The ABC of traditional values: Russian human rights

Konstantin Malofeev: Another part of our 'ABC of traditional values' is dedicated to the letter 'CH': human rights and freedoms [Editor's note: in Russian, 'human rights' is called cheloveka prava, in Cyrillic права человека].

In this case, the legislature, by creating Decree No. 809 on the foundations of state policy for the protection and strengthening of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, has once again defeated the letter of this document in spirit. Human rights and freedoms are the brightest Masonic model of modern legislation. In the Constitutions of the Russian Federation and other democratic countries. This phrase first appeared in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, adopted following the bloody revolution and modelled on the American Declaration, but the American Declaration was called the Declaration of Independence.

In France there was no one to declare independence from, only one's own divine kingship. So the declaration was called 'rights and freedoms'. It contained all the usual platitudes that have been adopted at the level of the constitutions of Masonic lodges. Incidentally, even the word 'constitution' is Masonic. The constitution first saw the light of day in 1727, in the form of 'Anderson's Constitution', the first open Masonic lodge in England. The Constitution, with its rights and freedoms, was the triumph of Freemasonry at the end of the French Revolution.

Later, these rights and freedoms began to wander through the revolutionary constitutions, which gathered immeasurable things into one pile and gave them the same name. For example, there is the right to life and there is the freedom of assembly. They are completely different things, but for some reason they are placed side by side. Is it really possible to compare the right not to be killed with the right to an assembly where you can shout because you are dissatisfied with the quality of the rubbish collection in the street?

Gradually, these rights and freedoms have unfortunately been surrounded by an enormous amount of theory and have practically become a religious norm for the modern democratic legislator. It would therefore be strange not to see them in the list of traditional Russian values. Moreover, they are present in our Constitution. However, once again, since the legislature simultaneously called these rights and freedoms 'traditional Russian spiritual and moral values', they immediately acquired a different quality. They ceased to be humanistic rights and freedoms in the name of an individual.

Because traditional Russian values presuppose an orthodox, Christian worldview. Where God is at the centre, and in this sense everything we talk about has a completely different colour, meaning that human rights and freedoms are effective, respected and sacralised only to the extent that they are described in the Gospel by God and as He calls us to be.

These are the rights and freedoms of the person we are to become. Such is the person whose image should be similar to the image of God, the person we should aspire to be and become worthy of. It is not a person who is 14-16-18 years old, who has a passport or driving licence and therefore has certain civil rights, it is not a traditional Russian spiritual and moral value.

Protopriest Andrew Tkachev: I would like to suggest to the legislators to think carefully about balancing rights with responsibilities. This aspect is very much lacking. For example, I have the right to have a picnic with my family, but I am obliged to leave a fire clean and unlit; I have the right to listen to music, but I am obliged to think about the people living next to me, and after 11pm I lose the right to listen to loud music. So any rights I have must be balanced against my obligations. Unless, of course, I am not thinking in a traditional way.

That is, it is as if I have the right to walk down the street naked, but in reality I do not. Living in society, I have to respect its laws and customs, correlate my behaviour to the reactions of the people around me. Therefore, asserting rights without balancing them with responsibilities is a deep flaw of the proud man of the new model imposed on the world. In our traditional understanding, we have many duties; where our duties begin, sometimes our rights are diminished or violated, and this is normal and natural.

In general, it is a very hot word: 'freedom'. When a person is thrown out of his job, he says: I am free, but this is not the freedom he is fighting for. I recommend using this word with caution, because it can cut. Semyon Frank wrote that after the 1905 revolution there was such a joke:

- Carrier, free?
- Free.
- Well, then shout: long live freedom!

People are usually punished by the very thing they so passionately desire, and all freedom fighters, as they understood it, were severely punished by what came to them in its guise. Once again, 'freedom' is a very harsh word. It must, again, be used very carefully and every right I have is counteracted by my duties and needs.

Alexander Dugin: You noted that freedom becomes a value for those who are not free. That is, freedom is the virtue of the slave. Because when a man, from the point of view of materialism, is the product of some worms, worms and monkeys, then, of course, his life is mechanically predetermined by his appetites, by nature, by the logic of the struggle for survival, by natural selection. One is zero-sum free because one moves according to a strictly defined programme. That is why freedom has become so attractive to the slave consciousness of modern Westerners.

But the Christian conscience starts precisely from freedom and does not consider it a privilege, but rather a kind of burden, a destiny. For God creates the world completely free of himself. He does not make it good, but first of all free, and the world becomes good when we, created with absolute freedom to choose between good and evil, choose good. Then we say: yes, the world is good, God makes it good, but it is God who will give us the final judgement whether it is good or not.

So freedom is the terrible burden of the religious man, of the Christian. We are fundamentally free. We have never been apes or animals. God created us to be the quintessence, the concentrate of freedom. This heavy blessing and curse of man; therefore, we can do with the freedom we have been given what we want. We can choose God - and thus choose the good world, build it, create it and revere it. But equally freely we can choose evil and build an evil world, create an evil society.

It is in this difficult moral freedom of choice that human nature itself is defined. For it is neither good nor evil and we can assert ourselves at the expense of this freedom as people of good, we can escape evil, or we can, on the contrary, slip and plunge into the abyss. Freedom, then, is the heaviest of burdens. If we take freedom as a value, we take it in this sense. To not merely preserve it, but to transform it into something more. To choose the good.

A.T.: In this discourse, which was imposed on us by the French bourgeois revolution and the Masonic movement, a broad conception of freedom is condensed into a very narrow conception, in the socio-political context. Consequently, freedom is given to the proudly rebellious man, the 'man of rebellion' à la Camus. What is imposed on us is the petty rebellion of the arrogant unit. This, of course, is not the orthodox conception of freedom.

"They promise them freedom, being themselves slaves of corruption; for whoever is overcome is slave to him" (2 Peter 2:19). Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Dostoevsky wrote: "Will the light fail or will I not drink tea? I say: 'The light will come less, but I will always drink tea'. Is this a free man? In essence, it is a substitution of meanings. This is not freedom. It is a kind of machine of the rebel little man who feels like a slave. He is not a slave by social status, he is a slave to his sins, his passions and his limitations and he has rejected, or has not yet heard, God's invitation to "Sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 20:7).

K.M.: On the other hand, free will is not what they had in mind when they wrote the first French Constitution, and no legislator, no expert, no honest person can say that the human rights and freedoms that appeared in our Constitution in 1993, as in the previous Soviet variants, are our traditional spiritual and moral values. What is spiritual and moral in them?

The traditional spiritual and moral value is the free will of man as a Christian. This is the traditional value. This means that we are free as we are, we do not need to be given any freedom. This is the greatness of our faith, of our spiritual Tradition. For it is we ourselves who choose between good and evil. The responsibility that rests upon us is great. None of the Masonic legislators could have thought of this when they inserted that holy great word "freedom" into the Procrustean alveum of the French bourgeois Constitution.

A.D.: It is interesting that in the modern political context, human rights and freedoms are set against citizens. That is, the status of a citizen means that he or she is assigned to a certain state. Whereas human rights and freedoms should apply to everyone: to refugees, to the undocumented. It is therefore a question of identifying an individual also in the context of the state. Therefore, this freedom is negative.

Liberal theorists of freedom used to say: there is 'freedom from' - this is liberal freedom, which we are defending - and there is 'freedom for' - this is creative freedom. It is precisely this that the liberals reject. In their language, for us the value can only be 'freedom for': the freedom to create, to be creative, the moral freedom to choose between good and evil, which is the essence and dignity of man.

K.M.: We spoke of a traditional value in the form of the free will of man created in the image of God. The letter 'h'.

Translation by Lorenzo Maria Pacini