By Franklin Frederick
With the invasion of Ukraine, the international campaign against Russia seems to have surpassed the levels of anti-Communist and anti-Soviet Union hysteria of the Cold War era. In addition to economic sanctions, there is pressure against Russian athletes and artists.
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, for example, has had her concerts canceled and has been virtually banned from theaters in Western Europe and the U.S.
Comparing the West’s punishment of this artist from Russia with what happened to some German artists during the Cold War era may reveal a few things. The soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf had a hugely successful career in the 1940s and 1950s. However, according to Frances Storno Saunders, author of ‘Who paid the piper?’, an important book about the role of the CIA and organized right-wing groups in instrumentalizing literature and art against communism and the Soviet Union during the Cold War:
“Elisabeth Schwarzkopf had given concerts for the Waffen SS on the eastern front, starred in Goebbels’ Propaganda films, and was included by him on a list of artists ‘blessed by God’!
Her National Socialist Party membership number was 7548960. (…) Schwarzkopf was cleared by the Allied Control Commission, and her career soared. She was later made a Dame of the British Empire.”
And the well-known conductor Herbert von Karajan, according to the same author:
“In von Karajan’s case, this was virtually undisputed. He had been a party member since 1933, and never hesitated to open his concerts with the Nazi favourite ‘Horst Wessel Lied’. His enemies referred to him as ‘SS Colonel von Karajan’. But despite favouring the Nazi regime, he was quickly reinstated as the undisputed king of the |Berlin Philharmonic, the orchestra which in the post-war years was built as the symbolic bulwark against Soviet totalitarianism.”
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Herbert von Karajan were not the only supporters of Nazism within Germany’s cultural elite. The pianists Wilhelm Backhaus and Wilhelm Kempff – whom Hitler called ‘Mein Kempff’ – among many others, supported the regime. All excellent musicians, among the greatest of the 20th century, as well as Anna Netrebko in the 21st century. With the end of the war, they all resumed their successful careers. None of them were banned from concert halls and theatres or were punished for their links to Nazism as Anna Netrebko is now being punished for her relations with Vladimir Putin.
The co-optation of several Nazis, including war criminals, by the USA shortly after the defeat of Germany is a known fact and there is much literature about it. With the end of the war the Nazis became, by their knowledge and convictions, important allies in the fight against communism and the Soviet Union.
Thus the ‘denazification’ of Germany was neither a very deep nor a very extensive process. In fact, the reconstruction of capitalism not only in Germany but throughout Europe was done with the help and commitment of various Nazis, fascists and other right-wing and extreme right-wing groups. Especially big industrialists and bankers who collaborated with Nazism in Germany and France were spared. And artists like Herbert von Karajan and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf were ‘cleansed’ of their connections to Nazism to serve the propaganda machine of the capitalist West.
Nazism has again become a topic of discussion due to the presence of neo-Nazi groups in the US-backed Zelensky government in Ukraine. Renowned Australian journalist John Pilger, for example, wrote (1):
“Following the coup in Ukraine in 2014 – orchestrated by Barack Obama’s “point person” in Kyiv, Victoria Nuland – the coup regime, infested with neo-Nazis, launched a campaign of terror against Russian-speaking Donbas, which accounts for a third of Ukraine’s population.
Overseen by CIA director John Brennan in Kyiv, ‘special security units’ coordinated savage attacks on the people of Donbas, who opposed the coup. Video and eyewitness reports show bussed fascist thugs burning the trade union headquarters in the city of Odessa, killing 41 people trapped inside. The police are standing by. Obama congratulated the ‘duly elected’ coup regime for its ‘remarkable restraint’.”
In the same article John Pilger also reminds us that:
“Almost every Russian knows that it was across the plains of Ukraine’s ‘borderland’ that Hitler’s divisions swept from the west in 1941, bolstered by Ukraine’s Nazi cultists and collaborators. The result was more than 20 million Russians dead.”
On the other hand, the eminent US expert on Russia affairs, Stephen Cohen, in a May 2018 article, warned (2):
“The orthodox American political-media narrative blames ‘Putin’s Russia’ alone for the new US-Russian Cold War. Maintaining this (at most) partial truth involves various mainstream media malpractices, among them lack of historical context; reporting based on unverified “facts” and selective sources; editorial bias; and the excluding, even slurring, of proponents of alternative explanatory narratives as ‘Kremlin apologists’ and carriers of ‘Russian propaganda’.”
“No less important, however, is the highly selective nature of the mainstream narrative of the new Cold War, what it chooses to feature and what it virtually omits. Among the omissions, few realities are more important than the role played by neofascist forces in US-backed, Kiev-governed Ukraine since 2014. Not even many Americans who follow international news know the following, for example:
– That the snipers who killed scores of protestors and policemen on Kiev’s Maidan Square in February 2014, thereby triggering a “democratic revolution” that overthrew the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, and brought to power a virulent anti-Russian, pro-American regime—it was neither democratic nor a revolution, but a violent coup unfolding in the streets with high-level support—were sent not by Yanukovych, as is still widely reported but instead almost certainly by the neofascist organization Right Sector and its co-conspirators.
– That the pogrom-like burning to death of ethnic Russians and others in Odessa shortly later in 2014 reawakened memories of Nazi extermination squads in Ukraine during World War II has been all but deleted from the American mainstream narrative even though it remains a painful and revelatory experience for many Ukrainians.
– That the Azov Battalion of some 3,000 well-armed fighters, which has played a major combat role in the Ukrainian civil war and now is an official component of Kiev’s armed forces, is avowedly “partially” pro-Nazi, as evidenced by its regalia, slogans, and programmatic statements, and well-documented as such by several international monitoring organizations. (…)
– That storm troop-like assaults on gays, Jews, elderly ethnic Russians, and other ‘impure’ citizens are widespread throughout Kiev-ruled Ukraine, along with torchlight marches reminiscent of those that eventually inflamed Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s. And that the police and official legal authorities do virtually nothing to prevent these neofascist acts or to prosecute them. On the contrary, Kiev has officially encouraged them by systematically rehabilitating and even memorializing Ukrainian collaborators with Nazi German extermination pogroms and their leaders during World War II, renaming streets in their honor, building monuments to them, rewriting history to glorify them, and more.
– Or that Israel’s official annual report on anti-Semitism around the world in 2017 concluded that such incidents had doubled in Ukraine and the number ‘surpassed the tally for all the incidents reported throughout the entire region combined.’ By the region, the report meant the total in all of Eastern Europe and all former territories of the Soviet Union.” (3)
In this context it is important to mention the recent UN resolution calling to ‘combat the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism.’ The only nations that voted against this resolution were the United States and Ukraine, 130 nations voted in favor and 49 abstained.
ANTICOMMUNISM, RACISM AND THE RIGHT WING IN THE USA
For historian Eric Foner, as he wrote in his book ‘The Story of American Freedom’:
“Anticommunism became a tool wielded by white supremacists against black civil rights, employers against unions, and upholders of sexual morality and traditional gender roles against homosexuality, all allegedly responsible for eroding the country’s fighting spirit.”
And for Sara Diamond, a scholar of right-wing movements in the US and author of the book ‘Roads to Dominion’:
“Anticommunism became the American Right’s dominant motif not just because it justified the enforcement of U.S. dominion internationally but also because it wove together disparate threads of right-wing ideology. At an elite level, anticommunism was about preserving economic inequality, the libertarian strain in right-wing thinking. At a more mass level, anticommunism was about obedience to authority and repression of domestic political dissent and deviant tendencies in the broader culture.”
In the 1950s and 1960s, white supremacists in the US fought fiercely against the integration of African Americans – which would allow them to attend the same schools and public places attended by ‘whites’ – that was finally decided and enforced by the Supreme Court. Sara Diamond quotes a revealing statement by Robert Paterson, a supremacist leader at that time, in a 1956 report by his organization, the Mississippi Association of Citizens’ Councils:
“(…) Integration represents darkness, regimentation, totalitarianism, communism and destruction. Segregation represents the freedom to choose one’s associates, Americanism, State sovereignty and the survival of the white race.”
In the US, anti-communism and racism have always gone together. And although not every racist is a Nazi, every Nazi is a racist. Racism and white supremacy are the common basis of both fascism and Nazism. Thus, US support for Ukrainian neo-Nazis is a continuation of a much older collaboration of white supremacists and US economic elites with fascism and Nazism in the struggle against the integration of African-Americans on the one hand, and the anti-communist crusade on the other.
The current anti-Russian campaign is a continuation of the Cold War anti-communist crusade, using the same methods, with the same collaborators and the same goal: the imposition of the capitalist system and the domination of the Western economic elites over the entire planet. The Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact no longer exist, but Vladimir Putin’s Russia committed the ultimate crime: it did not become a new colony of the West. The neo-colonization of Russia that began under Boris Yeltsin was reversed by Putin, and that is why he is so execrated.
The election of the current president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, was a direct consequence of the overthrow of President Yanukovych, just as the election of Bolsonaro followed the coup against President Dilma Rousseff. And it is not a coincidence that in both the coup against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and the 2014 ‘revolution’ in Ukraine, right-wing and far-right groups – neo-Nazis in the case of Ukraine – played a key role in articulating the demonstrations in the streets. Nor is it a coincidence that companies like Monsanto entered Ukraine shortly after the overthrow of President Yanukovych, as the same Monsanto was involved in the parliamentary coup that overthrew President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay in 2012. In turn, the coup in Brazil opened the door for foreign companies to exploit the oil reserves and for a whole series of privatizations. Large corporations like Shell or Monsanto – acquired by Bayer in 2016 – and right-wing and far-right groups are intertwined in the same political movement – neoliberalism.
For Sara Diamond “A pattern is evident. To be right-wing means to support the state in its capacity as enforcer of Order and to oppose the state as distributor of wealth and power downward and a more equitably in society. Throughout the history of U.S. right-wing movements, we will see this recurring pattern as one organization after another worked to bolster capitalism, militarism, and moral traditionalism. “
Defending a strong state when it comes to imposing ‘order’, i.e., repression, but opposing the state when it comes to distribution of wealth and power or maintaining a strong public education and health sector – this is the essence of neoliberalism.
To impose its agenda of privatization, the dismantling of social and labor legislation as well as of regulatory protection of the environment, and the destruction of public health and education, neoliberalism can only mobilize the support of the most reactionary forces still existing in society, the latent fascism. For fascism is nothing more than neoliberalism in boots and uniform. Or, to put it another way, neoliberalism is fascism in plain clothes.
It is not surprising then, that in Ukraine, Brazil, or Evo Morales’ Bolivia, racism and white supremacy, in its most extreme forms of fascism and nazism, have been instrumentalized to support coups d’état and impose economic policies of concentration of wealth and power, of rigid hierarchization and social exclusion. The substantial increase of neo-Nazi groups in Brazil under the Bolsonaro government, once again, is not a coincidence, it is the result of a political project applied both in Latin America and in Ukraine.
As Eric Foner wrote:
“Cold War freedom was a circular concept. If a nation was part of the worldwide anti-Communist military alliance led by the United States, it automatically became a member of the ‘Free world’ . This usage produced such anomalies as Fascist Spain being praised by President Eisenhower for its devotion to freedom, and the Republic of South Africa being included within the ‘free world’ even though its white minority had deprived the black population of nearly all their rights.”
Today’s ‘free world’ imposes sanctions not only against Russia, but against Cuba and Venezuela. The ‘free world’ supported and legitimized the coups against Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and Evo Morales in Bolivia, among many others. This is the real ‘brave new world’ where neo-Nazis are heroes fighting for freedom and racism continues to exterminate indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants in Latin America in the name of progress and capital.
We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.