Staunton, April 13 – There is no question that the Putin regime now shares much in common with those of Hitler and Mussolini, Mikhail Pozharsky says; but it lacks one important element: it lacks mass support and instead relies on the use of coercion to create the simulacrum of such support.
Both Hitler and Mussolini relied on the support of the population, especially in the early years of their rule, because their goal was the revolutionization of their countries, the Russian commentator says. But Putin and his regime while aggressive and repressive don’t want a revolution: they want everything to remain as it is.
Because that is the case, Pozharsky says, the differences between Putin’s regime and those of Hitler and Mussolini “are much greater than the similarities.” There simply isn’t the mass support for what Putin is doing but only orchestrated actions designed to suggest that there is (svoboda.org/a/obyknovennyy-rashizm-efir-v-18-05/31796030.html).
The Putin regime in fact seeks to do without such mass support. “It very much fears social initiatives even if they are pro-government.” It has banned all pro-invasion demonstrations that it doesn’t control even to the point of charging their organizers with crimes and incarcerating them.
Of course, the Putin regime does share with the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini many of their characteristics, including both authoritarianism and aggressiveness abroad; but without popular mobilization, it cannot be the revolutionizing force they intended their movements to be, Pozharsky concludes.
Aleksandr Verkhovsky of the SOVA analytic center agrees. As he puts it, “fascism is not nay manifestation of nationalism.” It is also revolutionary and seeks to redefine the nation “on new foundations.” That was true of what Hitler and Mussolini wanted to do; but “one cannot say that about the existing political regime” in Russia.
To be sure, he says, the Putin regime plays on the resentment of the population when it talks about restoring the empire. But that alone doesn’t give rise to fascism. In fact, Verkhovsky points out, there are many fewer fascists in Russia today than there were in the past. And the pursuit of empire as such does not necessarily lead to fascism; it can be its undoing.
“Usually,” he continues, “empires are not totalitarian” but rather complexes of various peoples and narratives which may be highly repressive but which do not seek to transform the population into something entirely new. The Soviet system was totalitarian as aspired to such changes; but the Putin regime does not seek such transformation or have popular support for it.
Whether that will change, of course, remains to be seen, Verkhovsky says; but for the present, the Putin regime, however much one may condemn it for aggression abroad and repression at home is not fascist at least in the sense that the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini with which it is often compared were.