Bedevilled by disturbing thoughts and feelings emerging from the safehouse of the unconscious, the troubled individual deploys one or more defence mechanisms to ease discomfort and restore psychic equilibrium.
Perhaps the least benign of these, particularly from a social standpoint, and certainly one of the least ‘mature,’ is splitting. Rather than engaging with the troubling ‘real’ world which requires discernment, negotiation and risk, the fearful individual falls prey to rigid dichotomous thinking, needing to view people and events in a monochromatic way: hero or villain; right or wrong; good or evil.
Such simplistic narratives to be found in myths, legends and fairy tales may well supply children with a degree of understanding and security but only serve to perpetuate fear and ignorance for infantilised and beleaguered workers.
Self-serving imperialists not only create and perpetuate lies that keep workers fearful, but also systematically eradicate information that could provide an insight into the exploitation and destruction which lie at the heart of their system. This is done with a level of control which reveals the fiction of western ‘democracy’ to be myth-making of epic proportions.
Building the ‘Russia bad, Ukraine good’ myth
To prepare the public for this latest Nato-led conflagration, the ruling class has been swift to get on top of the message by censoring and cancelling dissenting voices to be found online. With corporate media it has been a case of invoking tried-and-tested Russophobic tropes created to demonise both the USSR and post-glasnost Russia.
The Soviet Union has long been portrayed as authoritarian, inefficient and bleak, ruled over by a tyrannical Stalin from within the wickedly labyrinthine Kremlin. Lies have been told, history falsified, and victories overlooked to convince workers in the west that there exists no viable alternative to capitalism.
Following the fall of the USSR, Russia has been depicted as a lawless state, victim of gangster oligarchs draining the motherland of valuable resources whilst playing-out their KGB-inspired exploits on the streets their stolen roubles were acquiring so rapidly.
It should come as no surprise just how swiftly and comprehensively this conflict has been characterised as a ‘David and Goliath’ struggle: Ukraine, the plucky little besieged country holding out valiantly against the bellicose, aggrandising rogue state, led by variously a “lunatic”, a “monster”, a “Machiavelli”, a “ruthless egomaniac” – Vladimir Putin, the “demonic” lovechild of Stalinesque dictatorship and bandit profiteers.
Had the British establishment rolled out a plan for the revival of British infrastructure, health, education, or housing as thoroughly as the propaganda machine has been deployed in this conflict, then Britain really might be great again. None of which has been lost upon its target, President Vladimir Putin.
In addressing the Russian state duma on 7 July, President Putin stated: “Today, these ruling elites [of Anglo-American imperialism] are raising the degree to which they manipulate the state consciousness right before our eyes. The ruling classes of the western countries, which are supranational and globalist [monopoly capitalist / imperialist] in nature, realised that their policies are increasingly detached from reality, common sense, and truth, and they have started resorting to openly despotic methods.”
Tell us more, Vladimir, the adults are in the room: “The west, which once declared such principles of democracy as freedom of speech, pluralism, and respect for dissenting opinions, has now degenerated into the opposite: totalitarianism. This includes censorship, media bans, and arbitrary treatment of journalists and public figures.”
These are not the ramblings of an unhinged dictator or technocrat. Indeed, labelling the Russian leader as such is another sign of western imperialist dysfunction: projection.
These observations from the Russian president are demonstrably true: from the blanket, ubiquitous and homogenous warmongering that passes for ‘commentary’ across all available news outlets, to the censoring of any channel that breaks with the imperialist propaganda narrative (Press TV, Telesur, RT …), and the rigid policing and censorship of ‘social media’ – where anything goes, except for the truth.
The familiar trope of excusing such draconian measures because the west is ‘on a war-footing’ is swiftly rendered fraudulent when we consider the incarceration of Julian Assange – his fate awaits any journalist who wishes to expose the illegality and bestiality at the heart of the west’s hegemony.
Mobilising well-meaning do-gooders and liberals for Nato’s war effort
Imperialist despotism comes in many shapes and forms, of course, since it aims to provide something to sway everyone. For the doubters, for the liberals, for the apolitical, we have the enticement of satisfying their charitable instincts and rescue fantasies.
Never in the field of hard sell has so much been achieved. One can only imagine the salivation and adrenalin rush of the team commissioned to present the CIA puppet-controlled government of Volodymyr Zelensky and his predecessors as legitimate (despite their part in the brutal and bloody overthrow of a democratically elected government in 2014 and subsequent shooting and shelling of civilians in the Donbass republics).
To ignore completely the Ukrainian aggression against the Russian-speaking part of the population (scattered throughout the country but concentrated particularly in the southern and eastern regions) by systematically bombing civilians in the Donbass for eight years. To manufacture the masquerade that the Ukraine is acting in self-defence and use it as an opportunity to squeeze something out of those images of devastation from Syria (just who is going to notice that they have been fallaciously labelled as military casualties in Ukraine?)
The real buzz for the creatives must have come from the Ukraine’s USP. There must have been a few moments of pursed lips, glazed eyes, and tense pencil-drumming when the executive dropped the N word. Then: sure, no problem, that was World War 2 stuff, after all.
After all, we have managed to bury the fact that victory over the fascists was down to the efforts and sacrifices of the USSR, the Chinese Liberation Army and the antifascist partisans, rather than to the combined derring-do of the stalwart British and swashbuckling Americans, so the enthusiastic collaboration of the Ukrainians in the systematic slaughter of their jewish neighbours can be quietly erased.
It must have felt uncomfortable for some in that windowless room to be schooled on European politics, to admit that their assumption that the Azov battalion were no more than a bunch of disaffected oiks with a fetish for Nazi insignia had its origins in sketchy YouTube features on football hooliganism. To find out that they had been subsumed into mainstream Ukrainian military and government, to learn that they had been host to CIA sleeper agents, recruiting politicians and giving out paramilitary training to private militias to operate against pro-Russian individuals, which had also passed them by.
Social embarrassment, however, soon gave way to Freudian levels of trying to impress daddy, and at some point, someone must have suggested flags. If nakedly ambitious underling looked at similarly driven underling askance, it would not have taken long for the understated beauty of this concept to hit home. Mid-blue and yellow. The rather insipid colours of the national flag of a country few could find on a map. Everywhere. Ubiquitous. Powerful. Virtue signalling to the point at which if one does not display a flag or a pennant then it is at best suspicious at worst singled you out as a hater. LGBTQ+ rainbow move aside – a new victim is in town.
Trying to whitewash Nazis has never been easier, and with Israeli collusion in the project, it feels as though history has its closure. The words of Russian communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, ring true: “Capitalists are not only deadlocked. They are going mad. There is only one antidote because capitalism only creates Nazism, fascism and Bandera movements. Nothing but socialism can defeat it.”
As ever, the ruling class is playing fast and loose with history. The jack boot is back once again in Europe and (once again) the west is its paymaster; enemy of the millions of soldiers and civilians who were sacrificed in its former defeat.
So far, so predictable. An imperialist power has got to do what an imperialist power sees it can get away with. However, on 15 February 2003, it appeared, albeit briefly, that the establishment in Britain had over-reached.
The treachery of Britain’s official ‘antiwar movement’
Organised around the Stop the War coalition, up to two million people gathered and marched through London to oppose the Iraq war. If ever there existed a moment when a really antiwar leadership could have provided the British people with a focus, a rallying point, for the expression of their anger towards the British establishment and its patent lack of legitimacy, or an opportunity to challenge Britain’s involvement with the USA, Nato, and the endless imperialist drive to war, then 2003 was it.
That agency of the British people on the streets demanding justice and peace was squandered by Stop the War, through sabotage or an absence of political will, never to be regained.
Fast forward to 2022.
What can the coalition offer those people searching for answers amid yet another conflict, another drumbeat heralding the possibility of nuclear war, another eye-watering drain on a nation’s finances when households in the grip of an economic downturn not of their making are being asked to brace themselves for a cold winter, many unable to heat their homes?
Saccharine and mawkish pacifism of the ‘left’, which runs along the lines of ‘war is very bad’, ‘Russia has taken the world to the brink of the unthinkable’, and a schoolyard adage of there always being two sides in an argument so ‘let’s just talk it out’.
In Stop the War’s statement on 21 September, Chris Nineham condemned Russia for its “escalation” of the war, with Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he will call upon reservists and is prepared to use “various means of destruction”. He opined that this is a direct response to “humiliating retreats” forced upon the Russian Federation by a western-backed and heavily-subsidised Ukraine.
Nineham reiterated how destructive war can be and how the social and economic fallout is felt acutely by the citizens of both sides. He seemed particularly concerned for the people of Ukraine. One can only hope that Chris had been rushed into writing this article, giving him no time to research his subject, otherwise his piece can only be described as teetering between vacuous liberal tosh and Nato propaganda.
It is not that he misinterpreted the political and military context leading up to this war, but that he offered none for his readers.
Before attributing blame to the Russian Federation for the war in Ukraine, perhaps a few facts would prove useful. Russia is not an imperialist power and has to the contrary steered clear of involvement in any number of conflagrations initiated by the USA and Nato; as has China, hitherto. This fact alone inflames the USA, since independent nations, let alone economically ascendent nations, cast doubt upon the efficacy of their own decaying capitalist system, whilst the lure of untouched or not-yet-fully-controlled markets is the lifeblood it not only desires but must possess.
When Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov expressed concern about “Nato’s activities in close vicinity to our borders”, he can be forgiven for his concern. Russia has 15 military bases in nine foreign countries, with just two of them situated outside the former Soviet Union. China has one. The USA has 800.
Both the USA and the European Union have proven themselves to be dishonest brokers. Since its signing in 2014, the Minsk agreement has been flouted by Ukraine with the clandestine political involvement and overt military support of both powers.
In 2021, Russia proposed to the west a plan for a new security system in Europe. Both sides were to withdraw troops from the border, to halt ships and aircraft from entering dangerous areas. Nato was not supposed to expand further to the east, which meant that Ukraine would not be able to join Nato, creating a de facto zone of peace; Europeans could focus on other goals.
These proposals were rejected. The USA considered Russia to be too weak and felt it did not need to make concessions to Moscow. Russia and its ally Belarus announced big manoeuvres and forces were pulled up to the border. Instead of negotiating, the USA and its allies launched a media blitzkreig, announcing Russia’s intention to invade Ukraine.
Ukraine, confident of the support of the west, and confident that Russia was bluffing, bluntly stated that it would not comply with the Minsk agreements. President Zelensky mentioned the possibility of obtaining a nuclear status for Ukraine. Fighting of the frontline in the Donbass resumed after a month-long ceasefire.
If furnished with the facts, workers might find themselves agreeing with Lavrov when he says: “The world is becoming multipolar … The current actions of the west show its desire to hinder the objective historical process with all its might, to maintain dominance at any cost.” So long as they don’t fall prey to the lie that the establishment, that Capital, fights on their behalf. British workers have more to gain by respecting Russia’s autonomy than they will gain from the grasping hands of their own imperialist leaders.
Chris Nineham’s article feigned balance when he criticised the west for “inflaming the war” by “economically isolating” Russia. Yet, as has been documented, punitive sanctions imposed on Russia have only served to strengthen that country’s resolve, but more significantly, helped her to develop markets beyond the axis of the west. In spite of the west’s bombast, its sabre rattling, the words of their own insider James Carville ring truer than ever: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Russia has not fallen after being denied access to its markets in the west, but has been the beneficiary of the birth of a new world of trade ushered in by that unholy midwife, imperialism’s greed.
Both India and China have expanded the volume of their energy imports from Russia over the past six months. There have been credible reports of the former selling refined Russian oil to European and US importers. Russian earnings from energy exports skyrocketed following the west’s sanction barrage earlier this year.
European workers, meanwhile, are reeling from the ever-rising costs of heating and electricity bills as officials scramble to contain the energy crisis unleashed by what experts have described as the EU’s ‘poorly conceived’ plan to transition away from Russian energy imports.
From July 2021 to July 2022, British domestic gas prices increased by 96 percent and British domestic electricity prices increased by 54 percent. According to the Office of National Statistics, 89 percent of adults in Britain have reported an increase in their cost of living. The unconscionable gap between the elites and the workers will only be widened when this trillion-dollar, western-funded, asset-stripping conflict ends.
While Stop the War mouths its trite cliches about the futility of war, the news of the liberation of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics by the Russian Federation reaches us, and we witness for ourselves the freedom that is brought by self-determination and the will of the people. The fate of Ukraine hangs in the balance as Russia’s operation continues relentlessly to neutralise the west-backed fascist threat on its doorstep.
At some point, negotiations will resume, and it was always the hope of President Putin that these would occur sooner rather than later:
“This is the beginning of the transition from liberal-globalist American egocentrism to a truly multipolar world based not on self-serving rules made up by someone for their own needs, behind which there is nothing but striving for hegemony, not on hypocritical double standards, but on international law and the genuine sovereignty of nations and civilizations, on their will to live their historical destiny, with their own values and traditions, and to align cooperation on the basis of democracy, justice and equality.” (Speech to the duma, 7 July 2022)
Whipping away the cloak of denial can be a painful – and therefore risky – strategy, providing no guarantee that self-destructive and self-defeating behaviours will be set aside once the truth is out. However, it is incumbent upon those fighting imperialism to reveal to workers the orthodoxies of exploitation that distort our worldview – and providing the context to this conflict is vital.
Ukraine is no damsel in distress; Nato is no knight in shining armour; and Russia resembles a sage rather than a wolf.
If we are to be liberated from the threat of monsters, it is not the Russian bear that must be vanquished but the rampant greed of the marauding western imperialists, dressed as the always are for the benefit of the as-yet-uninitiated in the clothes of the valiant hero.