A specter hangs over the East. Tyranny, Despotism, immorality, degeneracy, disregard for the sanctity of life, and a burning desire to conquer and sweep away all that is good in the world. Only one thing stands between us and them: figuring out who ‘they’ actually are. We seem to think it’s Russia, but at this point, it’s hard to say for sure.
Of all the narratives to be resurrected, something akin to the Yellow Peril, or Great Tartary is not what most would probably expect. As with so many ideas like this, it begins relatively coherently, but by now – few seem even to realize where the lineage of certain conceptions derives from. A full accounting is too lengthy to discuss properly here, but a brief summation should suffice to whet the appetite.
The Yellow Peril is an idea most clearly expressed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, based on both moral and demographic concerns about an upcoming race war between the collective White and Yellow races. In part, this is taking place in an atmosphere of racialist conceptions of the world and history but tremendously bolstered by the experience of Asians, both at home and abroad. Europeans found China, in particular, to be squalid, decadent, and immoral, but containing dangerous potential. The Chinese immigrants seemed to exhibit a worrying degree of collectivism, and seemingly brought many of the vices of their homes with them, simultaneously undercutting the wages of the natives. What followed were mutual cycles of growing hostility, culminating in the outright banning of Chinese (and sometimes wider Asian) immigration on the one hand, and the anti-European Boxer Rebellion on the other (though this was only the latest and perhaps most egregious of numerous anti-European attacks).
Many, like Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nikolai II, saw the Boxer Rebellion as the breakout of the great race war, leading not only to the orders of the despoiling of China, and the discussion of full partition and permanent domination by the Whites but also attacks on Asian immigrants elsewhere. A curious foreshadowing.
In the end, the race war never fully played out, not least because China failed to provide enough of a fight to make it a serious challenge to White hegemony. However, the conflict was renewed in 1904 with the onset of the Russo-Japanese War. Many racialists saw the war in these terms, seemingly including Kaiser Wilhelm, but this was never converted into a full race war due in no small part to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, despite the apprehensions of the British people towards the Asians, and the entreaties of other European powers not to be ‘race traitors’. Had the war involved more than just one belligerent on either side, the treaty would be invoked. The combined naval power of both of these powers would have thwarted attempts to aid in the war with naval or amphibious actions, thereby preventing them from providing much aid at all. As such, both France and Germany, though supportive – sat on the sidelines. With Russia ultimately losing this war, and doing so quite publicly (as the Japanese had planned and ensured), concerns were heightened of a Japan which would provide the needed leadership for the vast resources and manpower of China, forming a grand militaristic Yellow empire, capable of repeating their success on a much larger scale. But then a strange thing happened.
Somewhere between 1905 and 1914, Russia ceased to be European. Clearly this is not reflected in any geographical, ethnic, leadership, or ideological changes. But it must be said that this was not a totally overnight development. When political expediency and propaganda demanded that Russia become the great ‘other’, there was already a large body of material waiting to be proliferated. In Austro-Hungarian Galicia, a sizeable Ukrainian population was situated which was propped up in opposition to both Russia and the local Polish population, largely for domestic political reasons I’m sure, but the atmosphere created a powerful magnetism for anti-Russian Slavs, some of whom were intellectuals. Through their work, it was ‘established’ that contrary to the fact that Ukrainian and Russian were largely mutually intelligible, Ukrainian in turn was almost as mutually intelligible with Polish – suggesting a logical continuity between the Slavic languages… rather, Russian and Ukrainian were so far apart that it is hard to even call Russian a European language, or so they said. And furthermore, contrary to the fact that the Mongols and Tatars never existed in Europe in particularly large numbers and that the Russian Boyars (nobility) largely had names and lineages which corresponded to an overwhelmingly Russian or generally East-Slavic origin… the Russian Boyars were actually descended from the Mongol invaders. Contrary to the fact that Russia has reinvented its political structure numerous times over its history ever since the Mongol Invasion, and that they have done so directly to approach Western ideals, and that fewer rights and privileges for the peasantry have accompanied these changes… ‘Russian Despotism’ is actually inherited from the Tatars and Mongols, giving the Russian government an Asiatic character. There are more of these, but the through line is the same; Ukraine and Belarussia represent European Eastern-Slavdom and the furthest east extremity of it. Russia is actually an Asiatic power pretending to be White and European. The Russians may vocally object, and even provide evidence, but it’s always ignored.
When these ideas were more adequately unleashed on the territories of the Central Powers side of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk demarcation line, the Germans had the perfect tool to drive a wedge between Russia and her East-Slavic sisters. This is despite the irony of creating ‘representative’ rulers who neither spoke the language they purported to represent nor had any clear sense of what the natural borders or characteristics of peoples in their new countries were or ought to be. And yet, the legacy of this bizarre epoch is with us still. While two sister peoples, barely distinguishable by most standards, have spilled so much blood; writers continue to spill just as much ink trying to prove that Russia is the new Yellow Horde, about to wash over all Europe and the wider White world. Of course, most don’t seem to quite realize that this is what they’re saying. From this, many stereotypes flow, which has infected more than just recent history. Deference to despots, collectivism, corruption, immorality, and low regard for human life are all in their blood, everyone seems to say without saying it. To do so would probably cause too much whiplash, but perhaps so too should have the spate of lynchings, public humiliations, and incitement to all sorts of miseries against the Russian people.
Does that, therefore, mean that the Russians are not in fact a slave race, and might therefore have some reasons for approving of their leadership and policy direction? Probably so.
Does it mean that they are not in fact launching human wave attacks to smother the enemy with the weight of bodies, regardless of the cost? Probably not, especially being that they were outnumbered for much of the war.
So just as our eyes and ears have suggested they’re just White Europeans as well? Largely so, there doesn’t seem to be some great conspiracy about it.
For all the claims of having shed so many of these backward myths, pseudo-histories, and barely contained primal urges for violence, blanket blame, and simple essentialist explanations; they all seem to flood back in with remarkable velocity. One wonders just how much else is lurking just below the surface, waiting to explode forth in a violent fit of mob psychology. Time will tell, but it would seem that anything is possible.