The flourishing diversity of Eurasia: our political goal

The flourishing diversity of Eurasia: our political goal

I will allow myself to express my opinion about the future, the strategies and values - the framework of values for the development of our country, the affects of global processes over our nation, our identity and how we would like to see the world in the twenty-first century, and what can our country, Russia, bring to this world together with our partners.

Today, almost all the countries of the world - the Russian and European nations, the Chinese and American societies - are faced, in one form or another, with the need to find new strategies to preserve their identity in a radically changing world, a world that has become more open, transparent and interdependent. The questions «who are we?», «what do we want to be?» - are heard more and more loudly in our society. We have separated from Soviet ideology and it is not possible to return to it. Proponents of fundamental conservatism, idealizing pre-1917 Russia, are now as far from reality as supporters of Western ultra-liberalism. It is evident that movement forward is not possible without spiritual, cultural, and national self-determination, otherwise we will not be able to withstand internal and external challenges and will not succeed in global competition. And today we see a new round of competition.

The main direction of today's competition are economic-technological and ideological-informational ones. Military-political problems are being immensely escalated. The world is becoming more rigid: sometimes it rejects not only international law, but even basic decency. It is necessary for a country to be militarily, technologically and economically strong. But still the main thing that will determine national success - is quality of people, of the intellectual, spiritual, and moral dimensions of society. After all, economic growth, prosperity and geopolitical influence are derived from the total condition of a society, from the state of people’s solidarity: to what extent people feel unity within the limits of a country, how they experience the fact of deep-rootedness in national history, values and traditions, in which way they are in accord with common goals and responsibilities. In this sense, the question of gaining and strengthening national identity is really fundamental to Russia.

Meanwhile, today Russia is experiencing not only an objective pressure of globalization over its national identity, but also the consequences of the national catastrophes of the twentieth century: we have twice experienced the collapse of our state. The result was the devastating blow to the cultural and spiritual code of the nation, a break with the unity of history and traditions, the demoralization of society, and a deficit of trust and responsibility. It is rooted in many trying issues we have faced. After all, the question of responsibility to ourselves, society and law is one of the fundamental points not only in jurisprudence but also in everyday life.

After 1991, there was the illusion that the new national ideology, the ideology of development, will be born by itself. The State, the powerful, intellectual and political classes practically excluded themselves from this work, taking into consideration that the old, semi-official ideology of the past had a dry mouth. In fact they were all afraid to even touch upon the subject. In addition, the lack of a national idea based on national identity, was profitable to a quasi-сolonial part of the elite which preferred to steal and withdraw their capital, and did not link their future with that of the country, where this money had been earned.

National Idea: the search for identity

Practice has shown that a new national idea is not being born and developed according to the rules of the market. Self-construction of the state did not work, nor did the mechanical copying of someone else's experience. Such gross borrowings, attempts to civilize Russia from the outside were not accepted by an absolute majority of our people, because striving for independence, for spiritual, ideological, and foreign policy sovereignty is an integral part of our national character. Incidentally, this approach does not work in many other countries either. Gone are the days when a ready-made model of life could be installed in any state just like a computer program.

We also understand that identity, a national idea can not be imposed from above, can not be built on the basis of ideological monopoly. This construction is very unstable and vulnerable, we know this from personal experience, it has no future in the modern world. There is a necessity for historical creativity, a synthesis of the best national practices and ideas, an understanding of our cultural, spiritual, political traditions from different points of view, with the understanding that it is not something rigid given forever, but it is a living organism. Only then our identity will be based on a solid foundation and will be addressed to the future, not to the past. This is the main argument in favour of the point that ideology must be discussed amongst people of different views, of different opinions concerning the solutions of all the problems.

To all of us, to the so-called neo-slavophiles and neo-westernizers, to state bureaucrats and so-called liberals, it is now absolutely clear that the whole society is awaiting a joint work towards common development goals. We need to get rid of the habit of hearing only the adherents of ideology, from the doorway, rejecting any other point of view with anger and even hatred. You can not flip and kick the country's future as a soccer ball, dip in unbridled nihilism, consumerism, criticism of anything and everything, or gloomy pessimism. This means that the Liberals have to learn to talk with representatives of the left-wing. Nationalists must remember that Russia from its first steps is formed of a multinational (multiethnic - Ed.) and multi-religious country. And, calling into question our multinational (multi-ethnicity - Ed.) starting to question the theme of Russian, Tatar, Caucasian, Siberian and any other nationalisms and separatisms, we take the path to the destruction of Russia's genetic code. In fact, we begin to destroy ourselves.

The value of sovereignty

Sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Russia are unconditional values. These are the “red lines” which cannot be crossed by anyone. For all the differences in our views, all the debates about our identity or about our future are impossible without national patriotism of their participants - patriotism, surely, in the purest sense of the word. Too often in the nation's history instead of opposition to the government we are faced with opposition to Russia itself. And we know how this ends - with the demolition of the state as such.

We have practically no family that has avoided the troubles of the past century. Questions over the evaluation of certain historical events still split the country and society. We need to heal the wounds, to restore the integrity of the fabric of history. We can no longer engage in self-deception, striking out unsightly or ideologically inconvenient pages, breaking the connection between generations, rushing to extremes, creating or debunking idols. It's time to stop noticing only the bad stories, to berate ourselves more than our enemies do. Criticism is necessary. But without a sense of self-worth and love for the Fatherland this criticism is demeaning and unproductive.

We should be proud of our history, and we have something to be proud of. Our entire history of seizures should not be a part of Russian identity. Without recognition of this mutual trust it is impossible to move society forward.

The crisis of the West - the rejection of roots

Another serious challenge to Russia's identity is connected with the events that are taking place in the world arena. These include some aspects of foreign policy and morality. We see that many Euro-Atlantic countries have actually rejected their roots, including the Christian values that form the basis of Western civilization. All moral principles and all traditional identities are denied: national, cultural, religious or even sexual. A policy which puts on the same level a large family and a same-sex partnership, belief in God and belief in Satan is pursued. The excesses of political correctness reach the point where serious talks on registration of parties appear. People in many European countries are embarrassed or ashamed to talk about their religious affiliation. Holidays become cancelled or even renamed in order to shyly hide the essence of the holiday - the moral basis of the holiday. And this model is aggressively trying to impose itself all over the world. I am convinced that this is a direct path to degradation and primitivism, profound demographic and moral crisis.

What else could be a great testament to the moral crisis of human society but the loss of capacity for self-reproduction, self-renewal? Today, almost no developed countries are able to reproduce themselves any longer, even using migration. Without the values embedded in Christianity and other world religions, without standards of morality evolved over thousands of years people will inevitably lose their human dignity. And we consider it natural and proper to defend these values. One must respect the right of any minority to differ, but the right of the majority should not be called into question

Deadlock of unipolarity

At the same time there are attempts, in a way, to revive a unified model of a unipolar world, to blur the Institution of International Law and national sovereignty. Such a unipolar, unified world does not need sovereign states - it needs vassals. In the historical sense, this is a rejection of individuality, of vast variety of the world, what is given by God and nature.

Russia is in solidarity with those who believe that the key decisions should be worked out on a collective basis, but not at the discretion of individual countries or groups of countries and in the interests only of them; that  international law should operate, and not the law of the strongest, not the right of the fist; that every country, every people is not exclusive, but is unique, is original, and has the same rights as other countries and peoples, including the right to independently choose their own way of development. This is our conceptual view, it follows from our own historical fate, of Russia's role in world politics. Our present position has deep historical roots. Russia itself has evolved on the basis of diversity, harmony and balance, and contributes to  balance in the world. I want to remind you that the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and the Yalta agreement of 1945, adopted with the very active participation of Russia, ensured a long lasting world peace. Russia's strength, the strength of the winner in these historical turning points, was shown in its nobility and justice. And let us remember Versailles, concluded without the participation of Russia. Many experts, and I absolutely agree with them, believe that exactly in Versailles the roots of the future Second World War were laid, because the Treaty of Versailles was unfair to the German people and imposed such restrictions upon them, with which they could not cope.

There is one more fundamental aspect I want to draw my attention to. The so-called multiculturalism in Europe and in some other countries, - a model, in many aspects introduced artificially, injected from the top - is now put in question, and it is clear why. In fact it is based on penance for the colonial past. It is no accident that politicians and public figures of the most of Europe are increasingly talking about the failure of multiculturalism - that it is not able to integrate linguistically and culturally foreign elements into society.

Blossoming complexity” of Eurasia

In Russia, which for centuries others tried to label the “prison of nations,” there has never existed the situation when any ethnos or even the smallest ethnic group disappeared. All of them have retained not only their internal autonomy and cultural identity, but also their historical space. You know, I was interested to learn that in Soviet times, so closely related to us now, almost every small nation had its print edition - there were programs of state-supported languages, developing national (ethnic - Ed.) Literature. By the way, much of what has been done in this respect before, we need to return to and adopt. In this case, we have gained unique experience of the interaction, mutual interference, enrichment and mutual respect for different cultures. This multiculturalism, multi-ethnicity lives in our historical consciousness, in our spirit, in our historical code. Our thousand year state is naturally built on it.

Russia, as philosopher Konstantin Leontiev figuratively remarks, has been always developing as a “blossoming complexity,” as a civilization-state, bound by Russian people, Russian language, Russian culture, the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional religions of Russia. It is precisely from this model of the state-civilization that the characteristics of our polity flow. It has always sought flexibility to accommodate the national and religious specificity of certain areas, providing diversity in unity. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and other religions are integral parts of the identity and historical heritage of Russia and the present life of its citizens. The main task of the state, enshrined in the Constitution, is to ensure equal rights for members of traditional religions and atheists, the right of freedom of conscience for all citizens.

However, identification exclusively by ethnicity and religion in the largest state with a multi-ethnic composition of the population, of course, is not possible (this is possible in the imperial state model - Ed.). Rather, the formation of civic identity based on shared values: patriotic awareness, civic responsibility and solidarity, respect for the law, a sense of belonging to the fate of the homeland without losing touch with ethnic and religious roots is a necessary condition for the preservation of the unity of the country (state model of the imperial type - Ed.). How the ideology of national development will be framed conceptually, both politically and ideologically, is the subject of intensive debate. But I am deeply convinced that the principle of development of the human being - morally, intellectually and physically - should be located at the heart of our philosophy. Back in the early 90s Solzhenitsyn spoke of saving the people after the hardest times of the twentieth century as a major national goal. Today, we must admit: the complete reverse of the negative demographic trends in Russia has not been achieved, we have managed just to step back a little from a dangerous level of loss of national capacity.

Unfortunately, in our country's history the value of the individual human life was often low. Too often people were only the means, not the end in the mission of development. We no longer have not only the right, but also the opportunity to throw millions of people into the firebox of development. We need to protect everyone. Put simply, an educated, creative, physically and spiritually healthy populace, not natural resources nor nuclear weapons will be the main strength of Russia for the present and subsequent centuries.

The Upbringing of a patriot and principles of self-government

The role of education is most important in the development of the personality and of a patriotism; for that we need to restore the role of Russia's great culture and literature. They should be the foundation for the self-determination of citizens, the source of identity and a framework for the understanding of the national idea. These moments depend a lot on the teacher, on the teaching community, which has been and remains the most important guardian of common national values, ideas and attitudes. This community speaks the same language - the language of science, knowledge and upbringing. This takes place on a huge territory - from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. And this community, taking into consideration teachers, the teaching community as a whole, in the broadest sense, carries the country. Gaining the support of this community is one of the most important steps on the path to a strong and prosperous Russia.

I would repeat once again: if we do not concentrate our efforts on education and health, on the formation of mutual responsibility and authority of each citizen, and, finally, on the restoration of public confidence, we will lose in the historical competition. Citizens of Russia should feel that they are responsible masters of their country, their region, their homeland, their possessions, their lives and property.

A citizen is a person who is able to independently handle their own affairs while freely collaborating with peers. And the best school of citizenship is the local self-government and self-initiated organization of citizens. Of course, I mean in this case NGOs. By the way, one of the best Russian political traditions is the tradition of “zemskaia” - which is also built on the principles of self-government. Only effective mechanism of self-government can produce a real civil society and nationally oriented elite, including, of course, the opposition with its own ideology, values, and  yardstick of good and bad, but their own values, not those imposed by the media or from abroad. The state is ready and will trust the amateur and self-governing structures, but we need to know who we trust. It is an absolutely normal practice internationally, and that's why we have adopted new legislation that increases the transparency of non-governmental organizations.

Speaking about any reforms, it is important not to forget that our country is not just Moscow and St. Petersburg. Developing the Russian federalism, we must rely on our own historical experience, use the flexibility and variety of models. The design of the Russian federalism has a very great potential. We need to learn to use it wisely, not to forget the main thing: the development of the regions, their autonomy should work to create equal opportunities for all citizens, regardless of their place of residence, to eliminate the imbalances in economic, social development of the regions of Russia, and thus to strengthen the unity of the country. Of course, this is a complex task, because these areas over the decades, if not centuries, have evolved unevenly.

The Eurasian Union - a project for the preservation of the identity of peoples

The twenty-first century promises to be the century of great changes, the era of the formation of the major geopolitical, financial, economic, cultural, civilizational, political and military bloc. For this reason our absolute priority is  tight integration with our neighbours. The future Eurasian Economic Union, which we have stated and that we have been talking about a lot lately, it's not just a set of mutually beneficial agreements. The Eurasian Union - a project for the preservation of identity of peoples, to maintain historical Eurasia in the new century and in a new world. Eurasian integration is a chance for the former Soviet Union to become an independent centre of global development, rather than the periphery of Europe or Asia. I want to emphasize that Eurasian integration will also be built on the principle of diversity. This is the association, in which each participant will retain his individuality, identity and political subjectiveness. Together with our partners we will, step by step, realize this project. And we hope that it will be our common contribution to maintaining the diversity and sustainability of global development. The years after 1991 are called the post-Soviet age. We have lived through and have overcome this dramatic time. As has happened many times in history, Russia, having passed through the break-ups and testings, returns back to itself, to its own history.

After consolidating our national identity, strengthening our roots, while remaining open and receptive to the best ideas and practices of East and West, we must and we will go forward.