Friday, November 5, 2010

Russian Eurasianism

Dmitry Shlapentokh reviews Thai diplomat Paradorn Rangsimaporn's new book, which pays "considerable attention to Eurasianism, the philosophical and quasi-political creed that has become quite popular in post-Soviet Russia" — The ideas that drive Russia. Mr. Shlapentokh notes, "The major difference between Eurasianism and the previous paradigms of Russian imperial nationalism is the great interest in Asia and the assumption that Asia played a large role in the shaping of Russian civilization."

When discussing "those segments of Eurasianism who emphasize the Islamic aspect of Russian/Eurasian civilization," Mr. Shlapentokh mentions the faction that "while accepting Muslims of various ethnic origins as an essential part of Russian/Eurasian civilization, still relegates them to the position of 'younger brothers', those who play the role of second fiddle in ethnic and geopolitical arrangements," as well as those who "assume that the Muslims of the Russian Federation, people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, should be either equal to Russians or even play a leading role in the country."

While these "have a rather skeptical view of China" and "hardly see it as an ally of Muslim Eurasia and in the future even more dangerous than the US," there are those who "have a clearly positive view," and argue "that China could be a much more trusted ally than the West" and even dream of "an axis that would include Russia, China and India."

Russia's Eurasianists are mentioned prominently in Mark Sedgwick's studies of Traditionalists. Perhaps the Russian Eurasianist par excellence was Roman Ungern von Sternberg, Mongolia's Austrian White Russian Khan.

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