The Future of Eurasia: Prolegomena for the Geopolitical Integration of the Continent

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By Leonid V. Savin. Translated by Kristina (Rus) Kharlova for Center for Syncretic Studies

The beginning of the 21st century has not been as rosy as it was described by futurologists and planned by politicians: a global financial crisis, problems within the Eurozone, the “swamp” for  American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, armed conflicts in Central Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, a series of color revolutions in the post-Soviet space, and riots in the capitals of Western Europe. It would seem that with modern technology, historical heritage and conventional agreement on human rights Europe has already defined its future and, if not is following the planning, but at least is maintaining regulatory policy in the area of its responsibility. However, current developments indicate that everything turned out to be more complicated. The world has entered a zone of geopolitical turbulence, with multi-level processes, new challenges and asymmetric responses.

In addition to the old dichotomy between conservatives and progressives in Europe new political trends emerge, which attempt to rethink its Europeanness and prioritize further development and survival. Variations on a theme of the future of NATO and joint defense planning with the US flow from anti-globalization and marginal summits into a political intellectual pool, thereby showing the futility of executing the old vector politics.

The situation is such that contemporary debate around the future of Europe, the fate of Russia and other countries across the continent, cannot be considered in isolation from each other. From etymological research to pragmatic rethinking of the old Lebensraum (including dependence on resources) – one way or another, the overpopulated edge of Eurasia from Gibraltar to the Barents sea is turning its sights to the East.

At one time, the concepts of “Europe” and “Asia” were limited to the Hellenistic world and the neighboring countries, within a paradigm that assigned particular meanings. The expansion of the Roman Empire, the era of the great migration and the spread of Christianity, changed the political structure of the Western part of the Eurasian continent. While this region was engulfed in a feudal frenzy, a new empire formed on the Eastern borders. The Horde of Genghis Khan managed in a remarkably short time to forcibly unite khanates, kingdoms and principalities, stretching for thousands of kilometres, demonstrating a new model of statehood, diplomacy and military tactics. The historical significance of the Mongolian project is simply astounding. No one else, either before or afterwards, was able to create such a vast empire. Meanwhile there are clear geopolitical markers of this phenomenon. Modern European historians have noted that the Rus had thwarted the surge of Asian nomads to the West, thereby saving Europe from imminent demise. Completely different interpretations were expressed in relation to the fate of Russia. Although the Soviet school of thought insisted on the existence of the Mongol-Tatar yoke, the Eurasian historical-philosophical school refutes such assumptions, with support of factual material. According to the theory of change of empires, the Rus seized the baton of already fragmented hordes, largely borrowing their mechanisms of state-building necessary for further expansion.

Although earlier there were “campaigns against the schismatics” and other hurdles (as elsewhere), the first total confrontation of East and West began with the “Gutenberg era”[1]. The printing press, originally conceived in order to help spread the Word of God, not only led to the opposite effect (because the spread of the Bible undermined the authority of the Catholic church), but also to the emergence of the first institutions of information war. While the first embassies from Western Europe traveled to trade in Moscow, the locals were subjected to indoctrination, resorting to the Old Testament metaphors and creating an unflattering image of the rulers of Russia and its people.

Nevertheless, the first wave of globalization ending with the discovery of America, appeared as the beginning of a new global era. At the same time, Europe, torn by wars and contradictions, partly moved its theater of combat operations to the territories of new open spaces, thus launching a beginning of a new civilizational processes.

Still there were many episodes of mutual understanding between Russia and Europe on a range of issues, however, with the onset of the twentieth century, modernity finally came into its own, and three main ideologies stepped into the arena – Marxism with the postulate of the class struggle; state corporatism with a national angle, which became National Socialism and Fascism, and Liberalism. All three ideological trends were not alien to the territorial, national, and resource issues, but it seems that the Anglo-Saxon geopolitical school deliberately demonized Russia. They turned Russia, conceptually, not only into a Heartland, but also a source of instability, from where originated the ‘’land vandals’’ in the image of Huns, Turks and Mongols, who attacked the outskirts of the Roman world [2]. By this time, historical memory already weakened, after the collapse of  Austro-Hungarian Empire few were interested in the history of Hungarian people, who came from beyond the Urals, and other issues were overlooked. Who now remembers the Avars, who once penetrated into the territory of present-day Germany and, in fact, created Bavaria (and now the anthropological type of the population of this federal land is markedly different from the Saxons or Westphalians), or Slavs, presiding over the area of current Berlin? And do they remember in Polish political circles the insights of an outstanding playwright and writer Stanisław Witkiewicz, who in the 1930-ies expressed anxiety associated with the threat of migration from China in his artistic metaphor? [3]

Although these observations may seem insignificant, they are all links of a strategic culture of one or another state with its people and, somehow, realized in popular geopolitics.

Turkified Germany, Africanized France, Indianized UK, Maghribized Italy and Spain, and a yet undetermined number of Chinese, Vietnamese and other Asian diasporas in each EU country in the geopolitical dynamics, can lead to very unpredictable results [4]. Plus the rapid islamization of European countries against the background of a demographic decline of native population. The current mood in some EU countries, particularly among the new members clearly show that people do not like projects of ethno-globalization on their native land, at least in its present form [5]. Characteristically, the main vector of the current migration goes through North-South axis, not East-West, where the artificial sanitary border still plays the role of a deterrent buffer.

The cold war led not only to division into two camps, but also to the emergence of a new terminology. In the West there is a final crystallization of political philosophy, known as Atlanticism. A British politician John Williams expands this term, calling it Atlanticist theology [6]. He states that as any theology, Atlanticist one is based on a myth that ultimately the geopolitical and geostrategic interests of Europe and the United States are inseparable. At the same time Williams believes that relations between the US, Europe and Russia during the Cold War are also another myth, which resulted in a crisis of self-identity.

Replacing neo-atlanticism (the neologism was born in Italy in the 1950’s) [7] as a definition of new relationships between members of the Atlantic community, also did not last long and is rapidly losing its inner substance. Along with the institutions of democracy, it is obviously going to decline. In this regard, it should be noted that the term “democratic deficit” has emerged in Europe in 1977 to define the inability of the EU member countries to address issues related to the needs of European citizens [8].

In this context, viewing the United States as its geopolitical successor, united Europe must recognize that it was unable to cope with the “Melting Pot” program and digest all the immigrants from its former colonies along with the new workforce from continuous migration.

The canvas of post-Cold war Europe was changed by the admission of new EU members. A Baltic-Black sea factor was added to the dominant Atlantic-Mediterranean factor, and the countries from this region were forced to face a number of issues – adaptation of legal system, political and civil institutions, economy; at the same time trying to preserve their national historical memory and traditions. Along with this geographical expansion was made possible an emergence of a discourse about the new geopolitical axis, to a certain extent, competing with the old axis [9]. The question of centrality to define the new Europe (the term of Friedrich Naumann  “Middle Europe”) also continued to be interpreted. Such definitions were proposed as “MidiEurope”, “Dimidial Europe” and “Viscalian Europe”, which are based on the corresponding Latin terms [10]. They overlap with the existing concepts of Euroregions, based on the watershed model (the area of the basins of Maas-Rhine, the Danube lowland). A German geopolitical school about Eurafrica sounded anew, however, influenced by French interests – thus creating a phantom of the Mediterranean Union, which could not come to fruition because of the German blockade of the possibility of this project. Similarly, in the new postmodern and techno-political (with energy and communication component) versions was revived a project of  Mezhmorye (“between seas”, Baltic and Black) of Polish geographer and cartographer Eugeniusz Romer, the prototype of which in turn served as the Jagiellonian (greater Lithuanian) idea. Along with the communication attractiveness (the adaptation of the route “from the Varangians to the Greeks” in a new script) this geopolitical model had an ethno-national component, it was assumed that the Balto-Slavic cultural identity will serve as an additional basis for the implementation of this project. But the questions of belonging to one civilization [11] type, sometimes called the Western-Christian world or Western-European super-ethnos, led to the uncovering of some deep-seated contradictions based on historical or ethno-political factors, as well as having a pragmatic component, which is expressed in the structure of boundaries and views about the allocation of resources. Faced with the pressure by the old members of the EU towards the homogenization of the economic space, which is reflected primarily in the fact that transnational corporations have gained access to national resources, States of the Baltic-Black sea axis were interested in protectionist measures against such a one-sided effect of globalization.

We can say that initial attempts to establish a Union of regional cooperation, together with historical components to a certain extent served as the base for remodelling of this project into a different, broader strategic plane, affecting the interests of the major powers – continental (Eurasian) and Atlanticist (mondialistic). It is no coincidence that a number of researchers began to compare the model of the Baltic-Black sea axis with a sanitary border, which was formed after the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI.  A geopolitical project, indirectly associated with such ideas, was called GUUAM ( Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova), which received no real development and was conceived as a project of Western countries (including the US) to create an artificial barrier between modern Russia and the EU.

We can remember another number of projects, not even accomplished, like Chimerica or Сhindia, but judging from the position of the future integration of Russia and Europe, which in theory is the biggest and most significant project that could change the world order, it is necessary to make some preliminary observations. The alliance called Eurosiberia was already considered as a future option. The need for convergence was stressed by Jean Thiriart who dreamed about an empire from Dublin to Vladivostok (however, predicting the collapse of the USSR).

The uncompromising opponents of friendship and cooperation with Russia point to historical precedents and the unpredictability of Russian government. Actually, Europe saw many more historical conflicts. Even after the Helsinki Accords, a civil war broke out in the very heart of Europe – Yugoslavia, which had far-reaching consequences, including recognition of Kosovo. Moderate movement of secessionists and radical separatism in Spain, the UK and Belgium continue to this day. And those who closely monitor the chronicle of international events, will easily find that USA is the most unpredictable: the pledge not to expand NATO to the East in the 1990’s and to stay in Kyrgyzstan only for two years at the Manas base (and many others, including in EU countries) were empty promises. And if on such matters of principle there is no assurance that Washington will not deceive again, how is it further possible to work with such an unreliable partner?

We are now in the next bifurcation point, when there is an opportunity to take a very short break and rethink the processes associated with territorial assets, national states, historical grievances, etc. to create a new common strategy, adequate for all the actors in Eurasia. Of course, the term can carry several semantic meanings. For example, India, China and Southeast Asia are too specific agglomerations even for the former Soviet republics. And the first Eurasians envisioned Eurasia as Russia, and not Europe plus Asia, considering it a unique world. However, Eduard Suess in his fundamental work, “The Face of the Earth” [12,] used the concept of Eurasia, pointing to the arbitrariness of the boundaries between Europe and Asia, and the borders are not only a tool of separation, but also a complex social phenomenon that unites nations and peoples.

Perhaps many will point to a very different type of consciousness of the peoples and countries from Chukotka to the Atlantic, but on what basis will the peoples of Europe build together a collective existence if there are already so many contradictions in the EU? In our opinion, to create a shared geopolitical platform that can cater to all or at least most of the forces, the discredited concepts of democracy and liberalism and left-social populism of private parties and leaders, which are a new version of the slogan of Freemasons – “liberty, equality, fraternity” – are hardly suitable. What new idea should unite and satisfy all the peoples of Eurasia?

The founder of the Eurasian movement geographer Petr Savitsky proposed a model of ideocracy, which is characterized by a shared worldview and the willingness of the ruling elites to serve the one governing idea representing “the benefit of the collective of the peoples inhabiting this autarkic special world” [13]. This is a very good definition and if this world is interpreted as the space of the Eurasian continent, there is much common ground and prospects for creative realization.

In addition, the common continental destiny is the binding element that points to the common geopolitical conditions. Not coincidentally, Hitler tried to reach the Urals, which speaks for the integrity of the Eastern-European platform, however, even the Ural mountains are no longer a barrier, and the Far East is more “Europeanized” than some cities in the immediate vicinity of Moscow. Modern communications and transportation hubs created a multi-faceted geopolitical mosaic from a single canvas. And if before the twentieth century it was still possible to speak of a “Eurasian hindrance,” referring to the spread of the lands of the Russian Empire, eternally frozen Northern latitudes, and lack of access to the warm seas, separated by Persia and India, now all of it is facilitated by the projects of transport infrastructure, new technologies and understanding of the principles of economic autarky,  proposed by Friedrich List.

Long ago there came a time when from small clusters, built on a principle of self-sufficiency it was necessary to move to the zones of “topogenesis” (or place-development, the term  proposed by Peter Savitsky to explain the aggregate of geographic, ethnic, economic, historical and other features that represent one whole) [14] and Large Spaces of Carl Schmitt. Given the multi-layered and multi-level contemporary international political system, such a project is feasible.

While we won’t talk about the future of migration policy (although Russia has a lot of undeveloped territories, which as before can be populated by foreigners – Catherine the Great gave the land to the Germans; Kurds, Serbs and other peoples found refuge in Russia), – this delicate matter should be resolved carefully and gradually.

Still, one must make certain conclusions related to the possibility of creating a unified supranational configuration.

The EU should recognize its constant dependence on Russian energy resources. “North Stream” had already connected Russia with Germany. “South Stream” will finally close the Black Sea direction. All pragmatists understand that the idea of “Nabucco” is unbalanced and politically motivated. Green technologies solve the problem only partially. In addition to energy, there are other natural resources, including water, minerals, forests etc. Russia occupies one-sixth of the land and owns the maximum inventory of these resources. Of course, with the current postmodern politics and globalization processes one can own the land extraterritorially, but in the case of Russia, at least in the short term, it is not possible. Only mutual investments and integration projects (starting with cancelling the visa regime) can open real access to the management of these resources in the name of common interests.

The question is of political will. Only the strong may create such a gigantic formation. Let this be a collective will, but we must act decisively and boldly. You can call it a geopolitical self-determination of all participants of the process.

It is possible that along with global processes, new horizons will lead to the creation of a new class (relatively speaking) and will lead to the overcoming of the dichotomy of right-left in some political systems. In the interwar period in Europe there have been attempts to implement interesting initiatives called “the third way”. It is possible that in the process of political design a new political theory will be created [15].

How will the discussion of political, social, economic, defense and many other issues continue? We can only say that a Multilogue [16] is necessary as a tool for interstate and international communication, in the process producing the necessary norms and institutions.

Despite the process of creating the Eurasian Union, as Vladimir Putin said in October 2011, speaking about the participation of the EU in the Eurasian construction, such project is still, if not at the level of discourse of separate intellectual groups, then only in the sphere of imagination. But, as a famous American theorist of communitarianism Michael Walzer wrote, even a state is invisible, and for it to appear, it should be imagined, give it a character, and then personify and make it visible. Imagination, according to Albert Einstein is better than knowledge, therefore, the emerging configuration of Eurasia is a return of a dream to all the peoples of the continent which they will be able to gradually implement into reality. And existing knowledge (including negative experience) and technology should be a tool for Great Geopolitical Undertaking.
[1] Marshall McLuhan. The Gutenberg Galaxy. The Making of Typographic Man. University of Toronto Press, 1962.

[2] J. Mackinder Halford. The Geographical Pivot of History, Geographical Journal, London, 1904.

[3] Stanislaw Witkiewicz. Nienasycenie. Powiesc, t. 1-2, Warsz., 1957.

[4] Question of ethnocentrism in a national state, i.e. the division between “we” and “they” was often asked in the ideological discourse, which was reflected, for example, in a “witch hunt” and in national-political. However, even in a homogeneous society in cultural and ethnic terms, there will always be some invisible mechanisms, pushing it to mutual violence. The French philosopher Rene Girard proposes to depart from the model of “ethnocentrism” and look for the cause within the society, which during the history of the world has always needed a scapegoat. For more information, see Rene Girard. La violence et le Sacre. Grasset & Fasquelle, 1972.

[5] The proof of this is the failure of the project of multiculturalism, which was recognized by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy.

[6] John Williams, Atlanticism: The Achilles’ Heel of European Security, Self-Identity and Collective Will.

[7] Pietro Pirani. “The Way We Were”: Continuity and Change in Italian Political culture. 5, 2008.

[8] Laffen, B. “Democracy and the European Union’, in Cram, L., Dinan, D. and Nugent, N. (eds.)
Developments in the European Union, London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1999, p. 334

[9] Leonid Savin. And the geopolitics of regional risks//Geopolitics No. 10

[10] Drynochkin A.V. Eastern Europe as an element of system of global markets. M: Olita, 2004. p. 11.

[11] It should be noted that a clear interpretation of the term “civilization” does not exist.

[12] Suess, Eduard. Das Antlitz der Erde. Wien, 1885.

[13] N.S. Trubetskoy.  About the idea-ruler of ideocratic state.// Eurasian chronicle. Issue XI. Paris, 1935. pp. 29-37.

[14] Peter Savitsky. The Continent Of Eurasia. – M.: Agraffe, 1997.

[15] Alain de Benoist offers to call a future theory that transcends the framework of Marxism, liberalism and fascism, the New Nomos of the Earth, and Professor Alexander Dugin calls such ideology – the Fourth political theory.

[16] Duke R. Gaming: The Future Language. N. Y.: Sage Publications, 1974.

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