Originally posted on what's left:
Two Lectures to the Unifor-McMaster University Labour Studies Program, Oct-Nov, 2014
I became interested in foreign policy in 1999, when Canada joined the 3-month long air war on the former Yugoslavia. What interested me was that Canada had abandoned what I, at the time, believed was its traditional peace-keeping role for a role of waging war in cooperation with the United States and other NATO powers against a country that posed no threat whatever to Canada, or its allies. I followed the war very closely and considered the reasons politicians and people in the media said the war needed to be fought, and the reasons didn’t make a lot of sense to me.
So I started to look at critical analyses of the reasons that had been offered for why the war was being waged, and those analyses demonstrated in a very convincing way that…
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Pravda was the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It began publication in 1912, but was suppressed by the Tsar, and then by the short-lived bourgeois government, until the Bolsheviks took power during the October Revolution of 1917. Pravda means “truth” in Russian and despite the ravings of bourgeois and imperialist scum, it really was the truth. It reported the news and statements of communist party leaders. It conveyed the party’s official position on any given situation or event to all members of the party throughout the Soviet Union.
Bourgeois pundits continue to chuckle with smug satisfaction when accusing Pravda of being Soviet propaganda, which of course it was in the original and untainted sense of the word (political pronouncements and persuasion), but they continue to maintain that it was misinformation. George McGovern, the former CIA analyst who appears fairly regularly on RT, consistently brings up Pravda and mocks it by claiming it was poor propaganda and that, according to him, everyone knew it wasn’t true. Americans, on the other hand, are in a worse state because they actually believe the false propaganda perpetrated by the media organs of U.S. elites, he goes on to add; that much at least is true. As Grover Furr, an expert on the Soviet Union, recently replied to me, whether or not something is widely believed has no bearing on whether or not it is true, but in his opinion Pravda was widely believed to be telling the truth by party members even toward the end of the USSR in the late 80’s and early 90’s. In addition, Pravda indeed might have been considered poor propaganda in the sense that it could, according to journalists Andre Vltchek, Gaither Stewart and others, make for incredibly dry reading that apparently did not rouse the public outside of faithful party members.
In the words of Mr. Vltchek:
“East European propaganda was clumsy, compared to elaborate Western one … It was just repeating again and again, mechanically, what was actually the truth. So people got fed up and instead turned towards those colourful and well-packaged lies produced by Western propaganda.”
There was, in fact, a big difference between Pravda and the recently dubbed “Pravda of the Potomac” (Washington Post) and other U.S. organs such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Pravda was telling the truth and did not lie through journalistic acts of either commission or omission. Pravda did not package or brand itself in an exciting Western fashion, but it simply told the plain, hard truth. It has been said that truth is stranger than fiction. It is an interesting phrase, but whether or not it is actually the case, depending on your point of view, strange certainly doesn’t seem to be synonymous with either exciting or alluring.
Deconstructing American propaganda is just too easy. I will simply underline the most outlandish portions below of the WSJ’s editorial of November 14 with brief comments followed in brackets. You should get ready for a lot of instances of projection and “flipping the script” or what I like to call, “I know you are, but what am I?” Traditionally, the CIA has been responsible for planting stories (media operations/propaganda/psychological warfare) in foreign as well as domestic media. It’s a
near certainty that one or more editors of the Wall Street Journal are connected to U.S. intelligence. – PC
Russia Today, the Kremlin’s English-language TV organ [“organ” implies something ideologically and politically charged and thus subjective at best or lying at worst], launched a U.K. edition earlier this month. Headquartered near Westminster, the channel will beam RT’s signature blend of propaganda and tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorizing [mockery and the tried-and-true charge of “conspiracy”] into millions of British homes.
Welcome to Vladimir Putin’s disinformation matrix [projection/”flipping the script”]. RT is merely one part of the Kremlin’s [these will begin to add up] aggressive media effort, as a new Institute of Modern Russia report shows. Other techniques include mobilizing thousands of online “trolls,” [an increasingly popular charge against any online dissension] cultivating sympathetic political cranks [projection] abroad, and exploiting [major projection; no one exploits quite like the U.S.] Western freedom of speech and the Western model of public diplomacy [this is what they used to openly call “propaganda” and more recently “public relations”] to advance Moscow’s illiberal aims [illiberal, my goodness, that’s really bad, right?]
Founded in 2005, RT has an estimated $300 million budget, according to Institute of Modern Russia authors Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss. It broadcasts in English, Arabic and Spanish, and there are plans to expand into French and German, the authors say. “The channel can now reach 600 million people globally and 3 million hotel rooms across the world,” Messrs. Pomerantsev and Weiss write. RT says its content has received a billion views on YouTube, making it one of the video platform’s most-watched channels.
Unlike Kremlin propaganda [both of these highly charged terms back-to-back, oh my!] during the Cold War, which at least strived for communist consistency, RT is ideologically promiscuous and “hybridic,” the authors say. The channel might feature a far-right Holocaust denier opining on the Middle East and the next minute invite a far-left British MP to discuss Ukraine. “Whereas the Soviets once co-opted [a U.S. soft power specialty; again, projection] and repurposed concepts such as ‘democracy,’ ‘human rights’ and ‘sovereignty’ to mask their opposites [projection; “I know you are, but what am I?”] the Putinists use them playfully to suggest that not even the West really believes them.” The point is rarely to persuade. It is to muddle and confuse [yes, getting Americans, especially, to think could be confusing for them].
The impact of such efforts in large and diverse media markets, such as the U.S. and the U.K., is questionable. In America, Britain, France and Germany, Russian propagandists must compete with dozens of other print, broadcast and digital outlets. RT segments and Web content on how former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz planned 9/11 or how the U.S. created Ebola [I found no evidence that RT posited either of these charges, but nothing is beyond the pale when it comes to the U.S. ruling class] are self-discrediting, though they will always find some credulous viewers.
Vulnerable states on Europe’s eastern periphery and in the South Caucasus are a different matter. Kremlin voices can play an outsize role there in tilting public opinion Mr. Putin’s way. By quickly framing Ukraine’s pro-democracy uprising as a “Nazi” [it has been described by numerous guests on RT as neo-Nazi, which it is without a doubt] movement, Moscow put Kiev on the defensive, forcing the Ukrainian government to expend enormous efforts to rebut that smear among ethnic-Russian citizens. As Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said in March, “Russia Today’s propaganda [there’s that word again] machine is no less destructive than military marching in Crimea.”
Propaganda [and again] is closely integrated with the Kremlin’s [and this word once again] model of ambiguous warfare, which relies on rapid action, covert troops, the creation of a digital fog of war, and inflaming ethnic and sectarian tensions. Western governments shouldn’t overreact to RT’s presence in the West. But they can take the opportunity to revamp and modernize their own public diplomacy [there’s that term again], targeting ethnic-Russian audiences to ensure that accurate reporting stands a chance amid the blizzard of Moscow’s lies [Washington and Wall Street are the origin of a shitstorm of lies].
Look how many times these terms were mentioned: Kremlin = 5; Propaganda/Propagandist = 5 – PC