Western Leftists and Pacifists Ignore the Geo-Politics of Putin’s “De-Nazification” Ideological Project


Jeremy Corbyn, the former British Labour Party leader, recently complained, “Pouring arms in [to Ukraine] isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war. We might be in for years and years of a war in Ukraine.

Implicit in this position is that Western governments should simply let Russia occupy Ukraine.

Yet it is an odd “pacifism” that applies pressure on the victim (which must not defend itself too vigorously) and its supporters (which must not help the aggressor’s target too much), rather than on the attacker.

Western “pacifists” insist that we “de-demonize” Putin. There will have to be some kind of negotiation sooner or later, so we should treat him as a future partner.

In fact, we should do the exact opposite: the attack on Ukraine compels us to re-demonize Putin, not personally but as an exponent of a dangerous geopolitical and ideological project.

There is mounting evidence that Russia is changing into something that is radically foreign to denizens of today’s Western democracies, but all too familiar to students of European history.

Consider the Russian Liberal Democratic Party’s recent proposal to replace the term “president” with “pravitel” (“ruler”). The former, according to the party, has “always embarrassed us,” because it was first used in the US, spreading to the rest of the world only “much later.”

While the new Right’s main ideological target is Western “degeneracy,” its fascination with strongman rule is permeated with obscenity.

In a recent campaign appearance, Kari Lake, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, gushed that her fellow Republicans Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have “big dick energy.”

This is a necessary, rather than contingent, feature of the new right’s defense of Christianity.

To attract enough followers, its leaders must provide the surplus enjoyment (“the pure surplus of enjoyment over standard satisfactions”) of the obscene. An ideology that allows its adherents to act on their worst impulses can mobilize millions.

To take another example, is Russia’s “peacemaking military intervention” in Ukraine not like the “legitimate rape” that US Representative Todd Akin, then the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, defined in 2012?

According to Akin, abortion should be banned outright, because if a woman suffers “legitimate rape,” her body will somehow know not to get pregnant.

Facing outrage at the remark, Akin claimed that he had “misspoken.” What he meant was that there are “legitimate cases of rape” that police refer to “when they’re doing an investigation or whatever.”

But his basic message remained: if a woman gets pregnant from rape, she must have secretly wanted it, because otherwise her body’s “stress” response would have prevented it.

It is telling that Putin has referred to Ukraine in the same way. At a press conference on February 7, he mocked the Ukraine government’s objections to the Minsk agreements, adding, “Like it or not, it’s your duty, my beauty.”

The sexual connotations of that line are well known for Russians and Ukrainians from “Sleeping Beauty in a Coffin,” by the Soviet-era punk rock group Red Mold: “Sleeping beauty in a coffin, I crept up and fucked her. Like it, or dislike it, sleep my beauty.

The implication is that the rape of a country sometimes is justified. The victim was asking for it. As with rape, what motivates the New Right is not love, but domination.

Read more: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/putin-alt-right-reviving-male-chauvinist-aggression-by-slavoj-zizek-2022-08

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