For all its family resemblance to the the witch sketch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Russiagate is turning dangerous.
Very predictably, we now have the Economist weighing in on behalf of the one per cent it exists to serve with a cover story representing Putin as an octopus threatening Western democracy with his sinister tentacles.
Russiagate started out as a comforting story that the permanent government in Washington made up for itself, to wish away the uncomfortable fact that its anointed successor to Obama had been bested by a louche chancer with unfeasible hair and a bad Twitter habit. Then it went ballistic.
This frankly ridiculous meme, whereby a handful of trolls with no proven connection to the Kremlin supposedly stole the US election by spending a minute amount of money, which most American candidates wouldn’t even answer the phone for, is now the thinnest of wafery excuses for a stance of Imperial aggressiveness that the deep state warmonger faction had hoped to reach “democratically” if their apparatchiks in the Dem party hadn’t so badly misread the electoral runes.
The chief characteristics of the alleged meddling are that it was indistinguishable from the vastly larger volume of ongoing American-on-American political trolling, and it had no measurable effect.
However, the Economist has a response to this:
”It is futile to speculate how much Russia’s efforts succeeded in altering the outcomes of votes and poisoning politics. The answer is unknowable. But the conspiracies are wrong in themselves and their extent raises worries about the vulnerabilities of Western democracies. If the West is going to protect itself against Russia and other attackers, it needs to treat Mr Mueller’s indictments as a rallying cry.”
Or to paraphrase the Economist’s position: “Don’t matter that there’s no evidence – burn the witch!”
And don’t overlook the pernicious elision of a troll factory – that could easily be just another group of cyber criminals sifting flyover America for easily-led suckers to scam for cash – with Russia the nation.
The subtext of the Economist story is that meddling is supposed to be very much a one-way street to be indulged-in solely by the Imperium.
Try to find a country where the US hasn’t meddled to some extent over the last 50 years. America’s interest in your freedom or mine comes a long way behind its own freedom to do whatever it wants wherever it wants. Its problem with Putin is not that they think he’s a bastard; it’s that he’s his own bastard, not theirs.
While we’re here, let’s not forget that Russiagate is also about controlling America’s domestic ‘enemies’, who include every citizen who has the temerity to believe that US democracy ought to offer them genuine freedom of choice.
Social media and all other forms of handy peer-to-peer opinion-sharing are anathema to a system used to controlling thought via centrally-controlled media – what Joe Bageant memorably called ‘The Hologram’. When the Economist speaks of vulnerabilities and rallying cries, it means finding ways to hamstring social media sharing and independent websites to restore the influence of officially-sanctioned pravda (‘truth’) peddled by a handful of billionaire-owned media groups.
Lastly in this brief peer into the murky depths of early-stage Imperial decline, what’s with the cephalopod meme? Surely the Economist can’t still be influenced by Matt Tiabbi’s accurate but doubtless hurtful characterisation of Goldman Sachs?