Staunton, August 23 – Moscow writers, most prominently Academician Valery Tishkov, routinely suggest that “the Russian world” the Kremlin talks about is analogous to “’the worlds’ of the European colonial powers which are spheres of cultural influence on the planetary civilization,” Mikhail Feldman says.
But that is a fundamental mistake, he continues, not only because “’the worlds’ of the English, the Spanish, the Dutch and other European imperialists were born only with the collapse of their colonial empires” but also because the Russian “world” came into existence alongside the empire and was/is based on military conquest and authoritarian rule.
“It is no accident,” the Russian commentator writes on the AfterEmpire portal today, that the person usually given credit for the term in the Russian case was tsarist General Mikhail Chernyayev who led the forces that brutally seized Tashkent in 1865 and the culturally alien peoples around it (afterempire.info/2017/08/23/russian-countries/).
“Even today,” Feldman continues, “this ‘world’ is associated not with cultural expansion but with soldiers without identifying badges, with the downing of the Boeing, and with the arrest of civic activists who want to return to their native city the historic name of Koenigsberg” – in short with military power not cultural influence.
One Moscow commentator has suggested that “Russians will cease to exist in the form in which they have existed for centuries if there is no Empire,” an argument that implies that “Russians are incapable of self-organization” and can exist only under a powerful and paternalistic Russian state.
This might seem “logical,” Feldman says, “if one considered Russians exclusively as coming from ‘the nucleus’ of the empire … but if there is a metropolitan center, this means that there are colonies. And in ‘the Russian world’ are not only the North Caucasus or the recently seized Crimea.”
It is “all of us: Tambov, Voronezh, Veliky and Nizhny Novgorod … the entire country from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, the source of resources for the imperial (or to put it in a politically correct way, the federal) center, comfortably situated in the borders of the Moscow Ring Road.”
A Russian world analogous to those of the Western imperial powers could come into existence only if the Russian empire disintegrates, Feldman argues. Then and only then could there be a Russian “world” like the European ones that include the US, Canada, Brazil or Australia.