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George Soros: Accused of overthrowing governments, according to both the “Telegraph” and Russian propaganda (©WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM CC BY-SA 2.0)

Russian propagandists now have their own Western radio and television stations, and work across the web to influence the results of elections and referendums. And it seems as if nothing has changed. Just as the old Soviet Union funded Communist propaganda, so Russia now funds Putin propaganda. Just as the old Soviet Union funded the Communist parties of Europe, so Putin’s Russia provides money for Europe’s new far-right parties.

As in Soviet times, the success of propaganda is not judged by the tiny audience for stations such as RT and Sputnik, but by how far it spreads into the wider culture. The Telegraph is not the modern equivalent of the Communist  Daily Worker. To the best of my knowledge it does not receive Moscow gold. But when it tore into George Soros for donating to a pro-Brexit campaign group by saying that Soros “has been accused of toppling governments in Georgia and Ukraine”, Moscow would have been delighted. Authoritarian governments across the old Soviet empire have fed the idea that the promotion of human rights and democracy are incitements to rebellion. And now a mainstream British newspaper without any connection to Moscow is repeating their allegations with a straight face, as if they were  charges serious people should take seriously.

Advertisers say they know a product has status when rival companies use it as a prop in their commercials. The same applies to fake news. Propaganda only truly triumphs when propagandists no longer need to spread it. And yet the differences between then and now could not be greater. Soviet propaganda promoted the USSR as a utopia, a workers’ paradise that all who had the best interests of the human race at heart should support. Today’s Russian propagandists in the West do not even try to make their audience believe that it is somehow “progressive” to wish Moscow well. Beyond cheesy pieces of “the prettiest Russians athletes at the Winter Olympics” variety, there are few attempts to sell even a false picture of Russia on the RT or Sputnik sites. 

The reticence is understandable. Communism, like radical Islam, is a universal creed. Thousands of Muslims from all over the word went to murder, rape and die for the Islamic State in the hope of bringing their version of paradise — the caliphate — to earth. No foreigner would volunteer to fight for Putin’s Russia. By definition, the appeal of Russian nationalism is limited to Russians. Julian Assange and a few Western journalists have moved from opposing Western imperialism to supporting Russian imperialism. But although the journey is surprisingly easy to make, there is too much hypocrisy along the way for any decent person to stomach.

Russia uses RT and Sputnik to settle scores and blacken the name of reputable critics. When the independent digital consultancy published a report a few weeks ago tracking the vast Russian effort on Twitter to promote anti-EU propaganda in the referendum campaign, RT responded at once. It damned the company for “passionately defending” George Soros, whose sinister Jewish fingers must be in every pie. Anyone now searching for the report on the web will now find the smears alongside the impartial research.
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Lee Carney
March 9th, 2018
12:03 PM
Rather that the formulation of Communism-Putinism and Communist-Putinist why not just call Putin out for what he is the formulation should be Communism-Fascism and Communist-Fascist. Otherwise outstanding as always from Nick, and when you look at Xi scrapping Term Limits in China and what Duterte is up to in the Philippines it an important reminder that for all its fault, when there is no US moral leadership (however hypocritical that has been at times) then really bad people create really dangerous situations that harm actual real people in their everyday lives

March 1st, 2018
6:03 PM
I have tried to submit my comment twice now, and you have not posted it. I have not used any rude language, and while I challenged some aspects of the article, I have maintained a civil tone and expression. Why have you not posted it then? Are you not interested in upholding the democratic principles involved in sharing and encountering different points of view? If not, it would seem that my observation about Orwell’s society would also apply to Standpoint.

March 1st, 2018
6:03 AM
Orwell was talking about the society to come — ours today, in fact — one in which the ostensibly liberal cast has become a mask under which many undemocratic diversions can and continue to take place. Not only is it interesting how much the left has currently come to embrace the anti-Russian narratives that were once a staple of conservative acolytes decades ago (and without result), but also that the ongoing disingenuity of the liberal media’s pronouncements will become more clear as we proceed, and as each new generation entering society will see through the ideological manufacturing process currently at work. All such political strategies will become increasingly superficial since the writing on the wall has clearly indicated that no one is getting away with anything anymore — no one, and not the smallest thing.

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