Whose Money Stoked Religious Strife in Ukraine – and Who Tried to Steal It?

Whose Money Stoked Religious Strife in Ukraine – and Who Tried to Steal It?

JAMES GEORGE JATRAS | 17.11.2018 |

Whose Money Stoked Religious Strife in Ukraine – and Who Tried to Steal It?

Was $25 million in American tax dollars allocated for a payoff to stir up religious turmoil and violence in Ukraine? Did Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (unsuccessfully) attempt to divert most of it into his own pocket?

Last month the worldwide Orthodox Christian communion was plunged into crisis by the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Constantinople to recognize as legitimate schismatic pseudo-bishops anathematized by the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is an autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church. In so doing not only has Patriarch Bartholomew besmirched the global witness of Orthodoxy’s two-millennia old Apostolic faith, he has set the stage for religious strife in Ukraine and fratricidal violence – which has already begun.

Starting in July, when few were paying attention, this analyst warned about the impending dispute and how it facilitated the anti-Christian moral agenda of certain marginal “Orthodox” voices like “Orthodoxy in Dialogue,” Fordham University’s “Orthodox Christian Studies Center,” and The Wheel. These “self-professed teachers presume to challenge the moral teachings of the faith” (in the words of Fr. John Parker) and “prowl around, wolves in sheep’s clothing, forming and shaping false ideas about the reality of our life in Christ.” Unsurprisingly such groups have embraced Constantinople’s neopapal self-aggrandizement and support for the Ukrainian schismatics.

No one – and certainly not this analyst – would accuse Patriarch Bartholomew, most Ukrainian politicians, or even the Ukrainian schismatics of sympathizing with advocacy of such anti-Orthodox values. And yet these advocates know they cannot advance their goals if the conciliar and traditional structure of Orthodoxy remains intact. Thus they welcome efforts by Constantinople to centralize power while throwing the Church into discord, especially the Russian Church, which is vilified in some Western circles precisely because it is a global beacon of traditional Christian moral witness.

This aspect points to another reason for Western governments to support Ukrainian autocephaly as a spiritual offensive against Russia and Orthodoxy. The post-Maidan leadership harp on the “European choice” the people of Ukraine supposedly made in 2014, but they soft-pedal the accompanying moral baggage the West demands, symbolized by “gay” marches organized over Christian objections in Orthodox cities like AthensBelgradeBucharestKievOdessaPodgoricaSofia, and Tbilisi. Even under the Trump administration, the US is in lockstep with our European Union friends in pressuring countries liberated from communism to adopt such nihilistic “democratic, European values.”

Perhaps even more important to its initiators, the row over Ukraine aims to break what they see as the “soft power” of the Russian Federation, of which the Orthodox Church is the spiritual heart and soul. As explained by Valeria Z. Nollan, professor emerita of Russian Studies at Rhodes College:

‘The real goal of the quest for autocephaly [i.e., complete self-governing status independent of the Moscow Patriarchate] of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a de facto coup: a political coup already took place in 2014, poisoning the relations between western Ukraine and Russia, and thus another type of coup – a religious one – similarly seeks to undermine the canonical relationship between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Moscow.’

In furthering these twin objectives (morally, the degrading of Orthodox Christianity; politically, undermining the Russian state as Orthodoxy’s powerful traditional protector) it is increasingly clear that the United States government – and specifically the Department of State – has become a hands-on fomenter of conflict. After a short period of appropriately declaring that “any decision on autocephaly is an internal [Orthodox] church matter,” the Department within days reversed its position and issued a formal statement (in the name of Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, but clearly drafted by the European bureau) that skirted a direct call for autocephaly but gave the unmistakable impression of such backing. This is exactly how it was reported in the media, for example, “US backs Ukrainian Church bid for autocephaly.” Finally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighed in personally with his own endorsement as did the US Reichskommissar for UkraineKurt Volker.

The Threat…

There soon became reason to believe that the State Department’s involvement was not limited to exhortations. As reported by this analyst in October, according to an unconfirmed report originating with the members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (an autonomous New York-based jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate), in July of this year State Department officials (possibly including Secretary Pompeo personally) warned the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (also based in New York but part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) that the US government was aware of the misappropriation of a large amount of money, about $10 million, from estimated $37 million raised from believers for the construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York. The State Department warning also reportedly noted that federal prosecutors have documentary evidence confirming the withdrawal of these funds abroad on the orders of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It was suggested that Secretary Pompeo would “close his eyes” to this theft in exchange for movement by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in favor of Ukrainian autocephaly, which helped set Patriarch Bartholomew on his current course.

[Further details on the St. Nicholas scandal are available here, but in summary: Only one place of worship of any faith was destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attack in New York and only one building not part of the World Trade Center complex was completely destroyed. That was St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, a small urban parish church established at the end of World War I and dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, who is very popular with Greeks as the patron of sailors. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, and following a lengthy legal battle with the Port Authority, which opposed rebuilding the church, in 2011 the Greek Archdiocese launched an extensive campaign to raise funds for a brilliant innovative design by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava based on traditional Byzantine forms. Wealthy donors and those of modest means alike enthusiastically contributed millions to the effort. Then – poof! In December 2017, suddenly all construction was halted for lack of funds and remains stalled to this day. Resumption would require having an estimated $2 million on hand. Despite the Archdiocese’s calling in a major accounting firm to conduct an audit, there’s been no clear answer to what happened to the money. Both the US Attorney and New York state authorities are investigating.]

This is where things get back to Ukraine. If the State Department wanted to find the right button to push to spur Patriarch Bartholomew to move on the question of autocephaly, the Greek Archdiocese in the US is it. Let’s keep in mind that in his home country, Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew has virtually no local flock – only a few hundred mostly elderly Greeks left huddled in Istanbul’s Phanar district. (Sometimes the Patriarchate is referred to simply as “the Phanar,” much as “the Vatican” is shorthand for the Roman Catholic papacy.) Whatever funds the Patriarchate derives from other sources (the Greek government, the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches), the Phanar’s financial lifeline is the ethnic Greek community (including this analyst) in what is still quaintly called the “Diaspora” in places like America, Australia, and New Zealand. And of these, the biggest cash cow is the Greek-Americans.

That’s why, when Patriarch Bartholomew issued a call in 2016 for what was billed as an Orthodox “Eighth Ecumenical Council” (the first one since the year 787!), the funds largely came from America, to the tune of up to $8 million according to the same confidential source as will be noted below. Intended by some as a modernizing Orthodox “Vatican II,” the event was doomed to failure by a boycott organized by Moscow over what the latter saw as Patriarch Bartholomew’s adopting papal or even imperial prerogatives – now sadly coming to bear in Ukraine.

…and the Payoff

On top of the foregoing, it now appears that the State Department’s direct hand in this sordid business may not have consisted solely of wielding the “stick” of legal threat: there’s reason to believe there was a “carrot” too. It very recently came to the attention of this analyst, via an unsolicited, confidential source in the Greek Archdiocese in New York, that a payment of $25 million in US government money was made to Constantinople to encourage Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on Ukraine.

The source for this confidential report was unaware of earlier media reports that the same figure – $25 million – was paid by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the Phanar as an incentive for Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on creating an independent Ukrainian church. Moreover, Poroshenko evidently tried to shortchange the payment:

‘Peter [Petro] Poroshenko — the president of Ukraine — was obligated to return $15 million US dollars to the Patriarch of Constantinople, which he had appropriated for himself.

‘As reported by Izvestia, this occurred after the story about Bartholomew’s bribe and a “vanishing” large sum designated for the creation of a Unified Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine surfaced in the mass media.

‘As reported, on the eve of Poroshenko’s visit in Istanbul, a few wealthy people of Ukraine “chipped in” in order to hasten the process of creating a Unified Local Orthodox Church. About $25 million was collected. They were supposed to go to the award ceremony for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the issuing of a tomos of autocephaly. [A tomos is a small book containing a formal announcement.] However, in the words of people close to the backer, during the visit on April 9, Poroshenko handed over only $10 million.

‘As a result, having learned of the deal, Bartholomew cancelled the participation of the delegation of the Phanar – the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople, in the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia on July 27 in Kiev.

‘”Such a decision from Bartholomew’s side was nothing other than a strong ultimatum to Poroshenko to return the stolen money. Of course, in order to not lose his face in light of the stark revelations of the creation of the tomos of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Peter Alexeevich [Poroshenko] had to just return those $15 million for the needs of Constantinople,” a trusted source explained to reporters.

‘For preliminary information, only after receiving the remaining sum, did Bartholomew finally give his consent to sending a delegation of the Phanar to Kiev … ‘

Now, it’s possible that the two identical figures of $25 million refer to two different pots of money (a cool $50 million!) but that seems unlikely. It’s more probable the reports refer to the same sum as viewed from the sending side (the State Department, the Greek Archdiocese) and the delivery side (Poroshenko, Constantinople).

Lending credibility to the confidential information from New York and pointing to the probability that it refers to the same payment that Poroshenko reportedly sought to raid for himself are the following observations:

  • When Poroshenko generously offered Patriarch Bartholomew $10 million, the latter was aware that the full amount was $25 million and demanded the $15 million Poroshenko had held back. How did the Patriarch know that, unless he was informed via New York of the full sum?
  • If the earlier-reported $25 million was really collected from “a few wealthy people of Ukraine” who “chipped in,” given the cutthroat nature of disputes among Ukrainian oligarchs would Poroshenko (an oligarch in his own right) have risked trying to shortchange the payment? Why has not even one such Ukrainian donor been identified?
  • Without going into all the details, the Phanar and the Greek Archdiocese have a long relationship with US administrations of both parties going back at least to the Truman administration, encompassing some decidedly unattractive episodes. In such a history, a mere bribe for a geopolitical shot against Moscow would hardly be a first instance or the worst.

As one of this analyst’s Greek-American connections puts it: “It’s easy to comprehend the Patriarchate bowing to the pressure of State Dept. blackmail… not overly savory, but understandable. However, it’s another thing altogether if Kiev truly “purchased” their autocephalous status from an all too willing Patriarchate … which would relegate the Patriarch to ‘salesman’ status and leave the faithful wondering what else might be offered to the highest bidder the next time it became convenient to hold a Patriarchal ‘fire sale’ at the Phanar?!”

To add insult to injury, you’d think Constantinople at least could pay back some of the $7-8 million wasted on the Crete 2016 debacle to restart the St. Nicholas project in New York. Evidently the Phanar has better things to spend it on, like the demonstrative environmentalism of “the Green Patriarch” and, together with Pope Francis, welcoming Muslim migrants to Europe through Greece. Of course maybe there’s no need to worry, as the Ukraine “sale” was consistent with Constantinople’s papal ambitions, an uncanonical claim to “universal” status, and misuse of incarnational language and adoption of a breathtakingly arrogant tone that would cause even the most ultramontane proponent of the Rome’s supremacy to blush.

Finally, it seems that, for the time being at least, Constantinople doesn’t intend to create an independent Ukrainian church but rather an autonomous church under its own authority. It’s unclear whether or not Poroshenko or the State Department, in such event, would believe they had gotten their money’s worth. Perhaps they would. After all, the issue here is less what is appropriate for Ukraine than what strikes at Russia and injures the worldwide Christian witness of the Orthodox Church. To that end, it doesn’t matter whether the new illegal body is Constantinopolitan or Kievan, just so long as it isn’t a “Moskal church” linked to Russia.

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The Empire splits the Orthodox world – possible consequences

 

The Saker

October 19, 2018

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

In previous articles about this topic I have tried to set the context and explain why most Orthodox Churches are still used as pawns in purely political machinations and how the most commentators who discuss these issues today are using words and concepts in a totally twisted, secular and non-Christian way (which is about as absurd as discussing medicine while using a vague, misunderstood and generally non-medical terminology). I have also written articles trying to explain how the concept of “Church” is completely misunderstood nowadays and how many Orthodox Churches today have lost their original Patristic mindset. Finally, I have tried to show the ancient spiritual roots of modern russophobia and how the AngloZionist Empire might try to save the Ukronazi regime in Kiev by triggering a religious crisis in the Ukraine. It is my hope that these articles will provide a useful context to evaluate and discuss the current crisis between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Moscow Patriarchate.

My intention today is to look at the unfolding crisis from a more “modern” point of view and try to evaluate only what the political and social consequences of the latest developments might be in the short and mid term. I will begin by a short summary.

The current context: a summary

The Patriarchate of Constantinople has taken the official decision to:

  1. Declare that the Patriarch of Constantinople has the right to unilaterally grant autocephaly (full independence) to any other Church with no consultations with any the other Orthodox Churches.
  2. Cancel the decision by the Patriarch of Constantinople Dionysios IV in 1686 transferring the Kiev Metropolia (religious jurisdiction overseen by a Metropolite) to the Moscow Patriarchate (a decision which no Patriarch of Constantinople contested for three centuries!)
  3. Lift the anathema pronounced against the “Patriarch” Filaret Denisenko by the Moscow Patriarchate (in spite of the fact that the only authority which can lift an anathema is the one which pronounced it in the first place)
  4. Recognize as legitimate the so-called “Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate” which it previously had declared as illegitimate and schismatic.
  5. Grant actual grand full autocephaly to a future (and yet to be defined) “united Ukrainian Orthodox Church”

Most people naturally focus on this last element, but this might be a mistake, because while illegally granting autocephaly to a mix of nationalist pseudo-Churches is most definitely a bad decision, to act like some kind of “Orthodox Pope” and claim rights which only belong to the entire Church is truly a historical mistake. Not only that, but this mistake now forces every Orthodox Christian to either accept this as a fait accompli and submit to the megalomania of the wannabe Ortho-Pope of the Phanar, or to reject such unilateral and totally illegal action or to enter into open opposition. And this is not the first time such a situation has happened in the history of the Church. I will use an historical parallel to make this point.

The historical context:

The Church of Rome and the rest of the Christian world were already on a collision course for several centuries before the famous date of 1054 when Rome broke away from the Christian world. Whereas for centuries Rome had been the most steadfast bastion of resistance against innovations and heresies, the influence of the Franks in the Church of Rome eventually resulted (after numerous zig-zags on this topic) in a truly disastrous decision to add a single world (filioque – “and the son” in Latin) to the Symbol of Faith (the Credo in Latin). What made that decision even worse was the fact that the Pope of Rome also declared that he had the right to impose that addition upon all the other Christian Churches, with no conciliar discussion or approval. It is often said that the issue of the filioque is “obscure” and largely irrelevant, but that is just a reflection of the theological illiteracy of those making such statements as, in reality, the addition of the filioque completely overthrows the most crucial and important Trinitarian and Christological dogmas of Christianity. But what *is* true is that the attempt to unilaterally impose this heresy on the rest of the Christian world was at least as offensive and, really, as sacrilegious as the filioque itself because it undermined the very nature of the Church. Indeed, the Symbol of Faith defines the Church as “catholic” (Εἰς μίαν, Ἁγίαν, Καθολικὴν καὶ Ἀποστολικὴν Ἐκκλησίαν”) meaning not only “universal” but also “whole” or “all-inclusive”. In ecclesiological terms this “universality” is manifested in two crucial ways:

First, all Churches are equal, there is no Pope, no “historical see” granting any primacy just as all the Apostles of Christ and all Orthodox bishops are also equals; the Head of the Church is Christ Himself, and the Church is His Theadric Body filled with the Holy Spirit. Oh I know, to say that the Holy Spirit fills the Church is considered absolutely ridiculous in our 21st century post-Christian world, but check out these words from the Book of Acts: “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us” (Acts 15:28) which clearly show that the members of the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem clearly believed and proclaimed that their decisions were guided by the Holy Spirit. Anyone still believing that will immediately see why the Church needs no “vicar of Christ” or any “earthly representative” to act in Christ’s name during His absence. In fact, Christ Himself clearly told us “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt 28:20). If a Church needs a “vicar” – then Christ and the Holy Spirit are clearly not present in that Church. QED.

Second, crucial decisions, decisions which affect the entire Church, are only taken by a Council of the entire Church, not unilaterally by any one man or any one Church. These are really the basics of what could be called “traditional Christian ecclesiology 101” and the blatant violation of this key ecclesiological dogma by the Papacy in 1054 was as much a cause for the historical schism between East and West (really, between Rome and the rest of Christian world) as was the innovation of the filioque itself.

I hasten to add that while the Popes were the first ones to claim for themselves an authority only given to the full Church, they were not the only ones (by the way, this is a very good working definition of the term “Papacy”: the attribution to one man of all the characteristics belonging solely to the entire Church). In the early 20th century the Orthodox Churches of Constantinople, Albania, Alexandria, Antioch, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, and Romania got together and, under the direct influence of powerful Masonic lodges, decided to adopt the Gregorian Papal Calendar (named after the 16th century Pope Gregory XIII). The year was 1923, when the entire Russian Orthodox Church was being literally crucified on the modern Golgotha of the Bolshevik regime, but that did not prevent these Churches from calling their meeting “pan Orthodox”. Neither did the fact that the Russian, Serbian, Georgian, Jerusalem Church and the Holy Mountain (aka “Mount Athos”) rejected this innovation stop them. As for the Papal Calendar itself, the innovators “piously” re-branded it as “improved Julian” and other such euphemism to conceal the real intention behind this.

Finally, even the fact that this decision also triggered a wave of divisions inside their own Churches was not cause for them to reconsider or, even less so, to repent. Professor C. Troitsky was absolutely correct when he wrote that “there is no doubt that future historians of the Orthodox Church will be forced to admit that the Congress of 1923 was the saddest event of Church life in the 20th century” (for more on this tragedy see herehere and here). Here again, one man, Ecumenical Patriarch Meletius IV (Metaxakis) tried to “play Pope” and his actions resulted in a massive upheaval which ripped through the entire Orthodox world.

More recently, the Patriarch of Constantinople tried, once again, to convene what he would want to be an Orthodox “Ecumenical Council” under his personal authority when in 2016 (yet another) “pan Orthodox” council was convened on the island of Crete which was attended by the Churches of Alexandria , Jerusalem , Serbia , Romania , Cyprus , Greece, Poland , Albania and of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The Churches of Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Antioch refused to attend (the US OCA – was not invited). Most observers agreed that the Moscow Patriarchate played a key role in undermining what was clearly to be a “robber” council which would have introduced major (and fully non-Orthodox) innovations. The Patriarch of Constantinople never forgave the Russians for torpedoing his planned “ecumenical” council.

Some might have noticed that a majority of local Churches did attend both the 1923 and the 2016 wannabe “pan Orthodox” councils. Such an observation might be very important in a Latin or Protestant context, but in the Orthodox context is is absolutely meaningless for the following reasons:

The theological context:

In the history of the Church there have been many “robber” councils (meaning illegitimate, false, councils) which were attended by a majority of bishops of the time, and even a majority of the Churches; in this article I mentioned the life of Saint Maximos the Confessor (which you can read in full here) as a perfect example of how one single person (not even a priest!) can defend true Christianity against what could appear at the time as the overwhelming number of bishops representing the entire Church. But, as always, these false bishops were eventually denounced and the Truth of Orthodoxy prevailed.

Likewise, at the False Union of Florence, when all the Greek delegates signed the union with the Latin heretics, and only one bishop refused to to do (Saint Mark of Ephesus), the Latin Pope declared in despair “and so we have accomplished nothing!”. He was absolutely correct – that union was rejected by the “Body” of the Church and the names of those apostates who signed it will remain in infamy forever. I could multiply the examples, but what is crucial here is to understand that majorities, large numbers or, even more so, the support of secular authorities are absolutely meaningless in Christian theology and in the history of the Church and that, with time, all the lapsed bishops who attended robber councils are always eventually denounced and the Orthodox truth always proclaimed once again. It is especially important to keep this in mind during times of persecution or of brutal interference by secular authorities because even when they *appear* to have won, their victory is always short-lived.

I would add that the Russian Orthodox Church is not just “one of the many” local Orthodox Churches. Not only is the Russian Orthodox Church by far the biggest Orthodox Church out there, but Moscow used to be the so-called “Third Rome”, something which gives the Moscow Patriarchate a lot of prestige and, therefore, influence. In secular terms of prestige and “street cred” the fact that the Russians did not participate in the 1923 and 2016 congresses is much bigger a blow to its organizers than if, say, the Romanians had boycotted it. This might not be important to God or for truly pious Christians, but I assure you that this is absolutely crucial for the wannabe “Eastern Pope” of the Phanar…

Who is really behind this latest attack on the Church?

So let’s begin by stating the obvious: for all his lofty titles (“His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch“ no less!), the Patriarch of Constantinople (well, of the Phanar, really), is nothing but a puppet in the hands of the AngloZionist Empire. An ambitious and vain puppet for sure, but a puppet nonetheless. To imagine that the Uber-loser Poroshenko would convince him to pick a major fight with the Moscow Patriarchate is absolutely laughable and totally ridiculous. Some point out that the Patriarch of Constantinople is a Turkish civil servant. While technically true, this does not suggest that Erdogan is behind this move either: right now Erdogan badly needs Russia on so many levels that he gains nothing and risks losing a lot by alienating Moscow. No, the real initiator of this entire operation is the AngloZionist Empire and, of course, the Papacy (which has always tried to create an “Orthodoxerein Ukraine” from the “The Eastern Crusade” and “Northern Crusades” of Popes Innocent III and Gregory IX to the Nazi Ukraine of Bandera – see here for details).

Why would the Empire push for such a move? Here we can find a mix of petty and larger geostrategic reasons. First, the petty ones: they range from the usual impotent knee-jerk reflex to do something, anything, to hurt Russia to pleasing of the Ukronazi emigrés in the USA and Canada. The geostrategic ones range from trying to save the highly unpopular Ukronazi regime in Kiev to breaking up the Orthodox world thereby weakening Russian soft-power and influence. This type of “logic” shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the Orthodox world today. Here is why:

The typical level of religious education of Orthodox Christians is probably well represented by the famous Bell Curve: some are truly completely ignorant, most know a little, and a few know a lot. As long as things were reasonably peaceful, all these Orthodox Christians could go about their daily lives and not worry too much about the big picture. This is also true of many Orthodox Churches and bishops. Most folks like beautiful rites (singing, golden cupolas, beautiful architecture and historical places) mixed in with a little good old superstition (place a candle before a business meeting or playing the lottery) – such is human nature and, alas, most Orthodox Christians are no different, even if their calling is to be “not of this world”. But now this apparently peaceful picture has been severely disrupted by the actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople whose actions are in such blatant and severe violation of all the basic canons and traditions of the Church that they literally force each Orthodox Christian, especially bishops, to break their silence and take a position: am I with Moscow or with Constantinople?

Oh sure, initially many (most?) Orthodox Christians, including many bishops, will either try to look away or limit themselves to vapid expressions of “regret” mixed in with calls for “unity”. A good example of that kind of wishy washy lukewarm language can already be found here. But this kind of Pilate-like washing of hands (“ain’t my business” in modern parlance) is unsustainable, and here is why: in Orthodox ecclesiology you cannot build “broken Eucharistic triangles”. If A is not in communion with B, then C cannot be in communion with A and B at the same time. It’s really an “either or” binary choice. At least in theory (in reality, such “broken triangles” have existed, most recently between the former ROCA/ROCOR, the Serbian Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, but they are unsustainable, as events of the 2000-2007 years confirmed for the ROCA/ROCOR). Still, no doubt that some (many?) will try to remain in communion with both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Constantinople Patriarchate, but this will become harder and harder with every passing month. In some specific cases, such a decision will be truly dramatic, I think of the monasteries on the Holy Mountain in particular.

[Sidebar: on a more cynical level, I would note that the Patriarch of Constantinople has now opened a real Pandora’s box which now every separatist movement in an Orthodox country will be able to use to demand its own “autocephaly” which will threaten the unity of most Orthodox Churches out there. If all it takes to become “autocephalous” is to trigger some kind of nationalist uprising, then just imagine how many “Churches” will demand the same autocephaly as the Ukronazis are today! The fact that ethno-phyetism is a condemned heresy will clearly stop none of them. After all, if it is good enough for the “Ecumenical” Patriarch, it sure is good enough for any and all pseudo-Orthodox nationalists!]

What the AngloZionist Empire has done is to force each Orthodox Christian and each Orthodox Church to chose between siding with Moscow or Constantinople. This choice will have obvious spiritual consequences, which the Empire couldn’t give a damn about, but it will also profound political and social consequences which, I believe, the Empire entirely missed.

The Moscow Patriarchate vs the Patriarchate of Constantinople – a sociological and political analysis

Let me be clear here that I am not going to compare and contrast the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) and the Patriarchate of Constantinople (PC) from a spiritual, theological or even ecclesiological point of view here. Instead, I will compare and contrast them from a purely sociological and political point of view. The differences here are truly profound.

Moscow Patriarchate Patriarchate of Constantinople
Actual size Very big Small
Financial means Very big Small
Dependence on the support of the Empire and its various entities Limited Total
Relations with the Vatican Limited, mostly due to very strongly anti-Papist sentiments in the people Mutual support and de-facto alliance
Majority member’s outlook Conservative Modernist
Majority member’s level of support Strong Lukewarm
Majority member’s concern with Church rules/cannons/traditions Medium and selective Low
Internal dissent Practically eliminated (ROCA) Strong (Holy Mountain, Old Calendarists)

From the above table you can immediately see that the sole comparative ‘advantage’ of the PC is that is has the full support of the AngloZionist Empire and the Vatican. On all the other measures of power, the MP vastly “out-guns” the PC.

Now, inside the Ukronazi occupied Ukraine, that support of the Empire and the Vatican (via their Uniats) does indeed give a huge advantage to the PC and its Ukronazi pseudo-Orthodox “Churches”. And while Poroshenko has promised that no violence will be used against the MP parishes in the Ukraine, we all remember that he was the one who promised to stop the war against the Donbass, so why even pay attention to what he has to say.

US diplomats and analysts might be ignorant enough to believe Poroshenko’s promises, but if that is the case then they are failing to realize that Poroshensko has very little control over the hardcore Nazi mobs like the one we saw last Sunday in Kiev. The reality is very different: Poroshenko’s relationship to the hardcore Nazis in the Ukraine is roughly similar to the one the House of Saud has with the various al-Qaeda affiliates in Saudi Arabia: they try to both appease and control them, but they end up failing every time. The political agenda in the Ukraine is set by bona fideNazis, just as it is set in the KSA by the various al-Qaeda types. Poroshenko and MBS are just impotent dwarfs trying to ride on the shoulders of much more powerful devils.

Sadly, and as always, the ones most at risk right now are the simple faithful who will resist any attempts by the Ukronazi death-squads to seize their churches and expel their priests. I don’t expect a civil war to ensue, not in the usual sense of the world, but I do expect a lot of atrocities similar to what took place during the 2014 Odessa massacre when the Ukronazis burned people alive (and shot those trying to escape). Once these massacres begin, it will be very, very hard for the Empire to whitewash them or blame it all on “Russian interference”. But most crucially, as the (admittedly controversial) Christian writer Tertullian noticed as far back as the 2nd century “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”. You can be sure that the massacre of innocent Christians in the Ukraine will result in a strengthening of the Orthodox awareness, not only inside the Ukraine, but also in the rest of the world, especially among those who are currently “on the fence” so to speak, between the kind of conservative Orthodoxy proclaimed by the MP and the kind of lukewarm wishy washy “decaf” pseudo-Orthodoxy embodied by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. After all, it is one thing to change the Church Calendar or give hugs and kisses to Popes and quite another to bless Nazi death-squads to persecute Orthodox Christians.

To summarize I would say that by his actions, the Patriarch of Constantinople is now forcing the entire Orthodox world to make a choice between two very different kind of “Orthodoxies”. As for the Empire, it is committing a major mistake by creating a situation which will further polarize strongly, an already volatile political situation in the Ukraine.

There is, at least potentially, one more possible consequence from these developments which is almost never discussed: its impact inside the Moscow Patriarchate.

Possible impact of these developments inside the Moscow Patriarchate

Without going into details, I will just say that the Moscow Patriarchate is a very diverse entity in which rather different “currents” coexist. In Russian politics I often speak of Atlantic Integrationists and Eurasian Sovereignists. There is something vaguely similar inside the MP, but I would use different terms. One camp is what I would call the “pro-Western Ecumenists” and the other camp the “anti-Western Conservatives”. Ever since Putin came to power the pro-Western Ecumenists have been losing their influence, mostly due to the fact that the majority of the regular rank and file members of the MP are firmly behind the anti-Western Conservative movement (bishops, priests, theologians). The rabid hatred and fear of everything Russian by the West combined with the total support for anything anti-Russian (including Takfiris and Nazis) has had it’s impact here too, and very few people in Russia want the civilizational model of Conchita Wurst, John McCain or Pope Francis to influence the future of Russia. The word “ecumenism” has, like the word “democracy”, become a four letter word in Russia with a meaning roughly similar to “sellout” or “prostitution”. What is interesting is that many bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate who, in the past, were torn between the conservative pressure from their own flock and their own “ecumenical” and “democratic” inclinations (best embodied by the Patriarch of Constantinople) have now made a choice for the conservative model (beginning by Patriarch Kirill himself who, in the past, used to be quite favorable to the so-called “ecumenical dialog of love” with the Latins).

Now that the MP and the PC have broken the ties which previously united them, they are both free to pursue their natural inclinations, so to speak. The PC can become some kind of “Eastern Rite Papacy” and bask in an unhindered love fest with the Empire and the Vatican while the MP will now have almost no incentive whatsoever to pay attention to future offers of rapprochement by the Empire or the Vatican (these two always work hand in hand). For Russia, this is a very good development.

Make no mistake, what the Empire did in the Ukraine constitutes yet another profoundly evil and tragic blow against the long-suffering people of the Ukraine. In its ugliness and tragic consequences, it is quite comparable to the occupation of these lands by the Papacy via its Polish and Lithuanian agents. But God has the ability to turn even the worst horror into something which, in the end, will strengthen His Church.

Russia in general, and the Moscow Patriarchate specifically, are very much in a transition phase on many levels and we cannot overestimate the impact which the West’s hostility on all fronts, including spiritual ones, will have on the future consciousness of the Russian and Orthodox people. The 1990s were years of total confusion and ignorance, not only for Russia by the way, but the first decade of the new millennium has turned out to be a most painful, but also most needed, eye-opener for those who had naively trusted the notion that the West’s enemy was only Communism, not Russia as a civilizational model.

In their infinite ignorance and stupidity, the leaders of the Empire have always acted only in the immediate short term and they never bothered to think about the mid to long term effects of their actions. This is as true for Russia as it is for Iraq or the Balkans. When things eventually, and inevitably, go very wrong, they will be sincerely baffled and wonder how and why it all went wrong. In the end, as always, they will blame the “other guy”.

There is no doubt in my mind that the latest maneuver of the AngloZionist Empire in the Ukraine will yield some kind of feel-good and short term “victory” (“peremoga” in Ukrainian) which will be followed by a humiliating defeat (“zrada” in Ukrainian) which will have profound consequences for many decades to come and which will deeply reshape the current Orthodox world. In theory, these kinds of operations are supposed to implement the ancient principle of “divide and rule”, but in the modern world what they really do is to further unite the Russian people against the Empire and, God willing, will unite the Orthodox people against pseudo-Orthodox bishops.

Conclusion:

In this analysis I have had to describe a lot of, shall we say, “less than inspiring” realities about the Orthodox Church and I don’t want to give the impression that the Church of Christ is as clueless and impotent as all those denominations, which, over the centuries have fallen away from the Church. Yes, our times are difficult and tragic, but the Church has not lost her “salt”. So what I want to do in lieu of a personal conclusion is to quote one of the most enlightened and distinguished theologians of our time, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, who in his book “The Mind of the Orthodox Church” (which I consider one of the best books available in English about the Orthodox Church and a “must read” for anybody interested in Orthodox ecclesiology) wrote the following words:

Saint Maximos the Confessor says that, while Christians are divided into categories according to age and race, nationalities, languages, places and ways of life, studies and characteristics, and are “distinct from one another and vastly different, all being born into the Church and reborn and recreated through it in the Spirit” nevertheless “it bestows equally on all the gift of one divine form and designation, to be Christ’s and to bear His Name. And Saint Basil the Great, referring to the unity of the Church says characteristically: “The Church of Christ is one, even tough He is called upon from different places”. These passages, and especially the life of the Church, do away with every nationalistic tendency. It is not, of course, nations and homelands that are abolished, but nationalism, which is a heresy and a great danger to the Church of Christ.

Metropolitan Hierotheos is absolutely correct. Nationalism, which itself is a pure product of West European secularism, is one of the most dangerous threats facing the Church today. During the 20th century it has already cost the lives of millions of pious and faithful Christians (having said that, this in no way implies that the kind of suicidal multiculturalism advocated by the degenerate leaders of the AngloZionist Empire today is any better!). And this is hardly a “Ukrainian” problem (the Moscow Patriarchate is also deeply infected by the deadly virus of nationalism). Nationalism and ethno-phyletism are hardly worse than such heresies as Iconoclasm or Monophysitism/Monothelitism were in the past and those were eventually defeated. Like all heresies, nationalism will never prevail against the “Church of the living God” which is the “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15) and while many may lapse, others never will.

In the meantime, the next couple of months will be absolutely crucial. Right now it appears to me that the majority of the Orthodox Churches will first try to remain neutral but will have to eventually side with the Moscow Patriarchate and against the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew. Ironically, the situation inside the USA will most likely be particularly chaotic as the various Orthodox jurisdictions in the USA have divided loyalties and are often split along conservative vs modernizing lines. The other place to keep a close eye on will be the monasteries on the Holy Mountain were I expect a major crisis and confrontation to erupt.

With the crisis in the Ukraine the heresy of nationalism has reached a new level of infamy and there will most certainly be a very strong reaction to it. The Empire clearly has no idea what kind of dynamic it has now set in motion.

The Saker

Russia’s Foreign Minister accuses the US in orchestrating the attacks against the Orthodox Church in Ukraine

October 13, 2018

Russia’s Foreign Minister accuses the US in orchestrating the attacks against the Orthodox Church in Ukraine

Excerpts from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview to RT France, Paris Match and Figaro, Moscow, October 12, 2018

 

Question: Russia has been constantly, especially recently, accused by Western countries, the media, and a number of organisations, such as the Anti-Doping Agency and the OPCW, of election meddling and cyber attacks. Most recently, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Netherlands came out with such accusations concurrently and provided the media with information dating back six months. What is that all about? A planned action to put pressure on Russia and impose more sanctions? What do you think about the evidence that has been produced?

Sergey Lavrov: I find it difficult to discuss this matter seriously, because the evidence is being provided to us through the media. With all due respect to the journalism trade, we, as serious people, cannot consider the specific allegations, and Russia stands accused of all the deadly sins, without making use of the legal norms that were created specifically for such cases.

However, our response is fairly straightforward. If you talk to us through the media, we will do the same but be specific and to the point in our statements.

If our Western colleagues seriously think they can rattle us with their hysterics, they must not be paying enough attention to the history books. If all this is just a momentary fit and this particular instance of “political madness” dissipates naturally, we, when they are done talking, will be expecting them to join us in the legal framework for a serious professional discussion that is not tainted by propaganda.

QuestionThe Ukrainian Patriarchate decided to turn its back on Moscow and become independent from the Russian Orthodox Church. Politically, this is considered an important decision. What do you think about the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church?

We will be marking the 100th anniversary of the armistice in World War I on November 11. Many heads of European governments will attend the event. Do you think President Putin will also attend the celebrations?

Sergey LavrovThe Ukrainian Patriarchate did not turn its back on the Russian Orthodox Church, because the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate opposes the provocations orchestrated by Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople with direct and open support from Washington.

The plan was to make use of two non-canonical schismatic churches in Ukraine (the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church), which were never recognised by any Orthodox Church, but which, in the interests of this provocation, Patriarch Bartholomew recognised as canonical, and lifted the anathema from the two hierarchs who head these schismatic churches during the Holy Synod which he convened in Constantinople the other day.

As for church matters in general, intervention in church activities is outlawed in Ukraine and in Russia, and I hope in any other civilised state as well. However, when the US special representative for church relations outwardly welcomes the decision by Patriarch Bartholomew, when Kurt Volker who must, on behalf of the United States, facilitate the Ukrainian settlement based on the Minsk agreements, says what he says about these processes, we, in such cases, have a saying that loosely translates as a guilty conscious betrays itself. People who are unable to come up with a single fact to back up their indiscriminate accusations that we are interfering in someone’s internal affairs, behave as if this is normal.

I very much hope that these extremely negative examples of the culture of dialogue, talks and diplomacy being replaced with uncultured Diktats backed up by flagrant blackmail, will not go unnoticed by hosts of the Paris Peace Forum.

With regard to celebrations dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, we received invitations and will certainly be represented there.

Question: I would like to revisit the Idlib issue. President Assad said that the situation in Idlib is temporary. Do you think your Turkish partners under the Sochi agreement are capable of disarming the jihadists in Idlib? How can a solution be found to this final part of the Syrian war?

Sergey Lavrov: This is really a temporary agreement. This story will end only when the power of the Syrian people is restored in Syria, and all those who are now in Syria, especially those who were never invited there, will leave its territory. Everyone understands this.

I do not agree that Idlib is the only problem area in Syria. There are vast swathes of land to the east of the Euphrates River where absolutely unacceptable things are happening. The United States is trying to use this territory to create a quasi-state with their Syrian allies, particularly the Kurds.

The United States is trying absolutely illegally to create a quasi-state in this territory and to create proper living conditions there for their minions. They are creating alternative governing bodies to the legitimate Syrian government and are actively promoting the return and resettlement of the refugees. This is being done at a time where neither the United States, nor France, or other Western countries, want to create proper conditions for the return of the refugees in the territories controlled by the legitimate Syrian Government prior to, as the West keeps telling us, the beginning of a credible political process. The question is why no one has to wait for the beginning of a credible political process on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River controlled by the United States and their local supporters. There can be only one answer. They want to create a territory which will be a prototype of a new state, or start another dangerous game with Iraqi Kurdistan, the so-called idea of ​​Greater Kurdistan. I do not rule out the possibility that the United States wants to keep the situation so heated that it never calms down. It is much easier for them to catch the fish they want in muddy waters. This approach has never led to anything good.

—–

Lavrov: US backs Patriarch Bartholomew’s provocation against Orthodox Church in Ukraine

The Russian top diplomat pointed out that any interference in Church affairs is banned in Ukraine, in Russia, and in any other “normal state”

MOSCOW, October 12. /TASS/. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople is plotting a provocation against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with direct support from Washington, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the RT France, Paris Match and Le Figaro.

 

The Patriarchate of Constantinople Started a War That Cannot Be Stopped

The Patriarchate of Constantinople Started a War That Cannot Be Stopped

September 11, 2018

By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard

cross posted with http://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-the-patriarchate-of-constantinople-started-a-war-that-cannot-be-stopped/
source: https://ukraina.ru/opinion/20180910/1021076752.html

 

The Constantinople Patriarchate appointed two exarchs “for the preparation of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church responded to this decision with a statement that is unprecedented in its sharpness.

It included words about the deadlock in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Constantinople Church, and also about the threat to the unity of global Orthodoxy. The arguments given by the Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew in defence of his position were called false.

If not to delve into the essence of the problem, then it is possible to say that such things have happened before. The Russian Orthodox Church in 2000 already expressed deep concern about the actions of the same Bartholomew in Estonia, where he, encroaching on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, also promoted a split in the church.

Now, however, it is not about concern, but about a resolute protest and deep indignation. Taking into account that the church always chooses its words much more accurately than diplomats do and always tries to start with small things in order to not immediately bring things to a deep confrontation, we can ascertain that Bartholomew committed a deed that, if we draw an analogy between the church and state relations, could be called direct and barefaced aggression.

In other words, in 2000, the Constantinople Patriarchate was engaged in petty theft in Estonia. But today it is not about theft, not about a robbery, and even not about banditry, but about the beginning of open war. And not against the Russian Orthodox Church, but against all of world Orthodoxy.

If Patriarch Bartholomew simply wrote out Tomos to some abstract Ukrainian Orthodox Christian, then it would be troublesome for his relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, but not a catastrophe for world Orthodoxy. Because, of course, the fight for canonical territory between the actual leading orthodox force (Russian Orthodox Church) and the nominally “first in honor” Constantinople Patriarchate would touch all world Orthodoxy, but it wouldn’t be critical for it. It would just be a conflict between two orthodox chairs, similar to those that often happened in the past. It terms of its scale it would be larger than the Estonian one, because the church and political value of Ukraine is much more, but in general it would keep within this same framework.

The problem is that Bartholomew took not a church decision, but a political one. He laid down claims to “orthodox papacy”. The Patriarch of Fener individually determined himself as being not just “first in honor”, but also the chief of all Orthodox Christians, having the right, in his arbitrariness, to interfere in the affairs of any church, and in reality – of any diocese.

He didn’t just intrude into the canonical territory of others (which in itself is bad). He accused the Russian Orthodox Church of provoking a Ukrainian split, having actually put at the same level the pseudo-Patriarch DenisenkoMetropolitan Onufry, and Patriarch Kirill. He stated that he doubts the fairness of the anathema of Denisenko and that he is going to consider this question personally. I.e., for him the Russian Orthodox Church, the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the self-proclaimed Patriarch Filaret (Denisenko) are equal parties to the conflict that he is going to judge. In order for this to be understandable for people who are distant from church problems, this is worse than when it is declared in the West that Stalin and Hitler are equal parties to the conflict. It is even worse than if, having reached the limit of “tolerance”, in the West it is declared that Roosevelt, Churchill, and de Gaulle also bear responsibility equal with Hitler for the Holocaust, the genocide of Slavs in occupied territories, the initiation of war, the tens of millions of victims, and even repression in Germany. It is worse because in the case with Hitler’s evaluation there would be talk of a terrestrial political example, of a temporary phenomenon. But in the available case we are dealing with eternity, with the problem of the immortality of the soul. And it’s not even about one soul, but millions of orthodox souls being plunged into split.

If to go straight to the point, Bartholomew suddenly decided to allocate to himself the same (and even vaster) powers than the ones the Pope has in the Catholic world. At the same time it is necessary to understand that the Pope isn’t just the Supreme bishop of the Catholic church, but also a secular sovereign governing the state of Vatican. The Pope is only half (as the head of the church) monk and half (as the head of state) politician. Contrary to the precept of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s, the Pope tries to combine in himself the divine and the political.

With Bartholomew it is worse. Firstly, he has no territorial state (unlike the Pope, who has the Vatican). He lays claim to political influence within the borders of other states. At the same time, his influence is initially destructive, since he can obtain it only by influencing existing churches. And the mechanism of influence available to him, making him allegedly an “arbitration judge”, is giving support for splits. In the same way that he is unable to pave his way to the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church if he doesn’t support the pseudo-orthodox sectarians of Denisenko, he won’t be able to influence neither Serbian, nor Bulgarian, nor any other orthodox church without the support of such schismatics. Splits are his pillar of support. Only the equation of a bandit with their victim in terms of responsibility (or even the bandit’s justification) allows this Turkish subject working (according to local, Turkish legislation) with a status of nothing more than a tourist attraction to claim to be the supreme all-Orthodox judge and the individual determinant of the canonicity of any heresies. The head of a structure that signed uniatism three times – at a minimum – on the terms of the Holy See, whose “Orthodoxy” was recognised by other churches rather out of charity and the unwillingness to create additional split, suddenly decided to become “holier than the Pope”.

He can’t but understand that he initiates a split in Orthodoxy. At the same time, he understands that he violates not just canons and traditions, but also the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, which established not only the rules of relations between episcopal chairs, but also the symbol of faith. If today it is possible to ignore one of the decisions of these Councils, then tomorrow it will also be possible to rewrite the symbol of faith. Especially since the Constantinople Patriarchate already three times signed uniatism with the Roman throne, each time recognising its subordinated position towards Rome.

Bartholomew is not a child small. He knows very well that he acts against the canons of world Orthodoxy and that he touches the interests of all orthodox churches, each of which has its own schismatics who, on the basis of the latest statements of the Constantinople Patriarchate, Bartholomew (as he considers) can recognise as being rather canonical.

Bartholomew knows what he risks. He also understands that the US weakened and can’t provide him with comprehensive support, and that Turkey – which he is a citizen of – won’t be delighted by his actions directed not just against the Russian Orthodox Church, but also against political Moscow, being the ally of Istanbul. It’s also not a secret for him that practically all orthodox churches refuse to support him and to recognise the competency of his actions in Ukraine. Everyone understands that it can become the next victim of the Constantinople “peacemaker”.

Constantinople also ought to understand that the influence of the weak and unpopular (the “pro-European”, or to be more exact – pro-American governments of Eastern European countries) on the church situation is minimal. The church in these countries enjoys bigger authority than the government does. Politicians there have no chance of forcing local churches to support Constantinople. Of course, supporters of Bartholomew can be found among local hierarchs, but this will only create additional lines of split, dividing world Orthodoxy in a worse way than the Great Schism of 1054 divided Christianity.

For Ukraine, Bartholomew’s actions unambiguously mean religious war, in which not streams, but rivers of blood will be shed, and already not only the Ukrainian state (which already burst) will be destroyed, but also the people living on territory that is formally subordinated to the current Kiev authorities. And Fener already knows this. They understand very well that they are provoking a horrible civil religious conflict, thus standing on the side of schismatics and sectarians against true Orthodox Christians. The Istanbul bishop isn’t mistaken. He is aware that he acts against his own faith and hundreds of millions of orthodox believers over the entire world. He sacrifices his immortal soul for the sake of momentary political benefits. Such a decision can be made only by someone whose belief is dead and who stopped being a monk, a priest, a bishop, but who became a politician, who stopped being a servant of God, and who started to serve the knight of this world [the devil – ed]. The Constantinople Patriarch lays claim to the laurels of pseudo-teachers and pseudo-prophets that John of Patmos describes as the forerunners of the Antichrist.

Bartholomew’s actions already don’t correspond even to the interests of the US (which always acted as a supporter of the Ukrainian split). This is much more than the US would’ve liked. The situation stops being controlled from Washington. The Constantinople Patriarch starts laying claim to the status of an independent political figure who is no less influential than the leaders of the largest faiths and heads of leading states. But he tries to obtain this status without having the corresponding opportunities in orthodox sobornost, as a teacher of split. Bartholomew builds his political career precisely by plunging millions and even tens of millions of Orthodox Christians into split, sacrificing not only his, but also their souls, standing on the side of world evil.

His actions are much more large-scale than the split initiated by Denisenko, and is thus more dangerous. In comparison with Bartholomew, who strives for the status of a pseudo-patriarch, the pseudo-patriarch Filaret is a mere child.

Bartholomew’s split is caused by Constantinople’s understanding of the simple fact that the US, which before this served as the base of the ambitions of the Istanbul Patriarchate and gave via its support considerably bigger influence to him than what his weight allows, becomes weaker and is no longer a factor of force.

Only split, only destruction, only pitting orthodox believers against each other – both in a global context and within the framework of every church – can create for Constantinople a new pillar of support. Bartholomew is not the first to try to become equal to God by acting against God. And he is not the last to try to exchange influence bought in this world on the back of bloodshed for immortality of the soul. At his age and with his rank, spontaneous decisions are simply not made. He weighed up everything: both the possibilities of countering other orthodox faiths and the probable reaction of an anti-American orientated Erdogan – who is the situational ally of Russia in the Middle East, and the inevitability of the bloodshed initiated by him in Ukraine. He weighed things up and made his choice, and he will see it to the end.

That’s why the Moscow Patriarchate, although it doesn’t opt for an immediate severance of relations, starts responding with statements that are more rigid than what happened in previous such cases. The Russian Orthodox Church reasonably doesn’t want to assume responsibility for inciting a conflict, but shows absolute understanding of the fact that Constantinople won’t cool its passions any more and will go to the very end. Hence the phrase about responsibility falling on the Fener Patriarchate and its leader Bartholomew.

It is a affirmation of fact that the Second Rome, following the First Rome, definitively (not only in a political, but also in a spiritual sense) turned into a stronghold of world evil. Sooner or later this will be said openly. The church isn’t in a hurry since it is obliged to admonish and heal, and only in second place, if the schismatics and heretics remain incorrigible and stagnate in sin, does it punish and denounce. But we, already now, are obliged to live with the realisation of the fact that the unity of world Orthodoxy once again was subjected to a test and that another split became as inevitable as there being hundreds of thousands, or maybe even millions, of its future victims.

Iran’s Spiritual Empowerment and Defense Readiness

Image result for Iran’s Spiritual Empowerment and Defense Readiness

Iran’s Spiritual Empowerment and Defense Readiness

August 23, 2018

Iran’s Spiritual Empowerment and Defense Readiness

By Kevin Barrett (Truth Jihad) for The Saker Blog

Spiritual Empowerment and Defense Readiness: Iran’s “Trump Card” Against US-Israeli Aggression

Do religion, spirituality, and ethics have any strategic significance?

Increasingly, since the time of Machievelli, the Western answer to that question has been “no.” According to the dominant view of Western elites, religious factors are usually a strategic liability rather than an asset. A spiritual soldier, according to this view, is less willing to fight. An ethical commander is less willing to make the hard decisions that lead to victory. And a religious society is likely to be scientifically and technologically backwards, and therefore unequipped with the latest weapons systems and strategies.

This dominant Machievellian view has been influenced by Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. Hobbes famously argued that humans have emerged from a state of nature, the war of all against all, by gradual conquests of ever-larger kingdoms, each of which is tyrannically ruled by a single sovereign. The sovereign tyrant crushes anyone who spreads disorder or challenges his authority, thereby pacifying his realm and facilitating commerce and technological innovation. All human progress, according to Hobbesians, is the product of tyranny. Therefore, tyranny is good! What’s more, by wars of aggression the tyrant enlarges the boundaries of his state, brings more peoples and lands into his realm, and thereby creates even more peace and prosperity. Therefore, wars of aggression are good![1]

The Machievellian-Hobbesian view, through a Nietzschean transmutation of values, takes what all non-psychopathic humans know is evil—tyranny and aggressive warfare—and redefines it as good. Simultaneously, it takes what all non-psychopathic humans know is good—resistance to tyranny and refusal to submit to, or perpetrate, aggression—and redefines it as evil.

Such a psychopathic philosophy of statecraft and war is clearly inimical to God-given human nature. By what process has our planet’s most technologically, economically, and politically powerful civilization adopted as its guiding principle a psychopathic philosophy that the 99% of humans who are not psychopaths—the vast majority of all populations, including those of psychopath-ruled countries—instinctively reject?

The triumph of psychopathy in Western statecraft is the product of the West’s post-Christian culture. Christianity, more than any other religion, rigorously preaches peace, as exemplified by the prophet Jesus’s (PBUH) injunction to “turn the other cheek,” his refusal to support anti-Roman militancy, and his insistence that “the meek will inherit the earth.” Unfortunately, even after the teachings of Jesus had spread, it became obvious that no then-existing human society could organize itself according to such principles and survive. Mainstream Christianity, largely authored by Paul and institutionalized by the Nicean Council, became the official religion of the warlike Roman Empire by emphasizing Jesus’s statement “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s” and telling people to let the psychopathic Caesars rule. This amounted to abdicating religion’s role as the foundation of human society, fostering a schizoid split between “good” religion and “evil” politics. (Why good people would and should allow their societies to be dominated by evil leaders was never adequately explained by Constantinian Christians.)

Western civilization was constructed around this schizoid split between religion, the realm of mere ideals, and a completely different and vastly uglier set of political and social realities. This framework fostered the emergence of Machievelli, who threw religion and its ideals out the window. As Christianity lost its hold over the West, materialist-atheist Machievellianism, barely tempered by wooly-headed and rationally-indefensible humanism, became the order of the day.

Today, psychopathic Machievellians rule the West. Their subjects, who are mainly either wooly-headed humanists or residual Christians, are not psychopaths. They feel an instinctive revulsion toward aggression and tyranny. So the Western rulers are forced to dupe their subjects by disguising aggression as defense, and disguising tyranny as “freedom” or “democracy.”

The history of US wars during the past five decades shows that psychopathic leaders can indeed dupe their subjects, at least for a certain period, into believing that an obvious war of aggression is actually defensive, and that they are fighting for “freedom” and “democracy” rather than tyranny. But such deceptions have an Achilles heel: They quickly wear off as the truth emerges and as the public tires of the unjust war.

The case of the US war on Vietnam exemplifies this process. During the period that US neocolonial aggression against Vietnam was relatively unknown to the public (the 1950s and early 1960s) it was possible to wage the war without encountering major problems with morale and public opinion. Then when it was necessary to escalate the war to the point that it could no longer be hidden from the public, US leaders orchestrated the Gulf of Tonkin deception to create the illusion that the US was under attack and that North Vietnam was the aggressor. This deception, grotesquely obvious as it was, worked for a few years, thanks to the compliant media. But gradually the truth about the US war on Vietnam—that it constituted immoral aggression in service to tyranny—leaked out to the public. Soon the American people in general, and US troops in particular, turned against the war, making it unsustainable over the long term.

The same process happened fifteen years ago with the US wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Those wars, planned many years before they were launched, were pre-legitimized by the false flag operation of September 11th, 2001, whose purpose was to create the impression that the coming wars were defensive responses to an unprovoked attack on America. Once again, as in the case of Vietnam, the ruse worked for a few years. But as the truth about US aggression and tyranny leaked out, the public, and a substantial segment of the military, once again turned against the wars.[2]

The history of the US wars on Vietnam and Iraq underlines two critically important strategic facts. First, the US cannot hope to win a war with air power alone; victory requires a substantial and politically problematic commitment of troops on the ground. Second, any major commitment of US troops can only be made under the pretext that the US is engaging in defense rather than aggression; and even when extraordinary means are used to create this pretext (as in the case of 9/11) the legitimizing effect quickly wears off in the face of determined resistance by the targets of US aggression. The more time goes by, the more the public and elements of the military turn against the war.

US decision makers are, for the most part, aware of the above-described facts. They know that smaller wars, where they can quickly declare victory and go home (as in Grenada and the Iraq war of 1990) are much more likely to be successful than larger and more ambitious wars (Vietnam and the post-9/11 Iraq invasion and occupation). They dread committing major US ground forces to any large scale land war in Asia, knowing that the results are almost certain to be negative, and quite possibly catastrophic. After the Iraq debacle, the idea of a major US occupation of another large Middle Eastern country is, for all practical purposes, politically unthinkable.

The above considerations illustrate an important asymmetry between US and Iranian capabilities in any prospective future conflict. US leaders are in the unenviable position of having to wage all-out psychological warfare against their own population in order to brainwash their people and troops into accepting ongoing hostilities. (Such brainwashing campaigns have become more difficult in the internet era.) They are also faced with the problem that the longer hostilities persist, the more the public and an element of the military is likely to turn against the war effort.

Iran’s leaders face a very different “morale curve” with respect to prospective hostilities with the US. The Iranian people know that any US aggression against their country is in fact aggression; there is no conceivable way that US leaders could trick Iran’s people into believing that a US attack on Iran was somehow “defensive.” Clearly Iran’s leaders will direct a population that, in accordance with God-given (non-psychopathic) human nature, will rally to the defense of their nation. Additionally, the very strong element of religion in Iran will contribute to the spiritual strength of a population ready to make the kind of sacrifices that are necessary in warfare. And finally, the fact that Iran’s majority religion is Islam, which teaches that God not only authorizes but strongly encourages and rewards sacrificing in defensive warfare—a religious outlook institutionalized in the Islamic Republic—bodes well for Iran’s prospects in any war with the USA, and for its ability to deter such a war.

It is worth noting that the Machievellian-Hobbesian preference for a tyrannical and immoral sovereign is being tested by the presidency of Donald Trump. The immorality and tyrannical egotism of Trump have aroused fervent opposition to the man and his policies, both in the USA itself and around the world. It seems doubtful that an unpopular leader like Trump could successfully sustain any major, long-term military campaign against Iran, especially if it involved large numbers of “boots on the ground.” That Trump himself ran for president calling for a drawdown of the US presence in the Middle East, based on his recognition that the Iraq, Libya, and Syria wars have been disasters—a position that contrasted sharply with the more hawkish, interventionist posture of Hillary Clinton—makes it even unlikelier that he could betray and anger his supporters by launching an even more dangerous and difficult war on Iran. Not only would at least half of Trump’s supporters tend to oppose such a move, his extreme detractors, who are legion, would oppose it even more fervently. Any initial war fever, which Trump might hope would distract from his domestic problems, would quickly wear off.

Iran’s leadership, in marked contrast with America’s, is grounded in morals and ethics, not Machievellian-Hobbesian nihilism. Those morals and ethics derive from the religion of Islam, a 1400-year-old tradition that has proven to harmonize well with God-given human nature. Though the various segments of Iran’s population vary in their religious attitudes and behavior, the vast majority accept the basic morality and ethics that convince them, like all non-psychopathic humans, that aggression must be resisted. Thus Iran’s leadership finds itself in relative harmony with its population on the question of national self defense. That means that in any serious conflict with Trump’s USA, Iran will have staying power, while the US will wilt as the fire burns longer and hotter.

  1. For a detailed exposition of this view, see Ian Morris, War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014). 
  2. The facts that 9/11 was a false flag, and that the 9/11 wars were primarily designed to promote Israel’s interests rather than America’s, turned a segment of the US military, and even some prominent strategists including Zbigniew Brzezinski, against those wars. See: SFRC Testimony — Zbigniew Brzezinski, February 1, 2007 (http://foreign.senate.gov/testimony/2007/BrzezinskiTestimony070201.pdf); “Dr. Alan Sabrosky: “100% Certain That 9/11 Was a Mossad Operation” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7xTsWsLbV4); Global Warfare: “We’re Going to Take out 7 Countries in 5 Years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran… – Gen. Wesley Clarke” (https://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166). 

 

‘Cultural’ & ‘Permanent Revolution’ in Iranian Revolutionary Shi’ism

August 03, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog‘Cultural’ & ‘Permanent Revolution’ in Iranian Revolutionary Shi’ism

Trotsky was and, in as much as he lives in his writings, remains the foremost strategist of world socialist revolution. Hence the indissoluble association of his name with the theory and strategy of Permanent Revolution—an association familiar even to those like Mazaheri….”

That is a quote from the World Socialist Web Site’s 3-part series designed to rebut my work popularising the concept of “Iranian Islamic Socialism”, and by extension to also rebut “Islamic Socialism”, “Christian Socialism”, “Hindu Socialism”, etc.

Well, a supremely important association which I think is not at all familiar even to those like the World Socialist Web Site is that, for Shia, Imam Ali “remains the foremost strategist of world cultural revolution”. Nor are they likely at all familiar that the conscious martyrdom of his son, Imam Hossain (spelled Husayn or Hussein or Hussain in Arabic), makes him “the foremost strategist of world permanent revolution”.

This article will show that there is room for all of them in socialism, and in the fight against capitalism and imperialism.

The reason for this is because Prophet Mohammad, unlike Jesus son of Mary, undoubtedly led the greatest, most immediate and most sweeping religious and political revolution ever. This undeniable fact of humankind’s history can certainly continue to be ignored, but it will remain a historical fact.

This should be quite relevant to the WSWS in 2018 because the messages of Imam Ali and Imam Hossain have been combined, over many decades, with socialism to arrive at the unique culture proclaimed in the 1980s and which I refer to as “Iranian Islamic Socialism”.

That is a on an undeniable socio-political-cultural level. On an intellectual level it is just as crystal-clear: 20th/21st century Iranians re-examined Islam through the intellectual lenses provided by Marxism, Trotskyism, Maoism and all the other socialist schools of thought, and this led to the intellectual concept known as Revolutionary Shi’ism.

All of these facts can certainly continue to not be discussed outside of Iran, but Iran will keep adding layer upon layer of solder upon these two ideas from two different historical eras – the early Islamic era and the modern era of socialism – and certainly all without me clarifying it or commenting upon it.

It is unfortunate – because it shows their lack of crucial & objective historical knowledge – that just as Western leftists do not appreciate the political-economic-social revolutionary aspects of Prophet Mohammad, even fewer appreciate the similar qualities of Imam Ali. That will be the basis of this part, while Part 9 will discuss the related political qualities of Imam Hossain. These are not two figures I have plucked from obscurity – they are the two key leaders of the Shia religion, as well as successful revolutionary political beacons in two eras separated by 1300 years.

For the WSWS, Western leftists, and many Western rightists, religion is not and should not be political. People keep telling this to Iranians as if we have not heard it before…and quite obviously totally ignored it!

“It is surprising! For what purpose then, was the Prophet fighting? For what purpose was Imam Ali fighting? Is it not the question of politics? Is it not the fact that criminals are ruling over the people?”

In these two articles on Ali and Hossain I will often quote from Revolutionary Shi’ism proponent Ali Shariati and his Martyrdom and Martyrdom, a collection of his lectures on this issue.

Westerners may believe that religion and politics must be separated in a government: to use their sacred, inviolable and individualistic phrase, they “have that right” in their own countries. What they cannot believe – unless they willingly wish to remain in error – is that politics and religion are somehow two fundamentally unrelated socio-intellectual domains: both endeavour to tell us how to live, after all. It is notable that the Western view also lacks the democratic majority in a global sense – perhaps one finds that significant.

What is certain is that if one side does not give up…we will just go around in circles endlessly: Westerners with their dogmatic secularism and rabid laïcité (both of which latently support Christianity), and on the other side people like Shariati, myself and countless billions of others with: It is surprising! For what purpose then….

How imperialism dies: Learning from socialism’s mistakes and unlearning capitalist propaganda

The WSWS seems to think that I have invented something new:

“He again insists that socialism in Iran can galvanize the masses only if fused with Shia Islam. This argument is far easier to make if one ignores, as Mazaheri does, any consideration of the pivotal role of the Stalinist Tudeh Party in the development of the Iranian workers’ movement.”

I am not insisting anything about the galvanising power of Shia Islam in Iran – this is what has already happened. Truly, I am a journalist just reporting the facts. These are facts which are, unfortunately, not reported by many others.

However, this article will provide some new scholarship on Iran: I will show how there is a clear parallel between the aims of Imam Ali and Mao, both of whom attempted Cultural Revolutions after they perceived their initial political revolutions to be failing.

This is of vital interest, precedent and perspective to all political revolutionaries, and not just Shia and Chinese ones.

Now, I don’t want much credit here because I will use Shariati’s own scholarship to show that he essentially proved this…but he did not know it. The likely reason is that people like Shariati (died 1977) did not have the chance to unlearn the anti-socialist propaganda about China’s Cultural Revolution, which I helped debunk here. Furthermore, Shariati was so powerful because he was incredibly and uniquely adept at employing Marxist perspectives on Islam, but he was also anti-Marxist in the sense that he did not want formal communists to come to power in Iran – he was not inclined to openly laud Chinese communists, perhaps. Indeed, much of Shariati’s writing on communism is negative and filled with now-outdated ideas that communism is inescapably totalitarian, whereas modern socialist countries are not the USSR in 1942.

While there is much writing on Marxism and socialism on the Farsi-language internet, there is apparently no claim like the one I am making. Nor is there much on the claims of the next part in this series – the link between Imam Hossain and the need for “Permanent Revolution”, but it is not the desert of the Imam Ali-Cultural Revolution claim. However, I feel certain these links are easily proven, and that they likely were made in the revolutionary heyday of the 1970s…back when Revolutionary Shi’ism was disseminated via cassette tapes of Shariati and Khomenei lectures and flimsy mimeographs. I’m glad the internet makes the registration of such ideas seemingly permanent.

The continued moral failures of capitalism and imperialism mean that socialism – from an economic and democratic perspective – is the only way forward. Iran, and others, will never give up religion, so that is a non-issue, but understanding historical parallels shows the universality of the human economic-political experience. The ability to appreciate Prophet Mohammad, Ali, Hossain, Jesus, Moses, Mao, Trotsky and others as common socio-political liberators draws us all closer together, and closer to the goal of peace and shared prosperity.

This what’s makes the above claim by the WSWS rather pernicious, and it marks a turning point in their tract: it’s when the WSWS tries to appropriate the credit for the 1979 Iranian Revolution away from Revolutionary Shi’ism in order to give it to the Iranian Communist Party. And to give it lock, stock and barrel, furthermore. This is why the bulk of their series discusses the history of the Tudeh Party. Both ideologies existed, but one obviously prevailed; both ideologies existed, and to completely ignore one of them is obviously bad history. This appears like the rather common modern practice of rewriting Iranian history by Westerners, which is misleading, dangerous and self-serving. Of course, Iran is not alone in being victimised like this.

Certainly, it was not communism which ultimately galvanised the masses: by the late 1970s communism had already been present for decades, just as it was in every other nation in the world. Indeed, as Iran was never subject to colonial domination, it is a fact that communism had far more latitude and influence than in many colonised nations. But the truly-atheist Tudeh party members (which were truly few in Iran, where polls show less than 5% are atheists today) faced the same problem the WSWS does today: you may educate the Iranian masses all you want on Trotskyism, but that doesn’t mean they will also renounce viewing Imam Ali as a religious and political model.

While their series was informative on the topic they preferred – although it was clearly exaggerated – WSWS readers would have learned much more about Iran if they had instead talked about the enduring political influence of Imam Ali.

Indeed, the refusal to even consider the possibility that Ali, Islam or religion can have a positive and enduring political influence is what dooms Western leftism to political marginalisation in Iran, and elsewhere. It is also creates obvious enmity, discord, sanction & murder.

Imam Ali’s failed Cultural Revolution: the ideological schism between Shia and Sunnis

It is impossible to understand Iran without at least passing familiarity with Ali and with his son Hossain.

In short: Imam Ali, the very first male Muslim, Mohammad’s son-in-law, the 4th Caliph to Sunnis and the 1st to Shia –in the historical context of a perceived slackening in Islam’s revolutionary, political and moral integrity – cemented the ideological Sunni-Shia schism by trying to implement a Cultural Revolution after the initial political Revolution of Islam.

(The schism was officially created decades before: Mohammad repeatedly & openly declared Ali to be his successor at the event of Ghadir Khumm, but this decision was surprisingly reversed on the very day of the Prophet’s death at the Saqifah. This decision installed tribal dominance instead of the will and house of Mohammad, and Ali was not able to resist this decision. Ghadir Khumm is why Shia consider Ali to be the first Caliph, and is truly the root of the split, but Ali’s future actions – described here – would considerably exacerbate it.)

Perhaps all peoples of all times have reinterpreted religion to better understand and to improve the times in which they have lived?

It’s certain that many reinterpret religion to make their times more reactionary: drive through the United States and you will hear on radio station after radio station the combination of Christian fundamentalism and anti-government / pro-capitalist ideology. This is no exaggeration – for them the “beast” of the Bible is actually a symbol for the government, which is inherently evil. It obviously fits perfectly with the neoliberal view. There is also plenty of airspace reserved for “prosperity gospel”, where faith in God is only needed to make you rich. These are obviously not distortions of a failed Christian creed, but of a failed capitalist-imperialist one.

Instead of delusionally reinterpreting Jesus as a way to make money, the application and promotion of leftist perspectives on Ali and Hossain provided more inspiration for the common masses than the Tudeh Party ever did or possibly ever could.

Leftists fail to see that Prophet Mohammad was a political revolutionary

Don’t worry: This section will not be long, nor will it involve quoting the Koran.

I could do that, but many leftists have closed ears, and “God confounds whom He will” (couldn’t resist that one short, oft-repeated quote!).

What this section will recap is the political humanitarian revolution which Prophet Mohammad created. These basic historical, sociological and political aspects of Islam are facts which cannot be denied, and should be of intellectual interest to atheists at the very least.

As I have said often before: Shariati was just one of many, many similar Iranian political thinkers who was / are intensely Muslim and also politically leftist. His work is marked by superb political insights combined with an intensely urgent and open concern for morality.

For an example of his political insights, Shariati noted that the social origins of Jesus and Mohammad – the two Abrahamic prophets of whom we have definitive historical proof – were not the aristocratic ones of Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Zoroaster, Aristotle, Plato, etc. Indeed, all the founders of schools of pre-Enlightenment thought in Europe, China, Iran and India fundamentally supported their aristocratic, elitist, hyper-conservative political establishments. However, the primary Abrahamic messengers (including Moses, who was born to an enslaved people and then orphaned) were drawn from the People and openly opposed the existing power structure.

This helps explain why the main Abrahamic prophets were explicitly sent to free people not just spiritually and morally but politically as well. Unlike Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism or Taoism, “Abrahamism” has always been decidedly political and decidedly against the establishment: Abraham against the ruling polytheists and his father the idol-maker; Moses against Pharaoh; Jesus son of Mary against a slave-owning, imperial Rome which lacked political compassion; Mohammad against the oppression inherently imposed by polytheism (the humorous and sad delusion that God or gods are actually working against you), the meagre cynicism of materialism (scientific, not material), aristocratic privileges, social castes and tribal divisions.

Indeed the Western-created “Sunni-Shia divide” could only be created by non-Muslims because Mohammad ENDED tribalism, sectarianism and nationalism ,and every Muslim is aware of this. This is easily proven: Watch any gathering of Muslims and you see people of all hues and ethnicities – it is beautiful, politically, and the direct result of the humanitarian revolution espoused by Islam. This is absent among the insular “chosen” Jews, and far less present among Christians; indeed, the presence of multiple races in Christianity is largely due to their legacy of forced conversion, a practice barred in Islam.

All of this helps show why Islam is the undoubted political updating of Abrahamic thought. Mohammad had a mission of unification because he repeatedly confirmed the previous Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity (the Torah (Old Testament) and New Testament), and because he also created a unification of time and space by pointedly declaring Islam to NOT be a “new” religion – it is simply a continuation of the one true religion of monotheism.

This idea (tawhidis the indispensable base of Islam: it is the oneness of God, which implies the oneness of all things (from atoms to people to galaxies, as everything is under the direction of a limitless, all-knowing, all-seeing God). This is a fundamentally unitarian concept, accommodates both Western and Eastern concepts, and is also fully in accordance with the last great confirmed scientific theory, the Theory of Relativity.

A fun scientific sidebar!

The Theory of Relatively is far from being just the equation E = mc2 – that’s just the part to say to appear smart. Its theoretical importance is this: when observing the universe no one place is any better or different than another – the laws of nature are universal no matter where or by whom they are described, i.e. there is this egalitarian tawhid on a galactic level.

When scientists inevitably find a “theory of everything”, that too will logically confirm tawhid.

There is one scientific and cosmological debate left which, I must concede, still threatens the victory of tawhid and which could prove the polytheists correct: What is the true nature of the universe’s continual expansion?

If expansion never stops, that implies an eventual thinning out of matter, and thus cooling, and thus death – in theological terms, the Day of Judgement. But what if there is never a day when the universe stops expanding but – instead of thinning out – a day when it actually contracts upon itself? And if that occurs, does it then expand again?

The latter is posited by Hinduism, which believes that the universe has an infinite number of deaths and rebirths; Big Bang, contraction and reversal, then back to the same Big Bang; have all been here before, and we will all be here again. Does time run backwards during a contraction?

This is all scientifically plausible because it has not yet been disproven.

The key appears to lay in solving the mysteries of black holes, if that possible.

Another key lays in the possibility of being able to discover the nature of matter by finding the truly “smallest particle” – we may just keep subdividing forever: molecules into atoms into quarks into…. If we subdivide forever, that seems to support tawhid, because God is limitless. If we reach an end, that seems to support Hindu cosmology.

So for all the opprobrium Muslims and monotheists heap on Hinduism for their idolatry (known as shirk), we still cannot scientifically reject their cosmology. For now, the answer is a question of faith.

I think religious honesty requires us to be open and honest about the limitations of our scientific knowledge – the Koran repeatedly states that one who makes up lies about God is among the most reprehensible of sinners. Indeed, a mind that demands total certainty and cannot tolerate doubt is a fanatical one. I also think every religious person agrees that atheists are far more fanatical in their alleged cosmological certainties than either monotheists or polytheists.

We may never find out, but I have faith in the galactic applicability of tawhid. Fortunately, the Koran forbids forcing a Hindu into accepting tawhid. Nor can you force a Muslim to become a Hindu because Hinduism – it is often said – is not a religion but a culture: there is no process to “convert” to Hinduism – one can only live it. So…Muslims have no problem allowing Hindus to remain peacefully confounded in whatever hundred billion-year cycle they are currently in, and the same goes for Hindus regarding Muslims who refuse to practice Hindusim.

I do not seek to upset the peace of the Hindus, because solving the most difficult astronomical and cosmological questions are far beyond the ken of a daily hack journalist like myself. And maybe there is tawhid in Hinduism which I am perhaps missing?

What this sidebar makes clear is: capitalist-imperialist Western societies have been totally unable to incorporate 20th-century scientific advances into their cultural philosophies. Their People are encouraged in identity politics (where one viewpoint is superior to another, depending on the situation), supporting foreign wars and in exacerbating economic inequalities, all of which contradict the social corollaries of modern science.

They remain quite stuck in their unmodern bourgeois conceptions of humanity, society & science, and this should be expected: they have rejected socialism, which was directly inspired by such modern scientific advances, and which has always sought to reflect it.

Back to something far easier to explain: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

This inviolable unity of all things proclaimed by Mohammad necessary implies a call for socio-political-economic-cultural unity. To say that it does not is to take us back to, “It is surprising! For what purpose then….”

Shariati’s genius was to take Islamic concepts like tawhid and make correlates with them in Marxist socio-economic thought. He did this over and over, and this is why he was so wildly popular and why Iran was so successfully inspired to create a truly modern revolution in 1979. This is also why all of the politics and structures I have described in this 11-part series do not have historical parallels; are decidedly not capitalist; nor are they a return to the 7th century – what has been created in Iran since 1979 is entirely unique (revolutionary).

And I’d say he was right: Tawhid clearly is more politically revolutionary than the insufficient “chosen people” unity of the Jews. Even China’s I Ching explicitly warns of this, in Chapter 13 “Seeking Harmony” – “Seeking harmony within a clan, it is selfish and stingy”.

It is also more progressively uniting than the Holy Trinity of Christianity, which Islam explicitly rejects: God is not three – He is one, and one is all.

In the Abrahamic religion Islam is obviously the most concerned with this idea of egalitarian unity. Indeed, Prophet Mohammad “cornered the market on unity” for all-time and for every time: In Islam (as I alluded to earlier by saying that Islam unified time and space), anyone who has ever believed or will ever believe in monotheism is essentially a Muslim. This insistence also makes it an undeniable reality that there can never be another monotheistic religion in the Abrahamic line – Islam has effectively co-opted all monotheism.

Therefore, the next Abrahamic prophet can only appear on the Day of Judgment… because what else could possibly be offered more than an Islam which offers everything there always has, is, and will be offered regarding monotheistic belief? This is why the Koran begins with praise after praise for monotheistic Jews & Christians as well as plea after plea for Jews & Christians to join this intellectual, social and cultural updating of Abrahamism provided by its latest prophet.

Because another monotheistic prophet is thus a logical impossibility, Muslims believe a “Hidden Imam” (or Mahdi) walks the earth until the Day of Judgment, when he will walk hand-in-hand with Jesus to defeat the false messiah (or Antichrist to Christians) and establish peace and justice on earth This doctrine is not essential in Sunni, but popular, while for Shia it is an essential doctrine.

Many have falsely claimed to be the Mahdi over the centuries, including the fore-runner of the Bahai – that claim was obviously false, because peace and justice clearly do not reign globally. That is why the Bahai are not tolerated in Iran (and this fact predates 1979, of course): there is a rather enormous, Islam-jeopardizing claim which is being made and not fulfilled.

But the galactic nature of tawhid and the realisation that Islam owns all monotheism aside, what needs to be appreciated by non-Muslims is how Mohammad overturned the political order and broke with aristocratic and sectarian values. Just as bus drivers became bosses in 1979 Iran, so in the time of Mohammad slaves with noble natures became higher than aristocrats. From Shariati:

“This is why the Prophet of Islam marked the turning point for slaves who, throughout history, were certain that their fate was slavery…they believed that they existed solely to experience suffering, to carry heavy loads, and to go hungry so that others might receive pleasure. They were born and created for this.

This deprived class, who were convinced that the gods or God were their enemy…. The Prophet of Islam had been appointed in order to complete the movement which had existed throughout history against deception, falsehood, polytheism, creation of discord, hypocrisy, aristocracy and class differences which were all made an object of the spiritual struggle; and by announcing that all of humanity is of one race, one source, one nature and one God, to declare equality for all, with philosophical explanation, and by fighting an economically powerful regime to maintain social equity.”

Clearly, the lenses, ideas and language of Marxism, socialism, class struggle, democratic equality and economic equality are present and have been combined with Islam in 20th century Revolutionary Shi’ism. Combine this by many volumes and you have only Shariati’s output on an issue which captivated Iranian society. “Iranian Islamic Socialism” is not new – it just an apt journalistic catchphrase.

Certainly, the political impact of Jesus son of Mary was only felt after his death, while Prophet Mohammad created political revolutions in land after land, tribe after tribe, ethnicity after ethnicity, and race after race with his creed of total social equality.

Many Christians openly hold Mohammad’s political conquests against him from a moral point of view: this because they clearly fail to realise the revolutionary socio-political demands of Islam, due to their often total ignorance of Islam’s doctrines. Priests in Islam simply are fighters for God and social justice. Islamic preachers are not monks, nor celibate, nor divorced from society, nor unconcerned with society in order to worship God all alone, nor encouraged to live in isolation, nor obsessed with performing rites and rituals, nor plying magic to make it rain (or to do whatever polytheistic / folk shamans do), etc. They are ordered to create social justice.

However, to Shariati and to Shia, this very real socio-political revolutionary aspect of Islam was diminished due to the failure of 2nd and 3rd-generation Islamic revolutionaries to heed Imam Ali’s message.

Imam Ali and his call for Cultural Revolution to preserve the leftist political gains

Because Islam was a political revolution of still unparalleled global consequence, there is much for everyone to study on a historical-political level in the period immediately after Mohammad, who passed in 632. We can view this era from an areligious historical perspective, and it is politically quite enlightening.

This is not the exact same thing as what Shariati and others did – they applied a modern political lens on Islam itself as well as its history. What I am saying here is: Non-Muslims can apply a modern historical lens on the early Islamic era, and we will find the results are almost identical.

We must realise that in 656, when Imam Ali became the 4th Caliph, it was a dire situation for the now-aged first generation of political revolutionaries of Islam.

After all, how many political revolutions haven’t lasted more than a few years before reverting back to the previous & reactionary status quo?

From a purely political perspective, and as Shariati recounts: In 656 it was nearing the end for that first generation of revolutionaries. Ali, the only person ever born in the Kabaa, was 55 years old and had fought in nearly every major battle. He had also retired from politics to work as a farmer – he still mended his own shoes. He had to be pushed into becoming Caliph, and only did so because the revolution was starting to eat its children: His predecessor had been assassinated, factions had appeared, once-liberated areas were rebelling due to poor political governance, while some new converts may have converted for political gain and were thus possible opportunists with questionable grounding in Islam.

It is as if Raul Castro was seeing the growth of parties who want Guantanamo Bay to be legally part of the USA, that the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution were no longer holding meetings, and that state-ownership of the mother industries of the economy were being sold off to Floridians.

Imam Ali assumed the Caliphate and did what he thought was needed – he restored the political revolution of equality initiated by Mohammad.

Ali waged a war against financial corruption and unfair privileges – he was a politically-enlightened (as well as religiously enlightened) revolutionary, after all. He gave the same wages for politicians as he did to slaves, levelled taxes and opposed the reigning nepotism in favor of seniority. There is no doubt that such leftist ideas rarely reign supreme now, either, and that they were just as opposed by the same unenlightened forces back in the 7th century.

Ali’s message of political piety was obviously not appreciated by everyone, least of in largely-Christian Damascus. The governor there was Muawiyah I, the eventual founder of the Umayyad dynasty. After a political marriage to a powerful Christian tribe and many military successes, Muawiyah was powerful enough to not recognise Ali as the 4th Caliph.

The Christian makeup of Damascus was not the problem: the problem was that the anti-reactionary blaze of the Revolution of Islam had so very much to burn. From Shariati, in that typically overstuffed-yet-somehow-not-unnecessary style of Persian carpets and minatures:

“The traditions, rules, etiquette of society, economic and aristocratic systems, thoughts, ideas, tastes, literature, poetry, music, dance, amusements, social relations, ethics and manners of ‘civilized’ Rome and Iran, the social class system and aristocratic regime, the political system of the Caesars and Kings, the type and form of monastic and clerical traditions, the properties which are hierarchical and bureaucratic, the official and classical system of rule, and finally, the progressive (meaning less austere) Iranian and Roman civilizations certainly had an influence upon the simple Islamic communities.

The wealth, power, position and countless ‘spoils’ which had been earned in the Muslim victories make people grow fat and it is because of this that they are no longer listening to Ali’s advice, his goal and his sufferings. The majority of the people are quite happy with the situation. They are no longer fond of such problems. They show no sensitivity whatsoever to them. These people have now changed into being the servants of wealth and power.”

Shariati has clearly recounted a lessening of political fervour which can be seen in seemingly all political revolutions.

Also for Shariati, Ali is so vital in large part because the power centre in Damascus began to manipulate Islam for its own political conquests, fostering a quietism among the religious authorities.

Comparisons of the post-Mohammad-era political culture with the USSR after Stalin and China in the 1960s show obvious parallels…as they must, because all three were the supremely-modern political revolutions of their respective eras.

After the first generation of revolutionaries passed with Stalin, Khrushchev pursued revisionist policies in the name of individualistic anti-Stalinism; then, when the USSR had pulled itself up to the level of the dominant Western imperialists, they preferred the calm Brezhnev era, which was totally stagnant from a revolutionary perspective; finally, Gorbachev’s era had become so estranged from Russian socialist ideals that he foolishly embraced massive tolerance of counterrevolutionary thought (glasnost), which played a major role in subverting the Russian Revolution. Revolutionaries became “the servants of wealth and power,” instead of the deprived classes.

Following 1949’s victory, after many years of similar revolutionary stagnation and at least seven failed official anti-corruption campaigns, Mao and his fellow first-generation revolutionaries listened to the demands of their youth in the 1960s and empowered them to institute the Cultural Revolution in order to restore revolutionary integrity. Thus when Mao died in 1976 the younger generations had personally witnessed the regeneration of revolutionary ideals, and ones extremely similar to those which Imam Ali was espousing 1,300 years earlier. In 2018, when China is close to returning a socialist nation to the same economic status as the dominant Western imperialists, books such as China is Communist, Dammit by Jeff J. Brown are necessary reading not just in the West but inside China itself – rust never sleeps, after all.

Iran instituted the world’s only other official Cultural Revolution immediately after the 1979 Revolution. Even though it expressly rejected anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist thought, as in China, it came at a very different revolutionary period of revolutionary history. This is a vital nuance, but one which does not overshadow the kinship between the world’s only two official Cultural Revolutions. There was talk of a second one in 2005 with the election of Ahmadinejad, the first Basiji president.

In my 8-part series on China I showed how constant Western pressures (blockade, Vietnam War, Indonesian communist genocide) were key additional reasons for China’s Cultural Revolution – it would thus not be historically surprising if the constant Western pressure on Iran does eventually produce a 2nd Cultural Revolution more exactly similar to the first one in China.

The appetite for and unprecedented success in Cultural Revolution is one of the many, many cultural and political similarities between modern Iran and modern China, as I discussed in part 4 of this series.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the non-Semitic Iranians have been so insistent in their accusation that the Arab early Sunnis turned Islam into an imperialist war machine instead of being content to morally improve their own backyards. But it seems historically verifiable: Instead of the values being determined by the Koran and Islam, the values were being decided by Damascus…unless Ali’s ideas prevailed. Did they?

To Shia: The counter-revolution in Islam in generations after Mohammad

No they did not. Ali’s Cultural Revolution created major opposition from the Byzantine elites in Damascus. Governor Muawiyah openly rebelled, demanding autonomy, refusing diplomacy, and thus sparking the First Fitna (Muslim Civil War).

Muawiyah’s army had become accustomed to war, with regular battles against the Byzantines (or Romans, as they called themselves – North European historians apparently insist on this false distinction). The militarily-innovative Muawiyah had just established Arab naval supremacy over the Byzantine / Eastern Roman Empire in the Battle of the Masts of 654, two years prior to Ali’s assumption of the Caliphate. The death of the Zoroastrian Yazdgerd III, Sassanid Iran’s last ruler, occurred in 651 and thus both East and West presented plenty of war booty for thousands of kilometers.

So, in 656, for Imam Ali to come in with his revolutionary piety instead of worldly gain at a historical time when all roads to conquest were wide open….

War between the partisans of Ali (the word “Shia” means “partisans of Ali”) and Muawiyah ensued and, about to be defeated, Muawiyah famously instructed his soldiers to put Korans on the tip of their lances. Inspiration or blasphemy? The soldiers themselves did not know, either, and the confusion stopped the fighting and saved Muawiyah. Diplomacy resumed, arbitration was unsatisfactory and confusion reigned for several years…which was the obvious goal of Muawiyah.

It was his goal because during this break in the First Fitna the powerful new elites in all directions certainly did not grow to appreciate pious Ali’s views. It’s as if Muawiyah was betting on the continued decreasing of revolutionary fervour and increasing of capitalist-imperialist desires. Ali’s soldiers began to be poached and bought off by Damascus. Infighting and discord increases among Ali’s own partisans. Eventually, Ali could not consolidate his position in Iraq, where Muawiyah’s army began invading.

In 661 Imam Ali is assassinated in in Kufa, Iraq – stabbed in the back while prostrated in prayer.

Ali’s legacy is summed up by Shariati thusly:

“The Prophet is the manifestation of Islamic victory on the foreign front – over outright atheism and polytheism – whereas Ali is the manifestation of Islamic defeat within the ranks, at the hands of hypocrisy.”

Thus we have a major cause of the root of the Iranian obsession with hypocrisy, which is essentially the same thing as “corruption” to the Chinese or “opportunism” to Cubans. Of course, capitalists cannot be called “hypocrites” because capitalism is synonymous with hypocrisy, corruption & opportunism in every sense of the words and their practices & applications.

Equal to Iranian hatred of hypocrisy is “arrogance”, which is used synonymously with “imperialism” in everyday Iranian political discourse: imperialists arrogantly believe that they know better than the conquered locals, after all.

In the same way but with none of the same logic, Americans use “imperialism” and “capitalism” interchangeably, even though they are two very separate (but related) practices. Falsely using these two as synonyms explains why Western media essentially instructs (“read: capitalism”) in the rare case they actually even print the word “imperialism”.

“The political, social and international make-up of Ali was the representative par excellence of a new struggle, a struggle between the leaders and the loyalists of the new set of values, of the new faith, who rose up with new and true slogans of Islam and found themselves confronting the greed and worst elements of the revival of the rule of ignorance…. Ali is the manifestation of an age in which an internecine struggle took place between a loyal faithful and anti-movement elements who donned the masks of faith.”

Ali did not represent “only Iranians” or “only Iraqis” or “only Mohammad’s Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe” – he represented the idea of moral improvement: that is what true socio-political revolutions must be based on, while forgetting it means the revolution is nearing its end.

This is why Iranian Islamic Socialism has been proven to be not just some petty nationalist, sectarian or racist creed but a true, progressive revolution. The message of Imam Ali is open to all peoples; his political message is open to non-Muslims, if they would only look….which is rather the point of this article.

“Confronting the ‘neo-ignorance’ and ‘neo-aristocracy’, which comes to life within the context of Islam under the cover of truth and the very heart of the justice-seeking Revolution of Islam, Ali is the base of resistance.”

It is not surprising that a “resistance base” – has been chose as the term for the smallest unit of Iran’s Basij – there are 60-80,000 such small bases nationwide, comprising 10-25 million Basiji.

We also see here how Shia view Ali’s opponents as a “neo-aristocracy” which mistakenly installed an era of “neo-ignorance” (“neo” because it is post-Mohammad, but “ignorance” because they opposed the social revolutionary Ali).

Ali resisted the unjust, and this resistance is most certainly the cause of his still-galvanising legacy in 2018. The Tudeh Party, for all their decades of progressive activity, never approached the impact of Ali in Iran- not in politics, nor in culture, nor in morality, nor in anything. Iranian socialists succeeded because they subverted themselves to Ali, and thus won over the masses.

The effects of Ali’s failed ‘Cultural Revolution’ – revolution devolves to empire

Upon Ali’s assassination his son, Hassan, becomes the next caliph, but he is obviously dominated by Muawiyah. Muawiyah is declared Caliph with the promise that upon his death the Caliphate will return to Hassan or, if Hassan has passed, his brother Hossain.

But infamously, upon his death in 680 Muawiyah reneges on this promise and appoints his son Yazid for his successor as Caliph. The Umayyad dynasty is declared.

Thus, not only is Mohammad’s will disregarded, but the house of the Prophet has been deeply marginalized, and the democratic, consultative government of Islam has ended with the re-establishment of monarchy.

Some say that Muawiyah told his son to be gentle with Hossain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, but it should be clear that this will not be the case.

The Umayyad dynasty, while it was religiously tolerant – indeed, it was officially secular and Christians held top posts – it was ethnically intolerant, as it was pro-Arab. It was also an imperialist war machine which conquered from Spain to Afghanistan. Its legacy is almost universally considered to be negative among all Islamic historians (except by Syrian nationalists). How could it be otherwise? Given its imperialist nature, it was obviously not revolutionary nor sufficiently Islamic.

(Like Alexander, the Umayyads mistakenly thought they could do anything remotely significant to the continent and perpetual superpower of India – claims of victories there by Greeks or Muslims are woefully & shamefully exaggerated, and serve only to amuse Indians. Unfortunately, the belief of such false claims undermine the amazing achievements of India, and thus have produced a huge Western and Muslim under-appreciation for their singular importance and dominance throughout human history.)

While the actual Sunni-Shia schism undoubtedly started on the day Mohammad died, with the refusal to honor Mohammad’s appointment of Ali as the first Caliph, it might have been averted if Ali’s Cultural Revolution had been implemented.

So…we can say this intellectual schism was a cultural conflict between the Byzantine and Persian cultures in early Islamic society – that would seem to rest upon the belief in some sort of native Persian austerity which lays in opposition to a native Mediterranean belligerence. Or we can say that the Umayyads created a wholly new Islamic culture which preferred tolerance and imperialism (how very modern European) to the socio-political revolutionary Islam of Mohammad. Or we can take a political-ideological view – the Umayyad Dynasty only was able to take power because the Revolution of Islam had weakened in its fervour and integrity.

This weakening was not just by the new Islamic elite like Muawiyah, but with the People themselves – to believe otherwise seems to accept a view that history is controlled by the 1%: why did the 99% not rise up with Ali? Clearly, many preferred Muawiyah’s promises, his larger army, his richer allies, his less pious worldview. Islam was a political revolution and people do tire of revolution, after all – not everyone is a seemingly tireless Lenin or “Mr. Dyanmo” Mehdi Ben Barka of Morocco (assassinated in France in 1965, likely with aid from the Moroccan monarchy).

Of course, while under the reign of the Umayyads many would regret this decision – and these are called “Shia” today.

While they would initially headquarter in Iraq and become culturally rooted in the “Shia crescent” (Lebanon east to Iran), Shia are significantly present in nearly every Asian country from Turkey eastward until Bangladesh & China. Thus, Shi’ism is not just a small regional affair as portrayed in the West; this vast presence helps explain why there never any sort of ideological-fuelled war with Sunnis like beween Protestants and Catholics…until Zionism gained the upper hand, that is.

If the Umayyad reign had been more politically enlightened, then they would have likely superseded Ali, correct? Instead, as time went on, Imam Ali obviously became appreciated for the true & just revolutionary he was. Despite nearly 70 years of rather appalling ritual cursing of Ali – the first male Muslim – in public prayers, as ordered by the Umayyad Islamic authorities, Ali’s message grew and now his picture is all over Iran and elsewhere.

I rather doubt Mao knew the story of Ali, but as he was also an undoubtedly poetic soul I’m sure he would have appreciated it…assuming he had dispensed with the blinding anti-religious hatred of early socialists.

Conclusion:

I hope this historical recounting clearly shows how, for Shia, Ali represents a Cultural Revolution within Islam after the original Revolution of Islam. As I said, my terms and historical parallels may be new, but the ideas were present before I was even born. This will become even more clear in the next part of this series, on Imam Hossain. 20th/21st century revolutionary Shi’ism is largely based around the combination of Prophet Mohammad, Imam Ali & Imam Hossain and the political ideas of modern socialism.

The split between Iran and the rest of the Muslim world is not based on religious doctrine, but on political-economic doctrine. Iran was always fortunate to escape the capitalist-imperialist domination nearly all other Muslim nations have been and are still subjected to.

It is unfortunate that it must be tirelessly repeated to combat the dominant propaganda: The “Sunni-Shia divide” is a concoction of Washington and Tel Aviv designed to further their imperialist capitalism. That is very clear from Netanyahu’s 2016 interview with the US television news program 60 minutes: Simply look at the chilling way he responds to the journalist’s question, “Israel and Saudi Arabia: Are you actually developing an anti-Iran alliance in the Middle East?” It’s clear that he has put plenty of time into thinking about this from the way he tries to persuasively respond: “It doesn’t have to be developed – it’s there anyway.” (here at the 4:30 mark) To me it is clear that he is talking about “developing” the Sunni-Shia split, in defiance of nearly all of its 1400+ years of history.

These two articles should illustrate that the so-called “divide” is nothing compared to the Western European Catholic-Protestant divide but much closer to the Theravada-Mahayana discussion in Buddhism, where things were heated temporarily after the split, but then calmed down into peaceful mutual coexistence. Of course, if the Americans had defeated socialism in Vietnam I’m sure they would have exacerbated this difference and would have manipulated the Vietnamese into waging war on the minority Theravada nations of Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Thailand….

Yet Ali does represent a different school of Islamic thought in politics, culture and economics – many would say “the original school”.

Ali poses the question: What is to be done in the face of decreased revolutionary commitment and political counter-revolution? His son Hossain provided the answer: constant self-sacrifice for the benefit of a political-social-moral-cultural-religious goal.

Islam, like communism and Confucianism, views humans as perfectible via correct efforts and beliefs. Thus the martyrdom of Hossain inspires a Permanent Revolution in all Muslims, but especially Shia, and one which is simultaneously personal-moral & social-political.

In my experience, open-minded & religiously-searching Sunnis know, appreciate and are inspired by Hossain and Ali, but more than a few Sunnis seem to have no idea. Of course, how many Christians can truly parse the differences between the apostles of Jesus? Let’s not be harsh – we’re all united here under God (and the concept of tawhid).

However, “martyrdom” is not only about suicide – to believe this obviously extreme idea is to assume so many, many things incorrectly about the Muslim concept of “martyrdom”, and most of which reduce Iranians and Muslims to non-humans.

Clarifying the martyrdom of Hossain, the Western and Muslim views of martrydom, the cultural effects of the promotion of selflessness, and the Iranian governmental policies which have been inspired by this culture, are the subject of the next part in this series.

***********************************

This is the 8th article in an 11-part series which explains the economics, history, religion and culture of Iran’s Revolutionary Shi’ism, which produced modern Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

The WSWS, Irans economy, the Basij & Revolutionary Shiism: an 11-part series

How Iran Got Economically Socialist, and then Islamic Socialist

What privatisation in Iran? or Definitely not THAT privatisation

Parallels between Irans Basij and the Chinese Communist Party

Irans Basij: The reason why land or civil war inside Iran is impossible

A leftist analysis of Irans Basij – likely the first ever in the West

Irans Basij: Restructuring society and/or class warfare

Cultural’ & ‘Permanent Revolution’ in Iranian Revolutionary Shi’ism

‘Martyrdom and Martyrdom’ & martyrdom, and the Basij

‘The Death of Yazdgerd’: The greatest political movie ever explains Iran’s revolution (available with English subtitles for free on Youtube here)

Iran détente after Trump’s JCPOA pull out? We can wait 2 more years, or 6, or…

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

The Essential Saker II
The Essential Saker II: Civilizational Choices and Geopolitics / The Russian challenge to the hegemony of the AngloZionist Empire
The Essential Saker
The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world

Jews Call for Destruction Of Christianity During Greek Orthodox Pentecost Prayer in Jerusalem

Source

jesus christ

Jewish demonstrators shouted ‘We will tear down this abomination, you are evil. The Jewish people lives forever! King David lives forever! May the name of your so-called God be blotted out forever…’

‘It hurts me that they are letting these goyyim come here. It hurts me that these evil men, who have oppressed the Jews throughout history, are being allowed to contaminate our holy sites…’

‘The goyyim got their way this time, but they won’t the next time. King David lives forever!  The people of Israel lives forever!..’

Haaretz

Religious tensions roiled anew on Mount Zion this week when police detained five of some dozens of enraged Jewish extremists who attempted to disrupt Pentecostal prayers held by hundreds of Greek Orthodox worshipers.

As the Greek Orthodox procession made its way on Monday to the compound that houses the Cenacle, the presumed site of the Room of the Last Supper, and the presumed Tomb of King David, the Jewish demonstrators with flowing ear locks and large knitted yarmulkes screamed, booed and blew shofars at the worshipers.

As the procession made its way up the narrow stairs to the Cenacle, Jewish demonstrators, held back by Border Police and riot control teams, could be heard shouting:  “We will tear down this abomination,” and, “you are evil.”

The procession was led by kuwwas, the traditional guardians of Christian holiness, wearing crimson fez-like hats. They pounded wooden staffs on the ancient stone walkways to make way for the bishop, the head of the local church.

Resplendent in heavy white robes embroidered in gold threat, the bishop was followed by scores of priests and religious officials, all dressed in long back head gear, and hundreds of pilgrims, all chanting liturgies in Greek.

At the height of the ceremony, a small group from the Greek Orthodox, led by the bishop, came down the stairs and entered the Tomb of King David, escorted by the police.

The Jewish protestors grew more frenzied.  “The Jewish people lives forever!” King David lives forever!” one screamed.  “May the name of your so-called God be blotted out forever,” cursed another. “Nazi,” someone screamed at the police. Seemingly oblivious to the crowd, the Greek Orthodox worshipers stayed in the Tomb only a few moments then went back up the stairs.

 A man dressed in ultra-Orthodox garb, who would only give his name as “Tzvi from Jerusalem,” stood by with tears in his eyes.

“It hurts me that they are letting these goyyim (non-Jews) come here,” he said. “It hurts me that these evil men, who have oppressed the Jews throughout history, are being allowed to contaminate our holy sites.  And it hurts me even more that the police, led by our Jewish government, are allowing them to do so.”

Scenes like this occur often on Mount Zion. The 30-acre mountain that spreads out to the west from the Zion Gate holds a jumble of Christian churches from many different denominations, abandoned Muslim shrines, active and abandoned Jewish, Christian and Muslim cemeteries, and archaeological digs, along remnants of the War of Independence and the Six-Day War.

It is also home to artists and sculptors, including the widow of sculptor David Palombo, who designed the gates to the Knesset; banquet halls and the somber Chamber of the Holocaust, Israel’s first national Holocaust museum, which predates Yad Vashem by several years.

Across the conquests though the centuries, by Christians, Muslims, British, and, most recently, by Israel, members of various religious faiths have lived here together, sometimes in peace, at times in war, and most often according to carefully-set arrangements between them.

Mount Zion was central to Israeli national and religious observance following the War of Independence, because it was the only site in East Jerusalem held by Israel and because it offered views into the Old City and its sacred sites, held off-limits by the Jordanians to Jews and Israelis. The Mount was subsequently neglected after the Six-Day War, when the Old City was returned to Israeli control.

But in recent years, various Jewish groups have tried to reclaim the centrality of Mount Zion. Fueled by religious zealotry, some of them are hill-top youth prevented by  security authorities from being in the West Bank, and have instead made Mount Zion their home.

Tensions have increased particularly since a visit by Pope Francis in 2014, when rumors circulated that Israel intends to cede parts of Mount Zion, including David’s Tomb, to the Vatican and other Christian institutions.

Israeli officials have repeatedly denied these rumors.  The extremists aren’t convinced, though.

“There are Jews who would sell away that that is most precious to the Jewish people,” says one of the young activists. “They have forgotten what it means to be Jewish. To be proud and defend the land. We will be the defenders.”

Part of the Jewish extremists’ plan of defense has included defacing churches and their property, desecrating Christian cemeteries, and spitting on and verbally accosting priests and monks.

According to activists from “Window on Mount Zion,” a project sponsored by the Jerusalem Intercultural Center and Search for Common Ground, there has been relative calm over the past few months, thanks in part to police station established on Mount Zion last year.

According to various agreements, Christians are entitled to observe communal worship in the Cenacle five times a year, including the Pentecost. For individual prayer, the room is open to all. King David’s Tomb, which has unofficially been turned into a synagogue, is open for Jewish communal and individual prayer at all times.

This week, the trouble began well before the Greek Orthodox observance. There are three observances of Pentecost in Jerusalem, and the Armenians celebrated theirs on Sunday afternoon.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, several Jewish extremists barricaded themselves in David’s Tomb, apparently mistakenly believing the Armenians would be granted the right to enter David’s Tomb – which, in fact, is part only of the Greek Orthodox tradition. They protesters were removed, detained, and issued restraining orders banning them from the site.

But others returned early on Monday morning and tried once again to take control over the site, and by 7 A.M., dozens had already gathered near the scene. In carefully choreographed arrangements, police allowed early morning Jewish prayers on Monday morning, then closed the tomb to visitors until after the Greek Orthodox prayer and set up security perimeters.

In prior coordination with the police, Rabbi Aaron Yitzhak Stern from Bnei Brak, unofficially appointed by adherents as the “Rabbi of Mount Zion,” removed the Torah scrolls from David’s Tomb then returned them after the Christians had concluded their prayers. Also in coordination with police, the Greek worshipers did not bring any Christian symbols, icons, or incense into the Tomb.

Some two dozen volunteers from Window on Mount Zion were visibly present in their distinctive yellow vests. Project coordinator Merav Horowitz-Stein said they provided “another set of eyes, and individuals who can try to reason with the extremists from any side and explain the situation to the tourists.”

Police acknowledged that the volunteers, who tried to engage the protestors in discussion and explain the commotion to foreigners, played a crucial role in maintaining the relative calm.

In Christian belief, Pentecost marks the fiftieth day after the Last Supper, on which the Holy Spirit entered each of the Holy Apostles. Teaching them to speak in foreign languages, the Spirit instructed the Apostles to spread the world of Christianity throughout the world. To many, the holiday thus marks the actual founding of the Christian Church.

“The tradition of King David and the psalms is particularly significant to the Greek Orthodox,” Yisca Harani, an expert in Christianity from the Yad Ben Tzvi Institute, explains to Haaretz. They come to the tomb as pilgrims.”

Harani says the Pentecost observance has much in common with the Jewish holiday of Shavu’ot. “There is a clear parallel between the way that the Jews believe they received the Torah from Moses from Mount Sinai and the way Christians believe that the Holy Spirit came down to the apostles. And both are based on the number fifty.

“Observances like this provide an opportunity and a demand from the State of Israel to truly provide freedom of worship and equality for all,” Harani says.

Several police officials noted with satisfaction that “overall, the events passed without incident” and that the police had been able to find a “balance between the right to protest and the lack of any right to violently disrupt anyone else’s right to prayer.”

But as the crowds dispersed, one of the protesters made it clear that he and fellow demonstrators had no intention of backing down.

‘The goyyim got their way this time. But they won’t the next time. King David lives forever!  The people of Israel lives forever!’

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