Optics, Russian Christian Nationalism meets Info Wars

It seems like there’s more ground for optimism than even a few days ago. The resistance of the Ukranian people and the integrity of their leaders seems inspiring. Key pieces of Putin disinformation (as propagated by both the left and the right) seem to be being revealed and exposed and the scale of protest by ordinary Russian people seems to be far stronger than I had imagined it could be.

But there are a lot of ‘seems’ in these sentences. It’s a lot to want to believe.

How do citizens with home-made Molotov cocktails fare coming up against trained soldiers? How does that actually work?

Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his cabinet are no doubt winning the propaganda war – but will they just be taken out?

It’s easy to see how Russian troops reared on internal propaganda might be stunned when they realise they are not welcomed as ‘liberators’ but as oppressors.

But is this all just what we want to believe? Is it all just a romantic construct around a brutal reality?

Belief, disbelief, and propaganda are part of our world and no more so than here and now.

As Jason Stanley, author of How Fascism Works writes:

“Vladimir Putin is himself a fascist autocrat, one who imprisons democratic opposition leaders and critics. He is the acknowledged leader of the global far-right, which looks increasingly like a global fascist movement. Ukraine does have a far-right movement, and its armed defenders include the Azov battalion, a far-right nationalist militia group. But no democratic country is free of far-right nationalist groups, including the United States. In the 2019 election, the Ukrainian far-right was humiliated, receiving only 2% of the vote. This is far less support than far-right parties receive across western Europe, including inarguably democratic countries such as France and Germany. Ukraine is a democratic country, whose popular president was elected, in a free and fair election, with over 70% of the vote. That president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is Jewish, and comes from a family partially wiped out in the Nazi Holocaust.”

But if Putin has made a rapid international descent from ‘genius stategist’ to ‘unhinged psycho’ what does that do to global security of the Baltics or Finland or Poland? Or Scotland? What does it do to the underlying logic of Trident?

We are in unchartered territory now and the push-button responses that might have been reliable yesterday, or last week, aren’t any more. We need maximum solidarity but also fresh thinking and independent minds.

Help to support independent Scottish journalism by subscribing or donating today.


Comments (8)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. DonDon says:

    ” . . . descent from ‘genius stategist’ to ‘unhinged psycho’ . . . ”

    That surprized me too. Putin used to be a shrewd operator.

    I think that is what happens when someone stays in power too long.

    1. 220227 says:

      Indeed, the West’s Putin narrative has shifted quite violently in such a relatively short period of time.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    What would President Putin do without NATO? It’s like Mexico or Canada or Ireland trying to join the Warsaw Pact. I wonder what CO₂ emissions and environmental degradation the Russian buildup and manouvres have caused so far. Perhaps Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century) is right, and the Russian leadership’s grand plan is to hasten climate change and turn Siberia into a breadbasket while the USA’s eastern seaboard submerges.

    1. J Galt says:

      Not only that I hear they want to take over the Moon as well!!

      IRON SKY was not fiction folks it was a blueprint – wake up!!!

    2. 220227 says:

      Indeed! Russia has, with good cause, a long history of distrusting the West. The buffer zone it created in Eastern Europe at the end of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet People has melted away following the collapse of socialism, which Putin is now presenting as a great geopolitical disaster, and the continued eastward expansion of NATO has been a cause of increased tension between NATO countries and Russia, which the Russian oligarchy has been able to exploit domestically to strengthen its grip on government. NATO’s decision last year, to invite Ukraine to join its Membership Action Plan (MAP) as an aspiring member and engage in an Intensified Dialogue with NATO to prepare for potential membership and demonstrate its ability to meet the obligations and commitments of possible future membership, seems to have set in train a series of diplomacy that has escalated to the current Russian action.

  3. Chris Ballance says:

    Mike, I have been very moved – and inspired – by this blog from my old friend, the playwright Jo Clifford, currently on an artists’ retreat in Finland.

    The horrors of this week inspire hatred and a natural human wish for vengeance. Violence is one response to helplessness. This post may not be acceptable to all. But we are all helpless in the present circumstance – short of calling for an escalation of violence. I post the link below to reinforce – our focus must be on continuing to build the future.


  4. Ottomanboi says:

    Ukrain, that «country» created, or rather cobbled together by the Lenin/Stalin Soviet system, is now being spared the critical analysis that other eastern states have had, Poland, Hungary come to mind. Sadly the liberal left has fallen into the trap of whitewashing the thing itself. There is plenty online, or was before Google began tidying up the awkward bits, about the nature of the nationalism in the region, the ancestral homeland around the western city of Lwow, the racist antisemitic nature of the beast which was given full rein during what many considered the liberation of «Ukrain» by the advancing German army. With the third largest army in Europe, a profitable arms industry, its own mega rich «biznismyeni» and a repressive way of dealing with dissent Ukrain is no innocent.
    What Putin intends by his incursion only he knows, however the west ie the US is a very dirty pot in my view, I’m a Syriac Iraqi who had no childhood thanks to the allied assault, as a consequence I am not moved to sympathy by the powergame being played out in Russia’s backyard.
    Bear in mind that many in the MidEast consider Al Qaida and Islamic state to have been spawns of US policy to divide and weaken the Arab world. The images of IS slave markets online via iphone and Facebook, the role of Twitter and Youtube in «enabling» their cause is stamped on many memories. Our lives it seemed did not matter much at the time, and maybe still dont…..
    A proxy war in Europe similarly divides and weakens.

    1. 220228 says:

      Good points. The nationalism of Ukraine is a bit of a fabrication. The ‘Ukrainisation’ of the region was part of the Soviet-wide policy of Korenisation (literally ‘indigenisation’ or ‘nativisation’), whereby titular ‘nations’ were conjured out of the cosmopolitanism of the former Russian Empire. Similar processes took place around the same time in the lands of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and those of the former Ottoman Empire. The name was first used in reference to the numerous lands and their peoples on the border between Poland and Kievan Rus’; it literally means ‘borderlands’

      Modern Ukraine is a product of the ‘nativisation’ policy of the Soviet Union, which aimed at eliminating Russian cultural domination in its constituent republics. All children in the ‘Ukrainian’ republic, whatever their ethnicity, were taught the dominant East Slavic dialect/language of the region in school. All apparatchiks in the republic were likewise required to learn the new ‘national’ language and culture. In this way, Ukrainian nationalism was originally fabricated to ‘break’ the hegemony of the ancien régime of the Russian Empire.

      Interestingly, the Scots Renaissance of the early to mid-20th century was similarly motivated. Artists like Christopher Murray Grieve and James Leslie Mitchell believed that the creation of a synthetic Scottish nationalism could (along with a Nazi victory over Britain) ‘break’ the hegemony of the ancien régime of the British Empire and hasten the downfall of capitalism.

      Anyway, it’s ironic that a nationalism that was fabricated by the Soviet Union should now be turning against a reassertion of Russian hegemony in the region. You can’t help thinking that the old Bolsheviks would be pleased.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.