Increasingly I despair of this country. The more I read and see, the more I am confirmed in my view that the "American Empire" is reaching a final phase and that our "shelf life" is expiring, just as all other great empires—Roman, Ottoman, British—have expired.
I keep coming back to William Butler Yeats' lines (written one-hundred and three years ago, after the cataclysm that was World War I), in his poem, "The Second Coming": "The best lack all conviction; while the worst are filled with passionate intensity." Yet, it is even more tragic, it is no longer a situation of "lacking conviction," but rather the "best" now mimicking the enemies of civilization, the "best" acting as if under hypnosis and acceding to rampant evil with enthusiasm...what a friend of mine calls the "zombiefication" of those who were once charged with defending our culture and civilizational heritage. Now they ape our enemies and fall into line like lemmings.
This has been the response I have gotten from some friends over this Ukraine conflict. Their passion is often clothed in an hysteria that characterizes and shrouds what is occurring. On a more global level, I can cite example after example, from banning "Russian" vodka and banning Russian cats (!), to firing dozens of world-famous Russian classical artists (e.g., Valery Gergiev, Anna Netrebko, etc.), to expunging famous Russian novelists from our university classrooms, to removing Russian-made caviar from U.S. sale, to banning Russian chess players from international competition, to (in Germany) banning the "Z" symbol because in Russia it is similar to "V for victory" (conviction in Deutschland will get you three years in the slammer!)... The list is inexhaustible.
One very ironic example: I listen while I work here on my Desk Top computer to a Sirius XM program, "Symphony Hall." The announcers, especially one Martin Goldsmith on the weekends, search strenuously to find Ukrainian music to program. And, voila! recently he came upon the composer Sergei Bortkiewicz, who happened to be born in Kharkov, then part of the Russian empire and a largely Russian-language city. Bortkiewicz was descended from Polish nobility and was an enthusiastic supporter of Imperial Russia, and he considered himself a true-blue Russian. When the Russian Revolution came, he fled to Western Europe.
Now, here is where it becomes ironic, if not a bit comical. Goldsmith and the other announcers--over the top with their unctuous praise of the "Ukrainian" Bortkiewicz--have been playing his first symphony (several years ago I purchased it, along with several other pieces he wrote--I also read up on his life and music. So, I know something about him and his history). However, much to their surprise at the end of his very listenable and old-fashioned opus Bortkiewicz inserts the clearly-audible strains of the old Tsarist Imperial hymn! It is an indication of Bortkiewicz's steadfast loyalty to old Russia and its imperial system.
Nevertheless, since Bortkiewicz was born in what is now Ukraine his music gets extensive playing time as Goldsmith (and others), who seem ready to weep, hold him up as a noble defender of Ukrainian liberal democracy.
There is even a Youtube video of his Symphony No. 1 being performed by a Ukrainian orchestra, but with the Tsarist anthem at the end excised - censored, if you will! To what lengths blind zealotry and jingoistic nationalism will go.
And these announcers are--at least as far as I can tell--highly educated. But what they are doing is to perpetrate a fraud, with a frenzy and brainless zeal that makes one think, indeed, that my friend's comment about "zombiefication" is right on the mark.
I think it possible to believe that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was ill-advised or wrong, that Putin should not have ordered his troops in. Fine. But this over-the-top, frenzied Russophobia bespeaks something more ominous, about those who engage in it and those who are possessed by it. Could this excess, this mania, be used—just like the COVID epidemic—for ulterior purposes, somehow to advance the objectives of the global Deep State? After all, George Soros from the get go has been an intense cheer-leader and an active player with his various NGOs in what is going on.
And the poor, devastated Ukrainian people? They become the cannon-fodder in this--the Nancy Pelosis and Lindsey Grahams do not, when it comes down to it, really care about them. Like Soros, they have ulterior goals, including regime change in Russia---teaching the Russkies their "place" in the global scheme of things. Using the Ukrainian people as a means to achieve that objective is, for them, a never mind.
That many on "our side" do not see that, do not understand that, saddens me. By all means, criticize Putin for invading, if you wish; but please understand what is actually going on.
Yes, "zombiefication" is a good word here.
My prayer is that soon sane negotiators in Ukraine and Russia will find a solution. Yet, it is evident that our state department neoconservative war hawks do not want peace, but rather to bleed Russia dry and hopefully effect regime change, another "color revolution"--even if it means the death of every Ukrainian citizen to do it!
We live in perilous times when Yeats' words take on a renewed and terrifying meaning.
This piece was previously published on My Corner on April 4, 2022.
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.