Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Regionalism Must Free Itself from Language of Nationalism, Kotsyubinsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 18 – The development of regionalism, both within countries and among them, as an idea and political program, Daniil Kotsyubinsky says, has been stunted by its lack of a distinctive language suitable for its discussion, a situation that has been compounded by the fact that regionalism is all too often discussed only in nationalist terms.

            The St. Petersburg State University scholar who has written on regional issues for more than two decades says that such a language appropriate to regionalism must be created by the adoption of a “Declaration of the Rights of Regions” that might eventually overshadow other international accords (

            Such a declaration, Kotsybinsky suggests, could define key terms such as “region, regional house, regional civilization, regionization, regional sovereignty, unilateral regional secession, resource regional secession and a number of others.” But these definitions would be only the beginning.

            “The most important provisions of the Declaration of the Rights of Regions could become the following:

·         the right on the individual to acquire and preserve a regional home;

·         the right of the individual to freely choose his regional identity and membership in this or that regionization;

·         the right of regional civilization to the preservation of its cultural foundations; and

·         the right of regional civilizations to free and open cultural dialogue with each other, as ong as that does not threaten the cultural foundations of each of them.”

“By recognizing that human rights cannot be realized outside of specific cultural-historical traditions and frameworks,” Kotsyubinsky continues, “’the Declaration of the Rights of Regions’ would give humanity a chance for a less conflict-laden model of evolutionary development free from threats of forcible intervention” either between states or within them.

What makes Kotsyubinsky’s argument intriguing is that he links the issue of regional civilizations internationally with regionalism within countries, something rarely done. Those who argue for the recognition of the former such as Vladimir Putin often reject the other, and conversely, those who support regionalism within countries seldom do it at a more global level.

That does not mean that his ideas are going to be accepted or implemented by either, but by suggesting that regionalism must be discussed not in terms of the nationalist paradigm but rather in its own, Kotsyubinsky has suggested one way out of what is often a fruitless discussion of regionalisms of both kinds. 

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