Dmitry Smirnov: "Democracy Was A Mistake" - Priest Makes Case for Return to Russia’s Roots
— You speak a lot about politics. You always mention that you're against democracy and support a constitutional monarchy. What makes democracy so vicious?
Protopriest Dmitry Smirnov, High Church Council: I completely agree with Churchill: Democracy is the worst. The very wording is deceiving. Democracy? The elections are won by the one whose campaign was the most expensive. (applause) Democracy was invented by the people who had no titles and no opportunity to get into power, only money. They took a word from ancient Greece. But Ancient Greece had a different kind of democracy. You had to own property, be a well-respected citizen, have a family, and so on and so forth. Can one…
— So only the worthy and famous got into power?
— The most worthy. The glorious ones. The ones who earned a name. It's just wrong. A homeless alcoholic has a single vote. The principal of the Moscow State University also has a single vote. An old officer who rose to the rank of General and a green recruit who can't tie his own shoes properly. Everybody has a single vote. Is that what you call democracy? It's fraud!
— But that's what democracy is like. What's so bad about democracy? Could you suggest another option?
— Democracy allows some people to shamelessly and insolently manipulate others. (applause)
— The USA is often used as an example of true democracy. They're doing just fine.
— «Fine» is a broad term. I wouldn't want to be doing «just fine» in the USA even if somebody paid me ten million dollars.
— Well, I don't think anybody would do that. Why though? Many Americans believe in God and go to church on Sunday much more frequently than Russians do. What's wrong?
— Many of those «believers» go to sects instead of churches. It's important to bear that in mind. Their foreign policy and the fact that they print money for the whole world allow them to create better conditions for their citizens. That's clear.
Their wages and retirement benefits seem higher if we compare the bare figures. But when the government controls your every step and you have zero rights in your society, it weighs you down.
— What rights do they lack that we have? You mean we've got so many rights and they've got zero? We're comparing the real states which aren't perfect.
— Well, my American friends… Most of them are of Russian origin. They whisper even inside their own cars. And you and I can openly discuss anything live on TV.
— That's true, even though whispering in one's own car sounds a bit odd…
— I've seen it with my own eyes. And it didn't happen just once.
— Father Dmitry, some people require psychiatric care. It's quite popular in the US.
— Some of our people require it as well. (applause)
— That's true. Ok, so which path should Russia choose then? People who've just tuned in might think: «Wow, what are they suggesting here?? What about our roots?»
— I'm not suggesting anything to anyone.
Thats too bad.
Some people, including Vladimir Solovyov, ask me what I think…
— That's right.
— ...what I'd do. And I tell them.
— What would you do for Russia? Which path would you choose?
— Monarchy, of course. We've always had monarchy. It's in our blood. The Russian people who built this country, who built all spheres of our outstanding culture, did it under a monarchy. The end of monarchy symbolized the beginning of the dark days that started in 1917 and wreaked havoc upon our country.
Our lifestyle was destroyed, our freedom of travel restricted. Families with multiple children became uncommon. The class system was eliminated starting from its core — the peasants, who were the most pious Christians. Now, the fields that our ancestors had worked for 900 years are either barren or covered in forests. (applause)
— It's a tragedy.
— Everything is ruined. Everything created by the Soviets has ground to a halt, is not working anymore… Sometimes, my occupation makes me travel across the country. It looks as if an army marched through the place yesterday. The country looks like it suffered either another Siege of Stalingrad or an invasion by Genghis Khan. (applause).
— But didn't your beloved tsars lead Russia to a catastrophe? Didn't Peter the Great do great harm to the Orthodox Church? Didn't your tsars bring about the events of 1917 that led to the collapse of the House of Romanov?
— Their mistake was that they were not decisive enough… Somebody, please, forgive this old man, I forget the name, said that if a few thousand people had been hanged there would have been no revolution for the next 100 years.
— A nice Christian approach.
— Yep. Imagine, a man comes to your house holding two knives and starts stabbing your family. How would you respond?
— With a bullet.
— Good, God bless you. You're a true Christian, Vladimir.
— You don't say. But Peter the Great was quite decisive: hundreds were executed.
— He was raised in the German enclave. He borrowed a lot from Holland and the other countries he visited. Being a Russian person whose heart and mind are always open, he was mesmerized by clarity, order, skill, and so on. He thought that his strong will, charisma, and title would allow him to make Russia a European country.
He did a lot of harm, including making the Church one of his Ministries. Yes he harmed us. But the essence of the Church remained the same. Moreover, he was heavily influenced by Mitrofan, the archbishop of Voronezh. Peter respected him and he managed to soften Peter’s harsh temper. At the beginning of his reign, Peter personally executed some soldiers. He felt his executioner wasn't up for the task. «Give me the axe,» he said. However, reaching the end of his life he became rather serious…
— Was he saying: «Chop 'em, I'll watch?»
— Well, kind of. Anyway, he became much less brutal.
— Once again, monarchy doesn't seem to be an ideal option.
— You see, a monarch doesn't have to be born into a royal family. A monarch should be elected.
— So we get something like the Roman Empire?
— The Byzantine.
— The Eastern Roman Empire.
— Yes. You see, all people are sinful
— That's true.
— We pray: «May thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.» But if all the logs are rotten the house will eventually collapse. The system must be adjusted. However, people shouldn't suffocate their leader with a pillow when they want to change them. They should be elected legally by the parliament, electors, and so on. Wealth shouldn't be the determining factor when choosing the electors.
— Their worthiness should.
— Yes, their worthiness, and this should reflect their contribution to society, for example, perhaps they were brilliant scientists, or excellent government ministers
— Ok, so whom should we elect to be our monarch?
— I have no idea. Let the people decide.