(oDR) The Russian state under Vladimir Putin’s leadership is often seen as a specific kind of regime, labelled by its own name, Putinism. Defining a regime by the name of its leader has obvious limits in terms of analysis. First, it takes the risk of emphasising too much the role and the personality of the individual over structural elements of governance. Second, regime typology in general has shown little heuristic values, and tends to categorise regimes that share little in the way of common ground. However, this form of naming can capture a certain Zeitgeist that explains how a leader personifies a country, a policy and a society at a certain moment in history, as, for instance, with Thatcherism.
“Putinism” can also usefully be compared to other -isms, but so far has been likened, mostly by its opponents at home and abroad, to Stalinism, Fascism, and even Nazism. In these cases, the assumed goal is to label the regime as one with which one cannot engage as equals, and which cannot be recognised as politically legitimate. When one tries to avoid name-calling, Putinism could be compared with many other -isms that would offer meaningful and less politically loaded comparisons. Some experts have been indeed more acute in their parallels, for instance Marcel van Herpen, who compared Putinism to Berlusconism and Bonapartism. I propose another comparison. […]
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