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Greg Morrison
Greg Morrison
4 months ago

Franco wasn’t a fascist. He was a nationalist arch-conservative who used the Spanish proto-fascist movement (the Falange) to achieve his own aims of a united, traditionalist Spain that did not tolerate communism, progressivism or ‘cultural socialism’. A ruthless dictator? By all means. But not a fascist.
Putin isn’t a fascist – he’s a bully, a gangster etc, etc – feel free to pick a pejorative. But he’s not a fascist. This is an absurd accusation given the fact there are literally groups of Ukrainian soldiers waving flags with swastikas on them and wearing uniforms with the Sonnenrad embroidered on them. I’m not saying “Ukraine is a neo-Nazi country”. And I’m absolutely not saying “Russia is in the right” – Russia is completely in the wrong in waging an utterly unjust war. But you won’t find a single invading Russian soldier with a fascist symbol on his uniform. Murderers? Brutes? Gangsters? Barbarians? By all means. But they’re not actually fascists.
Frankly, to anyone who has even briefly looked at a history book, Eco’s list of the general features of fascism is so vague it’s useless. Its just a list of things Eco doesn’t like and wishes to impugn.

Fascism didn’t come from the right wing, even though it is generally referred to as the ‘far right’: it is the direct, b*****d-child progeny of socialism. Look at its history: in its earliest days it openly considered itself to be a form of socialism (Mussolini considered himself to be a good socialist to the end). It sprang from a form of revolutionary socialist trade unionism (“syndicalism”) that in the wake of the start of WWI became nationalist rather than internationalist: Mussolini’s original political movement, which ultimately evolved into the National Fascist Party in 1921, started in 1914 as ‘The Fasces (‘League’) of Revolutionary Action’. And I need not remind anyone that the Nazi ideology is “National Socialism”.
Neither of these movements was conservative. Neither was traditionalist. They are the radical, authoritarian, ideological fruit of hard Left political philosophy united to populist nationalism. And as with all revolutionary movements that have their source ultimately in ‘The Enlightenment’ and the French Revolution, they tended strongly towards atheism and a rejection of Christianity and the Church.

The notion that Putin is a fascist because he is authoritarian, purports to dislike LGBTQ and claims to like Orthodox Christianity, is just silly.

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

All those “Zs” look pretty fascistic to me. As do the rallies, and the repression of anyone who protests. And the media environment is precisely what we expect in any such state.
But given the supposed “enlightened” nature of past Fascisms, might we modify your definition, and say Putin is an “Unenlightened Fascist?”

Last edited 4 months ago by Martin Logan
burke schmollinger
burke schmollinger
4 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Eurasianism

Petro Bilotserkivsky
Petro Bilotserkivsky
4 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

The proper word is Rashism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashism

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

Yet the left still gets away with it

David Owsley
David Owsley
4 months ago

Literally. To say ‘I am a member of the Communist Party’ gets almost no reaction; IMHO it should get the same as if you said you are a member of the Nazi Party. 

David Owsley
David Owsley
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

excellent comment. The Left continue to call Fascism ‘Far right’ but it is simply to try to taint the real Right. In reality Stalin used Far Right as an insult to Hitler, knowing full well the national Socialists were just another ‘branch’ of the same rotten tree.

burke schmollinger
burke schmollinger
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

I dunno…

Nazism explicitly built political consciousness based on national and racial identity. This is opposed to one built on either class or the supremacy of the individual.

If the Nazis were socialists, how come VW’s aren’t absolute crap (at least most of the time)?

Are you saying socialists can build a decent car?

I find that hard to believe, even if it were the “Peoples Car”

Last edited 4 months ago by burke schmollinger
will 0
will 0
3 months ago

That is one of the most absurd comments to hit this site. Hitler loathed capitalism, detested individualism, and despised democracy. He was an avowed socialist. “But we National Socialists wish precisely to attract all socialists, even the Communists; we wish to win them over from their international camp to the national one.” He was intent on destroying class differences as all socialists claim to be. National and racial identity were simply a means to inculcate a fervor for National Socialism amongst the German people. “All the more so after the war, the German National Socialist state, which pursued this goal from the beginning, will tirelessly work for the realization of a program that will ultimately lead to a complete elimination of class differences and to the creation of a true socialist community.” – March 21, 1943, speech for Heroes’ Memorial Day

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

Excellent insights here. I’ve never been entirely sure how historians managed to arrive at the conclusion that Fascism and Communism were ideological opposites. I’ve always felt that Totalitarianism and Anarchy were the proper endpoints of the political spectrum, and in reality, most modern governments, even the more ostensibly democratic ones are a good deal nearer the former than the latter. Strongmen like Franco, Putin, Mussolini, etc. can be hard to place because they can place their own regimes pretty much anywhere on said spectrum according to their own personality, while representative forms tend to gravitate towards a consensus among their people. A case could be made that some dictatorships or monarchies are and were more free in terms of individual rights than many modern “democracies”.

Last edited 4 months ago by Steve Jolly
Petro Bilotserkivsky
Petro Bilotserkivsky
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

Sorry, but maybe before writing about this conflict you should improve your knowledge about it. “But you won’t find a single invading Russian soldier with a fascist symbol on his uniform”. Here you are: the Russian Nazis have been fighting in the Russian army in Ukraine since the beginning of this war in 2014: https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-neo-nazis-fighting-ukraine/31871760.html Yes, these are the Russian nazis who look like nazis.
And for the current Putin’s ideology, there is a proper term “Ruscism”, which is a Russian form of fascism/nazism. A racist myth of “great” and “small” nations, a “moral right” of the first to exterminate or “re-educate” the second (just read what Russian state-owned press writes about Ukrainians: https://news.txst.edu/the-conversation/2022/manifesto-published-in-russian-media-reflects-putin-regimes-ruthless-plans-in-ukraine.html); a cult of power, of course; full state control over the economy; full state control over the media; a single ruling party; Lebensraum for the Russian nation in Ukraine etc. Ein Volk (Russian, of course – no other nationalities, languages or beliefs allowed), Ein Reich (Russia expanding to the size of the USSR, or – better – the Russian Empire), Ein Führer (well, you know his name). This is modern Russia.
I am not sure about whether the current Russian ideology can be described as Frankist, but this is a very, very Hitlerish way of thinking, speaking, and – most sadly and importantly – doing.

Last edited 4 months ago by Petro Bilotserkivsky
Lizzie Scott
Lizzie Scott
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

I believe you’re correct. I read that the word fascism comes from the Italian word for groups, or teams. So fascists are ‘groupists’
‘We’re all brothers’. I might be misremembering but the fascist movement started as a sort-of union movement.
Putin is not a fascist. Wrong word, I think.

Dmitry Shakhovskoy
Dmitry Shakhovskoy
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

Fascism was syncretic revolutionary/contrrevolutionary movement oscillating constantly between these 2 avatars. That’s its defining feature, not wars, nor dictatorship, nor ideological writings. Franco doesn’t belong indeed, he was just reactionary. But Putin, he ticks the box. His syncretism is different, less oscillating, more postmodernist, both things simultaneously, defying reason not by the “will” as classical F, but by jest, cynicism, trolling.

The second relevant box for me is potential for violence and and atrocities. It has been clear Putin ticks this box after Syria. Anyone not seeing it now is just willfully blind.

Last edited 4 months ago by Dmitry Shakhovskoy
Jennifer Johnson
Jennifer Johnson
4 months ago

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Last edited 4 months ago by Jennifer Johnson
will 0
will 0
3 months ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

Fascism is most assuredly a form of socialsim. However, Putin fits the definition. The notion he ISN’T a fascist (“A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.”) is beyond silly. Whether or not “there are literally groups of Ukrainian soldiers waving flags with swastikas on them and wearing uniforms with the Sonnenrad embroidered on them.” doesn’t obviate Putin’s fascist leanings. Your reference to Franco is a red herring. The author never referred to Franco as a fascist. He asserted that Putin and Franco have similarities. Russian Imperial Legion (RIL), Rusich soldiers and Wagner Group members have been noted in Ukraine, now and since the Crimean invasion. Spiegel published photos of both Rusich co-founder Yan Petrovsky and a RIL leader, Denis Gariye, with a swastika flag and a Hitler salute at a RIL training camp. Another RIL leader, Alexei Milchakov, said in a Youtube video, “I’m not going to go deep and say, I’m a nationalist, a patriot, an imperialist, and so forth. I’ll say it outright: I’m a Nazi.” The Azov Regiment’s (It’s no longer a battalion.) founder, Andriy Biletsky, left what was then a battalion when the unit was incorporated into the national guard. Between 2016 to 2017, the regiment was [reportedly] purged of people who openly supported Nazi views. https://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/ukraine-krieg-organisierte-neonazi-gruppen-kaempfen-fuer-russland-geheimdienstbericht-a-f1632333-6801-47b3-99b9-650d85a51a52.

John Davies
John Davies
3 months ago
Reply to  Greg Morrison

You’re comment is better than the article. An emotional and herd-mentality piece if I’ve ever read one.

Michael J
Michael J
4 months ago

Umberto Eco’s rules of fascism are so loose and vague that you could twist them to describe most political movements you don’t like. They are regularly wheeled out online for democratically elected leaders such as Trump or Boris. Or indeed anyone who presents even a modicum of resistance to the left and the neoliberal globalists.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael J

I also thought that they were very vague. He says that “it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it”, but if you take just one of his factors Appeal to social frustration: this could lead to many political positions including communism. All too often people just use Fascism as a general catch-all insult or to raise fear; it was a political system which encompassed ideas such as militarism, nationalism, and state control over many aspects of the economy to ensure it was working towards the desired ends. These ideas do not spring from just appealing to social frustration, there needs to be already some aim in place.

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago

“Militarism” — May Day parades in Red Square, and the production of dozens of movies glorifying WW2 each year?
“Nationalism” — All “Russians” must be returned to Russia, whether they wish to or not?
“State Control” — All major businesses in the hands of oligarchs, who are directly controlled by Putin?

Oliver McCarthy
Oliver McCarthy
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael J

People who take their historical views from writers of fiction like Orwell and Eco probably shouldn’t be purporting to write serious geopolitical analysis.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago

Both, and in particular Orwell, wrote non-fiction as well as fiction. Orwell’s essays are well written, well argued and often punchy and humerous; he, like Eco, also wrote from first-hand experience.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 months ago

You don’t know much about Orwell’s writing do you? Rather disqualifies you from commenting on him, and reduces the credibility of your views generally.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
4 months ago

“which is also the last time both the West and Russia enjoyed a decisive and clear moral victory”
Given the tone of the article, it’s odd, is it not, that the ‘myth’ of Russia, the Soviet Union, having a ‘clear moral victory’ in WW II, is perpetuated ? It has been suggested, whether at the time, or afterwards, that the ‘start’ of the Second World War was less Hitlers invasion of Poland but instead, the signing of the Molotov Ribbentrop pact, dividing ‘spheres’ of influence, in Eastern Europe, between them. That Putin seeks to perpetuate, at least the Soviet side of the agreement, should, perhaps, not come as a real surprise.
Mindful, of George Orwell’s words, ‘If everyone is a fascist, then no one is’, can there be any doubt that Stalins Russia was any less ‘fascist’ than Franco’s Spain, or even maybe Hitler’s Germany ? Is Putin’s Russia, and it’s invasion of Ukraine, not just the Soviet Empire writ large ?

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

Simply substitute the word “totalitarian.”

David Walters
David Walters
4 months ago

Excellent article. Thank you. I was surprised by the number of negative views about this article and a pro Russian feeling that pervades. I wonder just how many of these people have visited the frontlines associated with this conflict. Perhaps they may then have different views. It is good to have an account from someone who has.

will 0
will 0
3 months ago
Reply to  David Walters

Visiting the front lines does not confer wisdom upon you. When you’re in a foxhole taking fire you think you lost the war.

Ben Dhonau
Ben Dhonau
4 months ago

Whether Putin is a fascist or not strikes me as comparable with debates about how may angels dance on the head of a pin. The fact is he is an evil dictator who by his own account is trying to resurrect Imperialist Czarist Russia,

William Adams
William Adams
4 months ago

Russia is on a march to its own oblivion. China will then bite off large chunks of its corpse.

Tiberius Vindex
Tiberius Vindex
4 months ago
Reply to  William Adams

The BEST case scenario for Russia is as a dependent client state for China. The worst is as you describe.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
4 months ago
Reply to  William Adams

Exactly. The big risk to Russia is not the West / NATO of Putain’s fevered imaginings, but China to its South. Russia is vulnerable there, and they’re too dumb to have copped it yet.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 months ago
Reply to  William Adams

Yeah it’s funny to see Unherd commenters dancing on the pinhead of semantics to demonstrate their cleverness. The big thing as you say is that this war has crystallised the terminal weakness of the Russian federation, like the 1st world war did for the Hapsburg empire – and China will come to dominate Russia with its own form of fascism(?) in the next 10 years or so. And these commenters will still be proudly showing off their knowledge and debating semantics no doubt.

Paul O
Paul O
4 months ago

There are many excellent writers around who can write in an honest, pragmatic and truthful way, and yet Unherd are going with this, which to anyone even remotely knowledgeable about this topic, is none of those three. It is nothing but opinionated propaganda.

After 150 days is it not time that we cut back on the “Slava Ukraini'” rally cries, focused on what is really happening, and sought to find a diplomatic solution to this terrible conflict.

After all, this is not Call of Duty. It is real war and real people are getting killed.

Last edited 4 months ago by Paul Smithson
Graham Strugnell
Graham Strugnell
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

Nonsense

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

So what do you disagree with? Do you not think Putins actions can be described as f*scism? Looking at the dictionary definition I’d argue the writer is correct, there’s little between the likes of Franco, Mussolini and Putin

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

More likely it’s time to support a major push by the Ukrainian army, to take back as much territory as possible from an aggressor who launched an unprovoked attack.
Or should we have made peace with Hitler in 1942? More people died afterward than before. A negotiated peace would have saved them all.

Paul O
Paul O
4 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

By assuming it was unprovoked we are making the most basic mistake of diplomacy and one of the key tenets of nonviolent communication. Research studies show that this escalates violence and war.

Last edited 4 months ago by Paul Smithson
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

We are not assuming anything. We have seen what has happened.

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

Sadly, “nonviolent communication” has never ended a war.
Diplomacy only deals with facts on the ground. And right now, neither side is ready for negotiation.
The war will only end when one side or the other gains a decisive advantage–on the battlefield.

will 0
will 0
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

And just what do you think a diplomatic solution would be? Here you go Vlad, take as much as you want?

John McKee
John McKee
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

Yes indeed!

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago

The argument that Putin isn’t “Fascist” is the usual red herring.
What is indisputable is that Russia is now Totalitarian, with a very big “T.”
It’s fun to use the same tired old post-modern semantic tricks to prove that up is down, and north is south. We see this in academe all the time.
Back on planet earth, however…
–Putin has silenced all dissent, and put every significant opposition leader in jail. No one dares speak, because of the 150,000-man RosGvardia (National Guard).
–Half a million Russians have left the country, out of fear of reprisal or jail.
–A million Ukrainians have been ethnically cleansed from Ukraine, and transported to remote parts of Siberia, exactly as in the days of Stalin.
–An aggressive war is being waged in Ukraine, but the only way for Russia to make progress is to obliterate precisely those Russophone areas it claims it is “liberating.”
So the ingenious arguments about Russia not being Fascist really boil down to “it’s not a Russian word–so how could Russia be fascist?”
But it is Neo-Stalinist.
And that’s far worse.

Last edited 4 months ago by Martin Logan
Richard 0
Richard 0
4 months ago

Excellent article. Calling the Putin regime out for what it is. This regime must not succeed in devouring Ukraine. This is not a controversial opinion being expressed: just a clear-sighted view of the regime’s reasoning and aims.

Paul O
Paul O
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard 0

And if you’re willing to risk your children and grandchildren being enlisted it is a great strategy. How passionate will you feel about Ukraine when it is you and your kids being blown up? Easy to support fighting to the last Ukrainian when you have no skin in the game. Personally, I wouldn’t want my kids to go to war until every possible diplomatic solution had been ruled out.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul O

Why risk fighting when you can surrender peacefully?

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
4 months ago

Here is the list of Eco’s 14 General Features of Fascism for those who do not wish to register for the NY Review of Books.
https://www.openculture.com/2016/11/umberto-eco-makes-a-list-of-the-14-common-features-of-fascism.html

Last edited 4 months ago by Laura Creighton
SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
4 months ago

Thanks for the list.As long as ‘Fascist’ Dictators avoid getting into foreign wars they can be extremely popular.No question that Franco and Pinochet had a sizable popular base whilst Musolini poll ratings were very high prior to the 2nd world war.
British politics are now so useless one wonders if a credible authoritian figure emerged who people believed could ‘get things done’ they would have a good chance of winning an election

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
4 months ago
Reply to  SIMON WOLF

Agree. Not that I think a “credible authoritarian” would be a good thing, just that it will undoubtedly happen as our western societies devolve into chaos, brought on by the left.

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago

I think Putin’s latest strike on Odesa fully explains why any talk of negotiation with Russia is ridiculous.
This war can only be settled on the battle field, through a decisive defeat of Russia’s army, and significant degradation of its economy.
Anything less means another war.

burke schmollinger
burke schmollinger
4 months ago

It’s amazing the entire Russian Federation didn’t disintegrate following the collapse of the Soviet state.

Probably even more amazing than Franco holding Spain together as a single nation, and it continuing to be just that decades after the Generalissimo’s death.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
4 months ago

Excellent article. Thank you.

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago

Great essay!
It’s worse, however. At least the Soviets had a recognizable, coherent ideology, albeit totally unsuited to the real world. Even Putin’s hybrid war in Donbas was anchored in some aspects of the real world.
But the people around Putin, if not Putin himself, are certifiable psychotics, living in a fantasy “Russian World.” Patrushev certainly fits this pattern.
–When you believe that actively making people poorer for 8 straight years will somehow make them love you, and welcome you with open arms…
–When you think bombing people in eastern Ukraine will make them get in touch with their “Inner Russian”…
–When you think that hastily trained conscripts and thuggish mercenaries can replace the Russian Army destroyed outside of Kyiv…
You are well past delusional. Russia is now as much a danger to herself as she is to everyone else.

Last edited 4 months ago by Martin Logan
Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
4 months ago

Can’t go along with this. Is the Spanish civil war the only one where the losers won the propaganda war? Franco may be unpalatable but communism was the alternative. BTW I unreservedly support Ukraine’s fight for freedom.

Ray Boz
Ray Boz
4 months ago

The losers won the propaganda war too in the ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict. 

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 months ago

Thanks for this.

Unsurprisingly the top rated comments from Unherd clever dicks just engage pointlessly in whataboutery semantics. Intellectual snobs who fail to see the danger or useful idiots.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago

This article is superb.

Adam McDermont
Adam McDermont
4 months ago

‘“Have you ever read Umberto Eco’s 14 General Properties of Fascism? He asked me. “All 14 of them are present in modern Russia.” Reading them now, it’s hard not to agree. “The cult of tradition.” Tick. “Disagreement is treason.” Tick. “Contempt for the weak.” Double Tick. “Fear of difference”, “appeal to social frustration” and the “obsession with a plot”. Tick, tick, tick.’
The excerpt above might indicate features of fascism, however, even if this is the case it does not mean that a state or regime containing them is a fascist one. How Putin or his regime is ‘fascist’ is not argued in the article, no evidence is used to support the point whatsoever. If anything, the handling of fascism in the article is another example of the frivolous treatment the ideology receives today.
I’ve read better from this author and I must say I commend the bravery of any war-correspondent.
The Heritage Site | Adam McDermont | Substack

Last edited 4 months ago by Adam McDermont
John Hicks
John Hicks
4 months ago

War correspondents and exposure to death and horror of the kind Mr. Patrikarakos has endured may not have been on the Unherd to do list seven months back. His reports and coverage have been heroic and informative. Thank you. Indications that Unherd must continue this coverage, not found elsewhere, is particularly concerning. Putin people invading other sovereign Nations cannot be tolerated by any who value freedoms. Pathways to their autocratic leadership via Dockland murder and thuggery, Blackshirts or Prayer Mats doesn‘t seem to matter much once they find their satisfactions and power in the “killing fields” upon other’s land. Defeating these satisfactions is what once defined Western Democracies. Unherd of? Hope not.

Oliver McCarthy
Oliver McCarthy
4 months ago

This is just rambling, ahistorical drivel. That the author peddles imaginative nonsense by writers of fiction like George Orwell and Umberto Eco ought to be a clue.
In truth, fascism was an Italian phenomenon that combined Italian nationalism, corporatist syndicalism and Hegelian historical determinism.
Franco on the other hand was not a fascist. He was a Spanish authoritarian conservative.
And Putin almost certainly isn’t a fascist either. Russian “nationalism” (if it’s even a thing at all) has hardly anything in common with the Italian nationalism of Garibaldi and Mazzini.
The simple reality is that Russia needs the Black Sea, and with the elections of buffoons like Biden and Zelensky (coming hard on the heels of other buffoons like Boris and The Donald) Putin saw an opportunity (or thought he did) and took it.
Putin’s version of history is orthodoxly (ahem!) Soviet. For him Russia and the Ukraine are one single Slavic nation. His views have nothing to do with fascism.

Lord Rochester
Lord Rochester
4 months ago

Yeah, it’s not like Orwell fought against fascists in Spain and then became disillusioned with both sides, or anything… What would he know? Best to stick with your view.

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago

Then by that definition, Hitler wasn’t a fascist either. He was also a “nationalist.”
Your point, however, does hold water in the sense that Russian leaders simply don’t possess the intellectual rigour to come up with a genuine ideology.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
4 months ago

“Franco on the other hand was not a fascist. He was a Spanish authoritarian conservative.”
Aha, someone else who has read Roger Eatwell’s book.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
4 months ago

You seem angry? Why? To continue the debate in a less ad hominem fashion, and for those of us who do not know as much about the subject as you may do, could you please define “fascism” – thank you.

John Scott
John Scott
4 months ago

You are proving the writer’s description of this as a war with lies and propaganda. Okay, let’s skip all the BS and just call Putin an invader and murderer; and a fearful person who has never seen a war upfront but hides in his bunker in the Urals.
But no, you call all the people (politicians) who fight the Putin war machine buffoons while you worship your murdering Putin.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
4 months ago

However Putin would not have invaded with the buffoon Trump in power. Also, “Russia needs the Black Sea”—Russia has a LOT of Black Sea coast, why do they need more?

Claire D
Claire D
4 months ago

I agree with you.

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
4 months ago

Shouldn’t an essay concerning fascism, Ukraine and Russian contain at least a mention of The Azov Battalion and the Svoboda Party ? These are politically relevant facts (the Sich Battalion, S14 and the Kraken Battalion are also players albeit minor ones). All of this is certainly more relevant than Generalissimo Franco, who died in a totally different country more than two generations ago.
Aris Roussinos certainly though they were worth mentioning in this very magazine less than two months ago.
https://unherd.com/2022/06/the-truth-about-ukraines-nazi-militias/
Why is it that the Azov battalion is no longer worth mentioning in a discussion of fascism in the Ukraine-Russia war ? Is it because that after their last stand at the Azov steel works they’re off the board and so their signal is no longer worth boosting ? Or is it more of the case that after pledging to de-nazify Ukraine that knocking out a neo-nazi battalion looks like a clear win for Putin ?

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

Not much of a “win” if you obliterate a city of 400,000.

Last edited 4 months ago by Martin Logan
Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
4 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

It’s already being rebuilt.

It’ll be the Grozny of the Black Sea soon enough.

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian Johnston

Not with a collapsing Russian economy. Putin won’t s[end a kopeck on Donbas if his Russians are in poverty.
Mariupol will join the ranks of all the failed projects at the end of the Soviet period.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
4 months ago

“startled sycophants” indeed – well-written article; thanks. Françoise Thom is good about dealing with Russians:
https://en.desk-russie.eu/2021/12/30/what-does-the-russian-ultimatum.html

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
4 months ago

Orwell was right when he said fascism was a useless term in 1944. In 2022, nothing has changed. The author admits this and still makes the attempt to turn the Ukraine war into a crusade against fascism. It isn’t. It’s a war, like any other war, with reasons that are diverse and complicated. I have seen equally believable cases made that the war is almost entirely about natural gas and other resources. I could make the case myself that this is ultimately best understood as little more than a story of a landlocked behemoth country seeking warm water ports, basically a continuation of the wars imperial Russia to conquer these lands in the first place, especially given that Russia targeted Crimea first, and established their land corridor along the Black Sea coast before turning fully to the Donbas. Whether Putin even believes what he wrote in the ‘political manifesto’ is a debatable point. He started as a KGB agent and is surely familiar with the effective use of propaganda and deliberate misinformation. He is just as likely to be appealing to traditionalist culture for his own aims as he is to actually hold to those ideas himself. I personally don’t have a crystal ball to see what’s in Putin’s head myself. I also don’t believe Russia’s defeat at Kyiv means as much as some think. If their objective was really to conquer all of Ukraine, their strategy was terrible. If that had really been their goal, why would they not throw most of their resources into taking Kyiv first, in the same way the Germans marched straight to Paris or the Americans marched straight to Baghdad. Cut off the head and then subdue what remains. I think it more likely that the Russians always understood that taking Kyiv would be unlikely, but were confident enough of achieving their real objectives that they felt like trying to hit a homerun before settling for a single, deeming it worth the risk in terms of lives and morale. If they considered occupying Ukraine a serious objective, they abandoned it awfully quickly.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
4 months ago

which is also the last time both the West and Russia enjoyed a decisive and clear moral victory” Did the Soviet Union (most definitely not Russia) enjoy a decisive and clear moral victory? A military victory certainly but one after which they imposed their own version of socialism on not only Germany (fair enough in my book) but also on so-called “liberated” nations. This needs pointing out – we invited other nations into the western alliance after the war (not Germany, again, fair enough), on the other side of the iron curtain this was done at the end of a gun.

R Wright
R Wright
4 months ago

This isn’t fascism. Franco was not a fascist. Re-read Orwell’s essay. You’re part of the problem he described. Fascism is a political ideology, not a set of behaviours.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
4 months ago

Oh dear, David. What a muddle you are in. You seem to believe that by labelling Putin’s invasion ‘fascism’, you add something. You don’t.
You even quote Orwell to show that the term can mean almost anything. It just became a general term of abuse – which, I fear, is what you are doing here.
Stick to describing what is happening and suggesting what might help. Discussing the meaning of a word and then hoping that it’s use will achieve something is a fantasy.

Darwin K Godwin
Darwin K Godwin
4 months ago

The Hammer and Sickle were regularly paraded around Madrid before Franco arrived. Geopolitics is complicated. In a perfect world, bad guys would be bad guys and good guys would be good guys.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
1 month ago

This history lesson, and the Spain/Ukraine comparison, is so profoundly true.
History does not repeat; but it rhymes: Spain/Ukraine.
The workings of historical struggle seem to be, in some ways, Providential.
Perhaps it was the grace of God that allowed George Orwell to receive an injury–but not death–so that he could be taken to a hospital in Casablanca for recovery.
That recovery turned the direction of his life around, entirely. He went on to write reports and novels that have sketched out, for us, the smoke-obscured paths of fascist hegemony 21st-century war-making. Those paths of Hitlerian warmongering, beginning with Luftwaffe destruction of Guernica, set forth the patterns by which fascists strive to impose their power-worshipping hegemon upon the world.
Mussolini’s support for the 3rd-Reich’s practice runs in Spain had been sharpened by the fascisti Italians in their destruction of Abyssinia. Benito’s bundled boys went over to Spain and did dirty work on the ground for Franco and Hitler.
A decade ago, my discovery, and purchase, of an 80-year-old tabloid newspaper–the Times of London commemorative edition covering the coronation of George VI, Elizabeth’s father–that old yellowed newspaper–opened my eyes to what was going on behind the scenes in 1937. I was so moved by the contents of that old yellowed tabloid–including a well-wishing message from “The Chancellor of Germany, Adolph Hitler” that I used the next two years to research and compose my third novel, Smoke, which is the fictional portrait of Europe as it existed in 1937, as seen through the eyes of a young American businessman, who takes an eye-opening journey around France to a place in Belgium called Flanders Field, to see his father’s grave, because his father had been a sharpshooter who never returned to the USA after being killed in the last week of the Big War.
Orwell’s historical report was a big part of my research for that Smoke project.
Spain was the trial run for the destruction that Hitler and Mussolini later reighned down upon the entire continent of Europe. That was on the southwestern tip of Europe.
Europeans–and your American Allies– cannot afford to let the same war-spirit fascism destroy Europe again–this time beginning on the opposite corner, northeastern Europe, Ukraine.
Citizens of all Europe, whether Euro or not–must not take another world-war chance on fascist takeover by the new fascist kid on history’s European block.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
4 months ago

Muddled and unhinged. Why does this stuff get published here?

burke schmollinger
burke schmollinger
4 months ago

Honestly if we weren’t scared of the words and ideas we would correctly label Ukraine as the Nationalist state in this conflict, fighting against the Fascistic multiculturalism of Eurasianism.

Putin is not a Russian nationalist in that he thinks ethnic Russians should be in a “pure” ethnically Russian state— On the invasion he literally said “I believe in Passionarity”! And since has said that “I am Russian, Lak, Chechen, Kazak…” and on and on. Passionarity is a metaphysical belief that mixing of groups will create new power via the mixing of genes…a hyped up version of “Diversity is Strength!” And it is only by binding these groups together under the Eurasianist cause that Russia, what Mackinder called the “Heartland,” can stand up to those who seek to impose foreign ideologies on their space to weaken and divide it. Whether ethnic nationalism or market liberalism, these are ideologies supported by Eurasias enemies to destroy it, and in many Russians view nearly did.

This is what some Russians refer to as the “True Fascism” that is represented by Putin but also ironically takes its inspiration directly from Josef Stalin: The Great Eurasian (and Georgian) who was able to draw the lines as he saw fit. Although Putin hasn’t directly compared himself to Stalin (be a bit like an American calling themself Lincoln), it’s obvious he wishes to follow in his footsteps while he absolutely despises Vladimir Lenin, Kruschev, and Gorbachev.

Much of the opposition to Putin, such as from Navalny for example, was based around “we don’t want more Muslims in Moscow!”

A rejection of Eurasianism the Ukrainians are happy to embrace!

Tau Hanson
Tau Hanson
3 months ago

…’pushing back against the herd mentality with new and bold thinking,’ So says the Unherd mission statement but you won’t find much of that in this article. Might as well be reading the NYT or The Daily telegraph. Same old scurrilous western narrative that only serves to paint a picture of Ukraine as a free western ‘democracy’ that doesn’t deserve what is happening because despite their valiant efforts to respect human rights and their resolute attempts to uphold the Minsk agreements, the evil that is Russia has invaded them anyway.
You’ll be telling me that Putin has terminal cancer next.

rk syrus
rk syrus
3 months ago

So many words and online electrons, surely Russia must be ready to surrender under the deluge, no?
Reality: Putin will seize and annex whatever parts of Ukraine interest him and there is d**k all anyone can do about it. Whisper prediction has for Kiev surrendering before winter to save millions of Ukrainians from death by starvation and cold.
Будем здоровы!

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
4 months ago

So the government installed by the CIA wasn’t a puppet?

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Nonsense. In what way, exactly, was it “installed”? Enlighten us.

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Was the current govt of Ukraine, elected with the largest majorities in Russophone south and east Ukraine, a puppet or a popular govt? It now seems to have overwhelming support in this war.
EVERY nation in history has had interruptions in normal governance.
Which by your logic also makes every nation in the UN illegitimate.

Last edited 4 months ago by Martin Logan
Maria Armstrong
Maria Armstrong
4 months ago

One-sided rubbish from beginning to end …

David Owsley
David Owsley
4 months ago

“On the other hand, Putin’s original plan was to march to Kyiv and capture the whole of Ukraine.”
No it wasn’t.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  David Owsley

A bit inaccurate, yes. He was probably planning to install a puppet government and control Ukraine that way.

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

A puppet govt in Kyiv would have been just a fig leaf.
It could never control any part of the country without Russia’s army–which is why they attacked on so many axes.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
4 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Maybe so, but it is hard to be sure. It seems to work in Belarus. It also worked in Checheniya, though there of course the Russian army is very much in evidence. All I am saying is that Putin did not necessarily intend a military occupation and formal annexation of Ukraine from the start. He would quite likely have been satisfied with an ‘independent’ Ukraine, provided its government was totally dependent on Russia and took his orders. Remember East Germany – ‘so neutral it did not even interfere in its own internal affairs’ 😉 ?

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Might have happened before 2014 and Putin’s invasion.
But afterward, there was simply no chance. All coherent allies of Moscow were obliterated at the polls.
And Chechnya is only in Russia because Grozny was obliterated–now impossible for Putin to replicate in Kyiv.
It was a hare-brained scheme from start to finish.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
4 months ago
Reply to  David Owsley

Seeing as there was a large column of tanks and artillery on the outskirts of Kyiv, I think we can safely say that capturing the capital was one of the first major objectives of the invasion

Andras Boros-Kazai
Andras Boros-Kazai
4 months ago

In a world/US where “fascist” replaced “someone who disagrees with me,” this screed shines as drivel.

Maria Armstrong
Maria Armstrong
4 months ago

One sided drivel which fails to account for Ukrainian “government´s” contempt for the Minsk Accords.
The Ukrainian “government´s” slaughter of thousands of Russian men, women and children in the Donbas – and daily intimidation by artillery attacks on their homes by the Nazi Azov Brigades.
NATO´s unrelenting and intimidating expansion of arms and troops along the common borders with Russia.
That Zelensky is a phony and no more than a “puppet” installed by the CIA – and that Ukraine is the most corrupt country in Europe used by the Biden family crime syndicate (and many other Western criminal politicians) to launder $billions of tax payer´s money.
That the warmongering Liz Truss has sent $billions of UK tax payers’ money and expensive weaponry into the corrupt abyss of the Ukrainian netherworld where it will be looted and peddled on the dark web to terrorist groups. Meanwhile 4.3 million children in the UK live in poverty.
 That Putin gave eight years of warning the Ukrainian army to stop the ethnic cleansing of Russians in the Donbas – warning s which were met only with an increase the number of innocent people being slaughtered.
That the western media and governments have orchestrated a propaganda hate campaign against the Russian people – much of which is based on lies.
That Russia has repeatedly requested dialogue about NATO belligerence and now over ending the fighting – all of which have been snubbed by the US, EU and UK.
The West is mostly responsible for creating a war which it wanted but Russia did not. At best this will result in starvation in many European countries and at worst full nuclear conflict – all of which could have been avoided if belligerents like Lis Truss had been prepared to listen and negotiate.

Dominic A
Dominic A
4 months ago

HI Cozy Bear

martin logan
martin logan
4 months ago

But how else could the evil West destroy Russia?

nic rogers
nic rogers
4 months ago

I would prefer Putin and Franco to idiots like Biden, Johnson, Trudeau … fascist or not.
This article first appeared in the Guardian and even those lefties readers considered it a load of pompous piffle.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago
Reply to  nic rogers

Yes, a strong leader, just what we need; let’s not be too concerned about their ideologies, just so long as they’re strong, that way they can remove from us any need to think for ourselves. It also allows us to do away with all those tedious elections, not to mention election broadcastes – happy days!

Tony Price
Tony Price
4 months ago
Reply to  nic rogers

That’s a weird proposition – search The Guardian website for the author and there is nothing since 2018, 4 years ago. Do you have a link or is that made up?

Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
4 months ago

The second to last paragraph gave the game away…..
Propagandistic bilge written for soft-brained ignoramuses in order to keep the weapons flowing.
Even the NED and Victoria Nuland would have been embarrassed to have published this dreck.

Tony Price
Tony Price
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian Johnston

Yup – stop supporting Ukraine and let Russia take over, because that has worked so well for the people in the country’s East. I believe that life in Chechnya is a ball, just as an example of how life in Russified Ukraine would be.