Sunday, 20 April 2014

Eleven ways in which we can all be happy that modern Russia is absolutely nothing like 1930s Germany

Godwin's Law of internet debating states that "as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1". I mean, how ridiculous is that, that people always ending up making Hitler comparisons? Take Putin's Russia, for example, you've got:

1.    A vain leader, whose foibles foreigners find laughable and/or repulsive but, at the same time, you are popular within your own country and an effective political operator.

2.   In negotiation, you run rings around the people you negotiate with, because they cannot understand your mentality. As Garry Kasparov put it yesterday, in a quote from the famous “Long Telegram”, you are “impervious to the logic of reason [but] highly sensitive to the logic of force”. What they see as rational negotiation in the mutual interest, you see as weakness.

3.   A keenness to restore your country’s wounded pride; a country which suffered a humiliating defeat a couple of decades ago but is now recovering.

4.   And rearming, where the developed world has been doing the opposite.

5.   Audacious land-grabs; you take a bit of a country, then half a country, then the whole country, pretending its inhabitants invited you in to keep the peace and protect your own ethnic bloc.

6.   In the developed world, with the exception of indignant rhetoric and a few ineffectual measures, there is rather indifference to your conquests from a group of leaders happy not to act in the face of delicate, recovering economies and a general political climate of anti-interventionism. Some on the political fringes in those countries are even actively supporting you in the propaganda war.

7.   Use of anti-Semitism, homophobia and general fear of “the other” (e.g. Communism, the extreme right) taking power, to gain support. This helps unite the population against common enemies/bogeymen and also encourages feelings of victimhood.

8.   Curtailing of democracy, despite being democratically elected.

9.   Media control involving not merely political propaganda but transparent and obvious untruths, which nevertheless some believe, or at least see - falsely - as a version of the truth on an equal footing with what they see in the rest of the world’s media.

10.  You start calling pieces of the countries adjoining yours containing your own ethnic people as extensions of your own country, e.g. New Russia, Greater Germany.

11.  Just before everything kicks off, you stage a controversial Olympics in your country to showcase your new status on the world stage. A few people boycott it but, hey, that just lets you play the victim a bit more.
So, phew. Because that would have been a bit worrying, if we’d found a lot of parallels there.

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