All this is certainly true, and it is no coincidence that the atrocities of the Russian army in Ukraine today evoke the most direct associations with Nazi atrocities during their occupation of Ukraine in World War II. Still, it stands to recall that Russian propaganda and Putin himself constantly portray the invasion as a war to liberate the peoples of Ukraine (not only Russians) from a regime of “Nazis” and call the Ukrainian armed forces “nationalist battalions,” while in the initial stages of the war they even demanded the complete “denazification” of Ukraine.
The word ruscism, in my view, allows us to avoid “mirroring” Russian propaganda, as it highlights the special nature
of this monster, which combines Soviet nationalism, post-Soviet nostalgia for imperial greatness; both left and right ressentiment; cultural conservatism, Orthodoxy and occultism (ranging from Russian Cosmism to nonsense about Reptilians and Atlanteans); the idealization of the Soviet era and conviction in the “spiritual superiority” of Russia over the rest of the world and especially the West; contempt for the colonial “periphery;” resentment of Russia’s Western “partners,” which did not accept Russia into their circle; the fetishization of both the Soviet and Russian past as evidence of Russia’s greatness and its “eternal war” with the West; statism, which elevates first and foremost state institutions of violence (the KGB, army, police) to a sacred position; as well as many other elements that have yet to be carefully examined and brought out as toxins.
But the main feature of ruscism is that it is not an ideology
. Attempts to understand it as an ideology run up against the fluidity of nearly all its elements, which, as needed, either come to the fore or fade away, even to the point of completely disappearing. While ideology, strictly speaking, should not be logical, ruscism in this sense takes the cake. An article
by the journalist Shura Burtin, who asked people why they support the war, reveals the internal contradictions of ruscism as its fundamental property: