The Policy of Eurasianism

_ Henry Norman Spalding (using the pseudonym «by an English Eurasianist»). «Russia in Resurrection. A summary of the views and of the aims of a new Party in Russia». Part Three: Eurasian Russia. Chapter II. The Policy of Eurasianism. London, 1928.

Part Three: Eurasian Russia

Chapter II. The Policy of Eurasianism

Europe, Asia and Russia

Should the Eurasians succeed to the government of Russia, what will be their aim and policy ?

The terrible experiences of the last ten years have set them to learn the lessons of the past and present. They have realized that the Westernizing policy pursued by the directing classes during the last two hundred, and particularly during the last ten, years, has been unsuited to Russian conditions and to the Russian character; and they draw the conclusion that, as Russia is as much akin to Asia as to Europe, the solution for the future lies in developing neither her European nor her Asiatic element only, but both — in a word, in realizing that the fundamental Russia is Eurasian. And the reason why European influence has been specially injurious to Russia is that Europe is itself in some respects in decline. It seems to the Eurasians (as to some Europeans) to have reached its zenith in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, when (notwithstanding much feudal turbulence) all its varied activities centred upon and were unified and vivified by the idea of God. But since about the year 1300 and especially since the Renaissance Europe has gradually lost its hold upon the Divine Idea and has become secularized and materialized. The Latin world revolves about the Roman Church which, based upon the tradition of Roman law, seeks for unity, not in the freedom of a common love for Truth, but in dogma and authority imposed from without. The Teutonic world has greater defects. Thanks to the direction given to Prussian policy by the Great Elector and by King Frederick William the First, that State has steered a course toward continual aggrandizement, to be gained by alternating periods of war and of peace — as Clausewitz put it, war and peace are but a continuation of one another. Prussia was accordingly organized during the peace intervals as a Police State and the life of the subject straitened by police regulations alike in small matters and in great. Meanwhile, as religion declined in Europe, an interest in Nature grew; Natural science developed rapidly, and with its application came the Industrial Revolution, and in due course international trade and colonial expansion, with an unconscionable exploitation of other races in the material interests of Europe. In the face of these facts the Eurasians consider that the common European claim that the civilization of the West is the finest in the world, that it ought to be imposed on other peoples and that it is the goal at which they should aim, is far from being justified. “Independently of the opinions simultaneously expressed by Spengler and others in Europe,” they write, “the Eurasians came to realize that European civilization cannot justly claim to be regarded as the ultimate expression of the evolution of every civilization throughout the world. European civilization, great as it is, is merely one of the civilizations of the world, and therefore its meaning to humanity is not absolute. It has been often noticed that a European will call “barbarian”, not what is really inferior, but what is simply incomprehensible to his mind. If it is easy to prove the high efficiency of the technical achievements of Europe at the present time, which are greater than any others known to history, it is not easy to say as much about its spiritual achievements.”

Outside of Europe (in the Eurasian view) stand both the Anglo-Saxon civilizations. Great Britain, like Russia, stands apart, facing towards her great Dominions and colonies overseas and enlarging her spirit with the problems they present. She took, indeed, a leading part in industrial and commercial development, and during the nineteenth century her history is disfigured by the abuses of the industrial system. But in Great Britain a serious attempt has been and is being made to remedy these abuses and to use the new wealth which science is creating in the service of the community, while at the same time British administrators beyond the seas — in India, in Africa, and so on — are coming more and more clearly to realize that other races should be neither exploited nor brought up in British ideals, but encouraged to develop their own civilizations. In so far as it realizes these aims the British Commonwealth already puts into practice the principles of Eurasianism. America (in their view) is seeking to found a new civilization, to which the Monroe doctrine may contribute a similar largeness of view.

But it is in the ancient civilizations of Asia that the Eurasians find in some respects the closest kinship to their own. Thus Confucius founded the civilization of China upon five moral relationships — the loyalty of son to father, of wife to husband, of younger to elder brother, of friend to friend, of subject to Emperor, and in turn of the Emperor himself to Heaven; and upon that rock he established the stablest State that the world has ever known. The Buddha based a community that has since spread over the whole of Eastern Asia upon a tender and pitying love for all living things. Islam is built on an implicit obedience to the Commands of God, as of a soldier to his officer’s. Hinduism animates a society wholly centred upon the idea of God — God at all times and in all places. In each of these communities the Eurasians see a conception like their own — a subordination of society primarily to Truth — to Truth as revealed in one way to one community and in another to another. Accordingly they sympathize warmly with the revolt of Asia against European exploitation which has increasingly manifested itself since (strangely enough) the defeat of Russia by Japan in 1905; and still more since the Great War. In some individual cases there is perhaps a tendency to sympathize almost too warmly to adopt the fatally easy course of exalting Asia by belittling and disparaging the greatness of Europe. That is not unnatural in view of what Russia has suffered and is at present suffering from the fanaticism of European materialism; in order to bend the stick straight it is pulled for a time too far the other way. But the extreme Eurasian— he would more accurately be called an Asian — is only repeating the other way round the mistake made by the extreme Westerner: the one admires everything in Europe and the other nothing, a lack of discrimination hardly likely to lead to Truth, in the one case as in the other. Such extremists (whom it would be quite a mistake to regard as typical or as other than exceptional) belie both the name and the fundamental principle of the party to which they belong: the party is Eurasian, seeking in due proportion what is best in both Continents.

While therefore rejecting the pernicious European influences of the last two centuries, the Eurasians want Russia to be open to every good influence, from whatever quarter it may spring. In this way they believe that she will best be able to develop her own characteristic civilization and culture. They see her as “a geographical world apart” contiguous partly with Europe and partly with Asia, cut off from both by mountain ranges and by landlocked or frozen seas, but potentially self-sufficing, her remote parts accessible to one another as across a land-ocean. Similarly they see her races as partly of European and partly of Asiatic origin, but modified from the first by intermarriage, so that even the predominant Slav race mingles the blood of Asia with its own. They see the spirit of Russia as the fruit of a marriage between the cultures of Europe and of Asia; Tsargrad and the Mongols have especially influenced it in the past, modern Europe, when its influence has been duly purged and sifted, will add its contribution in the future. In a word, they desire that Russia should again take up the task of developing her own distinctive civilization, which is essentially spiritual, purifying it of the elements of weakness that have disabled it in the past, and at the same time further enriching it with every element of good that she is able to absorb from the civilizations alike of Europe and of Asia.

They look upon the ten years of Bolshevik rule as the transition from the European to the Eurasian epoch. Bolshevism is Westernism, or rather the evil element in Westernism, carried to its uttermost extreme, and therefore breaking itself in pieces against the Eternal Truth. As they wrote as long ago as 1921 in the Preface to their first book: “The authors have no words but of horror and disgust with which to characterize the inhumanity and abominations of Bolshevism. But they admit that the utter ruthlessness of the Bolsheviks — a ruthlessness to which history offers no parallel — has illuminated the problem as nothing else could have done, showing up with terrible distinctness the sordid poverty of Communism, both spiritual and material, and its loathsome character generally, as well as the redeeming power of religion. By passing from theory into fact Bolshevism has secured its own rejection, and out of the Revolution come forth the elements by which Communism will eventually be overthrown.” Hence the Bolshevik episode appears to the Eurasians, not merely as a revolution, but also as part of the evolution of their country, and they accept it as such. They would be untrue to the faith that is in them were they to turn back to anything that is merely or predominantly secular or Western, whether it were absolute or Parliamentary monarchy, republicanism or socialism. But neither do they want to turn to what is purely Asian — an inward devotion with little external organization. Their aim may be roughly summed up by saying that they want to reanimate Russia with the spirituality — the devotion to God and His Truth — that is most closely akin to Asia; but that they believe that this end may best be attained by preserving and reforming — in the spirit of Europe — the industrial and political organization that has recently grown up in Russia. Thus (roughly speaking) their spirit is Asian, their method European.

In the first place, then, since the fundamental mistake of the past — of the last two hundred and especially of the last ten years — has been to treat Russia as primarily a secular State of the European kind, the greatest lesson for the future is to realize that she is primarily a religious community, a Church containing a State, not (like the countries of the West) a State containing a Church. However well-ordered society may be, however great the material opportunity which it offers, the Russian heart (like other hearts in their inmost depths) can never be satisfied by the world that is visible to sense alone; it needs for its happiness contact with an invisible world, communion with a Being Infinitely Good; its desire is still to-day, as of old, for the joy of eternal life in God, now and everlastingly. In the words of the Komsomol youth, a Russian cannot be happy unless he feels that this life is part of an eternal life and that God is the End of all. As the Eurasians put it in the Manifesto now in circulation in Russia: “The people of Russia cannot conceive life without the idea of God. It is on this idea that their conceptions of good and morality are based. The order of life is closely bound with religion, which penetrates every sphere. Therefore a government that will not recognize religion as the ferment of the nation’s life cannot be called a demotic government.” Yet at the same time this spirit must embody itself in appropriate institutions; and here the Eurasian movement draws closer to Europe. While on the one hand Bolshevism is destroying the Western spirit, on the other it is leaving an economc and political deposit that may be transformed to meet-the genuine needs and wishes of the Russian people now and in the future. Such are for instance, the division of private lands among the peasants, the local autonomy the several regions and races and the pyramid of soviets. These institutions do not belong to the core of Bolshevik theory; they sprang rather out of the hard facts of the situation, and therefore have their roots in reality. By preserving and reforming all that they can of the Bolshevik regime the Eurasians believe that they will smooth the transition from the present to the next form of government, and will also give strength and stability to the future State. They hold that in so doing they are acting in accordance with what is best and sanest in European statesmanship. They are not, indeed, copying European institutions; but when did the British, for example, import their political institutions from abroad? No, instead of sweeping everything away and starting afresh with a paper programme (after the manner of some Continental revolutionaries and of the Bolsheviks themselves) the Eurasians propose to retain what is of natural growth, eliminating abuses and adapting and developing, where necessary even compromising ; thereby following the precedent and acting in the spirit of politically the most experienced people in the world.

The general lines of their economic and political policy have been thrashed out at the numerous Conferences that have been held during the last three years, occasionally in Russia, generally in Europe. Both residents in Russia and emigrants in Europe have throughout been represented. Those present have included thinkers and men of action — economists, philosophers, administrators, soldiers; and every endeavour has been made to avoid the mistakes of the past and to propose what will meet the desires of the people today and serve them well in the future. The following account of the policy so arrived at is based chiefly on the Manifesto already referred to, entitled “Eurasianism as formulated in 1927″. This was drawn up at a Conference held in the Spring of that year, and is the successor to a similar statement issued in 1925. The Eurasian programme must, however, be considered as still in some measure provisional and incomplete. It retains as much Bolshevik law as it can, at the same time greatly modifying it; in especial, it accepts what may be called the welfare programmes for agriculture and industry, as well as the soviet and federal systems. A good many of its provisions have remained under the Bolsheviks, for lack of will or power, almost or entirely a dead letter; but the Eurasians believe that their own sounder principles, economic, political and religious, will enable them to carry these into effect. Three main principles emerge from their deliberations: the rights of property are ” functional “, that is, carry with them duties to the community; government should be “demotic”, based on popular support and representation; races and nations are equal, that is have an equal right to develop their own civilization and culture, with or without the help of some other Power, but free in either case from selfish explotiation.

To be continued…

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