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New media and the ‘Russia Myth’

Contrary to what is claimed in an evidence free article in The New York Times, Russia does not control or influence the alternative media, which has grown spontaneously as a response to the failure of the traditional media to question Western policies or Western realities with which many Westerners are increasingly dissatisfied. Rather it is simply a case that Russian foreign policy is genuinely attractive to much of the Western public which is attracted to alternative media.

Anyone who has ever been to an abattoir and witnessed the slitting of an animals throat, knows that it is not a pleasant sight to see, irrespective of one’s dietary customs.  Once the throat of the animal is slit it begins moving in a crazed and violent manner, a futile struggle before its ultimate death.

Something similar is happening to western mainstream media, but luckily this implosion of the senses and violent lashings out are the product not of physical violence but of ideological collapse, lack of popularity and decades of discredited theories.

The latest story comes in the form of a hit piece in The New York Times against new media (alternative media) and elaborates on Hillary Clinton’s wild conspiracy theory that the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin himself are directly involved in coordinating  all of the world’s new media, including from within European and North American countries.

As usual there is no evidence.

Such claims not only misunderstand Russia but they misunderstand the nature of new/alternative media.

Indeed at some point one ought to find a better word for such media outlets, because increasingly high numbers of people worldwide are reading, listening to and watching new media instead of the failing old newspapers and old fashioned broadcasters like the BBC and CNN. A group of rebels who take over a country are no longer rebels at that point.

But putting names aside, it is necessary to totally debunk the ‘Russia myth’ which this time implies something far more reaching than the classic ‘Putin Did It’ line (see The Duran Lexicon for more on that).

The myth is that all new media is either directly controlled by Russia or are comprised of Kremlin agents working to spread misinformation in order to promote a ‘Russian agenda’.

New media exists in almost all countries, is made up of individuals from all nationalities and all political beliefs. The reason that Russia is targeted as being the originator of this new media is for two reasons and two reasons alone.

First of all, where the mainstream institutions of western society balked at, laughed at or ignored the emergence of new media, Russian society embraced it.

This happened for several reasons. New media as we understand it, emerged shortly after 1990s, a terrifying and painful decade for most Russians. Naturally after such protracted and disastrous events, people look for answers. This is what led Russians to collectivelt embrace organisations that ‘question more’…now the motto of RT, Russia’s most well-known new media outlet. Russia was not afraid to take chances on new media and this investment has paid off.

The other reason has nothing to do with Russian interests but has to do with Russia’s political record.

People in the west are turning to new media because they too have seen the disasters of endless, immoral, illegal, costly and pointless wars. They have seen the fact that globalism is about making life for corporations easier, not about making life for individuals more connected and just. They have seen the fact that their governments which call themselves the most forthright and honest in the world, are actually doing the same kinds of corrupt deals that they accuse governments in distant lands of doing.

The policies of perpetual war, surrendering one’s country to globalism, and reliance on double standards to hide corruption at home, are all things that official Russian policy has pointed out and rebuked.

It is therefore only natural for many in the West to look at Russia’s record and say, ‘They mostly got it right where the West almost entirely got it wrong’.  Like Russians after the 1990s, people in the west too want to ‘question more’. The only difference is where Russia’s new, young political classes had no outward hostility to new media, in the West the opposite is true.

The other great Western conspiracy theory is that there is an exclusively right wing nature to such media and that again it’s because of Putin.

First of all, Putin is not a right wing political leader. He is a classic centrist.

The term centrist has for several decades been used incorrectly in the West. In Europe and American it is used to describe someone who is happy with all mainstream global and national bureaucracies whilst simultaneously having little or no sympathy for genuine socialism and traditional free market capitalism. More and more it also means being supportive of military interventions. 

Putin embodies a truer form of centrism. His political programme combines certain elements of leftist thinking, certain elements of conservative thinking, whilst it rejects any variety of extremism.

In foreign policy Putin takes an approach based on respect for sovereign states and the need to cooperate based on crucial global issues rather than because of ideological branding. One can’t really get much more centrist than this.

Now of course there are left wing and right wing new media individuals and outlets which only further proves that this phenomenon has nothing to do with spreading ‘Putinism’ (not that Putinism exists as a dogmatic ideology, it most certainly does not).

The only thing such outlets have in common is that they question political authority. Some do it from the left, some do it from the right, and each has a unique analysis. The desire to ask difficult questions does not imply right or left…it can and does imply both.

Never have the Western media been so desperate to discredit other journalists. The New York Times implies that American men and women working for organisations like RT or Sputnik are somehow traitors. This neo-McCarthyism is an insult to people’s intelligence, but what can one expect from the kind of news outlets who fault whistle blowers for exposing devastating truths whilst covering up the outright lies of crooked politicians?

Disgusting though such accusations are, in an paradoxical way this ought to be a moment of celebration. The old guard are afraid, they are losing their audience and because of that they are losing the plot. They have made the newsmakers the news and this is the sign not of robust journalism but of a slaughtered beast in its final fits of agony.

Perhaps those writing for new media outlets, like the one you are reading, ought to feel sympathy with those whose monopoly over information has ended and whose audience is dwindling. On behalf of the entire Russian government which I do not work for nor represent and on behalf of President Putin whom I have never met, had a phone call from, nor a pay cheque from, I’m sorry on behalf of all new media for winning minds, changing minds and increasing our audience.

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