Gorbachev’s Common European Home envisioned a shared continent that could accommodate ideological differences. Russia’s current Greater Eurasia Initiative can be seen as a Greater Eurasian Home as it proposes economic integration on the supercontinent whilst accommodating and preserving strategic autonomy and civilizational differences.
The Common European Home that never materialised
Towards the end of the Cold War, Gorbachev advocated for a Common European Home with separate rooms to accommodate both capitalist and socialist states. The initiative envisioned transforming international politics by facilitating both cooperation and competition. The intention was to decouple the competition of ideas and ideologies from the destructive rivalry of military blocs.
Washington rejected the Common European Home idea and instead pushed the alternative of a “Europe Whole and Free”, which has become the mantra for liberal universalism and NATO expansionism. In this format there is a European home consisting of one liberal democratic room under US leadership.
The format of liberal universalism has been detrimental to Russia as it preserved bloc politics and reorganised relations along a subject-object divide of sovereign inequality.
Liberal hegemony was enabled by the concentration of economic power in the West, which lays the foundation for a centralised and liberal international economy. The dual challenge for Russia has been to develop strategic autonomy and diversify its economic connectivity to reduce reliance on the West, and to reject liberal universalism as the foundation for the subject-object divide in the international system.
In the early 18th century, Peter the Great interpreted the Enlightenment in terms of geography as the modernization of Russia and becoming a maritime power was supplemented with a Cultural Revolution to uproot its Muscovite and Eurasian past. Russia has subsequently been fragmented between the liberals seeking to modernise Russia by remaking it as a Western European state and conservatives who often resisting economic modernisation to preserve its civilizational distinctiveness. Many Slavophile conservatives even contradicted the conservative concept of organic growth by seeking to turn back the clock to the pre-Petrine era.
Eurasian conservatives in the 1920s reformed conservatism and sought to bridge internal divisions. Savitsky argued that Russia’s historical woes were the result of a Eurasian power attempting to modernise and reinvent itself as a Western European maritime power . The principal challenge for Russian conservatism has been a fragmented history, and a conservative concept was required to include all the various and contradictory periods of Russian history. The prolific conservative, Nikolai Berdyaev, acknowledged “the development of Russia has been catastrophic” due to lack of continuity:
Interruption is a characteristic of Russian history. Contrary to the opinion of the Slavophils the last thing it is, is organic. There have been five periods in Russian history and each provides a different picture. They are: the Russia of Kiev; Russia in the days of the Tartar yoke; the Russia of Moscow; the Russia of Peter the Great; and Soviet Russia. And it is quite possible that there will be yet another new Russia.
The geoeconomics of Greater Eurasian aspires to bridge a fragmented Russian history and political paths as liberalism can be decoupled from the notion of Westernising Russia, and conservatives have a Eurasian path to organic growth. Lastly, the initiative advocates for strategic autonomy and vitality in an international system based on sovereign equality.