Death by Idiocy

The rise of Russia’s internet troll farms and global propaganda offensive created a rather amusing paradox. Upon learning about how the Russian government began paying people to troll social networks, first in Russian, then in English, beginning roughly after 2011, I thought it was somewhat curious that the Russian government would rather spend money paying people to shout down those who complain about domestic problems rather than just take that same money and spend it on fixing the problems. In other words, instead of just fixing the goddamned roads or post offices, they’d rather pay thousands of students to pile on any Russian who comments about the problems with the roads or post office, telling them to go to the West if they hate Russia so much.  In 2014, Russia’s domestic and foreign-language media famously received a massive budget increase, dispelling any doubt that the regime is more inclined to cover up or distract from its problems rather than solve them.

As foolish as this path is, Russia has the resources to pull this off, at least for a couple years. This won’t save the Russian regime, and in fact it will probably make the fall even worse, but Russia’s got some cushioning in the form of large foreign currency reserves, natural resources for export, and manpower. What if Russia didn’t have all those things, however? What if Russia were much smaller, engaged in a war with a much more powerful opponent, and its army was in shambles from the get-go? Well in that case it would be simply madness to piss away what little resources the country had to wage a propaganda war with a far better provisioned opponent. What country would do such a thing?

Meduza: Ukraine is now recruiting an ‘iArmy’


Here’s a quote found in the article and on the site in question:

“Last year we were able to create a powerful army that protects us courageously in the territory of Donbas. Now it’s time to fight back the Russian invaders on the information front.”

Uh…No, no you didn’t create a powerful army. In the immortal words of colonial marine private Hudson, “Hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!” Did these people not just see what happened in Debaltseve last week?

As if the internet troll army weren’t a stupid enough idea, Ukraine’s ministry of information actually plans to do battle with Russia’s TV empire as well, wasting what little resources the struggling nation has on such projects as a state-owned channel aimed at foreign audiences called Ukraine Tomorrow. Yeah, I got it. That would be amusing were in not for the fact that almost half the fucking country is in ruins, another part has been annexed, and what’s left is facing dire economic straits with no sign of relief.

Russia can afford to dabble in fantasy for at least another year or so. Ukraine simply cannot. Attempting to wage this propaganda war is essentially playing Dungeons & Dragons while the house is on fire. When you add to this some recent idiotic laws such as the banning of Russian films and the arrest of journalists, including a sports reporter, for treason, it seems that Ukraine’s leadership is driving the country to become exactly that which they claim to oppose. One way or another, directly and indirectly, they are transforming Ukraine into Little Russia.

20 thoughts on “Death by Idiocy

  1. Filad Kufal

    “Attempting to wage this propaganda war is essentially playing Dungeons & Dragons while the house is on fire.”
    I don’t know about “propaganda” of Ukraine, and if it is going to appear I hope it will not be something based on lies. I am sure it will not. We need truth.
    But the house in on fire due to absence of something focused on bringing true info and opposing false info. For example, population of Crimea wanted to join Russia because Russian TV depicts Russia as “rich country with streets paved with gold”. Well, I wish everyone to choose better life. But not when the choice is based on lies. At least need to warn.
    “idiotic laws such as the banning of Russian films” – It’s not idiotic laws. Just imagine American TV channels show movies made by ISIS, or “Bin-Laden Studio”? You can’t imagine this? Why? BTW. Russian films are not just films made for amusement or whatever – their content is real lie and propaganda of “russcism” – supremacy of power over any law etc. And the last but not least – those films didnt’t come on Ukrainian TV-screens in a natural way – those films are more expensive that the european series. Oops! Then why not to buy the european ones? Because the owners of TV-channels are paid bribes from Russia to buy their films. If we cannot deprive the owners of their channels then we can prohibit them to show Russian propaganda.

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      First of all, some of the Russian movies which have been banned are hardly propaganda films, and cannot be compared with ISIS. Second, I’m not sure you’re familiar with the freedom of speech laws in the US, but look at the example of the UK, which has more restrictive laws on free expression(compared to the US): There they released a film Four Lions, which is a dark comedy where the protagonists are Al Qaeda-linked Pakistani suicide bombers.

      The problem is there are people in Ukraine who are just as happy to lie and re-invent history as Russia’s intelligentsia, and they must not be allowed to dominate. For one thing, Russia has more of these people and more resources to promote their garbage- ergo you cannot possibly beat them if you fight them on that level.

      In a way this is just like the war itself- Ukraine is trying to stand toe-to-toe with Russia in a conventional war, and the one thing Russia can still fight is a conventional war with a former-Soviet opponent. From the very beginning Ukraine’s army should have been reorganizing to fight a guerrilla war, which BTW would have caused far fewer civilian casualties. Chechnya showed how poorly Russia fights against guerrillas.

      Unfortunately Ukraine’s most fervent patriots are still people whose minds are stuck in a 19th century fantasy, and no matter how many times they fail in over 100 years, people keep letting them back in.

      Rejecting these people and their attitudes is the most crucial step toward truly differentiating Ukraine from Putin’s backward Russia.

      1. Filad Kufal

        “I’m not sure you’re familiar with the freedom of speech laws in the US” – I am familiar with certain things. Foreign movies are not dubbed and shown with subtitles. That makes local movies (Holywood) dominant. It’s even worse than banning movies of some certain country – foreign cultural influence thus has no chance in USA. And they call our laws idiotic!

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Some foreign movies are dubbed, but I don’t see how that is relevant. Hollywood is a major global player in world film production. That has to do with the market, not specific policy.

        In the case of Ukraine, if Russian film studios are indeed using underhanded methods to get more of their films into cinemas and on TV, that is something that should be regulated in a way similar to how the US dealt with “Payola.”

      3. Filad Kufal

        “Ukraine who are just as happy to lie and re-invent history” – Jim Kovpak, if you are friend of Ukraine (as it may seem) then why you slander Ukraine? Give example of “happiness to lie of Ukrainians”.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Okay it’s obvious that you’re a nationalist idiot who gets upset when someone points out that his country isn’t angelic. I don’t need someone like you to determine if I am a “friend of Ukraine.”

        You are nothing but a Western variant of the Russian vatnik.

      5. Filad Kufal

        “Some foreign movies are dubbed, but I don’t see how that is relevant.” – let’s be serious – undubbed movie will not be watched as much as the dubbed ones. Especially when it’s not about cinema but about TV.

      6. Filad Kufal

        “Okay it’s obvious that you’re a nationalist idiot who gets upset when someone points out that his country isn’t angelic”
        Okay it’s obvious that you’re a western idiot who gets upset when someone points out that his views on Ukraine have nothing to do with reality.

      7. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Also I might point out you’re sounding pretty vatniy right now. It’s cute how you think you’re so much different than the vatniks.

        Just remember that we “Western idiots” are the ones maintaining your country’s existence after your idiotic movement played right into Putin’s propagandists’ hands.

        As for whether my views on Ukraine coincide with reality, a lot of people far more objective than you seem to think that they do.

      8. Filad Kufal

        I don’t need someone like you to determine if I am a “friend of Ukraine.”
        And so do we – we don’t need to determine if some our law is idiotic or not.

      9. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Well here’s the problem. I’m of Ukrainian heritage and my opinion is worth as much as yours, if not more so, since I follow progressive philosophy that has measurable success, while you are just a backward species of vatnik.

  2. Jim Kovpak Post author

    Outside of Hollywood, many studios which produce popular films in the US are from English speaking countries. More obscure foreign films are generally a niche market.

  3. Jim Kovpak Post author

    My point is that you are making a really bad comparison- a world power with a leading film industry vs. two countries with really weak film industries.

    Actually I’d support some kind of restriction on Russian movies from the past decade or so, simply on the grounds that they are fucking stupid. Most of the time they are more insulting to Russians than anyone else.

    1. Filad Kufal

      “a world power with a leading film industry vs. two countries with really weak film industries.” – of course, ours will be weak, especially if we listen to those idiots who call banning rus-films idiotic while they themselves made obstacles for foreign films to reach the audience by non-dubbing. Let alone that rus-movies are not “movies” but lies where protagonists want USSR back, and Ukrainians are stupid and criminals and do not even exist.

      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yes, all Russian movies are like that.

        Furthermore, in many Russian movies RUSSIANS are stupid criminals as well.

        I’m sorry but banning films is a very Russian thing these days.

        Either Ukraine wants to follow “Western,” democratic values, or it does not. You can’t have it both ways. That’s what Putin’s Russia wants to do.

    2. Filad Kufal

      “Just remember that we “Western idiots” are the ones maintaining your country’s existence”
      Do not say “we”, say “I”, coz you do not represent the whole western opinion.
      And those leaders in the West who want to support Ukraine are not idiots. Though, even their support doesn’t mean shedding blood of western people.
      BTW. Last events showed that even powerful west leaders are afraid to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. Just really afraid to make Putie angry! While Ukraine is fighting alone with obsolete weapons and not afraid.
      Therefore, YOU calm down and don’t worry about our country’s existence.

      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        You’re fighting, and losing. Maybe you should have considered how trustworthy the West was when you were organizing Maidan. Did you not know that those countries were taking billions of dollars from Russia’s oligarchs? Did you not know how capitalism works?

        True, they aren’t sending lethal weapons and they aren’t doing much, but they are keeping your government and state afloat. Putin would happily please his base by driving to Kyiv if he knew he could get away with it.

        Also keep in mind I’m of Ukrainian heritage myself. It’s just that I was raised in a far more advanced country which has progressed far beyond the 19th century nationalism that still afflicts this part of the world. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.

        And don’t give me all this bullshit about how you’re not afraid when “your” fight is supposed to involve our blood, weapons, and money. You want to be proud? Stop begging with your hand out. And maybe if you had a decent ideology that wasn’t rooted in backward Eastern European nationalism, you’d have already built up a unified, popular resistance to the Russian invasion- or perhaps prevented it in the first place.

        But hey, you don’t need my advice. You guys have been doing such a great job since 1991, haven’t you?

  4. Jim Kovpak Post author

    To sum up, the intelligence of a country’s laws or values must in the end be results. If Ukraine’s nationalists had concrete results to match their ideas and claims, then I would have to recognize those. As it turns out, they do not, and every single chance they’ve had power in the past century or so, the result has been bad for Ukraine. That means those opinions can be discarded.

    This is no different than my judgement on Putin’s Russia. If Russia today resembled Sweden, Norway, Germany, or even the UK or Spain, I’d have to seriously struggle with some of their so-called national values and ideas. As it turns out, Russia has never managed to challenge the West in terms of standards of living or economic success, and it is in fact in full decline. That means we don’t have to consider their opinions as being particularly valid.


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