A massive Russian "spiritual and cultural center," crowned by a golden-domed Orthodox cathedral, opens its gates in downtown Paris this week, thrusting Russian religious and political outreach to the fore in one of Europe's most prestigious and influential capitals. The complex is widely seen as a grand expression of Moscow's quest to project the image of a powerful, religious Russia, and assert itself as a champion of traditional values.
I have repeatedly stated that one of the acutest cultural problems in the EU nowadays is that of a lack of cultural identity rooted in Christianity; this is largely due philosophically to a poor appreciation of historicism. To my mind, the philosopher who first alerted us to this problem was Giambattista Vico, widely considered the father of modern historicism. I’d like to offer a brief outline of his theory of history, trusting that interested readers will then pick up and read his masterpiece The New Science.
The European Union was a creation of CIA, especially of "Wild Bill" Donovan, the first organizer of the Office for Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Agency, and of Walter Bedell Smith, the first President of the Agency. The idea was simple and rational, namely to organize the non-NATO European countries and the Alliance ones in a network of US-EU bilateral economic relations, which would serve as "glue" of the European Federalist Movement led by a lukewarm pro-European man, Winston Churchill.
There is a rather naive notion that the vision of a politically United Europe was born ex nihilo in 1950. The notion is naive because it loses sight of the fact that there is no such thing in history as creations ex nihilo. We stand on the shoulders of giants. It is therefore both proper and fitting to remember and celebrate those European cultural giants who, after the fall of the Roman Empire, began envisioning a United Europe.
It might amount to over-simplification of the facts if one says USA or Uncle Sam, using militarism as its key foreign policy tool, is the root cause of all troubles and tensions the world and humanity facing today. How come having got largest WMD on earth and having tested the efficacy of bombs on humans in Japan, USA has also been able to dictate its terms to the world nations?
It seems that with every single day, both the Mainstream and Alternative Media are reporting more and more innocent men, women, children, and little babies being blown to bits by bombs and artillery, or drowning somewhere off the coast in some remote ocean off of North Africa or Southern Europe on their way to flee from the bombed out desperation and horror of NATO’s carpet bombing of Libya, or from Western Intelligence and Saudi Arabia/ Turkey/ Israel’s proxy group ISIS, and their collective attacks on Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and the Kurds.
“The more we know of the past, the freer we are to choose the way we will go.”--Christopher Dawson
In 1932 Christopher Dawson published a book titled The Making of Europe which had enormous success and established his reputation as a scholar of incredible range and erudition who could communicate with great clarity and elegance. He had previously written two other books: The Age of the Gods (1928), and Progress and Religion (1929) but this was unique.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting Paris next month to inaugurate a Russian cultural center and Russian cathedral. Outwardly there are no political or economic or even security (anti-terrorism) agenda, some experts have expressed serious skepticism that Putin would not make a trip just for a small things and world therefore promote his own political agenda, which includes the alleviation of the Western sanctions imposed on Russia for its policy in Ukraine. Russia is still reeling under the notorious sanctions from USA and Europe and the retaliatory sanctions from Moscow have not alleviated Moscow’s serious economic worries.
Revisiting and rethinking Europe recently on these very pages, prof. Anis Bajrektarevic asked: “… is the EU the world’s last cosmopolitan enjoying its postmodern holiday from history? Is that possibly the lost Atlántida or mythical Arcadia– a Hegelian end of history world? ... a post-Hobbesian (yet, not quite a Kantian) world, in which the letzte Mensch expelled Übermensch?” Yet another take on the most critical EU debate comes from Austria, this time from the long time insider into the rocky European policy-making.
“Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity.” -Pat Buchanan
In the recent award winning movie “Leviathan” by Andrei Avyagintsev we observe the white skeleton of a beached whale. In the foreground there is a man gazing over it. In the background one notices a squalid coastal town in Russia’s frigid north, the port of Pribrezhny. The beauty and majesty of the whale’s skeleton stands in stark contrast to the ugliness of the town where men go about their business obsessively and hypocritically searching for their daily share of power and greed, all fittingly recreated in the film, a great film concerned with the corruption of religion.
Ivan Illich, a great advocate for intercultural communication, gifted us with a great insight. It is found in his book Tools for Conviviality. He wrote there that foreign languages ought to be pursued not so much to communicate with those native to them, but rather, so that we may listen to the particular silences found in the background of all languages, and thereby retrieve the original cultural humus from which they sprang. Notice the metaphor of the germinating seed in tandem with that of the historical journey, back to origins.
“I am quite sure that the European crisis has its roots in a mistaken rationalism” --Edmund Husserl, University of Prague, 1935
Modern Western Civilization presents us with a Janus-like face: On one side Renaissance Humanism which begins in Italy in the 14th century with Petrarch, on the other side Enlightenment Rationalism which begins in France in the 17th century with Descartes.