Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Eso’s Chronicles 146
The False Flag Is Raised by Fascists (5)
© Eso A.B.
A Self-portrait at 79, 2012
What is fascism?

I have to begin my answer by revealing something of my family’s background. Though as a child, I was at the age of eight years, a witness to Hitler’s war efforts and occupation of Latvia (1941), my home country, I was also under a constant exposure to two opinions and evaluations of what was taking place.
On the one hand, there was the Soviet propaganda machine drumming the message that the Germans were all fascists and the German-Latvian Administrative Government drumming that Stalin was a monster killer. I could personally confirm both messages as true. Coming from a family that made its living from publishing a newspaper, I was an avid reader of newspapers and a listener to radio news from about the age of five. I, thus, had an elementary sense of what the political stance of the two opposing sides were about at a young age. Of course, I had no knowledge of history, which, along with later reflections on some of the events I had personally witnessed, began to play a role only years later.

The Soviets arrested and deported many members of my extended family. Among the deported were my father (1941), maternal grandfather (1940), grandmother, and aunt (1941). On my father’s side, besides my father, among the deported were one of his sisters, her husband, and my niece (1941). Among the victims were also family friends and acquaintances.

After the Germans arrived (1941) and ‘saved’ us from deportation (my mother and her three children, were also on the ‘to be deported’ list as we later discovered), and our joy over being ‘saved’ by outbreak of war was a paradox that did not pass unnoticed. It also soon became clear that the property nationalized by the Soviets would remain, fait accompli, nationalized and would not be returned by the Germans. After the fortunes of war began to turn against the Germans, the brother of my godfather was arrested for his activities to have the Germans recognize and restore independence to Latvia. He was sent to a concentration camp in Germany where he died (1945).

On my father’s side, I had always assumed my family ethnicity to originate in Latvia, even though it was well known in the family that my great-great-great-grandfather had been a Herrnhuter. The Herrnhuters were brought into Latvia through the offices of the German Graf Zinzendorf after the Great Northern War (between Russia and Sweden, in which war Russia was the winner). The war, which had devastated large areas of Latvia’s northern region, ended in 1710. The German barons, who ruled over Latvians under contract to Russians, were fearful that the countryside may remain an economically depressed area. This would, of course, affect the fortunes of the German barons as well.

I was greatly surprised that after I took the opportunity to have my DNA analyzed, I was to discover that the greatest number of genes that matched mine were centered in the region of the northern Balkans, in and about Croatia. After making some rough approximations, I accepted the results of the analysis as proof that my forebears in Latvia had come from this region about the year 1740, which is one of the first years that Herrnhuters began to enter Latvia. Of course, this does not mean, that these Herrnhuters, necessarily came directly from the northern Balkans. They may well have for reasons known only to them, domiciled in Bohemia, or Moravia, or Germany. It was in German Saxony that Graf Zinzendorf established a Herrnhut community . What I find even more interesting about these origins is that the northern Balkans played a significant role in offering the Bogomils a safe haven during the time of their persecution in the 13th and 14th centuries . For me an associacion of the Bogomils with the Herrnhuters is as obvious as inevitable—even if significant theological changes had taken place between the demise of the one and rise of the other.

One of the unique elements of the Herrnhuter Christian brotherhood, Unitas Fratrum, is that its origins reach back to the times and movement of Jan Hus (burnt at the stake in 1415) in Moravia. Jan Hus opposed the interposition of Catholic priests between humankind and God. He regarded himself and his followers as a remnant people of an earlier form of Christianity. The Catholic persecution of the Hussites in Bohemia and Moravia (the Catholic Franciscans had persecuted the Bogomils in the northern Balcans), made these proto-Protestant Christians think of themselves as living in permanent exile. The latter fact made them perfect missionaries, because they came to their new homes not as ordained preachers, but as laymen and craftsmen, who embedded themselves in the local population .

In Latvia, the call for Herrnhuter help came from German circles, specifically General and Countess Hallert of Wolmar (Valmiera, about 30 km from my present countryside home), the Countess happened to be a good friend of Graf Zinzendorf’s wife, and she traveled to Dresden to make a personal solicitation. On the other hand, the German barons, fearing a successful spiritual recovery of the demoralized countryside, were not necessary either helpful or friendly. They were anxious, not only because the successors of Hans Hus were known as ‘trouble makers’. Indeed, my Third step Great Grandfather was married to a woman (first name unrecorded) who was known as “the daughter of Liberts (Free = a free man)”.

Then “a funny thing happened on the way to the forum”: my great grandfather’s second wife (I am a descendant of this second marriage) is said to have accidentally burnt down his inn while making tallow candles over a hot stove. Before the death of my great grandfather’s first wife, my grandmother helped take care of the children of great grandfather’s first marriage. She also cleaned the hall in the inn where the Herrnhuters met on Sundays. Be that as it may, I have always been suspicious that the story was a False Flag deliberately spun by grandfather to cover up some fact not convenient to his career.

For one, Herrnhuters (my forebears including) often worked in Latvia not only as managers or bookkeepers for German barons, but as was the wont of Herrnhuters, they built (with the barrons’ permission) themselves inns. These inns served not only as meeting places for the Brethren on Sundays, but earned enough money to keep the movement going and perhaps even pay the baron something in taxes. In short, I credit the notion that the inn was burnt down by none other than the Latvians, whom the Herrnhuters had helped get back on their feet.

After the Herrnhuters had revived the Latvian countryside population and it began to reassert itself with a spirit of its own, the German dominated Lutheran Church became concerned about losing its dominant position. In order to advance its fortunes, the largely German barons and clergy became open to compromise; i.e., the Germans were ready to replace the German clergy with a Latvian one, provided it agitated for its position by pointing out to the locals the close connection of the Herrnhuters with the Germans and their culture. This association was undeniable. As it happened, the agitation against Herrnhuters coincided with the rising nationalist movement among Latvians, which fact created a conflict within the Herrnhuter movement itself, perhaps even a kind of minor civil war within its ranks. As best as I can figure it, the Germanic element among the Herrnhuters, after suffering some minor violence from their Latvian brethren (burning down an inn), swallowed hard, made peace with the Lutherans [I was even baptized by a Latvian Lutheran bishop (Terins)] and let the movement lapse. Sadly, my great grandfather’s death (1868) coincided with the end of Herrnhuter movement in Latvia.
My grandfather went on to become a choir director and school teacher with ambitions to compensate for his father’s humiliation and loss of status by becoming wealthy. The latter ambition caused him to go bankrupt after the failure of two hardware stores, which financial condition at that time did not protect him from his creditors, which prevented him from starting new commercial ventures on his own. Thus, while he is known to have become one of Latvia’s first millionaires, this was true in a technical sense only, because the legal rights of ownership, in order to escape the wrath of his creditors, necessarily went to his second wife, and the newspaper he nursed to great prominence the current crop of Latvian media folk no longer associate with him. Unfortunately, the current political forces in Latvia favor the neglect of history across a broad spectrum in order to better misrepresent it.

The above ought to suffice in identifying the Germanic influences from the paternal side of my life. My maternal background is no less interesting, but has had a lesser influence on my intellectual development for the simple reason that I never learned to speak the Russian language.

Briefly, when a young man, my maternal grandfather, an ambitious farm boy, from an activist and intellectually aware Latvian region (Vecpiebalga), worked as a surveyor for the Transsiberian railroad near Ufa in Russia; this is where he met my maternal grandmother, who upon finishing her education in Petrograd, had returned to the region to help administer the estate of her maternal uncle, Knyaz Kugushev. She herself was born Ral, another Russian Knyaz, whose daughter married into the  Kugushev clan. Knyaz is the Russian approximation of the English name for a Prince. Because it was unheard of—in those days--that a woman of nobility marries a commoner (and no Russian Orthodox Priest would dare do so), the young lovers eloped to Riga, where in Juhrmala, a suburb of Riga, a priest too old to care about sanctions, married the couple.

Not that this is the end of wonders.

Another provocative ethnic admixture (as yet untested by DNA analysis) comes from my paternal grandmother’s side. When a child, I had always been fascinated by the curly black hair at her temples and a similar attraction at the hairline of at least one of her daughters. Subsequently, I discovered that such curls were a characteristic of people from the Middle East region, often from Iran. By chance, I then discovered that at the southern end of the Caspian Sea there is a city named Gurgan. Since the G sound may in another language be pronounced as a J or a Y, such a name change coincided perfectly with my grandmother’s maiden name, re Jurjans. It comes to mind that one of my family lines arrived in proto-Latvia by towing (as slaves?) a boat up the Volga River and by portaging the boat to the Duna (Yuna or Juna) River, and after drifting downriver a considerable distance, hence oared upriver of Ogre and arrived at Ērgļi (Eagle Town) at the foothills of Latvia’s highest mountain Gaiziņkalns (Gaze or View Mountain).

The rest of my maternal past is wrapped in a colorful braid of legends, which have left their influence on my interests in the sense that they have encouraged me not to neglect these areas in intellectual terms, even though my personal circumstances never gave me the opportunity to develop any of them to the degree that they would contribute to a career. Thus, while one Kugushev was said to have conquered Bashkiria for the Russian Tsar, another became a survivor in Bolshevik Russia; and because my maternal grandmother’s best childhood friend was the wife of Bolshevik Russia’s first Finance Minister Tsurupa (who had served imprisonment in Siberia with knyaz Kugushev (he did not lift his hat to the Tsar), this connection helped my maternal grandfather, to become Latvia’s first ambassador to Soviet Russia. It is said that this friendship also cost him an appointment as Latvia’s Foreign Minister, or maybe it was because Stalin expelled him from the Soviet Union and accused him of stealing Russian antiques, said to include Faberge eggs.

In any event, these rather colorful strands of family history helped prevent my joining what I consider an obscene form of nationalism cultivated by latter-day (today’s) Latvian Parliament. This is despite of considering myself a Latvian nationalist also, but on the other side of a nationalist government as a self-help welfare group making a fascist government enclosure its home.

So, to return to the topic of fascism; what is fascism?

I think it depends on how one defines it. And, alas, the definitions are more than one.

Online Wikepedia has an extensive list of definitions and descriptions for fascism: . It is interesting that Wikepedia ends its list by reminding that ‘fascist’ is often used as an epithet. Indeed, this is how most Russian media sources use it and why Israeli political leaders sneer when so described.

One of my favorite authors (though I do not always agree with him), Slavoy Žižek, describes fascism as “…the longing for authentic community and social solidarity….” What to Žižek’s mind destroys this longing for community, is the “ideological dream-work” (I describe the dream-work as a matter of using women in advertising as images and symbols that stimulate a society to become a consumer of masturbatory sex) of obscene capitalism re-represented with an ever anew orgasm in every advertising image containing sexual innuendo.

Strange as it may be, the False Flag is not only the Flag (the Curtain) that was rent at the death of Basil in Constantinople, but the red Flag waved by toreadors before a bull. While the bull is the victim and the obvious symbol of a justly enraged humankind, the passive spectators of this cruel show of dominance are not only the victims of it, but also its fools .

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