Holy Nationalism


Timothy Snyder in his book The Road to Unfreedom, explained eternity politics this way:

“Like all immorality, eternity politics begins by making an exception for itself. All creation might be evil, but I and my group are good, because I am myself and my group is mine. Others might be confused and bewitched by the facts and passions of history, but my nation and myself have maintained a prehistorical innocence.”


The leader and the people have a mystical relationship transfused with innocence in a corrupt world. Ivan Ilyin, who inspired Russian fascism,  saw this connection between the leader and nation as pure and holy.  Putin who became the disciple of Ilyin adopted this position. Only utter purity and can justify crimes in the name of the nation. Because the nation (Russia) is so pure and holy all manner of crimes are justified in its defence. Any invasion is justified if it employed in the holy cause of the nation. For the purity must be protected at all costs. As Snyder said,

“What Ilyin saw was a virginal Russian body.  Like fascists and other authoritarians of his day, Ilyin insisted that his nation was a ‘creature,” an organism of nature and the soul, an animal in Eden without Original Sin.”


As a result of its innocence “Russia does no wrong; wrong can only be done to Russia. Facts do not matter and responsibility vanishes.

According to Snyder,

“Ilyin saw in Russia virginal Russian body. Like fascists and authoritarians of his day, Ilyin insisted that his nation was a creature, ‘an organism of nature and soul,’ and animal in Eden without original sin. Who belonged within the Russian organism was not for the individual to decide, since cells to not decide whether they belong to a body.  Russian culture, Ilyin wrote, automatically brought ‘fraternal union’ wherever Russian power extended.”


This is why Putin insists that no matter what Ukrainians say, Ukraine is an indivisible part of Russia. He got this idea from Ivan Ilyin.

Ilyin was not a communist. He was a Russian nationalist. He believed Russia had been contaminated by communist ideas which came from the west. Russia was too good to resist these toxic ideas. Underneath Russia was good.  No acts could be too extreme for something so holy as Russia. It interests me, that this of course, is exactly what Americans often say about their holy nation too. Nationalism tends to be the same everywhere.

All actions, no matter how horrendous, are justified to defend such a holy nation. And such an attitude leads directly to massacres in Ukraine. And then no lies are too outrageous to legitimate in defence of the holy nation.

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