Leftist intellectuals: “We’ve been phoning it in for a while now, actually.”


Australian-born journalist and leftist intellectual John Pilger admitted on Wednesday that he has been “phoning it in for a while now” on the topic of Ukraine.

“To be honest, I had to Google Viktor Yanukovych when all that Maidan business started,” Pilger said.

Having located Ukraine on a map and after carrying out extensive research on Wikipedia, Pilger said he then applied what he and several other leftist intellectuals refer to as “the formula.”

“It works like this. The US, EU, NATO, IMF, Monsanto, etc. appear to be supporting one side in a conflict, in this case, Euromaidan versus Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian backers. I might not know anything about Yanukovych or Russia, but if all those other governments are criticizing them, that means they must be good. Working backwards like this, I determined that Yanukovych must have been a progressive leader who was trying to look out for Ukraine’s working class by opposing IMF-imposed austerity.”

Pilger wasn’t the only leftist intellectual applying “the formula.” Noam Chomsky also admitted to falling back on templates in order to create talking points about Ukraine and Russia.

“I haven’t paid attention to Russia in years,” Chomsky admitted in an interview. “On Democracy Now! I was asked about the murder of this opposition politician, or NGO worker, or something, named Boris Memtsov or Nermtsev or whatever. A lesser leftist intellectual would have been shitting bricks right there, but I’ve been doing this for a while. I just started rambling about the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and my old favorite trope, where I talk about how our government is hypocritical.”

When asked if Chomsky thought there was anything wrong with self-proclaimed “anti-imperialist” intellectuals openly endorsing the 19th century great power politics of other countries, Chomsky said that there’s no problem “so long as you’re not talking about the US or one of its allies.”

“Sure, if some neoconservative think tank pundit endorses toppling governments in the Middle East or Latin America so as to secure US economic interests, I’ll be all over that,” Chomsky said. “But if Russia does the exact same thing, using openly imperialist rhetoric to justify its actions, I’m happy to back them up even if it is indisputably far more authoritarian than the United States. I didn’t get to be idol of so many white American college students by dialectical thinking and nuance, you know.”

Filmmaker Oliver Stone announced his plans to make a documentary about the “US-sponsored coup” in Ukraine after meeting with Viktor Yanukovych in Moscow late last year. He too admitted that he hadn’t really done much research into Ukraine, Euromaidan, or the conflict with Russia.

“You don’t have time to do research when you’re investigating conspiracy theories,” Stone explained. “The whole mainstream media was saying that Yanukovych was corrupt and authoritarian. Obviously if that’s what they were saying, it couldn’t be true. As it turns out, Yanukovych himself told me it was all a lie.”

Stone’s working hypothesis is based on deriving conclusions from the “propaganda” against Yanukovych and Russia.

“Our corporate hegemony advocates neo-liberal politics which lead to massive inequality between the rich and poor. Based on this, and based on the fact that the corporate media assails Russia and Yanukovych’s government, I’ve managed to determine that the real reason Yanukovych was overthrown was that he was planning to unveil a new socialist system whereby each citizen would receive free housing, food, education, and medical care. Apparently they’ve been planning to implement the same system in Russia for quite some time, but they can’t because the US State Department is meddling in their internal affairs.”

When asked about Ukrainians and Russians who are opposed to their own governments, the filmmaker shook his head.

“Obviously they are misguided. What kind of person would question their own government, assuming it’s not the American government or that of one of its allies? These people need to open their eyes and really see what’s going on in their country.”

12 thoughts on “Leftist intellectuals: “We’ve been phoning it in for a while now, actually.”

  1. Armands Bekmanis

    I cant wait till Putins regime falls – I`ve no illusions, it might last for 10-15 more years but it`ll come to an end. Russia wont be able to avoid de-Putinization process.
    And then the floodgates will open and all the shit – troll factories,dead Russian soldiers, covert operations,MH17 – will surface.

    That`ll be hilarious to observe,all the rats that now are in various powerful positions will be crying ”But the times were like that we were coerced in doing that!” and so on.

    I`m willing to bet that the first people that will betray and turn away from Putin and/or his legacy will be Kiselev,Solovyev and all those clowns.
    I dont expect the fools to hide their face and weep but I hope the shame will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Something to keep in mind when dealing with the “dissidents” of the future: https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/daniel-kennedy/how-russia%E2%80%99s-opposition-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-crimea

      Most likely many of the people you’ll hear speaking out were the same ones shouting Krym Nash now. They’ll become “dissidents” and most likely Western governments, intellectuals, and journalists will suddenly forget their past the way they forgot the past of people like Putin, Khodorkovsky, etc.

      As for how long it will take, yes, a decade is possible, but Putin has a new tendency to take desperate actions which horrible consequences. That could speed things up.

  2. Asehpe

    Ah, I wish I wish, I wish I lived in a world where an article like this would not be satyrical… But I suppose in all fights there are always useful idiots who support one side because of what they ‘think’ that side means. Some people in Germany’s occupied territories supported the Nazis, even before being conquered.

    I’ve recently read something about Russians being quite pliable and ready to say what they think the state wants them to think — hence Putin’s high approval rate, and the anti-Western blah-blah-blah. But if the regime were to change and suddenly decide the West was great and we’re a European country and we should join NATO, then Russians would also shift massively towards these viewpoints. Do you agree? If Putin or Putin’s successor were to decide that Europe is the real goal, could he quickly convince the entire population to go from seeing them as enemies to seeing them as friends?

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      That’s a tricky question. For most of those government supporters these days, being friendly to the West means submission(they have plenty of prison rape metaphors to go with this, as it turns out). “The want our resources!” they exclaim. Never mind the fact that Putin has been selling “them” those same resources all this time, and Russia depends on it. It’s not like some real time strategy game where you horde resources to pump out as many Mammoth Tanks as possible.

      But what is their nightmare scenario, exactly? Well it goes something like this. The state department pays some people money to protest, and because Putin, his entire intelligence infrastructure, military, and police are all laughably incompetent, this movement manages to overthrow the government. Navalny becomes president. Then of course, these patriots will sit home while he enacts all kinds of new laws such as mandatory homosexuality training for schoolboys(nobody here gives a shit about girls), and he will sell off Russia’s enterprises like Rosneft and Gazprom to an American company run by Zbigniew Brzezinski. The price? 2 million McDonalds cheeseburgers and 500 million gallons of Coca-Cola.

      The 9 May holiday will be replaced by a new holiday- Victory over Russia day. It will be celebrated by gay parades with mandatory attendance. The only flag more conspicuous than the rainbow gay pride flags will be the American flag, of course. Scratch that- the new Russian flag WILL BE the rainbow flag!

      All these things are going to happen, and again all these patriots are just going to sit home and allow it. There’s no choice. It’s not like anyone will be able to voice opinions on what should actually happen sans Putin.

      On the other hand, you have to remember the real motives of these people who express these ideas, and also keep in mind that many of them were totally the opposite just a few years ago. In fact, some still lead double lives now. One motive is fear that the government is cracking down. To be sure, it is, but a lot of what we’ve been seeing in the past year consists of trial balloons. The arrest of Svetlana Davydova for treason and the ongoing harassment of Navalny and various media outlets are examples of this.

      Obviously peer pressure is another motivating factor, and of course many people work for the state, so there’s that pressure too. Another fear factor is the fear of knowing that the Dear Leader has no plan, and that things will collapse after he leaves or dies due to his own destruction of the Russian political system and political thought in the country. People here have absolutely no idea when Putin will leave and how, and that has to be terrifying. Better to pretend he is wise and everything will be okay.

      Yet another factor is that many people don’t have any means or ability to get out of the country. They know they are trapped and they know it’s getting worse. So believing that Russia is strong is a sort of defense mechanism against this. If someone gave them the means to emigrate tomorrow, they’d leave in a heartbeat.

      So basically yes, if things changed, you’d see a lot of opinions change quickly. Sure, the provincial people would probably act the same, but the truth is that those people have no power or influence. They are only being groomed and praised by the power structure now because they are useful.

      What is more important, however, is that you’re going to see a lot of these “defections” when the regime collapses. People like Kiselyev, Yakunin, Medvedev, Simonyan, Lavrov, etc. will start to paint themselves as “dissidents” who were always sympathetic to the opposition and supposedly worked behind the scenes to help. Rest assured that anyone who does this is a pathological liar and rather than being portrayed as heroes they should be essentially blacklisted by the West. I’d even say that those individuals who are sanctioned should still have their sanctions and travel bans extended.

      See Russia has this huge problem with people just reinventing themselves as necessary to get by. Then what they do is work behind the scenes, stealing, corrupting, persecuting others- this is basically the history of the early Soviet Union. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and then wreck them.

      Change is good when it’s for the right reason. Nobody should hold on to beliefs they know to be wrong. But people here have to learn that you shouldn’t just put your finger in the wind and flock to whoever seems to hold power. Society needs less powerful leaders, not more powerful.

  3. Dan

    As a lifelong lefty, there’s always been something that struck me as fake about people like Pilger and Chomsky. Oliver Stone, on the other hand, is perfectly sincere. Just a bit of an oddball.

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      You have piqued my curiosity. Care to expand on that?

      As for my own experience, I wrote in another article(the link is in this one) about how Chomsky was awesome for me when I was an edgy teenager(though my personal beliefs were quite right-wing), but I think I got sick of him some time around 2005. He’s just incredibly repetitive and almost all his arguments are basically whataboutery.

    2. thewaywithin

      Oliver Stone is sincere? On what planet? How is his “don’t confuse me with the facts” mentality “sincere?” Maybe sincerely misguided and a sincere con man…perhaps.

      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I don’t doubt that he has sincere beliefs in…something. Though I think with Stone it’s like a side thing whereas Pilger and Chomsky make careers off of this stuff.

  4. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    SexyPilger says Yes!

    To be seriarse, I’m half-Aussie and I recall that Pilger had a moment in the 80s when he did good work on indigenous Australians. Back then I thought his SE Asia work was good but have since learned much was BS. Literally made stuff up.

    I wrote a thing about him from a few years ago. He was doing the same 80s stchick about those poor oppressed aboriginal Australians he’d done for two decades yet the world has moved on. In the process he completely ignored aboriginal Australians actually working hard to turn things around for their communities for example by – gulp – working with people like mining companies.

    This is the same sort of way Pilger and lefties like him think about Ukraine, how they always behave, they play to Western leftie preconceptions and completely ignore what the people they’re supposedly defending are actually saying. Pilger was actually challenged directly by a Ukrainian at some university talk here in UK (can’t recall where). Basically told the guy he must be wrong and a stooge and then fucked offto drink wine and be feted.

    Here’s that piece http://paulocanning.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-guardians-avatar-view-of-aboriginal.html

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I definitely think this is an example of the iron law of institutions in action, even if “the left” isn’t exactly a concrete institution. If you made your career off of opposing US/Western imperialism, even if you were totally justified at the time it can be difficult to switch to a different position where you’re forced to admit that the US/NATO are on the right side.

  5. TimoT

    Last week Russia denied entry permission from Finnish citizen Mr. Seppo Remes, long time corporate board professional in Russia in many companies, related to electricity production. Just out of the blue.

    He disagreed how to privatize local power companies with some powerful Putin’s friends and it is assumed that led to this denial of entry. He is very known person in international investment circles and that sent another clear signal NOT to invest in Russia. That really shows how fucked up assholes the Russian oligarchs are.

    These goons at the top do not think even for one second about long term consequences of this kind of behaviour and what it means to Russians. They are going after the assets owned by Remes like a bunch of road bandits. From their point of view he is a skilled, professional guy but that did not help him one bit.

    This predicts a very bad, chaotic and bloody collapse in Russia in the future. The Putin’s bandits will make things so much worse when the struggle for power begins at some point. They are ruthless and do not care about anything except keeping that power and the money. This is a Tom Clancy novel level nightmare. The rogue state Russia with tons of bad guys.

    I am afraid they might even come after you too, Mr. Kovpak. Just one day they’ll say to you that you will be deported for unpatriotic behaviour or some shit like that.


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