К. Woloh, www.bramaby.com
Polski: Intermarium - narodziny Homo Responsabilis
Magyar: Intermarium - a Homo Responsabilis születése
Română: Intermarium - nașterea lui Homo Responsabilis
Česky: Mezimoří – Zrození druhu Homo Responsabilis
Русский: Интермариум - рождение Homo Responsabilis
The current article builds upon discussions on www.bramaby.com dedicated to Intermarium and the ideas of East Central European federalism, and opens a debate regarding virtues that could provide a foundation for such a union, and help put Intermarian nations behind one cause within a commonly shared system of values.
Every political union, social entity, or nation that aspires a role of global leadership, that strives to leave a mark in the history of humanity, has some kind of a philosophical idea in its foundation. This idea gives the reason for existence of this entity, and powers its eagerness to perform. Such ideas could carry creative, or destructive force, or often both of them together. The ideas are borrowed, improved, and built upon - in other words, they evolve.
Imperial ideology of Rome, Catholicism of the Habsburg Empire, jihadism of the Ottomans, industrial imperialism of Britain, marxism of the Soviet Union, national socialism of the Hitler’s Third Reich, democratic capitalism of the USA - each of those philosophical paradigms contributed not only to achievements (including plentiful negative achievements) of their carriers, but most importantly to their existence as a whole. Lack of a 'big idea' that a carrier feels fully responsible for leads to its impotence, and a fast internal decline. Examples of the latter could include seemingly huge, but ultimately fragile entities ranging from the Alexander's empire, the Mongol Empire, till modern European Union, Latin American Mercosur, or even post-Soviet Russia.
Intermarium (Międzymorze, Межморье) is a name that is increasingly associated with the whole diversity of countries between Germany and Russia. It is not a mere replacement for a bulky and stereotyped Central & Eastern Europe, but a connotation that includes a much deeper idea with a vivid federalist flavor. In his book The Intermarium: Wilson, Madison, and East Central European Federalism Jonathan Levy claims that a political union of those countries created on federalist principles could produce a lasting solution to region's problems, ensure its security and self-sustained growth.
However, a political union without a fundamental idea behind it is useless. Such an entity doesn't really have a reason to exist. Effective economic cooperation could well be built under already existing rules and procedures of international relations. Yet, presence of certain common values within the region is a path to common virtues that might eventually bring Intermarium into existence. In the view of foreigners, the so-called Eastern Europeans (or we should probably call them “Intermarians”) have certain common traits and values besides unpronounceable names and partying habits. If outsiders could see those traits, perhaps we could go one step further, and try to identify idealistic values that could unite the Intermarians behind one common cause. A bigger idea that ensures not only existence of Intermarium, but also gives the region a reason to turn from a follower into a leader, have something specific to stand for, and find a way to a global leadership of the planetary magnitude. The current article is meant to be the first ball in analyzing the Intermarian Idea, and is an invitation to an open discussion.
The mystery of Intermarium is that it seems both uniform, and diverse at the same time. Despite many centuries of common history, array of common enemies, continuous coexistence side by side, and never ending mutual penetration and intertwining of its nations, the variety of global lines of division stretching through this land couldn’t be more plentiful. Catholicism and Orthodoxy, Slavs and non-Slavs, Latin World and Cyrillic World, staunch believers and religiously indifferent, NATO-members and non-NATO, EU and non-EU, Euro and non-Euro, etc, etc.
At first glance, this diversity makes it more difficult to find common traits. But perhaps it is exactly our diversity that could give us our main power, and stimulate us to put those secondary discrepancies aside while focusing on things that really matter. Below are few main virtues which Intermarium and the Intermarians could claim to stand for.
1. Republicanism (A Democratic Anti-Empire)
A huge chunk of history of Intermarian nations is penetrated by their fight against empires, and against imperial rule. Their four main adversaries - The Habsburg Empire, The Ottoman Empire, The Russian Empire, and The German Empire - learned to cooperate between themselves much faster than the Intermarians cleared their own internal grievances in the process of national formation (those grievances were also eagerly exploited by the empires to play the Intermarians against each other). However, this coin had a flip side. By the nature of their struggle, Intermarian nations developed a strong connection with ideals of republicanism as a set of progressive values opposite to surrounding imperial pressures. Even in the case of Hungary, which eventually fought its way into the right to share the imperial blanket with the Austrian house, this bonus rather came as a retribution for its strenuous pro-republican struggle against the imperial cause imposed by Austrian and Russian guns.
Traditions of democratic, pluralistic governance have very deep roots across many Intermarian people. From early vox-populi institutions in the Kievan Rus to the age of elected kings in Hungary, from the Seim of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to traditions of Cossack democracies, from republican revolutions in Wallachia and Moldova to anti-imperial uprisings in Greater Poland. To a degree, history itself left the Intermarians little choice but to embrace evolution of the anti-imperial republicanism. And even when this path faced superior oppressors at home, the republican charge often searched for exit elsewhere - like that of Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Michael Kovats in the USA, Ignacy Domeyko in Chile, and of many others.
The path towards republicanism was not only a product of traditions of vox-populi decision making in the region, but also an edifice of independent thinking, and opposition to externally imposed dogmas. One of the first and most vivid examples produced by this type of anti-imperial mentality was the Hussite movement in the Czech lands. The Hussites managed to successfully challenge not only the biggest empire of its time - the Holy Roman Empire, but also the dominant political ideology the world knew - the Christian dogma of the Papal Rome. This intrinsic desire to live with one’s own mind against all the surrounding odds leads us to the second virtue of the Intermarians - progressive nationalism.
2. Progressive nationalism (My Nation Is My Castle)
Local nationalism is largely inseparable from the life of the Intermarians. Even in places like Belarus whose authoritarian ideology was crafted upon Soviet blueprints that staunchly denounced nationalism and undermined people's identity, the grassroot feelings of “us vs. them” and “don’t mess in my courtyard” are as acute as in places like Serbia which went through ethnic conflicts.
The processes of national formation in Intermarium were bloody and tough. Not lastly because each Intermarian nation proved to be very hard to kill. Intermarium is a place with no major historical winner - neither internal, nor external. A hellish furnace that forged a variety of die-hards instead of melting them into one big supra-nation like Germany, or Russia. This struggle for survival caused the Intermarians a lot of pain, costed many lives, exhausted resources, and took both progressive and ugly forms.
Eventually, at an individual level each Intermarian nation was left in a disadvantage by being too small to matter. However, if one looks at Intermarium as a united ecosystem, conclusions could be quite opposite. Variety of nations produced variety of approaches, and fostered competition between elements of the system, their eagerness to perform. Variability of the “Intermarium's DNA” increases chances for survival of each element. Within its soup of nations Intermarium tries a bigger number of things, is quick to identify successful traits, and effectively shares them internally through the mechanisms of competition and self-assessment vis-à-vis others.
Revolutions of 1989 spread like wildfire. Would the peaceful Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia happen without ugly crackdowns in Poland before that? Would the Polish Solidarity succeed without the Soviets already having the blood of the Prague Spring and Budapest on their hands? Would Ceaușescu fall in a vacuum? Surely, all of it is debatable. But what is hardly questionable is that the more you try, the faster you succeed. Intermarian nations always look at each other to measure their own performance.
In the age of little understood globalization, and failing multiculturalism across Western European nations, local nationalism of the Intermarians received another connotation. It became the last hub for preservation of achievements and further development of the core European civilization. Not in terms of religion - many Intermarian nations are not religious at all - but in terms of giving the European civilization the second chance to progress without repeating mistakes of former empires embroiled in their post-colonial guilt policies. Intermarium is pro-global, and eagerly benefits from globalization, but it still has a chance to find the right place for national and global within itself, put the two into a balance without engaging them in a forceful marriage.
By providing functions of competition, variability, preservation, and balance, open and honest nationalism of Intermarian nations assumes a progressive role. If a nation is upright about its ways of life, and does not engage in hypocrisies to gain cheap benefits at expense of outsiders, it can afford one big thing - be responsible. Responsible for every its citizen, for every action, and most importantly - for every non-action. Thus, the third and main virtue - responsibilism.
3. Responsibilism (If You Can, You Are Responsible)
The nature of struggles and challenges that most of Intermarian nations faced in the last several centuries was such that an enemy, or an opposing force was usually overwhelmingly superior. Whether we talk about fight of the Balkan nations against huge armies of the Ottoman empire, or plentiful national revolutions and uprisings against Russian, Austrian, and Prussian occupiers, or survival between war machines of Hitler and Stalin, or even internal revolutions of the modern age from Romania of 1989 to Ukraine of 2004 - all have a similar trait of courage and honesty to stand up for a fight in which you are very likely to lose.
However, little hope for victory doesn’t mean that you don’t fight. People of Budapest have demonstrated it in 1956, Prague - in 1968, people of Minsk keep demonstrating it now. And these uneven collisions with externally sponsored regimes and their local watchdogs left a deep philosophical value-rooted mark on the Intermarians. This mark continues to influence mentality of the Intermarians long after those struggles passed into archives of history. The Intermarians don’t buy excuses like “I was ordered to do that”, “everybody did it, and I did”, and “I didn’t know”. Because you are responsible for everything that you do, and even more responsible for things that you don’t. In this article we summarize this virtue under the term of “responsibilism”.
Responsibilism is one of emerging values that we hope could drive the Intermarians continuously forward. Once we better understand and help to define the meaning of responsibilism, it could become the crown jewel of the Intermarian civilization. Something that transforms from a defensive mechanism of die-hard nations into a front banner of a global leader.
If you can stop a crime, or save a person - you are responsible for it. If you can stop a war - you are responsible for it. If you can save a planet - you are responsible for it. If you can lead humanity to new heights - you are responsible for it. The more you can - the greater is your responsibility. Responsibilism implies that we are not just apes who learned to walk upright and periodically apply reason, but that we also assume full responsibility for everything that we do, as well as everything that we choose not to. Welcome the birth of HOMO RESPONSABILIS (a responsible man) - the next species in the food chain above the couch potato man of the Egoistic Era!
Responsibilism is intrinsically connected with the other two Intermarian virtues - republicanism and progressive nationalism. By establishing higher level of responsibility for more able, more resourceful, more educated, responsibilism builds upon local traditions of noble democracies combining virtues of aristocracy with universal opportunities of democracy. Responsibilism is in many ways a product of Intermarian republicanism, and struggles it led.
At the same time, responsibilism is also the essential balancing factor to nationalism of the Intermarians. Responsibilism is global, while nationalism is very local. Competitive nationalism of the Intermarians becomes progressive only when it blends with responsibilism. When nations know the line after which they put their differences aside, and work together towards a greater good. Not because it is a bargain of some sort, but because it is what they are all collectively responsible for.
Responsibilism, progressive nationalism, and republicanism of the Intermarians are mutually connected, and continuously build upon each other.
Responsibilism represents a suggested concept that evolves from the Intermarian virtues, and is meant to connect them into a cohesive self-powering system. It also comes at the right time, when technological advance, rise of information channels, and accumulated social experience provide tools for accelerated evolution of homo responsabilis, a responsible man.
It is hard to predict today whether Intermarium ever evolves into any kind of a political, or military union. However - as the Intermarian spirit says - it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. Recent creation of the Visegrád Battlegroup is the first step in this direction. It needs to be complemented with many more. To achieve this, the Intermarians need to have a common cause that we could all stand behind despite our differences, and even benefiting from them. Only then Intermarium could become a flagship for its own values, and transform itself into a global player capable of taking on the most challenging tasks - from geo-political leadership till joint space program.