A review article by Martin Dewhirst
It has sometimes been claimed that many of those who support what are conventionally known as the Far Right and the Far Left are remarkably similar to one another, at least psychologically: dogmatic, narrow-minded, inflexible, opinionated, dreadfully earnest and, in many but not in all cases, lacking a healthy sense of humour. Some of the key words used by people on the Far Right and the Far Left are different, but the all-important style can be remarkably similar. If this is the case, then President Putin has changed only slightly since he stopped being an ardent communist secret policeman and quickly, once the USSR imploded, became an active wheeler- dealer and strong supporter of primitive, obscurantist, pre-modern, rather than contemporary, tolerant and humanistic values – all this without showing any signs of guilt, embarrassment or repentance for his murky activities in the past. Those who organised and ran the GULag, the terror and the purges should, he now says, be forgiven, but should this generosity also apply to the Nazis as well? Ukraine is currently accused of promoting fascism, yet the Russian authorities are themselves happily collaborating with extreme right-wingers when this appears to be a way of weakening the West and strengthening the messianic and neo-Eurasian imperialistic aspirations of the regime centred on the Kremlin and Old Square (the HQ of the Presidential Administration).
Many people, not least some of those surprised by the result of the referendum on Brexit and the election of President Trump, have the feeling that a ‘paradigm shift’ is taking place, for better or for worse, in political developments around the world. Is it stoppable and reversible? Are ‘Western values’ under serious threat from what some observers consider to be outdated and harmful rather than traditional and acceptable attitudes and opinions? With Putin, health permitting, likely to be the President of the Russian Federation for another six years, this is just the time to read Shekhovtsov’s pioneering monograph and decide whether or not he is exaggerating the likelihood that the Far Right could have a lasting and decisive impact on the future of the West. For most readers, the names of the majority of the numerous European and American Far Right activists about whom he writes will be unknown. Our very own Nigel Farage is absent from the Index, but one can assume that for most of the present-day Far Right activists named in the book he is a genuine hero on whom they should model themselves. […]