Can we say that Putin is a fascist or, a kind of offshoot of fascism or is putism a new ideology? I will try to take a closer look at the phenomenon of Putism and where we can place it in a traditional Western political landscape.
Putism ws Fascism
There are many who push all extreme non-democratic thinking into the booth fascism. In my opinion, Putism has a lot in common with fascism, but is something else. First, we may have to place Putism where it stands in a right-left divide. One of the fundamental differences between these axes is the way of thinking about the means of production. The socialist parties want the state to have some control over what is produced in a society. The right wing wants the least possible control and the most private control of production in a society. In Norway, for example, there has been a debate about state ownership of Equinor or more privatization. We have had the same debate about hydropower, etc.
In Russia, large parts of the business sector previously owned by the state were taken over by private individuals. These individuals were close friends of Putin. But we see a Russia where privately owned (oligarchically owned) business is emphasized. This is one of the reasons why Putism is placed on the right side of the divide.
Putism and the state
Another thing that pulls Putism to the right is the use of the state. The left (with the exception of Soviet communism in part) wants a strong state, but the strong state should primarily serve the people. Examples of serving the people are public health care, hospitals, publicly built roads, public schools, etc. If we disregard communism in the Soviet Union and China, a strong state should not be used to keep people under control. It should not be used to any significant extent on police, security forces or surveillance. Ideologies on the right want the least possible public interference. Therefore, they want the least possible state and have a mindset that competition will solve most problems. Fascism stands out for ideologies on the right. They also want a strong state, but unlike the left, they want to use the state to control the people. Strong police, surveillance and censorship are the responsibility of the state in a fascist ideology.
Russia has a strong state, but it is created both to serve the people by building a public health service, schools, etc., but increasingly to control the people, conduct surveillance and propaganda. We find these elements in fascism.
Fascism also uses crude force and violence against its opponents. These are features that are becoming more and more apparent in Putin’s Russia as well. Fascism often has its own militia that operates on the side of the public police and uses pure violence. We also see such tendencies in Russia today.
The dream of the Slavic people and the rebuilding of the empire
It is obvious that Putism is an idea of uniting slaves in Eastern Europe. Parallel to this idea is the dream of rebuilding the old Russian Empire. The war in Ukraine is largely linked to these factors. Putin’s need to save his Slavic brothers and sisters from hostile attitudes. But also the dream of rebuilding the empire is a prominent cause of Russia’s war. Putin’s Slavic thinking is somewhat reminiscent of Nazism. Unlike fascism, Nazism is also racist. Putin’s thinking is racism as I see it.
The idea of spreading one’s ideology is nothing special. Putin does it in a violent way, it makes his progress extreme. But all ideologies really have a desire to spread.
Putism is undemocratic
There are many societies that are undemocratic and there is in itself no drama in it. Putin’s Russia today is moving in an increasingly brutal direction. Crude force is used to silence opponents. Throughout Putin’s tenure, democratic institutions have been dismantled. The free press is almost completely gone. State-run propaganda controls most of TV, Radio and newspaper journalism. Opponents and critics are imprisoned, killed or forced to flee Russia.
My brief definition of Putism is:
- The idea of uniting the Slavic people.
- Use of force and coercion to achieve goals.
- An anti-democratic mindset.
- Unification of the Slavic people and rebuilding of the Soviet empire.
- There an elite (the oligarchs) rule.
- The people should be so well off that they see no need for change. Those who oppose Putism get it terrible.
- Putism is anti-democratic.
Putism is by definition not fascism, but an offshoot of it.