What caused the emergence of nationalist movements in many post-communist states? What role did communist regimes play in fostering these movements? Why have some been more successful than others? To address these questions, Yitzhak Brudny traces the Russian nationalist movement from its origins within the Russian intellectual elite of the 1950s to its institutionalization in electoral alliances, parliamentary factions, and political movements of the early 1990s.
Brudny argues that the rise of the Russian nationalist movement was a combined result of the reinvention of Russian national identity by a group of intellectuals, and the Communist Party’s active support of this reinvention in order to gain greater political legitimacy. The author meticulously reconstructs the development of the Russian nationalist thought from Khrushchev to Yeltsin, as well as the nature of the Communist Party response to Russian nationalist ideas. Through analysis of major Russian literary, political, and historical writings, the recently-published memoirs of the Russian nationalist intellectuals and Communist Party officials, and documents discovered in the Communist Party archives, Brudny sheds new light on social, intellectual, and political origins of Russian nationalism, and emphasizes the importance of ideas in explaining the fate of the Russian nationalist movement during late communist and early post-communist periods.