Eurasia and Eurasianism in the 21st Century: Security, Identity, and Alliance Culture

Authors: Konstantin Kurylev, Sergey Bazavluk, Leonid Savin, Vladimir Yurtaev

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Originally published in the journal Informatsionnye voyny [Information Wars] 3:51 (2019), pp. 47-51.

***

The establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) has a history going back much further than that of the Customs Union and Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), and bears potential exceeding the geographical boundaries of the union itself. The EAEU is indirectly connected to the history of Eurasianism and, since the joint Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS summit held in Ufa in 2015, has gained additional vectors, such as linking up with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative as well as the activities of the SCO encompassing countries of both Central and South Asia. This points to three interrelated factors: the role of alliances, their identities, and security regimes in the broadest sense of the term. In this article, the authors attempt to analyze these factors concerning the EAEU and, more broadly, the SCO as a similar structure operating in Eurasia. A descriptive methodology and interdisciplinary approach are employed, and an attempt is made to yield geopolitical foresight (forecast) with regards to several scenarios.

The process of integration within the Eurasian Economic Union, besides questions of trade regulation, the adaptation of national legislations, and the forging of favorable conditions for the development and growth of participating countries’ economies, inevitably involves questions of ideology and security. The EAEU project itself implies a supra-state identity which is in need of ideological conceptualization and substance. Insofar as, since the collapse of the USSR, all of its former republics have to one degree or another begun to engage in the development of their own national ideologies and politics of identity, any supra-state superstructure will need, in the very least, to re-conceptualize national projects and include them into a broader agenda. A more detailed and systematic approach necessitates the construction of a complex, adaptive architecture linking ethno-national factors, regional security, geo-economic challenges, and inclusive political methods. In technical terms (and in line with one of the principles of the integration strategy of the European Union towards new members) we can speak of the presence of multiple referential layers of integration and of the possibility of enacting varying paces.

The scope of such an investigation inevitably points towards the geopolitical context and geopolitical dynamics of regional processes. If from the standpoint of classical geopolitics the EAEU embodies the Heartland of Eurasia, which implies adhering to the strategy of land power and, as follows, confronting the challenge of sea power, then through the prism of critical geopolitics this binary opposition is rendered secondary, and instruments of power transcend borders. Unlike classical geopolitics, critical geopolitics pays greater attention to the “lower” levels of power rather than macro- or global economic processes. Critical geopolitics emphasizes not so much the sources and structures of power as the everyday practices of realizing power relations and the mental models which ensure them. Alongside political geography, critical geopolitics posits that spatiality is not limited to territoriality. State power is not wielded only within the territory of a state.[1] 

Such a posing of the question allows for a more flexible approach to projecting inter-state and supra-state projects without depreciating the significance of national sovereignties. In the post-Soviet space, there are two interconnected functioning projects, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the first of which emphasizes economic development, while the second is associated with questions of regional security. However, upon more detailed consideration, the development of the Eurasian integration project – even if exclusively of an economic trajectory – cannot be realized in isolation from security issues.

As pointed out by Professor A.D. Ursul, “security, in its most general form, is a means of preserving a given object in the face of different types of internal and external negative influences…The point of ensuring security lies in preserving an object in a form in which it can continue to exist and develop.”[2]  In previous time, security has been discerned according to rather limited criteria, in which the emphasis was put on the political, social, or ideological dimensions. A certain trend also focused on security in the face of man-made catastrophes and the surrounding environment. Only later did it become clear that, alongside ecological security, it is important to include other characteristics of the real process of development, such as the economic, political, legal, demographic, and informational dimensions, etc.[3] These postulates are also appropriate for the EAEU. Yet disputes are arising over what should be of priority: the economic aspects of integration, or political structure. Nominally, given the name of the union, economics should predominate. However, economics is an instrument for the pursuance of the economy (khoziaistva) of society. In a state, politics is primary before economics, insofar as the very existence of the state depends on such. Certain economic criteria can be set as goals of the state and reflect the ethical code of the people. From Russia’s position, the economic aspect will always be a secondary element.

It has been noted that “Russia’s strategic goal should be the economic and military-political integration of the post-Soviet space.”[4] The EAEU has a special function to fulfill to this end: “Eurasian integration presents Russia with the opportunity to return to ‘superpower status’, one which will not belong to Russia single-handedly, but as one (albeit the largest) element within the construction of the Eurasian space.”[5]

Insofar as the EAEU is an open project, the question of the interests of potential new members is fully, naturally logical. In the opinion of Professor A.I. Smirnov, interest in joining the EAEU will be tied to geopolitical expediency, while economic components will only be secondary.[6] The experience of the European Union and its inclusion of new members from among the countries of Eastern Europe confirms the geopolitical and not economic character of integration within this union. Moreover, the reluctance of multiple countries to abandon their national currencies and switch to the Euro is demonstrative of political priorities. The neutrality of multiple EU members towards NATO as well as, conversely, the active engagement of other members in the North Atlantic Alliance, and the creation of the Visegrad Group out of Eastern European countries – which became possible only after their joining the EU and NATO – must be taken note of. The situation with Brexit is also a reflection of geopolitical contradictions within the EU, not economic instability.

At the same time, the creation of a new geopolitical construct with corresponding security components – even if the role of all participants is agreed upon in technical order – inevitably raises the topic of ideology. When connected to the projection of power, ideology has several dimensions. As pointed out by Franklin Ankersmit, “ideology is always metaphorical. Ideology defines a point of view from which we are invited to see social and political reality.”[7] In Ankersmit’s opinion, “if metaphor defines a certain political ‘point of view’ from which social reality is conceptualized, it is the state onto which this point of view can be projected. The state enables us to translate ideological, metaphorical insight into concrete political action. Without a state, ideology is helpless, without ideology the state has no program for political action.” [7] As follows, there should be some kind of interface or connection where philosophical, cultural, and religious aspects can feed political decisions. Ankersmit also holds that “the nonideological state is a stupid and ineffective state, and its capacity to learn will decrease accordingly.”[8] The absence of ideology automatically means losing one’s position within alliances as well as a decrease in one’s ability to respond to external challenges, insofar as ideology is also directly tied to the foreign policy vectors of a state, whether concerning neighboring or distant countries, partners or opponents.

Independent of whatever school of International Relations, there exists the opinion that “ideologies, or actors’ foundational principles of domestic political legitimacy, are likely to impact leaders’ foreign policies by affecting their perceptions of the threats that others pose to their central domestic and international interests. The greater the ideological differences dividing decision makers from different states, the more likely they are to view one another as substantial dangers to both their domestic power and the security of their respective countries.” [9]

Among such external challenges, “the expansion of NATO and its advance up to the borders of our country has become one of the key geopolitical problems of the present.”[10] In 2014, the contradictions which had accumulated in dialogue between Russia and Western countries reached a critical point and caused an unprecedented aggravation of relations.[11]

Insofar as the space of the former USSR has seen the evolution of so-called “geopolitical pluralism”, it is very difficult to count on the development of deep integration. The good neighbor belt which has been one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities has been fractured, and the West has successfully formed part of an anti-Russian buffer zone.[12] This creates risks for further integration processes in general, and for Russia’s role in the Eurasian space in general. Under the pressure of the West, it is necessary to more articulately substantiate decisions and alternative scenarios for both EAEU partners and other alliances.

A more flexible mechanism for responsive measures and planning can be achieved through the synchronization of key elements of the strategic cultures and national interests of EAEU countries (and more broadly those of the SCO). Firstly, insofar as the main tendencies in international relations are tied to the school of political realism in its different variations, the role of strategic culture and the interests of states will remain rather high. Secondly, the interconnection of strategic culture and national interests will directly shape an ideology on the basis of which a political agenda can be formed. Thirdly, allied partners’ perceptions of their national interests as their own can best be achieved given common value-based motives in cultural and political tradition(s).

Russian military experts have repeatedly noted the need for such a mechanism of a systemic nature, even if such has not been characterized as an ideology per se, but expressed in other terms. Such is often raised in the shape of the notion of a development strategy. “The will to wage war is, in essence, when considered in terms of prospects, the will to rule after war. Therefore, the aim of each side’s army is to develop and choose a strategy for victory for its side. The winning strategy will thereby, for some time, become the strategy of the whole global community.”[13]

Taking into account the ongoing confrontation and potential for conflict, measures for deterring rivals should also take into consideration a detailed analysis of strategic culture, since “Deterrence…as a typical strategic concept, is concerned with influencing the choices that another party will make, and doing it by influencing his expectations of how we will behave.”[14]

Insofar as strategic culture directly reflects collective identity, this latter concept is also in need of clarification. Identification is a complex phenomenon encompassing self-understanding, community, and connectedness. Rogers Brubaker discerns the existence of relational and categorical forms of identification. The first assumes the existence of some kind of network of connections, whereas the second points towards belonging to a class or group having common attributes, such as nationality, race, language, etc. A state can be a powerful “identifier” insofar as it “has the material and symbolic resources to impose the categories, classificatory schemes, and modes of social counting and accounting.”[15] The optimal scenario is seen as the combination of both forms, in which clusters with clear identities are immeshed in deep and inextricable relationships. This ideal type for the state is somewhat more difficult to realize in systems of associations, unions, and alliances. No single recipe exists. In the West, the emphasis is on Transatlantic values and traditions; in Muslim countries the appeal is made to religious identity (e.g, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), and in ASEAN countries the accent is on poly-cultural dialogue and the need for regional cooperation. At the present moment, the main emphasis within the EAEU is on the common historical past and geographical proximity. Another pivotal (albeit not accentuated) element within the EAEU is the course towards establishing a multipolar world. This provision has been enshrined in the foreign policy strategy of the Russian Federation.

As noted by A.Ya. Shcherbakova: “The Russian Federation is the most active state, after the US, on questions of the formation of a new world order, and it meets the following principles: Russia is a member of the UN Security Council, it is increasing its political and military prestige, using the diplomatic experience which it has obtained in resolving the conflict in Syria, it is defending its own sovereignty, strengthening national security, and actively fighting terrorism on a global level.”[16] It has also been pointed out that “our country wields all that is necessary to take a leading position in both the economic and cultural spheres in the new multipolar world.”[17]

However, in strategic documents, multipolarity has been primarily of a declarative character. There has been no precise definition of multipolarity nor – and this is important – has Russia expressed a vision of how a multipolar architecture ought to be built beyond its criticism of the US’ unipolarity and besides its statements on the need to participate in various associations.

Considering Eurasian integration, it has also been noted that “the implementation of a set of measures for strengthening the framework of the EAEU and its consolidation on the current integration track demands the development of an ideology of Eurasian integration.”[18] This testifies to the vacuum of ideas in the current political process. It is obvious that the process of Eurasian integration is rising to a new level, and with time will lead to the formation of a new geopolitical center of world politics.[19] A targeted ideology aimed at developing the EAEU might potentially represent one version of a strategy for multipolarity.

Yet another serious question is the practical realization of potential theoretical models. Specialists have noted that old methods and tool kits are no longer effective, in connection with which there is heightened interest in an “exit strategy”, in the rethinking of traditional views of strategic planning mechanisms, and in continuing work on integrating the priorities of national security policy into Russia’s macro-strategy.[20] 

Without a doubt, it must be agreed that “it is necessary to intensify the work of the EAEU scientific community on formulating an ideology of Eurasian integration.”[21] Russian international affairs experts frequently suggest the use of “soft power” methods for the attainment of set goals. On the one hand, “part of soft power is the potential of partnership, flexibility, negotiability, and the ability to transform – all of these factors determine soft power as a key instrument of integration processes.”[22] On the other hand, however, soft power cannot be used as a “one-for-all.” This is merely a general description of the phenomenon which demands authentic content. Yet there is another side, and “cultural-civilizational differences determine the development of societies to a greater extent than other factors. The transplanting of institutions, methods, practices, and technologies into a different culturo-historical system is not only ineffective but is, quite frankly, often harmful.”[22]

Therefore, it is necessary to prepare multiple development scenarios which have the same priorities and target groups. In the case of a positive development in the situation, several scenarios can be combined to impart overall strategy with a synergetic effect and translate such into a field of integrated complexity.

One such scenario would be an integrated-adaptive approach. In accordance with this option, the EAEU should develop a sufficiently clear ideology to be applied as an umbrella model for members of the union. Such should be flexible, and its main postulates should correspond to the national interests of all the states belonging to the EAEU. To some extent, this also applies to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but then there arises the question of correctly understanding the Chinese perception of world order and Beijing’s long-term strategy.

A second scenario would entail a normative approach. This case envisions the gradual amendment of the Constitutions of the states belonging to the EAEU, as well as the adjustment of the organization’s Charter. This seems unlikely in the short term.

A third approach would be a multilateral mode of interaction. According to this scenario, the EAEU, CSTO, and SCO, as well as other initiatives such as the Belt and Road, would develop autonomously, without visible integration with one another, but within the context of the common interests of all these structures. This is the most likely development scenario. At the same time, it should be taken into consideration that the activeness of all organizations will differ in terms of the scales of tasks and responsibilities. In one way or another, Russia and China will play the role of the two motors, insofar as they are “regional powers belonging to the same subsystem of international relations, as well as great powers which have interests in practically all corners of the world.”[23] The application of the umbrella ideology of Eurasianism in its various versions would be expedient in this scenario.

As for a fourth approach, insofar as the post-Soviet space has already experienced unsuccessful projects, such as the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development and the Commonwealth of Independent States, it cannot be ruled out that the EAEU’s activities might freeze, or even that a member-country may leave for one reason or another. Without a doubt, such would be the most negative turn of events, but such also demands analysis in order to foresee and provide for the timely blocking of such processes. The first three scenarios, including their synthesis in various formats, are therefore the most desirable.

Footnotes: 

[1] Maruev, A.Yu., Medvedev, D.А., Gulina Е.V. Теоретические аспекты проектирования геополитического пространства в арктическом регионе [“Theoretical Aspects of Projecting the Geopolitical Space in the Arctic Region”],  Стратегическая стабильность [Strategic Stability] No 2 (83), 2018, p. 9.

[2] Ursul А.D. Безопасность в контексте глобальной устойчивости [“Security in the Context of Global Stability”] // Информационные войны [Information Wars] No 2 (46) 2018. p.64 – 65.

[3] Ibid., 66.

[4] Глобальная безопасность: инновационные методы анализа конфликтов [Global Security: Innovation Methods for Conflict Analysis]. Edited by A.I. Smirnov. Мoscow: Obshchestvo “Znanie” Rossii, 2011. p. 159.

[5] Ibid., 164.

[6] Ibid., 167.

[7] F.R. Ankersmit, Aesthetic Politics: Political Philosophy Beyond Fact and Value. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996. p. 357.

[8] Ibid., 358. 

[9] Mark L. Haas, The Ideological Origins of Great Power Politics, 1789-1989. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005. P. 1.

[10] K.P. Kurylev. Украинский кризис и международная безопасность [The Ukrainian Crisis and International Security]. Мoscow: LENAND, 2018. p. 171.

[11] Ibid., 173.

[12] Ibid., 198.

[13] Yuri Matvienko, Военный аспект Четвёртой политической теории [“The Military Aspect of the Fourth Political Theory”] // Geopolitica.ru, 06.08.2012 [https://www.geopolitica.ru/article/voennyy-aspekt-chetvyortoy-politicheskoy-teorii%5D

[14] Thomas Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict. Harvard University Press, 1980. p. 

[15] Rogers Brubaker, Ethnicity Without Groups. Harvard University Press, 2004. p. 43. 

[16] Shcherbakova А.Ya. Место России на геополитической карте современного мира [“Russia’s Place on the Geopolitical Map of the Contemporary World”] // Информационные войны [Information Wars] No 1 (45) 2018. p. 24.

[17] S. Baykov. Россия и новый миропорядок XXI века [“Russia and the New World Order in the 21st Century] // Постсоветский материк [Post-Soviet Continent] No 1 (13), 2017. p. 11.

[18] Tkachuk, S.P., Mityaev, D.А. “Мягкая сила” науки и образования в развитии евразийской экономической интеграции [“The ‘Soft Power’ of Science and Education in the Development of Eurasian Economic Integration”] // Экономические стратегии [Economic Strategies] No 2 (152), 2018. p. 182.

[19] Iskakov I.Zh. Политические институты России и Казахстана в процессе евразийской интеграции [“Political Institutions in Russia and Kazakhstan in the Process of Eurasian Integration”], Глобальные тенденции развития мира. Материалы Всероссийской научной конференции [“Global Trends in World Development: Materials of the All-Russian Scientific Conference”] (Moscow, 14 June 2012, INION RAN) Мoscow: Nauchny ekspert, 2013. p. 306.

[20] A.G. Makushkin. Обеспечение стратегического контроля в области планирования безопасности социально-экономического развития [“Ensuring Strategic Control in the Field of Planning the Security of Socio-Economic Development”],  Экономика обороны и безопасности и аналитика [The Economics of Defense, Security, and Analysis]. Edited by A.N. Kanshin. Мoscow: Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, 2013. p. 82-87.

[21] Tkachuk, S.P., Mityaev, D.А. “Мягкая сила” науки и образования в развитии евразийской экономической интеграции [“The ‘Soft Power’ of Science and Education in the Development of Eurasian Economic Integration”] // Экономические стратегии [Economic Strategies] No 2 (152), 2018. p. 188.

[22] Kazarinova D.B. Политический краудсорсинг, социальные медиа и фабрики мысли как новые акторы глобальной политики: факторы мягкой силы [“Political Crowdsourcing, Social Media, and Think Tanks as the New Actors of Global Politics: Factors of Soft Power”] // [“Global Trends in World Development: Materials of the All-Russian Scientific Conference”] (Moscow, 14 June 2012, INION RAN) Мoscow: Nauchny ekspert, 2013. p. 533.

[23] D. А. Degterev. Прикладной количественный анализ и моделирование международных отношений [Applied Quantitative Analysis and Modeling in International Relations]. Мoscow: RUDN, 2016. p. 415.

Leonid Savin – “The Multipolar Moment”

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

Journal of Eurasian Affairs 5:1 (2018) / Excerpt from a forthcoming book…

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In his article, “The Unipolar Moment”, which was based on a series of lectures delivered in Washington, D.C. in September 1990, Charles Krauthammer wrote that a new world order was emerging in which the United States would be the only superpower.[1] In the second paragraph of the article, Krauthammer introduced three main theses being discussed in the US political science community at the time: (1) the rise of multipolarity (interestingly enough, he suggests a “diminished Soviet Union/Russia” as one future pole, thus anticipating the collapse of the Soviet Union), (2) weakened consensus on foreign policy within the US, and (3) a diminishing of the threat of war in the post-Soviet era. Krauthammer promptly dismissed these arguments as erroneous, and instead spoke of the coming triumph of a unipolar world under the undisputed dominance of the US and its Western allies. Krauthammer did, however, immediately make one reservation: “No doubt, multipolarity will come in time. In perhaps another generation or so there will be great powers coequal with the United States and the world will, in structure, resemble the pre-World War I era.”

It seems that this moment has come. But for now let us refrain from making hasty statements, and first analyze on what grounds Krauthammer based his conclusions, where he was right, and on what he was mistaken. Such an excursion into the history of geopolitical thought will refresh our memory as to the methods by which Washington operates.

Krauthammer presents the Persian Gulf crisis and Washington’s reaction as an example of unwavering US might: “In the gulf, without the United States leading and prodding, bribing and blackmailing, no one would have stirred. Nothing would have been done: no embargo, no ‘Desert Shield,’ no threat of force.” In other words, this was not a multilateral action as it might have seemed, but the exclusive concoction of the US. As Krauthammer writes further on: “It is largely for domestic reasons, therefore, that American political leaders make sure to dress unilateral action in multilateral clothing.” This is done, evidently, because American citizens need legitimacy for the sake of their faith in democracy.

Yet here Krauthammer immediately follows up with a question: How long can America maintain its unipolar preeminence? To this end, light must be shed on theories of decline and imperial overstrain. Here Krauthammer introduces some figures – the United States was then spending 5.4% of GDP on defense, whereas earlier it spent nearly twice as much, and was now planning a reduction to 4% by 1995. However, Krauthammer adds that “American collapse to second-rank status will be not for foreign but for domestic reasons.” Let us take note of this.

Considering the balance between US domestic and foreign policy, Krauthammer suggests that it is “a mistake to view America’s exertions abroad as nothing but a drain on its economy…America’s involvement abroad is in many ways an essential pillar of the American economy. The United States is, like Britain before it, a commercial, maritime, trading nation that needs an open, stable world environment in which to thrive.” Later on, he adds that America is interested in maintaining its unipolar status, but questions whether Americans support such.

Here we can see mention of a dichotomy between the interests of the political elite and ordinary American taxpayers. Krauthammer himself notes that American isolationism “seems the logical, God-given foreign policy for the United States” by virtue of geography and the history of America’s founding, which is said to be have been motivated by the desire to distance itself from the intrigues and conflicts of the Old World.

Krauthammer also mentions another option, which he calls a far more “sophisticated” and “serious” school of international relations which insists on national interests – realism. In this context, he argues: “International stability is never a given. It is never the norm. When achieved, it is the product of self-conscious action by the great powers, and most particularly of the greatest power, which now and for the foreseeable future is the United States. If America wants stability, it will have to create it. Communism…is quite dead. But there will constantly be new threats disturbing our peace.” First and foremost among these threats is posited to be the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Also notable are such concepts as “rogue states” and “failed states,” although Krauthammer speaks of only one type – “The Weapon State,” under which he mentions Iraq, North Korea, and Libya. In his opinion, in order to become a Weapon State, a country only needs to develop its own industry, and then additional interests will arise which might conflict with the interests of other countries. This point is not discussed directly, but it is clear based on the context. Krauthammer writes:

With the rise of the Weapon State, there is no alternative to confronting, deterring and, if necessary, disarming states that brandish and use weapons of mass destruction. And there is no one to do that but the United States, backed by as many allies as will join the endeavor. The alternative to such robust and difficult interventionism – the alternative to unipolarity – is not a stable, static multipolar world. It is not an eighteenth-century world in which mature powers like Europe, Russia, China, America, and Japan jockey for position in the game of nations. the alternative to unipolarity is chaos.

Thus, Krauthammer recognizes that multipolarity is not only possible, but has historical precedent and, moreover, can help establish static stability (although the role of Japan in the 18th century, and indeed that of America, is up for debate).

Krauthammer’s next article on the same topic appeared twelve years later under the title “The Unipolar Moment Revisited.”[2] He begins with the same thesis as earlier, asking whether the US will face decline. Krauthammer argues that the third episode of American unipolarity has arrived with the threat of war posed by rogue states acquiring weapons of mass destruction. It is worth noting that this article happened to be released a year after the terrorist attack in New York and just before the invasion of Iraq (which was launched without UN sanction or the support of the US’ European partners). Krauthammer writes: “American dominance has not gone unnoticed. During the 1990s, it was mainly China and Russia that denounced unipolarity in their occasional joint communiqués. As the new century dawned it was on everyone’s lips. A French foreign minister dubbed the United States not a superpower but a hyperpower.” In other words, many countries did not take a liking to American dominance, and this was manifested against the backdrop of the bombing of Serbia and the occupation of Afghanistan, which were something like demonstrative wars at a distance that showed the whole world the new forms of US power.

If before the 9/11 terrorist attack many were pondering the possibility of an anti-hegemonic alliance, then afterwards many began offering the US their support, which “accentuated” the “historical anomaly of American unipolarity.” This happened by virtue of the “American anti-terrorism ultimatum”, which was essentially a mandate for the widespread use of military force by the US. Preventative operations violated traditional doctrines of just war, which led to a crisis of unipolarity. According to Krauthammer, this unipolarity found definitive formulation in the words of Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld on Afghanistan and the “War on Terror”: “the mission determines the coalition.” The mission is determined by the US.

Important here is Krauthammer’s admission that so-called multilateralism was merely a means of “liberal internationalism” to keep the US from falling into embarrassing situations in which other countries in disagreement with Washington’s position could “isolate” the US and make decisions themselves. If we soberly analyze both the “multilateral” approach of Madeleine Albright during the Bill Clinton administration, as well as the same rhetoric employed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton with her “reset”, then it is obvious that the “openness” and “interestedness” of the US has been but a cover for imposing its agenda. All of this was pursued, in Krauthammer’s words “in service to a larger vision: remaking the international system in the image of domestic civil society”, i.e., the American model.

From this standpoint, the nation-state is seen as an anarchic legacy of the past. Thus, Krauthammer explains, it is important for liberals to accelerate the erosion of sovereignty by means of new technologies and the unhindered movement of capital across borders. But America, as the great sovereign, must be “domesticated” by and for liberals who feel “discomfort” with US dominance. This in turn becomes a challenge to unipolarity, as the dominant pole inevitably comes to be diluted through international agreements, interdependences, and new norms.

At this point, Krauthammer briefly summarizes the contention between two schools of international relations – liberalism and realism – with regards to “paper or power”, i.e., agreements or threats and the use of force. In passing, Krauthammer reminds the reader of the question of multipolarity and actually contradicts himself. If in his previous article he spoke rather positively of multipolarity as once incarnated and possibly on the rise again, then this time his tone has changed dramatically. He writes: “Multipolarity is inherently fluid and unpredictable. Europe practiced multipolarity for centuries and found it so unstable and bloody, culminating in 1914 in the catastrophic collapse of delicately balanced alliance systems, that Europe sought its permanent abolition in political and economic union. Having abjured multipolarity for the region, it is odd in the extreme to then prefer multipolarity for the world.”

Prototypes of multipolarity actually existed in more places than just Europe by the 20th century. Before the arrival of European colonizers in Asia, Africa, and both Americas, similar systems existed which used special mechanisms of checks and balances that differed from European norms. Moreover, European countries developed within the paradigm of rationalism and the Enlightenment, which leaves Krauthammer’s argument unconvincing. Krauthammer can be understood, however, if we recognize the author’s Western-centric mindset and American political scientists’ propensity to justify double standards. Moreover, the nature of this shift can be explained as in the interests of many countries to develop multipolarity during this period (including not only China and Russia, but also the “left pivot” in Latin America, and the founding of the African Union in July 2002).

Further on, Krauthammer unveils his message: “[the] principal aim is to maintain the stability and relative tranquility of the current international system by enforcing, maintaining and extending the current peace. The form of realism that I am arguing for—call it the new unilateralism—is clear in its determination to self-consciously and confidently deploy American power in pursuit of those global ends.” Thus, in contrast to isolationist realism, this approach proposes that the US pursue none other than global objectives in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the world ocean.

But let us recall what actually happened in 2002-2003. NATO officially invited Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to join its alliance; the state of Yugoslavia ceased to exist with its partition into Serbia and Montenegro; American troops occupied Afghanistan and Iraq; Israel carried out punitive operations against Palestinians; numerous terrorist attacks took place on Russian and Turkish soil; and a series of color revolutions began in the post-Soviet space following the effective testing of this new type of coup d’etat in Yugoslavia. For Krauthammer, this must all be “stability and relative tranquility.” Ironically, this actually might be such for the US, since all of these events took place with direct or disguised encouragement from Washington and outside of the borders of the United States (except for the terrorist attack of September 11th, 2001, which to this day remains the subject of serious debates). The maintenance of this unipolarity also means the preservation of the post-colonial legacy with its artificial division of the globe into first, second, and third worlds, entailing the merciless exploitation of the natural resources of countries incapable of effectively defending their sovereignty from transnational corporations, predatory policies of the IMF and World Bank and, of course, the US’ right to military intervention in other countries under false pretexts. As is well known, the concept of “Responsibility to Protect” was tested in Haiti in 1994 and in Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s and in 1999 to detach Kosovo and Metohija.

According to Krauthammer, the US should be “advancing democracy and preserving the peace by acting as balancer of last resort”, and “countries will cooperate with us, first, out of their own self-interest and, second, out of the need and desire to cultivate good relations with the world’s superpower.” In other words, other countries are presented with no real choice.

Although Washington uses both unilateral and multilateral approaches in similar fashion to advance its interests, there is one principal difference between the two which Krauthammer discerns in the form of a question: “What do you do if, at the end of the day, the Security Council refuses to back you?” As we very well know, even after the UN Security Council blocked its resolution on Iraq, the US acted as it saw fit. Even before this entered into force (let us recall that Krauthammer’s second article was released several months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003), Krauthammer believed that the unipolar moment had already become the unipolar era.

Thus, the article concludes with the following:

The new unilateralism argues explicitly and unashamedly for maintaining unipolarity, for sustaining America’s unrivaled dominance for the foreseeable future. The future of the unipolar era hinges on whether America is governed by those who wish to retain, augment and use unipolarity to advance not just American but global ends, or whether America is governed by those who wish to give it up—either by allowing unipolarity to decay as they retreat to Fortress America, or by passing on the burden by gradually transferring power to multilateral institutions as heirs to American hegemony.

Krauthammer therefore reiterates that unipolarity will be challenged not from without, but from within.

Now let us turn to summation. Krauthammer is partially correct that the unipolar regime depended on the US political elite. The lack of clear consensus therein and the ever-increasing gap between the aspirations of the American people and the corporate interests of the establishment which incessantly leans towards globalism, all yielded the phenomenon of populism and helped Donald Trump win elections with partially isolationist slogans.

Krauthammer was incorrect in his panicking over the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In the nearly 20 years since, the real balance in this sphere has remained virtually unchanged. Only the DPRK has increased its military-technological capabilities to a level causing panic reactions among US military and political circles. Without a doubt, another important landmark to be distinguished on this note is the decision by Russia’s leadership to deploy troops to Syria to help in the fight against terrorism.

The unipolar era never arrived. The unipolar moment lasted unfortunately long – for nearly two decades. But it was not an era. Krauthammer was right in his first article when he argued that multipolarity would arrive after one generation. Indeed, if we follow the criteria set for challenges facing the US, then according to such documents as the US National Security Strategy [3] and National Defense Strategy [4], the US now faces competitors in the face of certain powers familiar to us in the multipolar declarations of Russia and China. Iran and the DPRK have also openly challenged unipolarity and been assigned by Washington to the club of “rogue states.” Over the past few years, additional studies have increasingly suggested that America is losing its status as the global center of power in the face of emerging multipolarity.[5]

Therefore, we can say that Krauthammer was mistaken in saying that unipolarity would be threatened from within the United States. Threats have always come from the outside and, in different conditions, whether embryonic or frozen, have anticipated appropriate opportunities to change national strategies. As a matter of course, a number of countries have seized the first opportunity to escape Washington’s control. These cases can be called different things –  whether “opportunism”, “transitioning to an active anti-colonial stage”, “searching for new solutions”, or “reactions to the US’ actions” – depending on the ideological framework and school of international relations employed.

What is important to understand is that unipolarity is disappearing forever. Even if globalists from the Democratic Party come to replace Trump, they will strategize how to erode sovereignty as such, including American sovereignty, and they will have to deal, first and foremost, with their taxpayers, who clearly showed their preferences by electing Trump. Moreover, given the heightened capabilities of other countries, the globalists will have to concede serious concessions and are unlikely to be able to achieve the same results that they did during the rise of the unipolar moment under Clinton or in the Obama administration’s later attempts to instate multilateralism. In one way or another, by this time faith in the US will have already been completely undermined – especially as newly declassified documents once again demonstrate to the whole world the dirty methods of the State Department and form a powerful argument in favor of severing relations with Washington – and, as former allies come to prefer new alliances, the balance of forces will change significantly in all regions across the board.

We now find ourselves in the multipolar moment. Our task is to transform this multipolar moment into a multipolar era.

Footnotes: 

[1] Charles Krauthammer// Foreign Affairs, Vol. 70, No. 1, America and the World 1990/91 (1990/1991), pp. 23-33. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20044692

[2] Charles Krauthammer. The Unipolar Moment Revisited// The National Interest—Winter 2002/03. рр. 5-17

[3] National Security Strategy of the United States of America, December 2017 https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905-1.pdf

[4] Summary of the National Defense Strategy. Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge. https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf

[5] See:  C. Richard Neu, Zhimin Mao, Ian P. Cook. Fiscal Performance and U.S. International Influence, RAND Corporation, 2013; Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, a publication of the National Intelligence Council, december 2012 http://worldview.unc.edu/files/2013/10/Global-Trends-2030-Executive-Summary.pdf; Global Trends to 2035 Geo-politics and international power. European Parliament, September,2017 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/603263/EPRS_STU(2017)603263_EN.pdfhttps://www.dni.gov/index.php/global-trends-home. 

 

Martin Heidegger, Russia, and Political Philosophy

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

The works of Martin Heidegger have recently been met with heightened interest in a number of countries. While interpretations of his texts vary widely, it is interesting that Heidegger’s legacy is constantly criticized by liberals across the board, regardless of where and what the object of criticism is – be it Heidegger’s work as a university professor, his interest in Ancient Greek philosophy and related interpretations of antiquity, or his relationship with the political regime in Germany before and after 1945. One gets the impression that liberals intentionally strive to demonize Heidegger and his works, yet the profundity and depth of this German philosopher’s thought gives them no break. Clearly, this is because Heidegger’s ideas harbor a message which is relevant to the creation of a counter-liberal project that can be realized in the most diverse forms. This is the idea of Dasein applied to a political perspective. We will discuss this in more detail below, but first it is necessary to embark on a brief excursion into the history of the study of Martin Heidegger’s ideas in Russia.

In the Soviet Union, Martin Heidegger’s ideas were not known to the general public, primarily because the peak of his activities coincided with Nazi rule in Germany. Heidegger himself, like many ideologists of the conservative revolution in Germany, criticized many aspects of National Socialism, but in the Soviet period any philosophy that did not follow the Marxist tradition was treated as bourgeois, false, and harmful. Perhaps the only exception is the work of Vladimir Bibikhin, although his translations of Heidegger’s Being and Time and Time and Being were published in Russia only after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moreover, these translations have been repeatedly criticized for having too simplistic of an approach, incorrect terminological interpretations, linguistic mistakes, etc. Bibikhin’s lecture courses on early Heidegger at Moscow State University were delivered only in 1990-1992, i.e., during late Perestroika when the horizons of what was permissible in the USSR were expanding. That being said, it bears noting that a circle of followers of Martin Heidegger’s ideas had formed in the academic sphere in Moscow in the 1980’s. A similar situation took shape in St. Petersburg, which later found manifestation in translation and publishing activities.

Starting in the late 1990’s, other works by this German thinker began to be translated and published. The quality of translations improved considerably (and was done by different authors), and Heidegger’s legacy began to be taught at different Russian universities. Heidegger’s main philosophical concepts became obligatory for students at faculties of philosophy. However, the study of philosophical ideas does not mean that students will become philosophers or appeal to certain such concepts with regards to political processes. Plato and Aristotle are studied from the school-bench early on, but who is seriously engaged in using these philosophers of Ancient Greece’s ideas in discussing socio-political issues today?

Interest in the ideas of Martin Heidegger in the context of Russian politics was triggered in the early 2000’s by the various articles and presentations of the Russian philosopher and geopolitician Alexander Dugin.

Later, these materials were systematized and presented in voluminous texts. In 2010, the publishing house “Academic Project” released Alexander Dugin’s book, Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning, which was logically succeeded in the following year by Martin Heidegger: The Possibility of a Russian Philosophy. In 2014, both works were released by the same publishing house in a single volume entitled Martin Heidegger: The Last God. Dugin’s interpretation of Heidegger’s ideas is tied to the history of Russian ideas, Orthodox Christianity, and a special path of state development including the theory of Eurasianism.

Needless to say, recounting Heidegger’s philosophical doctrine in a short journal publication would be senseless. Hundreds of volumes have been published in Germany alone which include whole works, lectures, and diaries. For our scope, let us focus merely on some provisions which, in our opinion, are applicable in a political context.

Firstly, it is worth pointing out that Heidegger employed many neologisms to describe the unfolding of time and being. One such key concept is Dasein, which is often translated as “being-here”. The French philosopher Henry Corbin translated this term as “human reality”, but for the sake of genuine, complete understanding, this and many other of Heidegger’s terms are best left untranslated. They should be provided in the original alongside something similar in one’s native language. Other possible variations should also be considered. For example, das Man expresses inauthentic Dasein that has fallen into banality, whereas in authentic existing, Dasein has the property of being-towards-death – Sein zum Tode – which represents existential terror. Terror is counterposed to fear, which imbues the world with external things and the internal world with empty worries. Interesting to note in this regard is the fact that modern Western policies and liberalism as such are built on fear. This tendency dates back centuries and is directly connected to the formation of Western (European) philosophy.

Let us add that another one of Dasein’s properties is spatiality, as space depends on Dasein, while on the other hand it is not a function of time. Dasein conditionally exists between the outer and inner, the past and present, the margin and the instant. Dasein has existential parameters – being-in-the-world (In-der-Welt-Sein), being-in (In-sein), being-with (Mit-sein), care (die Sorge), thrownness (Geworfenheit), Befindlichkeit (attunement, sofindingness, disposedness), fear (Furcht), understanding (Verstehen), discourse (Rede), and mood (Stimmung).

Another important element of Heidegger’s philosophy is the fourfold encompassing Sky, Divinities, Earth, and Mortals – which are depicted in the following manner: the Sky in the upper left, the Divinities (immortals) in the upper right, mortals (people) in the bottom left, and the Earth in the lower right. An axis runs between people and gods and another between Sky and Earth. The center of the fourfold is the most authentic modus of the existence of Dasein.

It should also be noted that Heidegger distinguishes between past and that which has passed, what is present and what is now, and the future and what is forthcoming. Dasein, according to Heidegger, must make a fundamental choice between the forthcoming and the future, i.e., the choice of authentic existing and directly confronting being (Seyn). Then the forthcoming will become the future. If Dasein chooses inauthentic existence, then the forthcoming will only be forthcoming, and therefore will not come into being.

Upon describing all of these elements of Heidegger’s philosophy in detail, Alexander Dugin poses a question: can one speak of a specific Russian Dasein? What are its existentials? In what does it differ from the European Dasein? Dugin arrives at the conclusion that a special Russian Dasein does exist, and not only a Russian one, for at the heart of each civilization lies a particular “thinking presence”, Dasein, which determines the structure of a given civilization’s Logos. As follows, every people (civilization) has its own special set of existentials.

And here we can find the political dimension of Dasein as Dugin sees it in his proposed concept of the Fourth Political Theory. Dugin focuses on three political theories claimed to be universal – Liberalism, Marxism and Fascism (National-Socialism). Each of them has their own subject of history.

Historical experience has proven that the Western liberal world has tried to forcibly impose its will upon all others. According to this idea, all public systems of the Earth are variants of the Western – liberal – system1 and their distinctive features should disappear before the approach of the conclusion of this world epoch.2.

Jean Baudrillard also states that this is not a clash of civilizations, but an almost innate resistance between one universal homogeneous culture and those who resist this globalization.3.

Apart from Liberalism, two more ideologies are known for having tried to achieve world supremacy, namely: Communism (i.e. Marxism in its various aspects) and Fascism/National Socialism. As Alexander Dugin rightly notes, Fascism arose after the first two ideologies and disappeared before them. After the disintegration of the USSR, the Marxism that was born in the 19th Century has been definitely discredited as well. Liberalism, based mainly on individualism and the atomistic society, human rights and the Leviathan-State described by Hobbes, emerged because of bellum omnium contra omnes4 and has long held on.

Here it is necessary to analyze the relation of the aforesaid ideologies in the contexts of their contemporary times and the loci from which they emerged.

We know that Marxism was a somewhat futuristic idea – Marxism prophesied the future victory of Communism at a time that nonetheless remained uncertain. In this regard it is a messianic doctrine, seeing the inevitability of its victory that would usher the culmination and end of the historical process. But Marx was a false prophet and this victory never eventuated.

National Socialism and Fascism, on the contrary, tried to recreate the abundance of a mythic Golden Age, but with a modernist form5. Fascism and National Socialism were attempts to usher in a new cycle of time, laying the basis for a new Civilization in the aftermath of what was seen as a cultural decline and death of the Western Civilization (hence the idea of the Thousand-Year Reich). This was abortive too.

Liberalism (like Marxism) proclaimed the end of history, most cogently described by Francis Fukuyama (as “the End of History and the Last Man)6. Such an end, nonetheless, never took place; and we have instead a nomadic-like “information society” composed of atomized, egoist individuals 7 that consume avidly the fruits of techno-culture. Moreover, tremendous economic collapses are taking place worldwide; violent conflicts occur (numerous local revolts, but also long-term wars on an international scale); and disappointment dominates our world rather than the universal utopia promised in the name of “progress.”8

From such an historical perspective, it is possible to understand the links between the emergence of an ideology within a particular historical epoch, or what has been called the zeitgeist or “spirit of the age.”

Fascism and National Socialism saw the foundations of history in the state (Fascism) or race (Hitlerian National socialism). For Marxism it was the working class and economic relations between classes. Liberalism on the other hand, sees history in terms of the atomized individual detached from the complex of cultural heritage and inter-social contact and communication. However, nobody has hitherto considered as the subject of history the People as Being, with all the richness of intercultural links, traditions, ethnic features and worldview.

If we consider various alternatives, even nominally ‘socialist’ countries have adopted liberal mechanisms and patterns that have exposed regions with a traditional way of life to accelerated transformation, deterioration and outright obliteration. The destruction of the peasantry, religion and family bonds by Marxism were manifestations of this disruption of traditional organic societies, whether in Maoist China or the USSR under Lenin and Trotsky.

This fundamental opposition to tradition embodied in both Liberalism and Marxism can be understood by the method of historical analysis considered above: Marxism and Liberalism both emerged from the same zeitgeist in the instance of these doctrines, from the spirit of money.9

Several attempts to create alternatives to neo-Liberalism are now visible – such as the political Shia in Iran, where the main state goal is the acceleration of the arrival of the Mahdi and the revision of socialism in Latin America (reforms in Bolivia are especially indicative). These anti-Liberal responses, nonetheless, are limited within the borders of their relevant, single statehood.

Ancient Greece is the source of all three theories of political philosophy. It is important to understand that at the beginning of philosophical thought, the Greeks considered the primary question of Being. However, they risked obfuscation by the nuances of the most complicated relation between being and thinking, between pure being (Seyn) and its expression in existence (Seiende), between human being (Dasein) and being in itself (Sein).10

It is noteworthy that three waves of globalization have been the corollaries of the aforementioned three political theories (Marxism, Fascism, and Liberalism). As a result, we need after them a new political theory which will generate a Fourth Wave: the re-establishment of (every) People with its eternal values. In other words, Dasein will be the subject of history. Every People has its very own Dasein. And, of course, after necessary philosophical considerations, political action must proceed.

Let us continue the preceding discussion about Heidegger’s ideas in Russia in the context of politics. It is significant that in Russia in 2016, Heidegger’s notebooks, Ponderings II-VI, known as his “Black Notebooks 1931-1938”, were published by the Gaidar Institute – a liberal organization which Russian conservative circles consider to be a network of agents of Western influence. Yegor Gaidar was the author of the liberal economic reforms in Russia under President Yeltsin and held the post of Minister of Finance in 1992. Gaidar was also acting Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and acting Minister of Economics in 1993-1994. Due to his reforms, the country was subject to inflation, privatization, and many sectors of the economy were ruined. The latter work of Heidegger’s is considered his most politicized, in which he speaks not only of philosophical categories, but of the role of the Germans in history, upbringing and education, as well as the political project of National Socialism. The Gaidar Institute most likely intended to discredit Heidegger’s teachings with such, but the opposite has happened, as the publication of Heidegger’s diaries has been met with widespread interest.

Paradoxically, in this work Heidegger criticizes Liberalism in the following manner: “The ‘liberal’ sees ‘connectedness’ in his own way. He sees only ‘dependencies’ – ‘influences’, but he never understands that there can be an influencing which is of service to the genuine basic stream of all flowing and provides a path and a direction.”11 Let us present a few more quotations from this work which, in our opinion, are of interest with regards to our approach.

The metaphysics of Dasein must become deeper in accord with the innermost structure of that metaphysics and must expand into the metapolitics ‘of’ the historical people.”12

The worthiness for power out of the greatness of Dasein – and Dasein out of the truth of its mission.”13

Education — the effective and binding realization of the power of the state, taking that power as the will of a people to itself.”14

At issue is a leap into specifically historical Da-sein. This leap can be carried out only as the liberation of what is given as endowment into what is given as task.”15

As Dugin has pointed out, if early Heidegger assumed that Dasein is something given, then later Heidegger concluded that Dasein is something that must be discovered, substantiated, and constituted. To this end, it is necessary first and foremost to accomplish a serious intellectual process (see Heidegger’s What is Called Thinking).

It is crucial to understand that although Heidegger’s ideas are considered to be a kind of culmination of European philosophy (which began with the Ancient Greeks, a point which is symbolic in itself since Heidegger built his hypotheses on an analysis of Ancient Greek philosophers), Heidegger is also often classified as a thinker who transcended Eurocentrism. For this reason, still during his lifetime, many of Heidegger’s concepts were welcomed in regions that had developed critiques of philosophy with regards to the European heritage as a whole. For example, enormous interest in Heidegger’s works could be found in 20th century Latin America. In Brazil, Heidegger’s works were addressed by Vicente Ferreira da Silva, in Argentina by Carlos Astrada, Vicente Fantone, Enrique Dussel, and Francisco Romero, in Venezuela by Juan David Garcia Bacca, and in Colombia by Ruben Sierra Mejia. Additional confirmation of this can be found in the words of the Iranian philosopher Ahmad Fardid to the effect that Heidegger can be seen as a figure of global significance, not merely as a representative of European thought. Given that Fardid, who is known for his concept of Gharbzadegi, or “Westoxification”, was a consistent critic of Western thought, which he believed contributed to the emergence of nihilism, such recognition of Heidegger is rather telling.

Indeed, Heidegger has had followers not only in Iran, but in many Asian countries as well. In Japan in the 1930’s, Heidegger’s student Kitaro Nishida founded the Kyoto School of Philosophy. Although in Japan Heidegger was largely considered a bearer of the European spirit (following the Meiji reforms, Japan was swept with excessive enthusiasm for everything European, especially German culture and philosophy), it is interesting to note that Heidegger’s notion of “existence” was redrafted in a Buddhist spirit as “true being” (genjitsu sonzai) and “Nothing” (“Oblivion”) was interpreted as “emptiness” (shunya). In other words, the Japanese interpreted Martin Heidegger’s basic concepts in accordance with their own concepts and often blended his terms with the concepts of such European existentialists as Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Gabriel Marcel. Another Japanese philosopher, Keiji Nishitani, has adapted Heidegger’s ideas to traditional Eastern models, as is so often done in the East. Parallels between traditional Eastern philosophy and Heideggerian analysis have also been drawn in Korea by Hwa Yol Jung.

In this regard, Russia and the study of Martin Heidegger’s legacy form a kind of bridge between Europe and the East, between the rigid rationalism that has subsumed European consciousness since the Middle Ages, and the abstract contemplative thinking characteristic of Asian peoples. Let us say even more directly that Eurasianism and Heideggerianism are in some sense interconnected and spiritually close tendencies among contemporary ideological currents in Russia.

Although these two schools can also be examined as independent philosophical doctrines, as is often done by secular scholars and opportunistic political scientists, any deep understanding of one can be had only upon grasping the other.

Footnotes:

1 For example, the insistence that all states and peoples should adopt the Westminster English parliamentary system as a universal model regardless of ancient traditions, social structures and hierarchies.

2 « Les droits de l´homme et le nouvel occidentalisme » in L’Homme et la socié (numéro spécial [1987], p.9

3 Jean Baudrillard, Power Inferno, Paris: Galilée, 2002. Also see for example Jean Baudrillard, “The Violence of the Global” (< http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=385>).

4 In English: War of all against all.

5 Hence the criticism of National Socialism and Fascism by Right-Traditionalists such as Julius Evola. See K R Bolton, Thinkers of the Right (Luton, 2003), p. 173..

6 Francis Fukuyama The End of History and the Last Man , Penguin Books, 1992.

7 G Pascal Zachary, The Global Me, NSW, Australia: Allen and Unwin, 2000.

8 Clive Hamilton, Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough, NSW, Australia: Allen and Unwin, 2005.

9 This is the meaning of Spengler’s statement that, “Herein lies the secret of why all radical (i.e. poor) parties necessarily become the tools of the money-powers, the Equites, the Bourse. Theoretically their enemy is capital, but practically they attack, not the Bourse, but Tradition on behalf of the Bourse. This is as true today as it was for the Gracchuan age, and in all countries…” Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, (London : George Allen & Unwin , 1971), Vol. 2, p. 464.

10 See Martin Heidegger on these terms.

11 Martin Heidegger, Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks 1931-1938 (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2016), 28.

12 Ibid, 91.

13 Ibid, 83.

14 Ibid, 89.

15 Ibid, 173.

Civilization as a Discursive Tool of Western Politics

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book on multipolarity…

The notion of civilization was introduced into broad scholarly circulation in the late 18th century by the Scottish philosopher Adam Ferguson, who meant by such a stage in the development of human society characterized by the existence of social classes, cities, writing, and other phenomena. The preceding stages, according to this thinker, were savagery and barbarism. In his Essay on the History of Civil Society, Ferguson remarked: “This progress in the case of man is continued to a greater extent than in that of any other animal. Not only the individual advances from infancy to manhood, but the species itself from rudeness to civilization.”[1] A similar approach was subsequently taken up by many scholars, especially in Soviet times, due to the fact that this view was maintained by Friedrich Engels. This imperative wields influence to this very day, hence such expressions as “civilizational approach”, and “civilized society”, etc. Around the same time, a similar idea was expressed by the English scholar, John Boswell.

The German sociologist Norbert Elias argued that the concept of civilization “expresses the self-consciousness of the West”, and: “By this term Western society seeks to describe what constitutes its special character and what it is proud of: the level of its technology, the nature of its manners, the development of its scientific knowledge or view of the world, and much more.”[2] Elias notes further:

But ‘civilization’ does not mean the same thing to different Western nations. Above all, there is a great difference between the English and French use of the word, on the one hand, and the German use of it, on the other. For the former, the concept sums up in a single term their pride in the significance of their own nations for the progress of the West and of humankind. But in German usage, Zivilisation means something which is indeed useful, but nevertheless only a value of the second rank.[3]

As is characteristic of the German school, Elias shares Spengler’s distinctions between culture and civilization, suggesting that civilization signifies a process or, in the very least, the result of a process. If civilization “plays down” national differences, insofar as the “concept of civilization has the function of giving expression to the continuously expansionist tendency of colonizing groups, the concept of Kultur mirrors the self-consciousness of a nation which had constantly to seek out and constitute its boundaries anew, in a political as well as a spiritual sense, and again and again had to ask itself: ‘What really is our identity?’”[4]

Examining the origins of the contrast between culture and civilization, Elias cites Kant’s 1784 Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View, which reads: “The ideal of morality belongs to culture; its use for some simulacrum of morality in the love of honor and outward decorum constitutes mere civilization.” In other words, according to Kant, civilization is a special kind of behavior, even if it is artificially created with the aim of legitimizing social status.

The sociogenesis of the notion of “civilization” is seen analogously in France. “The first literary evidence of the development of the verb civiliser into the concept civilisation is to be found, according to present-day findings, in the work of the elder Mirabeau in the 1760s.”[5]Maribeau wrote:

I marvel to see how our learned views, false on all points, are wrong on what we take to be civilization. If they were asked what civilization is, most people would answer: softening of manners, urbanity, politeness, and a dissemination of knowledge such that propriety is established in place of laws of detail: all that only presents me with the mask of virtue and not its face, and civilization does nothing for society if it does not give it both the form and the substance of virtue.

Elias thus summates:

Concepts such as politesse or civilité had, before the concept civilization was formed and established, practically the same function as the new concept: to express the self-image of the European upper class in relation to others whom its members considered simpler or more primitive, and at the same time to characterize the specific kind of behaviour through which this upper class felt itself different from all simpler and more primitive people.”[6]

This, let us note, means that people from the very same state or nation were seen as backward “barbarians” in the eyes of court-aristocratic and bourgeois circles. If earlier the upper class in all regions of Europe fundamentally opposed the lower strata, the “mobs”, then in the epoch of bourgeois revolutions, the idea appeared that all of society could be “finished up” and led to the state of “civilization.” It was often under this idea that the bourgeoning bourgeoisie fought against caste restrictions and everything that might interfere with their trade and interests. “The consciousness of their own superiority, the consciousness of this ‘civilization’, from now on serves at least those nations which have become colonial conquerors, and therefore a kind of upper class to large sections of the non-European world, as a justification of their rule, to the same degree that earlier the ancestors of the concept of civilization, politesse and civilité, had served the courtly-aristocratic upper class as a justification of theirs.[7] Thus, Elias argues that “civilization” was needed by the West in order to extend its power and influence to other regions of the world through a system of coercion and subordination in various forms. He emphasizes: “In this way civilizing structures are constantly expanding within Western society; both the upper and lower strata are tending to become a kind of upper stratum and the centre of a network of interdependencies spreading over wider and wider areas, both populated and unpopulated[8], of the rest of the world.”[9]

The “spread of civilization” is therefore the penetration of Western institutions and behavioral standards into other countries. Non-Western countries can voluntarily join this process insofar as they see the need for their own survival, the point of which is not only the borrowing of technical skills, but also forms of “civilized” behavior which allow them to enter the network of interdependencies. But the center of this network remains occupied by the people of the West.

 In fact, what Norbert Elias was describing is what is now called “globalization”, although the latter author arrived at these conclusions in the interwar period. In the present time, criticisms of Western civilization in its “exclusive form” have only intensified. For example, Raymond Aaron notes that “suspected, explicit racism could not endlessly resist the opening up of the greatness of other civilizations or the obvious fragility of European supremacy.”[10] Hamid Dabashi from Columbia University argues that the idea of Western civilization was for European nations a kind of umbrella structure asserting the universal identity of European national cultures and to “unify these cultures against their colonial consequences.” Dabashi thus surmises:

Islamic, Indian, or African civilizations were invented contrapuntally by Orientalism, as the intelligence arm of colonialism, in order to match, balance and thus authenticate ‘The Western Civilization.’ All non-western civilizations were therefore invented exactly as such, as negational formulations of the western, thus authenticating the western. Hegel subjected all his preceding human history into civilizational stages leading to the Western Civilization, thus in effect infantilizing, Orientalizing, exoticizing and abnormalizing the entire human history…[11]

Footnotes: 

[1] https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/ferguson-an-essay-on-the-history-of-civil-society; Accessed in Russian in: Бенвенист Э. Цивилизация. К истории слова Civilization. Contribution a l’histoire du mot // Общая лингвистика. — М.: URSS, 2010.

[2] Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), 5.

[3] Ibid, 6.

[4] Ibid, 7.

[5] Ibid, 33-34.

[6] Ibid, 34.

[7] Ibid, 43.

[8] The Russian translations reads “colonized and un-colonized”: Норберт Элиас. О процессе цивилизации. Изменения в обществе. Проект теории цивилизации. Т. 2. М.: Университетская книга, 2001. p. 256.

[9] Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), 381.

[10] Реймон Арон. Избранное: Измерения исторического сознания. – М.: РОССПЭН, 2004. С. 97.

[11] Dabashi Hamid. For the last time: civilizations. Rethinking civilizational analysis// Intern. sociology – L., 2001. – Vol. 16, N3 (Special issue), P. 364.

China and Multipolarity

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book…

 

Contemporary Chinese political scientists derive their doctrine of multipolarity from the Cold War era, and in particular the five principles of peaceful coexistence which formed the basis of the 1954 treaty with India. These five principles are:

1.     Mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty;

2.     Non-aggression;

3.     Non-interference in internal affairs;

4.     Equality and mutual benefit;

5.     Peaceful coexistence.

China began actively participating in the development of the multipolar strategy under discussion today more than 30 years ago, for which there exists a specific Chinese term, duojihua – 多极化, meaning multipolarity or “multipolarism.”[1]

      In an article from early 1986 entitled “Prospects for the international situation”[2], Deng Xiaoping’s national security advisor, Huan Xiang, who also boasted experience in diplomatic service abroad and cooperation with Shanghai academic circles, indicated that insofar as the Cold War conflict had become relatively stable, the world’s superpowers were effectively losing the ability to control their own camps, hence the beginning of political multipolarity. The first step in this direction was the emergence of the strategic USSR-USA-China triangle following which, in the author’s opinion, a quintipolar world would appear including Japan and Europe.

         Two years before this article’s publication, Huan Xiang noted in 1984 that: “The old world order has already disintegrated and the new world order is now taking shape, but up to now it still has not yet completely formed.. U.S. domination of the Asia-Pacific will end … Japan knows what role it should take, but it still hesitates… China must go through a long period of hard work . . . 30 to 50 years time will make it truly powerful.”[3] Huan also pointed to what the confrontation between the USSR and USA was leading to: “The two largest military powers are weakening and declining . . . militarily they are developing in the direction of multipolarization . . . if the Star Wars plan develops, multipolarization could develop toward bipolarization, and could again return to bipolarization. If secondary ranked countries want to carry out a Star Wars plan, it will be very difficult. The position of those countries will immediately decline.[4]

         In January 1986, however, any uncertainty regarding the future structure of the world evaporated[5] and its transformation and transition acquired clear traits and stages. In Huan Xiang’s words: “Future international politics and economics are facing a new period.”[6] By 1986, Huan Xiang was no longer alone in his forecasts. Another author published an article in China’s National Defense University’s journal entitled “The development of global strategic multipolarity.”[7] After some time, multipolarity was already regarded as the trend of the 21st century.[8]

         It bears noting, however, that this concept of multipolarity eventually came to be met with opponents, albeit not immediately. In 1997, senior analyst for the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Yang Dazhou, published an article entitled “My opinion on the global structure after the Cold War” which subjected the traditional Chinese view on multipolarity to thorough, detailed criticism.[9] The article’s main arguments consisted of the following theses:

–     The United States will maintain its superpower status for at least three decades.

–     The United States will maintain its alliances with Japan and Germany.

–     In the next two to three decades, there will be no period of “uncertainty.”

–     There will be no extended transition period from this trend towards multipolarity.

–     There already exists a “pluralist” global structure of “one superpower and four powers.”

–     Only the United States is a genuine “pole” capable of resolving key issues in any region, as exemplified in the case of the Dayton Accords. “The United States plays a leading role which no other nation can replace…it is the only country which is a ‘pole.’”

–     China “does not possess sufficient qualification to be a ‘pole.’”

–     For more than 20 years, no other nations, including Third World countries, will become major powers capable of challenging the five strongest. Thus, the phrase which many analysts adhere two of “one super, the rest strong” is actually inappropriate.

–     It is unlikely that large local wars will break out between nations.

Of course, these theses drew criticism first and foremost from conservative Chinese circles, such as the military. The editor of the National Defense University’s journal, International Strategic Studies, subsequently decided that an article by General Huang Zhenji would be suitable as a response despite the fact that it was rather sharp in tone and “unusual” in style.[10] General Huang mentioned excerpts of Yang’s article without directly quoting it and confirmed the original point of view on each of these points:

–     The US’ decline is inevitable and underway.

–     The US’ global influence is already severely restricted.

–     Quintipolar multipolarity is inevitable, especially in terms of the growing tensions between the United States, Japan, and Germany (as was evidenced by fresh meetings of the highest level between the European Union and Asia which excluded the declining United States).

–     The emergence of the “Third World” has changed global politics and will contain the United States.

–     Local wars are certain even though “peace and development” will be the main trend in the “uncertain” transitional period of coming decades.

Here it is also necessary to note how the Chinese have understood the global political order of the past two centuries while taking into account the fact that the country was effectively a colony and under occupation until only the second half of the 20th century. China’s authorities believe that global politics is a system or “strategic pattern”, among which they distinguish five different pattern periods:

1.     The Vienna System: 1815-1870;

2.     The Transitional System marked by Germany and Italy’s unification and the Meiji reforms;

3.     The Versailles System: 1920-1945;

4.     The Yalta System: 1945-1989;

5.     Transition period…

As can be seen, such an approach shares common elements with Braudel and other authors’ concepts. However, there are some differences, namely, minor differentiations which allow us to draw conclusions on the different criteria for evaluating the global system that are peculiar to the Asian (non-Western) type of thinking.

By the end of the 1990’s, three approaches to future multipolarity had been developed in China. Xi Runchang from China’s Academy of Social Sciences who, like Yang Dazhou, said that there will be “one superpower and four strong powers”, suggested that this pattern represents the new global structure: “Currently there has already basically formed a new embryonic structure supported by the five powers . . . in the 21st century, this new structure will further form and be perfected.[11]

         Yan Xuetong from the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Studies presented a second scenario known as the “theory of the completion of the main project of multipolarity.” Yan argues that the “The basic establishment of the great nations’ strategic relations in 1996 caused the post-Cold War transition from a bipolar structure to a one super many strong structure to be completed.[12]

          Song Baoxian and Yu Xiaoqiu’s works from the same institute suppose a third scenario closer to that envisioned by Huang Zhenji and the conservative camp in which “multipolarity is formed” and other countries besides the five strongest only become stronger. They argue that “the development of trends of multipolarity is accelerating” and “a new group of powers is arising” which will play “the role of restricting the five main powers” thus making the trend of multipolarity as the global structure more attractive and diverse.[13]

         In 1997, another senior analyst at the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Studies, Li Zhongcheng, summated these three differing views on the future global structure put forth by the institute and Academy of Social Science’s analysts. Li does not criticize any of the authors, whose ideas he merely presents, but his own expressed views are evidently closer to the third purported scenario.[14]

         Yan Xuetong from the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Studies became the one who genuinely attempted to develop an alternative approach to questions of multipolarity, as when he wrote: “The new international structure has some special characteristics, the most important of which is the replacement of ‘poles'(ji) by ‘units’ (yuan). The nature of ‘poles’ is long-term stable confrontation, but the nature of ‘units’ is that the dominant position of key countries is determined by the nature of specific affairs.”[15]

         These distinctions deviated from the conservative line. For example, a large part of Yang Dazhou’s article centered on challenging this point of view by means of the tactic of establishing and clarifying definitions for such key words and phrases as “pole”, “transition era”, “pluralization” (duoyuanhua), “multipolarization” (duojihua), “large nation” (daguo), and “power” (qiangguo). Dazhou defined a “pole” as something founded on the standards of the Cold War era when the only poles were the United States and Soviet Union. Accordingly, the “four strong powers” are not poles because “when compared to the Soviet Union, there still is a great distance.”[16]

         In a similar vein, in his argument against those who claimed that the world is in a transition era set to continue for an indefinite period of time, Yang argues that any transition is by definition not uncertain: “Some people believe that the post-Cold War transition period could continue for 20, even 30 years. This type of argument is not appropriate; a ‘transition period’ always has an ending time. Suppose the ‘transition period’ goes on for 20 or 30 years, then this itself already constitutes a new structure different from that of the Cold War period.”[17]

         Overall, Chinese analysts have argued that China should not be purely passive, but can and even should aid the inauguration of the multipolar trend and accelerate its tempo.

For example, China is purported to be in a position to help Europe become a pole. One Chinese author has claimed that the EU wants to play a more important international role as a “powerful, independent pole” in the unfolding multipolar world, and thus is “seeking to at the same time strengthen its ties with the world’s major powers”, hence the release of the important political document, “Building a Comprehensive Partnership with China” in March 1997. The Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Studies’ Feng Zhongping calls this “strategic partnership.” In Feng’s opinion, these new relations with China will “help the EU in its long quest to establish itself on the world stage and become and independent ‘pole’ in global affairs.” The basis for the EU possibly becoming such a “pole” is explained by “China’s status in the unfolding global balance of power.”[18]

         A similar argument was advanced by Shen Yihui, who claimed that the “EU should count on China’s support” because “the establishment of closer ties with China will allow Western Europe to play a greater role in international affairs.” Shen adds that China can not only help the EU gain authority in world affairs, but also that improved relations between China and the EU could help the latter in other problems.” In economic terms, he argues, “the Chinese market is needed to catalyze economic growth in Europe.” Even in the sphere of security, “China can be used to create a fortnight security zone around the EU.”[19]

         Subsequent years have shown that Beijing has been met with certain resistance despite the fact that China has partially penetrated Europe’s market. It should also be noted that current Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s predecessor, Jiang Zemin, highlighted the concept of multipolarity, economic globalization, and the development of science and technology as the fundamental global trends of the era.

Footnotes: 

[1] John Lee, “An Exceptional Obsession”, The American Interest,  May/June 2010,  http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=80

[2] Huan Xiang, “Zhanwang 1986 nian guoji xingshi” (Prospects for the 1986 international situation), in Huan Xiang wenji (Beijing: Shijie zhishi chubanshe, 1994): 1291. Originally published in Liaowang, no. 1 (1986).

[3] Huan Xiang, “Yatai diqu xingshi he Mei-Su de zhengduo zhanlue” (The situation in the Asia-Pacific region and U.S.-Soviet rivalry strategy), in Huan Xiang wenji, 1115. This article originally appeared in Guoji zhanwang (International Outlook), no. 14 (1984).

[4] Huan Xiang, “Xin jishu geming dui junshi de yingxiang” (The influence of the new technological revolution on military affairs), in Huan Xiang wenji (The collected works of Huan Xiang)(Beijing: Shijie zhishi chubanshe, 1994), 2: 1263. This article was originally published in Liberation Army Daily, June 7 and June 14, 1985.

[5] It cannot be ruled out that this Chinese author’s opinion was influenced by the shift in the USSR’s political course. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev assumed the post of General Secretary of CPSU and subsequently launched Perestroika.

[6] Huan Xiang, “Wo guo ‘qiwu’ qijian mianlin guoji zhengzhi jingji huanjing de fenxi” (An analysis of the international political and economic environment that China is facing during its seventh five-year plan), in Huan Xiang wenji (Beijing: Shijie zhishi chubanshe, 1994): 1300.

[7] Gao Heng, “Shijie zhanlue geju zhengxiang duojihua fazhan” (Development of global strategic multipolarity), Guofang daxue xuebao (National Defense University Journal), no. 2 (1986): 32-33.

[8] Luo Renshi, “Strategic Structure, Contradictions and the New World Order,” International Strategic Studies 19, no.1 (March 1991): 1-6.

[9] Yang Dazhou, “Dui lengzhan hou shijie geju zhi wo jian”, Heping yu Fazhan (Peace and Development) 60, no. 2 (June 1997): 41-45.

[10] Huang Zhengji, “Shijie duojihua qushi buke kangju” (The inevitable trend toward multipolarity), Guoji zhanlue yanjiu (International Strategic Studies) 46, no. 4 (October 1997): 1-3.

[11] Xi Runchang, “Shijie zhengzhi xin geju de chuxing ji qi qianjing” (The embryonic form of the world’s new political structure and its prospects), Heping yu fazhan (Peace and Development), no. 1 (1997), cited in Li Zhongcheng, Kua shiji de shijie zhengzhi (Trans century world politics) (Beijing: Shishi chubanshe, 1997): 29.

[12] Yan Xuetong, “1996-1997 nian guoji xingshi yu Zhonguo duiwai guanxi baogao” (A report on the 1996-1997 international situation and China’s foreign relations), Zhanlue yu guanli (Strategy and Management), supplementary issue (1996-1997), cited in Li Zhongcheng, Kua shiji de shijie zhengzhi, 31.

[13] Song Baoxian and Yu Xiaoqiu, “Shijie duojihua qushi jishu fazhan” (The world’s multipolarity trend continues to develop), Renmin ribao (People’s Daily), December 28, 1994, cited in Li Zhongcheng, Kua shiji de shijie zhengzhi , 32.

[14] Wu Hua, Shen Weili, and Zhen Hongtao, Nan Ya zhi shi–Indu (The lion of South Asia–India) (Beijing: Shishi chubanshe, 1997): 2.

[15] Yan Xuetong, Zhongguo guojia liyi fenxi (Analysis of China’s national interests) (Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe, 1996): 55.

[16] Yang Dazhoug, “Dui lengzhan hou shijie geju zhi wo jian,” 43.

[17] Ibid, 42.

[18] Feng Zhongping, “An Analysis of the China Policy of the European Union,” Contemporary International Relations 8, no. 4 (April 1988): 1-6. Feng was Deputy Director of the Division for Western European Studies at CICIR.

[19] Shen Yihui, “Cross-Century European-Chinese Relations,” Liaowang, no. 14 (April 6, 1998): 40-41, in FBIS-CHI-98-114, April 24, 1998. For an additional article discussing improving Sino-EU relations see Wang Xingqiao, “A Positive Step Taken by the European Union to Promote Relations with China,” Beijing Xinhua Domestic Service, July 1, 1998, in FBIS-CHI-98-191, July 10, 1998.

Iran and Multipolarity

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book…

At the turn of the millennium, Iran’s President from 1997-2005, Mohammad Khatami, proposed the concept of a dialogue of civilizations. Initially being a counter-thesis to Samuel Huntington’s work, The Clash of Civilizations, Khatami insisted on and argued for the need for discussion between different religions and cultures, especially during his address to the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly (1998-1999) when he officially declared 2001 to be the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations. The peculiarity of Mohammad Khatami’s theory of “dialogue of civilizations” rests in that it offers a systematic, scholarly, and practically feasible and purposeful use of exchange between civilizations to overcome barriers of alienation between different players on the global political scene to prevent crisis situations in the world taking into account the modern level of technological and communication development and with an eye towards global problems which threaten the very existence of mankind.[1]  Khatami said:

We should not forget that cultures and civilizations always have interaction and mutual influence. New abilities were formed due to their interaction. Non-dialogue paradigm leads to a deadlock, to overcome which we inevitably appeal to the dialogue approaches. Constructive indicators of dialogue certainly must not be limited only to the spheres of politics and culture. Not all constructive indicators of culture are only cultural ones; since economic, social, cultural and educational aspects participate in this formation. Therefore, promotion of dialogue of civilizations should be recognized as a multi-sided necessity.[2]

In 2001, however, a terrorist attack struck New York and the American neoconservatives subsequently triumphed in their insisting on the necessity of military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan under the pretext of fighting terrorism and finding (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction. The harsh dualism put forth as an ultimatum by the George W. Bush Administration to the tune of “those who aren’t with us, are with the terrorists” buried any efforts at establishing such a dialogue of civilizations.

During the presidency of Khatami’s successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran became yet another pretext for the West’s contrived “concerns.” Meanwhile, on the other hand, Iran became an object of interest for all those forces resisting Washington-led unipolar globalization. High prices and demand for oil contributed to Iran’s economic development, although sanctions imposed by Western countries and later the UN hampered the Iranian economy. Despite this, Iran demonstrated political resilience to outside influence, remained loyal to its ideological principles, and affirmed its right to be an influential player in the region. In addition, Iran under Ahmadinejad began actively cooperating with those Latin American countries which adopted an anti-imperialist foreign policy course.

The fact that these countries’ leaderships, and first and foremost Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia adhered to socialist views did not hinder the establishment of an alliance which set for itself the goal of political multipolarity based on respect for the sovereignty of states and their peoples’ cultural traditions. Cooperation with Russia, China, and African countries was also amplified.

Moreover, similar views came to be shared by other senior politicians of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In May 2006, the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, stressed that “Today, taking into account countries such as Russia, China, India, an Iran, the world is moving in the direction of multipolarity contrary to the desire of the USA.”[3] Ahmadinejad continued Iran’s course towards multipolarity during his second presidential term as well. At the 65th session of the UN General Assembly in October 2010, Ahmadinejad said:

The inefficiency of capitalism and existing global governance and its structures has manifested itself for many years, and the majority of countries and peoples are in search of fundamental changes for the sake of justice in international relations…The world is in need of the logic of compassion, justice, and universal cooperation, not the logic of force, domination, unipolarity, war, and intimidation…The Iranian people and the majority of peoples and governments of the world are against the current, discriminatory global governance. The inhumane nature of this governance has brought it to a standstill and requires radical revision. Universal cooperation, pure thoughts, and divine and humane governance are needed to remedy the situation in the world and to transition to peace and prosperity.[4]

The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, also stressed the pursuit of multipolarity. During his speech at the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran in August 2012, Khamenei pointed out the need to reform the UN, drew attention to the West’s unilateral imposition of its programs undermining the principles of democracy, the destructive work of monopolized mass media, and problems of weapons of mass destruction. Khamenei proposed the doctrine of a “Middle East without nuclear weapons” by which, of course, he meant Israel as an outcast in this issue, and highlighted the need to improve “political productivity in global governance.”[5]  Without a doubt, such a venue as the Non-Aligned Movement’s summit is not only for political reports advising the need for high morality and justice, but is a platform for criticizing neo-imperialism. It is a powerful pooling of leaders and senior officials of states from all continents to meet and take advantage of a decent opportunity to reach agreements, discuss the prospects of joint projects, and reduce possible friction in diplomatic relations.[6] Iran’s role in this regard is very indicative.

If Iran de facto is and has been before a geopolitical center, then the changing international situation has opened the possibility for it to transform its status and rise to the level of a geopolitical pole. If Iran is approached not only as a sovereign nation-state, but as a center of Shiite Islam, then we undoubtedly see that Iran’s influence in a number of countries with Shiite populations makes it a geopolitical subject of a different level and significance. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Palestine are states which depend on support from Iran through various mechanisms.

The Iranian international relations expert Behzad Khoshandam posits that 2016 was a turning point for Iran in regards to choosing its international course, which was finally confirmed to be that of multipolarity. This is due to several interconnected factors: (1) the signing of the nuclear deal with six countries (a manifestation of the logic of Iran’s strategic patience in political, trade, economic, and other interests); (2) rapprochement with Russia; (3) Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections; (4) understanding the hostile intentions of the numerous countries conducting proxy wars against Iran (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel); (5) and the overall serious turn towards Eurasia.[7] To this we can add the strategic agreement with China announced in January 2016 which includes Beijing actively supporting Iran in acquiring full membership in the SCO.[8]

Indeed, in the opinion of Iranian scholars, the country’s national interests are best protected in none other than the multipolar paradigm of global politics. Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri from Tehran University believes that only in a multipolar international system can regional cooperation and balanced relations with all powerful states help countries achieve their national interests.[9]

The Iranian political scientist Massoud Mousavi Shafaei from Tarbiat Modares University has proposed that Iran take advantage of the fluidity of the international system and the emergence of new conditions for active operations in different regional environments. Insofar as Iran is located between the Middle East and Central Asia, it indeed does have a choice. The Middle East is submerged in chaos, ethnic conflicts, wars, and terror, and this crisis will likely continue for an indefinite period of time. In these circumstances, the restoration of order in the region under the leadership of a single hegemonic power or even under the pressure of large powers is seen as practically impossible.[10] Given that the US instrumentalizes most Arab countries to contain Iran’s geopolitical ambitions, this thesis is justified. Washington simply will not allow Iran to be more actively engaged in the region even if Iranian intentions are altogether benevolent and noble. Therefore, in Massoud Mousavi Shafaei’s opinion, Iran must reorient itself and its geo-economic logic towards Central Asia and Southeast Asia. However, this does not mean an end to Iranian presence in the Middle East necessary to defend its vital national security interests.

The opinion has also been expressed that Russia, Iran, and China “all feel that [a] multipolar world is the only condition for future development of our planet and its inhabitants. They have experienced again and again that unilateral dictates emanating from US, instead of solving problems, generates more and more of them. So it is obviously in their interests, to get united on the issue of multi-polarity, and insist – through various institutions like US, or press, or even new military alliances – that the business as usual – is not going to be accepted.[11]          

Iran understands that joining the multipolar club inevitably means pressure from the West. Thus, Tehran can expect new challenges, as can the other architects of the multipolar world order. In this vein Tehran University Professor Jahangir Karami has noted that although Russia can effectively restrict the US’ unilateral approach through the UN, NATO expansion challenges Russia’s efforts, as was the case with the crises provoked in Ukraine and Syria aimed directly against Moscow.[12]

Nevertheless, Iran has a long history of withstanding Western hegemony and other forces from the first contacts with the Portuguese in the early 16th century to the seizure of the US Embassy during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Indeed, opposing US sanctions and working to develop their own economic approaches and conduct in international affairs are characteristic of Iran’s course towards multipolarity.

Footnotes: 

[1] Мелихов И.А. М. Хатами: межцивилизационный диалог и мусульманское сообщество/ «Дипломатический вестник», серия «Дипломатия, наука и общественность». № 9. 2001.

[2] Seyyed Mohammad Khatami. Dialogue among Civilizations. High-Level Conference. Eurasia in the XXIst Century: Dialogue of Cultures, or Conflict of Civilizations? Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, 10 and 11 June 2004. Paris, 2005. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001465/146593E.pdf

 [3] Иран и Российская Федерация: Россия, Китай, Индия и Иран – линия мощной силы, 10 мая 2006. http://www.iran.ru/news/politics/39484/Iran_i_Rossiyskaya_Federaciya_Rossiya_Kitay_Indiya_i_Iran_liniya_moshchnoy_sily

[4] Выступление президента Ирана на 65-й сессии Генеральной Ассамблеи ООН, 04 октября 2010 http://www.iran.ru/news/interview/68545/Vystuplenie_prezidenta_Irana_na_65_y_sessii_Generalnoy_Assamblei_OON

[5] Выступление аятоллы Хаменеи на саммите Движения неприсоединения.// Геополитика. 31.08.12 http://www.geopolitica.ru/Articles/1483/

[6] Савин Л.В. Иран, Движение неприсоединения и многополярность. Геополитика.ру, 17.09.2012 https://www.geopolitica.ru/article/dvizhenie-neprisoedineniya-iran-i-mnogopolyarnost

[7] Behzad Khoshandam, Iran’s Foreign Policy in 2016, Iran Review, DECEMBER 28, 2016      http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran-s-Foreign-Policy-in-2016.htm

[8] Iran, China Announce Roadmap for Strategic Partnership, Farsnews, Jan 23, 2016.       http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941103001266

[9] Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri, Russia Bracing for Multipolar International System, Iran Review, September 21, 2015  http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Russia-Bracing-for-Multipolar-International-System.htm

[10]   Massoud Mousavi Shafaei, Iran’s Foreign Policy Needs Paradigm Change: Transition from Middle Eastern Terror to Geo-economics of Asian Hope, Iran Review, JANUARY 31, 2017 http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran-s-Foreign-Policy-Needs-Paradigm-Change-Transition-from-Middle-Eastern-Terror-to-Geo-economics-of-Asian-Hope.htm

[11] Prof. Golstein: ‘Russia, Iran, China Feel Multi-Polar World is Only Condition for Future Development’, Jul 17, 2016    http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950421000941

[12]          Jahangir Karami, Russia, Crises in Syria and Ukraine, and the Future of the International System, Iran Review, APRIL 15, 2014    http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Russia-Crises-in-Syria-and-Ukraine-and-the-Future-of-the-International-System.htm

Multipolarity and India

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book…

Indian theories of multipolarity also deserve attentive study. The Indian political scientist Suryanarayana believes that multipolarity is conceivable as a stable principle of international relations only between states that have developed organically as “power houses.” Implicit in this notion is a criticism of colonialism, neocolonialism as well as the chimerical political culture vividly exemplified in the US which, with its strategic notion of the “Frontier” and historical statehood, cannot represent such an organic power house.

By engaging in economic reform,” it is assumed, “India will have the opportunity to develop and exploit its large population and economic opportunity to become a global power in an increasingly multi-polar system, thereby allowing for an ambitious foreign policy permitting India to protect its interests in South Asia and act as the preeminent power in the region.” It has also been noted that India has earned “high political credibility in most parts of the world on top of its growing economic stature, it seems reluctant to capitalize on this. Unwilling to break with the creeds that have guided its foreign policy since independence but, rather, trying to conserve them by adapting them to the emerging new multipolar order.” Upon attaining a new economic level, moreover, India will inevitably strengthen its military and political presence in the Indian Ocean.

University of Colorado Professor Peter Harris believes that multipolarity will be directly linked to a shift in the balance of forces in the Indian Ocean. Harris writes:

Today, centuries of relative unipolarity are giving way to noticeable multipolarity. India’s announcement of a base in the Seychelles is another important step in this direction—a sign that New Delhi is doubling down on its blue water navy and attendant power-projection capabilities.  From the Seychellois island of Assumption, which is already equipped with an airstrip, the Indian military—even if it is limited by geography to maintaining only a tiny military presence—will boast a central position in the Western Indian Ocean, close to the East African coastline and astride the important maritime trade route that runs from the Mozambique Channel to the Arabian Sea.

It is not just India that is beefing up its presence in the region, of course. Late last year, China announced the creation of its first permanent overseas base in Djibouti at the mouth of the Red Sea, and Beijing continues to expand its naval capabilities (most recently by announcing the construction of its first Chinese-made aircraft carrier). With the United States also present in Djibouti—as well as Bahrain, Diego Garcia and elsewhere—this means that at least three of the great powers are demonstrably seeking to expand their military reach in the Indian Ocean.  And middle powers such as Britain and France also boast considerable military assets in the wider region…

International Relations theory helps to delineate three scenarios that might play out. First, the great powers could cooperate to combat piracy, maintain geopolitical stability, and keep sea lanes open. This is the hope of liberal academicians, who see few conflicts of interest between the various powers in terms of their vision for the ocean’s future; on the contrary, a common stake in policing the commons should provide great impetus to maintaining regional stability. Second, however, the Indian Ocean could become the focus of great power competition and even outright conflict, as distrust and divergent interests push states to shun collaboration. This is the pessimistic prediction of most realist scholars.

But third, the Indian Ocean could become the scene of a new sort of world order—or, to put it more accurately, world orders—as rival great powers go about organizing their own spheres of influence that exist discretely and distinctly with one another’s. Such a world was outlined by Charles Kupchan in his book, No One’s World, in which the author argued that the coming international system will be characterized by decentralization, pluralism, and co-existence…

Whatever the form of international governance that emerges in the Indian Ocean, then, it will have to accommodate the reality that several great powers have vital interests in the region. Come conflict or cooperation, political order in the Indian Ocean will have to be multipolar in character — if, indeed, it is not already. The prospects for peace and harmonious cooperation under such circumstances are not altogether bleak, but they are not endlessly auspicious either.  In many ways, twenty-first century geopolitics begins here.

In their joint article, “The multipolar Asian century: Contestation or competition?”, Samir Saran, a senior research fellow and vice president of the Observer Research Foundation (India) and Ashok Malik, a senior research fellow at the Australian Lowy Institute for International Policy, also assign India an important place in the future world order and focus on the Asia-Pacific region as a possible source for the formation of a multipolar world. Saran and Malik suggest three possible scenarios:

Should the US choose to bequeath the liberal, international order to Asian forces, India will be the heir-apparent. India would not, under this circumstance, play the role of a great power — because Asia is too fractious and politically vibrant to be managed by one entity — but simply that of a ‘bridge power’. India is in a unique and catalytic position, with its ability to singularly span the geographic and ideological length of the continent. But two variables will need to be determined. Can the US find it within itself to incubate an order that may not afford it the pride of place like the trans-Atlantic system? And, can India get its act together and be alive to the opportunity it has to become the inheritor of a liberal Asia?

The second possibility for an Asian order is that it resembles the 19th century Concert of Europe, an unstable but necessary political coalition of major powers on the continent. The ‘big eight’ in Asia (China, India Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia, Russia and America) would all be locked in a marriage of convenience, bringing their disparate interests to heel for the greater cause of shared governance. Difficult as it would be to predict the contours of this system, it would likely be focused on preventing shocks to ‘core’ governance functions in Asia, such as the preservation of the financial system, territorial and political sovereignties and inter-dependent security arrangements. Given that each major player in this system would see this as an ad hoc mechanism, its chances of devolving into a debilitating bilateral or multi-front conflict for superiority would be high — very much like the Concert that gave way to the First World War.

A third possibility could see the emergence of an Asian political architecture that does not involve the US. This system — or more precisely, a universe of subsystems — would see the regional economic and security alliances take a prominent role in managing their areas of interest. As a consequence, institutions like ASEAN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the AIIB, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation will become the ‘hubs’ of governance. The US would remain distantly engaged with these sub-systems, but would be neither invested in their continuity, or affiliated to its membership.

There also exists the point of view that India will represent the third pole of a multipolar world (besides the US and China) by 2050. Given that the author of this model is Hindu, such a theory is of a clearly prejudiced character. On the other hand, a tripolar system a priori cannot be multipolar. What’s more, India’s leadership considers Russia to be one pole of the multipolar world, as was stated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Moscow in December 2015, who said that he sees in Russia a “significant partner in the economic transformation of India and the creation of a balanced, stable, inclusive, multipolar world.”

However, the Indian view of multipolarity implicitly harbors negative perceptions of China due to territorial disputes and, in a broader context, due to the civilizational competition between these two countries. Russia is also an often subject of criticism. For example, the retired Indian diplomat M. Bhadrakumar has remarked: “Russia and China give lip-service to their shared interests with developing countries and they profess ardor for a polycentric world order, ultimately they remain self-centered, comfortable in the knowledge of their assured veto power in the UN and their sequestered place within the discriminatory nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. Unsurprisingly, they are paramountly focused on perpetuating their privileged position as arbiters of regional problems.”

Nevertheless, the understanding that the window of opportunities could expand considerably under none other than multipolarity continues to push India in this direction. As Amee Patel has pointed out in the context of India-China dialogue: “While improved relations could alleviate each nation’s challenges, a further motivation is given by India’s shared resentment toward the international system.”

 

Multipolarity and Polycentricity

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book…

The very term “multipolarity” is of American (Anglo-Saxon) origin, and in the third chapter we examined similar concepts that have been developed in other countries. As various scholars have indicated, varying interpretations of multipolarity have provoked certain conceptual dilemmas. For instance, a report on long-term global trends prepared by the Zurich Center for Security Studies in 2012 noted that:

The advantage of ‘multipolarity’ is that it accounts for the ongoing diffusion of power that extends beyond uni-, bi-, or- tripolarity. But the problem with the term is that it suggests a degree of autonomy and separateness of each ‘pole’ that fails to do justice to the interconnections and complexities of a globalised world. The term also conceals that rising powers are still willing to work within the Westernshaped world economic system, at least to some extent. This is why the current state of play may be better described as ‘polycentric’. Unlike ‘multipolarity’, the notion of ‘polycentricism’ says nothing about how the different centres of power relate to each other. Just as importantly, it does not elicit connotations with the famous but ill-fated multipolar system in Europe prior to 1914 that initially provided for regular great power consultation, but eventually ended in all-out war. The prospects for stable order and effective global governance are not good today. Yet, military confrontation between the great powers is not a likely scenario either, as the emerging polycentric system is tied together in ways that render a degree of international cooperation all but indispensable.

The Swiss scholars involved in this summation approached the issue from the standpoint of reviewing security issues in a globalized world and tried to find an adequate expression for contemporary trends. However, there also exist purely technical approaches and ideological theories which employ the term “polycentric”.

The concept of “polycentricity” had been used before to describe the functioning of complex economic subjects. Accordingly, if management theories are springboards for geopolitical practice, then this model’s basic elaborations already exist. In a literal sense, the term “polycentric” suggests some kind of spatial unit with several centers. However, the term does not specify what kind of centers are in question, hence the obvious need to review various concepts and starting points before discussing polycentrism.

Four levels of this concept can be discussed in the context of political-administrative approaches. The analytical-descriptive level is needed for describing, measuring, and characterizing the current state of a spatial object by means of precisely determining how long a country or capital can be “polycentric.” Secondly, this concept can be understood in a normative sense which might help, for example, in reorganizing the spatial configuration of an object, i.e., either to promote/create polycentrism or support/utilize an existing polycentric structure. Thirdly, when it comes to spatial entities, it is necessary to specify their spatial scale, i.e., at the city level, city-region, mega-regional level, or even on the national or transnational levels. Upon closer examination, the concept of polycentrism thus challenges our understanding of centers in urban areas, since such can concern either their roles and functional ties (relations) or their concrete morphological forms (the structure of urban fabric). This differentiation between the functional and morphological understandings of polycentrism constitutes the fourth dimension.

In the contemporary situation which features the presence of city-states and megalopoli that can easily compete with some states in the classical understanding in the most varied criteria (number of residents and their ethnic identity, length of external borders, domestic GDP, taxes, industry, transport hubs, etc.), such an approach seems wholly appropriate for more articulated geopolitical analysis. Moreover, in the framework of federal models of state governance, polycentrism serves as a marker of complex relations between all administrative centers. Regional cooperation also fits into this model since it allows subjects to “escape” mandatory compliance with a single regulator, such as in the face of a political capital, and cooperate with other subjects (including foreign ones) within a certain space.

To some extent, the idea of polycentrism is reflected in offshore zones as well. While offshores can act as “black holes” for the economies of sovereign states, on the other hand, they  can also be free economic zones removing various trade barriers clearly within the framework of the operator’s economic sovereignty.

It should also be noted that the theory of polycentrism is also well known in the form of the ideological contribution of the Italian community Palmiro Togliatti as an understanding of the relative characteristics of the working conditions facing communist parties in different countries following the de-Stalinization process in the Soviet Union in 1956. What if one were to apply such an analysis to other parties and movements? For example, in comparing Eurosceptics in the EU and the conglomerate of movements in African and Asian countries associated with Islam? Another fruitful endeavor from this perspective could be evaluating illiberal democracies and populist regimes in various parties of the world as well as monarchical regimes, a great variety of which still exist ranging from the United Kingdom’s constitutional monarchy to the hereditary autocracy of Saudi Arabia which appeared relatively recently compared to other dynastic forms of rule. Let us also note that since Togliatti the term “polycentrism” has become popular in political science, urban planning, logistics, sociology, and as an expression for unity in diversity.

In 1969, international relations and globalization expert Howard V. Perlmutter proposed the conceptual model of EPG, or Ethnocentrism-Polycentrism-Geocentrism, which he subsequently expanded with his colleague David A Heenan to include Regionalism. This model, famously known by the acronym EPRG, remains essential in international management and human resources. This theory posits that polycentrism, unlike ethnocentrism, regionalism, and geocentrism, is based on political orientation, albeit through the prism of controlling commodity-monetary flows, human resources, and labor. In this case, polycentrism can be defined as a host country’s orientation reflecting goals and objectives in relation to various management strategies and planning procedures in international operations. In this approach, polycentrism is in one way or another connected to issues of management and control.

However, insofar as forms of political control can differ, this inevitably leads to the understanding of a multiplicity of political systems and automatically rejects the monopoly of liberal parliamentarism imposed by the West as the only acceptable political system. Extending this approach, we can see that the notion of polycentrism, in addition to connoting management, is contiguous to theories of law, state governance, and administration. Canada for instance has included polycentricity in its administrative law and specifically refers to a “polycentric issue” as “one which involves a large number of interlocking and interacting interests and considerations.” For example, one of Canada’s official documents reads: “While judicial procedure is premised on a bipolar opposition of parties, interests, and factual discovery, some problems require the consideration of numerous interests simultaneously, and the promulgation of solutions which concurrently balance benefits and costs for many different parties.  Where an administrative structure more closely resembles this model, courts will exercise restraint.”

Polycentric law became world-famous thanks to Professor Tom Bell who, as a student at the University of Chicago’s law faculty, wrote a book entitled Polycentric Law in which he noted that other authors use phrases such as “de-monopolized law” to describe polycentric alternatives.

Bell outlined traditional customary law (also known as consolamentum law) before the establishment of states and in accordance with the works of Friedrich A. Hayek, Bruce L. Benson, and David D. Friedman. Bell mentioned the customary law of the Anglo-Saxons, ecclesiastical law, guild law, and trade law as examples of polycentric law. On this note, he suggests that customary and statutory law have co-existed throughout history, an example being Roman law being applied to Romans throughout the Roman Empire at the same time as indigenous peoples’ legal systems remained permitted for non-Romans.

Polycentric theory has also attracted the interest of market researchers, especially public economists. Rather paradoxically, it is from none other than ideas of a polycentric market that a number of Western scholars came to the conclusion that “Polycentricity can be utilized as a conceptual framework for drawing inspiration not only from the market but also from democracy or any other complex system incorporating the simultaneous functioning of multiple centers of governance and decision making with different interests, perspectives, and values.” In our opinion, it is very important that namely these three categories – interests, perspectives, and values – were distinguished. “Interests” as a concept is related to the realist school and paradigm in international relations, while “perspectives” suggests some kind of teleology, i.e., a goal-setting actor, and “values” are associated with the core of strategic culture or what has commonly been called the “national idea,” “cultural-historical traditions”, or irrational motives in the collective behavior of a people. For a complex society inhabited by several ethnic groups and where citizens identify with several religious confessions, or where social class differences have been preserved (to some extent they continue to exist in all types of societies, including in both the US and North Korea, but are often portrayed as between professional specialization or peculiarities of local stratification), a polycentric system appears to be a natural necessity for genuinely democratic procedures. In this context, the ability of groups to resolve their own problems on the basis of options institutionally included in the mode of self-government is fundamental to the notion of polycentrism.

Only relatively recently has polycentrism come to be used as an anti-liberal or anti-capitalist platform. In 2006, following the summit of the World Social Forum in Caracas, Michael Blanding from The Nation illustrated a confrontation between “unicentrism” characterized by imperial, neo-liberal, and neo-conservative economic and political theories and institutions, and people searching for an alternative, or adherents of “polycentrism.” As a point of interest, the World Social Forum itself was held in a genuinely polycentric format as it was held not only in Venezuela, but in parallel also in Mali and Pakistan. Although the forum mainly involved left socialists, including a large Trotskyist lobby (which is characteristic of the anti-globalist movement as a whole), the overall critique of neoliberalism and transnational corporations voiced at the forum also relied on rhetoric on the rights of peoples, social responsibility, and the search for a political alternative. At the time, this was manifested in Latin America in the Bolivarian Revolution with its emphasis on indigenism, solidarity, and anti-Americanism.

It should be noted that Russia’s political establishment also not uncommonly uses the word “polycentricity” – sometimes as a synonym for multipolarity, but also as a special, more “peace-loving” trend in global politics insofar as “polarity presumes the confrontation of poles and their binary opposition.” Meanwhile, Russian scholars recognize that comparing the emerging polycentric world order to historical examples of polycentricity is difficult. Besides the aspect of deep interdependence, the polycentricity of the early 21st century possesses a number of different, important peculiarities. These differences include global asymmetry insofar as the US still boasts overwhelming superiority in a number of fields, and a multi-level character in which there exist: (1) a military-diplomatic dimension of global politics with the evolution of quickly developing giant states; (2) an economic dimension with the growing role of transnational actors; (3) global demographic shifts; (4) a specific space representing a domain of symbols, ideals, and cultural codes and their deconstructions; and (5) a geopolitical and geo-economic level.

Here it is necessary to note that the very term “polycentricity” in itself harbors some interesting connotations. Despite being translated to mean “many”, the first part (“poly-“) etymologically refers to both “pole” and “polis” (all three words are of Ancient Greek origin), and the second part presupposes the existence of centers in the context of international politics, i.e., states or a group of states which can influence the dynamic of international relations.

In his Parmenides, Martin Heidegger contributed an interesting remark in regards to the Greek term “polis”, which once again confirms the importance and necessity of serious etymological analysis. By virtue of its profundity, we shall reproduce this quote in full:

Πόλις is the πόλоς, the pole, the place around which everything appearing to the Greeks as a being turns in a peculiar way. The pole is the place around which all beings turn and precisely in such a way that in the domain of this place beings show their turning and their conditions. The pole, as this place, lets beings appear in their Being and show the totality of their condition. The pole does not produce and does not create beings in their Being, but as pole it is the abode of the unconsciousness of beings as a whole. The πόλις is the essence of the place [Ort], or, as we say, it is the settlement (Ort-schaft) of the historical dwelling of Greek humanity. Because the πόλις lets the totality of beings come in this or that way into the unconcealedness of its condition, the πόλις is therefore essentially related to the Being of beings. Between πόλις and “Being” there is a primordial relation.

Heidegger thus concludes that “polis” is not a city, state, nor a combination of the two, but the place of the history of the Greeks, the focus of their essence, and that there is a direct link between πόλις and ἀλήθεια (this Greek word is usually translated into Russian as “truth”) Thus, in order to capture polycentricity, one needs to search for the foci and distribution areas of the essence of the numerous peoples of our planet. Here we can once again mention strategic cultures and their cores.

Russia and Multipolarity

Author: Leonid Savin 

Translator: Jafe Arnold

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book…

Many ascribe the first steps in developing a strategy for multipolarity in international relations to Russia as well. Indeed, this claim has some merit. In Moscow on April 23rd, 1997, Russia and China signed the “Joint Declaration on a Multipolar World and the Establishment of a New International Order”, and on May 15th the declaration was registered in the UN.1 The document asserted that the Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China will strive to promote the development of a multipolar world and new international order. The text also remarked that international relations had undergone profound changes at the end of the 20th century and affirmed a diversity of political, economic, and cultural paths of development for all countries and an increasing role for forces advocating peace and broad international cooperation. Furthermore, the document reads: “A growing number of countries are beginning to recognize the need for mutual respect, equality and mutual advantage – but not for hegemony and power politics – and for dialogue and cooperation – but not for confrontation and conflict. The establishment of a peaceful, stable, just and rational new international political and economic order is becoming a pressing need of the times and an imperative of historical development.

In addition, the declaration voiced the notion that every state has a right to, proceeding on the basis of its unique circumstances, independently and autonomously choose its own path of development without interference from other states. In the words of the statement: “Differences in their social systems, ideologies and value systems must not become an obstacle to the development of normal relations between States.” At the same time, it was emphasized that China and Russia are switching to a new form of mutual relations and that such is not directed against any other countries.

Hopes then arose that the UN would play an important role in establishing a new international order, and developing countries and the Non-Aligned Movement were named as important forces contributing to the formation of a multipolar world. The Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation on the International Order of the 21st Century, which was signed in Moscow on July 1st, 2005 by Russian President Vladimir Putin and PRC President Xu Jintao, logically continued this line.2 This declaration was a response to the US invasion of Iraq, a reaction to this challenge which was intended to strengthen efforts to organize a new international order. One part in the new declaration read:

The main trend of the world today is not towards a “clash of civilizations”; rather, it underscores the imperative of engaging in global cooperation. The diversity of civilizations in the world and the diversification of development models should be respected and safeguarded. Differences in the historical backgrounds, cultural traditions, social and political systems, value concepts, and development paths of countries should not become an excuse for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. Different civilizations should conduct dialogue, exchange experiences, draw on each other’s experiences, learn from each other’s strong points to make up for their own shortcomings, and seek common progress on the basis of mutual respect and tolerance. Cultural exchanges should be increased in order to establish relations of friendship and trust among countries.

Russia and China drew attention to the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the intensification of cooperation between BRIC countries and later BRICS, which is seen as an attempt at establishing individual rules for the game at least in each country’s zone of strategic interests.

In the sphere of its own strategic interests, as proclaimed by President Medvedev following Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia in August 2008, Russia uses the Eurasian Economic Community as an economic integration instrument and military cooperation within the CSTO. Directly introduced into Russia’s foreign policy doctrine in 2000 was the provision that “Russia will seek the creation of a multipolar system of international relations which genuinely reflects the diversity of the modern world with its diversity of interests.”3

It should be noted, however, that Russian politicians, diplomats, and scholars’ understanding of the need to develop a theory of multipolarity has its roots in a crisis situation. First, there was the collapse of the Soviet Union which was accompanied by ethnic conflicts. A similar collapse occurred in Yugoslavia and led to several foreign interventions and the transformation of the regional political map. NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia and the Albanian proclamation of Kosovo were a painful blow not only to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which at the time consisted of Serbia and Montenegro, but to the European geopolitical system as a whole. In addition, the collapse of Marxist doctrine and the negative experience of IMF and World Bank reforms in Russia led to an understanding of the need to develop a distinct foreign and domestic policy. Although the inertia of the Soviet era made itself felt, certain attempts were made at rethinking Russia’s role and place in the global political system.

September 11th, 2001 also affected perceptions of the global system in a new vein. It is no coincidence that in an article from September 2003, a Russian advocate of multipolarity and political heavyweight who served as prime minister in 1999, Yevgeny Primakov, noted that “what followed the events of September 11 showed more clearly than ever the confrontation between two trends. On the one hand, there was the preservation of the world order, save for some modernization, founded on such a mechanism for multilateral actions as the United Nations. On the other, there was ‘unilateralism’, or the bet that decisions that are vitally important for humanity can be taken by one country, the United States, on the grounds of Washington’s subjective perception of international reality.”4 Primakov pointed out that the EU was becoming a center of power comparable in its capacity to the US, while China, Russia, India, and Japan were also in no hurry to trail behind the wake of events set by Washington. Also highlighted in this regard is the UN’s role in the formation of multipolarity. Previously, Primakov had observed that “the uneven development of states will manifest itself primarily in antagonistic forms…historically, no dominant power can establish a unipolar world order.”5

Here it is important to note that Yevgeny Primakov had at the time already condemned the US leadership, pointing instead to rapidly expanding opportunities for other countries and alliances. “The fall of the USSR as a counterbalance to America does not give reason to believe that the US is an undisputed winner and, accordingly, that the world should be unipolar with only one center in Washington. This contradicts the very course of global development. For instance, China and India’s respective GDP’s are larger than that of the US. US leadership in scientific and technological progress as one of the main conditions of the unipolar world is also being actively contested today.”6 This is confirmed by statistical data: “By 2011 four major centers of scientific progress had formed – the USA (31% of global spending on scientific research in terms of purchasing power parity), the European Union (24%), China (14%), and Japan (11%).”7

Primakov argued against liberals and globalists, affirming that:

The transition to a multipolar system is a process, not a single change with a finished character. Therefore, great importance is attached to various trends, sometimes contradictory ones, manifesting themselves over the course of this transition. Some of them have their source in the unequal development of states and the successes or failures of integration associations. The fluctuating ratio between, relatively speaking, the course towards restarting relations and the inertial line of states’ conduct inherited from the Cold War and ingrained during the period of outright confrontation, is directly impacted. This relation between two tendencies manifests itself in the political, military, and economic fields as well. Therefore, the correct conclusion that a multipolar world order does not in itself in the conditions of globalization lead to conflict situations, or military clashes, does not exclude the altogether complex environment in which the process of the transition to such a system takes place.8

Being a supporter of the creation of the Russia-India-China triangle that could balance out the aggressive behavior of the US and other challenges, Primakov is rightfully considered to be one of the first Russian practicians of multipolarity.

Thanks to his official position and numerous foreign contacts, Russia’s position vis-a-vis the future world order was successfully conveyed to the widest range of decision-makers possible and consolidated in the foreign policy of the Russian Federation.9

Alexander Dugin’s doctrine of neo-Eurasianism was another ideological and intellectual platform which gave impetus to the development of multipolarity. The program of Eurasianist ideology asserts:

At the level of a planetary trend, Eurasianism is a global, revolutionary, civilizational concept which, in gradually refining itself, is to become a new ideological platform for mutual understanding and cooperation for a wide conglomerate of different forces, states, peoples, cultures, and confessions which reject Atlanticist globalization…Eurasianism is the sum of all the natural and artificial, objective and subjective obstacles along the path to unipolar globalization, at once elevated from the level of simple negation to being a positive project, a creative alternative.10

Although classical Eurasianism was concerned solely with the fate of Russia which it characterized as “Eurasia” by virtue of its uniqueness, vast territory, and central situation between “classical” Europe and Asia, Alexander Dugin’s concept has supplemented this ideology with new methodologies and scholarly concepts. Thus, Eurasianism has acquired a global dimension and moved beyond the borders of the Eurasian continent. In this new understanding, “Eurasianism is a philosophy of multipolar globalization designed to unite all the societies and peoples of the earth in the construction of a unique and authentic world, every component of which would be organically derived from historical traditions and local cultures.11

Rather close to this formula is the opinion of another Russian scholar, Boris Martynov, who noted that newly emergent multipolarity cannot be of any other dimension than civilizational. Martynov emphasizes:

Inter-civilizational communication is already a reality of the modern world in which different economic and financial institutions, non-state structures, and religious, business, and public associations and, finally, individuals as representatives of their civilizational archetypes are increasingly active apart from states and alongside their lasting multi-profile and multilevel international contacts of various kinds…In addition, the advantage of a system of multipolar world order in view of the unipolar and bipolar ones lies in that it must be based on law to function. The correctness of this observation is obvious in the case of the unipolar world which operates on the basis of the ‘understandings’ of the main player in the global system. This is true for bipolarity as well, where each of the two ‘equally-responsible’ subjects strive to ensure themselves a ‘free hand’ in their zones of influence regardless of international law. However, law is needed for interaction between several major players wielding approximately comparable might and influence in order to guarantee a reasonable modus vivendi between them. This is especially true for such a complex system as civilizational multipolarity.12

However, far from all Russian scholars and diplomats have assigned a positive nature to emerging multipolarity. For example, the director of the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute for US and Canadian Studies, S.N. Rogov, has claimed that “the new polycentric system lacks common ‘rules of the game’, norms, and institutions which could effectively regulate interaction between centers of power, including both cooperation and rivalry.” Thus, in this view, the trend towards multipolarity generates “instability and unpredictability as to the evolution of the modern system of international relations and threatens to send the situation spinning out of control.”13 This claim is clearly based on the mondialist paradigm which insists on a strictly limited ideological standard.

Nonetheless, Russian efforts seem to generally be strong attempts at re-building a world order which respects all nations, states, peoples, and cultural-religious traditions.

____________
 

1 Russian-Chinese Joint Declaration on a Multipolar World and the Establishment of a New International Order, adopted in Moscow on 23 April 1997. Letter dated 15 May 1997 from the Permanent Representatives of China and the Russian Federation to the United Nations  addressed to the Secretary-General, Distr. GENERAL A/52/153, S/1997/384, 20 May 1997

3 Концепция внешней политики Российской Федерации. Москва. 28 июня 2000 г. // Системная история международных отношений в четырех томах 1918–2003 / Под редакцией А.Д. Богатурова. Т. 4. Документы. М., 2004. С. 538-539.

4 Евгений Примаков, Мир без сверхдержав, 2 сентября 2003 http://www.globalaffairs.ru/number/n_1560

5 Примаков Е. М. Мир после 11 сентября. М., 2002. С. 155.

6 Александр Бондарь. Евгений Примаков: «Мир будет многополярным», Столетие, 28.03.2008http://www.stoletie.ru/ekskliuziv/evgeni_primakov_mir_budet_mnogopolyarnim.htm

7 Никонов Я. И. Компаративный анализ подходов к организации финансирования стратегии инновационного развития национальных экономик за рубежом // Вестник Томского государственного университета. № 392, 2015. С. 145.

8 Примаков Е. М. Мысли вслух. — М.: Российская газета, 2011. С. 159–160.

9 Е.М. Примаков. Вызовы и альтернативы многополярного мира: роль России. М.: Издательство Московского университета, 2014.

10 Дугин А. Г. Евразийская миссия. Международное евразийское движение, М., 2005. С. 11.

11 Ibid, 33.

12 Мартынов, Борис. Многополярный или многоцивилизационный мир?// Международные процессы. Том 7. Номер 3 (21). Сентябрь–декабрь 2009. http://www.intertrends.ru/twenty-first.htm

13 Рогов С.М, Россия и США: Уроки истории и выводы на будущее // Россия и Америка в XXI веке, № 1, 2006 http://www.rusus.ru/?act=read&id=15

Towards a Social and Humanitarian Eurasian Union

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

Any form of cooperation is governed by regulations, laws, and agreements between the involved parties. Therefore, in order to determine the criteria and official levels which regulate Eurasian cooperation in the social and humanitarian spheres, it is first and foremost necessary to analyze the foundational documents of the Eurasian Economic Union.

The Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union entered into force on January 1st, 2015. This founding document proclaims the continuity of Eurasian economic integration (from the Declaration of November 18th, 2011), and practically all of the treaty’s articles are dedicated to trade, customs regulations, integration, tariffs, and other economic mechanisms. Adherence to the principles of the WTO and UN is also highlighted.

Article 61 on Consumer Protection Policy, which consists of two points and two proposals, can to some extent be related to the social sphere insofar as it concerns policy agreements between member-states in the sphere of protecting consumer rights. The administrative cooperation defined in Article 68 concerns only issues of an economic nature and management, including the exchange of information and cooperation between competent authorities. Only Articles 97 and 98 on employment are social and humanitarian in nature, insofar as they indicate mechanisms for social protection, health care, procedures for workers in member-countries, as well as the mutual recognition of documents pertaining to education and employment opportunities, etc. However, these issues are integral to any economic and business operation, since labor relations imply social responsibility on the part of employers, certain state guarantees, and appropriate qualification necessary for employing labor.

The treaty contains no other articles or points related to social and humanitarian activities.

Moreover, according to the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Commission, there is no authority proscribed for the latter organ in the social and humanitarian spheres. Point 18 merely provides for the commission’s operations in the sphere of labor migration, while Point 20 mentions “other spheres determined by the Treaty [on the Eurasian Economic Union] and international treaties within the union.” According to the EEU’s legal portal, social and humanitarian issues were not considered in the acts adopted by the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in 2015-2016.[1]

A similar situation can be observed with the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council.[2] No memoranda or joint statements with international organizations engaged in humanitarian issues have been issued.

Before the Treaty on the EEU, on October 30th, 2014 a joint statement was issued on cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and the United Nations on industrial development. Even earlier, in 2013, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Eurasian Economic Commission and Economic Union and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, and the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), were all signed. Yet these UN commissions have nothing to do with social and humanitarian cooperation, although the United Nations does have corresponding bodies for these spheres.

Out of all the draft documents presented on the EEU legal portal that have either passed or are in the process of passing through public discussion (535 in total as of March 1st, 2017), in two years there has not been a single document which directly or indirectly relates to the social and humanitarian spheres.[3]

This situation is rather paradoxical since the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union was preceded by many years of significant intellectual work which implicitly related to the humanitarian sphere. Even if we consider exclusively economic factors or technical aspects, then they in one way or another have scientific foundations and are implemented in politics, and this is also pertains to the sphere of ideology and theories of the social and political sciences.

What’s more, it bears emphasis that the classical school of Eurasianists which arose among Russian emigres in the 1920’s, attached priority to questions of culture and society. The core of the Eurasian movement then was represented by the geographer Petr Savitsky, the philologist Nikolay Trubetzkoy, the lawyer Nikolay Alekseev, the historian and literary critic Petr Bitsilli, the philosopher and medievalist Lev Karsavin, the art historian Petr Suvchinsky, the historian George Vernadsky, the theologian George Florovsky, and the literary critic Dmitry Svyatopolk-Mirsky. Tellingly enough, there were no economists in this group, although state systems did receive significant attention in Savitsky and Alekseev’s works.

The end of the era of classical Eurasianism is associated with the works of Lev Gumilev, after which it is commonly accepted to recognize the beginning of neo-Eurasianism, whose founder in Russia in the early 1990’s was Alexander Dugin. Dugin not only directly popularized the ideas of classical Eurasianism in intellectual and political science circles, but also complemented its main provisions with geopolitical and economic aspects in accordance with the challenges of the day. This was marked by the need to pay more attention to heterodox economic models that go beyond classical liberal or Marxist doctrines. The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, also actively supported Eurasianist ideas. It was he who proposed at the highest political level to create a new type of Eurasian association after the collapse of the USSR. A significant difference at the time was that Dugin worked in the intellectual sphere under adverse conditions, since the period of Boris Yeltsin’s reign was overall associated with an orientation towards the West, not searching for a way out of the crisis of identity or a unique, independent path of development, whereas Nazarabyev used administrative resources in parallel to the development of a national ideology of Kazakhstan. These remarks should be considered in analyzing the work of the EEU, particularly in the humanitarian sphere.

Imbalances in the trade-economic sphere have also been acknowledged in the comments of senior officials who have considerable experience in the humanitarian field. The groundwork of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) might be useful in this regard, since the EEU has a number of direct agreements with the CIS. To some extent, both of these inter-state projects are interrelated, since all EEU members are also CIS members.

For example, on July 2nd, 2015, during the Forum for Young Leaders of Eurasian Economic Union Member-Countries held in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, the head of the Federal Agency for CIS Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation, Lyubov Glebova, remarked: “The development of cultural ties in the Eurasian space is important due to the fact that the entire history of our states exists within a common cultural space. Repression has never been at the heart of these relationships. Experience in mutual cultural enrichment helps us build relations today and allows us to avoid what we see in other parts of the world, such as the development of inter-ethnic conflicts sometimes artificially instigated from the outside.” [4]

In saying such, Glebova essentially confirmed Lev Gumilev’s famous theory of the complementarity of the various peoples inhabiting the Eurasian space and their influence on one another over the course of history. A similar opinion has been expressed by the former Executive Director of the International Foundation for Humanitarian Cooperation of the CIS and acting advisor to the President of Armenia on international cultural-humanitarian cooperation. In an interview in July 2016, he said regarding the EEU that the union has been established “in which economic relations play a key role. Without an economy, nothing can develop, and this is understandable. But at the same time, one cannot ignore the fact that without education, science, and without the inclusion of cultural and national questions, it is extremely difficult to build relations between peoples and states. For people to understand each other, and for an atmosphere of complete mutual confidence to be achieved, we direly need those contacts that are established only through humanitarian cooperation – through culture, art, and education. It is impossible to imagine the formation of a Eurasian alliance without cooperation in these spheres. Sooner or later, we will necessarily arrive at this. Why not get ahead of ourselves and in the near future start building these bridges that will surely help economic relations?” [5]

The General Secretary of the Eurasian Economic Community, Tair Mansurov, also suggested: “The Eurasian Union should become a union of states with a common economic, customs, humanitarian, and cultural space.” [6] As things stand, the first two of these areas have been realized and enshrined in the association’s governing documents, while the last two are still in their infancy.

Today, humanitarian-cultural cooperation exists only out of the inertia of the traditions laid down in the Soviet Union and Russian Empire. As a process of historical continuity, there are more positive than negative sides in this, but it nevertheless bears recognition that the 21st century requires a comprehensive and consolidated approach.

First of all, there is competition between countries. The states of Central Asia and the Caucasus are the objects of the geopolitical interests of many other countries with their own projects. The People’s Republic of China, for instance, is actively pursuing the expansion of its One Belt One Road project in the region, which is regarded not only as political-economic penetration, but also an instrument of China’s “soft power.” Although the SCO-BRICS summit in Ufa in 2015 declared that the Eurasian Union and New Silk Road projects would merge, to this day no clear plan of action has been deliberated on this matter.

Secondly, there can be several interrelated factors present that function as instruments of external “soft power.” For example, Turkey takes advantage of two factors at once – the Turkic and Muslim factors – to spread its cultural-religious influence in the countries of Central Asia (two Eurasian Union participants, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, have majority Muslim populations). Islamic ideas are also employed by Arab monarchies, in particular Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as the basis for their economic and spiritual penetration of the region.

In addition to those countries that have throughout history been of direct relevance to the states of the Eurasian Economic Union in terms of trade, influence, or conflicts, foreign actors are also attempting to influence integration and decision-making. The USA and the UK in particular present their own variety of programs in the context of liberal-democratic, Western ideology, which is not only unsuitable for the peoples and states of this part of the world, but is in many ways purely destructive in nature. In particular, such asserts the superiority of the individual over the collective and rejects the importance of historical and religious traditions, which liberalism presents as relics that must be overcome for the sake of progress (without mentioning any concrete goals). Meanwhile, “many of the Eurasianists’ social projects speak of the sobornost’ and collectivism of the people, i.e., those principles which have allowed them to not only survive in unique climactic conditions, but also build a powerful state. Cooperative interaction appears as an integral feature of social life in Russian sociology.” [7]

Overall, drawing a dichotomy between political-economic and political-cultural approaches might have long-term consequences. Other countries’ experiences show that cultural factors cannot be ignored or downplayed while preference is given exclusively to economic ties. The crisis in the EU, besides economic, political, and social factors, also has a cultural-humanitarian dimension.

As the famous French philosopher and New Right ideologue, Alain de Benoist, pointed out: “Since the very beginning, European construction has been carried out contrary to common sense. It started with industry and trade, rather than giving priority to politics and culture. What was built instead of this base and turned into a superstructure was represented by the Brussels Commission which, while devoid of any democratic legitimacy, still continues to be considered omnipotent. Construction should have been based on countries and regions with strict observance of the principle of subsidiarity, and with sufficient competence…European construction was done without the consent of the population (surveys were conducted only a few times, and people mostly negatively responded, but this was not taken into account and the surveys were repeated until they replied ‘yes’). Finally, the ultimate goals of European integration were not clearly defined, because there was never any consensus on this. But the key question is: are they building a powerful Europe with clearly defined geopolitical borders, one capable of governing all forces in synergy in order to forge an autonomous structure which might play a regulatory role in contemporary globalization? Or are they working on a market-Europe, a free trade zone with blurred borders which is supposed to be integrated into the zone of dominance of the American superpower? Unfortunately, we are closer to the second one. I am against such a Europe; I stand for the idea of the first Europe.” [8]

Sharply dividing the economic, political, social, and other aspects should be avoided. Rather, they should organically complement each other. “There are four common approaches to studying human affairs in which emphasis is on the social, cultural, economic, or political aspects respectively…To some extent, all of these categories include the other three insofar as social, cultural, economic, and political life are naturally interdependent. When we choose one of these names, we choose only an emphasis.” [9]

The experience of the Russian Federation in the 1990’s shows that emphasis must not be exclusively placed on the economic side of state policy, since a quantitative approach and focus on numbers can produce a profound gap with socio-political reality. This was clearly demonstrated by the liberal reforms implemented in Russia and the economic defaults that hit wide swathes of the population. The examples of other countries that have at one time found themselves in difficult economic situations (such as the Republic of Cuba and Islamic Republic of Iran) show that the ideological component, with emphasis placed on cultural and historical aspects, helped these countries’ leaderships to mobilize society and overcome numerous problems. Conversely, neglect for cultural-historical traditions has led to numerous tensions within societies (such as the escalation of sectarian conflicts in Iraq, progressive liberalization in Serbia leading to large-scale emigration in recent years, and the critical situation in Ukraine) which in turn also undermined these states’ economic systems.

Recently, a large number of events dedicated to questions of the EEU’s establishment and development have been held. Some of them have been systemic in nature and took place before the EEU project came to life. Others have begun to attempt to directly reflect on the EEU’s work in order to identify gaps and smooth over possible contradictions. A number of “Eurasian events” have been organized by social organizations and movements with funding from the state (usually one-time grants), and some educational institutions have systematically engaged in holding courses and educational and scholarly events. For example, the Ural State University of Economics in Ekaterinburg held the 7th Eurasian Economic Youth Forum in 2016.[10] This forum was the continuation of a cycle of events focused on harmonizing international relations alongside the International Youth Business Game’s “Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit – 2039” which was held at the Ural State University of Economics in 2009, as well as the first BRICS summit held in Ekaterinburg in the same year. The Eurasian Youth Herald is even published by the Ural State University of Economics. [11]

The Federation Council of the Russian Federation has also launched similar projects, such as the Eurasian Women’s Forum. Nine permanent discussion platforms have been established, each of which is a separate work group forming the basis for active cooperation between women’s leaders and women’s organizations. These forums’ activities are influencing the work on the program of the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum to be held in 2018. The Deputy Chairwoman of the Federation Council, Galina Karelova, has devoted particularly active work to such discussion forums as Women in Industry, Women in Agriculture, Women in the Shaping of Global Public Health Strategy, Women in Entrepreneurship, Women in Sport: Playing by One Set of Rules, and Charity without Borders, all of which have created a number of projects, including some featuring international participation.[12] These events have a pronounced gender character which is of no small importance in the modern international situation, in which serious attention is devoted to this factor. On the other hand, some of this forum’s initiatives have been criticized for having a pronounced liberal character. In particular, the National Strategy in Women’s Interests project published on the forum’s site has been severely criticized. It has been noted that many of the strategy’s provisions have been copied from Western feminist programs, such as “the outright destruction of traditional family values, basic models of behavior and social structure…many of the provisions approved by the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, D.A. Medvedev, in the National Strategy in Women’s Interests for 2017-2012 go against the National Security Strategy approved by the President of Russia, V. V. Putin, and grossly violate the constitutional rights of tens of millions of citizens of Russia.”[13]

Thus, it is necessary to adjust such initiatives in accordance with the value systems of the EEU’s societies.

Another important event is Eurasian Week, an annual exhibition forum held by the countries of the Economic Union and the Eurasian Economic Commission. The decision to organize this event was taken by the prime ministers of EEU countries in 2015. The forum has been called on to become an effective platform for dialogue where business and expert circles, union countries’ authorities, and third countries can discuss current, practical issues of economic development in the context of global challenges and work together to develop strategic solutions. The Eurasian Week forum was held for the first time in 2016, and this year’s forum’s theme is “The EEU on the Global Innovation Agenda.” This platform could be used to promote ideas of humanitarian cooperation as part of the common agenda of economic development and innovation (such as tourism).

Overall, the EEU itself represents a platform for generating new ideas, trends, and solutions for developing not only economic cooperation, but also improving humanitarian cooperation between the countries of the Eurasian economic space.

However, even among the various NGO’s and groups which have enthusiastically greeted the EEU project, there misunderstanding prevails as to the importance of the humanitarian field of Eurasian integration. For example, on the website of the Eurasian Commonwealth organization established in 2013, the “Humanitarian cooperation” section consisting of seven sub-sections is blank [14]. If in three years this sphere remains in a vacuum, then this suggests a shortage of ideas and proposals from civic non-profit initiatives dealing with questions of Eurasian integration.

The International Eurasian Movement can be considered to be an exception. Functioning since 2003 and working in a number of areas of humanitarian cooperation (science and education, youth, culture and art, interfaith relations, information policy), this organization’s operations are not even limited to EEU members. In several cases, the organization is working on Eurasian-oriented projects with other states, such as Iran, Turkey, Serbia, and Thailand.

Among the many expert communities and various NGO’s directly or indirectly related to the Eurasian Economic Union, one often hears wishes that humanitarian cooperation vectors will be strengthened, especially the youth, touristic, educational, and cultural-information spheres since, after all, “at the heart of integration, as any mutually beneficial process, always lies humanitarian cooperation.” [15]

As has been noted, strengthening humanitarian cooperation in inter-state educational ties between EEU countries would serve to popularize national and common human cultural and spiritual values, promote a healthy lifestyle among youth, support the activities of social associations and organizations in the interests of preserving ethnic identity, support national-religious uniqueness, preserve the spiritual and cultural heritage of indigenous peoples, and consolidation them within the civil society of this significant space – Eurasia. [16]

The Eurasian Union must produce its own meta-identity, otherwise it will not develop to be a sustainable formation and will remain at the level of a customs union. “This would be an unstable construct. In the modern world, as it turns out, economic reorientation occurs quickly, but in order to form a meta-identity it is necessary to change discourse and move on from inspecting the debris of the Past to building a common Future.” [17]

Footnotes:

[1] goo.gl/XOHukH

[2] goo.gl/yRXXwG

[3] https://docs.eaeunion.org/ru-ru/Pages/regulation.aspx#pagenumber=%220%22

[4] Подавление никогда не лежало в основе сотрудничества стран ЕАЭС — Глебова
https://regnum.ru/news/1939096.html

[5] Армен Смбатян: Невозможно представить становление Евразийского союза без гуманитарного сотрудничества, Московский экспресс, 20 июля 2016
http://moscowexpress.info/m/item/1660-15616354.html

[6] Т. Мансуров. Евразийский проект Нурсултана Назарбаева, воплощенный в жизнь. К 20-летию евразийского проекта 1994 – 2014. М., 2014. С. 330

[7] Попкова Т.В. Кооперативные теории и евразийство: единство базовых оснований// Народы Евразии: культура и общество. Третий Международный Евразийский научный форум. Астана, 2004. 47.

[8] Ален де Бенуа, Леонид Савин. Либерализм, кризис и будущее Европы, Геополитика, 07.06.2013 http://www.geopolitica.ru/article/liberalizm-krizis-i-budushchee-evropy#.WJHe2tKLTIU

[9] Карел ван Волферен. Загадка японской силы. М.: Серебряные нити, 2016. С. 26.

[10] http://eurasia-forum.ru/forum/o-forume/

[11] http://www.usue.ru/vestnik/

[12] В Совете Федерации обсудили подготовку ко Второму Евразийскому женскому форуму, 31 января 2017 http://www.council.gov.ru/events/news/76424/

[13] Людмила Рябиченко. А как же традиционные ценности? 15.03.2017 http://www.stoletie.ru/obschestvo/a_kak_zhe_tradicionnyje_cennosti_956.htm

[14] http://www.eurasianspace.com/gumanitarnoe-sotrudnichestvo

[15] Молодежь и неденежные отношения Кыргызстана и России, 28-01-2017 http://www.enw-fond.ru/proekty/4837-nedenezhnye-otnosheniya-kyrgyzstana-i-rossii-vzglyad-glazami-molodezhi.html

[16] Шкарлупина Г.Д. МЕЖГОСУДАРСТВЕННЫЕ ОБРАЗОВАТЕЛЬНЫЕ СВЯЗИ КАК ФАКТОР УКРЕПЛЕНИЯ ГУМАНИТАРНОГО СОТРУДНИЧЕСТВА СТРАН ЕАЭС. http://izron.ru/articles/aktualnye-voprosy-yurisprudentsii-sbornik-nauchnykh-trudov-po-itogam-mezhdunarodnoy-nauchno-praktich/sektsiya-8-mezhdunarodnoe-pravo-evropeyskoe-pravo-spetsialnost-12-00-10/mezhgosudarstvennye-obrazovatelnye-svyazi-kak-faktor-ukrepleniya-gumanitarnogo-sotrudnichestva-stran/

[17] Игорь Задорин: «Евразийского союза не будет без общей идентичности», Евразия. Эксперт, 15 Июня 2016 г.http://eurasia.expert/zadorin-evraziyskiy-soyuz-identichnost/