The authors analyze the divisions within Russian liberalism—another influential IR theory—and the contradictory nature of this intellectual movement. In particular, they draw the attention to the debate between pro-Western and more nationally oriented liberals, which they view in terms of the familiar disagreement between supporters of cosmopolitan and communitarian thoughts. Whereas cosmopolitans insist on the emergence of a single humanity and emphasize the factors of unifying and homogenizing nature, communitarians underscore the role of national and cultural foundations in building democratic institutions in the world. The authors trace how various liberal currents perceive the nature of the post-Cold War order, Russia’s national interests, and its foreign policy orientations.
The essay argues that Western scholars can improve their understanding of the post-Soviet Russia by studying the discipline of new Russian international relations (IR). The other objective of the essay is to move away from the excessively West-centered IR scholarship by exploring indigenous Russian perceptions and inviting a dialogue across the globe. The essay identifies key trends in Russian IR reflective of the transitional nature of Russia’s post-Soviet change. It argues that Russian IR continues to be in a stage of ideological and theoretical uncertainty, which is a result of unresolved questions of national identity. For describing Russia’s identity crisis, the authors employ Erving Goffman’s concept of stigma defined as a crisis of a larger social acceptance by Russia’s ‘‘significant other’’ (West). The essay suggests that, until this crisis is resolved, much of Russian IR debates can be understood in terms of a search for a national idea. It also introduces the authors of the issue and summarizes their contribution to our understanding of Russian and Western IR.