Gumilev attempted to explain the waves of nomadic migration that rocked the great steppe of Eurasia for centuries by geographical factors such as annual vacillations in solar radiation, which determine the area of grasslands that could be used for grazing livestock. According to this idea, when the steppe areas shrank drastically, the nomads of Central Asia began moving to the fertile pastures of Europe or China.
To describe the genesis and evolution ofethnic groups, Gumilyov introduced the concept of "passionarity", meaning the level of activity to expand typical for an ethnic group, and especially for their leaders, at the given moment of time. Gumilev argued that every ethnic group passes through the same stages of birth, development, climax, inertia, and memorial. It is during the "acmatic" phases, when the national passionarity reaches its maximum heat, that the great conquests are made. He described the current state of Europe as deep inertia, or "introduction to obscuration", to use his own words. The passionarity of the Arabic world, on the other hand, is still high, according to him.
Drawing inspiration from the works ofKonstantin Leontyev and Nikolay Danilevsky, Gumilyov regarded Russians as a "super-ethnos" which is kindred to Turkic-Mongol peoples of the Eurasian steppe. Those periods when Russia has been said to conflict with the steppe peoples, Gumilev reinterpreted as the periods of consolidation of Russian power with that of steppe in order to oppose destructive influences from Catholic Europe, that posed a potential threat to integrity of the Russian ethnic group.
In accordance with his pan-Asiatic theories, he supported the national movements ofTatars, Kazakhs, and other Turkic peoples, in addition to those of the Mongolians and other East Asians. Unsurprisingly, Gumilev's teachings have enjoyed immense popularity in Central Asian countries. In Kazan, for example, a monument to him was opened in August 2005.
Wwondering if his views were influenced by his camp experience?