Kleptofascism: concept of the Russian regime

The concept of fascism coming to power in Ukraine was widely spread by Russian propaganda (and its allies) in 2014-2015. But it is obvious for everyone (but the victims of first channel psychotronic terror) that it would be impossible to get the fascism into the hearts in three months, even if Maidan participants were really put on drugs (and let’s not think about the necessary amount of money). Though, actually, some Ukrainian far-right movements have allies in the government bodies, the Ukrainian state fits democracy standards more or less and moves, though not very fast, towards integration to liberal and democratic Europe. The talking point of a fascism being victorious in Ukraine is spread by Russian propaganda, in order to prevent this movement and to keep its influence on Ukraine. Within this context one should remember about extrajection mechanism and ask oneself how do things stand regarding the fascism in Russia.

What way are fascism and Russia alike

Unlike Petro Poroshenko’s, Vladimir Putin’s regime can apparently be named far-right. I’ll give a brief list of attributes of such.

Authoritarian, anti-democratic and anti-liberal politics. The examples can be found widely – from the Sentsov case to The Network case and prison terms for memes. Opposition politicians, journalists, LGBT, Jehovah Witnesses, and Crimean Tatars after the annexation of Crimea – all of these groups are suffering. The elections are difficult to be named democratic, the access to independent media is restricted.

Nationalistic rhetorics tending to paranoid. The phrase “Russian people are offended”, being a quintessence of paranoid and nationalistic domination Russian discourse, was first used in 2014 and is widely used till now, though already more in a sarcastic way. The guilt externalisation – shifting the guilt from oneself and putting it somewhere external – is going on: there are “churky” (non-white people), “khokhly” (Ukrainians), “pindosy” (US citizens), Chinese, anyone who are always guilty in all our problems. Russians massively perceive themselves as a passive victim and a target of external influence.  

Promoting conservative values in private and family life. The Dima Yakovlev law, the punishment of homosexuality propaganda, “silence days” (waiting period before a woman can get an abortion), increases in the list of jobs prohibited to women, and so on.

Supporting far-right movements inside and outside the country. Systematic cooperation of Kremlin and European far-right is a permanent issue. Internal politics shows the same – far-right movements, from Russky Obraz to National Liberation Movement thoroughly pander to president’s administration.

Imperialism. Two wars in Chechnya, a war in Georgia, a war in Ukraine, a war in Syria.

Vladimir Putin and Benito Mussolini – fitness-dictators

Charismatic leader. It’s up to everyone to decide whether he is or not, but the body of Putin somehow is an instrument to execute power. One of the factors of his popularity is an appeal to a current masculinity ideal, consisting of an experience in law-enforcement and spending vacations outdoors. Peculiarities of national hunting, fishing and political system.

Refrigerator and TV set

However, Andreas Umland, a political expert, in his recent article claims, that even though the Putin’s regime is “demonstratively nationalistic, imperialistic, anti-liberal and oriented towards “national leader” – and thus actually resembles classical fascism” – it lacks the central fascist feature, a striving to revival and purification of the “nation”. Umland’s central thesis states that this regime is built to a greater degree on a kleptocracy, the power of the thieves, not on committed striving to some high-minded aims. And even far right vector in an external and internal politics, which became much stronger after 2014, is intended to a greater degree to restore empire losing colonies and its economic influence on them, and to a lesser degree – to restoring nation. Roughly speaking, it’s all about the Customs Union, which Ukraine refused to enter. And likewise, common people, even those who went fighting to Donbass, are much more interested in paying their mortgage loans than in restoring “Novorussia” “nation”.

A refrigerator and a TV set (kleptocratic economic base and authoritarian political superstructure) complement each other, and pre-requisites for such have been developed long before 2014. USSR, the forbearer of the Russian regime, was built in an etacratic way – economic surplus was appropriated by not capitalists but state, and the aim of actors of the system was not profit maximization, but power maximization. In contemporary Russia after a short period of post-Soviet ambiguity a vertical of power (bureucracy plus law-enforcement) regained the place of a main actor on economic and political stage, and actually subordinated large Russian business to itself. Sociologists Ovsey Shkaratan and Gordey Yastrebov call it neoetacracy, and we are going to call it in another way.

Kleptofascism

Kleptofascism (kleptocracy+fascism) is when common people get fascism (or political schemes close to it), and authoritarian state gets the money. In Ukraine, actually, such kind of political “philosophy” exists as well. We have already written of “Svoboda” attracted to the same scheme – combination of increasing the role of the state in the economics and decreasing the degree of society control upon the state. A thoughtful analysis of an economic part of the “National Corps” program, something similar can be found there as well. I am sure that not all supporters of these political forces understand what will happen if these programs win.

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