Quarterly: Moscow Nights, Eurasian DreamsIssue: Summer 2002
In 1918, sitting amid the ruins of the Russian Empire, the poet Alexander Blok symbolically expelled Russia from the Western community of nations, renouncing Russia's claim to be the heir and successor to Rome:
We shall abandon Europe and her charm.
We shall resort to Scythian craft and guile.
Swift to the woods and forests we shall swarm,
And then look back, and smile our slit-eyed smile.
Away to the Urals, all!
Blok must have struck a chord, for three years later, a group of emigre intellectuals urged an "Exodus to the East." They had in mind lands between the Vistula and the Amur that to them were neither Europe nor Asia, but a distinct "Ocean-Continent" they called Eurasia. Genghis Khan, the unifier of the steppes, was their hero; Peter the Great, the man who tried to "open a window onto Europe", they despised.