Russia’s war-mongering president, Vladimir Putin, has many admirers in the West. Various notable European politicians have paid homage, including the leader of France’s far right National Rally party, Marine Le Pen; former prime minster of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi; and Britain’s Brexit leader Nigel Farage. Other prominent fans include President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, and of course the former president of the United States, Donald Trump.

That they would be admirers is not surprising. They are ideological soulmates. Putin, while starting his career as a KGB officer in the Soviet Union’s perverse version of communism, is a fascist at heart, as indeed are they. He has a nostalgic passion for Russia’s past, is inconsolable about his country’s loss of power and prestige, and is intent on making it great again. His fan club appreciates his nostalgia for “traditional values,” real and imagined, and his strongman resolve to return to them by any means necessary. In true fascist fashion, the end justifies the means.

Now they are back-tracking. His brutality against Ukraine has become embarrassing. We are witnessing déjà vu. We saw the same ideological faux pas on the part of the right in the 1930s. Many prominent people at that time were fascist, even Nazi, sympathizers, including Americans from the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh to the industrialist Henry Ford and Brits from Lord Rothermere, owner of the Daily Mail newspaper, to the pinnacle of royalty King Edward VIII.

These people feared the threat of communism and saw fascism as a deterrent. But when the big threat materialized it didn’t come from the left, it came from the right, and it came with terrifying brutality. Once again the threat to world order comes not from the communist left, or what’s left of it, but from the fascist right, as these contemporary sympathizers are learning to their chagrin. History may not repeat itself, but it has echoes.

4 thoughts on “Putin’s apologists”
  1. NATO was created to counter the USSR. Therefore the raison d’être for NATO disappeared with the disappearance of the USSR. It should be gone.

    Instead, NATO has spent 30 years slowly advancing eastward until NATO now has troops within 150km of Saint Petersburg and is trying to add Ukraine to the alliance.

    Putin has been saying this is a total, existential, threat to the Russian Federation. After Kosovo, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria do you expect Russia to trust NATO/USA?

    He has spent 20 years trying to get decent security assurances from the West. None. He has set red lines and the West laughed. Well he really meant them. The USA/NATO and Ukraine stepped over the last line.

    His duty as President of the Russian Federation is to defend the Federation. That is what he is doing.

    BTW, if not Putin, any other President of the Russian Federation would be doing much the same thing. It is not a matter of a single person but of Russian Gov’t policy in the face of a deadly threat.

    In a case like this I would expect McKenzie-King and P. Trudeau to have responded much the same way.

  2. NATO isn’t trying to add Ukraine to the alliance. Ukraine is trying to add itself to the alliance, due to the total, existential threat posed by Putin. As for the Russian Federation, at the moment Putin is the federation.

  3. “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini.
    Yes we are more into fascism with the lighter touch
    like the way we do it

  4. NATO isn’t trying to add Ukraine to the alliance.

    Good point. Ukraine is, like Finland and Sweden very close to being a de facto member anyway. It is not covered by Article 5 so seeking membership makes sense if you disregard the fact that it precipitated an invasion. If Ukraine were a member of NATO it would mean that Russia could not intervene in the civil war to protect Russian citizens. I was missing that.

    Russia said it was a red line. What I think the USA did not understand is that Putin seldom bluffs.

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