By Joaquin Flores – for SCF –
A lie told a thousand times becomes the truth. In reading countless articles from the Atlantic Council press outlets (NYT, WaPo, VICE News, et al), we take for granted that modern Russia is a right-wing regime controlled by an authoritarian personality bent on total domination. As a result, the debate then gets framed on why or whether its right for leftists to attack it as such, since this is used to further justify collective punishment (sanctions) against a whole people.
What escapes us is why creating propaganda that will result in collective punishment is in any way the business of self-declared leftists in the first place. Historically, it hadn’t been, which raises big questions about who is really controlling the narrative and providing career paths and publishing opportunities for those who posture on the radical, even ‘anarchist’ left. We all know what happened to the self-imploded reputation of the Trotskyist Christopher Hitchens, that war-criminal scoundrel who offered some kind of left-cover for the crown’s imperial pretensions in Iraq. Millions died in part as a direct product of his work. Those who didn’t attend his funeral will tell you why.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that Russia is a social democracy, a fact erased from the collective understanding as a result of the insidious psychological operation being carried out on western audiences and Russians alike.
The End of Globalization: Unipolar Panic at the Rise of Multipolarity
The broader geopolitical problem for unipolar trans-Atlanticism is that much of the rest of the world has nearly caught up to the U.S. The unipolar moment is over, and multipolarity has arrived. This is a growing success and a great achievement for the people of Asia, Latin America, the Middle-East, and Sub-Saharan Africa. All wars and coups the U.S. has engaged in since the end of WWII were aimed at suppressing this multipolar eventuality. And yet multipolarity, as explained through the Atlantic Council and its imperial leftist scribes, is deceitfully presented as a neo-fascist threat to the people of the world, and one promoted uniquely by Russia. This would come as a surprise to the BRICS countries, and all those in their peripheries. It would defy the logic of Mercosur and the Sucre that these were established by sovereign state in Latin America at great cost, through the decades of surviving Washington Consensus dictatorships and the rule of U.S. Steel and the United Fruit Company, only to hand it to Moscow for no particular reason.
And yet this stands at the heart of vilifying Russia’s social democracy.
That multipolarity is a ‘Russian project’ is truly the most incoherent and chauvinistic geopolitical conspiracy theories in modern times, reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The job of these writers is to misinform the left, and to turn the politics of class struggle into the politics of xenophobic national rivalry – a quintessential aspect of classical fascism.
The rampant xenophobia that is allowed in the toxic Atlanticist press will no doubt be the subject of debate when those individuals soon lose their careers and livelihoods, because being a talentless hack makes one highly expendable. And this border-line racism and national chauvinism against a whole people and their representative government is increasingly being aired in broad daylight.
No, the waters won’t part, up will not become down, and the elites promoting a soft-power war on Russia won’t be overthrown. But their replaceable media-minions, who become too much of a liability with all the bad PR, will certainly be disappeared and erased.
We can set aside that Russophobic hate scribbling performed concertedly appears like a Operation Mockingbird psy-op, and yes, we can even ignore that over forty years ago the Church Commission revealed that the legacy newspapers have the international sections and editorials of their publications reviewed, approved, and even directly written by CIA agents and assets.
We can leave even alone that these are seemingly managed through a network of seemingly independent news and opinion outlets which nevertheless parrot each other’s talking points on the righteousness of NATO expansionism, the evils of Russia and Putin, and are organized under an Atlantic Council mandate.
What a perfect match, one no doubt made in heaven – to posture as some holier than thou concerned citizen of abuses around the world while in fact doing little more than feeding a crypto-nationalist media ecosystem bent on weapons sales and big ticket contracts for the U.S. military industrial complex. With enough self-delusion or narcissistic supply, they can even imagine that this is not what’s going on. One would imagine that it’s Russia, not the U.S. with 800 bases around the world. This is truly sick gaslighting, and all the well-paid flying monkeys are deployed with the named aim of doing just that.
Follow the Money – Promote Russophobia, Win Prizes
The Atlantic Council related publications which continue these Operation Mockingbird-like methods, have employed a number of ethically compromised imperial left-wing radicals to do the dirty work of gaslighting the American public on the political and socio-economic nature of countries being targeted by the U.S.
We can see from the evidence that the motley crew of imperial leftist Russophobes are those who aspire to be blue-check mark people on twitter and have regular opportunities at Atlantic Council approved publications. They want to be fast-tracked to full tenure in the increasingly partisan humanities and social sciences departments of various colleges and universities, and do the book writing and speaking tour gig. This is a relatively easy formula: virtue signal on domestic wedge issues like gender and race while ignoring class issues that would otherwise cause discomfort for their financiers, simultaneously doubling down on Atlantic Council approved Russophobia using those wedge issues – meanwhile ignoring or obfuscating the larger socioeconomic and geopolitical questions that provide more context and clarity.
After this storm has passed, it will be the subject of many books written by numerous historians, how and why it came to be that in the climate of virtue signaling political correctness, the only approved form of national chauvinism and borderline-racist conspiracy theories was Russophobic in nature. Those who engaged in it, while being creatures of their time and place, will be condemned and marginalized for the xenophobes that they were.
Their method, which is as dangerous to the left as it is misinformative to the public at large, is to use radical left criticisms of countries the U.S. is targeting for regime change and sanctions, even though there are effectively no countries (including most obviously the plutocratic U.S.) that meet their anarchoid standard. But by arbitrarily using an anarchist yard stick to measure the political correctness of some other country, they can issue these leftoid fatwas and make it so appear that Russia is uniquely problematic.
And the personal motivations of egomania aside, we only need to follow the money. And for our purposes today, just a fraction of it. Between George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy’s lucrative grants, The MacArthur Foundation, there are hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown at this soft-power endeavor.
Outside of philanthropy are the huge sums paid to ‘journalists’ and ‘authors’ directly by the billionaire blogs themselves, no doubt doing their part for Operation Mockingbird. You can bet your bottom dollar that the life of a collective-punishment-advocating ‘leftist’ in the employ of empire is neither a difficult nor impoverished one. They may appear homely, bookish, even shabby in their social media presentation, but that is part of the illusion, the veneer. Within the demented aesthetic-sphere of Anglophone left-radicalism, projecting depressiveness is akin to projecting virtue – an odd carryover from Puritanism. But in truth, they are neither hungry nor intellectual. They are well paid actors, and those who believe them have been duped.
Russia is the target of an ongoing campaign to vilify its leadership, with no shortage of tropes and dog whistling that this is an inherent feature of Russian culture itself. Like black-face, comedic ethnic impersonations are all but banned in the public sphere, unless it is of a Russian. The trope is so pervasive that even those trying to speak in the name of decreasing tensions, often frame their commentary in the name of peace by accepting that premise; that Russianness is inherently corrupt, misogynistic, authoritarian, and aggressive.
It is this very premise which must be challenged. The funny thing is, this task isn’t too difficult.
The Elastic Overton Window
By which rubric, by which method, do we compare the reality of targeted country like Russia to what is possible or even desirable?
Anarchist theory is ‘fantastic’ because anything one compares it to will necessarily fall short. It is reminiscent of Trotskyist criticisms of nominally socialist states, or Salafist criticisms of countries already within the Ummah. These societies, by definition, have to fall short because the self-declared ‘revolutionary’ nature of these belief systems must characterize anything short of their unattainable ideal as being a critical failure.
When it comes to assessing the reality of Russia’s cultural and sociopolitical system, the Overton Window of social acceptability is magically moved to the radical end of the anarchist left when Russia is the subject, for the forced result that we find Russia to be double-plus ungood, despite that those penning these pieces come from a country (the U.S.) far to the right on the socioeconomic matters which effect real working people.
The U.S. is Far to the right of Russia? Yes, we’ll explain
The fact that ski mask wearing anarchists are not free to run naked whilst flinging frozen chickens through kindergartens or Easter church services, is presented as evidence that Russia is an authoritarian state. The fact that Russia is a country, with a culture and history it finds worthy of being taught in schools, and with borders, and a standing army (!!) are taken as proof positive that Russia fulfills most of Umberto Eco’s ’14 Signs of Fascism’. And yet until last Tuesday, these were just understood of part of the fabric that makes a UN member-state … a UN member-state.
Every other country on earth has a school curriculum, has laws on public decency, and teaches the country’s narrative in its school system. When every other country is looked at, we are encouraged to see ‘normal’, and we apply a non-anarchist yard stick to measure it up. When it’s Russia, everything is problematized using every epithet from the critical school glossary. It is interesting, but upon close examination not strange, that these writers are able to get away with it. They do after all have the full support of the world’s last unipolar empire behind them.
The job of these writers is to misinform the left, and to turn the politics of class struggle into the politics of xenophobic national rivalry – a quintessential aspect of classical fascism. That they use apparently politically correct talking points couched within the framework of human rights, and terms borrowed from the vocabulary of the new-left is beside the point.
We must look instead at the perennial meta-political essence of that endeavor and not the particular forms it takes based upon the political or linguistic fashions of the day. The fact that we are better informed to understand fascism through the lens of its meta-political essence, points to a very big theoretical problems in the work of both Umberto Eco and Roger Griffin, as their entire composite heuristic explanatory paradigm is challenged in so doing.
It probably escapes people after that barrage of disinformation and national chauvinism parading as left-wing critique, that Russia is a social-democratic society.
It is Russia, not the United States that has universal healthcare and university education, vast public housing and useful programs for the disadvantaged, a multi-party parliamentary democracy, early retirement (60 m, 55 f), nearly two years leave with pay for new mothers. Russia, like any other social democracy also strong workplace protections against discrimination, a vigorous labor movement (35% union density in a formal workforce of 70 million), and codified rights for ethnic, linguistic and religious groups, and a no-holds barred private/citizen media complex that regularly attacks the country’s leaders and exposes the inevitable corruption that comes with large-scale societies and market systems. And the final point which drives home the social-democratic nature of Russian society is that roughly 40% of the labor economy is at least part publicly owned.
Putin Serves the Russian Oligarchy Poorly – A Question of Democracy
While less-than-honest critics would say that Russia’s social democracy is merely a ‘carry-over’ from Russia’s former Soviet system, it begs the question: why nearly thirty years later, twenty-some of which being under Putin’s ‘right-wing oligarchy’, are these still soundly in place?
We are pressed with a difficult dilemma in the Russophobic narrative: Either Putin is the tyrannical tool of a rapacious oligarchy that has nevertheless failed to destroy Russia’s social democracy in 20 years, or Putin uses his vast powers to maintain its progressive social system against the right-wing oligarchy. In either event, the Swiss cheese that is the imperial left’s Russophobic narrative is evidently pungent.
Putin has been elected – and continues to win elections – for the past two decades. Isn’t this indicative of some large problem in the narrative? This is a question we have to turn on its head: why, in the U.S., have we taken for granted that our elected leaders should expectedly let us down and fail in their mandate with such prejudice that we want to throw them out every four or eight years? Why, in the west, has democracy been defined as dissatisfaction built upon betrayal?
How would a democratic society respond to a government that has, on the balance, solved and continued to solve the problems arising from the collapse of its former authoritarian self? Would they respond by throwing that government out, or by re-electing it?
This is not to view Russia through rose-tinted glasses, or to ignore the problems that it has: largely similar problems that face the world in the context of global capitalism. Russia has problems in wealth inequality, as well as too high an incarceration rate – though still one that pales in comparison to the U.S. by nearly half. But our view is offered knowing that such criticisms are so vast in their abundance, and so mandatory in every western publication, that not fixating on these here in no way obstructs audiences from accessing them elsewhere. What we bring is some balance and perspective.
What characterizes Russia’s social democracy are things which the left-most wing of the Democrat Party in the U.S., led by figures like Bernie Sanders, would consider absolute victories to achieve. And yet nevertheless we are confronted with a media barrage that blindsides us with misinformation to the extent that this basic truth is lost upon us. Fortunately, that tide is turning and will turn all the faster as we understand the reality of modern Russia through a sober and honest lens.