I would like to draw your attention to „On the Road to Unfreedom“ written by Timothy Snyder.
With the end of the Cold War, liberal democracy was thought to be the final winner. Observers declared the end of history, confident in a peaceful, globalized future. But we now know this was an error.
Timothy Snyder gives a grim prognosis and a very serious warning in his book „On The Way To Unfreedom“. This persuasive book looks at Putin’s favourite Russian political philosopher and the template he set for fake news.
Timothy Snyder begins his pattern-making deconstruction of recent Russian history – which by design, he argues, is indistinguishable from recent British and American history – with a comprehensive account of Putin’s reverence for the work of Ilyin. Like much of Snyder’s analysis in this unignorable book, the framing offers both a disturbing and persuasive insight.
Ilyin, an early critic of Bolshevism, had been expelled by the Soviets in 1922. In Germany, where he wrote favourably of the rise of Hitler and the example of Mussolini, he developed ideas for a Russian fascism, which could counter the effects of the October revolution 1917. As a thread through his nationalist rhetoric, he proposed a lost “Russian spirit”, which in its essence reflected a Christian God’s original creation before the fall and drew on a strongly masculine “pure” sexual energy . A new Russian nation should be established, Ilyin argued, to defend and promote that ineffable spirit against all external threats – not only communism but also individualism. To achieve that end, Ilyin outlined a “simulacrum” of democracy in which the Russian people would speak “naturally” with one voice, dependent on a leader who was cast as “redeemer” for returning true Russian culture to its people. Elections would be “rituals” designed to endorse that power, periodically “uniting the nation in a gesture of subjugation”.
The second half of Snyder’s book shows how Russia tries to export its policy
-primarily through a mass disinformation war- to those who threaten it .
Snyder presents a comprehensive narrative according to which Putin, greatly annoyed by Ukraine’s turn towards Europe, but conscious that Russia’s economic and military might will not suffice to stem the tide, opted for a new strategy of systematic subversion by stealth and deceit in order to weaken, destabilize and confuse an adversary that he could not overcome in open confrontation. At the same time he portrays himself to his people as the savior of innocent, pure, victimized Russia from the decadent, materialistic, obscene influences of Western civilization.
This is an utterly thrilling background story packed with details, hints and circumstantial evidence – including the ensnaring of Donald Trump after his 2004 bankruptcy. What is forensically relevant in all of this is will be fully revealed in its own time by special investigator Robert Mueller.
Even if you do not take over all of Snyder’s theses, it is a book worth reading that helps to understand the background of many international developments in today’s politics.