I Wish Trump Was a Russian Puppet

The Huffington Post, known for its great journalism (sarcasm), has been publishing total bullshit lately (not sarcasm) on Russia.

Let’s break this down though, because it’s mostly been just two journalists: Nick Robins-Early and David Wood.

They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, but they’re certainly determined to make sure that everyone hears their ignorant opinions.

Nick Robins-Early wrote this piece, where he said that the photo is banned, which isn’t true, but rather the photo with the homophobic comment is banned. In this situation, I actually support the Russian government.

I’d like the Russian government to do more to ban homophobic language on the internet. I don’t think it does enough.

Then there’s this:

Which asks the important (sarcasm) question, why does Russia support the government of Syria? It fails to ask the important question, why doesn’t everybody? Why the fuck is Trump bombing Shayrat Airbase and groups fighting alongside the Syrian government?

 

Robins-Early also wrote this.

Which is all about poor Navalny (sarcasm) who was sentenced to jail for his bullshit. Navalny is considered to be an oppositionist in Russia, so he receives infinite support from the West. The thing that no one tells you is that Putin is to the left of Navalny, who was fond of describing Georgians as sub-human during the Russian-Georgian War in 2008.

And the Huffington Post saw fit to publish this little number by David Wood that argues that Russia is trying to start a war with the U.S. (and not the other way around)! What reality are these people living in where Russia is the aggressor when the U.S. is bombing an airbase that Russia uses? Can we imagine if the opposite had occurred?

Finally, after Tillerson’s meeting with Lavrov, Putin said that the relationship with the U.S. has deteriorated – is this not significant?

And the Huffington Post was there to report it (or at least steal it from Reuters).

This is insanity.

Meanwhile, this is the same outlet that was practically screaming that Trump was a Russian agent, personally placed (or blackmailed) into the position of president by Putin himself.

The current spat between the U$ media apparatus and the new regime demonstrates the silver lining in the ascendancy of Trump. The rupture between prototypical American institutions opens a space for exploitation. In other words, because Donald Trump is a huge idiot, he won’t be able to totally consolidate his power if he continues to attack corporate media. This means that here, for the first time, we may see the U$ population begin to genuinely question the functioning of the Amerikkkan state.

If this dumbass can be president, then clearly there’s a problem!

This is exactly what I wrote about on the day after Trump was announced the winner of the election. This is the silver lining. This is the benefit of Trump. If we use this as an opportunity to radicalize liberals and to use theory as a weapon, we can utterly transform the empire.

Trump’s open mocking of the apparently “timeless” values and mainstays of the U$ government have created a space in which everything is up for grabs. NATO, the border, and even liberal democracy itself are all under scrutiny by everyone on the political spectrum (finally) and if we take control of the narrative, we can present reality as it is.

Why do we have NATO? Why do we need a border? What is liberal democracy, anyway?

In other ways, it seems to me like Trump might be able to successfully delegitimize the whole system. My job is much easier in arguing that the state is racist, imperialist, and patriarchal with that 70-year-old walking lobotomy in charge of things. Capitalism in its most exploitative and destructive form is running around, unmasked.

Politicians are the best at making me want to punch old people.

If Trump refuses to go along with the general program, there’s also a chance that the media won’t immediately fall into line on all future policies.

In 2002, when Bush wanted to hype up for the invasion of Iraq, every media outlet in the U$ was unbelievably fast at falling in line. The same thing happened with Obama in Libya and Syria after that. When media conglomerates and the government play footsie, there’s no method to challenging the dominant narrative.

Back to Trump.

If Trump was a Russian puppet, we could at least guarantee a few things: there would be a de-escalation of war between the U$ and Russia, which would ease tensions between the U$ and Syria, the U$ and North Korea, the U$ and China…

Listen, I absolutely hate Vladimir Vladimirovich. He’s a terrible reactionary capitalist, but he’s certainly not pulling the strings.

If Trump was a Russian puppet, things would undoubtedly be better. This is particularly obvious when you consider the fact that Putin isn’t a total fucking moron.

Donald Trump can't read this, yet he's afraid of it

“Donald Trump can’t read this, but he’s still scared of it.”

 

Caveat: Any liberal criticism of Trump will dissipate in the event of a terrorist attack. Well, any terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims. If any terrorist attack by white people occurs, it’ll barely get coverage.

But if any Muslim even hurts a white person (the media doesn’t care about Chican@s and Black people), then the media, along with the other liberals, will immediately goose-step back into line and President Literal-Cartoon-Villain will have all the power in the world.

The Meaning of Dzerzhinsky

Felix Dzerzhinsky is a forgotten figure in the West. However, in the Post-Soviet space, his memory is alive and well.

dzerzhinskyDzerzhinsky was born in 1877 in present-day Belarus. He became a member of the Bolshevik Party in 1917, directly after being released from prison in Moscow.

He went on to become the leader of the Cheka (ЧК), the secret police for the burgeoning Soviet Union, and held various synonymous positions until his death in 1926.

So why is he important today?

For the past few years, the Russian government has been weighing its options in returning the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky to its former position in front of the Lubyanka building in Moscow. (Although, it should be noted that the most recent referendum was called off.) And a division of the Russian National Guards was renamed in 2014 and is now called the Dzerzhinsky Division (Дивизия имени Дзержинского), mirroring the name of an old Soviet division.

Dzerzhinsky was, first and foremost, a Bolshevik. He was one of the leading figures of the October Revolution and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. So it might be pertinent to ask why he is now being rehabilitated inside the Russian Federation.

After all, in 1991, as the USSR was being torn asunder by internal and external forces, Dzerzhinsky’s statue (lovingly nicknamed “Iron Felix”) was torn down.iron-felix-1991

Dzerzhinsky had become, in death, a symbol for all future Soviet state security forces. Under him, the Cheka became the GPU. After his death however, the GPU would become Stalin’s NKVD and the post-Stalin KGB.

The meaning of his name was inextricably tied to state violence and repression, regardless of whether he was associated with it or not.

The meaning of Dzerzhinsky almost immediately after his death took on a life of its own.

Today, in the Russian Federation, Dzerzhinsky is remembered with all sorts of Stalinist decorations. All of this in spite of the fact that Dzerzhinsky died right as Stalin was taking power.

Dzerzhinsky cared most about the unity of the communist party facing the capitalist/counterrevolutionary forces. That is why he made a two-hour-long speech against the United Opposition, after which he immediately died from a heart attack.

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Probably the only picture you’ll find of Trotsky and Stalin together – carrying Dzerzhinsky’s coffin.

What does it tell us that during this renewed period of lionizing Dzerzhinsky and re-accepting his Stalinized image into popular culture, the Russian government continues to repress Lenin?

How is it that Dzerzhinsky has become so totally de-Leninized? Dzerzhinsky no longer stands for revolution (or even revolutionary terror), but rather as some sort of acceptable stand-in for the later “stability” of the Stalin era.

Can we imagine Lenin without Dzerzhinsky? Can we imagine Dzerzhinsky beyond Lenin?

At the moment that talk emerges of re-erecting Iron Felix, the Russian press is also talking about removing Lenin from his mausoleum and burying him, insisting that the majority of Russians want him buried.

The rehabilitation of this specific representation of Dzerzhinsky is notable, because it defends the power of the state apparatus, whereas Lenin still represents state destruction, rather than state reconstitution. In other words, the meaning of Lenin retains its revolutionary edge.

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It seems like Dzerzhinsky knew this would happen.

Lenin is that which Putin fears most.

Stalin, however, fits into the new official mythology particularly nicely. His appeals to Russian chauvinism, social conservatism, and nationalism are supported by the worst elements in society today – elements like the LDPR and the Orthodox Church.

Dzerzhinsky can only fit into this system through this Stalinization process.

Leninized Dzerzhinsky is equally feared, but a Stalinized Dzerzhinsky can be celebrated.

Even Stalin in 1937 criticized Dzerzhinsky as someone who “openly supported Trotsky against Lenin” and “wanted to use the GPU to protect Trotsky”.

Was Dzerzhinsky a Trotskyist or a Stalinist?

Was he revolutionary or counterrevolutionary?

Was he a defender of justice and the poor or simply a brutal mass-murderer?

Since his death, he has been all these things and more – occasionally simultaneously.

It seems to me that the best way to serve his memory and use this memory as a weapon is to re-Leninize him. The meaning of Dzerzhinsky ought to be inscribed with the life he lived.

Undoubtedly today in Russia, he is being heralded by those against whom he would passionately fight. Dzerzhinsky would never celebrate capitalism, especially not the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union. Had he lived longer, he would have certainly been purged by Stalin, along with the rest of the old guard in the Bolshevik party. If he was alive today, he’d probably be rotting in a Russian prison cell, labeled a terrorist.

However, since the 1920s, everyone from Stalin to Putin has successfully twisted and turned his image to suit their own desires.

The man seems to have been lost in the tornado of history.

Recuperation of the USSR: Soviet Art and Advertising in the Russian Federation

Today is the 99th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. It’s been 25 years since the Soviet Union was torn apart by the oligarchs and bureaucrats.

We’re still living in the shadow of the destruction of the USSR.

And no where is that more obvious than in the advertisements available all throughout modern Russia.

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The legacy of the Soviet Union lives on in many ways in the post-Soviet space. From political and cultural configurations to modern discourse on the past. In its own way, the post-Soviet space is going through its own Vergangenheitsbewältigung (history-overcoming) – but this has reached a fever-pitch in Russia in the past few years.

Part of this process, it seems to me, includes reappropriating pieces of the past in order to either make sense of it or transform it.

Whether we choose to try to disseminate information or merely to manipulate it, the past stands as a blank page upon which we reveal our understandings. Since 1991, the blank page of the Soviet Union has been particularly attractive to countless propagandists.

I am undoubtedly one of them.

Despite spending years of my life in modern Russia, I have admittedly only been West of the Ural Mountains. However, in the few cities I have visited, the use of Soviet symbols and aesthetics have been ubiquitous.

The use of Soviet vocabulary and concepts is everywhere: “peace” and “victory” have been

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“Books in all branches of knowledge” -Soviet Propaganda (1925)

effortlessly reappropriated for the Russian Federation. Especially in Putin’s era of renewed pride in Russia.

There are also attempts at reconstructing the constellations of the history that are officially sanctioned, while devaluing the points of history that are a bit messier. For example, the state holiday of November 7th (the day of the Bolshevik Revolution) no longer exists.

The Bolshevik Revolution plays differently in the collective memory than does the Soviet era.

I’ve heard countless people list off the best rulers of Russia as: Peter, Catherine, Nicholas, Stalin, and Putin.

Ideologically speaking, these faces may seem absurd to connect. Monarchism, Socialism, Capitalism don’t seem like reconcilable systems of thought. However, these five heads of the same demon do represent one important thing: strength.

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“Buy cheaper!” -Advertisement for pharmacies (2015)

They represent strength. It’s a fact of history that under these leaders, Russia has sometimes been its weakest. But here, perception is more important than facts.

Today, “peace” and “victory” ring as hollow as ever with a collapsing ruble, militarization (and although it doesn’t get talked about in Western media, this is a response to NATO, not the other way around), and contracting economy. It’s difficult to imagine Russia reaching the status of Superpower once again.

In this situation, it’s easy to recollect some of the positive aspects of the Soviet Union. Seemingly lower prices, access to healthcare and education, and the greater dream of a better world.

This, of course, is ripe for the recuperation of radical early Soviet propaganda to become meaninglessly mundane in the modern capitalist superstructure.

Through reinterpreting, reorganizing, and reimagining the historical space, capitalism has successfully utilized the period in which it was most challenged. No longer do we see a woman shouting for all branches of knowledge to be published and accessible. Today, we see the same aesthetic, but the message has changed.

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“Fitness: Peace! Sport! May!” -Advertisement for a fitness club (2016)

In the photo above (one that I took on a bumpy marshrutka, so I apologize for the blurriness), the most interesting thing to me is the blending of themes and time periods in order to create this advertisement.

The first thing that we notice is the woman playing the same role as the woman in the 1925 propaganda poster. However, the photo is no longer centered on her face, but includes her body down to her waste. She’s standing in a feminine pose, with her left hand on her hip, and is clearly wearing makeup. With her shirt tied at her midriff, she is far more sexualized, if we could say that the woman in the propaganda poster is sexualized at all.

Undoubtedly, this modern poster has no interest in feminism (unlike the Soviet Union of the 1920s).

Behind her, the ribbon of St. George waves and billows majestically into the background. These ribbons are particularly noteworthy, because they also connect Tsarist Russia through the Soviet era and on to today. In fact, the popular use of these ribbons began in response to Ukrainian nationalism, thereby boosting Russian nationalism.

Finally, the word-choice stands out.

“Peace” was one of the most central words of the dominant Soviet lexicon. One of the most common streets in every city is Проспект Мира (Avenue of Peace).

“Sport” was obviously highly-valued during the USSR (and still is). And, of course, the advertisement is for a sports/health club, so that word is not so fascinating.

“May”, however, out to catch our eye whenever we’re talking about history (especially Russian history). May 1st, traditionally-called May Day, was the day of the biggest labor union protests and strikes around the world. May Day protests were outlawed under the Russian monarchy and weren’t openly celebrated until after the February Revolution in 1917.

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“To work on a bike!” -Advertisement for ‘Ride-to-Work Day’ in Moscow (2016)

May also came to encompass a whole spectrum of meaning after 1945. May came to mean the victory of Stalinist USSR over Hitlerist Germany in World War II. The Soviet Union was one of the countries most devastated by the war and the victory was to be used endlessly in propaganda up to today. Putin has successfully completed the circle.

May 1st can’t even hold a candle to Victory Day on May 9th in Russia.

And this is total capitalist recuperation of the socialist enterprise.

Indeed, businesses today often play on Soviet symbols or language to insinuate that they’ve got lower prices or that the quality of their products is high. Is anything more absurd than modern “USSR”-brand ice cream?

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Mickey Mouse being impaled by a robot offers some truly deep insight into capitalism.

The post-modern, diet, feel-good capitalism is pervasive in Russia as well.

By using a character from a Soviet children’s cartoon (Gena, the crocodile), we’re able to integrate the Soviet characters from a certain ideological context and place them into the post-modern landscape of competing images and aesthetics.

We have a new May holiday! Ride-to-Work Day in Moscow! Oh, how swell!

Indeed, May 20th was a wonderful day, for we got to watch stupid fat old Zhirinovsky ride his stupid bike in the stupid rain.

The farce of capitalism is everywhere. We just have to open our eyes.

5 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Ukraine

Surprisingly, Ukraine is not totally engulfed in flames right now.

The media is all riled up about the “New Cold War” and the internet is buzzing with its usual conglomerate of seasoned political analysts, who are comparing Putin to Hitler and saying that this is the beginning of World War III.

Not quite, internet.

Before we get into the bizarre world of Eastern Europe, I ought to preface this post by saying that, as usual, I’m not really a partisan on these issues.

I don’t like Yanukovich and I don’t like Tymoshenko.

I don’t like Putin and I don’t like Obama.

However, in order to understand what is currently taking place in Ukraine, we must look at the situation with both eyes.

Everyone in the media right now (with very few exceptions) only wants to look at things with a one-eye-open framework. And it’s this framework in which these events are analyzed.

And this is why the internet thinks Putin is Hitler.

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So he’s Hitler for moving troops into Crimea but not Hitler for killing over 80,000 Chechens?

Let’s talk about reality.

1. The protesters are not who you think they are.

This seems to be a common thread among the liberals today: if there are people in the streets, then we have to support them. But this is probably the worst political principle one can possibly hold.

Not all protests are created equal.

The round of Euromaidan protests were, initially, a fairly isolated event – loosely based on the Orange Revolution in 2004. They were groups of students and anti-corruption activists.

And they were protesting against the democratically-elected president, Viktor Yanukovich.

However, the demonstrations were soon co-opted by the political opposition leaders and groups. And that’s when everything went downhill.

These groups were diverse, but the main threads were pro-European “liberals” and Ukrainian fascists.

How did such different people come together? Yanukovich must have been really bad!

Not exactly, dear reader. You see, the “liberals” and the fascists knew that they had to use each other in order to gain any political power. This isn’t to say that there weren’t genuine people involved in the protests, because there certainly were.

But unfortunately, these aren’t the people who have grabbed power.

No, the people with power now are individuals like Yatsenyuk and Tyahnibok.

You see, now that there has been a transition of power in Ukraine (folks will argue over whether it was a revolution or a coup), the “liberals” and the fascists are sharing power.

By the way, when I say “fascist” – that’s exactly what I mean. People like Oleh Tyahnibok and his Svoboda Party are literal, actual, genuine Neo-Nazis. And these people now have legitimate government positions in Ukraine.

But they’re not the only insanely right-wing part of Euromaidan.

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This is Oleh Tyahnibok. Awesome, right? Awesome Right?

And this is how we know Putin isn’t Hitler, because the Svoboda Party loves Hitler.

2. The transfer of power in Ukraine was not democratic.

Remember a couple weeks ago when Ukraine had a different president?

In all the hustle and bustle, no one seemed to notice how he was removed from that post. Yanukovich was removed by the parliament in a vote that was preceded by a transfer back to the 2004 constitution and succeeded by a vote against Russian speakers in Ukraine (although Turchinov is now saying that he won’t enforce the law).

Importantly, this was not a classic “impeachment”. The parliament simply passed a bill that said that Yanukovich was no longer the president.

There were no national elections. There was no referendum. The Ukrainian parliament just decided that Yanukovich wasn’t president anymore.

And this vote against Yanukovich was by no means representative of huge swaths of the Ukrainian people who wanted to see him finish out his term.

There are 45 million Ukrainian citizens, why did a couple million protesters determine who’s in power? Is that democracy?

And then they immediately voted to release Yulia Tymoshenko from prison.

Which might mean a few different things. Either she was wrongly imprisoned and rightly released. Or she was rightly imprisoned and wrongly released.

Or, as those who know Ukraine will tell you, there is no objective “right” or “wrong” in the political process. It’s about money and power.

Thus, we know this isn’t a revolution, because the classical political class will remain in power (with a few more fascists thrown in the mix).

Just as in 2004, the fundamental structures of the oppressive, corrupt Ukrainian government have not changed. Now they’ll simply be corrupt with European and American money, rather than with Russian money.

And this isn’t about democracy, because democracy, of course, was never part of the equation.

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3. Crimea is not Czechoslovakia.

Nor is it Sudetenland or Kuwait. Putin is not Khrushchev, Hitler, or Saddam. We need to stop framing things in the 20th century. Geopolitics has shifted, it’s about time that the discussion follows suit.

In fact, let’s be serious, most Crimeans would rather be aligned with Russia than Ukraine anyway. So then the question becomes something much more interesting: if we’re committed to democracy, are we going to support Crimea if it votes in a referendum for independence or even to be transferred to Russia?

Notably, Russia has “invaded” without a fatal shot being fired. And people are even going out to take selfies with their favorite soldiers.

Do I support Russia occupying Crimea? Not really.

I’d rather see a referendum so the Crimeans themselves can decide. Besides, certainly a portion of Crimeans have no interest in being part of Russia again. 

I would’ve also liked to see an election in Ukraine before Yanukovich was removed. But that’s unrealistic.

Not because it couldn’t happen, it wouldn’t have been that hard to organize elections, but because that would require an actual commitment to democracy.

Whereas, these people only have a commitment to power and control.

But Crimea is not Czechoslovakia, this is not 1968, and Klichko is not Dubček. Which brings me to my next point:

4. This is not a “New Cold War”.

Stop calling it that. I don’t care if things appear to mirror the Cold War in some respects. The world has changed.

Soviet Reunion

Alright, I’ll admit this made me laugh.

There are not two opposing superpowers, but rather dispersed, distinct, and separate loci of power.

Seriously, it’s been 23 years since the dismantling of the Soviet Union and yet somehow political analysts can’t seem to understand that Putin has moved past his time in the KGB.

On this side, the U.S. and the E.U. are allies, yes, but Europe isn’t working for America like it used to.

Europe and the United States find themselves in agreement on this issue, but there’s a reason that Victoria Nuland, the U.S. State Department’s representative in Europe, got caught saying, “Fuck the E.U.”

America wants our puppets installed, not Europe’s (specifically Angela Merkel’s) puppets.

The Cold War is over and your ideas are out-dated.

But this conflict does represent an interesting clash between some spheres of influence. And as with every conflict, there’s going to be a winner in Ukraine. The question that hasn’t yet been answered is:

Who will win?

5. The missing word is “empire” – and I’m not talking about Russia.

Did you notice that immediately after Yanukovich was thrown out, Ukraine asked the International Monetary Fund for $15 billion? And as this is being written, NATO is meeting to weigh its options with regards to Ukraine.

It was just a few years ago that Ukraine attempted to join NATO until Russia made it clear that such maneuvering wouldn’t be acceptable.

Ultimately, who controls the IMF and NATO?

I think we all know the answer.

Barack Obama

“Sup, baby?”

In the past 10 years, the U.S. has funneled over $5 billion into Ukraine in order to support anti-Russia movements (including the fascists).The U.S. is attempting to draw Ukraine into its sphere of influence and, more importantly, away from Russia.

It’s just an added bonus if the population goes along with the program.

Once again, this isn’t about democracy. It was never about democracy.

This is about empire.

So while people sit around and accuse Putin of being a hypocrite for constantly appealing to the U.S. to go to the Security Council before bombing indiscriminate targets, they seem to be forgetting the fact that their beloved leaders are just as hypocritical.

After all, isn’t it weird that Obama is funding Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?

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Here’s a picture with John McCain and Oleh Tyahnibok to complement the picture from earlier.

What’s the important lesson here?

The important lesson is that despite the words of the respected political analyst and renowned global diplomat Jared Leto, we should actually be careful before we jump on the bandwagon of the alleged “dreamers” in Ukraine and Venezuela.

Especially with regards to places like Ukraine and Venezuela.

Yulia Tymoshenko is only made to look like a pro-democracy activist, because she’s got Euros tied into her super-folksy-Star-Wars hairdo.

And the demonstrations were made to look like they were exclusively about democracy, because that’s how the United States manufactured this crisis.

I’ll repeat that: the United States manufactured this crisis. It doesn’t hold full responsibility, but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due.

If democracy was important, then why isn’t the U.S. calling for a Crimean referendum? After all, the U.S. even knew that Putin invading Crimea was probable.

While you focus all of your energy on what Putin is doing, you’re missing what Obama is doing.

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“Hey Yulia, do you see that ugly tie Obama’s wearing?”

But I have one final question! What about all these pro-Russia protests happening?

I’m so happy you asked!

Isn’t it interesting that liberals have endless love for the protesters in Kiev when they’re anti-Russian, but no love for the protesters in Donetsk when they’re pro-Russia?

Where’s the consistency here?

It’s cool if you don’t care about democracy – just admit it.

Olympics, Oligarchs, and Orientalism

The Olympics are underway in Russia right now. With countless people flocking to the southern city of Sochi, the internet has been transformed into a discussion about the current state of the Russian Federation.

People are buzzing with the talk of Pussy Riot, Mikhail Khordokovsky, LGBTQ issues, terrorism, Russian corruption and despotism, and the relationship between Russia and the West.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that Sochi doesn’t look like what journalists and athletes anticipated.

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Look at this mud! We don’t have mud like this in America!

This is evidenced by the brilliant, five-star reporting done by hard-hitting investigative reporters like those at CNN and the Washington Post.

Lack of hot water and internet? What is this!? Russia is awful!

At first, I too thought it was a little funny. I lived in Russia a few years ago and I’m also guilty of laughing at the seeming irrationality of the place. It’s certainly different than other countries I had seen. And those differences can be a little difficult to get used to.

But after the first 5 or 6 posts laughing at the unpreparedness of Sochi, I noticed something much more sinister about this collective Russia-bashing. It wasn’t situational. This is a very classical general attitude towards Russia – Europe’s stupid, backwards cousin.

The stereotypes of Russians abound, but the stereotypes of Russia are just as malevolent.

The stupid, backwards people can’t escape their stupid, backwards culture. And the worst part is that they don’t see how stupid and backwards they really are!

That’s why we, the Enlightened West, need to show them!

This attitude amounts to nothing less than Orientalism. Russia is a perfect case of Oriental despotism and savagery. Their government doesn’t look like ours, act like ours, or talk like ours. The people may look like us (white people), but they certainly don’t act or talk like us!

Therefore, we carry this disposition towards Russia that paints it as the embarrassing family member.

You know, the one you never want to talk to, but has a lot of money and influence. Your cousin Vladimir, drinking excessively and insisting that homosexuality “just isn’t natural”.

Sochi Olympics is Russian

“Extremely Russian” is code for the Huffington Post. It means “We’re about to make some stereotypical generalizations that if we said about People of Color would be considered incredibly racist.”

The worst part about Vladimir though? He doesn’t share your sacred values. He doesn’t appear to love democracy in the same way that you do. He doesn’t talk about free speech in the same way that you do.

After all, that’s what the whole Pussy Riot situation was about, right? Freedom of speech!

Despite the fact that Pussy Riot has said explicitly that the point is to actively break the law: “Our performances are always illegal, staged in unpredictable locations not designed for traditional entertainment.”

I’m not defending the Russian law, which I find absurd, but this outcry from the West over Pussy Riot is so overblown when compared with all the people who didn’t break the law and were still convicted of crimes.

It’s also interesting that the West is so quick to jump on the “lack of free speech” in Russia, but so quiet when “free speech” rights are transgressed by the United States. Why does everyone know about Pussy Riot, but no one knows about Tarek Mahenna?

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Thank God that Madonna, who has a totally consistent record of speaking out against human rights abuses, stood up for Pussy Riot!

What about LGBTQ rights?

This is one of the gems of the Enlightened West today. Russia is a den of homophobia, whereas Europe and America are shining beacons of equality for queers and transpeople! Of course, we ignore the fact that 8 U.S. states have basically the same anti-LGBTQ laws.

Coincidentally, no one wants to mention that while industrial capitalist Europe was getting over the first World War and fascist movements were growing, the Soviet Union was the first state in the world to decriminalize homosexuality.

God forbid we talk about history. That might require us to think about our stereotypes and how we focus on hot-button issues without talking about larger narratives.

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This leads to a more interesting point: our narratives, the stories we tell about ourselves and others, are one-dimensional and ridiculously unhelpful.

Why is that? Why is it that you can probably tell me a bunch of bad things that the Soviet Union did, but not one good thing? Really? 70 years and not one good thing?

But we like to have these hot-button issues. Pussy Riot, Queer/Transphobia, and Mikhail Khordokovsky are wonderfully convenient lightning rods. If you don’t know who Khordokovsky is, then you should probably be warned that he’s characterized as a “pro-democracy business tycoon.”

If you don’t see the silliness of the label “pro-democracy business tycoon”, allow me to explain.

Khodokovsky wants power in Russia and he’s against Putin.

This qualifies as the perfect West’s wet-dream of “democracy in Russia”. The same West who showered praise upon Boris Yeltsin, who was “responsible for the violent deaths of more Russian citizens than any Kremlin leader since Joseph Stalin.

Khordokovsky is one of the people known in Russia as the Oligarchs. These people received huge amounts of private property after the collapse of the USSR simply by having it given to them by their friends. The Oligarchs have subsequently amassed huge amounts of wealth and basically run things along with the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country is still, 20 years later, languishing in the backlash of the dismantling of the Soviet Union.

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Funk. Soul. Brother.

Despite all of this talk about human rights and freedom, most Americans actually didn’t want the Olympics in Russia because of “security concerns” (although 4% simply answered “Don’t like Russia”). Sochi isn’t all that far from Chechnya and Dagestan and Americans are worried about separatists performing some spectacular terrorist act.

Before we talk about the prospects of terrorism, we should probably talk about the context.

After Yeltsin dissolved the USSR with two men in a forest (super democratic, by the way), the former Soviet Republics were given independence from Russia (or Russia was given independence from them). Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the rest of the Stans all became sovereign nation-states.

When this was happening, the people in the Caucasus saw a possibility to achieve victory in their centuries-long struggle for independence from Russia.

Yeltsin’s response was to invade and kill over a hundred thousand people (80% civilians). Putin, not to be outdone, escalated the second Chechen War immediately after being appointed president in 1999, killing 100,000 more people (and yet again about 80% were civilians).

Isn’t it interesting that the liberals who are so concerned with human rights aren’t calling for the independence of Chechnya?

Yet in 2008, when China hosted the Olympics, they were just oh so concerned with the independence of Tibet! Because the Dalai Lama remains the darling of the West. Of course, no one wants to talk about its brutal, theocratic past, because that would require a challenge of a standard narrative that all Tibetans are Buddhists.

And, unlike those barbaric Muslims, Buddhists are all passive and non-violent!

Why was no one talking about independence for Xinjiang in 2008? Why was no one talking about Canada’s occupation and repression of American Indians in 2010?

Those don’t fit nicely into our narratives.

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This doesn’t look like Tibet so I don’t care about it.

So are Americans justified in having security concerns about the Olympics in Sochi? Totally.

I’ve been saying that there should be security concerns since I saw Putin’s stupid speech about how great Sochi is. Terrorism is a real threat to any large event, because that’s how terrorists function. And terrorism does in fact occur in Russia.

But my question is this: where are all these Enlightened liberals calling for an end to the occupation of Chechnya and Dagestan? They seem to care more about Gay Pride Parades than the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Not that I don’t love a good Gay Pride Parade!

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Is “Blood-Lust” a double entendre here?

Ultimately, however, I think it’s obvious why American and European liberals aren’t talking about Chechnya. Chechnya happens to be a place more foreign to us than Russia itself.

It’s a case of competing Orientalisms.

Russians are stupid, backwards white people, but Chechens are Muslims.

Vladimir might be our drunk, homophobic cousin, but he’s still our cousin.

So all the liberals can go on watching the games and rooting for their respective national teams. Enjoy the games while the most expensive Olympics ever leads to more money in Putin’s silk pockets. Go ahead and continue to accuse Russia and the Russians of being backwards.

But don’t forget that Europe and the United States are no better.