There’s that f-word again

I get a lot of pushback from commenters suggesting that I don’t know anything about fascism. That may be true, but Timothy Snyder is one of the world’s leading experts on the subject and he also views Putin as fascist. Now Timothy Garton Ash says the same thing.

The two Timothys understand that in the past the term “fascist” has been overused (as has “communist”). Here’s Ash:

For many years I shared the reluctance of other scholars and analysts to use the word fascism in the present tense. A polymorphous phenomenon even in its heyday in the 1930s, fascism subsequently suffered from an excess of definition. To cry “fascist!” suggested a lazy equation with Adolf Hitler, total war and the Holocaust. The far left further devalued the term by hurling it around to denounce everyone from capitalist bosses to mildly disciplinarian schoolteachers.


There is, however, a serious contender for this label: Vladimir Putin’s Russia. So many of the historical features of fascism can be found there. The state-organised cult of a single leader. The cultivation of a deep sense of historical resentment. Indoctrination of youth and demonisation of the enemy. The propaganda of the big lie — in Putin’s case, that Ukrainians are fascists. An ideology of domination by one Volk over others: for Putin, Ukrainians don’t really exist, they are just a variant of Russians. An aesthetic of martial machismo and heroic slaughter — recall the Russian president’s praise of the brigade responsible for the atrocities in Bucha. Above all, the practice of fierce repression at home and genocidal violence abroad.

People tell me that Putin is not the same as Hitler. Well, yeah. Or he’s not the same as Franco. Yes, he’s more fascist than Franco.



13 Responses to “There’s that f-word again”

  1. Gravatar of Sara Sara
    30. September 2022 at 05:09

    1. There is no organized cult of a single leader. Putin does have wide support, mostly because Russians view him as someone who is anti-globalist, who opposes the WEF propaganda machine, and who is protecting their tradition and culture from HARD LEFT liberal policies, policies that seek to impose a global value system and a global order upon them, such as open borders, placing people into groups of oppressed and oppresssors, dismantiling the family in favor of the state, establishing quota’s, and viciously going after those who disagree, both in politics and business in the form of cancellation, product bans, arresting opposition groups, taxing groups differently predicated on the color of their skin, and so on and so forth. These are actually not LIBERAL policies, but they are policies that those who call themselves liberal (really fascists in disguise) have latched onto. In Sumner’s own words he says: “tens of millions of Chinese immigrants should come to America.” Now Russians are not racist bigots, but they do share a cultural heritage that goes back to the Vikings, not to China. They don’t want to speak Chinese, work for Chinese companies, or eat Chinese food. And they certainly don’t believe in bending a knee to a BLM marxist group (Russians remember the fascism of marxism) or believe that white skin means they are oppressors. But Russians certainly don’t view Putin as a god like being. He’s just a necessary evil to deal with some really crazy liberal thugs emerging from the west. Russians remember those thugs well. Many of them have parents and grandparents who remember the gulags.

    2. Indoctrinazation of the youth is happening in the west too, so if Russia is fascist then U.S., and most European countries are also fascist. This is a classical example of not placing the shoe on the other foot. And when someone says there is “indoctirnation” that is not good enough. You must ask them for specifics, because some people might say that Russia is fascist because Russian textbooks teach equality of the law, or because Universities require an entrance examination and placement is predicated upon merit instead of skin color (seems to be fair), or because they teach that gay sex is wrong, or because they value traditional conservative views around marriage and raising children, etc. In America, the schools now teach students that there are groups of oppressors and oppressed, that the law is biased towards the oppressors, and that everything in life can be reduced to power, and that because everything can be reduced to power we need quotas and a utilitarian approach based on group identity and equality of outcome. To many Russians, that sounds A LOT LIKE MARXISM! It sounds a lot like PROPAGANDA.

    3. Ukraine cannot even point to the victims of Bucha as outlined in a recent NYT article. And incidentally, this is the NYT, the most radical liberal group of writers in America. I’m sure you realize that its very easy to shell and level an entire city, before an army arrives, then use that to clamor for foriegn support? It’s very easy to place your military in a hospital, fire at the enemy, then claim the enemy killed people in a hospital? You do realize that our war department at the pentagon has an entire department dedicated to propaganda, with a team of nearly 500 people? Do you really believe only the Russians engage in war propaganda? You don’t think Kiev can do that? You don’t think we can do that?

    Good researchers go to the source; that means actually going to Donbas, speaking to people, learning about whats happening, as many indepenent journalists have done.

    4. When Brazil, China, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Turkey, Vietnam, Hungary (those are just the big ones) ask for the United States to produce “evidence” that Putin and independent journalists are lying about the shelling in Donbas, and have been lying for seven years, WE PRODUCE NOTHING! NOTHING AT ALL! OUR DIPLOMATS SIMPLY GET UP AND WALK OUT.It’s the most bizarre thing imaginable.

    And so when you say the “big lie”, are you sure its Putin and not us? Sadly, no evidence has been produced to confirm any of the claims made by the United States and NATO about Donbas. And then of course there are the hard receipts. Receipts that show 1.5B in arms being sent from Washington to Kiev in 2019, another provacation, and of course the more recent arms trade, along with the deposition from a U.S. diplomat discussing United States involvment in overthrowing the regime in 2014. This is the type of power politics that leads to the outcome we see now.

    Then, strangely, six months after Biden said he “could” blow up the pipeline, low and behold the pipeline has been sabatoged. Just more provacation from what appears to be a group of global elites who will do anything an say anything to force their will upon others.

    And that ladies and gentlemen will only lead to further escalation.
    Sumner often talks about U.S. intervention STOPPING WAR. Nothing could be further from the truth. Imposition doesn’t stop war. NATO, A COLD WAR RELIC DOESN’T STOP WAR.

    Respecting values and cultures different from your own, even if they aren’t liberal one’s, is the way to avoid war. Indeed, an America first policy, or an Italian first policy, or a Russian first policy WOULD avoid war. We have no business involving ourselves in Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Kosovo, Somalia, I’m getting tired of writing all the names, all the impositions, all the tyrannical interventions all in the so-called name of “liberalism”. That’s not liberal! It’s tyrannical!

  2. Gravatar of bb bb
    30. September 2022 at 06:51

    Great post. I agree that lefties threw the term around way too much in 90s and 2000s, but its a very relevant term today. I think you left a couple of fascist characteristics out, although your list is very good. I would include the concept of enemies from within, whether that means targeting the press or scapegoating marginalized groups, both of which are common practice of Putin. Also, I agree that a perfect comparison to Hitler is required to be a fascist. I believe that fascism originated in Italy. I personally thinks it’s most helpful to view it as a style of politics, and one that is deployed with the goal of achieving authoritarianism, rather than a form of government or even an ideology. I also don’t think it is required for someone to be successful to be a fascist. Trump attempted to deploy most the elements of fascism. They fact that his coup was not successful does not make him less of a fascist. Although he didn’t start any wars. And GW Bush was a doofus, but not a fascist. Keep up the good work.

  3. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    30. September 2022 at 07:25

    Sure, let’s call him a fascist, though that’s almost a trivialization, because Putin is indeed worse than Franco, Salazar, Metaxas — and even worse than Mussolini.

    In my view, more important than theoretical definitions by intellectuals from the ivory tower would be for these intellectuals to formulate concrete demands and clearly name the West’s restraint and its cowardice:

    For example, Biden and especially Scholz continue to massively obstruct even the simple delivery of tanks such as Leopard 1 and Marder, not to mention Leopard 2.

    The Ukrainians have still not received a single Western combat tank, although they demand it every day. They don’t even get the really old predecessor models.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that Biden and Scholz do not want a recapture of the lost territories and the defeat of Putin. They want to pet and feed the crocodile for a little more, buying time and hoping for what? That we will be the last to be eaten?

    Appeasement made some sense in 1938 because Great Britain, France and the US had military backlogs. But in 2022, it’s the other way round: NATO and the US have military superiority, and yet Putin is being given more and more time to rearm and mobilize.

  4. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. September 2022 at 08:37

    Thanks bb.

    Christian, You said:

    “Putin is indeed worse than Franco, Salazar, Metaxas — and even worse than Mussolini.”

    I agree. And you are also correct that we are doing far too little to help Ukraine. It’s a disgrace.

  5. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    30. September 2022 at 11:44

    Scott, I’m glad we found a match here.

    There seem to be secret collusions between Biden, Macron, and Scholz. One collusion is: not a single Western battle tank for Ukraine. That is really extreme.

    We now know, for example, that Scholz secretely has been pressuring the Spanish government not to supply Leopard 1 tanks. Germany controls all Leopard exports, even if they are located in another European country.

    This is extreme non-transparent anti-democratic behavior. On the surface, Scholz is telling the German media that he would like to supply Leopard tanks, but that would be unilateral action on Germany’s part, and he doesn’t want that; other European governments would have to go along.

    And in the background, he forbids other European governments to do just that. A truly diabolically designed vicious circle.

    That’s why I have commented in parts positively on Trump for some time: This complete idiot was not mentally capable of such diabolically thought-up, two-faced games.

    Trump did diabolical things as well, but at least he communicated them openly, and people could react to that and draw their conclusions in the next democratic elections. No one is really reacting to Scholz, no one is calling him out as the lier he is.

    I mean let’s face it, 90% of the people I meet want to support Ukraine, but almost the same number does not realize what kind of two-faced games are being played here.

    There have been similar dubious interventions when Poland wanted to deliver some old fighter jets to Ukraine, until Stoltenberg (and Biden) had some “urgent, face-to-face talks” with Polish politicians. After that, this kind of support was no longer on the table.

  6. Gravatar of Dr Richard Dr Richard
    30. September 2022 at 13:27


    How can you say Biden is not providing Ukraine with enough weapons when he has provided them with over $40 Billion in military aid already. That’s more than the Military budget of every country in the world save for a few.

  7. Gravatar of agrippa postumus agrippa postumus
    30. September 2022 at 17:08

    you wanna understand what’s a fascist? watch the big lebowski and the dude’s spontaneous utterance upon being hit in the head with a coffee mug by the malibu chief of police. as they say, a picture…

  8. Gravatar of Aladdin Aladdin
    1. October 2022 at 21:08

    I know, I know, feeding trolls, but Sara … claiming the Bucha massacre didn’t occur is disgusting and shocking, and you ought to feel greatly ashamed of yourself.

  9. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    1. October 2022 at 22:07

    Speaking of values and liberals — they are not evening hiding their tyranny anymore.

    When Italy says they would prefer to close their border, and when Denmark decides to limit immigrants to 30% (essentially to avoid ghetto’s and cultural strife) the thugs in Brussels respond with threats.

    These people have already come out and said that “Europe has certain ‘values’, and countries MUST follow them.

    So as you can see, the centralized thugs are emerging on the left, and like the marxists they seek to emulate, they are VERY undemocratic.

  10. Gravatar of steve steve
    2. October 2022 at 07:39

    Fascist has so much emotional overlay I prefer authoritarian. The problem with that is that it does not seem like a strong enough word to describe how awful Putin is now. The irony of the guy calling the West “satanic” while he launched a war of aggression that has killed thousands and lead to millions of refugees and costs in the billions does seem to call for a stronger word.


  11. Gravatar of bb bb
    3. October 2022 at 08:02

    — “There seem to be secret collusions between Biden, Macron, and Scholz. One collusion is: not a single Western battle tank for Ukraine. That is really extreme.”

    America is not providing battle tanks because they would be impossible for the Ukrainians to maintain. The M1 weighs 70 tons and has a gas turbine engine. It’s just totally impractical for the Ukrainians.

    THe Leopold is perfect for the Ukrainians and Germany should follow through on its commitment to provide them. I suspect the delay has more to do with internal German politics that a secret agreement with Biden.

    Haven’t really been following France, but did anyone expect them to be a reliable partner.

    I suspect there is a lot of behind the scenes discussions, and much of it is formulating common messaging to provide cover for Sholz and Macron as they navigate publics that tend to be skeptical of conflict with Russia for some reason.

  12. Gravatar of Avani Avani
    4. October 2022 at 09:42

    I’m just curious if people in America actually listen to Putin?
    Do you read his speeches?

    In his last speech, he said:

    “The repression of freedom is taking on the outlines of a reverse religion, of real Satanism,” which, on issues like gender identity, amounts to a “denial of man.”

    And he describes the west as:

    “the ruling circles of the so-called West” whose “hegemony has a pronounced character of totalitarianism, despotism and apartheid.”

    And indeed, we have seen this totalitarianism here in India, first-hand, from American diplomats who threaten us with sanctions if we don’t stop trading with Russia. And the new “woke” do resemble a sort of apartheid. They seek to destroy men, particularly white men. There is a great deal of bigotry emerging.

    But what is interesting to me is not the degradation of culture and totalitarianism, which has been gradually increasing in America since the 60’s, but the fact that very few people — especially liberals — see whats happening. It amazes me that someone as intelligent as Scott would not see this. In that way America does resemble Nazi, Germany. Your people are so caught up in this propaganda machine that they are now acting irrationally.

    And as your economy and Europe’s economy becomes more precarious, the threats are becoming louder and louder. Almost as if the elites are lashing out at the world, trying to desperately hold onto their wealth.

    Incidentally, I traveled to Moscow last year on business and the people were pretty moderate. They were basically opposed to Marxism, and totalitarianism in all forms, including what we are seeing from the West lately.

  13. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    9. October 2022 at 09:28

    “An ideology of domination by one Volk over others: for Putin, Ukrainians don’t really exist, they are just a variant of Russians.”
    Did Hitler believe that Poles or Jews didn’t really exist, but were just a variant of German? Of course not. He was a nationalist. Putin rejects nationalism, which is why he didn’t take Ukrainian nationalism seriously. His minister of defense is a Tuvan rather than an ethnic Russian, and others have noted how heavily represented ethnic minorities are in that army fighting in Ukraine.

    “genocidal violence abroad”
    Violence can be excessive and deplorable without being genocidal. Recall that Putin doesn’t ethnically distinguish Ukrainians from his own subjects. That’s why, unlike Hitler, he’s not killing off the locals to make room for his co-ethnics. Inhabitants of eastern Ukraine have instead been moving further east into Russia to get away from the fighting.

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