Thursday, August 25, 2022

Rising Tide of Ethnic Russian Nationalism Threatens Survival of Russia, Khaldey Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 29 – In a multi-national state like Russia, Aleksandr Khaldey says, ethnic nationalism both of the minority peoples and the state-forming majority one has the potential to threaten the survival of the country not only because it seeks justice only for its own members and defeat for the others but generates its own counter-movements among the latter.

            In Russia today, the Regnum commentator continues, “the virus of ethnic [Russian] patriotism” which in fact is a not so cover form of ethnic nationalism is spreading. If it is not defeated, it will destroy the Russian state just as it has destroylied many others (

            “The multi-national empire of the Russian people with its Orthodoxy gave rise to a tradition of living together with the Islam and Buddhism of the national borderlands. The Political project required addressing the conflict of the state-forming people of the Russians and the inclusion in the imperial structure of other peoples and confessions,” Khaldey says.

            And he continues: “In order that the latter feel comfortable, the stat began to suppress the ethnic Russians by defending the national minorities. Russian chauvinism was long a scarecrow of the Bolsheviks and the liberals who overthrew them.” In all the other post-Soviet states, ethnic nationalism strengthened the state but not so in Russia.

            “In Russia, ethnic nationalism is a threat to all-Russian identity in the absence of the identifier ‘Rossiyanin.’” But that term was compromised by Yeltsin, Khaldey says; and its use became “political suicide.” But what is left? If people are not to be ethnic Russians or non-ethnic Russians, then who are they to be?

            According to the Regnum commentator, “ethnic nationalism now has become populism,” with the masses viewing it as “the criterion of patriotism.” Moreover, the conflict with liberalism has “intensified this passionate feeling and automatically strengthens Russian ethnic nationalism to which there is no clear alternative.”

            Efforts by the authorities to offer conservatism as one have failed, and “ethnic nationalism is step by step occupying the place of the chief ideology of the masses.” Only the social doctrines of liberalism and socialism can oppose it, but liberalism is “compromised and dying.

            There are two kinds of socialism: international class socialism and national socialism. Class socialism has also died and in a world of “capitalism without liberalism it can exist only as national socialism.” In short, “any ethnic nationalism evolves into national socialism.” There is no alternative within this paradigm.

            Khaldey argues that “present-day Russian ethnic nationalism is very similar to the ethnic nationalism of Ukrainians. It is a neo-pagan movement hostile to tradition since tradition is the religion which proclaims the equality of nations before God.” Ethnic nationalism, including Russian ethnic nationalism, is thus imbued with “satanism” and seeks to destroy all other faiths.

            In this way, he continues, “the ethnic nationalism of Russians is a trap for Russian patriots.” They must recognize that “the alternative to ethnic nationalism can be only socialism” and that they don’t see this because “liberalism copies socialism” in appealing to freedom and justice and thus makes socialism suspect in the eyes of patriots.

            Moreover, Khaldey argues, in Russia, the main religion, Orthodoxy, doe not offer a political version of Orthodox socialism because the Russian Orthodox Church views such a phenomenon as “a heresy.” The ROC MP has long been a political institution but it is unwilling to follow that to its necessary conclusion.

            According to Khaldey, “present-day patriots of Russia are divided into three camps: international socialists, ethnic nationalists, and religious traditionalists, among whom there is a common hatred of liberals, socialists and neo-pagan nationalists. The religious traditionalists in turn are divided between the right” – monarchists – “and the left” – Christian socialists.

            “In politics, traditionalists are absent,” he argues. And these divisions have allowed the liberals, even though they are a minority to defeat the patriots one group at a time. The authorities are even unwittingly helping the liberals by introducing the term ethnic Russian in their discussions, a term that is at odds with what the powers in fact want.

            “The problem is,” Khaldey says, “that ethnic nationalists have monopolized the interpretation of Russianness. You will not see them say ‘Russian means Orthodox’ among them. Thus, they are promoting a Soviet identity in Ukraine, the only thing left of a feeling of cultural community with Russia.”

            This is even more dangerous within Russia, he suggests. “Ethnic nationalism there is the temptation of the naïve patriot and those most committed to the disintegration of Russia because it divides not only Russians and non-Russians but also introduces and exacerbates splits with the Russians themselves.” But if the state does not fight it, ethnic nationalism will win.”

            And it does not matter “whose ethnic nationalism it is,” that of the Russian majority or that of minorities like the Tatars, the peoples of the Caucasus or the Buryats. That is because ethnic nationalism is “centered around the theme of justice” but justice only for members of the in group and not for others.

            Its criterion is “quantitative not qualitative” but soon “quantity will pass over to quality” and there will arise “correct Ukrainians, correct Germans, correct Russians and so on. The incorrect will be subject to repression, first ideologically, then organizationally and finally physically. The world has seen this many times in the past.”

            “Administrative suppression of ethnic patriotism is a way of losing to it,” Khaldey says. “It is a recognition of its correctness and power,” something that is especially the case when elites are divided. If Russian patriots fail to see this and move from administrative to ideological means of defeating ethnic nationalism, they too will lose.

            He concludes: “we will either defeat the virus of ethnic patriotism or it will infect and destroy us. It has already destroyed more than one state.” And the only salvation is for Russian patriots to join Christianity and socialism to “defeat neo-pagan nationalism” now spreading among Russians.

            Only by doing so, Khaldey says, “will Russians be able to survive historically and be able to resist the temptations of godless ethnicity.”

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