Geopolitical Pragmatic Approach and Cultural Issues in EEU
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In the 1990s and in the 2000s, the Eurasians began to form broad net of relying on the leverages that as the Eurasians, discarded Atlanticism and American dominion, opposed to liberal ethics and to sexual orientation issues – they are able to participate in revered civilization, Christianity, and other traditional faiths. Mostly, the Eurasian net includes conservatives, the "right", or they just opposed to American domination and are called the "left".
A.P. Tsygankov (“Mastering space in Eurasia”, ) has argued more precisely that rather than perceiving these Eurasian views in Russia as relatively homogenous, Eurasian thinking is highly diverse and varies from West-friendly versions to those that are openly isolationist and expansionist. Therefore Mr. Tsygankov invites to rethink the nature of Russia’s spatial thinking and activities in Eurasia and to seriously consider engaging Russia as an equal participant in a larger collective security-based arrangement in the region.
Without saying exactly anything for or against Mr. Tsygankov’s views and conclusions, surely everyone has recognized with Mr. Tsygankov that the political needs and cultural motives are central in the argumentation about the Eurasian Union (= EEU), too.
This study focuses on: what geopolitical needs and cultural motives would be spearheading the effort to construct the EEU, if the effort is expected (a) on the basis of argumentation of the EEU’s leading politicians and (b) through the counter-arguments of the Western critics?
Primarily, the Eurasian leading politicians have argued plausibly that the starting point of the EEU is to enhance economic growth; the resurrection of the "Eurasian Imaginary" offers rather a political economic contribution and cultural perspective on the real yearning of the Eurasian countries than a dismantling attack or counterweight against America’s and EU’s reach, although also the latter aspect and superficial references to “Cold War” have already been seen before the sharpening Ukraine crisis. Such references have been in the argumentation of the Western agitators as well as in the hottest statements of the Eurasian patriots.
About the problem of ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’ concepts
The word ‘culture’ is known to be derived from the classical Latin word ‘cultura’, which meant mainly for agriculture. In the modern world, ‘culture’ is, however, intended for human growth process or products of this process. ‘Culture’ has been so meant either the social conditions that are unique conditions of this process, or the results from this process. Finally, ‘culture’ has been also used as a synonym to the concept of ‘civilization’. In such case, the word ‘civilization’ means the operation or process, which involves social life becoming more sophisticated, or the results of this process.
Both the ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’ concepts are part of the Eurocentric idea of the European culture’s and civilization’s superiority to other cultures or to other civilizations. But already during 200 years, the ‘culture’ concept has also used as a tool for criticism against European civilization. ‘Culture’ is then regarded as an independent values, spirituality and inner orientation, which is seen to be higher than some ‘outward civilization’. It is still there no generally accepted notion of culture in which dualism between the material and the ideal, or between the real and the objective dimensions would be exceeded.
About the significance of the civilization and cultural dimensions it has been written and discussed a lot for a century, and therefore the rising of such views as standpoint to the EEU should not be felt as inconsistent and unique.
Mr. Norbert Elias is best known for his work Über den Prozess der Zivilisation (1939). He took psychoanalytic theory of human image from the early writings of Sigmund Freud. According to Elias, it is a question about civilization process that how a man – in that case the European man – has over times built up the strict codes of conduct. Elias drew attention to the types of families in social and historical perspectives. He also claimed that - during their own socialization - each individual has to meet those processes by which his society has passed a long history. These theories are surely a part of a European human’s self-understanding process as it is built on these writings, and by means of speculation. After these historic memories you can probably ask in the spirit of fair play that perhaps the cultural and civilization dimensions of the EEU are also important and equal fair for the self-understanding of the region’s people. Such a process is not at all exceptional in the West, too.
From the Puritan Reformation to the idea of Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History”, the theories about global history have been of great importance in the U.S., even more than in Europe. Among the U.S. political elite, particularly debate about the concept “civilization” has been a central place in the conceptualization of America’s political role in the world. (Kuokkanen 2003. Prophets of Decline ). According to the U.S. liberal point of view, “modernization”, based on the Enlightenment ideas, must carry out under the leadership of the U.S. and under the principles of the “American civilization” so that such principles would dominate all over the world. Mr. Brooks Adams, Boston patrician and influential background to President Theodore Roosevelt, outlined in the early 1900s that the American superpower will create new world order: American corporations and the hard sciences will dominated all over the world.(Kuokkanen 2003 )
During the First World War, the concepts “civilization” and “culture” were re-evaluated in the U.S. After the Second World War, an English historian and international politics, influential Arnold Toynbee’s wide religious civilization history and his own person rose to fame and position, which no one historian had in the U.S. “Toynbee phenomenon” was connected with the threatening situation of the Cold War, but also with Henry L. Luce’s enthusiasm to Toynbee’s explanation about the spiritual history and about America as the champion of “Christian civilization”. (Kuokkanen 2003. Prophets of Decline ). The Eurasian “anti-Atlanticism” can also be understood as Eurasian civilization’s exit attempt from these conventional illusions of the American superiority, as a fight for freedom from American foreign civilization.
In 1993, Harvard University Professor Samuel Huntington published an article entitled “The Clash of Civilizations?” in Foreign Affairs magazine. (Huntington, 1993 “The Clash of Civilizations?”, ) In it, he placed the question about the nature of post-Cold War world and opposed to Professor Francis Fukuyama’s thesis about “from the end of history to the victory of democracy”. According to Huntington, after the Cold War blocs, the world has been grouped through old civilizations and cultural areas, in which case there are risks to wars in the border areas. According to Huntington, in the time of Cold War world, the two power blocs – the U.S.-led West and the Soviet Union on the other hand, were fundamentally Western cultural areas, and Post-Cold War world would be gradually formed through old civilizations (the major cultural areas).
It was perhaps most important to Huntington’s view to say that if cultural differences are not taken sufficiently into account in practical politics, as a result it will be a “clash of civilizations” or other serious problems. Of course, Huntington’s theses were met with fierce criticism, including accusation of excessive simplification and determinism. As for the Russian and Eurasian area, so certainly, it is not the most accurate to classify the whole Soviet Union belonging to the same the western cultural sphere with the U.S.; for examples, the Caucasus and Far Eastern regions are quite different and unique, very different from the atmosphere of American Protestantism or post-modern Western atheism. Even the Russian Orthodox religion is different from the Protestant culture and Anglo-Saxon political “proselytism”. (Manoilo 2005 , 2008a , 2008b , 2008c )
Professor Huntington stated his claims by saying that this was not inevitable collision prediction, but rather a reminder of the importance of cultural factors. (Huntington, 1997, The Clash of Civilizations, , Huntington 2002, “The Age of Muslim Wars”, ) Religions are not necessarily the basis of ethnic groups, but religions are strongly influenced to the cultures and institutions of the different regions and different ethnic groups. Therefore the world should not be forced into any homogenous view, because it evokes strong resistance. In particular, on this cultural analytical basis, Russian scholars have strongly criticized certain types of the Anglo-Saxon political “proselytism” and “imperialism” (cf. Manoilo 2005 , 2008a , 2008b , 2008c ).
“The West” has no rights to declare own cultural values into universal throughout the world. Such aim would be fundamentally wrong, immoral and dangerous. In turn, it is possible to use the defense or promotion for the values also as a curtain or other means to cover economic and military strategic factors. From this perspective, it is also possible to understand President Vladimir Putin’s strong words at Valdai discussion forum about U.S. domination: ”United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War. - - - the so-called ‘victors’ in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. - - - In a situation where you had domination by one country and its allies, or its satellites rather, the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes. ” (Putin 24.10.2014, “Valdai” )
In the Eurasian Area, it has been often criticized that the U.S. and Western allies seemed to maintain – contrary to Huntington’s warnings – a self-defined world order as “world police”. (Lieven, 2002 “The Secret Policemen’s Ball ) During the Cold War times, opposing block avoided interfering to each other’s internal affairs, but during the post-Cold War decade, the traditional power struggle, which operates within the framework of ethnic or other political groups, uses the religious and other cultural factors quite openly in order to ensure unity and solidarity, as well as to cover power quest or political and economic interests.
Yet in year 2011, Mr. Sabina Ayazbekova, the professor at the Moscow State Lomonosov University, has described thoroughly on it, how Russian historians and philosophers have shaped the geopolitical and socio-philosophical doctrine of “Eurasianism” and presented it as a special ethnographic world – cultural-historical type. (Ayazbekova 2011 ) And considering the Eurasian space as a scientific problem, you can find many interpretations of the territorial concept. In the context of the continental Eurasian space it appears “multicivilization space”, comprising a number of ethnic groups, countries, religions, languages, different social, political and economic systems: “You can find Western European, Arab, East Slavic, Chinese, Turkish, Far East, South Asia, the Central Asian and other cultural communities there”(Ayazbekova 2011 ). Professor Ayazbekova determinates that “Eurasian culture” is the “interaction and coexistence within the formation of the geographically diverse cultures: European – on the one hand, and Asia – on the other”. “The polyphony of the cultures of Asian and European is the essential foundation of the Eurasian biculture” in which each unique culture naturally goes into the formation of the “deep communication with another culture” (Ayazbekova 2011 ).
Increased pushing to more tapered and less tolerant cultural interaction has become visible soon after the Maidan and Ukraine crisis, if and when, for example, we check the later definitions amongst the Eurasian Youth Union. It is already less often possible to hear so much stylish and flexible concepts about “interaction and coexistence” or “deep communication”, but rather in Evrazia-portal Mr. Anton Brykov, the leader of the Eurasian Youth Union, argues with increasingly patriotic aplomb that “the powerful army” is not only a part of Russian national idea, but it is also central part in Eurasian idea, and it is especially necessary in the world’s geopolitical instability. It is not question of Western media about “Russian militarism”, but “literally reborn from the ashes”. “If we want peace, we must prepare for war and be ready to win it”. (Bryukov 18.11.2015 ) According to the Eurasian youth leader, from the period of President Gorbachev the Russian leaders would have lived under the “national masochism” and “the destruction of the army continued” to mid-2000s. The improvement of the army started unfortunately only 2-3 years ago. Russia could retain its identity and the future of their people “only through strong military power”; and moreover “conservative and traditional values should be combined with the scientific and technical development”. In addition, the leader of the Eurasian Youth Union argues laconically and with enthusiasm that “unfortunately, for many years a large number of figures of Russian culture inflected with liberalism, pacifism and Westernism”, therefore “we need films, books, plays, paintings, representing the Russian history and its military aspect of the battles in a truthful patriotic light” (Bryukov 18.11.2015 ). The Eurasian process, which began with a serious accent of deep communication, has turned to more closed climate in the time of the geopolitical tensions.
Juha Molari, D.Th, BBA.
GSM+358 40 684 1172
Molari in Russian media: http://juhamolari.blogspot.fi/2010/01/blog-post_23.html