Is Russia going fascist?

Zyuganov Statement on 'Jewish Question'

Each time that politicians in the ruling regime suffer a failure, they resort to an old tried-and-tested means -- they whip up anti-Communist hysteria. The distinguishing feature of the current campaign of lies and slander in the electronic media has been its provocatively Russophobic nature. Once again the thesis about "Russian fascism" and a "brownshirt Red" threat, and about "anti-Semitism" allegedly being an official Communist Party stance has once again been thrust into the limelight. The aim of this entire campaign is obvious. To divert society's attention away from the country's catastrophic position and the real culprits for it. To provoke anti-Jewish sentiment among the masses. To channel the working people's mounting social protest down a dead end -- in the direction of interethnic conflicts. I am convinced that these plans are ultimately doomed to failure.

But nor can we close our eyes to the fact that the provocateurs sometimes succeed in achieving the results desired. In response to this Russophobic hysteria, certain Communists have issued ill-considered statements about the Jews, which run counter to the provisions of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Program and the decisions of the Central Committee plenum on questions of interethnic relations. These statements are based on an incorrect and harmful confusion of Zionism as a political phenomenon with the Jewish question. Zionism itself, which states that it is a "purely national" blueprint for bringing Jews together in the land of their origin, primarily has an interest in such a confusion. If its goals were indeed limited to this, no additional questions would arise. I would like to recall that it was the Soviet Union, recognizing the Jewish people's right to national and state self-determination, which actively promoted the creation of the state of Israel -- but, of course, not to the detriment of the vital interests of the Arab people of Palestine. But Zionism has actually shown itself to be one of the strains of the theory and practice of the most aggressive imperialist circles striving for world domination. In this respect it is related to fascism. The only difference between them is that Hitlerite Nazism operated behind the mask of German nationalism and strove for world domination /openly./

But Zionism, operating behind the mask of Jewish nationalism, acts /in secret,/ not least at second hand. Fascism and Zionism are the bitterest enemies primarily of the peoples whose national feelings and prejudices they exploit. Fascism and Zionism are non-national and profoundly antipeople in their essence. At the close of World War II Hitler strove to take the entire German people to the grave with him, denying them their right to exist. The great experience of the struggle between our motherland and fascism serves as our lodestar in the struggle against the various forms of imperialist aggression. As far as the peoples of the Soviet Union were concerned, the struggle against German fascism was a national liberation struggle -- a patriotic war in the true sense of the word.

But under no circumstances was it a struggle against the German people. We need only recall the words that "Hitlers come and go, but the German people remain" that were spoken from the country's main rostrum 7 November 1941 at a time of deadly danger for the Soviet people. It is not inappropriate to recall that when at the close of the war, in the spring of 1945, Ilya Erenburg, a member of the Jewish Antifascist Committee, tried to call for ethnic vengeance against the Germans, he was strictly brought to heel and reproved from the pages of Pravda: "Comrade Erenburg is getting mixed up!" Today's struggle against Zionism is not and in principle cannot be a struggle against the Jewish people or the state of Israel either. We have never identified the concept of "Jew" with that of "Zionist." Advocating friendship and brotherhood among the peoples of Russia, we believe that all problems arising in this sphere should be resolved peacefully, in the course of a respectful and constructive dialogue. It is precisely such a Russo-Jewish dialogue that we have repeatedly proposed. Communists are prepared to take part in it, and /on both sides,/ since our party is international in makeup and ideology. Any manifestations of chauvinism and ethnic intolerance -- from whatever quarter and whatever their motivation -- are incompatible with Communist convictions. Including manifestations of judophobia, which insult the national dignity not only of Jews but of all the peoples of Russia.

So views and statements which place Jews and Zionists on an equal footing deserve to be condemned as backward views spreading narrow-minded bourgeois prejudice, /masking the class-based essence of Zionism, and thereby making it harder to combat it./ The idea of legislatively establishing a "percentage norm" for the representation of various ethnic and religious communities in organs of state power should also be deemed a mistake. Although this principle is reinforced in the constitutions of certain states -- Lebanon, for instance -- practice shows that interethnic peace and harmony is not ensured in this way. In a democratic state, which is how we want to see Russia, equal participation in power by all communities is a matter of free choice for the people and of state wisdom and tact for our top leaders. At the same time, the Jewish community too needs to decide more clearly where it stands on a number of issues -- primarily on the question of its attitude toward Zionism. The spread of Zionist ideology in the Jewish milieu is under no circumstances /the fault/ of the Jewish people, but their /scourge./ The only question is whether the Jews intend to go on tolerating the situation whereby their ethnic feelings sometimes serve as a smoke screen for Zionist policies. We believe that the Jews -- like the representatives of any diaspora, incidentally -- have the inalienable right: to emigrate from Russia to their historic homeland of Israel or to any other country; to recognize Russia as their sole motherland, and to live and work for its benefit as part of the Jewish community as an equal member of the multi-ethnic Russian people; to be assimilated in ethnic, cultural, and linguistic terms into the Russian people or any other people of Russia. Only nobody has the right, while remaining a Russian citizen, to view Russia as an alien "host country."

To be an "internal emigre" in it, acting to the detriment of its interests on behalf of another state or international corporation. There is no right to be a tool in the hands of Zionism. No state in the world can tolerate such activities and is obliged to put a stop to them with every legal means at its disposal. Communists did not invent this problem, which really exists. Our people are not blind. They cannot fail to see that the Zionization of Russian state power has been one of the reasons behind the current catastrophic state of the country, its mass impoverishment, and the extinction of its population. They cannot turn a blind eye to the aggressive, destructive role played by Zionist capital in the collapse of the Russian economy and the embezzlement of the assets of the whole people. They rightly ask how it can be that key positions in a number of economic sectors were seized predominantly by representatives of one ethic group in the course of privatization. They see how control over most of the electronic media -- which are waging a destructive campaign against our fatherland and its morality, language, culture, and beliefs -- is concentrated in the hands of those same individuals. I am convinced that Russian citizens of all ethnic groups will have the wisdom to figure out these issues calmly and in a balanced way, without giving in to provocations and without allowing themselves to be whipped up into a state of nationalistic intoxicationt. There is a growing understanding among the people that all their current woes are based on the criminal policy of the antipeople non-national [vnenatsionalnyy] oligarchy which has seized power. Only the restoration of people's power and a decisive change of socio-economic course will ensure the revival and prosperity of Russia and its entire multi-ethnic people.

[Signed] G. Zyuganov

That might be simplistic, but I think it beats talking about Zionist capitalists controlling the money and the media. I can hear that sort of thing any day of the week from right-wing upstaters. And, as a matter of fact, indigenous american's problems did come in a capitalist package.

Again, I didn't see Zyuganov mentioning "Russian" capitalists. I am no expert on Russia, you are, so are there any Russian capitalists? Do they play a leading role, or are they just being led down the garden path by a bunch of scheming Zionists?

I say again, that passage in Z's statement strikes me as boilerplate anti-semitism, and if that is what the Russian CP is saying, I wouldn't place much hope for their leading Russia out of its misery.

Jon Flanders

This idea is nonsense, for several reasons.

Firstly, fascism historically benefited from the existence of the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of the First World War, the 1919 Versailles peace treaty started out as a treaty designed to end the war but, as fear of the revolutionary tide spreading from Russia infected the top-hat-and-tailed diplomats in Paris, it became a vehicle for virulent anti-communism. This fear of the Bolsheviks came to determined all international diplomacy and policy-making as well as the evolution of domestic politics, in all the capitalist states in, during interwar years. Thus Hitler was the creature of German capital and his international sponsors included Britain and France, as well as even the Rooseveltian USA. 'Appeasement' was actually a code word for the policy of fomenting a Russo-German war.

There are no similarities today. No big Russian capitalists, or their western sponsors, are pouring money into Russian fascist leader Barshakov's coffers. And nor does Barshakov enjoy another 'material base' of Hitler's: the presence of large hostage jewish communities. Anti-semitism in Russia is a disease without a cause -- Jews are present, and disproportionately evident in business and public life; but there are no large communities available as the ghettos of the future, around which Barshakov can organize his pogroms. It is not enough just to point to the 'cosmopolitan international conspiracies' of Wall St, Zionism, Israel, and the (mostly jewish) Russian oligarchs. To mobilize the Russian blackshirts on a large scale (which is necessary to terrorise and intimidate the Russian working class - always the true objective of fascism) there must ALSO be Jews by the million in the streets and neighbourhoods of Russian provincial towns. And there are not. (The fact that Barkashov's unelectable fascists are marching alongside the universally-detested and feared police in some provincial Russian towns, says more about the fear which local elites have of the anger of the masses, than it is a parallel with the early Hitler years. The German police were respected and the Nazis gained respectability by associating with them. The Russian militia are simply a branch of the mafia and represent no-one but themselves; if Barshakov's goons are ready to identify with them, this is more evidence of Barshakov's clinical lunacy, not of an impending fascist coup d'etat. At least Zhirinovsky became a wealthy man from his efforts; Barshakov is unlikely to achieve even that, since he will never be able to take his place in 'respectable' Russian society, or buy property abroad, unless perhaps in Serbia).

Fascism in Russia will never win the backing of international finance capital, and anyway lacks the bogeyman -- a mass Jewish internal presence - to rally the chauvinistic, fearful masses around. One might also point to certain cultural differentia specifica which separate Slavonic from German antisemitism. Russian antisemitism is popular, traditional, deep-seated -- but not virulent. The idea that a mass fascist party can be confected around the psychic trigger of rabid mass antisemitism is wrong. Russians just aren't like that. They have a great dislike of military experiments, and of authoritarian regimes which offer nothing but hopelessly romantic, mystic consolations. But Barshakov of course has nothing practical to offer. What in fact is Barshakov's concrete programme? Hitler's was to end unemployment by putting workers either into arms factories or into uniform. Every German knew why, and understood that the state debts incurred would be paid off by the Czechs, Belgians, French etc., not by the Germans. But anyone who supposes that a similar programme is feasible in Russia today is universally understood to be a certifiable lunatic. Is Russia going to invade Poland and then Germany, led by Barshakov's legions? No, of course not. Therefore no-one will vote for Barshakov, who anyway understand all this perfectly well himself (that is why he has to field his unelectable candidates anonymously as 'independents'.)

Barshakov and Russian fascism are bogeymen invented by Western special services and intended for the gullible (especially, it seems, the residual trotskyist left). The objective is to embarrass by association Zyuganov and the KPRF, to try to strip away the KPRF's professed constitutionalism and to *diminish the KPRF's electoral appeal*. This shows how clearly western would-be manipulators of Russian affairs understand that the real danger to Russian capitalism is not the brownshirt streetfighting nationalists -- but precisely the Duma left which has to be discredited at all costs. They are playing with Jungian archetypes designed to arouse strong and misguided emotional responses. It is a sinister game and its real purpose is to prepare Russia and the world for the *closing down of Russian democracy* and the installation of a pro-western dictatorship. It is a desperate gamble and unlikely to succeed, but that is what the West is doing. Indeed, excoriating the despised Duma (Russia's only functional instance of democracy) has been what western diplomats, fucntionaries and the media has done since Yeltsin first created the thing. They fear and hate the Russian masses just as much as their 'liberal' stooges do, and they have not and never will accept the legitimacy of the Russian socialist left, elected or otherwise. So we should be aware of the main theme of 1999: to prevent at all costs KPRF electoral advance.

The KPRF has resolutely refused to do what Western powers (and the trotskyists) would really like, i.e. to man the barricades in romantic, abortive and bloody risings which would enable the west and its comprador Russians clients to crush Russian communism forever and reconstruct Russian capitalism and civil society accordingly. What really irks and irritates the West and the Russian 'liberals' or 'deremocrats' (shitocrats) as they are locally known, is Zyuganov's canny refusal to behave like a Bolshevik from Central Casting in search of a tank to throw himself under. Actually this irritation and growing fear of Zyuganov and the KPRF is justified because the detested KPRF is the only real danger Russian capitalism now faces. (Witness the odd contortions of the Russian oligarch-owned media -- reflected by the western press -- which simultaneously ignores the KPRF while demonising it -- on the one hand, these are paltry parliamentary buffoons, corrupt, incompetent and compromised poodles etc; on the other hand these were the evil conspirators behind the Starovoitova shooting etc -- thus the KPRF is such a 'threat' to 'democracy' that it must be 'banned'. All this western and comprador desperation shows only that the KPRF is indeed a mass organisation and a real potential threat to western hegemony in Russia, especially in this year of Duma and possibly presidential elections. For the KPRF electoral juggernaut already looks unstoppable; the KPRF will dominate the next Duma and may even have a large enough majority to impose constitutional change; and as for the presidency, the desperate thrashing around of the punditry between Lebed, Luzhkov and Yavlinsky, backlights one thing: the silent but looming presence of Gennady Zyuganov (it was none other than the CIA and Strobe Talbott who first advised Yeltsin, in the heady days of spring 1992, to legalise the banned communists on the grounds that nostalgic pensioners needed an outlet; this seemingly-inspired de-criminalisation of the communists looked mighty magnanimous at the time, but now when the communist future of Russia is already taking shape, and as Primakov produces grand anti-American alliances from his hat, and breathes fire in defence of Saddam, that decision doesn't look half so machiavellian).

The KPRF is the main obstacle to finance capitalism's plans for Russia. Therefore it makes sense to try to tar Zyuganov with the alternative brush: that of being a brown nationalist, a fascist in red clothing. The anti-Semitic statements coming from some KPRF high-ups are a godsend for those like Gaidar, Chubais etc. and their western sponsors who have so far failed to demonize the KPRF or destroy its popular base.

Is Zyuganov openly embracing an anti-Semitic popular politics? The answer is clearly no. His recent statement (republished on JRL) is draws careful distinctions between anti-zionism and antisemitism, and his declaration that we can and should be anti-zionist, are not only within the whole tradition of Soviet diplomacy and political thinking and represent no new 'brown' departure; they are within the moral and political universe embraced by the western left at least since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war demonstrated the illusionary nature of Israeli 'kibbutz socialism' and the reality that Israel and zionism are hand in glove with imperialism.

If anything, Zyuganov is LESS nationalist now than when he was expelled from the CPSU for nationalist deviations 15 or so years ago; like all Russians in his position, he has had the chance to travel and it has broadened his mind.

Zyuganov's nationalism is fuelled by the genuine indignation at the fate of his country which any normal half-patriotic citizen of any state ought to feel, and it is shared by tens of millions of Russians whose indifference to politics and public life is just for show; deep down, they bitterly, passionately care. That's what worries the CIA and Mad Albright and their stooges, of course.

Actually, the fate of Russia this year is more likely to be decided by what happens on Wall St than by the devious manouvrings of western dark forces attempting to contain/divert Russian popular outrage. If the DJIA collapses, there will be another Russian revolution. If not, not.

Mark Jones

James Farmelant reasonably interrogates Zyuganov's statement. However once one takes account of the parallax resulting from the different position (history, cultural baggage, geography, current circumstances) occupied by any Russian observer who is not merely mimicking Western preoccupations and notions of political correctness, then I don't think there is much to distinguish the understanding of 'Zionist capital' which say Chomsky (or Farmelant, or Proyect or I) hold and that held by Gennady Zyuganov. The object of discourse is the same in all cases, and it is not the Jew, it is international finance capital, some of whose threads obviously do run through Israel. *Many* of whose threads run through Israel to the fSU, partly because Israel hosts a large community of ex-Soviets, being the principal first destination for emigrants from the Soviet Union for many decades now.

Israeli firms and interests are very evident in some specialised areas and activities, for example in the gold and precious stones trade (ie traffic) with Russia. Israel is home to many Russian mafia networks. Russian oligarchs (ie thieves and mafia supremos), a disproportionate number of whom are (ie claim to be, altho they may not be) Jewish, have many Israeli connections and often hold Israeli citizenship, as for example does the notorious Berezovsky. Some like Gusinsky who own chunks of the Russian media, also now own big Israeli media assets. The Jewish mafia is very strong in Moscow and is particularly given to strongarm methods. Its street thugs and gangs have close ties with the Chechen gangs who are also very active in Moscow, seemingly with Mayor Luzhkov's blessing despite the constant harrassment of 'southerners', ie people from the Caucasus, by the Moscow police (but it is generally only innocent bypassers who are harrassed of course).

The fact that Moscow's jewish gangs have close ties with Chechen gangs which themselves are closely connected with the virulent Islamic fundamentalism now rife in the Caucasus and Chechnya especially, is a clue that nothing is what it seems in the Russian context and that includes all attempts to define (or define away) Zionism, Jewishness, antisemitism, antizionism etc. Let us not forget that almost all Russia's Jews are actually not semitic by ethnic origin; they belong to Khazar peoples who (uniquely perhaps) long ago adopted the Jewish faith, during the period when pagan tribes were choosing between the great world religions. The capacity of self-parody of Russian Jewry has deep and material roots. It continues today. It is no secret that Zhirinovsky is Jewish by birth. So too is prime minister Primakov. So is Boris Yeltsin. So is ex-prime minister Kirienko. So (I think) is arch-privatiser and deeply corrupt Yeltsin henchman, Chubais. Five of the seven top so-called oligarchs, the beneficiaries of the criminal privatisation process, are Jews or hold dual Israeli citizenship. But observing this fact this does not mean that Zyuganov or anyone else is blaming the Jews, is accusing the Jews of descending on Russia like carrion crows: you have to look at the history to see what happened and understand that, just as the very concept of 'the Jew' soon starts to slip thru your fingers, so, for the same reason, does anti-semitism either as an accusation or as someone's actual conviction, merely stand in the way of the facts.

In Soviet times, when it was Soviet policy to support the state of Israel (in the 1940s) and emigration there was permitted, the possession of even a drop of Jewish blood was a priceless asset which allowed one to leave the country at a time when no-one else could. In this fact lies much of contemporary popular antipathy to the opportunist and scheming, who by definition (ie they so defined themselves) were *Jews* -- this bitterness is still a powerful undercurrent and it has been much aggravated by the spectacle of these same opportunist exiles now returning to Russia, and in the process enriching themselves still further.

These people are noticeable for their deep and open disdain and contempt for ordinary Russians. They do not care at all how many millions die as a result of shock therapy. They expect to become immensely wealthy thru this carnage, and indeed they have done and continue to do so.

When Zyuganov speaks of 'zionist capitalists' it is exactly such as these he means. Are they actually even Jewish? They are not orthodox sephardic jews immersed in tradition and the Old Testament, put it like that. They are for the most part scum, rascals and scoundrels who really do deserve to be rounded up and shot and probably will be. But these people have nothing to do with the Jews!

As Zyuganov properly says, 'Communists did not invent this problem, which really exists.' These freeloaders use western angst about antisemitism as cynically as they use everything else, and just as Israeli aggressiveness in the middle east does poor service to Jews, so do the activities of the self-confessed Jews who own half of Russian business and industry do them no service.