As the Neo-fascist government of Vladimir Putin amasses troops and armor along the Ukrainian border, his propaganda machine churns out a contradictory narrative that most in America would find risible. From the Moscow Times, quoting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: “We simply don’t have the right to exclude that the Kiev regime may embark on a military adventure. This all creates a threat to Russia’s security. If the West is unable to contain Ukraine, but, on the contrary, will incite it, then of course, we will take all the necessary steps to ensure our reliable security.”
Here I must digress to point out that Russia’s first step backwards from democracy into dictatorship after the fall of the Soviet Union came with a stifling of the fleetingly free Russian press. According to worldatlas.com, “Arguably the first step Putin took to consolidate his power came in 2001, when the Russian government took over…two of the most popular independent media outlets in the country.” President Putin quickly followed up with a crackdown on the independent media at large.
From the Guardian (September 11, 2021): “For more than a decade, the Kremlin has been engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with Russia’s independent media. Outlets with independent journalists were periodically purged by their businessmen or state owners.” Next came Russia’s law on foreign agents, which in grotesque parody of its title criminalizes virtually all reporting displeasing to the Kremlin whether it be “articles, stories, videos or even jokes.” As I write these lines, “47 outlets, journalists and activists have been added to the (registry of “foreign agents”), including… news agencies that have little or no connection to foreign governments.” Failure to comply with the severe restrictions and self-condemnatory labelling requirements on all their content (brings) “stiff fines and potential criminal liability.”
Meanwhile, Putin has predictably consolidated control of the government under his United Russia Party, which dominates the enfeebled legislative and judicial branches. With his power thus firmly secured, he now looks to rebuild the great Russian empires of the past, starting with its most long-suffering traditional satellite, Ukraine. Deftly ignoring the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, annexing and systematically subjugating the Crimea, Putin elaborated on the Ukrainian threat noted above. NATO support for Ukraine, he insisted, would be intolerable because the western treaty organization would then predictably deploy missiles capable of striking Moscow. Hinting at nuclear retaliation, he added. “The emergence of such threats represents a red line for us. I hope that it will not get to that and common sense and responsibility for their own countries and the global community will eventually prevail.”
When asked about China’s burgeoning nuclear program, however, Putin assumed a more cavalier tone, reassuring us that close ties between nuclear armed Russia and China are “a major factor of global stability.” According to the AP (November 30) Putin went on to say that in view of this mythical Ukrainian threat, Russia has developed a new hypersonic missile, the Zircon, capable of travelling 620 miles in about 45 minutes, ostensibly to counter the NATO threat. The West, you see, must be made to behave more responsibly. “The matter is not whether to send troops or not, go to war or not, but to establish a more fair and stable development and taking into account (sic) the security interest of all… players,” The Russian demagogue insisted.
More troubling than Putin’s reality defying propaganda is the fact that a vast majority of Russians appear to believe it. The former premier and multi-term president is widely expected to win re-election once again, which will carry him through 2024, after which many expect that he will simply abolish the term limit law which stands in the way of his lifetime rule. These expectations are based on his current popularity, which derives in large part from the Russian people’s faith in his foreign policy narrative, including the “big lie” that Ukraine is a threat to their country.
So where have we seen this paranoid and chauvinistic sort of language before? I take you back to 1939. “COMPLETE CHAOS IN POLAND—GERMAN FAMILIES FLEE—POLISH SOLDIERS PUSH TO EDGE OF GERMAN BORDER.” (Headline of Berlin Times, August 10, 1939.) “POLAND LOOK OUT,” the Berlin Times warns. “ANSWER TO POLAND, THE RUNNER AMOK AGAINST PEACE AND RIGHT IN EUROPE.” On August 26 the Times headlined more detail. “COMPLETE CHAOS IN POLAND—GERMAN FAMILIES FLEE—POLISH SOLDIERS PUSH TO EDGE OF GERMAN BORDER.”
But the Berlin Times was not alone. The headline in Der Fuehrer on that same day was equally preposterous. “WARSAW THREATENS BOMBARDMENT OF DANZIG—UNBELIEVABLE AGITATION OF THE POLISH ARCHMADNESS.”
The Uhr Blatt amplified this insanity. “THIS PLAYING WITH FIRE GOING TOO FAR—THREE GERMAN PASSENGER PLANES SHOT AT BY POLES—IN CORRIDOR MANY GERMAN FARM HOUSES IN FLAMES.”
And finally, from the Voelkischer Beobachter of August 27, “WHOLE OF POLAND IN WAR FEVER! 1,500,000 MEN MOBILIZED! UNINTERRUPTED TROOP TRANSPORT TOWARD THE FRONTIER!
Of course Adolph Hitler wrote these fabulous headlines, which are taken from William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” page 564. It should here be noted that long before this “Polish crisis” the German Press, while ostensibly operating as a free and independent journalistic enterprise, had fallen entirely under the thumb of Nazi Propaganda Minister Paul Joseph Goebbels. In less than a week after those brazen lies appeared above the fold, German Panzers were streaming across the Polish Border. And before the end of September all resistance on the part of the imaginary Polish land armada, so hysterically hyped by the German print media, had magically evaporated. What is more in fulfillment of a pre-arranged secret agreement with the Nazis, Joseph Stalin had attacked Poland from the east to ensure his half of the spoils.
My point here is not to demonstrate the similarities between Vladimir Putin’s war propaganda and that of Adolph Hitler. I take it for granted that the perceptive reader will have recognized such an obvious parallel. My point is that the German people—and I cannot emphasize this strongly enough – manifestly believed the absurd claims emanating from their one party government and their captive press. In the same way, the Russian people believed Stalin’s 1939 propaganda, though less than a decade earlier he had murdered some ten million Ukrainians, starving about four million of them to death in The Great Famine. The gullible public in every land has a tragically short memory for horrible things done in its name. While I’m sure today’s Ukrainians remember how they suffered under “Mother Russia” the last time around, it appears that the Russians do not. As George Orwell so aptly put it, “Who controls the past controls the future: Who controls the present controls the past.”
The following is taken from page 563 of Shirer’s epic Nazi history. Quoting his personal diary entry of August 10, 1939, he writes, “Whereas all the rest of the world considers that the peace is about to be broken by Germany, that it is Germany that is threatening to attack Poland… here in Germany, in the world the local newspapers create, the very reverse is maintained… What the Nazi papers are claiming is this: that it is Poland which is threatening Germany with armed invasion…”
Most people, and even most historians, have entirely misunderstood Hitler’s doctrine of “the big lie.” Contrary to the prevailing notion, the Fuehrer never had any specific monstrous lie in mind, nor did he limit himself to a weekly or even a daily regimen of big lies. What Hitler did – and what Putin is now doing – was to deploy on a pre-programmed basis such an enormous barrage of outrageous lies, from every available source and in concert with all the organs of culture and popular opinion, that the truth simply had no way to get air. The “big lie” was a different lie for every situation, but it was always the most audacious lie that could be fashioned to fit the circumstance. Hitler eschewed excuses, reactive prevarications, explanatory deceptions and the like because they do not sell. Most people engage in timid deceits of that sort, and so they recognize them when they see them.
What Hitler admired and engaged in was wholesale and grandiose fabrication, each monstrous falsehood carefully woven into a tapestry of preceding lies and containing within itself additional falsehoods, distortions and deceptive insinuations to serve as a foundation for the next big lie. This artful weaving together of lies is what those on the left today would call “their narrative.” That is, it was planned and thematic, and not at all spontaneous. For example, in the case of Poland Hitler staged elaborate atrocity scenes placing Polish army uniforms on the dead “attackers” and using freshly murdered corpses from his own concentration camps as German “victims.”
Did the people of Russia believe the Nazi propaganda? I doubt it. I suspect they recognize it for what it was and found it laughable. Similarly, the Germans most likely did not believe Stalin’s propaganda, at least after June 22nd of 1941, when the Nazis launched Operation Barbarossa, a surprise blitz invasion against the Soviet Union. No one believes the national propaganda of a power-mad state, except the people living under that state and daily subject to that propaganda. But those people eat it up, and that is all that matters.
Whenever the state and the press and the organs of popular culture are all telling you exactly the same thing, the hair on the back of your neck should stand up. That should be an alert for you that the truth has gone into hiding. Right now Putin’s Russia is probably about to crush and then annex the Ukraine. His history of aggression, his substantial military build-up along the Ukrainian border, and his voluminous assurances that he is only concerned with Russia’s “national security” are fair warning. And yet the Russian people probably believe that for the security of their country their president has no choice but to mobilize the national defense.
But what about us? We know Putin is lying. What should we do? Biden is now vacillating between a military response against Russia and an order forcing Ukraine to cede to Russia the coveted regions of its country. Quite predictably, we are already hearing the siren song of war from neocons, neo-libs, and many of the other hawkish sources that reliably send our sons off to die in pointless and quixotic adventures. Just yesterday Senator Roger Wicker, the number two Republican on the Armed Services Committee, threatened Armageddon against Russia. “We don’t rule out first use nuclear action,” he warned.
But is that a good idea? Would it be in our national interest? Who would survive a modern nuclear war? Could we even win a war against Russia in the Ukraine, nuclear or otherwise? How many body bags before we would be bailing out, as we did in Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan? How much more “nation building” can we afford? How many more Americans would Biden shamefully leave behind? How many more un-vetted “refugees” can we assimilate from places where the populations have been brainwashed to hate us?
I don’t have certain answers to these or any of the other foreign policy questions that currently confront us. Should we defend Taiwan against the pending invasion by China? Perhaps it would be the right thing to do – if it were feasible. But is it? We revoked diplomatic recognition of our WWII allies in Taiwan a long time ago, and now recognize their Marxist enemies. Such is our steadfastness and our loyalty. Would it be advisable to fight such populous and powerful enemies as China and Russia? On two fronts? Hitler and Napoleon both demonstrated the futility in that. And yet I’m not sure we couldn’t be talked into such a debacle if the Swamp was to promote it as a means to power and the arms lobby as a way to profit. A few strategic campaign contributions can always raise the battle flag.
What I do know is that our Democrat-media complex now has nearly total control of the flow of information. I know that we rarely hear the truth about important issues from the Administration, from the “mainstream” press, or from the icons of pop culture. I know that for most people being on the politically “correct” side is more important than being on the moral and truthful side. I know that while the veracity in our organs of information has been declining at least since 1984, it is worse today than it has ever been. I know that people under the pall of systematic propaganda, historically speaking, are the last to realize that they have been duped. In short, I know that we live under circumstances very much like those in the earliest days of the Third Reich, where the truth became the first casualty of war.
As an example, celebrity of the moment Jussie Smollett was just handed a damning verdict for falsely claiming to have been attacked by white supremacist MAGA fanatics. His guilt could not have been more obvious. Yet he still insists he was assaulted by two white men now revealed to be black Nigerians, one of them his gay lover. He claims they hung a noose around his neck, though records show it was he who bought the rope prior to directing a dress rehearsal. That he was able to mount even a flimsy pretense of a defense is only due to the fact that he was tipped off about police suspicions by CNN anchor Don Lemon, who also claims to “love” Mr. Smollett. “Don’t give them your cell phone,” Lemon warned him!
Still, the establishment press insists Smollett is innocent, just as they assured us that Kyle Rittenhouse was guilty. Every prominent Democrat, vapid celebrity and leftist media outlet offered this pathetic Empire icon obeisant homage. Even our shell president Joe Biden placed a wreath at his shrine. “What happened today to Jussie Smollett must never be tolerated in this country. We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor, that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts. We are with you Jussie.” Lies don’t get much bigger than this. And yet vast numbers of our fellow citizens still sincerely and tragically believe them.
I have heard many people ask over the years how it was that the German people could have gone along with the atrocities of a madman like Hitler. How could they not have known of the war crimes, the cruel tortures and medical experiments, the Holocaust? These questions betray a childlike naiveté. Only one who has grown up in a free country and suckled on blind trust could even ask them. In countries like North Korea, Nazi Germany and Putin’s Russia, every honest fact is ruthlessly suppressed, and those insistent upon the truth are shot or shipped off to a stalag or a gulag. Even the most minor facts are aborted in the newsroom if they do not fit the narrative. Because tyrannies of that order are insistent upon owning not just the body but the mind and the soul as well, no one dares to speak the truth—or to hear it.
A year after the collapse of the Third Reich, a majority of Germans still saw Hitler as a savior who had been stabbed in the back by malevolent elements in Britain and the United States. For understandable reasons, and in spite of the utter destruction of their country, they clung to that myth. As did Hitler, who after violating every treaty and ordering the execution of most of his closest accomplices and friends, repeatedly lamented that he had been “betrayed.” The Nazi Mastermind wrote in his last will and testament that (the war came about) “only because the ruling class in England wanted war, partly for commercial reasons, partly because it was influenced by propaganda put out by the international Jewry.” In my youth I knew Germans who deeply convinced of that.
In our country today the free expression of ideas is being “cancelled.” Self-appointed “fact checkers” are censoring even the most obvious truths because reality is a threat to their “narrative.” People who insist upon unpopular points of view are being “ghosted” (a neologism for what we once called “black-balling”). In Soviet terms such people are being made “nonpersons.” Even their names are no longer mentioned. In short, the free flow of honest information and ideas is being stifled in ways that only a few years ago many could not have imagined.
When a government monopolizes media in order to lie to its people, it always does so for their well-being, their security, or their own good. Take your pick! Or should I say “take the jab!” If you believe that you are receiving the truth from our own government today – the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then you terrify me. You have become what I would call, for lack of a better term, a “Good German.” You have suspended your critical judgment because it stands in the way of your comfort. And while your ignorance may be bliss for you, it is bound to be hell for the rest of us.© Jim Wagner
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.