Chapter 9 - Peter Nikolaevich Savitsky "Eurasia Middle Earth"
9.1 The fate of the Eurasian
Pyotr Nikolayevich Savitsky (1895 1968) is perhaps the first (and only) Russian author who, in the full sense of the word, can be called a geopolitician. He is an economist by education, a student of V. Vernadsky and P. Struve. Before the war he was close to the cadets. After the revolution he emigrated to Bulgaria, then moved to Czechoslovakia. In 1921, together with Prince N.S. Trubetskoy, he led the Eurasian movement, in which geopolitical factors played a central role. It was Savitsky who was most interested in geopolitics from all Eurasians.
The worldview of Savitsky, like most other Eurasians, developed under the influence of the works of the Slavophiles, Danilevsky and especially Leontiev. It was a kind of revolutionary Slavophilism, coupled with the central idea of the peculiarity of the historical identity of the Great Russians, which could not be reduced to either religious or ethnically Slavic essence. In this aspect, they were closest to Konstantin Leontyev, who formulated the most important thesis: "there is Slavdom, there is no Slavism“, that is, ”the ethnic and linguistic affinity of the Slavic peoples is not sufficient reason to speak of their cultural and characteristic unity.” The Eurasian movement in the collection of favorite themes and concepts was surprisingly close to the German conservative revolutionaries. As well as conservative revolutionaries, Eurasians sought to combine fidelity to the origins with a creative impulse for the future, rooted in the Russian national tradition with social modernism, technical development and the politics of non-traditional forms.
Despite the sympathies for the Soviets, which were characteristic not only of the openly pro-Soviet wing of the Eurasians (the Paris circle publishing the newspaper Eurasia), with which Savitsky officially broke off, but also for the most moderate and "conservative" elements. After the capture of Prague by Soviet troops in 1945, Savitsky was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison camps. In the camps, he met with the son of the poet Nikolai Gumilyov Leo, who became his student, and subsequently one of the best modern Russian ethnographers and historians.
In 1956, Savitsky was rehabilitated and returned to Prague, where he died 12 years later.
The main idea of Savitsky is that Russia is a special civilizational formation, determined through the quality of "middle ground." One of his articles “The Geographical and Geopolitical Foundations of Eurasianism” (1933) begins with the words “ Russia has much more reason than China to be called the“ Middle State ”(45).
If the "middle" of Germany, Mittellage, is limited by the European context, and Europe itself is only the "western cape" of Eurasia, then Russia occupies a central position within the entire continent. The “middle ground” of Russia, for Savitsky, is the basis of its historical identity; it is not part of Europe and is not a continuation of Asia. It is an independent world, independent and special spiritual and historical geopolitical reality, which Savitsky calls "Eurasia".
This concept does not mean the mainland and not the continent, but the idea reflected in the Russian space and Russian culture, the historical paradigm, a special civilization. Savitsky from the Russian pole puts forward a concept strictly identical to Mackinder’s geopolitical picture, only the abstract “land robbers” or “centripetal impulses emanating from the geographical axis of history” acquire from him a clearly defined outline of Russian culture, Russian history, Russian statehood, and Russian territory. Savitsky's Russia-Eurasia appears in the same light as Raum Ratzel and, more precisely, Grossraum Schmitt.
If Mackinder believes that a mechanical impulse emanates from the heartland’s deserts, causing the coastal zones (the “inner crescent”) to create culture and history, Savitsky argues that Russia-Eurasia (= Mackinder’s heartland) is a synthesis of world culture and world history, deployed in space and time. Moreover, the nature of Russia participates in its culture.
Savitsky understands Russia geopolitically, not as a nation state, but as a special type of civilization that has developed on the basis of several components of the Aryan-Slavic culture, Turkic nomadism, and Orthodox tradition. All together creates a certain unique, “middle” formation, which is a synthesis of world history.
Savitsky considers Velikorossov not only an offshoot of the Eastern Slavs, but a special imperial ethnic formation, which combines Slavic and Turkic substrates. This moment brings him to the important topic of Turan.
Appeal to Turan as a positive orientation was scandalous for many Russian nationalists. Thus, Savitsky indirectly justified the Mongol-Tara yoke, thanks to which "Russia gained its geopolitical independence and retained its spiritual independence from the aggressive Roman-German world ." This attitude to the Turkic world was intended to sharply separate Russia-Eurasia from Europe and its fate, to justify the ethnic uniqueness of Russians.
Without Tatarism there would be no Russia
This thesis from Savitsky’s article “Steppe and Settlement” (46) was the key formula of Eurasianism. Hence the direct transition to a purely geopolitical statement:
Let's be straightforward: in the space of world history, the West-European sense of the sea, as equal, although polar, is opposed by the only Mongolian sense of the continent; meanwhile, the Russian “explorers”, in the scope of Russian conquests and explorations, have the same spirit, the same sense of the continent. (47)
Russia is the heiress of the Great Khans, the continuer of the affairs of Genghis and Timur, the unifier of Asia. (...) It combines both the historical "settled" and "steppe" elements. (48)
The fundamental duality of the Russian landscape, its division into the Forest and the Steppe was noticed by the Slavophiles. In Savitsky, the geopolitical meaning of Russia-Eurasia appears as a synthesis of these two realities of the European Forest and the Asian Steppe. Moreover, such a synthesis is not a simple superposition of two geopolitical systems on top of each other, but something integral, original, with its own measure and methodology of assessments.
Russia-Eurasia is not reduced entirely to Turan. She is something more. But with regard to Europe, which considers everything beyond its "coastal" consciousness to be "barbarism," the self-qualification of Russians as "bearers of the Mongol spirit" is a provocation, revealing the historical and spiritual superiority of the Eurasians.
In Savitsky’s theory, the concept of “location development” plays a crucial role. This term is an exact analogue of the concept of Raum, as it is interpreted by Ratzel's "political geography" and German geopolitics (+ Chellen) as a whole. This concept reflects the "organism" of the Eurasians, exactly corresponding to the German "organist" school and in sharp contrast with the pragmatism of Anglo-Saxon geopolitics. If Speckman was familiar with Savitsky’s writings, his resentment over “metaphysical nonsense” was even stronger than in the case of Haushofer. So, Savitsky in the text "Geographical Overview of Russia-Eurasia" writes:
The socio-political environment and its territory must merge for us into a single whole, into a geographical individual or landscape. (49)
This is the essence of "location development" in which the objective and subjective merge into an inextricable unity, into something whole. This is a conceptual synthesis. In the same text, Savitsky continues:
Synthesis is necessary. The ability to immediately look at the socio-historical environment and the territory occupied by it is necessary. (50)
In this, Savitsky is close to Vidal de la Blach. Like French geopolitics, who justified France's indivisibility by a cultural type, regardless of the ethnicity of the inhabitants of Alsace-Lor Ren, Savitsky believes that
Russia-Eurasia is"location development", "a single whole", "geographic individual", at the same time geographic, ethnic, economic, historical, etc., etc.,"landscape". (51)
Russia-Eurasia is such a "local development", which is an integral form of existence of many smaller "local development". This is Schmitt's Grossraum, consisting of a whole hierarchy of smaller Raum's.
Through the introduction of the concept of “local development,” Eurasians avoided the positivistic need to analytically split historical phenomena, decomposing them into mechanical systems as applied not only to natural, but also to cultural phenomena. Appeal to "local development", to the "geographical individual" allowed Eurasians to avoid too specific recipes regarding national, racial, religious, cultural, linguistic, ideological problems. Intuitively felt by all the inhabitants of the "geographical axis of history", geopolitical unity thus acquired a new language, "synthetic", not reducible to inadequate, fragmented, analytical concepts of Western rationalism.
This also showed the continuity of the Savitsky Russian intellectual tradition, which always gravitated toward the conception of “wholeness”, “collegiality”, “all-unity”, etc.
A very important aspect of the theory of Savitsky is the principle of "ideocracy." Savitsky believed that the Eurasian state should be built, starting from the initial spiritual impulse, from top to bottom. Consequently, its entire structure must be built up in accordance with the a priori Idea, and a special class of "spiritual leaders" should be at the head of this structure. This position is very close to Schmitt’s theories about the “strong-willed”, “spiritual” impulse that are at the origins of the emergence of Grossraum.
Ideocracy presupposed the primacy of a non-pragmatic, intangible and non-commercial approach to government. According to Savitsky, the advantage of a “geographical personality” lies in the ability to rise above material necessity, organically incorporating the physical world into a single spiritual and creative impulse of global historical work.
Ideocracy is a term that unites all forms of undemocratic, illiberal rule based on non-materialistic and non-utilitarian motivations. Moreover, Savitsky consciously avoids clarifying this concept, which can be embodied in theocratic collegiality, and in the people's monarchy, and in the national dictatorship, and in the party state of the Soviet type. Such a breadth of the term corresponds to the purely geopolitical horizons of Eurasianism, which encompass huge historical and geographical volumes. This is an attempt to most accurately express the intuitive will of the continent.
Obviously, ideocracy is directly opposed to the pragmatic-commercial approach that dominated the doctrines of Mackinder, Mahan, and Speakman. Thus, the Russian Eurasians brought to the final clarity the ideological terms in which the historical confrontation of the Sea and Sushi was manifested. Sea liberal democracy, "trading system", pragmatism. The land is an ideocracy (of all varieties), "hierarchical rule", the dominance of a religious ideal.
Savitsky’s views on ideocracy resonate with the ideas of the German sociologist and economist Werner Sombart, who divided all social models and types into two general classes of “heroes” and “traders”. At the geopolitical level, the term “hero”, “heroism” loses its metaphorical, pathetic meaning and becomes a technical term for the legal and ethical specifics of ideocratic rule.
9.6 USSR and Eurasianism
The role of Peter Savitsky and, more broadly, Russian Eurasianism in the development of geopolitics as a science is enormous. And it is strange how little attention is paid to this direction in Western textbooks. In Savitsky, we have a completely conscious, responsible and competent geopolitician who fully and reasonably expresses heartland’s position, starting from the most deep-seated Russian regions of it. Savitsky’s geopolitical doctrine is a direct antithesis to the views of Mahan, Mackinder, Speakman, Vidal de la Blach and other "thalassocrats." Moreover, only in this case we are talking about a complete and detailed presentation of an alternative doctrine that examines in detail ideological, economic, cultural and ethnic factors. If we use the terminology of Karl Schmitt, then Savitsky and Eurasians are the spokesmen of the "Nomos of the Earth"in its current state, the successive ideologists of the “Tellurocracy,” the thinkers of Grossraum, an alternative to the Anglo-Saxon Grossraum.
A comparison of the ideas of Russian Eurasians with the theories of German geopolitical continentalists (Haushofer, Schmitt, etc.), who also tried to build their own geopolitical theory as an antithesis of the Sea Force strategy, shows that the Germans have only half the way, and among Russians (primarily Savitsky) we are dealing with a complete and consistent, full-fledged picture of the world. In this sense, a certain law can be deduced: "The closer the views of the German continentalists to Russian Eurasianism, the more fully they accept the Ostorientierung, the more consistent and logical their doctrines, the more effective are their political projects created on a geopolitical basis."
In this sense, the closest to Savitsky were the German national Bolsheviks, in particular Ernst Nikisch, who were well aware of the duality of the geopolitical position of Germany, whose "middle" is relative and secondary compared to the absolute cultural and continental "middle" of the Russians. From this they concluded that Germany cannot claim the role of geopolitical synthesis, that it must make a choice between southwestern, Slavophobic, Catholic and, in some aspects, thalassocratic (bourgeois) Germany (together with Austria) and north German-Slavic, Socialist, Russophile, Protestant and Spartan Prussia. Nikish belongs to the famous geopolitical thesis "Europe from Vladivostok to Flessin ha",and only such an approach on the part of the Germans harmoniously fits into the consistent continental Eurasianism. Naturally, the line of the Austrian Catholic, anti-communist and Slavophobic Hitler, no matter how trying to correct it, some much more historically responsible conservative revolutionaries and geopolitics could not but lead to the fact that Germany lost its historical existence for a long time as a result of a nightmare defeat inflicted by precisely those forces , an “eternal union” with which the Germans could only ensure complicity in the world domination of tellurocracy.
In a geopolitical sense, Soviet reality largely coincided with the concepts of Savitsky and other Eurasians, although there is no reliable data on their direct influence on the Soviet leadership. In many respects, the Smekhovekhists and national Bolsheviks close to the Eurasianists, especially Nikolai Ustryalov, clearly influenced the Bolsheviks and especially Stalin, although they never held high posts and often ended their lives in camps. Part of the Eurasians Efron, Karsavin, etc. openly collaborated with the USSR, but also did not receive gratitude. However, an analysis of Soviet foreign policy right up to the beginning of perestroika leads to the conclusion that it constantly followed the Eurasian course, never declaring it openly.
And here you can only make assumptions: either there was some unknown organization within the Soviet regime that was guided by Savitsky's ideas, adapting them to current political realities and clothed in the official “Marxist” vocabulary, or the objective position of heartland forced the USSR to do those inertia the steps that the geopolitically conscious continental state of Eurasia should have taken.