Prince Charles tells the truth about Putin – hear, hear

Talking to an old Jewish woman who, as a little girl, barely managed to get out of Poland just before the Nazi invasion, HRH said, “And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler.”

Assorted commentators gasped and got their knickers in so much of a twist that one fears they’re risking a lasting genital damage. Most of their objections, however, focused on issues of protocol and political expedience or, come to that, correctness.

Leaving such nuances to the experts, I’d like to suggest that HRH’s statement is unassailable on any moral, factual or philosophical grounds. He was perfectly justified in comparing Putin to Hitler and other fascist dictators.

After all, as Descartes argued, “All knowledge comes from a comparison of two or more things”. I don’t know about all knowledge, but there’s no denying that comparison is a useful cognitive tool.

So is Putin’s regime fascist? To answer this question, first let’s agree on terminology.

In colloquial parlance, when used by socialists, the word ‘fascist’ means anyone to the right of Ed Miliband. When used by decent people, ‘fascist’ usually describes a dictatorship that practises mass terror.

This definition doesn’t quite work. Compare for example Abraham Lincoln, a god in the liberal pantheon who’s not commonly regarded as a fascist, to Benito Mussolini, who definitely was one.

Yet Lincoln had 13,535 Northern citizens arrested for political crimes in three years between February 1862 and April 1865. By contrast, Mussolini only managed a meagre 1,642 political convictions in 20 years. Clearly, political terror alone isn’t sufficient to define fascism.

Hence I propose a short list of characteristics shared by all fascist regimes, different as they may be otherwise (for these purposes I don’t distinguish between fascism and Nazism). Let’s see how many of these characteristics Putin can claim.

Populism combined with chauvinism. All fascist regimes rally the masses by redirecting their social or economic resentments and a sense of national humiliation or inferiority into the conduit of jingoism.

It’s the regime’s task to correct an historical wrong and restore the nation to her past grandeur (Hitler’s Germanic conquest of the Roman Empire, Mussolini’s reviving the glory of ancient Rome, Putin’s Russia as the imperial Third Rome).

YES [] NO []

Externalising evil. Since the nation itself is a priori perfect, whatever humiliation or privation people are supposed to have suffered has to be put down to the perfidy of outside enemies.

All fascist regimes cast the non-fascist West in that role, especially those greedy ‘Anglo-Saxon’ vermin inhabiting Wall Street and the City of London.

In addition, each fascist regime has enemies it reserves for private use: Jews for Hitler, Ethiopians for Mussolini, ‘persons of the Caucasian nationality’ or ‘Ukrainian fascists’ for Putin and, for all of them, those immediate neighbours who cling to a modicum of independence.

YES [] NO []

Internalising the good of the nation within the person of the leader, whose approval ratings (or their earlier equivalents) must gravitate towards 100 percent.

YES [] NO []

The leader’s will replacing the rule of law. This means the leader can choose how many or few people he wants to terrorise. How many he does terrorise therefore reflects not the essence of his regime, but its current needs. Hence such numbers are irrelevant (except to the victims).

YES [] NO []

Acquisitive aggression against neighbours. Fascist regimes see expansionism as a great part of their raison d’être. They equate greatness with size, the bigger the better. As a pretext for aggression they highlight their former ownership of an adjacent country or parts thereof, or else the plight of their ethnic brothers in that country.

YES [] NO []

State control of the media and their almost exclusive use for propaganda purposes. Compare Nuremberg rallies and their Italian equivalents with this year’s military parade in Red Square. Such outbursts of public enthusiasm require a population paper-trained to respond on cue. Hence the use of media for that purpose, accompanied by the suppression of any dissenting publications or broadcast channels.

YES [] NO []

Corporatist economy. Unlike socialist or communist states to which they are closely related, fascist regimes typically eschew de jure nationalisation in favour of de facto control. Rather than shooting owners, the regime turns them into managers beholden to the regime and its leader personally.

YES [] NO []

Rapid militarisation. This can be used either for actual aggression or blackmail.

YES [] NO []

Either banning political opposition or keeping it on for window-dressing only. The nation’s parliament is either disbanded or else used merely as a rubber-stamping tool. Any real opposition is nipped in the bud, usually by violence.

YES [] NO []

Making the clergy choose between martyrdom and collaboration. More priests were martyred under Hitler than under either Mussolini or Putin, but under Putin practically the entire hierarchy of the Russian Church, including its patriarch, is made up of career KGB agents. Neither Hitler nor Mussolini succeeded in such an undertaking.

YES [] NO []

Col. Putin ticks all these boxes. Comparing him specifically to Hitler, however, one must out of fairness point out significant differences.

First, Hitler’s regime wasn’t organically fused with gangster groupings – in fact both he and Mussolini suppressed organised crime. Putin, on the other hand, has a long history of not only working with the gangster capitalists but actually being one himself.

In the same vein, Hitler didn’t keep billions in personal offshore accounts, while Putin is one of the world’s richest men.

On the plus side, Putin so far hasn’t murdered millions of people, although, as I suggested above, there exist no moral or legal restraints to prevent him from doing so should the need arise.

In that event there are intimations that the colonel will rely on more sophisticated agents than cyanide gas (various radioactive isotopes spring to mind).

Yet on the balance of evidence, I can only say one thing: well done, Your Royal Highness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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