The White émigré Ivan Solonevich (1891-1953), author of Popular Monarchy, saw firsthand how the “moderate” ideology of liberalism led to national collapse, revolution and tyranny in Russia in the aftermath of the First World War. An agent of the White underground and Soviet prison camp escapee, Solonevich knew monarchical sovereignty as the force that upheld the faith and culture of his fatherland and protected it through centuries of war. Translated by Mark Hackard.
Humanity met the great holiday of the twentieth century’s onset in a state of optimistic jubilation. By the middle of this century, it became clear that Europe’s program of conquest was significantly worse than the corresponding plans of the Mongols in the thirteenth. The Mongols came simply to pillage, while enlightened Europe set an agenda to physically enslave half Russia’s population and physical destroy her other half. It seems that precisely this is called the political and moral progress achieved in practice through the ages-long efforts of various Descartes and Kants.
The experience of the first half of the twentieth century, just as the experience of those previous, proved with utter clarity the incapability of democracies for fighting, or at very least that the democratic state was totally unadaptable to resolving questions of war and peace. Questions of war and peace in our Russian case are questions of life or death. For if European wars meant the struggle for some “succession,” or the political hegemony of the Hapsburgs, Bourbons, Hohenzollerns or Wittelsbachs, then we will repeat again – the wars we waged were basically wars to the death, moreover in the twentieth century taking an even more acute form than those of the thirteenth.
Making use of her geographical inaccessibility, Great Britain, Europe’s classic democracy, conducted its wars almost exclusively through mercenary forces. Those “Englishmen” who waged war for England on the Crimean Peninsula were in significant part recruited in Hamburg. France, having become a republic, utilizes her Foreign Legion, the most combat-capable formation of the “French” army. Sikhs and Gurkhas, Moroccans and Sub-Saharan Africans were the “cannon fodder” that democratic capital could – through various means – buy up in all parts of the world. In Russia we have never known hired armies, and we have no purchased cannon fodder of our own.
In the First World War, the two individual forms of rule – the German and Russian monarchies – in various conditions and on various premises, bled themselves dry, and it only remained for the democracies to finish off the vanquished. In the Second World War, two other forms of personal rule, Hitler’s dictatorship and Stalin’s, decided the outcome of the war. The “second front” was artificially delayed until that moment when the Wehrmacht already no longer had even rounds for its rifles. Both wars were won by two different but nonetheless authoritarian regimes. The Czech democracy surrendered without a shot fired. French democracy ran away after several shots, and the more minor democracies hardly fought at all. The one battle-worthy exception proved the Grand Duchy of Finland, under the command of the Russian general Carl Mannerheim. Aside from that, the Soviet-Finnish War was essentially only a part of our Civil War that began on Finnish territory in 1918 and hadn’t yet ended in 1939-40.
For the peaceful development of the country, Kerensky’s democracy was incomparably better than Stalin’s dictatorship. But Kerensky would have lost World War II just as he lost the campaign of 1917. At the time of the US economy’s “mobilization” for the needs of the future war, New York governor Dewey demanded himself appointed America’s “economics czar.” At that very moment Truman announced to the Senate and Congress that in the case of necessity he could do without them for further appropriations and address the American people. From that we can conclude that according to the notions of the president of the United States, neither the Senate nor the Congress represent the will of the nation.
Speaking for ourselves, we cannot adopt the US political mechanism (“the political machine”) without committing guaranteed national suicide. Independent of whether this machine is good or bad in itself, we cannot allow for such inflexibility, such sluggishness, such monstrous political mistakes, and such time for disputes, reflections, decisions and their deferment. All eleven centuries of our history, we were either in a state of war or on the threshold of war. There is no basis to think that in the future this will be otherwise. And we could lay our heads on the stenographic records of a future League of Nations and drift into what would already be our last slumber.