Recently I ran across this article about an EU initiative to create a Russian-language channel aimed at countering Russian propaganda. I don’t really have an opinion on it, but the Russian reactions it cites offer a very instructive lesson on the Russian concept of “free speech.” Take a look:
“We’ve always taken a positive position on the freedom of speech. But the EU plans for creating a kind of counter-propaganda channel can hardly correspond to the concept of free speech,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Alexei Meshkov, said Monday in comments carried by state news agency TASS.
One might ask how creating another channel would be an assault on free speech. Well, one might ask that if one isn’t a resident of Fantasy Land, the magical realm that Russia’s elite inhabits.
In Fantasy Land, questioning their bullshit is a violation of their right of free speech, that is to say their right to dictate what is real to others without having to back their nonsense up with evidence or being questioned by their listeners. Inside Russia, this curious right of free speech is protected by banning any speech they don’t like, or even speech that questions their wacky bullshit narratives which they call “truth.”
Outside of Fantasy Land, wherever they lack the ability to use force against people, all they can do is whine about “free speech.” When confronted in this sort of situation, rather than attempt to debate they either start babbling about topics which have no relation to the discussion, or they delve into post-modernism and say things like, “Nobody can really say what happened!”
I’m not saying that people who believe themselves to be right would never consider using the state to ban or curtail speech that disagrees with them, but generally people with such convictions are willing to defend and debate the virtues of their beliefs. Some of these people will spend hours on end doing exactly that. The only people who jump at the chance to ban other points of view these days are people who are wholly unable to defend their own views. On some level they are aware that they either have no idea what they are talking about, or they consciously know they are wrong, therefore they cannot possibly allow any challenges.
Realistically, it’s not a matter of Russia’s ruling class feeling that their values are threatened. These people don’t have values. They engage in this behavior in an effort to prove otherwise. In reality, these are the same people who have heaped humiliation and degradation on Russia and its people, doing far more harm than any stereotype-laden Hollywood film or video game. They louder they proclaim their patriotism, the guiltier they are of treason.
As I said in my last article, more crackdowns will come, and to be sure they will be painful. The aim of these crackdowns isn’t protecting the people as they claim, but rather protecting the ruling class from the wrath of the masses as the standards of living deteriorate. This means that things will get worse and the law will punish anyone who speaks out too loudly against it. It means that the regime will try to cut off Russians from the rest of the world, though they are delusional indeed if they think they can stuff the cat back into the bag. Rather than fix any of Russia’s problems, which would require them to stop stealing, they’d rather just ban people from talking about the problems. As I said, however, it will do them no good. In the end it will just make the backlash that sweeps them from power more vengeful.
One can almost pity the poor bastards.