- スラヴ研究 (ISSN:05626579)
- vol.51, pp.63-96, 2004
The aim of this paper is to revaluate Eurasianism from a historical perspective. It was precisely Eurasianism that defined Russia as "Eurasia," neither Europe nor Asia, for the first time in the intellectual history of Russia. Up to this time, Russian thinkers had identified "Asiatic" elements of Russia with "backwardness" or something "barbarous." They had not admitted its "inner Asia." In other words, Eurasianism can be regarded as a new self-identification of Russia. This change in the Russian view of Asia has attracted much attention among scholars and there is a good deal of discussion on this topic. Usually, however, Eurasianism has been regarded as a branch of Slavophiles, and very few attempts have been made to provide any convincing answer to the question of why Eurasianism emerged during the Inter-war period in a particular group of Russian emigres. Much work remains to be done to elucidate the historical origin of Eurasianism. There are some difficulties in studying Eurasianism: Eurasianists differ from each other in terms of both approach and specialty; the development of Eurasian movements has a complicated history; Eurasianism, in general, is characterized by the lack of coherence in political views. Riazanovsky was correct in stating that "the full answer could be given only after a detailed study of each individual case." In order to overcome these problems, this paper focuses on N. S. Trubetskoi, one of the founders of Eurasianism and a famous linguist. It considers the formation and development of his ideas, referring to a brief biography and the historical background of this period. Viewed from such a perspective, this paper will shed light on the significant aspects of Eurasianism and try to find out its historical origin. Trubetskoi began his discussion by criticizing Western civilization, saying it would destroy national and cultural diversity due to its "egocentrism." He assumed that every national culture was equally valuable in its own uniqueness. He developed this notion as a result of his life work on the cultures and languages of the Caucasus. From his viewpoint, a "top-down" Europeanization of non-European society leads to the destruction of uniqueness, whether it is compulsory or voluntary. The fact that he blamed the Russian Revolution for the Europeanization of Russia deserves attention, because he regarded Communism as a Europe-made idea, which was not suitable for Russia. While Europe encouraged uniformity, Russia, by contrast, preserved its ethnic and cultural diversity. This feature of Russia should be maintained, he said. Thereby, diversity lies at the core of his Eurasianism. It seems reasonable to suppose that he reached this conclusion through searching for the identity of Russia and considering how it should be even after his exile. Generally, Trubetskoi's Eurasianism reflected contemporary historical circumstances. He denied "self-determination" without proper self-recognition of each nation and also any "internationalism" which essentially revealed "egocentrism." At the same time, he warned that any intolerant nationalism might cause antagonism. In this respect, Eurasianism can be interpreted as a criticism of the modern "nation-state," which presupposes the homogeneity of the nation in its territory. Actually, the new states born in Central and Eastern Europe aimed at nation-building modeled after Western Europe and it inevitably caused serious problems among those states. Eurasianism intended to overcome this "false nationalism" by subsuming the whole. It may be said that Eurasianism was certainly a design proposed by emigres, who were alienated by the "nation-state." There is another aspect worth remarking: Trubetskoi's concept of "ideocracy" emerged as a criticism of Western political system. "Ideocracy" was a kind of system that the ruling party governs people on the basis of certain demotic and moral ideas. As he admitted, it had much similarity to Socialism and Fascism in terms of the political system. Of particular relevance here was the so-called "crisis of democracy." In Europe during the Inter-war period, people suffered from the devastating damage of World War I. The parliamentary democracy, which turned out to be meaningless for the people, encountered a serious challenge: the rising tide of the labor movement and the emergence of Fascism. While the colonial peoples rose up to achieve independence, the impact of the Russian Revolution was tremendous there. Except for the above remarks, which may certainly clarify some background of "Ideocracy," it must be particularly mentioned that Trubetskoi blamed racism, to which Fascism appealed, as the most inadmissible "egocentrism." When considered in this light, it is understandable why Trubetskoi's view of the Soviet relatively and gradually improved. Indeed, the matter is not as simple as preceding scholars have tended to conclude with descriptions of "Pro-Soviet" or "Anti-Soviet." Certainly, Trubetskoi's Eurasianism evolved under the conditions of the inter-war period.