The world-known political scientist and philosopher, the Head of the Department of Sociology of International Relations at the Faculty of Sociology of the Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU), answers the questions of the “Dialogue of the Seas”
- You are known as the follower of the idea of Eurasianism, and even called as the founder of Neoeurasianism. How does this ideological current look like today and what are its practical aspects?
- The Eurasianism is a very large set of ideas, attitudes, approaches and concepts, which represent a complete model of world outlook, applicable to different levels. Eurasianism also contains, along with the political component, also the purely philosophical, historic-cultural, historical, sociological and geopolitical ones.
Therefore, when we analyze Eurasianism, we must, first of all, clarify what is the subject and within what level we want to explore it. For example, if it is about the current international situation, then Eurasianism is to be associated with the theory of the multipolar world. At this level, Eurasianism proceeds from the principle that the unipolar models, where dominate the Western values, claiming also the title of universal models, are totally one-sided and unacceptable and require a radical revision. A multipolar world represents the idea that the world must have several poles and not only one, as it is, for instance, the Western pole, nor only two, as it was during the Soviet times, but a series of poles in a mutual equipoise. And namely among these poles the Eurasian one should take its place: the American, European andFar Eastpoles… Particularly this Eurasian world-view has given birth to the idea of the necessity to integrate the post-Soviet space: in order to be a pole of a multipolar world,Russiaalone is not enough.
The Eurasianism also means a derivation in domestic policy: there is a need to conduct such national policies that would respect the identity of ethnic groups that would not impose Russification or any kind of great or small nations’ nationalism. And, at the same time, this approach is based on the conception of a person and human collective, built on the idea of community, that is, the collectives that exist today in form of ethnic, religious or social groups should not be exposed, as many liberals want, to the dismemberment in individual atoms, thing that happened in Western societies, but should be kept as ethnic and other groups.
This is the set of Eurasianism’s basic principles in its present manifestation. Herewith, the Eurasians certainly offer, at every level, very peculiar rationale for these positions. For example, why is there a need for a multipolar world, and not a unipolar one? This is based on the idea of multiplicity of cultural-historical types, on what worked Danilevsky, Toynbee, and Spengler: the idea of multiplicity of civilizations. It has been further substantiated by serious anthropological, philosophical models. The idea of a multipolar world is also reinforced with geopolitical considerations regarding various types of civilizations, regarding a series of reference points of these civilizations for either sea or land, also with the strategic balance, with the access to resources, in other words – practical calculation is engaged. And finally, the integration of the post-Soviet space is grounded equally on both historical and geopolitical considerations, and on purely cultural reasons – the common elements of a single civilization.
Thus, Eurasianism is a capacious ideology having its own, coherent internal philosophical structure, its own apparatus, including a conceptual one, its own traditions and its own historical structure, its own geopolitical theories and schools, which serve to clarify certain points of the Eurasian outlook.
Basically, it’s something unique, if compared to the vacuum in which the modern Russian society is and how negligibly are different political philosophies represented in it, except, perhaps, liberalism. But liberalism is absolutely unacceptable for Russia, due to the fact that, first, it is quite a Western, for its historical parameters, ideology, and secondly, this ideology turns out to be in the deepest crisis in the West itself. As for us, it is just alien, incomprehensible, and difficult. And, more to the point, it is altogether rejected. The communist ideology is long time gone, and a new appeal to communism, at least in the form in which it existed, is hardly possible. So, what’s left? Just the political philosophy of Eurasianism, which can handle with the modern realities, provide with analysis of certain situations in politics, geopolitics and international relations. Today, there are many discussions about Eurasianism, it represents an object of interest, but it is clearly undervalued. In today’s Russia, this is a unique phenomenon, because there is nothing like it in other sectors of ideological nature. There are phobias, cries, emotions. That’s why Eurasianism, by virtue of the unique readiness of its theoretical apparatus, has every reason to claim to be one of the basic ideologies and political philosophies of the modern Russia.
- How do you appraise the idea of creating the Eurasian Union, which is starting to take real shape?
- In the economic field, the Eurasian community has been functioning for a long time, and it is called the EurAsEC. Here, a lot of work is being done on standardization of economic rights of all members of the Eurasian Economic Community, a Customs Union was created. But, when we speak of the Eurasian Union, this is an idea of political union. It all starts with the economy, as it happened in Europe, once with the European Coal and Steel Community, and then it all turned into a Europe’s political union. The same is now: the Eurasian Union is an analogue of the European Union, aimed at the integration of post-Soviet states into a single supra-national structure, maintaining, of course, the sovereignty, in the same way in European Union the sovereignty of individual states is being preserved.
- And now, I would like to shift our discussion to the Black Sea – Caspian Sea region. What, in your opinion, hinders the development and prosperity in the region, which is so rich in natural resources? What are the prospects for this area’s medium and long term development?
- The Caspian Sea, along with the Black Sea are, in a considerable way, just intra-Eurasian lakes and from the geopolitical point of view, these are not the borders that separate, for example, one civilization from another, one geopolitical block from another, but rather some lakes, on the opposite banks of which lie states and powers that have a lot in common, civilization-wise. Naturally, there are differences, like everywhere… Therefore, the idea of the integration of the Black Sea-Caspian Sea region is extremely important to the configuration of the whole Eurasian space, because this region is not only rich in various minerals, but this whole area represents a stretch, where the fate of Eurasianism is being determined. Since Eurasianism relies on the integration of the Eurasian space, this kind of nodes, where converge the national, economic, political and geopolitical interests of the most important, weighty regional powers, play a key role in a successful integration of the Eurasian space.
Over here, I am referring to the fact that Eurasianism has several levels and layers. One layer, the smallest one, is associated with the core of Eurasia – Russia, and its inner regions. The second layer is the post-Soviet region, and the third is everything bordered to the former Soviet space. This includes Iran, Turkeyand Greece, even Pakistanfrom East, and China. This common area of the third layer of the Eurasian integration, does not imply such an intense integration, as the second layer, but still, presupposes a congruence of interests. On the territory of these seas, and particularly on the Caspian Sea, considerable amounts of natural resources are concentrated, the most important transportation routes are situated here, routes, on which key consumers provide themselves with oil and gas products. In this sense, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea are the most important areas, since around the Caspian Sea, for example, are situated all these powers, whose harmonization of the strategic positions has a direct influence on the effectiveness of the energy policy in the region and the whole design of the strategic Central Asian space, and, consequently, of Eurasia. Therefore, the Caspian Sea, on one hand, and the Black Sea countries, on the other, is another major dilemma with a very complex balance of interests of different countries, especially Russiaand Turkey, of course. Here joins the Europe, via the Balkans. In this sense, we have two unique spaces, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, which also represent what lies between them, and the not less important is the whole Caucasus– a key strategic area for strengthening the interests of the continental Eurasian security. At the same time, this field of security can easily turn, under certain circumstances, into a maximum threat area. In other words, here are concentrated, in particular, the main Russian interests. It is no accident that the Russian geopolitical scientists, Russian specialists, the creators of Russian military policy and diplomacy have been talking, since the XIX century, about Russia’s exit to the warm seas. Warm seas are those beginning with the south of the Caspian Sea and to the south of the Black Sea. Warm seas are the opportunity to exit to the world ocean through the south. From the north, we have access, but shipping is very limited due to natural conditions. Russia’s geopolitical fate is – moving to the south, and in this respect, on the way it manages strategically, politically, cultural-technologically the economic space, adjacent to the Black Sea-Caspian Sea area, depends, to a large extent, the success of the implementation of the Russia’s long-term decisive geopolitics.
- In many countries, you are known as a theorist of geopolitics, the author of books and manuals on this discipline. How does geopolitics look today in its scientific form, and in its practical application?
- At this moment, geopolitics is one of the leading disciplines in political science and international relations, studied independently in all major centers. Back in the twentieth century, it had a difficult fate. The first to create this discipline were the British. Incidentally, one of the main authors on geopolitics, the classicist Halford Mackinder was the founder of the London School of Economics. Geopolitics is fairly prestigious, as both discipline and science, in USAand Great Britain, and starting with the 70’s – in France, and later – everywhere. When in the 80’s I begun developing our own geopolitical school in Russia, it looked like a very vanguard, unexpected and unknown to anyone phenomenon. It made its way to science rather difficult, but today I can say that it is taught in all the major universities of the country. Both worldwide and in Russia, geopolitics represent a universally recognized, necessary political science discipline. And the books on geopolitics constitute an indispensable piece from the set of knowledge that a person needs when educated in the field of political science, applied politics, international relations. I can say that during my life I was able to see the triumph of my ideas. Today, the scientific community has recognized these methods, which, of course, do not belong to me – I simply grafted it onto Russian soil. And the fact that Russiahas its own school of geopolitics – that we are familiar with the world geopolitics and that our own Eurasian geopolitics is an independent phenomenon – means that the doing of my whole life turned into success…
- You came up with “the fourth political theory”, which is opposed to the three ideologies of the twentieth century – communism, fascism, and liberalism. What is this concept about?
- This is perhaps the most vanguard sector of my scientific research of political philosophy. I came to the conclusion that in our world, the classic modernist ideologies have completely lost their relevance. This obviously refers to fascism: for more than half a century it doesn’t represent anymore a truly coherent political program. The communism collapsed in the 90’s and has very much lost its prestige and influence worldwide as the second political ideology. There is only one political ideology left, which has a long history – liberalism. But since it has no more opponents in the face of Marxism and Leninism and because some socio-cultural and philosophical foundations of the Western world, where liberalism emerged, evolved and became the dominant political theory, have fundamentally changed, it is in the process of profound crisis and, in the absence of competition, confronts emptiness and starts to consume itself. Consequently, it brings a point: if the liberal ideology is in crisis, if it is not convenient for many, people want an alternative.
We must look elsewhere, outside these three classical political ideologies that built the sense of the political history of the XXth century. We must seek for a fourth political theory, a fourth political ideology. And in the recent years many efforts were dedicated to it. Now, my book, “The Fourth Political Theory” is being published in English, French, Italian and other languages. The fate of this “fourth political theory” resembles to the fate of my design of the Eurasian geopolitics: my books and manuals on geopolitics are translated into many languages. Indeed, the argumentation that I present is universal, it is clearly enunciated both for West and East, by the way, the book also comes out in Farsi… In addition, at the Department of Sociology, MSU, that I manage, we publish the “The Fourth Political Theory” almanac, where we develop these ideas, conduct seminars, conferences, workshops… This is the most tumultuous, new direction in political philosophy.
This concept begins with stating the collapse of three classical political theories of modernity, including the modern liberalism. And the finances and economics, which are the practical embodiment of liberalism, experience crisis after crisis. Consequently, there is a need to go beyond these ideologies. The political theory must be a step forward, the political imagination should be at its utmost potential to create and design a completely original political philosophy, which would not be a clone of the old one.
In this respect, Eurasianism may be well regarded as one of the preliminary versions of such a fourth political theory. The Conservative Revolution in Germany(1918-1932 –ed.com.) can also be regarded as a source of inspiration. But it is necessary to look further and deeper, to look out in other, new fields. And the fourth political theory is not a dogma and a creative concept – it is rather a framework offered for a wide variety of researchers, intellectuals all over the world to help them think outside the usual and already outdated paradigms. This is, seemingly, an invitation to do a political imagination effort. We could go in details about the basic principles of the fourth political theory, about what is its subject, alternatively to what are classes for proletarians, individuals for liberals or races and the state for national-socialists and fascists. But the first thing to say is that, preliminarily, the Heideggerian “Being and Time” category, Dasein (present being, being here – ed. com.), is its subject.
- At the Moscow University you are also the Head of the Center for Conservative Studies. What is the purpose of creating such a center? How important is, in your opinion, the establishment of a conservative ideology in Russia?
- I think conservatism is, first of all, a pronounced psychological constant of the Russian society. Our society is conservative in all things, reacts poorly to changes, strives to keep intact some of its essential features; to examine the nature of these features, to attach to this psychological range a certain scientific comprehensive, philosophical, sociological, political science dimensions are the tasks set by the Center for Conservative Studies. Conservatism is a multidimensional and a very diverse phenomenon; it is neither an answer nor a panacea to the problems we face. It’s just some kind of trend that takes shape in political, ideological terms rather differently. And in this sense, the center has a wide field of research. Practically in all major scientific institutions of Russia, this non-profit initiative brings together academic researchers exploring this problematic. The Center publishes anthologies on philosophy, including on the fourth political theory, on tradition (the “Tradition” almanac), on geopolitics (“Leviathan”), on the sociology of the imagination (“Imaginer”), on ethnic issues (“Centrum”). That is, the Center for Conservative Research is a whole world, a very complex intellectual and academic environment, which includes a wide variety of components.
- Premodern, modern, postmodern… How can this philosophical concept of yours be expressed in plain language? Meaning, where does Russia, the former Soviet Union, the Black Sea-Caspian Sea region stand in these three historical paradigms, and where they should be, in your opinion?
- Strictly speaking, premodern, modern and postmodern, is a classic historical system of classification of different types of societies. This is something different, like a grid of historical sociology, which can be overlain on different types of societies to determine their structure. That is why the societies of premodern may also exist in our time, the same way in our time can exist societies of modern and postmodern. When we say: premodern, modern and postmodern, we are not saying what was, what is and what will be. This is wrong, because all these societies exist today and now, that is, they are all in the present. Some of them were in the past, some were not, meaning – this is a more complex sociological model.
In the West, the succession of these formations was happening in a natural, easily observable manner. Therefore, it is on the example of Western societies that we can see how these models alternated historically, how they grew out of each other. In fact, this is a classification that fits fully only the description of the Western society and its history. And on other societies, this scale is used with reservations, with amends. This is very important.
The West is in transition from a state of modern – a very well-established one, a complete one, and well-thought-out, gotten to the bottom of the social strata – to the postmodern condition.
Where isRussia? Like many other societies, except the Western ones, we are, of course, fundamentally behind. That is why modernization is urgent for us. This alone points at the fact that we are at a different point: to us are relevant the issues that are not relevant to the West. Therefore, we have a different understanding of what the structure of our society is. And here’s an interesting point. Analyzing the methods of how to define, in these terms, the place of our society and the societies of the majority of the post-Soviet states, I came to the conclusion that we are dealing with a complex, controversial model, a hybrid, which I called “archeomodern”. In other words, our society has, officially, very many features of modern society. But behind the facade, behind the scenes of this society of the supposedly modern (there is a constitution, law, civil rights, market, democracy) are hiding the real mechanisms of another society, which are totally obsolete and rule by other laws and other norms. But nobody talks about it, nobody acknowledges it, so that a certain system of social slyness appears, where things, including in sociology, politics, general values, are not called by their names.
In other words, on one hand, we are clearly not in a full-fledged modern. It is for us to come. On the other hand, our society is full of elements of postmodern: Ksenia Sobchak (a well-known TV presenter, one of the opposition leaders – ed.com.), Internet, twitter. But we use these post-modern structures in our own way. The Internet and blogging for the Russian and post-Soviet people are a completely different thing from what the Internet and blogging is for Western Europeans. Accordingly, the citizens grow a divided consciousness, that is, people inRussia who believe that they are modern, are in reality archaic, and those who think of nothing might be in some things postmoderns and might run ahead. In a society of archeomodern, the temporary structures are organized otherwise than in the Western societies. Therefore, the past may be ahead, the future – behind. And the present might be absent or placed inadequately – inadequate, from the point of view of the Western sociology.
Therefore, the main law of the Russian society is this heterotelia. In sociology, heterotelia is when, if quoting Viktor Chernomyrdin, “we wanted the best, but it turned out as always”. That is, at the level of public activity, people set some rational goals, but the result is entirely different and clearly not what they had planned. For example, during Khrushchev, in our country, the plan was to build communism until 1980, but the outcome was – the destruction of socialism. That was an example of heterotelia. Thus, the archeomodern is a field where heterotelia becomes, very likely, the basic social law: no matter what we do, we get a guaranteed different result.
- What paradigm is applicable to the former communist countries accessed to the European Union, and where do they stand with heterotelia?
- Well, first of all,Europeis nevertheless a matrix of modernization. But the problem is that this modernization is also laid over the somewhere archaic structures. In the countries of the Eastern andSouthern Europe, we meet something similar, and specifically – the archeomodern. But once joining the EU space, they experience a huge impact from the modernizing matrix. That is, inEuropeeverything is at least contemporary, or, modernized: up to the education, to the language practices. Therefore, when the country enters the European Union, the influence of the European matrix is so strong that the modernization deploys most intensively, which is absolutely impossible to achieve being situated at a certain distance from Europe, or having such wide territories as Russia, Kazakhstan or Ukraine.Ukraineis a dimension that defies the European modernization, even in case of full integration intoEurope. Simply because it is about the size, cultural traditions and many other things: some of them can be assimilated by the European society of modern, transiting to the postmodern, and others – cannot.
Which countries or which spaces, which cultures, which societies can be modernized and, respectively, truly Europeanized and included into the European Union, and which cannot – remains an open question.Turkey, for example, clearly doesn’t fit: by its economic, political parameters. All the good things the Turks have, made them being quite European. But overall, the size of this society, its culture, its qualitative characteristics, do not fitEuropeat all. Therefore,Turkeywill never be in the EU: it is more likely for the EU to fall apart then to acceptTurkeyinto its structure. As for such post-Soviet countries likeUkraine, especiallyGeorgiaorMoldova, I think, it is a lost cause, for, the arheomodern societies, where the archaic character is that great – the modernization will last for centuries.
As for the overall modernization ofRussia, I generally doubt that this is even theoretically possible, having such broad territory, such a culture and history. It’s just impossible.
Therefore, it is better to come back to where I started – to Eurasianism. Let us accept our peculiarity, our archaic part, our permanent conservative component as it is: we shouldn’t run from it, shouldn’t hide it, shouldn’t be ashamed of it, shouldn’t modernize it, but recognize it as it is. And once recognized as such, we must give ourselves an honest answer as to who we are. If we are an undermodernized Europe, a distorted one, a caricaturedEurope- there is no desire to live in such a country. And if we are bearers of a special destiny, we have in this archaic character some very original and profound dimensions that require understanding, just like the first Slavophiles and Eurasians thought, then it makes all the difference. Then it only remains for us to unseal it and to rehabilitate it somehow, to fulfill the apologia of the Russian origin in Eurasianism within a multipolar system. There is a European model of development under these three models, but there is another one, too. And if we seize to tend measuring everything with the standards of the others, with the so-called common, but in reality, European yardstick, then we will discover in ourselves the most unexpected and unusual features that we just did not notice because we were looking at ourselves with the eyes of others. In this way, I think, we should get out of this situation.
As for the possibility of integration of some other post-Soviet countries, into Europe, I even believe that for Moldovait is impossible because Moldavians are more archaic than the Romanians, they are even more archaic than the Russians. This is good, because it speaks of the uniqueness of this country, this culture. Meaning, it is a positive thing, it is their wealth, and there should be no shame of this archaism. Archaic? Be it archaic. It’s great! This is a deep, contemplative, beautiful culture. I love it very much. Many Romanians will soon be traveling to Moldova for the language and for the roots, for the identity, especially as Romania is soon to be experiencing the crisis of their Europeanism: yes, their archaic character turned out to be too deep and defies such a high processing, as opposed to, for instance, some other Eastern European countries. We are still to face archeomoderns in the Eastern Europe, not to mention the fact that our life is also well-set around this element.