Andrey Fursov: Central Eurasia: Historical Centrality, Geostrategic Condition and Power Model Legacy

Central Eurasia:

Historical Centrality, Geostrategic Condition

and Power Model Legacy

The world is not a quantitative

concept but a qualitative one.

Albert Einstein

Andrey Fursov

1. Central Eurasia - core of Heartland

Our conference is devoted to the problems of Central Eurasia in its present condition, to its current events. But it is evident that the history of this region did not begin yesterday. Time is extremely important in the analysis of any space. It is especially so with the spaces which experienced drastic qualitative changes in their historical fate. Central Eurasia belongs to that type of spaces.

Its location is very special. Eurasia is divided into two distinct parts or zones. The first one is usually called Littoral Belt (LB) or Eurasian Rim (ER). It is precisely this relatively narrow seashore band stretching from the Sea of Japan to the Northern Sea where the greatest civilisations of the Old World did emerge. The second zone is a vast continental hinterland usually called Heartland. Whereas the Belt was almost totally agricultural studded with cities and towns, Heartland was both agricultural and pastoral nomadic, with fewer cities and towns. The core of Heartland is a kind of superheartland - steppe, mountains, and deserts. The name of this core is Central Eurasia; now this territory is occupied by Mongolia, Southern Siberia, Chinese provinces of Xinjiang and part of Tibet, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, the steppe zone from Southern Urals to the Black Sea and of course the northern part of Afghanistan (the last one being of extreme importance - it is no coincidence that the great poet Iqbal called it "the heart of Asia", while the great British politician Curzon called it "the captain's bridge of Asia").

For many centuries Central Eurasia was the realm of nomadic tribes living their pastoral economy, long distance trade and plundering. While Heartland was considered to be periphery of LB, its core - Central Eurasia - seemed to constitute a kind of / within periphery. And it was treated by the scholars this way - as a periphery of China, Muslim world (namely Persian empires), and Russia. It was supposed that the main historical impulses originated within the LB zone reaching Heartland and its core from there. This is really more or less the state of things of the last three or four centuries. But it would be a great mistake to project this state of things onto the 30 centuries preceding the XVI century, when the situation was quite different. Of course in economic and cultural spheres LB was the leader since the so called Neolithic revolution. Yet in political - and hence in general historical - sphere it was quite the opposite until the military revolution of the XVI century. Before that it was Central Eurasia and its nomads - their large scale migrations, great invasions, and steppe empires - which played crucial, central role in Eurasia and in the Old World as a whole.

The events in Central Eurasia were a kind of bifurcation - to use prigoginist language - leading to all-Eurasian fluctuations. This core of Heartland region itself was the centre or to be more precise the epicentre of all major changes in Eurasia. Being deeply peripheral geographically and economically, it was central or core-like from geopolitical and geohistorical point of view. Its peoples and leaders acted like geohistorical constructors and engineers. The cascade events of their life - first of all the formation and dissolution of steppe tribal nomadic empires, which in fact were war megamachines - triggered human tidal waves which swept through Eurasia and changed the historical landscape drastically, bringing into existence new empires and even new social systems (the last ones at least in the Far West of Eurasia).

Having played a crucial role in Eurasia for many centuries, this central part lost this role during the long XVI century (1453-1648). Now after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the rise of islamism in the Middle East centrality seems to return to Central Asia, at least partly, but on a different basis than in the past. This present basis is globalisation which in the present geostrategic condition of the region manifests itself in the form of the Great Game-2. Between the old centrality and the emerging one there lies a period (XVI-XX centuries) when Central Eurasia did not exercise direct influence onto neighbours and beyond; on the contrary they began to press it. Yet I believe it is precisely during this period that the indirect influence of Central Eurasia or, to be more precise, of the Central Eurasian power model (CEPM), forged by the nomads, reached its peak, first in Eurasia, and later in the world.

In fact Central Eurasia exists as geographical, physical reality - as such it can exist only within its physical boundaries and cannot be moved beyond them. It also exists as metaphysical reality materialised in certain principles, institutions which can exist and develop beyond geographic reality - of course in the more or less modified form, as a kind of legacy of power organisation first of all. Usually in this context we speak of the Mongol legacy. Yet the Mongol power was just the first - nomadic-based - form of the CEPM of which essentials I shall speak later.

Being forged in its nomad form ultimately by the Mongols this model acquired its own autonomous dynamic and logic. Later, as the world became more and more complex it transformed itself or rather mutated to preserve itself in agriculturally based form - Russian autocracy to be succeeded by industrially based one - Soviet communism. I would like to stress that both Soviet communism and Russian autocracy cannot be derived directly from the Mongol legacy, from initial CEPM. They represent a result of its synthesis or symbiosis with some other forms but the basic features were reproducing themselves quite obviously. This enables us to speak not only about a certain model but also about a certain historical line of development determined by this model. Only CEPM could effectively cover and provide social control over such a space as Eurasian one. But at the same time having covered and unified this space, in order to remain the same in its essentials CEPM had to adapt and modify itself to agricultural and industrial conditions. It is in these modified forms it began to influence not only Eurasian but also world history.

In my talk I would like to touch three issues.

First, the direct influence of Central Eurasia on Eurasia - i.e. on Heartland and LB as a whole in a long term historical perspective. I believe this influence realised and materialised itself in the phenomenon of the Great Eurasian 700-800 years' cycles.

Secondly, current geostrategic condition of Central Eurasia which I term as the Great Game-2. Since our whole conference is devoted to the current situation in the region, this issue of my talk is to be the shortest one.

Thirdly, an indirect historical influence of Central Eurasia on Eurasia and the world in the form of the CEPM in its modified successive forms (systems) - the Russian autocracy (the Russian power) and the Soviet communism (the Communist power). It is difficult to say in which form - direct or indirect, invasive or certain power model - the geohistorical centrality of the Centrality is more pronounced.

Of course it is difficult to cover such problems in one talk. My aim is quite modest - to fix certain position which is based on thirty years of research and to try to take a look from a height on Central Eurasia as on historical totality in space and time - long-term time, that the great French historian Braudel used to call "très-très longue durée".

I am a historian and my approach to Central Eurasia will be that of historian's one. But my field and object of research is not usual - it is social systems. I would like to stress that it is not sociology or social history, this is precisely history of social systems. In prectice this means concentration on large historical entities and on long-term periods and long-term tendencies rather than on events. As Braudel used to say, "l'evenement c'est de la poussière" ("event is dust"). Braudel wanted to stress that what we call event is a part of reality which we rather artificially snatching historical totality thus in fact constructing them; the real place of events in reality can be percieved only as an element of totality taken in a long-term perspective. Another field of the history of social systems is globalisation as a historical process.

In fact there are two ways of looking at reality. The first perspective is "from below", in which we shall notice a lot of details, even the minutest ones. But with time we shall find ourselves in a position of a person who knows more and more about less and less in the more and more scholastic way. The second perspective is to try to take a position high enough to look at reality as a whole. We may miss some specifics but the overall gain is evident - it enables us to see the elements better and to understand them better in the context of the whole; it is the whole which determines the elements, not the opposite. In fact the two ways are complementing each other.

The problem is that in the last decades the first perspective was practised much more frequently that the second one. Its overaccentuation leads to parcellization of object under study to smaller and smaller pieces which lose any ties between them. That is why having my own parcels I at the same time try to look at them and neighbour parcels and on the totality of them also from a height. As both my research motto and the epigraph to my talk can be taken the title of Charles Tilly's famous book "Big structures, Large processes, Huge comparisons". And it is precisely longue durée approach which helps us to see central (or core-like) historical role of Central Eurasia quite clearly.

2. Eurasia: the cycles and the pendulum,

or the core historical character of core Eurasia

Looking back in history of Eurasia we do notice continent-scale migrations and invasions, movements of enormous masses of people: they are Folkwanderung of the IV-VII centuries AD, Mongol invasions, Crusades, Alexander the Great's "Drang nach Osten".

But until now three things are unnoticed in quite a strange way. Meanwhile they are evident and lay on the surface. First, initial impulse of great migrations was born in the Central Eurasia, in its eastern, nomadic part and it went westward. Second, these westward expansive surges from the core of Eurasia generated reactions in the form of counter expansions from the west. The main thrust was from nomadic east, while westward surge was of reactive nature. This ebb and flow alternated in pendulum like manner - I call it Old World Pendulum (OWP). Third, and most intriguing, oscillations of pendulum had a cyclical character, taking place each 700-800 years thus forming what I call Great Eurasian cycles (GEC). Let us have a closer look at them.

By the XII century BC the intertribal struggle somewhere in Core Eurasia provoked a migration all over Eurasian steppes. Indo-Europeans on their chariots burst into the Eastern European plain. From there they began storming the Balkans and set in motion the process which historians call "the crisis of the XII century BC". It destroyed the old Mediterranean world and opened a phase called Dark Age of the Ancient history (XI-VIII centuries BC). In fact it was the first known Folkwanderung. Even Egypt - African, not Eurasian part of the Old World - was devastated by "the peoples of the sea". The XII century crisis hit the Mediterranean but the Bickford's fuse was ignited some two centuries before in Core Eurasia.

800 years passed and the pendulum tipped eastward: Alexander the Great began his "Drang nach Osten" to be succeeded by the Romans just few centuries after. The Greek-Roman expansion reached its limit under Trajan (98-117 AD). The whole II century AD the Romans were trying to keep limes intact, but after Marcus Aurelius the failure became evident.

Marcus Aurelius died in 180. Next year in the far east of Eurasia died the great khan of Hsienpi quasi-empire Tanshihai. It was Hsienpi who delivered a mortal blow to the great nomad empire of Hsiungnu (late III century BC - early II century AD) and by the middle of the II century AD made them flee to the west. A new expansion was about to start. In the III or early IV century while storming through eurasian steppe the Hsiungnu were transformed into the Huns - a conglomerate of peoples of different ethnicity whose capital Gunnigard was somewhere in the region of contemporary Kiev.

In the IV century BC - just 800 years after the beginning of Alexander the Great's inroad into the East - the new westward "Folkwanderung" began. By the end of the V century AD it ruined the western part of the Roman Empire, and in the V-VI centuries a brave new world of Barbaricum emerged. The picture was completed by the Arabs and their conquests in the VII-VIII centuries. Second Dark Age came into Europe.

Another 700-800 years passed after the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire, before the pendulum swung eastward again - with the Crusades. Yet there are no literal repetitions in history. With the passage of time the picture was becoming more complicated and multidimensional. It reflected the fact that the world was changing, and that something new was emerging. I mean that after the Sixth Crusade (1228-1229) (in the Far West of Eurasia) we see a new westward movement from Core Asia through the whole of Eurasia - the Mongol conquests.

In comparison with it the last two crusades associated with the name of Louis the Saint look very pale - not only because of their failure, but also because of differences in scale and in historical consequences. It was an overlapping of two waves, and the eastern wave was much stronger than the western one. (It was a kind of reverse of the V-IV centuries BC situation, when the Scithian and Sarmatian westward wave had to face a strong western force - the Greeks and the Macedonians.) The Mongols as if brought Central Eurasia to all Heartland covering it and thus creating something which looked like the Greater Central Eurasia far outside its core.

700-800 years after the Crusades and the Mongol incursions, and we have again a migration from Europe, from the west. This time not in eastern direction, but in the western one - from Europe to America in the XIX century; and from the South to the North in the XX century. Here we can see that the pattern of GEC and the tilt of OWP have changed. The reason is simple and powerful: in the middle of the fourth GEC in the Far West of Eurasia there emerged capitalism which formed its extraeuropean and extra-Eurasian North-Atlantic world and began to integrate Eurasia into it from the south - from Asian (Indian first of all) LB.

It was the first not continental but maritime eastward expansion of Europe. Very soon out of two oceans' (North Atlantic cum North Indian) the world capitalist world system emerged and its rhythms and cycles began to interact with GEC trying to dominate them. That is why since the middle of the fourth Eurasian cycle ("long XVI century") we have much more complicated picture than in the previous cycles. It is determined by the fact that apart from Eurasian world - in and out of it at the same time - there emerged North-Atlantic (Anglo-Saxon) world. This world from its first steps began to struggle with Eurasian giants - in successive order: with Spain, France, Germany, Russia/USSR and now many analysts say there comes the turn of China.

I shall speak about the fourth cycle and its second part later. Before that I would like to stress that the very fact of the rise of capitalism qualitatively different social system halfway the fourth cycle suits well the inner logic of all GEC. The most interesting feature of the clock-work like OWP were the events halfway each cycle at 700-800 years interval.

In the middle of all four cycles there took place major changes throughout Eurasia which manifested themselves in the rise of the new empires and in addition to that in Europe - in the Far West of Eurasia - in the middle of each cycle there burst out great social and spiritual revolutions which laid the basis for a qualitatively new social systems.

Just in the middle of the first cycle (VIII-VII centuries BC) the "poleis" revolution took place in ancient Greece providing the basis for the new social system based on slavery. The I and the II centuries AD (the middle of the second cycle) was the time of a great spiritual and social revolution - the rise ("the invention") of Christianity. At the same time the Roman Empire emerged to experience its flourishing under the Julii, Flavii and Antonines. In the middle of the third cycle (VII-VIII centuries) we have the genesis of feudalism and the rise of Islam. In the Eurasian Far East we see the Great Turkic khanate (a new nomadic empire) and the blossoming of China under the Tang dynasty. The middle of the fourth cycle (XVI-XVII centuries), of which as said I shall speak later, gave birth to a cluster of empires through Eurasia - from that of Charles the V in Spain to that of Qing of Nurhaci and Tai Zong in China. Besides there emerged capitalism in the "Atlanticate" Western Europe.

I would not say I can clearly explain the causes of the pendulum and the cycles in Eurasian history, though I have some ideas and the explanation can be much simpler than it seems at the first glance. Yet I think that here it is quite enough to fix the pendulum and its cyclical mechanics and to draw attention to the fact that the pendulum and cycles of Eurasia, both in Heartland and in the LB, were determined by the developments in Core (Central) Asia inhabited by the nomads. These cycles reflect the centrality of this region which played the central role in the history of Eurasia somewhere between the XIII century BC and the XV-XVI centuries AD and was its real geohistorical core. It is out of this core that came the horsemen which invaded of the Old World and which created the Great Mongol empire. This invasion and this empire opened the fourth Eurasian cycle and shaped it in many ways - both direct and indirect - the world up to 1991.

3. The fourth cycle, XII-XIII - XX centuries

The fourth Eurasian cycle is extremely important and dramatic one. It began with the triumph of CEPM in the form of the Great Mongol empire which changed the life and fate of Eurasia, including also its farwerstern part. By the cycle's middle, XVI-XVII centuries, not only the Mongol empire but its direct successors left the scente, while the Central Eurasia began to looke like a graveyard of the nomad statehood, a realm of forgotten glory.

New agents and forces were making their way into and through history. In the Far West of Eurasia there emerged capitalism which began to organise its own aggressive North-Atlantic world very soon to be felt all over the world. In the Far East of Eurasia China was invaded by seminomad Manchou who established the new Chinese dynasty - Qing (1644-1911). Qing China established its control over the nomads of Mongolia and made them its tributaries, thus ending the historical dispute between China and nomads.

In the centre of the Mongols' Greater Central Eurasia there also emerged a new force. Initially it took the place of the Golden Horde. Later it became the inheritor of the Great Mongol empire. It was Russia, whose autocracy was based on modified CEPM. As the second Eurasian empire Russia became a stumbling stone for North-Atlantic (capitalist, Anglo-Saxon) expansion. Since Napoleonic wars the key feature is the struggle between two geohistorical logics of development - one personified by the Anglo-Saxon (Anglo-American) world and another - by Eurasian one (largely Russian), which since 1917 transformed itself into the world-wide. Clever people - Gibbon, Napoleon, de Tocqueville - foresaw this conflict as early as late XVIII - early XIX century.

In the form of the USSR the Eurasian power challenged America in the second half of the XX century. The decline and fall of the second Eurasian empire - Russia/USSR - in 1991 closed the cycle which began, say in the 1211 by the Chenghis-khan march onto Northern China.

I would not go so far as saying that the world of the fourth cycle was the world the Mongols made. But using Braudel's metaphor I would say that the Mongols both delivered and grasped the most important Cards of History, that they directly and indirectly shaped the fates of Eurasia until the "long XVI century", in many ways - some important trajectories of this "long century" itself and to some extent the history that followed until the end of the XX century.

For several decades Chengis Khan and his successors - Ugedei, Guyuk, Mongke and Khubilai unified a large part of Eurasia, almost all Heartland. As a result of this unification the Eurasian cultures began to enrich each other. But every acquisition is a loss and every loss is an acquisition: Black Death as a result of this unification found its way to Europe, wiped out the third of its population (20 million of men and women), making period between mid-XIV and mid-XVII century in spite of Renaissance and many other bright and brilliant things a kind of early modern Dark Age or something like that, especially if one compares this period to the European world from mid XI to mid XIV century.

Black Death drastically changed bargaining economic and social positions of peasants vis à vis seigneurs and made the latter fight to defend their weakening positions. Their social engineering ("new monarchies") combined with the discovery of America and followed by an inflow of bullion, new international division of labour and the military revolution led in the long run to the genesis of capitalism and to the creation of the world system of the new type.

Bearing in mind all this we should admit that the world of the fourth Eurasian cycle, or at least its basis, was built by the Mongol geohistorical constructors or engineers. Indirect yet logical consequence of the Mongol activities in the beginning of the fourth cycle was the fact that the cycle transformed itself into the world one. Or, to be more precise, some part of Eurasia - Far Western one, staying physically Eurasian, began its own, out-of-Eurasian, out-of-continental development. With the efforts of Far West of Eurasia becoming North Atlantic area and transforming their part of Eurasia into a core - a new type core - of the world system (a new type of system) there came a new type of geohistorical engineers - the westerners.

The coming of the westerners as of the new type of geohistorical engineers in the long XVI century was indirect but quite logical result of the Mongol unification of Eurasia or rather is was one of logical possibilities-consequences of this cascade event. It occurred when the Mongols themselves left historical scene. Yet the Mongols did not leave it without legacy and inheritors. Simultaneously with the beginning of mutation of the western Europeans into the "westerners" with "capital" and "monarchical state" (later to be transformed into nation-state) as their historical social weapons, there took place a parallel mutation in East Europe.

A new historical agent came here into the scene - as new to the previous age as "new monarchies", monarchical state and capital were to feudalism. It was Russian autocracy. In its eastward expansion this agent reached in the XVII century the Chinese border. Since that time the two empires began to squeeze the historical space of the central Eurasians.

Three major shifts can be seen quite distinctly in the history of Central Eurasia in the XVI-XX centuries. First, historical space, Lebensraum of this region began to diminish, there began a relative historical space squeeze of the Central Eurasia. Secondly, not determining the fates of Eurasia as a whole. Central Eurasia in its development was more and more determined by powerful neighbouring states - China and Russia. Thirdly, these states began not only to determine the development of the Central Eurasia, but to encroach into its territory making it part of their empires.

In the second half of the XIX century Central Asia became an arena of the Russian-British struggle known as the Great Game. The Great Game was over in 1907 when Russia and Great Britain became allies, but in the 1920s new Russia, Soviet one, blocked all attempts of the British to enter Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Between 1921 and 1991 the larger part of the Central Eurasia was directly or indirectly controlled by the USSR. By now this page of history is turned. After the disintegration of the USSR there emerged 15 sovereign states, 5 of them on the territory of the Central Eurasia.

4. Central Eurasia in the early XXI century:

the return of centrality (with a decentralising globalisation)

Bearing in mind that all analogies in history are somewhat superficial, I shall venture to suggest that the current situation in the Central Eurasia after the disintegration of the USSR resembles - I stress again: on the surface - the situation which used to emerge after the fall of the great empires - the Great Mongol or Tamerlane's. Now instead of sultanates, khanates, emirates or tribal unions with their intra- and infratribal and clan struggle we have sovereign states or "nation-states" - these ones in the process of formation, at least in theory. But these new states are facing problems much more serious, dangerous or even ominous than, for example, African states which emerged after disintegration of colonial system in the 1950s - 1960s.

In contrast to glorious 1945-1975 period we live in the wonderful and ugly, sweet in promise and cruel in reality, at least for 80 % of the planet's population world of globalisation. Being a by-product of the first global war - the Cold war, globalisation buried one of its active participants - the USSR, and for the first time in history made Eurasia (with relative and partial exclusion of China) vulnerable from and dependant on the global world dominated by Anglo-Saxons.

Globalisation changed everything. If in concrete history its first victim were the USSR, the socialist camp and the welfare state, from institutional point of view its first and main victim is nation-state. The last one is pressed both from above (global financial markets; NGO; TNC; supranational structures) and from below (dynamic regions crossing state borders - K. Ohmae calls them "region-economies"; megacities; criminal enterprises etc.). Of course nation-state in the core of capitalist system is strong enough to resist globalisation, but this is not the case with more than 150 states situated outside this core - on periphery and semiperiphery.

The nation-state has ceased to be the only agent on world arena, and international relations cover now the smaller part of world relations. Globalisation weakens existing established states. As to newly emerged states, it affects, deforms or sometimes even blocks the process of their further formation, of their growing up. In their interests TNC and core states weaken "nation" part of the new nation-states and try to reduce their statehood to several functions just to serve global interests. These functions are market, corporation, police. Political scientists speak of denationalisation of state, of privatisation of state power and emergence in the place of formal nation-states of function-states: "market-state", "police-state", "corporation-state", "mafia-state" or even "bandit-state". Somewhere the state in fact is fading away remaining only a carthographic reality. Such functional (one-dimensional) states become just one force among other forces acting within "political boundaries", which become illusionary.

It goes without saying that globalisation strengthens economic and social polarisation, which often results in social unrest, conflict etc. The conclusion that globalisation will weaken the state and strengthen fragmentation and turbulence tendencies almost everywhere including Central Eurasia seems correct to me. In a paradoxical way clan struggle of premodern time acquires new, supermodern, global basis - global financial markets.

It is globalisation and its effects and consequences which determines current situation in Central Eurasia and which makes the Great Game-2 -now is in the process in the Central Eurasia different from the Great Game-1.

First, in the XIX century there existed only two participants: both legal, states, and empires. In the second game there are much more participants - not all of them states and not all of them legal.

Secondly, the first Great Game had to do with pure Eurasian geopolitics, now apart that or even more than that economic factors define the game. Oil, gas, uranium, lines of communications coming through Central Asia to Europe, Mediterranean, Iran, India and China - all this makes Central Eurasia central again, now in geoeconomic sense. And to the legal economy we should add an illegal one - the narcotraffic and arms trade. Intensified narcotraffic is becoming no less important economic and political nerve of the region than gas and oil; Central Eurasia is becoming a kind of not silk, but narkoway, narcocorridor from Afghanistan to Europe.

Thirdly, for the first time in Eurasian history non-Eurasian power - the USA - is becoming active participant of the Great Game-2, a major factor in Eurasian (geo)politics. The USA has interest here both as a cluster of TNC and a state trying to create new world order. Some analysts even claim that the dream of Anglo-Saxon geopoliticians from Mackinder cum Mahan to Brzezinski comes to reality. They used to say: he who controls the Heartland controls Eurasia; he who controls Eurasia controls the world. And the key to Heartland is Central Asia and Afghanistan. Of course Afghanistan is a tricky "key" - historically it played the role of the graveyard of empires: British, Soviet. Will America become an exclusion?

Central Eurasia occupies unique geostrategic position: from here Russia, Middle East, India and China can be watched, threatened or even controlled to some extent. The US bases in the Central Asia and the US presence in Afghanistan under the pretext of the war against international terrorism is a geohistorical novelty and it can become a very important change in the fates of Central Eurasia and of Eurasia as a whole.

What is also important is that with the disintegration of the USSR and integration of the Central Eurasia into the world market new forms of power liberal democratic ones came here. For the first time in its history CEPM is challenged in its own home - Central Eurasia (it is also the case with Russia and Russian power). Unfortunately, as the history of political modernisation of Latin America, Africa and Asia shows, very often formal democratisation from above stays superficial phenomenon and becomes just a cover and a tool for tribal and clan struggle. From this point of view the fate of liberal democracy in Central Eurasia is likely to repeat the fate of socialist democracy and communist party organisations in the Soviet Transcaucasia and Central Asia - in fact they were a façade covering tribal and clan struggle.

It seems that at the beginning of the XXI century and at the dawn of the third millennium AD in many parts of the world through the contours of supermodern age there emerge features which resemble the pre-capitalist world. Central Eurasia is among these parts. And again as before the rise of capitalism it becomes central - now not only from geohistorical, but first of all from geoeconomic an geopolitical point of view. We do not know for certain whether this is the beginning of a new Eurasian or of a new global cycle. In any case the return of the centrality of Central Eurasia - now as an element of globalisation, not on the pure Eurasian, but on the global level - is a significant phenomenon which deserves attention and analysis both in itself and as one of aspects of globalisation.

With globalisation we are stepping into a very promising and at the same time extremely dangerous world. Unification of Eurasia brought cultures and peoples together, though in an involuntary way; but it also brought Black Death from Asia to Europe. Americanised globalisation made the world very small and opened enormous financial possibilities for capital and for 20 % of population whom Z. Bauman calls "globals (in contrast to "locals"). But in the world which has become small Mr. bin Ladin can be come a close neighbour of Mr. Bush in a very easy and frightening way. Yet in this small world we see again the return of centrality of Central Asia.

The Centrality-2 is different from the Centrality-1: they have different basis; they belong to different worlds (preindustrial and postindustrial; they cannot be compared by their duration - three millennia and 15 years at most. It is the very fact of centrality that brings them together. And what about the period in-between "the two centralities", between the beginning of "the long XVI century" (1453) and the end of "the short XX century" (1991), between the fall of Constantinople as of the Second Rome and the fall of Moscow as of the Third Rome? What about the role and influence of Central Eurasia during this period? Here I believe we come to one of the most interesting and astonishing moments in the history of Central Eurasia - its great influence on Eurasia and on the world as a whole. This influence was not direct, it was indirect - through the Russian autocracy and Soviet communism. At first it seems paradoxical and almost unbelievable. But it is CEPM which lies in the core of both Russian autocracy and Soviet communism. They are its modified form. We can state a kind of paradox: its greatest influence onto the world Central Eurasia exerted, first, through and by its power model, and secondly, indirectly, through its accomodated to (agricultural and industrial) Heartland conditions forms. But the core of the forms is the same - Central Eurasian, and "la plus ça change la plus ça reste même chose" (the more it changes the more it remains the same). This hidden centrality of the Central Eurasia or at least its hidden script seems extremely intriguing and interesting to me.

5. Central Eurasian model of power,

its mutations and transformations

The basic features, the essentials of the CE (nomadic empire) model of power were elaborated by the Hsiungnu steppe empire in the III-II centuries BC. After that during 1500 years several steppe powers repeated and to some extent developed this model. It acquired final shape in the Great Mongol empire and it is precisely this form that we are speaking of as the Mongol legacy.

Nomadic (Mongol) power had pastoral economy as its basis. Due to vast spaces control over population in this model was much more important than control over land; power (and hence - service) was much more important than property; tribal property over land coincided with power itself; and as any steppe empire is a military machine this type of power is a military one based on combination of violence and consent (of co-tribals).These are the essentials of CEPM.

The Mongols were the greatest and the last steppe empire. And it was the first Eurasian (and not just Asian) steppe empire. They held sway over an area greater than any previous polity - Alexander the Great's, Roman, Byzantine or Arab.

As I said, during fifteen hundred years before the rise of the Mongols there existed seven large steppe empires. Among them the Hsiungnu and the Turkic khanate were the most important ones. The western border of the Hsiungnu reached the Baykal lake, that of the Turkic khanate went further westward - to the Caspian sea, and the Mongols pushed the nomadic emperial borders farthest, to its geographical (-6º for January isotherm, which is also the south-western border of the Russian people settlement) and ecological maximum - to Eastern Europe. The Mongol empire was the first Asian and nomad-borne empire to encompass the Russian plain and to retain control over it for more than two centuries. In Asia the Mongols took over China, Central Asia and Iran. Conquered sedentary Eurasian population was a ready object for the Mongol power. But their "readiness" was different. It depended on demographic potential, level of culture, sophistication of centralised government tradition, and historical experience in dealing with the nomad invaders.

China and Iran were old and well established societies with strong tradition of centralised government. The nomads used to borrow centralised structures and practices from the Chinese and the Iranians, not vice versa. The Chinese and the Iranians for more than a thousand years had elaborated historical experience of assimilating or even absorbing the nomads coming from the north culturally, demographically and, last but not least, politically. As a result in Asia nomad empires' social and political influence was not too strong; they had few chances to leave strong, system forming historical imprint in this part of Heartland.

The situation was quite different in Eastern Europe. The Russian principalities of the early XIII century were not (using Marxist language) established class structures of any known type (for example feudal). They were young societies in many respects - late barbarian ones. A large part of the population was armed and was not to be easily exploited by local dominant groups. No Russian prince before the Mongol conquest had enough mass of violence to control population effectively and to transform it into exploited stratum in contrast to what had happened in China, India or Western Europe. And of course the Russians had no experience of centralised political structures and had later to borrow them from the Horde, from CEPM.

The Russian situation has drastically changed with the advent of the Mongols and with the transformation of Russian principalities into the tributaries of the Golden Horde - one of centralised successor states to the Great Mongol empire. With the military forces of the Horde Russian princes for the first time in their history acquired the mass of violence they needed to control and exploit the population (first of all in the form of collecting tribute for the Horde).

The Horde system also changed the balance of forces in the pre-Mongol "power triangle". The latter's angles were: the prince, the nobility and the population - just as almost everywhere in Europe. Just as almost everywhere different "angles" had different potentiality and the weakest usually combined their forces to fight the strongest. The Horde made the prince the strongest element of the triangle. Yet the union of the other angles against him did not materialise. On the one hand the Horde was behind the prince and could overpower any coalition and resistance of that kind. On the other hand, and more importantly, both the nobility and the population had to support their prince against other princes in the struggle for the benefits within the Golden Horde system. The more support - the more chances to win. As a result the power of the Russian princes began to acquire central Eurasian forms and, what is more important, substance. At the same time the Mongol empire (Golden Horde) having found itself in new conditions modified itself at least in the relation to the Russian principalities to transmit this modified form to them later. And this particular modification had unexpected general consequences.

As any steppe power structure the Golden Horde had certain in-built power regulations and limits established by steppe law, custom, tradition and ritual. In the symbiotic form "the Golden Horde cum Russian principalities" the Horde was beyond any legality on the part of the Russians; it was a yoke imposed from above. In relation to Russian lands the Horde functioned as extralegal power to conquered population. These extralegal power features were adopted by Russian princes, especially by Moscovian ones who ruled Russian population on behalf of the Mongol (Golden Horde) tsar.

Neither Yuan power in China nor Il-khan power in Iran had this extralegal element in it, because both presented themselves as interiorised dynasties. The Golden Horde was a distant power and it exploited Russian lands at a distance. That distant and extralegal type of rule was transmitted functionally to the power of Russian princes. Thus a type of power was forged which was Central Eurasian by origin but existed neither in steppe empires, nor in pre-Mongol Russia and was a kind of mutation of original CEPM in new historical conditions out of the steppe zone. Another important thing: in contrast to initial CEPM this tipe of power was agriculturally and not pastoral, based; it had different than nomads preindustrial economic basis (that is why in the future it demanded somehow to integrate property as a secondary element in the model which produced an inner contradiction to be solved only by annihilation of property as such). Yet no other agricultural society in history had such power model. Just as no agricultural society experienced 250 years' control of a nomad power, had to adapt to it and lived in fact in a kind of symbiosis with it and to survive had to imitate it.

By mid-XV century the seminomad structure of the Golden Horde became an anachronism for premodern Eastern Europe, it disintegrated and Russia freed itself. But after almost 250 years of yoke Russia did not return to pre-Mongol model of power. On the contrary, it consolidated and even strengthened the substance the Golden Horde built into it. On the surface it was covered by Byzantine form taken by the Russians at the end of the XV century. This led to emergence of what thinkers call the Orthodox khanate (1480-1565).

The new post-Mongol Russia inherited the main features of the Golden Horde power model:

  • primacy of power over property (hence primacy of service over land ownership as a factor defining positions of belonging to the dominant group);

  • primacy of control over population over control of land;

  • added to these two system-forming features of Central Eurasian origin was extralegality.

The inheritance was also determined by the fact that the availability of vast and uninhabited spaces incomparable to the Western Europe, China or India made control over fluid population a vital problem for the Russian power; if there existed a nomad like space in Eurasia it was Russian lands.

The totality of these features manifested itself in the fact that autocracy tended to be the only social subject - monosubject or even autosubject - not letting any other group or organisation to become a real and socially significant subject. It tried to be (and it was) maximally free from society, from population, from dominant groups which acted as its functions or organs; that is why it was free to be extrarevolutionary (be it Peter the Great, "extreme socialists" of 1917 or "extreme liberals" of the 1990s) in performing even reactionary acts. In fact this distant and extralegal power was the other side of dichotomy of revolution and reaction - it could be both at the same time.

During the Golden Horde (Central Eurasian) period of Russian history these power features were maintained and guaranteed by the very existence of the Golden Horde with its mass of violence.

6. The Russian autocracy - first mutation

of the Central Eurasian power model

After the fading away of the Golden Horde the inherited features could survive and establish themselves in a kind of "triangle power complex" only by the way of ferocious social struggle - in fact a social war or even social revolution - on different levels of society: between power and dominant groups, on one side, and population on the other; between different layers of dominant groups; between central power and upper layer of dominant groups, which were represented by 300 large families (clans) of extremely old and noble origin.

In the social war (or Great autocratic revolution) of 1565-1649 the central power (I deliberately do not use the term "state" which usually means "nation-state" and has never existed in Russia) with the help of the middle and lower layers of dominant groups defeated both upper dominant groups and the population at large. The population was enserfed, i.e. tied to the land and, what is more important, tied by labour service to dominant groups; these last ones were tied to power by military and civil service. It was a kind of total service system based on the central power's control of population and on the extralegality of this power - the will of tsar was the only source of law and order, of internal and external policy and was limited neither by law nor by church.

This system is called autocracy. Some scholars equate the Autocracy with the Western (Occidental) Absolutism, while others - with the Eastern (Oriental) Despotism. Both make a great mistake. These two forms had much more in common with each other than with the Russian autocracy - both of them were in principle limited and highly institutional forms of power.

As for India, China, or Japan, the power of shahs, huandis or tennos/shoguns was limited - by ritual, tradition etc. If we take the Western Europe, for example France which is considered to be a model absolutist monarchy, we can see that apart from the throne ("absolutist state") there existed some other bodies and groups as subjects which contained state power. I am not speaking about the law - absolutist monarchy was under the law. For example the last two years of his life Louis XIV spent crying because he hated Philip of Orleans - the person which after the king's death was to become the Regent by law. And Louis who is said to proclaim "L'état c'est moi" ("The state - it is me") could not even think to change the law. No Russian tsar of that time could find himself in such a situation.

The first significant limitation of autocratic power came from within - the law of April, 5, 1797, fixing the order of succession to the throne (before that it was pure will of the tsar appointing his successor), the second one - in 1905, just 12 years before the fall of autocracy (the third came as the end of autocracy - revolution of 1917).

The Communist order which took the place of autocracy was even more extralegal, but first - several words about the historical logic of development which led Russia to communism and which was determined by the strengthening of the Central Eurasian line (or legacy) in autocratic Russia. One of the main paradoxes of the Russian's development in 1649-1917 is that while on surface, superficially, power, system and country looked more and more western-like, in its main logic of development the Central Eurasian principle was becoming more and more pronounced demanding a new, nonautocratic form.

This was reflected in the long-term process of diminishing of property in the hands of dominant groups, in the logic of depropertisation of power in Russia. That was quite logical. If service is the main factor which determines the condition of dominant groups, the main tendency will be the constant growth of quantity of these service men, in Russia it can be fixed since the mid-XV century (since 1446 - in fact the first Russian perestroika) up to the year 2004 to this spring's administrative reform. While the resources remained limited and the possibilities of significant growth of exploitation quite weak, the price for the quantitative growth of dominant groups was having less and less property, and in fact this is the main tendency of the Russian development between the fall of the Horde and the fall of Autocracy.

When autocracy established itself in Russia, Russian dominant groups had lands and serfs as their property. Until 1762 service was conditio sine qua non of this property. After 1762 noble status became a privilege. Yet the initial principle of service/power's predominance over property lived its own life and made its own way in spite of all attempts to organise a regular property (class) based society in Russia. Let us have a look at long-term social dynamic of Russian history.

There were several power structures in pre-revolutionary Russia: the Moscovian autocracy (the 1560s - 1690s) and the St. Petersburg autocracy (the 1700s - 1850s). I am not sure we can fix postreform Russia (the 1860s - 1905/1917) as a special structure comparable with the Moscovian and St. Petersburg autocracies (in fact it was just a process of disintegration of the latter), yet it was a distinct period of Russian history and as such it can be put in one line with the previous ones.

Each power structure (and their respective historic periods) had its own dominant group. Respectively they were the nobility (boyarstvo), the gentry (dvoryanstvo) and the functionaries. Let us compare these periods and these power groups which in fact were created by power as its functional organs (it was only in 1762 that the gentry was given the right not to serve; but due to the fact that only 20 % of the gentry between 1779 and 1861 were wealthy enough not to serve, it remained largely a service-type group).

Each successive group was more numerous than the previous one. It signifies that the logic of development of Russian power as of an autosubject was to incorporate ever larger segments of population, to make them its functional organ. In terms of wealth and property we have quite a different picture: each new rising group had less property than the previous one. We witness something like step by step "depropertisation of power". From this standpoint the October episode of 1917 is the final and revolutionary act of self-cleaning of power from all remnants of property. In this light, which reflects long-term Russian development, the Communist order in Russia and the Soviet period of Russian history are by no means a deviations. They represent a logical phase in the development of the special power agent forged by the Golden Horde, during which this agent acquired its pure form by the way of anticapitalist revolution.

And here we come to another transformation of CEPM - from the Russian autocracy to the Soviet communism.

7. Capitalist test for the Central Eurasian power model

At a first glance the victory of Bolsheviks and establishment of the Communist order pulled Russia to the most remote historical point from Europe. More than that, it as if brought the Russian power to its initial "Horde stage". But if we remember that this was done with the help of anticapitalist, socialist revolution and on its basis, quite the opposite and quite different type of surprise comes: what? how possibly it can be? Soviet communism was a modern type mass society; it was industrially based and it was the XX century phenomenon. Is it reasonable to connect it with the Golden Horde and CEPM? To these doubts and questions I have two counter questions: one - common sense, and another - scientific one. The first: is it reasonable to connect a grown-up person of, say, 50 years old with the same person when he was, say, 10 years old? The second one: is it reasonable to connect late "informational capitalism" or even mature industrial one with initial agrarian-based capitalism of the XVI - mid-XVIII century?

My answer is definite "yes" in both these cases just as in the case of communism and CEPM. As for the Soviet communism and CEPM I would like to stress:

  • it was only CEPM in its developed late Russian power form (power with less and less property) which could become a systemic anticapitalism;

  • it was only capitalism in its negative form which could be the means of creation of pure (ideal in both senses) and finished form of CEPM.

In the XIV-XVII centuries the Golden Horde form of CEPM had to adapt itself (and was adapted by the Russians) to different historical conditions (Eastern European part of Heartland), much wider than its initial core and to different economic basis (agriculture instead of nomadic pastoralism).The result was the autocratic Russian power.

In the XX century this Russian power which was developing CEPM principle in a modified form found itself in completely new conditions. To survive it had to adapt itself to these conditions. Hence a kind of double and selfcontradictory task should be solved: 1) to bring the line of depropertisation of power to its logical end; 2) to continue Russian development in the world capitalist system, because autarchy was impossible in Modern Age; but how to get rid of property and yet to stay in the world capitalist system based on private property?

The only solution was anticapitalist revolution, rejecting property on the negative capitalist line.

Of course people who made this revolution did not think in such systemic terms: some of them thought about power, some of money, some of idealistic principles and idealised future, many did not think about anything - they were floating with the Wind of History. Yet social systems have their own logic and make their way through intentions and actions of men and women.

The Bolshevik revolution became a historical means of creation of a new - pure - form of CEPM "trying" to solve a problem: how a propertyless power can exist at the same time in and out of the world based on (private) property? Meanwhile this revolution was a way of world anticapitalism to materialise itself as social system in and out of capitalist world order at the same time. Russian (Eurasian) power found Western (North-Atlantic, world-wide) capitalism in its negative form as a means of selfpurification of property, including that of capital. World anticapitalism found the Russian power (in its pure form) as a means of selfrealisation and came into being as Eurasian phenomenon (first Russia, than Eastern Europe, China).

Indeed the Russian revolution, heralded under the banner of European anticapitalist ideology of Marxism carried out the political programme of the Great French revolution. This programme was part and parcel of the geoculture of Enlightenment representing its revolutionary progressist project (another one was evolutionary, liberal, mainly - Anglo-Saxon, or Anglo-American project; not to confuse with the right wing radicalism of American neoconservatives since the 1980s which present themselves as "neoliberals").

In fact it was only the "Russian power" (in its negative and revolutionary Bolshevik form) with its autosubjective, unlimited character, extralegality, supervoluntarism, its freedom from the population ("society") which could realise in practice the most extreme European political projects. Constantly demonstrating triumph of the subject (agent, will) over system (population), the Russian power often presented itself as a "super-European" subject, not being restrained by any social system, civilisation or law of European kind. It is its historical nature which enabled it to become super-European both in revolution and reaction. Hence apparent europeanisation and modernisation here tended to strengthen rather than dilute the autosubject character of Russian power, its initial centraleurasian core model.

Let us note again that this power type initially was forged by Core Eurasian people - yet again not in Core the Eurasia, but in its western agricultural part, in Eastern Europe, where it found its suitable home, locus standi and field of employment. After several centuries of development ("The mole of History is burrowing slowly", Marx used to say) this power turned into a negative capital and went back east. Was Bukharin not close to the truth saying that Stalin was a kind of Chenghis-khan with a telegraph?

8. Soviet communism - the highest stage of

the Central Eurasian power model?

Soviet communist order not only demonstrated all principal features of CEPM, but developed them up to their limit. It eliminated property, fixing service as the only characteristic of the dominant group. It guaranteed strict control over population. Since 1929/33 peasants were tied to their land in the form of kolkhozes and were allowed to have passports only in the mid-1970s - it was an evident sign of the system's disintegration. Between 1940 and 1956 workers could not change their place of work (plant, factory) without permission of the administration. But the most striking thing was extralegality of the Communist power, of the CPSU itself, because it was illegal according to the Soviet civil code and this very fact fixed her extraordinary status and role.

According to the Soviet civil code any organisation could be considered an existing, as a legal person only if the state had authorised it. The state authorised all organisations except one - the CPSU. Of course, one can say that the 6th article of the 1977 Soviet Constitution proclaimed the leading role of the CPSU. But legality is not about proclamations, it is about establishing legal norms, procedures and mechanisms. No legal mechanism for that role was fixed there; there was no word about the Central Committee (CC) of the party or its Political Bureau in the Constitution. There was no act regarding the CPSU, quite the opposite: the decisions of the party were officially proclaimed to be the main source of the Soviet law. Once Khruschev was reminded by the Soviet attorney general about the law. He went in rage and shouted: "Is the law above us, the Communist Party, or we above the law?". The answer was evident.

So the CPSU and its CC were extralegal according to the Soviet civil code. In practice it meant inability of the CPSU to be a legal person, to have property etc. Until perestroika this was not a problem to bother about. In the second half of the 1980s the situation attered and the Communist leaders understood it very well.

Let us take a look, for example, at a highly classified document "On the urgent measures on the organisation of commercial and external economic activities". It was sent to Gorbachev by his deputy Ivashko, secretary of the CC of the CPSU. It dates August, 23, 1990, its number is 15703. The document says: "the lessons of Eastern Europe show that not taking in time measures fixing party belongings... especially in the period of transition to the market is a great menace to the party [...] creation of "invisible" party economy is necessary; only a selected number of people should have permission to participate in this work".

What do we see? With the CPSU still in power the Communist № 2 proposes to the Communist № 1 an organisation of "invisible" (i. e. extralegal) party economy. Quite logical: from extralegal power to extralegal economy as it turned out to happen with the help of "extralegal" (i.e. criminal) groups.

This Soviet tradition is still alive. In our days the de facto main power structure in the Russian Federation is the Administration of the President. You will not find a single word about it in the Russian constitution.

The fact that even after decline and fall of the Communist system extra (or out- of-) legality persists as the principle means that its roots go much deeper than communist power or even autocratic power. We find them somewhere in the XIV-XV centuries in the synthesis or at least symbiosis of CEPM in its Mongol Golden Horde form with Russian conditions. Yet due to anticapitalism and world scale of capitalist system this model acquired in a transformed way not regional and not even only Eurasian dimension, but a truly world one.

We can definitely say that in the Modern Age the only systemic and world alternative to Anglo-Saxon capitalism was Eurasian based Soviet communism, which influenced capitalism both directly and indirectly. In the form of the Soviet Union Central Eurasia as if grew to Eurasian (Heartland) and even world (world socialist camp) dimensions. Having transformed itself into Autocracy and then into Communism, this model survived and kept its essentials intact or even strengthened them.

We may even change this formulation: to keep its essentials intact and to adapt itself to agricultural and industrial conditions beyond Central Eurasia this CEPM took different forms (Mongol, Russian, Anticapitalist). Just as the Queen in "Alice in Wonderland" it had to run in order to stay in one and the same place, to remain itself. As if due to its nomadic form not rooted in property, to stay itself this power model had, first, to, acquire new historical systemic forms; secondly, to expand, to develop more in space than in time, in "width" than in "depth". And in this expansion it could not evade contacts - both positive and negative - with the capitalist world system based on (private) property and hence alien to it.

These were the contacts between the two qualitatively different models of organisation of social space and social time - North-Atlantic (Anglo-Saxon) and Eurasian (Mongol/Russian), maritime and continental, that of property type and power type, capitalist and autocratic/communist. They influenced each other. Capitalist influence can be seen both in the Russian prerevolutionary quasicapitalism and in the Soviet communism.

9. The USSR - peak of (Central) Eurasian influence onto the world

But of great interest is the influence of CEPM wich materialised itself in the Russian empire and after it in the USSR onto capitalist system, onto the development and composition of the latter. Here we have an indirect centrality of Central Eurasia on the world-scale level. Ironically during the last two centuries Russia/USSR as a giant with its CEPM as its core often played a decisive role, transforming the capitalist system itself. It was reflected in several things:

  • world wars;

  • the Cold war;

  • the strengthening of national-liberation movement;

  • welfare state in the West;

  • the post-war rise of Germany and Japan.

If we look at the wars for hegemony in the North-Atlantic core of the capitalist system between maritime Great Britain and continental France in the XIX century and the maritime Anglo-Saxon bloc of Great Britain plus the USA and Germany - I mean revolutionary and Napoleonic wars of 1792-1815 and the two world wars of the XX century - we may see a surprising and fascinating thing. Russia/USSR which was not part of this core, which never tried to become a hegemon in capitalist system, played a decisive role in these wars thus enabling maritime powers to defeat their continental rivals. It was Russia which defeated Napoleon and Hitler; it was Russia which during the I world war held the larger part of the German troops; the main theatres of all these wars were on Russian territory - the eastern fronts were the decisive ones. It is as if North-Atlantic core of capitalist system had not enough space "to wage a war and it had to borrow" Eurasian space.

There is a triple paradox behind the wars for hegemony in the capitalist system. First, since Napoleonic wars the main and decisive theatre in these European or North-Atlantic wars was Russian space; non-Russian Europe as if had not enough space for its own wars. Secondly, the victory of the sea power over the continental one was determined by the fact that on the side of the sea power there always fought the country termed as continental - Russia/USSR. Thirdly, not being a part of capitalist system Russia played a crucial military role in deciding who would be the hegemon in the capitalist system; not being part of North-Atlantic world it was Eurasian Heartland (in the form of Russia or the USSR) which decided its fate. Therefore the fate of the core of the capitalist system was largely influenced by a noncapitalist or even anticapitalist country, and the world's fate - by Eurasian Heartland factor.

Being unable to establish capitalist system hegemony without Russia/USSR both Anglo-Saxon powers had to reconcile themselves with this fact, to adapt to it and even to help it during the war period. But the moment the world wars were coming to an end there began Cold (Anglo-Saxon - Russian) wars between yesterday's allies: the Russian - British Cold war of 1854-1907 and the Soviet-American Cold war of 1946-1989/91/94.

Of extreme importance is the second Cold war which is qualitatively different from that of the XIX century. In the second half of the XIX century it was the struggle of the two empires largely for a certain strategically important region - Central Eurasia. In the second half of the XX century the situation was much more complicated and serious. First, it was the war not simply between states or empires, but between capitalist and anticapitalist systems; behind capitalism and anticapitalism there lied diametrically opposed principles of social organisations - those based on property (market cum state) and those based on pure power space control. The Centre together with the Far East of Eurasia clashed with the Far West of Eurasia as the two world-scale forces. Secondly, it was the struggle not for ascendancy in this or that region of the world, but for ascendancy in the world as a whole - both systems had their own planetary projects.

Not only the struggle but the very existence of the USSR - a kind of Eurasian shield, let alone military, political, and economic help, made it possible for many colonial and semicolonial countries to become free. (The problem whether they became happier due to this fact is another matter.) I am not speaking only of socialist revolutions in China or Vietnam, but also of national-liberation movement in Asia and Africa as a whole.

The USSR not only limited the possibilities of the West to suppress Third world countries and movements (it is enough to remember Egypt of Nasser and Cuba of Castro), but could make small country like Vietnam to defeat such country as the USA (which later took its revenge in Afghanistan). Now with the USSR gone and after American-led aggressions against Yugoslavia and Iraq we can better assess the fact of existence of the USSR for the Third world peoples. But the existence of the USSR worked in the favour not only of the Third world population, but also in the favour of vast segments of the First world population - for the lower and middle social layers of capitalist core itself.

In view of the existence of the USSR as of the Second world, the masters of the First world, the dominant groups of capitalist core had to pacify their middle and working classes through state - in fact socialist redistribution. This was called the "welfare state", and it was especially strong in such countries as Western Germany and France. Even Anglo-Americans in 1945-1975 had to appease their middle and working classes. Now they no longer have to.

Not only certain social groups, but certain countries like West Germany and Japan indirectly owe their economic success or even miracle of the second half of the 1950-s - 1960s to the Soviet - American, communist - capitalist world struggle, to the existence of the USSR. Due to the logic of the global Cold war the US had to promote economic development of its protectorates on a border with socialist camp. West Germany vis à vis East Germany and the USSR in the Far West of Eurasia and Japan vis à vis China and the USSR in the Far East. America had to help them economically greatly while these two countries had no military expenses. As a result they benefited greatly from the Cold war.

But there is another aspect of their gain. It has to do with the Soviet use of oil prices as the weapons against pro-Western regimes in the Middle East, so to say of the struggle for the Middle Eastern line of the world chessboard.

In 1958 the USSR surprised the West: it began to sell oil on the world market in large quantities and by damping prices - at the expense of the Soviet economic interests. During 15 years oil prices were going down. The main reason for such a course was politics. The aim was to minimise incomes of pro-Western Middle Eastern monarchical regimes through cheap oil and to destabilise them. This tactics proved to be successful in cases of Iraq (coup d'état of 1958) and Libya (coup d'état of 1969).

But in an unexpected for the Soviet leaders way cheap Soviet oil also contributed enormously to the "economic miracles" of Germany and Japan. For example if in 1955 Japan satisfied only 7 % of its electric energy necessities by oil, in 1969 it was 70 %. Even in such traditional "coal countries" as Germany and Great Britain many electric stations changed coal for oil because the latter was becoming cheaper and cheaper. As a result at the beginning of the 1970s Germany and Japan could challenge the US in economy, and the reflection of this fact was the organisation of the Trilateral Commission.

In the 1980s because of the combination of internal systemic crisis, incompetence of Soviet dominant groups, of the inadequacy - both political and psychomental - of gorbachevist leadership to globalised world and in some cases even because of betrayal of important segments of these groups the USSR unilaterally stopped the Cold war (Malta, 1989) and was defeated (1991/1994). It disintegrated into 15 states, five of them in Central Eurasia.

Post scriptum:

once more on the irony of History

The end of the Soviet communism and the breakdown of the USSR fixed the end of the world and Eurasian significance of the CEPM, of its indirect influence and centrality. But these events paved the way for the return, rsurgence of direct centrality of Central Eurasia - differently, on a different basis and of different scale. It seems that we are doomed to deal with the Central Eurasian centrality in this or that, open or hidden form. And this is one more reason for our further discussions.


1 Director of the Centre of Russian Studies (at the Moscow University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia); Professor at the Institute of Asian and African Studies (at the Moscow State University); Head of the Centre of methodology and information, the Institute of Dynamic Conservatism (Moscow).

2 The article is published in: Towards Social Stability and Democratic Governance in Central Eurasia: Challenge to Regional Security/ Ed. by I. Morozova. - Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2005. - Pp. 23-39.