The First World War & the Ukraine Crisis: 1914 – 2014Posted by Terry Boardman on May 10, 2014 in First World War, most recent | 0 comments
This article was first published in New View magazine Issue 71 April-June 2014
What is the connection between the world catastrophe that broke out in 1914 and the current crisis in Ukraine, a hundred years later? To attempt to answer this question we can start by considering the relationship between three large cultural groups of people, those in southern, northern and eastern Europe: the Latins or Romance peoples, the Germanic peoples and the Slavic peoples. In the 8th cent. BC the Germanic peoples of northern Europe were what the already civilised peoples of southern Europe called ‘barbarians’. Over the following 1000 years southern Europe and the Mediterranean were at the forefront of European civilisation. The peoples of northern and central Europe (which of course included the Angles and Saxons) were for a long time ‘in waiting mode’ in the forests of Germany and in Scandinavia. They did not know it yet, but their ‘time’ for prominence had not yet come. Having entered into a close relationship with the culture of southern Europe (the Roman Empire and then the Roman Church) from the 4th century onwards, they then gradually rose to world prominence after the 15th century. Since ‘the modern epoch’ is widely held to have begun at that time, during and especially after the Renaissance, the originally Germanic peoples who lived in northern and central Europe, could in one sense be described as the peoples of ‘the present’. The Slavs on the other hand, the peoples of eastern Europe, could be described as the peoples of ‘the future’; they have been ‘in waiting mode’ in the modern epoch thus far. After the Renaissance the cultural baton of Europe, so to speak, passed from the Mediterranean peoples of the south to the Germanic peoples of the north and will in the future pass to the peoples of the east, the Slavs. If one is aware of this and is not emotionally attached to a particular people, one can work to ensure that healthy connections are formed between the Germanic culture and that of the Slavs so that the Slavs can benefit from the best of Germanic culture and then go on to make the contribution in the future that they themselves are uniquely capable of making. But if one is not aware of this historical process and as a member of the Germanic peoples, as a Swede, a Dutchman, German or Englishman, is somehow bound to one’s people emotionally, psychically attached to them, even perhaps quite subtlely, then one may want one’s own people’s impulses to go on ad infinitum. For example, the British Foreign Secretary Lord Rosebery said on 1 March 1893:
We have to consider not what we want now, but what we shall want in the future. We have to consider what countries must be developed either by ourselves or some other nation, and we have to remember that it is part of our responsibility and heritage to take care that the world, as far as it can be moulded by us, shall receive the Anglo-Saxon and not another character.
It is also possible that one may know of the historical process but consciously seek to manipulate it in such a way that one seeks to bring it about that the peoples of the present, of the West, are able to train the Slavs so that they become like the peoples of the West and become unable to bring in the future that which they, the Slavs, are uniquely fitted to bring. And what is it that they will be able to bring? Imagine a culture in which individuals do not scramble to compete with everyone else, constantly seeking their own independence and individual self-affirmation and in which there are no class sympathies and antipathies because there are no classes, but a culture in which it is the norm that individuals have become self-realised free thinkers, who know who they are as individuals and yet choose to be in conscious community with others who are also self-realised. It is hard for many of us to imagine such a culture because we are only 600 years into the culture of the predominance of the northern and central European peoples. But this is the point at which our culture would stand if all were to go well with the evolution of our consciousness. We would then have passed through the modern desert of personal alienation, antipathy and cynicism, so to speak, and be ready to enter a new world of communal living, the like of which we today can hardly imagine, just as even the more advanced souls in the year 146 BC, for example, would have found it hard to imagine what consciousness would be like in 2014.
But the Slavs, if they too have passed through the desert of this critical ‘Germanic’ or northern European epoch with their Slavic nature still somehow intact, will have taken on the baton from the Germanic culture and will be there to inspire mankind in that new future epoch with the ideals and praxis of real brotherhood, not the premature spectre of it that communism turned out to be, and in any case, communism was an ideological product not of the Slavs themselves but of Germanic and Semitic origin (the ideas of Marx and Engels in a context of British economic practice). An imagination of the way towards such a new communal future is contained in Goethe’s Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily (1795) which stood at the beginning of Rudolf Steiner’s public work as a spiritual scientist, when on Michaelmas Day in the year 1900 he lectured on the Fairy Tale, the original seed of what he would later call ‘anthroposophy’ or spiritual science. For in the story, the Green Snake finds the way to sacrifice herself as a bridge to the Temple for the good of all so that the Youth in the story “who seems at first to have no marrow in his bones [and] to be paralysed” (1)– and whom Steiner saw as a Russian Youth – can be awakened and thus find his way to the Lily, the Eternal Feminine, or Sophia, and unite with her. For Rudolf Steiner, this has to do with the service that the Germanic culture of Central Europe can render to Eastern Europe.
“For other European peoples the skeletal system [of their thinking] is provided by natural science….They can train their thinking by this means…..[But] science won’t give the Russians a framework for their thoughts. For them it is a poison. Only spiritual science can furnish Russia with a skeletal structure. And Goetheanism, the way which Goethe beheld nature, Goethe’s knowledge of nature, is the path to it.” (2)
This is why Rudolf Steiner said that “true benefit for the progress of mankind will arise only if within a certain group of people a harmonious relationship is established between Central and Eastern Europe” (17.1.1915). This is, in the opinion of this writer, a crucial indication for the future of Europe and of the world, for Steiner was referring here to the spiritual and cultural bridge that has to be built between the present and future epochs. Western Europe, he felt, must not seek to prevent the building of that bridge or seek to create its own direct relationship to Eastern Europe, bypassing what the middle of Europe has to contribute to the East, in which case the Goethean impulse of Central Europe could not be taken up in the East, and the ‘skeleton’ of Slavic cultural life would not be soundly formed. Of course, ‘Russians’ and ‘Slavs’ are not coterminous; there are various other Slavic peoples besides the Russians, But the western Slavs, the Czechs and Slovenes, for example, have lived in much closer contact with Germanic cultures for a long time. This is not the case for most of the eastern Slavs, of whom the Russians are the largest group. If this bridge were not to be built between Central Europe and the eastern Slavs, then the communal impulses of the Slavs for the future would not come properly and healthily to fruition, and mankind would risk remaining stuck in the desert of alienated self-assertion and self-centred indvidualism.
The wind from this desert sounded through the words of George Osbourne, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer in March when he presented his fifth annual budget. In the House of Commons he said: “I am determined Britain will out-compete, outsmart and outdo the rest of the world“ (my emphasis) – not just Britain’s ‘rivals’ but the whole world. Osbourne also, no doubt, had in mind his friend Prime Minister David Cameron’s often-repeated phrases about Britain fighting to win “the global race”. Cameron’s view of Britain’s future as participation in a glorified economic sports meet-cum-gladiatoral contest between nations was prominent during and after the London Olympics of 2012 (3). The official song of that jamboree was “Survival” by the rock band MUSE. The song begins with rich and lyrical but rather sickly and sumptuous strings which then give way to a digital beat and finally to a relentlessly bombastic militaristic juggernaut. The words which the organisers apparently wanted to ring out from Britain into the world are as follows:
Race, life’s a race
And I am gonna win
Yes, I am gonna win
And I’ll light the fuse
And I’ll never lose
And I choose to survive
You won’t pull ahead
I’ll keep up the pace
Whatever it takes
And I’ll reveal my strength
To the whole human race
Yes I am prepared
To stay alive
And I won’t forgive,
Vengeance is mine
And I won’t give in
Because I choose to thrive
Yeah, I’m gonna win!
Race, it’s a race
And I’m gonna win
Yes, I’m gonna win
Whatever it takes
And I will light the fuse
I’ll never lose
And I choose to survive
Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Win! Win! Win! Win!
Yes I’m gonna win! (emphasis – TB)
These brutish sentiments were put before the world by the organisers of the London Olympics, under the banner of ‘sport’, as that which Britain represents today. This is the spirit of Social Darwinism – the application to human social and cultural life of animal violence and the struggle for survival. Social Darwinism as a way of thinking grew in Britain after the publication of Darwin’s epoch-making book The Origin of Species (1859) and was a key contributory factor in the development of that other bane of late 19th thought – imperialism. The new generation that was born in the 1840s, 50s and 60s, men like the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), Cecil Rhodes, Lord Rosebery, the crusading journalist W. T. Stead, Alfred (later Lord) Milner, Rudyard Kipling and the geopolitician Halford Mackinder (4) thrilled in their youth to the new inflated ideas of Social Darwinist racial pride, empire and greater ‘efficiency’ in society. They felt that British civilisation and the British Empire was the New Rome, the dispenser of Law, Justice, Order, Civilisation, the True Faith, and all good things, and by the late 19th century the British Empire had become the empire on which the sun never set – and, it was piously hoped, never would. However, in the 1880s they tended to see in great continental states like Russia and America the major challenges to Britain’s hegemony in the coming century. Hence the movement for Imperial Federation of the English-speaking peoples which started in 1884 with Lord Rosebery at its head. This was the proposal to form a world-spanning federal community consisting of one imperial people, the British, or English-speaking people, who saw it as their duty to ‘cultivate’ and ‘educate’ those darker-skinned peoples who were also part of that community, in India for example.
It was felt that only in such a truly global community that drew on the energies of all the English-speaking peoples could Britain hold its own in the future against mega-states like Russia and America. This Imperial Federation movement and especially the feelings that animated it were a crucial element in preparing the way for the Great War of 1914. Determined, as Lord Rosebery put it, “to take care that the world, as far as it can be moulded by us, shall receive the Anglo-Saxon and not another character”, those in the political elite who were animated by such views were equally determined that Britain should not lose India, the jewel in the British crown, to Russian advances. From their perspective of power politics, it was especially important that Russia not be allowed to unite in any meaningful way with Germany, for that would create a nexus of power in Eurasia and the world – ‘German brains and Russian brawn’, as they saw it - that Britain, with all its battleships, simply could not cope with. Halford Mackinder said in his famous lecture before the Royal Geographical Society on 25 Jan. 1904 The Geographical Pivot of History:
Either a Russo-German alliance or a Sino-Japanese empire (which conquered Russian territory) could contend for world hegemony by adding “oceanic frontage” to “the resources of the great continent [this would] permit the use of vast continental resources for fleet-building, and the empire of the world would then be in sight.”
In elucidating the strategic thinking behind this, Prof. Guido G. Preparata has written:
Britain dreaded the eventuality that there would emerge on the continent a leading national core that was capable of aggregating around itself such a league of vassal powers that it would soon turn into a rival empire….capable of resisting any blockade led by England…and eventually subjugating her entirely…..the strategic imperative of Britain in the West became transparent: it was to prevent by all means necessary a Russo-German fusion.
…Mackinder suggested…a systematic and unrelenting policy of harrassment against Eurasia, which was to be carried out by grafting land bridges onto the vital nodes of the heartland [i.e. Central Asia]….These “platforms” were to be viewed as launching pads – land-bridges, for more or less durable incursions against the natives [of Eurasia] – Such is still the policy of the US, with the full and committed patronage of Britain” (5)[or rather, we could say, of the UK elite - TB].
If such a Russo-German relationship came about nevertheless, the British imperial elite felt that Britain would have to throw in its lot with the United States, which men like Cecil Rhodes, Lord Rosebery and Arthur Balfour were happy to do anyway for the sake of Anglo-saxon unity and federation. Since the late 19th century there have been powerful men in the West who have not been able to free themselves of inner attachment to their culture and have sought to ensure that the impulses of the English-speaking peoples, either the impulse of the self-centred personality, or of the self-centred group, become permanent in world affairs. To achieve their aim of the predominance of the English-speaking peoples, these powerful men sought 100 years ago, and still seek today, to forestall any meaningful connection between Central and Eastern Europe.(6) From the late 1880s onwards, circles in Britain around the Prince of Wales, the Cecil family network and Cecil Rhodes and his allies worked behind the scenes to reorient Britain’s traditional foreign policy, which hitherto had leaned towards Germany, Austria and Turkey, in the direction of a much closer relationship – everything short of an actual alliance in fact – to Britain’s former imperial enemies, France and Russia. Only by getting closer to Russia, went the reasoning, could Britain ensure that India would be safe from Russia’s advances. And after all, as Lord Curzon, one of the most eminent Edwardians, put it in 1900: As long as we rule India, we are the greatest power in the world. If we lose it, we shall drop straight away to a third-rate Power.
Russia, Britain and 1914
To get close to Russia, a stepping stone was to first accommodate her ally France. The problem with this, for the masses of the British people, and unbeknownst to most of them, was that the key strategic goals of France (recovery of Alsace-Lorraine, which had been lost to Germany in 1871) and of its ally Russia (annexation of Constantinople and the Dardanelles Straits and the establishment of a Russian-led Balkan League of all the South Slavs) could only be achieved by war against Germany, the ally of Austria-Hungary, in other words, via events in the Balkans. To attain its long-term goals, Russia would have to break up Austria-Hungary, which Russian Pan-slavists were only too keen to do in order to unite the Slavs under Russian leadership. As the head of Russian Military Intelligence, General Yuri Danilov, put it: “The shortest and safest operational route to Constantinople runs through Vienna and Berlin”, by which he meant war against the Central Powers. (7) Russia had been badly weakened in its war against Japan in 1904-05 but by 1912 it had recovered to the point where its military capacity, substantially financed for decades by French capital, was alarming both the German and British foreign policy establishments. The Germans were worried because Russia’s Great Army Programme of Oct. 1913 caused them to fear that by 1917 the Russians would be strong enough to overwhelm them on their eastern borders, and in March 1914 the Russians also announced their new Naval Programme. The British were worried because, despite their Entente with Russia in 1907 - the eventual result of the decades-long clandestine process of foreign policy reorientation referred to above - the Russians had continued to make difficulties for them in Persia, the southern gateway to India, and the old 19th century British anxieties about Russian designs on India were already returning. Hence, anxious statements like the following in the official annual report from ambassador Sir George Buchanan in St Petersburg (March 1914): “it is useless for us to blind our eyes to the fact that, if we are to remain friends with Russia, we must be prepared to give her our material as well as our moral support in any conflict in which she becomes involved in Europe”. Buchanan’s views were shared by Sir Arthur Nicolson, the Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office 1910-1916 (and the most senior civil servant under the Foreign Secretary) and his almost entirely Germanophobic senior staff. Both Nicolson and Buchanan owed their posts – and a good deal of their strategic thinking – to Sir Charles Hardinge, close friend of the late King Edward VII (1901-1910) and since 1910 Viceroy of India.(8) In April 1914 Nicolson wrote: “The maintenance of our understanding with Russia is of the very greatest importance to us both in Europe and as regards India and our position generally in the Mid and Far East. Hardinge is continually impressing upon me the urgent necessity of doing nothing which could in any way tend to alienate Russia from us…She could hit us where we are powerless.” (9) A few days later, Buchanan wrote to him: “Russia is rapidly becoming so powerful that we must retain her friendship at almost any cost.”(10) That cost would turn out to be the lives of almost a million men.
British historians have tended to focus overwhelmingly on Berlin and Vienna when looking onto the causes of the First World War, and this year we have seen something of a propaganda blitz in the British media with historians and media pundits pointing the finger of blame at the Germans, reiterating arguments made in 1914 and 1919.(11) But in recent years other researchers have focused on other countries and factors. According to a recent book by American historian Sean McMeekin,(12) Russia had serious problem in early 1914. He details how armaments companies in Russia’s supposed Entente ‘partner’ Britain (e.g. Vickers and Armstrong Whitworth) were building the latest super-dreadnought battleships and other naval ships to sell to Ottoman Turkey, Russia’s enemy. With these ships, which would be ready by August and September 1914 and which would render Russia’s entire Black Sea fleet obsolete, the Turks would be able to dominate the Black Sea (the key channel for almost 50% of Russian agricultural exports by 1914)(13) and prevent the seizure of Constantinople by amphibious attack, which the Russians had been planning for decades, most recently at a war council on 21 February. This factor of the sale of the most modern British battleships to Russia’s enemy and long-intended victim, Turkey, is one that has been entirely avoided in the media debate in Britain this year over the causes of the First World War. Of course, the British Liberal government insisted they had nothing to do with the deal, which was said to be ‘purely commercial’. But it was nevertheless this British action which prompted Russia to seek to act against Turkey that year, which would require a war in the Balkans to push the Turks out of their remaining territory on the European mainland. In any case, in the ‘clubbable’ and intimate world of the Edwardian elite, business and politics rubbed shoulders very easily.
On 6 January 1914 the Russian Foreign Minister, Sazonov, took part in a Council of Ministers which discussed provoking a European war to dismember the Ottoman Empire amongst the Entente Powers and gain control of the Straits for Russia. The War Minister Sukhomlinov told the Council that Russia was now “perfectly prepared for a duel with Germany, not to speak of one with Austria”. Sazonov reported to the Council the words of the departing French ambassador Delcassé: “France will go as far as Russia wishes”. Delcassé’s replacement Maurice Paléologue was just as pro-war as Delcassé and was to play a key role in the July Crisis that led to war. Indeed, in “The Fateful Alliance”, a study of the Franco-Russian alliance of 1892-1917, the American diplomat George P. Kennan, wrote that the text of the military articles of the alliance “placed largely in Russian hands the power to unleash a major European war whenever this might suit Russian purposes.” This had been France’s purpose in contracting the Alliance in the first place – to use Russia to help it regain Alsace-Lorraine from Germany, which France could not do by itself. Col. E.M.House, the man US President Woodrow Wilson referred to as his alter ego, visited European capitals in May 1914 to see the situation for himself and wrote back to President Wilson: “Whenever England consents, France and Russia will close in on Germany and Austria.”(14) (my emphasis) The French goal was very short-term – the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine, the expunging of the shame of 1871 and the reduction of German strength. The aims of the British elite were far more profound and historically wide-ranging;they were: to cut any connection between Central and Eastern Europe, to substantially degrade Germany and especially Russia by the injection into her of a ‘socialist experiment’, as will be described later.
On 21 February 1914, a special conference was held in St. Petersburg, chaired by Sazonov, to plan the intended amphibious attack on Constantinople.(15) On 14 May the British Cabinet sanctioned secret talks with the Russians about their desired Anglo-Russian Naval Agreement, a fact Grey concealed from the House of Commons on 11 June,(16) but the ‘secret’ talks were leaked by a German spy in the Russian embassy in London. Not surprisingly, the Germans saw the Agreement as the final link in the chain of the Einkreisung (encirclement) of Germany by the Entente Powers which they had suspected for years. France and Russia would never have gone to war against Germany without each other, and nor would they have taken the step without Britain’s backing, as Col. House correctly realised. The authors Docherty and MacGregor write: “A telegram to Izvolsky [Russian ambassador in Paris and a man patronised by the late King Edward VII - TB] from the Russian ambassador in Bulgaria in November 1912 identified a representative of The Times [J.D.Bourchier, The Times Balkan correspondent - TB] who claimed that ‘very many people in England are working towards accentuating the complications in Europe [the Balkans]‘ to bring about the war that would result in the destruction of the German Fleet and of German trade’.“(17) Two months earlier, the Russian ambassdor Sazonov had met with Sir Edward Grey and King George V for six days at Balmoral Castle in Scotland just two weeks before the First Balkan War broke out. No official British records of their discussions were kept, but we know from a telegram sent by Sazonov to Czar Nicholas II after the Balmoral meeting that “an agreement exists between France and Great Britain, under which in the event of war with Germany, Great Britain has accepted the obligation of bringing assistance to France not only on sea but on land, by landing troops on the Continent. The King touched on the same question, and expressed himself even more strongly than his Minister….He said, “We shall sink every single German merchant ship we shall get hold of”.(18) Sir Edward Grey’s Memoirs on the Balmoral discussion are silent on the Balkans despite the imminent outbreak of war there, but in a private letter to Sir George Buchanan, British ambassador in Russia, he wrote: “The fact is that he [Sazonov] was, at Balmoral, much concerned at the blaze he had kindled in the Balkans by fomenting an alliance of the Balkan States.” The Balkans had then indeed been discussed! (19)
Questions of grand imperial strategy had led members of the British elite to begin the process that culminated in the Entente with Russia in 1907 and to a general European war seven years later, a process traceable (by this writer at least) to 1887, when Lord Salisbury, the head of the Cecil family,(20) and British Prime Minister at the time, had made secretive initial approaches to the French via his old friend Count Chaudordy(21)). Very disturbed by recent Russian moves in Central Asia, and by now convinced that it was time for Britain to drop its traditional pro-Turkish, anti-Russian policies, Salisbury had resolved to move stealthily towards an accommodation with Russia via France. He was always determined, however, that Russia should never actually possess Constantinople and felt that the answer to Britain’s ‘Russia problem’ might eventually come in the form of revolution, Islamic revival or war against Germany. He saw Russia’s “financial embarrassment” as its Achilles heel, saying: “if we become her chronic enemy it is to that weak point that our efforts must be addressed. We must lead her into all the expense we can” so that “a few steps further must push her into the revolution over which she seems constantly to be hanging.”(22) Russia’s financial difficulties and revolution would come with the war against Germany in 1914 and at its end Russia would be in the hands of the Bolsheviks, who were led by Lenin and Trotsky. Lenin, famously, was allowed to pass into Russia from his Swiss exile by the Germans. It is less well-known that Trotsky, who would later play the key role in organising and winning the Civil War for the Red Army, was allowed to pass over to Russia from the USA by the British. Trotsky was detained in Canada on the apparent orders of MI5 but then released on those of MI6 !(23)
I began by writing about an historical process involving the Mediterranean peoples, the Germanic peoples and the Slavs. In 1893 this process was described from the esoteric angle by an obscure British esotericist by the name of C.G.Harrison. He was connected to the stream of ‘High Church’, or ‘Anglo-Catholic’ esotericism within the Church of England. (24)The six very profound lectures given by Harrison in 1893 were soon noted by an old friend of Rudolf Steiner’s, Friedrich Eckstein, and translated into German, which is how Steiner became aware of their content. In one of these lectures Harrison describes how the Romans had been a ‘wet nurse’ and a ‘tutor’ to the Germanic tribes until the end of the Roman Empire, when they had moved from what he calls ‘infancy’ to ‘childhood’ under the Papacy. The Slavs, he says, are currently in their infancy but moving into their childhood, his clear implication being that the Germanic peoples of the West (meaning for him, the British, of course), now in their maturity, had been the Slavs’ wet nurses and were now to become their ‘tutors’ and ‘protectors’, and that the change would again be marked by the end of an empire and, he implies, their tutelage under another kind of Papacy; obviously, this time it would be a ‘western Papacy’ – or a Slavic Papacy ‘injected’ by the West. A great European war was coming, he said (in 1893!), in which “the Russian Empire must die that the Russian people may live”. Their national character “would enable them to carry out experiments in socialism, political and economical, which would present innumerable difficulties in western Europe”. The Slavs’ destiny, he said, was “to evolve a higher civilisation of their own”. But just as the civilisation of the upper classes of the Germanic peoples today is “as much a foreign growth as Roman civilisation in Britain”, he implied that the future civilisation of the Slavs would in fact also be a foreign growth, namely, an import of Germanic (i.e. British) culture. In other words, the Slavs would not actually evolve their own civilisation but would continue one from the previous epoch – our present one. So ten years before the emergence of the Bolsheviks in London in 1903 (the result of a split within the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party), a British esotericist, also in London, connected to a traditonalist, conservative stream of esotericism, was predicting socialist experiments in Russia as the result of “the next great European war”.
Ukraine, Russia and the West
In the great war that Harrison said would come, Russia did indeed fall into chaos and then, in the decades after the Bolshevik takeover, the socialist experiment began in earnest. A short-lived independent Ukrainian Republic emerged in the chaos of the Russian Civil War period but was overwhelmed by the Bolsheviks in 1919. Ukraine would not become ‘properly’ independent until 1991. Due to its long history of ethnic and religious diversity, and its agricultural, industrial and cultural wealth, it has proved a convenient region to exploit for unscrupulous neighbours and foreigners, whether Russian, Polish, Austrian, German or, as now, American and EU/NATO. The name Ukraine means ‘borderland’; thinking of the two colours of the Ukrainian flag, representing the huge blue skies overarching the equally vast golden wheat fields of the country, and then of the First World War (which led on inexorably to the Second) and now Ukraine today, can remind one of the efforts that have been made over the centuries to drive a wedge between the two cultures of Central and Eastern Europe, for Ukraine has several times borne the brunt of those efforts and seems to be doing so again today.
In autumn 2013, 99 years after the outbreak of the First World War, an effort was made to draw Ukraine towards the EU and NATO by means of an Association Agreement under what was called the ‘Eastern Partnership’ arrangements. These were devised in 2009 by the Polish and Swedish governments to draw states that were formerly part of the Soviet Union (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus) into the western orbit. The Swedish and Polish initiative was in all probability inspired by the Polish-American Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of those members of the American elite who has for decades been deeply involved with the future of Russia. In the 1970s, as National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter (1977-81), he played a key role in terminating what he called “the Marxist experiment in Russia” (25) so that the western manipulation of Russia and the Slavs could move on to its next phase (‘childhood’ and ‘Papacy’, to use Harrison’s terms). He did this by bringing about what he called “Russia’s Vietnam” in Afghanistan after 1978 and by helping to forge the connection between Washington, the nascent Polish trade union movement that became Solidarnosc (Solidarity), and the Polish Pope John Paul II, who became Pope after the suspicious death of Pope John Paul I early on 29 Sept 1978.(26) Brzezinski’s very significant 1997 book on geopolitics, The Grand Chessboard, reflects the influence of the key thoughts of Harrison from 100 years earlier and of the British ‘father of geopolitics’ Halford Mackinder, whose tripartite slogan is cited by Brzezinski on p.38 of his book in the chapter titled The Eurasian Chessboard: “Who rules Eastern Europe, commands the Heartland [i.e. Central Asia]; who rules the Heartland commands the World Island [i.e. Eurasia]; who rules the World- Island commands the world”. This means that the Balkans are the key bridgehead, the jumping off point, for operations into the Eurasian heartland of Central Asia. World power thus begins with control – overt or covert – of eastern Europe. Following Mackinder, Brzezinski writes in his Grand Chessboard: “Europe is America’s essential geopolitical bridgehead on the Eurasian continent (p.59)…America’s central geostrategic goal in Europe …is to consolidate through a more genuine transatlantic partnership the US bridgehead on the continent so that an enlarging Europe can become a more viable springboard for projecting into Eurasia the international democratic and cooperative order.” (p.86)…“By the year 2010, Franco-German-Polish-Ukrainian collaboration (my emphasis – TB), engaging some 230 million people could evolve into a partnership enhancing Europe’s geostrategic depth” (p.85), by which Brzezinski actually means America’s geostrategic reach into Central Asia, Mackinder’s ‘Heartland’. We can recall the troika of EU Foreign Ministers who went to Kiev on 20 February to try and arrange a deal between President Yanukovych and the opposition forces in Maidan Square; they were the Ministers of France, Germany and Poland, the countries Brzezinski sees in the book as the necessary ‘axis’ or backbone of the EU. In the book Russia is regarded entirely in the manipulative spirit of the intentions for it that were outlined by C.G.Harrison. It is described as having only one geostrategic option “if it is avoid dangerous geopolitical isolation – joining with the “transatlantic Europe of the enlarging EU and NATO” (p.118)….“it is equally important for the West especially America to pursue policies that perpetuate the dilemma of the one alternative for Russia.”(p.120) And what is Russia being faced with now every day in the western media? The threat of “isolation”.
Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan the trio of key geopolitical pivot states for Brzezinski, and Ukraine figures as the most important in his whole Eurasian strategy. He writes that Ukraine:
“….is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. Russia without Ukraine can still strive for imperial status but it would become a predominantly Asian imperial state, more likely to be drawn into debilitating conflicts with aroused Central Asians…[we can ask: aroused by whom; Brzezinski himself already has 'form' in this area! - TB] However, if Moscow retains control over Ukraine… Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia. Ukraine’s loss of independence would have immediate consequences for Central Europe, transforming Poland into the geopolitical pivot on the eastern frontier of a united Europe.” (p.46)(my emphasis – TB) “Ukraine’s relationship to Europe could be the turning point for Russia itself. But that also means that the defining moment for Russia’s relationship to Europe is still some time off – “defining” in the sense that Ukraine’s choice in favour of Europe will bring to a head Russia’s decision regarding the next phase of its history: either to be a part of Europe as well or to become a Eurasian outcast, neither truly of Europe nor Asia and mired in its “near abroad” conflicts.” (p.122) (my emphasis – TB) “Somewhere between 2005 and 2010, Ukraine…should become ready for serious negotiations with both the EU and NATO” (p.84) [N.b. the Eastern Partnership concept emerged in 2009 – TB]
In 1914 the Entente Powers quickly forgot the crime of the assassinations in Sarajevo committed by ultra-nationalist terrorists and focused instead on Austria’s ultimatum to Serbia, which Russia used as an excuse for belligerent threats and a dangerous stand-off between the Great Powers. In 2014 the western Powers have quickly forgotten the horrendous violence in Kiev from December 2013 to February 2014, much of it, as one can see from the many Internet videos, committed by ultra-nationalists. The West has focused instead on Russia’s re-appropriation of Crimea, which the West has used as an excuse for belligerent threats and a dangerous stand-off between the Great Powers. Alongside the blue-sky-and-golden-wheatfields flag of Ukraine were also flying the red-blood-and-black-soil flags of the well-trained ‘Right Sector’ ultra-nationalist group, who spearheaded the horrific violence on the streets of Kiev and whose leader is now in the interim Ukrainian government.(27) Russia’s acceptance of Ukrainian membership of the EU and NATO, according to Brzezinski, would “define Russia’s decision to be also truly a part of Europe. Russia’s refusal would be tantamount to the rejection of Europe in favour of a solitary “Eurasian” identity and existence.” So no ‘both-and’ path is to be allowed to Russia; only one of ‘either-or’. Brzezinski says Russia must choose East or West, and what we see in Ukraine today would appear to be the West using the sad events in Ukraine so as to force Russia to ‘choose’ the East.
The consequence of that choice in the 21st century was already laid out for Russia by The Economist in 1992 (28) and by Brzezinski in his 1997 book: it will be conflict and war with Russia’s eastern neighbours and the eventual loss of all her territory east of the Urals (Brzezinski: “debilitating conflicts with aroused Central Asians”). What is left of Russia would then presumably be expected to beg for incorporation into the “international democratic and cooperative order” of the Transatlantic Union into which the other Slavic peoples had already long been assimilated as part of the EU. In this way, if this western strategy were to succeed, then what Harrison called the “childhood” of the peoples of Russia would have become thoroughly subjected to ‘training and guidance’ by the values of the dominant culture of the Anglosphere. Of course, Brzezinski and his colleagues see those values in terms of ‘the rule of law’, ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ but what actually underlies the western model of economic life uninformed by any real (as distinct from rhetorical) spiritual values are individual self-assertion and egocentricity, the ‘values’ of that song ‘Survival’ by MUSE. These ‘values’ were described by Rudolf Steiner in 1919 as the forces of materialism, destruction and sickness unless “real spirituality” were to be brought into “the economic empire”.(29) The result of the destruction of Russia as a bridge culture between Europe and Asia would be, later on in the 21st century, two giant systems confronting each other in the northern hemisphere – to use George Orwell’s imagery from “1984″: ‘Oceania’, led by the USA, vs ‘Eastasia’, led by China, and they would be competing for control of most of the southern hemisphere. The third superpower in Orwell’s book, Eurasia, would have been excised. In other words, the 21st century would look not so very different from the 20th in that a binary East-West geopolitical opposition would dominate the world.
On the material plane it is understandable and ‘natural’ that a dualistic polarity should govern the order of things (expansion/contraction, gender and genetics, electricity etc.) But Christ said: “My Kingdom is not of this world” and in the Lord’s Prayer He prayed: “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven”, thus indicating that a power beyond this dualistic polarity can enter the human world. The increasingly secular culture in English-speaking countries, however, is ruled by an ever hardening materialism. Yet the human being is not a binary entity of body and soul or of rationality and instinct; it is a trinity of body, soul and spirit. Zbigniew Brzezinski and his western comrades and predecessors have been seeking for over 100 years now to negate the intrinsic threefold nature of social and cultural life in Europe, to eradicate Central Europe as a cultural source of values in its own right and to make of Europe a simple, monochrome, homogenised highway for the passage of western, ‘transatlantic’ ideas and products across Europe to Ukraine and eastern Europe and on into Eurasia. The result of this would be that no real Slavic impulses would survive to guide humanity in the coming sixth epoch. Both Central Europe and Eastern Europe as sources of cultural values would be cancelled out. For Rudolf Steiner by contrast, “true benefit for the progress of mankind will arise only if within a certain group of people a harmonious relationship is established between Central Europe and Eastern Europe”, such as is shown in Goethe’s Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily in the figures of the Green Snake and the Youth:(30) the ideal, nurtured in Central Europe for over 200 years now, of individuals seeking to find themselves as spiritual beings and their path to the spirit and then giving of themselves for the sake of the community.
Kiev’s many trees make it known as a green city. Does green not arise between blue and yellow? And is not the other symbol of Ukraine the tryzub, the trident? In the middle of Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), towering above the red flames and thick black smoke of burning tyres, high up atop her slender white column was the Slavic pagan earth goddess Berehyna. At the other end of the square, across from her, is the arch above which stands the figure of Kiev’s divine protector spirit, Archangel Michael.
1. R. Steiner, lecture of 23.2.1905
2. A.Turgenyev, Errinerungen an Rudolf Steiner und die Arbeit am ersten Goetheanum (1973), quoted in S.O.Prokofieff, The Spiritual Oorigins of Eastern Europe and the Future Mysteries of the Holy Grail (1993), p.371
3. The view of the other two main political parties is essentially no different. Gordon Brown said much the same things as Chancellor and Prime Minister.
4. On Mackinder, See my article “Syriana? Part 1″, New View magazine No.69 Oct – Dec 2013
5.The Incubation of Nazism: The Critical Act of Britain’s Strategy for Keeping Empire 1900-1941 www.guidopreparata.com/chpg/Incubation-Russia.pdf
6. Halford Mackinder, the ‘father’ of British geopolitics, was emphatic on this point. See my essay, n. 4 above
7. Sean McMeekin, The Russian Origins of The First World War (2011) p.6
8. Hardinge, a real ‘man of the world’, had served in 1906-1910 as Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary to Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, a man with almost no experience abroad and had, together with his friend King Edward VII, played a key role in achieving the Entente with Russia in 1907.
9. K.M.Wilson, The Policy of the Entente, p.78
10. K.M. Wilson, p.78
11. For example, Jeremy Paxman’s BBC TV documentaries Britain’s Great War, Michael Portillo’s BBC radio documentaries The Great War of Words, Max Hastings’ documentary The Necessary War, the BBC drama miniseries “37 Days”.
12. The Russian Origins of The First World War (2011). This book is a welcome addition to the debate on the causes of the First World War as it brings a new dimension to the subject. But while it points the finger firmly at St. Petersburg, it fails to recognise the threads that led to London.
13. McMeekin, p.28
14. C.Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Col. House, Vol I, (1926) p.249
15. In the event, the Russians were unable to manage this. They asked the British and French to do it for them, and the result was the disastrous Gallipoli expedition of 1915.
16. Z.Steiner, Britain and the Origins of the First World War, (1977) p.123
17. G.Docherty and J.MacGregor, Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War (2013) p.229
18. G.Docherty and J.MacGregor, p.231
19. G.Docherty & J.MacGregor, p.232
20. The Cecils, father William and son Robert had been Secretaries of State under Elizabeth I and James I at the very beginning of England’s overseas expansion and had secretly arranged James’ succession in 1603.
21. Chaudordy was on intimate terms with the occultist Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (1842-1909) who sought through his occult writings about the idea of Synarchy, secret Eastern Brotherhoods and the underground city of Agharta to promote an Anglo-Franco-Russian Alliance. St Yves was very friendly with the British occultist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, author of Vril The Power of the Coming Race (1871) and his son Edward Bulwer-Lytton, ambassador in Paris and former Viceroy of India. Through his aristocratic wife St Yves had access to the Danish, Russian and British royals families.
22. For all the Salisbury quotes here on Russia, see J.Charmley, Splendid Isolation?, pp.201, 213
23. Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/jul/05/humanities.highereducation
Both agencies were set up in 1909 by the Committee of Imperial Defence (1902), the brainchild of Salisbury’s nephew Arthur Balfour who succeeded his uncle as Prime Minister. The British government in those days was often dubbed ‘Hotel Cecil’
24. The High Church also happened to be the Anglican stream of Lord Salisbury and the Cecil family. At Oxford, Harrison attended Oriel College (early 1880s), the college most associated since the 1830s with the Oxford or ‘Tractarian’ (High Church Anglo-Catholic) movement.
25. Z.Brzezinski, The Grand Failure – Birth and Death of Communism in the Twentieth Century (1989) p.15
26. Pope John Paul I died after only 33 days in office. He had declared his intention to investigate financial corruption in the Church. He was also NOT Polish!
27. Four members of the Svoboda (Freedom) Far Right Party are now in government, along with Dmitryo Yarosh, leader of the even further rightwing ‘Right Sector’ group; he is now deputy to the Ukrainian Secretary of Defence.
28. This was discussed in my earlier article in New View: Syriana? Part 1 No.69 Oct-Dec 2013
29. R.Steiner, lecture 22.2.1920
30. R.Steiner lecture, 17.1.1915