The working nation holds every commanding height of the economy firmly under its control.Karl Otto Paetel
The first known uses of the term National Bolshevik can be traced to the years after World War I. Communist leader Karl Radek described dissident members of the workers movement, who believed the class struggle in Germany was tied to the defence of national freedom, as National Bolsheviks. In April 1919, the German press used the term to describe lawyer Paul Eltzbacher who called for post Versailles Germany to adopt a Bolshevik system and form a political alliance with Soviet Russia.
On the revolutionary left, Heinrich Laufenberg and Fritz Wolffheim agitated within the German Communist Party (KPD) for a German approach to the class struggle. For the dissenters the struggle of the German workers had to begin with a rejection of the Versailles settlement which they saw as an imperial project designed to subjugate Germany. During the mid twenties the left Social Democrat Ernst Niekisch used his journal ‘Widerstand’ (Resistance) to develop the idea of a class based revolutionary nationalism militantly opposed to western liberalism.
Among Bolshevik sympathisers drawn from the nationalist tradition, Karl Otto Paetel called upon social revolutionaries in the National Socialist movement to reject the reactionary anti communism and antisemitism of the NSDAP and embrace, as the central organising principle of the nation, a council based system designed to eliminate class preference. His alternative ‘National Bolshevist Manifesto’ was published on the day Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany.
During the Russian civil war, members of the White Russian community, notably Nikolai Ustryalov, were drawn, in the common cause of national survival, into alliance with Red Bolshevism. While he saw it as the short term saviour of the Russian nation, the politically conservative Ustryalov believed that, ultimately, Bolshevism would abandon class struggle in favour of traditional patriotic values. A faction within Russia’s former ‘National Bolshevik Party’, influenced by the cultural Eurasianism of philosopher, Alexander Dugin, are sometimes referred to as ‘NazBols‘. This moniker is rejected by NatBols who believe it denies the roots of National Bolshevism in German anti fascism.
Where its activity is directed towards the social needs of the people, National Bolsheviks see the nation as a protector, with national consciousness integral to the defence of the workers state against imperialism. They believe the primary obstacle to the ability of nations to build just, peaceful societies is the influence over political life of the international banking system.
Misrepresented in the West and misunderstood in the East, National Bolshevism is neither backward nor despotic nor is it fascism. While correlating radical movements with fascism or Nazism is a common feature of western propaganda, National Bolshevism is not a merger of communism and fascism. Unlike the Duginist Russian ‘nazbol’ which seeks to absorb communism, NatBol is a class based revolutionary movement which, historically, sought to draw radicals within nationalist movements away from fascist and racist ideas.
For some on the Marxist left, NatBol is a reactionary seduction, undermining workers consciousness of the interconnected, international nature of class struggle. For it’s advocates, however, it is the expansionist nature of Capital itself which is merging social with national struggles, a global cause they believe the workers movement must not abandon to fascists. In its strident opposition to corporate power, few ideas out there today can claim to be more authentically anti fascist than NatBol.
The Revolutionary Idea
The ideas of National Bolshevism were embraced by the Soviet Union as it organised against the threat from Nazi Germany. As a working system, however, it is yet to become established in any national community. Described by Peter Wilberg as ‘monetary nationalism’ springing from the economic analysis of Marx, a National Bolshevik system would fund nationalised public services with interest free money managed by National People’s Banks. Freed from dependence on the global market, this alternative currency is adapted to the needs of a socialist economic model. With national liberation as its ruling principle, National Bolshevism rejects all forms of cultural, political and financial imperialism.
It is for these reasons National Bolshevism (NatBol) is set apart from the racial supremacism of the right and the identity politics of the ‘internationalist’ left. Both are tied historically to the aggressive instincts of international finance and subordinated ideologically to its aims. In recognising the debt slavery of nations as a stage in the expansion of capitalism, National Bolshevism is the ONLY truly revolutionary idea.