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Neo-Nazis, Christian Nationalists, Muslim-Haters, Jew-Bashers: Europe Looks Back to Its Future

By       Message Steve Weissman     Permalink
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Reprinted from Reader Supported News


Vladimir Putin
(image by Bloomberg)
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"Every European nation has had its time leading Europe and indeed the world," said Nick Griffin, former head of the anti-immigrant British National Party. "The Greeks. The Romans. The Spanish. The French. The Germans. The British. Every great people -- except the Russians. And now it becomes historically Russia's turn."

"Moscow is the third Rome," added Roberto Fiore, of Italy's neo-Fascist Nuova Forza. "And the role of Russia in history is to revive Christianity."

Old friends and longtime relics of Europe's unpalatable past, Griffin and Fiore were speaking last week to far-right Russian nationalists and their European sympathizers at the Holiday Inn in St. Petersburg. Also paying court were other hardline neo-Nazis who insist on bashing Jews and Muslims both. These "traditionalists" represented Greece's Golden Dawn, Germany's National Democratic Party, Spain's National Democracy, Bulgaria's Ataka, The Danes, and the Party of the Swedes, along with American white supremacists Jared Taylor and Sam Dickson. All had come to the conference to denounce the US, NATO, anti-Russian sanctions, "the Kiev junta," and "global Zionism," while praising Vladimir Putin, his annexation of Crimea, traditional family values, and Russia's law against "gay propaganda."

"I see this forum as a way [of] pushing the fight back against liberalism and what we call modernism, the destruction of traditional values including Christianity throughout the modern world,"said Griffin. "Russia is about tradition and Christianity and it's very important that traditionalists from Russia, Europe and America get together to present our ideas more effectively to the general public."

Yuri Lyubomirsky, who organized the conference for the Russian National Patriotic Union, or Rodina (Motherland) Party, laid out the vision in his keynote address. "Our dream," he said, "is the national liberation of Europe."

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The Kremlin never officially endorsed the conference, and many of the Russian participants took obvious swipes at Putin for not going further in his Christian nationalism. But the big man's shadow was hard to miss. One of Rodina's leading figures, Dmitry Rogozin, is deputy prime minister in charge of Russia's defense industry and one of the first of Putin's people whom the Obama administration put under sanctions over Crimea. Equally telling, the Kremlin used many of the same brown-shirted visitors as elections observers for its hastily called referendum in Crimea. Putin has also directly funded some of their groups.

Here in France, as I wrote in December, the Front National's Marine Le Pen admitted that she is taking "loans" from a politically-connected Russian bank for electoral campaigning through her presidential race in 2017. The total could well reach over $40 million Euros, which she has no conceivable way to pay back. Her father Jean-Marie admitted to a much smaller "loan." Neither of the Le Pens attended the conference in St. Petersburg, but on her pilgrimages to Moscow in 2013 and 2014 Marine met with Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin.

This is hardly the view of Russia that one finds in its propaganda, which portrays Putin as the world's leading anti-Fascist. But just as the United States and its NATO allies have been working with neo-Nazi thugs in Ukraine, Vlad the Bad is making common cause with Western neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists. It's all very much back to the future. Both sides use the same leftover lovelies to fight the new Cold War, while blaming the other side for the whole nasty business.

Let's get beyond the propaganda on all sides, and that includes Western pundits, professors, and political hacks who need to face up to their own inconvenient truths. President George H.W. Bush, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and President Bill Clinton's liberal interventionist advisers pushed Putin and fellow-patriots into their current bellicosity by expanding NATO and the EU right up to Russia's borders, while Obama and his allies put together the anti-Russian coup in Ukraine, as I documented at length just over a year ago. These are the original sins of the new Cold War, but they do not absolve Putin from his part in the mounting turmoil.

The "collateral damage" is especially fierce here in France, which has just concluded its local election. Marine's Le Pen's anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-EU Front National (FN), whose campaign Putin funded, has once again confirmed its position as the country's second strongest political force. Worse, a large proportion of its votes came from former left-wingers, mostly because President Francois Hollande has failed miserably to fix the economy, create jobs, or provide hope. No wonder his feckless Socialists came in a distant third.

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Nor should anyone think that the Le Pens and their followers need Russia to teach them how to hate. Whatever they do not know, they could easily learn from former president Nicolas Sarkozy, whose center-right coalition emerged the big winner in the elections. His leading strategy was to attack Muslims even more stridently than does the Front National. The FN could borrow as well from the Socialists, who used the massacre at Charlie Hebdo to promote an international show of unity, purposely excluding Marine from any role in their spectacle while almost immediately rushing to out-gun her in bashing Muslims, free speech, and other civil liberties.

Putin played no role in any of this. But his funding proved decisive, enabling the Front National to field thousands of candidates in hundreds of constituencies all over the country. Never before has the party had the resources to do anything even close, and the Muslim-bashing Marine Le Pen now has a far stronger grass-roots organization to wage regional elections in December and her 2017 campaign for president against the Muslim-bashing Sarkozy.

An even scarier threat is military. Energized by his success in Eastern Ukraine, Putin openly claims the right to defend Russian populations and other allies, whether in Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, or the Baltic states. This is the real issue behind Crimea, where -- as he has just admitted on Russian television -- he planned well before his referendum to send in his little green men to disarm the 20,000 Ukrainian troops. Only now the US, NATO, and the EU are actively mobilizing to oppose any Russian intervention. What a perfect recipe for disaster! With or without nuclear weapons, a clash seems almost inevitable, and unless cooler heads on all sides step in to contain the conflict, it won't much matter who wins the blame game.

 

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A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a (more...)
 

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