The global rise of Putinism

What do the following leaders have in common?

  • Vladimir Putin of Russia.
  • Xi Jinping of China.
  • Narendra Modi of India.
  • Shinzo Abe of Japan.
  • Recep Tayyip Erodogan of Turkey.
  • Viktor Orban of Hungary.

Putin-ModiThey all reject the ideals of democracy and human rights as historically understood in the United States, Great Britain and France, and instead embrace authoritarianism, nationalism, state capitalism and religious and social conservatism.  For want of a better name, call the new ideology Putinism.

Other names arguably could be added to this list.  Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, like Putin and Modi, is an ethnic and religious nationalist who turns a deaf ear to advocates of universal human rights.

I wouldn’t say any of these people are movements are exactly the same as Hitler, but neither to I think it is a coincidence that Nazi symbols keep popping up in unlikely places, because the Nazis are the polar opposite of liberal and democratic values.

The Taliban, al Qaeda ISIS and other radical Salafists represent a different kind of anti-democratic backlash.  They’re not Putinists.  They hate Putin, Xi, Modi and Erdogan.  They aren’t nationalists.  Their leaders don’t care whether you’re an Arab, a Afghan, a Chechen, a Uighur, a Somali or even a European, so long as you accept their religious dogma and hate people of different religions.

I think we Americans and others should resist the temptation to take sides in quarrels among freedom’s enemies.  The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.

Some 25 years ago, the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote an essay, “The End of History?”, which seems strange now.  He argued that, with the fall of Communism, there were no longer any rivals to liberal capitalist democracy, which from then on would rule unchallenged.

I don’t think that was a crazy thing to believe at the time.  Even those who rejected democracy paid lip service to its ideas.

140801173429-exp-gps-0803-take-00030629-horizontal-galleryThe Islamic Republic of Iran supposedly rejects Western values, but it calls itself a republic, has constitutions and parliaments and goes through the motions of having contested elections.  The ayatollahs wouldn’t have done that if they had thought people rejected the very idea of democracy.

What has discredited democracy is the hypocrisy of those who claim to speak in its name.

If liberal capitalistic democracy means that your country is subject to being invaded or bombarded, subverted by the CIA and held in debt bondage by the International Monetary Fund and the global banking system, then you probably would prefer aligning your country with China or Russia.

I don’t think their governmental and economic systems represent a way forward in the long run, but for now, Presidents Xi and Putin are more effective actors on the world scene than are the United States and the European Union, partly because their actions do not contradict their words.

Sadly, support for democracy and for human rights are fading even in the United States.

Our founding documents are one of the world’s purist expressions of the idea that human beings have inalienable rights and governments are instituted to secure these rights.

Torture, whose purpose is the moral and spiritual destruction of a human being, is the ultimate evil for anyone who believes in human rights.

And yet public opinion polls show that slightly over half of the American people are in favor of torture and 20 percent are undecided.

We Americans are less threatened by Vladimir Putin than by the Putinization of our own country.


The Global Rise of Putinism by Patrick J. Buchanan for The American Conservative.

The rise of Putinism by Fareed Zakaria for the Washington Post.

The Great War of Continents by Alexander Dugin.  A chilling example of anti-democratic ideology on the rise.

Review of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf by George Orwell (1940).  Analysis of the appeal of anti-democratic ideology.

The End of History? by Francis Fukuyama for the National Interest (1989).  The road not taken.

Bring back ideology: Fukuyama’s ‘end of history’ 25 years on by Elaine Glaser for The Guardian.

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One Response to “The global rise of Putinism”

  1. prayerwarriorpsychicnot Says:

    Reblogged this on Citizens, not serfs.


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