A hardline Stalinist. A tankie is a member of a communist
group or a "fellow traveller" (sympathiser) who believes fully in the political system of the Soviet Union and defends/defended the actions of the Soviet Union and other accredited states (China, Serbia, etc.) to the hilt, even in cases where
other communists criticise their policies or actions. For instance, such
a person favours overseas interventions
by Soviet-style states, defends these
regimes when they engage in human rights violations, and wishes to establish
a similar system in other countries such
as Britain and America.
The term is used to distinguish the rare individuals with these
kinds of beliefs from
communists more broadly (including Communist
Party members), whose
adherence to Soviet doctrine and attachment to existing "socialist" states is somewhat weaker.
It is always more-or-less abusive in the sense that those
termed tankies do not use the term themselves, but it doesn't have any particular bite
(unlike, say, Trot).
The term derives from
the fact that
the divisions within the communist
movement first arose when the Soviet Union sent tanks
into communist Hungary
in 1956, to crush an attempt to establish
an alternative version of communism
which was not embraced
by the Russians. Most communists outside the eastern
bloc opposed this action and criticised the Soviet Union. The "tankies" were those
who said "send the tanks
The epithet has stuck because tankies also supported "sending the tanks
in" in cases such
as Czechoslovakia 1968, Afghanistan 1979, Bosnia and Kosovo/a (in the case of the Serbian state), and so on (whereas the rest of the communist
movement has gravitated towards anti-militarism).