General Question

Charles's avatar

Why isn't Russia considered a western state?

Asked by Charles (4804points) May 18th, 2012

It’s European and it did imperialize other countries during the 20th century.

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25 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Primarily because it’s ruled by a tsar – their elections are sham elections, and their so called president is a dictator.

gailcalled's avatar

Imperialize is not a word. What do you mean? The Russian empire certainly expanded into and conquered other nations.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Because its on the east side of the map.

wundayatta's avatar

Wrong side of the international date line.

Charles's avatar

“Because its on the east side of the map.”

“Wrong side of the international date line.”

You mean like Australia and the US?

Charles's avatar

“Imperialize is not a word. ”

Neither was “normalcy” at one time.

ragingloli's avatar

@elbanditoroso With that definition, the US should not be considered a western state either.
I do consider Russia a western state.

wundayatta's avatar

No, Australia and the US are on the right side of the international date line. Use your eyes, son!~

wundayatta's avatar

Or turn your globe upside down, if it isn’t working the way you are looking at it now.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t think so. I am pretty sure Australia is on the same side of the dateline as Asia. Maybe because Russia is considered an Eastern European Country? And, also part of the Asian continent for that matter.

DominicX's avatar

Because they’re former commies and not developed enough. Additionally, because they border so many other eastern regions, they’ve had a lot of eastern influence.

I don’t know, I’m just guessing…

ucme's avatar

Eastern European country, “the eastern front” & all that.

JLeslie's avatar

I would say religion has something to do with it, but that doesn’t make sense. I only mention it because I think of countries with predominately eastern religions as being eastern countries.

ragingloli's avatar

The vast majority of Russians are christians. Just Saiyan.

wildpotato's avatar

Russia is kind of a creature unto itself. It has characteristics of both Western and Eastern states, so classifying it isn’t a straightforward matter. Part of it has to do with the Ural Mountains, which are one of the geographic indicators of the East/West split. Most of Russia is to the east of the Urals and comparatively little to the west, but the big cities are all in the western part, while the eastern part is much more sparsely populated.

GQ, btw – we used to discuss this a lot in my Russian classes in college.

gorillapaws's avatar

The vast majority of Russia is in Asia.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Mostly I think it is more political/cultural in nature than anything else. The Western states are considered to be the Countries that followed the NATO model of government following WW2.

The Eastern states were considered to be the ones that followed the Soviet model of government. The title came out of the cold war to differentiate between Nato and its allies from the Warsaw Pact and its allies.

This is why Japan is considered a ‘western’ nation and Cuba is considered an ‘eastern’ nation. Geography has little to do with it other than Nato controlled West Germany and the Soviets controlled East Germany.

JLeslie's avatar

@ragingloli Exactly. That’s why what I said doesn’t make sense.

dabbler's avatar

Location, location, location.

DaphneT's avatar


Pronunciation: /ɪmˈpɪərɪəlʌɪz/
(also imperialise)
[with object] (usually as adjective imperialized)

subject to imperial rule or influence: people of an imperialized culture

Sorry, that just irked me, it’s in the Oxford Dictionary.

I’m with @WestRiverrat on this one, these terms didn’t take hold in this way until after WW2.

gailcalled's avatar

Still not a verb.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@ragingloli and @JLeslie the majority of christian russians are othodox and therefore on the east side of the east-west christian schism.

JLeslie's avatar

@Lightlyseared True. And, Christians in Turkey and other parts of the Middle East also. Although, in Lebonan there are many Catholics, or were. Ok…so interesting…but I think of Abrahamic religions as western still, even if they are eastern Orthodox. Muslims I assume are mostly in the middle east and east? I guess they are in Africa too. Christianity, of course, began in the middle east, Asia, so it can’t be religion I don’t think, just geography. But, it had popped into my head, and then I dismissed it as too many examples of it not making sense, but still wrote it down, not sure why.

bolwerk's avatar

You have to go way back in history to answer this one with anything approaching accuracy. The distinction wasn’t between Europe and Asia or eastern Europe and western Europe. It was originally between Latin (western) Christianity and Greek (eastern) Christianity.

It starts with the Roman Empire. Rome was divided into two broadly separate administrative units that ultimately became two separate empires – these were split between the west and the east, first administratively, later politically, and finally linguistically and culturally. Every (even American) school child probably knows the Western Roman Empire nosedived in the 400s and ultimately fell. What usually isn’t driven home is that the eastern Empire lasted another thousand or so years, until 1453 – to put that in perspective, Christopher Columbus was already alive and the modern world was starting.

So, after the Western Empire fell (officially in 476, but putting an official date on it probably doesn’t make much sense), Germanic tribal warlords took over most of territory that the empire occupied – and other than a few attempts to reclaim the western territories, or at least Italy, by the Eastern Empire, it never really was meaningfully politically unified again. The most culturally cohesive force for this part of the former Empire was the Roman Church (Roman here means Rome the city). Bishops and priests were probably the only people educated enough to at least kind of administer a territory, probably while taking orders from whatever Germaic warlord was in charge. For several centuries, the office that is now called The Papacy was at least in theory a co-equal religious patriarch with other such patriarchs in the Eastern Empire, such as the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and all were nominally subordinate to the Roman Emperor still sitting in Constantinople.

Over time, for a number of reasons, the western church became politically and culturally more independent. One reason is the patriarchs in the east tended to maintain Greek cultural ties, while Rome stayed Latin. Linguistics is another – the Eastern Roman Empire dropped Latin as its language in the late first millennium and became Greek-speaking. Geographically, the economically less powerful west was stuck between broadly the Eastern Empire and its client states and Muslims invading from Spain and North Africa, while the Eastern Empire was acting as a buffer to keep invading Muslims out of the west.

By the time of Charlemagne, the Pope managed to consolidate much of his power in the west. Roman Catholic missions to the north and west managed to bring heathen western Germans and Celts into the fold – this is why these countries are now considered western, even though they usually weren’t even part of the empire and ultimately ceased to be Catholic in some cases. Meanwhile, Eastern Christian (broadly speaking, we can say Eastern Orthodox) missions went north and somewhat west to countries like Russia and Romania – so these countries became Orthodox (eastern).

Eventually, of course, Muslims managed to conquer the almost the entirety of what was the Eastern Roman Empire – we call this the Byzantine Empire today. This includes what is today Turkey, North Africa, and some of the so-called “Middle East,” no longer Eastern Christian.

You see some of these cultural distinctions in other ways too: western countries use the Latin alphabet, while eastern ones stuck closer to Greek. Even languages like Coptic use at least some Greek letters. Holidays in Latin countries are a little different because of the Gregorian calendar. You also see some odd exceptions; Poland became really Catholic later on, while probably culturally being more like other Slavic countries.

Admittedly, too, the distinction between east and west has taken on different meanings over time, but the main point of being “western” is probably being part of a society that has its roots in Latin Christianity – what we today call Roman Catholic. Much of the Americas are cuultural offshoots of places that were at least once dominantly Latin Christian, while Russia’s cultural and religious identity lies more with its associations to the east.

mattbrowne's avatar

The label “western” has to do with culture, not location. This is why Australia belongs to it too. The modern origin of Western countries is the Age of Enlightenment, the “cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe and America, whose purpose was to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted science and intellectual interchange and opposed superstition, intolerance and abuses in church and state. (...)

The new intellectual forces [from Italy and France] spread to urban centres across Europe, notably England, Scotland, the German states, the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Austria, and Spain, then jumped the Atlantic into the European colonies, where it influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.”

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