Thursday, February 19, 2015

How Ukraine could resist hateful Russian propaganda

There is more than a bit of schizophrenia here. The Russian media are at pains to blame the United States, and President Barack Obama personally, both for the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine and for privations Russians are starting to suffer as their economy collapses. But it is also clear that the Vladimir Putin regime is bent on turning Ukrainians into scapegoats, or some kind of modern-day Jews. It is busy fomenting hatred for a people with very close religious, historical and cultural ties to Russians and for a country to whose capital Russia traces its own origins. Judging by what ordinary Russians now write on social media, it is succeeding splendidly.

Unfortunately, many Ukrainians seem to be falling into the same trap. Of course you can’t really blame them, considering what Putin is doing to their country. Still, if Ukrainians start hating Russia and things Russians, and rejecting everything that connects them to Russia, including cultural heritage and common history - both terrible and exalted - they will do exactly what the enemy propaganda machine wants them to do. And Putin should not be allowed to claim a victory in the hearts of Ukrainians any more than on the battlefields on Ukrainian soil.

On the contrary, Ukrainians should embrace everything that was good and heroic in their common history with Russia. Even in the Soviet past, undoubtedly one of the most tragic pages in any nation’s history, there were several very bright spots, including the struggle against Nazi Germany. During the late Soviet period, there was the dissident movement, which produced true heroes, such as human rights campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov.

Today, when Russia is once more hailing NKVD murders as heroes, when Stalin is being canonized by the Kremlin stooges in the Russian Orthodox Church, when critics of the regime are branded the Fifth Column and civic organizations are persecuted as foreign agents, Ukraine should claim Sakharov’s legacy of human rights and human dignity as its own - and it has an absolute right to do so. What the Ukrainian people are trying to do - to join the community of nations and to take their rightful place in the united Europe - is what Sakharov always hoped Russia would one day do. We may have to wait for this quite a bit longer, but if Ukraine succeeds, it will bring Russia’s eventual return to the community of nations a lot closer.

extracts; source -
Alexei Bayer: How Ukraine could resist hateful Russian propaganda

* * *

Labelling its opponents fascists is an old Soviet trick. Over the years, plenty of very different people have been called fascists by Soviet propaganda even when they had nothing to do with the fascist ideology.

Now, the Russian media claims that the “Kyiv Junta" with elected President Petro Poroshenko has joined this long and diverse list. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s television and state-owned media have dusted off World War II “fascisms” cliches as they report - ad nauseum, and to the exclusion of all other news, foreign or domestic - on latest developments in Ukraine.
Perhaps the Kremlin, in its zeal to fight fascists, should take a look closer at hand.
Many historians have noted the similarity between communism and fascism. Both ideologies took hold of mass consciousness during and immediately after World War I. Both can be seen as a reaction against modernity, against the new, emerging structure of society and its mind-boggling complexity.

For all their similarities, the two ideologies were quite different. Communism grew out of the Enlightenment and its belief in reason. Communists claimed that rational human beings could build a more rational society than the one that evolved naturally.
Communists were ardent believers in universal education and scientific progress. Their leaders wanted to be considered great thinkers. Lenin - who had been expelled from the Kazan University - was declared the most intelligent man who ever lived, the greatest philosopher in the history of the world whose brain would be studied by awe-struck future generations. Stalin - a religious school dropout - was hailed as a “Corypheus of all sciences” and a world-historical universal genius.
Fascism, on the other hand, was an anti-intellectual ideology. Even its early ideologues - themselves usually intellectuals and avant-garde artists - stressed its appeal to visceral emotions, not to the brain. Its categories were straightforward: homeland, family, power, unity, the enemy. Men were supposed to be strong, honest and manly, women kind, loving and faithful.

Initially, communism was not fixated on a leader figure - the masses were supposed to be led by the Communist Party, or by a collective bureaucracy. War is irrationational and producing arms is a waste of resources. Communism also persecuted aristocracy, religion and private business, whereas fascists sought to make use of those traditional institutions.

[after 1991] The field was suddenly clear for Russian nationalism, Orthodox obscurantism and nostalgia for the old greatness.
Russia now has a new, very popular and populist national leader. Not an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination, but a youthful, energetic, sexually active expert in judo, who, like Mussolini, is happy to bare a powerful torso at the first opportunity.
Completing the picture is a war in Ukraine, in which the virile, potent Russia, like Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy before it, confidently expects to kick the butt of those weak, divided, effeminate democratic states.

extracts; source -
Alexei Bayer: Building fascism

There is one special characteristic of the thug’s taunt: it has to hurt. So the point is to be as cynical as possible, to make fun of something other people take very seriously or hold dear. Tragedies involving others make the best targets. And so, early in his rule, Putin made great use of the sinking of “Kursk”, the Russian sub. In that tragedy, 118 sailors, officers and engineers died, and 23 of them could have been saved had Moscow accepted British and Norwegian help in time. When asked what happened to the sub, Putin famously quipped: “She sank.”

source: Alexei Bayer - Putin's guttersnipe behavior

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