This Is Not a Pipe

What haven’t the overwhelming majority of Russians been conditioned to swallow?

Watching the misery that’s playing out in Ukraine from the secure safety of the soft West, we shouldn’t be astounded that some high percentile of Russians, oh, probably about 97% of them, have wholeheartedly ingested obvious lies that would’ve convinced American TV viewers that Tommy Flanagan and Joe Isuzu were the most honest characters in sketch comedy and advertising, respectively.

The Russia Vladimir Putin hopes anchors a revived Soviet Union by bullying former vassal republics to rejoin, has done yeoman service of allowing the least amount of truth entry into his nation during its Ukraine invasion. Of course Russian history and the submissive nature of those living on its landmass after an epoch of repression and suppression eased present-day heels on residents’ awareness.

Think of the common Russian’s brain as a mule’s behind. The man-on-the-street Russian, not the brilliant intellectuals who can dazzle us by illuminating murk. Or bother making us contemplate what’s revealed. See the average Russian as some lumpen prole who before the invasion of Ukraine might daydream of buying an item bearing a Western designer label. He’s a fellow who numbs his conveyor belt life in greasy vodka. Or maybe she’s a woman who considers herself attractive enough to possibly rise from what we’d call “tenement straits” and transform herself into a hard-currency prostitute.

Beat a mule often enough, hard enough, and despite its renowned stubbornness, the beast will comply to fulfill the most arduous tasks its master can devise. Learning that obedience should lessen the blows against its flanks, the animal can become somewhat obliging.

Then let’s liken most Russians to mules, shall we?

Since the earliest czars Russians have borne the deep bruises of arbitrary authority. That’s been further beaten into them by the unquestioning insisted upon by the Russian Orthodox Church. But what organized religion doesn’t narcotize its flocks in similar fashion? On this Lenin was correct about the masses.

Surely not during the soviet era, but post-communist opportunists sensed they could better exploit their pliable countrymen through the baldest-faced appeals to faith. Indeed, Murderous Vlad lavished sums to restore and improve previously neglected Orthodox churches and sites. His grin-and-grips with high religious figures have burnished both. The splendiferously garbed patriarchs receive the state’s imprimatur. Amazing how a little prayer mumbling and candle lighting in a cathedral can make the faithful believe a sly apostate shares their devotion. Paying lip service to “the Russian soul,” Murderous Vlad lightens his authoritarian image. Or makes those insidious horrors possible under his harsh impish surface more palatable.

One thing the czars, communists, and the church all agreed upon: making Russians live on their knees. Whether their servility was to crown, state or patriarch immaterial.

Murderous Vlad’s excesses and cruelties come across as done for the nation. Him. He’s the nation. Never for the people. And the people never make that distinction. After all, the monster harkens for a restoration of the Soviet Union. If memory serves, only a rarefied few benefited from that entity’s “grandeur.” None of them were jus’ plain folks.

Finding favor in his utter lack of humanity, notable Western right-wingers idolize Murderous Vlad. Talk about a peculiar acquired taste.

Those small bitter people, overwhelmingly weak insecure men, respect how he barrels across the world stage. Repellant as those of us with consciences find the Russian president, they see his conduct worthy of emulation.

Their dispositions match, yes. But both come to the same point from polar ends. Could his fan club see Murderous Vlad objectively, they’d know him as an adversary.

Nonetheless weaklings see him behaving as “a white man should.” And without a doubt, Western right-wingers, reactionaries, little men who badly cloak their xenophobia, corrosive tribalism, and racism behind nationalism would readily heave expansive liberalism and universal tolerance overboard if they too could impose the same sort of stultification on the rest of us who won’t comport ourselves to their crushing order.

Murderous Vlad’s idolizers want to be him. They want us to become Russians.

Russians can only dream of the West’s free, lively, loosely-reined press or similarly less inhibited forums. That is if they still may dream.

As long as there have been Russians, they’ve been deceived. Ignorant from the jump, long-lived serfdom mashed them. If the Enlightenment ever reached Russia, it never penetrated far or deep.

From czarist times through soviet rule until April 2022, Russian hierarchy via iterations of internal security apparatuses have fairly collectivized the citizenry’s thinking. From the czar’s Ohkrana (the fiends who conjured The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, one of the most acidic antisemitic tracts ever circulated), the Cheka, NKVD, KGB, and today’s FSB, the Western notion of widespread, open, free expression in Russia has been smothered in its crib. More insidious, though, is the apparent success Russian leaders have thwarted thought.

Whatever may or might be deemed contrary must be internalized within the self. Then buried there.

Akin to the old days, no deviation may be permitted from what those above have approved. Left to its various rulers and their ideologies, dissent would’ve been eradicated from any Russian having ever known about such. Joseph Stalin and George Orwell would’ve recognized this desire. Only the tyrant would’ve approved. If possible by a séance. That’s whose approval Murderous Vlad seeks.

Orwell would certainly appreciate of how the Russians have perverted what passes as “news.” Or “information.”

Appreciate should not be misread as admire. Orwell would abhor the airwaves being a tool to mislead a populace into its own subjugation. Joseph Goebbels, however, would admire, if not downright envy, the level of misinformation which further misguides the Russian people. It’s turned them into bigger puppets than his own Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment ever did to post-Weimar and wartime Germans.

In Russia, pernicious lies are incessantly drummed into gullible audiences through state-controlled outlets. They are absorbed by viewers from whom every shred of healthy skepticism has been bled. Don’t let that description reflexively remind any who’ve read 1984. Instead, it’d be the BBC if the purpose of that body served as an illiberal organ to deliver doses of twisted news.

See it like this, though – on our side of the Atlantic, Russian-style broadcasts could be an aspirational goal of Fox News.