*The Dawn of Eurasia*

by on August 21, 2017 at 5:34 pm in Books, History, Political Science | Permalink

By Bruno Maçães, due out in January.  I was asked to blurb it, I’m going to go “off the reservation” and call it so far the best and most important book I’ve read so far this year.  From Amazon:

In this original and timely book, Bruno Maçães argues that the best word for the emerging global order is ‘Eurasian’, and shows why we need to begin thinking on a super-continental scale. While China and Russia have been quicker to recognise the increasing strategic significance of Eurasia, even Europeans are realizing that their political project is intimately linked to the rest of the supercontinent – and as Maçães shows, they will be stronger for it.

The Kindle edition at least you can pre-order.

1 The Engineer August 21, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Other than lawlessness, is there anything stopping a Eurasia wide train and highway system?

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2 ChrisA August 22, 2017 at 12:40 am

You can take the train all the way from Aberdeen to Vladivostok if you choose (obviously changing in various cities, perhaps via London then onto the Channel Tunnel to Paris, then on to Moscow where you get the Trans-Siberian). It will take you a while though, 9 or 10 days. Also you can pretty much drive the same distance.

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3 massimo August 21, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Freakingly Orwellian. My hopes are on the opposite outcome: thousands and thousands of sovereign propietary communities, with free circulation of people, goods and capital. A voluntaryist world.

Regarding the question about railways, the chinese have already done it, although it still needs extensive renovation in some parts. They call it something like “The big belt”. I am sure you find a lot of info in the web, if I recall well, they already put 600Bn$ between this and port infrastructure for another “belt” or whatever they decided to call the ocean way.

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4 None August 21, 2017 at 6:28 pm

Eurasia? Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like BRIC did. Any good idea needs a catchy acronym to catch on.

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5 The Other Jim August 21, 2017 at 7:49 pm

No, it actually is a pleasing-sounding word, which is why it is in the title.

It’s also a pleasing concept for the one-world-government crowd. At least the ones who are capable of selectively forgetting that even the EU is falling apart. But Eurasia? Now you’re talking! Most important concept of the year!!

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6 Melmoth August 22, 2017 at 10:38 am

Pax Mongolica

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7 athEIst August 22, 2017 at 5:01 pm

The RIC of BRIC constitutes what? 80-90% of Eurasia. What’s left, Pakistan, Iran the non-African part of the Middle East and SE Asia and Japan, and even with Indonesia, that ain’t much.

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8 T August 21, 2017 at 6:29 pm

Seriously, by Bruno Maçães? I haven’t read the book, but that guy’s credibility is in the toilet from previous things he has said, written and done.

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9 Ray Lopez August 21, 2017 at 7:49 pm

This author is a scholar, from Portugal, so I don’t see your problem with him other than you may disagree with his views. He has a Wikipedia page, seems legit, and his book is only $11 for several hundred pages. Pre-ordered it.

Bonus trivia: this Portuguese writer wrote nice fiction: “Pereira Declares” by Antonio Tacucchi (1994) about a fat, middle-aged and complacent art professor (TC?!) who finally, for once in his life, decides to take a stand against a dictatorial, fascist government, a thinly veiled reference to the actual dictators in Portugal, when he saw a lovely young couple get persecuted*. It’s on my “to read” list.

* recall the short story by John Updike “A&P” and what happens when you allow your idealism towards youth get in the way of your job, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%26P_(short_story)

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10 efim polenov August 22, 2017 at 12:53 am

AP is a good story, written by a still very young Updike – the older Updike could not have written it, it was a better story than the older Updike could have written – but the narrator, Ray, was not “idealistic”. Updike, when young, was a fairly moralistic guy (as he grew older he stopped listening to other people, because he grew more and more convinced They should be listening to Him – the sad side effect of the good times of being a “New Yorker” writer in days when that was extremely impressive, both monetarily and otherwise) and he was fairly upset, in the confused moral way that young people with little sexual marketplace value are, as long as they remain in that marketplace (i.e., most but not all of them) at the difference between those who are physically attractive, and the (what you call) ‘idealistic’ emotions they inspire, on the one hand; and those who are unable to muster more than the sheer empty gestures of unrequited acknowledgement, on the other hand, including the noble gesture of shedding one’s checkout counter boy apron and quitting one’s job, which could not – for similar reasons that the human gestures of those fighting for or against Paris, the favorite of Venus, in the Iliad, could not mean anything in Olympus – help one either understand or enjoy the world. (The previous “run-on” sentence explains the story in a way that would have made Updike, if not laugh, at least smile a little, or smirk (2 out of 3 ain’t bad)). (The sprezzatura of the story was not in the accurate description of the SMP imbalance or any other unbalances, it was in how well everything was described, nobly described, regardless of the actual (and, to tell the truth, brutally sad at the moment) vast uber-Olympian disparities between the beautiful young women and the author.) Since this is MR, I don’t need to point out that the author was signaling this: ‘I too, albeit a simple unattractive store clerk, have access to beauty, even if only in the way I use words.’ (In fact, Updike himself did, ultimately, have such access). (AP is one of the best stories I have ever read that is so clearly sub-philosophical – well, sub-Christian is a better way of saying that, but only if you are familiar with the way Christians look at this competitive yet beautiful world – and to tell the truth there aren’t many non-sub-philosophical stories, so this sentence is more of a compliment than it might at first seem). (If you are in high school or college Do not plagiarize this for your essay on Updike – MR is fully searchable – that being said, if you have already figured all or part of this out on your own, or were about to, go ahead and say it in your own words.).

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11 efim polenov August 22, 2017 at 1:11 am

And how do Christians look at this competitive yet beautiful world? Mormon theology allows that anyone of us, male or female, are invited to follow the Lord and are invited to, ourselves, one day, rule with complete love, with complete personal marital happiness, over completely happy worlds. The checkout kid in AP would like that, right? But say you are not a Mormon and are just some humble guy or gal who goes to church even though once in a while you would prefer to “sleep in” or have a “lazy Sunday morning.” (Starting here I am going to switch to a form of English style that is not my own but that is easily translatable, particularly to Chinese and Kazakh and Japanese, for personal reasons). God not only wants us to love Him but wants our friendship; not in the sappy way that Gramma really really wants us to send her a birthday card with more than just a signature but in the way that, once in a lifetime – sometimes more than once, but always at least once, even the most miserable of self-centered children of generations of self-centered parents understands this – either we care about each other or don’t. And if we do, and if God is our friend, well, all your Rivendells and all your Olympuses and all your riverside Shakespeare sonnets would not be enough to even remotely indicate the beauty of the world we will live in. Just saying. Like I said, AP was a good story – a clear and cold as spring water example of one person caring about other people? – not quite – but Updike was, at that age, a genius – and he was on the right track.

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12 efim polenov August 22, 2017 at 1:33 am

If “… in the way that, once in a lifetime, either we care about each other or don’t” seems awkward the first time you read it, I am sorry. We all make choices all the time – study hard or not to make one’s future spouse happy, say thanks but no thanks when the weed is being passed around or just indulge, go into shock or not after a major accident, exaggerate the truth or not when the exaggeration would allow you to be part of a lucrative class action lawsuit, decide to allow yourself to insult someone who you think deserves to be insulted or not, give up or don’t give up the invitation to 18 holes of golf at a hard to get at private club because a friend would like you to be at her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah …. I have no idea what other people’s choices are (the listed ones were not necessarily mine, by the way – but if they were – I hope 5 out of 6 isn’t bad) but everyone – including some people who want to write something snarky after reading this – will one day have that one chance to make that one choice to care about someone else in a way so true that even God would be impressed, and delighted in the way we are all delighted when a friend steps up and does what needs to be done or even just says what needs to be said – who knows what day it is? (BTW I know next to nothing about Kazakh and only slightly more about Japanese and Chinese. For all I know nothing sounds more natural in Kazakh or Japanese or Chinese than “in the way that once in a lifetime either we care about each other or we don’t”). BTW, AP is really really well written.

13 efim polenov August 22, 2017 at 1:52 am

I realize that was a lot of words but, read out aloud, it is just a couple minutes – shorter than a lot of not-all-that good songs that still get listened to with pleasure again and again – so, not a sermon, just a thought.

14 Ray Lopez August 22, 2017 at 3:06 am

Good summary efim polenov, but you lost me when you started preaching your Mormon beliefs. Was Updike gay? His son says so in his memoirs (maybe just to sell his book).

15 Peldrigal August 22, 2017 at 6:58 am

Are you aware that Antonio Tabucchi is Italian, right?

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16 JWatts August 21, 2017 at 6:36 pm

“The Dawn of Eurasia”

I think Attila the Hun might have a prior claim.

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17 dearieme August 21, 2017 at 6:58 pm

Yes. And other bandit hordes e.g. the mob that Germans once used to romanticise as Aryans. Or Genghis Khan and his Mongols. Or Timurlane.

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18 Pedro Cerrano August 21, 2017 at 8:12 pm

A return to the Great Game. Too bad Hopkirk isn’t around to write about it.

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19 Thor August 22, 2017 at 2:49 am

Those are fine books (Hopkirk’s books) indeed.

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20 jorod August 21, 2017 at 8:50 pm

Things like that work better when you have a homogeneous class structure. North America is more varied and more stressful between the haves and have nots. Russia and China are mostly poor and not at all like Western Europe.

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21 Peldrigal August 22, 2017 at 6:59 am
22 Pshrnk August 21, 2017 at 8:57 pm

Trump greatly strengthens the argument for Eurasian predominance.

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23 y81 August 21, 2017 at 9:34 pm

Are you basing this argument on the tolerance for diversity shown by Putin? Or is it the respect for democratic norms of Xi? The moral seriousness of Berlusconi? The deference to sensible elite opinion of the British people? The absence of mass shootings in Norway? The capacity for assimilating immigrants of France? Maybe all of the above?

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24 msgkings August 21, 2017 at 9:46 pm

I think the argument is based mainly on Trump being a clowny douchebag.

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25 Pshrnk August 21, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Correct @msgkings.
@y81 The items on your list are givens. What could lead to Eurasian predominance despite Eurasian liabilities? Answer: “a clowny douchebag.” in America.

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26 msgkings August 21, 2017 at 10:36 pm

Fortunately only 3 1/2 years left, and maybe fewer.

27 Artimus August 22, 2017 at 12:37 am

Don’t get your hopes up @msgkings. It could be another 7 1/2 years. You never know.

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28 msgkings August 22, 2017 at 1:16 am

Of course, god knows we’re in crazy times so my predictions are worth what you pay for them. But that’s my guess.

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29 Butler T. Reynolds August 22, 2017 at 6:46 am

That gives Trump too much credit. The US national debt is far more important than his tweets.

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30 Dzhaughn August 22, 2017 at 12:53 am

I would like to decrease in esteem Tyler’s earlier decrease in esteem of the eclipse.

The eclipse was interesting because it shows different possibilities for daylight than we normally experience, changing the appearance of everything around us. Dappled sunlight through leaves takes on overlapping crescent patterns. Shadows get clearer edges, but have less contrast, as the disc of the sun is occluded.

The Sun’s corona was nice, less spectacular than I expected. The sky was hardly dark.

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31 john August 22, 2017 at 9:15 am

But the question will be just how and who is really making the decisions. A rising China? What does India have to say about that? A Russian summer? They’ve been hoping for for centuries but alway stuck in some winter like relationships with the other European powers and cultures?

How well integrated — more tighly just increases the political conflicit and tensions, more lossly and you just have what exists now more or less so ….

Seems to me that the history of the world has been that all the efforts to produce these more efficient global settings have aways resulted in massive warfare after not too long a period.

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32 B.B. August 22, 2017 at 9:36 am

I believe Halford Mackinder was there first. In 1904, he published “The Geographical Pivot of History” which essentially invented geopolitics. He invented the idea of the “Heartland,” he who controls eastern Europe controls the Heartland, and he who controls the Heartland controls Eurasia.

Mackinder influenced George Orwell (in 1984) and James Burnham. Indirectly, he influenced Hitler. The “Realist” school of international politics, like Hans Morgenthau, was heavily influenced by his ideas of geography. Alfred Thayer Mahan also influenced geopolitics with his emphasis on oceans and the Navy about the same time.

Germany and Russia and probably China think in terms of land and Eurasia. UK and USA think in terms of control of the oceans with a navy. Mackinder vs Mahan.

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33 M August 22, 2017 at 7:36 pm

Historically, post-Mongols, Eurasia didn’t matter too much because all the important people (and just *most* of the people) were in the peripheries of Eurasia, assaults from the heartland actually weren’t very easy, and the sea knit together the Atlantic to Europe about as well as it did to India or China (and culturally the knit is of course far, far simpler). How much will that change?

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34 Tom Warner August 23, 2017 at 7:21 pm

I can’t comment on the book, but I will make a few skeptical points in reaction to the blurbs.

Of course there is no geographic distinction between Europe and Asia. The concept derives from ancient Mesopotamian cosmography, in which the earth is a flat disc surrounded by a circular river from which the main rivers of the world branch off towards a central sea. You see this in Genesis as the Tigris, Euphrates and a river each from the east and west (probably Karkheh and al-Rummah). The Greek adaptation had the Nile and Phasis rivers as branches from the outer river, called Okeanos, The Nile and Phasis were thought to respectively divide Libya from Asia and Asia from Europe. In short, the European “continent” is a myth born of ignorance.

It’s also true that much of the purported historical distinction between Europe and Asia has been invented by modern historians keen to exaggerate the west vs east angle in the rivalry of Greeks and Persians. We’re all Mesopotamians culturally to a much greater extent than most people realize. For most of Western history democracy was only municipal, and our kings and emperors were more similar than different from their eastern peers.

But isn’t it astonishing how resilient the concept of a European “continent” has been? Since the Greeks colonized the Black Sea in the 7th c BC, it has been obvious that there is no important geographic dividing line, even if western geographers clung through the middle ages to unimportant imaginary ones (usually via the Don and Manych or Coruh and Aras to the Caspian, then via the Volga to the Arctic).

So why has the concept of a European “continent” been so resilient? I think because in the meantime a real cultural divide has emerged that’s very important to people. And I don’t see yet any trend the opposite way. Sure we are increasingly connected. But there are wars on in Ukraine and Syria that are fundamentally east versus west. Ukraine is adamant that it will be Europe not Eurasia; Russia is just as adamant that it will be Eurasia not Europe and that it can’t afford to let any more satellites switch to the European side. And of course this is a continuation of the disintegration of the very Eurasianist USSR. Because of that history almost nobody not on Putin’s dole is going to be interested in being Eurasian.

Likewise I don’t see China for all its trade ambitions being at all interested in being Eurasian. Am I wrong?

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35 Tom Warner August 23, 2017 at 7:26 pm

And one more: does anybody think the “new silk road” project is important, really? You really believe long-distance land transit is going to grow in importance relative to sea and air?

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36 harpersnotes August 27, 2017 at 9:46 am

Three major types of influences on prosperity across the North American continent are now increasingly working for Eurasia.
1. Transcontinental railroad (post Civil War.).
2. Interstate highway system (post WWII.)
3. Uniform Commercial Code.
Economics generally works best where governments provide infrastructures and other platforms and avoiding micromanaging other than promoting a level playing field for entrepreneurs and consumers freedom for the invisible hand to allocate resources.

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