68 Foreign Aff. 1 (1988-1990)
Post-Communist Nationalism

handle is hein.journals/fora68 and id is 905 raw text is: Zbigniew Brzezinski

T      e time has come for the West to confront as a policy
issue a problem that for years most Western scholars have
tended to ignore and that all Western policymakers still
consider to be taboo: the rising tide of nationalism in Eastern
Europe and especially in the Soviet Union itself. This long-
dormant issue is now becoming, in a dynamic and conflictual
fashion, the central reality of the once seemingly homoge-
neous Soviet world. Indeed, whereas Marx once described the
tsarist Russian empire as the prison of nations, and Stalin
turned it into the graveyard of nations, under Gorbachev the
Soviet empire is rapidly becoming the volcano of nations.
Until recently, the West preferred to downplay the reality of
East European national aspirations and to downgrade the
implications of non-Russian national awareness within the
Soviet Union. Moreover, most Westerners perceived the Soviet
Union as identical with Russia and assumed almost automati-
cally that any Soviet citizen was a Russian. This has now
changed. National conflicts have ruptured the illusion of
communist brotherhood and the mirage of some sort of
supra-ethnic Soviet nationhood. Henceforth, the ongoing cri-
sis of communism within the once homogeneous Soviet bloc is
likely to define itself through increased national assertiveness
and even rising national turmoil. In fact, there is a high
probability that the progressing self-emancipation of the East
European nations and the growing sense of national distinc-
tiveness among the non-Russian nations of the Soviet Union
will soon make the existing Soviet bloc the arena for the globe's
most acute national conflicts.
None of this should be construed as a lament for communism.
Its fading is a liberation for those who have had to live under
its stultifying and dehumanizing regime. Moreover, though it
Zbigniew Brzezinski is Professor at the Paul Nitze School of Advanced
International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University and Counsellor at
the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. His
most recent book is The Grand Failure: The Birth and Death of Communism in
the Twentieth Century. From 1977 to 1981 he served as President Carter's
National Security Adviser.

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