Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Is the United States Totalitarian?

By Gabriel Schoenfeld

Monday, May 23, 2022, 9:11 AM

In the three months since Russia began its war of aggression, the character of the country has been changing before our eyes. Its much-vaunted military has been exposed as not only weak, disorganized, and corrupt, but also criminal, engaging in pillaging and the torture and mass slaughter of unarmed Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war. Resorting to a practice not seen since the Stalin era, Vladimir Putin’s government has also been deporting captured Ukrainians, apparently by the hundreds of thousands, to distant portions of Russia, first passing them through “filtration” camps where prisoners are interrogated for nationalist leanings and selected out for punishment. The Russian judicial system has been mobilized to crack down on dissent against the war; among other things, it is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in a labor camp to refer to it as anything but a “special military operation.” To the extent that there were independent media before the war, they have been shut down and the only voices now in print or on the air are official propaganda. Access to independent news sources on the internet has also been sharply restricted. In sum, Russia has taken a number of steps back toward the repression of the Soviet era.


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