Eurasianism and Americanism

Eurasianism and Americanism February 28, 2022

Eurasianism and Americanism

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Thanks to some friends, I have recently learned about a geopolitical ideology called “eurasianism.” I’ve read several scholarly articles about it. Apparently it has some influence on Vladimir Putin and may form part of an explanation for his current (and previous) aggressive actions (toward Georgia and Ukraine and Crimea). I think that is still somewhat speculative, but it’s worth considering. I’m always interested in philosophies and ideologies that lie in the background of current events.

One reason I’m especially interested in eurasianism is that it has a religious component. Some Russian Orthodox theologians were influential in its early formulations, namely Florovsky and Berdyaev. Both repudiated it when it was taken over by more militant voices than theirs.

There is much disagreement about exactly when eurasianism was born and who first formulated it and even what exactly it means. But there is general agreement on the following points (as common if not universal themes):

Eurasianism regards Russia as more than a nation-state; it is a culture with ancient roots that ought to dominate what is called in the West “eastern Europe” and parts of Asia. “Eurasia” is basically Russia and the peoples Russians believe somehow belong to the Russian historical culture. Eurasians believe Russia (and its culturally aligned peoples) should not look to the “West” for guidance but should look to their own history, traditions, heritage and religion (Russian Orthodoxy).

Some eurasians dream of a Russia-based empire that is NOT liberal in the Western sense (rooted in the Enlightenment), or pluralistic ideologically, but united in spirit culturally and that includes the conservative values of Russian Orthodoxy.

Some observers of a revival of eurasianism point to one or two notable eurasians who MAY have some indirect influence on Putin.

Again, it cannot be stressed enough that “eurasianism” is not a monolithic philosophy or ideology; its adherents disagree about many details. However, it seems to be growing in influence in Russia and some of the former Soviet Union’s now autonomous republics. There seems to be some nostalgia for a “golden age” of the past but not necessarily a return to Czarism.

What interests me as an American and a Christian theologian is how similar this sounds to some things I heard and read American Christians saying about a “golden age” of America’s past and their dream of a future renewed America.

When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s there was a general attitude among white Americans that America was God’s country and a light God had set on a “hill” to save the world, not only through evangelism but also through spreading “the American way” which was culturally (allegedly) democratic, republican, capitalist, and liberal (in the classical sense of individual freedoms). Many missionaries were at least accused of spreading “Americanism” along with the gospel—wherever they went. Religiously, this Americanism was tied in many Americans’ minds with Protestant Christianity.

I am sure that this Americanism justified, in many people’s minds, America’s dominance in the world, especially in the Western Hemisphere but beyond as well.

Are eurasianism (I have seen it capitalized and not capitalized) and Americanism twins in some regards? Twins who don’t like each other, twins with very different ultimate visions of who should dominate and control the rest of the human family, but twins in terms of general attitudes toward themselves and their rights and reasons for those rights of power and dominance over others?

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