Voices from Russia

Sunday, 24 November 2013

24 November 2013. Read n’ Heed… An Interview with Noam Chomsky: America Is a Terrified Country



Editor’s Foreword:

This is about five times the length of my usual post, but I think that it’s important. I’ll have some comments after the end, political ones first, then, some tailored to an Orthodox audience (that’s so my political friends can skip them, if they wish). This is good read n’ heed stuff.



Catherine Komp

It’s been twenty-five years since the publication of your and Edward Herman’s acclaimed book Manufacturing Consent. How much do you think has changed with the propaganda model, and where do you see it playing out most prominently today?

Noam Chomsky

Well, ten years ago, we had a new edition, so, we talked about some of the changes. One change is that we were too narrow. A number of filters determine the framework of reporting, and one of the filters was too narrow. Instead of “anti-communism”, which was too narrow, it should have been “fear of the concocted enemy”. Yes, it could be anti-communism… most of that is concocted. Take Cuba again. It’s hard to believe, but the Pentagon listed Cuba as one of the military threats to the USA until a couple of years ago. This is ludicrous; you don’t even know whether to laugh or cry. It’s as if the USSR listed Luxembourg as a threat to its security. However, here, it kind of passes.

The USA is a very frightened country. Moreover, there are all kinds of things concocted for you to be frightened about. Therefore, that should have been the filter, and [there were] a few other things, but I think it’s the same. There’s change. Free Speech Radio didn’t exist when we wrote the book, and there are some things on the internet which break the bonds, as do independent work, and things like the book I was just talking about when we came in, Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars, which is a fantastic piece of investigative reporting on the ground of what actually happens in the countries where we’re carrying out these terror campaigns. There’s a lot of talk about drones, but not much about the fact that they are terror weapons. If we were sitting here, wondering if, all of a sudden, there’s going to be a bomb in this room, because they maybe want to kill him, or kill us, or whatever, it’s terrorising. In fact, we just saw a dramatic example of this, which got a couple of lines in the paper. A few days after the Boston Marathon bombing, there was a drone attack on an isolated village in Yemen. Obama and his friends decided to murder some guy. Therefore, the villagers are sitting there… suddenly, this guy gets blown away, along with whoever else is around him. I don’t think it was reported, except for the fact that there was Senate testimony a week later from a person from the village, who’s quite respected by Jeremy and others who know him. The man, Farea al-Muslimi, who studied at an American high school, testified to the Senate and he described what happened to his village. He said that everybody knew the man that they murdered, and that they could’ve easily apprehended him, but it was easier to kill him and terrify the village. He also said something else, which is important. He said that his friends and neighbours used to know the USA primarily through his stories of “the wonderful experiences” he had here. He said that the American bombing turned them into people who hate America and want revenge… that’s all it takes. Moreover, in fact, this whole terror system is creating enemies and threats faster than its killing suspects, apart from how awful that is. These things are going on, and going back to Jeremy, his book exposes much of it and the exploits of the secret executive army, JSOC, Joint Special Operations Command. It’s dangerous, but it’s what an investigative reporter could do, and he’s done it. There’s more of it now, fortunately, in some respects, than there was then.


So, some progress.


Yes. On the other hand, the indoctrination system has gotten incredibly powerful. The examples that I mentioned, like the right-to-work laws… it’s shocking that it succeeded. So, I’d say it’s about the same inequality entered the national dialogue with the Occupy movement, but the wealth gap for black and Latino families rarely generates debate or headlines. What role should the media… particularly, independent media… play in ensuring critical public interest issues like these are at the forefront? Independent media ought to tell the truth about things that matter. That’s quite different from the task of the commercial media. They have a task. They’re supposed to be objective, and objectivity has a meaning in the world of journalism. In fact, it’s taught in journalism schools. Objectivity means reporting honestly and accurately what’s going on Inside the Beltway, inside the government. That sets the bounds. There are Democrats and there are Republicans. Report honestly what they’re saying… balance and so on… then, you’re objective. If you go beyond that and you ask a question about the bounds, then you’re biased, subjective, emotional, and maybe anti-American, whatever the usual curse words are. Therefore, that’s a task and, you know, you can understand it from the point of view of established power. It’s a distorting prism with enormous impact. Even just the framework of what’s looked at.

Take, for example, current domestic issues. Take “the sequester”, which harms the economy, and, in fact, everyone concedes that. However, what’s it about? Well, it’s about the deficit. Who cares about the deficit? Banks, rich people, and so on. What does the population care about? Jobs. In fact, this has even been studied. A couple of professional studies tested this question. It turns out that concern about the deficit increases with wealth, and the reason is rich people are concerned that, maybe, someday, in the future, there might be a bit of inflation, which isn’t good for lenders. It’s fine for borrowers. Therefore, we have to worry about the deficit, even if it destroys jobs. The population has quite different views. They say, no, we want jobs. Moreover, they’re right. Jobs mean stimulating demand, and government has to do that. Corporations have money coming out of their ears, but they’re not investing it, because there’s no demand. Consumers can’t fill the gap because they’re suffering from the impact of the crimes that the banks carried out. Of course, the corporations are richer than ever. It works that way, but it isn’t what they discuss Inside the Beltway. You get some little comment on it around the fringes, but the focus has to be on the terrible problem of the deficit, which will maybe be a problem someday in the future, but not very serious.

In fact, professional political science has done a good job on a specific topic relative to this. This is a very heavily-polled country, so you get to know a lot about public attitudes, and there are quite good studies on the relation between public attitudes and public policy and differentiating attitudes. It turns out that maybe 70 percent of the population, the lower 70 percent on the wealth income level, are disenfranchised. That is, their opinions have no influence on policy. Senators don’t pay any attention to them. As you move up in income level, you get more influence. When you get to the very top, and here the Occupy movement was a little misleading… it’s not one percent, it’s a tenth of a percent. When you get to the top tenth of a percent, where there’s a huge concentration of wealth, you can’t even talk about influence. They get what they want. That’s why the banks who created the crisis, often with criminal action, get off not only scot-free, but also richer, more powerful, and bigger than ever. Reading the business press, you can see a criminal action here and there, and, maybe, an insignificant punishment or something there. Because of that, the Inside the Beltway world reflects wealth and power. Elections are bought. We know the story. Therefore, “objectivity” in the commercial media means looking at the world from the point of view of the extremely rich and powerful in the corporate sector. Now, it isn’t 100 percent from their view. Many very honest reporters do all kinds of things. I read the national press and learn from them and so on, but it’s very much skewed in that direction. It’s like the filters in Manufacturing Consent. Going back to your point, what the independent press ought to be doing is what the national press ought to be doing, looking at the world from the point of view of its population. This holds on issue after issue… you can almost pick at random.


The Occupy movement had several big successes… Occupy Sandy, Occupy Our Homes, Strike Debt, and the Rolling Jubilee. However, what do you think a post-Occupy movement looks like? What comes next?


The Occupy tactic was a remarkably successful tactic. If someone had asked me a month before Zuccotti Park whether to do this, I would’ve said, you’re crazy. Nevertheless, it worked extremely well. It just lighted a fire all over the place. People were just waiting for something to light the spark. It was extremely successful, but it’s a tactic, and tactics aren’t strategies. A tactic has a half-life; it has diminishing returns. In particular, a tactic like this is going to arouse antagonism, because people don’t want their lives disrupted and so on. It’ll be easy to fan it the way you do with public workers. Therefore, we had to revise this tactic. Frankly, when the police broke the occupations up, it was harsh and brutal, they didn’t have do it like that. However, in some ways, it wasn’t a bad thing, because it turned people to what they have to do next. What they have to do next is bring it to the general population. Take up the topics that really bother people. Be there when you’re needed, like Sandy. Be there for the foreclosures. Focus on debt. Focus on a financial transaction tax, which we ought to institute. Nobody else is bringing it up. That’s what the Occupy movement ought to be doing, and not just as a national movement, but as an international movement.

It’s actually striking that there are Occupy offshoots all over the world. I’ve talked at Occupy movements in Sydney, Australia, and England, all over. Everywhere you go there’s something. They link with other things that are happening, like the Indignados in Spain; the student actions in Chile, which are pretty remarkable; things in Greece, which are enormous; and even movements in the peripheral parts of Europe trying to struggle against brutal austerity régimes, which are worse than here and which are just strangling economies and destroying the European social contract. We look progressive in comparison with Europe. That’s a future that we can look forward to…  including things like those that we were talking about before, supporting, and maybe even initiating things like worker-owned, worker-managed enterprises. It sounds reformist, but it’s revolutionary. That’s changing… at least, giving the germs for changing… the basic structure of this society in a fundamental way. Why should banks own the enterprise in which people work? What business is it of theirs? Why should they decide whether you move it to Mexico or Bangladesh or where the next place will be? Why shouldn’t the workers decide, or the communities? There’s a lot to say about this.

For example, just consider the things that we aren’t discussing in the immigration struggle. We’re here in Boston. Right around Boston, there’s a large community of Mayan immigrants. They’re still coming right now. They live right near here, but under the radar because they’re undocumented. Why are Mayans coming here? They don’t want to be here. Some of them I know pretty well, and when you talk to them, they say, “We’d rather be home”. They don’t want to be here. Why are they coming? Well, in the early 1980s, there was a virtually-genocidal attack on the highlands in Guatemala supported by Ronald Reagan, backed by the USA. It practically wiped the place out. Now, there are actually trials going on in Guatemala of the perpetrators, but nobody here talks about it. Therefore, you know, we destroy their country, and people flee because they can’t survive. In fact, there’s an interesting book by David Bacon, who’s an immigration activist. It’s called The Right to Stay Home.

It was obvious, for example, that NAFTA was going to destroy Mexican agriculture. Mexican campesinos can be as efficient as they like, but they can’t compete with highly-subsidised American agribusiness, and that means people are going to flee. In fact, it isn’t coincidental that the year NAFTA passed, Clinton started militarising the border. It was an open border before, and, of course, people are going to come. Well, we aren’t discussing these topics. If you’re worried about immigration, let’s look at why people are coming, what our responsibility is, and what we can do about it. They don’t want to be here. The same is true about exporting factories. People ought to have jobs in Bangladesh, but we ought to be paying attention to the fact that they have decent working conditions. They want it, we should want it, and we should struggle to make sure they have it. Then, we can make decisions about a workforce, and where they want their enterprise to be. Free independent media can bring up topics like this and we can dedicate movements like Occupy to them.


You’ve talked about the effectiveness of sit-down strikes in which workers occupy a workplace as a precursor to taking it over. You’ve said, with enough popular support, sit-down strikes can work and be the basis for a real revolution. However, how much popular support do we need, and what should it look like?


Well, it has to be extensive. Actually, it can work. I happen to have just come back from Ireland, and one of the things I did was to meet with a group of workers at a plant called Vita Cortex. I’d been supporting their strike. They had a long sit-down strike. The management wanted to sell the plant, a profitable plant, to some rich entrepreneur who wanted to move it somewhere else. They were just going to fire all the workers. Some of them had long tenure. They got together, formed a community support group, and sat in the plant. There was community support… people wanted to keep them there. People brought food and all kinds of help. They won, after, I think, about six months. The owner agreed to keep it there, pay the workers, and so on.


That was in Ireland?


That was in Cork, southern Ireland. It was doing okay, not hugely profitable. Ireland’s in a big downturn, so this was serious. However, they won. They didn’t get everything, but a lot. You can do it. Much of the New Deal legislation, which was important, was motivated by employee concerns, and other concerns, when CIO organising, which was new then, reached the point where it was leading to sit-down strikes… because sit-down strikes drive fear into management and everyone else. If we’re sitting in and doing nothing, why shouldn’t we? We’re the ones who know how to run the place, so let’s run it, and kick out the bosses. That’s only one step away.


Why are they so rare in the USA?


Strikes of any kind are very rare, especially since Reagan, who broke the mandate against using scabs. That’s outlawed everywhere in the world. I think maybe apartheid-era South Africa allowed it. However, when Reagan broke the flight-controllers’ strike, he set the tone, and, maybe ten years later, there was a strike at a major Caterpillar manufacturing plant. I think it was in Peoria, and management broke it by bringing in scabs. Now, that’s illegal everywhere in the world. As I said, I think that apartheid-era South Africa allowed it, but it passed. It’s interesting what happened. The Chicago Tribune, which is a conservative newspaper but covered labour affairs pretty well, had a lot of coverage about Peoria and the scandal of bringing in scabs. Well, that was maybe twenty years ago. When President Obama… who was in Chicago at the time, so he couldn’t have missed it… decided to show his solidarity with workers, he went to that plant and nobody commented on it. It’s effaced from memory. The labour movement, as you know, has been decimated. It developed enormously in the 1930s and it’s responsible for most of the progressive legislation that took place. There was an immediate backlash, even by the late 1930s. That’s when management initiated scientific methods of strike breaking, sophisticated strike-breaking techniques.


What are some of those?


Some of them are called the Mohawk Valley formula. Say there’s some town in Pennsylvania where there’s a strike going on. The idea is to saturate the town with propaganda whose basic theme is Americanism… We’re all Americans, we all work together, and we all love each other. We’re all helping the friendly boss who works to the bone eighty hours a day for the service of the workers, the banker who loves to give you money to buy a car, and the workman with his pail going to work, and his wife who’s making dinner at home. They’re all one big happy family living in harmony. Then, these outsiders come in, the union organisers, and there’s a hint as well that they’re probably communists, and they’re trying to disrupt the harmony and prevent everyone from living the good American dream. That’s the theme, and the idea is to saturate everything with propaganda… the schools, the churches, everything. It sometimes has an effect. That’s one technique. There are others. These developed substantially under Reagan, who was very anti-labour. In fact, he hated poor people with a passion. For example, during the lettuce strike, Reagan was Governor of California. He very ostentatiously appeared on television happily eating lettuce just to show what he thought about the striking workers, the poorest of the poor. If he could kick them in the face, great. He loved that. Just like his “welfare queen” business, which demonised welfare and portrayed rich black women being driven in their Cadillacs to the welfare offices and stealing your money, and that sort of thing. In fact, he made it very clear. You couldn’t miss it.

Reagan opened his campaign in Philadelphia MS, an unknown little town; except for one thing… there was a massacre of civil rights workers there. That’s where he very ostentatiously opened his campaign… it told people, “Don’t worry; I’m a racist thug”. Then, the strike came. However, his administration also informed the business world that the government essentially wasn’t going to apply the laws. There are laws about illegal interference with union organising and they’re obviously supposed to implement them, but he made it quite clear that you can do what you like. Illegal measures, like firing of union organisers, went way up during the Reagan years. I think it might have tripled, and it continued. Then, came Clinton, with a different technique for undermining unions. It was NAFTA. There have been studies on the effect of NAFTA on strike breaking in the USA, and it’s substantial. It’s illegal, but if you have a criminal state, you can do what you like… you don’t enforce the laws. A standard technique would be, if there were an organising campaign somewhere, for management to tell workers, “You guys can go and strike if you want, but if you win, it’s all going to Mexico”. That’s a very effective technique. In the absence of solidarity, real solidarity, in fact, international solidarity, it’s a pretty effective technique of strike breaking, and the number of illegal strike-breaking efforts, I think, went up by about 50 percent after NAFTA.

All this started right after the Second World War with Taft-Hartley, the huge anti-labour campaigns, and so on. Now, there are companies that just do strike breaking. There are scientific and sophisticated techniques, and there’s plenty of clout behind it, a huge amount of corporate money, and the government supports it. There isn’t much popular support. You could see it in the passage of the right-to-work law in Michigan, which was shocking. That’s a labour state, and it turned that out many union members voted for it. If you look at the propaganda, you can see why. First of the all, the very phrase “right to work”… it’s actually not right to work; it’s right to scrounge. What it means is a person can work in a factory and refuse to join the union, so, he doesn’t have to pay dues, but he’ll get all the protection that the union offers to others, the grievances, and so on. He gets the protection, but refuses to pay. That’s all that right to work means. It’s a technique for destroying labour. However, the propaganda was effective, and it’s best against public workers, librarians, firefighters, teachers, or even workers in a unionised plant. They have jobs, they get pensions, and they get health care. You’re unemployed; you can’t find a job. If you get one, it’s part-time, and you don’t get a pension. Therefore, they’re stealing from you, especially the public service workers, who’re leaning on taxes. They’re underpaid, relative to their skill level, and the reason they get pensions is that they take lower pay. It’s a trade-off. They say, okay, we’ll take lower wages, but you guarantee us our pension. However, the propaganda works, and the administrations supported it.

When Obama declared a freeze on pay for federal workers, he said that we’re not going to raise taxes on the rich, but that we are going to raise taxes on you, because a freeze on public workers is identical to a tax increase. The whole technique of demonising labour and “corrupt union leaders”… it goes way back. In the early 1950s, two movies came out about the same time. One was Salt of the Earth, a marvellous low-budget movie. It was about a strike that was eventually won. I think a Mexican woman led it. It was a very well-done movie, but nobody ever heard of it. Another movie that came out at the same time was On the Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando, and it was about a corrupt union leader and the good honest workman, you know, Joe with his pail and stuff. They finally got together. Marlon Brando organised them, and the thing ends up with Marlon Brando throwing the union organiser into the ocean or something like that. Now, that was a big hit. Incidentally, Elia Kazan, who was supposedly a rather progressive director, directed it. However, the point was to get people to hate the unions because they’re all a bunch of corrupt gangsters and they’re just stealing from you honest workmen and so on. This is just one piece of an enormous campaign. By the time some of the scholarship came out on it, the scale shocked me. I had been following it, but had no idea. It’s had an effect.


One solution, since labour is weaker, is for workers to start their own worker-run and worker-managed businesses. The growth of worker-run collectives and businesses in Argentina following the 2001 economic collapse there inspired many people. In the USA, there are about several hundred, including Free Speech Radio News, which has been worker-run and worker-managed since its beginning thirteen years ago. Do you think this could grow and expand in the USA?


It’s quite significant. There’s been very good work on this, which ought to be read, by Gar Alperovitz, who is both an activist and a writer, a very good historian. What I know is mostly around northern Ohio and the Rust Belt, what happened there is interesting and worth thinking about. The steelworkers union, which is one of the more progressive in some ways… not without plenty of problems… are working on some sort of an arrangement with Mondragón, which is this huge worker-owned conglomerate in the Basque country in northern Spain.


That’s been around since the 1950s, right?


Goes back to the 1950s, it was church-initiated, what became liberation theology. However, there’s also a strong workers’ tradition there, going back to the Spanish Revolution. It’s grown and developed. It’s now a number of productive enterprises: banks, housing, schools, and hospitals. It’s quite an elaborate affair. It seems to be withstanding the financial crisis, while everything else in Spain is collapsing. I don’t know the details, but that’s what it looks like. It’s not worker-managed. Workers select management, who then act on their own. Of course, it’s part of an international capitalist economy, which means that you can argue the ethics of it, since they do things like exploit labour abroad and so on. They say that they have to do it to compete and survive… maybe… that you can’t extricate yourself from the world you’re in. Of course, the more solidarity spreads, the more you can do things about that, but that’s not easy. It’s hard enough to reconstruct the labour movement internally. After all, every labour movement is called an international. That’s an aspiration. It’s a real problem in the USA. You could see it yesterday. Yesterday was May Day. I happened to get a letter in the morning. A ton of e-mail comes in… one was from a friend in Brazil who told me that she wouldn’t be going to work that day because it’s a holiday, a labour holiday. In fact, it’s a labour holiday all over the world, except in the USA, nobody knows what it is. I happened to be giving a talk at Harvard in the afternoon and this came up. I asked the big audience of Harvard graduate students, “What do you think May Day is?” Some people said, “You mean dance around the Maypole”, or something like that. It’s not only a labour holiday. It’s a labour holiday that was initiated in support of American workers who were struggling for an eight-hour day and who were among the most oppressed in the industrial world. Therefore, here’s this holiday… big demonstrations everywhere, and all kinds of celebrations, and so on, but here, nobody knows what it is. That’s a sign of extremely effective indoctrination. We just have to work our way out of that kind of thing. Here, there are some small celebrations. Maybe Occupy might have had a May Day march or something. It’s interesting the way the press treated it. Usually, they just ignore it. However, if you looked at the New York Times the next day, it had an article that said demonstrations were in support of labour or something. However, it was datelined “Havana”, and there was a picture of a huge mob of Cubans marching and some commentary. It was clear what the implication was… this holiday is some kind of commie business; it has nothing to do with us. I don’t know if it’s conscious, or, if it’s just so internalised that the journalists don’t even see what they’re doing. Nevertheless, the message was, “Forget it, it’s some alien thing”. It’s like breaking up the harmony in your town when the union organisers come in; it’s kind of that imagery. Here, strikingly, we do have a Labour Day, but notice what day it is. It’s the day when you go back to work, not the day when you struggle for your rights. The success of indoctrination in the USA is amazing.

23 November 2013



Editor’s Afterword:

Let’s not be coy. We live in a brutal corporate dictatorship that corrupts the past, it corrupts the education of our youth, it corrupts all business relationships (as typified by the lies most tell on résumés just to get hired), so, why should be surprised that the result is a corrupt, self-centred, and self-destructive consumerism? Note well, most Americans don’t know that the USA won World War II because it organised society on a socialistic basis. Why don’t they know this? One reason was the brutal Red Scare of the 1950s, when many patriots faced accusations from business interests because of their Left orientation. Why did this witch-hunt gain cred? I think that it was because Harry Truman wasn’t as intelligent or as worldly as FDR was, and that he wasn’t as hip as FDR that socialism was the “way to go”… southern conservatives forced Truman on a sick and weakened FDR. Had Henry Wallace succeeded FDR, there would’ve been no Red Scare… perhaps, no Cold War.

Oh, yes… there was a country organised on “capitalist” lines in WWII… Nazi Germany. Its production languished until Speer brought it under central control in 1943… then, it was too late to affect matters. If you look at the Nazi attitude to the union movement and to the Republican attitude, you find them identical. Indeed, it explains why the GOP is in favour of indefinite detention at Guantánamo (there’s no difference between that and Dachau, not one little bit) and torture at black sites abroad. It differs not from Nazism… not one little bit. Its Master Race blather is the same, too… Americans are the best people in the world! Here’s one last thing to consider… the Nazis and Republicans have the same name for their addled vision… The New World Order. In short, the corporatist vision is evil. It’s criminal and nasty… don’t forget, most evil is banal. It’s committed by dweebs like Adolf Eichmann… not by Adolf Hitlers. That is, it’s committed by soft-spoken, well-dressed, well-groomed, affluent denizens of McMansions… not by ugly dwellers in smoky and cluttered opium dens in the slums. Evil wears a smile… NEVER forget that.

Now, for some comments a propos for Orthodox people. We have to face the fact that some elements amongst us have sold out to Corporatist interests, often for filthy lucre. Lebedeff admitted as much, “We took their money and we’re grateful for it”. Again, don’t be fooled by appearances. The prime movers aren’t the obvious corrupt priests and bishops. No… evil usually doesn’t wear an ugly face. Just as Adolf Eichmann was a mild-mannered man who raised rabbits, Victor Potapov appears a typical and colourless suburbanite, in fact, he appears like a “good priest”… he’s not personally venal, nor is he a thief, as so many are. In fact, he’s perfected the art of deniability to the highest order (he has a young priest mouth his more outré opinions, to be able to deny them, if he must). Potapov is a dedicated servant of the Corporatist Moloch… he’s a propagandist specialising in weakening the Rodina. He accuses clergy of being communist stooges whilst he himself is a shameless sell-out to rightwing interests! He’s a typical Black Hundreds priest, sad to say. This is a sobering lesson for us… evil often comes in attractive packages. One has to look at objective signs… Potapov had no problem lying in the service of the USA; he had no problem with attacking leftist movements wherever they might be (but particularly in Russia and amongst the Russian diaspora). If you look only at the surface, you’ll be led astray. Don’t be concerned with small fry like Whiteford, Tosi, Dreher, Jillions, Freddie M-G, Bobby, and Mattingly… they’re all obvious ignoranuses. Do have a care about Potapov, Lyonyo, Webster, and Berzansky… they’re all sell-outs with real power (both in the Church and in the larger society). We have a job of work ahead of us…



24 November 2013. A Point to Ponder… Here’s a Parallel from Judaism We should Heed

00 Koshevskaya Cossack Icon of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God


Here’s a snippet from a longer article that applies to Orthodox Christianity in spades:

However, a deeper issue also underlies the battle concerning “Open Orthodoxy”, and that’s the question of inclusivity versus exclusivity. Orthodoxy’s growth over the past half-century has relied on, like Protestant evangelicalism, an inclusive model. Seeking to compete with liberal Jewish movements, Orthodoxy stretched its big tent to embrace Modern Orthodoxy, Chabad, the “yeshivish” Orthodox, and the Hasidic enclaves, like Satmar. Plenty of bickering took place internally, but for the most part Orthodoxy’s major wings learned from the bitter experience of earlier decades that peaceful cooperation would serve all of them better than open warfare would. The calamitous decline suffered by the Conservative movement when the Reconstructionists on the left and the traditionalists on the right angrily abandoned that movement’s big tent served as an object lesson as to why it was so important for inclusivity to be preserved.

http://forward.com/ar ticles/187039/why-is-orthodoxy-packing-up-big-tent/?p=2


Beware all purists, but beware konvertsy purists, in particular. We need a united Russian Orthodox Church here, and that does trump everything else. All those who wish to have calendar fights or squabble over this or that piece of liturgical minutiae can most sincerely shut the fuck up. All those with oddbod political and social notions should put a rag in it, the sooner, the better. Beware all those who talk of “purity”… all too often, it’s a smokescreen for exclusivity. You don’t have to wave a placard for a “cause” to be Russian Orthodox… you just have to be a believer.

There are enough parishes in this country, with enough space between them, to keep the peace. Let’s celebrate what we hold in common! What a concept!



24 November 2013. You Can’t Make Up Shit Like This… National Catholic Reporter Thinks that the Blunder is #2 at the Centre… What a Buncha Maroons!

Metropolitan Yuvenaly Poyarkov

Now, here’s a real power brokerYuvenaly Poyarkov


Get a load of this howler from the National Catholic Reporter:

Speaking of a meeting between pope and patriarch, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church (sic) and effectively the #2 official under Patriarch Kirill, was in Rome for a conference Tuesday. While in town, he floated the idea of an encounter between his boss and Francisco in a “neutral country”.


Firstly, the Blunder isn’t the #2 power under HH. That would be the troika of Varsonofy Sudakov, Yuvenaly Poyarkov, and Vsevolod Chaplin. Varsonofy is the Chancellor (“You can’t slip a piece of paper between them, they’re so close”), Yuvenaly is the effectual Bishop of Moscow, its unsinkable satrap since the time of Pimen Izvekov, and Vsevolod Anatolyevich is HH’s closest confidant… the Blunder is nowhere near these guys at all. The Blunder doesn’t have the cred of Mark Golovkov, the head of the Secretariat (and a kinsman of HH to boot). He doesn’t even have the pull of a Kliment Kapalin… the Blunder’s nothing but a vicar bishop with a white hat (he’s the first Chariman of the DECR not to be a ruling bishop). He’s been bleating about a meeting between HH and the Pope of Rome for four years. Each time, VAC pops up and slaps down the rumours. One time, Vsevolod Anatolyevich joked that the meeting would take place on an ice floe in Antarctica, with the penguins as official witnesses! In short, the Blunder’s statement isn’t worth a used snot rag. However, his telegenic good looks and fruity Oxbridge accent wow all the superficial zapadniki, every time, all the time. Yet, to be fair, the NCR reporter added:

In my experience, relations with the Russian Orthodox are among the handful of never-ending stories on the Vatican beat, along with diplomatic relations with China and reunion with the Lefebvrists. All three tend to have a “one step up, one step back” dynamic, and it’s wise not to get overly excited.

Now, that’s something that I could raise a glass to, and so could you! Na dzorovye!


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