LOOKING FOR THE BORDER BETWEEN EAST AND WEST.
NATIONALISM AND POTENTIAL TERRITORY CLAIMS
IN EASTERN EUROPE
Oh, East is East, and West is West,
and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently
at God’s great Judgement Seat.
R. Kipling «The Ballad of East and West»
In the culture of the majority of nations inhabiting Eurasia the stereotype of dividing the greatest land monolith into East and West has taken shape and developed during centuries. This stereotype has in its core the concept fixed in ideology guidelines on initial «singularity», cultural opposition of people inhabiting these two geographic integral parts.
The existence of this concept deep inside the contemporary Eurasia1
mass consciousness manifests itself in several important signs.
First, more or less definite self reflection of Eurasia nations, as of what geographic integral part they belong to, indicates that the stage of fixed ideology opposition has been achieved both in the West and in the East. «We in the East are accustomed to…», «our West civilization values»- many of these cliches can be mentioned denoting the existence of fixed positive self identification of people with these notions. That means that both integral units accept such division and, besides, feel not only and not so much bound opposition to the outside force as some straight inner accord.
Second, the East-West opposition became a general practice. These terms are common in all levels of information field ranging from domestic to political and scientific use.
All other social-psychological constants dividing people in their own eyes on «us» and «them» do not have so much pronounced geographic ties – neither classes, nor confession, nor trade, nor even ethnic groups. It is just natural for a geographer to challenge the question where the East ends and the West begins? Is there a border between them? The terms themselves denoting the opposition poles imply that they form some continuum not allowing existence of one pole without the other. It is general knowledge in geography that in the current territory of Eurasia there is no uninhabited zone stretching from one shore of the continent to the other. General historical facts prove that during centuries people from East and West had numerous mass contacts. Therefore, there can not but exist such a border (zone of contacts). Evidently, this border should be pretty extraordinary. If it exists, what does it seem to be, and is it possible at some circumstances to become a political one? The study proves to be very complex by the fact, that this border is of the sort that sooner divides minds and souls, rather than countries, territories and all material objects on the land. This border can not be marked on the ground digging the ditch or building a wall. Nobody can definitely say where the border is.
The main working hypothesis for us is the suggestion that the concept of two worlds in Europe, if not hostile, but civilly completely different has existed for many centuries, which could not but influence on particularity of modern political mass conscience. The task of present study we consider as determining the main influence tools of the East-West ideology split on current or future political–geographic shifts. We believe necessary to determine to what extent the geographic split of mass political conscience can influence on current political borders changes.
To solve the set task it is necessary to define the object and the subject of the study, that is to answer to two questions:
- Where the contact zone should be sought?
- What political force can stand as the main tool of potential political-geographic shifts under the influence of the civilized split?
In order to answer the first question we’ll refer, as expert values, to the opinions of great scholars working in various scientific fields.
East–West Contact Zone
Halford Mackinder at the turn of this century, as well as some other representatives of geopolitical school of classic geostrategy, divided the political world into «people of sea» and «people of land», based on the direct influence of geographic location on potential power of states. Mackinder saw Eastern Europe as the territory, control over which is essential to gain the world supremacy or, at least, to dominate in the world politics. The struggle for this territory is waged by Heartland, the domain of «people of land»(associated chiefly with Russia, and before with USSR, Russian Empire, Mongol Empire), and the coastland band of states, which in different times and to different extent were and still are under control of Western Europe and USA.
L.N. Gumilev, in contrast to the above mentioned school, was in the least concerned with political results and their causes. Nevertheless, his theory of ethnogeny and particularly the concept of super ethnical alliances also reason the existence of some civilized conflict. From his point of view Eastern Europe is the interaction arena for at least two super ethnic alliances – West European or Christian world and Eurasia super ethnos.
S. Huntington speaking about «clash of civilizations» also points to Eastern Europe zone as the frontier. The list of authors could be continued.
Though the concept grounds and terminology could be different, all authors have the main confronting Eurasia alliances geographically essentially similar. All of them point to the Eastern Europe territory as the zone of contact and historical confrontation of alliances which could be identified with concepts of East and West.
Actual politics also not once marked these frontiers. Among latest bright examples are the League of Nations’ «sanitary cordon», notorious «iron curtain» – all these are in Eastern Europe. And the very current situation with anxiety of «Eastern Block» states to convert into the former enemy camp of NATO without Russia, the «elder brother» – isn’t it the civilized split zone indicator?
Thus, the choice of Eastern Europe and some neighboring lands, as the object of our study is seen quite valid. The boundaries of the object are, as follows: continental part of Europe, including Scandinavia peninsula and adjoining islands in the North; the Urals mountains and Ural river bordering Europe in the East; continental Europe with adjoining islands limited by the Kuma-Manych hollow in the South; the line Rein – Alps – Italian – Slovenian border in the West.
To answer the question on potential political carriers of the civilized split we have to find subjects meeting three criteria:
- fixed carrier of the East-West ideology split;
- subject of politics;
- capability of mass political mobilization.
The latter condition is essential for the possibility to become a viable political force. Are there such subjects?
We believe, that the only subject meeting all the criteria is a nation.
Nation as a Carrier of the Civilized Split
The definitions of a nation are nearly as much various as the definitions of such notions as culture. They are ranging from narrow radical concepts, distinctive, say, for Marxism, up to maximum general and, therefore, amorphous views, typical for some positivistic scientific schools. Not entering the discussion on nation definitions, we suggest a working definition of a nation, built upon most prevalent approaches. So, based on common views of such scholars in the field of nations and nationalism, as A. Smith, J. Anderson, H. de Blij, G. Gotlieb, E. Hobsbaum and P. Taylor, we’ll understand a nation as an ethnos, having political self identification signified by a common political demand /24,33,34,35,36,37/. To define ethnos we’ll use L.N. Gumilev’s definition: «An ethnos is a group (unity) of people naturally (historically) originated, based on ingenious behavior stereotype, existing as the energy system and confronting themselves to other such groups…»/12/. Following Anderson we believe that nations, contrary to the majority of other social alliances, not only occupy a certain territory, but firmly associate themselves with the territory, that is they have the indication of territorial self identification. Note, that national self identification can be directed not only to the territory of the state where current nation representatives live. Thus, Armenia, the motherland of all Armenians, but the majority of the nation lives outside the borders of the state territory; all Kurdistan serves as national territory both for Turkish and Iraqi Curds; Israel is the historical motherland for all Jews etc.
The definition of a nation itself suggests, as one of the foundations, firm contrasting itself to other similar collectives, cultivating the notion of it’s «singularity». We’ll dare suppose, that it is precisely this contrasting closely associated with territorial self identification, that provides the ground for the East-West ideology split. It remains to establish, if the nation being the subject of politics (unlike, for instance, the ethnos) can mobilize its members for actions aimed on the territory repartition.
Political demands shaping the nation usually manifest themselves in the form of nationalistic ideology. And it is nationalistic ideology that serves as the tool of mass political mobilization. How does it come about?
Nationalism as the Specific Case of Ideology
Many scholars, politicians and public figures point out today spreading of nationalistic ideology sphere of influence. Nationalism as other ideologies serves as «type of proof and recognition of the matter based on insufficiently objective and sufficiently subjective grounds»/19/. Any nationalistic doctrine gives clear and simple answers to the questions that the modern science fails to give unambiguous answers.
All nationalistic forms have something in common. It is a common outlook or the concept of the system of the universe. It is conventional to classify this common base as the initial nationalism doctrine. Differences inherent to each specific nationalism constitute the secondary doctrine. Stated below are the main issues of initial doctrine formulated by A. Smith and L. Tevey and used by Taylor in his book «Political Geography»/37/. These ideology issues are typical for all nationalists:
1. The attitude of nationalism to surrounding world - the world consists of the mosaic of nations; the world order depends on how complete this mosaic is represented by the system of independent states.
2. The relationship of a nation and society - nations are natural cells of society (its integral parts); nations are united by culture (common historical and ethnic origin) each nation needs its own independent state to realize its culture; all nations to a greater extent than states have the right for a territory and a homeland.
3. The relationship of an individual and a nation – each individual belongs to a certain nation; interests of the nation are superior to the individual ones; the individual can be really free only through belonging to the nation, only together with the nation.
This arrangement is universal not only for any form of nationalism but practically for any other ideology. Once you change some terms it can be applied to class, state, sexist and other ideologies.
As the ideology of nationalism originates itself in a unity of ethnos, setting the task of achieving some benefit for this ethnos, we can formulate the definition of nationalism, as follows:
Nationalism is the ideology movement which is created (comes into existence) within the ethnos and leads to the elaboration of the common political demand for this ethnos. As result the ethnos transforms into the other level of its development and becomes a nation. A nation does not exist without a nationalism and it is the nationalism that serves as the tool of the mass political mobilization.
We tend to agree with the majority of mentioned above authors that political demands shaping the nation usually are connected with the specific territory. More over, the territory issue constitutes the main part of the demands.
The Fixed Link Between Nation, Territory and Ideology
The definition of a nation given above implies the presence of its two components : a) natural (environmental – social) – ethnos; b) ideological – ideology of nationalism. Without nationalism there is no nation. Nationalism, i.e. ideology aiming the achievement of benefit for the ethnos members, is inherent for any nation. Having the common doctrine, values, different forms of nationalism set specific tasks often contrary, hostile to one another.
Ethnos creation is associated with the opposition that members of some unity direct to the surrounding individuals not included into the unity. Division on «us» and «them» takes place. «Our» ideology and view of life are built up. The ethnos categories are formulated – truth, good, beauty, wealth (justice), which rationalize the irrational living goals of the ethnos members/14/. All surrounding world, all events are judged according to the categories as they are interpreted in the ethnos. The difference in judgement of surrounding reality within the framework of categories of different ethnoses brings about misunderstanding, dislike and, as consequence, conflicts between different ethnos representatives. The nationalism arising within the ethnos comprises the particularities of the outlook of the ethnos members. It reflects the perception and behavior stereotypes inherent for them. The general outlook is shaped under the direct influence of the ethnos historical fate (victories, defeats, gains, losses, etc.), and the nationalistic ideology of the ethnos widely use the ethnos (nation) history for setting goals to its members. The necessity of the achievement of the goals set by ideology is motivated among others with historical facts, as they appear to ideologists. The attempt to build up the ideology with the goal of mobilizing the ethnos members efforts without regard for their outlook particularities formed on the base of historical events is doomed to failure. In any case such mobilization will be ineffective as it takes much energy for administrative interventions. Certainly, the nationalism of the ethnos (nation) changes (updates) with time. But taking into account the sluggishness of ethnic disposition, the heritage of behavior stereotypes in next generations, the ideologies which for spreading their ideas use the interpretations of events closely associated with the ethnos history will win the competition.
As the guidelines for further development, the nationalistic ideologies usually use the past victories and achievements. The formula: «We used to be great (we used to be very well) – now everything is worse than it used to be – we need our former greatness (wealth) back» is used by all nationalistic ideologies. It has also much to do with the issue of territory control in interpretation of nationalistic ideologies. Spreading the territory controlled by the national state up to the borders of the «golden age» domain or maximum spread of possessions or settlement habitat of ethnos(nation) is considered to be national good. Territory gains in the past become the subject of nostalgic reminiscences and then the goal of the specific policy.
The nation emergence and existence goes along with transformation of territory into the ideology value. The territory beside the natural resources significance gains a specific ideology value. From the point of view of the nationalistic ideology carrier each part of the territory has some value which in its turn comprises the ideology and material values.
This paper deals with precisely the ideology value of the area (territory), which exists as the consequence ideology component of the nation itself.
Territory Component and Territorial Claims
Territory component of a nation gives it the principal political advantage over the majority of other social unities – the possibility of political territorial self determination. From the point of view of a nation only the achievement of possibility to be the arbiter of its own destiny can fully guarantee the development of the national values. Therefore, it is the demand of national self determination of various types, that constitutes the main part of political demands of any nationalism. Evidently, that the creation of the national state is the possibility for the nation to provide most radical control over the national territory and freely mobilize its members to accomplish the goals of the nationalistic ideology.
As nationalism, being an ideology, does not have the scientific objectiveness, but signifies the national political demands (including territorial), the determination of the borders of the national state is also quite subjective. There are many cases when the territories claimed as national are inhabited with people not associating themselves with this nation. Most often it is the result of cultivation of the perception of the nation’s «golden age», which is in its turn associated with the period of maximum territorial expanse of the national state or the possessions of the nation(ethnos)’s representatives. In this case the territorial claims require justification and foundation. It is necessary to prove to the nation’s members the «loftiness» and «vital necessity» of the claims to be realized. These justifications can also decrease possible obstructions coming from the outside world. Nationalistic ideology bringing forward certain territorial claims simultaneously produces their justifications as convincing as possible.
Possible territorial claims of nationalistic ideologies are, as a rule, motivated by goals common for any nationalistic ideology:
1. Creation of a nation state which includes all the territories of the compact settlement of the nation’s representatives.
2. Maximum possible political, military, economic power of this state.
3. Minimization of the power of the competing (hostile) states.
4. Spreading of the national culture through the world.
The latter of the listed goals represents the extreme manifestation form of the national consciousness, reflected in the nationalistic ideology. It can hardly be reasoned rationally.
Accepting one of these tasks as goals of actual policy implies producing certain territorial claims as well.
Below we shall try to find the uniform rational foundations for the possible (potential) territorial claims of any Eastern European nation in case nationalistic movements arise. In other words we intend to measure the potential ideological value of the territories of Eastern Europe for all possible nationalism forms. This value can also serve as the indication of relative grade of the nationalistic territorial claims risk for different parts of the territory being studied. It needs to be stressed that we shall be in the least interested in the analysis of the real existing nationalistic movements and ideologies, claims and conflicts as well as in discussing the probability of their appearance. We aim to find out what territorial claims are possible in principle. It is this that shall allow us to answer the main issue here – how and where the contact zone of civilized integral alliances can potentially turn into the real political conflict.
Hierarchy of the Possible Territorial Claims
Without the foundation of territorial claims the effective propaganda of nationalistic ideology cultivating these claims is not possible, and accordingly not possible their accomplishment. The nationalistic propaganda is aimed at the mass support of this ideology in the nation (ethnos). Without the support the ideology becomes pointless for its carriers and propagandists. Therefore the aspiration for taking possession of some territory should be more or less validated or at least justified. To tell the degree of this validity it is important to note the following:
1. The more distant in the past is the tie of a nation (ethnos) with the territory the less valid is the claim.
2. The greater area of the «wishful» territory, the less valid it is.
To speak on specific validity of territorial claims we can highlight three groups of validity. We arbitrarily call them «Ethnic», «State» and «Strategic».
- areas of the compact settlement of the population belonging to a certain ethnos (nation) at present;
- territory inhabited by a certain ethnos in the past;
- territory inhabited by the ancestors of a certain ethnos (nation);
- territory occupied by the ethnoses close to a certain one by their language, culture, confession.
- territory that belonged to the nation state of a certain nation (ethnos) in 20th
- territory that belonged to the nation state of a certain nation (ethnos) since the reliable historic evidences became available;
- territory that did not belong to the nation state of a certain nation (ethnos), but that did fall under some control of it (i.e. vassals);
- territory that belonged to the state which can not be called the nation state, but which elite partly consisted of the representatives of a certain ethnos.
- territory that was several times occupied by the nation state of a certain nation (ethnos);
- territory, effective control over which was continuously declared as the goal of the foreign policy of a certain nation’s nation state (like Dardanelles and Bosporus flows for Russia).
In light of nationalism’s subjectivity not excepting the issue of control over the territory it is impossible to build up a gradation of possible territorial claims according to their force within the framework of any single group. The combination of the most often used foundations looks more preferable. Several variants of gradations are possible here and the arrangement suggested below represents the variant we believe as most logical. For the specific purpose of this study there were chosen the specific criteria for the estimation of comparative validity of the possible claims as follows:
1. Territory of the compact settlement of a certain nation (ethnos) in the 20th
century which is not part of the contemporary national state.
2. Territories that used to be part of the nation state in the 20th
century and that do not belong to it at present. This does not include the territories occupied by this nation state only for the wartime period.
3. Territories that used to belong to a national state of this nation and do not belong to it at present.
4. a) Territories that never were the part of a nation’s nation state but fell under its effective control.
a. Territory that used to be inhabited by the ancestor ethnos or that used to belong to its state.
b. Territory of the compact settlement of the ethnoses close to a certain one by their language, culture, confession.
c. Territories that were several times occupied by the nation state of a certain nation (ethnos);
d. Territories, effective control over which was continuously (in different times) declared as the goal of the foreign policy of a certain ethnos’ nation state.
Next step of our study is to build up the electronic map, where we going to plot all the territories which according to mentioned above criteria are subject to potential nationalistic territorial claims of various nationalism forms. Overlapping zones of potential claims of various nationalism forms can reflect, on one hand, the territories that are most exposed to the danger of territorial conflict, and, on the other hand, zones of maximum historical–ethnical opposition. It is precisely among these zones that the possible border between East and West can take place. In order to produce this map we need to graduate the given instrumental criteria, so we have to agree on following.
Illustrating the potential territorial claims on the map according to the described criteria of determination of comparative «wish» of a territory, the more valid claims absorb the less valid. Given above criteria of the claims strength (validity) estimation correspond to the following 4 grade scale:
- criterion 1 corresponds to grade 4;
- criterion 2 corresponds to grade 3;
- criterion 3 corresponds to grade 2;
- each criterion out of the 4th
group corresponds to grade 1. If several out of criteria a, b, c, d, e take place all together, the final grade stays 1.
Possible Territorial Claims in Eastern Europe
Prior to determining the areas of greater or smaller tension of possible territorial claims in Eastern Europe it is necessary to expose the subjects of these claims and the claims themselves potentially coming from the subjects. As it was determined earlier, the subjects of possible territorial claims are nations – ethnoses, affiliating themselves with some territory and having the articulate political demands including the ones in regard of the territory. In this case the political demands are seen as the inspiration for creation of the independent national state, for strengthening its political, economical and military might. For each nation we need to determine the territories, control over which could be desired within their nationalism. What are these territories and how valid is the desire for their control will be determined based on mentioned above criteria and 4 grade scale.
As subjects of claims we chose the nations having their own sovereign bodies, as having in major part realized their political demands, as well as the nations which do not have them, but aim to have, where we noticed active mass actions in that direction2
. To such subjects and zones of possible nationalistic territorial claims we attributed: 1. Austrians and Germans, 2. Albanians, 3. Bulgarians, 4. Bosnians, 5. Hungarians, 6. Greeks, 7. Danish, 8. Italians, 9. Latvians, 10. Lithuanians, 11. Macedonians, 12. Norwegians, 13. Polish, 14. Rusins, 15. Romanians and Moldavians, 16. Russians and Bielorussians, 17. Serbs, 18. Slovaks, 19. Slovenians, 20. Crimean Tartars, 21. Kazan Tartars, 22. Turkish, 23. Ukrainians, 24. Finns and Karels, 25. Croats, 26. Czechs, 27. Swedish, 28. Estonians.
Having determined the borders of possible territorial claims for all outlined subjects, we plot them on the map3
. On each of listed above nations there is a layer of information in a geo-information system (GIS) in regard of possible nationalistic territorial claims. As an example of such a layer map-diagrams 1-3 are enclosed. Then we overlay the cartographic layers for all the nations. As a result the studied territory has been divided on 388 areas, borders of which are the borders of possible claims crossing each other. For each area we sum all the grades that are assigned according to the hierarchy of possible claims of interested in this area subjects. Having counted these sums, that is having determined the tension indexes of the possible territorial claims for each area, we group these areas conforming to the index value. Sums or tension indexes of the possible territorial claims are ranging from 0 ( Northern Urals area, for example) to 24 (in the Carpathians). Map-diagram 4 conveys all 388 areas, colored with intensity according to the index value of total tension of possible nationalistic territorial claims.
The Border Between East and West?
It is obvious from Map-diagram 4 that almost all the territory of Eastern Europe is subject to the possible if not territorial claims but propagandistic use by the potential nationalistic ideologies. The general look on the resulting map shows that there exists a sort of a «mountain chain» of the highest tension of claims from Baltic to the South dividing on two straps leading to Adriatic and Black sea. On both sides from it the tension of possible nationalistic territorial claims considerably drops. What does this «chain» correspond to in reality?
Based on the method of our study two facts can be maintained with much of a confidence. First, this zone is at maximum risk of potential nationalistic territorial-political conflicts. Second, it follows the maximum intensity zones of ethnic-political opposition in the past and at present.
Thus, our main finding is, as follows: our resulting map seem to point at what can be thought as historical boundary zone between East and West. This zone is by no means only history-geographic one – it can actually transfer into contemporary European politics bringing about significant revisions in plans of united Europe and conflict free world creation.
Looking at the map one can notice that the areas with maximum tension, they can be defined as tension knots, in the world of actual politics are subject of close attention. These are the areas of particular political tension up to the armed conflicts – territory of former Yugoslavia, Dniester area. Based on the map it can be tried to foresee the areas of possible toughening the political conflicts up to transformation into the stage of armed conflicts. In this regard we could mention Macedonia, Trans-Carpathians, Bukovina.
Beside the tension knots we can outline the opposite phenomenon, which can be defined as the cores of resistance to the claims. These are the areas with lower tension in contrast to the surrounding territory. There stand out the cores which can arbitrary called: «German», «Scandinavian», «Polish», «Czech», «Hungarian», «Montenegro-Serbian», «Romanian», «Greek», «Bulgarian», «Lithuanian», «Estonian», «Russian», «South Ukrainian» and «Albanian». The causes for these cores can be:
1. Concentration of the resistance forces to the control from outside;
2. Difficulties to take control caused by physical-geographical conditions in the area;
3. Less political value in comparison with other areas (note, the timeframe under consideration was since 9th
In our case the first cause looks as most important. The majority of the outlined cores of resistance to claims can be considered as consolidation centers of some nations we outlined.
There is no doubt that nationalism of various forms is actively reshaping boundaries in Eastern Europe and the rest of the former «Eastern Block». In many cases the World Community seems to be not prepared to face the challenges of the nationalistic territorial claims and conflicts. Facing the dramatic events that follow some of the nationalistic territorial conflicts we have to find the tools to predict and to warn of emerging new ones.
In this paper we tried to find the uniform rational grounds for possible (potential) territorial claims in case nationalistic movements arise from any East European nation. In other words we offered the method to measure the potential ideological significance of Eastern Europe territories for all possible nationalisms. This index can also serve as the indicator of nationalistic territorial claims relative risk for different parts of the territory under the study. It needs to be stressed once again that we were in the least interested in the analysis of the real existing nationalistic movements and ideologies, claims and conflicts. It is not a surprise that the strap of maximum risk is found right in the zone of historical contact of two civilized integrities called East and West.
We understand that our method is rather subjective and we obviously could not find all the important historical-geographical material. Nevertheless, we would like to note two facts.
The more subjective part of the study is concerned with the determination of possible claims hierarchy and the choice of criteria to qualify the areas for one or the other stage of the hierarchy. However, to exclude the subjectivity while choosing any other hierarchy and criteria is hardly possible. The result will not differ too much from that of ours.
Possible limits of historical material are compensated by absolute clearness and simplicity of the proposed method. The proposed material can be easily added or extended.
We would consider our task fulfilled, if our proposed method helped to forecast and to warn of emerging seats of tension on the new reshaping political map of Europe.
Authors Konstantin Axenov, Victor Koloskov