Vladimir Putin and “Managed Nationalism”
Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia — and has maintained that power — through the use of Managed Nationalism.
Just like the USA, Russia has millions of outraged citizens who relieve their frustration and anger by lashing out at other ethnic groups. Racist/nationalist skinheads and soccer hooligans are the two main anti-foreigner groups. (How do you say “redneck” in Russian?)
These racist groups are a potent weapon for government power brokers; and some of these groups are “unofficially” affiliated with government VIPs. Recently a gang of hooligans had a “spontaneous” gathering where they attacked a group of environmentalists.
But sometimes a potent weapon can backfire. Recent race riots have shown that “managed nationalism” is getting out of control and isn’t being too well “managed.” (Here's another link in case the Financial Times link doesn't work.)
On December 11th, six thousand skinheads demonstrated near the Kremlin. Some of the demonstrators assaulted non-Russian passers-by who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A member of one of the anti-immigrant groups said: “This is a massive political wave, and no one can stop it.”
The same person also said Vladimir Putin is in roughly the same position as the Polish government after the fall of Communism (they gave up power) and/or Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator who had an unhappy ending in 1989. Grim choice.
55% of all Russians agree with the nationalist/skinhead slogan “Russia for the Russians.” And sales of baseball bats are through the roof. Betcha didn’t know baseball was such a popular sport in Russia. And you were right. For every baseball that gets sold, four bats are sold. Hmmm…thousands of violent skinheads on the rampage, millions of Russian citizens who agree with them, baseball bats selling like hotcakes…what could this mean?
The linked Financial Times article compares Russia’s racial tensions to Germany in the 1930s. The author doesn’t make any comparisons to American demagogues, teabaggers or racist gangs. However…