Ever wondered where the more conservative factions of the Kremlin get their ideas from? The Eurasianists, a Russian political movement developed in the 1920s, considered Russia to be closer to the Asian than to the European category, and opposed the westernization of Russian society. This article from Radio Free Liberty argues that the movement is still alive and well amongst the siloviki in today’s Kremlin, and that its popularity helps to explain the conservative mentality at work behind state intervention in affairs like TNK-BP, Yukos and Mechel, which reject the sanctity of private property:
Eurasianism posits a unique civilizing role for Russia on the world stage and holds as its ideal the creation of a paternalistic, corporatist state, similar to the one Franco built in Spain. But it was the economic program of Eurasianism that attracted the most attention, as it acknowledged the market and “economic pragmatism” but clearly subordinated these concepts to political ends. The Eurasianists do not adhere to the idea of the sanctity of private property, arguing that property cannot be “absolute or abstract, but only relative and concrete.” In addition, Eurasianists hold that property owners do not enjoy absolute freedom to dispose of their property as they see fit, but are instead responsible before society. And the more “socially significant” their property is, the greater the owner’s responsibility and, consequently, the less his or her freedom. In the final analysis, the owner of capital is under the control of society and the state in terms of its ultimate disposition. Looking back at Russia’s development over the last decade, including the redistribution of property and the establishment of numerous state corporations, it is amazing to see how well actual practice in the country corresponds with Eurasianist theory. One only has to recall the strange pronouncements by several oligarchs during the period of the national elections at the end of last year and the beginning of this to the effect that they are ready at any moment to surrender their fortunes if the state demands it.
The leader of the International Eurasianist Movement and the ideologue of neo-Eurasianism, Aleksandr Dugin, was an open supporter first of Vladimir Putin and later of Dmitry Medvedev. Of course, in forcing some oligarchs to emigrate, taking over the assets of Yukos, and gaining control over the huge cash flows of the oil sector, the siloviki had strong, material interests. But the way they acted and the results for Russia and the international community are surprisingly in keeping with the economic teachings of the Eurasianist movement.
Read the full article here.