No 'End of History' for Imperial Russia
In The End of History and the Last Man (1992) Francis Fukuyama argues that the end of history means the end of an era of ideological confrontations, global revolutions, and wars. The Polish writer Stanislaw Lem has pointed out several times that the concept of any ultimate stability comes from an era of utopian and mythological thinking, which has always hoped for some kind of "golden age" or other incarnation of paradise on earth. The book The End of History was a confident and decisive declaration that the ideological struggle was over, and the U.S., with its liberal values, had won this confrontation. "This triumph of the West, the triumph of the Western idea," asserted Fukuyama, "is manifested above all in the complete exhaustion of the once viable alternatives to Western liberalism. [...] What is now being observed is perhaps not simply the end of the Cold War or the end of a period of world history, but the end of history itself; in other words, it is the final point of humanity's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of government in human society."
According to Fukuyama, there will be no more global wars. The West has won the global war, while its possible opponents have already lost such wars, such as the Soviet Union, which lost the Cold War and collapsed. Fukuyama's historiosophy lacks elementary psychology: totalitarian countries do not recognize the triumph of liberal democracy and are not satisfied with the defeat -- they cherish revenge. The French word "revanche" (revenge) was apparently first used in connection with France's desire to regain Alsace and Lorraine, seized by Germany in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. Revanchism is the desire to reclaim what once belonged to the bearer of the ideology of revanchism. Fukuyama did not take into account that lost wars do not necessarily lead to peace, but can be the impetus for a new war, the purpose of which is to avenge defeat in the last war. World War II was Germany's attempt to avenge its defeat in World War I. Germany was an empire and one of the central and most important players in European politics. After the war, it was no longer an empire, having suffered a crushing military defeat. Its economy sharply weakened, it lost its political and military importance, and it was reduced territorially. The feeling of defeat, the onerous conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, the reparations it had to pay, the national humiliation it had suffered, gave rise to revanchist sentiments and pushed Nazi Germany into the murderous and suicidal Second World War.
Contrary to Fukuyama's assertions, the Cold War did not end with the disappearance of the USSR from the historical scene. In the 21st century, the Russian Federation is led by people who make revenge for the defeat of the USSR in the Cold War their ideology. For this reason, Russia returned to the Middle East and invaded Ukraine in 2014 and 2022. What is the Russian Federation doing in Ukraine and Syria? It is restoring the Soviet Union to its imperial scope; it is avenging lost Soviet greatness. The Soviet Union was a superpower. It disintegrated, lost its territories and spheres of influence. It disintegrated without wars. In its place emerged the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and other countries that were former republics of the USSR. However, the peaceful collapse of the USSR caused war in the attempt to rebuild it. The huge loss of territory, which Russia considers its own, causes revanchism. However, if revanchism is the desire to regain what once belonged to the revanchist, then the "revanche" of the Russian Federation has no basis, for neither Syria nor Ukraine were ever dominions of the Russian Federation, but were vassals or client states of the USSR. The collapse and loss of the imperial importance of the USSR was perceived by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a tragedy and motivation to restore Soviet greatness, the main element of which was the return of Ukraine to a position of dependence on Russia. Putin's statement that the collapse of the USSR was "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century" is not a manifestation of nostalgia, but a guide to action to include Russia among the powers that control the fate of Europe and the world. The Russian Federation's war in Syria is described by Putin as a war on "global terrorism." Putin describes the war in Ukraine as a fight against "neo-Nazism." Accordingly, the Russian Federation arrogates to itself the monopoly on who is considered a "terrorist" and who is considered a "neo-Nazi," completely excluding its affiliation with the occupation of terror and its commitment to Nazi-inspired actions. Imperial ambitions lead to imperial hallucinations and fatal self-deception. The leadership of the Russian Federation has decided that their country can become the Soviet Union if it does what the USSR did, such as turning the Middle East into a sphere of its imperial influence by establishing military bases in Syria and returning by force all Soviet spheres of influence, including, above all, Ukraine.
The Russian Federation does not agree with "the end of history" of the USSR and is busy revitalizing that country. The Russian Federation's "special military operation" in Ukraine is a "restoration operation" of Soviet imperialism. The Russian Federation wants to return the world to a past in which the new Soviet Union rules. The utopians dreamed of a "bright future." The new Russian imperialists dream of a Soviet "bright past." The Russian leaders turn to Russian history, to the reconstruction of a mighty "Russian world. They think in the opposite direction to the one that fascinated Fukuyama: their thoughts are not of "the end of history," but of the rebirth of Russian imperialist history. They are moving the world in the direction of world wars, taking a trip back in time in the time machine they built. They see the future in the past.