Реферат: Issue of Russian identity


Nina Hiekonen 64833

International Relations/ Thesis Writing KKEN61

The Issue of Russian Identity

The  issue of identity is important as it providescertain characteristics of state. It describes a state and resolves questionsof state identification. It characterizes a state in the context of otherstates. In addition, it constructs an idea of a state.

Constructivism offers alternativeunderstandings of a number of central themes in International Relations theory,including the meaning of anarchy and a balance of power, a relationship betweenstate identity and interest,  andprospects for change in world politics. Constructivism assumes that actors andstructures mutually constitute each other; anarchy must be interpreted to have ameaning; state interests are part of the process of identity construction;power is both material and discursive; and change in world politics is bothpossible and difficult (Hopf, 1998:171). For constructivists there is no“logic” of anarchy apart from the practices that create and instantiate onestructure of identities and interests rather than another; structure has noexistence or causal powers apart from process. Self-help and power politics areinstitutions, not essential features of anarchy. Anarchy is what states make ofit (Wendt, 1992:395).

In constructivism, identity is an importantcreative factor. Identity plays an important role in world politics. Identitiesare produced by interactions, institutions, norms and cultures. In addition,identities are important for the construction of the state (Wendt 1992). From the constructivist’s point ofview, identities are necessary in international politics in order to ensuresome level of predictability and order. A world without identities is a worldof chaos, a world of uncertainty. Identities perform necessary functions in asociety: they tell you and others who you are and they tell you who others are.A state understands others according to the identity it attributes to them, andreproduces its own identity. (Hopf, 1998:174). 

A stateidentity is formed in a system of states. Hopf assumes that constructivism, while expecting to uncover differences,identities and multiple understandings, still assumes that it can specify a setof conditions under which one can expect to see one identity or another (Hopf,1998).

Understanding how identities areconstructed, what norms and practices accompany their reproduction, and howthey construct each other is a major part of the constructivist researchprogram. Constructivism assumes, a priori, that identities are potentially partof the constitutive practices of the state, and so, productive of its actionsat home and abroad. Different states behave differently towards other states,based on the identities of each (Hopf 1998, 174).

Identity of a state in internationalpolitics is quite important as it characterizes the state internally andinternationally. Every identity brings in itself a certain knowledge about thestate, its internal and external issues, as well as state behavior.

One state whose behaviour has received a lotof attention both in recent years and at present is Russia.

The way Russia sees itself in the worldorder is a way in which the state is recognised. It plays on the world stage asa power which has its world to say in the world politics. An identity of Russiaproduced during the history has been re-valued and judged by politicians.  The Russian state has its peculiar role in theworld. It is a huge power which has a specific national identity and whichoccupies a special position in the world order. To see Russia's development inhistory, it has undergone many changes, and during history the state identityof Russia was formed. Dramatic changes, which characterized all the history ofRussian Empire were significant and reflected a strong nature of the Russianstate. Its position in the world order defines the Russian state as a globalpower.

In thisrespect, I would propose that throughout the history of Russia, identity hasformed its behaviour, interests, and actions in the world. It has gone throughmany changes. At every phase of change, it has formed its position, andtherefore Russian identity in the world system. For example,  an identity of Soviet Union was understood bya Western world as Russia during the existence of the USSR, despite the factthat the Soviet Union was trying hard not to have that identity. Likewise,European identities were incomplete until they encountered peoples in theAmericas and India respectively. The necessity of difference with another toproduce one’s own identity is important (Hopf, ibid.).

In the case of geopolitics, Russia is instrategic position in the centre of Eurasia. It is divided by Ural mountainsinto European and Asian parts. It is a country with huge natural resources,including oil, gas and gold.

On the other hand,   nationalidentity of Russia is very  strong. It isbased on hundreds years of history, culture and traditions. The nationalidentity together with language, traditions, culture, is the maincharacteristic of the Russian nation and forms the basis of itsself-definition. The Russian national identity therefore has certain spiritualand materialistic soil which also includes culture and the politics ofstate.  The national identity of Russia isits main identifying character.

From thebeginning of the 19th century, thinkers and officials such as Karamzin,Speransky and others look to Europe for ideas to improve the Russian politicalorder.

Nicholas V.Riasanovsky in his book “RussianIdentities. A Historical Survey” says that in Kievan Russia the politicalsystem was certainly pluralistic and to an extent even populist and democratic(Riasanovsky 2005 :19).

Russian identity is very unique in Westerncivilization. Peculiarities lie within historical development and its specificfeatures in comparison to Western civilization in general. Russian identity hasits own value and is motivated by internal factors, as well as by externalfactors, for example in the context of the EU, by other neighboring states andworld politics. Russia becomes more developed and interconnected in the worldand West. In the context of constructivism, it will sound as a stateconstruction, and a theoretically approved fact.

John O'Loughlin and Paul F. Talbot talk aboutSoviet Union. The end as a unified territory and the effect that thisdisintegration had on the geopolitical imaginations of Russian people.

Another important issue is RussianOrthodoxy, which influences a Russian state and culture, as well as forms theRussian identity from its side. Phrases such as ”81% of Russians identifythemselves as Orthodox”, ”To be Russian is to be Orthodox”, ”The specialcontribution of Orthodoxy to the history of Russia is the development ofRussia´s spiritually” are significant. Special status of Orthodoxy overall other religious traditions in Russia is significant. On the other hand, thealternatives to the future of Orthodox church are, for example, removing thechurch from the direct participation in politics, as well as keeping the stateseparated from the church. Thus the place of the church and other religiousorganizations is challenged in Russia.

An international vision on the viewof Russian identity is quite different from the one being developed inside ofRussia. National policies which create internal state identity are quitedifferent from the ones being developed in other countries. Therefore, I seeRussia as a unique state with certain important values and own nationalidentity.

<span Times New Roman",«serif»">There are two ends of Russian foreign policy. It balances between East and West, preferably choosing the West as a path to follow and to negotiate with (see Karamzin 1803). It grants the West a significant task of strengthening Russia in the spheres such as economy, politics, including International Politics. It gives an example to Russia how to build up the country. It provides significant ties in politics, as well as economic ties, which strengthen and unify Russia.<span Times New Roman",«serif»"><span Times New Roman",«serif»">Russia is constructing its nation. Russia is building up the nation both on micro and macro levels. Russia has its behavior in World Politics and provides strong ties within the economy and politics in the World and the International system. Russia develops a special nation in the World, and goes by a continuity in its political life and behavior (see Borshevsky 2000, Ponarin 2000).

The search for Russian national identity isan important trend. Russians have easily identified with standard, dominantRussian cultures — be they Russian Orthodox, Russian Imperial or RussianSoviet. It was other peoples of the empire, in particular Moslem and WesternChristian (Roman Catholic and Protestant), who had problems. This is why duringhundreds of years Russians did not have a very strong ethnic identity, whereastheir many non-Russian neighbors did. However, this has been changing lately(Ponarin 1999).

<span Times New Roman",«serif»">Russian national identity has been an important issue especially during the rule of Putin. There is a certain trend towards strengthening a prestige and  national self-identity of state. The problem of identity of Russia has been quite actual during the last 15 years and it is connected with the problem of balance of power. New identity of Russia is formed, but there is some uncertainty. Russia is undergoing important changes in politics and it is considered to be a powerful, but quite unpredictable nation.<span Times New Roman",«serif»"><span Times New Roman",«serif»">Russia is an ethnic community, which brings in itself specificities. It is a historically built nation which has its significant traits and which prolongs its existence. It is a strong nation which has survived through the years of history and change, and it is  a nation, which strongly holds its position in the World and in Eurasia (see Putin 2006).

An official point of view by Igor Ivanov(2001) is that Russia's foreign policy is based on national interests rather thanpolitical ideology. He says that Russia believes in the settlement ofinternational problems on a collective basis in strict accordance with therules of international law will become a fundamental principle of the Russiansystem. The scope of Russia's activities is expanding to include internationalcooperation aimed at responding to new global threats and challenges (Ivanov2001: 12-13).

By reflecting its interests in worldpolitics, the Russian state is in the world order of states. It has itsspecific identity and behavior, therefore it signifies its important role inthe world and makes a commitment to world political composition and behavior. Ideasand behavior are important in shaping International Relations, and Russiabehaves accordingly to international rules.

In my research, I will study the identity ofRussia, its national identity and their meaning for international politics. Ialso aim to show that identity is important in state construction. I will mostlyconcentrate on how Russia formed its identity in the past and in the present,and I will question why it is so important to identify Russia as a nation. Iwill look more closer at Russia's history. In addition, I will make a briefdescription between the view of Russian identity introduced by Russian, as wellas Western scholars, who reflect ideas about Russian identity, and I willexamine these issues.

I see the subject of my study asking topical,because of the search of Russian identity nowadays. Due to some changes in theinternal and external politics of Russia, it has brought some changes in theorder of states, as well as it influenced the identity of Russia, the way howthe other states see a Russian nation, and how the identity in Russia is formed.

The question of identity is quite importantbecause it touches historical, geopolitical and other aspects. Therefore, Iwill consider these aspects and place them as the most important in theformation of Russian identity. I will use the theory of constructivism to showhow the identity is formed in the aspect of states formation and in the widercontext, including the identity of Russia as a peculiar phenomenon in history.My reearch will also include the brief observation of the history of Russia, ofRussian identity nowadays and the analysis of the official position of Russiain politics. I will therefore examine national specifics, as well as traditionsof Russia. Besides, I will also base my research on other sources of formationof national identity, including the views of most well-known Russianpoliticians.

The formation of Russian identity is aninteresting topic because of the constructivist theoretical implications. It isimportant to see Russia in the context of state formation, in the context ofother states, and to see which role does Russia plays in the world politics. Itis also important to understand the process, which determines the manner inwhich Russia interacts. It is interesting because throughout history,geopolitics determined Russia's stand in the world, determined its behavior, aswell as provided  good economic groundsfor development.

A construction of the state is a veryimportant process which involves formations on the state level. It is importantfrom the view of constructivism, which sees identity as the main discourse inthe theories of IR. An identity of state shows how state is recognized by otherstates, on the international level, and it constructs an idea of state on thenational level. In combination, one may see it serving as a fundamental valueof the state. What kind of Russian state identity is, and what values aremaking this identity are discussed in my research.

A state is undergoing aprocess of construction constantly, under certain conditions. It changes itsidentities and values. However, an identity of state can be defined as aconstant value which evolves in time as a result of some processes inside ofthe state, and the identity formation can be recognized as a value, whichrecognizes state in its external affairs. However, in my work, I see it also asa process, in which the state is able to change its identity in time, andbecause of internal influences, it changes its identity. In addition, I aim toshow that identity has its core in ethnos of the state, which is in people whocompose this state. I tried to recognize it as a value in identity formation.All the other defined issues, such as Orthodoxy, or ideologies can be seen astheoretically approved values which create an identity of Russian state.

Throughout the history of Russia, there wasa struggle for Russian identity. Russian politicians have a vivid view on thesubject.  Chubais says:”… Russia is experiencing apolysystemic crisis. If the most acute (samyi ostryi) crisis is economic, thenthe deepest crisis is over ideas and identity”. Chubais correctly names thethree identity principles that, when taken together, made Russia possiblebefore the Revolution: Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality. Which is the mostimportant?  For his part, Kara-Murzastates:” We’ve talked about internal identity, self-identity(samoidentichnost’) and ways in which Russia has not completely worked thisout. Now we are talking about external identity (vneshniaia identichnost’),Russia on the outside (Rossiia vovne), how the country positions itself in theinternational sphere”.

Chugrov states that: “ Wehave to find a balance. In the Russian mentality there is a sense of innerconflict and contradiction. I fully agree with those who call Russia a torncountry (razorvannaia strana).”

From my view, Russian state as aconstant value brings in itself these mentioned values, and as process, it canbe seen as a state formation process, in which the Russian state is seen in thesystem of states, and it is being ruled by international laws. Therefore, stateidentity is being shaped by international structures, and Russian stateidentity receives an already different value in international order. In mywork,  I aim to mention the importance ofthe theory of constructivism which can be applied to the external part ofRussian state. The questions are how the Russian values are seen as given, anda new Russian identity of state is its policies and behavior in theinternational system. The view on the identity of Russia is different from theone which is developed inside of the state. National politics is seen as a ruleinside of a country, but external policies of state are being recognized as aresult of state rule in time, and the identity which is being developed, is recognizedas Russian state identity. In my work, I try to highlight two of the existingidentities, however, they are not separated but showed them altogether makingan accent on the significance of both. Therefore, I see these values asadditional to each other, and their common aim, to open up the state identityof the state, as an entity, and as state as such, as an important value inidentity formation.

I try to see more deeply on theconstituting values in each of the visions. I will first see state identityfrom the perspective of nationals, who give their own vision on the problem,and I try to make it clear that internationally, a Russian state can beforeseen as a state which undergoes certain change in time, and with respect topolicies of the state, Russia generates its state identity and is accepted  in the world system. Then, I gather materialwhich I considered important to open up the question more deeply. I touch allthe issues that I consider important for reflecting my ideas about Russian stateidentity, and I apply to my research question all the necessary theoreticalmaterial to highlight the problem.

In my work, I  will examine in detail the constructivistpoint of view of Russian identity, as well as consider the main ideologiesinside the Russian state. Those of which I found the most profound and interestingwill appear in my work, as well as contradictions which those arised.

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