Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is Putin's Russia Fascist?

By Alexander J. Motyl, the Atlantic Council

A growing number of Russian analysts, in Russia and abroad, have taken to calling Vladimir Putin's regime "fascist." And they don't use the term casually or as a form of opprobrium. They mean that Putin's Russia genuinely resembles Mussolini's Italy or Hitler's Germany.

One of the most recent examples was Mikhail Iampolski. According to the Russian-born NYU professor, "the appeal of quasi-fascist discourse was predictable" as the Russian economy tanked. Moscow rejects "[a]nything that could be seen as a sign of weakness or femininity," including liberalism and homosexuality, and then projects these qualities onto the enemy. Consequently, "Ukrainians are systematically accused of fascism, while Russian fascism is displaced by a false idealization of one's own image."

In March, Moscow commentator Yevgeni Ikhlov charged Putin with introducing a "left fascism" that, while "anti-market and quasi-collectivist," is "fascism because it is a form of a militant and most primitive philistinism." In January 2015, Andrei Zubov, fired from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations for opposing Putin's Ukraine policies, argued that Russia's President was building "a corporate state of a fascist type packaged in Soviet ideology, the ideology of Stalinism," resulting in a Russia that closely resembles Italian fascism with its "nationalism and union with the church." Moscow-based analyst Aleksei Shiropaiev claimed that Russia was moving toward fascism "at a galloping pace." Russian fascism "has become a FACT," "mass Russian consciousness remains absolutely imperialist and chauvinist," and most Russians have "ACCEPTED fascization and are ready to agree to even massive political repressions."

But are the analysts right? The evidence is compelling. Fascist regimes have charismatic dictators with hyper-masculine personality cults. These regimes generally evince a hyper-nationalist ethos, a cult of violence, mass mobilization of youth, high levels of repression, powerful propaganda machines, and imperialist projects. Fascist regimes are hugely popular—usually because the charismatic leader appeals to broad sectors of the population. Putin and his Russia fit the bill perfectly.

(More here.)

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