What differs Russia from the West? Historically, the most fundamental distinction is confessional. As is well known, more than a thousand years ago Russia accepted the eastern branch of Christianity, Orthodoxy, which had far-reaching consequences for Russia's entire history. Being considered the only pure and true religion, Orthodoxy was used as an argument against the secularised and superficial West, where Catholicism was based on the rationalist heritage of pagan Rome and Protestantism was conducive to excessive individualism.
Actually, Russia separated itself from the mainstream of Christian civilisation that flowed westwards. As a consequence, Russia played no part in Europe's classical heritage represented chiefly by Roman law, i.e. a rationalised legal system. Instead of feodalism Russia had a patrimonial rule" and Gemeinschaft instead of Gesellschaft prevailed.
This being the case, in pre-revolutionary Russia, the process of modernisation and secularisation of state and society was much slower and less influential than in most West European countries where religion had been separated from politics at an early stage. The Russian Church was never an independent institution as it had from the very beginning placed itself more docilely than any other church at the disposal of the state. `For Byzantine theorists it was axiomatic that the church could not subsist without the protection of the state'.
The relationship between church and state was symbiotic: being upheld by the secular authority the spiritual one supported the former and its policy. In a word, as the Emperor's will was justified by religion, a real secularisation of state power was excluded. The inherent conservatism of the Orthodox Church made it perceive church tradition, not the Gospels, as the ultimate authority. Even in our days, this traditionalist thinking sometimes manifests itself within the Russian Orthodox Church as well as in the rhetoric of some national patriot thinkers.
In the nineteenth century then, there was a continuous exchange of ideas between Slavophilism and German nationalism. The influence of German idealistic romanticism on original Slavophilism in general has already been mentioned. More specifically, Johann Gottfried Herder's philosophy of history (see title-word Herder in Flew 1979, 135) inspired the Slavophiles
to emphasise the organic character of development and society. Yet the Russian idea was not at all a copy of German national thought ('Teutonophilism') as it was coloured by Orthodoxy and, consequently,still represented traditionalism.
The degeneration of the Russian idea towards the advocacy of imperial chauvinism and Panslavism, and outright anti-Semitism during the three last decades of the nineteenth century had its approximate nationalist parallel in Germany. According to A. Dugin, `the national archetype of the German soul and the geopolitical position of the Germans make them like the Russians most predisposed to the ideology of the ‘Third Way’.
The intellectual interaction between both currents of thought manifested itself in reciprocal influences. Among the thinkers belonging to the second generation of Slavophilism, Nikolai Danilevsky (1822-85), the chief theoretician of Panslavism, deserves to be mentioned as having anticipated geopolitical thinking. In his magnum opus, Rossiia i Evropa (Russia and Europe) of 1869, he advanced a theory of cultural types of civilisations as the main divisions of mankind. Of these different cultural types conceived by him as `self-contained and self-sufficient entities, the `Slavic cultural-historical type' was considered superior.
Paralleling the German nationalists' idea of reuniting all Germans by means of seizing all the territories that they inhabited, Danilevsky preached a Slavic Anschluss of sorts. He advocated the repossession of Constantinople, the capital of the former Greek-Orthodox Byzantine Empire, and urged the Slavs to liberate themselves from Turkish and German domination and join Russia in forming one great Slavic empire headed by the Russian tsar. Danilevsky became `the most eloquent spokesman of the believers in a Russian imperial mission.
In Danilevsky's writings, there are some remarkable signs of modern secularised political thought contrasting with his usual Orthodox traditionalist argumentation. He actually advocates a policy of strength in declaring that Russia could only fulfill her historical mission after transforming herself into a giant superpower. The alleged `spiritual decay' of the West as well as Russia's alleged national interests served for Danilevsky as a moral justification of a strategy of imperial expansionism. In plain language, in his argumentation, Orthodox messianism was replaced by geopolitical thinking.
The third generation of Slavophilism that appeared at the turn of the twentieth century professed nothing but unbridled anti-Semitism. When Danilevsky had been an exponent of the confrontation between Russia and a `rotten West', the new nationalists presented a more simplified view, that of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.
Formally, until 1917, Russia's foreign policy was coloured by this Orthodox messianism as seen in part 1 of Russia’s New Map. Actually, the Russian tsars were realists and resorted more and more to a pragmatic policy of furthering Russia's own imperial interests dictated by geography. Expansionism served the purpose of creating new and safer borders. This could be seen in the drive towards the north and the east where Russia got sea borders in the sixteenth century. Later, the need of warm-water ports became more and more pressing to meet strategic trade interests. This implied expansion to the west and the south. Peter I and Catherine II made Russia a Baltic and a Black Sea power in the eighteenth century. Russia waged numerous wars against Turkey in order to conquer Constantinople and get access to the Mediterranean. Russia failed to achieve this goal as Turkey was backed up by the European great powers France and England who did not want Russia growing too strong.
However that may be, in Russia the germs of geopolitical thinking had been born behind the scenes of official religious messianism. During the second half of the nineteenth century, with the emergence of imperial statist nationalism, the real geopolitical motives for Russia's continuing territorial expansionism were more or less openly admitted, as Danilevsky's writings testify to . In a word, instead of serving as God's instrument in history, Russia had to further its own imperial interests exclusively and accomplish her own geopolitical mission in a Darwinist world of struggle for survival. This new thinking resulted in two inter-related geopolitical doctrines - the Russian imperial idea and panslavism. The former emanating from the establishment proclaimed legitimism and traditional conservatism. In a way, this idea proclaimed already self-sufficiency, more or less. Panslavism for its part, was a movement among national-minded thinkers and publicists like Danilevsky who pleaded for a great Slavic empire headed by the Russian tsar.
Under the Soviet regime 1917-91, these geopolitical considerations continued to serve as the basic principle in foreign policy. Stalin's spectacular great power policy during and after World War 11 is a good case in point. In fact, his geopolitical orientation was a synthesis of the old imperial idea (autarchy) and panslavism . The former manifested itself in Stalin's policy of isolationalism, the latter in the incorporation of Eastern Europe into the Soviet bloc, the so-called socialist camp. In Soviet propaganda, however, expansionism was never called by its proper name - geopolitics was officially considered a reactionary bourgeois doctrine - but explained as being part of the international class struggle as promoting the cause. Thereby Soviet power policy could be justified as promoting the cause of the international proletarian movement.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Danilevsky's geopolitical ideas were to be paralleled and even surpassed by the German national socialists' geopolitical projects. The aforementioned semi-fascist Russian extreme right is often called the `Black Hundred' (chernosotentsy). The name refers to the paramilitary groups that belonged to the Union of Russian People (Soiuz Russkogo Naroda), the most important rightist party that had emerged before the first Duma elections in 1906.
The new message of the Black Hundred was that the fundamental confrontation of the contemporary world was `Russia versus Jewry'. The idea of a Jewish conspiracy against Russia was gaining ground among Russian nationalists mainly as a result of the appearance of the notorious
Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Protokoly Sionskikh Mudretsov), an infamous forgery attributed to the tsarist secret service, the 'Okhranka'.
The anti-Jewish dimension of the Russian idea had already become a key issue in Russian domestic politics by the 1880s. However, this phenomenon differed from the traditional confessional anti-Semitism that had been cultivated from time immemorial by the Russian Orthodox Church. The new kind of anti-Semitism had come from the crisis-stricken Germany, where it served as a backlash movement against the accomplished political and economic Emancipation of the Jews.
Among the German modern anti-Semites, there were the radicals who represented racial biology, and the moderates who wanted to oust the Jews from public service (ibid.). The latter category was to become predominant among Russian rightists after the revolutions in 1917 when the Russian Jews got access to government offices.
As an ideological phenomenon, the Black Hundred was `a halfway house between the old-fashioned reactionary movements of the nineteenth century and the right-wing populist (fascist) parties of the twentieth' . Adhering to Orthodoxy and monarchism, its members were traditionalists, whereas, as one of the leaders of the movement years later declared, the spirit of this Russian movement was almost similar to that of national socialism . The view that there was a coincidence of interests between Jewish revolutionaries and Jewish capitalists, in fact, anticipated one of the main planks of nazism.(1)
The Black Hundred advocated direct action against the Jews, the alleged enemies of the Russian people. In plain language, the Russian semi-fascists initiated pogroms and eliminated Jewish deputies to the Duma. The state subsidised these activities, which were carefully coordinated with the efforts of the secret police (the okhranka) to quench the socialist and liberal opposition.
It should be noted that the Black Hundred as a political phenomenon does not belong to history only. In 1990, the aforementioned Union of Russian People (Soiuz Russkogo Naroda) was refounded at a meeting in the House of the Soviet army in Moscow. Furthermore, a paper by the name Chërnaia sotnia (Black Hundred) appeared since 1994 in one of the towns of the Moscow region.
In tsarist Russia before 1917, all the extreme right organisations described the socialists and the liberals as a destructive anti-Russian force. They referred to the large proportion of Jews in the upper echelons of the opposition parties - particularly within the Menshevik and Kadet parties. The subsequent rise of Jews to prominence within the Bolshevik party was seen as an additional proof of a Jewish conspiracy.
The exchange of ideas between German and Russian rightist movements was to culminate in the export of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Germany in 1918. By that the Russian semi-fascist nationalists repaid their debt for the German anti-Semitic doctrine that had been conveyed to them in the 1880s.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Russian rightist émigrés cultivated the notion that the October revolution had been the work of the Jews, who now were the new masters of Russia. In Germany, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the idea of Bolshevism's identity with World Jewry became a major component in the anti-Jewish arsenal of nazi propaganda.
After the Bolsheviks' seizure of power and their victory in the civil war, the extreme right could openly continue its activities only abroad, in the Russian émigré community. In this study, the role of rightist Russian émigrés in Germany before and after Hitler's Machtübernahme (seizure of power) deserves to be dwelt upon in the first hand. However, émigré movements in other countries will be taken in account when related to nazi Germany.
In the early 1920s, the proponents of the Black Hundred ideology exchanged views with German extreme nationalists. As a complete ideology, national socialism was still in the making. While the Russian rightist émigrés adapted themselves to the ideological situation in Germany, their own ideas influenced greatly their German confreres. This being the case, Hitler's national socialism was, at least partially, inspired by foreign, i.e. Russian, rightist ideas.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion with their rampant anti-Semitism has already been mentioned. The idea of an international Jewish conspiracy fell on fertile ground in Germany which had suffered a humiliating military defeat. As is well known, the Jewish question became one of the cornerstones of national socialism. The rather placid German anti-Semitism had become saturated by its rampant Russian equivalent. Thus, the `Protocols' served as an important source for Hitler when he was writing Mein Kampf. As we mentioned on our web log three years ago, among the émigrés, there were those going to the extreme in advising how to resolve the Jewish problem. Fëdor Vinberg, a Baltic German and former colonel in the tsarist army who had turned writer, declared that the Aryan nations could be saved only if the Jews were exterminated. Thus, Alfred Rosenberg, the chief nazi ideologist in Germany, had his precursor of the Final Solution.(1)
Among the Russian rightist émigrés, there were a great many indulging in expectations of a coming civil war in the Soviet Union which would lead to the fall of the Bolshevik regime. In plain language, they counted on nazi Germany as the only power capable of defeating Stalin.
Paradoxically, the most striking of the Russian rightist influences on national socialism manifested itself in Hitler's anti-Slavic and Russophobian foreign policy. This paradox was due to the active role played in the émigré community by F. Vinberg. In his view, the Russian people should not be idealised but punished for having betrayed the tsar. In practical politics, there were numerous Russian prominent émigrés who were working for the nazis after Hitler's rise to power. Among these collaborators, N. Markov, G. Schwartz-Bostunich, General V. Biskupsky, and the aforementioned V. Vinberg deserve further comment.
In the late 1920s and the 1930s, as well as during World War II, there were several groups in the Russian émigré community that could be called fascist or national socialist. The most numerous among them - the Russian Fascist Party (RFP) - existed in Harbin, Manchuria, 1931-45. The party requisites (uniforms, badges etc.) copied those of the German nazis, whereas RFP's political programme resembled Mussolini's in one respect: the principle of a corporative system of society. Orthodoxy as well as the idea of a great Eurasian empire constituted the Russian component of'RFP's ideology . Yet, the RFP was unable to mobilise the masses because the number of Russian émigrés in Harbin was already considerably small. Furthermore, it was economically totally dependent on the Japanese Kwantung Army, which was at the time in charge of Manchuria.
The other émigré parties representing the extreme right - the All-Russian Fascist Organisation (VFO) in Connecticut, USA, and the Russian nazi party in Germany (ROND) are not dealt with in this study as they were less influential than the RFP. Yet, the only two of the Russian émigré movements of lasting importance were the NTS and Eurasianism. With some reservation, they could be considered remote `relatives' of fascism or national socialism. The National Labour Union (Natsional'no-Trudovoi Soiuz) is better known under its Russian abbreviation NTS. Today, it is the only émigré group still in existence. It was founded originally in Yugoslavia in 1930. In July 1941 its leadership moved to Berlin. Consisting of members of the younger generation of émigrés, the NTS represented anti-communist activism. The central aim was to continue the struggle for the `white idea' in Russia, and throw down the Soviet regime. In the 1930s and during the World War I, the NTS was anti-liberal and had a more or less favourable view on fascism and national socialism (cf., Laqueur 1993, 82). Liberalism and liberal democracy were rejected. Instead a corporative system of society was suggested. Furthermore, before and during World War II, there were open manifestations of antiSemitism in the NTS publications (ibid.). However, with all the proximity to national socialism, the NTS had an ideological profile of its own.
The NTS in the 1930s and during World War II was strongly influenced by the ideas of Ivan Il'in, a former professor of philosophy at Moscow University who had been expelled from Russia in 1922. In pamphlets and articles Il'in professed a `white activism' of sorts; in fact, he advocated the armed overthrow of the Bolshevik regime by a revolutionary minority. His nationalist teaching was akin to fascism. At the same time, this ideology was different including elements of Orthodoxy as well as of monarchism (cf., Utechin 1964, 273). The basic political philosophy of the NTS has been solidarism coloured by Orthodoxy as an alternative to the theory of class struggle. Solidarism implies harmonious relations between classes that being tantamount to national unity. In the organic worldview of the NTS, the nation is considered to constitute a living super-organism with a long life (cf., Stolypin 1986, 26).
On the whole, NTS was closer to conservative authoritarianism than to totalitarian national socialism. Yet, as Laqueur concludes, this did not prevent a close cooperation with nazi Germany, in particular during World War 11 (Laqueur 1993, 83). Many NTS members worked for Alfred Rosenberg's Eastern Ministry in occupied Russia. Others joined the Russian pro-nazi daily Novoe slovo (The New Word) in Berlin.
The greatest political undertaking of the NTS, however, was its close cooperation with General Andrei Vlasov (1900-46) and his Russian Liberation Army ROA (Russkaia Osvoboditel'naia Armiia) composed of Soviet prisoners of war. As is well known, having been captured by the Germans in 1942, Vlasov agreed to cooperate with the Wehrmacht in order to save Russia from Bolshevism.
The post-NTS version of its own history claims that the NTS as well as the ROA constituted a `third force' instead of siding with Hitler or Stalin. After the war Vlassov was executed as a traitor in the Soviet Union. However, in the years of glasnost, some Soviet historians and publicists tried to reinstate his ideas and his army. In 1990, the Vlasovites' union (Soiuz Vlasovtsev) was formed `to defend the maligned memory of the Vlasov army'. The debate on Vlassov's role in history is still going on. In 1996, a nationalist newspaper called Klich (The call) began to appear in Moscow as the mouthpiece of the Social movement ROA. The notorious General Viktor Filatov serves as editor-in-chief.
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