About That Bizarre Tsarist Wedding in St. Petersburg


In a yet another demonstration of how insanely revanchist the ruling class of Russia has become, St. Petersburg hosted the absurd spectacle of a Romanov wedding last week. In a B-movie rendition of similar circuses staged by his British cousins, Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov, 40, wed the Italian commoner Rebecca Bettarini, 39.

Held in St. Isaac’s Cathedral, various inbred aristocrats and nobles from across the continent, as well as reactionary domestic oligarchs, clearly aspired for epic production values. But instead it all ended up looking like a rube’s regatta, with everyone committing the unforgivable faux pas of using their cellular phone cameras as if they were at a celebration in the middle of rural Montana. Can you imagine Queen Elizabeth allowing her brood of gormless goons to behave in a similar fashion at a nuptial ceremony for the House of Windsor?

The conservative Russian press was salivating, proclaiming the return of this filthy, evil family of racist vipers. Alexander Dugin, the freakish fascist philosopher on the Volga, told NPR “It’s a kind of imperial wedding. A remembrance of eternal Russia — of sacred czars and patriarchs and (the) church.”

But the real shocker was how Valerie Hopkins of the New York Times was able to repackage a celebration for one of the most insanely antisemitic mafia families in the history of the modern world for the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. This took talent!

The maniacal Jew-hatred of the Russian monarchy is legendary, so intense that the United States experienced a massive immigration surge in the latter decades of the 19th century made up of those escaping from the carnage of the pogroms and the Pale.

But in the name of a neurotic anticommunism that has been the bipartisan consensus for over a century, Americans have conveniently forgotten that the Romanovs were actively perpetuating a systemic antisemitism unto their dying days. Back in the 1990’s, for instance, 20th Century Fox released a cutesy animated film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, Anastasia, which portrayed the Royal Family as the poor victims of an evil curse cast by Rasputin, who unleashed the Revolution upon the land in a manner akin to the machinations of Prospero.

Animators Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, 2016./Fair Use.

Imagine if Rupert Murdoch were to reset this story in the American South, saying that the antebellum plantation aristocracy had imploded because of witchcraft? That is how vile this political rehabilitation is.

Tsar Nicholas II was a bigot and creep. He promoted antisemitic propaganda, like mass printings of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, of which he wrote “What depth of thought! What foresight!” He was happy to see the blossoming of right wing vigilante militias, the Black Hundreds movement, because he held Jews responsible for revolutionary uprisings in 1905 and 1917. “His belief in a world Jewish conspiracy, combined with his contempt for democracy, made him a fascist before the word was coined,” wrote Robert Service, a Fellow of the Hoover Institute, a hub of American anticommunism in California. While living under house arrest in the year between his abdication and his execution, he read The Protocols aloud to his family.

The political rehabilitation of the Romanov dynasty in Russia has been even more disturbing. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the executed monarchs have gone from personae non grata to quite literal saints, being canonized by the Orthodox Church in 2000. In 2017, an investigation including both the Church and government officials began to probe whether the political execution was in fact a “Jewish plot.” Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov of Yegoryevsk told the Russian media outlet Tass “We have the most serious attitude to the [claim of a Jewish] ritual murder. Moreover, a significant part of the church commission has no doubts that this was so.” This is part of a larger series of developments, including the repeal of Soviet-era laws against domestic violence and a crackdown on LGBTQQIA+ communities. Even if there is only 3% support for a full monarchist restoration in Russia, the influence of the Church, which somehow has the extraordinary talent of being more regressive than their Roman Catholic cousins, runs deep and has made significant impact upon post-Soviet society. President Vladimir Putin has built his power base over the past two decades by incorporating the Church into his constituency, including putting the aforementioned Bishop Shevkunov quite close to his ear.

The Times included this quote: “Putin doesn’t plan to congratulate the newlyweds,” said President Vladimir V. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, whose daughter attended the celebration. “This wedding has nothing to do with our agenda.”

But I suspect this is more a matter of pragmatic calculus rather than principled opposition to these freaks. The major inter-capitalist feud in Russia is a matter of economic orientation. One section, the Atlanticists, desire to integrate the Russian economy more completely into the Western European/Wall Street system, allowing for a return to the laissez-faire lunacy of the 1990s that turned the country into a neo-feudal debtors colony where Western banks liquidated the national assets and decreased life expectancy by six years. The other sector, the Eurasianists, which Putin aligns with, takes a more inward-looking, economic nationalist inclination, seeking instead to build up an intercontinental system linked with China, Iran, and other geopolitical hubs along its massive border. Given the number of European monarchs that came out for this strange circus, not to mention Grand Duke George’s business connections, it seems fair to call him an Atlanticist, meaning Putin is giving him the cold shoulder so not to endorse a potential rival.

Thirty years ago everyone said that our triumph in the Cold War had led to the End of History. Are we sure that we merely didn’t hit the reset button?

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