Staunton, March 5 – Soviet nationality policy denatured the ethnic Russians into part of the Soviet people while creating conditions for the rise of ethnocratic regimes in the union republics, Sergey Vasilyev says. Now, Moscow’s nationality policy is doing the same thing with equally disastrous consequences ahead.
“The national identity” of non-ethnic Russians [rossiyane] has the very same ‘Achilles’ heel’ that ‘the united Soviet people did,” the Russian commentator says. It can continue to exist “only under conditions of a strong central power whose any weakening will lead to the disintegration of the country along the borders of compactly settled ethnoses.”
Exactly the same outcome, he suggests, as what happened in 1991 (cont.ws/@sevariga/872080).
It is “above all necessary to recognize,” Vasiliyev continues, “that a supra-nationality of the type of ‘the Soviet people’ is a myth and that there are various ethoses each of which has its own interests and stereotypes” and that while such groups may be “condemned to coexistence on one territory for a long time,” they are not pleased about it.
“Peaceful coexistence on one territory of various ethnic groups and national formations is possible only on the basis of civic consensus … when each of these groups refrains from words and actions which are unacceptable for its neighbors.” That cannot be imposed from above but must arise from below, but it can be developed by discussion.
The situation in the Russian Federation in this regard is complicated by three things: First, where once there were two or three ethnic groups in a place, now mobility means there are many; second, this combination leads to the rise of new groups who don’t understand the old rules; and third, the new groups in many cases do not even suspect there should be rules.
One can fight that if one recognizes it and works to promote formal rules rather than informal understandings, Vasilyev says. The key thing here is that “each ethnos must rein in its own nationalists and not shift responsibility for that onto its neighbors.” Everything else needed is secondary, he suggests.
According to the Russian commentator, “the greatest mistake is the opinion that only the state can generate and formulate rules of co-existence. Any mixed family is a ready-made example of ethnic consensus” with each of its members coming to recognize what is permitted and what is not in this regard.
The same thing is true in multi-national workplaces, he continues. Formalizing that requires the involvement of many groups. Otherwise, ethnic Russians will continue to have their rights violated to the point of genocide. Having such an accord won’t prevent its denunciation, of course.
“But to denounce an agreement and to declare that not agreement in general exists is, as they say in Odessa, ‘two very different things.’” In working toward this, “practically nothing depends on ‘the power vertical.’ Just the reverse: it critically depends on the pluses and minuses of civil society, the formation of which … is completely and absolutely on the conscience of ordinary citizens.”
The agreements people are able to reach in small groups need to become the basis for agreements in the larger world. Trying to do the reverse will not work. The reason this is so necessary, Vasilyev says, is that there is a real danger that nothing will be done and that things will once again spiral out of control.