Book highlight from “Understanding Contemporary Ukrainian and Russian Nationalism: The Post-Soviet Cossack Revival and Ukraine’s National Security” by Dr Olexander Hryb.
Part 1 of the highlight introduced the concept of Eurasianism; Part 2 focused on Putin’s statements of his civic nationalism; Part 3 outlined his idea of the reign of ‘Russian civilisation’. Part 4 addresses the issue of Russia’s return to Eurasian ideology. If you continue visiting our Blog Page you’ll be able to read further parts of the highlight.
4.2.4 Revival of Political Eurasianism ideology in Russia
Putin’s departure from Soviet nationality policy and the use of Eurasianism terminology suggests more than a pure coincidence. Some scholars suggest that Putin embraced Eurasianism only reluctantly after his hope for integrating Russia with the West during the first two presidential terms has failed. Unwanted (misunderstood) in Europe, Vladimir Putin had to found a justification for his new course of reorientation (povorot) towards China and the ‘Eurasian’ ideology suited best. However, the official launch of the Eurasian Economic Union in January 2015 suggests much more profound approach towards restructuring of geopolitical space between the European Union and China. Eurasianism as an indigenous Russian political philosophy assumes inner connection between Slavic population of Russia, Belorussia and most of Ukraine with Turkic speaking peoples populating historical space between the Great Chinese Wall in the East, Carpathian mountains in the West and Central Asia in the South and as such makes an ideal solution for a common unification ideology for what is essentially a Russian empire at its largest.
Historically, Eurasianism ‘was an emotional reaction’ of the White emigration intellectuals to the Catastrophe i.e. the Bolshevik revolution in Russia (in words of philosopher Nikolay Berdyaev). The key figures like Prince Trubetskoy or Petr Savitskiy believed in unique Russian, spiritual ‘otherness’, in comparison with materialistic and decadent Europe, that originated from Russian synergy with Turkic people of Eurasian steppes. Nikolay Trubetskoy claimed that Russia is not a country but a separate civilization – the “Russian World”, based on the superior Orthodox Christianity, and clearly distinct from Europe as much as from Asia. Trubetskoy prophesised that Russia as a continental power will create a new Eurasian order, once Communism will outlive itself, as unnatural Western European ideology introduced by the Bolsheviks. Petr Savitskiy introduced the key idea of early Eurasianists about Mongol rule in Russia as a symbiotic process of the Eurasian state formation and not a Tatar-Mongol Yoke widely accepted in Russian historiography previously. As Andreas Umland mentioned, early Eurasianists supported USSR ideology as long as it was ‘anti-Western, isolationist and imperialist’. Some of early Eurasianist thinkers were openly anti-Semitic (Vasiliy Shulgin) and fascist (Ivan Illyin). The later worked in Gebels’ Ministry for Propaganda (as head of anti-Komintern department) until 1938 and advocated fascist ideology even after WW2. Some Eurasianists were supportive of multiculturalism and social inclusiveness as they could not see the Russian empire being rebuild on a mono-ethnic basis (i.e. ‘Russia for Russians’ only).
Lev Gumilev developed Eurasian ideology after WW2 in a way acceptable (just) for the Soviet authorities who would not allow any explicit Russian nationalism. Gumilev’s theory of Russian super-ethnos as a biological organism imbedded in its geographical niche became a foundation of the new Eurasianists movement that has flourished after the collapse of the USSR. Gumilev’s theory of ideal cohabitation of Slavs and Turkic speaking peoples proved to be very popular in Tatarstan, and especially Kazakhstan, where President Nazarbayev was first to adopt anti-imperialist version of the Eurasian ideology, and even named a new national university in Gumilev’s name. However, all poetic humanism of Gumelev’s heritage was lost among the ‘new Eurasianists’ who picked up mostly White emigres’ imperialist tradition and, in case of Aleksandr Dugin, openly fascist ideology. Most worryingly, President Putin not only quoted fascist-Eurasianist Ivan Ilyin three times in his official speeches but also personally took part in televised repatriation and re-burial of Ivan Ilyin in a new Moscow shrine, organised by Patriarch Kirill in 2009 (Snyder 2016).
Coming up next on our Blog: 4.2.5 New Eurasianism: Implications and contradictions
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr Olexander Hryb is a London based writer with over 20 years experience in research, analysis, media and PR. He studied history, politics and the sociology of culture in Lviv, Prague and Warsaw. Olexander worked as a broadcaster and online journalist for the BBC World Service, Polish Radio (Overseas Service) and as analyst for DCD Intelligence. He is currently an associated member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology as well as a Cultural Adviser in the British Army. His articles appeared in the Ukrainian Review (London), Border and Territorial Disputes of the World Series (John Harper), and the British Army Review.
“Understanding Contemporary Ukrainian and Russian Nationalism: The Post-Soviet Cossack Revival and Ukraine’s National Security” by Dr Olexander Hryb is available on Amazon:
ABOUT “UKRAINIAN VOICES” BOOK SERIES
Dr Hryb’s book is the second volume in the “Ukrainian Voices” book series.
The “Ukrainian Voices” book series includes English- and German-language monographs, edited volumes, document collections and anthologies of articles authored and composed by Ukrainian politicians, intellectuals, activists, officials, researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, and diplomats.
The series aims to introduce Western and broader audiences to Ukrainian explorations and interpretations of historic and current domestic as well as international affairs.
The purpose of these books is to familiarise non-Ukrainian readers with how some prominent Ukrainians approach, research and assess their country’s development and position in the world. The series was founded in 2019, and the volumes are collected by Andreas Umland.
You can watch an online presentation of the first volume of the series – Ukraine’s Maidan, Russia’s War by Mychailo Wynnytsky here