[Marxism] Fwd: Russian Imperialism Today | Ukraine solidarity campaign солідарність України кампанія

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 27 07:21:33 MST 2014

November 27, 2014 	
by Zbigniew Marcin Kowalewski

Sergey Nikolsky, a Russian philosopher of culture, says that perhaps the 
most important idea for Russians “from the fall of Byzantium until today 
is the idea of empire and the fact that they are an imperial nation. We 
have always known that we live in a country whose history is an unbroken 
chain of territorial expansion, conquest, annexation, of their defence, 
of temporary losses and new conquests. The idea of empire was one of the 
most precious in our ideological baggage and it is this that we proclaim 
to other nations. It is through it that we surprise, delight or drive 
mad the rest of the world.”

The first and most important characteristic of the Russian empire, says 
Nikolski, has always been “the maximization of territorial expansion for 
the realization of economic and political interests, as one of the most 
important principles of state policy” [1]. This expansion was the result 
of the permanent and overwhelming predominance of the extensive 
development of Russia over its intensive development: the predominance 
of the absolute exploitation of the direct producers over their relative 
exploitation, that is to say over one based on the increase in labour 

“The Russian Empire was called “the prison of peoples”. We know today 
that it was not only the state of the Romanovs which deserved this 
description”, wrote Mikhail Pokrovsky, the greatest Bolshevik historian. 
He demonstrated that the Grand Duchy of Moscow (1263-1547) and the 
Tsardom of Russia (1547-1721) were already “prisons of peoples” and that 
these states were built on the corpses of the inorodtsy, the non-Russian 
indigenous peoples. “It is doubtful whether the fact that in the veins 
of the Great Russians there runs 80 per cent of their blood is a 
consolation for those who survived. Only the complete destruction of 
Great Russian oppression by this force which fought and is still 
fighting against all oppression, could be a form of compensation for all 
their sufferings” [2]. These words of Pokrovsky were published in 1933, 
just after his death and shortly before, at the request of Stalin, in 
the historic Bolshevik formula “Russia – prison of peoples”, the first 
word was replaced by another one: Tsarism. Subsequently the Stalinist 
regime stigmatized the scientific work of Pokrovsky as “an anti-Marxist 
conception” of the history of Russia [3].


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