Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Tatars Can and Must Make a National Revolution, Kazan Editor Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 4 – Lenin famously observed a century ago that with an organization of revolutionaries, he could overturn Russia. Now, Rashit  Akhmetov, editor of Kazan’s “Zvezda Povolzhya” argues, the Tatars of the Middle Volga must form an organization capable of transforming themselves and their relationship with the Russian Federation.

            In what some will view as an act of despair and others as an indication of overweening optimism, Akhmetov argues that in this century, “the Tatars have only one civilized path of development and of movement toward the construction of a genuine, free, independent and democratic state, the political self-organization of the people.”

“No one will give the Tatars liberation,” the editor suggests; the Tatars can achieve that only by their own actions. And they will be judged by future generations on the basis of what the Tatars do in the current situation, one that he suggests represents a clear test of “their political maturity” (zvezdapovolzhya.ru/obshestvo/my-mozhem-28-05-2013.html).

To date, the Tatars have achieve a great deal – a 70 billion US dollar GDP, victories in various competitions, and the sense that they can achieve even more, Akhmetov says. And the current preparations for the Universiade represent yet another “strengthening of the image of the republic as an advanced region of the Russian Federation.”

But the Tatars and their republic have not achieved the most important thing, the editor continues. In Soviet times, they were not able to achieve “even the status of a union republic of the USSR,” and now, “the Stalinist theory of autonomization is again dominating the situation in Russia.”

“The striving of a people for political independence is an objective course of history, a natural historical process, and attempts to block it, especially by means of repression, force, or insane provocations, such as the proposal to liquidate the Republic Tatarstan, can lead to the strongest deformations in the development of this process and are extremely dangerous.”

Proposals to “liquidate” republics are “’terrorist’ in their essence and recall “the equally absurd slogan of liquidating Russia itself as a national formation and transferring it under the protection of China.”  While some have forgotten, that is exactly what Mao Zedong proposed in 1949 when he called for unity the USSR and China “into a single state.”

“From the point of view of Marxism,” the Kazan editor notes, “this was the principled way to proceed. But had Stalin agreed, “today there would not be any Russians left in the USSR.” By rejecting Mao’s ideas, Stalin “preserved the Russian nation,” even though to do so he had to violate Marxist logic.

Contemporary Europe reflects the national revolutions which were part and parcel of the bourgeois-democratic revolutions. Akhmetov says. If Russia chooses “the path of civilized capitalism, then it is necessary to prepare oneself for the process of the inevitable onset of the era of national revolutions in Russia.”

That course requires that the peoples of the country workout “a mutually profitable form of existence which starts from an appreciation of the political realities of the 21st century,” and if that happens, the editor says, if there is “a bourgeois-democratic national revolution in Tatarstan, Russians too will live much more comfortably there than they do today.”

            Any such revolution must take place “first in the spirit, in the area of ideology,” Akhmetov continues. “Therefore, the Tatars must formulate the principles of the Tatar path forward,” and in doing so overcome their fear of taking “the first step toward an ‘adult’ Tatar future.”

            Toward that end, the Tatars need “an all-Russian Confederal Party which will permit the consideration of the interests of the development of other peoples, for they will be able to liberate themselves” only by the combined efforts of the various peoples of the current Russian Federation, something that will require the “radical spiritual liberation” of the Russians from their imperial consciousness.

            Recent Tatar victories in a variety of areas show that that nation is undergoing “a renaissance” which reflects “the growth of its passionate qualities.”  No nation with such a passionate basis “can be a dependent one.” Such a spirit requires independence, as every “national revolution” always has.

            Opposing this trend is both “senseless and dangerous,” Akhmetov says, because “if an individual recognizes himself as a free man, then no one can ever make him a slave.” And he concludes his argument on behalf of a vastly more independent Tatarstan with yet another reference to Marxism.

            Marx thought, Akhmedov points out, that economics rather than passionate energy defines the course of history. But he was wrong because such energy is part of culture and culture moves things forward. For Tatars and many others, “religion gives a most powerful passionate impulse to the people.”

            Consequently, for the Tatars of the Middle Volga, it is critically important to develop “Tatar theology” as it is that which is “at the foundation of the development of science and economics.” True, Akhmetov concludes, “with [the Tatars today] it is history which currently plays the role of theology.”

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