Book Review: The Second Russian Revolution (1987-1991)

Whilst on my vacation, I took the time to visit other websites for inspiration. Sometimes you got to get away from things to see them in a better light. One of my favorite websites is the American Orthodox Institute. It’s one of the premier Orthodox forums out there and has been so since it started several years ago.

Fr Hans Jacobse runs it and often contributes to it. As you may know, I’ve borrowed a few posts from there because they are well written and thought provoking.

Recently, Fr Jacobse wrote a book review of a book called Roads to the Temple, by Leon Aron. It’s about the “second Russian revolution.” Its analysis about what preceded the fall of the USSR —glasnost and perestroika, specifically–intrigued me. The parallels between the Soviet regime and Syosset’s present way of holding on to power impressed me. Aron does a very good job of explaining what was the turning point. As Jacobse points out, it was repentance as understood in the Greek sense –a turning of mind.

Source: Acton Institute | By Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse

Roads to the Temple: Truth, Memory, Ideas, and Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987-1991. By Leon Aron (Yale University Press, June 2012). 496 pages

“There are different ways to understand how revolutions work,” writes Leon Aron in his new book Roads to the Temple: Truth, Memory, Ideas, and the Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987-1991 that chronicles the collapse of Soviet Communism during Glasnost from 1987-1991. The most dominant is structuralism, an approach that draws from Marxist thought and sees the state as the central actor in social revolutions. In the structuralist view revolutions are not made, they happen.

Aron explains that structuralism has some merit because of its chronological linearity. It can reveal the events that lead from point A to B to C; an important function because the historian’s first step is to grasp what actually happened. But structuralism also has a grave flaw: the materialist assumptions (“objective factors”) informing it are deaf to the “enormously subversive influence of ideas.”

Structuralism, specifically, is subservient to Marxist dogma, particularly the relegation of the ideas into the category of idealism (non-being). It defines man as a passive actor in the fixed and impersonal currents that drive history that renders the historian blind to man’s moral character, particularly constituents such as “truth, memory, ideas, and ideals” that shape purpose and meaning and by them drive events.

Glasnost was a social revolution of the first order driven by these moral constituents, Aron writes. It arose not by the will of the Soviet state but because the state was already weakened. Aron quotes Tocqueville who first described how weakened states till the soil that leads to their dissolution:

It is not always that when things go from bad to worse that revolutions break out. On the contrary, it oftener happens that when a people … suddenly finds the government relaxing its pressures …Thus the most perilous moment for a bad government is one when it seems to mend its ways … Patiently endured for so long as it seemed beyond redress, a grievance appears to become so intolerable once the possibility of removing it crosses men’s minds.

Glasnost arose out of Perestroika, the effort to revive the moribund Russian economy by introducing market-based reforms and foster an increasing openness to the West. Internal progress was stymied by the moral rot that pervaded all levels of Russian society (alcoholism, cronyism, abortion, waste, fraud, despair, censorship, food shortages, murders, exiles). Perestroika could not succeed until the rot was first confronted.

Dry Tinder

Although Glasnost officially began in 1987, an event one year earlier lit the fuse. Unlike earlier Soviet rulers, Mikhail Gorbachev had a visceral dislike of the brutal terror that forced the compliance of Russian subjects to centralized economic planning. He choose instead to relax the restraints of the state on its subjects. After heated debate in the Politburo, the anti-Stalinist film Pokoyanie or Repentance was released and the floodgates opened. Russians were about to breathe the air denied them since Lenin first seized power.

Glasnost quickly took the shape of a national repentance in the full sense of that term. Censorship disappeared, not by state decree (the leadership had originally hoped to limit debate) but because millions of Russians sensed the shackles being broken and joined in to expunge the lies that held the terror state in place.

The discussions took place in journals and newspapers, on television, in homes and marketplaces. A flood of written material was produced, much of which Aron studied to shape his historical narrative,  selecting that which that illustrated with great clarity the radical nature of this second revolution.

The recovery of the past is laborious and often painful because the loss of historical memory creates the loss of individual identity. The New Man of the Collective, that febrile illusion of materialists everywhere  – be it Jacobin, Soviet, Nazi or any other incarnation – was the first lie that needed to be named and repudiated.

The loss of historical memory created what Aron calls the “deafened zone,” a place in the national consciousness that contained no memories, that was enforced by an exhaustive policy of censorship that not only concealed facts but by the “hourly construction and maintenance of a ‘parallel,’ ‘brilliant’” reality created a history that never existed. Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, and Grossman’s Life and Fatewere published for the first time during Glasnost and did much to define what the “deafened zone” actually was.

One develops moral self-awareness first by hearing truth and then seeing and acting on it. Once the “brilliant” history was revealed as the continuous cascade of lies that it was, the voices of those muted by the cacophony of the state-controlled media began to be heard, faintly at first but louder as more witnesses stepped forward. First up were those who recalled seeing friends and relatives of the millions murdered by the barbarous regime.

It is difficult to grasp the scope of Soviet brutality. The best we can do is examine the individual stories and multiply them again and again until the limits of imagination are reached. The suffering is too great for any one person to perceive although people who value truth will see that the ideas driving the regime were conceived in the fetid bowels of hell. Nothing else explains such abject depravity.

Myths Shattered

This was only the beginning. “Any lasting polity espouses and propagates essential beliefs by which it lives,” writes Aron, and the Soviet Union “spawned a powerful mythology that legitimized political, economic, and social arrangements.” Sustained daily by constant propaganda and censorship and the restriction on travel except for the elites, it imposed severe penalties on any new version of the Soviet past and present. Yet, between 1987 and 1989, “virtually every constituent myth of this tale was shattered by uncensored truths.”

Legitimizing myths were becoming “unraveled” — a very dangerous development for the leadership because delegitimizing of the regime was a direct challenge to its power. Aron chronicles in considerable detail the unraveling that, in historical terms, happened in the blink of an eye. Here too Russian intellectuals began to weigh in. Economists pored over the “official” economic reports and pointed out they were riddled with lies; military analysts revealed the war in Afghanistan was a defeat (Russians believed they won) and  unearthed the truth behind the Great Patriotic War, particularly Stalin’s enthrallment with Hitler and the millions fed as fodder to the Nazi war machine because of his inept leadership.

Aron describes too the damage that forced collectivization imposes on the soul. Glasnost enabled the Russian to see that Homo Sovieticus was both a “symbol of a spiritual crisis and its epitome.” The Soviet Man forgot how to work, was driven by envy, sloth, lying, and stealing, driven to drink, both humiliated and humiliator. The virtue necessary for stability and progress was methodically and mercilessly ground out of almost everyone. Despair left the soul and the nation bare.

Moral crises are healed by repentance. In Greek, repentance (metanoia) means “a turning or change of the mind;” literally a new way of seeing. Although Aron does not mention it, the call to repentance was made years earlier. In 1975  From Under the Rubble, a book by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and six other dissidents (all living in Russia at the time) was published that outlined with uncanny accuracy the steps necessary for the Russian restoration.

Glasnost, like every modern revolution, “was about reclaiming and extending human dignity … ” At first it imposed on the Russian leadership a new definition of socialism (Gorbachev sought to meld the new found freedom with socialist ideas) and foreign affairs. As time went on however, it became increasingly clear that the great collectivist experiment needed to be scrapped altogether. New ideas emerged that proclaimed that the quality of domestic and foreign policy were indissolubly dependent on the moral health of the citizenry. Universal values were to be recovered and implemented. A new democracy had to be crafted that was “based on deep-rooted morality and conscience.”

Aron’s masterful work may also contain a prophetic warning.  Russia repudiated the materialist ideas that eroded the barriers against the tyranny while the nations of the West are embracing them. If Russia’s history proves moral renewal breaks the shackles of darkness, then our moral corruption may be blinding us to an enslavement coming our way.


  1. George P. says

    Where’s the stand up and cheer button on this site? 😀

  2. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Darned good, George!

  3. M. Stankovich says

    August 4 marks the 26th anniversary of the falling asleep in the Lord of Professor SS Verhovskoy, Provost and Professor of Dogmatic Theology and Ethics at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary for more than a quarter-century. As Dean Fr. John Meyendorff wrote in tribute:

    Together with this agonizing concern for truth, Verhovskoy was also a moral perfectionist. Seeking an incarnation of the faith which was not merely “ritual,” he visualized Christian ethics, together with doctrinal truth, as the absolute demand of authentic Christianity.

    The resignation of Fr Florovsky in 1955 rather unexpectedly projected Verhovskoy into the position of being the real head of the school for a period of several years. He then bore the titles of provost and dean of students, and was successful in providing a quality of leadership which assured responsible continuity and progress. After 1962, with Fr Alexander Schmemann as dean, Professor Verhovskoy continued as provost, assuming responsibility for personnel, finances, and plant operation of the new campus located in Crestwood. He held this position until his retirement in 1981.

    It is impossible to define, in a few words, the full extent of his responsibilities and actual contributions to the life of the seminary, to which he devoted practically all his time, even at the expense of further research and writing. He loved to teach, and he spent hours in meeting students. He was very personally concerned with the details of their lives, to the extent that some of them would say: “Fr Schmemann is our spiritual father, but ‘Prof’ is simply our father.”

    May his memory be eternal!

    In his last years, when he had to leave his home for an apartment atop a hill, atop a stairway he could no longer climb, he began again an old habit of borrowing record albums, but now he wanted my “translations” over iced tea; what exactly were Muddy Waters, and Howling Wiolf, and John Lee Hooker saying? As I worked for the County Office for the Aging, I helped arrange for a visiting nurse for his sister-in-law, and she stayed on to care for him until his repose. Imagine, a Jamaican woman held our Professor’s hand and read him the Bible! And somehow he got through to my boss, and as I was rushing around she caught me and said, “There is a man on the phone you must speak with.” I picked up her phone to hear SS Verhovskoy say, “I just called to say, my dear, you are somehow angel.”

    I trust God sends us such individuals as a challenge. If you are blessed, they come once in your lifetime. If you are rich, you will see them again. Memory eternal.

    • I have no idea how anyone not a basket case could possibly give a thumbs-down to M. Stankovich’d kind reminiscences of Professor Verkhovskoy. I only matriculated for one school year at SVS, but my impression of him was like M. Stankovich’s long experience of him. I remember the first time I was interviewed with him. He was most interested in my views on the Theotokos and also Berdiaev. On a few occasions I heard him make remarks (not always positive) about what “the archpriests” were up to. I remember that after Father John Meyendorff asked me to make a translation of the hymn to the Theotokos at St. Basil’s Liturgy, Professor summoned me to point out that my use of “pride of virgins” was out of the question. “Pride is ALWAYS a sin, Stephen, ALWAYS.” So I changed it, of course.

      • Michael Bauman says

        I am at a loss as to the reason for the negatives myself. It is a touching, teaching, human story which I am glad Mr. Stankovich shared.

      • phil r. upp says

        Excuse me BT, but you were only at SVS for 3-4 months. Let’s not try to re-write what was or wasn’t.

        • phil r. upp has been listening to liars, I believe
          I entered SVS in the fall, that is, September, 1965, completed the fall semester, and after passing all my courses, I continued the second, Spring Semester ending at the end of May, 1966, passing all my courses. I had applied for and got a release from active duty in the USAF in June 1965, in order to matriculate at St. Vladimir’s. I applied to be taken back on active duty in June of 1965 and this was effected in Sep1966. I lived on the second story of the old main building. My room-mate was the now deceased James LeBeau. The following were at SVS during the entire school year that I was, and you may check with them: Father Paul Kucynda, Father Leonid Kishkovsky, Protodeacon Peter Scorer (of Exeter, Englsnd, grandson of S.L. Frank), Fr. Lawrence Lazar, Bishop Sergius of Loch Lomond (David Black), Bishop Seraphim, formerly of Sendai (Joe Segrist), Father Rostislav Trbuhovich, Fr. Steven Stojsavlevich, the late Father Eugene Vansuch, the late Father Peter Pritza, Metropolitan Theodosius (Juda Yoshihara) of Japan, the late Fr. Oleg Olas, Father John Townsend, Father Thaddeus Wojcik, the late Protodeacon Roman Svihra, Father Vassily Lickwar, Ronnie Banasz, Father John Tkachuk, Father Andrew Harrison, Father Ted Gotis, Anthony Beauchamp, and several others.
          If you don’t know any of those (who can all verify my matriculation there during the school year, 1965-6), then I can’t force you to abandon this delusion which must somehow satisfy you. I sat through Father W Schneirla’s awful, cynical Old Testament classes, had Church History from FAther AlexanderSchmeman and Patristics from Father John Meyendorff, N.T. Greek from Alexander Doumouras, New Testament from the wonderful Veselin Kesich, Russian from the wonderful Victor Nikolaevich Litwinowicz (sp?) , and sang tenor in David Drillock’s choir. Natalia Mitrofanovna Zembara was in charge of the kitchen. Her imaginative cuisine included, during the Great Fast, diluted Cremora for breakfast cereal, but she made a delicious egg and onion pirogue once when Archbishop,later Metropolitan Ireney visited.
          As a student I was one of the seminarian/pages at the All-American Council that elected Metropolitan Ireney, despite the popular vote for Bishop Vladimir (Nagossky). Two choir trips stand out in my recollection: one to Father Shafran’s parish with its wonderful frescos, and one to Washington DC, my first ever visit there.
          phil r upp–When Bishop Dmitri, then (vicar) Bishop of Washington, proposed that I be ordained to the Diaconate, which I considered to be a vocation, since it came from the Church, not my dreams, he told me, “Stephen, i was afraid that the seminary might object to this because you only completed one year there, so I checked with Father Alexander Schmeman. He said, “Would we object? Tell Stephen to put my name down as a reference: I recommend him!”
          Look at the second (or third, I forget which) LP jacket of the SVS choir. You’ll see me standing in the back row. in the photo of the choir.
          I’m now going to review all your messages here, to see how much more nonsense you’ve posted.
          Just ask Father Leonid Kishkovsky, if you know him. We were good friends. One of my favorite photos is of myself and him, both of us holding orange ping-pong paddles on the lawn outside the main building. If you go to my Facebook site (or that of Protodeacon Peter Scorer) you can find a picture of the three of us in downtown Crestwood.
          Why, oh, why, phil r upp, would you publish such nonsense without a fact-check?
          Get a life, a life with Jesus Christ! Man up and use your real name, lest you utterly wither away as a human being who becomes one hundred per cent coward!

    • George P. says

      Mr. Stankovich,

      That is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen you post any where.

      Thank you for sharing. Kindness and love reflect the light of Christ into the darkest abyss.

  4. cynthia curran says

    Well, its interesting I’ve been visiting some of the Facebook’s of the occupy movement. Its true they are connected with Communism or Anarcho-Syndicalism. One had a link to the International Workers of the World and another the Arkansas Communist Party. So, the right is right on the occupy movement its farther to the left of the Democratic Party more like Frank Marshall Davis than Barrack Obama.

  5. cynthia curran says

    Those Crazy Anabaptists: Europes first Marxists?
    The Anabaptist tradition, today associated in the minds of most people with Mennonites, Hutterites and Amish-type groups, had a long history of revolutionary, coercive socialism based on their understanding of the Scriptures. Peter Walpot, in 1577, in his Great Article Book laid down the Biblical principles of community ownership of the means of production and consumption. Mennonite theologian John Yoder said:

    Walpot’s treatise provides more systematic pastoral and ethical arguments where appropriate [for communal ownership]. Such are developed around the texts: “no man can serve two masters,” and “lay not up treasures for yourselves upon earth.” Even the Lord’s Prayer teaches community. Christ did not teach us to say severally, “give me my bread.” The Apostle’s Creed requires us to confess: “I believe in the communion of saints.” Jesus taught community by example, through the miraculous feeding of all who had come to him in the desert; and by doing it by means of the generosity of those who gave what they had. He called the rich young man to enter into that sharing. When the young man turned sorrowfully away, the disciples had learned how hard it was for the rich to enter the Kingdom.
    It is obvious that the example of the Jerusalem Church is a powerful supporting argument.
    …The Hutterite case would not be weakened if the first chapter of Acts were removed from the story: it is to be found in every other strand of the New Testament.

    Yoder notes that Walpot treatise ended with a quote from the Theologia Germanica which pointed out that in Heaven there is no private property and for that reason people “are found content, true peace, and all blessedness.” It argued that if anyone claimed something as property they would be promptly cast into hell. Hutterties also said, “private property is the greatest enemy of love”. While many socialist, anti-liberal concepts find their root in Catholic doctrine it is also true that some of the most radical, socialist experiments (and some of the bloodiest) were rooted in early Reformationist communities.Harold S. Bender, president of the Mennonite World Conference, lamented how the Anabaptists were perceived. He admits that one writer referred to them as “the Bolsheviks of the Reformation”. But even various socialist writers applauded the Anabaptists. Bender writes: “There are, for instance, the socialist writers, led by Kautsky, who would make Anabaptism either ‘the forerunner of the modern socialism” or the “culminating effort of medieval communism’.”

    Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, in his book Leftism, quotes Carl Cornelius in regards to some of the Reformationists of the Anabaptist tradition:

    The Zürich Doctrines were obeyed in the most uncompromising and radical form. Government offices, oaths and the use of arms were strictly outlawed. Nobody owned property. The stranger who asked for Baptism had to surrender all his earthly goods to the community but in the case of excommunication or banishment nothing was returned to him. Family life, which cannot be imagined without property, was replaced with a different order. The marriages, without consultation of the partners, were decreed and blessed by the Servants of the Word. The children soon after their birth were handed over to wet nurses and later placed in the common school house. Dressed and fed in an identical way, the adults lived according to their occupation in larger households under the supervision of a Servant of Necessity. The whole life moved, day in day out, within the narrowest limits. Any manifestation of personal independence or freedom led to banishment which meant to bottomless misery.

    Those Christian traditions which preach a coming literal millennial rule of Christ on earth, mainly today’s evangelical and fundamentalist sects, are outside the mainstream tradition of Christian theology. But they are, perhaps, the dominant tradition when it comes to eschatalogical teaching today. Rothbard in his essay on Marxism as a religious concept talks about the concept of a literal Kingdom of God on Earth (KGE).

    …one disturbing aspect of the KGE is the preparatory purgation of the host of human sinners. A second problem is what the KGE is going to look like. As we might imagine, KGE theorists have been extremely cloudy about the nature of their perfect society, but one troublesome features is that, to the extent that we know its operations at all, the KGE is almost always depicted as a communist society, lacking work, private property, or the division of labor. In short, something like the Marxian communist utopia, except run by a cadre, not of the vanguard of the proletariat, but of theocratic saints.

    Throughout medieval history various Christian sects attempted to return to the New Testament concept of collective ownership of property. In the 1300s the Bishop of Strasbourg mentioned how a group calling itself Free Spirits, “believe that all things are common, whence they conclude that theft is lawful for them”. In the Fifteenth Century a group of calling themselves the Taborites, an off-shoot of the Hussite movement, tried to put communism into practice. They went one step further than most: “Everything will be common, including wives; there will be free sons and daughters of God and there will be no marriage as union of two — husband and wife.” In 1419 the Taborites instituted a communist society in Usti. With a common storage house supplies were quickly depleted as everyone had a motive to consume but no one had a motive to produce.

    What Rothbard calls “theocratic Anabaptism” swept over sections of Europe. Thomas Müntzer, a scholarly theologian, was personally chosen by Luther to be a Lutheran minister in Zwickau. But Müntzer quickly was enamored with the old Taborite teachings. After several years of preaching he had collected a group of followers and in February 1525 took control of the town of Muhlhausen where he imposed a communist regime in the name of Christianity. Igor Shafarevich in his The Socialist Phenomenon described what happened, “…when anyone needed food or clothing he went to a rich man and demanded it of him in Christ’s name, for Christ had commanded that all should share with the needy. And what was not given freely was taken by force.” The princes of the realm were not particularly pleased and sent an army to wipe out Müntzer. The minister preached an impassioned sermon to his followers, mostly poor peasants, and as he proclaimed God’s divine protection a coincidental rainbow appeared in the sky. The superstitious peasants needed no other sign and marched into battle where some 5,000 of them died. Müntzer was captured and executed and his Christian communist regime came to an end.

    But the demise of Müntzer did not mean the end of Christian communism. The Lutheran town of Münster was the site of the next experiment in New Testament economics. Rothbard recounts:

    Münster was not destined to remain Lutheran for long, however. From all over the northwest, hordes of Anabaptist crazies flooded into the city of Münster, seeking the onset of the New Jerusalem. Anabaptism escalated when the eloquent and popular young minister Bernt Rothmann, a highly educated son of a town blacksmith, converted to Anabaptism. Originally a Catholic priest, Rothmann had become a friend of Luther and a head of the Lutheran church in Münster. But now he lent his eloquent preaching to the cause of communism as it had supposedly existed in the primitive Christian Church, with everything held in common, with no mine or thine, and each man receiving according to his “need.” Rothmann’s widespread reputation attracted thousands more in Münster, largely the poor, the rootless, and those hopelessly in debt.

    The communist Christians of Münster, including Rothmann, then joined another sect of Anabaptists lead by Jan Matthys. Matthys proclaimed the end of the world, except for Münster which would become the New Jerusalem. Christians from all over Europe flooded into Münster to escape the destruction of the world. And with this influx of believers Bockelson emerged with complete control.

    The first measure these Anabaptists put into effect was to cleanse the city of all unrepentant sinners by which they meant Catholics and Lutherans. Matthys originally wanted to execute them but was persuaded it might bring down the wrath of local princes. Any “sinners” left in the city were forcibly rebaptized and only those who refused were executed. Matthys had all the wealth of those expelled confiscated and placed into the common store-house where it would be doled out according to needs as determined by church deacons. When a blacksmith protested he was arrested and publicly executed by Bockelson himself as a warning.

    Another measure, which had it taken place later in history would have been classic Marxism, was the abolition of money. Since the New Testament said money is the root of all evil these good Christians abolished private ownership of money. Instead it was collected and put in the hands of the Church which used it to hire “outside” workers. Food was also collectivized and rationed out by the Church. Communal dining-halls were created and private homes were declared public property open to the countless poverty-stricken immigrants seeking God’s kingdom.

    Like many a good believer before him Matthys took his own religious beliefs seriously. When local princes placed an army around the town Matthys was convinced that God would liberate the town. Convinced of divine protection Matthys and some followers charged the army but were easily exterminated by the, no doubt, amused soldiers. Matthys’ accomplice in government, Jan Bockelson, got the town’s attention by running through the streets naked and then falling into a three-day trance. Like Stalin following Lenin, Bockelson proclaimed that any vestiges of community control were abolished and all power would be placed in his hands. A system of forced labor was instituted and all resistance was punishable by death. Marriage was only allowed between Anabaptists and polygamy was enforced as well. Bockelson soon had 15 wives himself, including the widow of Matthys. When some Church members resisted they were put to death and all dissent disappeared. After another revelation marriage itself was abolished. Soon Bockelson was proclaimed King of the World and lived in great luxury off of the wealth confiscated from the people of Münster. Bockelson used the town as a center to send out Anabaptist propaganda and was thus able to encourage small communist uprisings in much of the heartland of Protestantism. As the message of Christ spread the royal households decided to band together and put a stop to Bockelson. This time a siege was able to cut off the city completely. While the people starved the Church leaders continued to live in luxury still promising divine deliverance. As the siege took effect the people started rebelling. But the Church imposed absolute totalitarian rule and daily executions kept them from losing power. Eventually two town’s people betrayed weak spots in the defense of the town and the surrounding army penetrated the city and put an end to this Christian communist utopia. The town then converted back to Catholicism.

    Note: At some point I would like to put down on paper information on the Taiping Rebellon led by Hung Hsiu-chuan, a convert of a fundamentalist Baptist minister. Hung organized the God Worshippers Society and also was the leader of the first communist movement in China in the mid 1800s. His movement waged war in 17 provinces and led to the deaths fo 20,000,000 people. Combine the moral views of Jerry Falwell, the economic views of Karl Marx and you will understand this religous/political movement. It strikes me interesting that the two earliest and bloddiest attempts at primative forms of communism were set up by break off sects of Christianity, first in Europe in the mid 1500s and then 300 years later in China under Hung.

    Illustrations: The first image is Müntzer and the second Bockelson.
    posted by godlesszone at monday, january 15, 2007

    The article above shows the beginnings of communists theory and the religious left. Most are Anabaptist movements of Protestantism. that started the religious left and the communist movement.

  6. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    For some levity, watch Putin’s reaction at the end of the video. He, at least, is aware of what is appropriate and not appropriate . . .

  7. cynthia curran says

    Well, the modern communists and the earlier communists mention in the article in the above article didn’t lead to the new man or the Kingdom of God of the early Anabaptist. Study ancient or medieval society make one convince that communal ownership or state ownership of everything didn’t exist in any early society unless it was a hunter-gather society. Here we disagree how much the state or private individuals should control. History usually goes from the state controlling large enterprises back in the Hellenistic period when the Ptolemies control banking or in the early middle ages where the Byzantine state control the silk industry to Bill Gates owning Microsoft. For those on the left I disagree with Bill Gates for wanting to import immigrants that can do jobs Americans can do. Kind of a Pat Buchanan in me but not as protectist Pat or as free trade as George W Bush was or Ron Paul.

  8. cynthia curran says

    One more thing here the Soviet Union not only had the state own everything and allowed people a defacto private property like landlords only apartment complexes and charging some much rubles but had a large underground market that the state didn’t control which would be an extreme libertarian dream.. The mafia type market when it surface led to corruption between business interest involved in it and the state. So, the Soviet Union failed on trying to do what isn’t possible a totally state run enterprise.

  9. M. Stankovich says

    It has been said that exactly two individuals by physical appearance alone caused traffic gridlock in Princeton, New Jersey: Dr. Albert Einstein and Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky. August 11 marks the 33rd anniversary of the Repose in the Lord of Fr. Florovsky. Prof. Richard Hauge wrote of in tribute:

    On August 11, 1979, Fr. Georges Vasil’evich Florovsky, one of the more influential of twentieth century theologians and historians of Christianity, died. With his death a part of our scholarly world also dies. The scholarly world finds itself in a rather unusual situation. Unlike other renowned writers who, upon their death, have already shared their best works with their contemporaries, only posthumously are Fr. Florovsky’s greatest works being published in English — Ways of Russian Theology (in two volumes), The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century, and The Byzantine Fathers from the Fifth to the Eighth Centuries. One pauses with wonder when one realizes that Fr. Florovsky was so influential without these works having been published in a western language.

    Fr. Georges Florovsky was born in Odessa in 1893. He was the beneficiary of that vibrant Russian educational experience, which flourished toward the end of the nineteenth century and produced many gifted scholars. The revolution aborted this rich, growing tradition. As a result of the revolution, trained Russian scholars became a part of the Russian emigration in Western Europe and in the United States. A tragic deprivation for Russia became a gift to western culture. One could perhaps compare the flight of Russian scholars to Western Europe and the United States and their concomitant influence with the flight and influence of Byzantine scholars in the fifteenth century. In both cases the western scholarly world was surprised at the high level of learning in both Russia and Byzantium.

    Fr. Florovsky personified the cultivated, well-educated Russian of the turn of the century. His penetrating mind grasped both the detail and depth in the unfolding drama of the history of Christianity in both eastern and western forms. He was theologian, church historian, patristic scholar, philosopher, and Slavist. And he handled all these areas exceptionally well. As theologian he wrote brilliantly on the subjects -inter alia- of creation, divine energies, and redemption. As church historian he wrote on personalities and intellectual movements from all twenty centuries. As patristic scholar he wrote two volumes on the eastern and Byzantine fathers. As philosopher he wrote exceptionally well -inter alia- on the problem of evil and on the influence of ancient Greek philosophy on patristic thought as well as on the influence of German philosophy on Russian thought. As Slavist there was virtually no area of Russian life that he had not at some point analyzed.

    Many western churchmen found him a positive challenge. Others found him intimidating, for here was one who possessed something similar to encyclopaedic knowledge. Here was one who had the ability to analyze with insight. Here was a voice from the Christian east capable of putting theological discussion, long bogged down in the west by reformation and counter-reformation polemics, on a new theological level with perceptive analyses of forgotten thought from the early centuries of the history of the Church. Fr. Florovsky became the spokesman for what he termed the “new patristic synthesis”; that is, one must return to patristic thought for a point of departure; church history ought not — from this perspective — be analyzed through the thought patterns of the reformation or of the Council of Trent or through the thought structure of Thomas Aquinas: one must return to the earliest life of the church, to that living church which existed before the written testimony of the New Testament and which ultimately determined the canon of our New Testament — the church of the fathers. That Fr. Florovsky influenced contemporary church historians is obvious. It is noteworthy that the best contemporary multi-volume history of the church pays a special tribute to Fr. Florovsky. Jaroslav Pelikan of Yale University, in the bibliographic section to his first volume in The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, writes under reference to Fr. Florovsky’s two volumes (in Russian) on the Church Fathers (The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century and The Byzantine Fathers of the Fifth to the Eighth Centuries): “These two works are basic to our interpretation of trinitarian and christological dogmas” (p. 359 from The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition: 100-600). George Huntston Williams, Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, wrote: “Faithful priestly son of the Russian Orthodox Church . . . , Fr. Georges Florovsky — with a career-long involvement in the ecumenical dialogue between apostolic patristic Orthodoxy and all the many forms of Christianity in the Old World and the New- is today the most articulate, trenchant and winsome exponent of Orthodox Theology and piety in the scholarly world. He is innovative and creative in the sense wholly of being ever prepared to restate the saving truth of Scripture and Tradition in the idiom of our contemporary yearning for the transcendent . . . “

    I wrote an account on Fr. Hans’ site about being part of a “volunteer” choir that sang the responses for the celebration of Fr. Georges’ 50th anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood. What I didn’t say in that recollection was the total intimidation I felt as I went to ask his blessing and “bumble” a sort of congratulations. He was old, and kind, and placed his opposite hand on my shoulder as I kissed his hand, and he thanked me. This turned into humiliation as a “typikon-type,” now a Russian bishop, whispered to me, “You never kiss a priest’s when a bishop (the Metropolitan!) is present!” Holy cow! And the relatively short time later, when we, again, formed the near-identical voluntary choir to sing his funeral, bishops aplenty, any thought opposing a last kissing of his hand was absent. And all for the best. Memory Eternal.

    • It has been said that exactly two individuals by physical appearance alone caused traffic gridlock in Princeton, New Jersey: Dr. Albert Einstein and Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky

      I fell on the floor laughing…thank you. The rest of the posting was also lovely…thank you for that as well.