The ISCIP Analyst
Behind the Breaking News
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Behind Zyuganov's Smile
Would it come as a surprise to the American public that Moscow's principal communist, a leading contender for the presidency of Russia, is also his country's leading antisemite and a fierce ultranationalist? That his favorite statesman in Russia's history is Stalin and that he thinks of himself as the true successor to Stalin, dismissing Soviet leaders like Khrushchev or Brezhnev as traitors to the Russian cause?
I am afraid that it may indeed sound incredible. Too many of our experts on Russia invested considerable effort in depicting Gennadi Zyuganov as a respectable alternative not just to the ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky but to Boris Yel'tsin himself. Quite recently Anders Aslund passionately explained in The New York Times that "even the Communist party is more promising" than Mr. Yel'tsin's government. The consensus of experts is that Mr. Zyuganov is much more pragmatic and rational than the pre-perestroika Soviet leaders with whom we have managed after all to find common language. And here I am stating that he is nothing more than a smiling Zhirinovsky.
Fortunately there is no need for me to engage in an argument with the experts. Mr. Zyuganov will do that for me. In 1995 alone he published three books stating his principal positions on Stalin as well as on Jews and the West. True, the circulation of his books is rather limited. The most important of them, a geopolitical treatise titled Beyond the Horizon, was printed outside of Moscow, in the provincial city of Orel, and is obviously designed more for the party faithful than for the eyes of our experts.
Still, the American public would be better off hearing Mr. Zyuganov' s side of the story in his own words; at least, the essentials of it. Let us hear his views in the form of Zyuganov's responses to questions that I might pose in an interview with him. Everything in quotation marks belong to Mr. Zyuganov.
Needless to say his story begins with Stalin, whom he sees as the greatest Russian statesman of modern times who "unlike any other, understood the imperative of ideological renovation for the spiritual health of the nation." It was for this reason that Stalin tirelessly worked on a "New Course" (Novyi Kurs) for Russia, the first result of which was "a radical change in the state ideology of the Soviet Union in 1944-53."
Q: How did this "radical change" manifest itself? In the antisemitic, "anti-cosmopolitan" campaign? In the infamous "doctors' plot"? Or in the new purge of party cadres?
A: No."The purpose of the New Course was to create an effective modern ideology of patriotism." (Zyuganov's emphasis)
Q: To replace the antiquated Leninism with its "proletarian internationalism"?
A: Exactly. "There could hardly be any doubt that, if this ideological perestroika continued, in 10-15 years the USSR would have completely overcome the negative spiritual consequences of the [bolshevik] revolution."
This is when national disaster struck, however. Stalin died in the middle of his "ideological perestroika." And "his body wasn't yet cold in the Mausoleum when his successors abruptly turned his ideological course around." This change was not just a betrayal of Stalin's cause but also a terrible historical setback for Russia.
A: Because "if Stalin had lived only five-seven years longer, the ideological perestroika would have been irreversible."
Q: All right. Let' s assume that Khrushchev was a traitor. What about Brezhnev? What about Gorbachev and Yel'tsin?
A: They were even worse. First, "the era of stagnation only accelerated the deadly process." As to Gorbachev and Yel'tsin, theirs have been "governments of national betrayal."
Q: But why would Stalin's successors kill an ideology bequeathed to them by the nation' s greatest statesman? Were they just so fickle and trendy, so treacherous at heart?
A: No. They were corrupted and seduced by the "anti-Russian intrigue of the world behind the scenes (Mirovaya zakulisa)."
Q: What could this possibly mean?
A: "The Jewish diaspora which traditionally controlled the financial life of the continent and, as 'its market' developed, has become the holder of the 'controlling interest,' as it were, of the entire economic system of Western civilization." It is because of its poisonous influence that "the struggle against Russia became the priority of Western policy."
Q: How would you prove that?
A: No proof is needed here since "Western bourgeois civilization is in principle incompatible with Russian civilization."
Q: Does this mean that Stalin was the only one to understand this fundamental incompatibility? Is it because of this that his successors became easy prey to the manipulations of the "world behind the scenes"?
A: Precisely. That's why "the entire 'civilized' West had greeted so loudly this maneuver [of the traitor] slyly omitting the enormous effort invested in the operation by its politicians and diplomats, its special services and agents of influence."
Q: But why would those "behind the scenes" invest all that effort in the Soviet Union's return to Leninism which burdened it with a decades-long cold war?
A: Because only Stalin' s "ideology of patriotism" is able to ruin once and for all "the for-many-centuries unalterable geopolitical interest of the West that requires the weakening and, if possible, the annihilation of Russia."
It seems that we've heard enough. Let me ask only what conclusion must Mr. Zyuganov's angry "patriotic" reader draw from it? That, because of the incompatibility in principle of Russian and Western civilization, the concept of coexistence enunciated by Stalin's successors is in fact impossible? That "they" would annihilate "us" if "we" don't annihilate "them"? No, Mr. Zyuganov never says that. But doesn't it follow incontrovertibly from what he did say about Stalin's and his own "ideology of patriotism"?
It's not even that important whether Mr. Zyuganov is sincere. What really matters is that he wants the party faithful to believe in his xenophobic manifesto. Yet, since I've indeed had a chance to discuss it with him personally, I can testify that he does believe every word of it. That's why, if I am asked what is behind Mr. Zyuganov's smile, I'd have to say: A more clever and much more perfidious Zhirinovsky.
Copyright ISCIP 1996