Staunton, September 18 – Russian nationalism today is at the very earliest stages of its development because those who identify with it remain trapped in the paradigm promoted by the so-called Russian Party within the CPSU in the 1970s and view the defense of Sovietism as the basis of their ideas rather than as completely antithetical to them, Dimitry Savvin says.
Instead of developing as nationalisms did in other former Soviet republics, Russian nationalism, the editor of the Riga-based Harbin portal says, has remained trapped in that worldview in large part because Russian nationalists lack the historical memory needed to overcome and go beyond it (harbin.lv/neizlechennye-yazvy-russkogo-natsionalizma).
That in turn reflects the fact that Russian nationalism does not have institutions like the OUN in Ukraine or the Roman Catholic Church in Lithuania which kept national traditions alive under the Soviets or the kind of leaders like Bandera or Stetsko who influenced not only their own generation but future ones.
And because of these two shortcomings, Russian nationalism also lacks the cadres of people who can help shape each rising generation. “Everywhere except Russia,” Savvin argues, there are people who were part of the earlier movements who remain influential to the present day.
This in turn means that Russian nationalism has no common myth or program, that those who identify as its followers agree on nothing except that Russia has been a victim and are ready to have supporters of Nicholas II march alongside those who murdered the Imperial Family and sought to eliminate Russian traditions.
What is one view now is this: Russian nationalism today descends not from the White Movement or Krasnov and Vlasov or from the Russian nationalists of the post-war period but rather from “the still born ‘Russian party’ within the CPSU” which sought to combine in “hybrid fashion” Soviet patriotism and the values of historic Russia.
That attempt meant that “’the Russites’” within the party and beyond “never rose to the level of national communists which were able to successfully come to power in certain republics of the USSR.” Indeed, the last serious effort to create “a nationally Russian communist party” ended in 1949.
According to Savvin, “the lack of experience of widescale political work, experience which the national communists in Lithuania had, for example, deprived [the Russian nationalist wannabes] of the chance to form a comparatively adequate understanding of Russian national interests in practice.”
After 1991, some Russian nationalists were able to partially overcome these shortcomings by focusing on the Russian nationalist underground in the USSR and in the emigration. But that effort failed largely because “’national interests’ for ‘the Russian party’ in the CPSI were always equated with the interests of the Soviet state.”
Today, because of the neo-Sovietism of the Putin regime, those who style themselves Russian nationalists are becoming ever more trapped in that paradigm than even were those of the 1990s. In short, the Riga-based Russian conservative commentator says, the situation has deteriorated over the last 30 years.
Russian nationalism today, Savvin continues, must be viewed as being at the very earliest stage of its development, not because there were not important developments in the past but because today’s nationalists are ignorant of them and have not been willing to move beyond the limits of Soviet patriotism.
There are many possible ways forward international experience suggests, that of Ataturk in Turkey, Sun Yat-sen in China, and nationalist leaders in Greece and Spain to name but three. But there are several steps that all Russian nationalists must take if Russian nationalism is to become something serious.
On the one hand, they must recognize that Sovietism and Russian nationalism cannot be equated but are antithetical. And on the other, they must reject things like “the cult of ‘the Great Fatherland War’” which the Kremlin today is promoting. They must oppose not only the Soviet past but those in the Kremlin who are seeking to bring it back.