The following interview with Juris Rudevskis was originally published in Latvian on July 6 and 7 in the daily Neatkarígá. The interview was conducted by Elita Veidemane. It has been translated and edited for clarity, and appears here by kind permission.
Veidemane: How do you assess what has been happening around the world, especially regarding the movement ‘Black Lives Matter’?
Rudevskis: The first words that come to mind to describe what is happening are: a tsunami of madness! An educated observer will agree that these movements can be referred to as a ‘revolution.’ But what kind of revolution? Globally, this is the same Marxist revolution that began in 1917 in Russia. It never ended and has been going on for over a century. It must be understood that revolutions rarely manifest themselves as armed struggles. This particular revolution has historically taken many forms, but there is a clear continuity between them, both in terms of goals and ideas.
Let us not forget that both before the Second World War and during the Cold War, the Soviet special services were very active in destroying Western civilization and its culture from within, especially with the help of ‘useful idiots’ among Western intellectuals and public figures. (Unfortunately, some of these included Latvians in exile, too.) The massive infiltration of communists and other Marxists into the ranks of large Western universities, as well as various demonstrations supporting ‘disarmament’ and ‘against capitalism’: all of these have been manifestations of the same revolutionary process.
Nor did any of this disappear after the fall of the Iron Curtain; the revolution only changed shape slightly. I remember the shock I felt in the 1990s when I began to come into contact with respectable representatives of democratic European countries — our role models. To my own embarrassment, I realized that sometimes the same old communist speeches came out of their mouths — even though, supposedly, that ideology had been thrown into the dustbin of history.
What exactly is happening in the United States?
The formal cause of these protests was the killing of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis on May 25 at the time of his arrest. It must be said at once that police violence in the United States is a real problem; you don’t have to be left-wing to admit it. But this time, the protests — initially against police violence — morphed into orgies of rampant vandalism: looting of shops and other businesses, destruction of private property, violence against people.
Similar unrest and protests over police misconduct in the U.S., whether real or imagined, is not new: they have taken place numerous times since 1965. However, the current unrest is something new, both quantitatively and qualitatively. First of all, their huge geographical spread is surprising: riots are taking place in all U.S. states and all major cities. Even abroad there has been a wave of supportive demonstrations. From a qualitative point of view, there is what I would call ‘targeted symbolic violence’: that is, the desecration or demolition of various monuments and sites because they honor historical figures who had unacceptable beliefs, and are thus deemed ‘racists’ and ‘supporters of slavery.’
Is there an organizer or a strategist behind these protests?
Only the U.S. security services can know for sure. However, what is happening has the characteristics of mass psychosis, so it is not necessary to organize something constantly: it is enough to ignite the first spark. In this case, a different question is more important: who benefits? This unrest must be seen in the context of the forthcoming U.S. presidential elections in November, whose outcome will affect U.S. policy, not only for the next four years but also for several decades to come.
Remember that the President of the United States is the person who, with the consent of the Senate, appoints judges to the U.S. Supreme Court for life. This court is of great political importance in assessing the constitutionality of laws. And over the next four years, the next U.S. president is likely to have to appoint one or even two judges, and the balance of political power in this court will depend on this.
The Trump presidency has, in my view, been a great success.
Of course. In 2019, the U.S. unemployment rate was at a record low of only 3.5% — the lowest since 1969! In addition, the situation of African-Americans and other minorities has improved the most during the Trump Administration. But then came the Covid-19 pandemic, and the U.S. economy began to experience a severe recession. The approaching economic abyss was observed in April. But again in May, the economy rose sharply, with 2.7 million jobs created or restored and 4.8 million in June. So, the pandemic has not been strong enough to weaken Trump’s position. Therefore, everything possible must be used against him — to undermine his leadership. This unrest must be assessed in this way.
Don’t you find it strange that the riots, looting, and destruction of monuments during recent weeks have taken place in an atmosphere of relative impunity? The police do not often react, but politicians, celebrities, and companies of different levels and caliber — the owners of big brands — have publicly expressed their support for the insurgents.
But why is this happening?
I think some people are fascinated by the wave of mass psychosis and no longer have the will to resist. Others are just scared. Others quietly rejoice and hope that the unrest will undermine President Trump’s chances of re-election. Here is one very recent example of how confused the situation is: a couple of lawyers living in St. Louis found that an aggressive crowd had broken into their private property. Each lawyer took a firearm and went outside, pointing their barrels against the invaders, who were frightened off and fled. Afterwards, a wave of hateful comments appeared, in the press and on social networks, against both lawyers. The local city prosecutor then initiated a criminal investigation — not against those who had trespassed but against the homeowners!
Absurd. But why is there such hatred for monuments that have stood for such a long time without any problems?
The formal pretext is usually that the relevant historical figure supported slavery. But this is completely baseless. First, the institution of slavery in the West is in the deep past and is no longer relevant. Second, slavery has existed almost always and everywhere in recent millennia. And in most cases, slavery had nothing to do with race or racism. The Greeks enslaved the Greeks; the Polynesians enslaved the Polynesians; the Indians, the Indians; and so on. Even here in Riga, Otto Fabian von Rosen (1684–1764), the Landrat (local administrator) of the Livland Province, published an infamous declaration in 1739 according to which Latvian and Estonian serfs — who were very ‘white’ — were to be recognized as slaves from a legal point of view. Arabs, too, have long run a lucrative slave business along East Africa, while North African pirates enslaved at least one million Europeans between 1500 and 1800. The last country to formally abolish slavery was the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in 1981 — but, in fact, slavery still exists there today.
But this is what is important to emphasize: in all of human history, the first and only civilization which, by its own intellectual force, came to the conclusion that slavery was indeed a bad thing and that it must be abolished was ours — i.e., Western civilization. Everyone else did so either because of the influence of the West or under pressure from the West. We should be proud of being part of the West — not be ashamed of it!
There are also many public figures who fought against slavery.
Of course, but this is only reluctantly remembered today. This is because the most famous abolitionists — people such as William Wilberforce, Theodore Weld, or the Tappan brothers — were people who today would be called ‘religious obscurantists’ or ‘fanatics’ by modern progressives, since their opposition to slavery was directly based on their Christian beliefs. In the U.S. in recent weeks, statues of several famous abolitionists have been desecrated or knocked down. Does anyone still seriously believe that ‘slavery’ is really the cause of this vandalism? The statue of Cervantes, the famous author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, was vandalized in San Francisco. How ironic! Cervantes himself was a slave in the galleys for five years.
This avalanche of madness has preceded something else, which was expected to happen from the very beginning: the desecration and overthrowing of statues of Catholic saints. But not just statues: in early July, ‘protesters’ brutally beat an 80-year-old Catholic priest on the street, while elsewhere a group of believers who were simply praying also became victims of violence. It’s interesting to note that the Islamic prophet Muhammad also owned slaves — but no one dares to touch any mosques or imams.
Let’s be honest: ‘slavery’ and ‘racism’ are just a pretext. The truth is that there is a revolutionary process at work that purposefully attacks the symbols of the history and culture of the Christian West in order to erase them from human memory. In principle, we have already experienced something similar — in Soviet times — though in a milder form.
Why do you think young people are involved in these ‘protests’?
The first reason: the crisis of the father and the crisis of the institution of fatherhood, something which has been already apparent for several generations. Of course, it also has its own deeper causes, but this is the most visible cause of the turmoil in the Western world of today.
In the symbolic order, the father embodies order, virtue, law, God. The father figure is important for every boy in the process of growing up: he has to break the psychological ‘umbilical cord’ with his mother and to start identifying himself with his father. This means, among other things, taking on a sense of order and morality, and learning to rule over oneself.
If the father is absent or disrespected, this identification does not take place. Internally, the young person remains a child who then expresses his anger and despair through externalized aggression — either by hitting the rattle against the edge of the crib or by knocking down the monument from the pedestal. Such a large, immature child is in a state of constant internal rebellion against his parents, his family, his history, and his past. It doesn’t even matter to him to know what particular character in history is depicted in the statue: the main thing is that it belongs to the hated world of his ancestors.
I recently listened to a sermon by a Jewish rabbi who said these very wise words: “If you are tempted to commit some abomination, imagine your father’s face in front of you.” These days, too many young people simply have no such thing to imagine.
To this we could add the crisis of masculinity generally. But perhaps this is another topic that only partially addresses the inherent racism of the Black Lives Matter movement?
Yes — and another crisis is that of the Western university. To understand how tragic this is, it must be remembered that the university is a typical ‘product’ of Western civilization and one of its most important symbols. It is a place where people not only study and ‘do’ science but also learn to think independently and confront opinions freely.
Yuri Bezmenov, a KGB employee who fled to the West, said that during the Cold War, only 15% of the time and money spent by the Soviet Special Services were spent on ordinary espionage. The remaining 85% was dedicated to targeted ideological subversion in the West — and university lecturers, professors, and students were among the principal target audiences for such Soviet actions.
The result? In the exact and natural sciences, U.S. universities are still at their previously high levels; but in the social sciences and humanities — that is, anthropology, literature, sociology, etc. — everything has been in decline for at least the past 15 or 20 years. Students are today offered courses and programs in, for example, ‘deconstructing whiteness,’ ‘feminist studies,’ ‘LGBT studies,’ etc. The situation is so dire that it can now be said that everything in these areas of studies is rotten to the point that it probably can no longer be salvaged.
But this is incredible!
Of course. And it also leads to a devaluation in the worth of the diplomas. Until recently, the diplomas of the most prestigious universities — including those of the so-called ‘Ivy League’ (Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Dartmouth, etc.) attracted unconditional respect and admiration. But this is no longer the case. Of course, there are some positive exceptions — such as colleges and universities that still offer quality classical education. But these are mostly all small, Christian-oriented private universities. The social sciences and humanities departments in most U.S. universities have instead become centers of brainwashing that aggressively silence all views except those on the left. And what kind of graduates do these institutions produce? Well, suffice it to say that more and more parents are reluctant to send their children to U.S. universities because they are afraid that after four years, the person they get back will be an ideologically zombified ‘social justice warrior.’ For the time being, things are better in Europe; but, unfortunately, even here universities are moving in the same direction as the U.S. — only at a slower pace.
What is the long-term outlook for prestigious educational institutions?
I’m afraid that university education as we know it will come to an end in the coming decades — and not only because of the corruption of study courses and the devaluation of diplomas but for other reasons, too. For example, the Internet increasingly offers colossal opportunities to create other, alternative models of education. As Elon Musk recently said: “I want abilities and talents, not diplomas. I don’t even care if you graduated from high school.”
But if we want to maintain the prestige of existing universities for a long time, then we need to maintain quality higher education. Thus — and what I will now say may sound heretical, but I think it is common sense — access to it must become more elitist and selective. Only those who have the relevant talents and who really need it objectively should spend time and resources on higher education. In this regard, I would like to commend the Germans very much. In Germany, the public attitude is right: if you are a skilled, if you are a hard-working plumber or car mechanic, then those around you respect and honor you — even without an academic degree.
Finally, let’s look at Latvia. What do you think is the near future of Latvia in this “tsunami of madness”?
I feel quite hopeful. A Latvian can be very ‘liberal’ and even a libertine in his private life; but, at the same time, he can be very ‘conservative’ in the socio-political sphere. Latvia does not have the same attitude as in some places in the U.S. where, if a person gets divorced and remarries, then his chances of a real political career are close to zero. It is not so with us. Divorce, get married, change partners like gloves: no one cares. In Latvia, we look at such things in a more relaxed way. As the saying goes, “live and let live.”
Still, Latvians really hate it when others intrude into their comfort zone — and ‘stir the pot’ by trying to radically transform our society, our habits and traditions, our way of life. That is why proposals to introduce same-sex ‘marriage’ and similar initiatives have never been widely accepted in our country. Yes, a Latvian’s natural laziness, introversion, and inability to embrace even positive innovations can hinder his development. But on the other hand — paradoxically — these same qualities protect us from various bad influences from the outside. Of course, it cannot be relied on forever; we still need to remain vigilant.