В stories large countries, periods of strengthening connectivity and unity alternate with crises, sometimes leading to disintegration. This is especially dramatic if the country develops as an empire, including various peoples and large territories. Usually such severe crises are created by coalitions of internal "anti-imperial" forces and external geopolitical opponents of the country. Such coalitions tore up the Russian empire in February 1917, a similar alliance managed to dismember the USSR in 1991. Opponents of the country's unity always use moments of weakening its statehood and rapidly changing changes in people's worldview at such times.
We are interested in the question, what after such crises are the chances of divided parts to gather again in a single state or union of some type? Already 22, as dismembered by the USSR, but so far we have not eliminated the consequences of this disaster. A heavy blow was dealt to the economy of the whole of Eurasia, because almost the entire production system was built during the Soviet period - as one huge enterprise. Its dismemberment plunged all countries into crisis, and so far it has not been possible to get out of this crisis.
Let's look at the hostel of our peoples in the Russian Empire, its disintegration in 1917, the assembly in the USSR, its dismemberment and the prospect of reuniting the post-Soviet republics as a technical problem - disintegration and new assembly of the system of elements and connections in their movement and development.
Formation of the whole of the parts is a difficult process, the construction of a new one. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” it has a special power — entelechy. Here are two empires - Russia and the United States. Both created different types of life arrangements, both carried messianic ideas, very different. The United States took the path of ethnic cleansing of the territory, and then assimilation - “digesting” immigrants into an ethnic crucible and fusing them into a new nation. The gathering of Russia was precisely integration - each new part was included in the whole, without losing its own characteristics. Every nation, entering Russia, gave this whole some kind of quality. The system turned out to be complicated, but diversity is a great value.
For us, it is important that integration is not achieved simply by sharing - you tell me, I tell you. Of course, there is an interaction between the seller and the buyer in the market, but these connections are too temporary and weak, the market does not connect the parts into a whole. Integration is always the creation of some kind of “common pot” in which each part contributes. For example, in contrast to the market in a family, everyone makes their own contributions, and they are connected, not exchanged. This connection creates the whole, which is “more than the sum of parts”. Very often, the contributions of the participants are incommensurable among themselves, qualitatively different, so that to express them in a uniform form, for example, monetary, is difficult or impossible.
When, during perestroika, the dismemberment of the USSR was carried out, it was pressed for economic advantage or disadvantage. It was a forgery, and only total control over the media did not allow him to expose. By splitting the integrity into parts, that “cooperative effect” is eliminated, which gives the main value to a large system. This effect can be enormous. Having lost the integrity of the country, we have lost such huge benefits (entelechy) that cannot be estimated with any money. But after all, the post-Soviet countries have turned into market relations. Gazprom, a state-owned company, announces that gas supplies to Belarus are only business, and nothing more. On such principles, integration is impossible. Trade is not integration. These types of relationships have different measures and criteria for benefits.
As long as the instinct of bargaining dominates in our culture, the opponents of integration will prevail. This is the first fundamental obstacle.
In a war of any type, an important goal is the violation of the enemy’s system integrity. To find the "weak spot" of the enemy means to grope in his system that node of connections that is necessary for integrity. Do not appreciate the loss of money in Russia and Ukraine from the fact that a significant part of the Ukrainians were able to turn against the Russians. In 1990, the politicization of ethnic feeling in Ukraine was the weakest in the USSR: 6% expressed the greatest significance of the national question there. Radical nationalist groups supported 1% of the population (in Kazakhstan - 2%). But for 23, the situation has changed dramatically. It is necessary to find out why, and determine what the resources are in order to reverse this process.
We have survived the disintegration of the USSR and are seeing the sluggish disintegration of the Russian Federation. The process is before our eyes, we can learn. Without this knowledge, do not reunite the lands and peoples. But so far, neither research nor training has begun. All hopes are pinned on economic benefits. Lack of knowledge is the second fundamental obstacle to integration.
Disintegration is basically a break in the connections between the elements of the system (although the elements themselves are deformed). After going through the list of connections broken in 1991, we will see the disintegration program. This is necessary in order to agree on which ties should be protected, strengthened, restored, which should be created anew and differently, which in the new reality are worthless, so that the remnants of them must be cut off and cleaned. The experience of the destruction of systems gives us tremendous knowledge, and since history has put such a cruel experiment on us, we must get the most information out of it.
The destruction of each bundle of connections is a special program and a special topic. The most important bundle of connections is created by the state - by uniform laws, a common language and ideology, with its own symbols, a variety of systems connecting people and territories (for example, the army and the school). Undermining a single state superstructure - this is the first stage in dismemberment. We must remember and think about it.
Large systems are needed for integration - transport, communications, power grids, etc. Many of these common systems are also dismembered, and parts of them are trying to be modified so that they lose their ability to merge. For example, the rejection of a common technical policy or the elimination of the domestic aircraft industry immediately facilitates the taking away of large systems by Western competitors.
The union is connected by a common language, a common school and a common cultural core. For all these entities, the forces working on the division beat. The balance of these forces in our countries is different and unstable - they take one, then the other. In general, so far there is a discrepancy between the previously single civilized image. If we watch this process apathetically, then soon there will be no chance of connecting the broken links.
Most likely, even now the hopes of reuniting at least the common economic and cultural space are illusory through the restoration of some of the old ties. The dismemberment of the Russian Empire after the February Revolution was short-term. During the Civil War, the country was again collected on almost the same territory (excluding Poland and Finland). Such a rapid reunification of parts of the country can be called reintegration. The parts have grown together along break lines - the separated surfaces have not “oxidized” yet.
Of course, the gathering of Russia in the image of the USSR proceeded with the renewal of many systems, with a common project adopted by the majority. The experience of neutralizing separatism of ethnic elites is considered in anthropology a brilliant achievement of Soviet state-building. But in the 90-ies, even today, these same ethnic elites tried very hard and tried to discredit this experience, and this is understandable - their goal is to suppress post-Soviet integration projects.
To what extent is it possible to merge broken bonds today? In the 90s, it seemed possible. But it failed. The separation forces in the republics and abroad were much more powerful. Those who collapsed the USSR for 22, seized property, financial system, media and school. They are ready for beneficial cooperation, as with other countries of the West and the East, but we are not talking about this. And supporters of integration, even if most of them, are disorganized. This is the third fundamental obstacle, also poorly understood.
Judging by many signs, the time when reintegration was possible has expired. It is no longer possible to “clean the contacts”, connect the same wires - and the machine would work. We need a new program, a new construction of the whole, the creation of new interfaces, the production of material for new type of connections, a new language, new forms and symbols of unity. So, we need a new level of diversity of integration links.
And first of all, it is necessary to change the ideas about all the entities that need to be collected into the system. These ideas are outdated, which was an important factor in weakening the coherence of the USSR. Secondly, it is necessary to change the whole discourse. New generations have grown, and appealing to their feeling of a “common historical destiny” only makes them angry. The Bialowieza Agreement has thrown many republics into a long-term disaster - the agreement on “common fate” was trampled on. As the dynamics of the set of indicators shows, until 1990, all the republics developed as members of one family, and since the end of 1991, they all began to experience disaster in different ways, and over the following 20 years, their paths diverged greatly. The reintegration scheme has become impossible, and our knowledge of the new state of the former Soviet republics is insufficient. The post-Soviet republics diverged from the destroyed civilization system, and now their connection has become much more difficult. This is the fourth fundamental obstacle.
Even the direction of integration, in which we seem to have advanced the furthest, with Belarus, is already possible only as the construction of a new Union, and not as a reunification of the two union republics. The Belarusians developed an original national project, rallied around it and almost got out of the crisis, making many important creative changes to the structures of the Soviet type. To repeat this project in the Russian Federation is now impossible. It would be dangerous for Belarus to open up to the Russian economy, and Russia would also need structures that were preserved and updated there.
The rapid integration of Russia with Ukraine is also fraught with risks. In Ukraine, there is a rapid process of ethnogenesis — changes in many features of a people, one might say, its “reassembly”. This process is poorly understood, in something even intimate. A large part of Ukrainians managed to drive him into an anti-Russian channel. If you show patience and goodwill, then almost certainly this surge of anti-Russian sentiment will collapse, people will calmly consider their long-term and fundamental interests. And if at the moment of general excitement to climb to them and argue with them, then the unrest will drag on for a long time. We must do everything that is useful for bringing our peoples closer together, and not do what is harmful. And there are a lot of people willing to do harm both there and here (just watch TV).
We need a multilateral conversation about the new forms of integration that have matured in the past decade. It is obvious that the type of the national state itself is rapidly changing, it has new “connecting nodes” for interaction across national borders. Why should we try to reproduce the old forms in completely new conditions? These attempts encounter resistance, mistrust, and require large amounts of money. It is better to identify and invent the whole list of possible forms of integration and to choose from it methods that are best for each specific case. Variety gives stability.
We need a thorough and cold-blooded (“engineering”) analysis of the reality of the post-Soviet space and its dynamics, and not a declaration with good wishes.