It's vital to pay attention, amid all the glitz and Olympic glamor, to what's going on under the surface in Russia. The show we are seeing in Sochi this month is all facade, and what's beneath, as I've been saying, is profoundly disturbing.
The British documentary Hunted, released just in time for Sochi, reveals explicitly the nature of the beast beneath the facade, a political pathology that is being unleashed in Russia now, today: fascism. Honest-to-God, unadulterated fascism.
One of the reasons I have railed in the past about right-wing efforts to confuse the public's understanding of the meaning and nature of fascism -- embodied in Jonah Goldberg's travesty, Liberal Fascism -- is that people would cease being able to distinguish the real thing when it came along. Well, it is on our doorstep in much of Eastern Europe now, as we speak, and particularly in Russia. And hardly anyone, it seems, recognizes it.
As I've noted previously, the real red flag when it comes to fascism isn't merely the spread of scapegoating politics (focusing for now on gays and immigrants), producing eliminationist thuggery in the classic Brownshirt mold -- it is when officialdom, the government authorities and church leaders, not only condone such behavior but encourage and reinforce it.
Watch the entire documentary [below]. I am particularly struck by the observations of the Russian woman -- a schoolteacher who is herself a straight woman -- who has decided to stand up to the thugs as a matter of conscience and "self respect":
Right now it suits the state and the regime to organize this witch hunt, because our economic situation, our pensions, our salaries, our healthcare, and our education are all getting worse. Understandably people need someone to blame. To stop people from focusing their anger at the authorities, the regime is igniting and maintaining this conflict and hatred. They are making people fight amongst themselves.One of the more chilling moments in the documentary comes when the "Occupy Paedophila" people -- who claim not to be anti-gay, only anti-pedophile, even though they are clearly entrapping their target with an adult man as bait -- threaten their gay victim by suggesting that he is likely to be raped if taken to a police station, because they had heard someone at one of the stations had been brutally raped in the jail. Talk about the complicity of authorities.
When you see, day in and day out, what’s happening, and how people are being beaten, hounded, how they fear stepping outside alone, how can you not realize this is a serious turning point for the country? This is a turning point toward fascism.
And you'll notice how the man who runs the website that harasses teachers and gay-rights protesters describes what motivates him -- that is, having children and a family: "You become concerned with purity."
This is classic eliminationist reasoning, which is always about excising "impure" elements from society, cutting out cancers, flushing parasites from our systems (and all that accompanies that, psychologically speaking). As I explained back in The Eliminationists:
Because it is about "purity" and "Russian tradition" and nationalistic fervor for them, this is not a short-lived and limited phenomenon. It is not just the LGBT community that is under siege by the young Russian thugs and neo-Nazis, whose numbers swell every year in Russia. There have also been significant violent attacks on immigrants and Muslim communities. The far right has been making its presence known in public displays of fascist nationalism, all condoned by the Russian Orthodox Church and, most of all, the authoritarian government led by Vladimir Putin.Rhetorically, eliminationism takes on certain distinctive shapes. It always depicts its opposition as beyond the pale, the embodiment of evil itself, unfit for participation in their vision of society, and thus worthy of elimination. It often further depicts its designated Enemy as vermin (especially rats and cockroaches) or diseases, and disease-like cancers on the body politic. A close corollary—but not as nakedly eliminationist—is the claim that opponents are traitors or criminals and that they pose a threat to our national security.
I am glad that most Western leaders did not come to Sochi. But that will not be enough to stand up to what is happening to Russia. Because fascism, once it comes to power, is never sated. The LGBT community is just the beginning.
Here is the entire documentary, Hunted.