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The Orthodox Nationalist: Nikolai Ustryalov and National Bolshevism in Russia – TON 061417


Dr Matthew Raphael Johnson hosts The Orthodox Nationalist, this week looking at Nikolai Ustryalov, the founder of National Bolshevism in Russia.

By 1920, it was clear that the Red forces will rule Russia. They had the support of the west, a deeply fanatical ideology and great discipline. Right wingers had three options: a) go underground, b) go into exile or c) make peace with the new system. Nikolay Vasilyevich Ustryalov was the leader of the third faction.

What the National Bolshevists tried to do is reinterpret the terminology of the Red movement in a rightist way where the USSR would become a new motherland, not the font of leftist revolution.

The central argument was that the Russian idea will not go away. The soul of a people cannot be altered by revolution. Once the "Jacobin" or utopian period of the revolution was over, the Reds would have to make peace with Russian nationalism and Russian culture.

The New Economic Policy was the admission that the utopianism of war communism was a failure. It was not capitalism, but only the lessening of public, ideological rhetoric and the permission of farmers to sell some of their crops. Finally, the Thermidorian reaction period would be Stalin. The Bolsheviks would have to become Russians after all.

The USSR was a positive development from a rightist point of view in his mind. It defended the independence of Russia, kept the bourgeois empires at bay and unified the Eastern Slavic parts of Europe. In his mind, "Soviet patriotism" was just a new form of Russian nationalism.

Ultimately, his vision fails both historically and ideologically though. Stalin had him shot in 1937 on the pretext of being a Japanese spy. However, Ustryalov's analysis of Russian history, economic policy and international affairs remains valuable.

Note: The founder of the "official nationality" theory under Emperor Nicholas I was also named Nikolay Ustryalov. This was the present Nikolay's great uncle. He was Nikolay Gerasimovich Ustryalov. The patronymic for the Soviet Nikolay is  Vasilyevich.

Presented by Matt Johnson

The Orthodox Nationalist: Nikolai Ustryalov and National Bolshevism in Russia – TON 061417


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