Conservatism and Russian International Relations Theory

Thursday, 11 October 2018 - 12:00 pm
Registration required: 
Cost to attend: 
Free of charge
Event language: 

This paper will examine the influence of conservative thought on Russian international relations theory. It will focus on how Russian conservatives have sought to reconcile an apparent tension between particularist and universalist aspects of their thinking. On the one hand, Russian conservatives have denied the existence of universal values and  have stressed their own country’s distinctiveness. On the other hand, they have also often regarded Russia as a country with a universal mission. It posits that Russian conservatives from the mid-nineteenth century onwards have taken two approaches. One has claimed that Russia’s particularity is that it is the repository of the universal truth, and has therefore insisted that Russia must defend its separate identity for the benefit of mankind as a whole. The second has identified the universal good with the promotion of national diversity. This second approach has thereby rejected universalism while at the same time preserving the idea that Russia has a universal mission. In line with the logic of both these approaches, many Russian conservatives in the modern era argue that the development of a multipolar world, in which nations protect their sovereignty and defend their right to a separate path of development, serves not only Russian interests, but also those of humanity as a whole.

Paul Robinson is a professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, and the author of numerous works on Russian history, military history, and military ethics. He has recently completed a history of Russian conservatism, which is to be published in 2019.