Empires Always Involve Imperialism, Something Many Russians Forget, Ikhlov Says
August 12 – Many Russians condemn imperialism as a policy involving “the
seizure, enslavement and theft of resources of subordinated people because
being ‘a proud thief is not fashionable” but nonetheless defend empire as “a
political organization of a multi-national (or better poly-cultural) space
unified by a common civilizational idea,” Yevgeny Ikhlov says.
who condemn the first while defending or even praising the second, the Russian
commentator says, forget that “no empire exists without imperialism, even if
the empire invests a very great deal in the development of the provinces and seriously
raises the level of their development” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B6EC8CD275E8).
does the metropolitan center invariably profit from its conquests on the periphery,
but an empire affects both the periphery and the center in negative ways. It “deforms
local societies and local economies,” and it produces “megalomania” among those
who create and maintain the empire for their own benefit.
comments are important for Russians because over the last few years, ever more
Russians following Vladimir Putin, have expressed a positive view of empire
even while condemning imperialism as if the two were entirely separate things. In
fact, as he points out, they are not separate but intimately intertwined.
are also important for non-Russians and for the West. For non-Russians, they
are a reminder of the ways in which the Russian state as it has developed and
is now celebrated by Putin is not only imperial in its nature but imperialist
in its operations toward them and toward Russia’s neighbors.
the West, it is an even more important warning that a regime which celebrates empire
as Putin’s does is a continuing threat to the international system which as a
result of the three great settlements of the 20th century is based
on the nation state rather than the empire and on citizenship rather than ethnicity.