Staunton, March 22 – Putin’s regime, Igor Eidman says, “is not freer but more sophisticated than its Soviet” predecessor in large part because its propaganda machine is “more powerful and effective,” depending not on blocking access to other sources of information but on playing to Russians’ basest impulses while claiming Moscow provides all the news they need.
In a Facebook post, the Russian commentator for Deutsche Welle draws a sharp contrast between the way in which the Soviet authorities dealt with information and the way Putin does. The former couldn’t work under conditions of free access to information while the latter can (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1800661013330203&id=100001589654713).
“Soviet propaganda wasn’t able to work under conditions of free access to information: it wasn’t competitive, and therefore the authorities jammed ‘foreign radio voices,’ jailed people for samizdat, and silences any dissidents,” Eidman writes, noting that this approach played an evil trick on its authors at the time and when information became more freely available.
“The Soviet man unconsciously guessed that the powers that be were ‘hiding something’ from him about his life and slavery. Consequently, when Gorbachev’s glasnost began, people literally grasped at the information which had been prisoned before, like children who had been deprived of their toys.”
“After this,” Eidman says, “communist propaganda ceased to work, the USSR was shaken to its foundations and soon fell to pieces.”
Putin’s approach is “more powerful and effective,” he continues. More clever and emotional, “it plays with success on the basest and that means the strongest feelings of the crowd.” It makes use of the most sophisticated psychological tools, and “all the policy of the country, even wars and terrorist acts, are put in its service.”
According to Eidman, “the federal television channels, which work exclusively for the authorities, are able to create in the public mind the illusion of diversity and pluralism. In their information field, specially selected ‘dissidents’ are included, people who either from naivete or vanity” agree to play this role.
Under Putin, “the Kremlin knows that if the opposition-minded minority is deprived of its information outlets, an explosion could occur. Therefore, it has created an infrastructure of pseudo-opposition media and parties” that can be counted on to “imitate political protest” in ways that are no threat for the powers that be.
Indeed, it is important to recognize that now, the Putin regime “uses for its own goals not only the pro-government agenda but also the ‘opposition’ one.” And that has profound and even disturbing consequences, Eidman argues.
“Putin’s ‘post-modern’ totalitarianism is much more stable than was the Soviet variant. The controlled imitation of freedom is used as an effective vaccine against the search for real freedom. The authorities are able to manipulate and subordinate to their interests any categories of citizens up to and including liberals and ‘opposition figures.’”
And as a result, the commentator concludes, “the Putin man while being essentially a slave doesn’t even guess that this is the case.”