Who are the tankies? It's a blanket term used to describe any far-left ideology which is reflexively supportive of authoritarian states or state policies or whose behavior or political convictions can be demonstrated to further the goals of those states. In the field it can be a matter of survival to know which type of tankie you're looking at and how they operate. Through exhaustive consultation with average Twitter, Facebook and Reddit discourse, we've prepared this field guide to the 10 most common tanks you might encounter on the ideological battlefield.
This Tankie will literally die for the revolution, or will at least put themselves between the revolution and any incoming damage.
They’ll throw themselves covered in patriotic slogans and hamsic emoji, into a Twitch stream full of Breadtube subscribers at feeding time. They’ll spend twelve hours watching Grayzone videos or arguing the the EEZ of minor Pacific nations with filthy reactionaries, just to gain XP. Still uses Pepe memes despite fascist association. "Cope and seethe, anarchoid."
Hatches multi-year plans to undermine, supplant or influence the moderation of popular online meme groups, views this as claiming digital real-estate for the revolution. Actually keeps a spreadsheet of influencers to subvert or attack. Will try whenever possible to facilitate the cancellation of socialists, liberals and anarchist reactionaries. Jumps into any thread where communism is even remotely being critiqued.
Knows how to take a hit (and definitely an L) but has probably never thrown a punch. Terminally online. Only touches grass “in minecraft”. Doesn’t realize that’s not even a joke.
Primary Weapon: Entryism
Secondary Weapon: Memes
Tagline: “Breadtube is CIA.”
Natural Allies: T-34 and Ruse
This tankie will leap to the defence of the Russian Federation at the slightest provocation. Knows every single Russian weapons system. Thinks western nations need to disarm. Protests publicly against fighter jet procurement by NATO members. Announced intent to "protest the war" hours after Russia invaded Ukraine. Doesn't know where the Russian embassy is, wants to protest at the US/UK/German one instead. Uncritically shares news from local affiliate sources in Donetsk/Luhansk despite track record of proven fabrications.
"Putin isn't going to invade Ukraine", "NATO just wants war". "Russia has every right to mobilize its army on its own border." "Okay, so recognizing Luhansk and Donetsk is not an invasion". "NATO just wants war." "Okay, so it's an invasion but Ukraine is actually a part of Russia so they need to stop acting so aggressively toward us."
Reasoning on Russia-Ukraine issue distills down to the international diplomatic equivalent of "Stop resisting!"
Has never criticized Putin. Will never criticize Putin. Armata's experience with political theory is mostly moving goalposts. They were deeply hurt when Putin blamed Lenin, and praised Stalin for the loss of SSRs. Still loves Putin anyway. Believes in George Soros' ‘Colour Revolutions’. Consider Russia to be 'antifascist'. Refuses to understand that reterritorialization of the SSRs and Nazi's Lebesnraum are virtually indistinguishable concepts. Thinks Dugin made some good points about Eurasian culture. Has never read Dugin. Would be horrified if they read Dugin. Essentially just 1 degree of separation from actual RIM Nazis, but doesn’t know it.
“Little Green Man” LARP, spent thousands on standard Russian army kit for "interoperability" in case the Russians ever invade. Bought an SKS, sad it’s a Norinco knockoff. Goes to the range, the tea-room and the bathhouse (you know the one). Spends all their spare time playing Escape from Tarkov and drinking North American vodka because it’s cheap. Psychotropic cosmonaut, or even the harder stuff-- mostly because it helps to calm their constant cognitive dissonance.
Hopeless slavaboo. Cheeki Breeki memes. Shroomjak memes. Learning Russian.
Primary Weapon: Dezinformatsiya
Secondary Weapon: Actual weapons
Tagline: “NATO is arming Nazis in THE Ukraine!”
Natural allies: Killdozer and Anky
Proudly made in China. Soviet design, Chinese characteristics. Looks different. Runs different. Unclear if an actual improvement. Controlled from the center.
“Anti-Imperialist”, believes China will establish unipolar world order. Mostly just pragmatic materialism, but calls it ‘Marxism’. Definitely either a member of an offline group like PSL or conversely, terminally online operator of a disinformation blog/network of comorbid twitter personalities staking out multiple positions within a given political issue space. Fantasizes about killing their landlord but very worried about the social credit impact. Opposes gun ownership. Simps for authority. Leaders can never be wrong, until they’re no longer the leader.
Likely shares a lot of exploitative and sensational videos of police killing black people, homeless people, violent protests and empty grocery store shelves on TikTok in the hopes of blackpilling Americans or triggering unrest.
Low-key anti-Muslim, despite that— weirdly popular in Pakistan. Movie night is a 3 hour long sexless war movie in which either the US or Arabs are the "bad guys". Palestinian flag profile pic right up until the China-Israel free trade agreement gets signed. "The Uyghur genocide isn't real", "Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet are part of China", "the Tiananmen "Massacre" never happened." "Peng Shuai is fine and the international media lied about her."
Very, very focused on highlighting how racist western society is. Thinks social credit memes are racist. Thinks criticizing Xi is racist. Thinks you’re racist. Thinks other Asians who disagree with China's policies, are racist. #StopAsianHate. Might even run a blog, or a social account platforming incidences of racism, “inadvertently” helping them go viral. So opposed to bigotry they had to invent special slurs for both "White western leftists" and "Leftards" from Hong Kong.
NEVER ask them about the Sino-Vietnamese war. Forgets North Korea exists much of the time. Pastoral traditionalist. A bit of a misogynist. Women hold up half this guy. Rarely L, G, or T but thinks Pride parades in the west should be “family friendly” events. Aggressively anti-kink, anti-sex work. Works to undermine Jordan Peterson's Eurocentric chauvinism, mostly because it is a competing chauvinist ideology. Actually shares Peterson's views on gender identity.
Defence: Social nationalist chauvinism.
Primary Weapon: Accusations of bigotry
Secondary Weapon: Bigotry
Tagline: “Ok Baizuo.”
Natural allies: Leonardo, Killdozer
The Nihilist Killdozer
Tankie accelerationist insurrecto. Somewhere on a continuum between post-civ primitivist and anonymous hacker. Identifies as an anarchist because it’s a good cover for subversive nihilism, that is until being part of a community is required. Actually subscribes to syncretic metapolitical misanthropy. Never talks about their politics, beliefs or ideals beyond attacking others for not being “It”. Too angry to be a doomer.
Consummate vanguardism. Supports any tactic that causes chaos, not for any specific coherent political reasons, though this tank will invoke a broad range of positions on environmentalism, colonialism or imperialism to excuse nihilism when it is detected. Overt disdain for anyone even slightly less radical. “Diversity of tactics is a one way street you fucken liberal."
Likely to be white, privileged, involved in nonwhite causes, even white-saviorism that can deliberately inflame IBPOC conflicts with the state. Heat magnet. Acts with the skill and dedication of an international chaos actor. Has “friends” in the Russian embassy. Googleable rap sheet > Theory.
Motivated to do these things, not because they build a better world, but because they generate clout, hurt western capitalism and make societal collapse, balkanization or violent conflict more likely. Blames others for failures. Because of risk-taking behavior and bombastic, domineering tone-- usually the head of a modest heroic cult. Cult is borderline fascist and would absolutely be first to be purged in actual revolution.
Zero apparent commitment to real community building, actual work, or anything that sustains or develops ideas or people. Only there for the legendary stunts and adrenaline. Just mostly moves forward and does damage to anything in the way. Very well might be a fed, or at least SOMEBODY’S fed. Quasi-fascistic individualism induces Killdozer to pursue a ‘heroic death’. Fated to die surrounded by the thing they hate most: cops.
Defence: A good offence
Primary Weapon: Propaganda of the deed
Secondary Weapon: Heroic cult
Tagline: “Burn it all down."
Natural Allies: Type-99, Armata
Stalinist. Tankwave. Probably has a moustache. Bloodthirsty cold warrior, wins arguments by overwhelming firepower. Big fan of “The Wall” and not the Pink Floyd song. Classic ‘Beast of Budapest’.
Believes most anarchists and pro-democracy leftists are part of a witting conspiracy to undermine international communism on behalf of the US/NATO. Brooks no dissent. T-55 thinks they're very funny and clever to the point that others feel obligated to laugh and praise them, even if what they're doing is cringe.
Has never lived under communism, or traveled to a formerly communist country— but spends most of their time picking ideological fights on campus with people who came from or grew up in post-soviet states, or socialists from the global south. Despite probably actually being low-key anti-semitic, proudly proclaims that anti-communism is analogous to anti-semitism at every possible opportunity.
Has a daily metric for how relatable they’ve been in meme groups. Measures their own success in terms of follows, retweets and shares. Subtly derides George Orwell "that reactionary snitch" at every opportunity. Absolutely loathes trots and 'anarkiddies'. All callouts, purges and purity politics can be reduced to a demonstrable political advantage for T-55. Really into ironic cowboy hats, classic movies and general Hollywood kitsch. More ‘Saddam’ than ‘Stalin’ when distilled.
Defence: Rigidly enforced groupthink
Primary Weapon: Rhetorical violence
Secondary Weapon: Character assassination
Tagline: “Your bourgeois grandfather deserved it, fascist.”
Allies: T-34, Leman Russ
The Nazi-killing classic. Tracks greased with the blood of a thousand Germans. Antifa, actually goes to protests, is part of an affinity group, /has friends/. Thinks that ‘Tankie’ is a reference to the supremacy of Soviet Armour on the eastern front. Pro-soviet, knows the Russian Federation isn't that. Still convinced Ukrainians, Germans and Italians are secret fascists. Worries about US Imperialism in central Europe. "Patton did plan to go all the way to Moscow."
Authoritarian, communal, absolutely loves Lenin. Uses a special system of violence to address reactionaries. Calls it "Antifa." Grudging agreement to find common cause with Anarchists until after the revolution. Would get absolutely torched in a debate with average democratic-Hungary enjoying students. Everyone, including their enemies know they suffer from a thin skin and bad optics.
Mostly here for the aesthetics. Collects soviet era memorabilia. Could actually honestly be a Wehraboo, but just prefers green to grey. Idealizes iconography of the trad-worker with a steel-driving hammer and a chiseled jaw. Not that. Idealizes soviet meme aesthetic. Not that. Thinks Leman Russ is a total poser. Trans w/ Anime Avatar, or basically Jordan Peterson, no middle ground.
Defence: About 40-60mm of steel plate
Primary Weapon: Outdated 85mm nazi-puncher
Secondary Weapon: The whole squad, tankodesantniki
Tagline: “Fascism shall be destroyed.”
Natural Allies: T-55, Main Tank
Cuban, Venezuelan, Belarussian, Iranian or North Korea flags adorn their bedroom. Effectively voluntarily celibate as a result. Flags also on their laptop. And their Twitter bio. Flags! Did we mention they really like flags? Has an account with online flag distributor. Shares articles from Telesur, Fars News, RT, or other alt-media affiliated with the fascist internationale in public, doesn’t get it when their normie friends unfollow them.
Runs a blog hosting google-translations of TASS press releases. Obsessed with reliving the glory days of soviet influence by simping openly for former puppet and proxy states, even (especially?) if they’re dictatorships, theocracies or hetmanates. Thinks the Taliban are ‘anti-Imperialist”. Rigid and inflexible armour made mostly of atrocity and genocide denial. Enthusiastic about Black Nationalism, highly critical of #Landback. Anti-racist except weirdly, until it comes to the skin colour of Cubans.
Quick to point out Russia’s second largest political party is actually the Communist party. Scion of a dying lineage, almost always a member of some minor sect offline, either a breakaway soup kitchen from the Communist party breakaway soupkitchen, or a newspaper-trot cult club. Takes the minutes twice a week in committee meetings officiated by some old dude with a goatee who wears tweed and a flat cap.
Not really able to stand up to any modern arguments. Wields ancient talking points about ”western imperialism” like a heavy club. Not even close to the 21st century: idealizes nation state mythologies and lines on the map. Walking and unironic personification of countryball memes. Ideological equivalent of a Mesozoic fossil. Can’t quite comprehend that they’re not actually a tank, just a cringe fucking dinosaur.
Defence: Genocide denial
Primary Weapon: Unfettered Nationalism
Secondary Weapon: Ethno-cultural bigotry
Tagline: "Don't be an imperialist puppet, Gusano.”
Natural Allies: Ruse, Armata
Played Warhammer 40k in high school, built 1000 point Imperial Guard Army with paycheques from working at McDonalds when they were 16. Read the codex entry about the "commissar" so many times the page wore out.
Watched ‘Enemy at the Gates’ 22 times working at Jesus camp one summer.
Fatefully gifted a $13.00 Valhallan Ice Warrior blister pack by mom at the mall one weekend because the fur hats "reminded her of Dr. Zhivago.” Leman also loved the hats. Started dating a Russian.
Picked Rod at the Rodnovery/Orthodoxy fork and narrowly avoided a descent into neo-Nazism. Thinks the black sun symbol can be 'reclaimed' somehow. Thinks the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is mostly just about who the O.G. vikings are. Thinks the Russians are the O.G. vikings.
Playlist in formative years was basically just Radio Vladivostok from GTAIV or Red army choir on repeat.
Drank Stolichnaya to be edgy and wore a black beret festooned with some $2 pin from an army surplus store which was produced to commemorate the shoemaker’s guild in Soviet Ukraine. Everyone at school thought they were a loser.
Just an average Russophile, not a purist, or a slavaboo per-se. Indoctrinated by the aesthetics of the left's only real military victories into embracing an idealized "red army" and thus, political concepts they actually know nothing about. Has an almost paraphilic relationship with memes of Zhukov taking off his coat in “The Death of Stalin”.
Greyzone, Treadtube. News media awareness comes mostly from entertainment streamers. Has created an entire political identity from emulating the actions of the people wearing fur hats in movies or video games, Fills gaps in theory with recommendations from Youtube's Algorithm. Convinced Soviet Union 2.0 is just around the corner. Has never heard the word 'plutocrat' before. Probably a Paradox gamer now.
Defence: No theory, thus immune to discourse.
Primary Weapon: Aesthetics
Secondary Weapon: Syncretism
Tagline: “I serve the soviet union.”
Allies: T-55, Leonardo
Maybe just an anarchist taking the piss hoping their shitpost will turn up in 'Cursed Tankie Opinions'. Maybe a well-connected neo-con trying to further their political agenda. Maybe a fed looking to sow maximum discord by posting anti-anarchist memes across leftbook to intensify sectarianism.
A mainstay in military deception, the Ruse can be big or small-- even an entire-ass nonprofit devoted to just taking up space, commanding attention and making it look like something really important is going on. Can be surrounded by real tanks, or unwitting liberals, which further help it blend in. Whether the Ruse is drawing fire or stealing thunder is a matter of perspective. Could be a government psyop, nefarious nation state actor, bored Romanian grifter or alt-right teenager running a honey-pot. Who’s to say? Might just be a guy with some social media training and enthusiasm for the "Dark arts" of politics.
A particularly sophisticated Ruse may have a front personality with some offline credibility, front organization or launder itself through a network of opaque accounts and pages, to further prevent its identification. "Who actually called that sketchy protest, anyhow?"
A believable large scale ruse relies a lot more on twitter clout and blue checkmark accounts, than it does on any real political analysis, theory, or offline organizing. Ruse can, wildly, become an official spokesperson for whole movements. Journalists may heavily quote the Ruse because this resembles due-diligence. The ruse propagates rapidly across social media spaces often signal boosted by corporate or state broadcasters, or less obvious state-affiliated influence networks.
Easily destroyed in a direct confrontation, Ruse doesn't stand up to professional or communal scrutiny, but when attacked, can reinflate somewhere else a short time later to continue drawing fire. Can also induce the most wily combatants into serious blunders. Ruse may "code-switch", advocating both for and against specific interests at once, for example: arguing for the interests of both grassroots activists and law enforcement. The beauty of the ruse is that it can just be thrown up anywhere and is virtually guaranteed to draw fire because, after all, it looks like a proper tank. Most dangerous when filled with hot air, as this will confound even good optics and all but the most advanced detection. Sometimes has a subtle, or even readily apparent glow.
Defence: Not being real
Primary Weapon: Not being real
Secondary Weapon: Not being real
Tagline: “Hello fellow leftists.”
Natural Allies: Main Tank, Anky
All theory, could never work in practice. Never existed. Could never exist. Top heavy, small base. Not compatible with current infrastructure. No idea how it’s going to be powered. Could only move forward very slowly. Maybe just useful to intimidate people or cause confusion in a crisis.
Most likely outcome is that it will collapse on itself or be destroyed spectacularly, possibly in a massive explosion! A whole bunch of people might die. Leonardo doesn’t care, they were either martyrs to progress or reactionaries who got in the way: you can’t spell "Posadism" without "sadism".
Knows it won’t ever work in their lifetime, doesn’t care. Builds the future someone else will want tomorrow, today. Dolphin memes, rocket ships, space aliens, psychics.
Suffers from lack of direct contact with the ground. Definitely some points it’s going to get stuck on. Will require brilliant inventors and wealthy benefactors to even begin to realize the ideal but loathes both. Constant and incessant infighting. Does look cool though.
Implausible, but in all likelihood still a sign of things to come.
Defence: Probably like, energy shields or something?
Primary Weapon: Being ahead of the trend
Secondary Weapon: Circular firing squad
Tagline: “Fully automated luxury gay space communism.”
Natural Allies: Leman Russ, Type 99