Bolsheviks. National Bolsheviks.

So, like, there’s this mob in Russia called the National Bolshevik Party.

It’s got a leader and everything: Eduard Limonov.

Limonov and the NBP have recently come to the attention of the corporate / state media as a result of their participation in Garry Kasparov‘s anti-Putin coalition, ‘The Other Russia’ (which may, in some ways, be considered a deradicalised version of the Zaps’ La Otra Campaña).

‘The Other Russia’ is a liberal coalition formed during last July’s G8 summit in St. Petersburg which aims at “the construction of a new democratic state of Russia under the rule of law”. A significant, if not necessarily radical shift, given that the state is effectively operating as a dictatorship and the rule of law is effectively subsumed by the law of the market.

But who is Eduard Limonov? And who are the National Bolsheviks?

The answers to these questions appear to have created a good deal of ideological confusion; for journalists in particular. Thus:

Luke Harding in The Guardian in Moscow (Supreme court ban on liberal party wipes out opposition to Putin, March 29, 2007) writes that:

On Thursday Moscow’s prosecutor’s office also suspended the Nationalist Bolshevik party, another radical and previously banned anti-Kremlin group. The National Bolshevik party is a radical activist group that has been a driving force behind recent anti-government protests, as the country prepares for parliamentary elections in December and next year’s presidential vote.

Carlin Romano, book critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer, uses Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia as a springboard for an inquiry into the nature of Russia’s contemporary intelligentsia (Russia’s culturati a pale imitation of worthies of ‘Utopia’, April 1, 2007):

Novelist Eduard Limonov (It’s Me, Eddie) — a onetime emigré, founder of Russia’s fascistic National Bolshevik Party, denounced by Solzhenitsyn as “a little insect who writes pornography” — opposes Putin, but from a militant, nationalist, gangster-worshipping mentality that recalls the worst of 19th-century Slavophilia.

Fred Weir, on the other hand, writes of “the leftist National Bolshevik Party, led by novelist Eduard Limonov” (Ex-Chess Champ Runs Risky Anti-Putin Game Plan, Christian Science Monitor, April 8, 2007). Interestingly, in the same article Weir writes that “To support his contention that Russia has become a police state, Kasparov points to harassment of Other Russia activists. He is not the only one to report similar treatment at the hands of police bearing lists of names, addresses, and workplaces of targeted political dissidents. [Marxist intellectual] Boris Kagarlitsky, an organizer of a social forum during the G8 summit in St. Petersburg last July, says “about 300 of our invited participants were pulled off trains and buses or prevented from leaving their home towns. Some had their documents destroyed by police”.”

NewsCorpse, in the person of employee Sebastian Smith in Moscow writes (Chess champ plots next move in Putin game, April 15, 2007):

The Other Russia, which [Kasparov] helped found, includes figures as disparate as a little-loved former premier Mikhail Kasyanov, the enigmatic writer and radical left leader Eduard Limonov, and a series of youth groups.

MSNBC (Financial Times) takes up a contrary position to Mr. Smith, describing Limonov as the “leader of the right-wing National Bolshevik party” (Anti-Putin protests spread to St Petersburg, April 15, 2007). Steve Gutterman of The Associated Press hedges his bets, describing Limonov as simply “head of the banned National Bolshevik Party and widely known for his novels and provocative sense of political theatre” (Russian riot police clash with opposition supporters, Toronto Globe & Mail, April 15, 2007). In The Newspaper of Record Andrew E. Kramer puts it on record that Limonov is a novelist and the NBP “is known for its acts of civil disobedience and… has been banned by the government as an extremist group” (Opposition Rally in Russia Halted by Police for 2nd Day, The New York Times, April 16, 2007).

Finally, four days after AP described Limonov as ‘theatrical’, it supplements this characterisation by naming him an “irreverent ultra-nationalist” (Russia restricts dissent, Chicago Daily-Herald, April 19, 2007). In a longer discussion in The Spectator (April 21, 2007), Putin will stop at nothing according to Anne Applebaum, while Limonov is “a writer and ex-punk rocker whose National Bolshevist [?] Party [is] best known for thuggishness and stunts“. James Heartfield — some twat who writes for the online journal of the former Marxists-for-rent otherwise known as Spiked — provides the most caustic assessment (A new Russian revolution? Get real, April 16, 2007):

The punk-existentialist author turned extreme nationalist leader, Eduard Limonov, has brought his tinpot National Bolshevik party on-board — giving them a greater sense of purpose than their previous campaigns to hold a church congregation hostage with a fake grenade, and organise a Russian army to invade Kazakhstan. (Limonov, who volunteered as a sniper for the Serb Republican Army in the Bosnian civil war, has the copyright on Another Russia — it’s the title of his personal manifesto).

So, Limonov is a little enigmatic irreverent ultra-nationalist radical leftist Russian Slavophilic insect and ex-punk rocker with a provocative sense of political theatre and a militant, gangster-worshipping mentality who writes existentialist pornographic novels. The NBP, on the other hand, is a banned radical fascistic leftist right-wing anti-government extremist tinpot group, known for its acts of civil disobedience, but best known for its thuggishness and political stunts.

Any more questions?

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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2 Responses to Bolsheviks. National Bolsheviks.

  1. lumpnboy says:

    You describe Spiked as “the online journal of the former Marxists-for-rent” etc. I.e. some ex-RCPers. To be fair, I think there should also be a hyphen between “former” and “Marxists”: they are former Marxists (in some sense), but I regard them as still for rent.

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