Staunton, March 2 — Putinism is first and foremost the restoration of the “left fascism” that Nikita Khrushchev launched with his attacks on the cultural avant-garde in December 1962, that spread to Poland under Gomulka, and that was overthrown by perestroika and the 1991 revolution, according to Yevgeny Ikhlov.
Influenced by the arguments of Umberto Eco, the Moscow commentator says that “left fascism’ in no case should be confused with the leftist tendency in Nazism,” a trend associated with Colonel Rohm, “where anti-bourgeois attitudes predominated,” because it is a unique combination.
“Left fascism,” Ikhlov says, “is left because it is anti-market and quasi-collectivist, but it is fascism because it is a form of a militant and most primitive philistinism and cultivated the most conservative trends in art and science.” It was opposed by the generation of the 1960s with their “humanist and democratic Leninism” and ultimately stopped by perestroika.
Putinism, which arose in reaction to this as a kind of “counter-revolution, has returned the fascist tendency completely. To this point, there have not been any anti-market or Soviet cosmopolitan elements in the state ideology. [And] therefore Brezhnev’s ‘left fascism’ became ‘rightist’ and classical,” which in turn is “ever more becoming the essence of Putinism.”
And the invocation by the Kremlin of notions about “a sacred tradition” which identifies Sevastopol “as a Russian Zion” is “yet another very broad step toward Russian state fascism” to which, Ikhlov argues, Putin is moving the country.
For some, Ikhlov’s discussion may seem merely a playing at words and definitions, but in fact, his argument is an important one, especially in the Russian context. Moscow, both under the Soviets and now, has always been loath to talk about the real name of the Nazis, the National Socialists, because of the socialist component that was part of Hitler’s ideology.
The Moscow commentator has been one of the leaders in restoring attention to this aspect of fascism, and his latest comment further clarifies the situation by stressing the differences as well as the fundamental similarity between left Nazism of the Rohm variety and the left fascism of the kind once on offer under Brezhnev and now again under Putin.