Karl Radek’s Critique of National Bolshevism


If there was something which binds the narratives of “Revolutionary People’s War or Counter-Revolutionary Civil War?” and Karl Radek’s subsequent critique, it would arguably be their discussions of 20th century geopolitics. My conclusion that the geopolitical conclusions of Laufenberg and Wolffheim in the previous ARPLAN Post remains valid here. Basically, the Liberal Capitalists sought to gain a worldwide hegemony since the Enlightenment, but what prevented them from succeeding until the 1990s was that they needed to dominate the Eurasian landmass. The only time in which they came close to failing was in 1941, when it seemed for a moment that the Eurasian landmass was going to be partitioned between the German Reich, Italy, the Soviet Union, Japan and possibly China (regardless of who won the Chinese Civil War). American unipolarity, which secured Neoliberalism’s world domination, could have also been contained at that particular point.

The arguments posited by Radek are supportive of my conclusion, regardless of whether the German Reich is Pan-Germanic Socialist, National Bolshevist, or Marxist-Leninist. As long as the German-speaking world is not Liberal Capitalist, as in the cases of the Weimar Germany and West Germany, the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia can rely on the Germans as an ally. But, as Radek pointed out, there are genuine limits as to how far the German-speaking world is willing to help the Soviets or the Russians. Even in today’s geopolitical climate, where Russia is still wrestling control of the Ukraine from the Jeffersonians and the EU/NATO, the Germans are more inclined toward being neutral than an active participant of either side. If the German-speaking world is not vying to create their own alliance, they are either neutral or trying to maintain concessions from both sides. That is the usual geopolitical position regarding Germany.

Where Radek deviates from the conventional wisdom is when he raised the question of what sort of diplomatic relationship would the German-speaking world have with the Soviet Union. He insisted that whichever non-Neoliberal ideology the German-speaking world adopts, there was going to be the possibility of the Germans usurping the Soviet position in the worldwide proletarian movement. I am convinced that Radek was more or less anticipating the much later diplomatic relations that the Soviets had with the People’s Republic of China, the former Yugoslavia, and Albania. The Sino-Soviet, Yugoslav-Soviet, and Albanian-Soviet Splits each had their own motivations, but all three revolved around similar themes.

  • Is it better to have the “Class Struggle” be nationalized or recontextualized to suit the national essence of a particular nation?  
  • Why should there be a multiplicity of different Socialisms and not just one definition for Socialism? If a nation’s version of Socialism was never intended by its creators to espouse any Marxist positions, does that constitute their Socialism as a form of “Revisionism?”
  • Who should lead the “World Revolution” against the Liberal Capitalists? Do all Socialist nations have to be part of the same alliance, or could they form their own alliances?
  • What becomes of Imperialism once Neoliberalism ceases to exist on the world stage? Is it possible to envisage Imperialism continuing as “Social Imperialism?”

These questions have not ceased, nor have they been given proper resolutions, even after the dissolutions of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries. It remains to be seen as to whether the Socialist and Communist movements of the world are going to be properly address them. The ones in the Western world have no intentions of answering because so many are anti-nationalist, whereas the ones in the former Soviet Republics and China still lack their former ambitions. The Jeffersonian propaganda about the PRC surpassing the US on the world stage is a rhetorical holdover of much older propaganda about post-1945 Japan surpassing the US in the economic realm alone.  Fortunately, the ARPLAN Blog has offered some clues on the most obvious outcome.      

I had previously stated in various comments on earlier ARPLAN Posts about the KPD and NSDAP that, had the German Reich survived past 1945, Pan-Germanic Socialism might have inspired the rise of various “National Socialisms” in the late 20th century. Instead of Marxism-Leninism or Liberal Capitalism, there would have been movements where Nationalists sought common cause with Socialists. While such “National Socialisms” will not be espousing Hitlerism or Strasserism, they will be advocating for Socialisms along national, cultural, religious, or ethnic lines. The most well-known historical candidates were those who advocated for Pan-Arabism or Pan-Africanism, the ideas of uniting the Middle East and Africa into either supranational states or blocs of nations, the latter proposal being in favor of an alliance that was neither pro-American nor pro-Soviet.   

Something similar would have occurred if the German Reich was National Bolshevik. Instead of “National Socialisms,” there would instead be “National Communisms,” allowing the aforementioned developments of the late 20th century to occur within the first half of the century. All the questions of Revisionism, Social Imperialism and Social Patriotism will gain prominence among Communist movements, as Socialist nations begin adopting Nationalistic positions. And whichever direction the German-speaking world chooses, it will be finding itself at odds with the Soviet Union if by trying to lead the World Revolution. The challenge then will be whether the Soviets and the Germans are able to find a working relationship at the diplomatic level.

Overall, whichever way we look at it, Bogumil, we are looking at the great question of whether this alternate world order had any chance when it briefly emerged in 1941. It is clear to me that a multipolar world order would be far more preferable for the rest of the world than the bipolar and unipolar world orders that we eventually got. Germany and Russia would both play leading roles alongside several others. Every other nation would then be able to choose between adopting existing national ideas and developing their own. It would have made geopolitics much more interesting.    



Categories: Philosophy

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