Does Ukraine Harbour „Small Fascisms“?

09.02.2015


William Yoder, Ph.D.

 

Commentary

M o s c o w – Fascism is being rehabilitated in Eastern Europe. The process got serious when the new Croatian state began to rehabilitate the «Ustasha» movement after 1991. A rediscovery of the anti-Soviet «Forest brother» partisans in the three Baltic countries followed. The trend reached a new peak when the Ukrainian minister president, Arseny Yatsenyuk, announced on German TV on 7 January 2015 that «all of us still clearly remember the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. That has to be avoided. Nobody (meaning Putin) has the right to rewrite the results of WW II.» Translations of the Ukrainian text vary, but it remains clear that Yatsenyuk was expressing regret for the victory of the Red Army in Ukraine and Germany in 1945. The wrong power – namely the USSR – had won the war in the East. He was thereby reusing an argument prevalent even before 1939: The Western powers should be joining with Germany to eliminate the Bolshevist threat in the East. Those who thought so during the 1930s included Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh and the British King Edward VIII.

But Eastern Europeans don’t necessarily mean German Nazism when they go about rehabilitating a fascist past. Many «small fascisms» had partnered with Germany, for ex. Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Slovakia and Western Ukraine. Germany did not wage its war alone.

Western media reassure that pro-fascist forces won only 5.4% of the vote («Right Sector» plus «Svoboda») during the elections of 26 October 2014. But how water-tight is the barrier between fascism and the country’s other political players? Yatsenyuk’s statement would seem to indicate that small fascisms exist alongside the big-time fascism of Dmytro Yarosh. Do fascist and officially non-fascist parties receive sustenance from the same ideological sources? The dividing line between fascism and non-fascism appears hard to locate.

Political developments since 1990 have redrawn the map regarding the traditional dividing lines between conservative and liberal politics. Both the French rightist Marine Le Pen and the Putin administration applauded the victory of the Greek party Syriza. The radical leftist Syriza itself is in coalition with a small party of the radical right. Conservative Hungary expresses sympathy for Russia. It took months for me to discover that the website «Antiwar.com» defines itself as conservative. Conservative US-politicians Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul clearly belong to the group attempting to understand the reasoning behind Russian foreign policy. Yet Hillary Clinton, Obama and German parties from the centre and left (SPD, CDU and Greens) support Kiev. The new division is probably best described as the difference between interventionist and isolationist. In Germany, the Greens have become interventionist, yet the Left — gathered around the party by the same name – remains essentially isolationist.

It would be unfair to accuse the Baptists and Charismatics in Ukraine of fascism. They are better described as non-liberal, ethically-conservative democrats in the Western mould. But there is a fly in the soup: In March 2014, the Greek-Catholic Yatsenyuk founded jointly with the Baptist Turchynov the «People’s Front» party. That party is now ruling in coalition with the smaller Svoboda party.

Fascist forces have proven to be the best fighters in Eastern Ukraine. Protestants are essentially along for the ride. They indeed may be patriots, but Protestants have not reacted to Kiev’s latest mobilisation wave with enthusiasm. Their young men belong to the many taking refuge in neighbouring countries. This reticence is most likely due to a pacifist heritage and the fact that the Ukrainian war is a fraternal one. I have not yet noticed doubt among Protestants as to whether the existing government is at all capable of achieving the longed-for goals of democracy and prosperity.


 

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