Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stalin not just a totalitarian but an actual fascist?

The idea was raised by Mikhail Agursky in his book "The Third Rome: National Bolshevism in the USSR", which is way, way, out of print. Lately, I've seen surprising confirmation of it in the movie "I worked for Stalin, made in the Soviet Union in '90. The thesis that Agursky outlines is that there was a very potent strain of right wing populism that existed in Russia before during and after the Revolution, and that eventually some of its disciples looked for a middle ground with the new Soviet government. These folks were the original self declared "National Bolsheviks". They thought that anti-liberal strains as well as undemocratic decision making were positive features and didn't mind socialism so much as they were present. Most of the ideologues, however, were in exile because of siding with the Whites during the Revolution, with Ustrialov, the head of them, living south of the eastern border in Harbin China. Yet in the '30s Stalin authorized an article to be printed that praised the National Bolsheviks for coming around to the socialist cause. Agursky speculates that because it was a controversial act during a dictatorship there must have been something behind it and that that something may have been a planned rehabilitation of National Bolshevism within the Soviet Union.

"I Worked for Stalin" features extensive interviews with Andrei Malenkov, son of Georgy Malenkov, very close Stalin collaborator and brief head of the Soviet Union after Stalin's death. Andrei Malenkov states that Stalin trusted Malenkov because he came from an aristocratic family, and then stated that Stalin believed in the Imperial idea, and that everyone would be equal in an empire. Malenkov's son stated that that's why Stalin saw someone with an aristocratic background as an ally.

If that were true it would be really striking. It would give new meaning to the term "Red Tsar", because that's the role that Stalin would be literally picturing himself as occupying.

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