Today finishing off our edifying story about Saint Serafim and the fight to have him canonized in the Russian Orthodox Church. Where we left off, evil moustache-twirling Ober-Procurator Pobedonostsev was digging in his heels and refusing to canonize the beloved hermit. Whom he did not believe provided a good example to Russian children of a holy man who should embody the correct combination of patriotism, God, Tsar and Nation, and all the right stuff. Regular people, sometimes known as “Village Idiots”, begged to disagree. Forces of Good and Evil were lined up for an epic battle between Deep State and Deep People.
The Deep People also dug in their heels and insisted on it: They wanted their Saint! The pro-Serafim movement took on a mass character. The Powers-That-Be were alarmed that the people were basically just spitting on the Holy Synod. Deep People cared very little for the opinions of the Synod, and even less for the opinions of Ober-Procurator Nosferatu. Hundreds of souls, and then thousands, and then hundreds of thousands flocked to pay their respects to “Father Serafim”. (Author Kudryashov doesn’t explain whither they flocked, presumably to his shrine?)
And then suddenly Kudryashov changes tack completely and brings up a modern character: Vladislav Surkov. Who is to Putin, I reckon, as Pobedonostsev was to Tsar Nikolai II. Except that the former does not drink human blood. (That we know of.) The “grey eminence”, in other words. A cog in the machinery of Russia’s modern “Deep State”. Surkov is credited with inventing the term “Deep People”, under the following formula: “The Deep People always keep to their own thoughts, they are inaccessible to sociological surveys, agitation, threats, and other methods of direct instruction or influence. A revelation who exactly these people are, what they think and what they want, often comes suddenly and too late and not even to the people who would be able to do something about it.”
“Comes as a revelation to the wrong people” – those are golden, winged words. Only the highest caliber of politician is able to guess the secret wishes of the “Deep People” and be able to play them, like a card in the deck, at just the right time.
Tsar Nikolai II, to do him justice, did try to play this card. He overrode the wishes of his Consigliere and personally saw to it that Serafim Sarovsky was Sainted. The actual canonization was just a formality, as the Russian “Deep People” already (informally) considered him to be a Saint. Their Saint. And Tsar Nikolai did the right thing, following the basic political postulate: “If you can’t fight them, then go to the front and lead them.” It was his personal attempt to get closer to the people he ruled; and this just at the right time, when the masses were in revolutionary ferment and turning against him. But Nicholas was in denial: Every time one of his advisors came rushing to him crying: “Sire! The peasants are revolting!” he would just pooh pooh it: “Not at all. My people love me. And I love them.”
But playing the “Deep People” card can be a two-edged sword, not to mention lead to the mixing of metaphors. In the end, Nikolai probably should have listened to his Consigliere Pobedonostsev. In other words, given the Deep People a glimpse of the whip, instead of pretending to be one of them. Instead he graciously lended his august presence to the triumphant canonization of Saint Serafim Saratov, a huge event attracting over 150,000 devout pilgrims.
Another nay-sayer, General Alexander Mosolov, Head of the Imperial Court Ministry, penned these words in connection with that event: “The Tsar was convinced that the people sincerely love him, and that all the unrest was an artificial thing brought in by outsiders and curried by the power-hungry intelligentsia. It was after the canonization that one could frequently hear the Tsar utter the words Tsar and people in combination. He became confirmed in his view of his subjects, as if they were adolescents (who needed his guidance).”
This short-sighted view of the “Deep People”, as we know, cost the Tsar very dearly, not to mention his family.