Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Duma’s Unanimity for Putin’s Constitutional Changes Shows Russia Close to Being ‘a Fascist State,’ Skobov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 24 – The Duma’s unanimous approve of Vladimir Putin’s proposals for modifying the Russian Constitution shows that “the formation in Russia of a state of the fascist type is at its concluding stage” because in any democratic country, there would be a plurality of views on such important changes, Aleksandr Skobov says.

            One would expect debate and at least a minimum number of “no” votes, the Russian commentator says; but the situation is entirely different in which “the ruler and the narrow group of his closest comrades in arms” has a monopoly on political will and decision making (

            Voting in the legislatures of these systems “is not an expression of the political will of society (which doesn’t exist) but rather a ritual oath of allegiance to the ruler. This model is well-known from the times of the Roman Caesars and used to be called ‘plebiscitarian dictatorship.’” But “in our politically correct age, it is more delicately referred to as ‘delegated democracy.’”

            Most of the time, that refers to the delegation by citizens to their rulers of the right to make decisions for everyone. But in cases like this, it means that the nominal representatives of the citizenry must express the unanimous approval for whatever the powers that be demand or put forward.

            And consequently, “even if expression of disagreement is not completely banned legally … it begins to be viewed as something abnormal or indecent.” A phrase from the early Putin period, “parliament isn’t a place for discussions,” captures this attitude perfectly and was on view in the vote about amending the constitution.

            In Soviet times, members of the Supreme Soviet were allowed to differ with those above them in only way, by “competing with one another in expressing their devoted love for ‘the dear party and government.’”  In Putin’s “’parliament,’” Sobov says, something similar is at work, with the various parties reflecting “purely stylistic and not principled” differences.

            This “monolithic unity of ‘the Duma parties’ isn’t reducible to pure imitation,” the commentator continues. “At its basis, their ‘consensus lies a completely conscious and sincere support of two most important ‘system-forming’ directions of the domestic and foreign policies of Putin’s Kremlin.”

            On the one hand, they are all committed to reducing the rights of the population and of themselves, with the singular exception that they are permitted to be more Catholic than the pope or in this context more Putinist than Putin is himself. And on the other, they share in “the imperial revanchism and global confrontation with the West” and so can be counted on for that.

            Related to this unanimity in the Duma, is that statement its head, Vyacheslav Volodin, made this week in which he appealed to the West not to criticize what Moscow is doing but instead to copy its moves and shift away from the liberal order of the past toward “’delegated democracy,’”  a central idea of Putin and his regime, Skobov argues.

            “The goal of the Putin regime is not limited to the return to ‘a world of empires’ and the clawing back of its own sphere of imperial control. It is more ambitious than that. It is ‘the closing down’ of Western liberal democracy as a civilizational project and the return of the West to its ‘traditional values,’ that is, to ‘pre-liberal,’ feudal-tribal values.”

            That was the goal of fascism, Skobov points out. And therefore ‘the long state of Putin’s’ is a remake of fascism. Its coexistence with the ‘progressive’ Western project is really impossible. One of these will have to ‘exit from history.’” Consequently, he warns, “a clash between them is inevitable.”

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