Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Medinsky History Textbook Codification of National Bolshevist Neo-Sovietism, Savvin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 10 – Vladimir Medinsky’s history textbook represents “the first official codification of the ideology of neo-Sovietism” in the only possible form such an effort can take – as a collection of myths and epic tales that makes National Bolshevism and Stalinism central to the Kremlin and the Russian people, Dimitry Savvin says.

            The editor of the Riga-based conservative Russian Harbin portal says that the new textbook follows the classic pattern of such myths, pointing to the existence of a golden age that has passed not because of its own internal contradictions but because of the actions of hostile outsiders (

            In this case, Savvin continues, the golden age is that of Stalin’s time in the Kremlin. It was followed by leaders who strayed from his past and whose positive efforts were undermined by a West committed to its destruction. But now, the golden age has a new defender – Vladimir Putin – who is committed to restoring that golden age.

            In some respects, Medinsky’s volume plays the role of Stalin’s Short Course, but with the major exception that Stalin’s work was embedded in a larger and more ramified ideological system while Medinsky’s is not. As a result, it is “eclectic in composition” and cannot count on people fitting it into a larger ideological world.

            Thus, the real model of Medinsky’s work, Savvin argues, is not so much the Short Course of Stalin’s times as it is the works of Nikolay Ustryalov, who in the 1920s created the concept of National Bolshevism, “in which, in his opinion, must be combined elements of Bolshevism and fascism.”

            To a large degree, “National Bolshevik tendencies began to appear already in Stalin’s times.” But now this ideology in fact is becoming the ruling ideology of Putin’s, “the logical result of a century-long development of the Soviet system,” the Harbin editor says.

            Among the characteristics of National Bolshevism found in Medinsky’s work, Savvin continues, are the following: Soviet identity, statism, anti-westernism, anti-capitalism, state control of the economy, opposition to any independent civic activity, and opposition to all kinds of nationalism, Russian and non-Russian alike.

            Medinsky denies the ethnocultural uniqueness and identity of all groups. Instead, he lumps together as Russians all those regardless of ethnicity or religion who are loyal to the Russian state. And thus, like his Soviet predecessors, Medinsky’s vision is anti-Russian as well as anti-national more generally.

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