The National Identity of Russia in the 21st Century

_ Yuri Kofner, editor-in-chief, analytical media “Eurasian Studies”. Munich, June 2017.

1. Russia has four cultural and historical origins

They manifested themselves in the following chronological order:

1. North (Rus’) 2. South (Byzantium) 3. East (Golden Horde / Steppes) 4. West (Europe).

2. Russia – Eurasia

Russia is Eurasia. And Eurasia is a common space. This is for the following reasons:

1. Geographic

  • Control over the vertical rivers does not give control over the whole of Eurasia.
  • Control over the horizontal steppes does give control over the whole of Eurasia.
  • Eurasia is externally framed by a mountain chain.
  • The Ural ridge does not divide Russia into Europe and Asia.
  • The horizontal geographical “four strip flag”  of the tundra, forest, steppe and desert unites the whole of Eurasia from one end to the other.

2. Climatic

  • Eurasia is the territory that is below the zero degrees isotherm of January.

3. Ethno-cultural

  • The Slavo-Turkic synthesis (including / with participation of  Finnish, Iranian and Caucasian ethnic groups.
  • There is a relativly smooth transition from one ethnic group to another (from East to West and vice versa).

4. Historical

  • Eurasia has historically been united five times: 1. Scythian cultural community (8 – 2 century BC); 2. Turkic khaganates (5 – 8 centuries); 3. Mongolian Empire (12th – 15th centuries); 4. Russian Empire (16 – 20 century); 5. Soviet Union (20th century).
  • The Eurasian Union (21st century) is the new, i.e. sixth, unification of Eurasia so far.

3. Russia is a polyethnic state

Russia is a quasi mono-ethnic state in its ethnic composition, however (!) it is polyethnic in its administrative structure and overall spirit. Any attempt to transform Russia into a mono-national statee would lead to the death of Russia and to a civil war of unprecedented proportions.

1. Constitutional

  • Russia is a polyethnic state under the Constitution of the Russian Federation (1993).

2. Ethnic

  • In Russia there are 194 officially recognized and registered peoples and nationalities.
  • The population of Russia is 147 million people (2016).
  • According to the population census (2010), its ethnic composition is as follows:

1) Russians – 81%

2) Tatars – 4%

3) Ukrainians – 1.4%

4) Bashkirs – 1,2%

5) Chuvash – 1%

6) Chechens – 1%

3. Administrative

  • Russia is a federal state.
  • Russia has 85 federal states (so called “subjects”), of which 22 are republics. According to the Constitution of Russia, each republic is a state having its own constitution and language.

4. Threats

  • Russia’s enemies are trying to break up the country from within by using two political forces:

1) Westernizers – “liberals” (e.g. the “White Winter” color revolution). This attempt failed since there is not a large enough support base among the population for this opposition group.

2) Incitement of narrow nationalistic-ethnic extremism. This is the more dangerous threat. Especially radical Islamic and Russian narrow-ethnic nationalistic separatisms.

5. Unity in diversity

The Russian state actively opposes these threats by pursuing two aspects in its ethno-cultural policy:

1) Education of all-Russian patriotism.

2) Support and development of the indigenous peoples of Russia.

4. Russia is the last Europe

  • Russia is not an “underdeveloped” part of (Western) Europe (Westernism is a flawed theory).
  • Russia, like the whole of Eurasia, indeed has a European origin, but it is Byzantine in its nature. Western Europe is the heir of Western Rome. Russia is the heir of Eastern Rome.
  • Because of moral decline (cultural Marxism, postmodernism, Americanization, mass immigration), Western Europe increasingly ceases to be “Europe”. Yet Russia, thanks to the preservation of its cultural and historical identity, including its European one, against the background of decadent Europe is becoming more an more European than Europe itself. The same is true for Eastern Europe (i.e. Poland and Hungary), but to a lesser extent.
  • Europe (the predominantly Romano-Germanic civillization) is no longer the enemy of Russia, which it was in the first half of the 20th century. Europe in the eyes of Russia is now a potential ally, that is yet occupied by the United States. The new enemy is now the USA and globalist financial oligarchy.

5. The legacy of the Soviet Union

1. Peter the Great brought the European modernity to Russia. From this moment on political life in Russia has been inconceivable without the three political theories of modernity: liberalism, communism and nationalism.

2. Communism was an implanted Western ideology, however, the Soviet Union itself turned out to be Eurasian in its implementation.

3. In the USSR, the “national-patriotic” version of socialism won. Trotskyism-globalism lost and was forced to emigrate to the West, where it then turned into cultural Marxism and market globalism. The Soviet Union and the socialist Eastern bloc were broken up – not by nationalists, but by liberal globalists.

4. Specific achievements of the USSR, the Russian Federation inherited:

      • Social achievements: education and health care are still free for all.
      • Victory Day (VE-Day over Nazi Germany).
      • Anti-imperialism (for example, Moscow’s military intervention in Syria).
      • Friendship of Peoples (Labor Day, Spring and Peace Day, World Forum of Youth and Students – 2017).
      • A thirst for science and technological advancements (for example, cosmonautics)

Thanks to the Soviet Union, Russia did not transition into the postmodern era (of debaucher) as the West did. This transistion was impossible due to the ideological and political regime enforced in the USSR.

6. Conservative renaissance in post-Soviet Russia

1. Revival of religion and religiosity

      • Religion was banned in the USSR for 70 years. Because of this religion became desirable among the people (it is in human nature to want what is prohibited). In the West it was the other way around: religion was always allowed, but now it is becoming increasingly ridiculed by Western media and postmodern philisophy.

2. Revival of family values ​

      • Since 2008, the Day of Love, Family and Fidelity (July 8) has become a national holiday.

3. Revival of patriotism

      • National patriotism is actively educated by the state.
      • Revival of the peoples’ ethno-cultural traditions is activly supported by the state.
      • Since 2005, the National Unity Day (November 4) is activly celebrated with marches and cultural events.

4. Negative experience of the 1990s

      • During the troublesome 1990s Russia briefly became a taste of postmodernism, but it quickly rejected it.
      • Because of the bitter experience of the 1990s, Western “liberalism” is associated in Russia with poverty, civil war, corruption, debauchery, lawlessness and national humiliation.

5. Gradual convergence of patriotism and realpolitik

      • Putin is a realpolitiker. At the same time, he promotes Russian social and religious philosophy (Dostoyevsky, Ilin, Berdyaev, Solovyev) among the Russian administrative elite.
      • There is also a gradual convergence between neoclassical Eurasianism and pragmatic Eurasianism (i.e. the process of Eurasian economic integration).

7. The future of Russia is Greater Eurasia

Russia’s national self-identification in the 21st century will increasingly take place under the slogan “Russia is the center of Greater Eurasia”.

“Greater Eurasia” is both a geographic concept covering the whole Eurasian continent as defined by German geographer Alexander von Humboldt, as well as a way of describing the emerging nexus of continental “integration of integrations” and the network of FTAs within the EU – EAEU – China “triangle”, as well as with other regional players.

Breaktrough to the South

      • Expansion of the SCO (accession of Pakistan and India in 2017).
      • FTA between the EAEU and Iran, India, Egypt.
      • Increased economical partnership with Turkey.
      • North-South trasnport corridor project.

Turn to the East

      • Russia’s political and economic strategic partnership with China.
      • One Road – One Belt and Silk Road Economic Belt projects
      • In 2016, the trade turnover of the EAEU with the Asian Pacific Region (43%) was for the first time higher than with the EU (40%).
      • Active development of the Far East of Russia (cosmodrome “Vostochny”, the Far East hectare program)

Offense by the West

      • Europe supported a pro-Western coup d’état in Ukraine (formerly one of Russia’s closest etho-cultural states) and sanctions against Russia, which is why Westernism as a political choice practically died out in Russia.
      • The US-American occupation of Europe has only intensified over the least decades.
      • It is unlikely that the “Lisbon to Vladivostok” common economic space concept (EU – EAEU) can be achieved in the near future.

The national identity of Russia in the 21st century is a synthesis of liberalism (especially in the economy), Sovietism and conservatism. Together they form the basis for Russian neomodernism.

The Western aggression in Ukraine (2014), the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union (2015), which is considered to be a geopolitical center of gravity in its own right, as well as the announcement of the “Greater Eurasian Partnership” project (2016) led to a fundamentally new view of Russia’s national identity in the 21st century. More and more Russians began to see themselfes as “Eurasians.” This is an unprecedented phenomenon.

    • The Russian, being “Eurasian” does not impose his own worldview (as the Transatlanticist globalist does), but is able to reveal a common universal origin in other cultures – both of the West and the East. This is revealed in the Russian oecoumenical concept of “sobornost”.
    • The famous great Russian culture, like any great culture for that matter, is always simultaneously both global and deeply rooted in a national origins (e.g. Dostoevsky, Gogol, Pushkin). Without one or the other culture can not be great.
    • The Russian is both a patriot and global religious humanist.

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