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Pravoslavnaia tsivilizatsiia v global’nom mire

Reviewer: Sally Boss

(The Eastern Orthodox civilization in the globalized world) By Aleksandr Sergeevich Panarin. Moscow: Algoritm, 2002. ISBN 5-9265-0036-2. 492 pages. In Russian.

The publisher specializes in historiographical works that take on the topics of Eurasianism and Russophilism (a twenty-first century version of Slavophism). As was the case with The Revenge of History, the title of the book is misleading. There is little in it about the Eastern Orthodox doctrine and its development; indeed, the case for it is not argued at all. The author states, “I am absolutely convinced that the Eastern Orthodox areas will become the new epicenter of the Christian spirit” (415).

The book denounces American hegemony and predicts its speedy demise: “I am absolutely convinced that if nations of the world were polled about the harlot mentioned in the Book of Revelation, the majority would recognize in her the United States of America” (386). In addition to being anti-American, the author is anti-Marxist and anti-Hegelian. The idea of the Third Rome is ushered in and defended, and in anticipation of possible objections the reader is assured that the idea of Russian hegemony does not have a military component. Panarin’s description of “globalism” (said to be sponsored by America) is significant; he sees it as motivated by a “satanic energy” (365). He declares that there are three paradigms of history, and they compete with one another in the present age: “history as determined by the laws of development (Marxism), history as natural selection (social Darwinism), and history as temptation” (366). The third paradigm is the one to which the author subscribes, and he states that it is also the one closest to the Christian understanding of history. But outside of Russia, he claims, the third paradigm finds no defenders. Not only America but also the European Union are in essence repressive mechanisms; he quotes F. Anastasios who stated that the logic of “repressive mechanisms” activated to defend the EU borders inevitably activates the same mechanisms inside the EU. What Panarin has in mind is the Shengen agreements whereby the borders of the EU are protected. Since the Russians have always been subjected to such supervision (even under Tsar Alexis in mid-sixteenth century an unauthorized trip abroad was punished by death), one wonders why the “repressive state mechanisms” in the Orthodox East are passed over in silence, whereas the same mechanisms in the West are seen as irredeemably evil. On p. 373, the author explains that the number 666 is the password to the special computers in which secret EU data are stored. The footnoted source of this information is a book titled Electronic cards and the Seal of the Anti-Christ published in Moscow in 1999.

In Panarin’s opinion, “the American globalists” desire a unipolar world, and they are actively engaged in “deconstructing” national sovereignties (392). Panarin compares Russians to Jews: “The Russians-and in this they are like Jews-are a messianic nation” (402). But Jews play a deconstructive role in the modern world, in his opinion. Since the world is now engaged in the process of secularization that will inevitably lead to a catastrophe, the Russians have a chance to exercise their messianic propensities by resacralizing the world with the help of their Russian Orthodox faith and culture.

It hardly needs saying that Panarin’s meditations are not bolstered by facts or figures, or indeed by argumentation. He seems to be unaware of the statistics according to which seventy percent of Russians consider themselves Eastern Orthodox, while fifty percent declare that they believe in God and three to seven percent go to church at least once a month. As Edwin Bacon pointed out, “over half, and possibly three-quarters, of all the practicing Christians in Russia [in the 1990s] were not Russian Orthodox” [italics mine, S.B.]. Panarin’s views could be dismissed as marginal were it not for the fact that he is head of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He received the Solzhenitsyn Prize in 2002. ∆

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