Traditionalism, Liberalism and Neo-Nazism In the Current Political Space

Ethnicity in Contemporary Politics: Dangers of Neo-Nazism

Aleksandr Shchipkov

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Russian society is undergoing a process of painful and sudden clarification. It still does not know what to do with the fact only discovered in recent months: we live side by side with an openly Nazi state, the ideological vector of which has a sharp anti-Russian orientation. Politicians in Kiev claim that the areas with a prevalent Russian population should become either populated with Ukrainians or uninhabited, and that "Russians should be shot with nuclear weapons" (record of a telephone conversation between Yulia Tymoshenko and Nestor Shufrych). Such statements no longer remain just statements. They are actively turned into reality evident from attacks with "Grad" multiple-launch rocket systems and cluster bombs, execution lists and the closing of refugee passages.

Political analyst Dmitriy Babich provides an unbiased estimation: "This Nazism often functions without swastikas and salutes glorifying Hitler. Modern Ukrainian Nazism is sleek and well-read; it likes to invoke Churchill, Havel and even Varlam Shalamov; it often has a diploma from a European university and a pile of invitations to conferences in Warsaw, London, Berlin... This Nazism can be ... intelligent and liberal. Liberal Nazism? This seems to be an oxymoron, but it's true: modern Ukrainian Nazis came to power with the help of Western and Russian liberals." [26]

When discussing the uprising of militias in southeast Ukraine, experts argue that there is a war between fascists and antifascists. This may be true, but it is not the entire story. In fact, we are witnessing the initial phase of an ethnic war. Very few people in Russia have realized that the conflict between Kiev and the southeast is in reality between Ukrainians (in alliance with the United States) and Russians, and not only between fascists and antifascists, a fact many have refused to accept. Ukrainians are aware of this fact much better than we are.

One may object: are both parties equally motivated in this war? Of course not. Of course, the essence of Russian identity and the essence of Ukrainian identity are different. Russian identity has never been based on an ethnic self-awareness of the nation. It has always been considerably religious and ideocratic. The Ukrainian identity is historically situational. This phenomenon is rather artificial, brought to life by political circumstances of the 20th century and therefore possessing only one ideological foundation: Russophobia and rejection of a "Russian Europe" or "the Russian project" (i.e. Russian Orthodox segment of the European world). However, Ukraine (rather, Little Russia) was a part of this world for many centuries. After the separation from the parent entity, Ukraine is doomed to remain a "fragment" and a part without the whole.

That is why the current events are not symmetrical: the Ukrainian side perceives this war as a war for a narrow ethnic self-awareness of the nation. For the Russian side, this is a war for cultural and historical self-awareness based on moral and religious values. However, all Ukrainian churches, including the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOCMP), take an active part on the informational front of this war. Nevertheless, if we look closely, we will find out that todays Ukrainian churches, despite the uranopolitism prescribed by the Christian tradition, are infected with nationalist ideology and many church members accede to Nazi attitudes of their secular fellow-thinkers. In other words, Ukraine suffers from narrowing the religious issue to an ethnic one. [26] On the contrary, Russia suffers from expanding the ethnic issue to the religious and sociocultural one. It is one of the reasons for the notorious "mindset conflict". A mindset conflict is always a conflict of ideologies, even in our "information era" far removed from ideological times.

The war between Ukrainians and Russians (so far Russians of New Russia (Novorossiya)) certainly has a strong ideological degree. The residents of New Russia do not accept pseudo-European values of Maidan, that is, the power of the oligarchy and the middle class over the people. They do not want to be economic lambs to be slaughtered by the International Monetary Fund. However, they also reject the forced Ukrainization of Russians that has been the focal point in Kievs policy for 23 years. Today, they have entered the "hot" phase of Ukrainization.

Here another question has to be answered: what does one view have to do with the other? The conflict of ideologies: is it a conflict of economic interests or national feelings? After all, there is a large gap between the first and the second factor at first glance. In fact, this distance is negligible. The relation is direct and it does not involve any mysticism.

The relation between national racial and socioeconomic factors in Nazism may seem random or inexplicable, but only on a superficial level. In fact, it has been common practice throughout world history. People were oppressed economically during colonization. Nevertheless, the right to such oppression was always justified by reason of the victims national, cultural or civilizational inferiority and the aggressors certain "exceptionalism". Moreover, the oppression was often represented as a sort of "payment" for the services of a highly developed nation ostensibly "civilizing the savages." In the times of Rudyard Kipling, it was considered to be a "white man's burden." Todays Ukrainian liberals comment on the European Community Association Agreement with Ukraine and speak about a "payment for an economic master class" with a view of inevitable cataclysms in the future: a rise in tariffs, decline in manufacturing output, national currency devaluation, purchase of national assets by foreign companies (the Biden father and son duo are just the first signs) and, finally, a debt pit of the International Monetary Fund which future generations will have to deal with.

The above-mentioned is true if we speak about the relations between Ukraine and the European Union. This system also includes South-East as a third element. The industry of East Ukraine is going to become a lamb to the "economic" slaughter after the entry through "European economic standards", which means unemployment, decline in living standards, and starving families in the territory of the current Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic, as well as the Kharkov region. However, let us turn our attention to the fact that European integrators from Kiev keep pace with the best Nazi traditions and tend to impute such a brilliant prospect to the "mindset conflict" (according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), a special status of the inhabitants of Donetsk and Lugansk as "subhumans" (definition by the Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk), and even a war between the "Soviet" and the "non-Soviet". The latter is rather strange considering the people's-democratic message of New Russia and nomenclative oligarchical nature of the Ukrainian regime typical for the Commonwealth of Independent States as a whole.

In short, the relationship between the economy and the theme of "cultural superiority" is plainly visible in today's Ukraine.

How can we explain the fact that the stock phrases about the "territorial integrity" are not enough for the Kiev authorities and their agitprop insists on Nazi and cultural racist motives? One may state that these motives are intended to emotionally strengthen their shaky arguments. Kiev is short of "legal" bases for the retention of the Southeast. However, the lack of arguments is not the only reason for the Nazi discourse. Even Bandera "traditions" are an important factor rather than a decisive one that links the economy and the ideology.

In fact, this type of connection is not situational. It is quite deep. It stems from the laws of liberal capitalism. The well-known left economist and historian Immanuel Wallerstein always stressed in his works "there is a correlation between "class" and "ethnic" ranking on the one hand, and the presence of different "class" and "ethnic" groups with certain political rights on the other hand. The lower groups form ... "a class-ethnic lower stratum"." [7, p. 34] Furthermore "the axial differentiation of labor between the core and the periphery (of the global economy – A. S.) has both a class and ethnic degree. They change places on the global level as opposed to on the domestic level: first of all, ethnic hierarchy is obvious. The backwardness of the Third World is often explained in terms of culture and education ... " [7, p. 35]

It is characteristic that stages of the processes occurring in the global economy affect the adjustment of "racial" boundaries. According to Wallerstein, it is no more than a "constant redefinition of ethnic groups in the capitalist global system pursuant to the needs of the latter. As a result, yesterday's "Mediterraneans" become today's Europeans; the Japanese (yesterday's leaders of the "Golden Horde") become the "honorary whites"; and, who knows, maybe todays Swedes will turn into "pale-faced barbarians" again one day. Ethnicity and race in the capitalist global system are constantly changing their definitions of status. During a period of decline and contraction in the global economy, entire nations are acknowledged as ethnically imperfect and therefore pushed out of it. During a period of growth and expansion (extension) some of said nations are let in again." [3, p. 9] At the same time, "in weak peripheral countries and societies, racial, ethnic (national) and linguistic identity become a denominator of class interests indication or status groups solidarity formation. The racial and ethnic degree of social relations in CGE (capitalist global economy – A.S.) becomes institutionally secured." [4, p. 745]

This very process the institutionalization of an authoritarian economic model as the idea of racial and ethnic superiority can be observed in todays Ukraine. It should be reminded that the leaders of the Third Reich represented their conquest of "living space" as the right to rule the "Untermenschen" or "racially imperfect peoples". Ukraine steadily follows this well-worn path. There's nothing exotic and unexpected in the pernicious degeneration of Ukrainian politics which began two decades ago. It will be followed by cultural encapsulation and degradation of the Ukrainian society. One cannot hide from this fact as the liberal and patriotic middle class in Russia and the liberal-patriotic middle class in Ukraine do. Nevertheless, there is also nothing surprising about this. The phenomenon of Ukrainian fascism requires a calm and cold analysis.