Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Conspiracy Thinking which Shaped Russian Views about Trump Came from US, Makarkin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 22 – Widespread Russian acceptance of the notion that an elite conspiracy blocked Donald Trump from achieving a rapprochement with Russia and winning re-election is the result of the fact that conspiracy theorists from the US have developed a remarkable following among Russians, Aleksey Makarkin says.

            The collapse of the USSR and the CPSU left “an ideological vacuum” in the minds of many Russians who wanted something to explain what had happened and what was now going on, the Moscow commentator says (t.me/BuninCo/2606 reposted at  kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5FBA6B8DC5842).

            In Soviet times, Russians had already become accustomed to the idea that behind official formulas like internationalism stood everyday  xenophobia and behind official atheism various religious or quasi-religious ideas among the population.  They were thus ready to believe that what they saw was the product of a hidden hand.

            And “after the fall of the Iron Curtain,” and lacking ideological frameworks of their own, many of them borrowed from the works of extreme right authors in the West, viewing them as useful guides to the new world in which they found themselves.  And they used them to judge not only their own situation but that of outsiders in the West like Trump.

            According to Makarkin, “Russia became one of the centers for the spread of American conspiratorial thinking,” with the words of US writers like Ralph Epperson and Anthony Sutton widely translated and published in Russia  and regularly “surprised by the large print runs of their books in Russia.”

            Russians who had only recently ceased to be communists “learned to see world evil in the Bilderberg Club and the Trilateral Commission.” They accepted American conspiracy theories about the US Federal Reserve. “And “creationism and the anti-abortion movement in Russia were founded on the arguments of conservative religious groups from the same US sources.”

            “In this way,” the commentator says, “the Russian anti-Western worldview became closely linked with Western critics of the mainstream. And Trump was viewed by those who shared that view as ‘their own,’ even if at a rational level, Russians could see that his presidency didn’t bring Russia any specific benefits.”

            For Russians who accepted US conspiracy theories, Trump “wanted to make peace” with Russia, “but the local elite and bureaucracy got in the way.”  According to Makarkin, “this is not far from the truth.” And this vision of Trump was reinforced for many Russians by the fact that the state media didn’t attack him or the US conspiracy theories behind this view.

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