From the Comintern to Holy Russia: How Identity Broke Through the Shadow of Democracy

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From the Comintern to Holy Russia: How Identity Broke Through the Shadow of Democracy
From the Comintern to Holy Russia: How Identity Broke Through the Shadow of Democracy
8 March, 13:35Photo: Соцсети
The Russian model of totalitarianism outwardly took shape as an anti-Russian force, but it was a rejection of the former arrangement of the Russian ethnos and Russian society, the assertion of a new Russian identity.

Dmitry Shusharin

The ongoing mobilization-militarist campaign around the victory and accusations of the peoples of the former USSR of fascism diverted attention from the trend that emerged a year before the anniversary - in April 2014, when Andranik Migranyan's article appeared in Izvestia, praising Hitler:

It is necessary to distinguish between Hitler before 1939 and Hitler after 1939 and separate the flies from the cutlets. The fact is that while Hitler was engaged in collecting lands, and if he ... would be famous only for the fact that without a single drop of blood he united Germany with Austria, the Sudetenland with Germany, Memel with Germany, in fact completing what Bismarck failed to do, and if Hitler had stopped there, he would have remained in the history of his country as a politician of the highest class.

Migranyan demonstrated complete ignorance and misunderstanding of German history. Bismarck's concept of unification of Germany was less Germanic as opposed to Greater Germanic, which envisaged uniting around the legacy of the Holy Roman Empire and Austria as its successor. Bismarck was a supporter of a mono-ethnic German state. So Hitler in German history is anti-Bismarck. And because he carried out the Anschluss, and because he attacked Russia.

What is the difference between Vlasov and Bandera

With that in mind, here's what I remember.

In 2009, I made the assumption that Putin's rehabilitation of General Vlasov was ahead. Although he is not the only one. It is much more logical, for example, to make the hero of totalitarian Russia Bronislav Kaminsky, known for his particular cruelty during the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising (the one betrayed by Stalin). With the current Polonophobia, a great hero. And about Vlasov and Bandera, the cherished word was said by the Archbishop of Berlin-Germany and Great Britain Mark (this is the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, “foreigners”). A strange situation was emerging: the ROCOR Synod of Bishops called for a discussion about Vlasov against the backdrop of a desperate struggle against “neo-Nazism” in the Baltic countries, Ukraine and Poland. All the work of agitprop was aimed at putting an equal sign between Nazism and national self-determination in the countries of the former USSR and the Warsaw Pact. After all, Vlasov is the same collaborator as all these Bandera and legionnaires.

Vladyka Mark removed this contradiction in his interview:

- Vladyka, what is the fundamental difference, in your opinion, between the Vlasovites and the Bandera movement?

- The Vlasov movement was aimed exclusively at liberation from godless power, while all Ukrainian movements were aimed at tearing Little Russia from Great Russia.

Further, they discussed the state of affairs in Ukraine. Everything was right there. Cooperation with the Nazis was bad, Ukrainian, and it was good, Great Russian.

Of course, this was designed primarily for the Russian diaspora. Vlasov is especially popular among Russians in the Czech Republic and Germany. And there they talk about him as a person who was brought up by the Soviet authorities, but who overcame the stereotypes of totalitarian education, who rebelled against the system.

And against what system did a policeman from guards, policemen, Red Army soldiers or from peaceful Soviet inhabitants rebel? Yes, he simply changed a niche in one totalitarian society for the same or better one in another totalitarian society. And Vlasov did not rebel. His transition to the side of the Nazis became possible precisely because he was brought up by the Soviet totalitarian system and fully complied with it. Unlike General Karbyshev, for example. Or General Denikin, who even had to be interned in occupied France. And the aforementioned Bronislav Kaminsky, who rose to the rank of general in the SS, under the Soviet regime was a full-time secret police officer of the NKVD.

I am sure that in the new Russian pantheon, even if somewhere in the second row, there will be places for such figures as Vlasov and Kaminsky.

Actually, everything was clear back in the days of the USSR. Here is a quote from my article, published in 1990 in the collection "Burn of the native hearth":

“The secret of Stalin's speech, in which the Russian people were called guiding and patient, is the secret of Stalin's success in general, the secret of his long life in the memory of millions, the secret of his posthumous power. He appealed to the original Russian sadomasochism, which manifests itself in the image of the host people, the father people, the elder brother people, capable of directing, cutting, if necessary, and constantly sharing goodness and experience. “Forever in debt to the motherland” reads as “forever in debt to Russians.” The self-consciousness of Russians can only be explained in terms of patriarchal relations.

This archaism coexists with mass communications, with ever-increasing cultural and everyday unification. Purely everyday changes are translated by the layman into a completely different semantic range - hence, for example, the search for “Zionist” (in quotation marks, because the Star of David is several thousand years older than Zionism) emblems on vests and exposing intrigues with kefir. All this is the most terrible, since already inside the house, which has always been inaccessible to evil spirits, there is an enemy, the devil. But this is an extreme expression of aggressiveness. And for everyday interethnic relations, the perception of new information by a person who has grown up in an atmosphere saturated with ideas about the host people is of fundamental importance.

Information about national movements inside the country comes sparingly, fragmentarily, passing through various instances, concerned about the placement of accents (I don’t understand what it is). Yes, and in the instances sit for the most part the same people, with the same (and even more, because - service) fear. And when this information, what is left of it, reaches the addressee, the reaction of the reader, listener, viewer, no matter how different it may be, can be described according to this scheme.

The first and probably the most important. Any national movement is perceived not from a positive, but from a negative point of view. It is seen not as having intra-national goals, be it republican sovereignty, regional self-financing, a language development program, but as directed against Russians. Actually, it is a projection of one's own state. In addition, private initiative is punishable. “We built factories for them, and they…”

The second follows from the first. Any information, especially a well-thought-out statistical set, a well-thought-out selection of surnames, or an ill-conceived remark, causes an increase in the feeling of sacrifice.

The third is the sum of the first and second. Since the Russians (owners!) are worse off than anyone else (and with the help of objective data it is easy to prove that they are worse than everyone else), it does not follow from this that their life should be improved. Having learned that other peoples have a higher birth rate, the Russian layman will not make efforts to raise it in his family, but will demand that it be lowered in his neighbors.

This is fundamentally important. All, almost all demands to improve the life of Russians, explicitly or implicitly, are reduced to an indispensable, predominantly prohibitive (remember, for example, the fight against drunkenness) state action, and it is impossible to understand what needs to be done - good for Russians or bad for others.

Adventures of Russian chauvinism

Stalin and Putin have the same value and goal - power. And everyone came to understand that the use of stereotypes and clichés of Russian identity is the easiest and most reliable way to manage. None of them fooled the Russian people or zombified them. On the contrary, the rulers used what came into their own hands—Russian ideas about themselves and their place in the world.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Vladislav Surkov paraphrased Stalin's words from his toast to the leading Russian people, speaking to advanced managers at a meeting on innovation: “ All nations play different roles. We must strive to take the place of the stewards».

It should not be surprising that in 2020, Vladimir Putin claimed that the former Soviet republics, upon joining the USSR, “received a huge amount of Russian historical territories.” At the same time, when secession from the USSR, according to the President of Russia, each of these republics had to “leave with what it came” and not “to drag with them gifts from the Russian people.” Everything is the same as what I wrote about in 1990: the eternally offended Russian people, who are called to lead and direct, and everyone robs and deceives them. Ridiculous and primitive, but in the mouth of the leader of a nuclear power it sounded ominous and menacing.

I remember that even in my youth I was annoyed by Bunin, and then by others, the constant “Russia is dead”. Now I call all this a shock after an explosive change of elites and a projection of my own fall onto the entire society. The shock did a lot of harm, and it still hurts. Meanwhile, in the seventeenth year, Russia did not die, but began to find itself, return to its primitive nature, form an identity without illusions and self-deception, without everything superfluous and unnecessary. This is also the era of Putin - the acquisition of truth and authenticity. Russian identity has broken through the wraith of democracy. Russia has found itself.

After that Stalinist toast, the establishment of state-owned Russian chauvinism did not begin, but continued. In the minds of the intellectual mainstream, the fight against cosmopolitanism is seen as initially and predominantly anti-Semitic and dates back to post-war times. The latter is highly inaccurate. In the book of Marina and Nikolai Svanidze “The Death of the Empire. Our story. 1941–1964 At the Peak” (AST, 2019) is the date from which the official and at that moment still hidden anti-Semitism in Soviet Russia should be counted. This is August 17, 1942, when, during a discussion in the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, the issue of “selection and promotion of personnel in the arts,” the head of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Central Committee, Georgy Alexandrov, sent a memorandum to the three secretaries of the central committee about the predominance of “non-Russian people” in the cultural sphere. In the autumn of 1942, purges began among cultural figures. So far, the matter has been limited to layoffs.

After the war, there were two bouts of public anti-Semitism. One covert, the other outspoken. And both of them were part of the policy of Russification of the totalitarian ideology, Russification dosed, controlled, not allowing any free interpretations. That is, Stalinist anti-Semitism cannot be considered in itself - it was the most important element of the Russification policy.

For the time being, the Comintern served as an instrument for the Russification of the world. Russification consisted in the destruction of foreign institutionalism. The Comintern was created as a counterbalance to the Second International, which remained in the position of preserving this institutional structure and political action within the national framework. The Russian model of totalitarianism outwardly took shape as an anti-Russian force, but it was a rejection of the former structure of the Russian ethnos and Russian society, the assertion of a new Russian identity. The Comintern was a means of Russian expansion, the imposition of the Russian model on the whole world, the Russian empire took shape as internationalism, and this survived the Comintern for a long time - it is enough to recall international duty, internationalist soldiers, international education, which was a form of education of Russian chauvinism.

Next, I would like to use the material summarized by Alexander Vdovin, a historian who clearly gravitates toward what is commonly considered a patriotic camp, but, nevertheless, did a great and necessary job of collecting factual material. In essence, this is a competent reference book that allows you to count the campaign that unfolded after the war, from the thirties.

The first victim in 1930 was Demyan Bedny for his mockery of the Russian people. The following year, Stalin's words "now we have a fatherland" were heard. And there was nothing unexpected in this. The transition to a mobilization economy was in harmony with the new forms of Russian nationalism. At the same time, the authorities did not at all look for allies among scientists and writers, on the contrary, there was a massive purge among the humanities in order to strengthen the ideological monopoly. Then it will be repeated after the war.

The struggle against the Trotskyist-Bukharinian monsters and other enemies of the people pushed Russification into the background, although in 1937 the Russian people were already called the elder brother, and the monsters were transferred from great powers to low worshippers. An era of chubby historical novels and provocative films began, chief among them Alexander Nevsky, filmed in 1938, out of place after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and regained relevance with the start of the war.

Before the war and before the capture of the Baltic states and the partition of Poland, ethnic cleansing and deportation took place, affecting both the national communities that lived in compact numbers, and those who served in the army, the NKVD, who worked in production. As a result, the Russians began to make up an absolute majority in the law enforcement agencies. Mass deportations took on with the outbreak of World War II. But, unlike the Nazis, persecution on a national basis was not advertised in the USSR. However, after the Wannsee meeting, which decided on the final decision, this part of Hitler's policy also became secret.

The anti-Semitism of the Stalinist leadership was not an all-consuming passion and a central, backbone element of politics and ideology. The dismissals of Jews from law enforcement agencies and the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs were on a par with the removal of other non-Russians. We can talk about genocide in the USSR in relation to Ukrainians, Kazakhs (Holodomor) and Poles (Katyn massacre and massacres in other places). The deportations of peoples in the second half of the war, as well as post-war repressions in the western regions of the USSR, should be equated with genocide.

One example is Western Ukraine. On May 16, 1953, Beria sent a note to Molotov about the results of the repressions in those parts. They are:

During the period from 1944 to 1953, up to 500 thousand people were arrested, killed and deported in the western regions of Ukraine, of which:

- arrested on charges of belonging to the anti-Soviet nationalist underground - 103,003 people. including those convicted with detention in camps and prisons - 82,930 people;

- Arrested on charges of espionage, sabotage, sabotage, terrorist intentions, anti-Soviet agitation, complicity and participation in punitive actions of fascist German organs and troops during the occupation of the western regions of Ukraine - 31,464 people;

- including those convicted with detention in camps and prisons - 26,787 people;

- killed as members of espionage terrorist groups of the nationalist underground - 153,259 people.

- expelled from the borders of the Ukrainian SSR as accomplices of these gangs - 203,737 people .

The turn to anti-Semitism was inevitable

The war now seems to be the flowering of Russian patriotism, but the main task was to maintain control over it. As you know, it came to the domestication of Orthodoxy and the restoration of the patriarchate in 1943, to which Soviet filmmakers immediately responded. In Ermler-Kapler's film "She Defends the Motherland", a believing old partisan appeared, who died heroically and was buried not under a red star, but under a cross. There was also an elderly collective farmer who left the house lightly - with one icon.

The war and victory led to the growth of national pride, to the awakening of the national and human dignity of Russians. The growth of national self-consciousness should have been directed towards xenophobia, isolationism, and national narcissism. State Russification cannot be considered without taking into account formally unrelated pogroms and repressions. In 1946, decrees were issued on Akhmatova and Zoshchenko, on the film "Big Life" with a mention of the second series of "Ivan the Terrible, on the repertoire of drama theaters. Back in 1944, Dovzhenko with his "Ukraine on Fire" fell into disgrace, and attempts to idealize the past of the Tatar and Bashkir peoples were condemned.

In 1947, a struggle was launched against servility to the West, the case of the KR marked the beginning of the isolation of Soviet science, art, and culture. Russia has become the birthplace of elephants and bicycles. The word "cosmopolitanism" flashed in the articles and speeches of Kuusinen, Zhdanov, Alexandrov, but did not yet acquire an anti-Semitic character.

The turn to anti-Semitism was prepared by the assassination of Mikhoels, who was buried in the highest rank, in January 1948, and became apparent in the non-public, repressive sphere in the autumn of that year with the arrest of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. All this came to the surface at the beginning of 1949. Here is what Alexander Vdovin writes:

Working in Pravda V.M. Kozhevnikov and D.I. Zaslavsky, with the help of KM Simonov, AA Fadeev and AB Sofronov, hastily, by January 27, prepared the article "The Last of Bourgeois Aestheticism." At the direction of Stalin, clarifications were made to the layout. The frilly title has been replaced. The article was titled "On an Antipatriotic Group of Theater Critics". Criticized phenomenon in the text of the article for a change was designated in three ways: "hooray-cosmopolitanism", "rabid cosmopolitanism" and "rootless cosmopolitanism".

The article was published in Pravda on January 28, 1949. This was followed by a volley of newspaper articles with the headlines "To the end to expose the anti-patriotic group", "Rootless cosmopolitans in GITIS", "Bourgeois cosmopolitans in music criticism", "Destroy bourgeois cosmopolitanism in cinematography", "Insolent slanderers of rootless cosmopolitanism".

Scientific journals reported on subsequent meetings designed to eradicate cosmopolitanism in emotionally less colored articles with headings such as "On the tasks of Soviet historians in the fight against manifestations of bourgeois ideology", "On the tasks of the struggle against cosmopolitanism on the ideological front." Cosmopolitans were found everywhere, but mainly in literary and artistic circles, editorial offices of newspapers and radio, in research institutes and universities. During the campaign, on February 8, 1949, the Politburo decided to dissolve the associations of Jewish writers in Moscow, Kyiv and Minsk and close the almanacs "Heimland" (Moscow) and "Der Stern" (Kyiv). The matter was not limited to criticism, the dismissal of "cosmopolitans" from prestigious jobs and their transfer to less significant positions. According to information provided by I.G. Ehrenburg, the persecution of cosmopolitans often ended in arrests. Until 1953, 217 writers, 108 actors, 87 artists, 19 musicians were arrested.

From the 20th of March, the campaign began to wane. At the height of the campaign, Stalin instructed Pravda editor P.N. Pospelov: “There is no need to make a phenomenon out of cosmopolitans. The circle should not be greatly expanded. We must fight not with people, but with ideas.” Suslov, having called in ideological workers, asked to convey Stalin's opinion that the deciphering of pseudonyms "smells of anti-Semitism." Stalin (who, according to AA Fadeev, gave the order to start a campaign against anti-patriots), apparently decided that the job was done. Those arrested were not released, those dismissed from work were not taken to their former places. The most zealous participants in the campaign against cosmopolitanism were also removed from their posts. Among them were the deputy head of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Central Committee, Professor F.M. Golovenchenko, who spoke everywhere with a report "On the fight against bourgeois cosmopolitanism in ideology", and the editor of the newspaper "Soviet Art" V.G. Vdovichenko. The latter, as noted in a letter from Shepilov to Malenkov dated March 30, 1953, until recently, in every possible way attracted anti-patriotic critics to work in the newspaper, and after their exposure raised a fuss in the newspaper, depicting the matter in such a way that cosmopolitans penetrated everywhere. In all this, the handwriting of the author of the article "Dizziness from success" was revealed. Rumor attributed arbitrariness to the perpetrators, and Stalin allegedly stopped him[9].”

The anti-Semitic nature of the fleeting campaign was expressed in the liquidation of all Jewish cultural centers, theaters, libraries, and creative associations. Nevertheless, the repressions were selective and nationality was not a verdict. And of course, the fight against cosmopolitanism was not limited to anti-Semitism. In the summer of 1948 there was a pogrom of Soviet genetics. In the future, servility and cosmopolitanism were destroyed in physics, historical science, philosophy, literary criticism, and architecture.

Unlike the ideological Nazi anti-Semitism, which originated in the intellectual university environment and adapted to the level of the leaders of the NSDAP, Soviet anti-Semitism came from the government and was controlled by it, it was situational. In 1949, Jews were handed out along with everyone else in the course of official Russification, which included, in particular, the persecution of Tvardovsky with the participation of Ovechkin - this happens in history. But the attempt at a final decision in Russian at the beginning of 1953 had a different character.

By that time, anti-Semitism as a means of intra-elite struggle had been worked out in Czechoslovakia in the Slansky case (the pogroms in Poland and the post-war exodus of Polish Jews are something else). It has long been known that Stalin was preparing a new great terror - a vertically organized purge of the ruling elite. Plans began to be implemented in the Mingrelian case and in the case of doctors, which served as a pretext for purging the leadership of the MGB, and in the future should have provided grounds for eliminating a narrow circle close to the leader. And therefore, there is a fundamental difference between anti-Semitism in 1949 and anti-Semitism in 1953. In the first case, it was part of a campaign to tame various social and national communities in the course of controlled Russification. In the second, one of the means of a new great terror, which would include the genocide of the Jews of the USSR.

Unlike high-profile ideological campaigns against science and culture, post-war repressions were not advertised - there were no open trials, rallies and demonstrations until the doctors' case, which was supposed to result in popular support for the deportation of Jews. All other repressions, including the resettlement of peoples, were hushed up before that. In addition to the JAC case, there were repressions among the generals, in the aviation industry and the Leningrad case, which reached the highest level - even the secretary of the Central Committee Kuznetsov was shot.

Stalin knew what he was doing with controlled Russification. It is very significant that the day of victory was not celebrated under him. He did not need veterans-winners, he did not need the growth of Russian national self-consciousness and dignity. Arbuzov in "My Poor Marat" indicates a difference in the assessment of his own experience:

" Leonidik. Maybe we are the ones who survived?

Marat (furiously). Not! Those who won! That's right - the winners! And if we forget about it, we're done ."

But Leonidik speaks of the duality of such a position:

" You're more than drunk on victory, baby. Be afraid of a hangover... Do you know what is most dangerous for a winner? Inherit the vices of the vanquished".

In this dispute, both are right. Totalitarianism did not need winners, but survivors who inherited the worst features of a defeated enemy. Vladimir Tendryakov spoke exhaustively about this in the story "Hunting". About how Emka Mandel - Naum Korzhavin was arrested:

Linden trees were planted all over Gorky Street. Having defeated Unter den Linden in Berlin, we diligently hid the central street of our capital under the lime trees. It has long been noted that the victors imitate the defeated enemy.

“Deutschland, Deutschland, uber alles!” - "Germany - above!.." Ha! .. In the ashes and in disgrace! Who is above all in faith?..

Am I the sweetest in the world,

All blush and whiter?..

The great leader at the banquet raised a toast to the health of the Russian people:

Because it is the most outstanding nation of all the nations that make up the Soviet Union.

Everything Russian suddenly began to evoke sublimely painful pride, even Russian swearing. What is not in Russian, what resembles foreign - everything is hostile. Cigarettes-cloves "Nord" became "North", the French roll turns into a Moscow roll, Edison Street disappears in Leningrad ... By the way, why is it believed that Edison invented the electric light bulb?

Lie! Insinuation! Attack against Russian priority! The light bulb was invented by Yablochkov! And the plane is not the Wright brothers, but Mozhaisky. And the steam engine is not Watt, but Polzunov. And, of course, Marconi has no right to be considered the inventor of the radio... Russia is the birthplace of the law of conservation of substances and bread kvass, socialism and pancakes, class self-consciousness and bast shoes with onuchs. There were rumors that one dissertator proved - not in jest! - in a special dissertation: Russia is the homeland of elephants, because elephants and mammoths descended from one common ancestor, and this ancestor in time immemorial grazed in the "open spaces of the wonderful homeland", and not in otherworldly India.

We were winners. And there are no more vulnerable people than the winners. To win and not feel complacent. To feel self-satisfied and not to be imbued with hostile suspicion: are you being accepted as you deserve ?

Paranoia, xenophobia, and aggressiveness were supposed to result in victory. All that now reigns in Russian minds. All this remains, as well as state anti-Semitism. But Stalin's anti-Semitism, for all its resemblance to the Third Reich, was fundamentally different from Nazi anti-Semitism. As already mentioned here, it did not come from below - from cultural figures, scientists, writers. He moved in from above. And the Russian Holocaust would not have become a goal, but would have turned into a means of a new great terror.

Anti-Semitism is not something that the current model of Russian totalitarianism can resort to, but something that it cannot but resort to. From time to time he manifests himself at different political levels, but so far "is on the siding." His primitive character became apparent at the very beginning of Putin's rule, after the pronunciation of Sergei Ivanov, then Secretary of the Security Council, in an interview with Argumenty i Fakty (April 26, 2000). He was asked which intelligence agencies of the world he considers the most powerful. Ivanov called "our", English and Israeli. And about the latter, he put it this way: “ In Israel, the ethnic factor plays a very important role, which no other country has. If an Israeli agent turns to a Jew for help, he can at least hope that he won't turn him in."

This is a completely everyday level of reasoning on the topic "the Jew is suspicious." And the manifestation of incompetence - since the seventies of the last century, the recruitment of Jews from the Diaspora has been considered extremely undesirable in the Israeli special services. In the mouth of an official of this rank, this is already an indirect accusation of a part of the country's citizens of potential disloyalty due to their ethnic origin. And how quickly and effectively the propaganda of hatred and fear is unfolding in the Russian media can be seen in the example of the all-pervasive, everyday, every minute Ukrainophobia, which surpassed even anti-Americanism.

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