[Marxism] Putin and the Far right

Marv Gandall marvgand2 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 2 12:50:15 MDT 2014

On 2014-04-02, at 1:19 PM, Ken Hiebert wrote:

> Marv Gandall said:
> Re: [Marxism] [Pen-l] Dugin Tells Separatists in Ukraine What to Do	Next | The Interpreter
> You (referring to Louis) have persistently argued the Ukrainian far right played little role in the recent protests and formation of the new government. If I understand you correctly, you have have now taken it a step further by suggesting that it is instead the Putin government - rather than groups like the Right Sector and Svoboda - which has more "affinity" with the ideology and symbols of fascism. These are precisely the talking points used by Western politicians and pro-Western commentators to portray the Ukrainian right nationalists and their EU-US sponsors as the targets of Russian aggression, rather than as the instigators of the current crisis. 
> I think that is a nonsensical interpretation of what has transpired, but it makes your reliance on outfits like the US-based Institute of Modern Russia to make your case more comprehensible.
> Ken Hiebert replies:
> Louis has posted items reporting a connection between Putin and far-right organizations in a number of European countries.  I have reposted one of these items to another list.  full: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141067/mitchell-a-orenstein/putins-western-allies
> If this report is inaccurate, I need to know that, so that I can acknowledge my mistake.  Is there any reason to believe that these reports are inaccurate?

I can't say, and neither can you. In any case, it's a mistake to see the behaviour of the Russian government as being driven by an affinity for fascism - as much or more of a mistake as to exaggerate the influence of the far right on the centre-right government of Ukraine. Each preside over capitalist states based on rapacious oligarchs who switch sides with abandon whenever they perceive a shift in the balance of forces. They differ only in the degree of their independence from the US and the EU. They each appeal to traditional nationalism and enjoy a high level of mass support. The liberal left is very weak and the revolutionary left virtually absent in both countries. 

In other words, they are much more alike than dissimilar at the level of both the state and mass political culture. I became interested in this discussion because I don't believe, as I said at the time, that we have a dog in this fight. Louis and others, perhaps including yourself, believe that we do, having idealized the Euromaidan as a class movement rather than an ethnocentric one dominated by right-wing nationalists inviting confrontation with Russia and the Russian-speaking Ukrainian provinces in the east. In effect, you've thrown in your lot behind a process which has both dangerously destabilized the region and will almost certainly lead to a further lowering of living standards for the mass of the population in both halves of the country.

Whether Putin has or has not some nebulous "connection" to European far right individuals or parties is beside the point.

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