Let’s get down to work. Let’s back up a long way and see where the initial error was made in calculating the supposed real purpose of the Russian people (versus the ideal proposed by Solovyev and Chaadayev). As Aristotle always said, a small error in the beginning produces a huge error at the end, although it bears the same ratio as the initial error. Let’s look at the reasons given for the separation of Byzantium from Rome. And since Moscow is the Second Byzantium (and therefore the Third Rome), we have to know how this happened. And then we will understand why it happened.
We all know the story of how Photius separated the faithful, right? How he initiated the Great Schism? The tactic is so simple. All you have to do to gain the people’s trust (and thus become their new leader) is to object to some abuse of power by the current regime. These abuses are not hard to find. In any institution populated by man. Then, as the new champion of un-sullied mankind, you must propose the de-centralization of power as the corrective to this supposed (or even real) abuse. Then comes the real strategic purpose; the re-assimilation of power. There’s a word for this process. Revolution.
And so in the first instance, with Photius, there were a myriad of excuses of religious abuse that were proffered to the faithful for the break with Rome. All of which have proven to be red herrings. Historical reflection has proven that they were only excuses. What’s my proof? Simple. The excuses kept changing. If the initial excuse was true and of real import, it would never have needed to be replaced by the next supposed abuse. So forget the excuses. Forget the Three Fingers, forget the Three Allelujias, forget the double blessings of the Epiphany water, forget the Wednesday fastings, forget the Appollinarian heresy, forget the Filioque clause. They’re all window dressing for the real reason. The real reason was power, and the desire to exercise it apart from the supra-national power of Peter. I’ve said all this before (The Barbarian Bible). Both Luther and Henry saw the lesson of Photius, quite clearly. And each of these dark minds has learned the lesson of how to seize power, and how to keep it.
But there has to be a final red herring for this charade to continue, right? Something that will beguile even the staunchest defender of Holy Rome, right? After all, the strategic goal remains the same. But tactics change as needed, eh Komrade? As Mao and the Gang used to say, fight fight, talk talk. And Vlad and his minions are today’s masters of this game. Just listen to Alexander Dugin if you want to know the party line today; actually, the dezinformatsiya line today. Remember this man’s name. It will come up again, in a big way. But not now, OK? [Editor’s note: in two week’s time, Watt will have an essay on Dugin.]
So then, just what is this final bit of bait that we will swallow? Why, it’s the most wonderful offer of all time. It’s so inclusive. It’s so diverse. Which means it’s so in tune with the Zeitgeist of today. Which means it will be swallowed whole. Without a single sniff. And what is the name of this fish? It’s name is this: Universal Salvation. Brought to you by your friendly Russian Orthodox Church. Coming soon to a theatre (of operations) near you!
But wait! How can this be? How can the un-bending conservatism of the Russian-Greek Orthodox Church be the bearer of such a thought? Heaven forfend! It cannot be! Well, it’s simple, Komrade. Like all great truths (and lies), it’s so very simple. Simplicity sells, you know. And here is the simple idea: Russia has been the bearer of the truth for a millennium. The sole bearer, in fact, if you believe in autocephalous Orthodoxy. After all, according to the Patriarchs of Moscow, the First Rome apostasized, and the Second Rome rotted with sensuality. And only the Third Rome (Novgorod/Moscow) has preserved the faith while resisting the temptations of the flesh.
Well, maybe. But what the Hell has this got to do with Universal Salvation? So far this sounds like an infomercial for Exclusive Orthodoxy, right? How can this be reconciled? Quite simply, my friend; the answer is Orthodox Sharia Law.
What??? What in the world is that??? It’s what’s coming soon. And remember where you heard it, eh? Just as I said there is no difference between ‘Moderate Islam and Radical Islam‘? There is no difference between the sleepy Orthodoxy of Hesychasm and the radicalism of Orthodox Sharia Law. They are one and the same. One is asleep, one is awake. Want proof? Just look at the new law of religious ‘tolerance’ enacted in Russia. The new law that proclaims Orthodoxy as the official religion of Russia.
Be assured, Komrade, your non-Orthodox religion is safe. We, the Orthodox hierarchy will protect you. No, you don’t have to wear a burkha. Unless you want to. No, you don’t have to throw away your mandala. Unless you want to. No, you don’t have to kneel to anyone in Rome. Unless you want to. You won’t have to do anything, unless you want to. The only thing you absolutely have to do to obtain this Universal Salvation is to submit. To the headship of Russia. To the headship of the Patriarch. And to the Tsar. As they used to say, ‘Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us’. So climb aboard the magic bus, brother. Next stop, Heaven! Or Paradise. Or Nirvana. Or Valhalla. Or wherever you want to go. Simple enough, eh?
I know, this is too much to bear, right? It’s unthinkable! It’s ridiculous, it’s outlandish, it’s so insulting! But let me ask you something, Komrade; in this crazy world of Trans-Blenderism (of everything), why couldn’t this be true? Why wouldn’t the final denouement of mankind be the most outrageous lie you could think of? Little lies are so easy to refute. Only a Big Lie will do! And can you think of a bigger one than this?
Let me explain. Let’s go to the heart of the matter. The difference between First Rome and Third Rome will be this: that there will be Universal Salvation. But only for those who submit. To Moscow, of course. Not to Mecca. And not to First Rome, of course! But here’s the problem. In order to sell this package, Orthodoxy will have to occupy First Rome. The deal has to be sold through the original franchise. We can’t afford to have our authenticity questioned, eh Komrade? Which is why Orthodoxy must occupy First Rome before she can close the deal. And yes, this means the Second Rome must fall as well. Thus the ongoing battle with the Turks, the current squatters of that piece of sacred (but now defiled) real estate once known as Constantinople. They are currently currying Vlad’s favor, as they can smell the coming disaster. But that’s beside the big point.
The big point is the difference between what First Rome offers (now), and what Third Rome will offer the world, soon. And here it is: First Rome says there’s only one way, one truth. And only one chance at it. Third Rome will do as it has always done—that is, it will offer salvation to everyone, regardless of their understanding of divinity. Provided, however, that in this life, each sect must submit to Moscow. And not the Moscow of Vladimir Putin. No, it is the Moscow of the Patriarch Kyrill.
Still not clear? Well, let’s look to the past. The Russian past. And let’s notice that in the Sobornost of Russia, every nationality and belief system was accorded the equality of being truly Russian, by both the Czar and the Patriarch. As long as you admitted the supremacy of Orthodoxy and the Czar, you were a full-fledged Russian. Even if you weren’t Orthodox. All you had to do was submit. Then things would be fine. As long as you didn’t try to proselytize others for your non-Orthodox beliefs, no one would try and proselytize you. Fair enough? And it has worked for nearly a millennium. At least, for the Orthodox.
Here is the tie that binds it all together: the unity of mankind. If you will only admit that mankind is one, and that Orthodoxy is its penultimate example, then all can be saved. And why not, Komrade? After all, if the operative principle of Orthodoxy is autocephaly (self-thinking), then what would keep you from accepting their leadership? After all, the implicit thought in autocephaly is pretty clear; We all get to do our own thinking. I’ll bend my knee but not my heart. I’ll do my own thinking, regardless of what is demanded of me in the public square. I can still be a true Muslim, or Hindu, or Confucian, or Protestant, or whatever, and still make it to heaven, according to my Orthodox masters! Such a deal! Oy vey!
I know, this is insane. I agree. But how else can a man survive in this world today? But look a little closer and ask yourself this: what could be a better offer than Universal Salvation? What else is there that would draw all of mankind together, in their current state of polarization, than such an offer? What else could unify mankind? I see nothing on that horizon. Nothing. Not even First Rome. I know, I sound heretical, right? Except, perhaps, you haven’t noticed what’s been going on in Holy Rome? And how this Pope has been going hell-bent for leather towards exactly what I’ve described. Didn’t Pope Francis just announce that proselytism was a grave sin?
Now follow me here, closely. If it is a sin, a grave one, to try and communicate your faith to a ‘fellow but-separated Christian’, and if we have been told that there is no need to convert the Jews (because their Old Covenant is still in effect) then how much further need we go to embrace Islam as a ‘monotheistic (but Un-Trinitarian) brotherhood’ that also flows from Abraham (and therefore is a legitimate belief system)? Well? Have you an answer?
From there, what is left? Confucians? Shamans? Hindus? Hell, they have 330 million gods, they’ll be glad to squeeze another three into that pantheon, right? So why can’t we make room for them in ours? Can’t we all just get along, brother? Everybody’s right, right? And so, we only have need of one thing to make this deal work, Komrade. We need the policeman. The one man that will allow everyone to believe as he wants, without trying to convert his neighbor. The man who will defend each and every belief system’s right to existence. And the right to Universal Salvation. Who would that be, my friend? Who is it that has a thousand year history of studied indifference to the command to ‘go and teach all nations’? Who is it that has slept this past millennium while the rest of us have been at each other’s throats? Who would that be? Wouldn’t it be the Russians, who were known as the Policeman of Europe, back when she put out the Napoleonic revolutionary fires of 1812, 1830 and 1848? Wouldn’t they be the only ones we could trust? Especially if ‘we’ aren’t ‘them’?
There’s the answer. The only way to Universal Salvation is to eliminate the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’. But a Russian can’t possibly abandon the ‘us’ of Sobornost without betraying his Russian essence. Yet if the only way to peace is through universal Sobornost, we all have to become one, correct? Well then, the answer is quite simple, isn’t it? Right! We all have to abandon our ‘them’ and become part of the Russian ‘us’! We must become one with Russia. The West must become an integral part of the Russian ‘us’. We all have to become Russians. Da!
Just how can that be accomplished? By making Vlad the new Augustus, of course. And Kyrill the new Pope. You think I’m kidding? I know plenty of Traddy Catholics who would trade Patriarch Kyrill for Pope Francis in a heartbeat. And what Western Pinko wouldn’t drool at the thought of a Russian ruling from Holy Rome? How would this be antithetical to any Protestant? Finally, let me remind you that this version of religious Sobornost is what has held the Russian Empire together for the past 1,000 years. In her hesychastic dreams.
Let’s wrap this thing up, eh? Here is the essence of the Russian mind: that she is the long-suffering servant described in scripture. The one who has unfairly borne the slings and arrows of all mankind, whether Roman, Viking, Muslim or Mongol. Yet she has been patient for a thousand years. She has allowed each of these non-Orthodox peoples and their beliefs a place of peace within her vast empire, even unto today. All of them are welcome within the meaning of Sobornost. All of them can be considered truly Russian. Provided however, that each group recognizes the heart of this perverted All-One unity, whose real name is Autocephaly. Call it Orthodoxy if you want, but you’re ignoring the reality of what that name really means. Given the current state of mankind, this is the only offer that will appeal to all men. And this unity can only be achieved through the offer (bogus or not) of the Universal Salvation of mankind.
So then, let’s just assume for a minute that this absurd thing could actually occur. That all men could keep their disparate beliefs, yet live in peace. A peace enforced by the benevolent yet powerful yet Hesychastic-somnolent masters of Moscow. A peace where all beliefs are true enough, and all roads will bring all men to Heaven. Sure, there will probably be a hierarchy in Heaven, with the Orthodox in the box seats. Next to the Pharisees. And maybe your particular non-Orthodox belief system only gets you into general admission seats in the bleachers. Or as a waiter or a bus-boy at the food kiosks. But hey, you’re in, right? What a deal! Count me in! Who isn’t ready for some peace, at last? Isn’t it about time?
Haven’t we all suffered enough already? Well, sure. It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Can’t we all just get along? Absolutely, Komrade. No problem. But I do have one little question I’d like to ask the Patriarch before I submit to this ride on the magic bus. My question is, if this is what Russian Heaven’s gonna look like, what in Hell’s the difference?