The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent



I hadn't heard the term (in the form "ruscist") until listening to "Bayraktar" this morning—as you might gather, it's a portmanteau of "Russian" and "fascism." In Ukrainian and Russian, "fascism" is pronounced with an "ah" sound, so the two words rhyme. "Ruscism" is said to have been popularized in 2008, with the Russo-Georgian War, though I expect it's getting much more currency now.

I suspect it's also significant that in Russia (and likely in Ukraine) the Nazis were generally called "fashisty" more than "natsisty," the reverse of the English pattern. In America these days, "fascist" is more a political term used promiscuously by many on the Left for people they dislike. In Ukraine and Russia, I suspect that "fascist" remains much more closely linked to a very specific set of murderous invaders.

NEXT: Thursday Open Thread

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Holodomor was done by facists or bolsheviks? I always though Troysky and his buddies in the bolshie party. This amnensia around what the communists did in the Ukraine by the media is strange. Might be that the Ukrainians are fighting so hard because the Russian Communists killed millions?

  2. A fascist is
    - authoritarian
    - racist / xenophobe

    A very significant portion of the American right are now either fascists or fascist-fellow-travelers. These people are promoting racism. They're subverting democracy / human rights, preferring a Leader unconstrained by any law.
    Those who understand what they're doing are outright fascists. Those who are abetting the fascists without really understanding, are fascist-fellow-travelers. It's impossible to distinguish between the two... and it really makes no difference. They are all trying to create a White-Supremacist plutocracy in America.
    They're succeeding.

    1. It's like you're a child.

  3. In America these days, "fascist" is more a political term used promiscuously by many on the Left for people they dislike.

    Used to be, but now? If these threads are representative -- and I pray they're not, but in the era of Trump I no longer rule it out -- "fascist" has been re-appropriated by the Right as an epithet for their perceived enemies on the Left. It's also become tribal Right Wing canon that the OG Nazis and Fascists were Left Wing.

    None of which should suggest the tribal Left hasn't continued abusing the term. Just that their RW counterparts have joined and maybe even surpassed them.

    1. No, it didn't escape my notice that BobN was sent from Hell to undermine my point. But as regular VC readers know, his comment is an aberration from the VC comment thread norm.

      1. Don't look now, but eyesay did the same thing to your argument.

        Which current US party is openly race-centric, makes "suggestions" to industry that industry jumps to implement, shuns companies that achieve the goals the party claims to want (like making electric vehicles) but don't toe the line (like accommodating unions, which donate to and campaign for the party), issues more-direct mandates to industry, is aligned with the people committing widespread political violence on the street, and openly picks and chooses who to prosecute based on racial or political factors?

        There's a lot of fascism in today's Democrat party, just like there was in FDR's.

        1. Michael P,

          You gleefully note eyesay's description of fascist tendencies on the right as undermining Leo's point, but you finish by strengthening it by being exactly the type of right wing person Leo was talking about. Thanks for making Leo's point!

          As to "widespread political violence on the street", quick, which party (in an official pronouncement, not just a crackpot with a microphone) called violence explicitly aimed at stopping the constitutionally mandated electoral process as "legitimate political discourse"? But, sure, keep drinking the koolaid.

    2. Leo, " the era of Trump?" Not a new thing. Do you recall the title of Jonah Goldberg's last decent-selling book?

      Liberal Fascism: the Secret History of the Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning

      That was back in 2007 when he was still a forerunner of the own-the-libs movement, and a solid practitioner of the accusation is the confession, long before Trump appropriated it and retired the trophy.

  4. Professor Volokh: When you wrote, "In America these days, 'fascist' is more a political term used promiscuously by many on the Left for people they dislike," I assume you meant not literally "people they dislike" but rather "people whose political views and actions they dislike". I believe it would be quite unusual to call someone a fascist because, say, they are known to be a serial seducer-abandoner, or they made a series of awful motion pictures. However, even the more limited "people whose political views and actions they dislike" needs further refinement. One wouldn't typically call someone a fascist because they disagree with the speaker on the issue of, say, neighborhood preservation vs. increasing housing density, i.e. NIMBY vs YIMBY. One wouldn't typically call someone a fascist because they disagree with the speaker on the question of whether we burden ourselves with a bond issue and higher taxes and build another school, or do we burden our students with overcrowded schools. No, the word "fascist" is reserved for people who promote the use of state power to take away our freedom, including reproductive choice and whom we can marry, while hypocritically promoting the freedom not to take safe and effective measures that help protect the public from the worst pandemic in over a century. And, since January 6, 2021, the word is, rightly, I believe, applied to those who oppose a full investigation into the events, leaders, and catalyzers of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

    The prototypes of fascism are the regimes of Benito Mussolini in Italy and Adolf Hitler in Germany, where the Big Lie was an integral part of statecraft, so it's fair to call "fascist" Tucker Carlson and so many others who lie continually in defense of the Fascist-in-chief now residing in Mar-a-Lago, his supporters and his policies.

    1. "Fascism means hypocritically promoting the freedom not to take safe and effective measures that help protect the public from the worst pandemic in over a century."

      I remember when people who called themselves "liberals" where smart. Now they are the stupid people.

  5. Based on my sampling of "people on the Left" (most of the commenters at the Washington Post), if you, for example, comment "I can understand why parents want to know what is being taught to their children in school", you'll immediately be called a Fascist, Nazi, Racist, etc. Seems they can't separate their political and personal views of anyone.

    1. What's a PTA for, just to discuss bake sale fundraisers for the soccer team's jerseys?

    2. Jerry,

      Nice story, but you need a link to where you or anyone made that simply one sentence comment and was called one of those names, because it usually takes more than that for even typically aggressive/abusive online commenters (other than, say, Behar) to engage at full outrage.

      And the fact that you equate WaPost commenters as your "sample" of "people on the Left" says something about your unfamiliarity with the scientific method or your interest in confirming your own biases. Because, somehow, I doubt you project onto "people of the Right" the commenters at, say, Breitbart.

  6. from George Orwell’s 1984:

    ...the conditions of life in all three super-states are very much the same. In Oceania the prevailing philosophy is called Ingsoc, in Eurasia it is called Neo-Bolshevism, and in Eastasia it is called by a Chinese name usually translated as Death-Worship, but perhaps better rendered as Obliteration of the Self. The citizen of Oceania is not allowed to know anything of the tenets of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate them as barbarous outrages upon morality and common sense. Actually the three philosophies are barely distinguishable, and the social systems which they support are not distinguishable at all.

    Russia was a fascist state when Putin was a secret police officer; now that he runs the country, it's still fascist. Quelle nouvelle!

  7. Ngl, before I read this post, I thought it was a portmanteau of Russian and Racism, meaning bigotry towards Russians for being Russian.

    The more you know

  8. "In America these days, "fascist" is more a political term used promiscuously by many on the Left for people they dislike."

    Stupid leftists always calling everything they dislike "fascist." Real fascism is when you have to get a vaccine, or when Facebook takes down your post for using racial slurs.

  9. In my tech-heavy experience "fascist" has long been used to mean "unnecessarily strict" with no political connotations. The expression "some fascist pig with a read-only mind" went around the net some decades back. Both political and apolitical senses were current. If somebody said "fascist directory permissions" it just meant "I want to be able to read these files and I can't." If somebody published a list of the five symptoms of fascism, that was an attempt to equate political opponents with Hitler. It was usually clear whether Godwin's law applied.

  10. "as you might gather, it's a portmanteau of "Russian" and "fascism.""

    Honestly I would've guessed "Russian" and "Racism"

Please to post comments