National Bolshevism

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National Bolshevism is a political movement that combines elements of extreme nationalism (especially Russian nationalism) and Bolshevism.[1] It is often anti-capitalist in tone, and sympathetic towards certain nationalist forms of communism and socialism. Nevertheless, National Bolshevism is separate and distinct from National communism.

Today, Russia is considered to be the center of National Bolshevism, and almost all of the National Bolshevik parties and organizations in the world are connected to it. Amongst the leading practitioners and theorists of National Bolshevism are Aleksandr Dugin and Eduard Limonov, who leads the unregistered and banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP) in Russia.[2] Influenced heavily by the idea of geopolitics, current Russian National Bolshevik movements propose a merger between Russia, Europe and parts of Asia, in a union to be known as Eurasia.

The Franco-Belgian Parti Communautaire National-Européen shares National Bolshevism's desire for the creation of a united Europe, as well as many of the NBP's economic ideas. French political figure Christian Bouchet has also been influenced by the idea.[3]

Influences and origins[edit]

National Bolshevism is said to have roots in World War I Germany, where nationalist writers such as Ernst Niekisch and Ernst Jünger were prepared to tolerate the spread of communism as long as it took on the clothes of nationalism and abandoned its internationalist mission.[4] This tendency, although minor, continued into the 1930s when it became associated with the National Socialist Combat Movement, a dissident breakaway movement from the Nazi Party which espoused left-wing economics and which was led by Hermann Ehrhardt, Otto Strasser and Walther Stennes.[5]

Karl Radek wanted some of the right-wing nationalists he had met in prison to unite with the Bolsheviks in the name of National Bolshevism. He saw in National Bolshevism a way to "remove the capitalist isolation" of the Soviet Union.[1] Radek had been influenced by the earlier ideas of Heinrich Laufenberg and Fritz Wolffheim, two Hamburg-based dissident communists whose ideas about a Germany-Soviet Union alliance in a nationalist war against the United States and the United Kingdom he had previously criticised.[6]

Russia[edit]

Russian Civil War[edit]

In Russia, as the civil war dragged on, a number of prominent "Whites" switched to the Bolshevik side because they saw it as the only hope for restoring greatness to Russia. Amongst these was Professor Nikolai Ustrialov, initially an anti-communist, who came to believe that Bolshevism could be modified to serve nationalistic purposes. His followers, the Smenovekhovtsi (named after a series of articles he published in 1921) Smena vekh (Russian: volte-face), came to regard themselves as National Bolsheviks, borrowing the term from Niekisch.[7]

Similar ideas were expressed by the Evraziitsi party and the pro-Monarchist Mladorossi. Joseph Stalin's idea of "socialism in one country" was interpreted as a victory by the National Bolsheviks.[7] Vladimir Lenin, who did not use the term 'National Bolshevism', identified the Smenovekhovtsi as a tendency of the old Constitutional Democratic Party who saw Russian communism as just an evolution in the process of Russian aggrandisement. He further added that they were a 'class enemy' and warned against communist believing them to be allies.[8]The movement attracted many party members[clarification needed], but was itself an intellectual current and not a political party. Lunacharsky supported it.[specify] that Zinoviev and Bukharin condemned it. Stalin condemned it in 1923.

Co-option of National Bolshevism[edit]

Ustrialov and others sympathetic to the Smenovekhovtsi cause, such as Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy and Ilya Ehrenburg, were eventually able to return to the Soviet Union and, following the co-option of aspects of nationalism by Stalin and his ideologue Andrei Zhdanov, enjoyed membership of the intellectual elite under the designation "non-party" Bolsheviks.[9] Similarly B.D. Grekov's National Bolshevik school of historiography, a frequent target under Lenin, was officially recognised and even promoted under Stalin, albeit after accepting the main tenets of Stalinism.[10] Indeed it has been argued that National Bolshevism was the main impetus for the revival of patriotism as an official part of state ideology in the 1930s.[11]

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn vs Eduard Limonov[edit]

The term National Bolshevism has sometimes been applied to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and his brand of anti-communism.[12] However, Solzhenitsyn cannot be labeled a National Bolshevik since he was thoroughly anti-Marxist and anti-Stalinist, and he wished a revival of Russian culture that would see a greater role for the Russian Orthodox Church, a withdrawal of Russia from its role overseas, and a state of international isolationism.[12] Solzhenitsyn and his followers, known as vozrozhdentsy (revivalists) differed from the National Bolsheviks, who were not religious in tone (although not completely hostile to religion), and who felt that involvement overseas was important for the prestige and power of Russia.[12]

There was open hostility between Solzhenitsyn and Eduard Limonov, the head of Russia's unregistered National Bolshevik Party. Solzhenitsyn had described Limonov as "a little insect who writes pornography", and Limonov described Solzhenitsyn as a traitor to his homeland who contributed to the downfall of the USSR. In The Oak and the Calf, Solzhenitsyn openly attacked the notions that the Russians were 'the noblest in the world' and that 'tsarism and Bolshevism ... [were] equally irreproachable', defining this as the core of the National Bolshevism to which he was opposed.[13]

National Bolshevik Party[edit]

The National Bolshevik Party was founded in 1992 as the National Bolshevik Front, an amalgamation of six minor groups.[14] The party has always been led by Eduard Limonov. The group's early policies and actions show some alignment and sympathy with radical nationalist groups, but a split occurred in the 2000s which changed this to an extent. Opposed to the Vladimir Putin regime in Russia, Limonov has somewhat liberalized the NBP, and joined forces with leftist and liberal groups in Garry Kasparov's United Civil Front to fight Putin.[citation needed] Some National Bolsheviks are opposed to Limonov's attempts to find allies even if they are pro-Western politicians; some have left the NBP and formed the National Bolshevik Front.[15]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Von Klemperer, Klemens (1951). "Towards a Fourth Reich? The History of National Bolshevism in Germany". Review of Politics 13 (2): 191–210. doi:10.1017/S0034670500047422. 
  2. ^ Court Upholds Registration Ban Against National Bolshevik Party
  3. ^ G. Atkinson, 'Nazi shooter targets Chirac', Searchlight, August 2002
  4. ^ Martin A. Lee, The Beast Reawakens, Warner Books, 1998, p. 315
  5. ^ Robert Lewis Koehl, The SS: A History 1919–1945, Tempus Publishing, 2004, pp. 61-63
  6. ^ Pierre Broué, Ian Birchall, Eric D. Weitz, John Archer, The German Revolution, 1917-1923, Haymarket Books, 2006, p. 325-326
  7. ^ a b Lee, The Beast Reawakens, p. 316
  8. ^ Speech by V.I. Lenin on March 22, 1922 in V. Lenin, On the Intelligentsia, Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1983, pp. 269-9
  9. ^ S.V. Utechin, Russian Political Thought: A Concise and Comprehensive History, JM Dent & Sons, 1964, pp. 254-255
  10. ^ Utechin, Russian Political Thought, p. 255
  11. ^ Utechin, Russian Political Thought, p. 241
  12. ^ a b c G. Hosking, A History of the Soviet Union, London: Fontana, 1990, pp. 421-2
  13. ^ A. Solzhenitsyn, The Oak and the Calf, 1975, pp.119-129
  14. ^ M.A. Lee, The Beast Reawakens, 1997, p. 314
  15. ^ National Bolshevik Front website

External links[edit]