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Western Communists versus Eastern Communists

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Soviet cogitations: 2407
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 26 Aug 2016, 21:47
I have noticed that communists in the West, notably the Anglosphere, were always different to communists in the Warsaw Pact countries or Asia.

Western Communists:
-Did not embrace patriotism or nationalism. Most had an ambivalent or even hostile attitude to their own countries.
-Invested heavily in identity politics (anti-racism, gay rights).
-Supported mass immigration from former colonies.
-Had little faith in the good of their own people or their ability to build socialism.
-Socially liberal.

Eastern Communists:
-Embraced patriotism and nationalism and combined it with Marxism-Leninism (even in countries that were not colonies like East Germany, Poland or Czechoslovakia).
-Had little interest in identity politics.
-Did not experience immigration on a large scale and had strict controls on visa limits.
-Had a very positive view of themselves.
-Socially conservative.

How do we account for such differences in attitudes and practices? Why was Soviet socialism patriotic and traditional but Western Marxism was always counter-cultural and subversive?
Soviet cogitations: 12389
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
Ideology: None
Philosophized
Post 26 Aug 2016, 22:01
To put it plainly, the Eastern nations have a far more developed racial and cultural identity than any of the Western nations, especially in the 21st century.

Russia, Bulgaria, etc. aren't being "deluged" with immigrants from the Middle East, Pakistan, etc. Therefore they retain a far more homogeneous, less diverse outlook on the world. There's also the fact that these nations all come from an Orthodox and monarchical background (sons and daughters of Byzantium) that the Western nations simply don't share.

You should also take into account the past 1500 years of history past the fall of the Western Empire. The West went through centuries of conquest, barbarism, cultural mixing, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, etc. The East, on the other hand, largely fell under the accursed yoke of the Turk or Tatar, and suffered centuries of static darkness.

The result is that the East and West have much less in common than should be the case. The fall of the Western Empire was the cause of the schism which really does persist to this day. Consequently, cultural norms of "patriotism" and "morality" are almost completely different in the two worlds.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
Soviet cogitations: 2407
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 26 Aug 2016, 22:14
But even Lenin told American socialists that immigration controls were racist. However the number of immigrants in the USSR or East Germany was very small.

Did this have something to do with Marxist-Leninist doctrine holding imperialist powers to a different standard?
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Soviet cogitations: 758
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 26 Aug 2016, 22:18
The other issue is that you are comparing Eastern Communists of the 1950s to Western Communists of the 2010s. For example in the 1930s you had Browderism "Communism is 20th century Americanism". One quip was that anyone who knew the 3rd verse of the National Anthem was a Communist. You had the French Communist Party that at least partially acquiesced to French imperialism in Algeria and Indochina for the sake of the electorate.

On the reverse side you had Lenin openly calling for the defeat of Russian Tsardom during WW1, and Bolshevik members of the Duma being put on trial for this. And if western communists are perceived as being unpatriotic today, so would Polish and Finnish "eastern communists" during their periods of tension with the USSR.

Eastern Communists only became patriotic when their parties were the ruling parties. They might have called themselves patriots before then, but the mainstream politicians would have considered them traitors, just like westerners do. Did not conservative catholics and nationalists of E. Europe consider the Communists to be disloyal to their native countries and serving a foreign master- the USSR? Were EE Communists "patriots" to their national war efforts when nearly all of EE was allied with Hitler against the USSR?

In addition the main minority group in Eastern Europe was not nonwhites, but the Jewish people, and Communism was heavily associated with the Jews, often to the detriment of perceptions among a deeply anti-Semitic rural catholic population.
Kamran Heiss
Soviet cogitations: 2407
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 26 Aug 2016, 22:46
I suppose what I do not understand is why every communist or socialist I meet wants nothing but a completely open door immigration policy. Anyone who seems to criticise this is called a racist. This in spite of the fact that it is completely unrealistic and unsustainable in the long term.

It seems strange that Lenin told the American socialists not to restrict immigraiton while no socialist state ever experienced mass immigration.
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Soviet cogitations: 4381
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 27 Aug 2016, 12:14
Order, I wouldn't necessarily say Eastern commies have a less diverse racial/cultural identity - not the USSR or even Russia anyway. We have over a hundred nationalities, all of them having their historical homelands inside historic Russia; in this sense trying to restrict these peoples' rights or telling them to 'go back where they came from' is not only counterproductive, but politically dangerous. Definitely agree with you though that religion, as well as the Tatar factor, played a huge role in the formation of the kind of mindset that was later inherited by the Bolsheviks (just like Western idealist communism prior to Marx was informed by certain Christian ideals).

The anti-Bolshevik philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, who was eventually exiled from Russia after the revolution, posited that Russian culture and society basically took traditional Marxism and even Lenin's theoretical ideas and absorbed them - fused them with traditional Russian conceptions of social justice and the way society should be run, to create 'Russian communism'. This, Berdyaev and his followers have posited, is where certain differences emerged between traditional Western ideas about communism and its Russian (in the civilizational, not ethnic sense of the word) equivalent. Personally I basically agree with this assessment.

Anyway, Political Interest - bear in mind that there are communists out there (I know a couple from Germany, for example) that are opposed to mass immigration - particularly when it gets to the point when it begins to threaten basic social safety and national identity anyway; the issue is that they are a silent minority for fear of being called racists. I think that certain ideas, including concepts like white guilt, have gradually fused with Leftist ideas in the West, particularly after the mid-20th century, when Western and Eastern communist movements diverged over a series of theoretical and historical disagreements.

Finally, I think heiss93 makes an excellent point about comparing apples and oranges between opposition communists and those who are in actual positions of political power, and between vastly different historical epochs. This is even a struggle Russian commies face inside Russia today. On the one hand, they are very patriotic; on the other hand, they are always in this struggle with the ruling party, which accuses them of being do-nothing oppositionists and sometimes even of being in bed with foreign intelligence services and the 'liberal fifth column'.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 22 Oct 2004, 15:15
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Politburo
Post 28 Aug 2016, 16:14
Many Western communist parties are or were patriotic to some extent, including in most of the Romance-language countries of Europe. It's just that these issues, like immigration, identity politics, social liberalism, etc. have a class component. Communists don't just treat them in the abstract, but they ask themselves: "Patriotism for whom? Individual freedom for whom?"

If there are differences between "Eastern" and "Western" communist parties (a thesis which I largely reject when it comes to the issues mentioned by the OP), then there is a very simple reason for this. It's because the communist movement is still too weak to reach political-ideological unity, to formulate common positions, to take common actions, etc. The class struggle is, and must be, international. But at the moment, most struggles take national forms, and communist parties must use their scarce resources to work in their own countries, based on the circumstances in those countries.

This distinguishes communists from liberals on the left and nationalists on the right. We combat racism and xenophobia, but we also reject the cosmopolitanism of capital, which workers either have no stake in, or is actively used against them. Communists don't play the game of bourgeois management by discussing false dichotomies like "open vs closed borders" in a capitalist society (as if communists have a say in capitalist management). In socialism, borders will be opened or closed depending on what is required for the construction of socialism and the transition to communism, period.

Communists promote proletarian internationalism and fraternisation between the workers of the world, that much is obvious. But this principle does not mean demanding mass immigration for its own sake. Only bourgeois liberals and the opportunist left do this. They ignore, for instance, the causes of the present refugee crisis, or they even lend their support to the imperialist intervention that causes people to flee their countries. They ignore the fact that sections of capital see mass immigration as a good way to press down wages, to force native and immigrant workers to compete against each other, to distract native workers from their real enemies and whip up racial tensions. To wage ideological struggle against this is certainly anti-racism, and it has nothing to do with identity politics.
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 30 Aug 2016, 00:34
The biggest mainstream communist parties in the West ( French CP, Italian Rifondazione, Spanish CP ) are hardly communist at all, and the ones in the East ( Russian and other CP's ) are basically closer to being conservative parties.
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Soviet cogitations: 2507
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 May 2004, 21:17
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Party Bureaucrat
Post 30 Aug 2016, 07:07
I'm not as well-versed on this subject as most everyone else here, but I can say with certainty that the Soviet Union was hardly patriotic in the traditional sense between the revolution and the start of WWII. The German invasion of the USSR resulted in a need for unity and common cause, to give people something to fight for beyond just their way of life; a homeland, or motherland. Patriotism was pushed through the typical propaganda channels, and after the end of the war when the US and USSR began flexing muscles at each-other, it really never went away so as to remind people what they'd need to fight for if war broke out again.

I would argue that Russian patriotism was far less nationalistic and more focused on the Party and preserving culture and ways of life, so in essence, still quite different from our typical perceptions of patriotism here in the West.

Something else to think about, as well, is that Russia never really had a hardcore nationalism period like the rest of Europe did in the 1920's. They went straight from living for a Crown to living for Socialism, whereas in Germany for instance, they went from living for the Crown to living in a period which allowed national identity to seethe, fester, and grow; so USSR states never really had time to develop a strong sense of national identity as in the West, which I believe became another new enemy for the Communists trying to fight for power.
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