From an analytical perspective, Russophobia is not all that different from other social phenomena. Like other forms of xenophobia, Russophobia operates on two levels: public fears and state policies. The boundaries between these two levels are often relative, fluid, and subject to change.
The authors suggest that Russophobia is a significant yet specific form of xenophobia, which represents a rejection of something foreign, unfamiliar, and therefore potentially dangerous to the established way of life in a given society. This perceived threat may be viewed as endangering the very existence of the established order of things. As historical experience has shown, xenophobia can arise from a sense of inferiority (either genetically inherited or acquired), stem from a “failed great power” complex that places the blame on a disliked neighboring state (or a perennial geopolitical rival), or emerge from the constant fear of the territorial size and military potential of the “demonized” power, etc. Consequently, given the present tumultuous events and developments, it is not surprising that Russophobia today is the comprehensive dismissal of Russian culture, way of life, mindset, and the overall life paradigm of the entire Russian super-ethnos. Presently, Russophobia also represents a unique manifestation of domestic/existential fear concerning Russia’s recovery from its “lethargic sleep” – or, as it has been labeled in the West, “Moscow’s revisionist foreign policy.”
The term “super-ethnos” is becoming increasingly common in everyday communication. How do Russians understand it? It refers to a community of people who share the same language and are united by a common history, moral principles, and values. The Russian super-ethnos is a multinational culture spread across a vast territory but united by the use of Russian, one of the most developed languages in the world. What sets the culture apart is its genuine openness to other cultural traditions and archetypes, and the ability to absorb the best elements of the world’s cultural heritage. This can be seen in everything from the ongoing incorporation of foreign words into the Russian language to the integration of members of other cultures who embrace Russian culture in its broadest sense.
The Russian super-ethnos, in its historical genesis, is inward-looking. Yet thousands of individuals from abroad, such as Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Pyotr Bagration, Mikhail Barclay de Tolly, Vladimir Bering, Ivan Kruzenshtern, Ivan Aivazovsky and Vladimir Dal, being “foreigners” by descent but Russian in spirit and culture, became an integral part of our nation. These brilliant individuals made an immeasurable contribution to the development of the Russian “civilization- state.” Therefore, Russophobia can be perceived as the reverse side of this time-honored process of cultural enrichment and development of Russian culture. A pure dialectic.
Russophobia today is the comprehensive dismissal of Russian culture, way of life, mindset, and the overall life paradigm of the entire Rus- sian super-ethnos.
Nevertheless, we will mainly talk about Russophobia as a political component of the same age-old confrontation between the collective West (the collective South exhibits no such tendencies) and Russia. It is essential to remember that for Western elites, Russophobia plays a significant role in their global confrontation with Russia – the largest country in the world by area and the richest in natural resources. Russophobia has specific instrumental functions in their political practice. For example, it is currently being used by the Western “permanent political class” (as defined by American sociologist Steve Turley) to divert the attention of the masses from the collective West’s escalating chronic internal crises, which are becoming increasingly systemic and chronic.
It is worth noting that the “permanent political class” turns to Russophobia as a means of self-justification for its own missteps and to distract public attention from the real issues at hand. This is understandable, given that the central conflict in the modern West has internal origins. The present-day paradox is that the internal (and, consequently, international) problems of the “golden billion” have grown significantly more complex, while the ruling elites’ professional skills and instincts have similarly decreased in quality. They lack a definite scenario and a plan to navigate the intricate “nesting-doll crisis,” as described by Russian historian Andrey Fursov.1
And this discrepancy, this gap between historical predetermination and an incorrect assessment of their own capabilities and resources to respond to new challenges, in the absence of a clear understanding of the ongoing global processes (a distorted, biased, very Orwellian picture of the world, which they create for internal consumption), leads them to make bad decisions. Many Western leaders appear to be retreating from reality and to the “right side of history,” because the world around them does not match their ideal vision. The emerging and growing problems are becoming existential for the collective West. Contemporary French philosopher and novelist Michel Onfray exclaims: “The power of France is gone, it no longer exists.... People have stopped reading. Who reads serious literature anymore? It’s the collapse, the destruction of civilization. All this is very similar to what happened to the Roman Empire. What is happening now is a chronicle of the destruction of France, Europe, our civilization, and the end of European culture.”2
Given the current circumstances, Russophobia is a convenient yet temporary tool for diverting the attention of the general public in Europe away from their actual, everyday concerns. It is worth acknowledging that the current heightened attention of Western public opinion makers to the “instrumental” importance of Russophobia appears to be objectively grounded, given the fear of the collective West of Russia’s reemergence as a geopolitical power. Such an outcome was predicted in the past by prominent intellectuals like Hamish McRae3 and Walt Rostow.4
The authors suggest that Russophobia has a long-standing anamnesis with roots that can be legitimately traced back to the Middle Ages.
Historical Evolution of Russophobia
The 16th century brought a new era in relations between Russia and the West. As noted by Soviet historians in the preface to Jerome Horsey’s accounts, it was the time when “the countries of Northern and Western Europe began their path toward capitalism, and sought new sources of enrichment and markets, turning increasingly toward Eastern Europe.
… including Russia for trade.” The close attention to Russia was also driven by fear of the Ottoman Empire’s geopolitical activity in Central Europe (its army was able to reach Budapest) and prompted the search for new allies. The rise of reform movements such as Protestantism, which promoted the ideology of “God-sanctioned wealth,” further “widened” the European worldview. These diverse and contradictory processes led to a “growing interest in neighboring nations and countries. The wave of these varied and contradictory interests flooded Russia with foreign entrepreneurs, diplomats, merchants, and scientists. Their accounts and other testimonies became popular in various strata of Western European society, and the ‘Russian’ theme has since been widely disseminated in European literature.”5
In this manner, Russian studies in Western Europe became oriented toward pragmatism, focusing on the interests of what is now known as the economic elite. However, according to Austrian historian Hannes Hofbauer, the negative portrayal of Russia as “genetically hostile to the West” has a long history – “a history of demonization that has strained relations between Western Europe and Russia for centuries. Surely ... not all individuals within Western European societies harbored Russophobic viewpoints. Russian culture and spiritual traditions were often viewed as unique and deserving of admiration and recognition by intellectuals and artists around the world. Nevertheless, the image of Russia as an enemy has persisted over the centuries, fueled by the corresponding geopolitical and economic interests of Western elites.”6
Russophobia can be traced back to its historical “pioneers.” The origins of Russophobia in the West is considered to be the late 15th century, and its alma mater – Jagiellonian University, in the Polish city of Krakow. Apparently, history chose this timing and location for a reason, as the fall of the Mongol yoke in Russia in 1480 sparked fears among Europeans of a hypothetical westward “Russian expansion.” Poland, harboring its own ambitions for empire and hegemony in Eastern and Central Europe, was especially wary of the powerful Russian presence. As a result, it sought to rally its Western European neighbors against Russia through anti-Russian rhetoric. In the latter half of the 16th century, propagandists from Krakow disseminated anti-Russian propaganda in multiple languages, with Polish authors leading the charge. Interestingly, Polish intellectuals’ instincts were not misplaced; three centuries later, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Prussia effectively quashed Poland’s aspirations for Eastern European hegemony by partitioning the country. In contemporary times, however, there appears to be a revival of this pursuit of Polish grandeur, bolstered by Anglo-Saxon support and interests.
Nevertheless, the dissemination of anti-Russian propaganda in the German-speaking world had a lasting impact. Some historical documents provide sufficient evidence. For instance, King Frederick II of Prussia’s “First Political Testament” from 1752 stated that, “Prussia needs a secure border in the east and enough influence in Poland to have a real defensive line on the Vistula to contain Russia.... The civil war in Russia and its disintegration would meet the interests of Prussia the most. A strong Sweden as a Scandinavian counterbalance to Russia on the Baltic also plays into Prussia’s hands.”8 Evidently, the fear of Russia was already present at that time. The cultivated hatred was a clear indication and a flip side of the common fear that gave rise to Russophobia, and not just in Prussia.
In his article, “When Did Russia Become a Threat to the West?” the contemporary Russian historian Alexander Filyushkin writes: “According to the observation of A. Kappeler [a German author who wrote about Russia – Authors], a particularly persistent motif of ‘holy war’ against Muscovy began to be heard in 1578-1579.” In 1578, the Count of Alsace had a plan to turn Muscovy into an imperial province. The main author of that plan was Heinrich von Staden, a former oprichnik under Ivan the Terrible and a traitor who fled to the West. The count dreamed that “the new imperial province of Russia shall be ruled by one of the emperor’s brothers. In the conquered territories, power shall be vested in the imperial representatives, whose main task will be to provide German troops with everything they need at the expense of the population. For this purpose, peasants and merchants should be assigned to each fortification – for 20 miles around – so that they would pay salaries to military men and deliver everything necessary... The Russians would have their best horses taken away, and then all available boats and ships.”9 How is this different from Hitler’s Generalplan Ost?
Meanwhile, an ideological “crusade” against our country had gained momentum, leading to the appearance of numerous anti-Russian works in “enlightened” Europe. These works were written by Sigismund von Herberstein (Notes on Muscovite Affairs, 1517), Heinrich von Staden (The Land and Government of Muscovy, 1576), Charles Masson (Secret Notes on Russia and in Particular About the End of the Reign of Catherine II and the Reign of Paul I, 1801), Madame de Staël (Notes on Russia, 1812), and others. In these books, European scholars depict the Russian people as “white barbarians,” “slaves by nature,” and “aggressors.” It is not surprising that such frenzied, irrational Russophobia blossomed in the salons of the Old World, particularly after the defeat of Napoleon’s European invasion of Russia. Europe was horrified to see that Russia had resisted and routed the Euro-interventionist armies, led by Buonaparte himself, and subsequently became the continent’s greatest military force.
Russia in 1839, by French author Marquis de Custine, appeared during this period and became the strongest weapon in Europe’s information and propaganda war against our country. This Russophobic pamphlet defined the attitude of defeated “Euro-happies” toward Russians: “You can say of the Russians, both great and small, that they are intoxicated with slavery. He who has the misfortune to be born in this country remains to seek solace in proud dreams and hopes of world domination [but these are the typical European dreams of Napoleon and Hitler – Authors]. Russia lives and thinks like a soldier of a conquering army. And a true soldier of any country is not a citizen but a prisoner for life, doomed to guard his fellow unfortunates, prisoners like himself.”10
The quoted delusional and inappropriate quotes eloquently testify to the fact that, long before the emergence of the USSR, Europe had cooked up a propaganda “dish” called the “evil empire” and has been offering it to ordinary European citizens ever since. There was a brief period after the victory of 1945 when Europe did not hear such fabrications at all: They disappeared – that is until Churchill’s provocation with his Fulton speech. Furthermore, the English Russophobe chose the distant American shore to revive this policy; he would have been immediately shunned in postwar Europe, which had just lived through victory over fascism. Today, this “dish” is still served to the public to distract the European population from the social and economic problems that are becoming increasingly pressing and negative for the Euro-happy masses.
However, it should be noted that Russophobia is just one form of xenophobia: a mistrust of and ill-will toward a foreign culture, its manifestation, and its representatives. There are many other forms of xenophobia in Europe. Xenophobia can often be rooted in historical memory and experience. For example, it is well-known that the “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck “harbored a dislike for Poles from the beginning to the end of his life.” Bismarck believed that the creation of an independent Poland would be disastrous for Prussia, as it would create a new permanent enemy or “an ally for any enemy that would attack us.”11 Based on current Polish-German relations, little seems to have changed; the Poles are once again making claims on Germany, this time financially, with the backing of their Anglo-Saxon “protectors.”
The irony of modern history is that it is now politically risky for the Poles to express their dislike for the Germans. This is because Poland is the main recipient of financial assistance among EU member states, while Germany is the main donor and “benefactor,” representing the lion’s share of the EU’s financial aid to Poles that reaches 15 billion euros annually. Even so, Warsaw is constantly demanding more and more reparations from Germany for World War II, with the Germans lazily shrugging it off.
It is interesting to note that the “Iron Chancellor” was perhaps the first politician to recognize Poland’s role in European politics, particularly in the active promotion of Russophobia. It should be noted that the emerging contradiction between the “dream of greatness” and the modest reality became a historical precondition for the emergence among some of the Polish elite of a peculiar geopolitical “complex” of a failed great power. This complex manifests itself in the form of repressed but enduring historical resentment. In the current geopolitical climate, the Russophobic pretense acts as an ideological tool that can hold the political structure together and prevent the fragmentation of Polish society, which lags economically behind Western European countries – the “leaders” and “old-timers” of European integration. However, things in Europe are changing rapidly.
The Russophobia complex has also manifested itself in reputable historical works in the West. One of the notable figures in this cohort of historians was Richard Pipes (1923-2018), a respected American author of Polish descent who worked for a time in the administration of US President Ronald Reagan. It is interesting to note that a review of Pipes’ monograph Russia Under the Old Regime (1974), published in Britain, criticized the author for his “cross-cutting motif of the work” – “the perfidy of Russian muzhiks.” Mikhail Antonovich Alpatov (1903-1980), a classic of Russian history who had the opportunity to debate with Pipes, figuratively and succinctly evaluated his work: “For this American author, history is politics projected into the past.”12
These days, anti-Russian sentiments frequently surface in English publications targeting students and the general intelligentsia. Western Russophobia often manifests itself in a latent form in such publications – for instance, a desire to portray Europe after the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) as a space not only of “progress” but also of “calamities,” with the worst calamities taking place in Russia, of course. The validity of such assessments is questionable for a trained reader who learns, for example, from an Anglo-Saxon “scholarly” work that “the Decembrist uprising in 1825 took place in Moscow,” even though it actually took place in St. Petersburg.13 But the damage is done: British students in the best elite schools are learning a distorted version of history. And then Liz Truss and Boris Johnson appear as heads of the government.
“Russophobia has deep historical roots,” said the Swiss journalist and publisher Guy Mettan at a press conference in Moscow. A few years ago, he brought to Russia for presentation his book Russie-Occident, une guerre de mille ans: La russophobie de Charlemagne à la crise ukrainienne,14 translated into Russian.
Guy Mettan argues that a defining feature of this relationship is not merely that Russians were known for their love of bathing, unlike the “unwashed” and “grimy” Europeans of the Middle Ages (that’s a fact). The Swiss author posits that Russophobia is a historical feature of the European mentality: a belief that “things must be worse somewhere else,” established back when European dignitaries and their many servants would literally spend their time picking fleas off their clothing. This is why they purchased Chinese silk in Paris; the insects could not latch on to this fabric. The irony of history is that this situation could happen again, as cheap Russian gas has suddenly become expensive in “enlightened” Europe. And so, before our eyes, this “super-civilization” is retreating into the “dark ages,” where a warm bath is an unattainable luxury.
Russophobia: An Attempt at Systemization
Let us try to systematize the sources and components of Russophobia itself. For some reason, we tend to refer to this term as a general phenomenon – “Europeans’ hatred of Russia.” However, it seems that this Western phenomenon (the East has heard of Russophobia but has never practiced it) needs to be “atomized” and broken down to better understand its origins.
Russophobia is admittedly a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, so relying solely on accusatory pathos does not help to get to the heart of the matter. Einstein’s maxim comes to mind: A complex and incomprehensible phenomenon should be “decomposed” into a sum of simpler phenomena that are within our grasp. Thus, we can identify at least four components from which Russophobia stems: historical/political, natural resources, cultural, and spatial.
The historical and political component. Russia has been successfully confronting Europe for centuries, despite occasional retreats. The Russian Army has repeatedly defeated the combined European forces, culminating in campaigns that ended in the capitals of the interventionist countries. In other words, Russia has not only resisted the European aggressor but also punished it, you might say, for its “historical arrogance” (in 1614, 1814, 1945, etc.).
Defeats at the hands of Russia have left an indelible mark on the historical memory of European politics. Renowned Indian international political scientist Bhabani Sen Gupta spoke of the Germans’ historical memory, stating, “You humiliated them twice: when you took Berlin in 1945 and when you graciously allowed the unification of their country in 1990.” This is generally logical, but residents of the German Democratic Republic, due to the policies of their country’s authorities, felt neither “defeated” nor considered themselves “historical successors” to the Third Reich. Times have changed, and even the phrase that emerged among Europeans after the Soviet Union’s victory in 1945 comes to mind: “We liberated them, and they will never forgive us for that.” It does not matter who said it; what matters is that it remains valid today, given the new wave of Russophobia in Europe. The demolition of monuments to Soviet liberators and the marches of SS veterans in the Baltics are despicable examples of how Euro-happy liberators now openly mock the results of the victory over fascism in 1945 as their own defeat. “And they will never forgive us for that.” Isn’t that a pretext for Russophobic sentiment?
And in general, it’s worth pointing out how the perceptions of peoples living on the European peninsula of the Eurasian continent unfold from west to east. The Anglo-Saxons perceive themselves as superior to their counterparts in continental Europe. Britain regards continental Europe as “the East,” viewing it with all the requisite London arrogance. Similarly, Western Europeans view themselves as superior to the Central European nations to their east, who in turn, look down on Eastern Europe. The former socialist allies of the Eastern Europeans disparage Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Russians. This long-standing chain of distorted mental- geographical “superiority” has led to the fact that in Europe, nearly everyone but the British has a split consciousness, believing what is to the West to be superior and what is to the East – inferior. In essence, the vassal of the Western master aspires to be a master over his Eastern vassal. Such is their life.
The natural resources component. Europeans feel dispossessed in the face of Russia’s inexhaustible natural riches on the Eurasian continent, which, strictly speaking, is where the European peninsula geographically belongs, despite the self-proclaimed separate continent status. Not many elements of the periodic table are available on the European continent (this is the sin of pride!). This resource imbalance gives rise to an insulting sense of all-consuming envy toward Russia and an all-consuming desire to take away what former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said “belongs to all mankind.” These impulses in Russophobes have not faded, and the grasping reflexes of the Euro-happies have remained strong since colonial times. Yet, as usual, they blame Russia for the mismanagement of their own resources.
The cultural basis of Russia’s civilization. The collective West, through its attempts to change the cultural code of Russians and fraternal peoples, has been trying for centuries to return our country to a subordinate, “peripheral” status guaranteeing the dominance of “enlightened” Europe over the “uncivilized” East. However, the cultural expansion of the West surprisingly leads to Russia absorbing the best manifestations of European culture, integrating them as additional elements into its already rich culture, open to development and the best perceptions from the surrounding world. Nevertheless, the current imposition of “modern cultural” values from the West will have no chance of success in Russia, as Russian civilization has ancestral and powerful roots that sweep away all foreign elements.
It is a clinical fact that, according to psychological theory, people evaluate and think about the world around them based on how they think about and evaluate themselves. A good person sees the good around them, while an evil person sees evil. As the Russian proverb says: “How we judge others is how we judge ourselves.” Russia has always focused on development, culture, science, and education, which is why it looks to the West for these things. Hence the “West-worship,” the admiring glances toward Europe, and the desire to “be like them.” We only see the best in them. But what do they see in Russia? They see “an aggressor who wants to enslave Europe and the whole world.” So, it is a mirror reflection of their own thoughts! They attribute their worldview to Russia and judge our country and our people by themselves, attributing to us the properties they are accustomed to. The Euro-happies are unable to perceive otherness. The colonial period clearly showed that non-European peoples were perceived as “inferior races” in the Euro-colonizers, which is where Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” came from.
One more consideration. It is unlikely for a Westerner to ever fully understand a Russian, because Russians tend to live from their head (upper chakras, as Hindus would say), while a Westerner primarily lives from their lower chakras (stomach, etc.). The upper chakras are oriented toward development, while the lower ones focus on constant consumption (“educated consumers”) and the daily needs of the organism. These are antipodes within one organism that cannot exist without each other but function based on different concepts. Russia and the West, until they change their ways of thinking, will never fully understand each other. The “mysterious Russian soul” will never fully reveal itself to a gentleman sitting in an English pub with a mug of Guinness in his hands, and he, poor man, will never truly understand what Pushkin meant when he wrote, “The world hasn’t happiness, but there is freedom, peace.” This is why Dostoevsky said, “The Russian man is broad. ”
Of course, this cultural and physiological chasm cannot but give rise to misunderstandings and mistrust among Westerners, eventually leading to fears of the unknown and growing into a phobia called “Russophobia.” They do not understand us on an existential level; this “culture of canceling Russian culture” is a similar madness happening in Europe right now before our very eyes. Meanwhile, we have been absorbing all the best in Western and world culture for centuries – from music to literature, from theater to painting. The notion of rejecting this intellectual richness and cultural geniuses is unfathomable, as they are sometimes far better known among Russians than among citizens of Western countries.
Finally, let us consider the natural geographical and spatial origins of Russophobia. The inhabitants of the diminutive European countries have since childhood seen a world map where a huge Russia literally looms over the European peninsula of Eurasia. At an international conference, a Danish correspondent once explained to one of the authors why Europeans fear Russia, “Just look at the map: how big you are, and how small we are.” I was told the same thing in Sofia when I asked for directions to an institution: “It’s far away – three tram stops.” That is not far by Moscow standards. Similarly, in Ljubljana, a person living 60 kilometers away, in the countryside, would say: “We go to the capital once a month; it’s so far away.” But in Russia, you can drive 450 kilometers from Syktyvkar to Vyatka in five hours and only marvel at the scale and scope of Russia’s expanse.
In other words, Russophobia is also a constant Euro-stress, often reaching psychotic levels of “horror,” which has possessed “enlightened” Europeans since childhood. Apparently, Russian Emperor Alexander III was right when he said: “Our vastness is feared.” This is an immutable reality. As they say: “Geography is destiny.”
On the one hand, the aforementioned “components” and “sources” (there could be more) exist objectively. On the other hand, the events of recent months have highlighted the obvious weaknesses of Western European civilization. The key events, in our view, are the following:
(1) Demographic infirmity – i.e., the aging of the population and the withdrawal of the top-quality workforce from active demographic cohorts – poses a significant challenge. The cluster of industries with a high share of added value, both intellectual (such as education) and professional (such as the transfer of trade secrets from generation to generation), relies heavily on such a workforce. It is important to note that we are not referring to robotized, flow-based production, but to sectors that require high knowledge and technology with a large share of skilled manual labor (such as aircraft and rocket production, shipbuilding, transport engineering, precision engineering, power engineering, and the most technologically advanced and “science-oriented” segments of the military-industrial complex, among others).
(2) Absolute resource scarcity. For decades, Western Europe maintained the international competitiveness of its goods by relying on cheap mineral resources (almost at “in-union” prices, as they used to say in Soviet times). By contrast, Asian Pacific economies were accustomed to working with more expensive minerals and resources and were eventually able to adapt, producing high-quality and competitive products.
(3) Changes in the ethnic and racial background of economic and political processes. These have lowered the quality of productive forces, especially in the former metropolitan countries. The considerable and powerful influx of human resources from a “foreign culture” has not allowed the social and economic systems of Western European countries to adjust the newcomers to the necessary lifestyle changes. Furthermore, the reproduction rate of the incoming population significantly outstrips the pace of demographic processes in the native European population.
(4) The intellectual and professional shortcomings of the current ruling elites in the countries of the collective West, and their inability to formulate a coherent strategy for their own development, particularly in the face of the dynamic collapse of the “liberal world order.” In our opinion, today’s leaders and members of governments in some Western European countries can be described as lumpen elites, using the conceptual framework of A.G. Frank and other researchers of modern “peripheral capitalism.” However, in this case, we are dealing with “core capitalism.”
Yes, while Russia is a country with a significant mineral resource potential, this does not mean that we are ready to service Europe with energy on terms favorable to the Euro-happies, especially after the well- known events of recent months. Since 2007, we have been rethinking our model of participation in the global economy, and this process has gained even more momentum recently. Russophobic politicians will need to accept the new global political reality. In other words, they will have to admit that the transformation of Russian civilization into a “society of educated consumers” resembling the Western consumer society, only at a lower level, has failed. “The eastern barbarians do not deserve more.” The evils of this idea were clearly seen by such social thought leaders as Dostoevsky, Spengler, and others. Today, it has become obvious how this attack on Russians’ nature has failed – Russians accepted Coca-Cola and jeans, but most did not start “diving into the consumerist element.” One of the mysteries of the Russian soul for Euro-happies is its balance between the spiritual and the material. Remember the saying: “What is good for a Russian is death for a German”?
It is in the interests of the Russophobic losers to understand once and for all that Russia is not just a society and a state; it is first and foremost a civilization. Civilizational foundations ultimately determine the cultural, political, and economic foundations and bonds of society,15 serving as its most faithful “pilot chart” that prevents the people and the country from straying from the path set by history.
In addition, Moscow realizes that Western Europe, lacking a long- term strategy for foreign economic and foreign policy behavior, finds itself in an increasingly “inhospitable” global international environment. In other words, the French Great Bourgeois Revolution (1789-1794) has exhausted its ideological potential. The fuse that helped the Western super- civilization to sit at the top of the world geopolitical pyramid for a long time under the slogans of Liberty! Equality! Fraternity! has burned out. We can see how the EU is turning into a vassal of America, to the delight of Eastern European Euro-happies. In these conditions, Russophobia plays the role of a glue holding them together, while the foundations of financial and economic relations continue to erode under the pressure of the crisis.
Principal Forms of Modern Russophobia Across Nations
Like any social phenomenon, Russophobia exists in a specific national space. This space’s tone is determined by a particular European nation’s historical memory – in this case, relations with Russia. We can say that the typological characteristics of Russophobia coexist and interact with the national characteristics of the behavioral patterns of the European peninsula’s nations. Therefore, we believe that Russophobia can be categorized into several historical and genetic subtypes:
(1) The “failed great power” complex. It is exemplified by Poland, as mentioned above. There are numerous examples of the destructive behavior of the Polish nobility and modern elites, and not just toward Russia – the consequences of which were the partitions of the Polish- Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772, 1793, and 1795). Here, Russophobia can be talked about as a model of behavior of the elites of a country that has lost its “great power” status and, at the same time, has historical grievances against Moscow. Nonetheless, it is important to mention that the Poles did not harbor resentment against their eastern neighbor when they captured the Kremlin 150 years earlier, believing themselves fully justified. It was only upon the arrival of Minin and Pozharsky that the Poles promptly recalled their Russophobia.
The elites of Germany are haunted by the same historical grievances, as evidenced by Chancellor Scholz’s recent admission, denying Germany’s “historical guilt” for World War II and the atrocities exposed at Nuremberg. In considering Germany, it is worth noting the expert opinion of the late Italian journalist Giulietto Chiesa, who identified the policy of the Federal Republic of Germany as a latent form of Russophobia. The reasoning of this experienced observer was clearly logical, as demonstrated by Germany’s support for the so-called “revolution of national dignity” in the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and its participation in the unviable “Normandy format,” which German and French leaders Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande themselves admitted was a ruse to deceive Moscow in order to buy time to strengthen the Ukrainian Army for war against Donbass.
Japan is also keeping pace in this process with its dream of revenge and the return of its “northern territories.” It is worth recalling how, after the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, Japanese Foreign Minister Jutaro Komura, during the signing of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, pointedly remarked to the Russian delegation, “War crosses out all treaties. You have failed, and let’s proceed from the current situation.” Today, we can send these words back to the Japanese and close the question of their territorial claims against us. However, Japan’s geopolitical ambitions, which some Western political analysts in the late 1980s and early 1990s considered a potential threat to the US, should not be underestimated.17 In general, among Japanese elites, Russophobia is a matter of consensus.
They should be reminded that the UN Charter includes an excerpt that states: “The term enemy state as used in paragraph 1 of this Article applies to any state which during the Second World War has been an enemy of any signatory of the present Charter.” Despite almost 80 years since the end of the war, this paragraph of the UN Charter remains in force, and those who fought as part of the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis and their allies against the USSR-US-UK coalition and their allies should remember it. The revision of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, territorial disputes, and new challenges of the 21st century are not valid reasons for reformatting the UN Charter, which was crafted by the victors at the end of the most terrible and bloody war of the 20th century. It was not the victors who started this war, but it was the victors who wrote the UN Charter, carefully crafting its language.18
Sweden can be viewed as following the example of the German and Japanese “mishaps,” albeit from a more distant historical perspective. The Swedes’ historical memory is “tainted” not only by their defeat at Poltava and their king’s flight from continental Europe with an army defeated by Peter the Great in 1709, but also by the Swedish-Russian War of 1808- 1809, which resulted in the annexation of Finland and the Åland Islands to the Russian Empire, dealing a significant blow to the northern European challenger to continental control. These events continue to linger in the minds of defeated interventionists, forming an indelible and inherited part of social memory. It is no coincidence that opinion polls have consistently recorded negative attitudes toward Russia among Swedes and Poles alike.
The example of England is particularly interesting, especially as bilateral relations with this island nation have been marked by heightened tensions for centuries. The “Great Game” is well-known to tens of millions of Russian television viewers who have been presented with this centuries- old struggle between England and Russia for influence in Eurasia. Our country emphasizes the United Kingdom’s consistently “implacable” policy toward Russia. British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston in the mid- 19th century openly stated: “How hard it is to live when no one is at war with Russia.”
Admittedly, our Fatherland, too, could hold its own. In 1908, Lenin wrote a policy article titled “Inflammable Material in World Politics,”19 which was a generalized plan to dismantle the British Empire. Ironically, the executor of such an anti-British mission was US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who, along with Winston Churchill, signed the Atlantic Charter in August 1941 – one of the policy documents of the anti-Hitler coalition that provided legitimate grounds for dissolving the British Empire after the end of World War II.
Is Russophobia an incurable disease? Not at all. Set against the above typology, the “Hungarian metamorphosis” appears mysterious at first glance. After all, the intervention of Russian troops in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-1849, extremely difficult relations during World War II, and the events of 1956 seem to have permanently “separated” our peoples. “History doesn’t end; it returns,” to paraphrase the Indian futurologist Parag Khanna. Here, we are confronted with the factor of the role of the individual in history, embodied in the actions of Hungarian leader János Kádár (1912-1989).
According to Valery Musatov, a recognized expert on Hungary, the situation stabilized fairly quickly in Hungary after the events of 1956. “During 1957-1958, the policy of the Communist Party fundamentally changed, aiming first and foremost to achieve social harmony. The authorities began to address issues such as raising the standard of living of the people (including through loans from the USSR), ensuring sustainable economic development, modernizing the management system, and strengthening the human factor.”20 Kádár was seen in global political circles as a European statesman. In our opinion, the current Hungarian leadership has adopted proven principles of pragmatic conservatism, which have ensured the stable support of the people. “Objectively minded Western politicians and sociologists thought that Kádár could win elections organized in full compliance with the standards of bourgeois democracy,” and their reasoning was not unfounded.
Does Russophobia exist in the US? It is doubtful. Yes, it is certainly present in the Washington establishment as an important element in organizing the confrontation between superpowers, but the sentiments “against Russia” are yet to be found in the American hinterland. Ordinary Americans are sometimes not even fully aware of major world events to have any reasons to dislike Russia. However, this is not true in the case of the noisy Russophobic immigrant community, especially immigrants of Ukrainian origin. This is also true of the Canadian diaspora – even in the decades before the 2014 Maidan, this part of the émigré community has always reacted to the word “Russia” like a bull to a red flag.
In the US, open dislike by people from one large country toward another large country is simply unnatural, as it could be characterized as an “expression of their own inferiority.” This is categorically unacceptable for Americans but is the Euro-happies’ chronic affliction. Yes, there is a neo-imperialist ideological current in America; however, the politicians who represent it (e.g., Lindsey Graham) are far from the most popular and influential figures in a country that is going through a complicated period of its history. Populists oriented toward solving specific American problems are rapidly gaining strength, with Russia not being a priority. The logic of the famous conservative Patrick Buchanan21 is as follows: The post-Soviet space is the world’s periphery, and the focus of US attention is China. Yes, Russophobia exists in the American establishment, but it is flavored by the political interests of the establishment rather than chronic hatred of Russia, as in the case of the British: “We still harbor mutual animosity with Russia,” argued Lord Palmerston.22
(2) Impaired historical memory or flawed sociohistorical experience is another type of Russophobia, which could be characterized as “transient” or migratory in origin. In this case, Russophobia is “exported” through migration to other countries and continents. This type of Russophobia is particularly evident in North America, the primary destination of migrants, with Canada experiencing it intensely and the US to a lesser extent. As they moved to the “land аcross the ocean,” these “aggrieved” groups, particularly those from Eastern and Central Europe (including those from the margins of the Russian Empire), brought with them the weight of their previous cultural, social, and political phobias. The harmful historical experience of failed “magnates over Muscovites,” transformed by anger and powerlessness into obvious Russophobes, has been passed down from generation to generation and gradually became an integral part of the political culture and political consciousness of emigrant “minorities” seeking to compensate for their relatively small numbers with high political activism.
The US Democratic Party, which badly needed the active support of various segments of the “disadvantaged” population, whether from Europe or Latin America, for its election victories at various levels, provided a political haven for these motivated groups. The virtual absence of a coherent social and economic program for the Dems after the “Great Society” idea, which President Lyndon Johnson formulated but never implemented in the mid-1960s, resulted in their active promotion of a “human rights” policy in the USSR. Emigrants from our own lands and countries in Eastern and Central Europe took the most active part in the development and implementation of this process, since the Russophobic bacteria is deeply ingrained in this crowd.
After the collapse of the USSR, the West’s anti-Russian policy logically continued with the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders. The “revolution of national dignity” in 2014 on the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR can be seen as the apogee of this process. History proves that the Democratic Party often panders to the phobias of its voters, particularly certain migrant groups in the US population, to win elections. And parochial interest is intermixed with geopolitical confrontation. The famous Hollywood film “Wag the Dog” was aptly named.
To be fair, it should be noted that Hollywood was also founded by Russian and Jewish immigrants from Russia in the early 20th century. At first, there was not a whiff of Russophobia within the walls of this “dream factory,” and the influence of communists and the American left, in general, was particularly strong until both were defeated after World War II. Charlie Chaplin himself was forced to emigrate to Switzerland to escape American political reaction in the form of Senator McCarthy and his notorious commission on “un-American activities.”
(3) Russophobia as a substitute for an absent economic agenda. This type of Russophobia is not uncommon. It is often driven by ruling groups attempting to divert the attention of the general population from real issues that they are unable to resolve for various reasons. Additionally, the factor of an external threat or challenge is often employed to consolidate mass movements on a platform of xenophobia, which is more comprehensible and attractive to intellectually primitive groups – the Ku Klux Klan being a prime example.
Our renowned historian Robert Landa once wrote: “History never follows preconceived formulas or adheres to the best principles. It is determined by the people who shape it.”23 This is a universal truth: The current economic model in the West, characterized by “financialization” or the dominance of financial capital over productive capital, is outdated. Its growth limits have been surpassed many times over, and this economic system is sustained in Western Europe by energy resources from Russia at “in-union” prices and in America by the dollar’s dominant role in international financial settlements.
In this case, appealing to the phenomenon of Russophobia and exaggerating an external threat such as Russia is a direct attempt to obfuscate the true causes of the ongoing crisis. It also demonstrates the obvious professional incompetence and confusion of Western think tanks responsible for providing intellectual support for the political agendas of those in power in the West. It can be observed that by disabling the “upper chakras” and focusing on the “lower chakras,” even the best Western think tanks have been brought to a standstill in a crisis that needs to be understood and described, and for which recipes for overcoming it need to be developed. The concepts of reformatting the world, expressed by the leaders of the World Economic Forum in Davos with their “Great Reset” ideas, proved to be no panacea due to the narrow understanding by Klaus Schwab and his team of the changes taking place in the world.24
And the desire to fill this gap with Russophobia as a “compensating factor” for the lack of a coherent economic policy is simply a waste of time, an effort to divert the attention of the masses to a false target while “serious people” address the issue of “What is to be done?”
The authors of this article contend that Russophobia has resurfaced and has been revived as a readily available ideological tool for the Western establishment, currently embodying (with few exceptions) the “plebeian” political culture that has supplanted the “aristocratic” political culture of the “historical” elites in Western countries. One only needs to look at the qualities of contemporary politicians who have taken the place of Nixon, de Gaulle, Thatcher, Churchill, Reagan, and Brandt.
The French cultural scholar Come Carpentier de Gourdon argues that contemporary Western political elites lack an understanding of strategy as a long-term vision and program of action. At best, the “elites” possess tactics as a set of reactive movements in response to external impulses and requests.25 As a result, Russophobic rhetoric is beginning to boomerang back to those who direct it into the political space.
An authoritative British author, Martin Jacques,26 editor of the influential publication Marxism Today (which, incidentally, also published non-Marxist politicians), has described the current global processes as the end of the world order established after the Cold War. The unwillingness of Russia, China, India, and many other countries to play by the rules imposed by Western elites is the driving force behind the change in the global development paradigm, including the ideological paradigm.
There is a legend that Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov was “reluctant” to go to Europe after the expulsion of Napoleon’s Euro-warriors from Russia in the winter of 1812. Allegedly, in response to Emperor Alexander I’s desire “to save European civilization,” the commander replied that “Russia is a unique civilization,” apparently referring to the need to solve our domestic problems. History, as Mark Twain said, “never repeats itself, but often rhymes.” Perhaps, we should trust the intuition of Kutuzov, a sage and defender of the Russian lands. After all, the current geopolitical situation is strikingly reminiscent of events and processes that took place more than 200 years ago.
The marginalization of Europe in the global arena and the increasing socioeconomic, ethnic-demographic, and migration problems seem to compel the political elites of this relatively humble territory to focus more on their domestic affairs and pay as little of their precious attention to Russia as possible. And when the Euro-happies eventually come knocking at the Kremlin’s door, asking for a piece of bread, one could respond with the words of Emperor Alexander III: “When the Russian Tsar is fishing, Europe can wait.” Everything should have its price, including Russophobia.
2 https://www.lesechos.fr/politique-societe/societe/michel-onfray-denonce-la-disparition- dune-civilisation-francaise-1325138
3 McRae H. The World in 2020: Power, Culture and Prosperity: A Vision of the Future, London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.
4 Rostow W.W. Crouzet F. & Clesse A. ed. The United States and the World: The First Half of the Twenty-First Century. Leading the World Economically, Amsterdam: Dutch University Press, 2003, pp. 265-280.
5 Gorsey [Horsey] J., Yanina V.L ed., Sevastyanova A.A translated and compiled. Zapiski o Rossii. XVI - nachalo XVII v. Moscow: MSU Publishing House. 1990.
6 Hofbauer H. Rossiya: obraz vraga. Istoriya odnoy demonizatsiyi, Krasnodar: Ekoinvest, 2018.
9 Filyuskin A. “Kogda Rossiya stala schitatsya ugrozoy Zapadu?” uchebana5.ru/ cont/2391905-p7.html
10 De Kyustin A. Rossiya v 1839 godu. Moscow: KoLibri, 2020.
11 Vlasov N.A. Bismark. Zhelezny kantsler. Yauza-katalog. Moscow, 2018.
12 Alpatov M.A. Russkaya istoricheskaya mysl i Zapadnaya Evropa XII-XVII vv. Moscow: Nauka. 1973.
13 Evans R.J. The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914. London: Penguin, 2017.
14 Mettan G. Zapad - Rossiya: Tysyacheletnyaya voyna. Istoriya rusofobii ot Karla Velikogo do ukrainskogo krizisa. Moscow: Paulsen, 2016.
15 Reysner L.I. Tsivilizatsiya i sposob obsheniya. Moscow: Nauka-Vostochnaya Literatura, 1993.
17 Friedman G., Lebard M. The Coming War with Japan. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.
19 Lenin V.I. “Goryuchiy material v mirovoy politike.” Complete works. Vol. 17, pp. 174- 183.
20 Musatov V.L. Rossiya v pautine globalizatsii. Moscow:Vostok-Zapad, 2010.
21 Byukenen P. Smert Zapada. Moscow: АST Publishing House, 2007.
23 Landa R.G. Neskonchaem vek minuvshy: (Vospominaniya). Publishing House IV RAN. Moscow, 2018.
25 Carpentier de Gourdon C. “Post-Democracy and Juristocracy in the Age of Confusion.” Sunday Guardian. October 17, 2020. sundayguardianlive.com/news/post-democracy-juristocracy-age-confusion (retrieved on December 16, 2022).
26 Jacques M. When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World. London: Allen Lane, 2009.
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