Saturday, October 10, 2015

Don't Do As I Do, Do As I Say

Okay, so the best charge list against Russia's hilarious propaganda campaign for its Syria war goes like this:

- Russia makes up risibly poor and obvious excuses to justify attacking countries;

- In fact, Russia engages in multiple bullshit wars at once and tells major lies about its aims and actions in all of them; 

- It makes fraudulent claims about attacking "terrorists", while actually just attacking the enemies of the governments that it's propping up; 

- It drops dark hints that other states are backing terrorism and insinuates that anyone opposed to its aims is morally suspect;

- That the Russian President has abrogated the right to bomb anything and anyone he pleases without oversight, and that he publicly alludes to bizarre international conspiracies against his nation; 

- That Putin makes nonsensical pronouncements comparing himself to the Allies in World War II, and

- The Russian government has bamboozled the populace into supporting an idiotic war, by propaganda and fearmongering... 

...And that all of this is despicable and utterly unacceptable from a modern, theoretically democratic nation.

Well, shit.  No wonder the Americans are so pissed-off - Bad Vlad is giving away all the tricks of the trade, right out there for the world to see.

Anyway, let's have a few chuckles at some of the more humorous articles bemoaning Russian state propaganda recently.

Oh no!  Russian media is pumping out state propaganda, and most of the populace believes these lies are true!  Why, its TV coverage is all swooshing action infographics and repetition of government press releases!  Russian liberals and left-wingers have been cowed by a barrage of cretinous patriotic rah-rah and accusations of treason!  Domestic opposition to the war barely gets a reasonable hearing!

How could such a thing ever have happened!

And so on and on.  Credit is due to CNN, who at least have the dignity required to acknowledge certain historical resonances, but I'd say that the most pertinent point for UK-based observers of Russia's propaganda wheezes is this:

Putin at least has had to threaten, intimidate, ban and even murder his way through the Russian media class to impose this kind of sanctimonious, nonsensical, belligerent unity upon it.

In Britain, no such campaign has ever been necessary.


Unknown said...

Piece is right on, but 'abrogate' is not 'arrogate'.

flyingrodent said...

Good point, and not a typo this time - if you'd asked me before, I would've given you an utterly wrong definition.

ejh said...

This is Moral Equivalence, of course, but then again my problem with that concept has always been - its nasty, accusing tone aside - that it insists we make, as our assumption, what we would like to take as our conclusion. It insists that you don't compare, but frankly, brothers and sisters, everybody else in the world is going to be making these comparisons whether we like it or not. Aren't they?

flyingrodent said...

I'm assuming that the rules on Moral Equivalence have now been withdrawn, since the POTUS's press secretary was on this week warning Putin that his unbelievably stupid bombing campaign would inevitably lead to "reprisals" in Russia.

The mere suggestion that violence abroad invites violence at home is, of course, unacceptable. As you'll recall, such a statement implies that terrorists have no agency and are mere automata with no will of their own, only responding to the things that white people do. No doubt the ripe denunciations of the press secretary will commence any moment.

I have already been ticked off for the dreaded Equivalence re: Russia & ourselves, but as we're talking about propaganda rather than actual war, I'd like to think that it wouldn't apply here.

After all, if a person was to be reduced to claiming that our outrageous propaganda scams are morally superior to theirs, then it would surely be long past time for that person to shut the fuck up.

Metatone said...

It seems notable to me that the one area of equivalence the press have stayed away from so far is the economics. It's not so long ago that Russia was having large economic problems.

Yet, I haven't seen anyone ask "can Russia afford this military adventure?"

Probably because they are not the only ones with "austerity at home..."

organic cheeseboard said...

Off topic, but again I don't have anywhere else for this to go - saw on your Twitter and others' this lady on Question Time who'd voted Tory only to find that they are cutting her tax credits.

Couple of things:

1) Tories lying is the equivalent of bears shitting in woods, but all the same, it was surely really silly for the Tories to so clearly promise not to cut tax credits, only to do so immediately after the election. and Osborne has been wanking on to anyone who'd listen about how important it is to get your most cherished work done early in a parliamentary term, so you can only assume that cutting tax credits was an absolute Tory priority.

2) Whither all the 'George Osborne is a master strategist' stuff now? He's managed, somehow, to get the Sun to present the decision as if it were Cameron's, but they backed the 'emergency budget' with this in it at the time ffs. It's a massive gamble to cut the income of thousands, if not millions, and then tell them that all will be well in five years' time; it's also a massive gamble to sign into law something that prohibits you from borrowing. The hubris, even by Tory standards, is breathtaking.

3) Unlike others, I do feel sorry for this lady. Most people tend to only follow politics closely in the run-up to an election, otherwise doing so in passing. The election came at a time when people temporarily had a bit more cash than they had done for a while cos of a blip in oil prices, and the natural assumption to make is that this might have been down to an incumbent govt, and that things might continue in that way, especially when that govt specifically says they won't touch tax credits - I notice that the lady said that she voted for them because of the Long Term Economic Plan.

4) This is a bit like 2), but still - a strategy of deliberately concealing your plans and then defending them in a pisspoor manner once their nature is revealed isn't really a good idea in the longer term.

Anonymous said...

When some commentators say that Osborne is a master strategist I think they mean he is good at this kind of deception.


flyingrodent said...

OC: I've just put a post up addressing a couple of these points.

On Osborne's nutty master plan: I think he feels entirely secure in doing more or less whatever he likes, because he thinks that nobody will hold him to account for it. Given the current state of political discourse in Britain, he's probably right about that.