This video will be about the strategy of Eurasianism, a set of cultural, philosophical and political concepts centered on the idea that Eurasia – defined as the former Soviet space minus the Baltics and plus Mongolia and sometimes northwest China – has an independent civilizational identity and developmental path In particular, we will answer the following questions: – How does Eurasianism define power? – What is the global distribution of power? – And how can power be organized and manipulated to achieve Eurasianism’s goals? To be honest, there isn’t actually a ‘standard’ form of Eurasianism that reconciles all its major strands of thought No ‘State Eurasianism’ has ever existed to translate theory into actual policy So while most Eurasianists share the video’s strategic logic, the precise details, emphasis and policies will inevitably vary Nevertheless, we can group Eurasianist theory into three subsets The first is 1920s Classical Eurasianism, including the post-Revolution exiles Petr Savitsky and Nikolai Trubetzkoy Viewing Czarist Westernization as the root cause of Russia’s collapse, and wary of the challenge that post-WWI ‘self-determination’ posed to its integrity, Classical Eurasianism focuses on establishing Russia’s geographical and philosophical separation from the West Eurasianism during the Soviet period pretty much consisted solely of the work of Lev Gumilev, whose work on history and ethnography underlay a desire to reject what he saw as a Western-oriented view of Russian history in favor of linking Russia with the peoples of Central Asia Lastly, Neo-Eurasianism was a response to disillusionment with the results of Soviet collapse Rejecting the idea that Russia’s rejuvenation lies in the West, political and geopolitical thinkers such as Aleksandr Panarin and Aleksandr Dugin seek to carve out new ideological and political niches where Russia could reestablish its relevance Eurasianism focuses on four levels of analysis: the state; the ‘people’ or ethnos to use the Gumilevian term; the ‘culture group’ or superethnos; and the ‘civilization’ ‘People’ and ‘culture group’ are groupings based on shared behavior; and the ‘civilization’ encompasses them all through a set of shared values and what is referred to as ‘common historical destiny’ Day-to-day political power rests with the state, but this is underwritten by the civilizational values of the peoples and culture groups it governs: should their values change, the state loses legitimacy and collapses Therefore, organizing and maintaining ideological power in the form of civilizational values is a key, if not the key aspect of Eurasianist strategy For Eurasianism, geography determines the global distribution of power, but not in the sense of resource distribution Instead, geography shapes the existence, size, and compatibility of peoples, culture groups and civilizations Gumilev’s theory of ethnogenesis states that humanity adapts to local environments by changing behavior and values Each people, culture and civilization therefore corresponds to a specific mestorazvitie or ‘place of development’, and their values represent a specialized and unique adaptation to Earth’s geography Civilizational-level mestorazvities generally consist of continental-sized ecological blocs: Europe’s wooded peninsulas for the Western European civilization, the desert plains of the Arabian Desert for the Arab Muslim civilization, and so on But in Europe and Asia’s northern reaches, Classical Eurasianists claimed the existence of not simply a bloc, but a complete geographic system Here, regional bands of tundra, taiga, steppe and desert span nearly half the globe in a regular progression, hosting the culture groups of the Uralics, Russians, Northern Turkics and Southern Turkics respectively These bands are bound together thanks to three ‘zones of interaction’: the Russian plain,

the Turkestani plain, and the West Siberian plain Acting as regions of ecological and intercultural exchange, these plains eventually induced what Gumilyov called komplimentarnost or mutual trust between the culture groups, from which emerged a unified ‘Eurasian civilization’ But if plains create komplimentarnost between Eurasians, then perhaps similar trust would be created with the Western Europeans as well? This possibility was strongly denied by the Classical Eurasianists, who came up with a host of differences – temperature differentials, linguistic phonology, agricultural practice – to assert a geographic and civilizational separation between Eurasia and Western Europe So from geography, Eurasianists derive several points: Eurasia exists naturally as an independent system, meaning that the Eurasian civilization it birthed possesses its own unique values These values represent a unique adaptation to their environment, as do the values of other civilizations Ideological differences are therefore a reflection of Earth’s diversity, and any talk of ‘universal values’ is largely meaningless In an ideal Eurasianist world, every civilization would thus leave each other alone to develop in its own way But alas, there is one civilization that will not do that Classical Eurasianists identified it as the ‘Romano-Germanic’ civilization of Western Europe, while for the Neo-Eurasianists it is the ‘Atlantic’ civilization of the Anglophone states The key feature of their mestorazvities is a peninsular or islandic geography, whose sea-based or thalassocratic nature encouraged commerce and trade These in turn produced civilizational values of individual competition, materialism and standardization, underlying modern-day Western liberal, rationalist, and universalist ideology Eurasianists have no problem with Western values within their own civilization But universalism by definition has larger ambitions, so the West insists on exporting its values globally This insistence comes in two ways: first, a quest to convert others to Western values; and second, the creation of a values discourse that judges civilizations as ‘progressive’ or ‘backward’ depending on how closely they match Western society Furthermore, universalism goes hand-in-hand with Western global hegemony, exemplified in the colonial empires, American unipolarity and global capitalism It does this in two ways: firstly, by encouraging other civilizations to waste energy unlearning their own values, and becoming imitators always one step behind the actual Westerners Secondly, since Atlantic values come from a distinct environment, adopting them in a different geographic context disassociates civilizations from their own environment, creating internal splits that allow Westerners to divide and conquer In such a way, Classical Eurasianists argued that Czarist Westernization created schisms between the aristocracy and the masses, and between the Russians and the other peoples, which with the victory of Western-originated revolutionary Marxism finally tore the civilization apart in class and ethnic war The Neo-Eurasianist Dugin saw similar results coming out of de-Stalinization, perestroika and Yeltsin-era shock therapy Eurasianists see the logical conclusion of all this as the global dominance of a Western oligarchy that enriches itself by exploiting a subjugated and chaotic world There is therefore not just a Russian, but also a global imperative to resist Western universalism Unsurprisingly, Eurasianism sees Eurasia as the natural leader of the anti-Western resistance Taking a page from Mackinder’s Heartland Theory, Eurasianists argue that Eurasia’s geographic nature as a self-contained, inner continental ‘tellurocracy’ makes it far

less vulnerable to Western sea-based ‘thalassocratic’ pressure compared with other coastal civilizations Only a unified Eurasia can assist other civilizations without worrying about its own back So how can Eurasia’s unification be brought about? First, we need to define ‘unification’, which to Eurasianism isn’t necessarily complete political unification Because each people represents a specialized adaptation to its environment, local autonomy should be protected, with unity needed only on issues of civilizational importance, such as foreign policy, inter-group relations, macroeconomics and a common ideological infrastructure It’s possible that Eurasianists would be satisfied with a bloc of Russia-aligned states that are generally sovereign but reliably defer to Moscow in select areas Secondly, Eurasianism places great stock in the idea that political arrangements trend towards a ‘natural order’, most of all the idea that geographical unity naturally leads to political unity The fact that it doesn’t in reality is therefore the result of nature-violating ‘artificial forces’, i.e Western material power, or the spread of Western values such as ‘self-determination’ Drawing on these ideas, Eurasianists recommend Russia – always the unifying state thanks to its size and extensive interaction with all other Eurasian peoples – pursue policies that defend or cordon off Eurasian states against Western power, allowing nature to take its course Dugin proposes a neutral bulwark stretching across Eastern Europe and the Middle East: not only does this physically separate Eurasia from Western power, it also shifts the focus of Western energies away from Eurasia proper Ideologically, even without total communications control, cordoning-off could take the form of alternative media and facts or outright disinformation and conspiratology Eurasian unification also requires proper internal organization To defend the unity against future Western universalist attempts, the Classical Eurasianists in particular called for ideological conformity and mobilization under what they called an ‘ideocracy’ Here Classical Eurasianists saw the policies of Fascist Italy as a potential model, while Dugin looks to Stalinism The exact content of Eurasian ideology is significantly more debated Most Eurasianists agree on two concepts: first, rejecting Western values discourse on universal rights, individualism, materialism, and ‘progress’, and instead promoting ‘natural values’ of collectivism, spirituality, and civilizational uniqueness Second, reinforcing komplimentarnost between the Eurasian peoples Gumilev, in particular, rejected what he saw as the ‘Black Legend’ of the Mongol and Tatar Yoke on medieval Rus, seeing it as Western exaggeration to sow division between the Russians and the Central Asians There is significant disagreement on how ‘Russian’ Eurasianist ideology should be Classical Eurasianists insisted on retaining Orthodox values, while the Neo-Eurasianist Panarin considered the idea of an Orthodox-Turkic Islam synthesis Dugin’s ‘Fourth Political Theory’ advocates a general idea of civilizational distinctiveness and spirituality The Eurasian agenda for domestic politics and the economy generally reflects the Classical Eurasianist Savitsky’s idea of ‘masterocracy’ Masterocracy rejects the idea that good policy can be reduced to one or two metrics Instead, ‘masters’ need to exercise a benevolent stewardship over society and the environment, not accountable to their subjects but nevertheless ideologically motivated to promote the development of people in harmony with natural order Masterocracy therefore promotes top-down guidance over society: on the economy, Dugin translates this into state control over strategic sectors – defence, natural resources, communications, finance – to ensure that profit does not override civilizational values or unity

On politics, he mirrors this by calling for an ‘organic democracy’ where, instead of vote-counting, local elites rule and guide society with popular feedback Bound together by ideology, Eurasianism’s ideal society blends strategically-directed top-down government with strong local autonomy But this forms only the beginning of Eurasianism’s historical task; the next objective is the rollback of Western influence across the globe A unified Eurasia, in the Neo-Eurasianist Dugin’s view, faces a world that is dominated by Atlanticism in three ways Geographically, Atlanticism’s control of both the Atlantic and Pacific rims allows it to pressure all other coastal civilizations in an ‘Anaconda Strategy’ Institutionally, Atlantic dominance is cemented in a range of formal and informal structures from NATO to the US reserve currency to its transnational companies Finally, there is informational dominance, exemplified in Atlanticism’s use of its influential mass media to spread its value discourse Eurasianism’s operational response is asymmetric warfare Avoiding contests in sectors or against enemies with an unfavorable balance of power, Dugin proposes redirecting competition into areas that are more favorable, such as natural or energy resources, or else striking at the meta-dimensions of power like international law and political decision-making Here Dugin particularly emphasizes the cyber realm’s ability to bypass the formal institutions of Atlanticist hegemony Asymmetric internet warfare undermines Atlanticist informational hegemony and allows Eurasianist supporters to present civilizational and values alternatives to Atlanticism But on a strategic level, where should the rollback begin? The first answer is: everywhere, in what Dugin calls a ‘Coalition of the Dissatisfied’ Eurasianism needs to make common cause with anti-Atlanticist movements regardless of ideology, because even the most irrelevant or futile movement serves two purposes: firstly, it presents an alternative to Atlanticism, and secondly, it draws Atlanticist resources away from the key areas of competition Which brings us to the second answer, where Eurasia gradually replaces Atlanticist hegemony with a new system of global multipolarity A unified Eurasia will already have bulwarks in Eastern Europe and the Middle East; now the Anaconda’s constriction has to be broken decisively via a strategic partnership with India, which also grants the Eurasian bloc a ‘central position’ regulating interaction between Europe, Asia and Africa Eurasia can then exploit the advantages of the central position to speed up the erosion of Atlanticist power in Western Europe and East Asia, encouraging their return to civilizational independence in a grand alliance linking Germany, Japan, India and Eurasia Penned back into its own environment, Atlanticism will resume its proper position as only one of four power poles involved in global management: Western Europe, East Asia, the Atlantic Civilization, and Eurasia This system is only sustainable with global economic and social reorganization Dugin argues that the previous model of geographic and economic integration, with Atlanticism at the center and everybody else at the periphery, has to be replaced by a model of ‘Vertical Belts’ where each ‘Northern’ civilization is more linked to its ‘Southern’ counterparts rather than with each other The idea is presumably to hasten the civilizational development and integration of the ‘global South’, resulting in an international system where all civilizations are strong and independent enough to participate as equals – a reflection of Earth’s natural order With this overview of Eurasianism’s strategic logic, we now turn to a brief look of the theory in practice Certainly aspects of Russian strategy, such as its emphasis on civilizational separateness and sovereignty, special Russian values and the use of asymmetric and informational warfare,

are in line with Eurasianist thinking But does that mean Russia is now putting Eurasianist theory in practice? Two things to note: firstly, Eurasianism is not necessarily popular within Russia, as ethnic nationalists and the broader populace suspect that such a strategy would have Russia send resources to and receive immigrants from the poorer Central Asian states Secondly, Eurasianist tropes are frequently used to justify non-Eurasianist ends Kazakhstan, for example, has been a consistent promoter of Eurasianist ideology, but its emphasis has always been on Kazakh distinctiveness and sovereignty as a counter to Russian-led integration This may also be the case for Putin’s ‘pragmatic Eurasianism’, where Russia engages in Eurasian integration but justifies it in liberal or even Atlanticist terms Dugin claims that this is deception, but it’s possible to promote regional integration without buying into Eurasianism An example of this is the Eurasian Economic Union, established in 2015 and so far involving Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia Putin stressed that the EEU is not a tool for political unification: instead, by banding together the EEU’s members get to negotiate from a stronger position and thus get more out of globalization – clearly not a Eurasianist move At the same time, however, the EEU – by taking down barriers, creating a single capital and labor market and coordinating macroeconomic policy – clearly also encourages a Eurasian economic unity whose development can be directed from a single strategic center Furthermore, despite all the talk about globalization, Putinist Eurasian integration tends to reject Western influence – most notably denying Ukraine’s 2013 proposal to be integrated into both the EU and the Eurasian Customs Union, sparking off the Euromaidan protests All in all, while Russia has made Eurasian integration a foreign policy goal, this is not necessarily the same thing as Eurasianism Putin’s pragmatism and domestic constituency prevent him from associating with something as explicitly pro-Central Asia and anti-Western as Eurasianism It is unlikely that the ideology will become formal state policy in the years to come, if ever In conclusion, Eurasianism defines power not just politically but also in terms of civilizational values These values reflect a distinct adaptation to their environment, which is why the universalism promoted by Western hegemony has to be rejected To achieve this, Eurasianism proposes a united, ideologically mobilized civilization that takes the lead in establishing a multipolar world It’s probably safe to say that nobody who isn’t already attracted to Eurasianism will find its reasoning particularly convincing Eurasianism has been criticized as a theory that first assumes Eurasia exists, then analyzes the world on that basis Reject its assumptions on geography, civilization and values, and the theory looks like mere justification for Russian expansionism and authoritarianism Even then, Eurasianism is still worthy of analysis For starters, its declarations on civilizational uniqueness and universalism’s corrosive effects attract support, Russian or otherwise It also reminds Western strategymakers that the benefits of universal values are not self-evident and can actually be perceived as harm, if not a mortal threat to society Recognizing this prevents strategic blunders like the EU’s Eastern Partnership Program, where its self-assured promotion of political and economic reforms in Eastern Europe discounted Russia’s reaction to what it saw as a perceived assault on its interests, catching the EU unprepared and off-guard during the 2014 Ukrainian Crisis At the same time, Eurasianism also blinkers Russia’s strategic perception By portraying Western values as incompatible yet uniquely aggressive, Russia loses the chance to reflect on what makes them attractive and powerful The contest between Russia and the West also becomes eternal and there is no room for any

permanent compromise Eurasianists also discount the power of material strength, confident in overcoming it via ideological mobilization or asymmetric warfare Unfortunately, reality seems to indicate otherwise Even the ‘natural order’ of Eurasian economic integration was reversed in 2015 and 2016 thanks to the impact of Western embargoes Ultimately, Eurasianism’s rich intellectual diversity masks a theory that is short on practical political experience But its ideal of a world filled with independent, distinct civilizations is an enticing one to many, and it would be interesting to see if the world moves in that direction with the continued relative decline of Atlantic power Thanks for watching the video, and please like and subscribe! If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments section

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