Make Russia considered part of the West

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Dude_guy, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. raharris1973 Gone Fishin'

    Jan 28, 2004
    Really? The American press was notably pro-Russian and anti-German in 1914? Despite the unpopularity of Russian anti-semitism in America?
  2. Lalli Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2010
    I thought that Americans hated tsar's absolute power?
    raharris1973 likes this.
  3. Tibi088 Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2013
    I think you are asking a very hard question. The best solution is to make Russia as western as possible. However this presents many challenges.

    1. Russia was on this path before WWI and going red.
    2. So avoiding WWI and continue to develope to a pairlimentary republic, build trains etc. We could expect to see a rapid development of the country and without the civil war this could be a very interesting timeline. See what they could do OTL under communism and after one of the most brutal civil wars and WWII. And when you imagine that they have thrown away all those possibilities because of a strife on the Balkans.
    3. So you need a Russia that is more focused on internal development than external expansion. It would be an incredibly interesting timeline. This would help the country in every aspect. It would avoid the pointless wars and conflicts with the other western powers. Russia really already had everything it needed. And it would free a lot of resources. And if you take out Russian expansionism from it the European system becames pretty stable. Russia guarantees France but refuses to start a fight to take back Alsace and makes this clear. France wont start trouble on his own. Germany is content in Europe and Italy is not significant in itself to cause serious truble. The last question is Austria which will have time to try and figure out its internal problems.
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  4. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2015
    Which Western perception? The present? What does it really entail, except delineating itself from Others? How can such an empty Westernness be conceived of when it can't Define itself in contrast to Russia? If the only discernible sphere it distances itself from is the Muslim world, East and South Asia, then I suppose the dominant axis of stereotyped politico-cultural geography would be North-South, not West-East.

    Russia can change as much as it wants, it's never going to be conceived of as "Western" by "the West" (meaning those people who use this distinction and are widely accepted by others in doing so), simply because the term would lose its content then.

    For Russia to be considered "Western", you'd need "Westernness" to mean a lot more - and then Russia somehow being seen as embodying that which the term entails. You'd nee to Define who / where East is and how it is seen then, too.
  5. samcster94 Well-Known Member

    Apr 19, 2017
    Well, people back then were more scared of the Kaiser than the Tsar. Imperial Russia's policies were hated but the state was generally on good terms with Washington(sort of but not really like Saudi Arabia today).
  6. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    Well, in his memoirs Witte wrote that at Portsmouth he (to his surprise) found a lot of the Russian sympathizers among the least likely group of people, Jewish emigrants. ;)

    Not sure that most of the US citizens cared too much (or at all) about Tsar's "absolute power" (which actually did not exist since mid-XIX and definitely not after 1905 when Russia became constitutional monarchy).
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  7. Gwachiko Well-Known Member

    Jun 9, 2017
    United States of Pangaea
    Since the start of the cold war.
  8. chr92 Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2008
    With no or less Mongol invasions, a thriving Ukraine might lead to more European cultures in its area?
  9. althisfan Banned

    Jun 10, 2018
    It's a fallacy that Russia was considered "Asiatic" after Peter the Great. They were instrumental in the destruction of Napoleon to the point of Russian troops occupying France and Paris itself. No one ever said in the 1800s "OMG Asians are in Paris" or talked about "Napoleon saw his defeat on the plains of Asia" when he invaded Russia, nor considered Moscow to be "exotic" other than the architecture; whereas Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and Syria WERE considered exotic and Eastern. Russia was firmly established in the diplomatic circles of Europe, the Catholic League, and when they faced defeat by Japan everyone saw it as a thorough defeat of a EUROPEAN colonial power in Asia being defeated by an Asian power. Alaska was seen as a colony of a European power. This trope of Russia as "other" is old and is no longer seen in academia whether political science or history.
  10. althisfan Banned

    Jun 10, 2018
    And that's when this definition of "west" that is being used started. It's an anachronism to push it before the Cold War to not mean Eastern Europe. "The West" means Europe and the Americas (and even Australia, New Zealand as well) and has arguably been attempted to be put on Japan as well as a post-industrialized nation with a past as a colonial power though that association has not caught on as it was attempted in the 80s and then the end of the Cold War happened stalling the furthering of this idea. The West became associated with being "1st World" in the original sense- American/NATO and allies around the world; 2nd World being USSR and allies; 3rd world- neutral state, including Switzerland and Sweden which today no one would call 3rd world because the meaning erroneously became "undeveloped nation". Terms change. Sometimes for the worse. But almost always because non-political science students co-opt and corrupt the term for the "common person", because of "a little knowledge is a bad thing".
  11. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    Term "Ukraine" in its modern meaning does not make any sense in the XIII century and there is no guarantee that it would end up as a meaningful entity in a changed history.


    There were:
    1. Great Princedom of Kiev - by the late XII, while still formally the 2nd most "senior" princedom of the "Rurikid Empire", losing most of its importance due to the proximity of the Steppe and raiding nomades (Pechenegs, then Polovtsy to be incorporated into the Golden Horde).
    2. Princedom of Chernigov and Princedom of Pereyaslavl - both parts of the "Rurikid Empire" and suffering from the same neighborhood.
    3. Great Princedom or Kingdom of Halych-Volynia (some of the rulers adopted royal title) - while culturally predominantly "Russian" (in the general terms of language, religion, etc.), in close contact with Hungary, Poland and Lithuania. IIRC (but don't quote me on that :rolleyes:), formally not a part of Kievan Rus.

    It just happened that eventually all these territories had been annexed by the expanding Lithuania (together with what now is Belorussia) with some of them ending in Poland and forming, for a while, something of a single entity.

    "Ukraine" means "border lands" and the terms had been for quite a while used to describe not only parts of the modern Ukrainwe but also the territories of the Muscovits state bordering with the steppe. Now, about the prosperity and "European cultures" part. "European" (as in "not nomadic") border remained practically the same from pre-Mongoliam period and all the way to the mid-XVIII when the Crimean Khanate was annexed by Russian Empire and the raids ended. In other words, the Mongols/Tatars were not a critical element as long as there were some nomads on the South. Areas removed from the steppe (in the modern terms "Western Ukraine") had been in a better situation than the border lands even if the border lands are presumably more fertile.

    In OTL Polish colonization of the border regions resulted in a series of the popular unrests and eventual loss of the "Left Bank" Ukraine and creation Hetmanate state as a vassal of Moscow (actually, it was more complicated but this is irrelevant to the issue). Western Ukraine was much more "polonized" and one can see clear differences in surviving architecture of the late XIX century: it looks rather typically "Austrian", which is not surprisingly. OTOH, the areas of the Eastern Ukraine (including the former nomadic areas) are more Russian (in case you missed it, Russia is also "European" :winkytongue:), which also not a big surprise.
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  12. The Late Dentarthurdent Active Member

    Jul 3, 2018

    Ok, but how? What change would cause Russia to have developed as Catholic?
  13. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    There was a non-zero chance for Kievan Rus to adopt Catholicism instead of the Orthodoxy. Admittedly, not a very high in OTL (there was seemingly a strong Orthodox lobby at least in Kiev) but not impossible either.
  14. SeaCambrian Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2018
    I wouldn't necessarily consider it as a dichotomy. While I agree that Russia is unlikely to be considered "Western" in many, if not most scenarios, Russia did have a number of commonalities with "The West" such as perceived descent from the Greek and Roman civilizations, as well as adherence to Christianity. As such, by some interpretations it could have been included.
  15. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2015
    Some interpretations, but I'm sure not a lot of contemporary ones? Defining "Westernness" through Christianity and Greco-Roman heritage is rather pre-20th century political geography, I'd say. In the 20th century, it was replaced by the "capitalist West" vs. "communist East" dichotomy (and, yes, that was a dichotomy), while my impression about the 21st century is that "the Western world" is primarily a reflex that distances wealthier from poorer countries (unless the wealthy countries are blatantly Muslim). It's not a distinction I find useful, but I took the OP to mean this: Make Russia be considered Western by contemporary society. Maybe I misunderstood.
  16. Ultima Ratio The Last Baron

    May 1, 2010
    Not wanting to derail the discussion, but are there any good Catholic Russia TLs out there?
  17. RogueTraderEnthusiast Winner: WillamOfOckham "Most Title" 2018

    Jun 15, 2016
    I think you'd need to keep the Romans alive in all honesty.

    I personally think that the idea of the West is far more rooted in a mix of Catholic, Charlemagne-ic, Italian and "Latin" ideas.

    I think these are particularly prominent because of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Even if derided as the Empire of the Greeks, its fall was still seen as a shock.

    Culturally and economically it was (a peripheral, but important) part of Europe, the heart of efforts to mend the Great Schism.

    If you had a Christian Roman Empire still in the region, it acts as an economic bond between Russia and the West - and a major influence. Rather than waiting for ideas to leave Italy to travel via Poland - they go from italy, to Constantinople and upriver to Russia.

    I think the Ottomans, alongside the Schism, are major parts of the divide, as they helped emphasise Catholic, Charlemagne-ic and "Latin" ideas into the concept of the West, and undermining the Roman parts of that identity, and any way that could mend elements of the Schism. Instead the Schism lasted for another 600 years and counting.
  18. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    The OP is just too vague. Just what is "the West" and just who (Russian or non-Russian) considered Russia part or not part of it? If "the West" means "Europe" a classical statement that Russia was part of it was in Catherine the Great's famous Instructions:

    6. Russia is an European State.
    7. This is clearly demonstrated by the following Observations: The
    Alterations which Peter the Great undertook in Russia succeeded with the
    greater Ease, because the Manners, which prevailed at that Time, and had
    been introduced amongst us by a Mixture of different Nations, and the
    Conquest of foreign Territories, were quite unsuitable to the Climate. Peter
    the First, by introducing the Manners and Customs of Europe among the
    European People in his Dominions, found at that Time such Means as even
    he himself was not sanguine enough to expect.

    OTOH, some Russians have considered Russia a "Eurasian" rather than a European nation:
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  19. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    Not everyone agrees! See Robert Kaplan:

    "Greece is Christian, but it is also Eastern Orthodox, as spiritually close to Russia as it is to the West, and geographically equidistant between Brussels and Moscow. Greece may have invented the West with the democratic innovations of the Age of Pericles, but for more than a thousand years it was a child of Byzantine and Turkish despotism..."

    BTW, Hamilton Fish Armstrong in his memoirs *Peace and Counterpeace: From Wilson to Hitler* had an amusing account of the “more Western than thou” syndrome:

    “One of Dante’s heirs, the waiter in the Trieste cafe, flicking away the flies from the spotted tablecloth, would say: ‘You are going to Zagreb? A filthy place. My mother was a Croat but she had the good fortune to marry an Italian and escape to Europe.’ The Croats, in turn, had the satisfaction of feeling more Western than their Serbian kinsmen: they said earnestly that when you reached Serbia you would see for the first time what it means to have been under Turkish rule for all those centuries. Naturally, the Serbs told of the inferiority of their neighbors to the east, the Bulgars with their Tartar blood. And the Bulgars pointed out that the East began where Europe ends, at the Bosporus…”
  20. alexmilman Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2018
    Which means that by the 1920's (or even by 1917) Russia somehow drifted from being "Western" (Greco-Roman and capitalist) to being "Eastern". OTOH, post-WWII Japan became "West" and so did South Korea. Not sure how to classify the Nazi Germany: on one hand it still had a capitalism (even if somewhat limited) so it has to be "West" but OTOH, a dictatorial regime should make it "East". Seems that definitions of that type do not make too much sense except as the short-term political slogans.

    AFAIK, up to the WWI "West" amounted mostly to the cultural aspect of the society. Not sure when exactly the term appeared at all but it seems to be relatively modern because at least in the XVIII it was mostly about being "European" and the notion was more or less limited to the dress code, art/architecture, military and, quite marginally, existence of some legal regulations and institutions. "Europe", of course, was not considered in the geographic terms and hence the famous sentence (coined by an Italian) about Peter I opening a window to "Europe" (not to the "West"). Going a little bit deeper to the past, Polish embassy arriving to the court of Louis XIV to arrange a marriage between Maria Gonzaga and Władysław IV was considered by the French "Asiatic": the French were not used to such a display of the precious stones, gold and silver on everything including horses' harness.

    Most of the rest belonged to the imagination of the travelers. As a result, St-Petersburg was "European" but Moscow was "Asiatic" even if it was full of the quite "European" palaces and administrative buildings and if some of the most prominent "Asiatic" pieces had been built by the Italians and the rest (with a single exception) had either Italian or Greek "roots". But of course, it would be naive to expect from the visiting dignitaries to have excessive knowledge of the history of architecture or some other trifles of the kind; just being "European" was a qualifier for being an expert. One of these travelers came with a great statement that the northern climate is not conductive to assembling the great art collections because paintings are to be seen properly only under the Southern sky (here goes Hermitage ....). :p

    That would be reasonably simple :)winkytongue:): make today's Russia to do everything we (the US) want it to do (aka, fully submit to our foreign policy) and you'd have it "Western" shortly afterwards (the term is seemingly being granted by our media). They almost managed to achieve that status during Yeltsin's presidency (regardless skyrocketing crime, bottoming economy, poverty, etc.) but his attempts to maintain at least semblance of independence doomed the whole attempt. :winkytongue:
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