Now this is odd. Fred Weir is a reporter at the Christian Science Monitor, and he’s on the job (July 6 edition) and on the trail of Eduard Limonov…
Meeting Eduard Limonov: Correspondent Fred Weir says that he’s followed Russian politician Eduard Limonov’s career since he returned to Russia in the early 1990s. But this was the first time he’s interviewed him (see story); very few journalists seem to actually make the effort to do that.
“He was extremely amused when I told him about the Canadian anarchist blog, which cleverly quotes a slew of Moscow-based journalists defining him as everything from one end of the political spectrum to the other,” says Fred.
He cleared that up: He’s a classical left-winger, at least nowadays.
“He’s by far the most colorful character on the Russian political landscape, and I suspect he owes that to the years he spent in New York and Paris,” says Fred. “He obviously learned the value of political street theater as a way of attracting attention, even if his activists pay a high price for it. He has a way of talking in quotable sound bites, where most Russian politicians are unbearably long-winded and circuitous. And he was quite mild and likeable, not at all the fire-breathing monster he’s depicted to be in some quarters.
Which may well be the case. But as to the Canadian anarchist blog… I’m not positive, but I think that this may in fact be a reference to my own, and a post I made in April, on the subject of Bolsheviks. National Bolsheviks. In it I quoted from a number of media sources, sources (including Fred) which enabled me (perhaps cleverly) to summarise Limonov as follows: “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”.
As for the political complexion of the party which he leads, of note in this context is the work of Kevin Coogan, who makes a number of references to ‘national bolshevism’ in his biography of (good) fascist thinker Francis Parker Yockey called Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International. According to Coogan, the term ‘national bolshevist’:
was first used to describe a wing of the early German Communist Party, which supported the Russian Revolution but did not want to be under the total diktat of Moscow. It was later applied to those elements of the German right who wanted to pursue a foreign policy orientation to the East. For a discussion of national bolshevism, see Klemens von Klemperer, “Towards a Fourth Reich? The History of National Bolshevism in Germany”, in The Review of Politics, No.13, 1951.
Chapter 55 of Coogan’s biography, ‘The Mysterious Book of Vles‘, goes into some small detail regarding contemporary Russian fascism:
The most virulent fascist movement in Europe today [Coogan’s valuable work was published in 1999] exists not in Germany but in Russia. The collapse of the Soviet Union has led to a “Red-Brown alliance,” a strange ideological coalition that has united many of Russia’s fascists with powerful elements inside the old Communist party elite and Soviet national security establishment. The Red-Brown alliance has also been encouraged by Euroright supporters of Jean-François Thiriart. In August 1992, just three months before his death, Thiriart and Michel Schneider, the editor of the now-defunct national bolshevist publication Nationalisme et République, visited Moscow for talks with high-ranking Soviet officials, including current [and continuing] Russian Communist Party boss Gennadi Zyuganov.
The Red-Brown axis is supported by former GRECE member and Thiriart disciple Christian Bouchet’s group Nouvelle Résistance (publisher of Lutte de Peuple) [1991–1997] and the Milan-based journal Orion. In 1991 Bouchet helped found a new European Liberation Front in honour of Yockey. These same circles assisted Alain de Benoist in arranging his March 1992 trip to Moscow…
In Australia — not Canada — ‘national bolshevism’ finds resonances in the theoretical work of Australia First fuehrer Dr. James Saleam; both he and Holocaust denialist Welf Herfurth are attempting to popularise the work of writers such as Yockey and de Benoist, and the Sydney Forum over which both reside proclaims itself to be ‘beyond left and right’. But while Saleam is attached to a highly reactionary form of Australian nationalism, Herfurth in particular is keen to appropriate more contemporary radical imagery in order to pursue his own brand of fascist politics. In a recent article for the far right groupuscule New Right Australia/New Zealand, Herfurth writes that “The face of today’s leftism is not the hammer and sickle, and the proletarian working-man in overalls and a cap, but the black outfits of the anarchist radicals at the 1999 WTO conference in Seattle (the ‘Battle of Seattle’) or the demonstrations against the G-20 [sic] summit [in] Rostock, Germany in 2007.”
- ‘The Red Brown Scandal’
No.1 (part 2/3)
Earlier this year, a major scandal erupted in France over the exposed links between communists and the extreme right. Known as the Red-Brown scandal, these links sought to build the politics of national-bolshevism in France.
The term national-bolshevism joins two very precise political concepts. “National” is of course a reference to nationalism, that is to say an over-valuation of national characters, national independence, the unity of the nation, eventually integrating racial characteristics etc. “Bolshevism” refers to two different ideas; the first, strictly meaning the majority faction (Bolsheviks) of the social-democratic workers party in Russia. Thus bolshevism refers to Leninism, or a possible interpretation of the works of Karl Marx and the organisational conclusions that the ideology draws, particularly in Lenin’s major works; the necessity of a structured and disciplined party representing the avant-garde of the proletariat and leading it during a revolution. But more generally, bolshevism refers to a political and economic system established after the taking of power by the Bolsheviks in October 1917, thanks to the progressive elimination of the workers’ council system to which they were fundamentally opposed.(1)
Logically, these two terms do not appear to have much in common, apart from being two bourgeois ideologies from the 19th century. However, European political evolution has seen national-bolshevism become a dominant movement. Thus in Germany, national-bolshevism designated the movement led by the Strasser brothers, and represented the left-wing of the NSDAP (Nazi Party). Gregor Strasser, a trainee chemist, joined in the post-WWI period first the DAP, then the NSDAP. His first years as a militant were deeply rooted for him in the themes that he would develop later; social inequality, extreme misery after the war, the humiliation of Germany, revolutionary fervour…
At the end of June 1993, following an enquiry by the journalist Marieue Besnard and the novelist Didier Daeninck, the French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine revealed links that united communists and right extremists, notably concerning the collaboration of certain journals such as L’Idiot International and Le Choc du Mois.(2) The relative failure of the attempt by the new right to infiltrate the classic right, the evolution of a section of members of GRECE(3) who joined the Front National, political chances (the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of communism, the liberal consensus in Europe) led to new orientations; in 1989 Robert Steuckers(4) estimated that “the new right finds itself faced with a challenge — to renew its discourse, to monopolise the new intellectual paths (Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Gusdorf, Peguy etc), to create a transplant between the new ideological language and its existing body”.(5)
The Belgian new right were the first to study the German national-bolshevik Ernst Niekisch. Following that, one saw a flourishing in the new right press of references to philosophers and leftist writers, and the sometimes pure and simple theft of libertarian slogans criticising the consumer society and the ideology of work, for example.(6) This with the aim, of course, of affirming ideas of inequality, of separate development, behind leftist terminology, but also of erasing the left-right opposition and making appear new “peripheral convergences fighting the world of merchandise and all the power of economic reason”.(7)
On May 12, 1993, Alain de Benoist, of GRECE, pleaded for the abandonment of the left-right distinction, with him preferring the notion of a “centre” and a “periphery”, the first being composed of a “dominant ideology”, the second “regrouping all those who do not accept this ideology” (this being an adapted version of analyses on links between centre countries in the northern hemisphere and peripheral countries in the southern hemisphere). This speech would have been unremarkable if it had not taken place at a conference organised by Franceue Lazare, a member of the executive council of the French Communist Party. No one in the communist ranks found fault with any of that.(8)
A week later, the magazine Elements (published by GRECE) invited Marc Cohen, Communist Party member and editor of L’Idiot International, to come and speak there about the “recomposition of the French intellectual landscape”. Edward Limonov,(9) editorial consultant at L’ Idiot, also collaborated on Revolution, a weekly Communist Party magazine aimed at intellectuals; like Le Choc du Mois, the extreme right monthly, it is modern, swaggering and intellectually aggressive.(10) Finally, last May, L’Idiot published the article ‘Towards A National Front’ by Jean-Paul Cruse. This communist, a trade unionist and journalist on the daily leftist newspaper Liberation, proposed “an authoritarian politics of redressment for the country” which would rally “people of spirit against people of things, civilisation against merchandise — and the greatness of nations against the balkanisation of the world… under the order of Wall street, international Zionism, the Frankfurt exchange and the dwarfs of Tokyo”.(11) Decidedly, a conspiracy theory. Because for Cruse “the destruction caused by the old left opens nothing new in the field”. It would be necessary therefore “to forge a new alliance”, a “front” to “regroup Pasqua, ll Chevenement,(12) the communists and ultra-nationalists” a new front for a “violent burst of industrial and cultural nationalism”. The national office of Cruse’s trade union responded in a press release by affirming Cruse’s right to freedom of speech and condemning his position, recalling that “these ideas are not those of the CGT” and that it fought them “with all its might”. Not by opportunism but by deep conviction.(13)
Anti-Americanism has always been in France a value shared for different reasons by most of the political forces. From Gaullists to Communists via the extreme right and extreme left, America finds itself accused of not being a true historical nation, of taking without understanding the principles of the Lumieres(14) and the universal values of the French Revolution, and of wanting to dominate the whole of the planet. The collapse of communism and the Gulf War have revived this feeling. As Daeninck noted in his enquiry. there are strong convergences with nationalist-revolutionaries on anti-Americanism, the exaltation of nationalism, a radical critique of social democracy and the rejection of liberalism.
It is thus certain that a current of national-bolshevism exists in France, fighting the consumer society, America, “international Zionism” and social democracy, but it is nothing new. Previously, in the 1970s, the organisation Lutte du Peuple, founded from a split in Ordre Nouveau, called on the spirit of national-bolshevism and used “a vocabulary copied exactly from that of the extra-parliamentary left, notably in its critique of capitalism and the bourgeoisie”.(15) Today, the movement Nouvelle Resistance(16) is the political expression of this line and attempts to “implement a strategic line” for the “anti-system front”. The friendships of Nouvelle Resistance with different groups which call on the spirit of national-bolshevism in varying degrees in Russia are there to prove it. In their magazine Lutte du Peuple, they often make mention of different groups and alliances with themselves.
The “hatred” of the West, and Yeltsin who is “selling off” Russia to the profit of capitalism, serve to spearhead a rapprochement between former communists and conservatives. One can cite Alexander Dugin (deputy leader of the National Bolshevik Front), one of the correspondents of Nouvelle Resistance in Russia, who congratulates himself on the “current Russian revolution where respectively the neo-communist nationalists represent the left wing and the neo-monarchists represent the right wing”. This was also seen by Jean Thiriart(17) and Michael Schneider (editor of the magazine Nationalisme et Republique(18) during a trip in August 1992 of which the objective was to make links with the opposition to Yeltsin. At the beginning of 1992, Alain de Benoist praised the birth of the magazine Dien (Today) which, following the example of Krisis in France, introduced “non-conformism and radicalism in the red-brown world and has as a slogan the search for a Russian and national third way”. Regarding the anti-Semitism of this magazine, it is necessary, according to de Benoist, to not exaggerate the content of it. One can also find this type of discourse in the former official communist publications. On demonstrations it is not unusual to see red flags and Tsarist flags side by side. Today, the opposition is structured, supported not least by the army. Stalin has been rehabilitated and one can seen in the different publications of the extreme right (Lutte du Peuple, and the Italian magazine Orion) articles that refer to the “little father of the people”.
Following the example of Jean-Paul Cruse, the French Communist Party has often developed a clear anti-Americanism .The great American devil on the one hand, the great Soviet brother on the other… The “communist collective of media workers” (the French cCommunist Party) complained in a communique of July 8, 1993 about the witch hunt being made against one of its members (Marc Cohen) and which aimed “to block all political debate linking the question of national sovereignty against American hegemony, and the historic values of the international workers’ movement”. It is well known that countries in eastern Europe have ardently defended these values.The red-brown rapprochement is a remake from the 1930s. Let us remember Jacques Doriot, the national-populist who split from the Communist Party in order to found the Parti Populaire Francais and went on to become a Nazi collaborator. As at this time, there is today a current inside the heart of the French communist Party which promotes a nationalist and populist discourse.
Those who put so much effort into denouncing the convergence between reds and browns often forget the ideological wanderings of their own circle. Through the magazine Krisis many contacts have been established between intellectuals of the new right and those of the left. During the summer of 1988, Krisis, edited by Alain de Benoist, broke the intellectual isolation of the new right and established its ideological hegemony. Leftist thinkers were as much involved as the ideologues of GRECE. The beginning of this exercise was marked by manipulation, then the magazine published articles that had already appeared elsewhere, without the permission of the authors. But Roger Garaudy (also involved with Nationalisme et Republique), Jean-Michel Palmier, Andre Comte-Sponville, Jean-Francois Kahn, Regis Debray, Jacques Domenach, Jacques Julliard, Bernard Langlois or even Claude Karenooh (who pretends to be a libertarian)(19) all work with de Benoist, and have participated without batting an eyelid at the magazine. Alain Decaux, former minister of the socialist Government, doesn’t feel in the least bothered about siding with people like Jean Mabire, Jean-Jacques Mourreau and Pierre Vial, all three of whom who have passed through GRECE to the Front National.
The ideological confusion due to a loss of political landmarks and referential marks on the left has [?] the appearance of such contacts and placed it in that of reactionary ideology. In France today, the task of the left and indeed the anti-fascist movement must be to make a clear separation of the two ideologies of nationalism and bolshevism, and to expose those members of the left who seek to make alliances with the extreme right. A new political discourse of the left needs to be created to take up this challenge. Otherwise, our next fuehrer might be wearing a red shirt.
1. The Soviets Betrayed by the Bolsheviks, Rudolph Rocker.
2. The first was founded by Jean-Edern Hallier. Le Choc is a monthly fascist magazine.
3. A new right think tank led by Alain de Benoist, who is linked to all the key fascists in France.
4. Steuckers is a multi -lingual lecturer and has played the role, since the departure of Guillaume de Faye in 1986, of deputy leader of the new right on the intellectual plain. He edits the magazine Vouloir.
5. Robert Steuckers, Vouloir, No.52-53, February-March, 1989.
6. Elements pour une culture europeenne, Winter 1992, No.75.
7. Elements pour une culture europeenne, Spring 1992, No.74.
8. Rene Monzat, a left-wing investigative journalist who was present in the room, was the only one to speak out against this and was put in his place by Francette Lazare.
9. Limonov has been since May 1993 the president of the National-Bolshevik Front in Moscow.
10. A magazine for the radical and national right in France.
11. The hardline right wing interior minister in the current [sic] French government.
12. Socialist Minister for the army during the Gulf War, he was nevertheless opposed to this war, he resigned and left the Socialist Party. Afterwards, he made a campaign against the Maastricht Treaty. Known for his nationalism and fervent patriotism.
13. ‘A propos d’un article publie par L’Idiot International’, communique of the SNJ-CGT, June 25, 1993.
14. The Lumieres were the key French thinkers and philosophers before the revolution, such as Voltaire, Montesqueiu and Rousseau.
15. A radical nationalist right wing group in France.
16. The main Third Position group in France today.
17. A Belgian fascist and wartime collaborator who adapted nationalism-bolshevism during the ’50s and ’60s into a philosophy which he called national-community Europeanism.
18. No longer published today, Nationalisme et Republique attempted to be a magazine of critical support for Jean-Marie Le Pen and the Front National. Towards the end it evolved towards a position very close to Nouvelle Resistance.
19. All key intellectuals on the French left.