Monday, March 30, 2009

An Orange Revolution in Russia is impossible

The above is an article by Paul Goble entitled, “An ‘Orange’ Revolution in Russia is Impossible by Definition, Writer Says”

Dimitry Savvin seems to be working from the same body of data that Samuel P. Huntington worked from. He uses some, but not all, of the same terms. While Huntington uses the term “Core State,” Savvin uses the term “Center of Civilization,” and means something different as we shall see.

Savvin differs with Huntington in not seeing much of a problem in regard to Eastern Europe, Russia’s “Near Abroad” switching sides from the Orthodox Center of Civilization to the Western Center of Civilization. They can do that because they are not “centers of civilization,” but Russia cannot do that, not even if it became very small.

“According to Savvin, ‘for some peoples it is natural to be great and for others just the reverse. Even “a small” Russia in the world will play an immeasurably greater role than “greater Albania” or “greater Latvia,’” not in the sense of superiority of the one compared to the other, but rather because of the role some nations have played as centers of a civilization.

“’All nations are representatives of one or another civilization,” he continues, but not all nations are centers of civilizations. There are a few of those and around them are satellites, and the differences between the former and the latter with respect to the possibility of an orange-style revolution are enormous and impassible.
For peoples who are “centers of civilization, nationalism is always based on their own tradition and the essence of that involves the idea of their own development as a center of independent value. For those peoples are satellites, the situation is difference because they follow one center but can shift to another under certain conditions.

“Russia is a center of civilization based on Orthodox Christianity, Savvin argues, while Western civilization is centered on Western Europe, an area that consisted of all the members of NATO as of 1990 minus Turkey. And what has happened since is that the satellites of one cultural center have shifted to be satellites of the other cultural center.”


Here, Huntington’s “Core State” parts company with Savvin’s “Center of Civilization.” The US meets Huntington’s definition of a Core State. It is powerful enough to settle problems in its on “Civilization” or represent its civilization in conflicts or agreements with other civilizations. So I agree with Huntington, but I also agree with Savvin’s definition. The US is not the center of a Civilization, at least not any I would lay claim to. In an earlier note suggesting that Britain might still be a Superpower, I might better have used Savvin’s term and said that Britain was a “Center of Civilization” at least as far as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are concerned.

Savvin leaves the definition of the Western “Center of Civilization” rather hazy. Given Savvin’s concerns it might be better to call them “Centers of Civilization.” Perhaps we can say that Italy, France, Spain, Holland, and the Britain all became “centers” in some way, but is there a sense in which they form a composite “center.” I don’t see it. But if we set that aside and look at Savvin’s concern, i.e., that Russia can never become part of the EU, we might with equal certainty assert that France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Britain could never submerged their “centers of civilization” such that they are a “satellite” of some greater center – or could they. Isn’t that what Brussels would like, one great super-civilization called the EU? .

I doubt that Savvin is too concerned about the creation of a principle that would apply to all civilizations. He is seeing the former USSR fall away piece by piece and he is worried. Perhaps all the pieces will fall away and nothing shall be left. But no, he reassures himself. That is impossible. Russia is a center of civilization. It can never fade away. Still he worries and hopes that Russia shall recover “what some fear it could lose.” I am not sure what this means. Three possibilities occur to me: 1) that it shall recover the commitment of certain satellite countries that are wanting to break away, 2) recover satellite nations that have already broken away, or 3) Recover the confidence that made Russia great in the past. Given the tenor of Savvin’s article, I suspect he has the latter in mind.

No comments: