The Importance of Eurasianism to Mankind

_ Henry Norman Spalding*. London, 1928.**

That the Eurasians should succeed is of the utmost importance, not only to Russia, but to the whole world.

First, as is manifest, because their success will enable Russia again to take her place in the society of nations, as an orderly, prosperous and peace-loving State. Her trade is necessary to the rest of the world, and will help considerably, not merely to enrich it, but to diminish unemployment. The cessation of revolutionary propaganda among the working classes and the armed forces of civilized States, and among the native races of their colonies, will remove a great stumbling-block from the road to peace and justice in industty and colonial administration. The speactacle of the downfall of a Communist State, of the failure of a Socialist experiment tried upon the largest scale over a considerable period, will convince the industrial world of the falsity of the principles of class warfare and of indiscriminate nationalization as nothing else can, and will leave the ground clear (as in fact it is already being cleared) for the opposite principles of conciliation and goodwill and the raising of the standart of life for the workers, Lastly, the advent of the Eurasians to power will enormously strenghten that co-operation  between the nations which since the Great War has been the most striking feature of the foreign politics of the world; for, though the Eurasians criticize a good many of the motives which influence the delegates sent to Geneva and much of the action or inaction to which these motives lead, they yet sympathize wholeheartedly with the endeavour to secure international co-operation, justice and peace.

But these obvious considerations do not exhaust the matter; the Eurasian movement has a much wider bearing than this. It casts a new light upon the nature of the State, upon the relations that should obtain between different States and civilzations, and upon religion itself.

In the first place, the accusation that Europe and the West are materialized, comin as it does not only from the Eurasians but from Asia in general, is uncomforably hard to confute; it is not a bull’s-eye, but it may an »outer’, and in any case it comes too near the target. The idea that a State or nation is properly not a secular but a spiritual society is not only startling but illuminating. The Western  mind has so long been accustomed to take for granted that the State is a secular society containing a Church or Churches, that it has forgotten that the opposite is the normal view: that both mediaeval Europe and the unwesternized East regarded and regard society as a primarily religious or an ethical community, of which the State is only the servant. And yet it may be that the obstinate promblems of modern life which now vex and perplex the Western world will find their solution only in the discovery that the material must in all spheres be subordinated to the spiritual: that the industrial problem and the problem of the right use of wealth generally can only be solved upon the principle of the Gospel, the love ouf our neighbour; that only by an education that directs character to high ends can democracy be made to work; that art cannot regain its greatness until it is again inspired (as allmost all great art has been inspired) by a religious outlook upon the world; that Natural science, which explains so much, can never itself be understood until it is seen in its proper place in the sum of things. So only, perhaps, can Europe regain its health and happiness, and America develop her young civilization. It does not follow that the Truth will realize itself the same way in the West as in the East — the vigorous West, the contemplative East, have each its own special vision and mission; but if a nation is to be truly great, something higher than mere glory or wealth or any other material end — in a word, some aspect of Truth itself — must inspire and consencrate all its endeavours.

In the next place, the causes which have brought Russia into such desparate affliction are also at work in many other parts of the world — at the moment most notably in India and China. As has been shown, the Eurasians trace Russia’s downfall to unsuitable Westernizing — to the copying of European institutions and the following of European theories wether they were good or bad, wether they were suited to Russia or unsuited; and this has come about through the developement of an Intelligentsia or class educated in European ideas to the exclusion of the culture of Russia. They find a solution in the developement of Russia’s own civilization, strenghtened by all that is best that Russia can absorb from the civilizations of Europe and of Asia. Is not this the right principle in other cases too? The present turmoil in India arises largely from the existence of an Indian Intelligentsia whom a European education has caused to despise Indian culture; similarly the Chinise Republican movement originated with a Chinese Intelligentsia educated in British, and still more in American, instead of in Chinese ideals. Both in India and in China, as in other countries such as Africa, young men educated in a foreign culture are apt to go adrift from the ethics of their native State, while laying hold only on what is superficial in the alien culture and failing to grasp what is best and deepest in it. Incidentally they are thereby led to an all too high opinion of their own wisdom and importance. When they come to manhood they try to foist on their own country the institutions and ideas of that in whose atmosphere they have been brought up. The result in Russia has been disastrious; is it likely to be less disastrous if (for instance), as many politicians both Indian and British desire, some form of British Parliamentary system is thrust upon India? or if Sun Yat Sen’s principles of democracy and socialism are introduced to China? All those who wish well to the countrie of the East, wether Indians or Chinamen, Britons or Americans, will do well to mark the course of Russian history, and the conclusion of the Eurasians that the true solution is to develop all that is best in the native civilization of a country — wether it be the great ethical and political system of Confucius, or the yet greater Pantheistic and Theistic systems of India, and so on — while purifiying and strengthening it with the best that can be absorbed from outside. On the other hand the example of Russia will help the European and American to shake himself free of the mischievous illusions that the civilization of the West is the finest civilization in the world, that other civilizations are but underdeveloped or half-developed approximations to it, and that the white man is necessarily rendering good service when he thrusts his own civilization upon other peoples. On the contrary the example of Russia shows that much in the theory and practice of the West is either thoroughly bad in itself, or is unsuited to the conditions, material and psychological, of other nations and races. He may learn from the contemplation of Russia, Westernized and unwesternized, and of the Eurasian theories to which the experience of Russia has given rise, that civilization is fundamentally of different types, according to the objects on which the desires and the interests of the various peoples are fixed. As he studies more closely he will perceive that (speaking generally) the interest of China centres upon man, the interest of India and Russia upon God. Such a notion is supplementary to the ideals that move the League of Nations; it goes much deeper, forms a foundation upon which the outward order of the world as a whole may rest. For if indeed the full, perfect and therefore happy life of the individual man consists (as both reason and the Gospel declare that it does) in the knowledge of love of Nature, of our neighbour as ourselves, and of God with our whole being — heart and mind and soul and strenght, then the world-wide society of nations must also consist of those who know and love Nature and man and God, and in so far as each nation comes more fully to understand its own special object and those of its neighbours, the more nearly will human society approach the ideal the the Gospel holds before it and become a true Kingdom of Heaven. This is the «oecumenial civilization» which the Eurasians desire to see established, and which they already see shaping itself; a conception which also corresponds with the Western ideal of the «brotherhood of man» to which it gives a fuller and richer content.

In the third place, this threefold love of Truth goes to the root of religion itself; for it seems to include within it, and so to bind together, everything that is true and good in all religions. Thus the great movement of our time towards reunion or unity in religion, running parallel to the movement for international unity in politics, seems also to find important support in the ideas of the Eurasians. The Gospel, they say, contains the whole truth, the whole Good. Yes, but much that it contains is only implicit in traditional Christianity, especially in the West; much that belongs essentially to the Gospel has become more explicit in what is highest in other religions. But the lives and thoughts of the Russian people (for that is what the Church in Russia really is) do express much that is developed in the non-Christian communions. but is neglected or underdeveloped in other branches of the Christian Church. For instance, the value of suffering as purifying from sin and so turning desire to the light — a conception so familiar in Eastern religion, the gentlenes, tenderness and loving pity of the Buddha and his followers, the idea of universal salvation for all being to which this led his later disciples, the awareness of the unreality of the sensible world and of the reality of the unseen, and aim and goal of all Being as an eternal life of supreme joy in God, conceptions so familiar to the Hindu — all these truths of the Asiatic religion find their place in the lives of the Russian people, as in the Gospel which they strive to follow so closely. Russia, by her character as a child of both Europe and Asia, by her singular capacity to understand what is best in the religion of both Continents, seems to point out to mankind that all that is best and truest in every religion perfectly consists with what is best in every other religion, and is in fact precisely what it shares or may share with other religions; that historical Christianity may be enriched by elements from other faiths and ethical creeds, just as these may in turn be enriched by the knowledge if Jesus himself; and that the sum total of the truest and best in all is indeed the religion of the Gospel. «Not everyone that saith unto me «Lord, Lord’, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the Will of the Father». He who bade men to know and love all Being proclaimed the religion of the Universe.

***

*First published in London 1928 as the epilogue to his book «Russia in Resurrection. A summary of the views and of the aims of a new Party in Russia» using the pseudonym «by an English Eurasian». Digitized by Yuri Kofner, February 26th 2014.

**Henry Norman Spalding was a British philanthropist, theologian and founder of the Chair of Eastern Religions and Ethic at Oxford University. Born in 1877 he studied to be a lawyer, but never practiced. Instead, he first became a civil servant at the Admiralty (1901-1909). During the First World War he served in the Admiralty and the Ministry of Munitions as deputy director of the Department of Welfare (1915-1918). After having inherited a large fortune he engaged in charity and politics. Together with his wife Nellie Spalding, whose family became wealthy by trading guano, he co-founded of the Chair of Eastern Religions and Ethic at Oxford University (1936), as well , a University Lectureship in Eastern Orthodox Culture, an Advisership in Eastern Art, and four temporary Senior Research Fellowships in Indian history and religion. Spalding donated large sums to British universities for the purchase of the books on Eastern cultures, arts and religion. He was also a co-founder of the Association of British Orientalists and the Museum of Oriental Art in Oxford. He published poetry and two books on the Eurasian theme: «Russia in Resurrection; a Summary of the Views and of the Aims of a New Party in Russia »(1928) and «Civilisation in East and West» (1939). Henry Norman Spalding died in 1953.

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