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Wednesday, June 22nd 2016
“The new propagandists who dominated the Russian media were formed by the experience of the trauma of the 1990s and the loss of the certainties of the Soviet past,” wrote Russian journalist Andrey Arkhangelskiy, affiliated with the Carnegie Moscow Center in an essay, “Out From the Underground: Russia’s New Propagandists,” that appeared on the StopFake.org website on June 14, 2016. “Their ideology is a fusion of Soviet and imperial Russian ideas. Its chief intellectual weakness is that it must link Russian success to the failure of the West and democracy,” he added. Here are more insights:
- For the last two years, propaganda in the Russian media has been much more aggressive and nationalistic.
- Yet it has failed in its primary objective — changing the outside world. In the West, with its pluralistic social culture, people regard even radical rhetoric as just one of many viewpoints.
- In Russia, with its state monopoly on the media, the propaganda — largely presented by a group of divided and embittered Soviet-era intellectuals — has made the public neurotic.
- Russian media propaganda finally morphed into its current form in March-April 2014, at the height of the Crimea crisis. The new propaganda machine is led by a pack of 40–50 television and radio show hosts and resident experts who drift from one channel to another . . . . This propaganda does more to reject “foreign values” than to affirm any of its own.
- They are united by common indignation at the existing world order.
- . . . the Yeltsin era of the 1990s spelled destitution for most Soviet intellectuals, so they were quick to blame Western democracy for the loss of their salaries and social benefits. Even those who have seen life in the West while working, vacationing, or living there don’t accept Western values. This circle is especially intolerant of the word “tolerance.”
- The old Soviet ideology, which shaped the consciousness of the television experts, was grounded in Marxist-Leninist philosophy. . . . . Any fact or event — even if it dated back to antiquity — could be neatly interpreted from the standpoint of the class struggle.
- Today’s propagandists piece together a concoction of disparate and contradictory Soviet and imperial myths, conspiracy theories, and ideas from both extreme right and left.
- . . . the propaganda machine has gotten itself caught in an intellectual trap by directly linking Russia’s greatness to the failure of the West and of democracy. The talking heads must constantly look for evidence to demonstrate this failure. Terrorist attacks, the refugee crisis, or simply a blizzard in Virginia are labeled as “the beginning of the end of Western civilization.” Democracy is derided as juvenile, humankind’s temporary insanity, since its “weakness” also stands in our way of demonstrating our maturity, courage, and resiliency to the world.
- Another major argument the propagandists love to fall back on is that of the “age-old confrontation” between Russia and the West. This idea is grounded in nineteenth-century conservatism and the Soviet model of the “confrontation between two systems,” which gave rise to the idea that “the West has always wanted to destroy us, and we have always been at war with the West.”
- At present, Russia’s propagandists are passing on their phobias to us through their endless television shows, which in fact tell us less about America and the West than they reveal the dark alleys of their own consciousness.
Hat tip: Joel Harding, To Inform is to Influence