The Original Russian Version can be found here:
“Killer of the red saint of the chalice!”
The most complete and interesting (to date) study of Russian National Bolshevism is the book of Mikhail Agursky. Agursky was a dissident, he emigrated from the USSR to Israel in the 1970s, but at the same time, his attitude towards Soviet National Bolshevism remains extremely objective, and in some cases deep sympathy comes through in his assessments. In our opinion, Agursky’s work is the most serious work dedicated to the Soviet period of Russian history, helping to understand its deep spiritual meaning.
1. National recognition of Bolshevism
Agursky defines the essence of Russian national Bolshevism as follows: “… From the very beginning of the Bolshevik revolution, Bolshevism and the new Soviet state itself were recognized by various emigration groups and in Russia itself as meeting true Russian national and even religious interests. The number of these groups was relatively small, and these groups were not always influential, but their voice was heard, and their point of view was known to wide circles both outside the party and within it.National recognition of Bolshevism was very diverse.
He was considered a Russian national phenomenon by both left and right, humanitarians and engineers, civilians and military men, clergy and sectarians, poets, writers, artists. The greatest success was marked by the so-called. Smenovekhovism, which arose relatively late in the circles of the right-wing Russian emigration. It was within its framework that National Bolshevism was first formulated, although almost all early forms of national recognition of Bolshevism, including Scythianism, can rightfully be attributed to it.
The central figure of emigrant national Bolshevism in the early 20s. turned out to be Ustryalov, and the internal Russian – Lezhnev.
If all this remained within the framework of non-Bolshevik circles, it would be of very limited interest. But that didn’t happen…”
2. “Change milestones”
For the first time, the theses of Russian National Bolshevism appeared among the extremist Cadets, to some extent connected with Nikolai Ustryalov. However, Ustryalov himself was pointed out to the possibility of a radical transition from “white” to “red” nationalism by another cadet, Y. Klyuchnikov. Having understood at some point the inevitability of the defeat of the Whites and proceeding from their largely populist philosophy of history, which asserts that history is created precisely by the “people’s spirit”, sometimes expressed paradoxically and using at certain moments the most unexpected ideologies and socio-political instruments, these Cadets-nationalists came to a radical revision of their anti-Bolshevik positions and put forward the thesis that the most consistent nationalist-statists at the moment in Russia are the Bolsheviks. Of course, this idea did not take shape in such radical terms right away, but its main features are already clearly visible in the first National Bolshevik texts, combined in the collection “Change of milestones”, published in Prague in early 1921. The authors of the collection were Y. Klyuchnikov, Y. Potekhin, S. Chakhotin, A. Bobrischev-Pushkin, the former prosecutor of the Holy Synod S. Lukyanov, and others. “Smenovekhovism” was enthusiastically accepted by the Bolsheviks themselves, especially Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, since they saw in it the possibility of some intermediating ideology capable of attracting “specialists” and significant sections of the civilian population to the side of the new government, who are not yet ready to accept communism in its purest form. It was through the ideology of “smenovekhovstvo” that the practical connection of the Bolshevik government with broad social strata took place. But the power of ideas is such that it is almost never possible to use them for purely pragmatic purposes, since ideas always have the opposite effect. Parallel to how the Bolsheviks used “Smenovekhism” for their own purposes, “Smenovekhism” itself actively influenced the evolution of the Bolshevik ideology. Agursky shows that the most pure Marxist orthodoxies, and especially Zinoviev, were perfectly aware of this and from the very beginning fought against National Bolshevism, despite the practical benefits
In parallel with “Smenovekhovism,” another trend, quite close to it, developed – Eurasianism, or at least its left wing. Both the “Smenovekhites” and the “Left Eurasianists” ended up completely siding with the Bolsheviks and the vast majority of them returned to Soviet Russia and integrated into socialist society. All the authors who have made such an evolution – Klyuchnikov, Bobrischev-Pushkin, Kirdetsov, Lukyanov, Lvov, etc. Agursky classifies them among the “left National Bolsheviks”, whom he distinguishes from the “right National Bolsheviks”, whose undisputed leader and highest spiritual authority was Ustryalov, who remained outside Russia in Harbin until the mid-30s and until the end kept a certain distance from the Soviet system despite all their sympathy for it.dual phenomenon. Although Agursky nowhere speaks of this directly, his interpretation of National Bolshevism is divided into two components, which correspond to its two ideological aspects. In principle, we are talking about the duality of the ideology of the Conservative Revolution as such, namely, the historical Russian National Bolshevism was its expression. It is significant that in the National Bolshevik context, as Agursky recalls, the term “revolutionary conservatism” (first used by the Slavophile Samarin and adopted by German national ideologists) was adopted by Isai Lezhnev, the pillar of Soviet “left National Bolshevism”.
3. Left National Bolshevism
Any revolution has a “conservative” background, which is expressed in opposition to the current state of affairs – the System – an archaic paradigm, long forgotten and lost in ordinary, non-revolutionary and non-radical conservatism. Outwardly, this trend is often so “nihilistic” and “destructive” that it is extremely difficult to see its “conservative”, “archaic” beginning. It is this aspect that should be called “left national Bolshevism.”
Agursky shows that such “left national Bolshevism” historically goes back to Russian eschatological sectarianism, Old Believers, folk apocalypticism. At first, some of the “Slavophiles” became its more modern carriers – the most extreme representatives of whom (unlike the moderate conservatives) hated with fierce hatred the entire Romanov “Petersburg period”, which they considered a retreat from the truly national, truly Orthodox system – and then the “populists “- Herzen, Ogarev, etc. down to Bakunin, Tkachev and Nechaev, as well as the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries. In this direction, “mystical nihilism” dominates, the idea that “salvation” (read social good, building a just society, etc.) in the present conditions cannot be achieved by traditional, conventional, established way, irretrievably lost its legitimacy and effectiveness. Only the paradoxical path of “holiness through sin” or “creation through destruction, overthrow” remains.
Left National Bolshevism begins with the self-immolations of the Old Believers, with the radical movements of the Bespopovites, such as the “netovtsy” (or “Spasovo consent”), as well as with the “spiritual Christians” who came out of this milieu, known as whips. In this milieu, the idea was widespread that the “antichrist” had already come into the world and that the Russian statehood and the official church had completely fallen under his influence. Against such a desacralized statehood and a church that had become graceless, the sectarians put forward the idea of an “invisible city” and a “community of the elect” who, following terrible paths, gain deliverance through protest, destruction, a special path of “blasphemous (at least from the usual point of view) holiness” .
Narodnik terrorists, and Nechaev in particular, should be understood precisely from this “religious nihilism” inherent in the Russian national element, as some kind of informal, parallel ideology, rarely clearly expressed, but still potentially present in the broad masses of the people.
The echo of the same idea, but already in a different, purely intellectual environment, is, according to Agursky, the Russian mystical renaissance, the so-called. “new religious consciousness”, associated with Vladimir Solovyov and the whole course of Russian symbolism, which he highly influenced. Solovyov approached the same mystical-nihilistic reality from the other side – through Western mysticism, Hegelianism, interest in Gnostic and Kabbalistic doctrines. Solovyov also clearly distinguishes the mechanism by which the Gnostic idea, akin to the Anabaptists, Cathars, Albigenses, etc., is embodied with the modernist theory of “progress”. Agursky calls Solovyov’s concept “optimistic eschatology”, according to which the social and technical development of society proceeds in the direction of a return to the “golden age” . Agursky writes: “In order to reconcile the fact of the undeniable progress of the end of the 19th century, which seemed to be a convincing argument in favor of optimistic eschatology, with the no less undeniable fact of the fall of Christianity both among the people and among the intelligentsia, the bearer of this progress, Solovyov comes to the paradoxical conclusion that that now the Spirit of God rests not on believers, but on unbelievers.” In principle, practically the same was asserted by the most radical Old Believers “netovtsy”, who generally denied the very possibility of salvation through any kind of external rituals and believed that from now on the exceptional possibility of this salvation can only be granted by the super-reasonable and incomprehensible will of Christ, completely regardless of merit. believer – in the limit, even regardless of the presence or absence of faith itself. Of course, “
“Left National Bolshevism” refers to the most extremist variants of this ideology, which are associated with the theoretical justification of the most terrible and bloody aspects of the revolution. Most of all, it is characteristic of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, and especially for that part of them that went down in history under the name “Scythians”. In a sense, the very term “Scythianism” can be seen as synonymous with left-wing National Bolshevism.
Under the title “Scythians” in late 1917 – early 1918 two collections were published, in which the ideology of “left national Bolshevism” found its first reflection. The meaning of this ideology was reduced to the consideration of the October Revolution as a mystical, messianic, eschatological and deeply national phenomenon. The main ideologists of “Scythianism” were the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Ivanov-Razumnik, a member of the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee S. Mstislavsky, and the poet and writer Andrei Bely (Bugaev). Famous poets and writers who became classics of Soviet literature also grouped around them: Alexander Blok, Sergei Yesenin, Nikolai Klyuev, Alexei Remizov, Evgeny Zamyatin, Olga Forsh, Alexei Chapygin, Konstantin Erberg, Evgeny Lundberg, etc.
Scythianism was characterized by “an apology for barbarism” (against the civilization of the West), an appeal to the archaic element of the nation, and the glorification of destructive spontaneity that creates a “new world”. Some authors were marked by the Christian idea (in its Old Believer – like Klyuev – or simply unorthodox, non-conformist form – like Blok and Yesenin). The following statement by Blok of that period, which directly anticipates Spengler’s theses, is characteristic: “… civilized people have become exhausted and have lost cultural values. In such times, the more recent barbarian masses turn out to be the unconscious guardians of culture.” The program of “Scythianism” can be recognized as Blok’s poem “12”, in which Bolshevism and revolution are frankly associated with Christ.
Some purely religious phenomena can also be attributed to “left national Bolshevism” – such as “renovationism” and the “Living Church” project, which were actively promoted by supporters of “Christian socialism” and who saw in the revolution the realization of true Christian ideals. The pagan version of the same eschatological complex was developed by Valery Bryusov, who connected the Revolution not with the Christian, but with the magico-pantheistic renewal, with a return to the theurgy of the ancient pre-Christian cults.
Among the leaders of the young Soviet regime, Isai Lezhnev, who was the main ideologist of National Bolshevism in Russia and the main conductor of the “Smenovekhi” tendencies of the emigrant National Bolsheviks, stood out in particular. Lezhnev proceeded from the principles of the absoluteness of the “folk spirit”, which for him was the highest measure and the main axis of history. If a people comes to a revolution, then this corresponds to its internal needs, although it can use any ideological, conceptual and socio-political tools to fulfill its will. For Lezhnev, revolutionary destruction and upheavals were justified precisely by national necessity and, therefore, carried the highest providential meaning hidden behind external barbarism. The same idea was succinctly expressed by another National Bolshevik, Professor N. Gredeskul, one of the founders of the Cadets Party, who independently came to “Smenovekhovism” independently of Ustryalov. He wrote: “Either Soviet Russia is some kind of degenerate, and then the blame for this falls on the Russian people, and there is no excuse for it, because a whole people should not voluntarily surrender to a gang of robbers, or Soviet Russia is an embryo – the embryo of a new humanity, an attempt by the working people to realize their age-old aspirations.” Lezhnev had no doubt that “Soviet Russia is the germ of a new humanity.”
Another manifestation of “left national Bolshevism” can be called the literature of the so-called “fellow travelers” – B. Pilnyak, K. Fedin, A. Tolstoy, L. Leonov, Vs. Ivanov, V. Lidin, etc. In their work, one can easily find all the motifs characteristic of this phenomenon. For example, here is an excerpt from Boris Pilnyak’s novel. – “Now after the revolution, Russia’s way of life, disposition, cities – went to the 17th century. There was no joy in Russia, but now it is … The revolution, the revolt of the people, did not need – someone else’s. they create the truth – truly Russians truly Russian.” Fellow travelers glorified the national element of rebellion, seeing in Bolshevism the “new Pugachevism”, a primordially Russian, largely archaic phenomenon.
In a sense, Maxim Gorky could also be attributed to the “left national Bolsheviks”, who tried to create a special populist religion, certain aspects of which are almost identical to the ideas of radical German nationalists.
Gorky wrote: “Narodushko is immortal, I believe in his spirit, I confess his strength; he is the beginning of life, one and undoubted: he is the father of all gods, past and future.” Something similar could be found among the theorists of the German Conservative Revolution and even among the Nazis. Gorky is drawn to them by Nietzsche’s fascination…
5. Right National Bolshevism
The second principled side of National Bolshevism can be called “right”, “conservative”. “Right National Bolshevism” proceeds from this logic. – The life of a nation, state, people is a kind of organic process that always keeps its center intact. In all dynamic transformations – including crises, revolutions, rebellions – the dialectic of the “people’s spirit” emerges, which leads to providential goals, regardless of the desires and will of the direct participants in the events themselves. A nation remains equal to itself – like a living organism – at various stages of its existence, and even its illness is sometimes a renewal syndrome, a path to strengthening. The existence of a people is deeper and more absolute than its socio-political history.
Consequently, all changes within the framework of a nation are conservative phenomena , regardless of what external forms they are embodied in. This concept of “right national Bolshevism” was consistently and fully formulated by Nikolai Ustryalov. For Ustryalov, Bolshevism and the revolution were only stages in the history of the Russian nation, moreover, dialectically aimed at overcoming the crisis that alone made the revolution possible. In other words, Ustryalov and other “right-wing National Bolsheviks” saw the “conservative” element not in the very theory of revolution, not in the very essence of “nihilistic gnosticism” (as “leftists”), but only in the constancy of the national context, subordinating the entire social political tools – up to the revolution.
Such Ustryalovsky national-bolshevism was in tune with some “white” ideologists, the left wing of the Cadets, a certain part of the monarchists (Shulgin is the most prominent representative of this trend), and especially the Eurasians, who, in analyzing the revolution, came to almost the same conclusions as the right-wing nationalists. Bolsheviks.
“Right National Bolshevism” differs from “left” (with which it still has many common features) in that it does not consider “revolution”, “barbarism”, “destruction” a self-sufficient value. The element of religious negation – so essential for “Left National Bolshevism” and for its root Gnostic impulse – is alien to the “Right National Bolsheviks”, who saw in the revolution only a temporary transient evil, immediately overcome by the positive of a new national affirmation. It is significant that the “right-wing National Bolsheviks” most often, at the time of the revolution itself and in the civil war, took the side of the “whites”, leaving the “old order” while it was still possible, but as soon as the “white cause” finally lost,, even if it’s new. The “Left National Bolsheviks”, for their part, welcomed in the Bolshevik government not that it was “order”, but precisely that it was essentially ” newunder the influence of the Russian national element and under the pressure of the geopolitical and historical scale of the state, it will turn into “fascist Caesarism”, i.e. into a totalitarian system, focused on upholding Russian national interests in both the political and economic spheres.
“Right National Bolshevism” neglected the most radical aspects of communist ideology, believed that the best thing for Russia would be a return to the market and to the peasant system. But in general, the attitude towards the economy was purely pragmatic (like that of the Nazis): what kind of economic structure is beneficial for the nation, this should be accepted. Ustryalov considered the petty-bourgeois regime to be the most effective, and therefore he enthusiastically welcomed the NEP, which ideologically substantiated and, perhaps, brought it closer, since many party leaders, including Lenin himself, reckoned with Ustryalov’s opinion. Many communist critics of this direction – Zinoviev, Kamenev, later Bukharin – especially emphasized the “NEP” orientation of the Ustryalov ideology, and based their attacks on National Bolshevism precisely on this,
If the most non-conformist elements from non-Bolshevik environments were attracted to the “Left National Bolshevism” – terrorists, neo-populists, Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, extreme sectarians, etc. – then, on the contrary, many hyperconformist types – specialists gravitated towards the “Right National Bolsheviks”. , military personnel (Brusilov, Altfater, Polivanov, etc.), and – oddly enough! – reactionary circles of the clergy and even the Black Hundreds. All of them were united by sympathy for a “strong hand”, “centralism”, an authoritarian regime that was clearly established in the process of strengthening the power of the Bolsheviks. Among the common people, as Agursky emphasizes, there was even a formula: “Who are you for – for the Bolsheviks or for the Communists?” “Bolsheviks” were associated with representatives of the radical Great Russian statehood, with spokesmen for the people’s element, while “communists” were considered, on the contrary, the dogmatists of internationalism and “Westerners”. Many Eurasians joined the extreme right flank of National Bolshevism, keeping their distance from the full and unconditional acceptance of Bolshevism, mainly for religious and ethical reasons.
6. Resonance in the part
National Bolshevik tendencies (both right and left) were the product of the intellectual activity of non-communist theorists. But they had a huge resonance in the CPSU. Moreover, as Agursky convincingly proves, it is precisely the attitude towards National Bolshevism that is the key that helps to understand the “Aesopian” language of intra-party polemics of the entire early Soviet period, which preceded the final strengthening of the sole power in Stalin’s party. If we rely on the formal aspects of the party discussions of those years, then we will find ourselves in an indecipherable chaos of paradoxes and obvious contradictions. Only the selection of National Bolshevism as the main interpretive criterion will allow us to build the whole picture of the ideological struggle of this period. “Left National Bolshevism” impressed Leon Trotsky most of all, and Agursky rightly remarks that it is high time to put the question: “Is Trotsky a lion like that?” It was Trotsky who in his book “Literature and Revolution” speaks very positively about “fellow travelers” and representatives of “Scythianism”, whose pathos fully resonates with the revolutionary spirit of Trotsky himself. In a sense, even the theory of “permanent revolution” and the idea of its “export to the West” is not so contrary to the messianic tendencies of the supporters of “national barbarism”. In addition, purely pragmatically, national Bolshevism allows Trotsky to consolidate his power in the party and in the army, relying on the national spirit and resorting to direct appeals to the patriotic feelings of the Great Russians. Already at this stage, his consistent opponent is Zinoviev, who, however, He does not accept only Great Russian National Bolshevism, but, being the head of the Comintern, he treats German National Bolshevism and even left Nazism with pragmatic sympathy. In addition, Lenin himself took the Smenovekhism extremely positively, although it is difficult to say for sure what was more in this regard – pragmatic Machiavellian calculation or real sympathy for “mystical nihilism.”
“Right National Bolshevism” in turn is associated with the figure of Joseph Stalin, who, as Agursky quite rightly shows, has always been much closer to the pragmatic conservative Ustryalov than to “Scythians” and other revolutionary radicals. And although Stalin, in the inner-party struggle with Trotsky, initially relied on Zinoviev and Bukharin, gradually both of them will be defeated by him precisely by relying on the conservative, right-wing national Bolshevik sector in the party itself, nurtured by Stalin through the “Leninist call” for new national cadres, who retained a connection with the people’s element and a sense of statehood. Stalin took full advantage of the fruits of the Trotskyist-Leninist course towards the acceptance of “Smenovekhovism”, but at the same time managed to destroy his opponents with their own weapons. One gets the impression that through all the stages of Stalin’s career runs this unspoken, but constantly pondered concept – the concept of “right-wing national Bolshevism.” Ustryalov was, as it were, a spokesman for Stalin’s secret thoughts, his confessor in Harbin… Stalin without Ustryalov is simply incomprehensible.
And it is no coincidence that the defeat of the Zinoviev “opposition” was perceived by contemporaries as a complete triumph of Ustryalov’s ideas.
Agursky sees a manifestation of Stalin’s sympathy for the right-wing version of national Bolshevism in Stalin’s especially warm attitude towards Bulgakov and especially his admiration for Bulgakov’s openly national Bolshevik play Days of the Turbins, which he personally visited 15 times. At the end of the play, the white officer Myshlaevsky proves that it is necessary to go over to the Bolsheviks:
Myshlaevsky : I am for the Bolsheviks, but only against the Communists … At least I will know that I will serve in the Russian army. The people are not with us. The people are against us.
Studzinsky : … We had Russia – a great power!
Myshlaevsky : And it will be! And will be!”
This passage contains the quintessence of right-wing national-bolshevik thought.
Agursky also emphasizes that it was Stalin who welcomed the “Sergian” line in Orthodoxy, which compromised with the Soviet regime, and not the renovationist “Christian socialism”, which is closer to “left national Bolshevism”. The definition of renovationism that existed in that era is curious – “church Trotskyism.” In other words, there were also two possibilities in the question of cooperation between the Church and the Bolsheviks – the “revolutionary church” of the Renovationists, trying to embrace and comprehend, “Christianize” “mystical nihilism”, and the strategic compromise of official Orthodoxy, the notes of which can be discerned even before the Metropolitan (later Patriarch) Sergius in the position of Patr. Tikhon after his release from prison.
7. Jewish factor
Agursky considers the problem of the Jews in the context of Bolshevism in a completely unexpected way. From his point of view, the mass participation of Jews in the revolution is explained not so much by their hostility to Orthodox Russia, revenge for the “Pale of Settlement” or groundlessness and Westernism, but by a special eschatological messianic attitude characteristic of the sectarian variety of Judaism (Hasidic or Sabbatist type), which was extremely common among Eastern European Jews. It was precisely the similarity of apocalyptic fanaticism, the commonality of the religious type with the representatives of Russian sectarianism and the intelligentsia’s Gnosticism, that predetermined the role of the Jews in the Bolshevik movement. In addition, Agursky emphasizes that many Jewish Bolsheviks felt themselves to be passionate Great Russian nationalists, for whom the October Revolution destroyed the last barriers to complete merging with the Russian people. Most of them were either baptized and assimilated, or had specific mystical inclinations and belonged to esoteric cabalistic groups.
Of course, this did not apply to everyone. Zinoviev, Kamenev and, in general, almost the entire “Petersburg group” were authentic Western Jews who accepted communism only in its rational, social, dogmatic aspect. In other words, the great-power National Bolshevism of some Jews (Lezhnev, Tan-Bogoraz, Kerdetsev, Pilnyak, and even the early Trotsky, who, by the way, was actively interested in Freemasonry and was a member of the “Great East”) contrasted sharply with the Russophobia of others. But even among the Russian Bolsheviks, this was mirrored in the confrontation between the new Russian leaders of the Stalinist conscription (Molotov, Voroshilov, Kirov, etc.) and Russophobic ethnic Great Russians like Bukharin.
8. National Bolshevism versus National Communism
Agursky reveals an important terminological difference between these two terms. “National Bolshevism” should be called precisely the Great Russian, Eurasian version, which stands for the unification of all the former lands of the Russian Empire into a single centralized socialist state – the USSR. Among the Bolshevik leaders, this unequivocally correlated with the figure of Joseph Stalin.
“National communism”, in turn, was used to designate, on the contrary, the separatist tendencies of the national outskirts of Russia, which sought to use the October Revolution to achieve national independence. Tatar (Sultan-Galiev), Georgian and Ukrainian communists (Skrypnik) were especially strong national communist tendencies. They believed (rightly) that great power imperialist sentiments were too strong in the Bolsheviks, that national Bolshevism in Ustryalov’s formulation was fraught with a new “dictatorship of Moscow.” It is indicative that the most active fighters against separatist national communism were representatives of the same nations, but professing, on the contrary, the Soviet principle of “undividedness” and, accordingly, national Bolshevism. So Stalin and Ordzhonikidze are not for life, and fought to the death against Georgian separatism, etc. Only in Ukraine, in the party, the pro-Moscow line was carried out mainly by ethnic Great Russians, and even more so by assimilated Jews.
This point is very important, since it clearly traces the fundamental difference between the simple adaptation of communist ideas to a specific national context (national communism) and a special universalist line, associated exclusively with Russian eschatologism, messianic and all-human, open to all Eurasian peoples and integration. National Bolshevism thus opens up as a supra-ethnic, imperial, universal reality. This is a fundamental point.
9. Parallel ideology
Agursky ranks many other authors as National Bolshevism – Marietta Shaginyan, Maximilian Voloshin, Osip Mandelstamm, Andrey Platonov, the futurist Rodchenko, Mayakovsky himself, O. Khvolson, M. Prishvin, A. Akhmatova, M. Tsvetaeva, N. Tikhonov, N. .Nikitin, Y.Livshits, K.Chukovsky, etc. If you take a closer look at Soviet literature – right up to Sholokhov, who, however, is not mentioned, however, by Agursky – then almost all it will open up as a variety of national Bolshevik thought, since it is practically impossible to find pure “socialist realism” in culture, with the exception, perhaps, of quite “conditional” works, classified as culture for purely opportunistic reasons. The personality of Marietta Shaginyan, who has become a classic of Soviet literature, should be especially emphasized. Several essential elements of National Bolshevism as a whole come together in her work and intellectual evolution.
Firstly, she was an assimilated Russified Armenian, which fits perfectly into the phenomenon of socialist great power analyzed by Agursky, the carriers of which were most often assimilated foreigners – Georgians, Jews, Armenians, etc. If in the western regions (Ukraine) the Jews were especially active centralists and conductors of promo-Sokovist tendencies in the party, then in the Caucasus – in Azerbaijan and Georgia – it was the Armenians who played an active role. Therefore, the national-Bolshevik choice of Shaginyan is very indicative.
Secondly, before the revolution, Shaginyan was an active member of the religious and philosophical circle of Dmitry Merezhkovsky and Zinaida Gippius, where she got acquainted with the Gnostic worldview, which she became extremely interested in. She begins her spiritual development as a typical representative of the “new religious consciousness.” Shaginyan was one of the first to accept the October Revolution, evaluating it mystically. In the revolution, she saw “the roots of some new Slavophile-Bolshevik consciousness.” After the revolution, she advanced even further along the path of Gnosticism – like the Cainite Gnostics, she began to consider the negative characters of the “Old Testament” – Ham, Cain, Esau, etc. – as carriers of the true spirit and forerunners of Christ, the enemy of the “evil demiurge”-usurper.
Thirdly, Shaginyan was – like Andrey Platonov and academician Vernadsky – a fan of the teachings of Nikolai Fedorov about the “resurrection of the dead”, which is one of the classic themes of operational occultism (1). The same theurgical component of Fedorov’s teaching inspired many Eurasians, especially the “leftists” – Karsavin, Savitsky, the publishers of the Parisian magazine “Eurasia” (Tsvetaeva’s husband, Efron, etc.). Moreover, the heterodox from the Orthodox point of view, but the national and anti-Western doctrine of Fedorov was the ideological focus through which the “right” conservative mystics passed to the acceptance of communism. Fourthly, the writer in her works of art tried to create a “new proletarian mythology”, many moments of which are typical examples of conspiracy consciousness inherent in the traditional mystical-occult way of thinking.
In general, the fate of Marietta Shaginyan is the archetype of national Bolshevik evolution, and in this sense, her figure is paradigmatic for all Soviet National Bolshevism.
Arugsky’s analysis gives rise to such an impressive picture of Soviet society in its deep mythological layers that one gets the feeling that we are in a parallel world, where the entire external boring-dogmatic, pseudo-utilitarian, brutal in its everyday life picture of official Soviet history is resolved in a deep, rich full of metaphysical intuitions and magical incidents of reality. And this “second reality” of Sovietism – from its origins right up to the last days – gives everything meaning, fullness, hermeneutical sharpness. This reality is life-giving, paradoxical, passionate and deep, unlike dry statistics, censored historical reports or shrill dissident criticism, as tedious as Soviet historians listing facts,
Mikhail Agursky is not just a historian with an original scheme. He is a fateful person for Russia. And the symbolism of his path comes through in the fact that he died not in Jerusalem and not in America, but in Moscow, the Third Rome (2) , where he came to the “Congress of Compatriots”. Moreover, the date of death is no less symbolic – August 21, 1991. The last day of the Great Soviet Empire, the last moment when National Bolshevism was still the ruling ideology on the vast Eurasian territory.
(1) On this subject, see A. Dugin’s study “Le complot ideologique du cosmisme russe” in “Politica Hermetica” N 6, Paris, 1992.
(2) The full English version of his book is called “The Third Rome”
5 thoughts on “The spirit of autocracy in the commissars (Genealogy of Russian National Bolshevism) By Alexander Dugin”
Reblogged this on Calculus of Decay .
When did Dugin write this article? It seems like Dugin wrote it during those days when he was still in the NBP around the turn of the 21st century. In these days, it is very rare to encounter something written by him about Russian National Bolshevism.
From my understanding, Russian National Bolshevism was a unique product of circumstances that emanated from the Russian National Essence. Where Marxism-Leninism existed in the foreground of Soviet life, Russian National Bolshevism asserted itself from the background. Soviet Russia seeks to preserve aspects of Czarist Russia whilst jettisoning its worst elements. Such a conclusion is only possible because the two Russias are defined by the same Russian Totality.
What did the Russian National Bolsheviks seek to preserve and promote in Soviet Russia? As Dugin was correct to point out, they sought to provide credible justifications for why Soviet Russia should continue Czarist Russia’s hegemony over its portion of the Eurasian landmass. The Soviet Union provides the Russians a chance to fulfill the same historical mission, albeit under different circumstances. The goal of maintaining Russian world power and prestige remains constant.
This can be discerned from the fact that Dugin described the key differences between Russian National Bolshevism and “National Communism.” A “Russian National Communism” fails to recognize the historical mission of the Russian Totality, preferring to keep Soviet Russia as an isolated, weak, and uninfluential great power. It believes that the Soviet Republics which later constituted the Soviet Union are independent nations divorced from the Russian National Essence. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is still the belief in Russia that the former Soviet Republic will always be within the Russian sphere of influence.
Granted, does Russian National Bolshevism have any relevance in Russian political life? It is hard to tell right now. The world has just entered a new phase of the 21st century. The rest of the 21st century remains unwritten.
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Great analysis, I do not not know when this article was written but if I was to guess I would say sometime in the late 90s to 2000s. I believe I found another Russian web site that had this article and a date on it. Ill try to find that. The site I got the article from was a break off of the National Bolshevik Party or NBP that sided with Alexander Dugin. The site came into existence around the same time as National Bolshevik Front did, which was another break off of the NBP that also sided with Dugin. I am assuming the site and NBF were closely linked because of their shared anti-Limonov tendencies along with the site sharing some of Dugin speeches related to the split.
To answer your second question on the relevance of National Bolshevism in Russia today. I would say its not as relevant as it was in 90s to 2000s but does still exist especially amongst the Russian activist community and even has its own militia in Donbass called the Interbrigades. When comes to the idea of Nationalism plus Bolshevism I would say it is still relevant since the Communist Party of Russian Federation is basically that.
Hope this is helpful to you.
Like I said, it is always rare to encounter something written by Dugin about Russian National Bolshevism. Dugin nowadays does not appear to be interested in the topic anymore since he wrote “Fourth Political Theory” in the late 2000s, which I felt was when he decided that Post-Soviet Russia going forward needs a new ideology that goes beyond the three major ideologies of the 20th century. I have long concluded that 4PT, if it is not “Revolutionary Conservatism” in the spirit of the German Conservative Revolution, it would have to be some form of Eurasianism. It is discernible from Dugin’s later works after “Fourth Political Theory,” where he continued to develop 4PT further such as describing how its ideological subject is the “Ethnos.” A “Eurasian Ethnos” appeals to the Russian Dasein as much as it does to all peoples living throughout the Eurasian landmass.
There is one important reason that I mentioned the timing of when that article was written. I cannot recall if I hear this from Dugin himself or his English translator, Michael Millerman, but I believe that Dugin believed that Russian National Bolshevism is only a partial manifestation of 4PT and not its most complete and truest form. I say this because it is obvious throughout the writing that Dugin was already thinking about 4PT around the turn of the 21st century. The deliberate contrasting between Russian National Bolshevism and “National Communism” is a notable example of this. If the former represents only a step toward 4PT, then the latter should be recognized for what it is: a synthesis of the 2PT and the 3PT.
Moreover, there is yet another reason for why Dugin had to go beyond Russian National Bolshevism in favor of Eurasianism, 4PT, and the Ethnos. I think Dugin also went in that direction in order to appeal to a broader audience. Russian National Bolshevism, like its German counterpart, already has enough historical baggage that would dissuade people on both the Political Left and the Political Right from making any pivots toward 4PT. I mean, can we genuinely expect the Western Political Left to adopt its “Nationalism” or the Western Political Right to adopt its “Bolshevism?” Even though people like us would view National Bolshevism as an entry node to 4PT, most people in the West cannot distinguish it from “National Communism” from a perceptual and psychological level.
Eurasianism, despite coexisting with Russian National Bolshevism around the same time, is much broader and generalizable enough to encompass the entire Eurasian landmass beyond Russia itself. This “Russia” covers a massive swath of the Eurasian landmass and can present itself to the rest of humanity in any conceivable form, from Czarist Russia and Soviet Russia to Post-Soviet Russia and beyond.
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Sorry for the late reply but I would say 4th political theory is definitionally is a successor to the German Conservative Revolution. Also Dugin considers the original Eurasianist to be apart of the Russian Conservative Revolution who also took influence from the German CR such as Karl Haushofer. Also I believe Dugin wrote in the 4th Political Theory that National Bolshevism was a predecessor to the 4th political theory same can be said for the original Eurasianist. I agree as well that Dugin shift directions to appeal to a broader audience and your right national bolshevism just mind boggles most of the American/ western political scene. To be fair though our idea of Conservative Socialism and most other synthesis style politics does too.