Monday, 6 November 2017

Toomas Karmo: Russian History Appraised, on a Sad Centenary

Servant of God Ekaterina Fyodorovna Kolyschkine de Hueck Doherty (Екатерина Фёдоровна Колышкина; 1896-1985), in a photo said at to be from 1974.

Quality assessment:

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his  grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3/5 is "mediocre pass", 4/5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 3/5. Justification: Kmo had time to upload some rather material of rather limited scope and ambition, worked out to a reasonable level of detail.

Revision history:

All times in these blog "revision histories" are stated in UTC (Universal Coordinated Time/ Temps Universel Coordoné,  a precisification of the old GMT, or "Greenwich Mean Time"), in the ISO-prescribed YYYYMMDDThhmmZ timestamping format. UTC currently leads Toronto civil time by 5 hours and currently lags Tallinn civil time by 2 hours.

  • 20171107T1612Z/version 2.1.0: Kmo added some remarks on the 18th-century rulers Peter and Catherine. - He reserved the right to make further tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3, ... . 
  • 20171107T0228Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo brought the piece to an essentially finished state. He reserved the right to make further tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.0.1, 2.0.2, 2.0.3, ... . 
  • 20171107T0101Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo had time to upload an almost-finished piece. He hoped to bring the piece to an essentially finished state by UTC=20171107T0401Z.

[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger server-side software has in some past months shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears. - The blogger software has also shown a propensity, at any rate when coupled with my erstwhile, out-of-date, Web-authoring uploading browser, to generate HTML that gets formatted in different ways on different downloading browsers. Some downloading browsers have sometimes perhaps not correctly read in the entirety of the "Cascading Style Sheets" (CSS) which on all ordinary Web servers control the browser placement of margins, sidebars, and the like. If you suspect CSS problems in your particular browser, be patient: it is probable that while some content has been shoved into some odd place (for instance, down to the bottom of your browser, where it ought to appear in the right-hand margin), all the server content has been pushed down into your browser in some place or other. - Finally, there may be blogger vagaries, outside my control, in font sizing or interlinear spacing or right-margin justification. - Anyone inclined to help with trouble-shooting, or to offer other kinds of technical advice, is welcome to write me via]

People around the world will be thinking of Russia on the sad centenary which is 2017-11-07, seeking possibilities of healing. 

In the twentieth century, Russia was bad news for everyone:
  • Although the Romanovs set a troubling example, they did embody a possible future for Russia, perhaps as an  eventual modernizing constitutional monarchy. As bad luck would have it, however, some small number of people in Russia, in the Romanov circle - as I am  imagining it, twenty or so - took a disastrous diplomatic decision in 1914 or so, from which some of the subsequent international disaster then germinated. Their decision was to ignore the so-called "Durnovo Memorandum" of 2014 February (;, in which  Pyotr Nikolayevich Durnovo had urged allying Russia with Germany. Had P.N. Durnovo's correct diplomatic advice been heeded, World War I might still have been fought, with terrible consequences, but the so-called "October Revolution" might have been avoided. One imagines the war fought to a mere stalemate, with Britain depressingly humiliated, Kaiser Wilhelm left in power, and Russia still governable by Romanovs.
  • With the "October Revolution" (more accurately, the Big November Putsch), a criminal clique assumed power. The head of the clique, "V.I. Lenin", was not himself recruited from the criminal classes, and yet he knew how to use criminals in encompassing his goals. It is possible that he was himself poisoned in 1924 by his (in a straightforward Tsarist legal sense criminal) lieutenant "J.V. Stalin". - I use the scare quotes around the names of both "Lenin" and "Stalin" because these are assumed names, taken on by this pair of individuals for merely operational reasons.
  • With the 1914-1918 war fought to a disastrous conclusion - Germany not only humiliated, but terrified by the spectacle of a Bolshevik revolution in Russia, and therefore willing to elect any leader who could credibly promise to oppose Germany's own Bolshevists - the stage was set for the rise of the Reich, with its eventual Shoah. 
  • With the Reich ready to start a fresh world war, the exiled, and correctly pacifist, Prof. A. Einstein unfortunately, in his legitimate worries, alerted President F.D. Roosevelt to the possibility of launching a Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project, while confined to mere fission weapons, in turn made possible the 1950s development of fusion weapons, with the USSR now a thoroughly active player. Since history does not furnish plausible examples of powerful weapons left unused, we may reasonably fear the use of fusion weapons in warfare - it hardly matters whether by the USA, or by modern Russia, or by someone else altogether. Such a use would accelerate the advance of our already encroaching Dark Age.
So much, then, for history. Russia continues to be a locus of infection, (a) being still ruled by criminal elements, and (b) now furnishing attractive models to such unprincipled Western leaders as Donald Trump. 

Along what steps might remedies be sought? Politics is rightly called the art of the possible. We therefore cannot aim very high. I do put forward two modest thoughts, which I hope my readers in the Russian organs of state security can in their turn forward to the higher-ups. 

(A) The person calling the shots - Mister You-Know-Who - can now do pretty much as he pleases, provided he does not alienate his lieutenants. And if he continues consulting excellent doctors, and looking after the lieutenants, he has perhaps another thirty years on his throne. He therefore has a luxury not known to presidents and prime ministers in ordinary parliamentary jurisdictions, namely the luxury of planning within a generous timeframe. (The responsiveness to public opinion secured in a parliamentary system, such as I personally favour, does come at a steep price: when our parliament is sovereign, our leaders end up doing much of their planning in four-year chunks, forever fearing their next election.) Might Mister You-Know-Who not now consider acting constructively, in a way which will secure him a favourable mention in history books? It would be too much to ask him to play the spiritual warrior, retreating to a life of penance within the cloisters of some Valaam or Zagorsk after a loudly, brilliantly, penitential abdication. But might he not consider elevating some Romanov into some admittedly Potemkin, in other words into some admittedly powerless, small state-ceremonial position? From such a diminutive seed, it might be possible eventually for others, even long after Mister You-Know-Who's own death, to achieve an eventual Romanov restoration, as a duly constitutional monarchy along Scandinavian lines. Mister You-Know-Who would himself in that case acquire a deserved posthumous reputation for sagacity. Even I would applaud, although I imagine I would be constrained to clap, ever so politely, from beyond the grave.

I have already remarked on this blog (on 2017-10-16 or 2017-10-17, in my posting on Prof. Garrison's memorial reception, in a bullet point starting with the words "I am most desperately sorry for the current situation in Russia") that Russia is in growing trouble once its oil runs out. Siberia, in other words the Asian segment of Russia, may by then be tempted to throw its (by then feeble?) political lot in with China. The European segment of Russia, on the other hand, will have to be saved somehow, in 2080-era terms that would have made sense also to 18th-century Peter and Catherine. The task, in that near future even as back in Peter's and Catherine's day, will be to keep Russia, somehow, admittedly without betraying Russia's own Byzantine cultural roots, in something of a (loose) Western orbit. Every little scrap of work that can be done now in a circumspect Peter-and-Catherine spirit will serve as a bulwark. In making its preparations, European Russia needs every little factory now preserving research-and-design skills, in however poor and feeble an imitation of Germany or of Asia's industrial powerhouses. European Russia needs every Department of Physics or Department of Mathematics now preserving, perhaps through the benign inertia of institutional memory, some part of the old Tsarist and Soviet scientific culture. European Russia needs even every little private nouveau-riche Russian secondary school which, conceivably amid snobbery and  patriotic chest-thumping, is teaching some Latin, or again is pursuing modern European lang-and-lit with some due vigour (perhaps by cultivating appropriate links with counterpart schools west of Russia, as when its pupils are sent out on academic exchanges). The planting of a tiny, ceremonial, Romanov seed now, while arguably less important than the preparations I have just mentioned, may nevertheless prove in its own way constructive.

(B) We all know how compromised the current Russian church is. But might something now be done to foster its healing? There is a potential role here for the one in-process-of-canonization saint for whom I actually possess a (second-class) relic, Ekaterina Fyodorovna Kolyschkine de Hueck Doherty (Екатерина Фёдоровна Колышкина: born in Nizhny Novgorod in 1896, she died in Ontario exile in 1985). A short, clear, biography of this occasionally difficult Ontario religious leader-cum-domestic-prima-donna is available at In pondering her life, we must remember that to be a saint is not to be impeccable. The saints are gloriously individual, each conveying in his or her own finite way some delimited aspect of the Godhead. Such a thing has been compared to the streaming of sunlight through ecclesial stained glass.

Katya, as of recent years styled by the Vatican canonists "Servant of God":  pray now for us now, and pray for Russia. 

The reader might on this Big Anniversary benefit from thinking less about "Lenin" and "Stalin" and their Putsch than about the movement Katya founded, right here in Ontario. A guided tour of her movement's mother house can be had from I hope my readers in Russia, including those who work in the contemporary organs of Russian state security, will be able to spare a few minutes for inspecting it.

[This is the end of the current blog posting.]  

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