Eurasian identity as a method of uniting the peoples of central asia

Annotation. Today, the Eurasian continent is also a region of continental and regional economic and other projects, to which Central Asian states also pay attention, and which, remaining in the geopolitical periphery mode for objective and subjective reasons, are still more passive participants of the Eurasian design.

These projects, among which, first of all, the Eurasian Economic Union should be noted, are of obvious interest to Central Asian countries, however, with all the unfolded and hidden benefits and merits, as it seems to me, there is some shortage of meaningfulness, more precisely, semantic structures, including in the field of cultural and humanitarian activities of people and states, however, under certain efforts with the consequent possible construction of some kind of Eurasian identity model.

As a continent, Eurasia (also known as the “Big Island”) is a more civilized part of the world than other areas of the planet. The European, Indian and Far Eastern tips of Eurasia are regions of the Atlantic, IndoEurasian and Pacific areas, where there is intellectual tension and a fairly high standard of living, between which other major world civilizations are squeezed which are, in turn, fundamentally different from those described above and between each other.

Eurasia today is a continent, the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific tips of which penetrate into the region. However, the goals and the concerns of these areas are completely opposed to one another.

Observable elements of the ongoing “Big Game” are also noticeable, which has expanded in geographical and political terms after the collapse of the USSR.

Today, the Eurasian continent is also a region of continental and regional economic and other projects, to which the Central Asian states pay attention; and which today by remaining on the geopolitical periphery for objective and subjective reasons are still more passive participants in terms of Eurasian planning.

These projects, among which, first of all, the Eurasian Economic Union should be noted, provide an obvious interest to Central Asian countries. However, with all the detailed and hidden advantages and merits, it seems to me there is a certain lack of content, or more precisely semantic structures, including in the field of the cultural and humanitarian activities of these people and states. However particular actions may be followed by the possible construction of some kind of model of Eurasian identity.

First, it is worth noting that true meanings, new value capacities and new guidelines can be identified as attractive ideas oriented towards the future or, we may say, as something very important that cannot yet be spelled out but which everyone has in mind and where there is a comprehensive, if silent, consensus. Relying on the centuries-old constructions of identity is unlikely to be able to move some common cause forward.

At the same time, it should be borne in mind that, beyond the consensus, only direct or indirect enforcement, which is strategically and methodologically, in general, quite counterproductive, remains possible.

The main thrust of ideas should also probably be directed to the possibility of people living together and developing outside of the normative and everyday decoration of the hierarchical pyramid of “older and younger” and not only in a procedural sense. Of course, this can also be understood and perceived as a kind of precondition, without regard of which even a weak substantive dialogue is not possible, not to mention some kind of joint creative activity.

The process associated with the formulation and design of the main idea highlights, in my opinion, several fundamental issues related, above all, and it is the most important in any project activity form, with human capital or material. In the present text we will indicate only two: who and by what parameters should be referred to Eurasians, and who nevertheless considers himself to be Eurasian. And if he identifies himself or he is identified with the quality of being Eurasian, then what is the defining identification parameter or criterion - geography, history, economics, lingua franca or something else, or all of these in combination?

It is quite possible that the designers of modern Eurasianism did not set the task of constructing a shared identity model that is understandable to all participants on the base of some value orientations, but it seems that building a modern, even limited space of cooperation in the form of an international organization based on the idea of only militarypolitical or only economic convergence with each other with an appropriate procedures set and unclear rules is not enough, and such constructions, as I see it, are short-lived, especially considering the attractiveness and benefits of the proposed options from the outside.

At the stage of a long-term global crisis, international structures created by “ad hoc” will probably also be in demand for the implementation of some specific joint projects and programs.

In the context of the systemic global crisis that is decaying into a local and functional one, it seems that a consensus towards the formation of a multi-layered partnership space is required. With regard to the Eurasian projects, we can talk, for example, if we keep in mind the Eurasian Economic Union, the most important for all former "Soviet", and which have been forgotten or missed in the heat of the struggle for a brighter "market" future - a joint search for a way out or liberation from the "post-communist" state and subsequent creative activities for the benefit of all.

In the former USSR, it is probable that only two countries with some constancy and more or less clear sense declare Eurasianism as an important idea for them, while putting into it differently mismatched, fragments of different meanings. There are, however, other states that occasionally somehow almost coincidentally recall their Eurasianism. Still others are detached from Eurasianism either by the fragile wall of their identification programs and projects, or by the imaginary inaccessibility for them of the proposed Eurasianism’s meaning. Or Eurasianism is understood by them as a kind of euphemism for expansion or restoration.

Of course, abstraction of the modern Eurasianism problem cannot be carried out outside the context of the contemporary global situation development, which today is characterized by such a deep crisis of the concepts of socio-economic development, religions, humanitarian value containers, international law, as well as other principles and drivers of international communication, etc.

The system and mechanisms of the international organizations and structures functioning that emerged and developed in the 20th century have undergone obvious corrosion. It seems to me that with the collapse of the bipolar world, one of the main motivational foundations and drivers of the creation and existence of international organizations has collapsed - I mean their construction according to a fairly simple confrontational scheme “for something” and “against someone”. The pros and cons reflected the competition of ideologies, socio-economic platforms and military capabilities. But the continuing rather serious inertial influence, and sometimes the renewal of these schemes, should probably be recognized.

It is clear that competition between states, groups of states has not disappeared, but the fundamentals and mechanisms of long-term alliance and even compromise partnership, including, and, perhaps primarily, in global and regional international organizations, are radically changing; and meanwhile some representatives of the “third world” seemed to have suddenly suggested that religious differences and dogmas should be regarded on the basis of international competition, not ideological or socio-economic concepts; international criminal structures emerged, claiming to be very serious actors of international life with their own ideas and potential for concrete actions, etc.

Under these conditions, the creation and restructuring of international organizations, the search for semantic structures and activity tools that are adequate to the new time, remains a very difficult problem, and maybe even unsolvable: new radically different approaches to the formation of international organizations will be required.

The interest of the state today remains the enduring foundation of the foreign policy of all countries, including their participation and activities in international organizations. Often, the interest and foreign policy proclaimed by the same state come into conflict, but the priority and dictate of interest is obvious, especially in times of crisis. The egoism and cynicism of the state (if it wants to be strong) is the indestructible truth of all time.

If we develop “Eurasianism” as a platform of identity or (self) identification model, the latter will need, first of all, a harmonious combination of the interests of all and real equality, but not equalization.

At the time N.Trubetskoy proposed to construct a so-called “Eurasian nationalism” (“... a national substrate of a state called the USSR can only be the totality of the peoples inhabiting this state, considered as a special multi-people nation and having such nationalism as such. We call this nation Eurasian, its territory - Eurasia, its nationalism – Eurasianism”.

There are also other proposals and recommendations on the issue of constructing Eurasian identity. I believe that there should not be haste and unnecessary trouble - we should quietly think together.

Due to the reference to culture, it should be emphasized that the intangible sphere of human activity, or in a broader context, the totality of their non-economic achievements and orientations (also included in the national value system) plays, ironically, a significant role in economic development. In particular, let me remind my readership once again about the experience of Korea and Zambia, which in 1960 began economic reforms from about the same starting position. However, ten years later, the economic development of the Asians was four times higher than that of the Africans. Why? The answer is simple: the presence of an aggregate of value orientations and capacities to which a nation or another identified group of people not only focuses, but this aggregate seems to be moving the nation forward.

The search for national roots is not just an attempt to “dig up” the national Idea from the depth of the centuries and at the same time restore the history of the people, or rather, write out its documented version - this is the desire to understand the historical mission of people generations who have identified and identified with some ethnonym born from time to time based on a motto, idea or symbol of spatial, and sometimes totem designation. A certain sacralization of the historical mission of an ethnos or a group of ethnoses is one of the fundamental bases for the construction of a selfidentifying model, which, in turn, can become an engine for development. The sacralization process can obviously be artificially excited and successful, as we can see from the history of some nations. But, if this excitement is not accompanied by the creation of concrete material, spiritual and moral platforms, then all efforts, in general, are in vain.

Versions of God’s origin, moreover, with the divine name of a person can be found in the materials of ethnogony, genealogical traditions, and even in sacred books. Thus, God's chosen people confirms the messianic role of this people among others. No need to delve into history; I will give just one example: US President R. Reagan states: “If we deprive Americans of faith in our great future, it will be impossible to explain why we are so convinced that America is a promised land, and our people are chosen by God to work over creating a better world.”

The belief in God’s chosen people should find not only “imminent” confirmation within the national self-identification model, sometimes arising on a powerful wave of selfinterpretation “methods and sole possession of space information”, but “imminent”can be a very difficult concept, especially if the latter is not recognized by others ethnosubjects and confessional communities. There is only a faith in the special peoples’ mission based on the “dialogue with God”, again if this dialogue took place. As V. Soloviev said: “The idea of a nation is not what it thinks about itself in time, but what God thinks about it in eternity”.

Every nation has two versions of its own historical past: documented and mythologized. In the first case we can point to, for example, the history of European and other sedentary agricultural peoples, and note that is grounded on the historical writings of Thucydides and Geradot.

However, their system and methods are legitimate, from my point of view, only to explain the history of sedentary peoples, with a more or less fixed territory inhabited with a certain class-political, pyramidal control system, etc. - that is, state formations with watchtowers and protected gates. With respect to nomadic peoples, the methodology of Thucydides and Geradot is applicable only in certain fragments, because the history of horse and nomadic states and communities, in general, is a history of more symbols, signs, and a network of organized communities, rather than material evidence of people's livelihoods, including a bibliographic culture, which, of course and unconditionally, constitutes the great heritage of mankind, its experience, work and intellectual curiosity.

The purpose of the Eurasian horse-based nomadic community, which existed until the middle of the 19th century, consisted, among other aspects of the historical mission, to transfer knowledge, skill and other value containers from one civilization center to another; but the “carriers” did not use this knowledge, because they did not need it (another so-called paradox). A very fundamental explanation of the “difficulties of translation” is required here: the paradox is the straitjacket that the world puts on the “anti-world”.

Why are we talking about this today? The inertia of nomadism, just like the Soviet civilizational identity and some religious preferences, plays a fairly large role in shaping the outlook of people in a certain area of Eurasia. The context for the development of all the models of different types of identity mentioned can lead to unpredictable consequences, including the state’s collapse. From my point of view, so far from the known possible identity models, only the Eurasian one can in some way cement the common ideas of some Central Asian peoples about themselves, without constructing a platform of uniformity and monotony.

Today, for the former “nomads”, it’s time to dream about the future, not the past.


This article is a speech of Dr. Muratbek Imanaliyev, the Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (20102012) on the International Conference “National Strategies of Modernization: Achievements and Prospects”, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (15 July 2018, Astana).

Year: 2018
City: Almaty