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Georges Becker (1846-1909) The coronation of Alexander III and the Empress Maria Federovna, 25 May 1883 (King Charles eat your heart out!).

Despite their enthusiasm for the war in Ukraine the Katehon writers don't give the impression of wanting an expansionist Russian empire. It is more a matter of redefining Russia. No longer a 'Russian federation' but a 'Russian Empire.' The difference is that a federation is a purely secular political structure put together as a matter of practical convenience whereas an 'Empire' has a sacred character. In an essay - From Archeomodern to Empire (Katehon, 8th August 2022) Dugin says that:

'European Modern - at least since Montesquieu, and in England even earlier - has long set itself the goal of  depriving the authorities of any hint of sacredness . The separation of powers and the constant rotation of the ruling class serve exactly this - the dispersal of the highest center of decision-making among different and regularly changing their composition of the ruling instances. Of course, such a democracy did not achieve its goals in the West itself, stopping the dispersion of power  at the level of the oligarchic class, within which a rotation takes place, from time to time including “new blood” - but only those who are  ready to play by the rules of  the existing elite.' [apologies for the machine translation but I think the sense is clear enough]

In Russia the ruling elite attempted something similar but it didn't work because of the deeply ingrained instinct of the Russian people to see government as a sacred function:

'Until 1917, such sacralization was based on the  theory of Katekhon, the Retainer, borrowed from the Byzantine Empire and transferred to Russia (Moscow-Third Rome) at the end of the 15th century. But even after 1917, having changed, this tradition did not disappear anywhere, but spread to the new communist rulers - the "red monarchs", which led to an almost "religious" cult of Lenin and the glorification of Stalin's personality. 

'For all his weakness and dependence on the oligarchs, even Yeltsin was something of a “liberal tsar.” And with the advent of Putin and by virtue of his really decisive patriotic reforms and - let's note, completely against his will -  the autocratic principle unfolded in full force . The people want only Putin and no one else, and for this they are ready to change the Constitution and everything else. Putin is the Supreme Ruler, the savior of Russia. This is how the archaic core perceives it.'  

As a result he complains that Russia is now suffering from 'a disease, a kind of  social schizophrenia: 

'One and the same society realizes itself in a diametrically opposite way. Outwardly and from above  it is a modern Western-style liberal democracy,  from within and from below  it is a world power with the will to revive the Empire, with a sacred Supreme Ruler at the head, with traditional values and with a conservative psychology that rejects "progressive" Western attitudes (LGBT+, ultrafeminism etc.) as perversions.'

But how can the character of the sacred be restored not just de facto in the instincts of the Russian people (if we accept Dugin's thesis) but also de jure? Obviously the Church has a role to play and the Empire section of the website includes an article on the 'Symphony' - equality of powers between Church and State that was supposed to reign in Constantinople and in pre-petrine Russia (in fact the power of Emperor and Tsar in both cases was overwhelmingly preponderant). It is often pointed out that only a small proportion of nominally Orthodox Russians actually go regularly to Church (they do all tend to turn up at Easter) so Dugin makes a point of saying that anyone who defines him or her self as Orthodox is Orthodox as far as he is concerned whether they go to church or not. 

Dugin outlines several paths towards the establishment of a sacred Empire in his article 'Empire and Practice' (18th May 2022). He begins by insisting that it requires a miracle:

'Every Empire has a supernatural origin. If this is not a miracle from God, then this is the "black miracle" of the devil. People are not able to create an Empire. It is always something sacred. No miracle - no Empire.'

He then outlines several more 'practical' paths:

(2) Development of a political theology within the church. Here he draws particular attention to the glorification of the 'Holy Royal Martyrs' - Nicholas II and his family, initially within the emigré Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia but subsequently adopted by the Moscow Patriarchate: 'no other normative teaching on the political theology of Orthodoxy was created in the MP ROC itself during the Soviet period (and could not be after the failure of the Renovationists). Therefore, the Orthodox monarchy is the only normative model of Russian Orthodox Christianity. Noisy and stubborn "church liberals" do not count, they are only "foreign agents".' The reference to the 'Renovationists' is interesting. Dugin almost seems to hint that their attempt in the 1920s to reconcile Orthodoxy and Soviet Communism could have worked, or at least established a 'normative teaching on the political theology of Orthodoxy.' Dugin, incidentally, claims to be an 'Old Believer'. What else could he be?

(4) Restoration of a dynasty. 'Here, the Kirillovich line has the most grounds, no matter how they are treated today in Russia.' [The monarchist website rules the Kirillovichs out on the grounds of collaboration with Hitler. Apparently the Kirillovich heir has recently married, but his wife does not belong to any royal family. According to 'In January 2019, the RU_ROYALTY blog reported that Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, had made a formal request to the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, to change the law of the succession to the Russian throne, according to which the children of a representative of the dynasty who entered into an unequal marriage would be deprived of their rights to the throne.' This seems a very unlikely path to the re-establishment of a sacred monarchy but it would be interesting to know what Malofeev thinks.]

Unveiling of a portrait of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich Romanov
 by Igor V. Babailov, Hon.RAA, KStA (2nd from left) in the presence of the current Head of the Imperial House of Romanov, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna (2nd from right)

5.      An empire can be created as real military successes and expansion of the zone of control.  Then the inner power becomes evident. The very gathering of Russian lands - relying both on military force and on the economy, diplomacy and culture, strengthens the imperial potential.
[So maybe I'm wrong in suggesting that the Katehon writers 'don't give the impression of wanting an expansionist Russian empire.' - PB]

6.      The empire can live at the level of the people's will. In this case, the Empire is not established from the top down, but will be demanded by the people - from the bottom up. This is the zemstvo scenario. The Zemsky Sobor makes a historic decision for the Empire to exist and restores the monarchy. The modern cult of Stalin, widespread among the people, from a sociological point of view, is nothing but a form of "monarchism from below", a request for the Tsar. 

(7) As in the case of Julius Caesar in Rome, the original 'Tsar', a decision on the part of a strong ruler.

He concludes: 'If the Empire is our goal (and if it is not a goal, then we are lost), we now know what to pray for, what to fight for and what to do.' If I've understood rightly the reason Russia is lost if it doesn't become a sacred Empire is that the only alternative is some form of liberalism which can only be destructive because it cannot give the Russian people the faith that is needed to hold together the enormous territory that they occupy. This of course is all at a fairly abstract, generalised level. Perhaps in a future article I will descend more to particulars, the particular shape of 'Russia' and its population(s).

         To Katehon Part two - Russia and the Fourth Political Theory