Orthodox Anarcho-Nationalism in the USSR

St. Valentin Sventsitsky (killed 1928, pictured below) and Andrei of Ufa (killed 1937), were both New Martyrs for Christian Nationalism and Anarchism in the USSR. They come from a long tradition of what can be called “National-Anarchism.” They were unique in Russia in that they were right-wing clergy that saw the revolution as an opportunity; an opportunity to rebuild the church on a new national basis. Andrei of Ufa was the originator of the term “National-Socialist” in that this was how he described his new vision for Russia in his essays published just before World War I.

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During the worst years of Jesuit-Jewish repression in Ukraine in the 17th century, the Athonite elder Ivan Vysenskyj forcefully restated the Nationalist-Anarchist teaching that would later be revived by the Old Believers, Nepluyev and St. Andrei of Ufa. Ignored in the west (and for clearly good reason), Monk Ivan mocked and verbally assaulted the oligarchy in all its forms and guises.

Russian history is typified greatly by the constant war between the Christian monarchy and oligarchy. These are polar opposites. The first is dedicated to the common good, “rules” as a symbolic representation of custom and the Orthodox life and is not identical with the “State” which is a necessary evil. On the other hand, the common good is fought by private goods: oligarchy and the materialization and brutalization of social life. Christian monarchy is a religious rather than a legal institution.

The true church does not rule; it is the truth on earth. Social monasticism is the asceticism of the everyday, the de-materialization of social life where prosperity is not measured in quantitative terms and economic growth is seen as much as a destructive force, as it is a productive one. Moral purity is the only claim to property, not contract. Apostasy is not just the renunciation of doctrine, but the renunciation of moral behavior as well. Behavior and doctrine are the same object, just seen from two different points of view. Parasitic behavior derives from false doctrine and vice versa, with the prophetic ideal of the Old Testament saying the same. As with the prophets of the Old Testament, injustice is identical with parasitism, it is to reap what one has not sown. Class rule is the result of rents, not economic innovation or the normal satisfaction of basic social needs.

The Russian commune was the specifically Christian Socialist and Christian Anarchist alternative to modernity and the “Mystic Anarchist” idea appealed to Christians and non-Christians alike in the Russian empire at the time of its destruction. Writers such as Yuri Chulkov or V. Ivanov wrote on this question, though often from a non-Christian viewpoint and Alexander Blok argued that solipsism is the result of modernism and nominalism, as the ego severs man from reality.

The institutional setting that can best enhance this conception of freedom is one that is based on a Constituent assembly guaranteeing basic “negative” freedoms with transparent, independent courts. This is not so much an ideal of good government but an anarchist conception where the shrinkage of the state will lead, not to chaos, but to the development of strong communal ties that were not yet totally corroded in Russia at the time.

This was the basic position of both saints: Valentin and Andrei, the latter a bishop, held to a new ideological vision based on the labor and peasant commune for Russia. It was anarchist in that it began with the parish and built from the bottom up. Bizarrely, they were both executed for being members of the “bourgeoisie.” Jacob Schiff, according to Trotsky, was a member of the “proletariat.”

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