Ultra Nationalism Up From the Underground

It’s hard not to notice the growth and reappearance on the world stage of long submerged human emotions, foundational in nature.  It’s as if the world economic crisis, the long running catastrophes of war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria — to name just the big ones– have created a drought,  The reservoirs of energy and hope have drawn down revealing the old emotions of belligerence, admiration for strong men, resentment of others for ones own conditions, raising cries of betrayal, weakness and treason.  We see it in the American right, in the resurgence of Nazi parties in Greece, Austria and France (for example) and in the rise of Russian hyper nationalism — turning Putin into a matinee idol of admiration, not only for many Russians longing for a new cold war, but for Americans such as Rudy Giuliani and most of the Fox comentariat.  Manly in-your-face power is the measure of righteous national behavior. Unless your tanks are rumbling, you are a ‘sissy.’

Ellen Barry in the New York Times this week-end had two very interesting articles on the rise of the Russian super nationalists.

As Russia and the United States drift toward a rupture over Crimea, the Stalinist writer Aleksandr A. Prokhanov feels that his moment has finally arrived.

“I am afraid that I am interested in a cold war with the West,” said Mr. Prokhanov, 76, in a lull between interviews on state-controlled television and radio. “I was very patient. I waited for 20 years. I did everything I could so that this war would begin. I worked day and night.”

Mr. Prokhanov is an attack dog whose career has risen, fallen and risen again with the fortunes of hard-liners in the Kremlin. And it is a measure of the conservative pivot that has taken place in Moscow in Vladimir V. Putin’s third presidential term that Mr. Prokhanov and a cadre of like-minded thinkers — a kind of “who’s who of conspiratorial anti-Americanism,” as one scholar put it — have found themselves thrust into the mainstream.

… If Mr. Putin himself decided to make an ideological change, Mr. Prokhanov said, it was in December 2011, when tens of thousands of urban liberals, angry over ballot-stuffing and falsification in parliamentary elections, massed on a city square, Bolotnaya, chanting, “Putin is a thief!” and “Russia Without Putin.”

“During the time of Bolotnaya, he experienced fear,” Mr. Prokhanov said. “He felt that the whole class which he had created had betrayed him, cheated him, and he had a desire to replace one class with another. From the moment you got back from that march, we started a change of the Russian elite.”

NY Times: Barry

The heartening news is that there is opposition within Russia to Putin’s plunge into assertive policies and actions.  In the face of one rally celebrating the recent army actions in the Crimea and cheering Putin’s ‘defense of the motherland”  another brought thousands calling for peace. In a country where people have been jailed, radio and news sites closed down, this is pretty brave behavior.  Nevertheless, Putin’s personality echoes strongly in the population.

Last week, in the midst of the Crimean crisis and on the heels of the Sochi Olympics, Mr. Putin’s approval rating had increased to 71.6 percent, the highest point since he returned to the presidency in 2012, according to a poll released by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion last week.

NY Times: Barry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *