Friday, July 18, 2014

PUTIN WANNABES IN THE U.S.A.

David Remnick recently spoke to Gleb Pavlovsky, a onetime Soviet dissident who was later rehabilitated and became a spin doctor for Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. On The New Yorker's website, Remnick recounts their conversation, which focused on Putin's rabble-rousing and its consequences. As you read this excerpt, think about America's right-wing rabble-rousers -- they're not the propaganda wing of a dictatorship, but, in many ways, the messages they send resemble what's transmitted in the Putin-controlled media.
When I met Pavlovsky in Moscow a couple of weeks ago, he seemed especially concerned about the lack of strategic thinking by Putin, and about the consequences of the feverish anti-Ukrainian, anti-American, and generally xenophobic programming on state television, from which nearly all Russians derive their news and their sense of what is going on in the world....

Since returning to the Presidency, Pavlovsky said, Putin has "created an artificial situation in which a 'pathological minority' -- the protesters on Bolotnaya Square [two years ago], then Pussy Riot, then the liberal 'pedophiles' -- is held up in contrast to a 'healthy majority.' Every time this happens, his ratings go up." The nightly television broadcasts from Ukraine, so full of wild exaggeration about Ukrainian "fascists" and mass carnage, are a Kremlin-produced "spectacle," he said, expertly crafted by the heads of the main state networks.

"Now this has become a problem for Putin, because this system cannot be wholly managed," Pavlovsky said. The news programs have "overheated" public opinion and the collective political imagination.

"How can Putin really manage this?" Pavlovsky went on. "You'd need to be an amazing conductor. Stalin was an amazing conductor in this way. Putin can't quite pull off this trick. The audience is warmed up and ready to go; it is wound up and waiting for more and more conflict. You can't just say, 'Calm down.' It's a dangerous moment. Today, forty per cent of Russia wants real war with Ukraine. Putin himself doesn't want war with Ukraine. But people are responding to this media machine. Putin needs to lower the temperature."
Think of Fox News, talk radio, the Alex Jones media empire, or the speeches of Wayne LaPierre. Does what Pavlovsky describes sound familiar? Propaganda declaring that a "healthy majority" is being oppressed by a "pathological minority"? (In America, perhaps the specific number is 47%.) The focus on one set of Enemies of the People after another?

There are huge differences between Russia and America, of course. We don't have a one-party Putinite government. We have free speech, so this kind of propaganda genuinely competes with other messages. Circumstances would have to change dramatically for America to become like Putin's Russia.

However, in a few pockets of angry red America, where the right really does seem to dominate the transmission of news, you get hints of what Putin has created. You get the armed standoff at the Bundy ranch. You get mobs blocking buses full of immigrant mothers and children in Murrieta, California.

America is too ideologically diverse to be like Putin's Russia. But we seem to have a state within a state that is Putinesque -- one in which, as Remnick writes, "The news programs have 'overheated' public opinion and the collective political imagination," and the anger of the populace has become unquenchable. Here, at least, that just means those people won't coexist or compromise with the rest of us. It's better than what's going on in Russia, but it's absolutely not healthy.

4 comments:

Victor said...

"Circumstances would have to change dramatically for America to become like Putin's Russia."

I disagree, Steve.

It won't be that dramatic. All it will take is a Republican President with a Republican dominated Congress - they currently already have a lot of the Federal Courts, and definitely the SCOTUS (as it's presently constituted).

It's interesting to me to see the changes from the days of the old USSR.
Back then, people were cynical about every bit of media news and info that they got - they knew it was all propaganda distributed by the Communist Party.

Now, it seems, since the USSR fell, and they got a taste of some different kinds of media reporting than back in the bad old days - before Putin ground down (and killed) a lot of media people, especially reporters/journalists - they think that their media is freer than before.

Putin is no Stalin - largely because Stalin was an absolute murderous tyrant, and Putin is just a vicious ex-KGB control freak.

And, having had a taste of some kinds of freedom for a short period of time, the people would never put up with Stalin's midnight knocks on the door, torture, and a bullet behind the ear after a "Show Trial."

Putin's a kinder, gentler tyrant. He kills journalists, sure - but he doesn't go after EVERYONE he suspects is disloyal to him.

Maybe this is too subtle a difference for Americans who either don't have families that came from countries back in the USSR, or who aren't interested in history.

Them's my $0.02 worth.

oc democrat said...

"Think of Fox News, talk radio, the Alex Jones media empire, or the speeches of Wayne LaPierre. Does what Pavlovsky describes sound familiar? Propaganda declaring that a "healthy majority" is being oppressed by a "pathological minority"? (In America, perhaps the specific number is 47%.) The focus on one set of Enemies of the People after another?"


The above quote has been the Conservative narrative for over 30 years( since ST. RONNIE) only The OTHERS change over time.


I have always considered the Republican party the ME Party, with the majority of their bills and actions for a "select group" of citizens, the ME. Back in St. Ronnie's day, their priorities were summed up in a clever saying regarding "not in my bedroom(pajamas?) and something else. I have a good feeling that
Victor will know this saying by his memory; I am only a couple of years older at 62.

The Democratic Party's philosophy
in my lifetime has been about "WE", bills affecting a Majority, or great plurality, of our citizens.

The Republican Party has been pulling the same publicity BS for the last 30+ years as Putin is today. You rally the lowest common denominator( Ukrainians of Russian descent) and get them to think they are helping their country. Today, it is "illegal,undocumented, whatever" immigrants crossing over OUR borders. The MEs, and that is what they think they are, no matter how they came to America, don't want WEs "invading Their country.

Who gave OUR country to Them, and I am talking about OUR Bedrooms,and
the way MY country treats others.
For the MORAL LIGHT of the world, these Republican Leaders are putting on a pretty disgusting show of what the MEs think OUR country stands for. I don't think that is the country WE think America is.

One final blast:

How many refugees have the Middle Eastern countries had to absorb, and how many immigrants are Americans being asked to deal with.

So there is NO confusion, I still( is that allowed in Conservative circles) LOVE my country, but My country is NOT the same country I grew up in.

From a 62 year old LIBERAL!

daphne said...

oh gawd: Pavlovsky's dog.

Doug Gemmell said...

“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
--Right Wing Media