RUSSIA AND THE "EASTERN ISSUE"
. In the same way Engels worked under a strong impact of the German classical historical-philosophical school that preached that Russia and the Slavs were unable to independently set up a powerful state and pursue successful diplomacy.
In his Revolution and Counterrevolution in Germany Engels offered a frightening picture: all civilized nations were threatened by a possible unification of the Slavs. They «may push aside or destroy the self-imposed guests… Turks, Hungarians and, in the first place, the hated Germans.» The nightmare of mythical pan-Slavism allegedly headed by Russian autocracy plagued Engels in the same way as the nightmare of coalitions plagued Bismarck. Engels wrote: «This ridiculous and antihistoric movement has posed itself an aim of subjugating the civilized West to the barbarian East, the city to the village, industry and spiritual culture to primitive landtilling by serf Slavs. This theory was backed by frightening reality represented by the Russian Empire. With each its step this empire betrays its claim to regard entire Europe as the prize of the Slavic tribe and especially of Russians as their only most active part. In the last 150 years this empire never lost its territory — it extended it with each new war. Central Europe is aware of the intrigues through which Russian policy supported the newly created theory of pan-Slavism.»
Engels revolutionary fire was fed not only by the alleged pan-Slavistic sentiments of the Russian czars. It was also fed by Mikhail Bakunins «democratic pan-Slavism.» Bakunin offered an idea of a natural blend of the revolutionary flows of Western Europe and the Slavs into a genuine common European revolution. Engels regarded this as heresy. Indeed, Bakunin was bold enough to suggest that the Slavs were worthy of contributing to the revolutionary struggle in Europe — meanwhile they were given no place in it.
In his article about the aims of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung Engels distinguished himself in a polemics on the ethnic issue. He said that in the next world war not only «the reactionary classes and dynasties but also the reactionary nations will disappear from Earth.» «This will be progressive,» said he. The classic of internationalism believed that the Slavs «were not viable and will not be able to obtain independence of any sort.» They allegedly «never had a history of their own. At the very moment when they reached the first, and the lowest, civilization stage they fell under foreign power or were forcibly lifted to the first stage of civilization with the help of foreign yoke.»
In his rage Engels lost all vestiges of internationalism. The Slaves were originally counterrevolutionary, he argued, they «everywhere subjugated the revolutionary nations.» Germans and Hungarians «gifted and energetic» brought civilization to their Slavic neighbors. It should be said in all justice that the «classic» regarded the Poles as the only exception. While denying the Orthodox Slavs the right to fight against Habsburg Austria the Marxists seemed to feed the Poles hatred of «reactionary» Russia.
With a great deal of bitterness Aleksandr Herzen described the meeting at which Adam Mickiewicz called for another march of European nations on Russia under leadership of «a representative of great France.» By this he meant Napoleon III-it was rather disgraceful for a liberal but nothing counted when an attack on Russia was on the agenda. It seems that Mickiewicz was ignorant of e true cost of the Polish question offered by the revolutionary ideologists. In the same way he was obviously ignorant that his idol Napoleon Bonaparte regarded Poland as a small coin in the game he was playing. This can be clearly seen in the offers he made before the Tilsit Peace Treaty was signed. When the hopes of another Polish uprising igniting Russia and blowing up the European astern failed the coin became devalued. In a letter to Marx Engels called the Poles «une nation foutue, a means to be saved until Russia was involved in an agrarian revolution.»
It was the permanent design to channel the Poles to the East to involve them in a war with Russia to resolve the Western Polish frontiers issue in Germanys favor. «The problem of delimitation among the nations would have become of secondary importance compared to the central problem, that of a reliable frontier against the common enemy. Having acquired vast territories in the East the Poles would have become much more manageable in the West.» The letter is concluded in an impressive way: «We take from the Poles all we can in the West, occupy their fortresses with Germans, devour their foodstuffs. If we manage to attract the Russians we shall join them to wrench more concessions from the Poles.»
The lifestyle of these pillars of Marxism presented a striking contrast to their philosophy. Those researchers who compared Russian revolutionaries and their spiritual fathers pointed out that Marx and Bakunin were complete antipodes. Among other things Bakunin accused Marx and the Communist International of serving solely Jewish aims. This was one of the reasons behind their conflict. See Michel Bacounine, Polemique centre les juifs, Paris, 1869.
Everything in Bakunin was genuine: his struggle, his suffering, and his death. Everything in Marx was false: 30 years of instigations from the British Museum library, comfortable life at the expense of Engels, marriage of convenience and a German aristocratic wife, rich funeral with speeches — in short, a typical philistine waging a war against the «bourgeoisie.»
Engels article On Foreign Policy of Russian Czarism that appeared in 1890 in Die neue Zeit and Time, and also Marxs work Secret Diplomatic History of the 19th Century repeated all the myths that the hostile European forces ascribed to Russia. In Soviet times their most odious works related to Russia were kept under lock
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