What a time to be alive, eh? Not only is there a pandemic killing waves of people daily, now there’s a fucking war in Europe? Involving a nuclear power? Over the last week or more, it has been quite eye-opening to watch the Western war propaganda machine whirr into action so effortlessly. But, of course, I have to state before I go any further that Vladimir Putin is a horrible man. The way discourse works in Western circles is that everything exists in binaries: this or that. So, if I levy a critique against the United States or ask why NATO exists in a post-Soviet world, I will immediately be condemned as supporting Putin. It could never be that we’re watching the horrible results of capitalism and imperialism play out and that the only people we should stand in solidarity with are, you know, people, not governments.
It’s most amusing/disheartening to see people I once admired, both those I read from afar and those I know personally, swallowing the Russophobic rhetoric. For example, just this morning, I saw a former college professor, who I would say was one of the strongest influences in my entire life regarding how I perceive the world, tweeting bullshit about Coke still selling its product in Russia. Yet, I have never seen this same person call for Coke to be pulled from the shelves in Israel over the Palestinian genocide. Ultimately, I feel so disappointed that people I believed to be smarter than this fell for it so easily. It truly speaks to the effectiveness of Western propaganda that they can cause people to push aside all sense and fundamental material analysis to just join in bandwagon thinking.
If you really sit and think on this one particular piece of propaganda, it speaks to the heart of the Western mind. What is one of the most horrific things you could imagine being visited on your nation? That Coke wouldn’t be sold in your stores. I say this as someone with an unhealthy addiction to caffeinated, carbonated beverages; if Coke suddenly wasn’t available in stores for me, I would move on with my life. Yeah, it would suck, but so what? So much in life sucks as it is. It also points to how woefully unprepared the Western world is for the coming food collapse due to the climate catastrophe. A day is coming, sooner rather than later, where nobody will have Coke on their shelves, much less many more essential things.
This same academic also voiced support for the idea of enforcing a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine. Based on the name alone, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but no one asks who will enforce it? Or seek to simply search the effectiveness of no-fly zones in previous conflicts. It’s a relatively new concept, first implemented in the 1990s, and placing a no-fly zone over Ukraine against a nuclear power would be a disastrous decision for the Ukrainian people and Europe as a whole. The sanctions are also foolish, and there’s no evidence to show US imposed sanctions have ever done anything beyond harming poor and working-class people in the countries they hit. The leadership always has ways to keep their lifestyles supported, but going after those loopholes would mean hurting our rich people, so we won’t be doing that.
I also think the call for the Russian people to do something about this is absolutely absurd. In America, we are constantly sold the idea that Russia is a dystopia ruled over by a brutal dictator. If this is true, how the hell are people protesting en masse going to change anything? Decades of protest in Russia have shown people being hauled off, disappeared, or sent to prison. I would never ask a person from another nation to potentially orphan their children and widow their spouse for anything. To make that sacrifice is a decision only that person can make, not any one of us. Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul posted a (now deleted) tweet this week essentially condemning Russian citizens for not mass suiciding themselves via violent protest to stop Putin. If the people of Russia have this much power, are they free or not?
These contradictions are rife in Western media. Right now, I am looking over headlines that simultaneously tell me the Ukrainian people are suffering and need help but also that the Russian military is woefully failing at taking the cities or making any progress in the country. There will never be progress as long as we talk about supporting nations and governments in this discourse. These man-made constructs only seek to divide us from each other. The media will often distort the support of people with a hatred of another group, failing to acknowledge the problem lies not with the people but with governments and institutions. You can despise the Israeli government and not be anti-semitic; you support the Palestinian people’s right to exist. The problems in this current conflict are not Russian people, Ukrainian people, any regular poor or working people. In this story, the “bad guys” are Putin, and his government, NATO, right-wing/fascist orgs that exist in all countries involved, weapons manufacturers, war-mongering media, and pretty much every world leader save very few. These institutions seek to exploit us, manipulating our thinking and manufacturing our consent to keep it going in perpetuity. The US and its corporate oligarchs were giddy over the cancellation of the Nordstream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia because it means great expansion of Western hegemony and their oil cartels.
Only one war is worth fighting, class war, and we are so woefully far from that I don’t hold out much hope for humanity in my lifetime. Those in power control the media and, in turn, often have financial ties with those who build weapons and profit from war. It is in their best interest to sell war to you as good and fundamental. It is effortless to cheer, especially if you live in isolated North America, far from the theaters of war in Asia, Africa, and now Europe. You have the comfort of doing it from a distance. We’re living at the end of a particular world order, one that began around the end of the Second World War. A recent YouGov/Economist poll found 55% of Americans think Russia is communist or socialist. This, to me, shows how regressive American thinking is; because of the effectiveness of Red Scare propaganda, my countrymen and women are still living in the Cold War. Russia is as capitalist as they come; Putin is a rabid anti-communist who uses the rhetoric of nostalgia from time to time to gin up support in his country. Yet, if you look at his actions, they are those of your typical Western imperialist. America helped shape post-Soviet Russia, and reading up on the psychotic injection of capitalism they experienced in the 1990s is incredibly eye-opening.
I look around at the world, how those in power ignore the masses crying out in pain and take no action to help them, and feel very dismal about the immediate future. I hope that by our current archaic world order ending, we might have some glimmers of hope in what comes next. It should never be forgotten that these times of transition are ripe for fascist power grabs. Liberal lackadaisical attitudes often leave the door open to these fascist orgs. We’re told that if we just let the machine of capitalism run, everything will work out fine. Now we are left with the question of which will destroy us first: our ignorance & petty hatred or the climate we have twisted & warped?