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#131- Dictators, Immigration, #metoo, and other Imponderables A Conversation with Masha Gessen

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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02 July 2018 21:44
 

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Masha Gessen about Vladimir Putin, the problem of gauging public opinion in Russia, Trump’s fondness for dictators, the challenges of immigration, comparisons between Christian and Muslim intolerance, “fake news” and the health of journalism, the #MeToo movement, and other topics.


#131- Dictators, Immigration, #metoo, and other Imponderables A Conversation with Masha Gessen


This thread is for listeners’ comments.

 
 
sojourner
 
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02 July 2018 23:46
 

Just listened to about the first third and need to hit the hay before finishing the podcast. While I like Gessen a lot, I did find the Russia commentary strangely unsatisfying, as Russia and Putin are a current fascination of mine and I guess I was waiting for some sort of special insight on this topic. The thing is, I think Gessen’s take on the situation is largely that of any Western liberal, which is interesting but not something I couldn’t hear from, well, any Western liberal. For example, she seemed pretty adamant about the idea that most Russians are mind-controlled by state media… I have mixed feelings on a proposal like that. Yes, disallowing other viewpoints and only churning out propaganda is an issue that should be addressed. That said, saying that people are incapable of thinking for themselves in this dynamic is subtly different. If you declared that about most other groups (that they are more or less helpless sheep who can only parrot what they see on tv), it would generally be considered a case of stereotyping and insulting people’s intelligence. It’s always difficult to tell which direction that relationship goes, after all - do people follow what they see on tv or is state media obliged to pacify people? I think in the case of Russia there’s at least some evidence of the latter, given how messaging has shifted over the years, particularly around times of discontent. I don’t think it’s a closed case that Russian media is totally a cause and not a symptom of Russian sentiment, in other words.


Another example - Gessen’s categorization of Russia as a fairly run-of-the-mill (at least that’s how it sounded to me) totalitarian dictatorship, and Putin as a typical Strongman Dictator archetype also felt a few shades off to me. Maybe it’s just that most dictators tend to be red-blooded dude bros, and Putin, for all his awkward hit-you-over-the-head “Check out this Strongman Archetype Photo Opp!” moments, just reads more Dungeons and Dragons than Preppy 80s Movie Villain. Don’t get me wrong, introverted sensitive types can be as bad or worse than dude bros - they will not haze you on the football field, but they will stalk you or otherwise act like a total creeper if you break up with them. Both personality types have their light and dark side - but they are different light and dark sides. Someone who beats up their own friends and forces them to down 20 shots on initiation night because it’s all in good fun but if you don’t do it they’ll paddle you… again? Dude bro. Someone who breaks into their exes house and writes poetry on their walls in blood after they broke up with them to date their best friend? Dungeons and Dragons. And whatever else you want to say about Russia, their particular brand of authoritarianism has never been particularly red-blooded - it seems to skew heavily toward the esoteric and weird. I felt like Gessen was kind of mashing them into the same category as Baby Doc as if the shoe fit them just as well, when I think there is an enigmatic difference there. Was hoping to get a bit of insight into that, but honestly, my guess is that she is just as puzzled by their weirder behavior as the rest of us. Putin, for all his flaws and evil deeds, does seem somewhat differentiated from the standard dictator type in that he seems genuinely interested in other people and, often, to genuinely like other people (as opposed to most strongmen, who genuinely like themselves, and see other people as cooperating to greater or lesser degrees in that narrative.) This leaves something of a gap in terms of insight regarding the best way to really engage with Russia - toward that end, I guess I’d be curious to hear what a Russian who really ‘buys in’ to the Putin narrative said on the topic, to get more of an insider’s perspective. What do they see as the positive side of that relationship, what makes it tick for them? Is it about national glory? A sense of personal intimacy with a single leader vs. a diffuse democracy? Simply going along to get along? I feel like without that view, anyone with an outsider perspective is more or less just making a best guess.


At any rate, Gessen is an interesting speaker who seems to care a lot about her work, so I will be curious to hear the rest of the podcast tomorrow.

 
 
Micha
 
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03 July 2018 00:46
 

I was initially concerned about Sam Harris’s insistence towards the beginning of the podcast on creating a debate about religion, but I was very happy at the end of the podcast when he brought it up again to ensure that both he and Masha Gessen were able to more fully explain their thoughts.  It did initially seem like Sam Harris was attempting to pick a fight and make Masha Gessen make a statement and defend it, which all seemed needlessly aggressive and generally impolite. 

I was impressed with Masha Gessen’s poise and nuanced responses in this podcast.

 
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03 July 2018 03:37
 

As a Central European, I am always particularly intigued when the topic of the European immigration crisis comes up, and I was glad when Gessen pointed out that in Europe even countries that have almost no immigration see a rise in right-wing populism just due to the fear of immigration. Hungary recently reelected for the third time a party that had been plundering the country for the past eight years, just because they advocate zero immigration, even though it is not a country of desired destination for the migrants.
It would have been nice to hear her thoughts on how active a role she thinks Putin played in the refugee crisis (5 to 10 thousand Middle-Eastern refugees bicycling from Russia to Norway does raise some questions of logistics).
Great conversation.

 
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03 July 2018 06:40
 

NL. How many totalitarian regimes have you lived under?  I haven’t lived under any so I’m a bit
willing to entertain the idea that public opinion doesn’t exist in Russia.  There’s that famous quote about how a man will believe essentially anything if his livelihood depends on it (so forget the book).  I’m sure that if someone were working with an overly expansive or overly literal interpretation, they’d find this characterization faulty.  However I found it to be a useful pushback against some of the, possibly naive, assumptions Sam was working from in trying to discuss Russian politics.

 
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03 July 2018 07:28
 

I could relate to what she said about no public and no opinion. I don’t have any first hand experience regarding Russia, but Hungary is getting there too. E.g. One of the opposition politicians said in an interview, that when she goes to smaller towns, she has to assure the people that she has never met George Soros. And then they confront her with the photos on which they are together in close proximity (these were government sponsored billboards, by the way, not facebook trolling). And then she explains that you can do that today with computers. So while I would not discard the utterances of these people as non-views, I see where MG is coming from.

 
Twissel
 
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03 July 2018 08:09
 

Great guest, and Harris did well in listening closely to what she has to say.
And how can any view other than Gessen’s be relevant when discussing Russia? We are not interested in whether a ruler like Putin is good for Russia because he is (arguably) better than Stalin; countries in the 21st century shouldn’t look to the 19th century for social norms, regardless of their history. Doing so is an admittance of social and political bankruptcy - and Russia is the prime offender.

 
 
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03 July 2018 08:43
 
mapadofu - 03 July 2018 06:40 AM

NL. How many totalitarian regimes have you lived under? I haven’t lived under any so I’m a bit willing to entertain the idea that public opinion doesn’t exist in Russia.  There’s that famous quote about how a man will believe essentially anything if his livelihood depends on it (so forget the book).  I’m sure that if someone were working with an overly expansive or overly literal interpretation, they’d find this characterization faulty.  However I found it to be a useful pushback against some of the, possibly naive, assumptions Sam was working from in trying to discuss Russian politics.


I didn’t say I wasn’t willing to entertain the idea at all, I said I’m not willing to put 100% confidence in it based on one interview with one person. Totalitarian societies traditionally have to use much more violence and aggression against their own people to maintain ‘brainwash’ levels of control. Maybe Russia is a unique case where they are just that good at brainwashing people without the need for large scale violence, but as that would make them the exception and not the norm, I’m a bit skeptical.


Regarding a man believing anything if his livelihood depends on it, when it comes to subjective beliefs, this is true of everyone. If anyone completely breaks the cultural and social mores of the place they are living in they can expect those kinds of consequences. I believe it is right to wear clothing because if I walked around without it I would indeed be in a lot of trouble. Some of that is just a part of being human - so I think the specifics of what people are being asked to believe is important. Gessen mentioned something about polls showing that 80% of people in Russia will swing their position on whether the US is a friend / enemy immediately after the news portrays them as such - if so, yes, that is alarming. But I guess I’d want more specific examples of that sort before being convinced that Russia is in a sort of mind-control situation and people have so internalized their fear of the state that they simply convince themselves that they agree with whatever they say. Or evidence that the motivation to agree with higher authority is imposed, rather than a ground up phenomenon, based on culture (some cultures do just defer much more to authority, I think.)


I think the narrative that Russians really want a system that looks much more like the US’s but are simply too brainwashed / afraid / etc. to express this tends to be the go-to one because it avoids the extraordinarily messy can of worms that is “What do we actually mean by global democracy?”. Some people mean democracy in the most literal sense - people should choose whatever system they choose, and if we have no evidence that it’s being imposed on ‘the masses’ against their will, we should let it be. Some people have a more normative view of what a healthy society should look like, in the same way we have norms about what a healthy relationship looks like. By way of example, if someone is in an abusive relationship or has Stockholm Syndrome, they may well feel a lot of affection towards their abuser - but based on our norms of healthy psychology, we are comfortable telling them - “No, that is not real love you’re feeling, it may seem that way to you, but you are mistaken.” In that case, you have to delineate what your standards are for a psychologically healthy government-citizenry relationship and hold every government to those standards.


So if one is of the ‘let the chips fall where they may’ view on democracy, then I think Putin’s popularity in Russia may well be quite legitimate and something people have to accept if they promote the right of citizens to make their own choices. If one takes a normative view of governments as having healthy or unhealthy relationships with their citizenry, I still think Russia is a very murky case and one would have to be a lot more specific in laying out what those standards are and where they significantly stray from healthy standards as compared to countries of similar GDP, security concerns, current level of tribalism, and so on. While I think Russia needs to stay the hell out of our elections, I am more open on what they do in their own country. It’s possible it’s a bad dynamic, I think it’s also possible that it’s something that works for them at the moment and the terrible downsides, such as homophobia, are things you see in almost every country earlier on in their developmental arc. If Russia is good for Russians, I am not opposed to them doing things differently so long as they are not interfering with us. If Russia is bad for Russians, that’s different.

[ Edited: 03 July 2018 08:48 by sojourner]
 
 
okComputer
 
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03 July 2018 14:45
 

Sam,

I have been following your work for a better part of the last decade, I have read and saw almost everything that you have produced and had a pleasure to briefly meet you during the book signing at Antonio Damasio event in LA. Thank you for all your work!

It is precisely your deep thinking on variety of issues that makes your view on modern Russia so surprisingly lack of nuance. Your past guests - Kasparov, Applebaum and now Gessen hold many views that I find incredibly myopic and lacking context.

Listening to Masha Gessen was a particularly painful experience. It was not her condescension and outright disdain towards Russians (“Russians can’t have an opinion”), but rather a blatant disregard for facts: “Fist strike doctrine,” “Majority of people in Russia believe that homosexuality is a killing offense” etc. At the very least it should have given you an indication of amount of “good faith” that Gessen has while dealing with facts.

I hope that I can present a more nuanced take on thinking about today’s Russia that will at least show that support for today’s power is based on more than just simple brainwashing as Gessen suggested.

Since 2000 (the year when Putin came to power) Russians saw an unprecedented creation of wealth which is felt at every strata of the society. I want to put few facts on the table which Masha Gessen, Applebaum, et al insistently keep “forgetting” to mention.

Let’s roll back the clock.

From 1990 to 1999 Russia (and other Soviet Republics) lost 60-85% of their economies. Putting things in perspective US lost ~ 30% during the Great Depression. I lived there through the hell of the 1990s: rampant crime, hyperinflation, and unemployment at levels never before seen in the civilized world for almost a century. Imagine living every day as if it is the worst day of your life and the only good thing about it is that it is better than the day to follow; and like this for ten years…

By late 90s Russia was few feet away from decaying into the stone age. I escaped that horror due to having lucky genes that made me exceptional at taking standardized tests in a foreign language and scoring in 98th percentile (unless I had a “soviet privilege” that I was not aware of, Ezra and ilk should explain this phenomena). I moved to US, but majority of my former compatriots were less fortunate and had to deal with a grim reality of the 90s

Here are some more economic data points to better understand the historical continuity:

Historical GDP per capita (nominal dollars)

1990: $3.4K - right before USSR collapses
1999: $1.3K - 60% drop , right before Putin came to Power (60%+ drop)
2013: $15.5K. a 570% increase
2016: $8.7K sanctions caused devaluation of the Rubble (however, purchasing power was affected to a significantly lesser degree)

If we look at GDP PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) - the most true comparison of “wealth”

In 2017: 

Ukraine: $8,700
Cuba:$11,900
Russia: $27,900
Italy: $38,000
US: $59,500
Ireland: $72,600

Basically, the gap between Italy and Russia is significantly smaller than the gap between US and Italy. US per capita is behind Ireland by a similar amount; Cuba is “wealthier” than Ukraine, which during USSR, was essentially the same as Russia. Today, Russia is no more a “Somalia with snow” which it was about to become in 1999.

Following are some common questions and answers that are frequently thrown to discredit the economic success story:

What about Economic Inequality?
Economic inequality is a problem, but significantly less so than in US (GINI index link below)

Is Russia a petro state?
Definitely Russia benefits from high prices on fossil fuels, but is it a “petro state?” Let’s look at comparison data :

Oil and Gas as a percentage of GDP

Russia: 16%
Norway: 19%
Saudi Arabia 60%


The economic data above demonstrates that highly likely there is another incredibly important side of the story that “Gessens” and “Applebaums” of the world tend to “forget” to mention.

140 million people in past ~18 years have experienced an unprecedented rise in wealth and all the benefits it produces (improvements in public health, infant mortality, increase in child birth rate, life expectancy etc.)

Can Putin take the credit for all of this - no, there were number of other factors like oil and gas, etc. But is he an irreplaceable piece of the puzzle - undoubtfully so. Petro dollars could have been easily stolen and stored somewhere in a Swiss bank.

Putin’s stance on freedom of the press is indefensible and hard to relate to for someone living in West Hollywood, but this is not the case for the country like China (btw, which is almost never criticized for significantly harsher human rights violations). Unfortunately, being a journalist have been incredibly dangerous in Russia since 1990s and Putin has not made it any better. For instance, take one of the biggest journalist assassination of Vlad Listyev in 1996. (Vlad was more popular in Russia than Oprah ever was in US in her prime except for Vlad was critical of Yeltcin and the government). But if we read the press here we get the impression that these assassinations started with Putin coming to power. I personally believe that Putin absolutely should share at least part of the blame for the journalists deaths, but there are way more moving parts in the equation than we tend to think.

There are number of things that modern Russia/Putin should be justifiably blamed for, but to people like myself who are very familiar with facts on the ground the one sided presentation of facts and pseudo facts with which we are being bombarded in US is, ironically, an indicator of brain washing (although to a lesser degree than in Russia) in which we are partaking ourselves.

Links:

Nominal GDP per capita
https://www.bing.com/search?q=russia gdp per capita 1990&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&pq=russia gdp per capita 1990&sc=1-26&sk;=&cvid=014D295500214601973DA397E40DFF3D

PPP GDP per capita
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html

GINI index (economic inequality)
https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/indicators/SI.POV.GINI/rankings

 
 
sojourner
 
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03 July 2018 16:32
 
okComputer - 03 July 2018 02:45 PM

I have been following your work for a better part of the last decade, I have read and saw almost everything that you have produced and had a pleasure to briefly meet you during the book signing at Antonio Damasio event in LA. Thank you for all your work!

It is precisely your deep thinking on variety of issues that makes your view on modern Russia so surprisingly lack of nuance. Your past guests - Kasparov, Applebaum and now Gessen hold many views that I find incredibly myopic and lacking context.

Listening to Masha Gessen was a particularly painful experience. It was not her condescension and outright disdain towards Russians (“Russians can’t have an opinion”), but rather a blatant disregard for facts: “Fist strike doctrine,” “Majority of people in Russia believe that homosexuality is a killing offense” etc. At the very least it should have given you an indication of amount of “good faith” that Gessen has while dealing with facts.

I hope that I can present a more nuanced take on thinking about today’s Russia that will at least show that support for today’s power is based on more than just simple brainwashing as Gessen suggested.


Interesting post. I actually don’t find Russia’s narrative particularly hard to follow in terms of finances, as you’ve discussed here. I even understand why Putin has palpable appeal to people, at a simply human level (And it does seem that while, when he falls out with people he falls out hard - really, really hard - many people seem to respond positively to his particular energy or whatever you want to call it. The people who raised him liked him well enough to outright give him a car that they could have purchased a house with, for example, so clearly this goes way back. This is a person that people really do seem to like. I don’t think that’s any mystery or state-run machination, it’s just fairly straightforward charisma.) So sure, (relatively) booming economy, charismatic leader, a restored sense of national unity, all that makes sense.


Where I find Russia very enigmatic and impossible to narrate in Western terms is in their bizarre power politics. (I was hoping Gessen would get into this but honestly, I’m not sure if she understands what this is about either.) I think there must be a genuinely different mindset there in order for that to make sense, either that or a lot of internal disorder that leads to self-contradictory moves. For example - creating a random provocation just when their international relationships seemed to be improving a bit, by poisoning two people (and endangering many more) in a very obvious, ‘send a message’ way, and then when hey, the message is sent, suddenly slamming it into reverse, trying to backpedal, and going “WaitWhatHuhWho? We didn’t poison anyone! Um, you poisoned them! Everyone is picking on us again!”. Arresting their top entrepreneurs and then expecting investors to come to the country… playing nice to people’s faces while making little effort to hide troll campaigns that are going on behind their backs, and then adamantly lying about the obvious when people go “Hey, wtf, I thought we were friends, what’s with the troll campaign?”.


On all that, I am just genuinely curious. Is this a national case of post traumatic stress disorder (or reactive attachment disorder with the global community)? Habits learned in the Stalin era transmitted from one generation to the next? Are they just really bad at reading Western mindsets and genuinely surprised when people flip their shit about poisoned doorknobs, like “Oh wait, who knew that one would be a PR error?! Let’s say it never happened.”? If they’ve just got centuries of bad mojo and internal demons to work out, why is it so entrenched in Russia when Germany bounced back into a vibrant liberal country a generation after Nazism? I dunno, perhaps I should read Dostoevsky and Tolstoy if I want answers on that kind of thing (I tried, but Crime and Punishment - Christ on a Cracker, if I wanted 900 hours of obsessive ruminating, I would just sit alone in a room with myself for 900 hours. I think I got about 30 pages into that tome.)

[ Edited: 03 July 2018 16:34 by sojourner]
 
 
mapadofu
 
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04 July 2018 07:43
 

To the extent that Putin can promulgate the story that his rule was and still is necessary for the economic gains, then that just helps him hold onto power.

NL and Ok have used terms like “(simple) mind control” as though the combination of propaganda, misinformation, corruption, abridgemants of justice and outright violence was some sort of cartoon villain ray gun instead of a complex and sometimes subtle manipulation.

To put the cartoon on the other foot,  given the level of state control of the media and forms of repression, how can one say that any pro-Putin expression is really a free, well-informed rational decision?  Wouldn’t that require believing that Russia is a free and open society?

[ Edited: 04 July 2018 07:59 by mapadofu]
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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04 July 2018 08:06
 

I thought Gessen’s depiction of Russian foreign/defense policy was pretty biased. She takes the Neocon/Liberal Hawk (Cold Warrior) position—which, unfortunately, is the only one our “mainstream media” chooses to parrot. Her claim that there is no “public opinion” in Russia—that Russians only believe the US is the enemy because they can’t form their own opinions thanks to Putin’s stranglehold on the media—is bullshit. It may be true that Putin has a stranglehold on Russian media, but Russians nevertheless have very good reasons to see the US as their enemy based purely on our own actions. Russia is like a wounded animal cornered by NATO. Its reaction—Crimea, eastern Ukraine—is exactly what we should expect. I’d wager to say that our own policies have done more to help Putin than hurt him, by giving Russians an enemy to rally against.

 
 
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04 July 2018 09:13
 

It takes two to tango.  Both Bush and Obama had tried to engage, and presumably Trump will too in Helsinki, but I haven’t seen anything useful come out of it other than we’ve avoided a direct conflict in Syria (not a trivial accomplishment).  Makes me think that the problem isn’t on the US’s side.

Russia *had* to inavade and annex it’s sovereign neighbor’s territory in response to the diplomatic maneuvering of the US and NATO?  I don’t think so, so I’d expect them to refrain from this kind of international aggression.

[ Edited: 04 July 2018 09:16 by mapadofu]
 
sojourner
 
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04 July 2018 09:27
 
mapadofu - 04 July 2018 07:43 AM

To the extent that Putin can promulgate the story that his rule was and still is necessary for the economic gains, then that just helps him hold onto power.

NL and Ok have used terms like “(simple) mind control” as though the combination of propaganda, misinformation, corruption, abridgemants of justice and outright violence was some sort of cartoon villain ray gun instead of a complex and sometimes subtle manipulation.

To put the cartoon on the other foot,  given the level of state control of the media and forms of repression, how can one say that any pro-Putin expression is really a free, well-informed rational decision?  Wouldn’t that require believing that Russia is a free and open society?


What I’m saying is that Gessen proposes that mind control (or at least the illusion of it, perhaps people feigning or withholding opinions out of submissiveness if not always outright convinced) can be almost totally achieved via what you call ‘complex and subtle manipulation’ - and that this, if true, would be the exception, not the rule, so I’d need more evidence for it. I also said I’m open to the idea that this is true - maybe Russia is the exception (Putin is all about judo, and the idea of ‘minimal effort / maximum results’ is central to that, I think - maybe he really did work that equation out in a fairly unique way.)


That said, I also think that if something does not fit a typical / obvious pattern, it requires a bit more evidence. If you told me people listened to Stalin at least partially out of terror and the corresponding control of public opinion, I wouldn’t go “Weeeeell…. really? I mean were the gulags all that bad? Hmm… let me think about it…” I think there is enough evidence for an argument from common sense in that case. But if you’re saying that subtle manipulation can have such huge effects, then you have to account for the fact that everyone is exposed to subtle manipulation in some forms.


A note - I think I’m fairly consistent on this - I get annoyed when people are like “Hollywood controls what the Sheeple think!” or “Facebook is controlling our minds!” If you can’t watch a movie or log into Facebook without falling into a quagmire of mind control, let’s be honest, it was just a matter of time before someone was going to control your mind anyways, so probably better that you stumbled on to Facebook and not an extremist website. I’m not saying that those things don’t have tremendous cultural influence - of course they do (I saw the term “Disneybounding” the other day and realized that Disney is possibly something like the Greek mythology of our culture,) but I think once you move the bar of what constitutes ‘totalitarian control’ that low, then you have a hard time differentiating it from normal cultural influence.


I agree that Russia uses some tactics that are absolutely appalling by our standards. Assassination of key figures among activists and journalists; state sponsored character assassination and libel; and really bizarre stuff like, according to John Oliver, literally taking public dumps on people’s cars (Something I find puzzling because, what - it makes the other person look bad if you’re taking a dump on their car in public?) Their human rights standing is not the absolute worst of the worst, but they rank consistently low and are often outranked by third world countries. But I do think it’s only fair to note that when they moved quickly to a liberal democracy in the 90s, their economy fell apart and a horrible group of murderous gangsters emerged, and that people understandably hated that and saw Putin as reigning in an out-of-control mafia state that certainly didn’t value human rights any more than the Putin regime, and, on top of that, led to incredible poverty. I’m not saying that the ends justifies the means so that makes it ok - but I do think it’s a bit insulting to assume that people are so mindless that they can be easily controlled by seeing something on tv. Yes, there is state tv in Russia, but there is also a lot of context behind the direction they moved in.

[ Edited: 04 July 2018 13:49 by sojourner]
 
 
GAD
 
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04 July 2018 09:46
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 04 July 2018 08:06 AM

I thought Gessen’s depiction of Russian foreign/defense policy was pretty biased. She takes the Neocon/Liberal Hawk (Cold Warrior) position—which, unfortunately, is the only one our “mainstream media” chooses to parrot. Her claim that there is no “public opinion” in Russia—that Russians only believe the US is the enemy because they can’t form their own opinions thanks to Putin’s stranglehold on the media—is bullshit. It may be true that Putin has a stranglehold on Russian media, but Russians nevertheless have very good reasons to see the US as their enemy based purely on our own actions. Russia is like a wounded animal cornered by NATO. Its reaction—Crimea, eastern Ukraine—is exactly what we should expect. I’d wager to say that our own policies have done more to help Putin than hurt him, by giving Russians an enemy to rally against.

How do you know? He is a dictator, what county run by a dictator has ever not gone down in flames? What actions did NATO do that justify Crimea, eastern Ukraine?

 
 
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04 July 2018 14:39
 
GAD - 04 July 2018 09:46 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 04 July 2018 08:06 AM

I thought Gessen’s depiction of Russian foreign/defense policy was pretty biased. She takes the Neocon/Liberal Hawk (Cold Warrior) position—which, unfortunately, is the only one our “mainstream media” chooses to parrot. Her claim that there is no “public opinion” in Russia—that Russians only believe the US is the enemy because they can’t form their own opinions thanks to Putin’s stranglehold on the media—is bullshit. It may be true that Putin has a stranglehold on Russian media, but Russians nevertheless have very good reasons to see the US as their enemy based purely on our own actions. Russia is like a wounded animal cornered by NATO. Its reaction—Crimea, eastern Ukraine—is exactly what we should expect. I’d wager to say that our own policies have done more to help Putin than hurt him, by giving Russians an enemy to rally against.

How do you know? He is a dictator, what county run by a dictator has ever not gone down in flames? What actions did NATO do that justify Crimea, eastern Ukraine?

Do you recall what prompted the annexation of Crimea and the subsequent Russian interference in eastern Ukraine?

 
 
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