Category Archives: Propaganda

Western disinformation about disinformation

MSB – the Swedish mini-equivalent of Homeland Security – today came up with an additional reason for its existence: the importance to counter the “large increase of disinformation from Russia and ISIS”. Someone in that bureaucracy has discovered social media and found a lot of trolls out there. Surely they have also read about the Russian “troll-factory” in St. Petersburg. (One day they may perhaps find out that there are numerous trolls, fanatics and lunatics from millions of sources on the web, not just from Russia.)

One particularly dear example of disinformation is an allegedly fake letter from the Swedish Defense Minister regarding a weapons deal by which a Swedish company were to sell an artillery system to Ukraine. The letter circulated on Twitter and elsewhere and was said to emanate from Russia (no specific evidence attached).

If this was a deliberate disinformation operation the subject seems a little odd. To sell weapons to Ukraine is not a violation of any international law, it just doesn’t comply with a domestic Swedish policy principle not to sell weapons to countries in war (a principle not followed very meticulously in the past). One could certainly think of much more harmful subjects for anyone taking the trouble of faking a letter with the Ministry’s original letterhead and a copied signature…

Anyway, blaming Russia for offensive web activities seems to be a universal key for many who need to escape embarrassing situations, the DNC emails being the most recent case. Instead of apologizing to Bernie Sanders for its indecent and unethical actions against his campaign, DNC rushed to blame the incriminating leaks on Russia. The same procedure was of course practiced for the awkward Clinton emails.

Our most important newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, has extended their disinformation charges against Russia to also include, among others, RT (formerly Russia Today), the most viewed TV news channel on YouTube. The tactics used for this purpose is for instance to list some of the craziest stuff found on the web, and then mention RT, Sputnik News or other Russian sources in the same context, insinuating that these news outlets have something to do with the worst lunatics. That’s the kind of disinformation that self-righteous western media can indulge in without even scenting the self-contradiction.

As millions of viewers have decided by “voting”, RT is an interesting news channel, notably for presenting news and videos that never appear in the remarkably unidirectional western media outlets, which sometimes looks as if they are printed in the same machine or produced in the same studio.

It appears as if the western business run societies feel some kind of need to bid up the conflict level against Russia. Is war the aim? In that case the well-dressed western decision-makers are worse than the worst lunatic trolls on the web.

Cultural mathematics – and other inadequate thinking

A couple of days ago the head of the editorial office for culture and arts in our prestigious paper Dagens Nyheter, Bjorn Wiman, drew attention to Russian journalists who suffer violence and murder. The column focused on the atrocities directed towards women, but the author made one small miscalculation. He claimed as a fact that “female journalists are particularly vulnerable to repression against independent media in Russia”.

As proof of this statement he pointed to a survey showing that female journalists have to endure threats and hatred on the Internet three times more often than their male colleagues. But in the next sentence he wrote that women constitute 80 percent of the journalists in Russia. In other words: if the attacks were distributed regardless of gender, one would expect women to be four times more affected than men, not just three times. Bottom line: male journalists are particularly vulnerable to repression in Russia.

Apart from this mishap in the text, it’s an important topic. There are way too many journalists murdered in Russia, and way too few attempts by western media to investigate and understand these deplorable events. One can’t avoid the suspicion that this obscurantism is intentional, opening for readers to intuitively believe that Putin lies behind it, after all.

When the almost daily mass shootings occur in the US, media is not just interested in the misdeed itself but also in the perpetrator’s background and motives. But when Russian criminals are brought to trial for murdering journalists, the western interest for them is low. The court proceedings are usually open to journalists, but anything substantial is seldom reported. It’s as if we want people to think that every such event is a show trial serving to send some scapegoats to prison to protect the real culprits higher up (accusations never accompanied by any evidence).

Anna Politkovskaya was murdered ten years ago. She had been very critical towards Putin over the war in Chechnya, and – ergo – Putin gave the orders for her assassination! That seems to be a widespread opinion in western circles. And yes, if Putin wanted to hurt himself to the maximum, that would be plausible. It suffices to see the damage done to Russia by this murder as it is. The Russian justice system, on the other hand, seems to have evidence that a Russian oligarch – Boris Berezovsky – hostile to Putin and living abroad, instigated the murder of Politkovskaya, which at least appeals to elementary common sense.

The most recent high-profile murder was that of Boris Nemtsov. Here the distinguished Dagens Nyheter openly speculated that Putin was responsible, and if that by any chance couldn’t be proved, still “his name will forever be tied to this murder”. This is our elevated defamation activities in action! The premise for that view – that Putin is stupid beyond the comprehensible – is something our propagandist perhaps are too stupid themselves to grasp (or more sinister: they expect their readers to be).

Looking for motives to murder Russian journalists one can’t avoid thinking about false flag operations. But there are evidently terrorists and loose cannons, with or without Chechnyan connection, enough to cause all kinds of problems. We don’t know very much about these subjects here, and it would call for some investigative journalism, had our media not been so definitely restricted to dumb propaganda whenever it comes to Russia.

Humanitarian aid not fit to mention

“Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has dispatched the 52nd truck convoy with humanitarian aid to Donbass” reports RT.com. “Since August 2014, Russia has sent 51 convoys with 61,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Donbass.” According to the ministry’s press service the 52nd delivery consist largely of “foodstuffs, daily essentials, medicines, firefighting equipment, and art and educational books”.

These kinds of news will never appear in Swedish media, of course. (I suppose our MSM would rather describe them as examples of the Russian “information war” which perpetually obsess them). The only convoy of interest was the first one, as we remember. It was made an object of suspicion: “Russian tricks to smuggle weapons and contraband”, or ridicule: “some of the trucks are empty”.

After a long time waiting for permits from Kiev to cross the border – permits that never came – the first convoy just took off to its destinations and unloaded. That was the last we heard from these humanitarian expeditions in our media. The New York Times though – a few convoys later – had an informative article about the living conditions in eastern Donbass in which the reporter interviewed a restaurant owner who testified that these deliveries of basic means of existence were essential for life in the haunted region.

There is no need to regard the Russian government as more altruistic then other governments to be able to explain these relief operations. They simply help people of Russian heritage or affinity in need. The urge to help may (or may not) be enhanced by the Kremlin refusal to fulfill the deepest wishes of these people, namely to join their spiritual motherland. In fact, Russia helps citizens in a foreign country, moreover a country before whom Russia (even in a resolution to the United Nations Security Council) has pledged to respect and protect its independence and sovereignty (with Crimea as an exclusive exception).

The despicable Putin is determined that people in all of Donbass shall stay Ukrainian citizens forever. What Kremlin supports is simply that some degree of self-determination be granted people there. Kiev on the other hand obviously sees the inhabitants in rebel held parts of Ukraine as enemies suitable to kill with artillery shells. Consequently, those Ukrainians don’t qualify for humanitarian aid from Kiev, instead they suffer elimination of their economic rights, such as pensions and other allowances.

This doesn’t fit well with western propaganda. Russia is presumed to occupy eastern Donbass and wage a war against Ukraine, supposedly with the intention to conquer the entire country. That’s anyway what the leaders in Kiev repeatedly have claimed, supported by western media. In order to uphold that distorted view it is necessary to disregard and keep behind a smokescreen everything substantial of what Moscow says and does.

It’s self-evident that states and governments are no moral agents; they can say and do whatever they have the power to do and say. The Russian government is no exception. But government’s statements and actions can and should be constantly scrutinized by their citizens, and their possible lies and wrong-doings revealed.

As mere citizens we should also comply with the principle of moral universalism, which states that we must follow the same standards as we apply to others. We should hence as Swedes meticulously dissect our own propaganda before we accuse others of the same misconduct. This principle is violated to a level of absurdity by media in my country; themselves distorting facts and serving half-lies and pure lies without discrimination, aggressively accuse Russia of waging an “information war”.

One of the “state controlled” outlets for this Russian propaganda is said to be RT, the most visited TV news channel on YouTube. Vilifying RT may sooner or later prove to be an own goal as more and more people take part of the media market unconstrained by our usual, self-censored media. If anything, the accusations may lure people to watch the defamed “propaganda channels” themselves, if not for other reason than pure curiosity.

Those who look up RT.com to check for the propaganda will find a bunch of citizens from western countries – US, Britain, Irland etcetera – presenting news and writing editorials in impeccable English. One needs to look hard to find any genuine Russians. The selection of news is naturally focused on Russia, but RT also digs up other events that we seldom hear anything of. Thus we can in RT read about inconvenient demonstrations and embarrassing statements (like for instance this one: “WWII happened because Russia attacked Germany, and that must be prevented from happening again” /paraphrase/, uttered by Yatsenyuk during his visit to Merkel) which are more or less suppressed by western media.

We are back to one of the simplest truisms among definitions: “Propaganda is the other guy’s lies, not mine”.

 

 

Why in the world should Sweden join NATO?

Our establishment media are working hard nowadays to pilot Sweden into NATO. That’s certainly one of the reasons for their absurd and intense vilification of Russia, a country portrayed (by our main paper, among others) as historically aggressive and violent. “NATO has of course never planned an attack eastward” writes one of the elevated editors without a hint of irony, while NATO countries still poke around among the ruins in Afghanistan and Iraq, trying to end only the two latest of brutal, illegal and immoral wars waged on the East.

“Because the threat is a Russian threat” asserts the same editorial (thus overruling international – US made – polls showing that a substantial majority of the world’s population deems the United States to be the greatest threat to peace and security). We are back to the former cold war, when we were made to believe that the evil Soviet communists were ready to attack and conquer the whole world any minute.

The Soviets in those days obviously showed their aggressiveness by some battalion size attacks in Czechoslovakia and DDR (the agreed Soviet sphere of influence), atrocities that we still frequently are remembered of. A few hundred people were killed in these operations, which we aren’t allowed to forget. At the same time US with some allies killed millions of people in Indochina, about which my noble newspaper initially suppressed any critique, and today mainly keeps in merciful oblivion.

(The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan proved disastrous in many ways, as wars often do. It became a starting point for extreme jihadism in that area, as well as a prelude to the breakdown of the Soviet Empire.)

Reasonably sensible people back then realized that the Soviets had neither the capacity for military attacks on western countries, nor any interest in doing so. Western powers proved those people right when the wall ultimately fell. The entire pretext for establishing NATO had been “the Russians are coming”. Now, instead of dismantling NATO, the organization added more member states and was moved closer to the Russian borders. There is no more distinct way to say: “sorry, we’ve lied to you about the communist threat for forty years”.

Today’s Russia is weaker than the Soviet Union in relative terms. First of all, it has just half the population, and its military budget is a small fraction of NATO’s. Moreover, the Russian economy is mainly market driven and thus dependent on other countries to a much larger extent than before. Against that background it should be completely ridiculous to portray Russia as a military threat to Sweden. But stupidity is not an obstacle for propaganda. When nationalistic reflexes are played upon, (we) the public swallows almost everything.

We don’t ask ourselves who is served by this war mongering. Sweden may not have the same kind of military-industrial complex as the US, but still we have relatively large weapons producers and substantial weapons exports. And our military forces, suffering losses during the cold-war-free 1990s, can feel the smell of fresh air and growing budgets. To catalyze this process, they for a while reclaimed the old submarine hoax that already had compromised our marine forces in front of the whole world long ago. But as already noted: stupidities work, the larger the better.

But what drive our editors to their skewed descriptions of Russia, filled with half-truths and complete lies, under a thin cover of barely correct facts? To satisfy the weapons industry or the military seems not quite sufficient. Is it just some right wing reflexes that deprives them of honesty and truthfulness? Or is it concern for an increase of their paper’s circulation by means of fear mongering? Any way: lots of things for progressives to follow in the future.

Putin – “the new Stalin” – to build a museum denouncing the former Stalin

When a licensed hawk like Dr. Henry Kissinger persistently argues that the present demonizing of Vladimir Putin in the West is not just bad policy, but even lack of policy, one could expect that at least those less right-wing than him had taken some notice. And when he with the same determination claims that Russia’s security interests near its borders must be recognized by USA and EU, he cannot be suspected to be Putin’s tool. A plausible conclusion is instead that western conservatives and liberals along the line have run amok in Russophobe frenzy.

The uniform narrative on the Russian issue, spread all over western mainstream media, is embarrassingly ignorant and naïve or – more exactly – mostly outright stupid. It’s as if the old format from the blatant anti-communist propaganda in the first cold war has been recovered from the archives and recycled. It’s not just one-sided, like all propaganda, it’s also deliberately misleading (or, as Paul Craig Roberts would say: it’s all lies).

(One hour ago I heard a segment in the Swedish public service radio, to take just a minuscule example. It has been reported today that Poroshenko will put forward new legislation that will permit some kind of autonomy for the break-away regions in eastern Ukraine. The “public service” reporter supposes that Poroshenko is under pressure from Germany and France (to get financial support), and then he devotes most of the time to an interview with some unknown Ukrainian nationalist who is allowed to thoroughly describe his opposition to the legislation. Not a word is said about the central fact: that the autonomy in question is a fundamental clause in the Minsk accords.)

According to our propaganda the civil war in Ukraine is “Putin’s war” although Russia had pushed harder than anyone else for a negotiated solution. “Putin wants to conquer Ukraine” (a lie by Yatsenjuk and others) although Russia has put forward a resolution to the UN Security Council, guaranteeing Ukraine’s integrity and secure borders. “Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union” (McCain et.al.), “Putin is a new Hitler” (Clinton) etcetera.

A completely different event concerning Putin has been announced by Professor Stephen Cohen in The Nation recently. No president in Russia before Putin has managed to push through the establishment of a museum commemorating all the victims of Stalin’s reign of terror. Now he has done that, probably in defiance of a large part of Russians that consider Stalin to be a great nation builder and a war-winning marshal. We now just have to wait and see how our media will distort the building of this museum to match the demonizing of Putin (if they can’t manage that, they can be expected to be dead silent). The museum will be inaugurated in October this year.

More about this issue can be listened to via The Nation’s web edition where Stephen Cohen discusses with John Batchelor.

Swedish media on Russia – cynicism defined

I’ve mentioned our most prestigious daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter quite some times on these pages. DN is a kind of hillbilly version of New York Times, but still pompous and condescending, obviously all too aware of its local significance. Today DN (of course) is leading this country’s witch hunt on Russia and Putin.

DNs editor in chief – Peter Wolodarski – is a fairly young man. He had just become a teenager when Soviet Communism disappeared, yet he reiterates almost verbatim the slander, insinuations, deliberate misinterpretations and all the other characteristics of the (first) Cold War propaganda.

Especially amusing was when he some time ago wrote an editorial piece condemning countries that obstruct international cooperation by regularly vetoing Security Council resolutions, referring specifically to Russia. Now being 74 years old I lived through that period with daily reports on Russian (Soviet) vetoes. They really happened, and the fact that United States had almost the entire UN in its pocket was not considered a proper excuse for Soviet vetoes.

But this is the funny thing: during Wolodarski’s whole life United States have issued by far the largest number of vetoes in the Security Council, no other country even in shouting distance. What happened was that colonialism started to disintegrate in the 1960s, and US’ absolute dominance in UN thus seeped away. So from the mid 60s US took over the lead in the not very honorable competition of veto production, and have kept it since.

Wolodarski’s gaffe is in a way understandable. As long as Soviet provided the vetoes the topic was prioritized news, highlighted in every western media. But when US took over the leading role in issuing UN vetoes the subject immediately lost all media interest. That’s how propaganda works, nothing surprising about that. Wolodarski just copied what he must have read in retrospect, not aware of his present. He fell victim of the propaganda he himself is part of.

DN today is an echo of its earlier version from the darkest years of the last Cold War, the 1950s up to the Vietnam War (not that the Cold War ended then, it just became somewhat moderated). Russia is depicted as a dictatorship ruled by some kind of new Stalin, intimidating Europe and the entire world. Sweden is threatened and must greatly strengthen its military forces. Putin is naturally guilty of most atrocities in Russia, everything from incarceration of pop singers to murdering politicians and journalists. Now DN of course has some journalistic ethics, so accusations like that are printed just as insinuations, though with an unequivocal certainty.

I’ve just read the latest of PW’s weekly epistles on Putin’s lies and Russia’s threats. He writes about the country’s unwarranted feeling of being encircled by western powers. For PW this feeling is “somewhat paranoid”, considering “how many hands have been stretched out to Russia after the Soviet collapse”. (One is not supposed to laugh.)

What did those “many hands” really do? First they helped destroy the Russian production system thoroughly, throwing the country back to the third world from which it came in 1917, creating a social catastrophe of gigantic proportions leading to the death of ten million people, mostly young men.

Secondly those hands helped a few former “communist” thugs to “legally” steal everything of value in the country, further deepening the suffering ordinary Russian endured.

Thirdly the West did what was needed to cover the whole thing up. This has been a success in the “democracies” where one of the worst social catastrophes of all times is completely wiped out of history. It has also left westerners ignorant of Putin’s role in reversing that collapse, thus also unaware of the main reason for his popularity in Russia. We may choose to close our eyes and ears, but the Russians will never forget the capitalist catastrophe of the 90s, not as long as they live and not in generations to come. And they will remember who passably put thing together again.

Russia wants united Ukraine – the West doesn’t care?

Russia created a problem for western biased Kremlinologists by submitting a resolution to the UN Security Council calling for the Council to reaffirm “its full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine”, unanimously adopted on 17 February this year. This initiative contradicts the very basis for mainstream western propaganda, which requires Russian intentions to subdue Ukraine through a war of aggression, even aiming at territorial gains.

During the former cold war every benign signal from the Russians were easily interpreted as a form of insidious and diabolic tactic with hidden, evil intentions. This western habit of reversing messages is no longer feasible to the same extent. There are too many complementary sources of information and debate today, first of all on the ever growing Internet, but also in the mainstream.

It’s interesting in this context to follow the very mainstream New York Times, whose reporting and commentary on the whole is tilted towards anti-Russian views. Still NYT has some objective news reporting never seen in Swedish media, for instance from areas in Ukraine suffering from the shelling by Kiev forces. The tidy Readers Commentaries are often appealing on articles about the Ukraine conflict. In mostly very articulate posts people in general have a much broader and more enlightened view on the subject than the article itself reflects, often with appreciation for the Russian point of view.

What I can find in the NYT online archive, the Security Council resolution was reported only as a ten-line Reuter’s note. Its Swedish analogue, Dagens Nyheter, had a one-line misrepresentation of the resolution in an editorial otherwise venomously despising Russia. It seems that silencing is the only tactic left when the old cold war technique of turning benign into malignant no longer holds. But silencing won’t work either in this new, multifaceted media world.

What basis has western propaganda media had for their view of an aggressive Russia wanting war to subdue Ukraine? It seems that they have tried to conjure up a picture of the old communist wickedness under which to hide and repress everything important that Russia signals. For an un-blinded eye Russia didn’t look extremely pleased with the armed uprising in Donbas. Putin made remarks about Ukrainian unity early on, disavowing the not very happy rebel leaders. As events evolved Russia naturally couldn’t remain idle as Kiev let Nazi voluntaries loose in killing Russian speaking people, and was forced to engage in support of the separatists.

Throughout the whole process Putin and Lavrov has repeatedly demanded negotiations to solve the crisis, something never highlighted in western media. The core interest here has been to speculate (in the old Kremlinologist spirit) about what Putin “really” has in mind, as opposed to what he says. This is an occupation that must have taken scholars, politicians and other pundits man-years of fruitless work.

A criminal investigation starts by looking for a motive. Has Russia anything to gain from a war of aggression towards a neighboring country? As we have seen: then have everything to lose! So why did the war start? The basic analysis is made by Professor John Mearsheimer in Foreign Affairs, who demonstrates unequivocally that the West created the prerequisites through 25 years of systematic provocations against Russia (spending 5 bn dollars, according to Mrs. Nuland).

The problem with Crimea, a natural part of Russia with mostly Russian inhabitants and a large Russian military base, should have been solved 25 years ago by a proactive West. But that was not even considered since the single goal was to cripple the former Russian dominion as much as at all possible. The purpose has obviously been, not to solve any of Russia’s problems, but to create as many as time and money allowed.

It’s a hope for the future and for peace that so many people see through the western propaganda machinery. And it’s inspiring to read the commentary sections in all sorts of papers. What people write there is not picked up from mainstream media; it requires critical thinking of one’s own, a gratifying phenomenon that seems to be spreading. That’s why Kerry and others are talking about “information war”, and that war will in the long run be won by reason, insight and compassion.

EU information war against Russia – a lying contest?

“EU readies action plan to counter Russian media ‘disinformation’” says RT.com Thursday, referring to leaked documents. My “anti-disinformation” paper Dagens Nyheter obviously intercepted the leak and started the counter-attack already on Wednesday. They didn’t assign their sharpest pen for the task so the different lines of thought in his article were not necessarily consistent with one another.

The brave thinker had incidentally found one brilliant crux in the apparent success for Russian propagandists, who namely have discovered the weak spot in western societies: our inclination for the postmodern fantasy that there are no facts, just different narratives. That the absolute truth belongs with western media is obviously an axiom and was not even mentioned. Instead a number of Russian false narratives were lined up. Some examples:

It’s a lie that Russia didn’t plan the occupation of Crimea. It’s a lie that Russian regular troops haven’t been commanded to fight in Ukraine. It’s a lie that the Kiev government ordered the shoot-down of the Malaysian passenger plane. And the scribbler is apparently cocksure that he owns the truth, though he has not a shred of evidence to support it with. He doesn’t even suggest that there is any need whatsoever to supply evidence, or even reasonable arguments.

And this is the center of the real postmodern fog we move around in:

– We “are convinced at heart” that Putin has evil intentions.
– We “know” that Russia is waging a war of aggression on Ukraine.
– We “are certain” that Putin and Russian media are lying about probably all crucial events.
– It took the Swedish foreign minister two hours to definitely “establish” that MH17 was shot down by pro-Russian rebels assisted by Russians.
– Although a steadily increasing number of factors point at the Ukrainian Air Force as the perpetrator, it’s still “self evident” that the Russians are to blame.
– It’s “of course” Putin that lies behind the killings of Nemtsov and the other journalists who met the same fate.
– And if it isn’t Putin personally it’s his “spirit”, and therefor “his name will forever be tied to these murders” as another journalist in the same paper put it.

With their almost pathological capacity of self-justification our journalists cannot even dream of having to prove anything of what they claim. And conversely it’s presupposed that everything that “the enemy” says is a lie, sometimes even when proof is evident.

But the main strategy of monitoring the “truth” in western media is to avoid, repress or silence everything that speaks in favor of “the enemy”, but the more meticulously sort out and magnify every little enemy aberration to be found.

“We are the truth!” is our media credo (with divine inspiration); don’t have us provide any proof of what we claim!

The author I’ve mentioned had the guts to call on – everybody else supposedly – to “pursue the truth” as a means to counter the Russian “Information war”!!

At this point I just had to go for a walk in the sunshine.

Propaganda killing workers rights

There is a saying in Sweden that whatever evolves in USA will eventually reach us, may it take 10, 20 or 30 years. We might think of many American habits as utterly superficial and even childish, but some day they’re all over us.

I’ve been reminded of that recently as a relative is about to graduate from our high school (gymnasium in Swedish). This has always been a solemn day for a young person, ending with a memorable party: dressed-up graduates, a formal dinner and dance. But everyone got to the dinner individually. That’s now transformed into full American prom-style. Today’s students must come in pairs, the girls (usually) picking a partner, styling him in matching colors and accessories; all the US “naiveties” we used to laugh about.

A more serious thought of this kind hits me when I ponder over Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and another one of his blows against working people in his state. I’ve heard that Wisconsin used to be socially well-organized and as much Social democrat as is possible in USA. I like to think that the influx of Nordic immigrants into Wisconsin has something to do with that. But times are a ‘changing.

The scary question now is how long it will take for “Right to Work” to reach Sweden, if ever. The concept itself is disgusting, taken as it is directly from George Orwell’s dictionary. It’s a token of a crushing propaganda victory that reactionary – though elected – leaders are able to humiliate working people not just in action but also in words.

Reactionary victories are nowadays not just multitudinous but perform on two fronts. First the policymakers can enforce far-reaching neoliberal rules, serving primarily the business community, without much popular resistance at all. And then when people occasionally are called to express their opinion at elections they are indoctrinated to vote against their own interests. This trend for the last 30-40 years is the same in Europe as in USA, though not yet as extreme here.

Readers Comments in New York Times on articles about “Right to Work” overwhelmingly points to the circumstance that people seem to vote contrary to their own interests. Orwell had it right here too, as had Herman & Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent. Our western propaganda model is extremely successful and far superior to any state commanded, regardless of the level of oppression in the latter. Or as Chomsky has said: a dictator doesn’t need to bother with sophisticated propaganda since he has a club in his hand ensuring the “success” of his politics anyway.

Recent scholarly work has shown that Soviet state propaganda was a failure. Large segments of the people got their information from western propaganda radio and Samizdat literature (which explains the clueless view many had on western prosperity and happiness). Today western media are trying the same old grip on the contemporary Russian propaganda, pointing to the fact that most television broadcasting is state owned or controlled. The misconception is even greater this time since we have unlimited “Samizdat” available on the Internet, on which Russians are among the most frequent visitors in the world. On top of that we find the most extensive translation operations in Russia, where many western newspapers are found translated on the Internet.

The attack on labor called “Right to Work” is depressing even to write about. Together with Mr. Walkers earlier blow against unions by banning collective bargaining for public employees we have witnessed clear violations of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 23, point 4, which reads: “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” In the spirit of that article trade unions should be free to negotiate with their counterparts with no other restrictions than such negotiations entail. State interference in that process is clearly a violation of the workers human rights.

Here we just may hope for an exception to the rule that every US peculiarity reaches Sweden sooner or later. May it this time prove to be never… ever!

Political assassinations in Russia – and Sweden

Finally Dagens Nyheter got to – almost – say that Putin is a killer. But, all right, even if he didn’t personally order the assassination of Boris Nemtsov it was a “product of the Russian system” with the indisputable purpose to “hit the democratic opposition with a devastating blow”. DN “knows” everything without any knowledge or shred of evidence, in this case as in the downing of MH17, the snipers in Maidan, the Russian invasion, Putin’s intentions and everything else. This flagship in Swedish media thus gladly leaves behind the basic journalistic ethics that calls for factuality in reporting.

One particularly interesting thing DN “knows” is that Putin hasn’t changed his “perception that Ukraine does not have a real legitimacy as an independent country”. This is DNs statement not many days after Russia submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council with the precise call for Ukraine’s unity and national integrity. The resolution was passed, which indeed wasn’t highlighted in DN.

Even in New York Times a reporter expressed some astonishment over this Russian standpoint in UN of Ukrainian unity as if she had never heard of it, though Putin and Lavrov consistently have upheld the same view from the very beginning. They declared in words and showed in action that Russia had no intention of occupying southeastern Ukraine (at first to the obvious disappointment of the separatists).

But, OK, decent western democratic media cannot pay attention to men like those two. Instead they have dutifully published Yatsenjuk’s repeated assurances, groundless and obviously based on his own fantasies that Russia intended to conquer the entire Ukraine. NYTs reporter fell victim of western propaganda, DN hasn’t even noticed anything(?)

Sweden probably outscores Russia for the last 30 years when it comes to assassinations of high profile politicians relative to population. (I suppose we have to ask DN if this is a “product of the Swedish system” or not.) First we had the murder in 1986 of Prime Minister Olof Palme, as much lauded among poor people around the world as he was demonized by the “decent” bourgeoisie at home. The horrible slander and scorn Palme had to endure has no parallel in Swedish politics ever.

Ridiculous rumors about Palme spread like wildfire among the well-offs in Stockholm: he was mentally ill (for visiting his demented mother treated in a hospital), he was a drug addict (“my wife’s sister knows a doctor who treats him for that…”), he was a communist spy, he had extra-marital affairs etc. The fine people’s fantasies were limitless. The following caricature is one of the most benevolent made of him (the really horrible ones, endemic during his lifetime, seem to have disappeared from the Internet):

Palme

Many thought that the hate campaign had triggered someone to commit the murder. Suspicions flew in all directions (I’m quite sure that some believed Soviet Russia could have had a hand in it) and strangely detailed testimonies popped up from all over. The chief investigator followed a Kurdish trail, but choked on it and was replaced. Most popular among a growing number of amateur investigators was a police track, soon supported by a host of incidental “evidence”. And so it went on under intense media coverage. The case was never solved although some circumstances ultimately pointed at an alcoholic and thug, possibly hired by some other criminal.

Victim of the second high profile murder was Anna Lindh, stabbed by a mentally unstable man in 2003. She was also a Social Democrat, active Foreign Minister and much liked by her international colleagues. Any connections between the murderer and any outside monitors were never discovered, and everybody seemed pleased with that.

We have at least a third murder with political motives. A syndicalist, Anders Söderberg, was murdered by neo-Nazis in 1999 for disclosing one of their cronies (which made him lose his job). That makes three political assassinations in thirty years, which would be equivalent to 45 such murders in Russia in the same period. Some expert may pick the winner.

We will never know if there ultimately were political forces behind the murders of Palme and Lindh, and further speculations are pointless. In contrast our main newspaper, supposed to be the most serious, feels obviously free to speculate wildly on their preconceived stereotypes about Russian political murders.

It’s worth saying again: Apparently Vladimir Putin’s real crime in the eyes of DNs journalists and other western ideologues is that he put an end to the capitalist melt-down in Russia, stopped the genocide caused by the same capitalist roll-over, a genocide that claimed 10 million lives of which a majority were younger men leaving children and women fatherless and widows. It took harsh measures to reclaim a small part of the fortunes belonging to the people and stolen by a bunch of cunning apparatchiks. It’s not done with a tea party to passably rescue the complete wreck Russia was in the 1990s.

If some are to blame for the fact that Vladimir Putin is ruling Russia and not someone like Mahatma Gandhi it would be first of all Yeltsin, Gaidar and a group of American economists (with the Swede Anders Ã…slund). Boris Nemtsov was also a player on that team, certainly a reason for his low public acceptance rate now. These ruthless ideologues, purporting to implement “economic rules”, completely destroyed everything, wiped out half the industrial capacity and threw the country back to the third world from where it came in 1917. If our reactionary demagogues now dictating the paradigm had at least an ounce of empathy in their bodies, they would give Russia a minimum of leeway in its efforts to build a modern society again. How they might think that the confrontation they now play hard with will solve anything is a mystery.