Paul Goble, originally on Window on Eurasia
Staunton, May 4 – Had Vladimir Putin accepted the Maidan’s ouster of discredited Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and agreed to accept the results of the upcoming elections, nothing that has occurred in Ukraine since that time would have happened, according to a Ukrainian commentator.
“Thousands of people would not have suddenly discovered in themselves an unconquerable desire for federalism,” Dmitry Litvin says. “Thousands would not have learned the meaning of ‘legitimacy,’ a term they had not been acquainted with. [And they] would not have suddenly decided they could not live … without state status for the Russian language and constitutional reforms”.
“If in short one man by the name of Putin had not decided that Ukrainian affairs are his affairs, then we now would not have to be catching terrorists and burying dozens of victims of resistance.” But that reflects an even deeper problem, one with which Russians, Ukrainians, and the world must deal.
That one man could do this is the clearest illustration of the Fuherprinzip, “the principle of the vozhd,” Litvin says. That principle, he continues, is “the central element of the state system under fascism.” Whatever the leader does or thinks but be what the entire society does and thinks.
To that end, the Ukrainian commentator continues, “the information milieu in Russia has been cleansed in such a way that outlets disseminate the worldview of the leader, his relation to people and events –and nothing more, except for entertainment.”
A second element fascism in Russia requires is the articulation of “an historical mission,” something for which the leader “’was called’ to power” to realize. As defined by Putin, “Russia’s mission today is not distinguished from the mission of other fascist states – the defense of genuine traditional values from the influence of ‘destructive elements.’”
To be sure, Litvin continues, fascism “at the time of its first appearance in Europe” during the interwar period “declared ‘Judaism’ as the source of the destruction of genuine values and harshly rejected all forms of non-classical relations to life, art, labor, and science,” blaming these on the Jews.
Now, in fascism’s “second appearance in Europe,” the source of such destruction is Americanism. The Russian media under Putin’s direction is portraying Americanism as the primary enemy in just the same way Nazi media portrayed Jewishness and demanding that Russians do everything they can to fight against Americanism and its agents.
And a third element of Russian fascism under Putin, one “without fascism is impossible,” is a drive toward war. “For the third time in the last century, the Russian people are being dragged into a global conflict … [and] are in a besieged fortress” which requires “constant vigilance in the search for enemies and wreckers.”
Litvinov points out that the Russianness this fascism says it is defending is “much narrower than Russianness in general,” in much the same way that the Germanness Hitler said he was defending was much narrower than Germanness in fact. And as a result, “fascism today is a war not only against the neighbors of Russia but one inside Russia as well.”
All this is the result of the decisions of one man – Vladimir Putin – and all this could have been avoided had he decided otherwise.
People need to remember, Litvin says, that “fascism is a policy which grows into a religion and is not a rational phenomenon. When people believe in a leader as in a god,” they look on his actions as a form of “divine intervention.” And Putin has cultivated this with his “’direct line’” spectacles and with an enemy, Americanism, just as invented for his purposes as was Jewishness for the Nazis.
Today, Ukrainians, Russians and the world are confronted by “Russian fascist occupiers” and thus “not only must defend [their land] but defend themselves from their propaganda and from their political influence,” because “this is the propaganda and influence of fascism.”
That means that Russian media products must be evaluated to see if they reflect three aspects of Russian fascism: the Fuherprizip, militarization, and a narrowly state-defined and state-serving Russianness. If they do, then they need to be countered or even blocked just as fascist ideas always must be.
“Fascism isn’t rational,” Litvin argues. “When Russians now are happy that Crimea has been declared part of Russia, they are not thinking about the peninsula but about a myth. When they say that they need the Ukrainian military-industrial complex and in general the participation of Ukraine in the economic integration on the space of the former USSR, they have in mind not a real economy but a myth.”
“And when they say that they are defending their own people beyond their own borders, they are not considering real fates; they are only generating a myth,” the commentator says. What that means, of course, is that one cannot negotiate with them but only work to defeat them because they are fascists who cannot accept the idea that anyone else could be right.