Saturday, November 28, 2020

Destroying Non-Russian Republics will Destroy Russia, Vakhitov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 25 – For the third time in a generation, this time online, some Russians have bought into the idea that the promotion of a Russian nation state will “magically” solve all the country’s problems, Eurasianist writer Rustem Vakhitov says, arguing that they could not be more wrong (

            In 1991, in the name of getting rid of imperial ballast, Russian nationalists promoted the disintegration of the USSR. In 2011, a revived Russian nationalism called for casting aside some non-Russian republics in the North Caucasus failing to see that this would spark massive refugee flows and allow NATO to advance closer to Moscow.

            Now, online but much less in the population itself, Russian nationalists are arguing for the establishment of a Russian nation state, some of an ethnic kind given that 80 percent of the population of the country is Russian but most of a non-ethnic “civic” variety like the ones in Western countries.

            On the basis of that mistaken and misguided notion, Vakhitov says, they call for dismantling all non-Russian republics and declaring all non-Russians to be Russians of this or that ethnic origin, with some Russian nationalists openly calling for the total assimilation of all non-Russians.

            “Anyone who has even lived a little in the national republics of Russia will tell you that such ‘an innovation’ will instantly lead to the destruction of the national peace that exists up to now in Russia,” the Eurasianist says. That should be obvious to all even with an unaided eye, but to Russian nationalists now, it is somehow obscure.

            He points out that “if Tatar nationalists raise such a ruckus concerning the liquidation of the position of president in the national republics, then just imagine what would happen if the Kremlin in which our national democrats have entered, were to require that all Tatars list themselves as ‘ethnic Russians of Tatar origin’?!”

            Even the advocates of “civic” Russian nationalism forget that there are “civic nationalists among Tatar and Bashkir nationalists” who have called for “local ethnic Russians to give up the title Russian and call themselves instead Tatarstanis of Russian origin.” They would only become more vocal if Russians insisted Tatars and others change their identities.

            Russia has been strong only when it has had a super-national identity, and “the Eurasians were right when they argued that a strong side of the communists was that they created a state super-ethnic identity intended for all peoples of the Russian space.” And the Eurasians continue to promote this in Russia today.

            The reason that the Internet is breeding so many Russian nationalists who have forgotten the history of their own country is that “nationalism is also a form of Westernism to such an extend that the nationalists do not attack other Westernizers, in this case, the liberals,” Vakhitov continues.

            And that leads to another important conclusion that few in debates about Russian nationalism recognize: “the dissemination of nationalism among non-Russian peoples (and Russians are one) is a variety of the acceptance by them of Western culture. That is, it is yet another step toward the assimilation of these peoples (including the Russians) into the cosmopolitan substrate of pan-Europeanism and pan-Westernism.”

            And that is true, the Eurasianist author says, even if the nationalists view themselves as “enemies of the West” because they are bringing into their culture another element of Western culture.” If they win, he argues, their children and grandchildren will be speaking English; and those who proclaim themselves Russian nationalists today will be responsible.

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