The Donbass Factor

NEW – July 13, 2022

There have always been points of particular geopolitical tension in history. Victories or defeats at these points were crucial for civilisational communities. It is obvious that today Novorossiya is such a point of geopolitical tension. The fate of Russian civilisation directly depends on the outcome of the confrontation at this point.

Restoring civilisation

The essence of the present moment in Russian history consists in changing the value and target orientations to the exact opposite of those that were laid down in the foundation of the post-Soviet system of statehood. Since the late 1980s, Russia, like all the states that spun off from it, has been building a policy of joining a single Western-centred world. They went there, some with a higher, some with a lower speed, pushing each other away, but the direction was common. Joining the Western-centric world was the real ideology of the Russian Federation, although it was argued that there was no state ideology in Russia.

But the West, as a civilisational phenomenon, was formed in the fight first against Byzantine, and then against Russian civilisation, consolidating the corresponding figurative characteristics of the enemy at the axiological level. In the 20th century, within the framework of this confrontation, the question of the ways of human development was decided, which in essence constituted a choice between the values of Western civilisation and the values of Russian civilisation. In the post-Soviet years, Russia, like other former Soviet republics, had to accept Western Russophobia as a benchmark for entering the Western-centric world. At the same time, entry into the world of the West was possible only in the position of the periphery. A system of not just non-sovereign existence has developed, but an existence ideologically built on the denial of its own civilisational foundation and its denigration.

As time went on, it became obvious that the road to entry into the Western-centric world was blocked by a barrier. It was only possible to obtain an entry pass on the basis of definitive de-sovereignty, territorial fragmentation, and historical self-denial. These conditions were unacceptable for a part of the governmental team with the supreme sovereign at its head. In addition, in accordance with the law of the development of civilisations, foreign cultural introductions caused the forces of civilisational opposition on the part of the people. The civilisational pendulum began to move in the opposite direction.

All this predetermined a change in the vector of movement of Russia as a dynamic system. At the level of government and public discourse, Westernised milestones were replaced by civilisationally identical milestones. However, immediately, at the first steps, this collided with the inertia of the system built under the ideology of Westernism. The policy of entering the Western-centric world has led to the creation of a system programmable for solving the problem of such incorporation, including: a) Western institutions; b) cosmopolitan cadres; c) mechanisms and relations with Western countries; d) social science and management theories of Western origin. In fact, we are talking about the bastions of the “fifth column”. Without breaking down these bastions, Russia’s return to itself cannot objectively take place. Accordingly, an assault force is needed to solve this problem. But from where can it be taken?

Such a force was not formed in a targeted way. A new “Order of the Sword”, recalling the figurative expression of the classic in relation to the principle of party building, was not created. Personnel selection projects like “Leaders of Russia”, rather, worked in the opposite direction, replicating managers and careerists, but not ideocrats and patriots.

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And this is where the Donbass factor should manifest itself. Donbass is not only a springboard for the liberation of Ukraine from Nazism, but also a platform from which the vector of Russia’s civilisational self-restoration is set. A new Russian ideology is being born on the land of Donbass. Born not through theory, but through blood and death. And only an ideology that is sacralised by the blood of heroes can have a real historical perspective. Through Donbass and the attitude to it, cadres of the Rus (Russian) civilisational revival are formed. One’s attitude to the special military operation turns out to be an indicator — the first issue of the new personnel selection.

The frontier phenomenon

The Russian-centric world, like any geopolitical system, included the centre – Russia proper, the civilisational semi-periphery — the outskirts of the former USSR and the periphery – historical allies. Peripherality in this case did not mean a poorer quality of life or a lower status. But the fact was that the assembly of this world could only be carried out if there was a Rus (Russian) centre.

The cognitively Russian-centric system was struck in the very centre, after which it began to disintegrate, surrendering positions. In military terms, on the contrary, the geopolitical enemy moved from the periphery to the centre. Firstly, a blow was dealt to the historically allied regimes of Russia/USSR. The operation took ten years – from 1989 to 1999. Its final stage was the bombing of Yugoslavia with the simultaneous inclusion in NATO of the first batch of former allies of the USSR in the Warsaw Pact (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary). Slobodan Milosevic then warned: “Russians! I am now addressing all Russians, the inhabitants of Ukraine and Belarus in the Balkans are also considered Russians. Look at us and remember – they will do the same to you when you disunite and show a weak spot. The West – a chain mad dog – will grab your throat. Brothers, remember the fate of Yugoslavia! Don’t let the same be done to you!” Unfortunately, his words were prophetic.

The second stage was the unfolding of a military scenario on the civilisational semi-periphery of Russia. First – in South Ossetia, then – in Ukraine. But according to this scenario logic, the third stage should have begun – the defeat of the civilisational centre. In this logic, Donbass turned out to be the last Russian civilisational frontier.

The role of Donbass, which it plays today for Rus and Russian civilisation as a whole, is conceptually explicable. If this explanation is based on the theory of civilisations, then the special mission of Donbass can be historically associated with its special position as a civilisational frontier. The civilisational frontier is a special border zone of a civilisation, bordering on the zone of another civilisation, most often — hostile. The population of the civilisational frontier is at the forefront of the fight of civilisations. Hence — a special tempering, will and heroism, rigidity in the differentiation of one’s own and another’s. As a rule, the population of the civilisational frontier is more civilisationally identical than the population of the civilisational centre, which is less sensitive to the nerve of the ongoing struggle. Not the centre, but the civilisational frontier turns out to be the standard of identity. And in critical situations for civilisation, salvation comes precisely from the outskirts. People of the civilisational frontier in extreme conditions for civilisation often come to replace the people of the centre who have lost their civilisational-identical milestones.

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The position of the civilisational frontier is not a historical constant. The boundaries of civilisational control are historically fluid. Civilisational areas are expanding and narrowing. But to expand, it is necessary to push back the enemy — to move the borders of a neighbouring hostile civilisation. The narrowing of the civilisational area, on the contrary, is the result of a retreat, a surrender of positions. During the advance of Western civilisation, the actual zone of control of Russian civilisation shrank. Ukraine was torn away from the Russian civilisational core. Originally belonging to Russian civilisation, Ukrainians were largely zombified, and the system of identifiers was changed. At the level of civilisational codes, they still remained Russian. But they were thrown against Russia. And within the framework of the modern proxy war waged by the West, Donbass turned out to be not only a military borderland, but also a civilisational frontier, a defender of the values and meanings of Russian civilisation.

Frontiers in world history

There are plenty of examples in world history of how civilisational frontiers were the driving forces of historical breakthroughs of civilisations. Rus itself was originally the northern civilisational frontier of Eastern Christian civilisation. The Christianisation of Russian lands fundamentally changed the balance of power in Eurasia in favour of Christianity in relation to the world of paganism.

The civilisational frontier of the most Ancient Rus was the Tmutarakan Principality located in the middle of a Wild Field. Dashing people and adventurers flocked there from the Russian lands.

Macedonia was not even directly part of the Hellenic world. But it was the Hellenised Macedonians, led by the divine Alexander, who took on the mission of avenging the Persians for Hellas.

The Gallic war-hardened legionnaires were the forces of the Roman civilisational frontier in the Celtic world. These forces were used, as we know, by Julius Caesar in the fight for power and in building the empire.

Kosovo was the civilisational frontier of the Serbian world. The Kosovo lands lost by Serbia today had and continue to have a sacred meaning for every Serb.

National heroine of France Jeanne d’Arc came from Lorraine – the territory that was the zone of confrontation between the French and Germans. Another civilisational frontier of France was Gascony. The Gascon factor in French national history was brilliantly revealed by Alexandre Dumas in his novels.

The position of the frontier of the German world was originally occupied by Prussia. But it was Prussia that managed to unite Germany historically into one state.

The peripheral position in the Islamic world was originally occupied by the Turks, even before their migration. But then the Ottoman Empire created by them becomes the leading Islamic power, and the Turkish Sultan takes the title of caliph instead of the Arabs.

The national frontier of the Armenian community is Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). Most of the Armenian heroes came from Artsakh. After the First Karabakh War, which was victorious for the Armenians, on the wave of success, the people of Artsakh led not only Nagorno-Karabakh, but also Armenia itself, leading it until the Velvet Revolution of 2018.

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Cowboys represented the heroic image of a man of the civilisational frontier for the United States of America. The US cowboy subculture was somewhat akin to the Cossack subculture in Russia.

Russian outpost

The current mission of Donbass as Russia’s civilisational frontier is not only the result of the current alignment of geopolitical forces. In the ancient Russian period, the territory of present-day Donbass was part of the conditional zone of the Wild Field – the space of struggle between Russian agricultural culture and nomadic steppe dwellers: Pechenegs, Polovtsians, black klobuks. This space was associated with epic heroic outposts, the far borderlands of Rus. Rus not only fought with the steppe people, but also spread the Orthodox faith among them, broadcast Christian values.

In the late Middle Ages, contemporary Donbass was a zone of intersection of the influences of the Moscow Kingdom, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Crimean Khanate. Their rivalry had the character of a civilisational confrontation between three worlds: Russian-Orthodox, Polish-Catholic, and Tatar-Muslim. And even then, Donbass served as a Russian civilisational outpost. On the outskirts of the Russian world, in the fight against the Basurmans, a special passion concentrate was formed in the Cossack environment, which became the driving force of Russian colonisation. The Cossack explorers became the main force behind Russia’s expansion beyond the Urals in the 17th century. The territory of Donbass partly belonged to the Don Army, partly to the Zaporozhye Sich, but in both cases it was the civilisational frontier of the Orthodox world.

The expansion of the territorial space of the Russian Empire in the reign of Ekaterina II in the southern and western directions (both geopolitical opponents in the fight for the region – the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Crimean Khanate – were eliminated) led to the loss of the Donbass border zone position.

The position of Donbass as a civilisational frontier was again actualised in the situation of the Civil War. The Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic served as an outpost of Bolshevik forces in the region, opposing the separatist and nationalist Central Rada.

The Donetsk proletariat in the future in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic did not allow bourgeois nationalism to develop, and served as a civilisational Russian counterweight to potential separatism. At this stage, the Cossack image of the region was replaced by another state-building image – the miner’s one. The feat of the Komsomol members of the Young Guard, who operated during the Great Patriotic War on the territory of the Lugansk region, was a logical continuation of the continuity of the history of Donbass in the fight for Russian civilisational identity.

And the fact that in the 1990s Donbass was outside the Russian state space, when Russia itself renounced its own civilisational affiliation, can be seen as a higher providence. Not belonging to the Russian Federation – a state constructed in the early 1990s according to Western blueprints, Donbass is fighting for the restoration of a true civilisationally identical Russia – a state-civilisation.

“Give me a foothold and I’ll turn the Earth upside down!” said Archimedes at the time. A fulcrum — the “civilisational firmament” – was also needed for the implementation of the geopolitical turn that is being carried out today. Such a “civilisational firmament” of Russia has become Donbass.

Vardan Bagdasaryan

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