The Russia´s geographical vastness is subject of many studies and reflections of the country´s intellectuals. Since 19th century where developed some group of ideas relating Russia´s geography and it´s destiny as a people.
Marlene Laruelle, professor and researcher at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasiatic Studies of The George Washington University, in US, published in 2012 an article that deals with metanarratives, discourses announcing the Russian people predestination to the territorial conquer and the realization of an ideal future.
These discourses pervade the Russian culture and express the messianic sense of it´s itellectual elite. In the Laruelle´s article, the highlighted metanarratives are based on the Russia´s geographical expansion in three distinct vectors: to Eurasia, into space and to the Arctic. These are vectors expansion beyond it´s actual borders towards the neighbouring peoples, to high and to the north. They are called Eurasianism, Cosmism and Arctism.
The three discourses have spread unobtrusively in the Soviet period and gained strong momentum in the post-Communist period, when multiplied studies that began to explain politics issues not from the Marxist materialism perspective, but by culture and civilizations. These concepts brought to the fore new analisys on the relationship of the Eurasia´s peoples with their local geography. It would be the relationship between the people and their physical environment the cause of their unique culture. Besides the book of the American Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, that was a great sales success in Russia, two works of the political scientist Alexander Panarin, The Revange of History and The Ortodox Civilization in Globalized World have became reference in the culture/civilization study. The civilization perspective states that differences among peoples are, ultimately, cultural, and that their cultures are incompatible with each other. Thus conflicts have cultural roots, and not political or economic. Likewise political and economic models couldn´t not be implemented homogeneously in different cultures.
In the arcticist metanarrative is up to Russia the conquer the Arctic. This perspective is common among Russian nationalists, who inherited the Red Arctic concept from Soviet times, and that has deeply affected popular culture. The messianic dream is to conquer an hostile region using resources and means that only the Russians would be able to mobilize. Nationalists consider the Arctic region domain as necessary to reestore the Russia´s greatness and compensate the territorial loss of the south by the end of the USSR. Another foundation for the Arctism is in the occult and racialism. Dugin, for example, state that the Russian people is the purest of the Aryans descendant and currently would be forming a new civilization whose destination is the Arctic domain. The spread of Aryanims and neopaganism contributes to strenghten the march northward since they consider the Slavs and their ancient pagan culture descendant from Aryans. After the end of the USSR, the Russian historiography, education and popular imagination were flooded by the racial and neopagan conception of the ancient history, and it´s content has been used by nationalist movements of racial and xenophobic profile to oppose the presence of "colored people" in Russia, as the Caucasus inhabitantes and the Chineses.
Finally, it´s important to note that the three metanarratives described herein are related to modernity, especifically to the technical progress: the economic integration in Eurasianism, the aeroespace advance in Cosmism and the use of natural resources in Arcticism. Laruelle doesn´t explicitly mention, but should be noted that the three movements sought to realize themself in the former USSR. The communists realized, at the same time, the territorial expansion throughout the globe, the conquest of the space and the Artic exploration. If the communist messianism failed in it´s final goals and and the fullfilment of an "ideal society", Russia still seems impregnated and determined to assert the mission says belong to it. Now it´s Eurasianism that seeks to assert itself, but in Russia in economic crisis and incrisingly hostile to the rest of the world.
* Published in Portuguese on June 18th 2015.