Russia Russian Tselostnost' Russian Universalism Russian Wholeness Russkii Mir (Russian World) Tselostnost'

‘Russkii mir’ and Contemporary Russian Universalist Tselostnost’

[The following article provides a brief overview of the legacy of universalist ‘tselostnost’‘ (wholeness or integrality in English) in Russian thought, culture, history, and politics as presented in my book Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics (forthcoming in August 2022 from Europe Books) and then places the contemporary concept of ‘Russkii mir‘ (Russian world) in the context of Russian universalism and tselostnost’.]


In my forthcoming book Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics, I hypothesize that tselostnost’ (wholeness or integrality) — the belief in the existence of and/or aspiration to wholeness and the minimization of divisions — as an important Russian value and strain in Russian thought, culture, history and politics. I detail four types of Russian tselostnost’ and trace their reflection and development in Russian thought, culture, history, and politics from Kievan Rus to the Russia of today: monism, universalism, communalism, and solidarism. 

Monism is defined as the aspiration to or assumption of integrality in religious theology (Orthodox Christianity) and philosophy, including the truly formal philosophy that emerged in late 19th century Russia. It is reflected in the Christian, in particular Orthodox Christian, theology and ideas regarding the unity of Heaven and Earth, God and humankind, and matter and spirit, much of which has been expressed in Russian secular philosophy, most robustly by the late Imperial era’s idealist ‘God-seekers’ and ‘intuitivists.’ The second form of tselostnost’, universalism, is defined as an aspiration to world or human unity or a Russian unification with some external subset of the world or human community: Slavdom, the Orthodox world, the Christian world, Europe, the West, and Eurasia. Communalism or collectivism has political implications here, but it is primarily socio-cultural and centers around the subordination of the individual’s being, identity, interests and/or preferences to those of some larger societal group. Communalism encompasses Russian ideas such as Christian and Orthodox ‘conciliarity’ (sobornost’), the pre-Soviet village institutions the obshchina and mir, and pre-Soviet and Soviet ideas and practices of collectivism. Finally, solidarity represents the belief in, aspiration to, and pursuit of national unity – particularly political, cultural, and ideological integrality – and has greater political (and political-cultural) implications than the other forms of tselostnost’.

Monism gives birth to the tendency towards universalism, which in turn tends to generate a value of communal and national unity. This is often intermixed with Russian messianic aspirations, which require a united Russia, communally (societally) and nationally, in order for her to fulfill the mission of building world unity, whether Orthodox, communist, or under some other belief. Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet articulations of these four types of tselostnost’ are presented from Russian thought and culture in the book, demonstrating further that the existence and power of these interelated forms of wholeness and why they remain highly salient in post-Soviet Russia. Monism and universalism are shown to have originated from Russian Orthodox eschatology. With Christ’s anticipated second coming, humankind would be united and be integrated with the Divine in the world’s transformation into the Heavenly Kingdom. Russia’s assumption of the status of the religious ‘Third Rome’ imparted a strong strain of universalism to Russian religious and overall culture. Nineteenth century Slavophile thought ‘geopoliticized’ Orthodox eschatology to read that Russia would unite the world in Russian Orthodoxy before the second coming, expanding Russian universalism from the religious into the political realm. This mixed with ideas of pre-Petrine Russia’s supposed communal unity manifested by the spiritual unity of the believers under the ‘cupola’ of the Church and Christian grace or sobornost’ and the collectivism of the supposedly ‘ancient’ Russian village obshchina and mir. Russian tselostnost’ was reinforced by Western trends such as German Pietism, Jacob Boehme’s mystical theosophy, as well as Freemasonry. We see the Church, Russian thinkers, and sometimes even the state professing several, even all forms of tselostnost’ in their articulations simultaneously, giving integrality a robust presence in Russian civilization’s discourse.  

Religious eschatological monism and utopian universalism were invigorated with new energy in the late 19th century by the God-seekers’ (Vladimir Solovoev, Pavel Florenskii, and Sergei Bulgakov) and intuitivists’ (Nikolai Losskii and Semyon Frank) ideas regarding ‘all-unity’ (vseedinstvo), which refashioned and even reified the ideas of Heaven-earth, God-humankind, spirit-matter integrality in 19th century Russian discourse. Theosophists such as Yelena Blavatskaya, traditionalist theologians such as Georgii Florovskii and Georgii Fedotov, and liberal Christians like Fyodor Stepun and Pyotr Struve also issued monist, universalist, communalist, and solidarist ideas. An advancing Russian scientific tradition mixed with these mystical theologies and idealist philosophies to produce a distinctive Russian cosmism in Nikolai Fyodorov, who also articulated tselostnost’ in several forms. His universalist project envisioned uniting mankind in projects to master and deploy nature for mankind’s benefit and to overcome death in a immortalist utopia that presages today’s transhumanist movement. Russia’s great writers from Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Gogol’ to Lev Tolstoy and most of all Fyodor Dostoevskii, and even composers such as Alexander Scriabin articulated in poetry, prose, and music a longing for or faith in monism, universalism, communalism, and solidarism with a Russian face. Pushkin’s sensibility was universalistic, the great poet being able to accurately convey the spirit of non-Russian cultures and civilizations, according to Dostoevskii and others. Tolstoy’s pacifism pursued a universal Christian brotherhood. Dostoevskii argued that Russia’s universal responsiveness destined her to a universalistic mission that would unite Slavdom, then Christiandom, and then all mankind in an Orthodox-oriented universal brotherhood.

During the revolutionary and Soviet eras, monist beliefs in cosmism and immortalism merged with philosophical and dialectical materialism and were grafted on to agrarian and even industrial-proletarian revolutionary eschatology, utopian universalism, promethean communalism, and proletarian solidarism, producing trends such as the Bolshevik fellow traveling ‘God-builders’ (Anatolii Lunacharskii and Alexander Bogdanov), the Soviet scientific cosmism of Konstantin Tsiolkovskii, the literary cosmims of Yegenii Zamyatin, and the socialist realism of Andrei Platonov, and other trends and their propagators, who imagined the revolution would unify the world proletariat, transform humankind beyond all recognition, and merge it physically with the entire universe. At the same time, leftovers from Imperial Russia and Soviet dissidents such as Mikhail Bulgakov, Boris Pasternak, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Father Alexander Men’ kept old Orthodox and Russian monist, universalist, communalist, and even solidarist elements alive.

In the post-Soviet era, the new openness has permitted a revival of Imperial era thinkers, the survival of Soviet ones, and the rise of new Western and indigenous variations on all of the above giving a pluralistic rebirth of all forms of tselostnost’ in Russian thought, culture, and politics. We see them in disparate Russian ecosystems from the Orthodox Christian communities to neo-Eurasianism and neo-Slavophilism among Russian nationalists and statists to a revived cosmism and immortalism in the form of transhumanism. In Russian Tselostnost’ I did not include a discussion of the Russian soft power concept and strategy of ‘Russkii mir’ or ‘the Russian world’ in my discussion of contemporary, post-Soviet Russian universalist trends. The article provides such a discussion. 

Universalism in Medieval and Imperial Russia

Russian Orthodox universalism is rooted in Christian universalism incorporated into Russian culture from Kievan Rus’s adoption of Orthodox Christianity. This Orthodox Christian form of universalism monopolized Russian culture until the era of Peter the Great. The idea of a global unity under Christianity in Kievan Rus’s most influential texts, including Metropolitan Illarion’s ‘Word’. With the fall of Constantinople, then Kiev, Moscow self-identified as the last refuge for Christianity. This now Orthodox bridgehead for the universal Christian project, the ‘Third Rome’, inherited the myth religious universalism as reflected in the writings of Hieroschemamonk Yefrim (Krasovskii) and Metropolitan Filaret (Drozdov). Under the great transformations of Peter the Great in the early 18th century, a secular accent was introduced into Russian Orthodox universalism in the works of Feofan Prokopovich and others and carried forward in the post-Petrine enlightenment century by such precursors of the Russian intelligentsia such as Grigorii Skovoroda and Pyotr Chaadaev, who emphasized Russia’s world mission.

The emergence of a Russian national literature in the 19th century in the person of Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin reflected Russian culture’s by now from inclination to universalist aspirations. Pushkin’s Aleko, for example, held a hidden universalism, according to Dovstoevskii. Aleko and other aspects of the great poets’ works, Dostoevskii asserted, revealed Pushkin’s vibrant ‘universal Russian receptivity’ or openness to and appropriation of the world’s other cultures. Fyodor Tyutchev posited a ‘Russian geography’ that was universal rather than Russian Imperial or even Eurasian. While Lev Tolstoy’s humanism focused on mankind’s spirit, peace and justice, Dostoveskii himself reflected a Russian Orthodox universalism in a new messianism through which the Slavic, then Orthodox, then Christian, and finally all the world would be united under the wing of Russian receptivity, Orthodox religiosity and its unifying blessedness or ‘blagodat’, and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Dostoevskii and other Russians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries manifested an ‘Asian pivot’ – a growing interest in Asian cultures and Asia as an alternative to Europe as an orientation for Russian civilization. As the great Russian classical literature transformed during the second half of the 19th century and through the Silver Age, it retained a robust universalism. Futurist and symbolist poet Velimir Khlebnikov proposed a universal language of “hieroglyphs” and governance under “presidents of the Planet.” Ivan Bunin, a Russian wanderer, wrote revealing travelogues from places across the globe. Symbolist icon Andrei Belyi manifested a powerful quasi-religious universalism.

The mid-19th century Slavophiles and pan-Slavists such as Alexei Khomyakov and Konstantin Leont’ev also reflected a semi-universalism, proposing Russian solutions to European deviance, decadence, and decay and the unity of Slavdom and/or the Orthodox world under Russian tutlelage informed by a return to the communal village mir and obshchina and Orthodox collectivism or ‘sobornost’. The Slavophiles opponents, the Westernizers whether of liberal, communist, or anarchist bent, were not immune to universalism. Indeed, communists and anarchists were as fervent in their global aspirations for revolution as Russian Christians were for universal salvation. The socialist Westernizer and London émigré Aleksander Herzen presaged Dostoevskii’s idea of ‘Russian receptivity’ with his claim of a peculiar ‘Slavic receptivity.’ Indeed, both the revolutionaries’ universalism and religious fervency were the product of a certain conversion of Russian Orthodox content into revolutionary religious form. Nikolai Chernyshevskii, Nikolai Dobrolyubov, and Iosif Dzhugasvili (Stalin) had been seminarians in their youth. Thus, Sergei Nechaev wrote a revolutionary ‘Catechism’ on how to organize terrorist cells and attacks, and as the wife of a Russian revolutionary familiar with many of its leaders, the Bolsheviks and others read Western socialist tracts as if they Muslims reading the Koran.

With the failure of student-led ‘going to the people’ movement or ‘narodnichestvo’, the Westernizing, usually exiled revolutionaries’ quasi-religious universalist pretensions moved to the forefront of the burgeoning Russian revolution from the 1870s. The ‘narodniks’ of the movement sought to connect with the Russian peasant and to preach social transformation in the Russian countryside until they were arrested en masse and tried. This crackdown, among many other factors, fostered the rise of internationalist revolutionary and terrorist thinkers and movements: Pyotr Lavrov’s international nihilism, Mikhail Bakunin’s international anarchism, The People’s Will (Narodnaya Volya), Viktor Chernov and the Socialist Revolutionaries, the proletarian internationalism of Georgii Plekhanov, and the communist revolutionary Mensheviks and Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks.

The late 19th-early 20th century Silver Age and Russian Religious Renaissance yielded a new Orthodox-rooted universalism in the God-Seekers movement. Its progenitor, the great Russian religious philosopher, Vladimir Solovev saw a monist ‘all-unity’ enveloping all spirit and matter into a single whole and aspired to single, global ‘universal church’ as the vehicle for matter’s divinization and the seond coming of Christ that would bring it about. Solovevian God-seeking universalism was furthered in the works of a series of great Russian philosopher-theologists such as Fathers Sergei Bulgakov and Pavel Florenskii (the ‘Russian da Vinci’), Sergei and Yevgenii Trubetskoi, and the intuitivist philosophers (Semyon Frank’s ‘I’ and ‘We’ philosophies, Nikolai Losskii, and Lev Karsavin). It was also reflected in Nikolai Fyodorov’s cosmist universalism, Nikolai Berdyaev’s ‘world soul’, and even the more traditionalist theology of Father Vasillii Zenkovskii. Many Silver Age and Russian renaissance figures would be deported or emigrate when the bearers of a harsher universalism – the communists – seized power in 1917.

From Russian Universalism to Soviet Internationalism

            With the Bolsheviks’s rise to and consolidation of power, Russian universalism’s transformation into Soviet internationalism retained sometimes the religious form as it held fervently to proletarian internationalism in content. Anatolii Lunacharskii brought a robust religious form in his God-Building vision, which put mankind on the road to deification through the mastery of and merger with the machine. Vladimir Mayakovskii saw the hammer and cycle rising over New York, and cosmist cryptic dissident Yevgenii Zamyatin’s novel ‘We’ offered a fictional global federation sending the ‘Integral’ spaceship into the heavens. Cosmist universalism and prometheanist God-building yielded a communist messianic quest into the last proletarian frontier and the rise of the Soviet space program.

            Stalin’s concentration of power established a dogmatic socialist realism as the basis for Soviet culture. As a result, that culture reflected a universalism supporting the Marxist-Leninist value of proletarian internationalism in the characters and plots of Soviet literary works such as Maxim Gorkii’s Mother,Platonov’s The Pit and Chevengur, Yakov Okunev’s Tomorrow, and in the dreams of Soviet socialist global federation reflected, for example, in Abram Palei’s Gulfstream and Alexander Belyaev’s Struggle in the Atmosphere. Universalism in socialist realist literature persisted through Stalin’s breathing spell from internationalism under ‘socialism in one country’ in works such as Andrei Platonov’s Atmospheric Tract and Descendants of the Sun.

Post-Stalinist Universalism

After Stalin, universalism (Soviet internationalism) during Nikita Khrushchev’s ‘thaw’ at home meant ‘peaceful coexistence’ with the West and broadening military-political horizons globally, with Soviet interventionism across the Third World.  Third World settings and themes emerged in the works of poets such as Yevgenii Yevtushenko and others. During Leonid Brezhnev’s ‘stagnation era’, there was considerable movement under the surface and in the interstices opened by Soviet censors’ less vigilant socialist realist regime. Creeping embourgoisment permitted Vladimir Vysotskii’s global pessimism in ‘Turned Out a Mistake,’ the Strugatskii brothers’ science fiction, and cinematographer Andrei Tarkovskii’s ‘universal path’ and Zen Buddhism. Although there was a slight waning and somewhat of a dearth of universalism in this official late Soviet culture, Soviet dissidents’ universalism offered new, non-proletarian, even anti-communist universalisms. Andrei Sakharov promoted the ‘convergence’ of socialism and capitalism to unite the world to tackle global problems along Fyodorov’s cosmist project. The great Petersburg poet Iosif Brodskii and monumental writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn offered religious revival as a path to Russia’s and the world’s salvation. Universalism even emerged in the postmodernist underground in the philosophy and criticism of Mikhail Epstein and installation art the of Ilya Kabakov.

Mikhail Gorbachev’s great perestroika reforms created administrative and political chaos, as late totalitarianism gave way to the Russian pattern of schism aspiring to integrality. Dissolution and schism also brought a new pluralism that permitted both the return of pre-Soviet forms of Russian universalism, while allowing Soviet internationalism as well as Western forms of universalism to coexist, producing a new ferment amidst mutually interacting combinations of old and new universalisms. Perestroika produced a non-proletarian universalism in politics: the waning of socialist internationalism, the end of the ‘world split apart’ of the Cold War, and Gorbachev’s semi-universalism of a ‘common European home’. Gorbachev offered ‘new political thinking for the world.’ The great Soviet cultural historian Dmitrii Likhachev proposed a European University with campuses spread across the world. Perestroika culture replaced proletarian universalism with funding for research on the late 19th – early 20th century Silver Age and Religious Renaissance philosophers, theologians, and artists. As the USSR collapsed, post-modernism became the rage and promoted a new form of universalism as well as small cults around such quasi-religious universalist (and monist) works as Daniil Andreev’s Rose of the World, revived for publication after its banning by the Bolsheviks.

Post-Soviet Russian Universalism

Old and new religious, philosophical, Slavophile and other universalisms and semi-universalisms are mixing to create a plethora of new universalisms from Mamleev’s mystical national messianism, to Anastasia Gacheva’s new immortalism, Dmitrii Istkov’s transhumanism, Michael Epstein’s hope that his idea of ‘minimal religion’ has global potential, and Vladimir Kantor’s Russian transcendental universalism in his novella A Christmas Story or a Note from a Half-Dead House and short story The Fortress.

The post-Soviet revival of pre-Soviet universalisms have combined with angst over the Soviet defeat in the Cold War and the West’s expansion of NATO and other slights afterwards to produce less benign new nationalist and religio-nationalist universalisms to challenge the perestroika-generated semi-universalism supporting Russia’s return to Europe and the West. A new universalism in Russian literature revives messianism but in far more political form. In Mikhail Yurev’s futuristic novel The Third Empire, Russia has essentially conquered the world after victory over the U.S. and NATO. Aleksandr Prokhanov’s mystical national communist novels pit post-Russian secret agents combatting the Western agents across the globe. The revival of early 20th century Eurasianism (Nikolai Trubetskoi, Pyotr Savitskii, Lev Gumilev) has yielded the post-Soviet neo-Eurasianism of Aleksandr Panarin and Alexander Dugin as well as Nikolai Vasetskii’s neo-Eurasianist approach to geopolitical analysis and strategy. The reemergence of the other great pre-Soviet semi-universalism, Slavophilism, under the new pluralism has brought the pan-Slavism of Konstantin Malofeev. Incorporating Orthodox universalism, Malofeev’s pan-Slavism has inspired his support of Serbia and Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Donbass and ‘Novorossiya.’

Post-Soviet Russian religious universalist efforts include the ROC’s Worldwide Russian Peoples’ Assembly (Vsemirnyi Russkii Narodnyi Sobor or VRNS) and the VRNS ideologist Alexander Shipkov’s Orthodox-rooted universalism. In his 2014 book Fourth Way (Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu), Dugin has abandoned neo-Eurasianism for a seemingly new religious, mystically and rather esoteric oriented ‘Dasseinism’ that puts’ ‘being’ at the center of ideology rather than nation, class, or republicanism and predicts a global revolution. The revolution Dugin predicts and proselytizes is to bring about a new world based on his Fourth Way, which rejects and accepts certain aspects of history’s three previous secular ideologies: liberalism, communism, and fascism. Dugin himself does not give his theory a formal name, but his theory might be called ‘Daseinism’ based on his application of German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s idea of ‘Dasein’ or ‘mankind’s being’ and its place in the world.[1] Dugin’s emphasis on ‘being’ and “intuition” also recalls late 19th century Russian formal philosophy, in particular that of the intuitivists Frank and Losskii.[2] Dugin explicitly acknowledged his Orthodox Christian faith with an implicit monism, given the Orthodox roots of much of Russian monism already discussed. He prognosticates “the return of the Divine,” “the return of the sacred,” and the Second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” and interprets “history in Christian terms.” “The Living God, Himself is returning… Therefore it is fully appropriate to speak of a total return of the sacred and about a sacred Revolution.”[3] Like the 19th century God-seekers Solovev, Florenskii and Bulgakov but in a distinct way, Dugin gives a place in his theory to Divine Wisdom or Sophia and the Mother of God, referencing the Silver Age sophiists Vyacheslav Ivanov, Andrei Belyi, and Fedor Sologub. For him, the Mother of God is “a historical personage” and the “Universal light, enlightening the mind and soul of the Russian person.” “(T)he equating of Sophia and Rus’…resonates with the intuitive Russian truth about the fact that Rus’ is the land of the Mother of God, her country” (Dugin’s emphasis).[4] The Fourth way’s “sophiological Revolution” will bring the advent of “a holy Russian Polis, a holy Russian City” (Grad). The revolution needs a leader, according to Dugin, “a figure of Sophia’s guard, a Russian guard of Sophia, who will be the carrier of the political project.”[5] Dugin’s ‘theory’ clearly draws on the pre-Soviet Russian Orthodox-informed monist and universalist transcendental, eschatological, messianic, and utopian traditions. It is not just messianic (a Russian guard leading divine revolution), it is millenarian. Dugin expects his divine, sophiological revolution to ring in the last stage of human history.[6]

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s own state nationalism is more practical and only semi-universal. It emphasizes Russia’s status as a global power and the primacy of national security. It increasingly reflects influence from neo-Eurasianism that, along with realities in geopolitics (e.g., NATO and EU expansion and China’s rise), produced his own economic Eurasianism and selected Eurasianist influences in his speeches and texts. The Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, along with the pre-Putin Collective Security Treaty Organization, are all manifestations in politics of this confluence of influences on Putin’s thinking. With Putin’s growing suspicions of Western intentions after the waves of NATO expansion and color revolutions targeting Moscow’s allies and/or neighbors, he began to organize informational efforts to counter these trends through a more forward-leaning soft power policy.

Russkii mir

Thus, it was a presidential decree that established the Fond Russkii Mir (Russian World Foundation) and appointed Stalinist era Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov’s grandson, Vyacheslav Nikonov, as its director in 2007. The foundation is intended as an instrument to turn into reality Nikonov’s idea of using Russian diasporas and Russian cultural institutions and manifestations (language, literature, music, art, media, etc,) as soft power. The Russkii mir project has generated an ideological strand that implies the need to maintain ties with Russian diasporas, Russian speakers, and those non-Russians who value various Russian cultural and artistic traditions and legacies. Thus, one can hear television personalities cheering on Russian troops in Donbass and referencing the consolidation of the Russian world—the return of a lost Russian world community. In brief, it is a soft power policy that seeks to maximize the number who hold to a Russian identity or even some vague fondness or “feeling” for Russia and thereby to deploy those who so identify as such – the Russian world — as a pro-Russian force for influencing the foreign policies of other states and thus international affairs. Nikonov’s idea is that Russkii mir is a “civilization” with a global presence or reach. Here is his conceptualization: Being Russian or part of Russian civilization “is not blood, it is a sense of their connection with the Russian world through the image of the present, future, past, people, nationality, and country. Inside Russia Russian (russkii) most often it means the ethno–cultural (Russian) identity, and Russian (rossiyanin) means (one’s) state affiliation, citizenship. But outside Russia the concept of ‘Russian becomes supra-ethnic, and even super-ethnic, and in a certain sense civilizational. The Russian world as a civilization is broader than ethnic groups and nations, territories, religions, political systems, ideological preferences. The Russian world is polyethnic, polyconfessional, and polylinguistic. This is a global phenomenon that cannot be described by any one definition. The Russian world is structurally Russia, plus the Russian diaspora and people who are interested in Russia. Mentally, it is everyone who is aware of his involvement in the Russian world, and in this sense belonging to the Russian world is precisely a feeling.”[7] The Russkii mir Foundation has created ‘Russian centers’ in 41 countries plus in Ukraine’s breakaway regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in order to reach out to the Russian world abroad and keep it consolidated for potential mobilization through the dissemination of Russian culture and language.[8] Nikonov writes that the Russkii Mir Foundation’s tasks are “to create a system of networked interaction for the whole Russian world, to support non-governmental Russian-speaking organizations, specialists in our country, specialists in the Russian language, to help Russian-speaking media and Internet sites abroad, to help associations of graduates of Russian universities, to try to fill library collections with books, audio and video products.” He asks: “Why are there American schools across the world but no Russian schools?”[9]

It is worth noting that Russkii mir’s universalism is, like other examples of universalism noted herein, connected by Nikonov to our other tselostnosts. In regard to solidarist tselostnost’, Russkii mir bears the duality of meaning of the Russian word ‘mir’ (peace or lack of conflict), notes Nikonov, adding that in 2007 the National Day of Unity (October 4) was celebrated as “the day of the Russkii mir.” Similarly, as Nikonov emphasizes, the word mir’s other meaning of community or obshchina (peasant commune) ties universalist Russkii mir to communalist tselostnost’.[10]

Russkii mir’s intellectual sources draw upon Russia’s ancient universalism. Russkii mir’s historical roots in Russia’s traditional universalist tselostnost’ are alluded to by Nikonov. He notes: “Russian national consciousness has been universal, even global, for many centuries. We remember what Gogol (who is he a Russian, a Ukrainian?) wrote about Pushkin (and who is Pushkin, Russian, Eritrean, a classic of Ethiopian poetry?). Here is what Gogol wrote about Pushkin: ‘How early this receptivity to respond to everything awakened in him, and how faithful his response is, how sensitive his ear is. In Spain he is a Spaniard, with a Greek he is a Greek, in the Caucasus he is a free highlander in the full sense of the word, and when he looks into the peasants’ hut, he is all Russian, from head to toe’. This is as a bridge from Pushkin to Dostoevsky and his famous words that to become a real Russian is to become a completely Russian brother of all people, an all-man. But of course the universality, the all-humanity does not destroy the national.”[11]

Thus, Russkii mir is one of the traditionalists’ Russian-styled, organized strategies – in addition to the Orthodox Church and VRNS – being undertaken in response to the Soviet defeat in the Cold War and the West’s expansion of NATO and other slights to Russians’ sense of honor and their great power status. It is the Russian traditionalists’ global response to American hegemony and Western russophobia and democracy-promotion. It is a kind of instrumental universalism for protecting Russia’s national interests and security in the present geopolitical circumstances, to be sure, but it also grows from the deep roots of Russia’s centuries-old universalism, if not even messianism to the extent Russkii mir is to be mobilized for offensive purposes (influence expansion, even subversion) rather than defensive purposes.


[1] Aleksandr Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu (Moscow: Academicheskii proekt, 2014), pp. 438-66.

[2] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 39.

[3] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 85.

[4] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 426.

[5] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 427.

[6] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 40.

[7] Vyacheslav Nikonov, “O sozdanii fonda ‘Russkii mir’,” Russian Language Journal, Vol. 57, 2007, pp. 223-9, at p. 223,

[8] “Katalog”,,

[9] Nikonov, “O sozdanii fonda ‘Russkii mir’,” p. 226.

[10] Nikonov, “O sozdanii fonda ‘Russkii mir’,” p. 225.

[11] Nikonov, “O sozdanii fonda ‘Russkii mir’,” p. 227.







About the Author – Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, Dr. Hahn is the author of the forthcoming book Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics (Europe Books, 2022), The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 2021), Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018), The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.

Dr. Hahn also has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and has been a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, and the Hoover Institution.

Leave a Reply