Monday, August 25, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin Threatens Modernity ‘No Less than Hitler Did,’ Skobov Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, August 25 – The war that Vladimir Putin has unleashed in Ukraine is “only part of his global war” against modern civilization and as such is a challenge, however much unrecognized as yet, “no less dangerous than those made by Hitler” in the last century, according to Moscow commentator Aleksandr Skobov.


            In a article today, Skobov argues that it is important to see that what Putin is doing in the Donbas is “only part of a global war which [the Kremlin leader] has unleashed against world civilization,” that it is “part of the eternal struggle of traditionalism and modernization,” and that as such it touches everyone (


            The fight between traditionalism and modernity, he continues, is about the size of “the sphere of autonomy of the individual human personality from society and the state. Modernization seeks to broaden this sphere as much as possible, [while] traditionalism seeks to reduce and in the final analysis completely swallow the individual.”


            In this struggle, Skobov says, “freedom of speech and assembly, an independent judiciary, parliamentarianism, international law and many other attributes of Western civilization are in the end [primarily] instruments which guarantee the autonomy of the individual personality.”


            Modernity has been spreading around the world, “but the forces of traditionalism periodically give birth to outbursts of aggressive revanchism on the part of those who do not want to come to terms with this trend.” They seek to turn the clock back and to do so, they declare “their ‘holy wars’” against the modern world.


            “In the final analysis,” Skobov says, “fascism is one of the most extreme and aggressive forms of traditionalist ravanchism.”


            Two decades ago, he continues, Russians displayed “an apparent demand for the legal institutions developed by Western civilization.”  But this borrowing was superficial at least among “the criminal oligarchy” which seized effective power, and thus these institutions were quickly converted into “a manipulated imitation” of the real thing.


            Initially, “the ruling kleptocracy” felt compelled to put up with this situation, Skobov says, but it was inevitable that “sooner or later,” that group would take up arms against “Western modernized values” and present itself as the defender of Russian “traditional values” as a way of dismantling what had appeared after 1991.


            In this process, “it is no accident” that Putin has made use of the ideas of many conservative writers of the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.  After all, “the country is ruled by the mafia, and the mafia values are the quintessence of traditionalism,” with their references to “the family” and so on.


            But Putin has gone further and “proclaimed the openly fascist conception of the special genetic code of ‘the Russian world,’ which consists in the willingness of the separate individual in the name of certain higher interests to completely submerge himself into society and subordinate himself to the state.”


            “Despite the fact that today Putin down to the most petty details is copying ‘Hitler before 1939,’” Skobov says, “solid liberal observers” are appalled by “such comparisons” and quickly point to all the ways Putin is not like Hitler. But in however many ways they are distinctive, they have one thing in comment: war.


            “War with Putin is always genuine, dirty and bloody,” Skobov says. “Putin is war. And the challenges which he has thrown at civilization today are no less dangerous than the challenges Hitler presented.”


            The reason for that conclusion, of course, is not just about Putin. “Recent events have shown that powerful forces have awoken in Russian society which mortally hate Western civilization as such and are waiting only for a suitable moment to begin to kill its supporters.”  Some of them have gone off to the Donbas, but there are many more still at home.


            The “overwhelming majority” of such people view themselves “as participants in a crusade against the rotten West with its human rights, tolerance, political correctness and other ‘liberast’ abominations. They are fighting for the holy right to beat their wives and children” and “all other no less traditional values.”


            “The global war between traditionalism and modernization inevitably will be transformed from an imperialist to a civil war,” Skobov says. How that will happen will be different “in each concrete society and in each specific people. Russian ‘crusaders’ fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk” are the enemies of modernity.


            They must be defeated, and at present, “the Ukrainian army is fighting” not only for Ukraine but “for our freedom and for the freedom of Russia.”  May it win the victory for all of the modern world, Skobov concludes.

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