Rorate Caeli

"Prigozhin, Putin, and Western Christendom: The West is Currently Sick, but it is not Evil, and it can Recover" -- by Roberto de Mattei

Roberto de Mattei

August 30, 2023

The crash of the plane on which Wagner Brigade leader Yevgeni Prigozhin was traveling on August 23 caused no less uproar in the world's media than his attempted rebellion against Putin that occurred exactly two months earlier, on June 24, 2023. In both the first case and the second, the most cerebral hypotheses have been put forward to explain the event. There are those who attribute the bombing not to the Russians but to Ukrainians or the Americans; there are those who are convinced that there was a double on the plane and Prigozhin is still in Africa; and there are those who deny the bombing, claiming that it was all a set-up to allow Prigozhin to disappear and, at the same time, Putin to demonstrate his strength. The hypothesis that Prigozhin was made to be assassinated in revenge by Putin seems all too obvious and normal in a world where narratives are superimposed on reality, creating a climate of dark uncertainty in which nothing can be stated categorically and clearly. We are so accustomed to "abnormality" that a "normal" reading of events seems trivial to us, not least because these events present themselves to us in an often contradictory and confusing manner. 

Today, in Russia and in the world, the logical order is reversed and that irrationality triumphs, which we see in Prigozhin's challenge to Putin in June and in the confidence accorded to him in August, but also in the blatant manner in which Putin wanted to punish his opponent. In doing so, Putin not only confirmed that he is a ruthless dictator in the face of Western public opinion, but also broke the rules of the underworld to which he belongs.

Indeed, there is an ongoing conflict in Russia that a scholar like Don Stefano Caprio calls the war of the gopniki, the "street bandits," according to slang dating back to the mafia of the Soviet years. The underworld authorizes murder, but not the violation of the given word, which is considered sacred. And according to another political scientist, Nona Mikhelidze, the razborka ("gang warfare"), in which Putin is one of the protagonists, had decided that Prigozhin should be forgiven. The Kremlin leader, it seems, did not keep his word by breaking the rules of the game. And since Russia is governed by the laws of the underworld, this will create new chaos and conflict in the country.

Putin for his part needed to send a message not so much to the West as to the summit of the Brics countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) that opened in Johannesburg on August 23, the day of the attack, to decide who to admit to its club. Brics is an international body, dominated by Russia and China, that aims to build an economic and political force antagonistic to the West. Putin, who was unable to attend the summit in person because of the arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court, sent a message in which he defined the war in Ukraine as an expression of neo-colonialism, referring by this term to the West and not to the Russian invasion of that country. The logic here also seems upside down. Daniel Hannan recalls, in the Telegraph of August 26, that in 1916 Vladimir Lenin wrote his famous pamphlet Imperialism the Supreme Stage of Capitalism, in which he expounded a socio-political vision that the Brics group seems to be inspired by. Imperialism, for Lenin, would be capitalism that has reached that stage of development in which the domination of monopolies and finance capital has been formed, in which the division of the world among international trusts has begun, and in which the entire land surface is divided among the largest capitalist countries. Lenin's political philosophy, which summarized and popularized Marx's, has spread around the world and is embraced by all those in Russia and around the world who consider Vladimir Putin the hero of the struggle against the globalist and imperialist West.

However, the political, economic and military collapse of the West would be a greater catastrophe than the fall of the Roman Empire -- because then the Church Christianized the barbarian peoples, giving rise to medieval Christian civilization. Today, the very leadership of the Church herself contributes to the work of de-christianizing society, and what looms on the horizon, whether Eurabia or Eurasia, would see the end of nation-states, the disappearance of the Catholic Church, the eradication of all traces of civilization, and the plunging of the world into a barbarism more ferocious than any history has ever known.

This is the reason why one must reject the calls for a new world order by Putin and Xi Jinping, whose goal is not a multipolar world but Russian-Chinese hegemony over a culturally and materially disintegrated West. The worst enemies of the West are those who succumb to these enticements, victims of a "hybrid war," which makes people lose their sense of reality.

The West is not a globalist elite or an English-language lobby, but it is a civilization rooted in space and time, different from all others because of its universal vocation. The models of the West and Europe are its founders: St. Louis King of France, St. Ferdinand of Castile, St. Elizabeth of Portugal, St. Edward of England, St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Henry the Emperor, St. Stephen and St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Wenceslas of Bohemia, St. Erik of Sweden, St. Olaf of Norway, St. Vladimir of Kiev and many other Christian princes, who sought not only the material but also the supernatural good of their peoples, submitting to the laws of God and the Church. The whole of medieval society conformed harmoniously to the natural order arranged by God in the creation of the universe and to the supernatural order inaugurated with the Redemption and inspired by the Church. This was the great civilization that slowly but vigorously emerged from the disintegration of the barbarian age under the influence of the natural and supernatural energies of peoples baptized and ordained to Christ. The West was West before the Revolution that from the age of humanism and Protestantism began to corrupt it and should not be confused with its decadence, its crisis, its cultural and moral sickness. 

The West is sick, but it is not evil, and it can recover from the pathological condition it is in. Healing lies in returning to the healthy state it experienced at the dawn of its history, when Christian Europe was born. To God all things are possible (Mt 19:26). And in the periods of chaos in history, it only takes a few men who fully correspond to the action of divine grace for the rebirth of a civilization that has never faded to turn from a dream into reality.