Libmonster ID: KZ-1846
Author(s) of the publication: Vladimir MAXIMENKO

General Director Strategic Culture Foundation

In commemoration of P. N. Savitsky

In 2005 we celebrate the 110 anniversary of Pyotr Nikolaevich Savitsky (1895 - 1968), an outstanding Russian geographer, economist, historian, political philosopher, and a central figure in the Eurasian realm of Russian philosophy. At present Russian Eurasianism is largely associated with the works of P. N. Savitsky.

* * *

Savitsky wrote that the historical mission of the Russian-Eurasianist circle, which declared itself in 1921, was "an attempt of a creative reaction of the Russian national identity to the accomplished fact of the Russian revolution" (2, p. 369).

It is this reaction to the revolutionary catastrophe, which destroyed the Russian empire and eliminated the former ruling social stratum, that constitutes the current importance of the

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Euroasian heritage. Definitely, the Russian-Eurasian idea is congenial to the contemporary Russian national identity, for which the demise of the Soviet super-power has been "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century" (V. V. Putin, Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, 2005).

The sharpness of "the historical spasm" (3, p. 4), which separated the two epochs, made P. N. Savitsky and the scholars from his circle focus on the task of overcoming this break and restoring the succession of the Russian statehood with its ten-century-long historical tradition. The Euroasianists' role was to "realize Russia's cultural and historical originality" (1, p. 85).

Deeply convinced that "the Russian revolution has put an end to Russia as a part of Europe" and "disclosed the nature of Russia as an independent historical entirety" (1, p. 101), P. N. Savitsky wrote that "Russia is a continent in itself, which is in a certain sense equal to Europe. In a certain sense, Russia is becoming the ideological focus of the world" (3, p. 3).

The Russian-Eurasian idea evolved and was formed as a Pax Rossica idea. People of fundamental scientific backgrounds and ranging intellectual interests, Eurasianists were absolutely free of any national chauvinism. "These days it is our gate that history choose to knock on", they wrote in the foreword to "Enoia e Ainoieo" (The Oriental Exodus) in 1921, at the peak of devastation in Russia and the communists' sharp turn to the new economic politics. "It is not in order to create some kind of a zoological "self-determination", but to let Russia, with its toil and heroism, unfold a great pan-human truth for the world, as did the greatest nations of the past and the present" (1, p. 4).

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Establishing the framework of Russia's cultural and historical originality has been a traditional "Russian problem" at least since the Slavophil epoch. Witnessing the grand catastrophes of the 20th century and the triumph of bolshevism in Russia, the Eurasianists "followed the Slavophils in proclaiming the independent value of the Russian national element" (3, p. 5), but could not merely limit themselves to repeating what had already been said in the past. They developed their own "way of posing the Russian problem" (3, p. 4) - a synthesis of the latest natural science accomplishments from the 1870s to the early 1900s and the religious culture of the Russian Orthodoxy.

Being the first to perform such a synthesis in a public medium, Eurasianists complemented this construct with a theory of the "government selection", which is "a selection of individuals fit for public and state activities", united by the same way of thinking, and recognizing a "citizenship of the idea". This body of people was to be reinforced "continuously by new resources" from the nation in the interests of "continuity and stability of the social system" (2, p. 377).

The direct precursors of the Eurasianists include N. Y. Danilevskii with his theory of the "culture-historical types" (civilizations), with which he was several decades ahead of O. Schpengler and A. Toynbee (4), V. V. Dokuchaev, founder of the soil science, V. I. Lamansky, who considered the Old World (the Euro-Asian mainland) to consist of "three worlds", and D. I. Mendeleev, a scientific genius and the author of "E iiciaie? ?innee" (Understanding Russia), a fundamental treatise, the centenary of which will be celebrated in 2006 (5).

The main result of the Eurasian integration of data from geography, economy, comparative linguistics, sociology, and other

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fields of knowledge (reaching as far as music studies) was expressed by Savitsky in 1933 in the following several lines: "Eurasianists perceive the Russian world as a particular one from the geographic, linguistic, historical, economic, and many other viewpoints. This is a "third formation" of the Old World, a constituent neither of Europe nor of Asia. It is distinct from them and at the same time comparable to them. Eurasianists regard Russia-Eurasia as a "symphonic personality". They proclaim the continuity of its existence. It lives in the USSR as well, even though it does not realize it existence in it". (1, P. 99)

* * *

P. N. Savitsky believed that a "self-destruction of socialism by means of a communist experience" was to occur in the Russian revolution (1, p. 66). This is exactly what happened, but in the 1980s and the 90s instead of the 20s and the 30s: looking beyond the confines of its epoch, the Eurasian historical philosophy predicted the (self-) destruction of the USSR.

However, the significance of the Russian-Eurasian cause is by no means limited to the negative forecast already proven by the past history.

Finding no "other words" to describe the bolshevism, which prevailed in Russia, than "the words of horror and repulsion", the Eurasianists still had the courage to claim that "thanks to the question about the very essence of the existing, which was posed fearlessly by the Bolsheviks, thanks to their unprecedented daring and grand scale, "things were clarified which" would have remained unclear for a long time "in the epochs of peaceful developments" (3, p. 6).

Savitsky wrote in 1922: "Russia is escaping from the framework of the European culture, it is dropping out of it. There was a time

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when the distance between Russia and Europe made people call it "underdeveloped". Now, in the basic and most significant aspects, it is not "underdevelopment" that has to be discussed, but a separation of the planes in which Russia and Europe evolve, a separation and a contrast of the Russian and European destinies" (1, p. 118).

This is the most important of all that we owe to the Eurasianists - a scientific validation of the fact that Russia and Europe evolve in "different planes". Among other reasons, this validation was made possible by an adequate choice of the methodological concept. In his book " Степь и оседлость " (Steppe and Residency) (1922), P. N. Savitsky formulated this concept in the following manner: "The historical destiny and the geographic nature of the Old World must be considered as an entirety. This perception establishes a contrast between the "peripheral, seaside" areas of the Old World in the East (China), South (India and Iran), and West (Mediterranean and Western Europe) vs. the "central world". This contrast serves to clarify the mechanics of the Old World history in the last millenniums" (1, p. 332).

Obviously, this was the concept expressed in various forms in 1904, 1919, and 1943 by H. J. MacKinder, founder of the British geopolitics ("the rotation" of "peripheral seaside" worlds of the Old Mainland, including Europe, around "the geographic axis of history", namely Russia/ the USSR), and also developed by K. Haushofer, a major theorist of the German geopolitics, in the time interval between the two World Wars. It is hard to find a more convincing evidence of the significance of an outstanding historical and geopolitical concept, than its simultaneous advocation by scholars from Great Britain, Germany, and Russia.

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* * *

Eurasianism was a "historical intention" and a model of strategic thinking. This explains the profound influence of the "Orthodox idea of a transfiguration of the world" on the entire Russo-Eurasianist circle (1, p. 28). As Eurasianists wrote in "Опыт систематического изложения'"An Experience of a Systematic Exposition' in 1926, "The Orthodoxy does not accept the rationalistic separation of faith and works, recognizing only the belief, accompanied by love, "the living faith", which manifests itself in a whole vital activity. This also follows from... the Orthodox interpretation of the truth as a concrete truth of the Collegium" (1, p. 27, 33).

Eurasianists emphasized that "the intense Europisation" of Russia in the imperial epoch resulted in "profound distortions of the Russian mentality" (1, p. 37). This process culminated in the loss of the national identity by the imperial "governing selection" and the emergence of an "enormous gap" between the ruling social stratum and its nation. "The ruling stratum (the government and the intelligentsia) paid a high price for their European training, which was necessary for the survival of Russia, since Europe was technically more advanced and was a peril to it. This stratum got so Europeanized that it almost lost its Russian spirit, though it never got the European one instead. The communist diabolism came to Russia as a conclusion of a more than 200-year-long period of its Europisation" (1, p. 46, 89).

* * *

As early as in 1919, two years prior to the formation of the Eurasian movement, P. N. Savitsky, then a 24-year-old serviceman of Denikin's Volunteer Army, published a brochure entitled "Очерки международных отношений" (Essays on International

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Relations) in the city of Ekaterinburg. Being a true geopolitical masterpiece, this work, which was not bigger in volume than a journal paper, proposed an extremely universal formula of the Russian foreign politics ("the continental guarantees and the oceanic balance").

Evaluating the Paris Peace Conference, which was taking place at that time, the author of the essay wrote: "To ensure the stability of historical decisions concerning the international politics, these decisions must be a result of the interaction of all the actual forces, capable to play an international role at the given historical moment. The Vienna Congress must be credited with finding the resultant of all of such forces at its time. Now, those in the international tribunal who wish to be the decision-makers and "divide the world" ignoring certain absolutely real forces in the international community solely because these forces were against them in the war or currently find themselves in a state of a domestic unrest, will, in all likelihood, have the trouble of seeing their expectations not come true" (1, p. 384).

In a way, the works of P. N. Savitsky constitute a gradual development of the idea, which he expressed in the fourth of the essays, entitled "Сердце мировой истории". (The Heart of the Global History). One should not think that the "Unified Great Russia" is a slogan belonging to the White Army exclusively, he wrote. It is true that the White Army has "the moral priority with respect to this appeal" and that the Soviets "openly abdicated from it with their Brest Peace Deal", but as soon as the German peril was over, in practice "the Soviets started to adhere to the same principle. One can be positive (this was written in 1919) that in

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case the Soviets defeated Kolchak and Denikin, they would unify the entire space of the former Russian Empire. This is the essence of the great-power character of the living nations - they remain great-power nations despite all the zigzags of their history" (1, p. 390).

P. N. Savitsky wrote that the outcome of the struggle between the nationalist and the Soviet parties will be "of great significance" in a different respect, namely, from the viewpoint of choosing the way of Russia's economic development. In case the Bolsheviks win, "the result of the development would be the same, but the way to it would be indirect", which is "a violation of the principle of saving up historical forces." Instead of the "recognition of private property evolving towards the understanding of the necessity of its reform", it would be "a hate of property evolving towards its recognition" (1, p. 391 - 392). Furthermore, "the Russian nation resolves this issue in a Civil War not just for oneself, but for the entire Europe as well, or maybe even for the whole world. Thus, in a certain sense, the Russian nation happens to be ahead of the West" (1, p. 392).

* * *

P. N. Savitsky believed that his ideas will be useful to the future Russian rule, the one that will take charge after the communists. All of his works share the same task: to demonstrate "Russia's role as that of a territorial "center" of the Old World and an interface of the "economic Europe" and the "economic Asia", as that of "Eurasia" not only in the global historical and cultural sense, but in the sense of economic-geography as well" (1, p. 339).

In his 1933 paper entitled "Евразийство как исторический замысел" (Eurasianism as a Historical Intention) he wrote: "Our time witnesses the establishment of giant economic alliances,

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"continent-states" spanning large spaces and providing for the unobstructed and stable economic activity within their confines. This tendency also manifests itself outside Eurasia. Due to its geographic character and history, the latter is an ideal example of a "continent state". Geography, history, and the needs of the contemporary life altogether prohibit its partition. The Eurasianists interpret Russia as a "collegium of nations". In their mind, the political unification of this enormous territory is a result of the efforts of not just the Russian nation, but many nations of Eurasia. An area of independent state life must be provided for every Eurasian nation in the framework of the Eurasian political unity" (1, p. 110).

The last paper in "Исход к Востоку" is P. N. Savitsky's "Континент-океан (Россия и мировой рынок)" (Continent - Ocean (Russia and the Global Market). In this paper, the only possible solution of the problem of Russia's integration into the global economy is proposed, using its competitive advantages of a country located at the center of "the circle of continental lands. "

Considering the difference between railroad and marine transportation tariffs and providing a precise quantitative assessment of Russia's "continentality", P. N. Savitsky wrote that "inevitably, the global economy appears to be "an oceanic one". Consequently, the only way for Russia-Eurasia not to become "an outskirt of the global economy" is to deliberately apply the "concept of using continental neighborhoods" as a counterforce to the "oceanic" principle of international exchange. To this end, it should establish its own "conglomerate of economically complimentary separate adjacent areas of the continental world, whose evolution would be determined by their interrelation" (1, p. 398 - 419).

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* * *

"The Russian history is accomplished on the territory of Russia" (1, p. 13). This is a law. Having to live in emigration, the people of the Russo-Eurasianist circle could not make their grand project become a part of the severe 20-th century Russian history. "Only now it finally transpired that the Eurasianist point of view is the only acceptable one for anyone who wishes to influence the developments in Russia" (2, p. 372). P. N. Savitsky wrote this in 1933 - but he was wrong. However, this mistake might mean that the materialization of the Russian-Eurasian idea took more time and required a combination of circumstances different from the one that was historically available to the first Eurasianists. And we dare to suppose that the establishment of a Russian-Eurasian "government selection" is not a matter of the past, but that of the present and the future.


1 П. Н. Савицкий. Континент Евразия. М.: Аграф. - 1977.

2 Русский узел евразийства. Восток в русской мысли. Сборник трудов евразийцев. М.: Беловодье, 1977.

3 Исход к Востоку. Предчувствия и свершения. Утверждение евразийцев. София: Типография "Балканъ", 1921.

4 V. V. Rozanov wrote that "the idea of the culture-historical types is grand, simple, and indisputable. This simple idea means that there are different trees in a garden, and that every tree grows in its own way and can be this way or another depending on the seeds that have been sown". Н. Я. Данилевский. Россия и Европа. Взгляд на культурные и политические отношения славянского мира к германо-романскому. М.: Изд-во "Известия". - 2003, с. 8).

5 As noted by D. I. Mendeleev, "Our country is of a purely continental character more than any other major one... In this respect, Russia is more than any other country a heartland stardom, interested in the evolution of the international relations and in directing it". (Д. И. Менделеев. К познанию России. - М.: Айрис-пресс, 2002, с. 216).


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