Researchers studying regional integration among the post-Soviet states often encounter a problem of defining a region under study. The term post-Soviet lost its appeal as more than twenty years passed after the break down of the USSR. The societies in the former Soviet states have developed very distinct interpretations of the Soviet past. While Soviet legacy is often praised in Russia, it is part of dark colonial past for many other states that emerged after the collapse of the USSR. Some research centers and societies have moved towards using the term Central Eurasian, which seems to cover almost all former Soviet states but avoids referring to Soviet legacy. The difficulties in defining the region lead to a conclusion whether it is necessary to try to come up with one term to replace the aging post-Soviet concept. The objective reason to replace or abandon the use of post-Soviet adjective arises from different regionalization processes ongoing within so-called post-Soviet area. To date, it is possible to speak of two main regionalism projects, Eurasian regionalism and West-oriented regionalism.[1]

Today, there is a total confusion about what liberalism means in a number of post-Soviet societies.

First, critics and opponents of liberalism accuse it of creating a society of spoiled people; they blame liberalism for creating societies without moral standards. A stereotypical view of liberalism shared by a great majority of conservative Russians assumes that liberalism, specifically a liberal understanding of liberty, defends “liberty to commit sin, even liberty to live like a beast, therefore, liberalism downgrades human dignity, while the Orthodox Christian understanding of liberty means liberty from sin”[1]. Moreover, liberalism is perceived as “elimination of God’s image in human nature, making humankind devoid of the sacred”.[2] Similarly, liberalism is equated with absolute profaneness and hedonism.[3] It can be argued that these perceptions of liberalism by conservative Russian Christians are also shared by a majority of Muslims living in Russia and Russia-leaning countries.

One of the results of the Soviet atheistic period is a confusing even substitution of concepts pertinent to the state-religion relations. Let alone politicians and journalists, sometimes experts and academicians confuse the concepts such as secularism and laicism, secularism as a constitutional norm and secularist ideology.

Despite of the fact that Central Asian nations have common ancestry, close blood relations (e.g. intermingled and intermarried in the course of centuries in some regions), common pre-Soviet and Soviet history, intimate cultural, religious and linguistic affinities, unfortunately, the political and intellectual elites of these countries have adopted to one degree or another an exclusivist discourse of national identity which not infrequently contradict with those adopted by other states in the region. Therefore, the ongoing processes of building national identity in the region let alone facilitate, they, conversely, appear to impede the perspectives of building friendly relations as well establishing regional integration and security.

Reflections Research Center ©


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