President Putin portrays himself as a fighter against Nazis and Nationalists. At the same time, today, he just bombed the Babyn Yar memorial to the victims of National Socialist genocide of Jews in Kiev, while he is fighting a young democracy led by a Jewish Russian-Ukrainian president. Somehow, Putin has his definitions wrong.
Fascism is typically defined as founded on a certain set of principles. Not all variants of fascism align with this all the time, but a majority of those elements are typically present in fascist regimes:
- Authoritarianism: a non-democratic government led by a strongman
- Nationalism: seeing the country as culturally homogeneous, as ethnically and/or racially distinct from others
- Violence: the principle of political violence as a prime driver of politics
- One-Party State: one political party seen as “unity party” that dominates all others
- Established State Religion: a church subordinate and supportive of the philosophy of the state
- State Capitalism: a version of capitalism that avoids true free enterprise and subordinates the economy under nationalist principles
- Militarism: seeing the military as the perfect ordering mechanism for society
- Extreme Social Conservatism: typically with a focus on heteronormativity, masculinity, “traditional” family values, anti-feminism
- Roman Imperialism: a fascination with the Roman Empire (Western or Eastern, but not the Republic) as a symbol of strength and as legitimation of continued rule
- Totalitarianism / Mass Society without Individualism: an understand of society that sees the individual as subordinate to society
- Media Control: severe restrictions on free journalism and media
- Internment or Disappearance of Critics: government critics are typically subjected to kangaroo courts, sent to labor or prison camps, and/or disappeared or eliminated
Typical examples for this are Mussolini’s Italy, Franco’s Spain, Pinochet’s Chile, Perón’s Argentina. Nazi Germany is a bit of an exception from this rule and should be seen as its own variant – especially with regards to points 1 (even stronger, one-person leadership fetish – the “Führerprinzip”) 2 (“Aryan” Supremacism instead of “normal” nationalism), 5 (“alternative” Germanic religion, anti-Science, control of established religion), 8 (in addition, utopian social engineering), 9 (new pseudo-Germanic symbology – the Swastika is not a German symbol) and 12 (in addition, also extermination camps) plus additionally, 13 (Anti-Semitism as prime ideology).
What Putin has “achieved” is to fulfill all points in this agenda:
- Authoritarianism: Putin as supreme leader
- Nationalism: Russian nationalism
- Violence: domestically, and in wars against Chechnya, Syria, Georgia, Ukraine
- One-Party State: Edinaya Rossia (“One Russia”) party dominating all
- Established State Religion: Russian Orthodox Church replacing Socialism (which was the “religion” of the Soviet Union)
- State Capitalism: Gazprom, Rosneft etc.
- Militarism: military parades as point of pride
- Extreme Social Conservatism: anti-LGBTQ policies, “traditional marriage”, talk of “degenerated” West
- Roman Imperialism: reintroduction of the Double Eagle as state seal, resuming mythology of Moscow as the “Third Rome”, inheritor of Eastern Rome (Orthodoxy)
- Totalitarianism / Mass Society without Individualism: almost there, not quite yet
- Media Control: almost there, extremely strong propaganda
- Internment or Disappearance of Critics: both, plus killing of critics domestically and abroad
- Bonus: extreme corruption, intimate connection between political leadership and oligarchs, Putin as the prime mob boss oligarch
Now, there seem to be some people in Western countries who still somehow believe that Putin equates Russia equates Soviet Union equates Socialism equates Western-Style Leftism. This is lunacy, and it needs to stop.
Ceterum censeo Ucrainam esse defendam. Слава Україні!