Notes for subscribers: Georgetown's Russian language program was run by a weaponized Russian fascist immigrant group
It’s rarely given much thought, but Russian and Slavic departments in America were usually run by a very reactionary type of immigrant.
While working on the Part II of the series (which should be ready next week), I came across a weird little anecdote. Turns out that in the 1950s, the Russian language department in Georgetown University was run by members of an early Russian fascist movement called the National-Labor Alliance — aka the “Solidarists” aka the “NTS.”
The Solidarist logo
James Critchlow, an idealistic American engineer who ended up helping set up and run the CIA’s Radio Liberty in Munich, writes about it in his memoir — with a small aside about Soviet spy Guy Burgess thrown in for good measure:
It’s fitting that James Critchlow fell under the Solidarist spell (and doesn’t mention their Nazi collaboration). Because just a few years later, he would be running a propaganda operation that would recruit heavily from Solidarist-adjacent Russian and Soviet immigrants, including Leonid Pylaev — the main character of my last dispatch.
The Solidarists are not well known today. But it was a big deal once. It was a real fascist movement set up young White Russian emigres after the Russian Revolution — and it genuinely attempted to come up with a radical alternative to Marxism and communism based on a mix of nationalist, fascist, corporatist, pan-Slavic, and Russian-Orthodox ideas.