There was nothing unexpected about the racially motivated rioting and attacks that took place in Moscow and other cities during the past 10 days.
But many people are still shocked by the image of Russian youth giving
Nazi salutes against the backdrop of the Kremlin wall and by reports of an
angry, blood-thirsty mob sweeping through metro cars and beating dark-skinned
The rioters had no political agenda or ideology other
than their hatred for non-Russians. Even the most demagogic of the mobs did not
chant a single slogan calling for social or political change.
The fact that both sides turned out in large numbers in
several cities within a very short span of time creates the strong impression
that their actions were coordinated in advance.
Regardless of whether there was a screenwriter behind the
rioting, the scenario that is playing out suggests only one possible ending:
the collapse and destruction of Russia.
The logic of Russian fascists has always stood in sharp
contrast to the logic and traditions of the development of the nation. The
problem is not that most ultranationalists are poorly acquainted with the
history and culture of the people in whose name they claim to speak, which is
true of fascist movements in all countries. The problem is that, historically,
Russia developed as an imperial nation for which ethnic and cultural diversity
is the natural and only form of existence. If fascist propaganda in ethnically
homogenous societies could claim to be an ideology unifying the majority of the
population, then Russian fascism never even attempted to present itself in that
From the moment it first appeared in the 1920s, Russian
fascism has been an ideology of national division focused on opposition to and
destruction of the existing Russian state.
It was natural for Russian fascists to fight with Nazi
Germany against their own country. Hitler’s plan to eliminate the Russian state
did not contradict the ideas of Russian fascists. That plan called for the
existing Russian nation with its history and traditions to give way to a new
ethnic community of pureblood Slavs and Aryans. This group had nothing in
common with the larger Russian population — ethnically, culturally or even
religiously, because Christianity supports a unity based on common faith, not
shared bloodlines or tribal affiliations.
But where did all these fascists come from? How is it
possible that they prefer Hitler to taking pride in their own country and its
Surprisingly, a significant number of those who turned
out to beat Russia’s “blacks” are from well-to-do families, and they are
graduates of respectable schools and universities. The cause of the unrest does
not lie in the poverty or lack of privileges suffered by certain individuals or
social groups, but in the larger social crisis gripping Russia. The mobs of
modern-day Black Hundreds and the gangs of North Caucasus natives are the
product of the general breakdown of the processes of social integration and
Many years ago, Erich Fromm in his book “Escape from
Freedom” described how the unraveling of social ties in a society that lives
according to the principle of every man for himself would create a
psychological and cultural breeding ground for fascism. If the economic
processes moving in that direction are not stopped, we will be headed not for a
**Boris Kagarlitsky is the director of the Institute of