Why are so many people still pro-Russian?
painting (c) Алексей Рысюк
No matter what they do in Ukraine, there will always be many across the world who applaud the Russians.
I see five captive audiences for propaganda. In the coming weeks and months, these are going to be the main recipients they can count on:
1. The looney left
Those who believe in Putinism, like Comrade Alexander Finnegan, find it an ally in their holy war against Imperialism, colonialism, profit-seeking monopolies, and other oppressors and bloodsuckers. It doesn’t matter to them that the Russia of the last three decades falls neatly into the Marxist description of the worst capitalism. Whatever assists in defeating the liberal democracy they hate is good. Kind of a variation of “Anyone but Trump”.
2. Children of Great Russia
There are millions of Russians in diaspora today, spread throughout the world. Their ethnic and personal identity is tied to the Derzháva (“mighty Russian State”) in its Putinist incarnation. Although they may be educated, well-read, and appear to be cosmopolitan, tribal loyalty is very much alive and well in them. Hish Bortman is a great example of an ex-Soviet émigré who deeply loves Mother Russia despite living in Israel at a safe distance.
3. The Schroederized
Outside of Russia, Putinism enriched many people. Schröder, the former German Chancellor, is the most famous of them. Their beloved President’s death would be tragic.
4. Libertarian fringes
There is a large gathering of conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, warriors against the Deep State, white supremacists, gun activists, anti-globalists, and fans of Assange and Snowden. Those who support the glorious Russian army and their secret services (ignoring their own, of course) see them as the mighty ram destined to crush the oppressive rule of Eurocrats, Anglo-Saxon bankers, Neocons, and other enemies of humanity.
5. Anti-American nationalists
These vastly outnumber the previous four. Here, we find two disparate groups
- Those who support Western nationalist ideas. Anglo-Saxon globalism, which the rest of us call “liberal democracy”, is for these people a reprehensible disguise for progressivism. They see in it a gravedigger for their national identity. “Go, Putin, go, put them in the grave they dug for us!”
- There are many more nationalists in non-Western countries than in Western countries. Obviously, the Chinese are in the lead due to their sheer numbers. However, Indians, Africans, Arabs and Latinos are well represented as well. Their presence keeps the memory of colonialism alive and well. Their ears ring with sweet music when Russia brings revenge on the haughty, wealthy descendants of their former masters.
There are many friends of Russia who do not belong to any of these 5 groups. They are as scared and confused as most inside the perimeter. But they are desperately looking for anything positive, any piece of good news, any shred of redeeming evidence from the Cyrillic side.
There is a great piece of concept art by Alexéy Rysiúk at the beginning of this article. It shows two enduring features of Russian civilization:
One, a tough survivalist. The man is never defeated, even when he has his back against the wall. Death and destruction are always at his disposal when he is on the enemy’s turf.
Two, a kind, gentle soul, a fuzzy, loving, innocent creature, always ready to embrace anyone with a Russian heart.
Foreigners should decide which part of the vision is closest to their hearts. The propaganda machine can deliver either of these in spades.