My countrymen


The Past Through To-Morrow

Book Cover the Past Through Tomorrow

Book Cover the Past Through Tomorrow

Easter is coming up. I mean Orthodox Easter on April 12 and not that Popish phoniness on the fifth.

All this put me in mind of Byzantium. Bear with me as I’d like you to try a thought experiment. Close your eyes and imagine writing a history of Civilization and when you got to the High Middle Ages and needed to figure out what to do next.

Well, naturally there’s the Renaissance in the 14th Century. Well, imagine instead of doing that, you skipped over the next hundreds of years, called it the ‘Dank Ages’ and then picked up the story  at the Battle of Midway in WW2 in the Pacific where the United States became the west’s undisputed power.

Would such a history be any good?

Of course not and it would be ridiculed because so many European institutions would mock it by providing mountains of unbroken chains of evidence to the contrary. The same didn’t happen after the fall of the Eastern Church and Byzantium. Byzantium had no inheriting institutions to claim its history. For example, after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union inherited the Czarist Empire as well as all of its institutions, art, embassies, libraries, universities and social institutions.

Without getting too far into it, the traditional division between Antiquity and the Middle Ages is the division of Rome into Eastern and Western Empires. This happened for a lot of reasons including the power base had shifted from Rome itself to increasingly populated provinces and other municipalities, and the consequential shift in trade routes to meet new population demands, and the fact that power had shifted form the Senate to armies in the field. (It’s complicated: go look it up.) The Eastern Empire continued as Rome’s primary inheritor after being founded in 330 AD.

  • The kids at their state-run schools were taught Homer and other classics.
  • They called themselves Romans.
  • They spoke Greek.
  • Of the 5,500 written works that have survived from Ancient times, 4,500 come to us through Byzantium.
  • They even had women doctors!
  • Constantinople was simply referred to as ‘The City’ even as far as the Netherlands because it had no peer in the Western World.

But because of many things such as a string of leadership crises, and getting steamrolled by the newly-created Islamic religion, Constantinople’s Empire after 1,100-ish years of unbroken history ended only when the newfangled canon knocked down the Theodosian Walls, the Eastern Roman Empire had no inheritor.

So the fucking Catholics basically invented the myth that nothing happened between the division of the Empire in 476 and the removal of their competition, the Byzantines in 1453. That well-meaning autodidact Gibbon described the Byzantines as an aristocracy of no certain gender who did nothing except speak bad Greek. Well, were did all of that artwork, scholarship, gold, and those manuscripts suddenly appear from in Italy in the Renaissance?

It’s a myth. There was a massive, complex and interesting history to which we owe an incredible debt but because the Eastern Church got fragmented, the Vatican basically wrote their competitors out of the history books.

Talk about sore winners.

It’s my fear that the 21st Century will see Russia’s place in world affairs diminished beyond all measure. We rose to the fore in the 20th Century and were a factor in everyone’s calculations. Now there is only the US and they’re writing the history books.

Happy fucking Easter.

Post Scriptum: Of course, it would be helpful if Russia had some competing ideology to offer the world apart from gangsterism. I should probably work on that.

I’m alive and well

Dear everyone:

Thank you all very much for your concern. From the speculation from Russia’s Israeli friends,  history lessons from the Economist Newspaper, the Daily Telegraph’s opinion about my respiratory health, et cetera, I thank you all for you concern.

Fear not! There is no palace coup, nor am I about to perish from a heart attack. The explanation has not been forthcoming, true and I apologize for that. I’m used to being strong and in fine health, so when I’m suddenly confined to bed, I not only get grumpy, I sort of clam up. My dad used to do the same thing, and I picked up the same temperament I guess.

The truth is I was looking at our dwindling foreign currency holdings and was a bit glum. Those sanctions are kind of crappy and I needed to replace my iPod. The best I could do was get a Zune off E-Bay. Anyway some of the boys came over and we started having a few drinks. This lasted a few days. Anyway, somehow I got the bright idea that it would be time to show off my father’s poison umbrella gun. (It was the sort of thing used on disloyal Ukranian labour activists in Toronto in the 1950s shortly after a nail bomb went off that didn’t kill anyone that was never attributed to anyone, in particular Russia.)Umbrella gun diagram

Anway, I sorta, kinda, accidentally skewered my foot with it.

The worst thing is, I was so loaded I didn’t notice of about ten minutes. By the time the pain receptors managed to talk to my alcohol painted brain, my foot was so swollen that I needed to be carried down the stairs by my friends. So, off to the Sklifosovsky medical centre in the back of Sergei Ivanov’s old turbo diesel Volvo.

Dammit so much.

Anyway, I’m okay. If you want to send get well cards, please address my office at 23, Ilyinka Street,
Moscow, 103132, Russia. Toblerone would be nice, too.

Nemtov investigation

I predicted a few days ago that the two men arrested in the deaths of opposition politician Boris Nemtov were the kind of men who would be shot while trying to escape. I have made some study of the matter and you can tell by looking at the position of the eyebrows in relation to the ears. The criminal mind has distinct signs of underdevelopment.

Well, it turns out that the man police were looking at as the ring leader for the murder blew himself up. While tied to a chair.

The remaining suspects — given the intense international and local media coverage — will be watched carefully to ensure that justice is done. However, they seem to me to be the sorts of men who’ll commit suicide. Just sayin’.

On the death of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov

It is a sad day in Russia. Boris Nemtsov was shot to death shortly after midnight on Saturday, Moscow time.

He was shot four times from behind. An investigators at the scene of the sad, sad incident reached an early conclusion that he shot himself in the back accidentally while cleaning a sidearm as he demonstrated a very difficult yoga position. It turns out there were witnesses and this conclusion has been retracted and the investigation has been reopened.

I want to make it perfectly clear that I was, at the time, reading fairy tales to orphans in a hospital at the other end of town at the time.

I’m taking personal charge of this investigation and promise his family, his friends, his supporters and the Russian people, I shall not rest until this investigation reaches the correct conclusion.

Anybody else have this problem?

Dammit so much. My HSBC cash card isn’t working. I wonder why?

These guys founded the original Silk Road which when the British Empire was running opium from the far East. I figured I was so much safer with them after I had to close my Deutsche Bank account a little while ago.

Darn it so much. I need to get some milk and bread for tomorrow and it’s freezing. I guess I’ll walk to the corner store up the street and pay the rip off fee at the machine. I hope it dispenses €500 notes.