as a model for emulation – see, for example, novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/08/19/73526-edinstvennaya-derzhava-gde-u-vlasti-belye.

            But a Russian nationalist blogger, who uses the screen name Yegor Pogrom, says that Russians should see in protests by whites in the US an early warning sign of the challenges that ethnic Russians will soon face and have to respond to with protests and other unspecified means (sputnikipogrom.com/usa/76171/why-care/).

            In the US, Pogrom writes, whites have seen their share of the population drop from 80 percent in 1980 to 62 percent in 2014 and, because their fertility rates are lower than non-whites, they fear that their share will inevitably drop still further. Indeed, in 17 US states, he says, white have seen a decline in their percentage even though in 15 overall population has grown.

            The response of the establishment, he suggests, has been to suggest that whites should celebrate diversity even as they continue on their way to becoming a minority of the American population by about 2040.  For many US whites, Pogrom says, their “country is becoming alien” to them. 

            “The very same situation is occurring with ethnic Russians in the Russian Federation,” he says. Yes, it is true that they still form about 80 percent of the population, but that is temporary and caused largely by Russian flight from Ukraine.  The underlying demographic realities point to a very troubling future.

            “Birthrates in the non-Russian republics are much higher” than in Russian areas, “plus” there is massive immigration from Central Asia bringing which is also changing the ethnic balance of the country, despite the bold words of the Putin government that everything is just fine as far as the nationality question is concerned, Pogrom says.

            “And just as in the US, no one in the Russian Federation is offering any variants for the solution of this problem besides ‘being glad about multi-nationality,” he says.  But the problem is growing, and as Russians have fewer children, age and die, they too will soon decline from 80 percent of the population to 60 percent or even less.

            Russians are encouraged not to worry and to avoid doing anything that might make the situation even worse, Pogrom says; but they should be ready to protest at US whites did in Charlottesville in front of a Kadyrov University in 2040 when North Caucasians begin demanding that statues of Russian heroes be removed because they “offend.”

History Suggests Cheaper Ways to Get Bureaucrats Out of Capital than Moving It, Moscow Mayor Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 20 –  Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin says that the idea of moving the capital of Russia east of the Urals is just “brilliant.” But instead of spending trillions to move officials 8,000 kilometers from 110 million Russians, those who back the idea should recall that bureaucrats have been exiled there before and at much lower cost.


It has even prompted Novyye izvestiya to publish the entire document Yury Krupnov prepared for Vladimir Putin on how to “de-Muscovize” Russia and why doing so is essential if Russia is to keep control of the territory within its current borders (newizv.ru/news/politics/20-08-2017/spasti-moskvu-i-rossiyu-chto-predpolagaet-doktrina-razmoskvichivaniya).

While Putin is unlikely to accept and act on the idea, Krupnov’s words are certain to provoke discussions among many in Russia  beyond the ring road who feel that Moscow has sucked up too much of Russia’s resources and left too few for all the rest, thus contributing to anti-Moscow sentiments which are never far below the surface outside the current capital.