Monday, January 31, 2022

Russian Nationalism Must Become Russian National Socialism, Ivannikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 11 – Russian nationalism has failed as a movement because it has accepted Western understandings of nations and capitalist competition, Sergey Ivannikov says; and it can only succeed by stressing the importance of the state and collective unity on the basis of that state rather than on some ephemeral nation.

            That is becoming increasingly clear, given that the capitalist world of which Russia is a part, is opening the country to ever more immigrants, something that will mean that ethnic Russians as now defined will be a minority in their own country sometime in the 2030s, the Moscow commentator says (

            And the only way forward for those who now define themselves as Russian nationalists is to reject Western concepts, focus on the communal nature of the Russian people, and adopt Russian national socialism as their goal, something that will unite Russians as a civilization based on language and values rather than as a mere nation based on imagination.

            To do otherwise, Ivannikov says, is to fall into a trap laid by the West, reducing Russianness to a mere ethnic category and thus accepting a far more subordinate position in the new division of the world and a far lower standard of living among its people than Russia and its people deserve.

            In a nearly 10,000-word essay on the problems of national genesis among peoples who were not part of the initial rise of nationalism in Western Europe two centuries ago, the Russian commentator says that nationalism elsewhere has been used to further the values of the West rather than to defend the nations who accept it, falsely seeing in it a defense of themselves.

            That has been especially true in Russia after 1991 and is one of the reasons why Russians accustomed to larger tasks and greater unity than other peoples have largely rejected it and put Russian nationalism as conventionally defined in Western terms on the road to oblivion possibly within the next decade or so.

            To advance genuine Russian interests, Ivannikov argues, Russians must define themselves as a civilization and set themselves two tasks, the ingathering of all those who share their language and culture, however much they deny that, and the improvement of the standard of living in ways that will not compromise those values.

            In his view, the capitalist demand for ever more Central Asian and Caucasian immigrants to help the rich get richer is a threat; and as a result, he argues the only salvation for those who call themselves Russian nationalists and indeed for the Russian nation is to redefine themselves as Russian national socialists and thus defeat both the capitalist and Western threats to Russia.

            Ivannikov’s argument is disturbing, but it is noteworthy because it provides a kind of road map of how those who hope to come to power after Putin may seek to combine the current Kremlin leader’s aggressive imperialism with a new stress on anti-capitalism, a combination that could prove to be extremely potent.

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