Sunday, April 27, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Needs a New Anti-Cosmopolitan Campaign, Russian Historian Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 27 – One of the darkest pages in Soviet and indeed Russian history was the anti-cosmopolitan campaign Stalin unleashed against everything Western in 1949, a campaign that ultimately focused on the Jews whom the Soviet dictator was planning to deport beyond the Urals at the time of his death.

                Even those who remain partisans of Stalin and even those who have in recent weeks compiled lists of “national traitors” have generally refrained from praising this campaign because of the emotions it generates if not unfortunately because of the vicious immorality on which it was based.

            But now a Russian historian, Aleksandr Vdovin, a member of the Russian Academy of Humanitarian Sciences, has celebrated Stalin’s anti-cosmopolitan campaign and argued that the Russian state must renew its struggle against “the propaganda of cosmopolitanism,” something he say is “a threat to the state” (

            In a sprawling 5500-word essay, Vdovin talks about the threat that he says cosmopolitanism and its accompanying ideas of the dominance of the West and the denigration of all Russian traditions and values posed at the end of World War II and that he argues it poses now.

            He praises Stalin for recognizing this danger, “unmasking its ‘reactionary essence,’ and fighting against it between 1945 and 1953.  He argues that “the struggle against cosmopolitanism in the USSR was directed not only at US pretensions to world rule under new slogans” but also at the attempt of the West to destroy “Soviet patriotism and replace it with ‘all-human values.”

            After the death of Stalin, however, he continues, the campaign was stopped, and a reaction set it, one that involved “the struggle for the rehabilitation of those ‘cosmopolitans’ who had suffered in the course of the campaign” and the denunciation of those who had carried it out.  That opened the way for the revival of cosmopolitan ideas among Soviet-era dissidents.

            The Russian nationalist historian discusses several of these, including  Academician Andrey Sakharov. He then argues that the situation became even worse with the collapse of the Soviet Union when various “democrats” felt so emboldened that they could even call for the Western “colonization” of Russia as the only way forward.

            Among those he names in that regard – and gives extensive quotations from their writings-- are V. Korepanov, A. Ivanov of “Kuranty,” Valeriya Novodvorskaya, Academician Yu. Pivovarov, Yevgeny Yasin, Gavril Popov, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, O. Osetinsky, A. Chumakov, and Ye. Fedorov.

None of these nor any of the others in the “cosmopolitanized Russian intelligentsia sees any dangers in globalization or the new world order,” Vdovkin argues. Indeed, they are prepared to subordinate Russia to it even to the point of allowing parts of the Russian state to fall under the control of other countries.

He says that “Russian historians and citizens of the Russian Federation must actively oppose such attitudes and proposals, and to that end, he says that the country’s nationality policy must be radically revised to put “stress on the state-forming role of the [ethnic] Russian people, Orthodoxy, the union of Soviet and Russian history, and great power values.”

What is “required” now, Vdovkin says, “is the cleansing of the historical inheritance from Russophobia, the development of measures for overcoming the negative consequences of the divided state of the [ethnic] Russian people, the legalization of the proportional representation of all peoples in the organs of power, and a shift away from asymmetrical federalism.”

Moscow’s policy must be based on “the axiom” that “only the preservation of the state-forming role of the Russian people, the strengthening of its unity and patriotism, and the reliable defense of the interests of its national development” will open the way for realization of Pushkin’s dream of a country in which “the grandchildren of the Slavs, the Finns, the Tungus and the Kalmyks, and all other peoples who have populated Russia from time immemorial willharmoniously develop and mutually enrich one another.”

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