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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Current Events > Russia, Central Asia, and The Caucasus > Ukrainian Crisis

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Ukrainian Crisis Discuss the unfolding crisis in Ukraine.

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  #31  
Old 21 Apr 16, 15:33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skoblin View Post
The question here is whether Nazi is being used in a specifically historical context or as a euphemism.
In a historical context, no - people like Parubiy, the Right Sector, Azov, the Ukrainian Socialist-Nationalist party and the Svoboda party are not Nazis. First off, and most obviously, they are not Germans. Second, many of the Ukrainian paramilitary groups receive funding from Jewish oligarchs such as Kololomoisky, etc. They have not made overtly strident declarations against Jews, gypsies, the feeble-minded, etc.
As a euphemism, however, for extremist militant nationalism, advocating violence against national minorities (in this case - ethnic Russians), the heavy use of symbolism and organised marches, organisation into paramilitary forces, the rewriting of history to fit a nationalist ideology and a hostility towards parliamentarism and democracy, then yes - people like Parubiy and the rest cited above are nazis.
I think you're really cutting to the core of the issue here, and also why as a phrase it is so problematic.

Nazi is a term that carries lots of connotations - most obviously negative - and which has become a highly overused term to denigrate others in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The use of the term in Russian circles seems most equatable with the American use of Communist/Socialist due to the lingering effects of the Cold War: it is applied liberally (no pun intended) and with little regard to the actual beliefs of National Socialism or the target group, except for some generic similarities.

Does that mean that every group labeled Nazi isn't as such? Hardly. Anyone who paid any attention to events in Ukraine saw Neo-Nazi groups in action, using violence against their enemies and otherwise playing a role in the events since Euromaidan.

(And before I continue, I should add that I'm going to just touch upon the semantics debate over Nazi vs Neo-Nazi to say that it's almost irrelevant, since I find the differences to be highly academic at best. Those groups in Ukraine are Neo-Nazi and not true National Socialists, but in practical terms the differences are minute enough to be inconsequential.)

The problem is that the term Nazi is being used very euphemistically, and for highly political reasons. The words carry so much historical baggage that the one word says far, far more. And the reasons are obvious. The Levada Center has reported for years that Russian media has a stake in furthering the message of a horde of western-backed Nazis taking control of Ukraine and threatening ethnic Russians because that's a narrative that resonates with the people and sells. It's akin to American stories about oppressed minorities in Russia - there is truth behind it, but the people on the receiving end will chide you for focusing on the negative, having a highly-biased view, and will dismiss the accusations for exaggerations (which also has truth behind it).

The concept of Nazis threatening Russians is a play to popular emotions and cultural history. By labeling the Ukrainians as Nazis it instantly conjures up themes of the Great Patriotic War, and why they would want to do so is pretty blatant.

So the vested interest in the Nazi narrative is strong, and when one stands back one can easily say "Yeah, it makes perfect sense why this narrative is pushed constantly, even in the face of Jewish leaders taking to the forefront of Ukrainian politics."

Yet despite this very forced narrative, it's also true that those same Neo-Nazis have played a significant role within the post-revolution government. The pictures of Neo-Nazis, despite being spread far and wide by Russians looking to further the tale of a Nazi Ukraine, cannot be denied. We've seen Russians killed by the far-right in Ukraine, we've seen Swastika toting thugs proudly declare their intentions, and with thousands dead it's no wonder that people are willing to believe what they're being told is true about groups so extreme.

Again, like Americans calling Obama a communist, it works because it's a negative phrase with a grain of truth that feeds into preconceived notions. Republicans want to believe that Obama is a filthy liberal extremist. Russians want to believe that Ukrainians are run by horrible Nazi monsters. In both cases the narrative sells, and sells well, even if it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

That is why such developments such as this change in head of state are so important. It acts as a strong counter to the narrative of a Nazi-dominated Ukraine, run either explicitly or covertly by Nazi cabals intent on purifying Ukraine. It's a hard sell to claim that the election of a Jewish head of state doesn't say something about that Nazi narrative.

Which then brings us back to why the story of Nazi-run Ukraine is still so pervasive in the east. If they aren't really Nazis because they happily vote for Jews to lead the nation, then doesn't the continued use of the Nazi narrative offer evidence that the term isn't being used because it is the most accurate available? That it is just cultural short-hand slang to instantly identify and denigrate ones opponents?

There are some who will dismiss the election of a Jewish head of state as irrelevant, that it says nothing about the Nazi narrative, and that it proves nothing. What they seem to miss is that they're as guilty of pushing an inaccurate phrase meant to affect an audience for political purposes over being accurate, in the same way Americans call Obama a Communist or equate Putin with Hitler - both are inaccurate but both can be justified and supported by someone who wants to believe it is so.

The term Nazi is being used as a euphemism, but that euphemism is inaccurate, and helps to further the narrative that it is accurate and literal. The Levada center commented years ago that stories coming out of Ukraine are made to further the concept that there are very real Nazis running Ukraine, not that it's just lazy slang for far-right groups.

And in the end, if someone will believe that Nazis will place Jews into positions of power over them, it says something about how devoted they are to that narrative.
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  #32  
Old 21 Apr 16, 15:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artyom_A View Post
People who have swastika tattoo, make photo with a nazi flag or nazi salute are without doubt neonazis. There is a quite appreciable number of them among Ukrainian radical nationalists. On a more general level Ukrainian nationalist discourse demonstrates a resurrection of certain archaic elements pertinent to Nazi doctrine. See, for example, popularity of all that discussion about racial purity of Slavic Ukrainians compared with Fenno-Tatar Muoscovites, ranting about defense against barbaric Asiatic hordes etc. Which doesn't automatically makes everybody involved a real Nazi. On an even more general level in the last years we saw quite a resurrection of political nationalism in Europe, after it was almost declared dead and buried by progressives and liberals, see all those words about the end of history, globalization, European unification project and so on. Which creates a new reality, of which Ukraine and Russia are only a part.
Honestly, I think one could make a very interesting article concerning the return to nationalism in Europe, from the UK to the Ukraine, and how the opponents of each group have denigrated them as Neo-Nazis and far-right thugs.

What Russia says about Ukraine isn't far removed from what people are saying about Hungary, Poland, and France, to name just a few. The rise of nationalism and the right is prone to stimulate cries of "Nazis!" from their opponents.
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  #33  
Old 26 Apr 16, 05:00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daemon of Decay View Post
It's akin to American stories about oppressed minorities in Russia - there is truth behind it, but the people on the receiving end will chide you for focusing on the negative, having a highly-biased view, and will dismiss the accusations for exaggerations (which also has truth behind it).
Very good, you're making some progress here. Now if you were equally vocal explaining this when another forum member comes here screaming against unprecedented gay oppression in Russia as compared to your attempts to play down the effect the ultranationalists/neo-Nazis had on the Russians in Ukraine.

Quote:
So the vested interest in the Nazi narrative is strong, and when one stands back one can easily say "Yeah, it makes perfect sense why this narrative is pushed constantly, even in the face of Jewish leaders taking to the forefront of Ukrainian politics."

Yet despite this very forced narrative, it's also true that those same Neo-Nazis have played a significant role within the post-revolution government. The pictures of Neo-Nazis, despite being spread far and wide by Russians looking to further the tale of a Nazi Ukraine, cannot be denied. We've seen Russians killed by the far-right in Ukraine, we've seen Swastika toting thugs proudly declare their intentions, and with thousands dead it's no wonder that people are willing to believe what they're being told is true about groups so extreme.
[/QUOTE]

Excuse me, but stories about neo-Nazis would sell anywhere. Especially if the government of a country at the very least condones their actions, and at the very worst has members with strong ties and sympathies to them. Moreover, the government armed these nationalists a-la death squads in Argentina and allowed them to commit massacres just like in Odessa, for which no one nationalist was punished. How come is such narrative "very forced".

You chose a good tactics of pretending to be even-handed, but it's not like no one can see deliberate and quite important lapses and omissions in your reasoning.

And problem with your description is that you have repeatedly said that Russians/rebels label all Ukrainians as Nazis, based on their ethnic or national affiliation. Like here: "By labeling the Ukrainians as Nazis it instantly conjures up themes of the Great Patriotic War, and why they would want to do so is pretty blatant."

This is either a gross misunderstanding, or more likely, given the active interest you took in these events, a deliberate distortion. Never has the Russian state media or even the rebels called all Ukrainians Nazis. There is a very clear distinction between the Ukrainians as a people and the deranged followers of the Holy Maidan cargo cult. There is a huge number of ethnic Ukrainians fighting for the rebel cause, both Russian and Ukrainian languages are official languages in Crimea and rebel-held territories, and many rebels have said they want to liberate the Ukrainian South and East from the Ukrainian nationalists, not "Ukrainains" as you claim, who are forcing their Western Ukrainian nationalist identity on the pro-Russian population. In short, the statement "Russians call Ukrainians Nazis" is pure and unadulterated BS, both in regard to ethnic and national meanings of the word "Ukrainian".

Isn't it quite ironic that while you are claiming to clear out all misunderstandings and elaborate on fine semantic details, you're doing it only for the side you're rooting for, while allowing gross terminological distortions in regard to the side you're up against?
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