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National communism refers to the various forms in which communism has been adopted and/or implemented by leaders in different countries. In each independent state, empire, or dependency, the relationship between class and nation had its own particularities. The Ukrainian communists Shakhrai and Mazlakh and then Muslim Sultan Galiyev considered the interests of the Bolshevik Russian state at odds with those of their countries. This was followed after 1945 by the Yugoslav communist dictator Josip Broz Tito when he attempted to pursue an independent foreign policy.
Communism as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels envisioned it was meant to be very internationalist as proletarian internationalism was expected to place class conflict well ahead of nationalism as a priority for the working class. Nationalism was seen as a tool that the bourgeoisie used to divide and rule the proletariat (bourgeois nationalism). Whereas the influence of international communism was very strong from the late 19th century through the 1920s, the decades after that—beginning with socialism in one country and progressing into the Cold War and the Non-Aligned Movement—made national communism a larger political reality.
During the decade of the 1840s, the word "communist" came into general use to describe those who hailed the left-wing of the Jacobin Club of the French Revolution as their ideological forefathers. In 1847, the Communist League was founded in London. The League asked Karl Marx and Frederick Engels to draft The Communist Manifesto, which was adopted by the league and published in 1848. The Communist Manifesto included a number of views of the role of the nation in the implementation of the manifesto. The preamble notes that The Communist Manifesto arose from Europeans from various nations coming together in London to publish their shared views, aims and tendencies. Chapter one then discusses how the rise of the bourgeoisie has led to globalisation and the place of national issues:
According to Roman Rozdolsky: "When the Manifesto says that the workers 'have no country', this refers to the bourgeois national state, not to nationality in the ethnical sense. The workers 'have no country' because according to Marx and Engels, they must regard the bourgeois national state as a machinery for their oppression-and after they have achieved power they will likewise have 'no country' in the political sense, inasmuch as the separate socialist national states will be only a transitional stage on the way to the classless and stateless society of the future, since the construction of such a society is possibly only on the international scale".
Milovan Djilas popularized the term in his New Class (1957): “No single form of communism [...] exists in any other way than as national communism. In order to maintain itself it must become national". A few years earlier, ex communist Manabendra Roy noted: “Communism in Asia is essentially nationalism painted Red". The Dutch Social Democrat Anton Pannakoek and Russian monarchists Nicholas Ustrialov and Vasilii Shulgin pointed out in 1920 that Russians first "nationalized" communism. They thus drew attention to how far the Bolsheviks differed from all other European social democratic parties in terms of structure and ideology and to the fact Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik Party (formed from the left-wing of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party) can be considered the first national communist party. In March 1918, Lenin renamed his party the Russian Communist Party. National communism also refers to non-Russian communist currents that arose in the former tsarist empire after Lenin seized power in October 1917 and to the various communist regimes that emerged after 1945 in other parts of the world.
In the wake of their Russian counterparts, left-wing socialists in Ukraine and the Muslim areas of the former tsarist empire also developed distinct variants of communism that continued in the Soviet Union until 1928. Ukrainian and Muslim variants differed from each other on two points in particular. The Muslims believed the fate of world revolution depended on events in Asia and not Europe. They also argued alliances with the national bourgeoisie were necessary for the duration of the liberation struggle. Class divisions had to be ignored, otherwise the national bourgeoisie would turn away from national liberation, ally with their imperial counterparts and thus ensure the ultimate collapse of any revolutionary struggle and national liberation. In its Muslim variant, it was a synthesis of nationalism, communism and anarchism as well as religion. Muslim communists included people from both left and right-wing groups which predated the Russian Revolution, joining the Russian Bolshevik Party between 1917 and 1920—some of whom later were Narkomnats under the People's Commissar Joseph Stalin.
In 1918, the book Do Khvyli (translated into English as On The Current Situation in the Ukraine, P. Potichnyj ed. ), written by the Ukrainian communists Serhii Mazlakh and Vasyl' Shakhrai, challenged what they saw as Russian domination over Ukraine under Bolshevik rule. The precursors of the Ukrainian communists, the Ukrainian left-social democrats in March 1919 tried to direct the mass anti-Bolshevik uprising that began then in Ukraine, but failed to win control over a sizable territory. Their main military force under Danylo Zeleny was defeated by July 1919. Faced with Anton Denikin's successful offensive, they decided to stop further military activity and ally with the Bolsheviks as the lesser evil. In January 1920, they formed the Ukrainian Communist Party which recognized Russian communist rule over Soviet Ukraine, but criticized Bolshevik administrative, cultural, political, party and economic centralization. In a letter submitted to the Third International that year, they extended the analysis of Shakhrai and Mazlakh.
Open conflict between prominent Muslim theorists such as Mirsäyet Soltanğäliev and Lenin and Stalin broke out in 1919 at the Second Congress of the Communist International over the autonomy of the Muslim Communist Party as well as at the Congress of the Peoples of the East and the First Conference of the Turkic Peoples' Communists of Soviet Russia and significantly at the Tenth Congress of the Bolshevik Party (April 1921). The crisis resulted in the purge of the Communist Party of Turkestan in December 1922 and the arrest of Sultan Galiev in 1923. Galiev was the first Bolshevik Party member to be arrested by Stalin. The immediate cause of his arrest were his comments on the 12th Congress resolutions regarding concessions to non-Russians. Stalin was infuriated that Galiev rejected his juxtaposition of "great power chauvinism" with "local nationalism". Reaction to great-power chauvinism, Galiev explained, was not "nationalism" and it was simply reaction to great power chauvinism. Nine days later, he was arrested.
During this time, Soltanğäliev, Turar Ryskulov, Nariman Narimanov and Ahmet Baytursunov were very influential especially through the Communist University of the Toilers of the East which opened in 1921 and was very active until its staff was purged in 1924. Communists from outside the Soviet Union such as Manabendra Nath Roy, Henk Sneevliet and Sultan Zade also taught there, formulating similar political positions. Students of the university included Sen Katayama, Tan Malaka, Liu Shaoqi and Ho Chi Minh.
The great purge in the Muslim republics began in 1928 with executions of Veli Ibrahimov of the Tatar Communist Party and Milli Firka followed by the leaders of Hummet, Tatar Communist Party and even the Tatar Union of the Godless. It also happened in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and the Young Bukharians.