Teymur Daimi Born in 1966 in Baku, Azerbajan. Artists, film-maker, theorist. Lives in Baku, Azerbajan.
In the ill fated year of 1991, by means of a series of hectic and diverse, bureaucratic procedures, a huge geopolitical and geo-cultural crime was committed – the break up of the USSR. One of the most powerful and enigmatic spaces of modern times, was split up into small "feudal princedoms" calling themselves independent states. It was broken up before the eyes of millions of everyday Soviet people who had been exhausted by the deceitful liberal democratic rhetoric of Gorbachev's manifold reformers.
It was simultaneously wild, unexpected and noble. This huge country's population that had already been set alight by the fire of inter-ethnic conflicts, was heartily tired of the intense hypocrisy of a demagogic party bureaucracy and the boorish policies of the centre (i.e. Moscow) towards the un-compliant republics of the Caucasus, Baltic Sea and Central Asia. This country-wide exhaustion and the innocent servility exhibited by the Soviet Union's "kitchen" intelligentsia to Western "common human values", defined the indifference of the people to the very fact of the disappearance of this mighty state.
From the lofty heights of hindsight it is now possible to deplore the tragedy that came to the Eurasian Space and the geopolitical crime before History on the part of a few witless political non-entities from the higher echelons of power. With the hindsight of the present everything looks different. Everything seems much more prosaic and crueller now and lacking the sentiment and infantile heroism of the rosy period of the national liberation movements and the caricature-like parade of sovereignty. But back then, at the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties, the political atmosphere was permeated by a hypnotic fog of mass quasi-democratic madness. The world seemed a strictly dichotic and unambiguous place: On the one hand there was the empire of evil – the USSR and the socialist camp and on the other there was the rest of the normal democratic world full of general goodwill and progressive goodness. Befuddled by the authoritative doses of freedom doled out during perestroika the most active part of the Soviet people armed with the slogans of the national liberation movements began the struggle for independence. The struggle against the so-called "Evil Empire". The struggle was crowned with success. In 1991 the hammer and sickle came crashing down. The people of the Soviet Union had finally received their "freedom". The democratically oriented elites of the satellite republics whooped for joy, like small children who have been given a long awaited Christmas present. You see, in the Soviet republics the majority of the sixties generation intelligentsia had been dreaming of national sovereignty for ages. None of them could even imagine how this would all end, how much blood would be spilled on this road leading back to an outrageous and sham freedom.
At that time the plan for the geo-cultural dynamic of national political liberation from the yoke of the Soviet empire was as clear as day: the exit from the USSR and a trouble free complex integration into the world community. The national liberation democratically oriented elites were certain that the world community in the person of the developed countries of the West and the USA were impatiently waiting for these newly appearing states and were prepared to accept them into their ranks with open arms. Today, in the era of the stormy flourishing of political manipulation, the behaviour and strategies of the new satellite elites seems astounding in terms of its childlike naivety. Sincerely believing in the democratic ideals of the supposed "civil society" and the happy future awaiting their countries under the benevolent rays of the pious and god fearing world community, the nationalist romantics of the post-Soviet space sentenced their peoples to a monstrous experiment, turning them into the submissive subjects of the globalisation policies of the rich countries of the "golden billion". It soon became clear that the world beyond the borders of the Soviet Union was not as just, democratic and free as it had seemed to the democrats of the late Soviet period. Moreover, this world had turned out to be unexpectedly cynical and cruel, full of double standards and it was deeply indifferent to the well being of the people living in the post-Soviet countries, who were simply seconded by the architects of globalisation into the remaining five billion members of humanity, who again from the point of view of these architects have no rights to a future whatsoever.
Very soon these national romantics recognised with horror the fact that they had been used by the former leaders of the party's nomenclature, like a bunch of patsies, for the purpose of making the centrifugal momentum that had begun after the break up of the Soviet Union unstoppable and irrevocable. After this happened and the point of no return had been reached, the national romantics were all promptly consigned to the dustbin of history and over almost the whole of the post-Soviet space former Communist bosses came to power who had transformed themselves into a peculiar hybrid class – a criminal oligarchic bureaucracy. This new post-Soviet class had but one goal – to sell themselves and their countries as profitably as possible to the transpersonal corporations and the international economic organisations defending the interests of these corporations.
Having armed themselves with hastily cobbled together archaic national ideologies, the authorities of the former republics of the Union, using a rich arsenal of suggestively repressive measures, are trying to convince their peoples, firstly of the indisputable advantages of national sovereignty and secondly of the hopelessness and even criminality of any other ideas aimed at resuscitating a single mental space that would unite all the post-Soviet republics. It was precisely here in these policies devised by these criminal regimes and aimed against the interests of their own peoples that the full horror of the national, so called Tyranny of Ethnicity arose, that was turning people back towards a tribal paradigm of thinking.
Therefore at the level of current politics we see a not always clear but ever present squabble between the republics of the former union, attempts to group themselves according to the interests of the latest geopolitical unions and alliances that remind one of the disagreements between criminal gangs or the struggles between ancient tribes for the domination of a region. What is particularly striking is the persistent trend among the republics of distancing themselves from Russia, (even such closely related countries as the Ukraine and Belarus) and the dalliance with NATO, the USA and other Atlantic structures. In other words this centrifugal dynamic, largely provoked by the imperial ambitions issuing out of some influential Russian institutions, has not weakened but is even getting stronger with time. This is what can be observed on the larger political stage.
But is such a mutual antagonism between the peoples of the post-Soviet space justified?
My own personal observations in this field are that at the level of the post-Soviet multitudes (a term used by Negri-Hardt) directly contradictory trends are in evidence: the multitudes are pulling towards each other. And the issue here isn't about an empirical nostalgia for the good old days when people's standards of living on average were significantly higher than they are now. You see, the inexplicable pull towards each other can be observed not only in the old and middle aged generations infected by the policies of social egalitarianism but also amongst young people born and bred in these independent states in the light of the "global spectacle". This seems incomprehensible and paradoxical because in the modern world it is the done thing to assess quality of life in terms of such criteria as outward success and physiological satiety. But the issue here has nothing to do with the vulgar strivings of gastro-intestinal conformism so characteristic of the capitalist world. Moreover, these aspirations in the republics of the former Union are not being accepted and indeed are not working out as expected. Here, everything is not so much about what is needed, not so much about what people have. Here, a clear deviation from the "universal human" norms can be observed, from the algorithm of history that has been prescribed for the whole world by the countries of all conquering Capital. Here, everything is constantly running away out of the control of the masters of the planet who have privatised away responsibility for the fate of humanity.
Even a fleeting glance at the history of the Eurasian social cosmos gives one a feeling that this part of the globe just doesn't want to sign up to the historical mainstream and is constantly venturing off the trodden path of civilisation's development.
The thing is that the Eurasian space is "pregnant" with a special substance that distinguishes the peoples living here from the rest of the world's populations. This substance is a unique magic FERMENT that links the molecules of Eurasian peoples' conscious into a meta-ethnic community, which goes beyond the limits of any form of external social formulation of the geopolitical space. It doesn't matter which specific social-political (or civilised) form is the reality in this territorial space – be it the "Great Steppe" with its diffuse interpenetrating ethnicities, the Russian Empire with its monarchic autocracy, the Soviet Union with its totalitarianism or the bunch of independent states that are being consumed from within by their criminal regimes – the ferment nevertheless carries out its providential function of providing a cohesive energy to the multitudes. It is the very presence of this ferment that can explain the fact that the Eurasian ethnic groups, that have historically signed up to various different projects of civilisation and belief, have ended up much more closely linked to each other than peoples belonging, for example, to the same religious belief system.
There is a temptation to easily explain all this by the military expansion of Russia that over several centuries gradually united the Eurasian peoples into a single state and legal framework. However, the expansion of the Russian state was not the reason for the emergence of the ferment but more likely its consequence. In other words the radiating presence of this ferment also prodded the Russian state towards its unrestrained expansion. Put another way, Russia, at some historical stage, was "chosen by the ferment" as the instrument of realising a providential design that does not fit into the logic of standard history. Indeed this design bears no relation to the idea of Empire which many of the Eurasian peoples were delirious about. You see, this ambitious neo-pagan idea has a quantitative character and is based on the mode of growing and strengthening the muscles of the body politic that is woven into the fabric of everyday existence, i.e. in that, which "Is" and wants to "Be" forever. The magical ferment is "implanted" into the mental structure of the Eurasian multitudes and in a crucial respect is of a different quality to everyday existence, where "everything is indeed rational and where this immanent "reality" is obstinately absolute. Therefore it (the ferment) will "wreck" any attempts at resurrecting the Eurasian social space in an Imperial format. Thus, these nationalistically masked attempts are only compromising the ferment, which "despises" the static idea of the status quo and "recognises" the primacy of "duty" over everyday life as a factor of the ceaseless overcoming of "rational reality".
The only adequate reaction to the "demands" of the ferment was the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, which had evidently developed the archetypal intentions of the Eurasian multitudes, that were directed at turning back that tide of historical development, which would lead to the perfection of "Being for the sake of Being", trivially expressed in the final triumph of the rule of Capital (that also betokens the absolutisation of the immanent segment of Reality). The leaders of the revolution and first and foremost, Lenin and Trotsky intuitively and unwittingly touched on the energetic power of Providence related to this part of the earth. Despite the revolutionary atheists' declared enmity towards everything linked with the sphere of metaphysics, through their non-conformist activities a powerful eschatological vector was worked out – that made real the intention to create a new life and the new Soviet Man (is there not an echo here of the theological discourses about "the new earth and new heavens" and "the new Adam"?). Of course, later on all these "absurd" ideas were happily buried by Stalin in the bureaucratic state that he created and which differed little (in the extent of its immanence!) from the capitalist countries, but this isn't the issue here. The break up of the USSR is justified specifically from the point of view of the compromise of the initial revolutionary intentions aimed at developing the ferment. The Soviet Union after 1928, despite the formal strengthening of the communist ideology and various innovative declarations, was, in fact, with all its intellectual efforts and forced modernisation trying to sign up to the historical mainstream, which could not "satisfy" the ferment in any way whatsoever and which was "pulling" towards quite the opposite direction.
I will express my basic hypothesis: The ferment has a transcendental nature and corresponds to an idiosyncratic "Omega point" (as termed by Teilhard de Chardin) – which is a certain paradoxical point of the Future, which organises the present in relation to itself. In this respect one can define the ferment also as the final cause that has a non-linear defining influence on the conditions of today (the present). The issue, in actual fact, is about socio-mental alchemy, or more precisely about the perceptual transmutation of Homo Sapiens – the energetic procedure required for the birth of the new Transnational Man (Humanity), radically different from the Cartesian model of the "two dimensional" Man-machine (consumer-man, functional-man...), which is true of our modern world. In other words, a providential light has been directed onto the Eurasian multitudes from the Future, the function of which is the radical transformation of the anthropological factor (the concept of the "Soviet" man), initially on the territory of Eurasia and then throughout the whole world (the theory of permanent revolutions). It is important to note that this Future does not reside somewhere there ahead on a direct line of cause and effect, it is not logically hatched from the empirical present, because it does not belong to the physical time of the past-present-future vector. The future about which we are talking – is on the other side of historical determinism, which it will also bring, in the final reckoning, to the dictatorship of Capital, of the global mechanisation of everyday life and to the emasculation of all that is Alive in human life (the eternal paradise of intelligent machines and obedient clones that is the ideal of globalisation).
This post-eschatological Future is adequately and competently described in the Orthodox Christian and Muslim teachings which lie at the base of the traditional faith of the Eurasian multitudes. And no atheist ideology, no secular world view is capable of destroying this faith, because it is being constantly charged by the ferment, that has a direct relationship with the eschatological themes of "The End of Time" and especially to "the New Heaven and the New Earth". Of course in our "enlightened" positivist times, we can only talk about the crypto-religiosity of contemporary people, who are a long way from metaphysical topics, but nevertheless such as it is, the collective unconscious of the Eurasian multitudes is subject to the invisible but actively radiating presence of the ferment. And there is no getting away from this irrational fact.
Who knows, perhaps the so called "progressive nostalgia" (the unconscious pull of the Eurasian multitudes towards each other and something difficult to define) is subject to the fact that at a deep level we feel intuitively that a certain very important providential Project has also remained (for the time being!) unrealised.
But the whole issue lies in the fact that the magic ferment, which is uniting the multitudes and latently provoking them to internally resist the dictatorship of Capital, has been forged in the very atmosphere of Eurasia and is engrained in our blood and bio-genetics. From the very first we are "infected with" and "traumatised by" this ferment, and this means that we cannot, in the final outlook, escape the fulfilment of this secret meta-historical pre-destination, we can't get away from our fatal participation in the eschatological project that is common to us all, and this means also to our common Fate...
- ^ The empire also relates to the state, as for example, the Nietzschian superman does to the ordinary human, i.e. the difference is not about quality but quantity. The change of status in this case does not lead to a change of internal quality, does not lead to a radical breakthrough into something fundamentally different.