- Rossiia i russkie v mirovoi istorii [Russia and the Russians in World History], and: Russkii mir [The Russian World], and: Za chto i s kem my voevali [For What and With Whom We Fought]
In December 2008, most Russian television channels and the press took note of Nataliia Alekseevna Narochnitskaia's 60th birthday. A self-described, proud, and articulate conservative, Narochnitskaia is at the apex of her popularity that has thoroughly eclipsed other prominent non-liberals such as Aleksandr Dugin, Gleb Pavlovskii, Aleksandr Prokhanov, and Mikhail Leont´ev. Although she does not identify herself with the Putin–Medvedev government, she was the first and only prominent intellectual to analyze the August 2008 Russo-Georgian conflict and justified the invasion on Russia's central television channel (ORT) just hours after the fighting began. Narochnitskaia was in her element, since geopolitical analysis is a family tradition—her father, Aleksei Leont´evich Narochnitskii, was a prominent Soviet foreign policy scholar who won the Stalin Prize in 1942 for his contributions to Istoriia diplomatii (The History of Diplomacy).1
While some may call Narochnitskaia a nationalist, she describes herself as a patriot—it is all a question of perspective. Regardless, national pride is currently on the rise all over the world despite globalization's triumphant march. One knows a trend to have reached critical mass when popular international relations authors register it. In his most recent book, Fareed Zakaria wrote: "[The] desire for recognition and respect is surging throughout the world. It may seem paradoxical that globalization and economic modernization are breeding political nationalism, but that is so only if we view nationalism as a backward ideology, certain to be erased by the onward march of progress."2 [End Page 992]
Narochnitskaia's work has rationalized resurgent Russia's assertiveness on the international stage and has become the intellectual superstructure of the world's new energy superpower. Unlike Gleb Pavlovskii, she balks at being called a polittekhnolog and prefers the mantle of an academic, for which she has the pedigree.3 She graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and is currently a senior fellow at the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), the chairman of the Paris branch of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation. She was a member of the Duma between 2003 and 2007, representing the Just Russia (Spravedlivaia Rossiia) Party.4 In general, her approach to Russian history and contemporary geopolitical questions rests on a philosophical and religious foundation; and although one may not agree with her conclusions, she has maintained the necessary distance from the government to merit the label of an independent and original thinker.
Her Rossiia i russkie v mirovoi istorii is a tour de force of theosophical geopolitics. Although polemical and a bit dry in places, the book offers some fascinating insights into grand geopolitical strategy between the 18th and the 20th centuries. Za chto i s kem my voevali is a short distillation of the previous book's central chapters that deal with World War II and its consequences. The most recent publication, Russkii mir, is a collection of articles written between 1999 and 2007, which offers a broad range of Narochnitskaia's interests from geopolitics to religion. All three works are variations on one another. Narochnitskaia's accomplishment is not the depth of her thinking or its evolution but the consistency with which she applies her basic conservative model to contemporary affairs, which never fails to uncover original and provocative points of view on Russia's place in the world. An examination of her work unpacks the intellectual baggage of one of the most interesting currents in contemporary conservative thought in Russia.
Narochnitskaia proudly declares her sympathy with those European conservatives who oppose European integration because it undermines unique national characteristics...