Saturday, June 26, 2021

Dostoevsky: On Russia’s Asian Future

Dostoevsky wanted Russia to leave Europe and embrace Asia. In his political essay, “What is Asia to Us?”, he opined that it was important for Russia to free itself from Western Imperialism. He wrote, “In Europe we were hangers-on and slaves, whereas we shall go to Asia as masters. In Europe we were Tatars, whereas in Asia we, too, are Europeans.  Our mission, our civilizing mission in Asia will bribe our spirit and drive us there.”

In 1876, when Dostoevsky wrote his essay, he could not have known that in the twenty-first century, many Asian countries would surpass Russia economically, technologically, militarily, and in geopolitical clout. In his time China was a desolate land of warlords, beggars, and opium addicts, but now it is ahead of Russia—it is a superpower engaged in a struggle to surpass the USA. Japan and South Korea too are doing better than Russia.

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