182 – Gary Saul Morson: Russian Exceptionalism


Jacob Shapiro: Hello, listeners, and welcome to another episode of Cognitive Dissidence. As usual, I’m your host. I’m Jacob Shapiro. I’m a partner and the director of geopolitical analysis at Cognitive Investments. Joining me on the podcast is Professor Gary Saul Morsin. He is a professor of the arts and humanities and of Slavic languages and literatures at Northwestern University.

Gary, because I read an excellent article of his about the concept of Eurasianism in the New York Review of Books, and we will put a link to that article in the show notes. I strangely enough, briefly encountered Eurasianism as a concept doing my master’s degree at Oxford in Jewish philosophy, because Eurasianism in the 1920s also starts to dovetail with ideas about Jewish nationalism and proto Zionisms around the same space.

So I saw it from afar and knew that it was a thing. But until I read Gary’s article, I certainly didn’t understand the intellectual underpinnings of Eurasianism, and certainly not how deeply Eurasianism has infected, if not the psyche of Russia’s leadership in the Kremlin, at least the ways that they justify some of the things that the Russian state is doing right now.

I thought it was especially important, or at least that Gary’s work is especially important because it was the first time that somebody in English press really stopped and tried to take Russian ideology seriously in its own terms because if you compare it to what we think, it honestly seems a little outlandish.

I’m sure that’s the same in the reverse, but I thought Gary does a really good job. of both pointing out the parts of this ideology that are Honestly, strange. And I think pseudoscience is being charitable to them. But the parts also that are deeper and actually do inform how both Russians and Ukrainians think about themselves.

Thank you, Gary, for taking the time. It was a really informative conversation for me. Listeners, if you want to learn more about cognitive investments, Email me at Jacob at cognitive dot investments. Take good care of the people you love. Cheers and see you out there.

All right Gary, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and answering a cold email from the ether from somebody that you didn’t know from Adam to talk to me because for all you know, I could have been a Russian hacker looking to hack your computer. Nice to have you. You’re not. I hope. No I am not they, But that’s the truth, you

Gary: were a Russian.

Jacob Shapiro: You wrote an incredible article in the New York Review of Books, or at least it was incredible for me. It’s called Russian Exceptionalism, and we’re gonna put a link in the show notes. And it was what, Made me want to reach out and talk to you. And I thought we would start just at the very top because, most of the listeners are going to be Western listeners.

We have, plenty of listeners that are in Europe, but mostly Western listeners. So I wanted to start really broad and tell us what the heck is Eurasianism and why is it important?

Gary: Eurasianism is one of the very strange ideologies that Russia has generated. It’s not the only one, even though I have another article on one of the other ideologies which they call Cosmism, another, and I’m working on, on yet others.

Russia has no shortage of peculiar ideologies that always wind up with the idea of Russia as a messianic power. almost always, however strange they are, claims to be based in hard science, but the Russian idea of hard science is more like the medieval idea of magic.

And interestingly enough, even some of the real scientists who’ve made real discoveries, um, and mathematicians to think this way. And sometimes it actually does generate, um, valid ideas. Mostly it generates nonsense. Eurasianism was

A philosophy developed at first by Russians who had been expelled or, for prudent reasons, escaped from the revolution, people who had sided with the wrong power or had been with the wrong social class, and found themselves in the wrong place. abroad, as countless Russians did, and one of them, a man named Tubyatskoy who was from a very prominent Russian family with lots of important intellectuals in it developed this idea that the old Slavophile kind of messianism was not right.

Previously, Russia would say, the way the Germans united the German people they was like, like all the Slavic people. But since the Slavic peoples have the true religion, they would say that’s not right. That’s not right. Trubetskoy thought. Russians, the problem with all those Slavs to the west of us is that they have been culturally corrupted by Western ideals,

Some of them are even Catholic, some of them are liberal.

So our future doesn’t lie with them. It lies. with the people we are, to whom we are culturally similar. And those are the people of Central Asia, or Siberia, people who, like us, found themselves under the rule of the descendants of Genghis Khan. and the Mongols. This involved, a complete rewrite of history, because the Mongols had always been the bad guys who conquered Russia, now they were the good guys, and Russia was the heir to the Mongols, and Genghis Khan was, of course, an authoritarian, so we are, and that’s a good thing.

You can see how this one works.

Gary: Tribute Squad was a real Well known thinker. He wasn’t, uneducated or foolish. And he was a very prominent linguist and with his friend, Roman Jacobson, they made some of the decisive contributions to modern linguistics. If you know the concept of the phoneme, it was theirs. Okay. So they, they were not having stupid people, bland idiots. Um, the next, so the movement flourished for a while, in immigration. Then they all wound up fighting with each other, as ideologues typically do. And the next stage of the movement took place within Russia. It’s usually identified with just one person a very well known person who named Lev Gumilyov.

I stress his name because he came with a pedigree that gave him instant recognition. He was the son of two famous poets, his father was the poet Kumiljova and his mother was. The famous poet, Anaba, and so wherever he go people would know him. And the Soviets of course didn’t like either poet.

They shot his father and his mother constantly got into trouble. So, they have spent endured two terms in the Gulag as he liked to say, one for Papa and one for mama. And he developed. In between, basically, an academic specialty in the Mongols and the Central Asians. And he developed this theory about how ethnic groups form.

I could go into more detail for you, but the article, says lots of these things, but the short form is that ethnic groups are not a cultural phenomenon. They are a biological phenomenon, analogous to herds. Animals, some animals naturally form herds or flocks, people naturally gather in ethnicity.

That’s part of our nature. And then he had a why these ethnicities? He had this really peculiar theory about that, which involved it’ll take me a while to go, but it involved rays from outer space, informing ethnicities. And then. Ethnicities all go through a life cycle of a certain number of years, right?

And they are characterized by a behavior, what do you call it, a behavioral stereotype, a typical way of behaving in response to a typical stimulus, which will be different for a Russian or a Tatar or a German. And those develop because of the geographical venue in which they develop. It’s very closely connected to


Gary: What this means is that, ethnicities, they sometimes gather into super ethnicities. And the Russians are in the same super ethnicity as the Mongols, and the Tartars, and the Central Asian peoples. And he develops this idea and then discovers the earlier Eurasianists and realizes he’s their heir, although he hadn’t started out.

These people, you didn’t get a lot of communication with white emigres in Stalin’s Russia. It was by chance, he was in Prague and he met one of the members of the circle who was still there. And so that, the idea spread through him and it became very popular. A couple of his books have been translated, and I can tell you they are very readable.

They read like adventure stories. He wrote them like detective stories. How do we find the clue to what the, to what, why these events happen? And he withholds it, until he finally gives you the answer, which is his theory of ethnicity. The key concept in it is A word that Vladimir Putin has used more than once.

The word is passionarity. These use how it’s usually translated. And it’s a quality that the founders of, of ethnicities have. to a great degree and there are followers to a somewhat lesser degree. It involves, it is the opposite of the biological urge to survive. We have a survival instinct.

Some people have so much energy, they will spend it, Think of lemmings running to the sea. They must have pachydermia, right? It gives various other animals. They have so much energy, which they’ve gotten from these rays from outer space, that they will go off and do fabulous things that you can’t explain in terms of survival.

Why did Alexander the Great, conquer places so far away from home he couldn’t have possibly hoped to bring back the booty? There was no good practical reason

for it.

Gary: It was sheer passion and energy. Okay, you get the idea. This is the motivating force that shapes, ethnicities, and which makes a people.

Well, another aspect of Gumilyov’s theory, which was not present in the earlier Eurasianism, was that there are Certain, I guess you could call them reverse ethnicities, negative ethnicities that hurt other ethnicities, that are not grounded in any particular soil. They’re, spread out all over the place.

They have no native homeland. And so they wind up being parasitic and feasting on others and ruining them. And the Jews, of course, are the prime example. They’re not the only ones, but they’re the prime example. Now, another thing I can say about, nutty Russian theories is that by no means all of them, but a significant number wind up with anti Semitism.

And this is one of the things that, that is, when I first started studying Russian, I remember finding it quite striking because at that time, at least anti Semitism was something you found among uneducated people. So I assumed it came from, uneducated people. But when you come to Russia, that’s simply not true.

You have an enormous amount of incredibly creative people for the last 200 years, coming up with ever new reasons. Why the Jews are the enemy. It’s quite, quite a remarkable phenomenon. Now I say it wasn’t true of the original Eurasianists. Roman Jakobson was a Jew. There’s no example. You couldn’t find it there.

But, Gomeliot picks it up. In fact, it becomes, if you read his writings, something of an obsession. On the third stage, So look, Gumonyosa is a significant mind, a significant scholar, very intelligent, very erudite, even if he has a snutty theory, right? But the third stage is, been present for the last 20 or 30 years ago.

Usually there’ve been several people who’ve been part of it, but the most influential one for the last 20 years is this man Alexander Dugin, who is, consulted with the general staff of the army. I don’t think, Putin is following his ideology, but he’s certainly willing to use it, and the fact that he would use it means that there are a lot of people who take it serious. And it’s not just Eurasianism. He has his own, additions to it. He has borrowed ideas, first made famous by an Englishman named Mackinder about, the world being decided by geopolitical forces.

And in this version, it is the land based powers versus the sea based powers and they develop radically different cultures and of course Russia is a principle land It’s almost entirely landlocked except for a few coasts that are frozen most of the time and of course England is the typical sea power And so they develop radically different cultures and this he’s added this is the prime conflict of the world, you know to the typical Eurasianist theory.

Dugin formulated what he called the fourth ideology. Now, the way this works is the first ideology is liberalism, which is characteristic of maritime powers. is the ideology of the West today and is, as Dugan tells it, the most evil way of thinking that has ever been inflicted on man. It is.

The second one is Nazism or fascism, which is much better in his view. He doesn’t approve the anti Semitism, but apart from hating Jews, Hitler was a good guy, which is a really peculiar, really apart from hating Jews, you know, it’s a very odd way of putting it. We have to get over, he says, making Hitler into a boogeyman.

Now, the third are communists, and he sees this used to be, Western liberals would point out how similar the communists and the Nazis and the moorish totalitarians. He doesn’t have any problem with that. He’s not the first in, the so called red brown alliance, as they call it in Russia.

He finds them very similar and both good. And now we have to unite that ideology with, the new things that we know in Eurasia and so forth, to form the fourth ideology. And the purpose of that fourth ideology and Russia’s mission in the world is to fight liberalism. In fact, the core difference, which will, which is so important to Russians, is that liberal values purport to be universal, the rights of man, human rights, all these values, but democracies, it must be universal values, but they’re not.

They are a product of the West, which in many, which is, that much is true, of course, right? Of course, they can be both, but they are a product of the West. And once you adopt universal values, you lose your own nation’s distinctive values, and you become second rate Westerners, which you don’t want

to be.

Gary: And since this is true not only for Russia, some of the first country that underwent this Westernization. And that’s true. It was the first time we did undergo radical westernization. But other countries have done it since and are facing the same problems. And so Russia is the natural leader of the rest of the world against the west.

So in this sense, Eurasia is everywhere. And what we must do is, fight this absolute evil of liberalism. He was calling for an invasion of Ukraine before there was one, to wipe out the liberals there. He was even, a little fanatic even by Putin’s, Russia’s taste. In fact, there are people who are a lot more fanatic than Putin


Gary: But this is one of the popular ideologies that is part of the stew That, Putin’s followers, Russian intellectuals of that sort. There are a lot of still Russian liberals and many left. But the ones who are followers of this, part of what they are seeped in is this.

Jacob Shapiro: There’s so much to hack into, and honestly, I almost want to spend the entire 40 minutes talking about passionarity and how energy quantums get released from the sun and cause genetic mutations and cause all these ethnic groups.

We should probably focus on other stuff too. I guess one thing and I and some ways maybe the most important thing is just how much Putin buys Eurasianism versus use it as a, uses it as a tool. And I asked the question because at the end of your article, you talk about Charles Clover’s book, Black Wind and White Snow.

And you talk about how Putin has this dividing line between what is part of the Russian civilization and what is not. And you talk about how well Ukraine is in. The Baltics. No, they’ve been corrupted by the West. They’re out. And I guess the question that I’m leading to is it’s obvious that Dugan wants to conquer the world.

But do you think with Putin let’s say, this is not going to happen, but let’s say Russia takes back Ukraine, takes back Moldova, whatever. Does he stop there? And then Dugan is pounding on the table to go to the Baltics, but Putin has said no, the job is done. They’re lost. Or do you think that he actually, in some sense buys the, this is a fight against liberalism and Russia, like Does he buy the Messianic Kool Aid or is it more geostrategic for him?

Gary: Listen, if the question is he going to expand, you don’t need any of this ideology to answer that question, but let me just give you a basic fact that I worked this out myself mathematically. I don’t think if you, the conventional date for the beginning of the Russian empire, that is when it expands beyond Russian lands, it’s 1552 when Ivan the Terrible conquers the Tatar kingdom of Kazan.

And so if you take that Date, 1552, and then I took the next 400 years later, 1952, which is, look at the boundaries of the Soviet Union, forget Eastern Europe, just the Soviet Union at this point and take the, the territory they’ve added since 1552, and divide it by the number of years, 400, And you find out that Russia, on average, has added, for 400 years, territory the size of Belgium.

That, it is pretty clear why, in this recent interview, with Ritzak or Carlson, Putin said, of course I have no desire to expand. We have all this territory, why would I want to expand? And Carlson clearly buys it. There’s no good reason. And from a good pragmatic perspective, there isn’t, right?

But that’s not the way Russians think. It’s the way he wants Americans to think.

There’s a reason why, we’ve been urging. European countries in NATO to spend at least 2 percent of their budget on defense, and most of them have this is why, Trump says you’re going to do it or else we’re not going to defend you, and all of a sudden they started doing it amazingly, the Germans started, to my amazement but there’s one country that not only spends more than 2%, but spends a higher percentage of their GDP than the U.

S. does. It’s Poland. And there’s an obvious reason for that. They have been dominating over and over again, right? There were the partitions of Poland in the 18th century and Poland disappeared from the map, right? And then the Russians, when Poland was reconstituted after World War I, the Bolsheviks invaded.

They didn’t succeed in conquering, but they tried, right? And then, of course, And the Hitler Stalin pact, they divide, they divided, right? And then Poland was quote unquote, liberated by Soviet troops and became part of the, an independent country, which just happened to be completely aligned with Moscow with its leaders, chosen by Moscow until the fall of the Soviet Union.

So it hardly surprising that. Poles think that Russians, regardless of whether they’re, under the czars, the communists, or whatever you want to call it, butonists, are a danger to expand. That’s what they keep doing. You don’t need Eurasianism to explain that. The Estonians also have a very high defense budget as a percentage.

The countries that don’t typically are those far from the the Russian border. Nevertheless, I think, although Putin is not, hasn’t signed on to the Eurasian ideology, I don’t think he signs on to anything, in that way. He does really think in cultural terms.

You don’t have to be a Eurasianist to think that Russia is a distinct civilization. Look, Samuel Huntington described that in his book on civilizations, right? That, he called it orthodox civilization. That’s fine. Putin would accept that description. Or obviously, which, I don’t think he believes in for one minute, but he believes lot, is he, does he believe in Russia?

Orthodoxy? Yes, but not as Christianity, but as Russia, Christianity, you following? He’s not, that’s in it’s the Russian. religion, and that’s what’s important

about it.

Gary: Um, there are genuine Christians in the Russian Orthodox Church, have been, Solzhenitsyn was certainly one you know, Navalny, I think, was another I’m just telling you but there are also those for whom it’s just a state religion.

If you figure, Once you’ve grown up under official atheism, under communism, it takes some effort to go back and ask if you believe, or truly believe, or genuinely


Gary: But some do, and some never gave it up. But it also can appeal just to nationalists, and if you start thinking that way, then Ukraine will be the first country, in fact, that you go for.

Because it is. At least parts of it are culturally similar to Russia, Ukrainian language and Russian go back to the same source the original capital of the East Slavs, the ones who a thousand years ago were simply called Rus, wasn’t Kiev. You can do that. And Putin, to Tucker Carlson recites this whole history in detail.

Carlson can’t figure out why he cares about events 500 years ago, because no American would, right? But my guess is that he is actually more concerned with, as a first step, what the Russians call the gathering of the Russian lands. That’s what Moscow did for several hundred years, right?

Because a lot of the Russian lands were under Polish or Austrian control. And the first step would be Ukraine. There are, traditionally there are Russians in, or ethnic Russians in Moldova. So I would suspect, and it was part of the Soviet Union, so I would suspect it would be the next.

For him Russian culture in this sense extends beyond ethnic Russians. Um, Russian uses two words that can both be translated as Russian. Which means ethnically Russian or , which means in a broader sense, Russian. So anybody who all those non Russians, ethnicities who are part of the Russian state are still Goki or anyone who you know, speaks Russian elsewhere, even if they’re not ethnically Russian.

A lot of look in since because of Soviet rule. Awful lot of people, let’s say in Kazakhstan, who are not ethically Russian, speak Russian as a first language. Those are potentially all. Rossi, although not Rossi, and any part that was part of, Soviet Union could be that way.

So Moldova is part of it. The Baltics are less, potentially also, but less so because they genuinely are viewed as, culturally very different.


Gary: that doesn’t mean you can’t find an excuse. And there are a lot of ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia, not so many in Lithuania. Yeah. Quote unquote protect them if you want, but I think he really does think in terms of not limiting himself to.

The Russian and that’s, those are the most important.

Jacob Shapiro: Yeah as you said, when you’re as intellectually promiscuous as dugan, you can create any argument you want. You put your Asianism and McKinder and Heidegger and French traditionalist together. And you can literally create ideas, but I wondered if we could turn also because something that you don’t.

Talk about in some, sorry, of course, which is strange, like going back to German, like racial science and things like that. But I wondered when I’ve been in Russia in the past and talk to Russian analysts who are like doing my job, I was always struck at how. I would ask them what they thought about China and they would talk about China like China was like their little brother some kind of junior partner that really had no historical consciousness and it was the responsibility of the Russian people to educate China into becoming a civilization that eventually China would sign on to whatever the Russian program was, and I always thought That was, what, three years ago, two years ago, or,

And I just wondered what you thought about how Russia thinks about the East, because, if I’m trying,

Gary: there always are, are Russians who, um, bought, There was that idea from Hegel and others that You know, China was simply frozen and didn’t have any history and didn’t develop for a thousand years.

It was just endless rituals, had nothing. But

I don’t

Gary: know. It’s very clear Putin doesn’t intend that way. He knows that, for example, the population of, China is 10 times out of Russia, almost exactly that most of Siberia, you take all the population of Siberia, it’s very sparse, a billion and a half Chinese at the border.

And as a, as he emphasizes there are, there’s more than one way to calculate GDP. And if you calculate it in terms of purchasing power parity, look, money can actually buy as opposed to international exchange. China’s already the world’s largest economy, larger than the U S. I think Putin is quite aware that China is a potential world leader and that it’s better to hook his wagon.

Tibet and maybe be You know a colleague in china ordinary russians haven’t gotten to that point Do

Jacob Shapiro: you think that work like I guess my question then is does that work? but I guess that also gets down to your you’re saying that putin maybe doesn’t buy eurasianism because if I was a chinese strategic thinker And I saw that eurasianists were in charge of the ideology that russia’s going towards like the mongols were no better Chinese than they were for the russians and I was struck by you were talking about true Trubetskoy and like about how his view of the Eurasian landmass, or at least from this Russian civilization landmass, included Manchuria all the way to Hungary.

So if I was a Chinese strategic thinker, that would make me a little bit nervous, wouldn’t it?

Gary: The idea, of course, is the, the large, the step. And yes, you could include Manchuria into that, but you’re not going to include the rest of China, right? When you and Eurasianists what do they think of China?

You don’t get a clear answer. The ideology doesn’t tell you. The word seems to tell you. We include all of Asia, but it’s perfectly clear. That’s not what they mean. They mean, the barbarian hordes, who invaded the West, whether there were a whole, Genghis Khan was only the One of several it came across, right?

And, the Tartars, the No Lands of Central Asia. Not so much for Chinese. But it’s not exactly ruled out either, as the name says. But that’s not what they think, typically. And if they did, there’d be a good reason. It would be somewhat difficult for them because with all the other peoples, they bring culture and civilization to them.

They give some of them alphabets in the Soviet period, you don’t bring culture and civilization to a country that was civilized, more than 2, 000 years before you were in existence.

Jacob Shapiro: How this is an impossible question to quantify, but how deep do you think the strain of thinking runs within Russia.

Do you think that this is, opinions of the elite and that the Russian people just go along with it? Or would you make the case that these ideas that you’re developing are actually deep rooted within the Russian psyche and that when Putin is talking about these ideas, they may seem nonsensical to you and me, but to the Russian people, they’re truly resonating.

Gary: If you mean Eurasianism in the narrow sense, yeah, it’s not that important. It’s important, but not that important. But if you mean all the ideologies of Russian exceptionalism and messianism, that is, take them all together. That forms the history curriculum, the social studies curriculum that is inculcated in school children from day one.

Not specifically Eurasianism, but a Russian, you may be surprised at this, but it’s


Gary: Russia in its history has never, ever been aggressive or fought an unjust war.

It’s always simply responding to the aggression of others. Okay, this is what’s taught. This is deeply, another thing, okay, I think if you, what, ask an American, what makes you an American? I don’t know what they would say. One of the things they would not say is our prowess in battle. Okay, but Russians will immediately go to war.

Russians are the people with, the word is stoikos, from the word for stand, but it means endurance. We will take any punishment. And that’s


Gary: that’s why, I wrote in some article a while ago when the Ukraine war began that my prediction was, and this is how I put it we will get tired of paying for that war before they get tired of dying it, because it follows from, the national psyche.

That part is extremely widespread. The specific, Eurasianist tenets like, race from out of space, no.

Jacob Shapiro: Which sort of leads to the question of how did, does Ukraine consider itself the rightful owner of Russian exceptionalism? Does Ukraine have some kind of antidote to Russian exceptionalism because of its relationship with the West?

Like, how do you think about Ukraine’s position here vis a vis Russia and how Ukraine is defining itself against it? Because I assume for most Ukrainians lives, the curriculum was exactly the same. Like they would be thinking sort of the same things and they’re obviously now fighting for their distinctiveness and their independence with a great deal more zeal than I think the west thought they were going to

Gary: The zeal item comes from the fact that ukrainians had the same They were part of the soviet union and had the same education about war And so they also have think of themselves as people, with those qualities and you’re not just going to push us around and they’ve proven it, right?

But, large parts of Ukraine were heavily culturally influenced by various Western countries, Poland for a long time, the Austrian empire there are Catholics and unions. If you know what unions are, they are. People who acknowledge the Pope, but their rituals are still the old Slavic rituals.

Nevertheless, they have, a loyalty there. The further west you go, the more they think of themselves as European, roughly speaking. Mean, before 2014, when they had elections, you may remember this, but they were always very close. For the president, let’s say, between a candidate who was sympathetic to Russia, wanted to be independent, but sympathetic to Russia, and a Western one.

And, you know, that wouldn’t be the case now because of Russia has done, but it really was culturally an awful lot of, we’re not part of Russia. We don’t want to put a vote, but we’re pro Russia particularly in the East, which is the part that then Russia. Came into dominate. But the Western part which has the strongest Ukrainian nationalists in it they really think of themselves as a completely different people, even if Russian is their native language, as it is for many of them, right?

And, they will trace a history, including obviously a lot of the same events that Luke mentions, but reinterpreted differently, to indicate that they are, and have been for some time, a separate people that deserves its own. State. Let me give you the logic. The argument here, Putin will say, Ukraine is entirely artificial, okay, because what basically happened was some of these people found themselves under Polish or Austrian rule and for obvious political reasons, the Poles tried to convince them they weren’t really Russians, but something else,


Gary: know, and so this idea spread, but basically it’s completely artificial.

And they’re really just Russians and you can go through the history and shit. To me, this sounds as if, if you imagined an Italian, saying, look, those Frenchmen in Spanish, they’re just Italians. We should be ruling them from Rome. Okay? And they speak, we’re all Latin languages, right?

They just speak a bastard Latin. We have the true one, right? If you, now Italy, we, we’re actually a dominant military power. That might cut some ice. Another example might be, which actually did happen, Sweden claiming, there’s no, no region that’s just part of us. You’re thinking of it that way, but I don’t know. The obvious answer isn’t it for the Ukrainians to decide what people they are, right? Not for some outsider. But where Putin does have a case is that the actual boundaries of Ukraine, when it became independent, were highly artificial, as they have been for many countries.

They were artificial because When the Soviet Union was formed in 1922, boundaries that were drawn for Ukraine were included a lot of areas that nobody thought of as specifically Ukrainian. And then when Nikita Khrushchev ruled the Soviet Union, he quote unquote, gave Ukraine as a gift, Crimea. Now it didn’t make any difference then because, none of these national republics had any, they were all ruled directly from the Communist Party in Moscow, it didn’t matter.

But when it became independent, it didn’t matter. I just happened to look it up recently in the 1987 census the Crimea was only 11 percent Ukrainian. The biggest group was the Tartars who would live there and the Russians were next. So okay, the actual boundaries, you can say, as in many countries after World War II, there are all these boundaries that could be changed, right?

A lot of Hungarians are in Romania. I don’t know. We want to avoid a war about that. But, that’s, what he says about the artificial boundaries, there’s a case you can make for that. So the case that There’s no such thing as a Ukrainian, which he makes, which seems odd, that’s, that decision’s not left to the Ukrainians themselves.

Jacob Shapiro: Last question before I let you get out of here and I just want you to know, I, Bernard Lewis was once asked to predict the future and he said as a historian, he only made predictions about the past. So I’m aware of the irony of asking a historian about the future, but if you were thinking about Russia 10 years from now.

There are some geopolitical analysts out there in the West who think that Russia is going to collapse and fall apart. There are others, who think that Russia is going to try and overrun Eastern Europe. What do you think Russia looks like in 10 years from now? And take that, you can take the answer in whatever direction you want, intellectually, geographically, however you want to answer.

Gary: I think it depends on what Americans decide, that is, if we continue to underfund our defense budget hollow out our Navy, imagine, behave as if the world I’m thinking that when, in 2014, when Putin first invaded Ukraine, our Secretary of State, John Kerry said in high dodging, in the 21st century, you just don’t behave like a 19th century person invaded another country and trumped up charge,


Gary: As if, you’re not going to be part of the cool kids if you do that.

If Americans actually think that there’s some, think like that, rather than things are still decided by armies, the way Putin thinks, and we keep our defense budget, or we start tearing ourselves apart so that we don’t believe in our own democracy anymore, because we’re fighting each other, Russia will, all, in all those situations, Russia will.

Couldn’t be too expensive. If we don’t. We go back to the way a unified country with a strong defense as we were during the Cold War, Russia will stay where it is. But, would it become democratic in either case? No, I don’t

Jacob Shapiro: think so. All right, Gary, thank you so much for your time. And maybe next time. We did Eurasianism. Maybe you’ll Consent to come back on and we can pick another strange messianic thought and think about the relationships between space, quantums and other forms of Russian messianism.

But until that time, thank you so much for.

Gary: Thank you so much for having


Jacob Shapiro: Thank you so much for listening to the Cognitive Dissidence podcast brought to you by Cognitive Investments. If you are interested in learning more about Cognitive Investments, you can check us out online at cognitive. investments. That’s cognitive dot investments. You can also write to me directly if you want at Jacob at cognitive dot investments.

Cheers, and we’ll see you out there. The views expressed in this commentary are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This podcast may contain certain statements that may be deemed forward looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.

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