World Public Forum for the Dialogue of Civilizations
October 2-6, 2013
4 - Who should be the Successor of the Roman Empire?
Prof. Dr. Dimitri Kitsikis
University of Ottawa, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada,
Honorary President, The Dimitri Kitsikis Public Foundation
1 – What was the Roman Empire?
The World Empire that we call Ecumenical Empire has vanished today. It had nothing to do with the Colonial Empires of the past, as were the British World Empire of Queen Victoria in the 19th century of “Britannia rules the Waves” or the Imperialist Empire of the United States of today, neither with the Class Empire of the Soviets in the 20th century. In fact, both the Colonial and Imperialist Empires were class empires as well, of the feudal class and later of the bourgeois class, while the Soviet Union was the class empire of the workers. Any nation in the world that would have become a socialist Marxist-Leninist state, as Bulgaria for instance, which had expressed the wish to join the Soviet Union, should have joined the Soviet Union. So, if the USA would have become a socialist Marxist-Leninist state, then it would normally join the World Soviet Union of workers.
So what was an ecumenical empire? There were only two genuine ecumenical empires for the last 2500 years: The Chinese Empire and the Empire of the Intermediate Region. From the Intermediate Region was detached as the Moon from the Earth, a third pseudo-ecumenical empire, starting after the reign of Charlemagne and developing with the pretentious title of the so-called Holy Roman Germanic Empire of Charles Quint. In fact it had more to do with the Vatican than with Rome and it developed into the colonial and imperialist empires of the West.
Only the two genuine ecumenical empires used the concept of facing the Barbarians. The Western Empires used the concept of conquering and destroying the natives and the savages. This distinction is paramount. An Ecumenical Empire is universal by definition. This means it has no borders. It is not a state with borders. There exists an outside world, like the extraterrestrial world where undefined creatures live, that could be superior or inferior, but with whom the Universal Empire has no relations. It means, an ecumenical empire has no ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese Empire was forced by the Westerners to create a ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1861 and the Roman Empire of the Ottomans was forced by the same Westerners to create a ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1836. Creating a ministry of Foreign Affairs means that you become a state having relations with other states. You lose the status of an ecumenical empire.
The Ecumenical Empire of the Intermediate Region appeared when the Greek civilization of the city-states, espoused by the Hellenized barbarian state of Macedonia was inculcated into the body of the Persian Empire by subjugating the Greek city-states to the ideal of an Alexandrian ecumenical empire. Alexander did not conquer. He did not expand at the expense of Persia. It was a royal succession story. Alexander took the crown of Persia, put it on his head, proclaimed that the Persian dynasty of Darius had failed and became himself Persian Emperor on the Persian territories.
This Ecumenical Persian Empire of Alexander and his Epigones was continued by the Hellenized barbarian Roman state of Italy who, in the same way that Macedonia had done before, claimed and obtained the succession of the Alexandrian ecumenical empire. Orthodoxy in the 4th century carried on the task by preserving the Greek civilization in the form of a Christian Roman Ecumenical Empire keeping always the Barbarians at large, the empire historians called later Byzantine Empire. A change of dynasty occurred in 1453 which did not alter the substance of the Ecumenical Empire but brought something new at the top: While up to Constantine the Great, the Roman dynasties were pagan, while the dynasties that followed Constantine where Christian, the Ottoman dynasty that succeeded the Christian dynasty of the Palaiologos was of another religion, Bektashism-Alevism, a dynasty that for strictly political reasons, adopted at the beginning of the 16th century with Sultan Yavuz Selim, Sunni Islam, in the form of a political ideology, while continuing to be surrounded by a military and political elite of Christian Romans that had been converted, through the devşirme, into the religion of bektashism.
The Ottoman emperors continued to call themselves Caesars (Kayşar or Kayseri Rum) and Romans (Sultanı Rum) and adopted the same enemies than the Byzantines i.e. the Pope and the Roman Catholics in the West, the Persians in the East. They relied on a Greek-Bektashi common world leaving at the periphery the Arab Sunnis whom they pretended to support but who in reality they neglected. On March 3, 1924, with the end of the Caliphate, the 2500 year-long Ecumenical Roman Empire seized to exist.
2 - Which was the Capital of the Roman Empire?
Alexander captured and destroyed the ceremonial capital of Persia, Persepolis, in 330 BC. But the administrative and intellectual capital of Persia was Babylon since 539 BC which continued to be the capital of Alexander and there he died in 323 BC. After a period of division by the Epigones of Alexander, Rome in Italy arose as a new Babylon in the time of Christ and this is why in the Apocalypse of John, Rome is compared to Babylon (and in the 20th century, New York, as the pagan capital of the West, has also been called Babylon). Being pagan Rome-Babylon is abandoned by Constantine the Great who moved it to Byzantium-Constantinople, and was called the Second Rome. So for the last 1600 years, from 330 AD to 1924, Constantinople has been the capital of the Roman Empire.
The Intermediate Region of Civilization of Christian Orthodoxy and Islam, between the Catholic-Protestant West and the Hindu-Buddhist East (representing the three “planets of civilization” of the Earth) has been represented politically by the Ecumenical Roman Empire with its capital Constantinople for the last 1600 years. This Empire was basically Orthodox with two parameters: the pre-Christian Greek religion and the Bektashi-Alevi religion, while Islam as a Christian heresy of the Arab people had always played a secondary role inside the Empire.
3 - Who Created the Eastern Question?
The Eastern Question is an expression created in the Foreign Affairs departments of the West and in the Political Science departments of the Western Universities to express the will of Western imperialism to subjugate, dismantle and destroy the Ecumenical Roman Empire ruled at the time by the Ottoman dynasty. The Western aim was to take full control of the Eastern Mediterranean and its route to India and stop any attempt of Russia to descend to the Southern warm seas of Eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
Since March 24, 1999, the bombing by Nato of Yugoslavia and the dismantling of that country, the Eastern Question has been promoted as a problem by the United States, the British Commonwealth and its Western Allies, in the same way than in the past. In a planetarian war that started in 1999 and aims at coming to its peak in a generation, around 2030, by a nuclear destruction of China, this new Eastern Question systematically creates chaos and the dismantling of political ensembles in small defenseless states of the type of Kuwait (the Kuwaitization process). The Western aim has not changed since the 18th century: in order to insure the total control of the route of Eastern Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and the Chinese seas by the Anglo-Saxons and keep out of the way Russia, plus China today, no strong state should survive in the way, except as a barrier against Russian descent.
This barrier against Russian descent was expressed in the 19th century by the English doctrine of the “integrity of the Ottoman Empire”. There was a basic contradiction in this doctrine: The Ottoman Empire should be weakened to the point of becoming “The Sick Man of Europe” in order to totally control it but it should not be dismantled because then its pieces would have to be distributed between the Great Powers and England would not have the whole cake. On the other side weakening meant encouraging national and social uprisings inside the Ottoman Empire that would dismantle it and this could be exploited by Russia which then could find its way through the warm seas. This contradiction went on from 1815 to 1914 and finally at the outbreak of the First World War, England was obliged to accept the cutting of the cake with Russia which was promised Constantinople and the Straits in 1915. Fortunately for the West, the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution saved Great Britain which did not have to give the promised share to tsarist Russia.
The story is the same today with the leadership of the Anglo-Saxons having passed from the hands of England to the hands of America. On the one hand Washington encourages since the Truman Doctrine of 1947 the formation of a state barrier against the Russian descent. The blue print is still Alexander’s state from the Adriatic Sea to China. This large territory was occupied by two state entities which were always at odds and could not be united: the Roman-Ottoman Empire and the Persian Empire. So today the best thing Washington could do is to recreate these two state entities: the Neo-Ottoman Empire, up to now through Erdoğan, and the Neo-Persian Empire of the future once the anti-Western leadership in Tehran will be toppled. Already this Neo-Persian Empire was encouraged by Washington to be formed under the Shah, until he was toppled by Khomeini in 1979. As for the Arabs, situated further down, at the belly of the two neo-Empires, they have been used since 1916, since the First World War, as agitators, as dismantlers, only good enough to secure gas to the Western imperialists.
But the same contradiction is present in this new Eastern Question: the two neo-Empires have to stay weak as new “sick men of Europe”, just good enough to stop Russian descent. But weakening means encouraging national and social uprisings inside the two state entities that would dismantle them and this could profit Russia, like in Syria today, which then could find its way through the warm seas. In fact, Assad’s Syria has developed into a Stalingrad, stopping American conquest of the East, on the road to China.
Putin, as a new Stalin, forces the West to sit at the same Yalta-type table and share with him. Washington is aware that in order to come out as the victor against China (the main enemy), at the end of the planetarian war, around 2030, it has to divide and rule, which means to encourage a split between Moscow and Beijing. After all, in the past, even though Russia and China were both Communist allies, they finally became staunch enemies after 1958.
4 – The Internal struggle for succession inside the Intermediate Region
During the 18th-20th centuries Eastern Question, Russia, as a great power was included by historians among the Western Powers. This was wrong. Russia never belonged to the West. Peter the Great’s efforts to Westernize Russia proves it. Only non-Western countries can be westernized. A Western country has no need to be westernized as it is Western “by birth”. Westernization is the process of cultural imperialism developed since the 15th century AD, in order to assimilate the non-Western world of both the Intermediate Region and the East.
On the contrary, Russia always belonged to the Intermediate Region of Civilization and it kept its presence at the northern periphery of the Ecumenical Roman Empire, in the same way Iran was present at the Eastern periphery and the Arabs were present at the Southern periphery. All three peripheral Empires of the Intermediate Region were struggling for centuries to take over the succession of Constantinople to become the Ecumenical Empire. This was an internal conflict to the Intermediate Region: brothers that tried to get hold for themselves of the inheritance left by their father.
So the Eastern Question had two aspects: An internal conflict for succession and an external intervention of the Great Powers aiming, not at preserving the Ecumenical Empire but, on the contrary, aiming at destroying it. When in 1919, the Greeks landed in Smyrna, the sultan in Istanbul “cried like a child” saying that if the British had landed in Smyrna, not being part of the Intermediate Region, they would one day be obliged to quit, while the Greeks being part of the Intermediate Region and struggling for succession, would never leave, if successful.
5 – Russia as Third Rome
In 1453 Turks and Russians were pretenders inside the Intermediate Region to the throne of Constantinople. The Turks won, the Russians lost. But still Moscow proclaimed to be the third Rome after the fall of the Second Rome to the Turks. Why?
The proof that both Empires of the Intermediate Region and the West, pretended to come from the same mother i.e. the Ecumenical Empire of Rome of Greek civilization, is that in the West as well as in the Intermediate Region, the claim of being the Third Rome arose. In the West, the second Rome was the pseudo-Holy Germanic Roman Empire in which Austria’s Habsburgs had attempted to unite Germany under their rule. So the Austrian Empire claimed that they were the heir of that “Holy Roman Empire”, and so they were the Third Rome. The German Empire of 1871 also claimed to be the Third Rome, through lineage of the Holy Roman Empire. That is why the Germans used the title of Kaiser, which meant Caesar. But this claim was even more unfounded as the German Empire was led by a Protestant ruler, not even a Roman Catholic. Still later Mussolini’s Italy claimed to be the Third Rome (Terza Roma). These claims to be the Third Rome proved that up to the 20th century the concept of an Ecumenical Empire survived in the Greek civilization, either genuinely inside the Intermediate Region or bastardized in the realm of the Western planet. The concept of the nation-state is totally foreign to Greek civilization which has always moved between two concepts: the city-state (decentralized communal organization of society) and then Ecumenical Empire (multinational decentralized political ensemble under the coordinating rule of an absolute monarch).
So, when the Roman Empire of the Palaiologos dynasty fell in 1453, there was no question for the disappearance of the Ecumenical Empire. In fact, there had always been one Roman Empire. The expression of “Eastern Roman Empire” was invented by the West to justify the existence of a Western Roman Empire which never existed. The Ottoman dynasty who conquered Constantinople proclaimed to be the Third Rome. Mehmet II declared himself Caesar of Rome. Gennadios, the new ecumenical patriarch, recognized this title to Mehmet and Mehmet enthroned Gennadios as the new ecumenical patriarch. Naturally, the pseudo-Roman Empire of Western Europe could not recognize Mehmet as Caesar of Rome.
The royal lineage played a decisive role in claiming the heritage. Both the Turks and the Russians could pretend to possess such a lineage. Mehmet II was claiming descent from Ioannes Tzelepes Komnenos as his ancestor, sultan Orhan I Gazi (1324-1360) had married a Byzantine princess. Ivan III of Muscovy (1440-1505) had married Zoe-Sophia Palaiologina, niece of Constantine XI (1449-1453).
The Russian claim was not only based on lineage but also on Orthodoxy, the common religion of Russia and Byzantium. This, did not have a significant importance at the beginning because Russia in the 15th century was far away and still considered a barbarian country, but with time and the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the Orthodox Romans of the Empire (be they of Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian, Romanian, Albanian, Armenian, Arab or Turkish languages) started looking more and more to the northern heir they called “to xantho genos tou Borra” (the blond people of the North).
By the beginning of the 19th century, social and national uprisings inside the Ottoman Empire, were calling more and more for Orthodox Russia to help. The West was extremely upset by such a phenomenon but as, after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Russia was a great power and an ally in the Holy Alliance with the West, England and France had to sit at the table of negotiations with Russia, in the same way today, during the Syrian crisis, Obama is obliged to seat at the same table with Putin.
Third Rome or New Rome? The second expression was used for Constantinople since Constantine the Great. Even today, the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul bears officially the title, “Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch”. But in 1589, the importance of Moscow was recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremias II Tranos, who elevated the Russian religious leader from the rank of archbishop of Moscow to that of Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus. Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1924 and the entrapment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate inside the Republic of Turkey which does not recognize the ecumenicity of the Greek Patriarch, it is normal that the Russian Patriarch has taken more and more importance, to the point of disputing the primacy of the Orthodox world to the Greek Patriarch. Furthermore, Moscow is placed on seven hills, as is Rome and Constantinople. The son of Ivan III and of Zoe-Sophia Palaiologina, Vasili III of Russia (1505-1533), received in 1510 a letter from the Russian monk Philotheos of Pskov who in an apocalyptic prophecy, stated: “Two Romes have fallen. The third stands. And there will be no fourth. No one shall replace your Christian Tsardom”.
6 – The importance of Mystras
Zoe Palaiologina was the daughter of Thomas Palaiologos, brother of Constantine XI. Both co-ruled the Despotat of Mystras until, in 1449, Constantine was crowned in Mystras last emperor of Rome and left for Constantinople. After the conquest of Mystras by Mehmet II, Zoe was taken to Rome where the Pope changed her name to Sophia and raised her as a Roman Catholic. He then, in 1469, offered her as second wife to Ivan III of Russia, grand duke of Muscovy, hoping to convert the Russian ruler to Catholicism. Ivan III married her in Moscow in 1472.
But as tradition goes, women make History and Zoe-Sophia (like Hürrem with Süleyman the Magnificent) was a woman inspired by God. Not only didn’t she convert Russia to Catholicism but she entrenched her country of adoption deep into Orthodoxy. Her paramount importance proves how grateful Russia has to be towards the Greeks. Over the years she gained great influence on her husband’s decisions. She was not confined to the royal harem with the other women, but ruled in fact the country and officially received in person the representatives of the foreign countries. As a staunch Orthodox she transformed Russia into Byzantium by introducing grand Byzantine ceremonies and court etiquette and entrenched the idea of Moscow being the Third Rome. She imposed her son Vasili as heir.
Perhaps, Putin had in mind what Russia owes to this maiden of Mystras when he expressed interest in visiting Mystras this year.
Mystras today is a village but the symbolic importance of this castle is paramount for the future of New Rome, compared only to the importance of Constantinople. This is why, in 1975, I decided to marry a genuine maiden from Mystras and built a residence there. I founded in 1996 the Mystras brotherhood that since then publishes a quarterly in Greek called Endiamese Perioche (Intermediate Region). On July 20, 2013, the mayor of Sparta in which Mystras is included, received the visit of Plenipotentiary Minister and ambassador of Russia in Greece, Evgueny Yurkov, who speaks fluent Greek, to whom was handed the official offer to bestow on President Putin the title of honorary citizen of Sparta-Mystras. An eventual private visit of Putin to Mystras, standing inside the cathedral where the last emperor of Byzantium was crowned in 1449, the uncle of Zoe-Sophia Palaiologina, Constantine XI, should be of great symbolic importance.
7 – Who should be the Successor of the Roman Empire?
The three regions of civilization, the West, the Intermediate Region and the East could be compared to three planets, each of them ruled by an ecumenical empire. Two planets are not interdependent. Planet Earth does not depend on Planet Mars. They do not have ministries of Foreign Affairs. They are autarchic. This is why each of them was ruled by an ecumenical i.e. universal empire. It was the case of China and of the Intermediate Region that could not be, by definition, imperialistic. The third planet, a bastard pseudo-planet, which had escaped from the Intermediate Region, pretended to be autarchic but in fact was imperialistic and tried to conquer the two other planets, a process called Westernization. This was due to a psychoanalytical phenomenon of the disturbed Western psyche.
Each of the three planets is represented by a main people who are the guardians of each planet’s civilization. The West is represented today by the USA. The East is represented by China. Hellenism, from ancient Rome to Orthodoxy, is today represented by Russia. So Russia has the right to rule over the Intermediate Region. On condition that it recognizes the spiritual guidance of Hellenism. This also means that in the Russian realm, the Greek language, bearer of the Roman and Orthodox civilization, should be taught to each citizen as the universal language, from the primary school to University. We Greeks, under these conditions, like in the time of Kapodistrias, are expecting the descent of the blond people of the North.
8 – Isocrates against Demosthenes
The kingdom of Macedonia was a barbaric kingdom that was Hellenized in the same way than Rome. The proof of their Hellenization is that they finally participated in the Olympic Games. Their elite were brought up by famous Greek teachers like Aristotle and they adopted the Greek language and the Greek civilization.
Athens in the 4th century BC was in deep decline. Isocrates was hellenocentric and a Pahhellene. For him Hellenism had no borders and only Barbarians existed at the periphery of the Greek Ecumene. On the contrary Demosthenes was an Athenian nationalist. He limited his fatherland to the borders of the city-state, the equivalent of today’s nation-state. Alexandrian Hellenism was universal, Athenianism was shrinking Hellenism. Alexander in 324 BC, one year before his death, gave a memorable speech to his soldiers. He said nationalism was destructive while hellenocentrism included all races under the sky. This was a qualitative jump from the city nationalism of Demosthenes and Euripides’s provincial racism to ecumenical Hellenism which by encompassing the Universe reigned over the Intermediate Region for two thousand years, until 1821, when the revolted Greeks shrunk again into the provincialism of a nation-state. For instance, even though the Greeks owe their success of the 1821 revolution mostly to their fellow Albanians, the society of the present state of Athens, forbids the carrying of the Greek blue and white flag of Bavarian origin, by young Albanian students who win top grades in their classes and who declare to be children of Greek civilization, even though the present Greek state is totally debased, in comparison to its Byzantine past, while the Albanian state still carries the genuine double-eagle red flag of Byzantium.
Russia started like Macedonia and Rome, in the middle of barbarianism and slowly rose to civilization by Hellenizing itself. Alexander fought in the name Hellenic civilization and so did the Romans. Russia should do the same if it wants to be as successful as were its predecessors, the Macedonians and the Romans. Otherwise, the Americans will be staying indefinitely in Eastern Mediterranean till the Chinese take over.