Ideology of the Axis: Xi, Putin, Kim, and Khamenei

CommentaryThe axis of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Iranian leader Ali Khamenei is driven by ideology, which they use to achieve their personal and state objectives. However, as their ideologies and goals differ, they will eventually come into conflict, leading to the dissolution of the bloc.Communist China, the Russian Federation, North Korea, and the Islamic Republic of Iran are forming an axis to oppose the United States and rewrite the Western-led international order. Xi, Putin, Kim, and Ayatollah Khamenei share several commonalities: they were not elected meaningfully, have no term limits, and wield absolute power in their countries. All four countries have experienced violent revolutions, and their leaders are aware of the remote possibility of being ousted. This awareness drives their authoritarian rule.A significant difference between this modern bloc and the old Soviet Union or Nazi-Fascist Axis of World War II is that the four leaders do not share a common ideology.All four claim to be ideologically motivated: Xi with Xi Jinping Thought (“socialism”), Putin with Russian nationalism (or ultranationalism, Putinism), Kim with Juche, and Khamenei with Islamic theocracy. While ideology shapes their public narratives and policies, personal ambitions and objectives often outweigh genuine ideological commitment. Each leader customizes their ideology to fit state objectives, fulfilling their vision for the future of their country and the world.Xi should theoretically be motivated by communist or socialist ideology. However, the term “socialism with Chinese characteristics“ marks a departure from strict ideology, aligning more with the state’s goal of becoming the world’s dominant economic power. While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) retains its communist label, Xi’s approach is more pragmatic, focusing on economic development, technological advancement, military power, and strengthening state control. The ideological narrative of ”Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” legitimizes the CCP’s rule and consolidates Xi’s power. Xi’s drive appears more oriented toward cementing his legacy as one of the three great leaders of the communist era and transforming China into a global superpower. Communist ideology serves as a tool to unify the nation and justify extensive state control and surveillance.Related StoriesPutin has a great deal of nostalgia for the Soviet Union, a government he served as a KGB officer, and he often incorporates elements of imperial Russia in his speeches. Modern Russia, under Putin, lacks a coherent ideological framework like Soviet communism. Instead, Putin leverages nationalism, anti-Western sentiment, and the concept of restoring Russia’s great power status to consolidate his rule and justify his policies. His primary goal appears to be maintaining his own power and the stability of his regime. Ideological elements are tailored to reinforce this objective, fostering a sense of national pride and unity against perceived external threats.Kim’s rule is deeply rooted in the dynastic ideology established by his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who developed Juche and founded the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and continued by his father, Kim Jong Il. This ideology, Juche (self-reliance), along with the cult of personality, is critical for maintaining regime stability and control. Kim uses this ideology to legitimize his rule and ensure the loyalty of the military and elite. His actions are primarily driven by the need to ensure the survival and continuity of his regime.Khamenei, while not purely motivated by a dedication to the Islamic revolution, may be more influenced by his religious beliefs than, say, Xi is by socialism. All four leaders are not only heads of government but also heads of their respective ideologies. The Ayatollah, as the highest religious authority in Iran, is the keeper of the Islamic Revolution and can shape its direction. His policies and actions reflect a commitment to theocratic governance and spreading Iran’s revolutionary ideals. While religious ideology is central, Khamenei also uses it strategically to rally support, maintain internal control, and justify Iran’s regional ambitions. However, his personal and political survival is also a significant motivator.For Putin, Xi, and Kim, ideology often appears more as a tool for legitimizing their rule and unifying the populace rather than a true guiding principle. Khamenei likely represents a more genuine adherence to ideology, driven by his religious convictions, but even he uses ideology to reinforce his authority. All four tailor ideological narratives to fit their personal and national goals, ensuring regime stability and continuity. Ideology is secondary to the practical needs of retaining power, controlling the populace, and achieving long-term strategic objectives.Each leader believes their ideology is superior and aims for globa

Ideology of the Axis: Xi, Putin, Kim, and Khamenei

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Commentary

The axis of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Iranian leader Ali Khamenei is driven by ideology, which they use to achieve their personal and state objectives. However, as their ideologies and goals differ, they will eventually come into conflict, leading to the dissolution of the bloc.

Communist China, the Russian Federation, North Korea, and the Islamic Republic of Iran are forming an axis to oppose the United States and rewrite the Western-led international order. Xi, Putin, Kim, and Ayatollah Khamenei share several commonalities: they were not elected meaningfully, have no term limits, and wield absolute power in their countries. All four countries have experienced violent revolutions, and their leaders are aware of the remote possibility of being ousted. This awareness drives their authoritarian rule.

A significant difference between this modern bloc and the old Soviet Union or Nazi-Fascist Axis of World War II is that the four leaders do not share a common ideology.

All four claim to be ideologically motivated: Xi with Xi Jinping Thought (“socialism”), Putin with Russian nationalism (or ultranationalism, Putinism), Kim with Juche, and Khamenei with Islamic theocracy. While ideology shapes their public narratives and policies, personal ambitions and objectives often outweigh genuine ideological commitment. Each leader customizes their ideology to fit state objectives, fulfilling their vision for the future of their country and the world.
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Xi should theoretically be motivated by communist or socialist ideology. However, the term “socialism with Chinese characteristics“ marks a departure from strict ideology, aligning more with the state’s goal of becoming the world’s dominant economic power. While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) retains its communist label, Xi’s approach is more pragmatic, focusing on economic development, technological advancement, military power, and strengthening state control. The ideological narrative of ”Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” legitimizes the CCP’s rule and consolidates Xi’s power. Xi’s drive appears more oriented toward cementing his legacy as one of the three great leaders of the communist era and transforming China into a global superpower. Communist ideology serves as a tool to unify the nation and justify extensive state control and surveillance.

Putin has a great deal of nostalgia for the Soviet Union, a government he served as a KGB officer, and he often incorporates elements of imperial Russia in his speeches. Modern Russia, under Putin, lacks a coherent ideological framework like Soviet communism. Instead, Putin leverages nationalism, anti-Western sentiment, and the concept of restoring Russia’s great power status to consolidate his rule and justify his policies. His primary goal appears to be maintaining his own power and the stability of his regime. Ideological elements are tailored to reinforce this objective, fostering a sense of national pride and unity against perceived external threats.
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Kim’s rule is deeply rooted in the dynastic ideology established by his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who developed Juche and founded the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and continued by his father, Kim Jong Il. This ideology, Juche (self-reliance), along with the cult of personality, is critical for maintaining regime stability and control. Kim uses this ideology to legitimize his rule and ensure the loyalty of the military and elite. His actions are primarily driven by the need to ensure the survival and continuity of his regime.
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Khamenei, while not purely motivated by a dedication to the Islamic revolution, may be more influenced by his religious beliefs than, say, Xi is by socialism. All four leaders are not only heads of government but also heads of their respective ideologies. The Ayatollah, as the highest religious authority in Iran, is the keeper of the Islamic Revolution and can shape its direction. His policies and actions reflect a commitment to theocratic governance and spreading Iran’s revolutionary ideals. While religious ideology is central, Khamenei also uses it strategically to rally support, maintain internal control, and justify Iran’s regional ambitions. However, his personal and political survival is also a significant motivator.

For Putin, Xi, and Kim, ideology often appears more as a tool for legitimizing their rule and unifying the populace rather than a true guiding principle. Khamenei likely represents a more genuine adherence to ideology, driven by his religious convictions, but even he uses ideology to reinforce his authority. All four tailor ideological narratives to fit their personal and national goals, ensuring regime stability and continuity. Ideology is secondary to the practical needs of retaining power, controlling the populace, and achieving long-term strategic objectives.

Each leader believes their ideology is superior and aims for global or regional dominance. However, the disparate and conflicting nature of their ideologies means the bond between these nations cannot endure, as their policy objectives will eventually lead to conflict.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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