In this op-ed, Garry Kasparov minces no words about the sinister nature of Putin’s government, as well as the role of the so-called “systemic liberals” who helped establish the current regime.
Fascism in Our Own Backyard
By Garry Kasparov
February 6, 2013
Many of our fellow citizens have come to recognize that fascism has come to Russia. It is a threat that, for a variety of reasons, we have been discussing for a long time now.
Back on October 23, 2008, Yevgeny Ikhlov predicted that fascism would be Putinism’s next line of defense, and noted that two of its key components are despotism and terror, intended to spread mortal fear.
I recently had the occasion to recall Mussolini’s corporate state, and the fourteen typical characteristics of “Eternal Fascism” by Umberto Eco. According to Eco, “it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.” As I said on August 19, 2009: “If that is the case, then dark clouds have already gathered over Russia.”
A year later, in August 2010, Andrei Piontkovsky noted that democracy is the last bastion of anti-fascism: “The rejection of free elections, the preservation of Putinism – this is a one hundred percent guarantee that fascism will come.”
And just recently, on January 31, 2013, Lev Rubinshtein noted: “The phenomenon that is generally and not always accurately labeled fascism’… has acquired a dark, archaic character, all of the superstitions and age-old prejudices of past centuries, and, having built up this dark swine, began a deadly attack against the hated and painfully terrible phenomenon that is freedom… The most fundamental element of fascism is hatred – hatred that is legitimized, that possesses willpower and the utmost approval, and which used to varying degrees of efficiency… The government, in order to fight against freedom and human dignity – which it is decidedly incompatible with – turns on fascism just like it turns on a gas-powered chainsaw…”
Indeed, the term “fascism” is often interpreted very loosely, and the government (or its sympathizers, wittingly or unwittingly) can stick this label onto whomever they want. We heard this accusation in the summer of 2005 against the United Civil Front, in 2006 against the Other Russia coalition, in 2008 before the first session of the National Assembly of the Russian Federation, and even in the fall of 2012 against the Russian opposition’s Coordination Council. Many very respectable people spent a long time being loud and indignant: “What kind of dialogue can we have with red-browns, with all of these Stalinists and fascists? Just imagine what they would do with us if they came to power!”
But fascism is already among us. Except that it is not Sergei Udaltsov and his Vanguard of Red Youth or Aleksandr Belov and his Movement Against Illegal Immigration that has to do with the persistent rehabilitation of Stalin and Stalinism, or the militant obscurantism that has seized the country, or the judicial procedures and legislation of the rubber-stamping Duma, or the terror of the security services. The tired argument that the Putin regime – problematic though it may be – is the only thing that can save us from the fascist threat is crumbling before our eyes.
The mask is off – fascism has come to Russia.
But it did not come from the United Civil Front, nor from the Other Russia, and not from the National Assembly or from the Coordination Council.
It came from the Kremlin.
And there is nothing surprising about this. Project Putin, just like the old Project Hitler, is but the fruit of a conspiracy by the ruling elite. Fascist rule was never the result of the free will of the people. It was always the fruit of a conspiracy by the ruling elites!
Fascism arrived just as inevitably as will the final stage the regime’s agony. And, by the way, it has ended the long argument over with whom and under what circumstances a decent person can talk to and not become an accomplice of fascism himself. Today, an accomplice is not the person who creates a platform for anti-fascist resistance in the Coordination Council, or protests against fascism in a march of a general democratic movement, or creates a national anti-fascist Democratic front. Today, an accomplice is whoever continues to cooperate with the fascist government.
The situation is such that all of the loyalists’ attempts to have a positive effect on the government do nothing more than legitimize the fascist regime. Here it would be appropriate to recall the role played by the systemic liberals who established it: Anatoly Chubais, Alexei Kudrin, Yevgeny Yasin, Sergei Aleksashenko, and others like them. The people who spent years promising our society that they would first build a market economy and only deal with democracy afterwards. In his article, Andrei Piontkovsky asked: “Can the systemic liberals oppose the systemic fascists within the government?” We have guessed about this question before. Now we know for sure that they cannot.
“The main thing for them [the systemic liberals – G.K.] was not to oppose the systemic fascists, but to prove to them that they, the liberals, are very important within the government, that they can be helpful for supporting the reputation of the regime in the West, that they are effective managers, that they are ‘sane’ and loyal, that they are of the same blood in the end, and that they sure as hell want to do more work. The blinding darkness of the government was too much for them to resist…”
Now the leaders of the systemic liberals are continuing to pretend that the lawlessness happening in the country has nothing directly to do with them. Anatoly Chubais is using all his might to hold onto the nanotechnology market. Alexei Kudrin is awaiting an invitation from the fascist government to become their magic wand. Sergei Aleksashenko has some kind words for the creation of Rosfinagentstvo – apparently he “sure as hell” wants to control Russian finance again.
And it looks like Nikita Belykh has been studying Nikolai Bukharin’s speeches from the mid-1930s! Judging by his interview following the unexpected search of his office and his crusade on the investigators in the Navalny case, it turns out that he and Navalny “have not spoken for more than two years” and they have long held “diametrically opposed points of view.” Moreover, “that name never came up during questioning or during the search.” Naturally, the search was carried out by “cultured people in suits; they were polite and intelligent.” The investigators “spoke to me very correctly” (and how else would they?) and he “has no complaints against them;” “both sides parted satisfied with each other.”
Belykh, like a pale shadow of Bukharin, is sending the Kremlin desperate signals that he does not see a political agenda behind Navalny’s persecution. Moreover, that he is strictly a businessman and that “both my hands are at the service of the Investigative Committee and other law enforcement agencies to help them answer whatever questions they need to.” Indeed, our agencies are never mistaken! What else are you going to do if you “sure as hell want to do more work.”
While state fascism in Russia is going through its classic Italian stage, the systemic liberals are counting on what is going to prove useful to the regime. But the rapid transformation of a nationalist leader in the Duce into a Führer will inevitably require new ritual sacrifices. And, as I wrote in January, sooner or later the systemic liberals are going to have to change their behavior.
Today, arguments over the exact definition of fascism are no longer very important. When fascism arrives, you can smell it, taste it, and see it. And do not be mistaken – it is here!
Incidentally, the Olympics are not far off. It is true that the Berlin 1936 Games were in the summer, and Sochi 2014 will be in the winter, but they will all the same be in a summer resort!
Tatyana Lazareva, a colleague of mine in the Coordination Council, made a difficult choice recently – she joined the jury for the selection of Olympic torchbearers, since she, it seems, got caught up once again in the spirit of this kind of on-the-ground work. Nevertheless, she doubts her choice.
And there is reason for doubt! In my August article, “The brown glimmer of the Olympic torch,” I raised this question: Why does the International Olympic Committee continue to use a torch relay as a symbol for the modern Games, since it was the Nazis who introduced this innovation during the Berlin Olympics in 1936?
Translation by Kasparov.com.