This ain’t Putin’s price hike

14 Mar

Caitlin in fine form this morning. She covers pretty much all the bases – empire, social media censorship, false equivalence and more besides. She even makes house room for that vital concept of theoretical physics, Schroedinger’s Putin.

(For images, and the option of listening rather than reading, here’s the link.)

This Ain’t Putin’s Price Hike

Higher fuel and food prices are a sacrifice I’m prepared to make in exchange for a greatly increased likelihood of nuclear armageddon.

Let’s be clear: you’re not paying more for necessities to punish Putin and save Ukraine, you’re paying more for necessities to fund an economic war of unprecedented scale geared toward collapsing Russia to help secure US unipolar domination of this planet.

It’s not “Putin’s price hike”. This was all orchestrated by the empire, from root to flower. The goal is to use economic warfare and a costly counterinsurgency against western-backed Ukrainians to either collapse and balkanize the Russian Federation or foment enough discontent to secure regime change in Moscow. This is because Putin refuses to kiss the imperial ring.

The western empire could not possibly care less about Ukrainians beyond the extent to which they can be used to roll out this agenda. There hasn’t been nearly enough public rage about the fact that the US government knew this war was coming, knew exactly how to prevent it with very low-cost concessions to Moscow, and chose not to. They made that choice in order to advance this agenda.

That’s what you’re paying for as the your cost of living skyrockets. Not freedom and democracy. Not saving Ukrainian lives. Just the very mundane and unsexy unipolarist objectives of a few sociopathic empire managers. Empire managers who, of course, will have no trouble paying for things like fuel and groceries while ordinary people struggle.

And if you think these cold war escalations against Russia are hurting your bank account, wait till the imperial crosshairs move to China.

One under-appreciated aspect of online censorship is how the fear of losing a valuable platform understandably causes people to self-censor, thereby widening the radius of the censorship campaign’s effectiveness a lot further than the actual censorship.

It’s exactly the same as the “cooling effect” that the persecution of whistleblowers and journalists has on leaks and investigative journalism. People shying away from speech they could be punished for does a lot more to restrict speech than the punishments themselves.

If for example a chemical attack occurs in Ukraine and is blamed on Russia, there will be great fear of questioning the official narrative about it on YouTube for fear of losing one’s platform because YouTube has banned skepticism of official stories about violence in that nation. People will self-censor to avoid being punished for their speech.

This is the exact same principle as a king having an artist who spoke ill of him tortured in the public square in order to deter future acts of dissent. Just re-packaged to be more palatable for the modern world.

When someone brings up bad things the US does in response to outrage over bad things Russia does, it’s not to defend Russia. It’s to get the US to stop doing bad things.

Bleating “whataboutism” at sincere attempts to get the US empire to stop doing evil things is just defending those evil things. You’re basically just saying “Shut up! Now’s not the time to talk about the bad things the US power alliance does, we’re on something else right now!” Okay, so when? Never? Nothing has ever been done about the crimes of the empire. No meaningful changes whatsoever were made after Iraq.

Russia invading Ukraine doesn’t magically erase the fact that the western empire has spent the 21st century slaughtering people by the millions in wars of aggression and working to destroy any nation which disobeys it. Putin would have to work very, very hard to catch up to those numbers. That still needs to be talked about, and it still needs to end.

People talk about this like it’s something in the past, something the US and its allies did back in history but now it’s Russia doing it. No, this is happening currently in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela etc, and will continue to happen unless drastic changes are made.

The murderousness, tyranny and omnicidal recklessness of the US-centralized empire is a problem of unequalled urgency regardless of what Russia happens to be doing. You can’t just bleat “whataboutism” and make that go away. It’s a problem that urgently needs to be dealt with.

It’s an objectively good thing if more attention is brought to that urgent problem by someone saying “Oh you’re upset about this war? Wait til you hear about what your own government has been doing.” Any attempt to interfere in their pointing this out is facilitating mass murder. Either help draw attention to this problem or stop interrupting people who are drawing attention to it with power-serving gibberish about “whataboutism”.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis everyone had a healthy fear of nuclear annihilation, and people wanted de-escalation above all else. Today hardly anyone even cares about the insane nuclear brinkmanship games being played, and all mainstream factions are calling only for escalation.

Western leaders appear to have gone to the NYPD Academy of De-Escalation.

Schrödinger’s Putin: Simultaneously a crazy deranged lunatic and also much too level-headed and rational to respond to western escalations with nuclear weapons.

Love how shitlibs finally decide to become “anti-war” the second their “anti-war” activism has a chance to help manufacture consent for World War 3.

Four years of demented propaganda about an imaginary Trump-Russia conspiracy, Kremlin Facebook memes and GRU bounties in Afghanistan turned liberals into a bunch of gnashing, frothing zombies starved for Russian flesh. Ukraine just gave them something to sink their teeth into.

I don’t understand the common sentiment on the left that we need to spend a lot of energy criticizing Putin for this war in the same way we criticize our own rulers for their warmongering. Like even forgetting about all the things western powers did to give rise to the war in Ukraine, what specifically is the argument here? That the English-speaking world doesn’t have enough criticism of the Russian invasion, and has too much criticism of NATO aggression? That if more antiwar lefties scream about Putin he’ll go “Ah shit I pissed off a few fringe westerners, let’s cancel the war you guys”? It just doesn’t seem like those who make such claims have thought very hard about the position they’re trying to advance.

Our voices can do far more good criticizing the actions of our own governments, which receive barely any criticism, than those of someone else’s government which gets tons. It also can’t be denied that there’s a major propaganda push to manufacture consent for dangerous agendas which pre-date the invasion by many years. Is my voice better used opposing those dangerous agendas, or in helping to facilitate them by saying the same things everyone else is already saying?

Putin is bad! Putin is bad and his war is very bad!

There. I did the thing. Can anyone tell me what I just accomplished, apart from greasing the wheels for new cold war escalations? Did I plow any new ground? Expand awareness in any new direction? What specific good did I do?

None that I can see.

The fact that the Russian people are doing a better job of holding their government to account with massive antiwar protests than people in western nations have says terrible things about us and our obsequiousness to our warmongering masters. If you can’t criticize your government, you are more obedient than Russians living under Putin.

Criticizing Putin is the easiest thing in the world for a westerner to do right now. Low cost, maximum clicks, but has zero impact on the conflict and will save zero people. Criticizing the west for its role is hard; it gets you outrage mobbed, deplatformed and shunned. But it could work.

None of these outrage merchants would ever dream of going against their own government, because if they tried they would find themselves smashed against the invisible walls of our inverted totalitarian cage. On some level they know this. That’s why they project.

* * *

14 Replies to “This ain’t Putin’s price hike

  1. The Official Narrative assures us that the UK obtains only 3% of its oil from the Russian Federation.

    Yet the price of fuel at the forecourt has increased by around three times as much in the space of a week. In some cases diesel has increased by 18p from (rounded up by a tenth of a penny) £1.62 to £1.80 a litre. One forecourt at Southey Green had a 16p gap between petrol and diesel on Friday (11th) which had reduced to a 14p gap by the following day (Saturday 12th) via a further increase in petrol to £1.66 from £1.64 a litre.

    An increase of 1.2% in the space of 24 hours.

    Meanwhile, having being transferred like a tin of peas on a production line to a different provider without any consultation – whatever happened to ‘consumer sovereignty’? – following my energy provider of choice going out of business – because no one has the nous to ensure gas reserves coming into a winter period (saw that process happen at work numerous times) whilst preferring to virtue signal by buying gas on the speculative spot market rather than from Eurasia – the energy regulator price increases from April 1st contain some curious increases.

    Last time I looked the network infrastructure to deliver the energy was the same as it was yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. I have seen no Official Narrative Information (ONI) which in any way indicates that this network infrastructure will not be the same on April 1st as it is now or will be on March 31st.

    Which is confusing given the fact that the daily charge for using that infrastructure has increased substantially. In the case of electricity by around 40%. I knew they had replaced old lead and copper piping over the years but I thought that had been replaced by plastic rather than gold?

    At this rate they’ll be charging us for fresh air.

    *for confused readers some context might be helpful. Many people specialise in complaining about things like the weather or how bad their local sports team are doing. In Yorkshire, because Yorkshiremen are simply Scotsmen with every ounce of generosity squeezed out of them, its the price of everything which sets off the rant.

    You can always spot a well traveled Yorkshireman abroad. They are the ones constantly running their hand through a rapidly thinning fringe of hair whilst exclaiming in a loud voice “How much!? Bleedin’ Hell!”

    • Re your final paragraph Dave, in a blog post eight years and one day ago – zen and the art of bartering – I wrote, after a session of good natured haggling over a brace of eye catching ceramics, that:

      We’ve all played the game in the right spirit and their smiles from the doorway, as I get back on my [hired motor] bike, would have been worth twice their starting price.

      Not that that is ever a good idea, mind. When farangs pay the first price asked they not only look fools but wreak havoc on the local economy. My Ethiopian friend Sisay once made the point succinctly. “Last year I was paying ten birr a kilo for bananas. Now the shop keeper won’t sell them to me. She knows she can get twenty from the faranjis.”

      As always there’s a balance to be struck. (I’m a Libran, see – not that we Librans believe in astrol­ogy, you understand.) At the other end of the spectrum you see farangs apopletic at being ‘ripped off’ for an amount any sane onlooker would consider a reasonable ‘tourist tax’; an amount, more­over, that would buy zilch back home. It’s embarrassing to watch …

  2. All so amazingly true, thank you for always bringing informed, sane, rational people and arguments to this table !

  3. The blaming of rising fuel prices on Putin works. A certain member of staff- very likable under normal conditions- started venting about how fuel prices will continue to rise “until someone puts a bullet through Putin’s brain”. When I pointed out that the prices were already rising, she first contradicted me and then said “Ah but they’ll get worse!” At which point I just made a tactful exit though I could still hear her droning in the background.

    Many just want a convenient hate figure and if you deny them one then YOU will become the hate figure.

    • The staff member in question is, as I’ve said, normally likable but she is not by any stretch what you’d call a thinker. And after our little exchange I could sense a tension which thankfully passed. Now regarding Putin, I was going to go into detail with her but am glad I didn’t. I can imagine the kind of screaming matches taking place right now in innumerable locations and how (designedly) counter productive they are.

  4. This is very good. Unfortunately there are very few people, so far as I can discover, who have access to these arguments.

    It is important, when considering Al Jazeera to understand that its owners, the Qatar government , were recently, together with Colombia welcomed, by the US as non-NATO allies.

    I’d be more impressed by the anti-war demos in Russia if I thought – and I don’t- that these people opposed war in Yemen or Libya. I suspect that they are against war, by Russia, in Syria though.

    • … there are very few people … who have access to these arguments …

      The extent of the propaganda, and attendant demonising of those who question it – see today’s piece on “treason” by Glenn Greenwald – is a measure both of western commitment to sinking Russia by all and any means, at whatever cost, and the naked-emperor nature of the mainstream narrative.

      Precisely because it can’t withstand a moment’s serious scrutiny, extraordinary lengths are being taken – I today joined the many contrararians, btw, to find themselves locked out of Facebook – the marginalising, ridiculing, demonising and now censoring is more intense than I’ve ever seen.

    • Thanks for the link, Gerald. While I differ strongly with Richard M over a few things, most especially the nature and causes of what is happening in Ukraine, I periodically visit his site, and have featured him several times on this blog. I find his no-nonsense style refreshing, and within the confines of his liberal worldview, often agree with him.

  5. It’s getting uglier:

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/03/05/xpbb-m05.html

    “On Twitter, Telegram, Facebook and elsewhere, the country’s military has been conducting a depraved social media campaign, posting photos and videos of dead Russian soldiers. The gruesome images—and the glee with which they are posted—testify to the reactionary and right-wing nature of the forces fighting on behalf of imperialism in Ukraine.”

    • And then there’s this:

      https://twitter.com/dancohen3000/status/1503829062556520448

      I think the most disturbing thing about this is that I can easily imagine many people in the West agreeing with it by saying e.g. “Well Putin started it after all and if a country has to adopt Nazi like measures to protect itself then so be it!” – this being of course the argument of the original Nazis themselves.

      And isn’t it bizarre to note that after six or so decades of “Never Again!” we have here a blatant normalization of Nazism?

    • George,

      One aspect which the WSWS article fails to address can be found from timeframe 15 minutes 30 seconds of this video interview of Scott Ritter by George Galloway:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh4ClXnv9w8

      What Ritter highlights here is the very real prospect of blowback in Western Europe from arming these people, along with Jihadists, with Stinger and other weapons.

      His point is that we have already experienced some serious atrocities committed against civilian populations from extremist groups we have armed and supported in Wars of choice over the past thirty years.

      With every likelihood of these people being on the losing side their dispersal across Europe is a certainty.

      Ritter cites the plausible case of the German Chancellor or POTUS/Airforce One being potential targets by people we have armed with stinger missiles which could take down Airforce One or the Chancellor’s motorcade.

      What Ritter leaves unsaid is that plausible case is not limited to those examples. Any holiday charter flight, cruise ship or passenger ferry/train becomes a potential risk. With no one having any idea when or where.

      I remember coming home on leave from the BAOR – with a recognisable Forces plate on my car – during the IRA bombing campaign on the UK mainland (a campaign which had included the M62 coach bomb – I was in the military hospital that day having just had my appendix removed). Having to inspect the underside of the vehicle every time I needed to access it; crawling under coaches at Victoria coach Station in London to inspect them before everyone got on; checking everyone out all the time whilst in transit.

      When we have armed complete head the balls with such sophisticated weapons as this a home made bomb on the tube/concert or someone waving a rifle around in the street will feel like nostalgia in comparison.

      The US/UK Axis has just injected a continuous time bomb into the European mainland. When the general populace twig this things like foreign holidays are likely to become a thing of the past.

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