Grand schemes of history are decidedly un-Tory – the sort of self-justifying nonsense best left to Whigs and Marxists. Yet, you’d be surprised by just how many rightwingers indulge in such piffle.
A few years ago, I was at an informal Westminster gathering when one such individual decided to hold forth. As he saw it, all threats to liberty – whether originating from Napoleonic France, Nazi Germany or Federalist Brussels – come from the east and sweep westwards, before breaking on our shores.
Of course, if one looks at the map from a British point of view, there’s not many other directions that threats to our liberty can come from. But taking a broader view, invaders frequently come from the west and find their victims in the east. Just ask the Africans about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Australian aborigines about the Tasmanian genocide or the Chinese about the Opium Wars. I choose these particular examples – and there are many others – because they all involve the freedom-loving English-speaking peoples of the so-called ‘Anglosphere’.
One can always argue that other cultures and empires have had more to be ashamed of – and less to be proud of – than our own; but true conservatives should be largely concerned with the local not the global, the specific not the general. Once you start bickering about who committed the fewest atrocities overall, then, unless your number is zero, you’ve already lost the argument.
In a compelling article for the National Review, Robert Zubrin introduces us to another geopolitical theory – that of ‘Eurasianism’, apparently a major influence on Vladimir Putin:
“The core idea of… Eurasianism is that ‘liberalism’ (by which is meant the entire Western consensus) represents an assault on the traditional hierarchical organization of the world… this liberal threat is not new, but is the ideology of the maritime cosmopolitan power ‘Atlantis,’ which has conspired to subvert more conservative land-based societies since ancient times.”
According to proponents of the theory, the clash between ‘Eurasia’ and ‘Atlantis’ has raged for millennia:
“…the entire history of the world as a continuous battle between these two factions, from Rome v. Carthage to Russia v. the Anglo Saxon ‘Atlantic Order,’ today. If Russia is to win this fight against the subversive oceanic bearers of such ‘racist’ (because foreign-imposed) ideas as human rights, however, it must unite around itself all the continental powers, including Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, Turkey, Iran, and Korea, into a grand Eurasian Union strong enough to defeat the West.”
The struggle continues, with Ukraine currently providing the battleground:
“This is the ideology behind the Putin regime’s ‘Eurasian Union’ project. It is to this dark program… that former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych tried to sell ‘his’ country. It is against this program that the courageous protesters in the Maidan took their stand and — with scandalously little help from the West — somehow miraculously prevailed.”
It’s easy to see Eurasianism as the mirror image of the Anglosphere theory popular with elements of the British and American right. Obviously, there can be no moral equivalence, given that one side extols authoritarianism while the other believes in democracy. However, what the two theories do have in common is how massively simplistic they are.
For instance, for the Anglospherists, it’s rather embarrassing that those “courageous protesters in the Maidan” – or ‘Euromaidan’ as the protesters call their movement – look to Brussels as an alternative to Moscow. But then that’s the irritating thing for geopolitical ideologues: the real world is full of awkward complications.