Voices from Russia

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Russia and China Veto Western Aggression Against Syria at the UN

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Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria that called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Thirteen of the council’s 15 members voted in favour of the resolution aimed to stop the violence in Syria. After the vote, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said, “The draft resolution that was put to a vote didn’t reflect Syria’s realities well enough and sent conflicting signals to the political forces in Syria”. Previously, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the resolution didn’t set enough demands on anti-government armed groups, and that Russia was concerned it could jeopardise the national dialogue among political forces in Syria. Earlier on Saturday, Lavrov said he and Foreign Intelligence Service head Mikhail Fradkov would visit Syria and meet with President al-Assad on 7 February. President Dmitri Medvedev ordered the visit. Lavrov didn’t reveal any details of the upcoming the visit.

This is the second time that Russia and China, as permanent members, have vetoed resolutions on the Syria issue. In October, they blocked a European-sponsored resolution condemning Syria and threatening possible sanctions. According to the UN, the Syrian government‘s 11-month crackdown on protests killed at least 5,400 people. Syrian authorities blamed the violence on armed gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda, and said that more than 2,000 soldiers and police were killed. Some Western countries tried to persuade Moscow to support a resolution effectively authorising a military operation, but Russia repeatedly insisted that the Western drive for a stronger crackdown on Syria is a preparation for a “Libyan scenario”. Russia, one of Assad’s firm supporters during the uprising against his régime, indicated earlier this week that it would veto any draft resolution calling on Assad to step down and providing for “further measures” should he refuse. Moscow proposed its own draft, which the West criticised as being too soft.

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On Saturday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said she was “disgusted” by the Russian and Chinese veto on a Security Council resolution on Syria that urges President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Thirteen of the council’s 15 members voted in favour of the resolution aimed to stop the ongoing violence in Syria. She said, “Any further bloodshed that flows will be on their [Russia’s and China’s] hands”. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the failure to condemn President al-Assad increased the risk of more bloodshed and civil war in Syria, saying, “If we don’t begin the process, I know what’ll happen… more bloodshed, increasing resistance by those whose families are being killed and whose homes are being bombed, and a greater likelihood that Syria will descend into civil war”.

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On Saturday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained why Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, saying that without Russia’s latest amendments, the draft would be unilateral and would harm Syria if adopted. On Saturday, veto-wielding UN Security Council members Russia and China blocked the Morocco-proposed draft resolution on Syria that called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Thirteen of the council’s 15 members voted in favour of the draft, backed by the Arab League and the West. Lavrov said he sent Russian amendments to the draft resolution on Friday to US State Secretary Hillary Clinton and Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin so that all partners could get familiarised with them. Lavrov said, “No one can doubt the rationality and objectivity of these amendments”.

Although UN Security Council diplomats had toned down the latest draft in an apparent move to overcome Russia’s opposition, Lavrov said the Morocco-submitted plan was “unilateral”. He pointed up that we should assess the extremist groups provoking violence in Syria in a proper way, which hasn’t been done. He said the resolution didn’t set enough demands on anti-government armed groups, and that Russia was concerned it could jeopardise Syria’s national political dialogue. Besides, he noted, the draft resolution contained a demand that all Assad’s forces should withdraw from cities and towns. Lavrov said, “This phrase, without being linked to a simultaneous termination of violence on the part of armed extremist groups, is absolutely provocative, as no president with self-respect, no matter how treated, will agree to surrender inhabited localities to armed extremists without resistance”.

On Saturday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said she was “disgusted” by the Russian and Chinese veto on the draft, and that “all further bloodshed” that could follow will be on the two countries’ conscience. Rice said, “For months, this council has been held hostage by a couple of members. These members stand behind empty arguments and individual interests while delaying and seeking to strip bare any text that would pressure Assad to change his actions”. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the veto, and his statement distributed through his spokesman called it, “A great disappointment to the people of Syria and the Middle East, and to all supporters of democracy and human rights. It undermines the role of the United Nations and the international community in this period when the Syrian authorities must hear a unified voice calling for an immediate end to its violence against the Syrian people”.

Lavrov said, “We’ve repeatedly said that we aren’t protecting Assad but international law. The prerogatives of the UN Security Council don’t envision interference in internal processes”. Asked why Russia initially agreed with the resolution, but then changed its mind, Churkin said the situation has changed in the past month since the Arab League put forward its plan for Syria. The heads of the Russian and Chinese delegations said their countries hope the international community continues its efforts to stop violence in Syria. On Saturday, Qatar-based satellite TV broadcaster Al Jazeera reported, citing UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that a new major army offensive in the central Syrian city of Homs killed at least 217 people. Syrian authorities denied any involvement.

4 February 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120204/171146455.html

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120204/171148969.html

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120205/171151527.html

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4 February 2012. A Thought From an Orthodox Layman…

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My Commitment to the Citizens of Russia: The Programme of Presidential Candidate G A Zyuganov

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Power… and Ownership… to the People! On 4 March, vote for Zyuganov!

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My Commitment to the Citizens of Russia, from G A Zyuganov, Presidential Candidate of the KPRF and Allied People’s Patriotic Forces

My fellow citizens! I’m addressing you at a difficult hour for the motherland. Over the past 20 years, Russia has suffered huge losses. The country is dying. There’s no part of the country without dead and dying villages. There’s no city without ruined enterprises. The standard of living of most people is falling. Scientific and technological backwardness has become rampant. We missed a unique opportunity. We’re going to have to start an accelerated rise or crash to the bottom. The times demand immediate change.

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THIS is what the Church thinks of Socialism and of those who advocate it… it doesn’t worship the wealthy and warmongering West the way some diaspora clerics do…

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For the Sake of the Country

Around the world, capitalism persistently produces glaring poverty, conflicts, war, cultural degradation, and environmental problems. Once again, this bankrupt system has plunged the world into an acute crisis, and our country is one of its victims. Realising the gravity of present problems, I, Gennady Zyuganov, am ready to assume responsibility for the fate of Russia. If I win election as the President of the RF, I guarantee that I’ll form a Government of the People’s Trust composed of professionals and patriots. It’ll be a coalition, with the inclusion of different political parties and non-partisan figures. The new Head of Government won’t engage in political propaganda, nor interfere in the organisation of economic life.

The work of the Executive Branch will address and overcome the five major threats looming over Russia:

  • Huge social inequalities
  • Demographic crisis
  • Economic collapse
  • Weakness of defence forces
  • Spiritual and moral degradation

Steering the state, our team will provide:

  • National security for the country and personal wellbeing for its citizens
  • Transition from economic decline to accelerated development
  • Eradicate poverty and social degradation
  • Strengthening the concord between the peoples of Russia
  • Legality, rule of law, and human rights

We’ll do it for the people and with the people.

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Updating the Political System

In my activity as Head of State, I agree to subordinate my actions to the people’s approval. There’d be real equality of the peoples of Russia in public administration and in the disposal of public property. No one will do anything against the people’s will. I’d give immediate orders to the proper law enforcement authorities to investigate all alleged electoral fraud in the last parliamentary election. Besides that, I’d set new parliamentary elections for 1 December 2012. We’d hold new elections for the RF Federation Council at the same time as those for the RF Gosduma. I’d guarantee you an open and fair electoral system. Russia’s Election Commission would have members of all political factions. We’d guarantee a full-fledged television debate with the obligatory participation of the leaders of political parties and presidential candidates. There’d be tougher penalties for falsification of election results.

We’d expand the authority and oversight functions of parliament and reduce the presidential term to 5 years. An individual could sit as President for two terms, and no more. The Vice President would be elected along with the President. By the end of 2012, I’d submit a draft law to the Gosduma on the direct election of governors. The only “filter” for their election would be the opinion of local residents, with an open competition of political parties and candidates. During the course of the year, we’d act on special anti-corruption legislation. In 2013, we’d have a new law on the use of referendums. This would be a real opportunity to expand the people’s direct exercise of power. By 2014, the country would have a unified system of local councils and increased funding for the needs of local governments. From 2015 onwards, the citizens will elect people’s judges in cities and in Raions. People would have the opportunity to influence the government through community-based organisations and people’s control.

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Death to World Imperialism

Unknown Artist

1918-20

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Russian Security

Under my leadership, the Government of the People’s Trust would lead a new course. Its formula would be “Three plus Seven plus Five”:

  • THREE new foreign policy directions
  • SEVEN new areas of economic policy
  • FIVE new social priorities

After the destruction of the USSR, one saw overconfident actions all over the world. There was a new order in the world… with seizure of natural resources and markets, along with the imposition of pro-Western juntas. The USA is waging several wars of conquest. Washington’s project of a “Greater Middle East” is only part of its plans for world domination. Our country needs a shield against any such aggression. Without it, we can’t provide favourable conditions for development and decent living in Russia. Official Moscow hasn’t taken measures to counter NATO. Russia’s actual consent to the invasion of Libya was shameful. The ratification of the START-3 Treaty masks a US arms race. Our defence potential’s rapidly eroding, our country’s being laid waste continually, and friends such as Byelorussia are isolated. It’s of the utmost importance to restore our national security and to guarantee the sovereignty of Russia. To do this we must solve three problems.

1. New Foreign Policy Priorities

We’d focus on establishing equitable relations in the world, to expand the number of permanent allies and partners of Russia. We’d direct our efforts on enhancing the role of the UN, to foster a multipolar world, limiting the influence of NATO. Our compatriots abroad would receive reliable protection.

2. Create a New Union of Fraternal Peoples

I’d do everything possible to accelerate the convergence of the countries of the former USSR by forming a single economic space of Russia, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. We’d establish a stable Union State of Byelorussia and Russia.

3. Strengthening National Defence

The Government of the People’s Trust would stop the “reforms” of the Army and Navy. We’d renew the armed forces and the military-industrial complex. We’d see to it that the families of officers would have housing, schools, preschool institutions, and houses of culture.

I firmly promise you an independent and peaceful foreign policy, and that I’d defend the motherland from all external threats.

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The Golden Idol of the Lord of World Capitalism

Unknown Artist

1918-20

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Economic Policy  

During the years of “reforms”, more than two-thirds of Russia’s industrial potential was destroyed. From 9,850 extractive industries, only 416 remain public. As a result, the oligarchs’ profit is 400 times more than what our whole country gets from the exploitation of our natural resources. That is why the number of beggars is unprecedented, production plummets, and infrastructure’s falling apart before our eyes. It’s time to improve the situation drastically. To create economic growth instead of “economic cash-cows”, we need to solve seven problems.

1. Nationalisation

We’d enact Land, Forest, and Water Codes, and a new Law on Mineral Resources, which would consolidate public ownership of natural resources. Moreover, nationalisation would affect oil and gas, banking, energy, aircraft building, and rail transport. It’d give the State the major financial resources. Russian budget revenues would double. This money would fuel economic recovery and help to resolve social problems. However, I emphasise that to transfer everything to state ownership doesn’t make sense. Moreover, we aren’t talking about privatised apartments, housing lots, and other personal property. Nationalisation would only affect a narrow circle of people. At the same time, those who were reasonable in the ‘90s, who invested in the development of production, we’ll offer a decent compensation. We’re ready to work with these people as professionals, and invite them to participate in interesting projects as investors. Our team is ready to dialogue and reach reasonable compromises, but we won’t indulge the whims of oligarchs. I guarantee you that nationalisation would benefit 99 percent of the population, including small and medium business-owners. You’d see how the government would stop the growth of tariffs for gas and electricity, utility services, and transportation, as well as stopping rises in prices for coal, oil, and lubricants. This would also decrease the price of food and other goods.

2. New Industrialisation

We would act on the principle, “Continual Modernisation”. We’d increase public investment in the development of industry by at least 20 trillion roubles in the period from 2013 to 2016. We’d act according to the latest developments in scientific and technological progress. We’d reform the Unified Energy System.

3. The Revival of Rural Russia

We’d restore the country’s food security. Provision for the development of agriculture would form 10 to 15 percent of the federal budget. The Government would ensure the creation of large collective farms and provide the farmers with modern technology. We’d break down price disparities, and re-establish cultural institutions, schools, kindergartens, hospitals, and clinics in rural areas. We’d guarantee full access to natural gas supplies in the villages.

4. Change of Fiscal Policy

Today, the bosses deplete the economy, putting petrodollars abroad as a “nest egg” for themselves and their bankers. Our monetary and financial policies, as well as control over the pricing and tariffs, should guarantee that such funds support domestic producers and municipalities. The Russian banking system would consist of state-owned banks, including Vneshtorgbank, Sberbank, Stroibank, and Selkhozbank. They’d ensure efficient use of financial resources and the effective circulation of money. Commercial banks whose services stimulate economic and social development would survive. We’d curtail speculation sharply, as it suffocates the economy with excessively high interest rates on loans.

5. The Revision of the Tax System

Taxes for the manufacturing sector would decline. Significant benefits would go to producers of competitive products, and to those that direct funds to R & D. We’d introduce a progressive income tax, adding two trillion roubles annually to the budget. However, you wouldn’t pay income tax if your salary were less than 12,000 roubles per month per family member.

6. Accelerated Development of Science

In Russia, the share of high-tech products in exports decreased by 0.5 percent. In Germany and Japan, such growth exceeded 30 percent, and the USA increased high-tech sales by 40 percent. To remedy this shameful situation, we’d double funding for scientific research in 2014. Support for such a revival would come from the government, the Soviet-era ”science cities”, and other research centres. We’d guarantee decent pay to scientists, and we’d give housing and other social support to promising young researchers. Scholarships for postgraduate and doctoral students would increase fourfold. Russian science would become actively involved in formulating public policy. The President and the Government would make key decisions only after seeking approval from the best minds in the country.

7. Implementation of the “Conquest of Space”

Investment in the Russian aircraft industry would double in 2013. We’d carry out consolidation of airlines, create modern short-haul aircraft, and take measures to ensure air traffic safety. We’d pay special attention to the construction of modern highways, and implement a development programme for sea and river transport. Regulation of transportation tariffs would give you freedom of movement. In the first three years, the Government of the People’s Trust would have to put major investments into industry and agriculture. However, once they start producing, economic growth would give a most reliable revenue source for the budget. This would allow for large-scale social programmes.

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1 June:International Day of Protecting Children

Unknown Artist

1970s

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Social and National-Cultural Policy

If I take office as President of Russia, I’d guarantee a unified social policy and access to culture throughout the country. The key task of the government would be to facilitate comprehensive human development. High standards of social protection would obtain, regardless of the income level of regional and local budgets. Russia would be a country without a “backwoods”. The uniformity of social policies and the strengthening of the concord between nationalities would ensure the integrity of the state. We’d strongly suppress any manifestation of Russophobia and any attempt to incite ethnic hatred.

1. A Just Society to Replace the “Social Jungle”

We’d adopt a new labour code, and defend the rights of employees, guaranteeing workers decent pay and working conditions, adequate leisure and recreational facilities, to improve their educational and cultural level. During our first year, we’d review all the anti-people laws imposed by the United Russia Party. Amongst the first, we note Federal Law 83 on the commercialisation of social services. Our new legislation would expand the network of social institutions, strengthen the protection of mothers and their children, and introduce additional measures to support the elderly and the disabled. We’d give special status to “war orphans”. By the end of 2013, the average pension in Russia will increase twofold, whilst those on the minimum schedule would receive a threefold increase.

Each one of us should have decent housing. Low-income families would get it free. Others could procure a real estate loan at a rate of no more than 5 percent per annum. We need a large-scale resettlement programme for those in old and dilapidated housing stock. The government would actively support large-scale building, allocating building plots free of charge. A new housing code will return infrastructure and public utilities in the state, under oblast or municipal management. Authorities would be responsible for repair of communications, roofs, basements, and porches of apartment buildings. Cheap heat and electricity would come to every home. Your payment for housing and communal services wouldn’t exceed 10 percent of family income.

2. Children and Young People Receive Support from the State

We’d guarantee young people a free education, work in their specialty, and provide free housing for their families. In two years, we’d end the deficit of places in day-care centres. For large families, we’d start an extended system of benefits, and we’d significantly expand children’s health programs and holiday opportunities. The state would actively support gifted children, young inventors, scientists, and authors of promising projects. We’d open new sports clubs, art clubs and studios, and tourist centres. We’d give every possible assistance to youth and children’s organisations.

3. High-Quality Education Available To All

We will return to the people the greatest achievement of the Soviet era… universal free education. Public expenditure on it would grow from 4 percent to 8-10 percent of GDP. Teachers and professors would receive adequate salaries, and heightened social status. Students would have hot meals. Student grants would increase, the number of recipients would expand. After 1 September 2012, expenditures for these purposes would double, after which the size of grants would be indexed annually.

4. Strengthening the National Healthcare System

You’d receive high-quality medical care free of charge. Private clinics would only be an adjunct to the public healthcare system. We’d provide comprehensive preventative care, access to spa treatments, and large-scale promotion of healthy lifestyles. No later than 2014, the average wage in healthcare would exceed the national average. The lump sum one-time childbirth allowance on the newborn would be 50,000 roubles on 1 January 2013. The monthly child allowance would approximate the actual cost of living. By 2015, we’d restore the full service of maternal and child health, antenatal care, and delivery care.

5. Authorities would Provide for Cultural Progress and the Spiritual Unity of the Country

The State would protect the spiritual values ​​and national traditions of all the peoples of Russia. By the end of 2012, we’d enact a law “On culture”. Within three years, we’d double spending in this area. We’d stand for the preservation of cultural monuments. We’d firmly defend our history from the encroachments of those who denigrate the achievements of previous generations. We’d increase the intellectual and spiritual level of national television. You’d be free from intrusive commercials. There’d be a large-scale programme for the protection of the language and culture of not only the Russian people, but of all the peoples of Russia. Creative unions will have ample opportunities for activity.

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THIS is what Church/State relations would be under Gennady Andreyevich and Kirill Mikhailovich… don’t listen to rightwing clerical liars who work for the Voice of America (a position forbidden to clerics by the canons, by the way)…

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Give Us a Chance for the Next Six Years

I’m convinced that the next six years of the presidency is a serious time. During this period, you can change things for the better, to lay the foundations for the accelerated development of Russia. My real commitment to you is in the ideas deployed in detail in the election and long-term programmes of the KPRF. My team is confident in their abilities. Once in power, we’d cleanse the electoral system from information terror, the omnipotence of dirty money, and arrogance. The will of the citizens would be free from the pressure of government officials. We’re committed to a fair political fight, ready for open and equal discussion. After my election as President, the state apparatus would be much smaller, but more efficient. We’d lead a relentless fight against corruption, with comprehensive development of various forms of popular self-government and control over the work of officials. I’d actively support civic initiatives and activities of public associations. You’d receive the right to recall Gosduma deputies and any other official at any level for violation of election promises. We’d provide for turnover in the ranks of the authorities and protect human rights.

I’m convinced that the people’s will would win a majority, to establish a just power. We can and must live in a country that prides itself on its achievements and looks to the future with confidence!  

Gennady Zyuganov

KPRF Candidate for President of the Russian Federation

16 January 2012

KPRF Official Website

http://kprf.ru/rus_soc/101373.html

4 February 2012. A Point to Ponder: Stephen Prothero on Ayn Rand and Jesus Christ: “You Can’t Reconcile Ayn Rand and Jesus”

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The new darling of the Republican Party is pro-choice and anti-religion. She once wrote that, since “an embryo has no rights”, abortion “should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved”. When asked by Playboy magazine whether religion “ever offered anything of constructive value to human life”, she answered, “No”, adding, “Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life”. Her name’s Ayn Rand, and although she died in 1982, this novelist, philosopher, and anti-communist crusader is the hot new thing in the GOP. The American public may have met the April opening of Atlas Shrugged, a film based on her novel of the same name, with a collective shrug, but Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh tout her books, and her genius. Moreover, the opening line of Atlas Shrugged (“Who is John Galt?”) pops up regularly on handmade signs at Tea Party rallies.

Among Rand’s adoring acolytes on Capitol Hill is Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), who, at a Library of Congress symposium held in 2005 on the centenary of the Rand’s birth, called her “The reason I got involved in public service”. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), who announced his third presidential run recently, invoked Rand in the House on matters as disparate as NASA and the Post Office. His son, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), used her novel Anthem in Senate hearings in April to argue against government regulations to phase out the incandescent light bulb. When asked to name his favourite political philosopher, George W Bush named Jesus Christ. However, Ayn Rand’s the GOP’s new saviour, and no one seems to be taking notice of just how opposed their two philosophies are.

Individualism vs Collectivism

In Rand’s Manichaean world, it isn’t God vs Satan, but individualism vs collectivism. Whilst Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor”, she sings Hosannas to the rich. The heroes of Atlas Shrugged (which, alas, is only slightly shorter than the Bible) are captains of industry such as John Galt. The villains are the “looters” and “moochers”… people who by hook (guilt), or by crook (government coercion), steal from the hard-won earnings of others. Turning the tables on traditional Christian morality, Rand argues that altruism is immoral and selfishness is good. Moreover, there isn’t a problem in the world that Laissez-faire Capitalism can’t solve if left alone to perform its miracles.

I first read Atlas Shrugged and her other popular novel, The Fountainhead, whilst festival-hopping in Spain after graduating from college, so, I can attest to the appeal of this philosophy to late adolescents of a certain gender. As an adult, however, Rand’s work reads to me like a vulgar rationalisation for greed situated on top of a perverse myth of the right relationship between individual and community. Therefore, when Ryan said, “Ayn Rand, more than anyone else, did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism”, I have to question his use of the word “explaining”. “Duping” seems like the more appropriate verb. As someone who’s written extensively on the religious illiteracy of the American public, I’m not surprised that few Republicans today seem to understand that marrying Ayn Rand to Jesus Christ is like trying to interest Lady Gaga in Donny Osmond. Nevertheless, there’s nothing Christian about Rand’s Objectivism. In fact, it’s farther from Christianity than the Marxism that Rand so abhorred. Despite the attempt of the advertising executive Bruce Barton to turn Jesus into a CEO in his novel The Man Nobody Knows (1925), Jesus was a first-class, grade-A “moocher”.

However, I’m somewhat surprised at how few GOP thinkers seem to see how hostile her philosophy is to conservatism itself. First and foremost, REAL conservatism is about conserving a society’s traditions, including its religious and political traditions. However, Rand’s Objectivism rejects, in the name of reason, appeals to either revelation or tradition. The individual’s her hero, and God and the dead be damned. Real conservatism is also about sacrifice, as is authentic Christianity. President Kennedy was liberal in many ways, but “Ask not what your country can do for you… ask what you can do for your country” was classic conservatism. Rand, however, will brook no such sacrifice. Serve yourself, she tells us, and save yourself as well. There’s no higher good than individual self-satisfaction. One of the reasons we’re in our current economic quagmire is that none of our leaders is willing to ask us to sacrifice. Democrats call for more spending and more taxes; Republicans call for lower taxes and less spending, so, what we get is the most fiscally ruinous half of each… lower taxes and more spending.

A Budget of “Too Little Jesus”

Over the last few weeks, various Christian groups have criticised Republican leaders for proposing a 2012 budget that, in their view, is both un-Christian and anti-life. First, dozens of professors, priests, and nuns at various Catholic universities criticised House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for a legislative record on the poor that was, in their estimation, “amongst the worst in Congress. Mr Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings. From the Apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor”. Then, a consortium of evangelical and Catholic groups aired an ad scolding Ryan, who spearheaded that GOP budget, for his own “anti-life” stands. In this ad, Fr Thomas Kelley, a self-described “pro-life” priest from Elkhorn WI, insisted, “God calls us to protect life at all stages”, not just in the womb. In short, these Christians are telling the GOP that there is too much Rand in their budget, and too little Jesus.

I don’t see either Atlas Shrugged or the Bible as Holy Writ. I think the Bible is more wise, better written, and, ironically, less likely to come across as “holier-than-thou”, but I haven’t come either to bury Ayn Rand or to lament her recent resurrection. My aim is to force a choice. If you’re going to propose a Robin Hood budget, you have to decide whether you’re robbing from the poor to give to the rich, or robbing from the rich to give to the poor, because you can’t do both. You can’t worship both the God of Jesus and the Mammon of Rand. I don’t agree very often with the Watergate criminal and evangelical leader Chuck Colson, but he has it right when he refers to Rand’s “idolatry of self and selfishness” as “the antithesis of Christianity”, Rand’s trinity is “I… me… mine”. Christianity’s is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, take your pick… or, say no to both. It’s a free country. Just don’t tell me you’re both a card-carrying Objectivist and a Bible-believing Christian. Even Rand knew that just wasn’t possible.

5 June 2011

Stephen Prothero

Professor of Religion

Boston University

USA Today

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-06-05-Ayn-Rand-and-Jesus-dont-mix_n.htm

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The Worship of Mammon

Evelyn de Morgan

1909

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“During Cheesefare Week, the Russian Embassy lets us use their hall and we hold a high-end event attended by wealthy people”… isn’t that SO special… so, let’s all suck up to the moneybags today!

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A Note for Orthodox in the American Diaspora:

For American Orthodox, it’s sad to relate that two prominent clergymen in DC support the Radical Rightwing pro-Ayn Rand assault on all working people everywhere. One is Jonas Paffhausen, the so-called “Metropolitan of all America and Canada” (his anaemic group has about 10 percent of all US Orthodox in it). Paffhausen’s father was a “real estate developer”… yes, that noisome brood that brought us “planned communities”, exurban sprawl, and anonymous suburban estates. JP himself worked as a salesman for his father… never forget that… he picked up “closing” skills that enable him to gull the unwary doing that. Just as Slobberin’ Ronnie was an actor who fooled the American public with his PR shtick (Val Zorin of VOR said, “I never forgot that he was an actor”), Fathausen’s a salesman with a line of bullshit a mile long, married with a knack of telling people exactly what they want to hear (which means that he says one thing to this one and quite another to that one).

On the other hand, Potapov sucks up to the wealthy:

During Cheesefare Week, the Russian Embassy lets us use their hall and we hold a high-end event attended by wealthy people.

That was a very poor choice of words. However, Potapov’s an extreme rightwinger who’s indifferentist to the Moonie kooks who own the Washington Times, and he introduced Paffhausen to all his rightwing pals “inside the Beltway” (like the warmongering neocons at the American Enterprise Institute). Potapov is or was a high-level Pooh-Bah at VOA/RFE (the holder of a “red” official US passport), which means that he’s got Langley connections. Don’t forget, Potapov attacked His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei Rediger when the latter was in Georgetown in the ‘90s to receive an honorary degree (he called him a known KGB agent). Ergo, his worship of the rich shouldn’t surprise one. His choice of secular profession indicates a violent attachment to vacuous rightwing fairy tales, and, bear in mind, the rightwing worships money and the rich who possess it. He should have said:

During Cheesefare Week, the Russian Embassy lets us use their hall and we hold an event celebrating Maslenitsa.

That’s unobjectionable; the other’s sucking up to the powers-that-be. The first illustrates the obsequious attitude towards the rich amongst so many clergy that led to the Great Persecution of 1918-41; the second is mere reportage.

Let’s not be coy. Our recent history tells us that we’ll pay a dear price if we suck up to the insatiable rich and to their greedy political enablers. The Black Hundreds (and those of like ilk) made the massacre of the Butovo Polygon inevitable… never forget that. If we don’t demand that some of our clergy sever their attachment to the Radical Rightwing and its self-centred money-grubbing lunacies, God will spew us out (as He promised in the Book of the Apocalypse), for the Lord told us that the Church shall endure all the tumults of Hell, but He never promised that it would persist everywhere. If we wish to follow Ayn Rand, to embrace her objectively-blasphemous ideology (as is done in the contemporary GOP)… He’ll let us. WE HAVE FREE WILL. If we will to spit in God’s face through the advocacy of godless amoral human constructs like Neoliberal Laissez-faire Capitalism, He’ll let us. However… need I continue?

We can follow Patriarch Kirill, Archbishop Ieronymos, Fr Vsevolod, and Abba Ephrem… or, we can follow Potapov and Paffhausen. It’s quite that simple. We can follow Christ and His True Church, like the Sons and Daughters of God that the Almighty intended us to be, or, we can bow down low before the ideology of Ayn Rand, in cringing worship of Almighty Mammon and the Powers-that-Be in service of the Prince of This World (you KNOW who I mean)… you can be the one or you can choose the other. You can’t “square the circle”, and that’s that.

BMD  

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