Essentials for Discussing Russia #1: False dichotomies

So you want to discuss Russia and its neighbors? Well there’s one thing you can’t be without, and that’s the false dichotomy. Now some of you out there might be thinking: “Hey, I had heard that a false dichotomy is actually a logical fallacy whereby you pretend there are only two options when in fact there may be many alternatives!” Well yeah, that’s exactly what you’d think, you neocon NATO shill/Kremlin whore. In reality, one cannot discuss Russia without false dichotomies. What kind of false dichotomies can you use? First pick a side- What do you mean “Do I have to pick a side?!” Are you insane? Yes you have to pick a side! 

Okay, like I was saying, pick a side. Now, look over the list of false dichotomies and choose the one which best suits you.

On Syria and Russian intervention:

In Syria, Russia is…

A. Bombing only hospitals and decent, moderate rebels who only want a free and democratic Syria.

B. Slaughtering ISIS on a daily basis with zero civilian casualties. We know they’re ISIS because our bombs landed on them. Moderate rebels don’t exist, they never existed, and anyone opposed to Assad is a bloodthirsty jihadist.

Europe is:

A. The greatest civilization in the history of humanity. The hope of mankind. The shining beacon around which the rest of the world must kneel. The pinnacle of democracy and human rights!  HEIL EUROPA!!!

B. Sodom, Gomorrah, and Babylon all rolled into one. Nothing but Islamist fanatics, goose-stepping Nazis (who were pretty cool but they attacked Mother Russia!) and gays, gays, and more gays. On a totally unrelated note, some of the guys are going to the banya together after work. You know…Get away from the nagging wives and girlfriends. Am I right? You should come along…if you’re a real man.

Russia is: 

A. The sole source of evil in the world. Russia must be opposed on every possible front. Any criticism of Russia’s critics should be taken as possible evidence of Kremlin whoring. Obama’s Syria policy hasn’t been morally superior or incredibly effective? How much are they paying you at 55 Savushkina street, Kremlin troll?!

B. The savior of decadent, crumbling Western civilization, just as it was over 100 years ago, when it ultimately crumbled while the West advanced. Russia is the leader of the great BRICS alliance that is opposing Anglo-American hegemony, mainly by saying that it is.

Ukraine is: 

A. A plucky little underdog, therefore anyone claiming to be for Ukraine automatically deserves respect and reverence, no matter how idiotic their words or actions are.

B. A non-existent country which is killing ethnic Russians who are actually its own people, i.e. Ukrainians. But Ukrainians don’t really exist and are Russians.

Putin is: 

A. A horrible dictator from the very beginning, who seized power in an unrecorded coup from the great democratic reformer Boris Yeltsin(PBUH). Oh, Boris! What went wrong? Where are you now, in this hour of need?!

B. The savior of Russia who raised the country from its knees by taking power away from the American puppet Yeltsin. All good that occurred in Russia since 2000 was due to Putin’s wise leadership. All bad which has happened in the same time period was the work of nameless bureaucrats, laughably unpopular opposition figures, foreign agents, and Obama himself. Putin knows nothing about any of this and is unable to stop it, yet he is a great leader. Putin is the only man capable of leading Russia, but the fact that Russia hasn’t produced another capable leader in 15 years should by no means lead you to question his wise, enlightened rule.

Critics of Putin are:

A. All incredibly courageous and righteous, no matter how terrible or ignorant their personal beliefs are. They should be supported and lauded without question!

B. Filthy paid foreign agents determined to destroy Russia at all costs. Russia needs restrictive laws, censorship, a mostly state-controlled, heavily regulated mass media, and various Kremlin sponsored youth groups only because it must defend itself from the violent coup this tiny group of totally unpopular foreign agents is surely planning.

These are but a few of the many false dichotomies you can use in order to competently discuss and debate Russia and Russia-related topics. As a special bonus, when people disagree with your false dichotomy-based opinion, accuse them of working for the US government or the Kremlin. This will turn your otherwise boring and pointless life into a thrilling live-action role playing game, distracting you just enough to keep you from drowning the constant, nagging memories of your numerous failures with a $9.99 plastic jug of Winner’s Cup vodka. Don’t believe me? Just look at this simple demonstration!


A: I’m not sure I agree with everything you wrote there. Yes, the US and other NATO nations certainly failed to come up with a coherent policy on Syria at the outbreak of hostilities, but this doesn’t change the fact that Assad bears a great deal of responsibility for-

B: Oh I see how it is, NEOCON HAWK! Assad has weapons of mass destruction and he did 9/11, so we need to send in 200,000 troops and “liberate” Syria. I’m sure it will be a cakewalk and the people will greet our troops with flowers, just like you said they would in Iraq, NEOCON!

A: Uh…Actually I never supported the invasion of Iraq and I was going to suggest the administration could have done something completely different from military intervention. But that being said, Russia’s military intervention is not really qualitatively different from any hypothetical Western invo-

B: Oh GOD what am I doing? I’ve been debating in this same thread for over 72 hours! I haven’t eaten real food in days. Who am I? Why do I exist? Putin! Putin, save me! Why have you abandoned me, Putin! I’m so lonely! Make those stupid whores answer me back on Tinder! Puuuuuutiiiiiin!!!!?


A: Well I absolutely agree that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine must be opposed, but I’m also concerned about the manipulation of history and the influence of the far right in Ukrainian politics…

B: Aha! I KNEW it! You’re one of those Kremlin trolls in the Kremlin troll army! How’s the weather in St. Petersburg, Ivan? My life has meaning. I am fighting for a cause! On the internet! THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!

Now doesn’t that sound much better already?

So start collecting your very own false dichotomies today, and start discussing Russia like a pro!

False dichotomies: They make discussing Russia horrendously unbearable to the point where you face a seemingly endless cycle of personal existential crises which can only be ended by the sweet, merciful embrace of death!  


18 thoughts on “Essentials for Discussing Russia #1: False dichotomies

    1. EP

      Russian style sauna. A bunch of drunken, naked men in a sweat lodge beating each other with birch sweepers, then dipping in ice-cold water or snow. Nothing remotely homoerotic about the whole thing, no Sir!

      1. EP

        Hey, are you suggesting that Russia has borrowed some of its cultural icons from other countries? The nerve! Next thing you’ll be saying they didn’t invent the matryoshka or the samovar! 😛

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        When I wrote that I was just thinking at some point I should write a disclaimer saying: “NO, I’m not saying banyas are gay. I’m simply saying that if one of your favorite pastimes involves being practically naked with a bunch of sweaty men and hitting them with birch brooms, you might want to tone down the constant ranting about gay parades and how men need to be men. The evidence starts to pile up if you know what I mean.”

      3. EP

        What do you mean, “practically” naked? 😉

        (But seriously, wearing clothing of any kind is really dangerous at those temperatures.)

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        No but I was at a sauna once, and we had WOMEN there. It was a bit awkward because I’d just met all these people at their corporate party and then about an hour later- we’re drunk and naked. The bookkeeper woman was quite attractive I must say. Unfortunately I spoiled things between us when I entered the actual sauna(first time ever in my life) and promptly sat down on the hot coals. Too drunk to realize it immediately, someone pulled me off of them. Later on I ended up going back in there and nearly sat on the hot coals a second time.

        In the end, it was one of those “throw-up-in-a-taxi” nights.

      5. EP

        “It was a bit awkward because I’d just met all these people at their corporate party and then about an hour later- we’re drunk and naked.”

        Ever seen that calendar a Russian bank sent to its preferred clients, where real female employees of the bank pose in various suggestive outfits (like, “dropped my panties”-suggestive)?

        But sauna is sauna, and banya is banya. Sauna is an actual loan word in Russian for what you describe. Banya is the sweaty, naked, whipping thing. Large Russian public baths typically have separate facilities for the two.

      6. gbd_crwx

        I would say proper sauna is naked. although you might sit on a towel. Gendermixed or gender separate varies

        “Jim: If you sat on the heater, didn’t you need hospital care?

      7. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I didn’t know what you’re supposed to call them. As for medical attention, I had a towel around me so it wasn’t direct ass to hot stone contact.

      8. gbd_crwx

        Well I can’t speak for the Danish and Norwegians, but most Swedes have at least got the basics of Sauna culture thanks to shared culture and Finnish immigration during the after war years

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