Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Putin has Erected a New Kind of ‘Propaganda State,’ Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 14 – Vladimir Putin has created “a new model” of rule, one in which “propaganda ceases to be propaganda in the normal sense of the word” and becomes instead “a means of generating an alternative reality,” a revolutionary development in statecraft which exceeds anything Stalin or Hitler achieved, according to Igor Yakovenko.

            The Soviet and Nazi dictators, Yakovenko said in “Yezhednevny zhurnal” yesterday,  promoted a big lie and backed it with the overwhelming power of the state but did not face the challenge that their audiences would have immediate access to alternative information sources that could call their claims into question (  

            As a result, he continued, Putin has created an entirely different reality for his audience, convert its members “into little Goebels” who become “the active subjects” of its maintenance and spread, and increasingly move to isolate Russia from the rest of the world in the manner of North Korea in order to maintain himself and his regime.

            And Yakovenko said that this transformation of propaganda in what is a post-modern direction constitutes the political equivalent of “the Copernican revolution,” one that involves such a fundamental change in the nature of politics that anyone seeking to understand the Putin regime must apply an entirely new set of criteria.

            Putin’s approach involves “propaganda of the post-modern era, in which there is not even internal logic ... in which [its internal contradictions are] successfully compensated by the unprecedented massiveness of the propaganda,” he says. As a result, “those who see the absurdity of the official picture of the world are driven into a moral and information ghetto.”

            Given the possibility that Russians can get information relatively easily which undermines the “propaganda myth” the Kremlin is creating, Putin has had to promote the idea of a world divided between “the sacred, in this case, the peaceful pro-Russian activists, and the profane, that is armed to the tooth fascists of ‘the Right Sector.’”

            And that black and white division to be sustainable at all has to be extended back into the Russian Federation itself, Yakovenko argued, with the majority being told and being convinced, if polls are to be believed, that they must accept what the Kremlin says regardless of the facts and that they must view those who express disagreement as enemies.

            But such a division is not sustainable if there is relative openness in the media.  “In closed countries, like North Korea, propaganda [of this kind] always wins.  [And] therefore the Putin regime in the name of itself-preservation is condemned to follow the North Korean vector,” the Moscow commentator says.

            However, he concludes, “how long the regime can move in this direction without destroying the country is today the main question of Russia.”

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