I watched the latter part of a 2007 documentary called For God, Tsar and Fatherland. It’s a tragic story of how people give up on democracy in favor of religiously-based ultranationalism at a drug and alcohol treatment center called Durakovo. They want a new Stalin, minus the atheism. Granted, it’s just one strand of ultranationalism, and its leader, Mikhail Fyodorovich Morozov, is hardly likely to be the next tsar.
And yet, how similar is what happens at Durakovo’s treatment center is to what goes on in the United States. Democracy–real democracy–is a very powerful idea. It is based on the concept that violence and injustice are based in the imbalance of power between people. By asserting the existence of basic human rights, we greatly diminish that imbalance. While the inequities that remain are enormous and growing, the fundamental logic of the democratic system is obvious. And yet, Americans increasingly have contempt for elected officials and do not vote. They reject science in favor of superstition. Academics and specialists are rejected in favor of demagogues. The Congress no longer tries to exercise its legitimate powers of limiting the Executive in war and overseeing the conduct of expenditures, but squanders its influence on hacking away at any remaining tendrils of liberty. The economic system is becoming so concentrated that many markets do not function properly. The economy is becoming the same sort of centralized system of planning that made the Soviet Union so inefficient. In short, the U.S. is becoming anti-democratic in just the same way that Russian ultra-nationalists are. We have started to give up on the promise of democracy.
And now, two articles from The Consortium add weight to these concerns. Maidhc Ó Cathail reports how the US government, a think tank funded by a Russian plutocratic rival of President Vladimir Putin, and a neoconservative successor to The Project for a New American Century called Foreign Policy Initiative, combined in a presentation attacking Russia titled “The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture, and Money.” Granting that there is a lot of delusional thinking in Russia, as documented by For God, Tsar and Fatherland, the real sense of unreality arises from how neoconservatives manufacture enemies out of thin air.
And, as Parry notes in a second article:
major news outlets, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, continue to be little more than propaganda megaphones for the hawks in the State Department and the ever-influential neoconservatives.
For instance, on Wednesday, the Post’s neocon editors published a lead editorial aimed at both Putin and President Barack Obama with what you might call neocon trash-talking. In the Post’s print edition, the sneering headline was “The ‘invincible’ Mr. Putin. With no new pressure from the West, the Kremlin acts as if it has nothing to fear.” The online title was even more direct: “Prove to Mr. Putin that he is not ‘invincible.’”
There is a fusion between the US government and the billionaires that fund think tanks in a neoconservative movement that very much resembles the Russian ultranationalists. Throw in a the John Hagees of the “Christian” right, and you have a movement essentially identical to Morozov’s. Except for one thing. Morozov’s acolytes are at least correct in thinking that the West is against them. The United States has no excuse for turning all the world into enemies.