Yep, that's right, Fascism doesn't mean violently aggressive militarism, invasions, and the industrial slaughter of millions. Nope, you had it all wrong. In these multicultural times, we need to expand Fascism's meaning, to make it accessible to other cultures, particularly those we dislike. So now the new expando-version includes "self-confidence, lawlessness, populism"... Let's see, what else is happening in Russia that we can put in there? Why not add to that Economist definition, "a word that captures the dima-bilan mullets and gopniki, face control and purse dogs, people who say 'da' and people who also say 'nyet.'" There, that ensures that Russia is now Fascist!
This sleazy redefinition of the word Fascism allows The Economist to effectively rebrand Russia by working backwards from Russia to Fascism. The implication is obvious. The Putin regime must be destroyed before it destroys us. Maybe not right away - but soon. That's what our leaders have always promised to do should Fascism ever rear its ugly head in Europe again.
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It wasn't always this way. In fact, if you hopped aboard The Economist's own DeLorean time machine, you'd find that there was a time when they downright loved their li'l Fascist spy in the Kremlin. Sometimes they loved him, that is. And sometimes they didn't. Kinda depended on the day of the week - and to what degree he served Anglo-American geopolitical/corporate ambitions.
Keep in mind that in this relationship, Putin is the only one who's been consistent. When he came to power in 2000, he promoted the siloviki, shut down opposition media, and brought all other sources of power - the Duma, Federation Council, and regional governors, under the Kremlin's control in what was called the "vertikalnaya vlast'." It was all out in the open. Everyone knew it.
In the beginning of his reign, The Economist was skeptical - about everything, ranging from Putin's credentials as a liberal to an even more serious concern for Western investors, whether or not he could really get the chaos under control, which in his first year or two was really the main concern of Western investors--and The Economist:
"Though Mr Putin has said he will 'eliminate' the oligarchs 'as a class', the early signs are not encouraging." (May 13, 2000)
"It is not just that reform has bogged down, that economic growth is fizzling out, and that the Chechen war is dragging on unwinnably; the Kremlin's own authority also seems to be fraying." (March 16, 2001)
Regarding the media crackdown, in a rare moment of truth-telling The Economist explained, "Independent media in the provinces of Russia have been shriveling for years, under the combined assault of powerful regional bosses and their business friends. Now the same is happening at the centre. But, for the time being at least, information is still available to anyone with an Internet connection or a decent radio." (April 21, 2001)
That provided some solace then, but is never mentioned today, even though any Russian with a radio or Internet connection is still in the same position they were in on April 17, 2001. Read that quote again, and again...it's so incredible in its complete contradiction to everything The Economist says now that I can almost feel my hair falling out of my scalp...
But for those few hairs remaining, there's this Economist shocker, coming just a few months later:
"At home and abroad, things have never looked brighter for Russia's president, Vladimir Putin....At home, the economy is still growing and reforms continue." (Nov 3, 2001. "Hope Gleams Anew")