In the spring of last year, with scarce media attention, Vladimir Putin instituted new “anti-revisionist” legislation in Russia, which included “holocaust denial,” punishable by up to five years in prison. These new laws were given such little attention – both in Russia itself and abroad – that was only brought to the attention of myself and many others I’ve spoken to very recently. This was a shocking revelation to me and undoubtedly many others as well. To the multitudes of anti-imperialism and American hegemony in the West, Putin has become a somewhat heroic figure, standing virtually alone among heads of state in prominent nations in steadfast opposition to the ever-expanding world dominion of the US and NATO. After the US-backed coup that took place in February of 2014 in the Ukraine, and the ensuing demonization of Putin that has become a virtually daily occurrence in the Western media, this admiration for Putin has only grown stronger and more widespread. Seemingly, Putin represented the antithesis of the arrogance and aggression which characterizes the US and its NATO puppet states. A powerful, influential head of state who stood for virtue, self-determination, justice and the will of the people above all else. What then do we make of this “holocaust denial” law that Putin very quietly enacted? Certainly, this revelation raises some very important questions and perhaps shatters many of the illusions his admirers outside Russia may have had about the President.
As is known, many countries throughout Europe have long had holocaust denial laws on the books, with a few (namely Germany) known to be rather aggressive in utilizing them. On the surface it would be reasonable to surmise that these various European countries employing these thought-crime laws have different motives behind them than Putin’s Russia, but one could also speculate that the underlying cause does indeed parallel that of Russia’s, at least to a degree (As I will touch on later). Against the backdrop of the Ukrainian coup and the various fascist elements now playing a significant role in that country in the aftermath, this new legislation would appear to be in the interest of counter-acting what is admittedly a dangerous trend developing right on Russia’s border. But is it deeper than that? In a country where the President enjoys support that is in all likelihood unmatched in the entire world, one wonders what benefit such thought-crime laws could really produce. After all, potential targets of these laws surely represent such a small fraction of Russian society that a real threat to any aspect of Russian life posed by them must be non-existent. It is therefore, in my humble opinion, evident that president Putin has obtained the positive image he has from the people abroad more so due to the present conditions in which US-NATO aggression and fear-mongering abound – and NOT because of anything Putin has stood for outside the context of the current “new Cold War” scenario. Indeed, enacting thought-crime laws such as these is indicative of a regressive and authoritarian atmosphere. It has come time to call into question the true nature of this “man of the people.”
An oft-repeated yet (to my knowledge) wholly unverifiable claim is that “Putin kicked out all the Jewish oligarchs” after coming to power; that Russian foreign debt and obligations to the international Jewish banking cartel had ceased to be. Is this true? While not inseparably bound up with having such laws on the books, it is worth more than a passing thought. While undoubtedly not beholden to international Zionism in the fashion of many other European countries – Germany and France being at the forefront – it is nonetheless apparent that Russia has not fully untangled itself from this power structure that still operates on a global scale and with very little opposition to its practices and aims. It’s an unfortunate development on multiple fronts, only a few of which can be covered in this piece. What is for certain is, along with the praise Putin has received for his leadership in de-escalating (or at least attempting to) conflicts and spearheading various geopolitical initiatives of a positive nature, there must be critical analysis undertaken and questions posed as to what prompted this assault on freedom of speech, expression and thought – Especially coming from a country which prides itself on the notion of defeating fascism once and for all. A president who presents himself as anti-fascist and a defender of freedom and democratic rights can hardly be taken seriously in that regard while presiding over a government that has outlawed what boils down to asking questions.
The broader implications of legally enforced anti-revisionism
The overall theme of the legislation is, of course, centered around WWII revisionism and the Soviet Union’s predominant role in defeating Nazi Germany -- and bringing an end to (THAT particular episode of) fascism. One need not be an expert on foreign affairs or world history to know that this subject and chapter in Russian history remains of particular cultural importance, and an immense source of pride, to the people of Russia. This fact would offer somewhat of an explanation as to why there was no real objection of this legislation to be found. Russians, like Americans (although perhaps not to the same mind-numbing degree), exist in a world of propaganda that forms the basis for most of what they believe. On the same note, again like Americans, nationalist sentiment is woven into the very fabric of society. For what it’s worth, in Russians’ case, the source of this nationalism holds roots and causes offering much greater legitimacy than that of the nationalist sentiment within the United States. Nevertheless, I suspect this strong nationalist sentiment all but nullifies the losses of freedom of expression that come with legislation outlawing thought-crimes. Without giving the appearance of an anti-Russian sentiment here – as that is absolutely not what I am conveying – it would be prudent to bear in mind that where fervent nationalism is found, national chauvinism is not far behind it. By enacting laws forbidding revisionist ideas, Putin would be doing three things, none of which are positive:
1) Mimicking the various neo-fascist European client states of Washington and Tel Aviv, of whom none should be setting an example for any major power seeking to establish itself as a legitimate alternative to the current world order of chaos.
2) Adopting a legal construct that is as fine an example of fascism as there is to be found; thereby taking Russian society backwards at a time it seeks more than ever to emerge as a nation which leads example towards developing a more just and peaceful world.
3) Delivering a self-inflicted blow to its credibility in respect to its alleged position at the forefront of fighting and defeating fascism, both in the past and in the present.
Next door in the Ukraine, where lawlessness abounds and literal neo-Nazis have obtained a tremendous position in the ongoing affairs of the soon-to-be failed state, the sitting fascist “government” has banned all Communist symbols, banned Communist and pro-Russian parties, and for all intents and purposes has criminalized ideologies. By enacting anti-revisionist laws, and more specifically holocaust denial laws, Putin has acted in a way virtually indistinguishable from what is unfolding in the Ukraine. It is unnecessary to delve into the facts and fictions of the so-called Holocaust at this time, because questioning and studying official narratives of historical events – regardless of who bore the brunt of the tragedy or who is primarily responsible for initiating and ending such an historical episode – can only be considered a crime in the most totalitarian and Orwellian society. And in fact, there isn’t another period of history or specific element within that period, which has prompted such limitations on discourse as the so-called Holocaust of WWII has.
I am compelled to admit that I do not know precisely how this legislation reads in terms of holocaust denial, or what its criteria are. That being said, it’s difficult or even impossible to imagine such criteria have the potential to vary from previous laws in such a way that it’s rendered a formality. If such was the case, this legislation, at this time in history would not have come about in the first place. In any event, such speculation is all but irrelevant. Laws against thought-crimes are laws against thought-crimes. Though the so-called Holocaust occupies a place of its own in terms of outlawing critical or contrary ideas, it is no more or no less worthy than any other event or scenario of being criminalized on the basis of critical analysis alone. Historical revisionism of any kind is not a criminal act, and anti-revisionism as a tenet of the law is the most egregious offense against a free society; indeed, it is the highest form of fascism. It must be posited then, what exactly is Putin trying to hide, and why? If, at the very least, Putin’s only objective is to preserve the official narrative of the Soviets’ supreme role in WWII, and the holocaust denial aspect is by default part of the glue that holds the entire thing together, this is bad enough. Should that be the case, and the details of the holocaust aspect of the bigger story is of little or no importance to him and the legacy he seeks to reinforce, he has nonetheless done the people of Russia (and to a different degree the entire world) an enormous disservice. This is two-fold: First, the criminalization of thought-crimes in general, no matter how true or false they are, or how important his country’s legacy and heritage are; and second, by perpetuating a clear differentiation and privilege afforded to a specific group of people and their entire basis for maintaining their monopoly on suffering. This perpetuation of the special privileges to displace, kill, control entire nations and peoples, and break any international law they so choose, while being completely immune from consequences for their actions, is made possible in no small part by criminalizing the re-visiting and critical analysis of the so-called Holocaust.
In summary, it must be repeated that anti-revisionism as law is fascism; a symptom of an emerging dystopian, totalitarian state – or world. It is a crime of the state against its citizens, regardless of what the subject is. It just so happens that the holocaust story is the most rigorously guarded, academically forbidden event we’ve ever known. Putin’s legislation last spring just further illustrates the obvious fact that the establishment has a hell of a lot they’re desperate to keep hidden. And to the extent they cannot keep it hidden, they will resort to extreme forms of persecution on those who have dared uncover parts of the truth. Vladimir Putin for some time now has been a source of hope for many people even outside of Russia. He has become a symbol of strength, of resistance, and of potential to change the trajectory of humanity for the better. Knowing what is now known about his anti-revisionism laws, that must all be called into serious question by those who possess that admiration. There are many questions that demand answers, only very few of which I have raised here.