Staunton, July 14 – “Those who try to compare Putin with Hitler are incorrect,” Vladislav Inozemtsev says. “The Russian president doesn’t aspire to world rule and he isn’t infected with a sense of racial superiority … [Instead,] the ideal of the current Russian elite is the fascist corporate state a la Mussolini.” In short, “Putin is a duce, not a fuehrer.”
After the Maidan, the government-controlled Russian media began talking about the new powers that be in Ukraine as “’a fascist junta,’” but “as often happens with the current Russian regime, the Kremlin accused Kyiv of what is flourishing in Moscow today,” the Russian analyst says (nv.ua/opinion/Inozemtsev/obyknovennyy-fashizm-pravda-o-vladimire-putine-58980.html).
Fascism, as Inozemtsev points out, is “an authoritarian regime based on the principles of a corporate state and the idea of national superiority,” although even these concepts are “not so much ideologized as mythologized.” It classical form arose in Italy under Benito Mussolini, and his regime was quite different from the Nazi government of Adolf Hitler.
Mussolini’s regime promoted mass mobilization, featured charismatic leadership, had a positive attitude toward force, and pushed the idea that it was a force for moral renewal against the rotting countries of Europe. Anyone not in the pay of the Kremlin can see parallels with this in Russia but not in Ukraine.
Today, in Ukraine, he writes, “there is no authoritarianism, no charismatic chief of state, and no contempt for the principles of democracy.” However contradictory is its process of approaching Europe, Ukraine today is the incarnation of freedom.” Of course, one cannot know for certain what will happen next.
But something “completely different” is taking place in Russia, he continues. The Kremlin regime has met “in practice all” of the characteristics of fascism: a leader cult, a desire for revenge for supposed defeats in the past and attacks now, and an ideological portrayal of these events as the work of others rather than the Russians themselves.
The Kremlin routinely touts Russia as something pure standing against rotting Europe, “masculinity has become a cult, which to a large extent comes from the president himself.” In addition, “a corporate state has been completely constructed: the oligarchs are subordinate to the will of the state, the bureaucracy controls a large part of economic activity, and ‘the corruption vertical’ is more effective than ‘the vertical of power.’”
But what Putin wants makes him look more like Mussolini than the more grandiose Hitler. “In Moscow they want as a maximum the rebirth of the Soviet Union; as a minimum, certain territorial corrections” that would satisfy “the crowd that routinely votes” for the state and its leaders.”
“Crimea,” Inozemtsev suggests, “is Abyssina of 1935, not Austria or the Sudetenland of 1938.” When Mussolini seized Abysinnia, he declared “Italy has an empire.” He wasn’t interested in going further. And Putin isn’t either: he will never invade the Baltic countries or attack NATO, and for the same reason Mussolini didn’t – a fear of attacking major powers.
What Putin has succeeded in doing is creating “a populist fascist regime, one that is “moderately aggressive [like that of] Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal.”
That has two implications for the West, Inozemtsev says. “On the one hand, the Western world should reduce the level of horrific expectations about what may happen in the near future. [But] on the other, it must recognize that” there is little hope that what has been erected in Russia will be only a temporary phenomenon.
The West’s own history should teach it that: “Still in the 1970s, people in Paris and Bonn said, ‘Europe ends at the Pyrenees.’” Now, Europe “ends at the eastern borders of the European Union. Beyond that, a gray zone begins, a zone of everyday fascism, precisely an ordinary one and not one striving to turn upside down the entire world order.”