This is a thread I posted in the Slavic forums, I thought I'd post it here because that way more people could flesh out the ideas and challenge them, perhaps we could start a good discussion/fight

What is Slavic?

An intro note:

I don't believe in essentialism, but rather relationism (a better name for 'relativism'). This outlook basically says that something is defined in relation to differences with something else, in short, identity hinges on decision about what a thing is by priveliging some elements over others (which are ignored) and in this sense forming a concept of a thing. This concept can then be further refined by contrasting itself with what it isn't. The highest possibility of contrast is when one thing conflicts with the existence of another. In human terms this means the declaration of war, when the friend is distinguished from the enemy.

No one will deny that the Slavs have had (continue to have?) conflicts with Germanics and Turks, and that for a relatively long period of time Slavic power has been centered in Russia, an Eastern Slavic nation (Poland being a Western Slavic nation, in contrast). However, Prussia, for example, was a nation formed out of two elements: its aristocracy descended from the Teutonic Knights (correct me if I'm wrong, but they were definetly Germanic) and its Slavic populace.

The Slavic base for that State were later Germanicised (we can define this once we've reconceptualised what 'Slavic' is) and were expelled from Prussia by the Red Army after World War 2. Why were these originally Slavic Prussians expelled and considered Germans, when compared to the fairly Westernised Catholic Poles (I don't want to get into a Pole-slandering contest here) who remained? Can we defined the ethos or style, so to speak, of the Slavic culture (both east and west) as a whole? What are the core values which enable one to discriminate between a Slavic and a Germanic nation? Or is the idea of 'Slavic' simply a historical construct built out of fairly consistent political alliegences during wars?

I would argue that Meta-Ethnicity is not arbitrary - you can't 'pick and choose' - but depends on the power that forms these identities: the power of human interrelationships. Language is used to produce these identities. I don't think one should underestimate the power of education - to teach someone is to create them. If Foucault was right - and I certainly believe he was - his concept of 'power/knowledge' is what you know defines who you are.

Taking a one year old Russian child and raising him/her in a German or Celtic community, putting him through a Germanic/Celtic education system, with all its historical leanings evident throughout, teaching him the Germanic or Celtic language of that community, raising him/her with its mores and customs does for all intents and purposes turn that Russian child into a German or a Celt. For a Government to assert power and render its control acceptable to a community it must inform the community of what it finds acceptable.

Through education, religion, history, language, the State - an organisation with the capacity to impose violence over a section of territory - brings a population into line with its laws and in relatively short order can transform that population. It takes roughly three generations for a State to totally convert a population - the first, to indocrtinate the young and control the adults and elders. The second, for the young to educate, with the guidance of State education systems, to educate a fresh generation.

Finally the last of the old generations dies out and the population may be considered converted. This is the optimal situation. The reality is that the State is also transformed because its funcationaries are drawn from the ranks of the community it dominates, the elders play an important the education given to their children, and over time - certainly a longer amount of time than the optimal three generations - with the aid of the community from which the State was derived, the population may be considered one with the interests of the State that dominates it.

This can quite easily be accelerated when the State calls itself the 'Government of X' where X is the dominated population and both are faced with war, and the State brings interests of the dominated population into form with its own and then fights. Perhaps a relevant example of this is Stalin's USSR, particularly in World War 2.