Sexual Politics: from western democracy to Russian Christian fascism


Long before Putin, Russia’s political leader, Leonid Brezhnev had a permanent enemy—the decadent west.


Later, Putin found the same enemy to be useful, but he added a twist—a sexual twist. Ivan Ilyin had described his enemies as sexual perverts. By that he meant homosexuality.  Putin found this accretion to his enemy of choice complementary.


In the Russian elections of 2001 and 2012 people who wanted their votes counted were painted as mindless agents of sexual decadence rather than believers in democracy. In accordance with the teachings of Ivan Ilyin, Putin and friends saw the sexual deviants, as they described them, as a threat against the purity of Russia.


On December 6, 2011 one day after people protested against the fraudulent elections in Moscow the president of the Russian federation at the time referred to them by a  homophobic slur. Vladimir Putin, at the time the prime minister about to become President said on national TV that the white ribbons the protesters wore reminded him of condoms. A little later when Putin was visiting Germany he told Angela Merkel that the protesters in Russia were “sexually deformed.”

This has been a repeating theme among Russian fascists, not unlike American fascists. They are united in Christian opposition to what they considered  the sexual deviants.

Timothy Snyder described a conference on human rights in China where a Russian diplomat argued that

“Gay rights were nothing more than the chosen weapon of a global neoliberal conspiracy meant to prepare virtuous societies such as Russia and China for exploitation. President Putin took the next step at this personal global summit at Valdai, a few days later, comparing same-sex partnerships to Satanism. He associated gay rights with a Western model that “opens up a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.”


I find this repeating theme in fascist societies around the world interesting. What is the connection between sexual hatred and fascist camaraderie across international borders? It has been as clear and consistent in the US as it has been in Russia. Why is that?


According to Snyder, this was all part of an organized campaign of deflection:

“Human sexuality is an inexhaustible raw material for the manufacture of anxiety. The attempt to place heterosexuality within Russia and homosexuality beyond was factually ludicrous, but the facts were beside the point. The purpose of the anti-gay campaign was to transform demands for democracy into a nebulous threat to Russian innocence: voting = West= sodomy. Russia has to be innocent, and all problems had to be the responsibility of others.”


The fascists disparaged their opposition as sexual deviants because they have no good arguments on their side.  So they called them names instead.  That is a common way to defend an indefensible position. That is part of the reason Snyder referred to theme as Christian fascists.


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