Staunton, Sept. 15 – Dimitry Savvin, the editor of the Riga-based conservative Russian portal Harbin, says that the regime Vladimir Putin has erected in Russia should not be described as neo-fascist and modeled on those of pre-war fascist regimes but rather labeled as neo-Soviet, a variant of the regimes that existed in Russia between 1917 and 1991.
Many people call the Putin regime fascist because fascism has become a curse word in modern discourse and they want to express disapproval, because there is no generally accepted definition of fascism and so it can be extended, and because there is great overlap between fascism and communism (harbin.lv/putinskiy-rezhim-fashistskiy-ili-neosovetskiy).
The last point is especially important. Communism and fascism share many things in common – totalitarianism, authoritarianism, a prioritization of group interests over individual ones, and reliance on a single party to organize and control the state. Consequently, the presence of these things by itself doesn’t prove that a regime is one thing or the other.
But there are three fundamental differences between communism and fascism. First, fascism is based on a corporatist system of class cooperation while communism is based on class struggle; second, fascism is nationalist in its focus while communism is internationalist; and third, fascism is far less hostile to religion than communism is.
The problem arises that fascist regimes on occasion have moved to the left on all of these things, while communist ones have moved to the right as it were, Savvin argues. But these three basic distinctions nonetheless remain critical if one is to decide that a regime is one thing or the other.
If one examines the Putin regime, one is struck by the fact that the genesis of its ruling stratum is entirely different from that of fascist states. The latter are formed on the basis of a revolutionary synthesis of a revolutionary party and representatives of traditional elite strata of various kinds.
But in the case of Putin’s regime, nothing like that has happened. “The current ruling stratum is the Soviet nomenklatura,” and it is thus “the direct and organic extension of the ruling stratum of the USSR.”
Moreover, the Putin model is “almost a 100 percent copy of Stalin’s peoples’ democracies.” It is thus “socialism of a Stalinist kind.” And there is no basis for suggesting that it is corporatist in practice however much its propaganda sometimes talks about class cooperation and national integration.
In addition, Savvin continues, the Putin system is hostile to ethnic Russian national identity and opposes “any attempts at self-organization of Russians on an ethnic basis.” Its imperialism and revanchism is purely Soviet rather than the product of a commitment to the core nation of his country.
In short, “the Russian Federation supports and fosters Soviet identity, and either ignores the Russian heritage or consciously seeks to extirpate it.” That is like the patriotic use of nationalism by the communists not like the historical practice of fascist regimes of any kind, the commentator says.
The Kremlin’s current approach to religion and non-Russian nationalities is similarly instrumental rather than fundamental. They are used to promote specific goals but they are never allowed to set policy. And its foreign policy moves are entirely within the Soviet ambit and cannot be made to fit within a fascist one.
Thus, one must conclude that there is nothing specifically fascist in the Putin regime, but there is a great deal of the Soviet. And consequently, it is best to call things by their proper names: The Russian Federation today is “a neo-Soviet state but hardly a neo-fascist one.” And it must be opposed on that basis rather than by tilting at specters of Hitler or Mussolini.