Many philosophers, theologians and mystics firmly convinced that the past, present and future are inextricably woven into the living tissue of a linear historical time. Most ambitious and meaningful historical events are not completed and not exhausted, no matter how long ago they happened. And this is probably the main thing that history teaches us. If only he teaches ...
At the very least, sometimes it raises anxious, uncomfortable questions, such as: does anything change in human history at all? Not in the scenery and stage setting, but in essence ... So that it would not seem as if life moves along the same circle that inexorably closes the ends of the circle ...
29 May 1453 of the year under the blows of 120-ti thousandth army of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II fell Constantinople. And together with the capital fell thousand-year, one of the greatest in the history of mankind, the Byzantine Empire. The last Emperor of Byzantium perished heroically in the thick of the last battle, which flared up in the gaps of the collapsed wall of the great city. And his name was Constantine, just as 1123 had been called before his great predecessor, the name of which was the name of the legendary city, which now goes to the hidden depths of history. The circle closed, and Ouroboros bit its tail again.
In the death of Constantinople there is something gloomy, mysterious and at the same time inexorably edifying. When the army and the fleet of Mehmed II approached the city, a little more than 12-thousand defenders emerged on the walls of the once-million city, of which about 7 thousand were professional soldiers. Four and a half thousand were militias, plus another 700 order of Genoese mercenaries and about the same number of other variegated allied volunteers.
Given that the total length of the city walls was several tens of kilometers. This, of course, was already agony. The heroic agony of a great empire, in essence obsolete, exhausted itself. The point is not even that the city fell. The fact is that the population of the city, even though it had long gone through its best times, at that time numbered over 90 thousand people.
And in the moments of mortal danger these 90 thousands managed to squeeze out some mockingly pathetic 4,5 thousands. And this means that the empire was no longer there, only the outlines remained, the fragrant smoke of the centimeters, the evening evangelism, fabulous memories of the long gone glorious past.
And I can’t get rid of this annoying and disturbing image, which is again twisting time in a constantly closing circle. I remember the stories of my father and mother, shots of the military chronicles, fragments of Soviet military films, I see huge lines of volunteers crowding around the military offices that cannot cope with the stream of people who want to fight and win.
I look through time and I can’t give a sure answer to the typically typical Russian question that rises up to its full height: if tomorrow is a war, will there be overwhelmingly recruiting stations willing to give the debt of honor and valor to the Fatherland today, or will it happen to us So what happened to 563 a year ago with the last completely degenerated remnants of the Byzantine Empire?
In my opinion, as a coherent and well-studied phenomenon, the history of Byzantium provides a very fertile ground for very fruitful reflections on the most pressing problems of our time and even for predictions for the future. So, summing up the main causes of the fall of Byzantium, described in the works of the greatest Russian historians of the Byzantinists (V. Vasilyevsky, Y. Kulakovsky, F. Uspensky, G. Ostrogorsky, D. Obolensky and A. Vasilyev), one involuntarily reveals the alarming and, alas, absolutely distinct parallels with modern Russian reality.
I will try to give a brief synopsis of the internal causes of the fall of Byzantium listed by our eminent historians, and I will make the conclusions (quite obvious, however, obvious) to the readers themselves.
1. The oligarchic principle (existing at different stages directly or veiled) of the public administration system. The coalescence and deep diffusion of public and private structures, total corruption, the loss of effective levers of government and, as a result, a catastrophic decrease in the role of government regulation.
2. Loss of state control over finances, uncontrolled outflow of capital abroad, reduction of production, goods and products, speculative nature of the entire financial system. Structural distortions of public funding, a sharp decrease in the cost of education, science and culture.
3. Oligarchic decay, the struggle of clans and the opposition of elites, oblivion of the principles of public good.
4. Decorative, selective and corrupt principle of the functioning of the judicial system.
5. Spiritual degradation, the weakening of the religious foundations uniting the citizens of the empire, the betrayal of the faith of the fathers, the division of elites into Westerners and traditionalists, a humiliating union with Rome on the principles of subordination, the complete elimination of the very similarity of a coherent state ideology, the disappearance of civil consensus.
6. Demographic problems, decline in the birth rate, changes in the ethnic composition of the population, especially in the border areas, the settlement of the border areas by peoples who are not going to integrate into the empire and do not share the country's religious, everyday, cultural traditions. Creating enclaves, the growth of separatist sentiment.
7. Full mutual alienation of the ruling elite and the population (citizens) due to the growing property inequality, ideological vacuum, total corruption and the principles of favoritism when appointed to public office.
Neither add nor subtract! I don’t even know who it is about, about the Byzantine period of decline or about modern Russia. It looks like a detailed, in the language of art historians, hyperrealistic portrait of our present, which can repeat the sad Byzantine past.
From myself, I will add to this synopsis also a distracting attention of foreign policy diplomatic activity that flows into apathy of the population, which, however, cannot hide the sweetish and distinct smell of social disintegration. Here you have “the deeds of bygone days, the stories of old times deep”. But, alas, the story still only entertains, but teaches nothing.
Not being a fanatical admirer of the idea of statism, nevertheless, I constantly recall the statement of Arthur Schopenhauer, who brilliantly formulated the very idea of a social contract and expressed in the spirit that the state is an iron muzzle on the feral mouth of human egoism. The egoism that separates us all and therefore extremely dangerous, for: “[In] this kingdom, divided in itself, will become empty; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. ” (Matt. 12: 25).