Dr. Vasyl Marmazov, Dr. Igor Piliaiev,
The Ukraine Crisis and Prospects for the East–West
The article analyzes the genetics of the Ukraine crisis and ways of its settling in terms of the trans-Eurasian and global civilizational dialogue. Applying the fractal-synergetic approach to a wide historical and geopolitical background, the authors investigate new intellectual trends and socio-political initiatives aiming to bridge the traditional East-West dichotomy through the synthesis of globally competitive civilization values and views, especially those of Confucianism and Protestantism. The Ukraine crisis, the article argues, is due to a critical lack of interface between European, Eurasian and Asian-Pasific integration institutions. It therefore looks expedient to depart from the unconditional Eurocentrism inherent in the Ukrainian ruling elite since the 2014 Euromaidan’s victory by joining Ukraine's European integration aspirations with the Eurasian (New Silk Road) initiatives by China and the ROK, providing the strategic interdependence of integration processes in the east and west of the Eurasian continent. That implies elaborating ways for the future trans-civilizational consensus of the USA - Europe - Russia - China - the "Asian dragons" which is unlikely to be achieved without integrating Korean Peninsula and settling the Ukraine crisis.
The key words: the East-West dichotomy, the Ukraine crisis, fractality, Eurasian integration, globalization
Today only the two macro-civilization systems in the world –the Western (mainly based on the Roman-Germanic heritage) and Northeast Asian (formed under the powerful civilizational influence by China and Confucian values) comprise the world-system core of states with most competitiveness, technological progress and economic dynamics. Between those systems there is a post-Soviet Eurasian space that, since the Migration Period (IV-VI AD), and especially the Mongol invasion (the Horde), has been a zone of the historical East-West rivalry and now plunged into the systemic value and socioeconomic crisis.
The extreme aggravation of the Ukraine-Russia relations as result of Euromaidan’s victory in Kyiv, followed by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the hybrid armed conflict in Donbas, has exposed deep axiological and ideological splits across the post-Soviet space, polarized the regional transformation and integration processes. From the global perspective the Donbas armed conflict might be seen also as a proxy war (Minasyan, 2014; Mumford, 2013) between the world biggest nuclear powers and major geopolitical actors in Eurasia that has much in common with the Korean War.
World political scientists mostly analyze the Ukraine crisis in terms of Realpolitik, as an element of the “zero sum game" Russia and China are playing against the West for geopolitical dominance in Eurasia (Haran, 2015; Karaganov, 2015; Klymenko, & Pashkova (Eds.), 2017; Lee, Seong-hyon, 2014; Lukin, 2014; Lukin, 2015; Makarov (Ed.), 2016; Minasyan, 2014; Petro, 2015; Toloraya & Vorontsov, 2015; Yen, Chen-Shen, 2014). In our opinion, it would be more constructive to analyze the above crisis in terms of the East-West civilizational dialogue (based, in particular, on rational European and Confucian values), bridge-building diplomacy, trans-Eurasian and global economic convergence involving the West, the post-Soviet space and Northeast Asia. The crisis comprehensive settlement prospects would broaden through adapting the Northeast-Asian experience, especially in dealing with regional territorial conflicts. That implies an inclusive vision of the New Silk Road integrative initiatives for Eurasia declared by China and the ROK.
The post-nonclassical epistemology developed at the turn of the XX-XXI centuries that has been winning more and more positions among intellectuals organically combines methods of scientific, philosophical, religious, artistic cognition and the corresponding pictures of the world (Prigogine, 1991, p. 51). In particular, as a result of the interdisciplinary research boom, it became clear that the fractality (i.e. self-similarity of part(s) to the whole across different scales) is, along with the nonlinearity, a typical property of nature and society (Afanas'yeva, Kochelayevskaya, & Lazerson, 2013; Yefimchuk, 2010).
In the light of the latest achievements of synergetics reviving, already at the scientific level, the holistic worldview (previously inherent to the mythology and religion) based on universal regularities and patterns, the issue of trans-civilizational dialogue and integration looks particularly vital. This, in turn, determines relativism of dichotomous thinking characteristic of the bipolar and the post-bipolar worlds.
Through the inter-disciplinary approach, in light of recent achievements of synergetics discovering the world’s fractal regularities (Christian, 2004; Grinin, Korotayev, Rodrigue (Eds.), 2011; Afanas'yeva, Kochelayevskaya, & Lazerson, 2013), the neo-modernization and other non-linearity approaches to social history, politics and economy (Müller, 1998; Spier, 2005; Yefimchuk, 2010), applying the World-system, the civilization and the political transformation theories’ tools we shall try to analyze the historical background and the nature of the Ukraine crisis in the context of newest trends for bridging the traditional East-West dichotomy and building in the near future a sustainable trans-civilizational society of common values.
The fractal-synergetic approach permits, behind the empirical accumulation of multi-dimensional, non-linear trajectories of contradictions and conflicts that characterize the present day of structural shocks in the political and security architecture of Eastern Europe, to distinguish certain universal paradigms determining the genesis, development and prospects of the current Ukrainian-Russian international conflict.
The dichotomy of values, civilizational and cultural aspirations is inherent in Eurasia both by definition (in fact, its very name implies the duality of the continent’s two different wings) and historically, especially since the Mongol invasion. Moreover, such a dichotomy of classical Europe (that is Europe of the historical space of the Carolingian Empire) and classical Asia, as a zone of active civilization influence of the "Celestial Empire" ("Great China"), is a universal property of the whole post-Soviet space at the macro-regional, national, regional, subregional and local levels. We have shown that this dichotomy has a fractal nature, i.e., in practically every society, at each of its structural levels, there is a potential of both the East and the West. The question is in their dynamic proportions (Piliaiev, 2015a, 2015b). As Umberto Eco (2016) points out: “It is impossible to imagine Western civilization and, in particular, European civilization, without specifying the “Greek miracle”, but “neither the Greek civilization nor the Roman one can be realized without reconstruction <…> of "their Eastern roots” (p. 17).
Historical roots of the Ukraine crisis stretch deep into the 13-14th centuries when the former Kyiv Rus lands had been divided between Mongols’ Horde, having been a periphery zone of the Chinese influence, and political Europe (Piliaiev, 2015a, 2015b).
Such distinguished 19th-20th centuries philosophers of history as Nikolay Kostomarov, Georgy Fedotov, Nikolay Berdyayev, Nikolai Trubetzkoy, Mikhail Pokrovsky, Lev Gumilyov, George Vernadsky considered the Moscow state since the rule of Ivan III to be the direct successor not of the Kievan Rus, but the empire of Chingizids that (the Moscow state) inherited and realized in the new historical conditions principles of the effective government of vast empire brought by the Mongols from the conquered China.
The mental-value genetics of Moscow's great power from the Horde was further inherited by the Russian Empire: though the latter borrowed from Europe a lot of symbols and cultural artifacts, the autocratic nature of the tsar’s power-property was preserved (Kul'pin, 2008, pp. 74-75).
The territories of Kievan Rus, after its collapse, accumulated over the centuries around sharply conflicting centers: conditionally the European (Galician-Volyn Rus, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Poland, Rzeczpospolita, Austria, Austria-Hungary, again Poland) and the Eurasian (Volodymyr-Suzdal Rus, the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Tsardom of Russia, Russian Empire). Only a brief historical period –in 1939-1941 and 1944-1991 – these centres were in the format of united state –the USSR. Similarly, the dichotomy of the European and Horde-Moscow Russia is clearly traceable both in the denominational and axiological dimensions through intensifying confrontation between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate founded (self-declared) in 1992 and headed by “Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine”.
Thus, for more than seven centuries after the Mongol invasion, one may observe not only civilizational and cultural bipolarity, but also a distinct fractality of historical and ethnocultural development on the territories of the former “Rus' land" (the Old Rus state): Western Rus (Ruthenia) – Eastern Rus (Muscovy), the Ukrainian ethnogenesis respectively within the above-mentioned Central Europe states and within the tsarist Russia, the (Dnieper) Right Bank Ukraine – the (Dnieper) Left Bank Ukraine, the historical Sloboda Ukraine Donbas – the under Late modernity industrialized Donbass, etc.
Results of the national survey of Ukraine’s population conducted in 2016 by the Institute of Sociology at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine clearly testified:
<…> Concerning pro-European respondents, assumptions about the differences between supporters of geopolitical orientation on ethnolinguistic grounds are not justified. European orientations are not determined by ethnic identity and native language. <…> In any case, the absence of the effect of ethnolinguistic factors and the availability of value factors of pro-European orientations signal the rationalization of these respondents’ aspirations. (Reznik, O., & Reznik V., 2017, p. 137)
However, the reasons inherent in the Ukraine population's “mutually exclusive geopolitical orientations” (Minakov, 2017, pp. 6-7) and the corresponding division into the two large groups looking respectively to the West and the East ((Reznik, O., & Reznik V., 2017, p. 137) are much deeper than the empirical criteria of language or ethno-cultural preferences and are related to the long-term historical influences of various civilizations on the territory of modern Ukraine.
In fact, the post-Soviet Ukraine’s transit under the conditions of geopolitically fragmented society and respective radical contradictions in national identity and values has not been so far properly addressed by Kyiv that “provides grounds for a permanent radical shift between different administrations” (Minakov, 2017, pp. 6-7). In particular, “the risk of estrangement between Ukrainophones and Russophones” (Wilson, 1996, p. 199), to which a British ethnopolitologist Andrew Wilson drew attention in the early years of the Ukrainian independence and which has considerably increased since 2014 due to the growing influence of the Ukrainian radical ethno-nationalism ideology upon the state building, educational process and the media, is dangerous for the development of Ukraine as a democratic state and a modern European civil nation.
The conflict in the East of Ukraine clearly highlighted that, as Lev Gumilyov (2004) emphasized, the commonality or similarity of the cultural tradition, the heredity and continuity of certain memorial-museum forms do not in any way determine the unity of the behavior of living people, as evidenced, for example, by the opposite models of behavior and values of Muscovy and Veliky Novgorod of the XV century (p. 377). This conclusion is important for understanding the essentially different patterns of behavior during Euromaidan of widely Russophone but strongly pro-European Kyiv, on the one hand, and Donetsk or Lugansk, on the other.
In fact, the armed conflict in Donbas appears as a fractal localization of historical paradigm of the East – West confrontation which axiologically, civilizationally and culturally since the Migration Period, that is at least for the last fifteen hundred years, is expressed in the dichotomy of Europe as the successor of ancient Greece and Rome versus Asia as an extrapolation of Great China, Turkic Great Steppe and, since the 7th century, the Islamic world, while during the Contemporary history – in the dichotomy of Euro-Atlantic community – Eurasian community institutionalized today respectively within NATO / the European Union / the European Economic Area (EEA) and within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)/ the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) / the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
It should be noted that the line of contact between the warring parties in Donbas mentioned in the Minsk Memorandum dated 19 September 2014 in the context of the mutual removal of heavy weapons has historical parallels with the demarcation line between the lands of the Sloboda Ukraine, the Kalmius palanka (territorial district) of the Zaporozhian Cossack Host (The Zaporozhian Sich), on the one hand, and the Don Cossack Host, on the other, fixed by the Russian government's decree of April 30, 1746 (Piliaiev, 2015c, p. 133). Meanwhile, the historic start of curbing Don Cossacks and reorganizing their independent liberties into the Kremlin-controlled liberties and privileges (as compared with other “Tsar’s servants”) was initiated by the charter by Tsar Ivan IV Grozny on January 3, 1570, which connected Donschyna (the Don region) with the Moscow State as opposed to the Cossack relations with the King of Poland (Piliaiev, 2015c, p. 134). Thus, one may observe that the fractal dichotomy of values and geopolitical orientations throughout a vast steppe space of the Cossacks' residence between the Dniester and the Don rivers over the historical time acquired the institutional format of the Ukrainian and the Don Cossack autonomies, which respectively and conditionally personified at this level, although having been intersecting closely in language, customs and culture, the extreme Eastern boundary of the axiological-behavioral Europe and the extreme Western boundary of the axiological-behavioral Eurasia.
That determines the historical struggle for Rus’ legacy, wherin the contemporary Russian Federation acts as authoritarian, quasi-imperial alternative to the project of pluralistic, pro-Western Rus-Ukraine (Piliaiev, 2016) – the case with some parallels to the DPRK-ROK opposition on the Korean Peninsula.
Ukrainian political scientist Olexiy Haran (2015) debatably argues that “since the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Moscow and Kyiv held opposite views of its future — “reintegration” and “civilized divorce” respectively” (p. 127), while not mentioning the actual split in the ethno-culturally heterogeneous Ukrainian society regarding the country's geopolitical choice.
Meanwhile, contemporary Ukraine’s foreign policy was distinguished for many years by the geopolitical inconsistency and uncertainty. For instance, in 1993 President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk announced Ukraine’s intention to become an associate member of the CIS states’ intended Economic Union. In 2003, another Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma signed the Yalta Agreement of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan on Forming the Common Economic Space envisaging a supranational body on tariffs and trade. The Agreement was ratified by Parliament of Ukraine in April, 2004 but its implementation was blocked soon by the Orange Revolution.
American Political Scientist Nicolai Petro (2015) denotes the mostly Russophone Ukrainian East as “the Other Ukraine” emphasizing that “the peremptory removal of president Yanukovych violated the delicate balance of interests forged between Galicia1 and Donbass” (p. 31) having jeopardized the Ukraine’s inherent pluralism.
According to the all-Ukrainian (except Lugansk region and Crimea) poll, in Eastern Ukraine since May till September 2014, i.e. in the midst of the armed conflict in Donbas, the share of the local population positively related to Russia increased from 77% to 83%, while in Western Ukraine it fell from 30% to 25% (The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology /the KIIS/, 2014). In December, 2016 the share of the Eastern Ukraine’s population positively related to Russia (excluding the major part of Donbas not currently controlled by Ukraine) amounted to 63,1%, while in Western Ukraine – only 16% (the KIIS, 2017), i.e. 4 times less.
The armed conflict in the Donbas, as evidenced by its development during 2014-2018, unlike the frozen conflicts in the South Caucasus and Transnistria or post-сommunist wars in the former Yugoslavia, is not so much ethnic, but rather ideological and, deeper, the values and civilizational one. That is manifested in the absence of cross-cutting ethnic splits in the political loyalty of the civilian population in the conflict zone as well as in the largely economically motivated geography of the flows of refugees and displaced persons from Donbas.2 One should distinguish political sympathy for Putin’s multiethnic Russia on some part of the Donbas population, nostalgic about Soviet times, from the ethnic identification.
It is worth noting that in the era of the Cold War in Europe the geo-axiological East – West fractal dichotomy in the most strongly marked institutional form passed along the German-German border (die deutsch-deutsche Grenze). As pointed out in Der Tagesspiegel, “The Germans were integrated into military alliances – both in the West and in the East. It was a kind of guarantee that they would not again open up their ambitions to unleash aggressive wars and subjugate their neighbors” (Marschall, & Grabitz, 2017). After the collapse of the USSR and its Eastern bloc (the Warsaw Pact) the geopolitically and institutionally demarcated border of the prevailing influence in the East – West dichotomy gradually shifted further to the east, thus being formalized today as the line of contact of the parties under the Minsk Agreements dated 2014-2015. Meanwhile, the dichotomous “black and white” Russia – West counterposing has been rapidly intensifying, especially since the spring of 2014, in the Ukrainian, the Russian and the Western discourse (Kshitski, 2017; Sytin, 2017).
As a well-known Russian philosopher, one of the ideological inspirers of Gorbachev's perestroika Alexander Zipko emphasizes: «Even in Soviet times <...>we did not have the today division of the East and the West – then communism was opposed to capitalism. <...> Today, according to official propaganda, the West is our enemy – and most have swallowed this assertion”. At the same time, “people in Russia continue to strive for Western standards of life and share Western values. An exception is the concept of individual freedom” (Neef, 2016, p. 136).
On the other hand, the “black-and-white” vision of the world, reminiscent of the totalitarian ideologies, is also intrinsic to neoliberalism and neoconservatism, in the development of which prominent intellectuals who had fled from the Central and Eastern Europe then prevailing totalitarian regimes (Friedrich Hayek, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt et al.) were involved. Meanwhile, neoliberal and neo-conservative interventionism, following Brexit and D. Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, ceases to be the mainstream of modern global politics that may mean the beginning of overcoming the postmodernist consciousness by the Western world and the global trend to the post-nonclassical value system.
While the East – West fractal dichotomy largely defines the nature of conflicts in the post-Soviet Eastern Europe’s space, it is important to understand the conventionality and relativity of such a dichotomy.
For example, a well-known Russian and Soviet orientalist Vasily Bartol'd (1925) insisted on the fact that Mongols promoted westernization of Russia: “Contrary to the frequently expressed opinion, during the Moscow period Russia was exposed even to the influence of European culture to a much greater extent than during the Kiev one” (pp. 171-172). It is noteworthy that a prominent American historian of Moscow Rus Richard Pipes (2011), while quoting in his work the above-mentioned Bartol'd’s opinion, does not dispute it. And this is not surprising, since in the period of the Horde domination over the northeast Rus the trade, diplomatic and cultural ties developed actively between Europe and continental Eurasia along the routes of the Great Silk Road.
It is known that in the era of the Migration Period the borders of “political Asia” reached the territory of modern Switzerland (the Avarian Khaganate of 5th-6thcenturies.foundedby Attila), and in the 8thcentury – the territory of modern France (the Arab conquests).
In Central and Eastern Europe there is a historical memory of Khan Asparuh’s Great Bulgaria, of the Turkic and Western Turkic Khaganates and, of course, about the Chingizids’ empire, the Golden Horde, Timur and the Ottoman Empire. In particular, most of the modern Ukraine's lands were for over 120 years under the Horde’s rule, and lands of the modern Southern and Southeastern Ukraine were in the 16th-18th centuries under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
The relativism of European values and the Europe –Asia dichotomy is manifested in the contemporary politics. For example, in the Central European Hungary, the Fidesz and Jobbik nationalist parties declare the Turkic roots of the Hungarian nation and their pan-Turkic sympathies (Sidorov, 2013).
How relative the East-West opposition is with regard to such fundamental concepts as human rights and social justice may be testified by the August 2017 events concerning mass clashes and racially motivated violence in Charlottesville (Virginia, the USA). With this regard American political scientist Matthew Dallek (2017) considers the victory of the Union’s declared universal values in the Civil War against the Confederates to be unfinished and argues: “Racial progress has almost inevitably been confronted with racist reaction, forces as old as a Constitution that in 1787 <…> sanctioned the terror of slavery in much of the United States”.
It is noteworthy that the Maydan word, which denoted the two Ukrainian Colour Revolutions of 2004-2005 and 2013-2014, is of Turkic origin.In the light of this etymology, the widespread naming of the events of 2013-2014 in Kyiv as Euromaidan can also be interpreted in the context of prospects for transcontinental (trans-Eurasian) integration connecting the European Union and the Asia-Pacific region by a new Silk Road, as a symbol of inevitable activation of not only the economic, informational, but also the civilizational interface between Europe and Asia.
Today, under the fast-paced globalization, the tendency to integrate various religious, spiritual and civilizational spaces into large world systems, and through them into a single multicultural and multireligious space of global civilization, is growing. In particular, one can clearly observe practical aspirations and efforts to synthesize, integrate the most dynamic and competitive cultural and religious systems of the contemporary world – Protestantism and Confucianism.
In this context, one should not over-dramatize «the decay of the liberal international order» (Rozman, 2018) which, as it has been widely agreed among Political Scientists, the incumbent President of the USA Donald Trump is expediting. It is quite obvious that the above order reflected the economic, military, geopolitical, value and cultural-civilizational domination of the West as a consequence of the collapse of the bipolar world at the end of the 20th century. Thus, that implied a clear imbalance in perception and a stress upon not bridging but polarization of the East-West dichotomy in the interest of Westernization, i.e. imposing a Western or Western-oriented modernization model. It is noteworthy in this regard that the basic mental divide between “US (independent of Trump) thinking” (including all the post-Cold War string of previous US President administrations) and the South Korean thinking was that the former “centered on polarization” while the latter “centered on bridge building, whether to North Korea, China, or Russia” (Rozman, 2018).
As Ilya Prigogine (1991) fathomed against the background of Fukuyama’s triumphant “End of History”: “ <…> a more general understanding of science and knowledge in general, an understanding that meets the cultural traditions of not only Western civilization, is emerging” (p. 47). Apparently, in this progress towards a multivariate vision of the world, its spatial and temporal dynamics one may foresee emerging new trans-civilizational intellectual currents and socio-political initiatives aiming to reconcile the traditional East-West dichotomy through the global synthesis of different civilization views of religion, ethics, metaphysics, science and art.
Paradoxically at first sight but the modernization potential, mentality and values compatibility of Western and Confucian worlds probably is much higher than that of Western and post-Soviet Eurasian (the arena of the traditional East–West competition) ones. Protestantism and Confucianism as the most rationalistic world religions may foster a dialogue on the synthesis of civilizations and gradual formation of a transcontinental and then a global civilization of the future. Such possibility is reinforced by the above-mentioned post-nonclassical conception of the world combining scientific, philosophical, religious and artistic cognition.
Confucianism’s spiritual pluralism and religious tolerance, combined with a sufficiently high level of political culture of Confucian societies including continental China (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2018, p. 8), is, in our view, the key to the future success of social and political modernization of the People's Republic of China and create real prerequisites for the formation, based on the convergence of values and achievements of East and West, a common dynamic civilization of the future.
Already in the Age of Enlightenment, Protestant thinkers see the fundamental commonality of Protestantism and Confucianism in recognizing the priority of rational activity of the mind (Albrecht, 1985, p. XXXIX). One of the Founding Fathers of the United States Benjamin Franklin regarded Confucius as his example (Wang, 2007). It is also noteworthy that a famous American political economist Henry George (1839 – 1897), who found Georgism – the political-economic doctrine attempting to integrate economic efficiency with social justice – and sparked several reform movements of the Progressive Era in the USA, well influenced the first president of China Sun Yat-sen (Trescott, 1994).
An outstanding semiotician and cultural historian, a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences Yuri Lotman (2000) pointed to the binary nature of consciousness intrinsic to the Russian Orthodox culture which is manifested in the justice/mercy dichotomy, while in Western culture it is balanced by the third, intermediate reality of law situated halfway between mercy and justice (p. 144). Such a ternary nature3 of the Western culture has a match in Confucianism – the Doctrine of the Mean (“Golden Mean”) (Tikhomirova, 2015).
The basic idea of Legalism– a Chinese classical school of thought (known since ancient China as "School of Lawyers") closely linked to Confucianism and being akin to the modern Western political realism (Terrill, 2003, p. 68) – is the equality of all before the law and the Son of Heaven, the consequence of which is the idea of the distribution of titles not by birth, but by real merit. Legalism is highly influential in administration, policy and legal practice in contemporary China (Pines, 2014).
A prominent Ukrainian economist Oleg Bilorus (2016) in his conception of the world system of globalism offers three possible scenarios of global development – the noosphere or solidary (in the spirit of ideas by Vladimir Vernadsky, Pierre Teillard de Chardin, Nicholas Roerich, Sri Aurobindo et al.), the confrontational (provoking violent international conflicts) and the corporatist (essentially fragmenting the global space into zones controlled by various corporate players). Meanwhile, he does not regard individualism and communitarianism as antipodes but considers their complementarity and mutual enrichment as a requirement of our time.
Speaking about deep conformities of the Western, primarily Protestant, and the Confucian cultures, Fukuyama (1995) stresses the following:
<...> even in the American tradition, the inherent individualism of the constitutional-legal system has always been counterbalanced in practice by strongly communitarian social habits. <...>It is only in the past couple of generations that the balance between individualism and communalism in the United States has been tipped decisively in favor of the former. (p. 31)
One may consider as a kind of Protestantism in Confucianism the latter’s socio-ethical adaptation (since its radical criticism in the Maoist mainland China followed by the subsequent convergence of Chinese communism and market economy) to modern conditions of developing Chinese society and Confucian civilization on the whole. The convergent model of socialism “with a Chinese face” and a deeply integrated, highly competitive at a global level market economy progressively develops and improves. China is increasingly returning to its cultural roots, to Confucian ethics with its notions of virtue, of proper behavior in relations between state and citizens, the principle of good governance, etc. Although the Communist Party of China remains the core of the political system and directs these processes, however, as the well-known Russian Sinologist Vladimir Petrovsky (2017) believes: “Ideology would not be the dominant element in the system”.
A substantial set of economic and social features historically intrinsic to Protestant communities and nations, lately emphasized and systematized by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus (2013), like “Everyone in the nation has freedom to change and adopt newer, more effective means of work and production” (p. 284.), “to access useful knowledge, inventions, and technological developments” (p. 285), “to move upward in social and economic status” (p. 297), “to become wealthy by legal means” (p. 301), are nowadays almost equally characteristic for China. As Prof. Qiao Zhao-hong (2017) from Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences stresses, "our core values should have a global perspective, a Chinese perspective, and a contemporary perspective, which requires both of the significance of this era and excellent traditional culture" (pp. 495-496).
A characteristic feature of Confucian culture countries is the ability to critically rethink and reshape the surrounding reality by borrowing best practices from outside. Father of the Singapore miracle, Lee Kuan Yew, even considered the former British possession of Singapore to be an advantage. In particular, he kept the English language and the British legal system in the country, used the experience of colonial administration devoid of party preferences, strictly followed principles of the rule of law, intellectual property protection, etc. (Pikulenko, 2010). In religious matters, Lee Kuan Yew (2009) was of the opinion that Singapore could integrate all religions and peoples except fundamentalist Islam, since the latter, in his opinion, “separates itself from all others and sets back to the 7thcentury”.
The above means that such fundamental principles of modern Western society as pluralism and the rule of law have their traditional conformities among core values of the Chinese and, wider, Confucian social culture, although in substantially converted forms.
Moreover, there is a great human resource of Protestant population in China ‒ an estimated 60 to 100 million Protestant Chinese (Magistad, 2017), and South Korea ‒ near 9.7 million Protestants, or 19.7% of the whole population, in 2015 (South Korea National Statistical Office, 2016). Many Chinese nowadays consider Christianity as an inspiration for social justice endeavors (Magistad, 2017).
The dichotomous understanding of conflictogenity in society in its various strata, diachronic sections and localizations in fact – through the doctrine of the dualism of the yin-yang powers – has been an indispensable element of dialectical constructions in Chinese philosophy, primarily in Taoism and Confucianism, for two and a half thousand years already. Being a fundamental model of everything, the concept of yin-yang explains the universal regularity of the universe: there can be no "final victory", for there is nothing final, there is no end as such (Markov, 2003). Hereof, respectively, there is a foundation of morality, moral conduct of man and social order. Hence, for example, high authorities in both South Korea and Japan, the closest US allies in the Far East, emphasize the inexpediency of a confrontational view of the China-US alternative choice for their countries and prefer to speak out for pursuing cooperation in China’s One Belt, One Road transcontinental project, while trying to counter China’s growing economic, maritime and geopolitical influence (Song, 2018).
According to Jürgen Habermas (2006), post-secular society of the future will be able to overcome Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” through the interactive communication, developing practices of "interpretation" of socially important religious concepts from a religious language into a secular one" (p. 75). Eastern non-Abrahamic religions, such as Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto in their modern versions adapted to Modernity, like Western forms of dynamically developing Protestantism, Pantheism and post-nonclassical philosophy, represent a powerful foundation for the civilizational interface of the East and the West.
As a reflection of these global trends one may see, inter alia, establishing in December 2015 in Seoul the Future Consensus Institute (Yeosijae4) nonprofit research center – a solution-oriented think-tank found by outstanding representatives of the South Korean political elite, big business and science. Proceeding from the fact that “for the last 30 years, Northeast Asia has been at the core of the transformation of world history” and believing “a new civilization that leaps beyond the current dichotomy between East and West should emerge in the near future” (Yeosijae, 2018), the newfound institution has started conducting research that is designed to promote the convergence of the accumulated wisdom of the West and the East “to advance the advent of a new civilization” (Yeosijae, 2018).
In many respects the War in Ukraine has occurred due to a critical lack of interface between European, Eurasian and Asian-Pasific integration institutions such as the EU, the Eurasian Economic Union, SCO, ASEM, APEC, etc.
It is indicative that in light of the Ukraine crisis the “Greater Europe” concept has been to considerable extent replaced in the political discourse by the “Greater Eurasia” concept. That implies an inclusive vision and respective peacebuilding potential of the New Silk Road integrative initiatives for Eurasia declared by China and the ROK.
China emerges as the leading global force and successfully promotes its own “One Belt, One Road” initiative being intrinsically “the Celestial’s proposal to countries of the Continent to design a new historical process of the infrastructure, investment and socio-economic modernization of the modern world system <...> with the goal of finding a balance of interests for each participant in the project, to make it universal” (Honcharuk, 2018, p. 29) that is in fact a new interpretation of globalization. It is about the gradual formation of a “community of common destiny” with a “common sharing of positive results” on the Eurasian continent (Honcharuk, 2018, p. 33).
Despite Ukraine’s focus on the European integration, Northeast Asia remains one of the most important regions in the political and economic sense for that country (Marmazov, & Piliaiev, 2010). In this regard, given the favorable geographical location and scientific-industrial potential, the Ukrainian government has been making certain efforts to be included into the new Silk Route from Asia to Europe and vice versa. In May 2016 Ukraine officially joined the Trans-Caspian international transport route which seems to be more promising in the light of China’s diversified trans-Eurasian routes plans implementation (Hasan, 2018).
In this context Ukraine could benefit from accession to “the 16+1 cooperation format” initiated by China in 2012 and aimed at intensifying cooperation with 11 EU Member States from the Central and Eastern Europe and 5 Balkan countries “in the fields of investments, transport, finance, science, education, and culture” with three potential priority economic areas for “infrastructure, high technologies, and green technologies” (Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, 2017). The format is intended to complement and reinforce the strategic China-EU partnership enshrined in the “China - EU 2020” Action Plan.
It looks expedient to depart from the unconditional Eurocentrism inherent in the Ukrainian ruling elite since 2014, that is after the Euromaidan’s victory, by joining Ukraine's European integration aspirations with the Eurasian (New Silk Road) initiatives by South Korea and China with a view to develop a transport and logistic hub in Ukraine for transcontinental trade and investment flows. After all, this would result in the strategic interdependence of the integration processes in the east and west of the Eurasian continent, would greatly increase the interest of the main actors of the continental politics in the peaceful and sustainable development of Ukraine.
It is the active position of Ukraine that significantly determines whether a transcontinental integration vector or a sharp geopolitical rivalry in Eurasia of different value systems and management models would increase, with a corresponding increase in the risk of a large-scale hot war on the continent.
The crucial tasks for researchers in this regard would be studying basic reasons for the East – West integration inhibition in the Eurasian space as well as a potential for Ukraine’s constructive integrating role for a Greater Europe and Eurasia, especially in promoting the Asia – Europe format and intensifying the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) using the transit capabilities of alternative versions of the New Silk Road from Europe to Northeast Asia and vice versa.
That implies elaborating ways for the future trans-civilizational consensus of the USA - Europe - Russia - China - the "Asian dragons" which is unlikely to be achieved without integrating Korean Peninsula and settling the Ukraine crisis.
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1 The most pro-Western region of Ukraine, formerly a part of Poland, Austria and Austro-Hungary. It never belonged to Russia, was occupied by the Soviet Union in September 1939 during the Nazi-Polish war and then annexed to the Ukrainian SSR.
2 Though about ¾ of the Donbas pre-war population were Russian-speaking (State Statistics Committee of Ukraine, 2003-2004), numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons from the region as a result of the armed conflict, respectively, into the territory of Russia (1.1 million pers.) and into the territory controlled by the Government of Ukraine (0.8-1.0 million pers.) have been approximately balanced (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2016, p. 7), and we have no evidence of the ethnic homogeneity, or at least any clear ethnic trends of such flows.
3 The term was proposed by Dmitry Uzlaner (2015).
4 Yeosijae in Korean means “to reflect the times”.