The Mythologem of Ritual Regicide in the Context of Modern Conspirological Myth

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Honorary Prof.
Affiliation: Herzen State Pedagogical University named after A. I. Herzen
Address: Russian Federation, St. Petersburg
Occupation:  Department of Sociology and Religious Studies
Affiliation: Herzen State Pedagogical University named after A. I. Herzen
Address: Russian Federation, St. Petersburg
Occupation:  Assoc. Prof. of Sociology and Religious Studies
Affiliation: Herzen State Pedagogical University named after A. I. Herzen
Address: Russian Federation, St. Petersburg
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya

Today the term “ritual murder” is a constant meme of the ideological discourse. In their analysis of the events connected with the death of the last Russian emperor, the members of his family and his servants which took place a century ago, the modern followers of the radical Orthodox movements address the ritual murder mythologem in order to justify the special status of Nicholas II among the Russian saints. The faith in the ritual character of Nicholas II murder creates alarmist attitudes and eschatological fears that require attention of sociologists. The article analyzes social and semiotic features of the ritual murder mythologem. Using the material of “sacralization of the tsar” discourse the authors analyze pragmatic and semantic aspects of the main concepts that form the myth of the ritual murder and the specifics of its social pragmatics. The authors prove that the mythologem of the ritual murder of Nicholas II is an integral concept of the “sacralization of the tsar” semiotic sphere. The other murdered princes and tsars from the saints Boris, Gleb and Andrei Bogolyubsky to the Emperor Paul I act as symbolic predecessors of the last Emperor, creating a precedent context of his special deed as the “Redeemer Tsar”. According to the forming mystical and political mythology, the murder of an Orthodox tsar is a necessary mystical and indirectly ritual act. In such a way the mechanisms of the broad interpretation of this mythologem are formed, which leads to the strengthening of gloomy eschatology. Today, when the Russian Orthodox community is tensely awaiting the conclusion of a commission to identify the remains of the royal family, the mythologem of ritual murder family of the last Russian Tsar ought to be included in the political agenda of our time. Periodically made by some Hierarchs of the Church and public figures statements about the supposedly ritual nature of this murder cause a significant public response, the formation of discourses of the conspiracy myth around the Yekaterinburg tragedy can exacerbate the religious situation and have a negative impact on the dynamics of interreligious relations. Against the backdrop of these processes, it is likely that hermeneutics mythologem of ritual murder can be used as a tool for shaping public opinion and radicalizing а segment of Orthodox believers.

Keywordssocial history, Nicholas II, ritual murder, mythology, hagiography, religious cults, sacralization of the tsar discourse, conspiracy theories, eschatology
Publication date29.11.2018
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