Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nobody loves Russia

As someone who lived through and quite vividly remembers the lies and horrors of the Cold War, (I was 13 during the Cuban Missile Crises—old enough to be very frightened) I believe the most dominant reason for the mindless Putin-bashing that goes on here in USA lies in the simple fact that the propaganda of that era left almost everyone with severe brain damage. After all, since we as a nation were making expensive preparations to nuke USSR, it hardly mattered if the "experts" on USSR got the culture, history, and accomplishments wrong.

There were a lot of professional Cold War liars—my least favorite was Marshal Goldman who was a frequent guest commentator on all things Soviet for PBS. With a voice dripping with contempt, he would describe USSR as this place where folks needed better instructions on how to pick their noses. I remember at one point, I screamed at my TV, "Goldman, you idiot, you are describing a society where they put chess matches on TV and get viewers."

What is so disgusting about the Putin / Russia bashing this time around is they haven't even bothered to change the lies. And why should they? They invested a lot of money in them and for 40 years, they worked. So now they just get updated. Of course the solution would be if public officials would learn a little history before they open their yaps—but that would require an expensive effort that would so disorient most people, it would be like telling them their God died. Just remember, the overwhelming majority of Americans do not even know that USSR fought the Germans in World War II. Expecting such cretins to understand the nuances of Tsarist Russia or the Orthodox Church would be like expecting your dog to learn C++.

The following was written by someone who has a firm grasp on the various nuances of Russian history.  He points out the errors in fact and logic of the new Russia bashers.  On one hand, I want to congratulate him for pointing out the obvious flaws in the current narrative about Russia.  On the other, I want to tell him, "Don't you get it? Getting Russia all wrong is a feature, not a bug!"

Nobody loves Russia: how western media have perpetuated the myth of Putin’s ‘neo-Soviet autocracy’

Russia’s political system has frequently been criticised by Western politicians and commentators, with some observers drawing parallels between the rule of Vladimir Putin and the old Soviet regime during the communist-era. But how accurate are these criticisms? Andrei P. Tsygankov writes that a particular narrative which views Russia as a ‘neo-Soviet autocracy’ has built up in western media sources. He argues that this narrative ignores the reality of Putin’s regime and serves simply to legitimise the identity of the United States and the American-led ‘free world’ relative to that of an ‘oppressive’ Russia.

Advocates of Western-style democracy frequently assert that Russia has built a neo-Soviet ‘autocratic’ political system with elements of totalitarianism. Struggling to understand the country’s transition from the USSR, Western media commonly describe Russia in terms of its fitting with the old pattern. Contemporary Russian politics is assessed not on the scale of how far it has gotten away from the Soviet Union, but, rather, how much Russia became a Soviet-like ‘one-party state’ driven by a ‘KGB mentality’ and dependent on the use of propaganda, ‘Cold War rhetoric’, and repressions against internal opposition in order to consolidate state power.

Surveying editorials in leading American newspapers, it is easy to be struck by the power of the neo-Soviet autocracy narrative. Violations, irregularities, and improvisations in Russia’s political life are now typically attributed by the U.S. media to the Kremlin’s fear of opposition and the overly centralised, non-accountable system of governance. more

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