In this week’s email edition of the G-File, Jonah Goldberg notes today that in the New York Review of Books, “Timothy Snyder has written the best piece I’ve seen on what’s going on in Kiev. It’s worth reading just as a primer. But it’s also interesting in other ways:”
I had not read a lot about the “Eurasian Union,” a proposed counterweight to the European Union, in much the same way the Legion of Doom is a counterweight to the Justice League. Putin and a band of avowed “National Bolshevik” intellectuals are in effect trying to put the band back together. Snyder writes:
The Eurasian Union is the enemy of the European Union, not just in strategy but in ideology. The European Union is based on a historical lesson: that the wars of the twentieth century were based on false and dangerous ideas, National Socialism and Stalinism, which must be rejected and indeed overcome in a system guaranteeing free markets, free movement of people, and the welfare state. Eurasianism, by contrast, is presented by its advocates as the opposite of liberal democracy.
The Eurasian ideology draws an entirely different lesson from the twentieth century. Founded around 2001 by the Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin, it proposes the realization of National Bolshevism. Rather than rejecting totalitarian ideologies, Eurasianism calls upon politicians of the twenty-first century to draw what is useful from both fascism and Stalinism. Dugin’s major work, The Foundations of Geopolitics, published in 1997, follows closely the ideas of Carl Schmitt, the leading Nazi political theorist. Eurasianism is not only the ideological source of the Eurasian Union, it is also the creed of a number of people in the Putin administration, and the moving force of a rather active far-right Russian youth movement. For years Dugin has openly supported the division and colonization of Ukraine.
The point man for Eurasian and Ukrainian policy in the Kremlin is Sergei Glazyev, an economist who like Dugin tends to combine radical nationalism with nostalgia for Bolshevism. He was a member of the Communist Party and a Communist deputy in the Russian parliament before cofounding a far-right party called Rodina, or Motherland. In 2005 some of its deputies signed a petition to the Russian prosecutor general asking that all Jewish organizations be banned from Russia.
Some of this was news to me. I was familiar with the National Bolshevism of the early Nazi years. Thinkers like the Ukrainian Bolshevik Karl Radek and the Nazi Otto Strasser dabbled with the idea of merging Bolshevik and Nazi ideology. After all, if you’re already a National Socialist it’s not that long a trip to being a National Bolshevik, now is it? Some left-wing members of the Nazi military described themselves as National Bolsheviks as well. But ultimately, National Bolshevism as an intellectual movement died in the crib. Or so I thought.
What I did not know is that National Bolshevism is making such a comeback. And while, it’s evil and a national-security threat and all that, I can’t help but smile.
Kingsley Amis famously quipped that the updated version of Robert Conquest’s hstory of Stalin’s terror and the Soviet Union should have been re-titled, “I Told You So, You F***ing Fools.” That would also apply as well to a book that Jonah published in late 2007 on the intertwined nature of national and international socialism and their various spin-off franchises, which continue to this day. In recent weeks, NRO has been uploading Jonah’s G-File the day after their Friday email blast; assuming that trend continues, don’t miss it tomorrow for the rest of the story.
And while National Bolshevism sounds like deadly serious stuff, I can’t help but hear John Cleese shouting about “National Bocialism,” and “boncentration bamps,” while wearing the tiny toothbrush mustache in the classic Monty Python sketch featuring “Mr. Hilter,” “Ron Vibbentrop,” and “Heimlich Bimmler” vacationing at a cozy English bed and breakfast:
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