How Putin became the Che Guevara of the Right

Peter Pomerantsev writes: “He’s a Kremlin puppet!” has been a clarion call for those rallying to stop U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

But his public pro-Putin positions, and a few unfounded Kremlin links thrown in by his detractors, haven’t hurt Trump in the polls. And he’s not alone. Similar charges have been thrown at the successful campaign to leave the European Union and at right-wing movements gaining traction in Europe.

So is accusing your opponent of being Putin’s pal a good strategy? What if accusing someone of colluding with the Kremlin actually helps their cause?

Imagine, for a moment, you are the leader of an “anti-establishment” political movement. You thrill your followers by sticking it to the “liberal elites” and the “global order.” There’s nothing more “anti-establishment” than showing two fingers to such elite, aloof projects as NATO or the EU, and giving props to the man who wants to undermine them — Vladimir Putin.

What better way to milk the outrage of the “liberal” media than by siding with a Kremlin that has made attacking “liberal values” its motto? And wouldn’t you welcome attacks from liberal elites for associating you with the sort of disruption you wish to emulate?

For the “anti-establishment” Right, giving Putin the thumbs-up has become the equivalent of what pulling on a Che T-shirt has long meant for the Left. [Continue reading…]

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