Category Archives: Tyranny and Fascism

Hannah Arendt: Reason and Tyranny

 

I read a number of books by Hannah Arendt about 40 years ago as young lad in university. I continued to read after I left university because I enjoyed her insights so much.  I loved her books then; I love them now. She really understood tyranny, fascism and totalitarianism better than anyone. For quite a few years after that, I thought those issues were behind us. We had solved them. I was wrong. Unfortunately those issues have become important again.

Hannah Arendt was a brilliant political theorist/philosopher, born in Russia and a student of the legendary German philosopher Martin Heidegger. She wrote about what she had learned from the European political tyrants of the 20th century, particularly Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. I particularly enjoyed her book The Origins of Totalitarianism which she wrote in 1951. How could a book on political theory written 70 years ago be relevant to today? I think it is profoundly relevant.

Hannah Arendt understood die-hard fans. She understood fanatical zeal. She understood the followers of totalitarian rulers or populists. As she said, “the ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false no longer exists.”

 

To this the Canadian philosopher Henry Giroux recently said, “Today nothing could be more true than that.” Arendt also said, “thoughtlessness is the essence of fascism.” In a modern America where reason has been abandoned by so many, this is a deeply disturbing thing to consider. Is America on the path to fascism? It may not there yet, but is that where it is headed? More and more of us are convinced that they are well on the way to fascism if they are not there already.

Our species has impressive powers of reasoning. It is what sets us apart from most species. Yet we give up our advantage all the time. Why do we do that? Why do we allow reason to go to sleep? More importantly, why do we do that when it is clearly against our own interests to do that? That is a very big question. One I would like to answer.

It is crucially important not to  abdicate our power of reasoning. If ever we give up our rationale for beliefs we are doomed. In my opinion, we must always insist that all beliefs are based on evidence and reason.

Our reasoning power may be weak. It is certainly far from perfect. For each and every one of us our power of reasoning is flawed, but we never have a better tool to justify belief. Any belief.

Reason goes to sleep whenever we don’t base our beliefs on reason and evidence. For example, the bars to reason are many and varied and include the following among many others: faith substituted for reason, indoctrination, fear, prejudice or bias, laziness, ignorance, herd instinct or wish to conform, wishful thinking, ideological blinkers, and advertising or propaganda.

All of these substitutes for reasoning are dangerous. In politics, as we are finding out now again, as people did in Europe in the 1930s, when we abandon reason we put everything in jeopardy. Abandoning reason is an invitation to tyranny.

Trump trumps truth

 

I don’t know about you but I have been mesmerized by the House Select committee hearings into the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2020. The house committee members have been impressively methodical in their presentation. To me it is like watching a snake.

 

Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr, who had been a loyal Trump supporter right to the end when the lies from Trump became unbearable, said he was personally demoralized by what happened because in the past he had always been able to talk sense into President Trump when he got some crazy ideas. But this time, before January 6th he could not persuade Trump that he was wrong. As he told the House Select Committee, Barr reached the conclusion that Trump was “detached from reality.” Those are pretty strong words about the American president entrusted with the nuclear codes that could set off World War III and lead to the destruction of society. And those are words from one of Trump’s most reliable and loyalty Cabinet ministers!

 

Asha Rangappa is a Senior Lecturer at the Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and a former Associate Dean at Yale Law School who served as a Special Agent with the FBI was interviewed by Christiane Amanpour, disagreed with Barr, but what she said was perhaps even more alarming.  She said,

“I don’t think he was detached from reality, I think he understood the maxim that a lie can get half way around the world before the truth puts its boots on. His interest was in promoting a narrative as soon as he could, whether or not it was true.”

 

I agree. Trump is not a liar, he is a bullshitter. By that I mean, he actually doesn’t care if a statement is true or not, he just cares if the statement is useful to him. As Rangappa said, “In fact often a lie is more effective that the truth.” Trump has groomed the American public since before the election when he said if he lost the election it was rigged. He wanted the American public to be receptive to his Big Lie. And he was surprisingly effective. Millions of Americans came to believe it not only without evidence but against the evidence. That is why he told Department of Justice officials, ‘Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the other Republicans.” That is why he asked the Secretary of State for Georgia to “just find me 11,870 votes” which was one more than he needed to win the state of Georgia in the 2020 presidential election. Trump didn’t care about fraud, he didn’t care about the truth; he just cared about wining. For Trump it is always about wining. This is the essence of Trump wining at all costs.

 

As Rangappa said, “He is trying to craft a narrative and get it out there, not because he is interested in actual fraud, but he wants to paint the perception of fraud. We have seen this before with Trump. It is very much like his conversation with Ukrainian president Zelensky” that led to the first impeachment trial. He wanted the president to announce that he was investigating Joe Biden or his son to create the perception that there was fraud.

He realized that all he needed was the perception of fraud. Millions of Americans, like Trump himself, did not care about reality either. That is what is really disturbing about the events surrounding January 6th.

 

The Other War in Ukraine

 

In north eastern Italy an Orthodox Ukrainian Church leader in Budinay (SP) is leading a revolt by his flock of Ukrainian and Russian immigrants against its mother church in Moscow to join the Istanbul based Orthodox church instead whose leader has criticized the war. The leader of the Russian based church has taken a very different approach. There are roughly 100 million Russian Orthodox, the largest church within Orthodox Christianity. Their leader is “Patriarch Kirill who has framed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in holy terms.” Kirill has been publicly preaching against the decadence of the western world including its excess consumption, “gay pride parades.”  He said, in talking of the Ukraine war “we are talking about human salvation. Andrey Sonitsyn from Russia says “Krill is supporting the war in Ukraine.”

 

Father Cyril Hovorun said “the church is the main supplier of Putin’s ideology.”  He was ordained by Krill. He says the weapons for the war come from the Kremlin but the ideas come from the church. He believes that for Putin this was is  “a sacred operation…a mission from God to purge the world of the western ideas and western values.” He saw this ideology emerging when he worked in Russia. He protested against that but lost that battle.  During the Communist era, the church was required to push Soviet ideals and it is widely believed in Russia that Kirill was in fact a member of the KGB.

 

Hovorun believes that Krill was not enthusiastic about being part of the Soviet government. He calls it a “marriage of convenience not love.”  They have to tolerate each other because each uses the skills and resources of the other. Rather than fighting each other, they co-operate with each other, “each for their own end.”

 

The resources of each of those two major powers in Russia are vast. Sergei Chapnin  also worked for Kirill. According to him, Kirill is “by rough estimations a billionaire and is in fact one of the oligarchs.” He sees him as just like the other oligarchs with financial interests.  He also sees the church as “a state propaganda machine spreading Putin’s message as the defender of conservative values against a morally corrupt west. Chapnin even sees his expansionist ambitions as even exceeding those of Putin.”  He thinks Krill’s main goal is power and influence.

So power and influence is being purchased by a church leader joining forces in an unholy matrimony—sounds like Christian fascism to me as Timothy Snyder called it in his book The Road to Unfreedom.

All of this proves once again, that when politics and religion mate they can breed monsters.

Putin’s Fascism

 

Jason Stanley and Eliyahu Stern wrote an interesting article in Tablet Magazine. They pointed out that “The admiration of religious traditionalism and hatred of cosmopolitan liberalism is part of the Kremlin’s fascist ideology.”

 When Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2022, Vladimir Putin claimed it was necessary for Russia to “denazify” Ukraine and end the genocide of Russians who lived in Ukraine.  It would have been difficult to come up with a more absurd claim, but that’s what he said. He did that to elicit memories of Russia’s memorable and heroic defeat of Nazi Germany in what the Russians called “The Great Patriotic War,” and we in the west call the World War II. Stanley and Stern point out that Putin’s claims are “a diversion from his own fascism,” and ““an expression of antisemitism.” I agree with them.

Stanley and Stern say this about fascism:

“Fascism embraces a mythic past, where the nation, once great, has experienced humiliation and loss of land, the result of weakness and decadence brought on by liberal democracy. To make up for these losses, real and supposed, fascist leaders encourage violent reassertion of previous greatness, as well as the destruction of liberal democracy in favor of a one-party state or, more typically, a single autocratic ruler who is synonymous with the nation.”

 

This strikes home for many recent fascist movements, including, even the near fascist movement led by Donald Trump.  As Stanley and Stern said,

“In the Russian nationalist version of the mythic past, Ukraine is central. According to this mythology, there are no Ukrainians—just lost Russians living, whether they know it or not, in the heart of historic Russia. Under Putin, Russia has been harshly sexist and homophobic, familiar manifestations of fascist ideology. But Russia’s violent imperial war against a neighboring cosmopolitan democracy that it seeks to absorb is the clearest manifestation yet that its animating ideology is something akin to classical fascism.”

 

Alexander Dugin was the intellectual leader of Russian fascism.  He and Putin both deny being racists or Nazis but frankly that is what they are. I think the evidence is overwhelming.   They claim the real enemy of their movement are not any racial group but rather “what they refer to as confused cosmopolitans, liberals, and secularists. The same enemy found by many fascists, including Donald Trump and a host of American conservatives. Those American conservatives say their enemies are the “elite-racist ultra-liberal that seeks to annihilate American values.” These “liberals” stand for minority rights and and the replacement of political leaders by democratic means.  A substantial number of Americans would agree with these “classical fascists.” To me that is a scary thought.

According to Stanley and Stern, the clear enemy of modern fascism then is liberalisms which it sees, rightly in my view, as “cosmopolitan liberal democracy.” That has been demonstrated by both Putin and Trump.

 

Christian Hate

 

To me it is a fundamental position that Christians should not hate. They should love. Yet often that is not true. Often they hate.

In the United States far right groups traditionally attack racial minorities, but those are large groups. If you want support from non-whites you have to attack smaller groups such as trans-gender Americans. That is what the current far right is doing in America. Many of those are of course Christians. Take almost any hated group and away you can go. It does not take much for Americans to join an anti-racial parade. Vilify a small group and soon you will have wide-spread support for your cause.

If you attack a tiny group you can gather a large group  against them.  This is what Americans have been doing.  Then you can gather a lot of people to join our hateful attacks on very small minorities. Unfortunately, there are often many Americans who want to do exactly that.

As Jason Stanley an American philosopher and expert on fascism said,

“In the United States the audience includes white nationalists who very prominently want to return to a white state that prioritizes white Christianity. So they say they have black Americans who join them in their antipathy against LGBT citizens. It is always about gathering a larger coalition by ever greater vilification  of a small minority while winking to the large  part of the coalition that this is really helping. In the case of the United States that would be white Christianity.”

 

One should never underestimate the power of hate among small groups. Smart politicians know how to enlist such power and amplify it. Often such tactics are used to enhance the interests of white Christianity. Hence we get what Timothy Snyder referred to as Christian fascism which often attacks small sexual groups that are easy to dominate and quick to catch the attention of haters.

There was a recent piece in the New York Times by Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham that reported on The growing religious fervour in the American right. They call it a Jesus movement.”  The far-right movement is increasingly drawing in devout Christians.

As Stanley said,

“That’s because the global fascist movement presents itself as a defender of traditional values. And this is not new. This is textbook fascist politics. If you look at Joseph Goebbels’s speech, “Communism with the masks off,” in 1935, Goebbels says that Jewish Bolshevism is threatening religious faith in Christianity and that the only protection is National Socialism.”

 

Once more, this is Christian fascism. So what Putin is doing is reviving these themes. He is saying liberalism is a threat to tradition. Of course liberalism is not a threat. Liberalism says my Orthodox Jewish brothers may live as they want and other people who aren’t religious can also live however they want. Tolerance for other views is the bedrock of liberalism. However, Christian fascism says Judaism is a threat to its hegemony and must be resisted.

 

Of course, this is not about truth. This is about creating fear among people who chose to live traditionally that they are under attack and this approach in the US, Russia and many other places has been very successful.  As Stanley said,

 

This is about persuading people that other people’s choices threaten them and in particular, threaten their children, and then they say to them, ‘Look they are going after your children. You need us to protect you.”

 

This is a very effective strategy and has been used by authoritarians and fascists many times. It is so effective because it is so easy for us to fear our children are in danger. In its most extreme and absurd recent incarnation this has been the strategy of QAnon followers.  They get people to believe their children are in danger of pedophiles. That is guaranteed to arouse quick and hostile response especially in countries where such fears are rampant such as the United States and Russia. Sexual insecurity adds an existential edge to such fears. It is so effective people are quick to believe totally absurd claims.

 

In both countries conservative members of society are easily convinced that their children are in danger because traditional values have been undermined by liberals. As a result, traditionalist are quick to abandon democracy in favour of the protection of a strong autocratic leader.

 

This is what Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted on April 6, 2022:  “Democrats are the party of killing babies, grooming and transitioning children, and pro-pedophilia politics.”  It doesn’t matter that it is absurd. It matters that it triggers fear.

Hari Sreenivasan who interviewed Jason Stanley on PBS quoted this: “In a recent poll 49% of Republicans said it was definitely or probably true that top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings.”

These are now going viral in conservative Christian circles in particular in the US and elsewhere. This is not a small group of people in the US.  Congresswomen are part of it. This is widespread hair-brained thinking.

As Stanley reminded us, QAnon is clearly descended from “blood libel” and the “protocols of the elders of Zion”,  the conspiracy theories that Jews were stealing Christian babies for their religious rituals. It is a conspiracy theory that there is a global cabal of elites and they are seeking to conquer institutions to get at your children.

To these conspiracy theorist if “their men” cannot stand up to this they are not real men because they are going after women and children and all real men must stand up to defend them.  As Stanley said, “It is that level of fear and paranoia that has seeped into…and permeated much of American politics.”

 American Christian fascism, the ugly American twin of Russian Christian fascism.

 

Leveraging Sexual Anxieties

 

We must always remember that the principal values of democracy are freedom and equality. Those are robust values. They are worth defending and fighting for. Many people in the US, among many other places, seem uninterested in defending those values. Freedom does not include the right to exploit others, because that negates their freedom. You can’t have such freedom. Many forget this. One of the “freedoms” some claim is the “freedom” to impose your view of sexuality on others. Again, that negates their freedom so such an attitude should be off limits for a proponent of freedom.

As Jason Stanley the philosopher of Fascism, said when interviewed on PBS’s Amanpour & Co.,

“Among the freedoms were enjoy in democracy are the freedom to identify with whom we want, to have the adult partners we want. And this freedom is under attack. And this attack on LGBT citizens is very eastern European in character. It comes in the wake of an attack on so-called critical race theory, but the attack is not really on critical race theory, it’s an attack on the teaching of our history, the teaching of our anti-democratic racist history and now we have an attack on LGBT rights. This puts us into the world-wide autocratic context.  If you look at autocrats and would be autocrats around the world, from Russia’s gay propaganda law of 2013, that prohibits teaching minors about non-standard life-styles and had a terrible effect on LGBT communities in Russia. If we look at Viktor Orban’s Hungary the recent election was dominated by attacks on LGBT. If we look at Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil who won election with attacks on LGBT communities. We see American right now embracing this world-wide far right autocratic attack on freedom. This is just putting us in line with the fascist right world-wide”.

 

American conservatives like Tucker Carlson strongly support Orban in the name of freedom, but as I have said imposing your approved sexuality on others is not freedom. It is anti-freedom. Pedophiles also don’t believe in freedom, because they want the right to impose their lusts on other—the most vulnerable in society.

Many Conservatives in the US seem to think that all liberals are pedophiles.

Recently, the Republicans in the US Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, showed by their absurd questions that they believed, or at least wanted others to believe, that she was a pedophile supporter (if not a pedophile).  US. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene said that the 3 Republicans who voted for her must be pedophiles too. Of course, much of this comes from QAnon and Greene is one of the most famous QAnon supporters among the many in the Republican Party. QAnon claims that the Democratic Party is infested with pedophiles. QAnon used to be considered a fringe group, but increasingly it is mainstream Republican.

Of course, all of this might just be a deflection from the fact that the Republican Party no longer has any policies other than missiles in the Kulture wars. The American right has an uncanny ability to latch onto primal American fears. It used to be communists. Now it is pedophiles, or other “sexual deviants” as they refer to others with different sexual orientations. Many Americans fear nothing more than an attack on innocent children by pedophiles. And that fear has generated a plethora of crazy conspiracy theories.

Nancy McLean, a professor at Duke University, says the Republicans have been seizing on parental anxieties about children being attacked or groomed for attack by pedophiles in order to gain support for their causes. They have been focusing on this, she says, not out of genuine concern for children who are vulnerable, but for personal gain. They are doing it to get anxious parents to vote against Democrats. Does anyone really think that Ted Cruz actually thinks Ketanji Brown Jackson is a pedophile? Of course not. He just thinks the Republican base will love his spirited attack on a strong, intelligent,  black American woman. That’s all his nasty insinuations are about. McLean said Cruz is “despicable, and dishonourable but the Republican base eats this stuff up.” That is how you leverage sexual anxieties for political gain. And Cruz is good at it. That is how American and Russian fascism work.

It is not about freedom. It is about imposing your will and your views on others. Again, that is the philosophy of the bully. Pick a vulnerable person or group and impose your will on them.

 

Fascists want to preserve ‘traditional values’

 

According to philosopher Jason Stanley, who wrote the book How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them,  Russian fascism,  is different from German fascism which wanted to install Germans as dominating the world. Putin is about traditional ethno-nationalists dominating each of their countries  with a strong powerful masculine leader. The leader might be a woman of course, like Marine Le Pen  had she won the French national election in 2022. Usually the strong leader though is a man—like Putin—i.e. a traditional male bully.

Stanley says  the job of the fascist leader  is always about “protecting traditional values against democracy.” The fascist parties therefor must show that they are not corrupt decadent and weak like western democracies. That is what Putin believes and fosters. The strength of the bully. This is what Putin has claimed to be doing in both the 2014 and 2022 wars in Ukraine.

 

Putin is not alone either. For example, the United States has had such anti-democratic leader too—I.e. Donald Trump. To resist, the democracies must show that they are strong. They can be strong, but they must show it now that they are under attack from anti-democratic forces. We will see if they are strong enough.

So far Ukraine has showed it is strong–perhaps stronger than Russia expected. That is what Ukraine is facing.

 Putin is demonstrating Russian  fascism Putin style.

 

The Politics of the Bully

What is fascism?  It obviously has many faces depending on which country it is operating.  I have my own definition that I think works. Fascism is the philosophy of the bully. I really think that is the essence of fascism.

Few thinkers are as cogent and convincing about fascism as Jason Stanley a professor of Philosophy at Yale University and author of the book How Fascism Works: the Politics of Us vs Them. Fascism is often linked with empire and the attempt to restore colonial glory and with that the glory of the colonizing state. This is a classic kind of fascism.  Both Hitler and Mussolini employed it and nearly 70 years later so did Donald Trump though his fascism was aspirational. He wanted to bring it about. He tried to bring it about, he just didn’t quite get there. At least not yet. He is still hanging around ready to try again.

There are a range of fascists or near fascists around the world. For example, Viktor Orban of Hungry who is so popular among the American right, particularly Trucker Carlson.

Classic fascism can appeal to many different forms of bigotry, racism, and authoritarianism such as hatred of blacks, Jews, LGBGTQ and other groups. Such fascism loves to attack weaker and more vulnerable people. That is why I call it the politics of the bully. That is why racism is so vital to fascism.  Fascists love to pick on vulnerable minorities.  As Damon Young said, “cowardice is the fuel of white supremacy.” I will come back to that later in a subsequent post.

Classic fascism like all of these is closely linked to violence and militarism. I characterize it as the politics of the political bully. As Jason Stanley said on Amanpour & Co. “we find fascist leaders gaining in popularity when they can talk about lost empire and when they tell their citizens that they are going to be ones to restore their empire.”

According to Stanley, since Russia is no longer a super power either militarily or economically like China and the United States are, it has tried to become a super power ideologically instead. That is why Putin has emphasized so much ideology. That means, according to Stanley:

 “Putin is trying to be the leader of the world’s traditionalists–the ethno-nationalists,  the patriarch , the anti-democrats, and white supremacists. He tries to convince people that he is going to defend traditional values against decadence and weakness.

 

Really that is exactly what Tucker Carlson is trying to do as well. He is trying to gather all the ethnonationalist movements to him.  At the same time he said he wanted to de-Nazify Ukraine. Of course, he did that to tap into deep historical roots and anxieties of the Russian and Ukrainian people. Stanley says that is “classic fascism. Classic fascism involved calling your enemy what you yourself are.”

 

Since the Maidan revolution of 2014 Ukraine has adopted a democratic revolution so Putin will remove it from institutions, schools and politics. He will place the leaders on show trials, if he can, execute or imprison them and then replace them with puppets or Russian fascist ideologues and extinguish completely Ukrainian democratic identity and Ukrainian identity full stop. That is what Ukraine is facing. That is fascism Putin style.

Bullies never stop. We learned that with Hitler and Mussolini. That is why we had to help Poland against Hitler and that is why we must help Ukraine now against Putin .

 

Truth Under Siege

Despite the confusion manufactured by the Russian fascists and their allies around the world, not all forgot what the Fascists had done. They remembered the young students who were beaten on a cold November in the Maidan in Ukraine in 2013.  Ukrainian Mothers and fathers heroically came to the streets in support of “their children.” Thousands of people came to Kyiv and put their lives in danger. Since then and again in 2022 people around the world have come to appreciate the heroic defiance of ordinary Ukrainians. No one else has defended truth like Ukrainians.  Timothy Snyder described their appearance in the Maidan and Kyiv in 2013 this way:

 

“One can record that these people were not fascists or Nazis or members of a gay international conspiracy or Jewish international conspiracy or a gay Nazi Jewish international conspiracy as Russian propaganda suggested to various target audiences. One can mark the fictions and contradictions. This is not enough. These utterances were not logical arguments or factual assessments, but a calculated effort to undo logic and factuality. Once the intellectual moorings were loosed, it was easy for Russians (and Europeans and Americans) to latch on to well-funded narratives provided by television and the internet, but it was impossible to work one’s way  towards an understanding of people in their own setting: to grasp where they were coming from, what they thought they were doing, what sort of future they imagined for themselves.”

 

Ukrainians were not only fighting for their country they were fighting for the truth. They were battling unreason.  I am sorry to say most of us around the world did not realize that at the time. At least I know I did not realize that until about 6 years later.

 

Ukrainians had begun by defending a European future they had chosen but, as Snyder said, they found themselves fighting for a sense that “there could be a past, a present, and a future.”

Russian propagandists claimed the protest at the Maidan was “a right wing coup,” but the real coup according to Snyder was when Putin in 2011 and 2012 returned to the office of president in Russia, which was then not allowed by law.  Snyder believes that Putin wanted to divert attention from his illegal usurpation. He was quite successful as many people in Europe and North America were duped into thinking it was a right-wing coup. As Snyder said,

 

“The Russian claim of a “coup” in Ukraine was among the most cynical of the Kremlin formulations, since the very Russians who made it that, had expected Yanukovych (Ukraine’s president ) to be removed by force and organized (failed or successful) coup d’état in nine Ukrainian districts. The issue in Ukraine was the weakness of the rule of law and the associated inequality of wealth and ubiquity of corruption. It was obvious to protesting Ukrainians that the rule of law was the only way to distribute resources collected by oligarchs more equitably through the society, and to allow others to succeed in the economy. Throughout the entire period of the Maidan, social advance in predictable and just conditions was the central goal. The first protesters were concerned with improving the rule of law by the Europeanization  of Ukraine.”

 

In the current war in Ukraine, the Russian propagandists have been trying similar tricks, like claiming the Russians are there to remove Nazis in control of the Ukraine government and many people in Russia believe that. However, I have not seen much evidence that anyone else believes their propaganda except to some extent American conservatives like Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump.  That is a huge improvement over what happened in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014.

Once again it seems like Ukraine is the bulwark against fascism and once again it is paying a heavy price, but this time at least with great support from the west. Once again Ukraine is defending truth again under siege.

Confederates

 

Although the first Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 like the second in 2022, was advertised by the Russians to be  a battle against fascism, as everyone outside of Russia understood, it is interesting how many fascists from the around the world support the Russian fascists. In 2014 The American white supremacists Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach, and David Duke celebrated Putin and defended his war. In fact, Russia, borrowed the Confederate battle flag as the basis for their new flag over the occupied territories in Ukraine. The Polish fascist Konrad Rekas also endorsed Putin. The European far right also demonstrated approval of Russia’s actions. Many of these supporters also expressed anti-Semitic tropes. The neo-Nazis of Greece praised Russia for fighting the international Jewish conspiracy. Hungary’s leader, Jobbik invited Dugin to Moscow while he praised Eurasia. The Italian fascist party lauded Putin’s “courageous position against the powerful gay lobby.”

 

In 2022 Russians were supported by Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump who both voiced sympathy or admiration for Putin.

 

In 2014 the array of fascists helped Putin to achieve his goal of dismembering in part Ukraine. As Timothy Snyder said,

“The schizofascist lies displaced the events in Ukraine and the experiences of Ukrainians. Under the weight of all the contradictory concepts and hallucinatory visons of spring 2014, who would see or remember the individual on the Maidan, with his or her facts and passions, his or her desire to be in history and make history.”

 

The lies were meant to spread confusion and they did exactly that. The lies were not expected to convince people, just create enough doubt to give them cover. That’s all fascists need. Confusion is the fertile soil of fascism.