*Editor’s note: This is not an endorsement of Lyndon H. LaRouche. Jr. or his publication Executive Intelligence Review (EIR).
By Lyndon LaRouche Jr.
June 14, 1983 Anno Domini
Early Russia was a group of Slavic subjects under rule of marauding Normans, and a persisting, endemic military nuisance to Byzantium. One of the counter-measures Constantinople deployed in the effort to bring these tribes under control was the manufacture of synthetic forms of nominal Christianity. According to a more or less credible account, the nominal conversion of a ruler of Kiev, Vladimir, in 988 A.D., brought Kiev Rus under more or less efficient control of Byzantium. The culture of Russia is “genetically ” Byzantine to the present day.
Authoritative accounts show that the particular form of Gnostic pseudo-Christianity cooked up for the Russians was manufactured by Hesychastic cults then based at the “Holy Mountain” complex of monasteries in the region of Greece known since ancient times as Mount Athos. [The Hesychasts, who have been hegemonic in the Russian Orthodox Church since the 14th century, taught that union with God could only be achieved by complete withdrawal from the world. Their practice included meditating in a bent-over position contemplating their navels and hyperventilating to achieve the appropriate mental state.] The pagan-religious matrix used for this concoction is the most easily recognized by classical scholars as the “Great Mother” cult, of the type associated with Cybele and Dionysius—or with an early form of the Isis-Ishtar cult, the Shakti-Siva phallus cult of pre Vedic India. It is of the same general character as the “blood and soil” cult adopted by the Nazis.
The cult is an “earth-goddess” cult of worship of the Holy Soil of Mother Russia, and the collective will of the Russian people as an expression of a population sprung from this Holy Soil. This sort of pagan belief has had nasty consequences wherever it has occurred. It depicts mankind as a “child of nature” in approximately the same terms of reference as did Hesiod; today, we should term it radically Malthusian. What the Hesychasts superimposed upon this was their own contemplative mysticism.
The first recorded inklings of the appearance of the “Third Rome” prophecy appeared in Russia, according to EIR researchers, in the aftermath of the ecumenical Council of Florence (1439 A.D.), to which the Russian Orthodox Church responded with hateful rejection of the unification, denouncing both Roman Catholicism and Paleologue Constantinople. After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, the tendency toward a “Third Rome” doctrine by the Russian Orthodox Church increased, and the first explicit form of the prophecy that the Caesar (Czar) of Holy Rus would rule the Third and Final Roman Empire appeared in 1510, sweeping through Russia during the 16th century.
The title of “Czar” first appeared with the second period of the reign of Ivan IV (“The Terrible “), and was resumed on the orders of the Russian Orthodox Church with the creation of the Romanov dynasty.
Czar Peter I attempted to rid Russia of these Byzantine cults in the process of his ” Westernizing ” of Russia. As Czar, he could control the hierarchy of the Church, but not the hordes of Old Believers (Raskol’niki), who have continued to haunt Russia’s modernizing efforts to the present day (in one guise or the other). The revival of serfdom under Elizabeth and Catharine, and the unleashing of the Pan-Slavic movement by the Venetian agent-of-influence, Prince Potemkin, destroyed the greater part of Peter’s accomplishments.The fresh, large-scale work of Westenizing, by Czar Alexander II, was slowed by his assassination, and went up in flames in the 1905 Revolution.
Exemplary of the Mother Russia cult’s impact during the 19th century are Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, the Nihilists, the Russian Populists, the Pan-Slavic resurgencies, and much of the strata which went into the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks.
The period of invasions and civil wars after 1917, the virtual civil war of the collectivization, the cordon sanitaire against Bolshevik Russia during the 1920s, the crisis of the Great Purges of the 1930s, the devastation of the new World War, and the postwar environment past the death of Stalin, not only cut Russia off from healthy Westernizing influences, but strengthened the adversary environment reinforcing Russian xenophobia.
The reality, that churches and large sections of the population had aided the Nazi invasion, impelled Stalin to make a pact with the Church, at the Moscow Cathedral of St. Basil’s, in 1943. Although the Church hierarchy (such as it was) had been integrated into the Soviet secret-police apparatus since 1927-28, Stalin’s program, from 1943 onward, made the Church and the symbology of the Mother Russia cult an instrument of state policy in a new way. From that point on, the war became a “Great Patriotic War” fought against the German transgressor of the soil of Mother Russia.
During the immediate postwar period, Stalin made the first overt effort to exploit the Third Rome mythology, by an effort to move the Patriarch of Constantinople to Moscow, an attempt blocked by strenuous efforts of President Harry Truman. On the surface, at least, it appears that this trend was opposed under Khrushchev, although EIR is not yet prepared to offer judgment on this period.
Over the middle 1960s, recognizably “Marxist” philosophy lost efficient grip in the shaping of Soviet policies, except as part of the institutions left over from preceding periods. Pragmatism took over, and it appears that the Russian Church began to accelerate its influence over the population. By 1972, the drift toward a Third Rome policy-paradigm in Soviet foreign policy was sufficiently evident, that the author and his associates elaborated and published a review of these features of “detente”, which we entitled “The New Constantinople” hypothesis. During the 1970s, the influence of the Church accelerated, together with increasing relative emphasis on the “cover” of the Church in foreign operations.
We of EIR do not believe that it is the KGB’s hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church which has caused the resurgence of the Old Russia mysticism within the Russian population. Rather, the Church has provided a religious form of socialized political expression for a deep, resurgent Byzantine mysticism transmitted from generation to generation over more than a thousand years. What Church officials of the KGB hierarchy represent as a base today is a portion of the population substantially more than double the numbers of the Soviet Communist Party.
Under the conditions shaped by the back-channel negotiations since 1957, this organized expression of the old Mother Russia culture not only increased its significance as a political force but, under conditions produced by back-channel operations, forced the resurgence of Mother Russia ideology into the direction of reviving the Third Rome ideology as well.
Excerpted from Yuri Andropov: ‘Czar of Holy Mother Russia’?