Staunton, May 17 – One of the most remarkable ideological developments in Russia during the time of the pandemic is KPRF head Gennady Zyuganov’s final conversion to a full-throated version of Russian nationalism and, in the absence of resistance from below, his party into “the Black Hundreds on the left,” Aleksandr Stepanov says.
Compared to other communist leaders since at least the death of Stalin, Zyuganov has been willing to play with Russian nationalist themes, especially those involving fears of Russian demographic collapse which can be presented in class terms as well; but he has been resisted by those who remember what the KPRF is supposed to stand for.
Stepanov, a more traditional communist, points to Zyuganov’s release of a 14,000-word statement about why the communist party must do more than be fellow travelers to Russian nationalists but must become a key part of their movement given what the KPRF leader says are threats to the Russian nation (forum-msk.org/material/news/16455393.html).
According to Stepanov, a regular commentator on the Forum-MSK portal, Zyuganov has gone so far that even “the CIA supports his position,” a reflection of the radical changes in the KPRF leader and his party rather than in the American special service. (For the complete text of Zyuganov’s explanation of his change of heart, see kprf.ru/party-live/cknews/194458.html.)
Over the last 15 years or so, there have been various attempts to raise “’the Russian question’ in the KPRF,” Stepanov says, “but they were met with silent resistance by a multitude of people, including some first secretaries who still understood something of leftist ideology” and were not willing to surrender in this way.
But now with Zyuganov leading the way, the party is being fed with a mix of the notions of Berdyaev, Clausewitz, Gudinin, Walter Shubart, and Matrona of Moscow all covered with superficial references to the classics of Marxism. “It is surprising,” Stepanov continues, that Zyuganov makes no reference to Ivan Ilin. But that will likely come in the future.
The KPRF chief’s words and the willingness of many in his party to accept them shows two things. On the one hand, it shows the growing power of Russian nationalist discourse, including the ideas of some of the most anti-communist Russian and German thinkers, in Russia today.
And on the other, it highlights the fact that Zyuganov and the KPRF are more interested in remaining a systemic party supporting and supported by Putin than they are in reflecting the values that informed both until so recently. Being for national unity is fine, Stepanov concludes; but being for unity with German and Russian fascists isn’t.
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