Natalia Antonova is a Ukrainian-American journalist and playwright based in New York
While reports of Britons being recruited by Ukrainian neo-Nazis to fight in a war against Russia appear to be somewhat exaggerated – two men hardly constitutes some sort of far-right stampede to the eastern edge of Europe – this is a good time to remember that hate is on the upswing, and to think of it as a localised phenomenon is to miss the bigger picture.
Consider the war that Russia is waging. After years of bloodshed, Ukraine fatigue has firmly settled in across much of the western media. Yet if we were paying closer attention to the conflict between Kiev and Moscow, we would notice an interesting element to the conflict – that the far right is involved on both sides, and that the values of these two groups pitted against each other are similar in many respects.
Members of the Ukrainian and the Russian far right are willing to riddle each other with very many bullet holes over such issues as the legacy of the second world war, and who the real heroes were. Ask them about abortion, however, or feminism, or migration, or antisemitism, or LGBT rights, or human rights in general, or, for that matter, government transparency and accountability, and suddenly these mortal enemies will seem more like good buddies who had a little tiff over history and national identity but will happily join forces to oppress whoever gets in their way, should the current conflict come to an end.
As the editors of the anarchist publication Nihilist.li have argued, “the differences between the Kremlin and Ukrainian fascists are tactical – not strategic … Both Russian and Ukrainian far-right groups have the same values and the same political ideal – crony capitalism.”
The greater lesson here is this: the resurgent far-right ideology tends to transcend borders as surely as the practical concerns of far-right groups – and their high-placed supporters – do. This is where the real threat lies, particularly as memories of the second world war begin to erode (it no longer has such an emotional pull on younger generations). More than anything, a holistic approach to far-right hatred in Europe – and, for that matter, the United States – is needed. Read more via the Guardian