The ABC of traditional values: patriotism, citizenship, service to the motherland

We present the third part of a new project by the Russian TV channel Tsargrad, 'The ABC of Traditional Values', a series of talks by three Russian thinkers: Konstantin Malofeev, Alexander Dugin and Protopriest Andrei Tkachev. Today's talk examines one of the most important spiritual and moral values from the list of 'Fundamentals of State Policy' approved by Presidential Decree 809. We are talking about patriotism, citizenship, service to the Fatherland and responsibility for its destiny.
Konstantin Malofeev: In the next part of the 'ABC of traditional values' we will talk about the letter 'P' - patriotism. One of the traditional values is referred to in the decree of the President of Russia as 'patriotism, citizenship, service to the Fatherland and responsibility for its destiny'. Alexaneer Dugin, what is patriotism?
Alexander Dugin: Patriotism is love for the Motherland, and the Motherland is something for which a person is capable of sacrificing his life. This is the most important definition. The Romans had a similar expression: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori ('It is sweet and glorious to die for the fatherland'). Sweet and glorious, and just to die. It means that there is something consciously greater than the value of human life. This is the Motherland. This is our Motherland.
When we relate patriotism with the readiness to defend our country, our state, our people, our land in the face of possible danger, we immediately do the right thing. This is the highest value. For only that for which you are truly capable of giving your life has true value, for that which constitutes the foundations, the founding principles of the homeland. Consequently, any mockery of the state, any violation of the rights of a citizen who is part of the state, of the nation, is an attack on the value of our own lives. Even more than our own lives. It is blasphemy and must be punished with the utmost severity.
Hence the sacredness of love for the Motherland. If we value our lives, and we always do, how much more so must the Motherland be, if we give our lives for it, and when we apply this criterion to those who make fun of our Motherland, spit on it, allow themselves to mock it, it means that they diminish the value of our own lives. How should we react? For example, are we ready to go to the front and defend our country in a critical and difficult situation? And can we calmly accept that in art or everyday life, or in politics, our homeland is humiliated?
Patriotism is a very strong, profound beginning, which either exists, and then really changes the whole structure, the whole scale of our reactions, including domestic ones, or it does not exist. If today patriotism, love of country, responsibility for country and people are proclaimed as traditional values, protected by law, it is necessary to reorganise our society in a patriotic sense.
Patriotism becomes, in a certain sense, an ideology, and power takes on that character, that sacred content, which must be defended not only in war, but also in peaceful life. To defend it from those who invade its values, who seek to diminish its importance. Because if we give our lives for the homeland, it means that the homeland really begins to count. It is really worth as much as we are willing to pay for it. It depends on the sincerity, depth and sacrifice with which we serve it.
Konstantin Malofeev: Head of State Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin once said: our national idea is patriotism. At the time, this phrase sounded rather banal. This sounded to those who did not understand the definition of patriotism that we are proposing to the public, but the state is only a legal fiction. What is the state? It does not exist, it cannot be touched.
In a society of consumers, in a society of egoists, this is not necessary and this is what the current Western agenda is pushing us, modern humanity, towards. We should all become metaclass citizens of Google, Facebook, Apple. Because who cares which state you live in? What 'matters' is what happens on your smartphone, what 'matters' is your avatar. You can be part of this global online world without being part of a state.
This seems to have happened only recently, only in the 21st century. So much for the 'obsolete' state and the 'beautiful new' meta-universe of the future. Yet this dispute between state and non-state, the meta-universes, is three, if not three and a half thousand years old. The state came into being as a legal fiction, as a union of people to protect each other, to serve one ideal, to have one God, one King. In this way, like a great family, like a great clan, people were united in the state.
But very quickly, a few centuries later, another legal fiction emerged: legal persons. Sounds trivial, doesn't it? But legal persons are what underlies Google, transnational corporations, banks, meta-cities. Legal entities do not come together on family values, nor on protection or a shared future, but on profit. It is about profit.
So patriotism is loyalty to the state not as a legal fiction. We believe in the state as much as we feel part of it. It lives in us and as long as it does it is alive, and if we are not patriots, if we run away with our tongues hanging out because the Motherland has called us to do our duty, then in that situation we are not part of our State, we are part of something else.
However, we are engaged in our social account or some other 'wonderful' thing. Tied to profit, to making money. We talked earlier about how Tradition is different from Modernity, from modernity. Tradition is eternal, whereas modernity is a moment of transition. In this case, State and non-State are very different types of human existence.
There is the man who exists for the sake of a sacred, sacred state, so that generations of his descendants can be like him, because we have one culture and one state. And there is the man who lives for himself, here and now, for his own comfort and selfishness. That is what distinguishes a patriot from a non-patriot.
Alexander Dugin: These two types of people you speak of are called 'heroes' and 'merchants' in sociology. Heroes are patriotic people, while merchants are people of the open, cosmopolitan world. And in our case, in the approved Principles of State Policy, it is the type of hero, of patriot that is recognised as normative, exemplary and protected by law, and this is a very important provision.
Protopriest Andrei Tkachev: One of the most surprising characters in the new mythology and film images of recent decades is Danila Bagrov
I learnt that I have
a big family.
And a path, and a forest,
In the field every ear.
The river, the blue sky.
This is my family.
This is my homeland,
and I love everyone in the world!
This naivety of a man who seems to have descended from heaven corresponds to the feelings of almost all the Russian people. That is why he was loved by everyone. It is that little patriotism that figuratively speaking runs under our skin along with our blood. This, by the way, was already being talked about in the days of the Soviet Union. There is a beautiful song:
Where does the Motherland begin?
With an image in the ABC book.
With good and loyal comrades
living in the courtyard next door.
Or perhaps it begins
With this song our mother used to sing to us.
That in all our trials
No one can take away from us.
That is what we must maintain and cultivate. I don't know, maybe a new Balabanov is needed for Danila Bagrov to live on (God bless both the film's director and Sergei Bodrov, who played the protagonist), but there is also a sighted, intelligent and aware patriotism. Which presupposes knowledge of one's own history, its dark and bright pages, its highs and lows. All this sine wave must pass through the heart. So that, as Pimen writes in Pushkin's 'Boris Godunov', 'for sins, for dark deeds the Saviour is humbly prayed to'.
To clarify.
Two feelings wonderfully close to us -.
In them the heart finds nourishment:
Love for the ashes of a native,
Love for a father's coffin.
The Romans themselves said they fought for hearths and altars. The hearth is the family, the altar is the sacred topos of the people. Having within oneself that natural love for a mother's warmth, for 'every ear of corn', having the feeling that 'all this is mine', one should add a conscious love for one's Motherland, compassion for it. Not just to be proud of it or to admire it, but to have compassion for it in its great historical trials.
It is impossible not to think about it,
and I cannot help but remember it.
This is our land and yours,
This is our biography.
As it happens, the subject of patriotism is only to be dealt with in verse. It is a very lofty subject. It is very poetic and Russian history and literature simply force us to speak about it in verse. I would therefore like to add to everything that has been said above, that it is necessary to nurture and protect this vital underlying patriotic vein in a person, where you lie down on the ground and kiss it, as Dostoevsky did.
You must let the whole tragic history of your homeland flow through you, so that it becomes part of you. Because a soldier does not die just for Krasnoyarsk or Rostov-on-Don. He is fighting for all that he was and all that he will be. It is a very lasting thing that shapes both the individual and entire generations.
Alexander Dugin: It is important to emphasise that patriotism can and should be scientific. Yes, patriotism is indeed a sentiment that you, Father Andrei, spoke of. That it is certainly inherent in all of us, Russian people. Perhaps it may seem that we are talking about things we all know deeply, down to our roots, but patriotic feeling is not everything. There is also knowledge, knowledge of the complex destiny of the Russian people, of the dialectic of Russian history, in which there are ups and downs, there is turmoil and betrayal, but also loyalty and heroism, crimes and miracles.
And all this must be understandable to the people. Patriotism has to be nurtured, it does not come about by itself, it has to be cultivated. This means that education, culture and even everyday life should have a clear patriotic vector. We need to remember the stages of our history, to build and understand the link between the times. The future is built on the past, while the present is a bridge. And patriotism is very important for our present.
When we are part of the destiny, part of the history of our people, of our state, we have a completely different attitude than we have today. Because by doing something today, we continue what has been done before. We create and lay the foundation for what will be done later. Otherwise, if this patriotic tradition, the patriotic bond of the ages is broken, we will not have a state. The state has to be re-established, if you like, restarted at every stage, at every new turn.
Konstantin Malofeev: Russia will come to an end if there is no patriotic education and our great mission is finished. Patriotism is the main feeling in an Empire, in an imperial type state. Because the Empire is a hierarchy. And only in the Empire does the will of all the people who serve the State move in one direction. That is the meaning of hierarchy.
In democracy they are directed in different directions, each towards himself. And so the state goes nowhere, it stands still. It entertains, or nurtures, or in some way ennobles certain people within it. So the main feeling of Empire is a sense of patriotism. Because you have to understand that the State is above you, greater than you, and a man should be educated in this way.
It is a high education, it is a high ideal. Grow up striving to be warm and nourished, to be easy. Any animal can tackle this task, but to educate that which is above that which is nourishing, above that which is only necessary for me - that there is a common good, and that I am for others, for my friends, that I serve both the tsar and the fatherland - these high ideals are only possible if I have been educated in patriotism.
If patriotism is not cultivated, we will have a Canaanite society, a society of traders. This is a society in which people do not understand why they have to compromise themselves even a little for the sake of others. Why? I have my own good and I take care of it and patriotism is certainly my last good.
It is people like these who have invented the idea that the state and the country are different things. Like saying, I love the country and I don't love the state and there is no such thing. There is a simple criterion: will you die for it or not? That is all. The choice to be a great patriot or not is tested in the same simple way: are you ready to die or not? No? You are not a patriot at all. You are not a little patriot, you are not a patriot at all, and if you are ready, you are a patriot. This is such a simple criterion for the greatest traditional value of our beloved Motherland.
Translation by Lorenzo Maria Pacini