Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Not East or West, Russia Alone is Best, Surkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 10 – Putin advisor Vladislav Surkov argues that 2014 marked the end of a 400-year period in which Russia tried to become part of the West, an era that followed a 400-year effort to become part of the East, and that now, having being rejected or unable to fit into either, the country must be ready for a century or more of proud isolation.

            The annexation of Crimea, he writes in the new issue of Russia in Global Affairs, marked “the completion of an epic journey of Russia to the West and the end of numerous and fruitless attempts to become part of Western civilization and join ‘the good family’ of  European peoples” (globalaffairs.ru/global-processes/Odinochestvo-polukrovki-14-19477).

                By 2013, it had become evident to everyone that Russia was not going to become part of the West or be accepted by it, Surkov says, some argued that the country should turn to the East.  But “there is no need for that and here is why: because Russia was already there,” the East over the course of four centuries before it turned to the West. 

            “And so,” he continues, “Russia for four centuries went toward the east and then another four centuries toward the West. In neither place did it put down roots. Both paths were traversed. And now the ideologies of the third path, the third type of civilization, the third world, and the third Rome will be required.”

                But Russians are hardly a third civilization, Surkov says. Rather it is “both European and Asiatic at one and the same time and not completely either.” As a result, “our cultural and geopolitical membership recalls the wandering identity of an individual born in a mixed marriage."

            Such an individual is “everywhere a relative and nowhere really family. His own among aliens and an alien among his own. Someone who understands everyone but is not understood by anyone. A half-blood, a metis, something strange.”

            “Russia is an east-west half-breed country. With its two-headed statehood, hybrid mentality, inter-continental territory, and bipolar history it as begins a half-breed is charismatic, talented, beautiful and alone,” the Kremlin advisor says. Russia has no real allies except those it can create for itself by itself.

            What this third stage of Russian history will lead to, he continues, “will depend on us.”  Loneliness doesn’t mean complete isolation. Unlimited openness is also important. Both the one and the other would be a repetition of the errors of the past. But the future will have its own errors; it won’t do to have the errors of the past as well.”

            “Beyond any doubt, Russia will trade, attract investment, exchange knowledge, fight (war is also a means of communication), take part in collaborations, be a member of organizations, compete and cooperate, generate fear and hatred, curiosity, sympathy and adoration.”

            But Russians must do that “without false goals and self-denial.” It must proceed relying on itself alone. 

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