Friday, December 17, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Preconditions for Escalation of Violence in Russia Now in Place, Moscow Ethnographer Says

Paul Goble

Staunton, December 17 – Sergey Arutyunov, a Russian ethnographer who attracted attention a decade ago for suggesting that Vladimir Putin is not a Hitler but rather a Hindenburg, now says that all the preconditions for a radical escalation of street violence are in place, something that could open the way for the rise of fascism in the Russian Federation.
In what clearly represents a cry from the heart, Arutyunov, who heads the Caucasus Department of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, says that what is happening in the streets of Russia now is especially frightening because it is part of a world-wide phenomenon (
“What has taken place in Moscow,” he continues, “is child’s play in comparison with what has happened” in the recent past in other cities around the world, a situation he describes as the still largely unnoticed “agony” of a globalized consumer civilization,” one whose death seems to be rapidly approaching.
“We do not take note of this agony,” Arutyunov says, “just as Romans of the time of Diocletian in the 300s did not notice the agony of the Roman Empire; and we do not understand [just as they did not understand] that 100 to 200 years from now, all this civilization will collapse” into something terrible.
As 1500 years ago in Europe “after the fall of the Roman Empire,” so too now but on a much grander scale, the world is heading toward “a period of chaos.” Consequently, what Russia is going through now is especially frightening because it is “does not represent anything special” but rather is part of a general pattern.
“We think that we will live if not eternally then for a very long time,” Arutyunov continues, but that is a delusion. “We will not live that long. 100 years is the maximum during such convulsions. And there is still worse ahead” because what people are seeing on the streets of Moscow is part of “the process of the dying off of civilization.”
Faced with this disaster, “what can be do?” The Moscow ethnographer says that we can first try to recognize what is happening and then try to slow the process, even if we are not in a position to stop or reverse the overall trend, because to fail to try to resist what is happening would be even worse.
“Ten years ago,” Arutyunov notes, he “wrote that Putin is not Hitler but he is Hindenburg.” Paul von Hindenburg, of course, “was a completely orderly person in general but was someone of rightist views. He was a Prussian officer and very old.” And as “head of the Weimar Republic at the beginning of the 1930s, he faced a terrible choice.
He could either give power to the communists, something that for him would have been unthinkable or to Hitler’s Nazis, who were not like him but whose views were far less dissimilar. He chose the latter because “the views of Hitler enjoyed the support of about half of German society of that time, including a significant part of the police.”
“I perfectly well know and understand that our current militia which soon will become the police … would be quite more prepared to beat in the heads of the Caucasians and leftist radicals than to do the same thing to the fascists and that among both the ranks and “perhaps the chiefs as well, there are many people who sincerely sympathize with Russian fascism.”
For a very long time, Russia has been in the situation of the Weimar Republic, and as a result “the tendency of fascism” has strengthened. “How this will end,” Arutyunov says, he does not know. But that “does not have great importance “because if this ends with the fascists taking power, then the end of that power will be just like the end of Hitlerite power in Germany.”
“True,” Russians and others will “suffer for several years. Blood will be shed, a great deal of blood.” Fascism will again, at least for a time be destroyed, and among those who will do so will be some Russians as well. But the tragedy will be horrific, with ever more blood and ever less hope for the longer term future.

No comments: