AHC/PC/WI: Christian Socialist Russia

In the October Revolution and Russian Civil War of OTL, Russia became an atheist Marxist state, abandoning its traditional religion of Orthodoxy. What if a Christian Socialist movement takes over Russia instead? It could be a Christianized version of the Bolsheviks, or perhaps the SRs or some group I haven't heard of. How would such a state develop instead of OTL USSR, and what effect would this have on the internal politics of the West?
On the one hand, Tolstoy was an interesting anarchist. On the other, the Orthodox Church of the Tsarist days was as corrupt, if not more so, than the Catholic friars of my own country. They were both the source of the rot in many cases, the foundation of reactionary politics, which is why anticlericalism emerged in the first place. You have to understand, Christian socialism can only exist where the Church has been disestablished and not a pillar of the absolutist system.

This is speaking as a Christian myself.
It is possible to have a anticlerical christian rebellion
It'd be something weird like this tho:
Christian Anarchism/Tolstoyism:

Forgive me horseshoe theory, for I have sinned

Note: Though it is partially entitled "Christian Anarchism," many elements of this philosophy has been adapted and elaborated upon by non-Christian thinkers, such as Gandhi himself. As such, I added the "Tolstoyism" signifier to assert that though this theory revolves more around the political thought of a particular author than any prefab denomination or political philosophy. I added "Christian Anarchism" because "Tolstoyism" isn't a card-carrying philosophy and Tolstoy's thought is usually placed under the Christian anarchist umbrella.

What it is:
A variation on anarcho-pacifism championed by the nineteenth-century Russian author Leo Tolstoy, Christian anarchism defines the state as a coercive apparatus opposed to basic Christian tenants of love, selflessness, and forgiveness. Christian anarchism posits that countries, which inevitably operate on systems of violent coercion, lead to a deadly cycle of violent retaliation, invariably raising the demons of war, bitterness, destruction, and wrath into the world. Only through a rejection of the state and the aggressive tactics which a state inevitably employs can attitudes of love, peace, and self-discipline take root in a society.

Christian anarchists derive this particular theory of anarchism from several sections of the New Testament, most notably the Sermon on the Mount, wherein Jesus urged his followers to love their enemies, not to swear oaths, and to turn the other cheek towards enemies. Nation-states force their populace to swear oaths of allegiance to them and participate in conflicts against enemies of the state. Therefore, Christian anarchists base their opposition to the state in Biblical principles.

Many Christian anarchists additionally view the modern Christian superstructure as hopelessly polluted by earthly nation-states. The Battle of the Milvian Bridge and the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity is often marked as the point where Christianity went sour and became hopelessly conflated with the mechanisms of the state. Not surprisingly, many Christian anarchists have a fetish for the early Christian Church before it was embraced by the Roman establishment.

As Individualist Good Guys
The state has long since split into an array of free communes, each one professing the supremacy of God over any earthly monarch or bureaucracy. After the revolution, however, the communities have drifted apart from one another due to their differing interpretations of the Gospels. Today, the towns and cities of the region are almost as diverse as they are decentralized, which is saying something, as there is no permanent authority to unite the communes in the first place. Though each of the communities is theocratic to some extent, many, fearful of any sort of compulsive authority, can be remarkably tolerant, especially since there are scores of distinct communes with different governing styles. However, the communes, hampered by the lack of a central government, suffer from crime, especially of the organized sort. The good Christian folk, though, are united by their commitment towards safety and disdain for violence, and are working to mitigate this.

As Collectivist Good Guys
The free Christian communes established by the revolution are a peaceful place, if notoriously dull and bland. Overt belligerence is swiftly punished by the Holy Mendicant Order, a monastic order concerned with "governing" the people of the region, yet the Order is struggling with nepotism and self-serving behavior like any organization large enough. Still, its intentions are well enough to both guarantee safety and liberty, provided one does not engage in any unholy activity. The communes have long struggled with poverty, yet the charitable wing of the Order does its best to make sure no one starves and everyone has a bed to come home to.

The anarchists abolished the profanities of the state, replacing it with an independent array of mostly self-sufficient communities, each intent on preserving their own interpretation of the teachings of Christ. These communities are mostly small, poor, and self-sufficient, keeping with Christ's inclinations toward poverty and humility. Still, the land is mostly peaceful, though prone to violent outbursts of religious tension. Occasionally a community asserts hierarchy over others; this can lead to remaining free communities organizing in order to cut the transgressor down to size and harshly punish it. Though this prevents most sorts of organized cross-commune activity, this has the undue effect of protecting the free Christian communes from outside or inside threats. Mostly.

As Individualist Villains
The lofty ideals of the brave Christian revolutionaries have long since been abandoned, along with the rule of law, public service, safety, charity, and freedom. Everybody knows that the strong rule in such a society, the inevitable burglars and brigands that only apply the thinnest veneer of Christianity to legitimize their bloody chaos in Jesus's name. An anarchy in the most harrowing sense of the word, warlords pillage the destitute villages in a parasitic relationship with the hopelessly-pliable commoners, who have long since abandoned any notions of resistance in favor of a fetishistic attachment to resignation in the name of God.

As Collectivist Villains
Though an anarchy in name, everyone knows the masses are run by a shadowy monastic order that exalts peaceful submission before the will of God. Of course, this means peaceful submission before the will of the Order, as it is explicitly clear that the will of the Order, protectors of all good Christian folk, is the will of God. All forms of compulsion and aggression are banned, as one would not want the flock to go astray. Transgressors against the will of God are often dragged off in the night. Not that the perpetually sick, poor, and starving population seems to care much about anything besides scraping together their next meal. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, as Jesus so stated himself. There is hidden talk of brainwashing "aggressive" dissidents into more cooperative dissidents, but the Order's inquisition network makes sure that such blasphemy remains hidden talk.

Interesting Note
If this blog is to be trusted, apparently the Chi-Rho (☧) symbol is unduly popular with modern Christian anarchists, although it seems to have initially arisen as a symbol for Roman-sponsored Christianity, itself an avatar of the thing that Christian anarchists oppose. Though this probably amounts to young n' edgy contrarians (who else would be attracted to Christian anarchism, of all things?) awkwardly trying find a symbol unassociated with the vanilla evangelicalism of the ichthys (Jesus fish), one could try to spin the Christian anarchists' adoption of this particular symbol as a representation of their desertion of their initial goals in favor of something more pragmatic or more similar. Imagine a neo-Roman Empire in all but name ruled by a profligate claiming to be the avatar of Christ? All this juicy speculation is making me want to write a timeline . . .


When the enemy comes, do not aid him, for he is your enemy. Do not assist him, for he is your foe. Do not offer him shelter, for he is your doom. Let none provide help for the enemy and instead turn the other cheek, as Jesus would have done.
Sicilian Fasci(sm), aka Fasci Siciliani

If you think that a socialist movement using fasces symbolism was as confusing as this would get, boy are you in for a surprise.

What it is
To give a brief history: In the late 19th century Sicily was, if not outright feudal then at least highly influenced by its recent feudal past. A whole lot of wealth, land and political power was still highly concentrated in the hands of the (former) aristocrats and what wasn’t was often owned by the new middle-class which descended from the old middle-class. The peasants were, understandably, pretty unhappy with this and the worldwide agricultural depression going on at the time certainly didn’t make them less angry.

At the time left-wing solidarity organisations, known as worker bundles or fasces, were enjoying some success and popularity in mainland, center-north Italy so when the Sicilian peasants began planning their protest against both the aristocrats and the government that supported them, they organised themselves as a fasci. Like most other labour actions in history, it ended up being violently put down by the government – nothing special there, history moved on.

But what makes the Fasci Siciliani notable, and different from other failed labour movements, is that it effectively represents a halfway point between the more traditional/primitive, reactionary and largely un-ideological peasant revolts of premodernity and the modern, ideological, organised worker revolts of socialism.

One thing to note is that the Fasci was never officially insurrectionary – for its entire (short) existence the movement’s goal was pressuring the government into reforming taxes, agricultural legislation, land distribution, etc – but many of the individual members had a greater scope vision of it.

So the Fasci Siciliani had a melding of millenarian Christian beliefs and revolutionary Marxism. They just as often shouted “Long live the King and Queen” as they did “Down with taxes”, they carried crucifixes and images of saints with them, they supposedly treated visiting Socialist leaders as if they were bishops and they still seemed to fundamentally believe that the King was fair and, if he was made aware what injustices were done in his name, he would not tolerate them – the widespread and active participation of peasant women played a key role in this.

Despite this, they explicitly wanted a communist society, one where food, property and land was held in common, where everyone worked and where they were all equal and united in fraternity.

The Fasci members thus came to view socialism as the ‘true religion of Christ’ which had been corrupted in the past by priests in alliance with the rich. Quite a lot, but not all, Sicilian priests opposed the Fasci and tried to excommunicate anyone who joined one – the peasants responded by either abandoning the priests/churches or protesting & boycotting them. There were even some examples of people having their babies baptised at the Fascio (meeting hall, essentially) rather than a church.

Millenarian Religion was key in how they Fasci peasants viewed socialism and expressed it, but ultimately wasn’t especially influential in shaping their political actions – most Fasci were largely content to play politics and attain small concessions while they waited for God’s new world to come on its own, and those who weren’t never managed to come to power. The main strategy for broader change, insofar as it existed, seemed to be grassroots parliamentarianism; the Fasci would unite the lower classes and get socialists elected in provincial elections, and so on until there was a socialist majority in Rome who could do away with all the ‘bad laws’.

The Fasci movement that managed to survive past the Crispi government’s ‘state of siege’ had fluctuating membership but was never completely negligible, and came to favour collective farming. The poor township of Piana dei Greci (or Piana degli Albanesi), descended from a number of Albanian clans fleeing Ottoman conquest in the 15th century and located within the historically near-impossible-to-effectively-administrate island centre, was always troublesome due to it keeping its Albanian language, religion, culture alive – this tendency to come into conflict with the greater Sicilian/Italian authorities didn’t disappear as time went on, as it was a centre of revolutionary Fasci in Sicily, briefly declared itself an independent communist republic after the fall of fascism in Italy and still, today, is highly involved in socialist politics in the region.

Wow, this ended up being a bit more of a history lesson than an analysis of the ideology, but with something as specific as this it’s difficult to avoid that. Key note are:
  • Millenarian Christian Socialists, believed that socialism was the original Christian religion before it was betrayed by priests and the rich
  • Radical beliefs but very reformist in practice
  • Mixture of pre-modern peasant revolts over specific issues and modern worker revolts for societal change
  • Potentially not opposed to monarchs

As individualist good guys
See Bfoxius’ entry on Christian Anarchism/Tolstoyism, basically. The Fasci Siciliani were more influenced by Marxism than Anarchism, unlike some other peasant-movements-turned-socialist-movements, but it probably wouldn’t be that dissimilar as ‘good guys’.

As collectivist good guys
The Fasci’s plan of grass-roots-up electoralism is not only successful, but unlike every other reformist socialist movement in history they actually remain radical. It might not be peaceful exactly, it seems unlikely that there wouldn’t be attempts at coups or even an outright civil war over something like this, but the Fasci do manage to come to power in Italy and establish socialism without a violent revolution.

The new Fasci regime favours political structures – collective agrarian villages in rural areas, worker’s councils in urban areas – and retains a mostly symbolic monarchy, serving as a kind of “crowned soviet republic.” Controversially, they strongly influence the Catholic Church into electing a socialist-friendly, if not outright socialist, Pope who starts trying to radically reform Catholic orthodox teachings – chances of Antipopes being established elsewhere are high.

As neutrals
The Fasci’s plan of grass-roots-up electoralism is not so successful. They struggle to get elected in anything higher than provincial governments, and they’re increasingly ideologically de-radicalized until they eventually split into a more left-leaning than usual Christian Democracy party and a more religious than normal Labour or Social Democrat party.

The Fasci themselves, as an institution, don’t fair much better than any other labour organization when union-busting, laissez-faire capitalism (what we might known as Neoliberalism in our timeline) starts coming into power.

As villains #1
As it turns out, people with a literally religious devotion to their political ideology aren’t particularly stable. The Fascio become cult compounds rather than offices for labour organizations, more and more people become convinced that the new kingdom of god must be ushered in by His true followers and those who don’t start to have their views shift from simply being millenarian to being apocalyptic, and as the violent insurgency in Sicily is crushed those who remain behind break out the Kool Aid equivalent.

If they actually manage to come to power, well... I guess they might look like a version of the Khmer Rouge who are inspired by Christianity instead of a vague cultural Buddhism?

As villains #2
They’re kinda like the Italian edition of the Mladorossi. The Fasci Siciliani, or a distorted version of it anyway, take part in a larger, more general communist uprising in Italy and somehow manage to be the faction that comes to power.

They’re fondness for agrarian socialism remains but takes the form of a Soviet/Maoist-esque farm collectivization, and the Fasci as worker organisations are done away with and replaced with the Party-State in much the same way as the Soviets were in the OTL USSR.

A puppet is placed upon the Italian throne – or perhaps the dictator takes the crown for themselves? – and the Catholic Church is outright abolished and replaced with the “true religion of Christ” which looks an awful lot like party doctrine.

…As always, let me know about any typos.

The ideological basis of this hypothetical christian socialist Russia would probably look like the former while the political system itself would look more like the later
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Pretty implausible but Malenmkov manage to return to politics after his expulsion to Central Asia and with some way rises to power.

In TL The Footprint of Mussolini Russia wetn about this way after USSR fell in 1970's.