Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Ethnic Russians Core of ‘a Super-Ethnos with a Human Face’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 19 – One of the tasks of Russian ideologists is to square the circle between Russians as an ethnic community with its own language, culture and traditions and Russians as a civic community based not on those things but on attachment to a political system and its values.

            Many ethnic Russians opposes a civic identity because they fear that it will subvert their own ethnic one; and many non-Russians oppose it as well because they see the civic identity Moscow is offering as simply a veil drawn over the existing Russian national identity in ethnic terms.

            To overcome such opposition, some Russian analysts and commentators have proposed the concept of the Russians as “a super ethnos,” that is, an ethnic community which because of its nature assembles around itself other ethnoses into a new organic whole simultaneously reflecting its ethnic Russian core but simultaneously different and superior to it.

            ZenYandex’s Etnogeo page offers a simplified version of this idea, a version that is likely close to what many advocates of a civic Russian identity have in mind (zen.yandex.ru/media/etnogeo/russkie--eto-superetnos-no-s-chelovecheskim-licom-analiz-razbor-vyvody-6146c5ff9ee984048f7662f6).

            “Russians,” the page says, “are the highest link of an ethnic hierarchy which has been able on the enormous territory of Eurasia unite around itself about 200 large and small peoples.” Others may call this an empire, but it is fundamentally different from other empires in that, Etnogeo says, the core group focuses on supporting all the rest.

            This ethnic community is like “a might oak” whose branches provide the foundation for a union of four groups of peoples, the Slavs, the Balts, the Finno-Ugrics and the Turks.” Each of these peoples is successful in its own right. Together, thanks to the Russians, they “have become completely invincible” as “a super-ethnos.”

            At the start of the 20th century, the Russians gave freedom to the Poles and Finns, and they then organized a state which would allow the same thing to happen to others at the end of the 20th century. As Lenin put it, Etnogeo suggests, “a people which oppresses other people cannot be free.”

            The page concludes that “Russians (as the titular nation) are a super-ethnos and undoubtedly one with a human face.” That is something others may do and in fact do not agree with, but according to the ZenYandex writers, it is something that has been confirmed again and again by “historic facts” that are beyond question.

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