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Pan Movements

Pan Movements


A pan movement is dedicated to the unification of a geographic area, linguistic group, nation, race, or religion. The term pan is so broad that it can be, and has been, used to designate a vast variety of disparate phenomena. Thus, in Italian, pancristianesimois used for Christian ecumenicism. Pan-Europa was a utopian plan of European federation. Pan-Americanism, an attempt to create hemispheric solidarity, was a government-sponsored enterprise. Pan-Germanism, Pan-Slavism, and Pan-Turkism were militant nationalist movements of a racist and imperialist type. Pan-Islamism was a reaction against European colonialism. The environments out of which they arose, their aims, forms of organization, methods, and ideologies have been so diverse as to make valid generalizations about the pan movements almost impossible.

Attempts at unification along religious, geographic, or other lines had been made and the desire for unity of groups of people had existed long before the term pan, used in this particular sense, became current. The memories of the Roman Empire persisted for many centuries after its fall. The ideal of a Christian commonwealth survived the Middle Ages. The Arabs continued to dream of Ddr ul-Isldm, the home of all Muslims. However, modern pan movements did not originate in the distant past. Rather, they were the result of the impact of romantic nationalism upon the divided peoples of Europe, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, America and Africa.

Pan-Americanism. Pan-Americanism cannot be properly considered a movement. Originally, it was a policy promoted by Latin American statesmen anxious to preserve the independence of their new nations; it was later taken up by the United States. As early as 1826 Simon Bolivar convened a Pan-American conference in Panama. The United States did not participate; its delegation arrived after the conference was over. Since 1890, however, the United States has been the chief sponsor of Pan-American conferences, which have had a strictly official character as gatherings of representatives of all American states except Canada. Questions of law, arbitration and conciliation, economic and cultural exchanges, public health, and technical assistance have filled the agendas of these conferences.

The conference of 1890 founded the Pan American Union, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Union’s governing body was composed of the U.S. secretary of state and the representatives of all Latin American states. The Union promoted the sentiment of hemispheric solidarity and good will, disseminated commercial and tourist information, encouraged cultural exchange, and maintained a library. Pan-Americanism never had an ideology. To some it seemed a screen for U.S. imperialism, while others saw in it an expression of international understanding based on common hemispheric interests.

Pan-Slavism. In marked contrast to Pan-Americanism, Pan-Slavism was originally a nongovernmental, if not antigovernmental, movement. The awakening of the Slavs in the Austrian and Ottoman empires produced a feeling of unity that led to the idealization of the common distant past of the Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats, Bulgars, and others. German-Hungarian and Turkish domination nurtured the conviction that the liberty and even the survival of the Slavs depended upon their union.

The Slovak poet Jan Kollar, 1793-1852, under Herder’s influence, attributed to ancient Slavs idyllic qualities of purity, peacefulness, humanitarianism, and piety. Czech, Serbian, Croatian, Polish, and Ukrainian intellectuals responded with enthusiasm. There appeared a profusion of poems, historical studies, and grammars of the various Slavic languages. The Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, 1814-1861, and the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, 1798-1855, ardently advocated the unity of all Slavs.

Under the impetus of the revolutions of 1848 and in response to the menace of German nationalism, Austrian Slavs shifted from purely literary and historical preoccupations to political activity. A Pan-Slav congress was convened in Prague in June 1848. The divergent, and often irreconcilable, interests of the various Slavic peoples manifested themselves at once. Austrian Slavs tended to be loyal to the Hapsburg multinational state, to fear both the Germans and the Russians, and to have but little concern for the liberation of Ottoman Slavs. The Poles saw their principal enemy in Russia and sought support against the tsar, while the Serbs and the Bulgars looked to St. Petersburg for help in overthrowing the Turkish yoke. The congress ended in complete disagreement. Pan-Slavism remained a philosophical-literary phenomenon of minor importance until it entered its Russian phase in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Russian Pan-Slavism was a lineal descendant of Slavophilism. However, where Slavophilism had been theological, philosophical, and literary, Pan-Slavism was militantly political. The Ukrainian historian Nikolai I. Kostomarov, 1817-1885, reflecting the interests of a minority nationality, advocated a federal Slavic monarchy under the Russian tsar, but the Russian publicist Mikhail P. Pogodin, 1800-1875, as early as 1838 glorified Russia as the rising giant destined to unify the Slavs. To him, as to the next generation of Pan-Slavists, the future of Slavdom could be guaranteed only by the tsar.

Defeat in the Crimean War increased anti-Western sentiments among the more conservative Russians. Hostility to Europe and faith in the superiority of Russia were expressed in pseudoscientific terms in the writings of the biologist Nikolai la. Danilevskii, 1822-1885. Danilevskii’s cyclic theory of historical development purported to show that the West was in decline and that the future belonged to the new, higher cultural-historical type, the Slavs. Like Pogodin, Danilevskii claimed for Russia the leading role in the unification of the Slavs.

Hatred of the West, the Poles, the Catholics, the Jews, the socialists, and the bourgeoisie was characteristic of Fedor M. Dostoevski, 1821-1881, who, like most of the later Pan-Slavists, was essentially a Great Russian chauvinist.

Russian Pan-Slavism was not a mass movement and had no centralized organization. Committees had come into existence in Odessa, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere. These were originally benevolent societies to provide aid to Slavic refugees from the Ottoman Empire as well as to Slavic students in Russian schools. During the war between Serbia and Turkey in 1876, committees in Russia recruited volunteers, collected money, and spread anti-Turkish propaganda.

In its early stages Pan-Slavism was a movement of nationalist intellectuals, who were joined by some members of the bureaucracy and a few wealthy merchants. However, the ideologists gradually gave way to politicians and generals, among them Mikhail G. Chernyaiev, 1828-1898, one of the conquerors of Turkestan and commander of the Serbian army in 1876; Nikolai P. Ignatiev, 1832-1908, ambassador to Turkey and later minister of the interior; Mikhail D. Skobelev, 18431882, the Russian general infamous for the massacre of the Turkomans at Geok-Tepe. After 1878, Pan-Slavism rapidly lost much of its modest following and most of its appeal. It was absorbed into the reactionary ideology of Russian imperialism promulgated by Alexander in and Nicholas II.

World War I brought about the liberation and independence of all Slavic peoples except the Ukrainians and the Belorussians. It also demonstrated the unreality of Pan-Slavism and the strength of nationalism. For Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria, Pan-Slavism had become utterly useless.

During World War II the Soviet government attempted to resurrect Pan-Slavism and to use it as a weapon against Germany. A committee was hastily formed in Moscow in August 1941, two months after Russia had been invaded. While nineteenth-century Pan-Slavism, even in its Russian form, had been an independent movement, often at odds with the more cautious government policies, Stalin’s Pan-Slavism was the product of the state propaganda machine. The Moscow committee published a magazine and organized congresses in Russia, Britain, and the United States with the purpose of mobilizing public opinion among Slavs in favor of the Soviet Union. After the war the committee was briefly used by the Russians to consolidate their position in eastern Europe. Yugoslavia’s withdrawal from the Soviet camp broke up the already moribund Pan-Slav organizations. Their value to the Soviets had proved negligible. Stalin now preferred to stress Russian nationalism rather than Pan-Slavism, which had no appeal at home and, after the defeat of Germany, very little appeal abroad.

Pre-Soviet Pan-Slavism had two distinct stages: the nonpolitical, cultural, democratic one, in which Czech and Slovak intellectuals played the dominant part; and the conservative, nationalist, political one, led by an unusual combination of intellectuals, bureaucrats, and the military. As a political movement Pan-Slavism was a failure. It never developed a unified organization, nor was it able to create a mass movement anywhere. Its most significant effects were in the realm of culture. Pan-Slavism stimulated scholarly interest in Slavic antiquity, spurred linguistic and archeological studies, encouraged the collection of folklore, and gave the Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats, and Bulgars a sense of worth and importance through membership in a vast and glorious community. Pan-Slavism meant but little to the Poles and the Russians. The latter used its phraseology but transformed the movement into an instrument of extreme nationalism and imperialism.

Pan-Germanism. Pan-Germanism was a political movement similar to the second stage of Pan-Slavism. Unlike the latter, however, it confined its activities to one nationality—the German—and was very well organized. The Pan-German League, the heart and soul of the Pan-German movement, was founded by a small number of extreme nationalists interested in overseas expansion. Its first leader was Carl Peters, 1856-1918, who had achieved fame by acquiring several African territories for Germany. Lust for colonies, chauvinism, militarism, and an almost hysterical Anglophobia were the chief characteristics of the organization, which from 1891 to 1893 bore the name Allgemeiner Deutscher Verband and from 1893 on, the name Alldeutscher Verband.

Under the leadership of Ernst Hasse, 18461908, the league became a vigorous and active organization. Membership was open to every German regardless of citizenship. Annual dues were low, as was the subscription price of the league’s organ, the Alldeutsche Blätter. The league was made up of local branches and district organizations subordinate to an executive council, which determined policy, amended the league’s constitution, chartered the local branches, and elected the executive and business-managing committees. In fact, the president of the league, who also headed the business-managing committee, concentrated authority in his own hands.

The Pan-German League did not become a mass organization. Its membership fluctuated with changes in the international situation, reaching its peak during the Boer War (with 21,924 members in 1901) and dropping slightly thereafter (to 17,000 members in 1912). The league’s organ constantly complained of the indifference of the German public. The membership was drawn largely from the middle classes, with teachers, businessmen, and physicians heavily represented. Industrial workers and artisans accounted for about 15 per cent of the membership in 1901. In 1914, 24 per cent of the officers of local branches were teachers, 31 per cent businessmen, 12 per cent government officials, 8 per cent physicians, 9 per cent technicians, 5 per cent lawyers, 3 per cent clergymen, 2 per cent writers and editors. Significantly, only 1 per cent were nobles and only 1 per cent were military men. In the same year almost 10 per cent of the officers of local branches held ph.d.s.

Since Pan-Germanism had official spokesmen and a central organization, its purposes were formally stated on many occasions. In its Handbuch(quoted in Wertheimer 1924, p. 95) the league proclaimed that it “strives to quicken the national sentiment of all Germans and in particular to awaken and foster the sense of racial and cultural kinship of all sections of the German people.” The league also proposed to strive for the preservation of the German people, to combat “all forces which check the German national development, to further German interests throughout the world and particularly the colonial movement.”

The Germans as the Herrenvolk were entitled to consideration and respect. It was the task of the league to arouse their patriotism through agitation and propaganda and to indoctrinate the masses in “hundred-per-cent Germanism,” in hatred of Poles, Jews, or any foreigners, in militarism, and in the need for expansion. At its 1898 convention the league proclaimed 26 aims, among them reorganization of the navy; acquisition of coaling stations in the Red Sea, the West Indies, and Singapore; increased financial assistance to German schools abroad; employment of only German labor in imperial and state domains; prohibition of immigration of “less worthy elements”; prohibition of the use of foreign languages in meetings and clubs; and purification of the German language through the substitution of Germanic derivatives for borrowed words (Landshauptmann for Gouverneur, Befehlshaber for Kommandant).

The league carried on its activities through meetings, lectures, newspaper publicity, the dissemination of the Alldeutsche Blatter, the publication of occasional books and pamphlets, and participation in politics. It is difficult, if not impossible, to measure the impact of the league’s activity on the German people. The circulation of the league’s literature was small, as was the number of people directly exposed to its propaganda at public meetings. Most of the principles and attitudes of Pan-Germanism had been part of the intellectual and emotional baggage of a large segment of the population before the league was formed, and they would continue to exist, finding embodiment in other supernationalistic organizations.

In politics the league did not function as a party. Its members belonged to the National Liberal party, the Conservative party, the Reichspartei, the Wirtschaftliche Vereinigung, the Deutsche Soziale Partei, and other extreme right-wing, often anti-Semitic, parties. In 1898, of the 397 members of the Reichstag, 15 belonged to the Pan-German League; in 1907, 34; in 1912, 15.

Although most of its views were shared by vast numbers of people, the league was unable to compete with other organizations that advocated parts of its program, while not subscribing to all of it. The league’s ideology was too radical and too brutal. Only a few thousand were capable of swallowing the unsavory mixture of colonialism, militarism, navalism, anti-Semitism, Anglophobia, anti-Slavism, and antisocialism. Yet the league undoubtedly helped to bring all these ideas into a sort of system and bequeathed them to later extremists, among them Hitler.

Pan-Islamism. The failing fortunes of Muslim states, and their inability to withstand the pressure of European imperialism gave rise to the Pan-Islamic movement. Its founder and principal ideologist, Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī, 1838-1897, was probably born in Iran and lived in Afghanistan, India, Egypt, Iran, and Turkey. Together with an Egyptian disciple, Muhammad ’Abduh, 1849-1905, he briefly published a weekly newspaper that called for the union of Muslim peoples and states against Western aggression and domination. Jamal al-Dm’s influence quickly spread throughout the Middle East and among the Muslims of Russia. He spent some time at the court of the shah of Persia, Nāsir al-Dīn, but the shah discovered that Jamal al-Dm’s propaganda had revolutionary implications and exiled him. However, Pan-Islamists were active both in the agitation directed against an English tobacco monopoly in Persia in 1890 and in the resulting revolutionary movement. Nasir al-Din was assassinated in 1896 by a member of Jāmal al-Dīn’s circle.

Pan-Islamism never developed a strong organization. It was rather a projection of Jamal al-DIn’s ideas and personality. Like any traditional murshid (leader of a sect or religious brotherhood), he relied chiefly on his personal magnetism and considerable powers of persuasion. Being quite unscrupulous as to means, he hoped to utilize the caliphate for Muslim unification and attempted to win the support of the reactionary and barbarous Ottoman sultan, ’Abd al-Hamid n, who, in turn, saw in Pan-Islamism a means of strengthening his own hold over the vast but tottering Ottoman Empire. Although the brief collaboration between the radical Jamal al-Din and the traditionalist ’Abd al-Hamid bore no fruit, Pan-Islamic ideas penetrated the minds of a number of younger bureaucrats and soldiers in Constantinople.

Pan-Islamism was Utopian. It advocated the union of disparate elements and preached a supranational doctrine at the exact moment that Western nationalism was beginning to stir up the peoples of the Middle East; it appealed to diverse religious communities, which could not unite without abandoning Islam as they understood it and thus, paradoxically, destroying the basis of Pan-Islamism itself. Jamal al-Din did not bring about the reconciliation of the Sunnites and the Shiites. He failed to sense the growth of nationalism among the Persians, the Turks, and the Arabs. For all his professed modernism he was not a pioneer. His ideas, although frequently mouthed, were not a blueprint for action, and his clerical following was not fit to lead a political movement. Pan-Islamism was utilized by the Turks for anti-Russian and anti-British purposes during World War I. However, a vast majority of Russian and Indian Muslims failed to respond to propaganda from Constantinople. In Turkey itself, Pan-Turkism had much greater appeal to the intellectuals. After 1918 Pan-Islamism faded away.

Pan-Turkism. Pan-Turkism was born in the last quarter of the nineteenth century among the Tatars of the Crimea and the Volga; influenced by Pan-Islamism, it was a reaction against the encroachments of a virulent Russian nationalism. It was Pan-Slavism, however, that provided Pan-Turkism with an intellectual model. While studying in Moscow, Ismail Bey Gasprinski, 1851-1914, a Crimean Tatar, absorbed many Pan-Slavist views, such as the primacy of race and language in creating a community; he combined them with certain elements of Pan-Islamism to produce an ideology that suited the needs of a nascent Tatar intelligentsia. Although theoretically he envisaged the union of all Muslim peoples, his activity was directed at Russia’s Turkic masses, whom he wanted to provide with a common language and a modern education.

The younger generation of Tatar intellectuals further secularized Pan-Turkism, breaking with Pan-Islamism and emphasizing Turkic nationalism and racism, even at the expense of other Muslim peoples and states. One of the chief theorists of Pan-Turkism, the Russian Tatar Yūsuf Akçura, 1876—1935, was exposed during his student days in Paris to the thought of Joseph Renan, Auguste Barres, Joseph Gobineau, Houston Chamberlain, Hegel, and the social Darwinists. To him Islam was a thing of the past. Only language and race could provide the basis and the inspiration for the political unity of Ottoman and Russian Turks.

During and after the Russian revolution of 1905, Pan-Turkism gained considerable influence among the Turkic peoples of the empire, although it never achieved exclusive control or undisputed leadership. The differences of sect, language, history, circumstance, and aspirations between the Tatars, Kazaks, Uzbeks, Turkomans, and Azerbaijani were far too great to permit the effective adoption of a uniform ideology or the predominance of a single organization.

In the years 1905-1908, Pan-Turkism expressed itself through its press and through several Muslim congresses, which served it as sounding boards. The virtual restoration of Russian absolutism after 1908 drove the Pan-Turkist leaders out of the country. They found refuge in Constantinople, where they influenced a number of Young Turks, who had recently come to power. The Constantinople circle evolved an elaborate myth of Turkic racial superiority. Ahmad Bey Agaev, 1865-1939, an Azerbaijanian journalist, repudiated Islam and the Ottoman past and sang the glories of Attila and Genghis Khan. Ziya Gokalp, 1875-1924, himself a Kurd, found the original home of the Turkic race in the legendary Turan, a mythological land of Persian epic poetry. Pan-Turkist appetites grew steadily. On the eve of World War I Pan-Turkists talked of an empire stretching from the Mediterranean to the Pacific.

With the outbreak of the war Pan-Turkist agitation reached its high point. The introduction of the military draft among the previously exempt Muslims of central Asia provoked rebellions among the Kazaks, the Kirghiz, and the Uzbeks. Pan-Turkist propaganda attempted to use these for its own purposes but met with little success. Only a complete breakdown of the Russian Empire could make possible the realization of the Pan-Turkist dreams. However, the collapse of Russia was followed shortly by the collapse of Turkey. From then on, Turkish patriots were much more interested in saving their own country than in engaging in adventures abroad. The new Turkey of Kemal Atatürk tolerated Pan-Turkist intellectuals but did not follow their lead. Without Turkish support the movement lost its importance, while in Russia it was effectively eradicated by the Soviets. However, Pan-Turkism contributed certain ideas to modern Turkish nationalism. The attempt to “purify” the Turkish language of Arabic and Persian words, the glorification of the supposedly great Turko—Mongolian civilization in central Asia, xenophobia, the neglect of the Ottoman cultural heritage, all were the dubious inheritance Pan-Turkism left to modern Turkey.

Other pan movements. The modern world has seen several other pan movements, of which Pan-Arabism, Pan-Iranism, and Pan-Africanism are worth mentioning.

Pan-Arabism. Like Pan-Turkism, Pan-Arabism was closely related to Pan-Islamism. Influenced both by Jamal al-DIn al-Afghani and by Western nationalism, Egyptian intellectuals such as Mustafa Kamil, 1874-1908, and Saad Zaghlul, 1860?-1927, preached the resurgence of the Arab nation. While Turkish and Persian national sentiment could exist independently, Arab nationalism was impossible without Islam, since Arabism itself was defined in terms of classical Arabic and Muslim faith. Like Pan-Islamism, Pan-Arabism failed to become a popular movement. Its potential impact was broken by the diversity of the Arab world, the rapid growth of nationalism in Egypt and Syria, and the disparity in the cultural, economic, and political levels between the various Arab states (for instance, Lebanon as compared to Yemen, or Tunisia as compared to Saudi Arabia). The Pan-Arab idea and the awareness among the intellectuals of the great potential of Arab unity have often been exploited for national ends. The Arab League, which purports to express on the governmental level the reality of Pan-Arabism, has not had much influence and seems to owe its continued existence to the irritation provided by the state of Israel. The formation of the United Arab Republic in 1958 and its rapid dissolution demonstrated the weakness of Pan-Arabism in relation to Egyptian and Syrian nationalism.

Pan-Iranism. Pan-Iranism was a belated echo of Nazi wartime propaganda, an ephemeral invention of a few uninfluential individuals who proclaimed themselves a political party in 1946. It needs to be mentioned only because the term was used in the Soviet Union during the last years of Stalin’s rule whenever the Soviet government conducted campaigns of repression against Tajik intellectuals. The latter’s passive resistance to Russification was frequently attacked as a manifestation of Pan-Iranism, just as the national tendencies of the Uzbeks and Azerbaijani were labeled Panturkist.

Pan-Africanism. Pan-Africanism also fails to qualify as a movement. It is rather an affirmation of a unity that does not exist. Pan-Africanism is used for political purposes by the governments of the various African states, but, as yet, it exercises no appreciable influence on their policies.

F. Kazemzadeh

[See alsoColonialism; Imperialism; International Relations, article onideologicalaspects; Nationalism; Social Movements. Other relevant material may be found inIdeology; International Integration.]


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Browne, Edward G. 1910 The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909. Cambridge Univ. Press.

Gabrieli, Francesco (1958) 1961 The Arab Revival. New York: Random House. → First published as II risorgimento arabo.

Kohn, Hans (1953) 1960 Pan-Slavism: Its History and Ideology. 2d ed., rev. New York: Vintage.

Nikitin,sergei Aleksandrovich 1960 Slavianskie komitety v Rossii v 1858-1876 godakh. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Moskovskogo Universiteta.

Usher, Roland G. 1913 Pan-Germanism. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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