Well it finally happened. Now that the blog is more popular due to Twitter, Team Russia fans are on to it, and I’m happy to report that I’ve finally got a genuine accusation of being a US government troll. A self proclaimed “Russia analyst” apparently took one look at some tweets and decided that Russia Without BS is based in Maryland or Virginia. Dear readers, if I am ever based in Maryland or Virginia, this blog would have ceased to exist. I would be busy working in some other job or visiting some Civil War battlefields, something I have still yet to do. Check out this lovely Antietam documentary, for example, which is shot on location in the national park itself:
Getting back to the topic, I always find it amusing how not only pro-Kremlin Russians, but also Team Russia fans also engage in constant psychological projection. Those who actually are a part of Moscow’s propaganda machine are fully aware that they pay people to troll comments or masquerade as different personas, and they don’t necessarily make much of an effort to hide it when asked. They usually rationalize it by claiming they are in an “information war.” If you just make an a priori assumption that everyone is doing the same thing you’re doing, it makes it easier to engage in all manner of dishonest or immoral behavior.
As for my latest fan, I don’t suspect he’s on the Kremlin payroll. I wrote all kinds of pro-Putin crap from the ages of roughly 19-23 and never received a single kopeck for any of it. I know the motivations of these people because I used to be one of them. The difference is that when I saw the reality of Putin’s Russia, I realized I had been duped and I embraced reality. These people, insofar as they’ve actually visited Russia, double down and go into fantasy land. It is precisely this tendency toward fantasy that makes them accuse opponents of working for the government or the CIA.
I can speak with a lot of authority on this because I used to spend a lot of time on idiotic forums debating with utter morons. In that time I was accused of being the following things:
-A Mossad agent
In more recent times I’ve been accused of spreading pro-American propaganda and if I can recall correctly, I believe I’ve also been accused of working for the Kremlin as well.
The phenomenon of accusing your opponents of working for some conspiratorial organization or intelligence agency is quite fascinating to me. When I first embraced the internet and got into online discussions, I always tended to accept that people sincerely held the beliefs they were espousing, no matter how idiotic they were. Perhaps it’s because I’d had experience witnessing political debates and arguments face to face, and I can’t recall ever seeing someone lob the “disinfo agent” accusation in person. I think most people realize how stupid they would look in a live conversation if they pointed at their opponent and screamed, “CIA AGENT!” For the record, I know this actually has happened in recent years, but part of me thinks this is an example of internet culture leaking into real life.
What strikes me about this phenomenon is that the people who make these accusations are always so sure they know the inner workings of these shadowy intelligence agencies and their plans, just as they know the plans and intimate details of the secretive groups that supposedly run the world. After a couple years of dealing with these people, I suddenly realized that many of them are actually engaged in something like a personal live-action role playing game via the internet. It’s not enough to imagine that there are secret agents running around and manipulating events behind the scenes; they must be a part of the narrative. Internet forums and other discussion media give them the opportunity to act this out personally, by accusing their opponents of being part of the system.
Part of me wonders if this isn’t just another negative side-effect of developed capitalism. Life in these countries can be extremely boring, for lack of a better word. Some people live vicariously through foreign protests like those of Greece or Maidan in Ukraine. I’ve noticed that a lot of gun fanatics engage in a kind of fantasy with their tricked-out AR-15s or Kalashnikovs. I suppose that can get expensive though.
The internet offers a cheaper fantasy. You can pretend you’re an intellectual, an “analyst,” or some kind of subversive revolutionary. Your opponents are not simply people who disagree with you, they’re part of the system! As you expose them online by calling them out, you’re fighting for the revolution! The revolution that will bring…uh…FREEDOM! Yes, freedom and…JUSTICE!
Oh well, I expected these morons to come a long time ago. I knew that the blog’s success would start attracting these delusional losers with their armchair political analysis and paranoid fantasies concocted in the computer rooms of their American suburban homes. I take solace in the fact that according to them, I’m living in the rapidly rising superpower and they’re stuck in the “decaying West.” Haters gonna hate.