The Russian Revolution, 1917-1945

By Anthony D’Agostino | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
National Bolshevism in World Affairs

The Russian Bolsheviks started out with the intention to overthrow the existing cosmos, not merely to liberate or modernize Russia. They thought of themselves as the only remaining internationalists in a world that had drunkenly served up all its values on the altar of war. That was supposed to give them a special and superior perspective from which to look down on the cruel world of international relations. From the beginning they knew that defeatism was a cause that might not triumph everywhere simultaneously, so one had to recognize that the defeat of Russia would also be the victory of its enemies. But they laughed off the denunciations hurled at them in Petrograd for the help they had got from Ludendorff. When Germany rose up in revolution they could join it in common cause against the Entente imperialists. A Communist Germany would thus have resulted in a German-Russian heartland bloc, the nightmare of Sir Halford Mackinder, the British authority on the new science of geopolitics. Mackinder had warned that the power controlling the heartland of the Eurasian land mass would control the world. Communists could not deny that an expanded socialist commonwealth might take the form of a Bismarckian or Metternichean bloc in Central and Eastern Europe. But they were sure that its content would be proletarian socialism of the purest kind and a rebuke to imperialism, the balance of power, and the idea of the nation-state itself.

There is no good reason to doubt their sincerity about this. It was entirely natural for them to consider themselves the most militant voice in a general chorus of disillusionment with the “old diplomacy” that had brought on the horrors of the war. Like many liberals and

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