Russian Foreign Policy and Fascism

Finished reading these two which are useful in understanding relationship with both:

Russia’s foreign policy : change and continuity in national identity by Andrei P Tsygankov

Russia and the western far right tango noir by Anton Shekhovstov

The latter recommends and is recommended by self-proclaiming Russia experts who regularly promote their own narrative of Russia that suits their personal, financial circumstances. Shekhovstov also repeatedly and irritatingly refers to Russia as ‘Putin’s Russia’ like so many others. Again – 143 million citizens and the need to constantly refer to just one.

That said, there is useful information about the history of fascist groups in Europe, US, UK and their relationships with both Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. The book focuses mostly on political influence in Moscow rather than former Soviet Union nations and also not on rhe wider causes of fascist thinking such as austerity and financial crashes – the book is exclusive focus on relationships between ‘pro-Kremlin actors and Western far-right activists’. For example far-right Zhirinovsky’s activities and relationships from 1990s onwards.

Shekhovtsov refers to the last 20 (approx) years not as fascist but as

An authoritarian kleptocracy that nevertheless seeks to be a peculiarly Russian form of democracy in order to gain internal and external legitimacy 1

He does not view the EEU vision as that of Russian classical Eurasianism or Dugin’s fascist Eurasianism. This is useful reminder of the need to use terminology carefully and clearly within context. I am increasingly steering clear of Eurasian articles that appear to be rooted within Western fascist thinking even if not displayed that way from the outset.

Of Alices, rabbit holes and royal families underground…

Shekhovstov does look at the influence of Russian media organisations (in the same way that one might look at Rupert Murdoch or George Soros media and their influence) and how views in Russian media (such as left-leaning) can be marginalised due to the amount of coverage given to far-right commentators.

I’m grateful to my university for providing access to the book and to a certain extent to the author for writing about such a difficult topic.

Outside of this book, there’s a growing emergence of views that may show a greater understanding of Russian viewpoints on geopolitics that may be less confrontational, more open and less rigid to ideologies.

Tsygankov reviews the history of foreign policies including

  • statist – not anti-Western but focuses on state ability to govern and preserve the social and political order 2
  • civilisationists – classical Eurasian with a culturally distinct orthodox expanding empire 3
  • realists – non confrontational engagement with West is rational strategy 4

He reviews ideas of pragmatic cooperation but suggests limitations and if I’ve understood correctly – the extreme events of 1990s made it nearly impossible to ‘reformulate its transnational identity’ 5

So I do not interpret that as a Russia wanting to restore the USSR but the sharp break up, the disastrous free market experiment that involved so much pillaging meant there were very little opportunities to work out what post-divorce arrangements could result in beautiful friendships and family relationships continuing to flower. Or less hippyish – finding common ground for security and stability. Russia has more international relations with more neighbours than the rest of us, so they must be figuring out some useful ways of collaboration and cooperation even with its worst relationships.

Mechanisms for sustainable engagement with society are still ‘young’ and I would argue – sincere voices wanting a productive political engagement are frequently drowned out by the better funded far-right (i.e funded by US/UK/EU non state actors and intelligence ‘interests’).

Tsyganov suggests that there is now a challenge of what distinctive identity needs to be preserved with both Western and Asian especially Chinese cultures and media6. And probably a lot more with the World Cup as well as across their own multi-ethnic federation.

So please, with the claims mostly emanating from the US from the loudest voices, investigate and judge for yourself, investigate claims, learn Russian, talk with some of the 143 million – not just parroting or retweeting the US/UK/EU commentators who ‘apparently’ speak for them.


1 Shekhovstov A (2018) p71 Russia and the Western Far Right, Routledge, available as above.

2-6 Tsyganov A (2010, 2013) Russia’s Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity, Plymouth (UK) available as above.

8 Comments on “Russian Foreign Policy and Fascism

  1. Dear Nicola! If I may, a couple of questions.

    1) Quote:

    “He does not view the EEU vision as that of Russian classical Eurasianism or Dugin’s fascist Eurasianism”

    Why do *you* call either Dugin or his Eurasianism “fascist”?

    2) Quote:

    “…and how views in Russian media (such as left-leaning) can be marginalised due to the amount of coverage given to far-right commentators.”

    What do *you* call a “Left”?

    In your own qords: “This is useful reminder of the need to use terminology carefully and clearly within context”.

    Thank you in advance.

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  2. Hello Lyttenburgh,

    1. I no longer have the book so can’t quote directly from it but based on the research carried out for Shekhovstov’s book (chapter 2 – who Dugin meets with, what he publishes etc http://www.tango-noir.com/contents/ re Dugin and the Red-Brown Alliance and from memory of what I read – not completely dissimilar to the outline in this https://ravingsofaradicalvagabond.noblogs.org/post/2018/01/15/an-investigation-into-red-brown-alliances/ )

    Also reading various articles, posts, comments (in English) over the last few years. There are many European scholars of fascism who probably have a lot more detail on how the ideas have evolved and the people trying to lead with them. Shekhovstov’s book is part of a whole series.

    2. In the context of the above post, a support for some but not necessarily provision of socialised services which don’t need to be achieved by means of a revolution / political or geopolitical shock of some kind and does not set up an elite.

    A socialist elite as an example – my limited understanding of Bolshevism where the ‘leaders’ lead on ‘some’ socially engineered experimentation of services and aspects of society to make it look as if things are owned and managed by and for the benefit of the many rather than the few but in reality are not and were never planned to be.

    Nicola

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  3. Dear Nicola! Thank you for commenting, but I was asking specifically for *your* opinion – not someone else’s.
    1) From your own link, the only reason why the Western Internationalists deem Dugin a “fascist” is his less than one year stint in the “Pamyat” organization (an entity totally forgotten in Russia, but not in the West) back in late 80s. That’s it. It provides no evidence that his Eurasianism = Fascism. That’s why I asked *your* opinion and not just a rendition of someone else’s words. Why do *you* consider Dugin a fascist *now*? As you are, clearly, a regular reader/sometimes commenter on Irrusionality, you, surely, had numerous opportunities to judge the man on his own merits. “Fascist” Dugin (by *your* classification) said the following:
    ““This is absolutely unbridled racism. The Westerner never allows himself to think that in principle he might be wrong, and that, for instance, the African, the Russian, the Muslim, the Japanese, the Chinese, or the communist might be cleverer or more right than he. So where are we? We are in a racist model, which is becoming more and more intolerant.”
    Dear Nicola – does this opinion strike you as “fascist”?
    Mind you – I’m not saying that Dugin is right. I would be among the first people to disagree with him in nearly everything he spouts on regular basis, first of all – his mysticism. But to dismiss him as merely a “fascist” is intellectually disingenuous.
    2) So, according to you the “Left” wing of the political spectrum is “a support for some but not necessarily provision of socialised services which don’t need to be achieved by means of a revolution / political or geopolitical shock of some kind and does not set up an elite”
    Dear Nicola – I’m afraid that we are have different definition of the term then. For me (and for a huge amount of people in other times and places) the definition of the Left has always been “the pursuit of the policies beneficial for the common masses of the people”, while the Right, therefore, was “the pursuit of the policies beneficial for the small circle of the elitarians”. Simple as that. Methods how these policies are pursuit does not matter in the defining of the “wing”.
    What does it mean in reality? It means that the universal (and free) healthcare, education (including higher education), cheap and accessible transportation, housing, right for work – these are truly Left policies. Anything else is dubious at best and disruptive at worst. Yes, this means that inviting lots and lots of foreign migrants to act as “strikebreakers” by being a source of cheaper expendable workforce is a Right-wing policy. Yes, this also means that campaigning for the “right” of women to serve in the frontline duties of any military is also a Right-wing policy – when the military is viewed not as a duty but as a “job” it’s a path to ruin. And, yes, it ultimately means that dividing all “rights” into being “colour”, “race”, “sexual identity” and “gender” codes ruins solidarity and, thus, serves not the Left but the right. That’s right – there is nothing “Left” in the fact that now, e.g. a MtF mixed raced bisexual might become a CEO of the big company.
    What you described as your vision of the “Left” is fairly standard (Western) European social-democracy, that is, frankly, deserves all of the scorn that’s heaped on it routinely – and more. You are saying as the precondition is the lack of any elite whatsoever – can you really, REALLY imagine achieving something like that from the get go? Besides – have you ever, herself, being in the position of power and responsibility, commanded the people, ordered them around? If you think that humans on their own are capable of the super-complex level of self-organization without having some kind of elite then you take our species for ants – and even ants are so computer-like in their cohesiveness due to the pheromones provided by their own “elite”.
    As for me, the Western nearly universal (from “Left” to Right) hatred of the Great October Socialist Revolution stems not only from the fact that it was a clear and definite victory for the (real) Left, but also from the inherent Western Russophobia and belief, that nothing good could possibly come from “Russian Mordor” ™.
    I don’t even hope for you to change your long established opinion (who am I to ask you of that?) but, nevertheless, if I may, I’d lake you to think again about what you think is the “Left” after reading this article by Alex Beltis Ob Liberals, which, among other things, have this:
    “At the same time US Conservatives completely eradicated all American Communist and Socialist movements in highly effective McCarthyism campaign, so any political movement in US that has any roots going farther than late 50’s, is either Conservative, religious or ethnocentric/nationalistic, and usually combination of all three. The movements that appeared after the end of McCarthyism (or supposedly recovered, but there is no real connection between “before” and “after” on all but superficial level) to oppose Conservatives’ idea of racist, misogynistic society of 50’s, had no connection to anything at all except for the faint, memory of abolitionists and suffragettes.
    […]
    In 80’s those “Liberals” suffered a crushing defeat at the hand of Conservatives. With no background in anything that recognizes class warfare or Imperialism (you really need Communists, Socialists or any movement derived from there, to do that) they watched idly when economy was taken over by monopolies, production moved out of the country, inequality grew, and Conservatives’ response to Middle East’s role in the oil crisis of 70’s was an unbroken chain of wars and intervention in the region. Having no tools to deal with systemic problems, “Liberals” reduced themselves to the role of ankle-biters, and supported whatever causes they could scrape from the bottom of the empty barrel of the non-Conservative political discourse. Having little of meaningful content, they went truly overboard with form — every cause had to be approached at least as seriously as racial discrimination in late 50’s-60’s.
    […]
    At the same time they do not recognize economic foundation of the social systems, support the idea of the “middle class” that is defined purely by income, excluding only dysfunctionally poor and mind-bogglingly rich. They weakly protest against consumerism, but do not recognize that its fundamental problem is not increase of consumption by itself but its complete disconnect from production within the society. I, as a Socialist, recognize modern consumerism as a consequence of the new stage of Imperialism — the markets for products are now nearly completely unified and homogenized, however production is concentrated and localized, creating massive imbalance and instability. With no foundation, or even knowledge of any truly Leftist tradition, they have no way to derive this — they can’t re-invent or understand Marxism because it is tied to supposedly obsolete conditions in the 19th century, so they can not evolve the understanding of the current situation from it. They also can not create their own theory that would achieve similar understanding of modern economy because they are not accustomed to dealing with complex systems, and frankly current system is so obfuscated, it’s very hard to understand without historical background that they are unaware of”

    P.S.
    As far as I know, human beings (that’s us) have 3 means of learning about the world around us:
    1) “Consumative” – by consuming pre-packaged bits of knowledge, by observation and experience.
    2) “Pensive” – by analyzing, over-analyzing and drawing new conclusions in your own mind.
    3) “Revelatory” – either via angel, burning bush or some funny ‘shrooms imbibed we SUDDENLY get the new knowledge.
    Mode (3) is universally dismissed in our Enlightened times. Mode (2) in it’s fines gives us scholastically dry and autistic equivalent of the mental rot. But the Mode (1) that reigns supreme now have produced the current plague on un-knowledge – people blindly consume more and more information without “digesting” it first only to “disgorge” on everyone in their vicinity. How about trying the good old method that brought us humans to the heights of civilization we have now, i.e. by combining modes (2) and (1) for a change?
    Thank you for your time.

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    • Thanks for your reply. I’m not ruling out that Dugin is a fascist, he may well be – but I’m not going to dig further for now as it’s not my sphere of interest. Thanks for the article link, will read when next back on a computer. Yes I do really think we can get by without elites and their preferred ideals of how society should be organised. Happy with my ‘substandard’ opinion for now 🙂

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      • “I’m not ruling out that Dugin is a fascist, he may well be – but I’m not going to dig further for now as it’s not my sphere of interest.”

        Imagine someone saying: “I’m not ruling out that 1969 Moon landing was fake, it could well be – bit I’m not going to dig further for now as it’s not my sphere of interest”. No replace “Moon landing” with literally anything – Holocaust, Climate change, Heliocentric model, the fact that the Earth is round. How does it sound?

        “Thanks for the article link, will read when next back on a computer.”

        Dear Nicola, my previous experience tells me, that the people resor to this kind of “answer” in fact won’t do as they claim and just want to end the conversation. Am I right? If yes, then why are you doing this? Because if you can be honest and sincere in the Internet with no-body no-name like Internet-me, to whom you owe nothing and have no reasons to pretend, what could be said about your interactions IRL?

        “Yes I do really think we can get by without elites and their preferred ideals of how society should be organised.”

        On the matters of faith and belief, address the religious institutions. For the rest there is logic-based scientific method. On what foundation you base your thought?

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      • Interesting reply. I glanced through your links but ending up reading from Silicon Valley programmers is not a route to truth any more than believing the lines of actors / actresses in whatever role. Which thought are you referring to in your question?

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  4. “I glanced through your links but ending up reading from Silicon Valley programmers is not a route to truth any more than believing the lines of actors / actresses in whatever role”

    Oh. So you are resrting to ad hominem argument now? Attack who the speaker is, not the essence of the message? Even I, no matter how I’m tempted to resort to it in this context, won’t just flat out claim that, if anything, actors (and other people from the “artistic intelligentsia” strata) should be kept in lower trust compared to the programmers (and other people from the “working intelligentsia” strata) because the latter at least have a basis of the firm science to shape their worldview and the reason they do their job.

    Which thought are you referring to in your question?

    Your thought that, and I quote: “we can get by without elites and their preferred ideals of how society should be organised”.

    Like

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