Following the roaring success of the latest article by everyone’s favourite obscure Russian political advisor, the intelligence team at No Yardstick managed to take hold of a draft of Vladislav Surkov’s next treatise on the pathways of Russia, Putin and the West. Below we are publishing an unabridged version translated into English.*
The communicating vessels of the future
“Ceausescu na murit! Istoria nea pacalit. Limba lui de lemn se plimba incet prin vechea noastra limba,” sang Ada Milea, no doubt the best Romanian singer that none of my readers have ever heard of, in 2002. Ceausescu isn’t dead: history has tricked us. His wooden tongue slowly walked over to our mouths and became ours.
For Romanians Ceausescu was a more consequential force in history than Orthodoxy. This of course is not due to the his “wooden tongue” – it is due to the fact that Romanians were so scared of ending up in a Ceausescu-like system again that they rushed to the treacherous embrace of Europe and forgot about their intellectual home, Orthodoxy, replacing their curvaceous church domes with the sweaty, inferiority-laden erect shafts of American rockets. But wooden tongues will wag around elsewhere.
If we accept that there have been only four momentous philosophical movements in global political history – Platonism, Confucianism, the Enlightenment and Putinism – we also need to accept that there are only four great thinkers without whose ideas the wheels of the carriage called history, hurtling along with us on board towards a brighter future would be incomplete: Plato, Confucius, Montesquieu and whoever invented Putinism’s central concept, “sovereign democracy”. But I digress.
Putinism, the latest and highest intellectual peak of global political history has, like all of its predecessors, several degrees of maturity. First it stopped the looting of our country by politically unreliable people in the 2000s. Then it stopped the shrinking of Russia’s territory, if not the shrinking of its population, in the 2010s. It is time for the third stage of Putinism, which will elevate Russia in a moral sense above all other nations by asserting a philosophical truth that has been lost from the conscience of other nations. For my future Western scholars, I will name this sewereign democracy (or суверенная дерьмократия). Sewereign democracy is based on an ages-old, primordial, natural, instinctive truth that is deeply ingrained in the podzolic soil of Russia but has evaporated from Europe’s loose liberal loess: namely that trash and fecal matter must be somewhere. And if it is not where you are, it must be where someone else is. And if it is not where someone else is, it must be, ipso facto, where you are.
Take the example of trash collection. In the insincere, hypocritical, politically correct world of Sweden where a thick cobweb woven of polite expressions and goings-about has clouded the vision of a people who used to be technically Slavs, society has built institutions whose sole purpose is to make the people believe that they will rid themselves of their trash. Little do they know that through the act of recycling their societies are fed the same trash over and over again.
Thus become social acts such as trash collection regularised to the extremes until they lose their original meaning and even their shape – like mantras in the Vedic tradition – as they are transformed into an all-encompassing metaphor of the verbal and non-verbal hoops of the society that creates them: recycled trash that seems to lose its toxic components through the processes that it undergoes but that on a nuclear level will never lose the quality of having once been trash just as political correctness and forced politeness will never be able to overwrite the instinctive behavioural patterns that originally created the pre-Enlightenment’s breathing, living, perspiring and occasionally flatulating societies.
Here’s a seemingly unrelated funny thing to get you through the meticulously crafted logorrhea above without questioning the details. Did you know that the etymology of the word “polite”, which comes from Latin, has nothing to do with the etymology of the word “politics”, which comes from Greek? In whose interest is it to keep the semantic spheres of the two words intertwined? On the other hand, “polite” has everything to do with the Latin word “polio”. I shall let you draw your own conclusion.
Trash collection works differently in Russia. Our sewereign democracy is uncorrupted by the fake news of Plutarch – yet another decadent civis romanus – who would like us to believe that Pan is dead. Our system is simply more honest. The Russian people with their instinct of seeing through Western schemes know that trash and fecal matter need to be somewhere and if it is not where somewhere else is, it will be where they are. This is why trash collection in Russia will always take trash somewhere else and then somewhere else again, usually even before people who live at the first “somewhere else” could seriously start complaining about it. This is due to the innate ability of the Russian chinovnik to guess the will of the population with whose supervision he is entrusted. And to Telegram. And perhaps, to a teeny-tiny extent, to local law enforcement, maybe. But the emphasis is on understanding. We do not “recycle” trash, we “cycle” it, from oblast to oblast, and never in this perpetually moving carousel do we pretend that trash will cease to be anywhere.
The fragile, effeminate little porcelain tool of neoliberal social science called “polling” is cracking, breaking, fracturing, disintegrating, bursting into smithereens when it meets the impenetrable, icy surface of the Russian national character. There is no quantifiable layer of the Russian collective conscience, and I am trying very hard to avoid a nesting doll metaphor here, one that insensitive Western analysts would no doubt jump on (hello, The New York Times). What does it mean when Putin’s approval rating falls to 64 percent and his trust rating falls to 32 percent? Does the research suggest that certain Russians have stopped trusting their president completely on an individual level, or are we to think that every individual trusts Putin slightly less, and thus while the fabric of society is a little less permeated by the lubricant of trust, trust as a whole is still strong enough to make our political system work? Did Julius Caesar in the degenerate Roman Republic sit back contented on the eve of the ides of March, listening to a briefing about his rising popularity?
Trust, a sturdy, masculine, broad-shouldered, deep-rooted, but single-directional trust, extended from the people towards the political leader is a defining feature of the Russian national character. In 1917 the Russian people trusted that the tsar would not put up futile resistance and only knowing this did they take to the streets. In 1979 thousands of Soviet citizens trusted that if their leaders were to send them to Afghanistan, they would also create the Central Asian drug trade to help them forget the trauma later. Last year, people in the Primorsky Krai voted for the Communist candidate for governor trusting that their leaders in Moscow would in the end invalidate the election and appoint their own handpicked governor instead.
Trust is all a matter of sharing: a culture, a national purpose, pirated movies of Steven Segal, or, on a metaphysical level, an understanding of how the world works. This brings us back to sewereign democracy and its epistemology. Western sociologists look at VTsIOM’s latest numbers and shake their heads, unable to understand the deeper meaning behind the numbers. The Russian people look at the number and know that if their approval of Putin is not in sociological ratings, it must be somewhere else. It must be inside them. This does not mean that the Russian people lie to Russian sociologists. What it means is that sociologists need different questions to capture the real essence of the unquantifiable national spirit and the fact that Russians cannot hate Putin and Putinism, because they would then be hating something that is a part of themselves. And remember: we don’t subscribe to the self-betterment mantra coming out of the liberal theorists of the West, be it about trash recycling or the depths of our collective soul.
Thus, you cannot change us. But we can mess with your heads. Or have I already said that somewhere? How about this: we can even mess with your browser history if we really want. Scared now?
More importantly, you will forget about self-betterment too. This is because there is one more important thing that we understand about trash and fecal matter and most of you over there still do not. Even a small amount of it is enough for the smell to distract everyone from more important matters, because we will all be looking for the pile that we need to shovel elsewhere to solve what seems to be all of our problems. The pile can take the consistency of the quite traditional bullshit or in certain cases that of Paul Manafort. And as your basic instincts kick in and momentarily overwrite your shiny, polished (a word that shares its root with “polite”), pseudo-free social institutions, you will forget about reforming trash collection and focus on eliminating that single pile, slinging it somewhere else, anywhere away from you. Because trash and fecal matter need to be somewhere.
Can Putinism survive Putin, you ask? Of course, it can. What it couldn’t survive would be the lack of advisors capable of writing highfalutin, ambiguous articles that periodically plant thoughts into your head about whether Putin is Russia, whether he now pulls the strings all over the world and what his next move might be. Articles that transplant his “wooden tongue” into your mouths.
* Disclaimer: the above article is a parody. It was not written by and does not reflect the views of Vladislav Surkov, even if some of the views expressed might bear similarity to views expressed in his writing, which is how parodies work.