Of BackChannels’ several inventions in political psychology, the “Paranoid Delusional Narcissistic Reflection of Motivation” might apply best to President Putin’s way of looking at western liberalism, developing cause to consider it threatening, and then, at last, accusing the west of possessing his own true motives as regards political control through disinformation, force, and manipulation.
For history, start with Czar Nicholas III’s “Okhrana“, the political secret police tasked with influencing and shaping the Czar’s own opposition — Ayatollah or Emperor, why not play both sides of the chessboard? The political theater is either yours or it’s not — prove it’s yours: put on a play; give the opposition its head; slip it a script; settle back and enjoy the show.
Dang if it hasn’t worked!
Of course, there’s more to the story of Russia’s romance with autocracy, state-controlled information and the perversions that are disinformation and propaganda, and secret political police. What follows on this post is an afternoon’s brief compilation of articles pertinent to the challenge posed today by Putin’s approach to throwing the wool over so many eyes, including, possibly, his own.
In general, the Russian media portrays anything going on from the point of view of Vladimir Putin. He has unlimited access to the media and they explain everything that’s going on according to his official statement. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a war in Syria or any other topic.
Russia today is the first intelligence dictatorship in history. It is a brand new form of totalitarianism, which we are not yet familiar with. Now the KGB, rechristened FSB, is openly running Russia.
Ion Pacepa in an interview with Blaze Books as reported by Benjamin Weingarten in The Blaze, February 10, 2014, citation included in reference.
BackChannels also possesses in its library a small “Russian Section” that boasts many volumes on the Russian experience in the 20th Century, on the Soviet, and on the transition from the Soviet to “Putin’s Kleptocracy”.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, its people had a unique opportunity to also cast off the country’s political police, that peculiarly Russian instrument of power created by the 16th century’s Ivan the Terrible, which had changed its name many times, from Okhrana to Cheka, to GPU, to OGPU, to NKVD, to NKGB, to MGB, to MVD, to KGB. Unfortunately, the Russian people were not yet ready — or able — to seize that opportunity.
The international community faces serious challenges arising from a new mode of information warfare, which Russia has deployed during the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in 2014-2015. This ongoing “propaganda war” is the most recent and frightening example of information warfare. It reflects the wide array of non-military tools used to exert pressure and influence the behaviour of countries. When skilfully combined, disinformation, malicious attacks on large-scale information and communication systems, psychological pressure, can be even more dangerous than traditional weapon systems, since they are extremely difficult to discover and combat.
The Kremlin’s disinformation campaign goes far beyond controlling its own media. It is aimed at nothing less than presenting a parallel version of reality and disseminating it as if it were news. The Kremlin’s goal is to make people question the value of media at all; to reject the idea of an absolute truth; and to persuade the public that “reality” is relative.
If someone—some lost, ersatz-port-begotten ghost—materializing before me at that moment, had told me that, thirty years later, I would be writing about Andropov’s death in English, in America, on the week when post-Soviet Russia’s ruling class—made up, to a considerable extent, of the old K.G.B. cadre—would be celebrating the hundredth anniversary of his birth with a large exhibit dedicated to his life, at whose opening a glowing telegram from his spiritual successor, President Vladimir Putin, would be read—well, I would have known for certain that I had finally and irrevocably, once and for all, lost my mind.
As a former KGB officer and head of the KGB’s successor agency, the FSB, Putin knows the value of information. His concept of the media, however, is a far cry from the First Amendment. For him, it’s a simple transactional equation: Whoever owns the media controls what it says.
“There should be patriotically minded people at the head of state information resources,” Putin told reporters at his 2013 annual news conference, “people who uphold the interests of the Russian Federation. These are state resources. That is the way it is going to be.”
Additional and Cited Reference
Disinformation is always a conscious policy and part of a larger policy agenda. It is not simply dishonesty of this or that official in response to a particular event. It is implemented with a clear understanding that a combination of truth and falsehood is useful and effective. And it is pursued as long as it is effective, being sacrificed only when there are reasons to believe that either it is no longer necessary or it is no longer being accepted. All of those things have characterized Putin’s approach to information about Ukraine, a pattern that makes what Moscow is doing all the more disturbing.
Martosko, David. “Exclusive: New book reveals how KGB operation seeded Muslim countries with anti-American, anti-Jewish propaganda during the 1970s, laying the groundwork for Islamist terrorism against U.S. and Israel.” Daily Mail, June 25, 2013.
Wikipedia. “Okhrana”. The following comes from the “Pre-1905” section of the Wikipedia entry:
While P.I. Rachkovsky, as head of the Okhrana’s Foreign Agency, had long ordered Okhrana agents to infiltrate and influence revolutionary movements abroad, Zubatov brought these tactics to a new level by creating Okhrana-controlled trade unions, the foundation of police socialism.
Posted to YouTube March 5, 2014.
Addendum – July 11, 2016 and Forward
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