Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Putin Represents ‘At a Minimum’ No Less a Threat to Civilization than Hitler Did, Skobov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 22 – Speaking at a conference in Berlin earlier this month, Russian commentator Aleksandr Skobov argued that it is critically important to understand the threats that the Putin regime presents to the world and that Russians living under it and Russians who have fled have a key role to play in promoting that understanding.

            Skobov argues that many remain confused in their assessment of Putin and his regime because up to now, while arrangements for totalitarian repression are in place, so far the Kremlin has limited itself to what might be called totalitarianism “’lite’” and allowed some to mistakenly claim that it will never take the next steps (

            But there are compelling reasons to think that it will become ever more totalitarian, including the Anschluss of Crimea and its imposition of real totalitarianism there and its ever more passionate defense of Stalin’s crimes, Skobov argues. There is thus every reason to think that Putin is becoming a threat to the world in ways that recall Hitler’s.

            And Skobov argues that there are three reasons why those in the opposition who argue that it is inappropriate and wrong to “call the Putin regime fascist and Putin himself the new Hitler.”

            The first of these is the nature of the ideology of the Putin regime.  Many have suggested that the Putin regime doesn’t have an ideology, but in fact the ruling elites of all systems have one, however much they may leave it unarticulated in public or even hidden from the view of others, Skobov says.

            “Putin and his minions,” the commentator says, may present themselves as technocrats; but in fact they have a clear vision of the world as “an eternal battlefield of all against all for dominance, a struggle in which no legal or moral limitations operate. Only selfish interests and force have any significance.”

            Such views fit perfectly within the framework of fascist ideology, Skobov says.

            Moreover, for Putin and his entourage, “the people are politically without any self-standing ability to act. It always is only something plastic in the hands of the ruling elite. Liberal democracy of the Western type is for his regime no more than a system of deceptions and manipulations which serve the ruling elite to control ‘the suckers.’” 

            In its place, “the Putinists propose a simpler and more effective system (from their point of view): a ‘long’ (that is unchanged] state operating on a ‘deep’ people which expresses its true and long-term ‘deep’ interests and not fleeting, superficial or force desires via elections but rather through a mystical unity with the leader.”

            “All this,” Skobov says, “also corresponds with fascist theories about the nation as a collective ‘superpersonality,’ about the state as the only living organism to which are subordinate all its organs and cells. ‘The long state’ of Mr. Surkov is a fascist state.”

            The second reason why those who deny the fascist nature of Putin and his regime is this, Skobov says.  Like Hitler’s, the Putin regime has begun the thorough-going destruction of the system of international relations created after World War II. It hasn’t just violated the keystone principle against annexations.”

            Instead, “it is intentionally attacking all its principles: the supremacy of law, the equality of peoples, and collective responsibility for the support of common rules for all.” Instead, Putin like Hitler “is consciously trying to return the world to one of unlimited struggle or all against all for domination” and to restore “’spheres of imperial control.’”

            Also like Hitler in the 1930s, “Putin is consistently destroying the legal and moral limitations on force and cruelty which had been developed by humanity. Like Hitler in the 1930s too, he is seeking to overturn the achievements based on the values of the Renaissance and Enlightenment regarding humanism and human rights.”

            And the third reason is this: “in this act of destruction of the present-day global liberal world order, Putin could really succeed.” To do so, he does not need to have “a big share of the world’s GDP; “for this it is enough to have a critical mass of nuclear weapons and to value human life much less than his potential opponents do.”

            That means that “at a minimum,” the Putin regime represents “no less a global threate to civilization and its achievements than did the Hitlerite regime.” Unfortunately, far too few people in Russia and the West recognize that reality: It is the job of the Russian opposition to help them, Skobov concludes.

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