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Roots of Radicalism

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The Nationalist Vision

STEVE BRADY

NOW THAT COMMUNISM is, as an intellectual force if not yet as an organizational entity, dead in Russia, what alternative do the Russians have to leap from that frying pan into the Capitalist fire which would consume not their national freedom but their racial and hence national existence?

That alternative must, obviously, be some form of racial nationalism. But it must not, or should not, be merely somebody else's imported racial nationalism, any more indeed than ours in Britain should be. An ideology which places at its heart the nation above all else should shun cultist borrowings from other lands. Not from xenophobia, but because if nationhood is central to our thought, it follows that each nation's nationalism must reflect its own national, racial, and cultural heritage.

Whilst there are universal ideas, centred on the genetic origin of human social nature and on the desirability of maximising human cultural diversity and spurning economic materialism, each land and people must develop its own particular nationalism, something uniquely its own.

Does Russia have the basis for this? Is there a Russian equivalent of Chesterton, Belloc, William Morris, Jack London, Bob Blatchford, Jorian Jenks, Douglas Reed and all the other founders of our British Nationalist creed? The answer is yes, as Russians are themselves discovering as they emerge blinking from the Marxian darkness.

The foundation of Russian racial nationalism lies in the first half of the 19th Century with the intellectual movement called the Slavophiles. Worried by the growing influence of Western Capitalism and various Western internationalist doctrines among which Marxism was eventually to predominate, the Slavophiles looked to Russia's own national traditions for a radical alternative to both.

They found it in the ancient Russian agricultural commune, the mir or obshchina, comprising a group of family households communally owning their land and farming it as a co-operative. Each household owned the profits of its own labour, but all co-operated in major efforts such as bringing in the harvest or clearing new land for cultivation. This mode of ownership grew out of the Russian landscape and climate, vast forests and a short growing season.

Indeed, as Professor Richard Pipes, the leading Harvard historian of Russia observed "On the face of it, nature intended Russia to be a decentralized society formed of a multitude of self-contained and self-governing communities". The need to unite against the perennial Asiatic threat forced her to develop otherwise.

PROPER PATH

But now, the Slavophiles argued, with that threat banished, Russia could resume her proper path. They envisaged a land of self-sufficient rural communes, with industry decentralised as promysly – traditional village cottage industries, a vision more practical with today's technology than it was 150 years ago. A land united by the spirit of sobornost, communality, into a Russian folk-community, imbued with the morality and traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church.

They also supported the arteli, workers' co-operatives set up amongst groups of craftsmen and artisans and which had survived to their day. They argued that Westernization brought 'alienation' – a word popularised by the German philosopher Hegel, later used by Marx – and that Russians should seek to immerse themselves in what leading Slavophile theorist Alexis Khomiakov called the "living knowledge" (zhivoe znanie) of the Russian folk.

Photo section

Scroll down for rest of article after the images

The way forward – a workers' co-op cafe. A cut above Moscow's drab average eatery.

Russia's heroic defenders, past and present:

Sleeping unforgotten beneath the snow lie hundreds of thousands who fell in the heroic defence of Leningrad – 'The Nine Hundred Days'

Heroic White Warriors stand unsleeping guard over the Eternal Flame of the War Memorial in Leningrad's Victory Square.

Heirs to a proud martial tradition: soldiers march to take up guard in Red Square.

A Moscow cinema extols not Hollywood hype but the Motherland's defenders: the film remembers Stalingrad.

The heart and destiny of Russia – a typical country village north of Moscow.

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”. One of the cars below, outside a Leningrad hotel, belongs to a member of the working class, the other to a member of the Party of the working class. Guess which is which?

They also argued that the authority of the State (vlast) should be limited, and in particular that the communes working the land, the Russkakaya zemlya, for which they had an almost mystical reverence, should be free to run their own internal affairs. Serfdom and landlordism should be abolished and the land given back to the people. Capitalism must not come to Russia, nor must State-monopoly Socialism.

They were revolutionaries, opposed to the Tsarist regime which they believed had, in the reign of Peter the Great, by imposing Western ideas alien to Russia, severed the mystical link between the Tsar and the people. The Frenchification of the Russian aristocracy under Peter's successors, which severed the link between nobility and the people and their culture, was also resented. They believed passionately in the Russian-ness of Russia.

And, of course, like almost every Russian apart from the Marxists, they bitterly resented the role of the parasitic, cosmopolitan alien Jewish moneylender and rent-collector.

RODINA

"The emotional force of the word Rodina for ... Russians is untranslatable. By the dictionary it means native land, mother country, homeland, land of one's birth. Yet all of these fall short of the evocative power of the word in Russian."

"Rodina to Russians has the ring of ... that singing devotion to country, unreasoning, unquestioning, unstinting, the way a mother loves her smallest child and the child blindly returns that love, a constancy and homage that makes the individual forget all the petty nuisances, harrassments, inefficiencies, and entanglements of daily life, and proclaim his loyalty, take pride in it, merge himself somehow with the nation and find mere comfort, confidence and a sense of community that nowadays eludes Americans and many other Westerners. [Rodina] evokes the blood attachment of Russians to their native soul and to each other. It captures the profound spiritual meaning that the nation has for the Russian psyche".

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Moscow columnist Hadrick Smith, 1976.


British nationalists will of course see the marked similarity between the Slavophiles' ideas and those of our own G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. Indeed the Russians seem to have hit upon ruralism and distributism independently, and almost a century before our thinkers did.

It is probably true that the Utopian medieval Russia of peasant communes, before the Mongols came, is probably a rose-tinted perspective comparable with the delightful but almost wholly mythical medieval Catholic Europe of Belloc's Servile State. But such criticisms miss the point: whether a society ever actually existed in the past in no way precludes it existing in the future, and indeed we must go forward, not back, in any case.

Russian nationalism took its next big step forward in 1869 with the publication of the eminent biologist N.Y. Danilevsky's Russia and Europe. To the internal Slavophile dream of a ruralist Russian Orthodox folk-community of commune and co-op Danilevsky added an external mission - Pan-Slavism. It was Russia's duty, he argued, not only to build such a uniquely Russian civilization but to unite within it her racial kinsfolk in a great Federation of the Slavic Nations, many of which at the time had to be liberated either from Western Capitalism as represented by the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires or from the brutal Islamic tyranny of the Ottoman Turk. Indeed, Constantinople, wellspring of Russian Orthodox religion and culture, must as a sacred mission be set free from the Turk, a mission still sadly uncompleted.

This in turn led Russian Nationalism to link up intellectually with some Tsarists, who had long upheld the ancient doctrine of Russia as the 'Third Rome' (after Rome and Constantinople, both fallen), whose mission it was to unite the Orthodox Slavic world. A distinctive Russian Nationalism, opposed alike to the Capitalism being introduced by the reactionary Tsarist elements and to the Communism spreading amongst elements of the intelligentsia, notably those denied by blood membership in any truly Russian folk-community, was emerging.

FINAL STRAND

It was in the first decade of the present Century that the final strand was added, with the melding of modern science and philosophy with the essentially hitherto religious ideology of the Russian Nationalist. This was the work of P.D. Struve. In the 1890's he had been the leading theoretician of the Marxist Social Democrats, but by 1905 he was firmly in the patriotic camp. Avowing his intellectual debt to Nietzsche and Darwin, Struve argued that Man had an inborn "ineradicable need" to belong to an entity wider and longer lived than him or her self, and that only an ethnically, culturally and linguistically cohesive nation could satisfy this - an interesting presaging of the modern social-biological thought popularised by Robert Ardrey.

Struve supported the idea of liberating Constantinople and of a Pan-Slavic federal entity. However, he argued that this must be loose, with Russia as arbitrator and strongest defender from common enemies rather than overlord. He favoured independence, within such a loose Slavic grouping, for Poland and total independence for the non-Slavic Finns (both Poland and Finland were then Russian provinces).

Struve contributed to the Russian Nationalist journal Moskovskiy Yezhenedel'nik, which in the years before the First World War voiced prophetic concerns about the menace of "Panislamism", seventy years before the ayatollahs, and whose editor. Prince S.N. Trubetskoy, an ardent Slavophile, also held office in the Russian Government. Indeed, S.D. Sazonov, Russian Foreign Minister between 1910 and 1916, echoed the Nationalists' racial concern about Islam and the danger to Russia directly, and the White Race indirectly, should China become a united military power.

After 1917, Russian Nationalism went very deep underground in its homeland. "We are anti-patriots" proclaimed V.I. Lenin in 1915, proving it by packing his regime with a rabble of cosmopolitans whose bogus identities concealed such un-Slavic offerings as Apfelbaum, Greenbaum and Bronstein. It was not until the regime was in dire danger, in late 1941, that the pragmatic Stalin revived Russian Nationalism, rescuing the Orthodox Patriarch from a labour camp to broadcast with him on the radio. After that, patriotism was no longer a dirty word, and Nationalism began to re-emerge.

By the mid-1960's Slavophile ideas had surfaced inside the Communist Party among the Russiti around Moscow Young Communist League leader Valery Skurlatov, who in 1965 circulated a manifesto speaking of the "cosmic mission of the Russian race", "the voice of the blood", "the duty to our ancestors" and demanding the sterilization of Russian women who "give themselves to non-Whites." Russian Nationalism also spread in the secret society Rodina, Motherland, within the Army.

Now Gorbachev appears to have lifted the lid, Russian Nationalism is emerging once again. Journals openly advocating a racial nationalist way forward for the Russian people abound and many of these are openly on sale on Moscow streets, and from the pre-glasnost "historical/cultural association" Pamyat, Memory, is emerging a new National Patriotic Front.

Pamyat/NPF leader Dimitri Vassiliev argues that "In the past we Russians fulfilled our duty to the White peoples of Europe. We kept the Tartars and the Turks at bay. And Europe did not always thank us for it. Today the same thing is going on. Britain and France are being colonised by Africans. Indians and Arabs. Native people are being driven out, just as we Russians are, by an Asian invasion." (Ominously, large numbers of Vietnamese 'guest workers' are being shipped in to European Russia as cheap labour - a taste of Russia's fate under Capitalism).

If the new Russian Nationalists can rediscover, as they are doing, their Slavophile ideological roots, their prospects look set fair. The Russians are a deeply patriotic, race-conscious people, profoundly imbued with a sense of national identity. As one would expect from social-biological considerations: nations are stuck together by a perceived outside threat and Russia, geopolitically positioned on an open plain with no natural defences, has faced more perceived outside threats than any other White nation.

Most Russians detest the Asiatics – their history is one of endless conflict with Asia – and are aware of the un-Russian nature of other influential ethnic elements. Provided the Russian Nationalists can build on their own political heritage a modernised vision of the Slavophiles dream of a ruralist, co-operative, distributist Russia, and thus offer a credible alternative to the Capitalism that otherwise looms over Russia and the reactionary neo-Stalinist Communism that fear thereof has driven some Russians to espouse, there is every chance that they will prevail.

At any rate, the race is on for the soul of the biggest, and in many ways one of the greatest, White nations. If the patriots win, Russia's ancient dream of bringing to the nations her own unique, inspiring vision may yet be realised.