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vendredi, 17 novembre 2017

Friedrich Ludwig Jahn & German Nationalism


Friedrich Ludwig Jahn & German Nationalism

The discipline of gymnastics has its roots in ancient Greek physical exercises, but the father of modern gymnastics is widely acknowledged to be the nineteenth-century German gymnastics educator Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. Jahn is credited with the invention of number of gymnastic apparatuses (the vaulting horse, parallel bars, balance beam, and rings), the founding of the first open-air gymnasium in Germany, and the popularization of gymnastics as a competitive sport.[1] [2] He became a national hero in Germany, where there are many statues and monuments dedicated to him and more streets named after him than even Friedrich Schiller.[2] [3] Nonetheless his legacy remains controversial because he was an ardent German nationalist and influenced the National Socialists.

Jahn was the son of a Lutheran pastor and studied theology and philology at the Universities of Halle, Göttingen, and Greifswald with the intent of becoming a teacher. But his rebellious nature brought him into conflict with authority figures, and he abandoned an academic career.[3] [4] At the age of 28 he joined the Prussian army following Prussia’s humiliating defeat at the twin battles of Jena and Auerstädt in 1806. A year later the second Treaty of Tilsit forced King Frederick William III to cede half of Prussia’s territory. Jahn attributed Prussia’s military annihilation to its isolation from its German neighbors and to the lack of national consciousness among German states compared to the nationalistic fervor that energized the French. Thus he came to advocate German unification.

During Napoleon’s German Campaign of 1813, Jahn fought with the well-known Lützow Free Corps (known as the “Schwarze Jäger”), a volunteer force of the Prussian army consisting of three to four thousand members.[4] [5] The unit was formed after the king issued a proclamation summoning Prussia to war against the French. Most famous among its members was the poet Theodor Körner, whose patriotic verse and death in battle rose him to the status of a national hero. Jahn was also noted for his courage and was later decorated with the Iron Cross.[5] [6]


Jahn promoted gymnastics (Turnen) both as something that would physically prepare young German men for battle as well as strengthen the spirit and restore dignity to the German people. He sought to form a people’s militia composed of civilians from all levels of society united in their desire to fight for the nation. Thus he disliked the term Soldat due to its association with the word Sold, referring to wages paid to mercenary soldiers.[6] [7]

In 1811 he built the first open-air gymnasium in Germany (in the Hasenheide park in Berlin) and founded a gymnastics school toward this end. Five hundred boys participated in the first gymnastics demonstration.[7] [8] This launched a broader movement that led to the founding of dozens of gymnastics schools and clubs (Turnvereine), which also functioned as nationalist organizations. Five years later Jahn published Deutsche Turnkunst, a treatise containing instructions for physical exercises that influenced the development of modern gymnastics.[8] [9] Gymnastics became a part of the curriculum in Prussian schools.

Jahn believed that physical exercises should be practiced outdoors in order to cultivate a connection to the land. He also promoted sports such as swimming, hiking, fencing, etc. He was known to lead the Turners on long walks through the countryside during which he would regale them with legends about heroic deeds from past eras.[9] [10] Jahn’s Turnbewegung espoused a “back-to-nature” ethos that prefigured the Wandervogel movement, which was to emerge about a century later and in turn influenced the Hitler Youth.

The völkisch populism of the Wandervogel movement can also be traced back to Jahn, who championed the common man and promoted physical activity as something in which all Germans could take part. All Turners wore the same uniforms and addressed each other with the informal “du.”[10] [11] Jahn was considered a liberal revolutionary in his day. His movement symbolized a populist revolt against the old order and the conservative establishment, as he sought to weaken class hierarchies and subject the ruling dynastic houses to the state. He lent support to the reforms of Baron vom Stein, who abolished the institution of serfdom, implemented land reform, and restructured Prussia along republican lines. Indeed Baron vom Stein appealed to him personally for cooperation, as well as to Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Heinrich von Kleist.[11] [12]


A few decades later, the young Wagner was to participate in the May Uprising in Dresden alongside Bakunin similarly in the name of German nationalism.

Idealistic young men joined Jahn’s movement in the thousands. His charismatic personality contributed to the movement’s popularity. He was known for his fiery orations and frankness in speech, eschewing “French” politeness. He had long, uncombed hair and in his university years had a penchant for living in a cave that today bears his name. At a dinner hosted by Staatsminister von Hardenberg (who with Baron vom Stein was the architect of the Prussian Reform Movement), he showed up in athletic clothes and boots but fascinated the other guests, who were eager to meet him.[12] [13]

His ideas caught on among many university students, who organized themselves into nationalist fraternities (Burschenschaften) inspired by Jahn’s organizations. Their slogan was “Honor, Liberty, and Fatherland.”[13] [14] The first Burschenschaft was founded in June 1815, directly following the Congress of Vienna and subsequent creation of the German Confederation.[14] [15] A number of its original members had taken part in the recent War of the Sixth Coalition and were associated with Jahn’s Turnbewegung.

On October 18, 1817, 500 Burschenschaft members convened at the Wartburg in order to hold a festival in honor of German nationalism and to protest the reactionary opposition to German unification.[15] [16] The Wartburg was chosen due to its significance as the site where Martin Luther found refuge after the Diet of Worms and translated the New Testament into German. The date commemorated the fourth anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig (in which Napoleon was decisively defeated) and also approximated the 300th anniversary that Martin Luther is said to have nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Martin Luther was a hero to German nationalists on account of his rejection of papal power and foreign influence. Jahn also saw Luther as a national symbol whose translation of the Bible into German paved the way for German unification:

Thus Luther became for the entire German people one who shows the way, awakens, renews life, and provides the most noble defence of the spirit, the herald of a future form of literature and the patriarch of a one day great German nation. … Through the German language he gave his people a unifying spirit, which later on inspired all the great pioneers who immortalized exemplary German in their works.[16] [17]

After the festival ceremonies, Jahn’s followers organized a book burning in which copies of anti-German, anti-nationalist books were destroyed. For instance, among them was a book entitled Germanomanie by the Jewish writer Saul Ascher, who singled out Jahn’s gymnastic movement in his criticism of anti-foreign and anti-Jewish prejudice (German Jews were nearly unanimously pro-French).[17] [18] This was the first modern book burning in Germany and inspired the book burnings of the National Socialists.

Also among the books burnt was one by the popular dramatist August von Kotzebue, who was thought to be a Russian spy and an enemy of German nationalism. Kotzebue was later assassinated by Karl Ludwig Sand, a member of a nationalist student fraternity.[18] [19] This provided a pretext for Metternich to enact the Carlsbad Decrees, which were passed in 1819 as an attempt to suppress nationalist sentiment. Nationalist student organizations such as the Turnvereine and associated fraternities were banned. Jahn was sentenced to six years in prison and his gymnastics schools were shut down. Many of his followers were placed under supervision.[19] [20] The rise of restorationist tendencies also put an end to the Prussian Reform Movement.

Jahn lived under police surveillance until his death. The ban on gymnastics was not lifted until 1842.[20] [21] Nonetheless by the 1830s gymnastics had been revived underground and later contributed to the growth of German nationalism leading up to the 1848 Revolution.

Jahn’s political views are outlined in his most notable work, Deutsches Volkstum (published in 1810), in which he describes his vision for Germany and his argument for German unity. The text involves detailed discussion of administrative matters such as issues of jurisprudence, where border lines should be drawn, how taxes should work, where Germany’s capital should be (calculated with mathematical exactness), etc., as well as the role of culture, ideology, and education in the formation of a German state.


The term Volkstum was his own coinage and could be translated as that which encompasses the defining characteristics of a given people: language, ethnicity, folklore, etc. Jahn described it in almost poetic terms: “It is that which is shared in common, the inner essence of the Volk, its rain and life, its regenerative power, its reproductive ability.”[21] [22] His definition of the German Volkstum had an implicitly ethnic dimension, and in Deutsches Volkstum he condemned miscegenation.[22] [23] Jews were excluded from his definition of the German Volk.

Jahn strongly believed that the Volk must become one with the state and vice versa: “A state is nothing without a Volk, a soulless piece of art; a Volk is nothing without a state, a lifeless, airy ghost, like the nomadic Gypsies and Jews. The state and the Volk united thus yield the Reich. …”[23] [24]

Germany under the Holy Roman Empire consisted of over 300 autonomous German-speaking states, the majority of which Napoleon consolidated into 16 larger client states following the Empire’s demise in 1806, forming a loose military alliance known as the Confederation of the Rhine. The Confederation grew to include 36 states. Napoleon’s eventual defeat then paved the way for the Congress of Vienna, whose objective was to ensure stability by bolstering the power of European monarchies and weakening nationalist movements. This led to the creation of the German Confederation in 1815, a similarly weak collection of states that lacked centralized power. German unification did not become a reality until 1871, when Kleinstaaterei came to an end with the founding of the German Empire.

Jahn was one of the most influential early proponents of German national unity, along with Ernst Moritz Arndt and Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Jahn’s Deutsches Volkstum and Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation were thought to be the most significant German nationalist texts at the time.[24] [25] Jahn’s works are less intellectually complex than Fichte’s, but the two held similar political views. Jahn adopted Fichte’s belief that German unity must be achieved through a program of national education, though he amended this to focus on physical education in particular.

Like Fichte, Jahn ardently defended the German language. At the time French was considered a fashionable language among the nobility and the aspiring middle classes, while German was considered common. Jahn condemned this and sought to restore German as the language of culture and politics in Germany. He believed that language was integral to national identity:

Every people dignifies itself through its mother tongue, in which the documents of its cultural history are recorded. … A people that forgets its own language gives up its right to have a say among humanity and is given a silent role on the world stage.[25] [26]

Jahn was fanatical in his linguistic purism and rejected all foreign loan words. He and his followers devised German terms for physical exercises and equipment as alternatives to the standard French terminology that was used at the time to describe the sporting pastimes of the aristocracy. Thus “rapier” became “Fechtel,” “croisé” (a fencing term) became “Scheere,” “balancer” became “schweben,” etc. They also introduced German words commonly used by hunters, sailors, carpenters and other tradesmen into the terminology of gymnastics.[26] [27]

Both Jahn and Fichte also were influenced by the ideas of the Swiss pedagogue Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, who sought to give the poor access to education and was responsible for raising literacy rates in Switzerland. Pestalozzi’s approach emphasized the importance of giving children a holistic education that strengthened the mind, character, and body rather than simply administering rote learning techniques to them. Thus Jahn proposed teaching artisanal skills in schools (as did Fichte), since he believed that engaging in physical labor would prevent students from becoming cut off from everyday life.[27] [28]

Jahn focused on physical education but also proposed reforms to education and schooling in general. Many of his followers were university students and academics (as were many members of the Lützow Free Corps). He envisioned that schools could serve as breeding-grounds for nationalist sentiment, stating that “public educational institutions are a means through which a volkstümlich public spirit and a patriotic way of thinking can be conveyed.”[28] [29] For this purpose he proposed the creation of anthologies of German songs and myths and legends that would be studied in schools and universities.[29] [30] He also argued that all children should be granted access to state-sponsored elementary school education.[30] [31]

For decades the only English-language study of Jahn was a chapter in Peter Viereck’s Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler. The book provoked debate upon its publication in 1941 because Viereck traced the philosophical and ideological roots of National Socialism to German Romanticism rather than equating it with Prussian militarism or considering it a reaction to purely economic phenomena. As a moderate conservative and son of the German-American writer and Nazi sympathizer George Sylvester Viereck, whom he denounced, Viereck perhaps had an agenda in linking National Socialism to German Romanticism and the liberal nationalism that arose from it. However, the general thrust of his argument is correct.

turnvater4.jpgThere are some differences between Jahn and the National Socialists: Jahn’s gymnastics unions were loosely organized and lacked hierarchies of authority, whereas the Hitler Youth was highly regulated and its program of physical education was more regimented and militaristic. Nonetheless both upheld a völkisch “blood and soil” worldview. For both the purpose of physical exercise was twofold: to prepare youths for combat by strengthening the body and mind and to instill in them a sense of national unity and purpose. Furthermore Jahn’s movement and National Socialism were both populist in nature (unlike the conservatism of the Prussian Junkers, as Viereck points out). Jahn endorsed classless communitarianism and likewise National Socialism was a mass movement that transcended class lines.

Physical exericse was a core element of National Socialist ideology. Turnen was a component of the 25-Point Programme of the NSDAP and German boys and girls alike took part in physical conditioning. The synchronized gymnastic demonstrations in the Third Reich would have resembled the demonstrations of Jahn’s gymnasts on the Turnplatz in Berlin. The Turners’ demonstrations were ceremonial spectacles that made use of bonfires and torch-lit processions, not unlike National Socialist rallies.[31] [32] Gymnasts in Jahn’s day also performed in national festivals celebrating German folklore and tradition.

Both Jahn and the National Socialists rejected the idea that physical education should emphasize individual results as ends in themselves; instead they saw physical exercise as a national activity. German Leibesübungen (as in the Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen) were contrasted with Anglo-Saxon Sport, which focused more on personal results and mechanized individual training. The German approach focused less on quantifiable individual achievements; physical exercises instead served to strengthen the Volk as a whole.

The term Leib was used in contrast to Körper, as the latter has a purely biological connotation, whereas the former (a term for which there is no English equivalent) connotes the idea of the body as a living being encompassing the soul and mind as well as the physical body. This reflected both Jahn’s and the National Socialists’ belief that the mind could not be divorced from the body and that a healthy body was a prerequisite for a healthy mind.

Jahn was revived during the Third Reich era by the German philosopher Alfred Bäumler, best known for his writings on Nietzsche, who argued that he was a forerunner of National Socialism. He saw Jahn’s vision of a single state that united the German Volk as having anticipated the National Socialist conception of nationhood: “Jahn was the first to use the word ‘Reich’ for the ideal unity of people and state, thus in the sense that we use it today.”[32] [33]

Bäumler’s worldview was founded on his belief in the importance of the common good over the individual. He believed that the individual must be subordinate to the Volk and that each person was the property of the nation. Therefore he believed that physical education must be state-controlled. Like Jahn, he saw physical education as a political tool:

German physical activities could not be created from the needs and habits of the bourgeois society. They developed as a result of the political movements of the time of the struggles for liberation and they will be renewed by the political movement of our day. … German physical activities are in a comprehensive meaning of the word, political.[33] [34]

Jahn’s gymnastic movement is relevant to the modern struggle in a number of ways. The natural radicalism of the young has the potential to pose a significant threat to the system. Most modern youth subcultures diffuse this by trapping youthful rebelliousness within subcultural ghettos that are alienated from society at large. By contrast Jahn’s movement channeled the natural idealism and rebelliousness of young people toward direct political ends. His movement can serve as a model for modern Rightist youth movements.

His movement is also notable for its combination of free-spirited spontaneity and love of nature with physical strength and discipline. The youth movements of the 1960s embraced the former of the set but lacked the latter. But the two do not pose a contradiction: both represent manifestations of a vitalist worldview that places life and health at the center.


Jahn’s model of physical education represents an alternative to the highly commercialized and specialized world of modern organized sport. His belief that the mind, soul, and body were interconnected and interdepedent stands in stark opposition to the spirit of Cartesian dualism that characterizes the modern West. Furthermore a völkisch conception of physical education would counter the valorization of blacks prevalent in the modern sports world.

Lastly Jahn realized that in order to achieve German unification it was first necessary to raise the morale of the German people (“im Herzen das neue Deutschland aufzubauen”)[34] [35]. Today Europeans as a whole are likewise a conquered people, albeit in a different sense. When whites regain a sense of purpose as a race, political change will follow.


[1] [36] Encyclopaedia Britannica, 8th ed., s.v. “Friedrich Ludwig Jahn” (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009).

[2] [37] Karoline Weller, “Der ‘Turnvater’ in Bewegung: Die Rezeption Friedrich Ludwig Jahns zwischen 1933 und 1990,” (Diss., Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 2008), 5.

[3] [38] Christian Werth, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn und seine Ideologie (GRIN Verlag, 2009).

[4] [39] Rolland Ray Lutz, “‘Father’ Jahn and his Teacher-Revolutionaries from the German Student Movement,” The Journal of Modern History, vol. 48, no. 2, (June 1976): 5.

[5] [40] Werth.

[6] [41] Christopher Clark, Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006), 351.

[7] [42] Richard Holt, J. A. Mangan, and Pierre Lanfranchi (eds.), European Heroes: Myth, Identity, Sport (New York: Routledge, 2013), 19.

[8] [43] Werth.

[9] [44] Holt et al., 22.

[10] [45] Ibid., 21.

[11] [46] Ibid., 17.

[12] [47] Ibid., 22.

[13] [48] Jürgen Schwab, “Die Deutsche Burschenschaft – zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit” (Haus der Alten Breslauer Burschenschaft der Raczeks, Bonn, September 3, 2004). https://sachedesvolkes.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/die-deuts... [49]

[14] [50] Ibid.

[15] [51] Ibid.

[16] [52] Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, Deutsches Volkstum, 109. There is no English edition of Deutsches Volkstum. The excerpts quoted in this article represent my rough attempts at rendering his old-fashioned German diction into English.

[17] [53] Shlomo Avineri, “Where They Have Burned Books, They Will End Up Burning People” (Jewish Review of Books, Fall 2017). https://jewishreviewofbooks.com/articles/2788/burned-book... [54]

[18] [55] Ibid.

[19] [56] Werth.

[20] [57] Ibid.

[21] [58] Jahn, 30.

[22] [59] Matthias Rittner, “Theorien und Konzepte nationaler Erziehung von der Deutschen Romantik bis zum Nationalsozialismus,” (Diss., Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, 2012), 152.

[23] [60]Jahn, 36.

[24] [61] Rittner, 78.

[25] [62] Jahn, 213.

[26] [63] Holt et al., 20.

[27] [64] Lutz, 20.

[28] [65] Jahn, 72.

[29] [66] Peter Viereck, Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler (New York: Routledge, 2017), 78.

[30] [67] Ibid., 77.

[31] [68] Clark, 384.

[32] [69] Weller, 41.

[33] [70] Tara Magdalinski, “Beyond Hitler: Alfred Baeumler, Ideology and Physical Education in the Third Reich,” Sporting Traditions, vol. 11, no. 2. (May 1995): 64.

[34] [71] Carl Euler, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn: Sein Leben und Wirken (Stuttgart: Verlag von Carl Krabbe, 1881), 511.


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URL to article: https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/11/friedrich-ludwig-jahn-and-german-nationalism/

Pologne: l'alternative jagellonienne


Pologne: l'alternative jagellonienne

Alexandr Bovdunov
Ex: https://www.geopolitica.ru

La politique étrangère polonaise s’est traditionnellement distinguée par deux paradigmes mutuellement exclusifs nommés d’après les deux plus fameuses dynasties qui gouvernèrent le pays à différentes époques : la Piast et la Jagellon. Le premier paradigme met l’accent sur l’Occident et sur une politique active en Europe Centrale [1].

Ce paradigme « Piast » implique que la Pologne maintienne des relations amicales, ou du moins des relations neutres avec la Russie, qui est vue comme servant de contrepoids à l’Allemagne et même comme alliée de la Pologne, en cas de conflit avec ce voisin occidental [= l’Allemagne]. Les ambitions de l’Allemagne concernant la Pologne sont vues comme nécessairement contrebalancées en recourant à l’appui des voisins orientaux de la Pologne.

L’une des plus importantes caractéristiques de cette orientation est le désir de construire un Etat-nation polonais ethniquement homogène, qui rejette ou limite substantiellement l’ambition impériale de la Pologne concernant les anciennes terres du Commonwealth polono-lithuanien. L’orientation Piast fut surtout influente durant la période d’entre-deux-guerres de la politique étrangère polonaise telle que formulée par l’un des plus importants idéologues du mouvement national polonais, le fondateur de « Endecja » (Démocratie Nationale), Roman Dmowski [2].


Roman Dmowski

A la différence du paradigme Piast, le paradigme jagellonien oriente la politique étrangère polonaise vers l’Est, insistant sur la reconquête de l’ancienne intégrité territoriale de plusieurs parties du Commonwealth polono-lithuanien. L’idée jagiellonienne cultive parmi les Polonais le désir d’exercer un contrôle sur les terres des actuelles Ukraine et Biélorussie [Belarus].

Partant de cette position, l’expansion de l’influence polonaise vers l’Est est considérée comme favorisant la transition de ces Etats vers la matrice civilisationnelle « européenne » et occidentale et promouvant leur développement selon cette orientation. La Pologne est ainsi conceptualisée comme une puissance régionale responsable de la situation de l’Ukraine, de la Biélorussie et de la Lituanie actuelles [3].

Jozef Pilsudski, principal adversaire de R. Dmowski dans le mouvement national polonais et figure assez célèbre de la période de l’entre-deux-guerres, est traditionnellement considéré comme un adhérent du projet géopolitique jagellonien. La stratégie jagellonienne de l’Etat polonais sous Pilsudski était caractérisée par l’intention d’établir un protectorat en Ukraine avec l’aide de Simon Petlioura, ce qui conduisit à la guerre soviéto-polonaise de 1919-1921. Du fait des efforts de Pilsudski, l’Etat polonais nouvellement indépendant fut taillé dans ces frontières et devint inévitablement ethniquement hétérogène. La Pologne était composée de la région de Vilnius (l’actuelle capitale de la Lituanie) et des territoires de l’Ukraine occidentale et de la Biélorussie occidentale. A son tour, le développement du projet géopolitique jagellonien provoqua l’émergence du projet idéologique du « Prométhéisme » et la formation du concept géopolitique de l’« Intermarium » qui demeure influent de nos jours.


Jozef Pilsudski

La doctrine du « Prométhéisme », telle que développée par J. Pilsudski, est construite sur la présentation par A. Mickiewicz de la Pologne comme le « Christ de l’Europe » ainsi que sur les idées de J. Slowacki, B. Trentowski, A. Towianski, et d’autres. Ces penseurs et d’autres penseurs similaires (à l’exception de J. Hoene-Wronski qui considérait les Polonais comme les porteurs de la mission slave mondiale aux cotés des Russes) formulèrent la base de l’idéologie messianique polonaise qui souligna le rôle exclusif particulier du peuple polonais dans l’histoire mondiale ainsi que dans l’histoire de l’Europe de l’Est [4]. Comme le remarque le sociologue polonais Ilya Prizel, la formation de ce complexe messianique produisit une profonde contradiction entre les racines occidentales et slaves de l’identité polonaise dont la conscience aigüe est particulière au nationalisme romantique et à l’autodétermination romantique des Polonais. Prizel remarque : « D’une part, les romantiques polonais approuvaient le culte du nativisme et restaient méfiants vis-à-vis des idées d’origine occidentale. D’autre part, ils rejetaient la slavophilie de style russe comme étant une aberration asiatique. En résultat, puisque les Polonais étaient à la fois catholiques romains et slaves, les romantiques pensaient qu’ils étaient le ‘peuple élu’ destiné à civiliser les Slaves et à sauver le monde » [5].

La composante antirusse du messianisme polonais devient ainsi une partie d’une doctrine géopolitique particulière qui prêche la nécessité d’affaiblir la Russie au maximum et de désintégrer l’Etat russe, en accord avec le « Prométhéisme ». Selon cette vision, les Polonais devraient initier et conduire la lutte pour « libérer » les peuples de Russie en vue de leur autodétermination nationale. Regardant l’interconnexion de l’identité nationale et de la politique étrangère de la Pologne, Prizel écrit : « croyant que la Pologne était enfermée dans une bataille éternelle contre la Russie, Pilsudski continuait à croire à la ‘mission civilisatrice’ prométhéenne de la Pologne à l’Est, ce qui requérait une Pologne puissante et méritait l’appui occidental » [6].

Le principal objectif de la doctrine géopolitique du Prométhéisme était l’affaiblissement et la division subséquente de la Russie tsariste puis soviétique, en soutenant les mouvements nationalistes des peuples non-russes. D’après des documents récemment déclassifiés provenant des services de renseignements russes, les services secrets polonais et le Ministère des Affaires Etrangères développèrent leur activisme « prométhéen » en appelant au développement de centres indépendants parmi les émigrations nationalistes qui pouvaient lutter contre l’Union Soviétique, le but ultime étant la fragmentation maximale de l’URSS et sa division en le plus grand nombre possible de parties [7]. A partir de 1926, l’Organisation Prométhée polonaise commença à fonctionner à Paris et impliqua des représentants des divers mouvements nationalistes parmi les peuples soviétiques d’Azerbaïdjan, les Cosaques du Don, les Tatars, les Géorgiens, les Caréliens, les Koumis, les Ukrainiens, les Tatars de Crimée, les Ingriens, et divers peuples du Nord-Caucase. L’Institut Oriental de Varsovie et l’Institut de Recherche sur l’Europe de l’Est de Vilnius participèrent aussi à ce projet [8].

En termes géopolitiques de base, qui opposent les approches tellurocratique et thalassocratique de la domination et les intérêts des puissances atlantistes et continentales, ce projet polonais possède une orientation clairement antirusse et donc atlantiste.


Le projet géopolitique de l’Intermarium défini par le cartographe et géographe polonais E. Romer peut être considéré comme un concept qui entre dans le cadre du paradigme jagellonien. Ce projet a pour but final la création d’une union fédérale des Etats d’Europe de l’Est situés entre la Baltique et la Mer Noire. Ce projet, bien qu’il puisse être séduisant dans une certaine mesure en termes de développement de liens régionaux, n’est rien de plus, d’un point de vue géopolitique, qu’une forme de « cordon sanitaire » séparant l’Allemagne de la Russie. Une telle entité géopolitique était envisagée pour créer un potentiel militaire et économique comparable à ceux de l’Allemagne et de l’URSS et, si nécessaire, d’être capable de résister à ces deux puissances [9].

Au début de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, le mouvement pour une fédération d’Europe de l’Est ouvrit un centre à New York où, avec l’appui de l’élite commerciale américaine et de spécialistes influents, le Comité de Planification pour l’Europe centrale et orientale [Central and Eastern European Planning Board] fut lancé [10].

D’après le géopoliticien américain contemporain Alexandros Petersen, la stratégie de l’« Intermarium prométhéiste » est une doctrine typiquement atlantiste qui fonctionne comme une alternative à la politique de « containment » de Kennan. Petersen appelle cela l’« implication stratégique » de la « myriade de peuples eurasiens captifs à l’intérieur de l’orbite russe » dans un projet atlantiste [11]. Petersen remarque : « La vision de Pilsudski avait été partiellement réalisée avec l’effondrement de l’Union Soviétique … L’Eurasie aujourd’hui englobe encore des centaines de minorités, et les petits Etats d’Eurasie combattent encore pour leur souveraineté » [12].

Le concept géopolitique de l’Intermarium-Prométhéisme peut être directement retracé jusqu’aux idées de H. Mackinder sur l’établissement d’un certain nombre d’Etats-marionnettes dans le territoire de la Russie et autour d’elle (Biélorussie, Ukraine, Russie du Sud, Daguestan, Géorgie, Arménie, Azerbaïdjan) [13] ainsi qu’aux idées de Z. Brzezinski (qui est en fait Polonais de naissance) sur la division souhaitable de la Russie [14]. Des preuves de la pensée antirusse agressive de la doctrine « Intermarium-Prométhéisme » qui est typique de l’actuelle politique étrangère polonaise peuvent être vues dans l’appui de la Pologne à la « Révolution Orange » en 2004 et au coup d’Etat de 2014 en Ukraine, dans l’appui actif de la Pologne à la Géorgie durant le conflit militaire russo-géorgien en août 2008, et dans l’attitude favorable de la Pologne envers les séparatistes tchéchènes durant et après la seconde guerre de Tchétchénie [15].

Nous pouvons voir un renouveau d’intérêt pour le projet « Intermarium » encore aujourd’hui. Cette proposition apparaît dans des discussions entre des politiciens d’Europe de l’Est et des spécialistes, sous son vrai nom ou sous l’apparence d’un « axe Baltique-Mer Noire », d’un « arc Baltique-Mer Noire », d’une « coopération Baltique-Mer Noire », ou d’un « corridor Baltique-Mer Noire » [16]. D’après le spécialiste américain des projets fédéraux en Europe de l’Est, Jonathan Levy, les échos de l’« Intermarium » peuvent encore être entendus dans la politique étrangère polonaise contemporaine dans son fort intérêt pour l’Est, spécifiquement l’Ukraine et la Biélorussie d’une part et, d’autre part, le renforcement des liens de la Pologne avec ses voisins dans la région, particulièrement avec les membres du Groupe de Višegrad [17]. Le dirigeant de la Confédération de la Pologne Indépendante, le conservateur Leszek Moczulski, insiste activement sur le renouveau de l’idée de l’Intermarium. La suggestion de Moczulski repose sur sa conviction de la nécessité de créer un bloc géopolitique de pays s’étendant entre les mers Baltique, Noire et Adriatique, opposé à la fois à l’Occident (principalement l’Allemagne et l’Union Européenne) et à la Russie [18]. Le parti des frères Kaczynski, Loi et Justice, a activement exploité le thème de l’Intermarium pendant la campagne électorale de 2005 et a basé sa plate-forme politique sur l’« ABC Intermarium » qui, par exemple, a soutenu la Croatie dans ses efforts pour rejoindre l’UE et a tenté de coopérer avec l’Ukraine de Youtchenko [19].


Leszek Moczulski

Nous pouvons mentionner encore une autre théorie qui affecte encore de nos jours la formulation de la politique polonaise envers ses voisins de l’Est, la doctrine Giedroyc-Meroshevsky formulée par des émigrants polonais dans les années 1960-70. Les principes de base de ce projet ont été publiés à Paris dans le journal polonais Kultura, dont le rédacteur était l’écrivain, journaliste et ancien diplomate Jerzy Giedroyc. Comparé au paradigme jagellonien classique, la nouveauté de ce concept repose sur sa reconnaissance d’une région spéciale entre la Russie et la Pologne, nommée ULB (Ukraine, Lituanie, et Biélorussie). Giedroyc et son co-auteur, Meroshevky, ont appelé à l’abandon du révisionnisme géopolitique dans l’Est et, d’abord et avant tout, à une révision du désir de récupérer les territoires polonais annexés par l’URSS en 1939 [20]. Les auteurs de ce concept ont appelé au respect du droit à l’autodétermination nationale et à l’indépendance des Ukrainiens, des Lituaniens et des Biélorusses et ont critiqué les idées des Polonais « qui rêvent non seulement d’une Lvov ou d’une Vilnius polonaises, mais même d’une Minsk et d’une Kiev polonaises » et qui « trouvent leur idéal dans une Pologne indépendante en fédération avec la Lituanie, l’Ukraine et la Biélorussie » [21]. L’idée que « l’alternative à l’impérialisme russe ne peut être que l’impérialisme polonais, et l’a toujours été » fut rejetée par Meroshevsky comme inadéquate par rapport aux réalités de notre temps [22]. Dans un article publié dans Kultura, intitulé « Le complexe polonais : la Russie et la zone ULB », Meroshevsky a aussi qualifié la « noble idée jagellonienne » de version de l’impérialisme polonais et a appelé ses compatriotes à comprendre que « les Ukrainiens, les Lituaniens et les Biélorusses au XXe siècle ne peuvent plus être des pions dans le jeu historique polono-russe » [23].

D’après A. Miller, en dépit de la condamnation déclarée de l’impérialisme, de la critique des anciennes stratégies de contrôle russe et polonaise, dès son stade de développement cette doctrine exhiba un caractère principalement antirusse. Cela peut s’expliquer par le fait qu’elle lutte encore pour la « libération » des Ukrainiens, des Lituaniens, et des Biélorusses vis-à-vis du contrôle russe (puis soviétique) historique.

Miller fait référence à une intéressante déclaration de la figure bien connue d’émigration ukrainienne, Jaroslaw Pelenski, qui dans les années 1990 fut le directeur de l’Institut des Etudes d’Europe de l’Est à l’Académie Nationale des Sciences d’Ukraine, et qui maintint antérieurement des liens étroits avec Giedroyc. Motivé par une antipathie envers la Russie, Pelenski souligna que Giedroyc et Meroshevsky excluaient ce pays de leur vision sans aucune raison en termes de principes. Pelenski, d’autre part, pensait que le concept de la formation ukrainienne-biélorusse-lituanienne devrait s’élargir jusqu’à inclure certaines parties de la Russie. Il trouva un écho avec l’important politicien polonais et ancien activiste de Solidarité, Dariusz Rosati, qui reconnut aussi que l’essence de cette doctrine était le fait que l’Ukraine et la Biélorussie ont des sentiments plutôt antirusses [24].

En fait, la doctrine Giedroyc-Meroshevsky, bien qu’elle prétende toujours le contraire, est simplement une version cosmétiquement retouchée de l’idée jagellonienne. C’est l’Est et non l’Ouest qui est la priorité déclarée de cette approche géopolitique dans la politique étrangère polonaise. Ainsi, elle ne peut pas être considérée comme une variante du paradigme Piast de la géopolitique polonaise. De plus, la nature antirusse de cette idée est clairement visible dans le fait que l’un de ses buts principaux pour la Pologne dans l’Est est la déclaration d’indépendance de la zone ULB vis-à-vis de la Russie. Il est bien naturel que la notion d’« indépendance » puisse être interprétée très largement, et donc être étendue pour comprendre tout projet d’intégration dans l’espace postsoviétique comme une « attaque » contre l’indépendance de la région ULB. Le fait même que la Pologne conçoive une relation spéciale avec ces pays et, comme l’annonce le concept, soit destinée à jouer le rôle unique de défendre leur indépendance, est la preuve d’un effort pour protéger la région et donc établir une relation inégale.

Comme le remarque O. Nemensky, un autre facteur important qui caractérise l’application partielle de la doctrine Giedroyc-Meroshevsky et ses clauses comme caractéristiques de la « doctrine jagellonienne » est l’incapacité de la part d’un nombre considérable de Polonais d’accepter que la vieille politique polonaise était d’une nature impérialiste [25]. De plus, en dépit de l’acceptation nominale de cela dans la politique étrangère polonaise envers l’Est, la même doctrine déclare que c’est l’impérialisme russe, et non l’impérialisme polonais, qui est le danger principal pour l’Ukraine, la Lituanie et la Biélorussie.

moczulgeopoba6377addaa.jpgAinsi, en dépit des thèses apparemment anti-impérialistes de la doctrine en question, son adaptation par l’élite polonaise n’a fait que renforcer le caractère expansionniste, messianique et antirusse de la politique étrangère polonaise. Le choix de l’Ukraine et de la Biélorussie comme objets de la politique orientale polonaise et la nature générale de celle-ci (cela sera discuté plus loin) sont directement liés à cette influence. Une autre caractéristique importante de ce « nouveau » projet géopolitique est la faveur accordée à une participation accrue de la Pologne à l’intégration européenne, ce qui serait combiné avec le maintien de régimes libéraux-démocratiques dans les pays de l’Est [26]. Actuellement, la combinaison de ces idéologies est démontrée par la participation active de la Pologne au « Partenariat de l’Est » de l’Union Européenne.

Les contributions de Giedroyc et Meroshevsky proposent ce qui essentiellement une version nouvelle et adoucie de la vieille idée jagellonienne promouvant une politique étrangère active dans l’Est et gardant un œil sur le patronage de la Pologne sur les nations de Lituanie, d’Ukraine et de Biélorussie. Cette tendance n’a manifestement pas disparu dans la politique étrangère après 1989. En fait, A. Lorak affirme que la notion d’ULB de Giedroyc a formé la base de la nouvelle politique orientale de la Pologne après 1989 [27] et a maintenant été utilisée pour justifier le rôle actif de la Pologne dans le « Partenariat de l’Est ». Cet auteur dit que la doctrine Giedroyc-Meroshevsky est essentiellement apparentée à la doctrine du Prométhéisme, dont le principe de base est surtout d’assurer la sécurité et le leadership de la Pologne au moyen de l’émancipation de ses voisins de l’Est vis-à-vis de la Russie [28]. Cette voie a été poursuivie dans la politique étrangère polonaise depuis l’effondrement du système mondial bipolaire [29].

De plus, la Stratégie de Sécurité Nationale polonaise en action de 2007 à 2014 postulait que l’Etat polonais contemporain est d’une importance fondamentale pour promouvoir l’expansion de l’UE et de l’OTAN, spécialement en Ukraine, en Moldavie, au Sud-Caucase, et dans la parie ouest des Balkans [30]. Le document dit, par exemple, que « la démocratisation de la Biélorussie aurait un effet fortifiant positif sur la sécurité de la Pologne » [31]. La nature atlantiste de cette stratégie peut être vue dans la proclamation que les USA sont le principal allié de la Pologne et dans la reconnaissance que l’« ambition de traiter l’UE comme un contrepoids aux Etats-Unis » [32] est une menace pour la sécurité polonaise. Cette préférence sans ambiguïté pour les USA et l’OTAN a été renouvelée dans la mise à jour stratégique de 2014, qui se concentre surtout sur la nécessité de contenir la Russie.

L’élément le plus important de l’actuelle politique orientale de la Pologne est son attitude envers la diaspora polonaise dans les pays étrangers et sa manipulation comme un instrument de politique étrangère et d’expansion culturelle. Comme l’a remarqué l’analyste ukrainien Vladislav Gulevich, l’intensification de cette politique de la diaspora depuis 2006 « peut être vue comme un désir de créer un environnement religieux et culturel dominé par le catholicisme et la culture polonaise de Rite Romain » [33].

Semper-Polonia-logo.jpgEn effet, l’idée de « Polonia », de Monde Polonais, est activement utilisée dans le discours politique polonais qui unit la nation polonaise, quel que soit le lieu de résidence de ses membres. D’après Giedroyc, depuis 1990 le Sénat de la République de Pologne a fourni un financement important pour le développement de la « Polonia ». Si initialement une seule organisation fut impliquée dans cette initiative – l’Association des Communautés Polonaises – en 2008 plus de 75 ONG furent inclues, la plus grande étant la Communauté Polonaise, Semper Polonia, et la Fondation pour l’Assistance aux Polonais dans l’Est. Ces organisations reçoivent plus de 76% de tous les subsides gouvernementaux visant à soutenir la diaspora polonaise (17,1 millions de dollars). Le Sénat polonais a clairement identifié les principales priorités de travail de cette « Polonia » comme étant le développement de projets éducationnels pour les Polonais à l’étranger (26% du financement), le développement de la culture polonaise (plus de 17%), et le développement de médias étrangers polonais et pro-polonais (10%) [34].

Le fait de la combinaison des politiques de soutien aux compatriotes avec la politique étrangère de la Pologne apparaît dans la manière dont en 2006 l’un des candidats à la présidence de la Biélorussie était le représentant de l’opposition unie, Alyaksandr Milinkevich, qui est membre de l’Union des Polonais en Biélorussie [35].

La confiance accordée aux organisations non-gouvernementales, la « diplomatie humanitaire », et la pénétration culturelle des anciens territoires de l’Etat polono-lituanien sont les facettes distinctives de la politique polonaise envers l’Ukraine et la Biélorussie. Kiev et Minsk hébergent tous deux des départements de l’Institut Polonais qui travaillent avec les universitaires, enseignants et étudiants locaux pour diffuser les idées de l’histoire et du destin communs de la Pologne, de l’Ukraine et de la Biélorussie, l’importante contribution culturelle du Commonwealth polono-lituanien au développement des deux nations, la promotion de la perspective polonaise à l’histoire de l’Ukraine et de la Biélorussie, et les relations ukrainiennes et biélorusses avec les Polonais et les Russes. Les échanges de personnel de la Polonia sont aussi une composante active qui emploie des diplômés dans les branches des entreprises polonaises ou locales intéressées par une coopération avec la Pologne, renforçant ainsi la présence économique de la Pologne dans la région. Dans le cadre de la Polonia, une attention particulière est portée au catholicisme. Les Polonais forment approximativement 50% du clergé dans la communauté catholique biélorusse qui forme 20% de la population. Des contributions sont aussi faites à la communauté catholique croissante en Ukraine. « D’après l’Annuaire Pontifical, le nombre total de catholiques (de tous rites) en Ukraine est maintenant d’environ 5 millions de personnes (environ 10% de la population) [36].

Comme le remarque le chercheur polonais K. Pomoska, l’orientation vers l’Est (spécialement vers l’Ukraine, la Biélorussie et la Russie) continue d’être une priorité majeure de la politique étrangère polonaise. La Révolution Orange en Ukraine et le préjugé pro-occidental subséquent dans la politique étrangère de l’Etat ukrainien sont considérés comme des réussites de la politique étrangère polonaise [37]. Le soutien à l’opposition en Biélorussie et les relations froides avec la Russie restent des caractéristiques « européanisées » de la stratégie de la politique étrangère polonaise qui, bien qu’utilisant des instruments de l’UE, est stratégiquement orientée vers les USA.

Notes :

[1] Неменский О. IV Речь Посполитая: взгляд на Восток [Электронный ресурс] URL: http://www.apn.ru/opinions/article9544.htm (дата доступа - 17.08.2011).

[2] См.: Дмовский Р. Германия, Россия и польский вопрос. СПб., 1909.

[3] Fawn R. Ideology and national identity in post-communist foreign policies. N.Y.: Routledge, 2003. P. 187.

[4] Гулевич В. Границы евразийства и их преодоление / Левиафан: материалы семинара «Геополитика/Геостратегия». М., 2011. С.201-202.

[5] Prizel I. National identity and foreign policy: nationalism and leadership in Poland, Russia and Ukraine. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press, 1998. P. 57.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Соцков Л. Секреты польской политики. 1935-1945гг. Рассекреченные документы Службы внешней разведки Российской Федерации. М., 2010. С. 269-290.

[8] Woytak R. The Promethean Movement in Interwar Poland //East European Quarterly, 1984. vol. XVIII, no. 3. Pp. 273-278.

[9] Levy J. The Intermarium: Wilson, Madison, & East Central European Federalism. N.Y.: Universal-Publishers, 2007. P. 175.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Petersen A. The World Island: Eurasian Geopolitics and the Fate of the West. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011. P. 60.

[12] Ibid. P. 74.

[13] Mackinder H. Situation in South Russia. 21 January 1920 / Documents on foreign policy 1919 – 1939. First series. V. III. 1919. London, 1949. C. 786–787.

[14] Бжезинский З. Великая шахматная доска. Американское превосходство и его геостратегические императивы. М.: Международные отношения, 2010. С. 239.

[15] Дворовенко П. «Чеченская карта» польской политики. Империя: информационно-аналитический портал [Электронный ресурс] URL: http://www.imperiya.by/politics1-8490.html (время доступа - 12.08.2011)

[16] Савин Л.В. Проект Междуморья и геополитика региональных рисков // Геополитика. 2011. Вып. 10. С.45-47.

[17] Levy J. The Intermarium: Wilson, Madison, & East Central European Federalism. N.Y. Universal-Publishers, 2007. P. 340.

[18] Reprintsev V. Ukraine in Polish Foreign-Policy Doctrines / [Ukrainian Statehood in the Twentieth Century: Historical and Political Analysis. Kyiv: Political Thought, 1996. P. 156.

[19] Андреев А. Новая Речь Посполитая [Электронный ресурс] URL:http://www.apn.ru/opinions/article9504.htm (дата обращения - 20.08.2011).

[20] Spero J.D. Bridging the European divide: middle power politics and regional security dilemmas. N.Y.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004. P. 35.

[21] Мерошевский Ю. «Польский комплекс» России и территория УЛБ. [Электронный ресурс] URL:http://www.polonica.ru/node/136 (дата доступа - 13.08.2011).

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Миллер А.И. Тема Центральной Европы: История, современные дискурсы и место в них России // Регионализация посткоммунистической Европы: Сб. науч. тр. М.: ИНИОН, 2001. С. 35.

[25] Неменский О. IV Речь Посполитая: взгляд на Восток [Электронный ресурс] URL:http://www.apn.ru/opinions/article9544.htm (дата доступа - 17.08.2011).

[26] Lacroix J., Nicolaīdis K. European Stories: Intellectual Debates on Europe in National Contexts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. P. 226.

[27] Lorek A. Poland's Role in the Development of an 'Eastern Dimension' of the European Union. Munich: GRIN Verlag, 2009. P. 24. [28] Ibid. P.88

[29] Ibid. P. 24

[30] Polish National Security Strategy. Warsaw 2007. P.7.

[31] Polish National Security Strategy. Warsaw 2007. P. 7.

[32] Ibid. P. 9.

[33] Гулевич В. Диаспоральная политика Польши на "Восточных территориях" (Украина, Беларусь) [Электронный ресурс]URL: http://www.geopolitika.ru/Articles/Page/320 (дата обращения - 20.07.2011).

[34] Гулевич В. Указ. соч.

[35] Неменский О. Указ. соч.

[36] Гулевич В. Указ. соч.

[37] Pomorska K. Are we there yet? From adaptation to Europeanisation of Polish foreign policy [Электронный ресурс] URL: http://euce.org/eusa/2011/papers/7j_pomorska.pdf (дата обращения - 20.08.2011).

21st-Century Geopolitics Of Japan


21st-Century Geopolitics Of Japan

Andrew Korybko
Ex: https://www.geopolitica.ru

Japan, as the Asian geographic analogue of Great Britain, is a strategic outlier in the Eurasian supercontinent by virtue of its location, which has in turn greatly influenced its political decisions across the centuries and shaped it into an historically thalassocratic power. The Oriental state prudently chose to implement selective Westernization following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, which allowed it to grow by leaps and bounds ahead of its regional competitors and ultimately emerge as a Great Power in its own right. Japan’s grand strategy was to literally become the Great Britain of Asia, and to that end it sought to carve out its own empire in the Eastern Hemisphere through brutal conquest and a divide-and-rule strategy which would ultimately enable it to replace its European counterparts as the uncontested hegemon in this part of the world.

The World War II-era “Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” was the high point of Japan’s “traditional” geostrategic ambitions, after which it was humiliatingly occupied by the US until the present day following the two devastating nuclear bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From 1945 onwards, Tokyo has been Washington’s “Lead From Behind” partner in East and Southeast Asia, being encouraged by the US to take on a leading regional role in order to give America a “local face” behind which it could project its dominance. It’s for this reason why the US appointed Japan to become the main player in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and actively supported its efforts to invest in the former territories that had briefly constituted its imperial realm during the Second World War.

The end of the Cold War and subsequent rise of China as a Global Power (inadvertently aided and abetted by US investments) saw Japan’s role progressively transform from a solely economic-institutional “Lead From Behind” capacity to a military one, with Tokyo only just recently “reinterpreting” its post-war constitution in order to allow the deployment of military troops abroad and sale of military equipment to foreign partners. For all intents and purposes, the US is tacitly encouraging Japan to “more peacefully” follow in its pre-World War II-era footsteps in reasserting its traditional Rimland ambitions in East and Southeast Asia, though for as much as this might lead one to believe that Tokyo is still acting as a total puppet of Washington, its leadership has surprisingly begun a fast-moving rapprochement with Moscow.

This seemingly inexplicable turn of events is but one of the many paradigm shifts taking place all across the globe and in every single sphere as the Multipolar World Order gradually enters into being, and the consequences of this comprehensive change are expected to impact on the grand strategies of each Great Power, Japan included. It’s therefore of heightened relevancy to examine the 21st-century geopolitics of the country, though taking care to note that all future developments concerning this state are much more dependent on domestic trends than they are for most other players. That being the case, the analysis will begin by examining how Japan’s domestic situation influences its foreign policy, after which it will then elaborate more on the external manifestations of Tokyo’s grand strategy. The final part of the research will then summarize the prevailing trends that one can expect from Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy.


Demographic Die-Out

Japan’s population is dying out, and fast. The number of senior citizens is surging, while child births are way below replacement level. To make matters worse, Japanese young adults are eschewing sex for a variety of socio-cultural reasons, mostly thought to have something to do with the typically stressful life of urban workers and the convenience that the near-ubiquity of technology provides in “satisfying” carnal desires and creating the easily manageable illusion of a “relationship”. If the present trends continue, then Japan is expected to suffer one of the most profound population losses ever for a peacetime population in the coming decades, which has led to many observers becoming extraordinarily concerned about the country’s overall future. Considering Japan’s global importance as the world’s third-largest economy, this could be expected to have major implications for all of its partners, both fellow Great Powers and developing states alike.

Robotic Replacements

There is, however, a chance that no dire scenarios will unfold so long as Japan is successful in replacing its shrinking population with robots. It may sound futuristic but it’s already happening, at least when it comes to the economy. “This Company’s Robots Are Making Everything—and Reshaping the World”, a very insightful article published by Bloomberg in mid-October 2017, provides an eye-opening look at just how important the Japanese robotics company Fanuc has been in making this happen. It’s by and far the world leader in this field, having already captured a quarter of the global market. In addition, nearly one-third of all the world’s industrial robotics orders last year were Fanuc sales to China, which interestingly tightens the complex economic interdependency between these two rivals and shows just how important of a driver this company is for the global economy at large. Accordingly, it’s only natural then that Fanuc takes the lead in replacing Japan’s dwindling human workforce with robots in the future, since it’s already replacing the labor force of other countries as it is.

So long as there’s a stable and inversely proportional relationship between the decrease in Japan’s population and the rise of its industrial robotic sector, then theoretically speaking, there isn’t much for Tokyo to worry about on the structural level. Instead of fretting about what to do with its newfound unemployed masses like the rest of the world is doing, Japan could just work on retraining its citizens to fill the crucial non-robotic niches that are still left in its economy. It remains likely that the world will nevertheless eventually employ some combination of “universal basic income” (UBI) and virtual reality (VR) to placate the population along the lines of the long-term scenario forecast in the author’s work about “The Geopolitics Of The Techno-Civilizational World Order”, but Japan will probably have the least difficulty in doing this because of the “natural” rate at which the country is transitioning to it anyhow.


Without any undemocratic subversive behavior on the part of the Japanese elites, their country is already moving towards the dystopian outcomes associated with “Agenda 21”, but with the key difference being that Japan will experience minimal social disruption so long as its food and energy needs continue to remain provided for. The first of course deals with feeding the remaining human population, which shouldn’t be too troublesome if their numbers continue to diminish and technological advances in industrial-scale urban agriculture continue. As for the latter, no robotic-driven civilization-society can function without reliable energy supplies, and it’s here where many believe that Japan will forever remain dependent on geopolitical processes beyond its control in the Mideast, though the reality of the matter is that Tokyo has sought to preemptively avoid this crippling vulnerability through alternative energy advancements and a game-changing rapprochement with Moscow.

The Russian Rapprochement

The geopolitical dimension of Japan’s energy policy has seen it rapidly improve relations with Russia, which were stagnant for decades because of the US-manufactured issue that Tokyo refers to as the “Kuril Islands Dispute”. The contours of this conundrum are outside the scope of this analysis, but it’s relevant to say that it took Japan’s flexibility on the issue to rejuvenate ties with Russia, which are currently on the rise and better than at any time in the post-war period. Russia is receptive to Japan’s outreaches because it needs investment in its resource-rich but underpopulated Far East, and likewise, Japan needs reliable access to these said resources, be they agricultural, mineral, or especially energy. Altogether, the dynamics of the Russian-Japanese partnership represent a dual balancing act for both parties that was described at length in the author’s 2016 work about how “Russia’s Diplomatic Balancing Act In Asia Is To The Benefit Of Its Chinese Ally”, with the obvious caveat being that Tokyo isn’t doing this to aid Beijing even if that’s indeed the inadvertent outcome of what’s happening.

Carrying on, Russia is seen as a reserve of immense energy wealth which could easily power Japan’s future robotic society for decades to come, and without any of the attendant geostrategic risks that come from importing resources from the conflict-prone Mideast across the bottlenecked Strait of Malacca and then through the contentious waters of the South China Sea. Russia is therefore conceptualized as Japan’s neighboring “battery”, though one which will only share its power provided that Tokyo concedes to accept Moscow’s sovereignty over the Kuril Islands, albeit possibly through the unique NISEC sub-state socio-economic sharing arrangement that the author suggested last year. On a larger level, the Japanese-Russian rapprochement is geostrategically advantageous for Tokyo because it gives the island nation a bit more maneuverability for negotiating with the US, and it also sends a signal to China that Japan is interested in an apolitical non-hostile presence along its northeastern continental borderland. This plays into the prestige that Japan is trying to cultivate as it reestablishes itself as a Great Power and attempts to lessen the complete strategic dependence that it’s historically had on the US since the post-war military occupation.

The Race For Resources

Russia can be very useful for powering Japan’s energy-intensive robotic society in the future, but these automated replacement workers won’t do anything for the country’s economy unless they have raw materials to work with in producing items for export. The Russian Far East can only provide some of what’s needed, and definitely not on the scale that the Japanese economy requires, which is why Tokyo has had to scour the world for the necessary resources. This has seen the country establish a post-war economic presence in Southeast Asia with the encouragement of the US, as well as engaging in sizeable investments all across Africa after the end of the Cold War. The parallel rise of China during this latter period meant that the world’s most populous country was now competing for the same number of finite physical resources, therefore turning this relaxed search mission into a pressing race against Japan’s historic rival.

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Trade Route And Transit State Tango

Prospecting resources and developing new marketplaces is one thing, but accessing them is another, and that’s why the world is presently in the midst of an intense period of competitive connectivity. China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity is slated to transform the declining unipolar global system into an emerging Multipolar World Order, and Tokyo is simply unable to compete with Beijing because of the disparity in scale between their two economies. It’s for this reason why Japan decided to partner with India in pioneering the so-called “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor”, also known as the “Freedom Corridor”, in order to collectively pool their existing resources and economic complementarities in carving out a niche for themselves in the Greater Indian Ocean Region. The specific geopolitics of the wider Chinese-Indian New Cold War that this is a part of were examined in detail in the author’s book-length article series on the topic for the Islamabad-based political consultancy firm CommandEleven, but it’s enough for the casual reader to understand that there’s a complex tango going on between Japan and China for access to trade routes and transit states.

The partnership with India obviously allows Japan to strengthen its presence in the Indian Ocean, while the one with Russia interestingly provides Tokyo with the chance to become the East Asian “gatekeeper” along the Northern Sea Route to Europe. Altogether, Japan’s strategic cooperation with these two Great Powers is predicated on the self-interested idea of securing its access to crucial trade routes and transit states, though this also in and of itself gives Tokyo influence over regions that are strategically important for Beijing as well. The ideal outcome would be that these two East Asian powerhouses join forces in strengthening Silk Road Globalization through a combination of active cooperation and friendly competition with one another institutionalized through Japan’s prospective membership in the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the possible establishment of the megaregional Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) economic deals. Heavy US influence on Japan will probably preempt this from happening, however, and therefore lead to Tokyo continuing to function as one of the key pillars in the “China Containment Coalition” that’s being built all across the Indo-Pacific. 

The antagonistic scenario that the US is pushing Japan towards with China is the same as what it’s doing vis-à-vis the EU and Russia, though in a different manner accommodating for the changed situational relations between them. Instead of deceptively emphasizing a “zero-sum” outcome when it comes to competitive connectivity projects and the race for resources, the US is promoting a “zero-sum” mentality in relation to “values”, having spared no expense or effort to convince the EU elites that Russian “values” are purportedly incomparable with Western ones and therefore constitute a “threat”. The whole point of this massive disinformation operation on both ends of Eurasia is to prevent the ultimate Great Power convergence between the EU and Russia on the Western half and China and Japan on the Eastern one, which would collectively result in most of the supercontinent being liberated of unipolar influence when accounting for the multipolar impact of Russia’s “Ummah Pivot” in the “Greater Mideast” and China’s Silk Road success in ASEAN. India is of course the geostrategic exception in this model, but it would likely be forced to fall into line with the Multipolar World Order in this scenario or otherwise risk hemispheric isolation as the US’ last main outpost.

The Intricacies Of The Japanese-Chinese Competition

Accepting that the current trends indicate that the US-provoked Japanese-Chinese competition will probably extend into the indefinite future, the most responsible thing that can be done is to examine the intricacies of this New Cold War rivalry from a thought-provoking perspective uncommon to most analyses on this topic. Instead of focusing on the advantages that China has in this rivalry like a lot of analysts have already done, it’s worthwhile exploring the topic from the reserve angle in looking at it from Japan’s perspective in order to identify what possible advantages Tokyo might have as well. For instance, the Japanese “Maritime Self-Defense Force” already functions as a blue-water navy even if it does so unofficially, and there’s a chance that it could give China a serious run for its money in any potential clash between the two. Added to that is Japan’s robotic prowess, which could lead to pivotal military advances in the future that might decisively shift the balance of power between the two.

That said, the above factors are only applicable when it comes to military affairs, but the likelihood of a hot conflict between the two isn’t too probable for a variety of reasons, partly having to do with the complex economic interdependence between them but also the US’ mutual defense obligations to Japan. Both parties are vulnerable to Hybrid War disruptions in the shared transit states constituting their respective competitive connectivity projects in mainland ASEAN (the “Greater Mekong Subregion”), the Mideast and Central Asia, and East Africa, but China will always be more at risk than Japan because of how much it depends on these routes in order to secure its own domestic stability. The inverse proportional relationship between Japan’s declining population and rising robotic replacements means that Tokyo could theoretically weather any transit state disruptions much better than China, which has staked its entire 21st-century future on the New Silk Roads in order to sustain domestic growth and prevent the socio-political unrest that would inevitably accompany any Hybrid War-inflicted economic downturn.


Veiled Vulnerabilities

Despite its salient strategic advantage in being comparatively (key word) less dependent on transit state volatility than China, Japan isn’t exactly in a position to directly press its advantage against its rival if times got tough for Beijing. Neither side can afford a trade war against the other, which in any case would be more devastating for Japan than for China because of the monopoly that the People’s Republic enjoys on rare earth mineral production. Japan needs these resources in order to sustain its technological-robotic future, so it’s not in a position to tempt China to cut off its exports like it temporarily did in 2010 in connection with a flare-up of the East China Sea dispute. Nor, for that matter, could Japan afford for Chinese cobalt and coltan companies in the Congo to decline selling this necessary component for electric vehicle batteries, cruise missiles, and almost every ubiquitous modern-day technological gadget such as smartphones. After all, China controls roughly 60% of the global cobalt market, the demand of which is expected to spike by two-thirds in the next decade, and securing reliable access to this indispensable resource is a pressing priority for Japan.

Another veiled vulnerability affecting Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy is closer to home in the form of the Ryukyu Islands, of which anti-American Okinawa is a part. This island chain only became part of Japan relatively recently in the late 19th century, and the population of its most militarily important island resents the American bases there which are responsible for insufferable noise and a spree of high-profile crimes include rapes and murders. The locals don’t want the US to remain in their homeland, but are powerless to evict them due to the overriding influence that Washington has over Tokyo and the near-impossibility of this ever happening. Nevertheless, an asymmetrical measure that China could in theory employ (key conditional, as there isn’t any existing proof of this) would be to encourage the anti-American protest movement and help it develop to the level of an autonomous, “federalist”, or even separatist one despite the improbable odds of it actually succeeding. The point, though, would just be to cause maximum disruption at one of Japan’s most sensitive military locations in the hopes of provoking an escalating spiral of violence that could partially distract Tokyo from whatever hostile proxy action it would be engaged in against China at the time (e.g. trade war).

Prevailing Trends

All told, there are several prevailing trends that are forecast to guide Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy. In the order that they were introduced in this analysis, these are:

* Japan’s demographic die-out and replacement with robotic workers;

* The Russian-Japanese rapprochement to secure reliable energy supplies for Tokyo’s continued technological-robotic rise;

* The race for finite manufacturing resources in the “Global South” regions of mainland ASEAN (the “Greater Mekong Region”), South Asia, and East Africa, as well as the need to develop Japanese-friendly markets in this part of the world and the Mideast-Central Asia;

* The resultant competition with China for the aforesaid, and the disruptive role of American influence in turning Tokyo into Beijing’s chief Asian rival instead of its natural strategic partner in jointly advancing Silk Road Globalization in the Multipolar World Order;

* Japan’s advantageous geostrategic position in being comparatively less affected by future American-managed Hybrid Wars in the Greater Indian Ocean Region;

* and Tokyo’s veiled vulnerabilities in being dependent on China’s export of rare earth minerals to power its technological-robotic industries and the risk that Beijing could clandestinely destabilize the Ryukyu Islands through various degrees of pro-autonomy movements all the way up to separatism.


Concluding Thoughts

The simplified points mentioned above demonstrate the phased logic that goes into Japan’s grand strategy and explain some of its more recent moves, whether the surprising decision to enter into a rapprochement with Russia or the somewhat overdue one to partner up with India in the Greater Indian Ocean Region. Everything ultimately comes down to Japan’s seemingly inevitable transition into becoming the world’s first large-scale techno-robotic civilization, however, as it’s from this core trend that all the others are derived to some degree or another. Altogether, the bigger picture behind Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy should allow one to get an idea about the structural limitations inherent to its “China Containment Coalition” actions, as there’s only so much that Tokyo can do and so far that it can go against Beijing before it begins to feel the consequences from the People’s Republic discretely suspending the sale of rare earth minerals to the island nation and/or supporting a destabilizing Ryukyu autonomy campaign.  

The already existing and multidimensional system of complex economic interdependency, coupled with both sides’ near-equal naval capabilities, acts as a form of checks and balances between the two Asian Great Powers and could ideally be reframed in such a way as to convince Japan’s decision makers and strategists of the mutually disadvantageous nature of the Chinese-Japanese rivalry that their American military occupier encouraged them to aggravate over the past couple of years. A reconceptualization of the relationship between these two related civilization-states could inject fresh thinking into this dynamic and demonstrate how beneficial the win-win possibilities of bilateral Silk Road cooperation are in comparison to the lose-lose “zero-sum” game that the US is provoking between them. The US wants to continue using Japan as its “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in perpetuity so that it can “contain China”, but reversely, the failure of this policy would “unchain China” by accelerating the global trend towards a Multipolar World Order.          

As it stands, there aren’t any indications that Japan desires to redirect its grand strategy away from “zero-sum” unipolarity and towards win-win multipolarity, however it nonetheless can’t be ignored that Tokyo is indeed behaving in a relatively independent fashion by continuing to restore its relations with Moscow. Washington obviously isn’t too happy about this, though at the same time, the pragmatic strategists in the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) understand the necessity of this move and appreciate how its optics could be manipulated by savvy propagandists in an attempt to instigate suspicion between Moscow and Beijing, capitalizing on the fact that Russia hasn’t publicly explained its grand strategic balancing act. Looking forward, it’s expected that the Chinese-Japanese competition will continue all along the Greater Indian Ocean Region, merging with the Chinese-Indian one of which it’s now inextricably a part, in order to add critical mass to the Asian component of the New Cold War. 

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.