Geopolitics of National Bolshevism (Response)

“It’s a bit pedantic, but ‘syndicalist’ tended to be used as a generic term by the Bolsheviks to describe any tendency which rejected the central role of the Communist Party. The council-communists who ended up in the KAPD didn’t use that word to describe themselves – syndicalists put trade-unions first, while council-communists rejected union work as too reformist and political parties as too centralist-bureaucratic. They preferred a grass-roots, mass-action approach (decentralized workers’ councils). Either way, the ‘syndicalist’ faction weren’t in the party very long – the KPD repeatedly pushed out or disciplined any leaders/factions who tried to put German Communism onto a path independent of Moscow, until eventually it ended up as the party of Thälmann, who was a good public speaker but pretty rigidly doctrinaire.

It is surprising at first that a ‘National Bolshevist’ group might have come out of something as ultra-left as council-communism. ‘National Bolshevism’ was a pretty generic term that was applied to lots of different groups, though, usually for pejorative reasons – Laufenberg & Wolffheim didn’t really use it to describe themselves. They were a kind of national-leaning deviation of a far-left political current, which is unusual, but they only got that way fairly gradually, through a slow evolution. They are definitely very distinctive, though, especially with their heavily Marxist-sounding rhetoric and their emphasis on workers’ democracy.”



That makes a lot of sense, now that you mentioned it. At first, I was assuming that this short-lived KPD faction happened to be actual Syndicalists who advocated for Syndicalism. But given the fact that they preferred decentralized workers’ councils and grassroots activism, I can understand why they would be mislabeled as “Syndicalists” who insisted on decentralized councils to promote labor unions. If they were going to advocate for a decentralized model of Council Democracy, it would have made sense for them to place some credible degree of emphasis on the unions as a means of organizing their activities.

In any case, yes, even I was surprised to learn that National Bolshevism originated as a Far-Left political phenomenon emanating from adherents of Council Communism. We now have an important piece of evidence disproving any notions that National Bolshevism was a Far-Right phenomenon, which is the one of the two sentiments that emerge in discussions about the ideology. It is possible that the term “National Bolshevism” served as an umbrella word to describe those who saw the Class Struggle along national lines, like an early precursor to the much later “Socialist Patriotism” that would later compliment the Proletarian Internationalism of the Soviets and Eastern Bloc countries by the late 20th century. This goes to show that Nationalism and Socialism do in fact have much in common with each other, thereby allowing anyone to advocate for some synthesis between the two.



Categories: Philosophy

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