Guy might enjoy this, since it’s time to pick on the shallow thinking of many lefties.
It’s a hard truth to face, but a segment of the “anti-imperialist” left has amplified Vladimir Putin’s imperial propaganda.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 2nd March 2022
Yes, there is something we can do. Something that, even if small, is meaningful. The propaganda war has always been crucial to Vladimir Putin. He uses floods of disinformation to confuse and misdirect people overseas and bolster support at home. The Kremlin knows that every action requires an apparatus of justification. Russia cannot continue its costly war without the consent of its troops and many other citizens.
Putin’s troll factories are notorious for turning out misleading claims, but their power is limited by their lack of credibility. What serves him well, as a study by Cardiff University’s crime and security research institute suggests, are “organic comments”: statements by real people, repeating and amplifying his propaganda. These are liked or upvoted by his bots then reproduced in Russian media to create the impression that he has widespread overseas support.
Obviously, real people have a right to express their opinions, however mistaken. But, given their utility to the Russian disinformation machine, I believe we have a duty to debunk and contest misleading justifications. In doing so we could, in our very small way, help the resistance in Ukraine.
This puts me in a difficult place. Among the worst disseminators of Kremlin propaganda in the UK are people with whom I have, in the past, shared platforms and made alliances. The grim truth is that, for years, a segment of the “anti-imperialist” left has been recycling and amplifying Putin’s falsehoods. This segment is by no means representative: many other leftists have staunchly and consistently denounced Russian imperialism, just as they rightly denounce the imperialism of the US and UK. But it is, I think, an important one.
At the end of last year, the writer and film-maker John Pilger claimed “it was the US that overthrew the elected govt in Ukraine in 2014, allowing Nato to march right up to Russia’s western border”. This is a standard Kremlin talking point, dismissing the revolution as a US coup. Ukraine, of course, is not a Nato member.