November 21, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 7190

Kremlin Aide Vladislav Surkov: 'In The Rationalist Paradigm Of Western Civilization, Hypocrisy Is Inevitable'

November 21, 2017
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 7190

Vladislav Surkov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest aide and a key cog in the presidential administration, wrote an article, titled "The Crisis Of Hypocrisy. 'I Hear America Singing'", which was published in the Russian version of the media outlet RT. Surkov, who coined the term “sovereign democracy” according to which Russia is free to select the form of democracy that it prefers and that democracy is not measured by process rather than by institutions states that "in the rationalist paradigm of Western civilization, hypocrisy is inevitable". His conclusion is that the West will either collapse or be wracked by revolution.

It is interesting to read Surkov elaborating on hypocrisy and cunning. Surkov ran public relations for oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and when Khodorkovsky fell out with Putin, Surkov jumped ship and helped blacken his former boss. Surkov has faithfully served Putin whom he has referred to as “the ultimate democrat” as an ideologue and an electoral fixer. Surkov was one of seven official slapped with targeted sanctions by the Obama Administration, an action that Surkov called a great honor.

Below are excerpts from Surkov's article: [1]

Vladislav Surkov with Putin (

There Is A Demand For Simplification, Which Causes Ever More Destructive Rhetorical Storms And Tidal Waves Of Demagogy.

"On 9 November, 5FDP will perform in Moscow. I think it is the best modern American metal band (on a par with Disturbed). Their sound is classical, or, rather, super-classical, because the iconic founders of the genre could not even dream about such sound technologies as are currently available to their followers.

"The frontman with an almost Russian name Ivan and a moderately indecent-sounding (in Russian) surname Мооdy sings clearly and powerfully. I don’t know what the things Moses heard 'out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness' sounded like, but I don’t rule out that it was quite similar to this.

"The lyrics are simple but their skillful use proves that even simple words may suffice to express the strongest feelings and discuss the most complicated subjects. For instance, one of the hits, titled Wash it all away, says the following: 'All of the chaos and all of the lies – I hate it', 'I’m wasting here – Can anyone wash it all away?', 'I’ve given up on society, up on my family… on democracy… on the media… on morality… f**k what you think about me'. And also: 'Done with all your hypocrisy'.

"The song, whose hero rejects the hypocrisy of everyone around him, hit the market in 2015. Shortly before the unusual election of 2016, the progress, results and consequences of which have become a dramatic and not yet quite successful attempt of a 'great society' to purge itself of hypocrisy, to 'wash it all away'. Simple-heartedness has come to grips with propriety on a national level. And whatever acquires a national scale in the U.S. becomes a global trend beyond its borders.

"Now that Hollywood has followed Washington in the self-exposure séances, demolishing its own respectability like a house of cards, the trend has become a megatrend. (A propos Hollywood: the word 'hypocrite' comes from Greek and originally meant 'actor'.) The line 'done with all your hypocrisy' in this context sounds simultaneously like a prophecy, a verdict and a motto for the new era.

"People, ever frequently, and en masse make odd choices. The 'abnormalization’ of the Western political landscape can be observed everywhere. Mistrust for anything ordinary is on the rise. The habitual is regarded as false, fake. The unfamiliar reassures. A normal person loses popularity, a freak gains it.

"Hypocrisy is disgraceful, but in order to study it, one needs, as in the case of studying any discreditable and at the same time widely practiced things, such as war, infidelity, overeating, to look at the issue outside the system of moral coordinates.

"Double standards, sanctimony, duplicity, triple standards, political correctness, intrigues, propaganda, flattery, trickery are widespread, and not only in politics. A society is stable if all its elements have found a common tongue – a language that makes lying easy. Lying not only to others, but to oneself as well.

"The language of hypocrisy is woven of parables, understatements, euphemisms, riddles, metaphors, magic formulas, tabooing and phrase-mongering techniques, clichés, slogans, double talk and labels. It serves as raw material for the popular arts industry and political programming, as well as for everyday communication and even for being silent.

"Saying one thing, thinking another, doing yet another is presumably wrong, but almost nobody manages to do otherwise. Hypocrisy in the rationalist paradigm of the Western civilization is inevitable for two reasons.

"Firstly, the structure of speech itself, or at least coherent, 'sensible' speech, is too linear, too formal to reflect the so-called reality completely. Hegel justly claimed that a non-contradictory statement cannot be true.

What seems logical is always more or less false. Language is a two-dimensional space, and all its means of expression, all its 'richness and diversity', in fact, come down to the endless repetition, on a different scale and on different subjects, of the primitive semantic pair 'yes'/'no'. This on/off switch of any word and any phrases – from a request to pass the mustard to The Brothers Karamazov and the superstring theory – clicks a thousand times per day in billions of heads. But no matter how often it may click, it cannot squeeze the multi-dimensional, oversized world into the flat human reasoning.

"Universal and, one may say, unbridled application of binary codes (yes/no, 0/1, +/-, god/man, angel/demon, Republican/Democrat, truth/lie, etc.) works well. But working well is not the same as being true. That is why, even during the rare bouts of acute truthfulness, what people say is not quite what is actually the case: 'a thought once uttered is a lie'.

"The second reason for the domination of hypocrites is even deeper. Pretending you are not what you are, hiding your intentions – this is a crucial technique of biological survival. Without this, you cannot either attack or hide out in the wild. Humans inherited the dissembling instinct from their wild ancestors and developed it.

"In every culture, there are two major hero types – a warrior and a trickster. Cunning Ulysses is no less revered than mighty and rough Achilles. Of course, Ulysses is a warrior too. He is brave and strong, but his most outstanding features are subterfuge, eloquence, cunning. Enemies do not run at the mere sight of him as they do when Achilles turns up. And it is not he but Achilles who kills the great Hector. But Ulysses, in contrast to Achilles, survives and returns home with honor. And besides, he becomes the hero of a separate poem by Homer, because his deeds are not so identical as Achilles’ and his adventures are engaging and absorbing.

"Trickster, crook, swindler, gambler – these are central figures both in literary works and in real historical events.

"Feints are among the basic skills of a footballer and a boxer. Military stratagem is a general’s main weapon. Treachery is a spy’s valor. Breach of trust is a practiced technique in the fight for power.

"A man is more active in demanding truthfulness and transparency from others than from himself – it’s a natural desire to disarm one’s opponent and stay armed. Competing influence groups furiously demand utmost and often patently unattainable openness from each other, stimulating the growth of innovation in the realm of truth suppression. The most honest people dig themselves into the deep and dark internet. Others refine their skills in plain view. The transparency craze has raised the quality of hypocrisy to a previously unseen height.

In short, hypocrisy is disgusting, effective and inevitable. But hypocritical discourse, languages of lies, and metaphors of hypocrisy become outdated from time to time. When used too often, masking phrases lose their value, inconsistencies and discrepancies stand out.

"Ever increasing verbiage, caveats, justifications, explanations and pauses (with less and less result) are spent to keep the status quo. The system reaches the limit of its complexity, complexity turns into a frightening tangle. There is demand for simplification, which causes ever more destructive rhetorical storms and tidal waves of demagogy.

'We Know Examples When Civilizations Reached A Dangerous Limit Of Complexity. What Followed Was Either A Collapse Or A Life-Saving Simplification Of The System'

"Ethical patterns become blurred. 'I never understood what was wrong or what was right', Moody sings.

"The social contract, which was written in a disintegrating political language, begins to lose its force little by little. Its fundamental provisions, inscribed in gold letters, become tedious and hateful. And the things that were prudishly written in it in fine, almost illegible print, the ones that were relegated to footnotes and appendices by general consent, suddenly begin to interest everybody, and somebody, catching on, is the first to cry: 'We have been deceived!'

"The Hypocrite’s oath – whether on the Bible or on Facebook – can no longer convince anybody.

"Different social groups, deprived of a common tongue, isolate themselves in order to create their own 'truthful' dialect. What happens is a confusion of tongues, a turbulence that lasts until the society, through arguments and conflicts, reaches a point of despair and resignation to some new half-truth, to reformed and 'improved' hypocrisy.

"It is this phase – the intolerance of falseness, confusion of tongues, disappointment with the norm – that some western nations are going through now.

"Crisis of hypocrisy – that’s the name we can give to this cluster of oddities of our time.

"It is obviously not just a question of semantics, not a purely philological or communicational problem. It is one manifestation of major technological, demographic and possibly climatic shifts.

"Interesting and dangerous times. Disintegration of semantic constructions frees an enormous amount of social energy. Will the Western world manage to disperse its surplus via virtual games, TV series about violence, sport competitions, economic bubbles, rap battles and rock concerts, electoral shows, local wars and TV news? Or will the system heat up and reach the temperature of a revolution and a big war? Who knows…

"We know examples when civilizations reached a dangerous limit of complexity. What followed was either a collapse or a life-saving simplification of the system.

"The immensely complex democratic-oligarchic organism of the ancient Roman republic at some point became too complex and started producing chaos instead of order. After the Gracchi and Sulpicius, after revolts and civil wars, came Sulla, then Caesar, and finally Octavian, who gradually terminated the republic. It was replaced by an empire. Emperors did not call themselves kings, not wishing to insult the memory of the republic, but they were kings. And this revamped hypocrisy prolonged the life of the Roman world for a few more centuries.

"Literally all the institutions of republican Rome served one major goal – to prevent the return of the kings. Fear of a power grab made the Romans create an increasingly more elaborate system of checks and balances, and they were so carried away by the process that they got entangled in their own 'blossoming complexity' and had to be disentangled from it with the aid of a simple imperial vertical. The kings came back.

"Maybe tomorrow, the bewildered masses will be led away from 'all of the chaos and all of the lies' by a strong arm. The King of the West, founder of a digital dictatorship, leader with semi-artificial intelligence, has already been foretold by prophetic comics. Why shouldn’t they come true? It’s a possibility.

"'I’m waiting here for anyone to wash it all away', 5FDP is singing. America is singing."


[1], November 7, 2017.

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