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About russian fascism and Roger Griffin’s comments on it

Roger Griffin

In my article about fascism in the contemporary Russia, which we (Ukrainians) call “ruscism”, I review tenets of fascism, that are listed in the corresponding article on Wikipedia, and compare them to the regime of Vladimir Putin. This way I show, how close is the Russian regime to the true fascism! Unlike the Ukrainian one, that the Russian propaganda used to call fascist…

Certainly, my investigation of the subject made me believe, that the regime of the contemporary Russia is truly fascist. During this investigation I also checked studies of Roger Griffin, who is a well-known specialist in fascism. Thus, I was astonished, how his term palingenetic ultranationalism precisely explains, why the fascism rose in Russia. According to Griffin, the palingenesis is what differentiates the true fascism from para-fascism. And, it was exactly what convinced me, that the ruscism is a true fascism (i.e., not para-fascism). But, later I found comments of Roger on this subject, in which he stated, that Russia does not seem to be fascist…

But, I don’t want to claim, that Roger Griffin is wrong (while, personally, I doubt, that he’s right)… Reading this article you should remember, that Roger is a scientist specializing in fascism, while I… just read a couple of scientific articles about fascism. So, obviously, you have many more reasons to trust Roger, than me! But… In this article I’m going to share my thoughts regarding Roger’s comments on the Russian fascism (or whatever it is). And, these thoughts can also be considered to be requests for comments to Mr. Griffin…

So, let’s start. Roger Griffin says:

From a technical point of view (on paper) Russia is not a single party state using mass organizations to create a New Russian and seeking to forge an alternative modernity in the spirit of political modernism. Thus technically it is not fascist and it does not help discussions to get bogged down on whether this word should be used or not. There are many ways human rights and democracy can be undermined and assaulted, not just by fascism. It seems to me that it is an immature parliamentary democracy corrupted by the forces of oligarchy and plutocracy, populist prejudices against non-Russian ethnic minorities and homosexuals, the influence of the church, and pursuing geopolitical ambitions to unite all ‘ethnic’ Russians shaped by a mixture of nostalgia for the Soviet empire, populist hypernationalism, and geopolitical ambitions fed by dangerous Eurasian fantasies fuelled by a curiously Russian form of New Right culturalism which does have affinities with fascism. So can we just leave fascism out of the discussion and concentrate on the uniqueness of the contemporary Russian state’s corruption of democracy and the dangers it poses to world peace with its expansionism and alliances, and not waste time on neo-scholastic disputes about terminology.

The fact, that Roger started the sentence with words “from a technical point of view”, I guess, means, that he was not sure (at least, “non-technically”). Also, the truly fascism Italy (what is a fact, without a doubt) also was not a single party state (technically) until 1928, when the National Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini became the only legally permitted party in the country. Or… Italy became truly fascist only in 1928?.. And, regarding “an alternative modernity”: Russia believes, that there was a fascist coup in Ukraine, while the rest of the world knows, that this was a people’s revolution. Russians believe, that they fight ISIS in Syria, while the rest of the world knows, that they destroy the opposition to their ally Assad. Russians claim, that they don’t violate borders of other countries, while the rest of the world, especially Russian neighbors, knows exactly, that they do this very often (and, that’s why Turkey had to shoot down their jet). And so on… What is it, if not “an alternative modernity”?.. So, the only thing, that I’m going to agree with Roger, is that Russia does not seem to strive for creating a New Russian (more likely, it wants to revive Old Soviet). Yet, I have some more thoughts about this tenet of fascism, that I will share later.

Afterwards, Roger shows irritation about the use of the term fascism in the context of contemporary Russia. Actually, I can understand him here, as the term is really overused nowadays (not only in regards to Russia) and it’s a well known issue. And, I guess, Mr. Griffin suffers from this issue a lot, as he is the first person to ask about fascism. But, I’m affraid, “we can’t just leave fascism out of the discussion”, as, in my opinion, it’s not just a term, that describes something solely in the past, but a next step of development of a post-imperial state. This means, that the fascism is going to rise again and again until there are powerful people, who miss the power of an Empire, they used to live in. In fact, it does not matter, how do you call this – a fascism, a neo-fascism, a proto-fascism or a ur-fascism – but it’s really important to be able to recognize it until it’s too late. And, I wonder, if this is what Mr. Griffin works on…

Also, I’m not sure, why Roger calls Russia a “parliamentary democracy”… Officially, it’s a semi-presidential democracy! But, obviously, it is ruled by one person – Vladimir Putin.

Afterwards, Roger Griffin continues his thoughts about why we should forget the word “fascism”:

If he is a pragmatist without a utopian totalitarian vision of a new type of modern state based on an anthropological and temporal revolution Putin IS NOT A FASCIST. But why this mindless obsession with whether he is a fascist or his state is fascist: ENGAGE WITH REALITY AND NOT CONCEPTS and the debate will move on: question: what is unique about Putin’s Russia? Is it a threat to international peace and internal democracy? TALK ABOUT REALITY NOT CONCEPTS.

Once again, “if he is” means, that Roger is unsure, as I understand. Certainly, only Putin can tell, who is he, and describe own vision, but he unlikely will (and I doubt he would tell the truth), so we can judge only by his actions.

Many scholars, not only Mr. Griffin, claim, that the true fascism is about some revolution, that should produce a new and a better state. It looks like this is what Roger speaks about here as well. And, I have to agree, that Russia does not seem to strive for creating a really new state. But, is this an essential tenet of fascism?.. I’m not sure. And still, Putin strives for recreating an old state in a different form – it wants USSR, but without communism. So, it can be said, that he does have “a utopian totalitarian vision of a new type of modern state”, but without any revolution.

Also, I can tell Roger, why is it important to talk about the fascism as a concept, if it applies to the contemporary Russia: Before the World War II, was it well known, that fascism is dangerous?.. Obviously, it was not. Some fascist ideas looked to be reasonable and that’s why it became so popular in Europe. In the very same way, it’s not obvious for many Europeans, that ruscism is dangerous. For the moment, I can say, that only such countries as Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey knows this for sure. And, these are the countries, that have already suffered from ruscism. So, does every country in the world need to gain similar experience to understand the danger?.. Also, you know, why Russians call Ukraine fascist (while it’s obviously not)?.. Because, it’s a perfect association, that makes people be biased against the country! As usually people do not learn the subject to check, whether it’s true. So, if Russia is a truly fascist state or is close to be, the appropriate recognition would help Europeans to understand better, who they deal with. That’s why, I believe, we should speak about the concept!

However, if Russia is not fascist and not even close to (I doubt, but…), I’m against recognizing the opposite officially. This would mean, that Europe will have to learn, what is the contemporary Russia and why ruscism is dangerous, like Georgia and Ukraine have learned, but still I’m against lies…

At the end of his article Anton Shekhovtsov – the man, who spoke to Roger – asks, what Russia should do to become a truly fascist state. And, here is what Roger Griffin answers:

To abolish the structures of separation of powers, civil freedoms, and plurality of parties and drench state rhetoric in the promise of creating a new order inhabited by new men in the name of a national destiny and supremacy.

Officially, Russia is a semi-presidential republic, but in practice it’s obvious, that everything is controlled by a single power. Thus, the parliament is always on the side of the president – and, if any deputy is not, he/she can even be arrested (on false accusations). Mass media never criticize the president – and, if they do, their reputation is tarnished, they are often labeled as “foreign agents” or even closed. The Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee and courts help the regime and never touch its authorities (such as Chaika). Yes, officially, these powers are separate, but they are definitely not in practice! Why so?.. Because the Putin’s regime is trying to hide its nature (I personally believe, that the hypocrisy is one of the unique tenets of the Russian fascism). Did Mr. Griffin consider this?..

Regarding civil freedoms, it’s also obvious, that they are being abolished! There are many cases and new Russian laws, that prove this, but, maybe Roger’s comment was taken before this became so obvious…

I have already regarded the plurality of parties, but I’ll repeat again: First, the truly fascist Italy was multi-party at the beginning as well, so I doubt, that this indicates, that Russia is not fascist. Second, are main Russian political parties really independent (if so, why the leader of LDPR suggested to make Putin an Emperor?)?.. And, finally, Russia is considered to be the de-facto single party state.

I wonder, how come, that Roger Griffin does not know, that the new order is exactly what Russians struggle for. Thus, this is why Russian people are so glad, that Russia started bombing Syria – for them it indicates the change of the world order, where not only USA may advance their interests. Russian people are even ready to suffer (e.g., from sanctions and isolation) for some time as they believe, that this is “in the name of the national destiny and supremacy”! So, they think, that Russia is becoming a new world super power, that is going to replace USA! And, no, this is not due to their fantasies, but due to the “state rhetoric”, that is also repeated by pro-government (i.e., all trusted) Russian mass media!

The only thing, that I agree here, is the miss of the New Man concept in Russia.. And, it looks like Mr. Griffin believes, that the true fascism cannot exist without it. However, it should be noted, that the New Man was present in USSR and Putin strives for returning the era of this mighty country, so partially this also means the return of the New Soviet Man. In fact, it’s not just treated as something new, because many Russians believe, that they already are better than other nations – as they are Soviet people and members of the Russian world. Maybe other fascist regimes did not have this concept in their past, so they needed it?.. Maybe the contemporary (fascist?) Russia does not need it, as this concept was in the Empire, it strives for returning to? I’m not sure. I guess, Roger Griffin could help to clarify this…


Comments (1)

Added by Andriy Lesyuk 8 years ago

I have realized, that there is a kind of an “anthropological and temporal revolution” in the contemporary Russia as well, but it’s not a country revolution..

It’s well known, that Russians believe, that they are extremely spiritual people with very right values, especially compared to the West. The West, in their opinion, is on the contrary deceitful, vulgar, unfair and so on. So, they see Russia as the only country, that can move the world to the right direction and bring back the original values, instead of “false” ones. And, this is the work, that Putin’s Russia has started to do, in their opinion. In other words, according to their beliefs Russia is heading the described world revolution right now! Remember, Lavrov and other Russian officials mention the change of the world order all the time?.. This is it.

So, it sounds very much like an “anthropological and temporal” world revolution!.. The difference with the classic fascism is that they believe they do not need such revolution in Russia.

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