Academic journal article East European Quarterly

Hard-Line Eurasianism and Russia's Contending Geopolitical Perspectives

Academic journal article East European Quarterly

Hard-Line Eurasianism and Russia's Contending Geopolitical Perspectives

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The 1990s brought a new international relations perspective to Russia and the former Soviet region. The New Political Thinking associated with Soviet reformer Michael Gorbachev and his reform-minded advisors--i.e., a Russian of Western interdependence theory --has passed away. The era of hope stimulated by the end of the Soviet-West confrontation, the liberation of Eastern Europe from the Soviet hegemony, reunification of Germany, and the liberal ideas of a Common European Home have disappeared. Russia's domestic and international political agenda have gone through substantial changes.(1) The attention of those living in the former Soviet region has shifted to new, much more alarming issues. Among them are the break-up of the Soviet Union and the dangers of disintegration of Russia itself; military conflicts in the Russian periphery and within Russia (Chechnya); semi hostile attitude of some of the former Soviet republics towards Russia and Russian native speakers, who happen to live in these republics; military conflict in Balkans; and a threat of the NATO expansion.

All these changes have stimulated sharp criticism of Gorbachev's New Political Thinking and its assumptions as utopian, impractical, and unrealistic and have encouraged the rethinking of post-cold war international relations. A variety of approaches are emerging which are highly critical of New Thinking. One of them is Eurasianism,(2) a new intellectual movement which is looking for a geopolitical rethinking of post cold war international relations and Russia's place in the post cold war era. Having emerged in late the 1980s and early the 1990s, Eurasianism contributed to changes in Russian foreign policy and has been gaining influence among both politicians and intellectuals since the December 1993 parliamentary elections.

The purpose of this paper is to contribute an understanding of the phenomena of Eurasianism. As an intellectual and political movement, Eurasianism has been studied from different angles. Scholars analyzed intellectual and historical roots of its emergence,(3) its inherent political agenda and the reasons why it has gained influence over Russian foreign policy.(4) This paper seeks to be original by focusing on a hard-line version of Eurasianism,(5) the one that is not a part of mainstream foreign policy discourse and, therefore, has received relatively little scholars' attention. I will refer to this version as the hard-line one, because politically, it presents itself as "irreconcilable opposition" to the regime of Boris Yeltsin. The other label it uses for self-characterization is a "spiritual opposition" that is the opposition armed with a significant intellectual capital for resisting current political regime.(6) In attempts to reveal possible "spiritual" capital of Russian hard-liners, I devote most of the paper to philosophical assumptions and epistemological presses of hard-line Eurasianism. Accordingly, in this paper I treat Eurasianism not so much as a political but as an intellectual movement, and I use Den,' (Day) and Elementi (Elements), a hard-line publications as a source of new ideas, new ways of rethinking the directions in which the world is moving.

Such an attention to ideas and the "metaphysical" dimension of Eurasianism will help to answer two of the following questions. First, it will help to clarify the political agenda of Eurasianists and of Russia to the extend the latter is influenced by the four. Second, it will help to go beyond the common consideration of hard-line Eurasianists as a relatively homogeneous intellectual group(7) and identify different currents within it. In this paper, I shall argue that at least two different schools of thought--I shall call them Modernizers and Expansionists--can be identified within hard-line version of contemporary Russian Eurasianism. While carrying some similarities and sharing a general philosophy of Eurasianism, Modernizers and Expansionists are different in terms of their intellectual roots and reality-defining assumptions. …

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