Autonomy v. Sobornost’

Vladimir Putin recently shocked a lot of people with an unscripted denunciation of Lenin. This should not have come as such a surprise. Although Western commentators often describe Putin as an ex-KGB agent keen to restore the Soviet Union, in reality he has repeatedly made it clear that he regards communism as a failed model of development which brought Russia mostly harm. You can’t be a fan of both Ivan Ilyin and Lenin.

What interests me is the specific reason Putin gave for denouncing the former Soviet leader. According to Interfax (with a little help in translation from my research assistant Oxana):

Vladimir Putin spoke sharply about the ideas and actions of Vladimir Lenin in an exchange with Mikhail Kovalchuk … who recited Boris Pasternak’s poem ‘High disease’,  in which the author analyzed the October Revolution. The poem went: «As I saw him in waking life, I thought, I thought, I thought endlessly what right did he have to be so bold and speak on everyone’s behalf».

«The answer was: he ruled the minds and through them, he ruled the country», continued the poem, which Kovalchuk used to suggest that academia should be able to rule the minds in particular areas.

«I agree that minds should be managed. The important thing here is to make sure that these ideas yield good results, as opposed to what Vladimir Lenin ended up with. Because at the end of the day, these ideas led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. There were a lot of ideas like autonomy, etc. They laid an atomic bomb under the building named Russia and it went off. And suddenly no need for any world revolution. That was the extent of Lenin’s management of ideas» — said Vladimir Putin as a closing remark of the meeting.

It is clear from this that Putin blames the collapse of the Soviet Union on the federal system introduced by Lenin after the revolution. In Putin’s eyes, it seems, Russia is rightly a multinational but unitary state. The loss of Ukraine and other former Soviet republics is highly regrettable, and the concept of ‘autonomy’ is to blame.

Now compare this to a speech given by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko on 22 January to mark Unity Day (Den’ sobornosti). In his speech Poroshenko said,

Sobornost’, dear compatriots, is a unitary state structure. It is a categorical prohibition of the import of ideas of federalism which are destructive and unacceptable for Ukraine. Sobornost’, at the end of the day, is when at the decisive moment of colossal trials, like now, right and left, conservatives and liberals, cosmopolitans and nationalists, put behind them any type of ‘ism’ which divides them, and stand side by side for the sake of Ukraine.

As a historian, I find his emphasis on sobornost’ curious. Poroshenko claims to lead a government dedicated to Westernization. But sobornost’ is the essence of Slavophilism, which is normally seen as standing in direct opposition to Westernization. The concept’s originators, Ivan Kireevsky and Aleksey Khomiakov, viewed sobornost’  as encapsulating the sense of spiritual community which supposedly distinguishes collective-minded Russians from individualistic, atomized Westerners. If sobornost’ really is the quality which Poroshenko seeks for Ukraine, he’s not actually a Westernizer at all.

And, then there is Poroshenko’s statement about federalism. We are often told that Ukraine has made a ‘civilizational choice’ to reject Russia and Putin, and all that they supposedly stand for. In fact, it seems as if Putin and Poroshenko are in absolute accord about what a state should look like.

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34 thoughts on “Autonomy v. Sobornost’”

  1. Poroshenko is an imbecile. He probably doesn’t even know what the word “sobornost” means. He probably thinks it means “Ukraine for Ukrainians” like under Stepan Bandera. In other words, “Our people are the best, so kill all the others and take their stuff.”

    Somehow, despite his ghastly gaffe, I doubt if Putin is the Russian equivalent of Poroshenko. People used to joke that the Russian nationalists like Navalny wanted to see a “mighty unitary Russian state” stretching all the way from Novgorod to Pskov. No Chechens, or Tajiks or Tatars, or Finno-Ugrics, or any of those other pesky national minorities. What with their incessant demands for autonomies and such-like.

    I wonder what Kadyrov would have to say about such a scenario- heh
    heh!

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    1. ” People used to joke that the Russian nationalists like Navalny wanted to see a “mighty unitary Russian state” stretching all the way from Novgorod to Pskov. No Chechens, or Tajiks or Tatars, or Finno-Ugrics, or any of those other pesky national minorities. “

      Right – see Latynina’s bright ideaos about what parts of Russia should be separated and what should be left in the “Proper Russia”.

      Oh, and all thos Gusskiye Nationalists are long past their “From Novgorod to Pskov” phase, yalensis. Now its “From Biryulovo to Bibiryovo” 😉

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  2. Putin’s attitude to federalisation and his opinion on how the Bolsheviks dealt with federalisation of parts of the Russian state in 1917 should be seen as two separate things. The historical context is key as well: the Russian empire in 1917 was in a weak position because it was fighting a war against Germany and its allies (Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires) and losing badly thanks to Tsar Nicholas II’s mismanagement; and the Bolsheviks were attracting attention because among other things they were promising to get Russia out of the war if they came to power. Once they did come to power in late 1917, they concluded a treaty with Germany to end Russia’s participation in World War I and the terms of that treaty (the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk) included recognising the independence of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

    So it may be that Putin objected not to federalisation per se but the way in which the Bolsheviks were compelled to allow federalisation in the western parts of the former Russian empire on terms that favoured Germany and not Russia or the subject peoples of the western parts of the Russian empire. This could be what he referred to when he mentioned “autonomies”.

    Incidentally he was in favour of federalisation in Ukraine in this interview he gave to a German TV channel in Vladivostok in November 2014:
    http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/47029

    Here is an excerpt from the interview where Putin brings up the issue of federalisation:

    ” … Ukraine is a complex country, and not only due to its ethnic composition, but also from the point of view of its formation as it stands today.

    Is there a future and what will it be like? I think there certainly is. It is a large country, a large nation with the population of 43–44 million people. It is a large European country with a European culture..

    You know, there is only one thing that is missing. I believe, what is missing is the understanding that in order to be successful, stable and prosperous, the people who live on this territory, regardless of the language they speak (Hungarian, Russian, Ukrainian or Polish), must feel that this territory is their homeland. To achieve that they must feel that they can realise their potential here as well as in any other territories and possibly even better to some extent. That is why I do not understand the unwillingness of some political forces in Ukraine to even hear about the possibility of federalisation.

    We’ve been hearing lately that the question at issue should be not federalisation but decentralisation. It is all really a play on words. It is important to understand what these notions mean: decentralisation, federalisation, regionalisation. You can coin a dozen other terms. The people living in these territories must realise that they have rights to something, that they can decide something for themselves in their lives …”

    Here Putin favours a federalisation policy because he believes it will serve the needs of the myriad peoples living in Ukraine to preserve their cultural identities and languages and also help to keep Ukraine together. It’s not so much the idea of federalisation versus a unitary state that is the issue, it is what federalisation is meant to serve, what the ultimate aims are, that is the issue.

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    1. Also worth noting is early 90s Yeltsin’s call to Russia’s federal subjects – “take as much sovereignty (sooverinitet) as you can carry”. Which earrily echoes the same calls made by early post-October Bolsheviks all too keen on granting “independence” to already sperated territories, while blaming everything on “Velikorusskiy shovinizm”, naively hoping that the “class solidarity” will result in socialist revolutions in that countries and their re-union with the Soviet State in the long short run.

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    2. You say Russia was loosing badly in 1917 and the Tsar mismanaged.
      That is what western-oriented established historians, are assuring us.
      But the truth is, Germany was hit much harder, while Russia needed a much lower draft percentage. ~8% for Russia vs 25% for Germany.
      The real reason for what happened in 1917 was that Russia under the tsar was in shape for taking the straits through Constantinopel.
      http://orientalreview.org/2012/10/17/episode-8-the-great-odd-war-iv/
      And Britain prevented that by unleashing the february revolution where the tsar was removed from power. There weren’t many loyal key politicians, rather treasonous freemasons doing Britains bidding.
      Britain had already deliberately lost at Gallipoli.
      https://firstworldwarhiddenhistory.wordpress.com/category/gallipoli/
      That in order to prevent a separate peace on the eastern front, by giving the russians false hope that the british really would allow the straits to them(the main reason Britain was able to drag Russia into the war in the first place.)

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  3. As I understand it sobornost is a primarily sociological and spiritual term, related to concepts such as “asabiya” (Arabic) and social cohesion (English). It has no bearing on specific political structures be they federal or unitary; indeed, having appeared before the modern nation-state, it cannot be otherwise.

    Ukrainians, like Belorussians, are a sub-ethnos of the Russian nation. One “alternative history” I like to give to illustrate this point is if after the French Revolution, instead of suppressing them – in some cases, ruthlessly so – the French were to have promoted the idea of “brother nations” such as the Vendée, Alsace, Brittany, etc. After all, back then, some of the French dialects were mutually unintelligible to an even greater extent than Russian/Ukrainian. And then when the Germans were to defeat France in 1871, those “brother nations” would decide that they were not brothers after all – Parisian to the gallows! – and secede en masse, and claim they had always been their own separate ancient nations and in fact founded Paris in the first place anyway.

    Just because you want to be a federalist state doesn’t mean your “subjects” will likewise want to replicate it at their level. And if/when you weaken, they will make their true feelings bluntly known to you. Ukraine might be a failed and incompetent state in many ways, but to their credit, the svidomites at least understand the basics of ethnic politics, unlike the cretinous proponents of “multinationality” in the USSR and now the Resource Federation.

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    1. There is essentially 2 effective ways for ethnic politics: 1) Genocide 2) Autonomy with strong ties to center and slow assimilation.

      Anything in between is going to blow up sooner rather than later. Though there is always a chance of those two blowing up as well. Such are the laws of ethnic contact.

      Anyway it is nice to see someone openly advocating genocide for a change.

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  4. Russia is a federal state. My own preference is for as much local autonomy as possible, Switzerland being, in this modern world, the best model.

    The way I understand the Putin’s comment in question – the way I choose to understand it – is as a rejection of Lenin’s ‘nazionalnaya politika’ (which is, I think, very similar to liberal ‘identity politics’), with its emphasis on specifically ethnic self-governing, ethnic autonomy, ethnic solidarity. Bolshevik-led ‘ukrainization’ would be an example. Ethnic nationalism is a road to hell.

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      1. Well, it sure ‘works’ in the sense that it’s a great tool for stirring up troubles; to divide, dis-unite, create hatred and infighting.

        And it’s so flexible, it’s practically limitless: virtually any subgroup can be defined as an ‘identity’; any minor cultural quirk will do, any irrelevant detail. And infighting ensues…

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      2. It’s worth noting that the one country in Africa that is ethnically homogeneous compared to all other African countries is Somalia, or whatever remains of Somalia after Somaliland and possibly Puntland broke away. Ethnic nationalism didn’t keep the Somalis together.

        The problem with ethnic nationalism which Mao Cheng Ji alludes to when he says it is a road to hell is that it can become a tool of political repression and conformity. Anyone who disagrees with particular government policy programs or direction can be accused of being un-XXXX and becomes vulnerable to arrest or lynching. Over time the enforced political conformity becomes a source of instability, especially if the government starts to make mistakes and is discredited as a result.

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    1. Well, Lenin wasn’t exactly some hippy-dippy “do you own thing” type promoting “identity politics”.in the vein of, say, “I am a left-handed gay Italian, so I deserve my own autonomy” or something like that.

      The Bolshevik “nationalities policy” was something that was very much worked out over years and even decades leading up to the Great War (WWI). And it wasn’t just the Bolsheviks who cared about this, the entire International Socialist movement was onboard believing that SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE about, say, the Balkans. In fact, at the end of WWI, even the imperialists themselves (like, American President Wilson) coopted some of the socialist ideas about “self-determination of nations”, and built the League of Nations based on these principles (supposedly). This was a BIG EFFINIG DEAL, not something frivolous, like today’s Identity Politics. It resonates even today. Three little words: The Kurdish people.

      And by the way, during WWI Lenin had to witness I don’t know how many cases of good “internationalist” socialists, formerly his comrades, suddenly turning into nationalists, going “Rah Rah War!” and supporting their own governments, even governments which they had been previously trying to overthrow. Vladimiry Ilyich Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg and the other “internatinalist stalwarts” were very disheartened by the war fervor which developed and split the socialist movement into competing nationalities.

      Upon coming to power in Russia, Lenin and the “internationalists” had a chance to apply their theories (of nationalities politics and self-determination) into practice, using the former Russian Empire as their canvas. And they built a fairly solid and powerful federation of nations which lasted 70 years and sent the first man into space. Not a bad achievement.

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      1. Powerful and solid?
        Only as long as people had faith in the CPSU.
        When it disappeared, the federation did also cease to exist.

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      2. Look, I don’t necessarily contrast ethnic nationalism with internationalism. Internationalism is an ideal; a more feasible, and perfectly legitimate substitute is the communal spirit, communal solidarity, patriotism, unrelated to ethnicity. I’m against essentializing ethnicity, and I don’t believe in “the Kurdish people”.

        As far as I’m concerned, you could have a federal Ukrainian republic within the USSR, with Crimea inside it – but as an administrative political unit, not as the material essence of ethnic Ukrainian identity.

        Your ethnicity, much like your religion, is your private, personal matter. Allowing it in the realm of politics is dangerous. Deliberately politicizing is, as Lenin did, undermined Russia, a multi-ethnic country. Undermined, idiomatically speaking, as with an atomic bomb laid under the foundation, just as Mr. Putin said.

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      3. …”the Kurdish people”, by the way, just in Iraq, are divided into the the Barzani clan, the Talabani clan, and who knows what else, and fighting each-other like there is no tomorrow.

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  5. “The answer was: he ruled the minds and through them, he ruled the country», continued the poem, which Kovalchuk used to suggest that academia should be able to rule the minds in particular areas.

    «I agree that minds should be managed.

    Dear Oxana is mistranslating here. In original it’s:

    “”Ответ такой: он управлял течением мысли и только потому – страной”, – продолжил Ковальчук, предложив и в научной среде “найти такие организации, которые должны управлять течением мысли в конкретных направлениях”.

    “Управлять течением мысли это правильно…”

    More correct translation would be “he steered the flow of the thought process”. I.e – he wasn’t not mind-controlling the Soviet people (no, despite their similarity Lenin wasn’t Yuriy from Red Alert 2) – here Pasternak evokes an old trope of the Russian Golden Age literature, about a poet/writer, being a “властитель дум” (“lord of thoughts”) of the people, because, as everybody knows it ™, “a poet in Russia is much more than just a poet”.

    Here translation attributes thus to Putin claim, that people should be simply brainwashed.

    Next – the use of “и только потому – страной” here is just a poetic (for the sake of balance and rhyme) replacement of “потом”(then), which makes the whole verse mean – Lenin placed on the first place the steering of people’s thoughts, and the rule of the country – only on the second.

    “And suddenly no need for any world revolution”

    This is too bad, Oxana. Putin says nothing like that. His actual words:

    “И мировая революция нам не нужна была.”

    And we didn’t need a World Revolution. I’ve told previously in comments to a different post here, on Irrussianality, that some mistranslations done by the Westerners serve a purpose to mangle and corrupt the original meaning of the Russian text which might even serve their purposes. What’s Oxana’s purpose here? Or I shouldn’t prescribe to a malignancy what could be easily attributed to incompetence?

    “Now compare this to a speech given by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko on 22 January to mark Unity Day (Den’ sobornosti).”

    Quite a large number of Kievans, apparently, have trouble remembering what kind of holiday is that, or what sobor (cathedral) does it honors.

    “If sobornost’ really is the quality which Poroshenko seeks for Ukraine, he’s not actually a Westernizer at all.

    […]
    […]
    […]

    Quelle surprise! 🙂

    What there were people actually thinking that Poroshenko the oligarch is a “Westernizers”?

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    1. Translation is about more than literal accuracy, but also about rendering things into something which reads smoothly and naturally in the language into which something is translated, which I think is done well here.

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      1. However, some telling nuances get left out. “We did not need a [the?] world revolution” contains a specificity that the more generalized “no need for a world revolution” doesn’t. Also raises the question of who exactly are the “we” being referenced.

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      2. Paul, the part of the translation rephrasing Putin’s reaction to Pasternak’s famous words is not only literally inaccurate but is almost sinister – and can easily be understood as saying the opposite of what Putin meant to say. He was talking about the need for a leader of a nation to have a moral compass/political capital/mandate; to be able to inspire. The translator turned this sentiment into ‘managing the minds’ making Putin sound cynical and manipulative. I urge you to correct it.

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    2. Also raises the question of who exactly are the “we” being referenced.

      Given the context, I’d wager a theory that… Russia. 🙂

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  6. As far as the Kurds go, Syrian Kurds (who are very leftist, YPG is outright Marxist) and Iraqi Kurds (who are pretty “normal” middle eastern Clan based feudalists) are pretty drat different indeed.

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    1. “Kurd” or “Ukrainian” is just an ethnicity: the dialect, religious practice, song, dance, food recipe. Any ethnic group contains people of all walks of life: marxists, feudalists, liberals… Same, I’m sure, is true of ‘Syrian Kurds’: some are leftists, some are religious or ethno-centric fundamentalists, some are right-libertarians. Most, probably, apolitical.

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      1. Well, if some Kurd (in Germany) tells me his is from Syria, or says from “Rojava” I can, with high degrees of confidence, assume that he has some pretty leftist/progressive positions. I would not in the least assume this from a Kurd hailing from Iraq, Iran or Turkey.

        There are pretty considerable differences between Syrian and Iraqi Kurds (probably more so then between people from Lviv and Donbass for example).

        This is to an extent stereotyping (there are Syrian Kurds fighting for ISIS; some of them in pretty high positions, and ISIS explicitly paints itself as being above ethnic divisions, as long as you are a Sunni-Wahabi, they dont care if you happen to be Martian.) , but it is a thing.

        The Syrian Kurds also have a pretty gender egalitarian streak (for what its worth, early travellers remarked that Kurdish Women were often not veiled and participated in feasts, festivities and occassionally in battle, meaning that their gender roles were more Eastern European or Central Asian then middle eastern), which is considerably less pronounced in Iraqi and Iranian Kurds.

        What I found pretty interesting is that the “Union of democrat forces” (which is a US-Kurdish project to allow “moderates” to hop on the Kurdish bandwagon, and is dominated by the YPG) recently took a damn over the Euphrat (despite Turkish warnings), and that this operation was supported by (at different times) both US and Russian planes.

        This is a pretty good development.

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      2. Dam?

        Again, the west tends to emphasize ethnic distinctions and exploit ethnic tensions (Kurds vs Arabs, Sunni vs Shia, Ukrainians vs Russians, Tutsi vs Hutu, etc.). Divide and conquer, that’s the game.

        Lenin’s ‘nazional’naya politika’ with ethnicity-based autonomies (with the Title Ethnicity, no less) was, I believe, a mistake. Understandable, maybe even necessary in the short term, but fateful long-term…

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      3. Indeed “dam”, I guess that was a more hilarious mistake coming from being a German speaker.

        We to tend to use more consonants then necessary (because vowels followed by only one consonant are often long in German), capitalize everything all the time and harbor a deep grudge towards verbs (to paraphrase Arthur Conan Doyle).

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  7. “As a historian, I find his emphasis on sobornost’ curious. Poroshenko claims to lead a government dedicated to Westernization. But sobornost’ is the essence of Slavophilism, which is normally seen as standing in direct opposition to Westernization. The concept’s originators, Ivan Kireevsky and Aleksey Khomiakov, viewed sobornost’ as encapsulating the sense of spiritual community which supposedly distinguishes collective-minded Russians from individualistic, atomized Westerners”.

    All the text by 20th-C Ukrainian nationalists that I have read use the word “sobornost'” to mean unification in the sense of unifying “ethnic Ukrainian territories” on the model of German or Italian unification. You seem to be taking a word out of the context of its intellectual history and placing it in another. As a historian, you should be aware of the dangers of that. . .

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  8. Main problem with his interview, is not any resemblance to whatever Poroshenko said. (Just to add my 2 cents – one was talking about administrative layout of a state and another of nationbuilding, it doesn’t mean same ideology underneath)

    The problem is an attack he made at Lenin. For someone who supposedly is trying to “reconcile” nation he did a great job of driving a wedge. Every day since his words were published I see a rerun of Civil War all over Russian internet. Well done!

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    1. I for one welcome lively dissent 🙂

      While we cant exactly ask Lenin as precisely what he was thinking, my guess is that his reasoning may have been the following one:

      1: We will create an “Empire” out of a class, not a nation or an ethnicity. This should allow us to fully utilize the talents of all people (of the correct class) in the Soviet Union, irrespective of their nationality.

      Addendum by me: I am not exactly certain if the number of people who were repressed in Czarist Russia, mostly on behalf of their ethnicity, was actually larger then the number of people repressed in the non Stalin USSR on behalf of their class.

      2: In order to not be seen as the Russian Empire in Red clothing, we will give meaningfull concessions to the nationalities within the Soviet Union, as long as they unquestionably obey the rule of the communist party. We will, on occassion, even reduce Russian territory and enlarge autonomous territory on Russias territorial expense, members of minorities will be somewhat prefered in leadership positions compared to Russians.
      By such proving to various minorities that we are passable overlords, we hope to have an easier time absorbing new conquests.

      3: By doing so, we hope to create a supranational “Soviet” identity that is easy to assimilate and integrate into.

      This was not neccesarily a bad plan. It worked pretty well in the Far east, as korreniatsiya made Soviet rule over Mongolia and Sinkiang preferable to Chinese or Japanese rule for the local populations, Mongolia became a pretty willing ally/vasall of the USSR (they were of course laughing about adopting communism on the Nomad steppes, but they were a usefull buffer against the Japanese, and provided, within their means, considerable assistance to the USSR in the great war). Sinkiang saw the Soviet experience quite positively, and the Soviets could use contacts they had established and good will they had gained there to credibly threaten the Chinese, even in 1979 (when China invaded Vietnam), with supporting Sinkiangese seperatism.

      Soviet overlordship was also far from unattractive towards minorities within Iran (as was shown during the Anglo Soviet invasion of the latter, and in the pretty complex aftermath of it), and held considerable appeal to variously oppressed Kurdish groupings in different nations.

      Where it less well was in Europe, mostly because there the Soviet Union did not border Chinese, Japanese, Persian or Turkish “Empires”, where it could have easily exploited restive minorities, but a set of small but nationally determined and independent polities. These had a chance of independence, and obviously prefered it over being a vasall of Moscow. The one exception was Pilsudksis Polish Quasi-Empire, and against them, the Soviet Union was actually quite capable of utilizing Ukrainian, Jewish and Belorussian support.

      Where it actually fell flat was imho the creation of a genuine “Soviet” identity. I think that the Soviet thinkers vastly underestimated the time span that this needs.

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      1. Hi Andrej,
        my perception is different. I think the Soviet identity was created, and indeed it was a great success. According to my observations, it still exists and going strong, in people who are 40+.

        One evidence is the 1991 referendum, where a large majority (78%) voted against dissolving the USSR. In some places it wasn’t allowed, but that itself is a clear indication of what kind of results the local bosses expected.

        My other evidence is anecdotal: I meet middle-aged people from, for example, Zakarpattia – which one could expected to be the least assimilated place, as it was joined only in 1946, and had never been part of the Russian empire – and they are 100% ‘homo sovieticus’. Last year a middle-age Kazakh heard us speaking Russian in the center of Budapest, and immediately he joined the conversation and it felt like meeting a long lost friend. Weird. And it gets more weird: a friend of mine lives in Hanover, and he tells me that he immediately feels close to east Germans, and they become friends, but not west Germans.

        The problem is, in my view, that the ethnic lines were carefully preserved and essentialized, and then the thing broke along these lines. Just something as simple as removing the ‘nazional’nost’ from the passports (or, rather, never putting it in there) could probably change the dynamics.

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  9. To CHenriques: I am not at all familiar with the word use of Ukrainian nationalists, and won’t quarrel with you there, but as to the meaning of the word ‘sobornost’ itself — can a word mean anything we want it to mean? Sobornost’, after all, is a legacy of the Slavophiles and it had a specific meaning, just as Paul wrote. Its original meaning was definitely not ‘nationalist unity’ or something of that sort. If Poroshenko is changing the word’s meaning in this way, to me it smacks of intellectual dishonesty, or perhaps simple ignorance.

    Also agree, Paul, re you can’t simultaneously be a fan of Il’in and Lenin. No can do. Politicians are famous for logical inconsistency, among other sins, but fitting those two into the same ideology … nyet.

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    1. He’s not changing the word’s meaning. He’s using how it’s used in Ukrainian, the language he was speaking at the time. If you listen to the speech, in the context it is clear that he means national unification, and the unity of Ukrainian citizens regardless of language and faith, and not the unity of the Slavic people. Any suggestion that he is changing the meaning (of how a simliar word is used in a different language) or hinting at his Slavophile leanings is absurd.

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