A New Soviet Heartland?

A New Soviet Heartland?

A New Soviet Heartland?

A New Soviet Heartland?

Excerpt

One type of slogan which has come to symbolize a country's spirit of enterprise and enter into the folklore of nationalism is that which tells of a persistent trek of people in one direction. Just as Americans have had their "Go West, young man!" and Germans for several centuries the now tragic "Drang nach der Osten," so the Russians for two or three generations have had an image of their "Eastern regions" as lands of opportunity, not just, as before, God-forsaken wildernesses to which "enemies of the people" are banished.

This image has also crept into the popular Western conception of Russia--a land of vast open spaces, the "steppes," over which Cossacks ride furiously and into whose fastnesses the Russians can retreat successfully from any invader, exhausting and finally vanquishing him. Sixty years ago this aspect of it was given a spine-chilling twist for the peoples of the Atlantic margins by the English geographer Mackinder's seemingly inspired utterance about a "Heartland" or "pivot of history," largely within the Russian Empire, which he characterized as an impregnable fortress and natural springboard for world domination. Since then, World War II and the well-publicized uprush of cities and industries in Siberia have heightened the image still further.

Yet the term "Eastern regions" is bandied about with a monumental vagueness by Soviet spokesmen and Western commentators alike. These regions stretch presumably from the Arctic to the Pamir and from the Pacific to either the Urals or the Volga (we are rarely told for certain); in any case, they comprise an area more than twice the size of the United States, excluding Alaska.

The aim of this book is to train a searchlight on those parts of the Soviet "Eastern regions" which are of vital importance to the country's strength. The zone which emerges from this analysis is an elongated one stretching from the middle reaches of the river Volga to Lake Baykal. Though containing only one-fourth of the Soviet population at present, its cities have grown much faster in recent decades than those in the other parts of the U.S.S.R. In addition, it now appears to contain . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.