Don’t neglect the art of being above the fray
“We are solving the old question: Who are we in this old Europe?” These lines were composed on July 30, 1914, two days after the start of the First World War, by Valery Bryusov, who sensitively heard the echo of turbulent eras. Today it is impossible not to correct this no less classic question than “Who is to blame?” and “What to do?” and define: Who are we? Or rather, where is Russia in the system of geopolitical coordinates? In which direction is it drifting? What role will she choose for herself in the changing world order?
Not the West and not the East
“Russia is moving from a global axial East-West model to a North-South model“, – said Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Alexei Overchuk at the XV Verona Eurasian Economic Forum, held in 2022 in Baku. His motto became resonant: “Russia is no longer the East of Europe, but the North of Eurasia“.
It is not surprising that the formula for Russia’s self-identification proposed by not the last person in the government caused a lively response in the blogosphere. Yury Baranchik, Deputy Head of RUSSTRATrated this statement as “new geopolitical positioning of Russia“. According to the political scientist, the former perception was based on “on the old one, going back to XVI century, the dichotomy of our geographical location between West and East“. And that’s why “the concept of positioning Russia as a geopolitical conservative North as opposed to the degenerate left-liberal West, the Asian East and the rapidly Islamizing South is very interesting“.
An argument in favor of such a reorientation and a change in the development vector was put forward by a blogger under the nickname “Madame Secretary”: “Our country, due to the specifics of the political class, will choose between the West and the East and dance hand in hand with China, or go to the cinema with Europe and the USA“. That is not necessary, the author believes, because “such a policy can turn out to be deplorable and ultimately isolate us from both the first and second, or we will simply be divided“.
Big politics is based not on beautiful-hearted illusions, but on cold, and sometimes cynical, calculation. A classic example is the strategic calculations of the American adherents of the “school of realists”, who proceeded from the fact that it is force that is the main tool and criterion for the success and prestige of a nation on the world stage.
And this means that it is time to forget for a while about the proclaimed “strategic partnership”, which is of a long-term, but still situational nature, and agree with the conclusion of “Madame Secretary”: “The main thing is to get out of the upcoming conflict between the Eagle and the Dragon in a much better state of economy, politics, security than we have now.“.
It makes sense to add one more argument in favor of Russia’s displacement to the conditional “North of Eurasia”. The vulnerability of the West to “input resources” revealed already at the first stages of the sanctions war against Russia revealed three sources and three components of its consumer (but by no means spiritual) well-being.
First of all, these are cheap energy resources that have been supplied from Russia for the last half century to Europe, which has been dynamically developing due to this. Then cheap goods from China, the new “workshop of the world” (90% of everything that was filled with the shelves of the Walmart supermarket chain in the United States is Chinese consumer goods). Finally, the belch of the Bretton Woods system, which proclaimed the US dollar as the main monetary measure in the world financial system.
Taking into account the higher degree of Russia’s self-sufficiency in terms of the abundance of energy resources and the fullness of the agro-food basket, as well as the ability to protect this property with armed force, the transition to the category of “geopolitical North” will allow not to be in the line of fire (in in line from Fire) when the West (represented by the US and the Anglo-Saxon alliance) enters into a clinch with the East (China).
Founding father of the Verona Forum, President of the Association “Know Eurasia” Professor Antonio Fallicourged to realize that there is no alternative to returning to the origins, to the worldview of humanism, when a person is perceived as the highest value.
“In a rapidly changing world, this space (implied, in Professor Fallico’s words, “Eurasian space between the Atlantic and the Pacific“”) becomes essential to the security and prosperity of the entire planet. Only by joining efforts, it is possible to build a new economy, in the center of which there will be a person“.
This thesis echoed the speech Andrey Smirnov, President of the Russian Philosophical Society. “Man is the beginning and the end of everything. His consciousness differs in different cultures and civilizations. The multi-civilization nature of the modern world is directly related to how humanism will be understood“, – said the academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
And further: “We find ourselves in a new situation, in a situation of multipolarity. But only if there are several civilizations or groups of civilizations on the globe that have developed their own worldview, their own system of values, their own language – not in linguistic terms, but in conceptual and categorical terms, their own understanding of man and the meaning of being, only in this case can we talk about multipolarity“.
“If we abandon globalism in its old sense of dictate and monopolarity, how will we build relations between different centers of civilization?“- the Russian academician asked a question. In his opinion, first you need to understand the features of the value systems and worldview of such world centers as India, China, the Muslim world, Europe and the West in general, “to which we are closest in Russia“.
Only in this case, Andrei Smirnov emphasized, “we will be able to understand multipolarity as multi-civilization and come to an understanding of humanism on the basis of traditional value systems – traditional not in the sense of archaic, but growing out of the own logic of the development of individual civilizations“.
The logic of academician Smirnov is consonant with the theses voiced in the speech President Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Valdai Club, which coincided in time with the Verona-Baku forum.
“Traditional values are not a fixed set of postulates. Their difference from neoliberal values is that they are unique in each case.”, one of the main ideological inspirers of the transition to a multipolar world postulated. And next: “It is traditional societies that form the basis of world civilization.“.
In confirmation, the president quoted the Russian thinker Nikolai Danilevsky, who called Russia “a unique cultural and historical type.” And this is another argument for leaving the West-East dichotomy, which has become strategically unprofitable, in order to position itself as the geopolitical North.
The turn to the East … and to the North has come true. Mentally
The initiative to form a “Greater Eurasian Partnership” (BEP), in which Russia will be able to play the multivariate role of one of the locomotives, the center for assembling integration mechanisms, moderator and (So!) conciliator, comes from the very top.
Published in August, a policy article, although called “reflections”, article Alexey Drobinin, Director of the Foreign Policy Planning Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairstestifies that the concept of multipolarity with an emphasis on a turn towards Eurasia has turned from a beautiful abstraction, once outlined by Yevgeny Primakov when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs, into a road map.
“Its (BEP) added value, the author writes, is in the harmonious combination of integration projects, national development strategies, production and logistics chains and transport and energy corridors“. Further: “It is through the prism of Greater Eurasia that it is possible to pave the way for building a new model of relations between Russia and its European neighbors at the next historical stage, with an emphasis on the competitive advantages of such a partnership that are natural for geographical and other reasons.“.
A significant coincidence: while Vladimir Putin quotes Nikolai Danilevsky, Ivan Ilyin and Alexander Zinoviev in his Valdai speech, a high-ranking diplomat quotes the Soviet dissident Zinoviev, the author of the phrase “We aimed at communism, but ended up in Russia!”, and advocating for the Russian people’s monarchy publicist Ivan Solonevich.
“The identity of the Russian civilization is defined as a completely original national state and cultural complex, equally clearly different from both Europe and Asia”, – Ivan Solonevich wrote in 1951.
Based on this message, Alexey Drobinin formulates the agenda today: “It’s time for Russia to return to itself. Recognize yourself as the historical core of an original civilization, the largest Eurasian and Euro-Pacific power, one of the strongest geopolitical centers of the world“.
There are all indications that at the level of executors, the BEP strategy, which has become a priority of Russia’s foreign policy, determined in the Kremlin, is acquiring or has already acquired the contours of a terms of reference (TOR). This is confirmed by the activation of Russian diplomacy in multilateral formats such as the EAEU, SCO, BRICS and, as a result, to use the expression of a high-ranking diplomat from Smolenskaya Square, there is a “healing in many ways separation from the West”
It seems that the turn to the East, and now also to the North, has taken place. At least mentally. This idea becomes a material force.
Baku – Moscow
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