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Europe's Extreme Right And Left United In Support Of Putin

The Russian leader's propaganda machine attracts all sorts of extremist movements in the European Union, on both sides of the political spectrum.

Vona Gabor, leader of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party
Vona Gabor, leader of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party
Richard Herzinger


BERLIN — It is something George Orwell himself never would have imagined. Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine justified Russian aggression in Ukraine by saying they had to defend themselves against Kiev’s “fascists” and anti-Semites. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov even recently condemned the European Union for what he claimed were rising racist tendencies among member states.

In reality, the Kremlin maintains excellent relations with far-right groups in these very same states. From the National Front in France to the Belgian Vlaams Belang and the neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic Jobbik Party in Hungary, all have firmly come down on Russia’s side in the Ukraine crisis. And Putin is demonstrating how to effectively, and utterly without scruples, use nationalist politics against hated supranational powers such as the United States and the EU.

What’s more, the Russian leader is presenting himself as the protector of the “Christian West” from Western “immorality.”

Putin’s annexation policy in the name of reclaiming Russian territory closely follows the ideology of “Neo-Eurasianism” developed by the “national Bolshevik” Alexander Dugin. This theory was directly inspired by the ethnic and nationalistic ideas of the Western European “New Right” — an extremist school of thought that started in the 1970s, finding its bases in the traditions of the German Weimar Republic’s “Conservative Revolution.”

It dreamed of an alliance between German nationalism and Bolshevism — a sort of nationalistic uprising against the advances of Western liberalism and universalism.

Joining extreme forces against the West

Putin’s combination of ambition, ethnic nationalism and a Soviet cult revival shows how the old dream of the left and right joining forces against the West is becoming reality. Even fringe Western European far-right extremists are following the lead, sensing an opportunity to realize their goal of “re-nationalizing” Europe — this time with the political and ideological backing of a major power.

Germany’s right-wing National Democratic Party (NPD) wants very much to hop on that bandwagon.

This could have been a source of disaster, since it forged ties last year with the radical and nationalist Swoboda Party in Ukraine. But the group is now markedly pro-EU, going over to the pro-West Ukrainian interim government after the collapse of the Yanukovych regime in February.

Paying lip service to the “national identity and sovereignty” of Ukraine, leaders of the NPD had to wriggle out of the bond, only to speak out all the more vehemently against Ukraine’s potential EU — not to mention NATO — membership. “A spiritual and national renaissance of Europe can only be built on the foundation of strong Russo-German friendship,” they insisted.

The NPD has unreservedly swung over to the Russian propaganda line. It now castigates “criminals” in the “illegal” Ukrainian regime, and condemns the “escalation strategy of the West.” It now calls itself the “Peace Party 2014,” playing on the widespread fear of war in Germany.

By announcing an “across-the-board new German opposition movement,” the NPD wants to be perceived as a “decent, but visible” force. Their agitation against “NATO war politics” is actually quite indistinguishable from the old leftist “anti-imperialist” stance. Loyalty to Moscow was never affected by the collapse of Soviet communism.

In the same boat for Putin

Putin’s “nationalist and bolshevik” double track makes it possible for both fascists and anti-fascists to identify with his propaganda. Germany’s leftist party often likes to call itself the spearhead of the fight against “extremist right and right-wing populist parties,” but when it comes to Putin, they’re all in the same boat.

Of course, the left doesn’t take any side in the Ukraine crisis — rhetorically. In the end, it is opposed to every attempt by the West to stop the Russian annexation policy. The ultimate goal remains the dissolution of Western alliances.

The EU, according to German left-wing politician Katja Kipping, should adopt “the role of a non-aligned power” and free itself “from their vassal’s loyalty to the United States.”

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Kipping, on Germany's far-left flank denounces EU policy on Russia — Photo: Die Link

This new neutrality perspective is attractive in the context of the Ukraine crisis, not only to extremists but also to those in the middle of the political spectrum. Yet it is not accurate to lump moderate people who have a certain “understanding” of Putin’s strategy yet still believe in democracy together with those espousing extremist ideologies.

These people in the middle should, however, pay more attention to one fact. Putin is not only following “sober-minded” geopolitical demands — he is now serving up a new ideological brew that not only enforces conformity in Russian society, but also fuels anti-democratic forces in the West.

Russian propaganda is trying to disguise authoritarian policies as nobles motives. Putin is to use the anniversary of the end of World War II to compare his current annexation campaign with the fight against Nazi barbarism — possibly with a triumphant appearance in Crimea.

It is in this context that a Russian law now makes Holocaust denial punishable. This decision would be a welcome idea to fight anti-Semitism if the same law didn’t also forbid “wrong representations of the role the Soviet Union played in the Second World War.” This opens the door for quashing any voice criticizing the myth of Soviet anti-fascism.

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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