Way too few of us get how propagandised we in the West are. Seriously, how can we have a free press, ready and able to hold power to account on matters vital to said power when, as Noam Chomsky so crisply framed it, those media are “large corporations selling privileged audiences to other corporations”?
(I can’t but wonder if the Guardian’s constant bragging about not being owned by billionaires is calculated to obscure the more corrosive – because less widely acknowledged – truth of media driven by the need to sell advertising and/or solicit wealthy donors.)
But since it all kicked off in Ukraine the propaganda has stepped up massively, with coverage by Guardian, Economist et al now plumbing depths of surreal absurdity such as Mr Orwell himself would have baulked, on ground of implausibility, at depicting in “1984”.
Placed long ago on “pre moderation” at the Guardian, I’m now banned from Facebook. Neither gave any reason: I doubt their legal people would countenance that. Rather, both referred me to a generic list of offences – racism, sexism, ad hominem, promoting commercial sites – none of which I had committed. I suspect my crime lay in posting links to this site, where relevant to a discussion and the point I was making, and to other websites critical of the narrative on Syria (Guardian) and both Ukraine and China (Facebook).
Sorry for myself? Boasting? I think not. All I need do, to rein in any tendency towards either, is remind myself of the price Julian has been paying this past ten years for speaking truths no one has credibly contested. Or of journalists employed by RT America who’ve lost their livelihoods for the same reason we the public have lost access to so many sources on Ukraine.
I can no longer access RT via any of the main browsers and search engines. (DuckDuckGo in the Tor browser still does it. If you haven’t already, download Tor and install on computer, phone or tablet.) That such blatant censorship, unprecedented when “we” are not at war with Russia, is now being practised indicates, should further indication be needed, the extent to which we are being lied to.
Let me tell you a story. A zero hours lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, I once found myself assessing presentations by students on its Public Relations BA. Such courses have blossomed and flourished, not just at this university but sector wide, even as natural sciences and foreign languages have withered and perished. That’s market forces for you.
Ditto the tendency to poach, elevate and fast track practitioners from relevant sectors. Nothing wrong with that, per se. Once upon a time the polytechnics – i.e. all post 1992 universities like Sheffield Hallam – distinguished themselves by their fusing of academic learning with industrial experience. But now I see not so much a fusion of theory and practice; more the eclipsing of the former – and with it of critical thinking – by the latter.
(A degradation expedited, surely, by the tendency for players like MicroSoft, Apple, Cap-Gemini and others to sponsor masters courses barely distinguishable from product training.)
On the day I speak of, student after student held forth in starry eyed wonder at the “brilliance” with which this firm or that had handled some PR disaster – an oil spillage in the Atlantic, say, or millions of personal medical records in an unsecured laptop left on the Metro. What I was witnessing seemed the dismally predictable consequence of eroding all distinction between higher education and trade apprenticeships. Again, nothing wrong with the latter per se. But a degree course is ostensibly about doing something rather different.
(That was fifteen years ago but I’ll wager today’s clones of those students now draw lessons from what was done badly, and celebrate what was done “brilliantly”, by those charged with reputational damage limitation apropos the inferno at Grenfell Towers.)
Truly, I told myself that day, the age of spin has arrived, its future in safe hands. Not for nothing has the MIC acronym (military industrial complex) been expanded to MIMAC (military industrial media academia complex).
With this in mind, here’s Caitlin Johnstone today:
Empire Solves Ukraine’s Nazi Problem With A Logo Change
Ahh, that’s much better. Problem solved.
British empire smut rag The Times has a new article out titled “Azov Battalion drops neo-Nazi symbol exploited by Russian propagandists,” which has got to be the most hilarious headline of 2022 so far (and I’m including The Onion and other intentionally funny headlines in the running).
“The Azov Battalion has removed a neo-Nazi symbol from its insignia that has helped perpetuate Russian propaganda about Ukraine being in the grip of far-right nationalism,” The Times informs us. “At the unveiling of a new special forces unit in Kharkiv, patches handed to soldiers did not feature the wolfsangel, a medieval German symbol that was adopted by the Nazis and which has been used by the battalion since 2014. Instead, they featured a golden trident, the Ukrainian national symbol worn by other regiments.”
Yeah that’s how you solve Ukraine’s Nazi problem. A logo change.
Claiming it’s “Russian propaganda” to say the Azov Battalion uses neo-Nazi insignia, and is ideologically neo-Nazi, is itself propaganda. A month ago Moon of Alabama published an incomplete list of the many mainstream western outlets who have described various Ukrainian paramilitaries as such, so if it’s only “Russian propagandists” who’ve been saying the Azov Battalion is neo-Nazi then Silicon Valley social media platforms should immediately ban outlets like NBC News, the BBC, The Guardian, and Reuters.
Before this war started this past February it wasn’t seriously controversial to say that Ukraine has a Nazi problem except in the very most virulent of empire spinmeister echo chambers. Even in the early days of the conflict it was still happening with mainstream publications who hadn’t yet gotten the memo that history had been rewritten, like this NBC News article from March titled “Ukraine’s Nazi problem is real, even if Putin’s ‘denazification’ claim isn’t.”
Just as disturbing, neo-Nazis are part of some of Ukraine’s growing ranks of volunteer battalions. They are battle-hardened after waging some of the toughest street fighting against Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine following Putin’s Crimean invasion in 2014. One is the Azov Battalion, founded by an avowed white supremacist who claimed Ukraine’s national purpose was to rid the country of Jews and other inferior races. In 2018, the U.S. Congress stipulated that its aid to Ukraine couldn’t be used “to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.” Even so, Azov is now an official member of the Ukraine National Guard.
So plainly it is not “Russian propaganda” to highlight the established fact that there are neo-Nazi paramilitaries in Ukraine who are receiving weapons from the US and its allies. The change in insignia isn’t being made to correct a misperception, it’s being made to obscure a correct perception.
The change in insignia is a rebranding to a more mainstream-friendly logo, very much like Aunt Jemima rebranding to Pearl Milling Company due to the Jim Crow racism the previous branding evoked. The primary difference is that the corporate executives of Pearl Milling probably aren’t still interested in turning America back into an apartheid state.
As journalist Alex Rubenstein noted on Twitter, al Qaeda in Syria went through a similar rebranding not long ago for the exact same reasons:
Indeed it is very normal for the US and its allies to provide backing to fascistic extremists in order to advance imperial agendas, because those tend to be the armed factions in a given area who are willing to inflict the brutal acts of violence upon their countrymen necessary to facilitate those agendas.
From far right militias in Latin America to tyrannical jihadists in the Middle East, this pattern of backing murderous fascists and then having to manage public perception of their depravity has been going on a long time. After the US alliance began working with al Qaeda-aligned factions to push regime change Syria, it eventually became necessary for them to rebrand to appease public concerns about their image. When the US-backed Contras were committing human rights atrocities in Nicaragua to stomp out the leftist Sandinistas, the Reagan administration was launching a massive perception management campaign to manipulate the way people see the situation.
In Ukraine, neo-Nazi paramilitaries just happen to have been the armed thugs who were depraved enough to do what the empire needed done on the ground. As Ukrainian-American peace activist
The people in Donetsk and Luhansk were less lucky. The coup government dispatched the military to suppress their insurrections.
At first many Ukrainian soldiers refused to shoot at their own countrymen, in this civil war that their US-backed government started.
Seeing the hesitation of the Ukrainian military, far-right groups (and the oligarchs that were backing them) formed so-called “territorial defense battalions,” with names like Azov, Aidar, Dnipro, Tornado, etc.
Much like in Latin America, where US-backed death-squads kill left-wing politicians, socialists, and labor organizers, these Ukrainian fascist battalions were deployed to lead the offensive against the militias of Donetsk and Luhansk, killing Russian-speaking Ukrainians.
The fact that factions like the Azov Battalion have been the ones willing to get their hands dirty in Ukraine has been a major factor in their ability to shore up influence over the nation’s affairs far in excess of their numbers, a dynamic described in detail by The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal and Alex Rubenstein. As noted by journalist Aaron Maté, when Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine these extremists openly threatened to lynch him if he worked to make peace with Russia as he had pledged to do.
And on that note it’s work issuing another reminder at this time that the US could easily have prevented this entire war by simply giving Zelensky protection from those factions so that he could enact the peace mandate he’d been elected to enact. But of course the US would never do such a thing, because the US always wanted this war, and because the US does not actually believe in democratic mandates, and because the US does not actually oppose Nazism.
Which is why when concerns were raised about arming neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine, the only offer on the table was a logo change.
* * *
Caitlin is entirely correct. The Banderites were monstrous and their murderous campaign was responsible for over 100,000 Poles, Jews, Russian ethnics and even Ukrainians who did not support the OUN ethnic cleansing policies. Many of the atrocities committed by the Banderites were aided in their vicious campaigns by Ukraine citizens who had adopted the hateful bigotry and racism Stepan Bandera advocated and were quite happy murdering their own Ukrainian citizens. Western Ukraine, not so many years ago, had over 400 “Hitler Youth Camp styled ” schools, but to hear our corrupt MSM’s disinformation, shows a total lack of any memory of the millions who died fighting for our freedoms. It’s thoroughly sickening.
No wonder Poland wants the area of Lviv back in it’s borders(which of course Putin would not want, but the US & NATO could well allow simply by moving the goal posts on whose aggression is acceptable.). The fact that the Zionist state of Israel is backing these supremacist creatures is worth noting as a total giveaway of the very existence of the “Jewish” state lie. Contentious but true.
Perception is everything and that can be moulded, manipulated and imposed, but is also at risk of being exposed if ever people realize the degree to which they have been neutralized as a voice of dissent.
I wonder if the world will ever wake up someday(or more precisely, the peoples of the ill informed western so-called democracies). Countries abroad in many corners of the planet are much better informed and are aware of far more than we are, as to what’s going on. They aren’t watching BBC and Channel 4 news or reading the Graund or the Daily Fail et al.
The rebranding and associated PR approach is par for the course predictable from the Western Establishment and its Corporate Deep State Media propaganda machine. You know its coming based on previous ‘form.’
The political left have no such excuse. Even when what they, and what they are supposed to stand for, are the target. Yet despite the evidence most of them are stuck with their head in the sand, their thumb up their arses, and their brains in neutral. At best spouting ‘a plague on both your houses’ nonsense devoid of inconvenient evidence to their narrative based dogma.
Just like with the gender/sex issue.
This link below provides a starting point for the strange seppuku taking place within much of what passes of the political ‘left’ at present:
Where the level of denial of the existential threat purpose of the Nazi proxies in Ukraine is on a par with their supposed Western Establishment opposites. Who don’t even get a makeover from this crowd but are simply airbrushed out of the equation as at best an afterthought and at worst an irrelevance.
Constantly pushing TON (The Official Narrative) like good little Opium dealers.
Thus, useful idiots, the AWL being merely one among many of this ilk, simplistically regard the Grayzone or Morning Star etc as “Putin/Assad/Xi apologists’ and supporters of ‘genocide’ based entirely on the Western Establishment Narratives (such as, I kid you not, Bellingcat) the political ‘left’ is supposed to challenge rather than take at face value:
Whilst Alan Bleasdale’s GBH back in the early nineties made explicit the controlled opposition nature of large sections of the political ‘left’; notwithstanding that, the rebranding of Azov et al is not the only rebranding taking place right now.
In terms of what encapsulates what is covered by the term ‘Woke’ large chunks of the political ‘left’ have rebranded themselves as born again Thatcherites pushing the doctrine of Ayan Rand with their fixation on the anti-socialist/society cult of the individualist that is self-id. With its faux dialectic of ‘intersectionality’ (the one Michael Parenti demolished in just over four minutes which was featured in a recent posting on this site).
In regards the Ukraine and the wider global re-alignment currently taking place those same vanguardistas might just as well implant the WEF Reset Chip into themselves such is their alignment with that branding.
Survival permitting, there will be copious volumes written about the hubris of Official Western policies approaches and the mindset behind them. A good proportion of whatever is written will surely focus just as much on the voluntary rebranding of large parts of the political ‘left’ as it does on the Official rebranding of terrorists, fascists and jihadists.
Yeah, Dave. Workers Liberty is an appalling site, featuring frequent apologies for Zionism and what can only be called establishment propaganda, despite their hollow pretensions to being on the left. I go to their site every 6 months or so to have a pop at them, but there is seldom any response, although to be fair they seem to leave my comments up – possibly because they are the only replies they get. No-one else seems to bother. Anyway, I used your links for another go, not that it will make any difference. It’s facile to accuse anyone of being a paid toady for any view one doesn’t like, but WL is so consistently unpleasant and incorrigible that I sort of suspect that that’s their game. Has anyone here ever met any of them in person?
Short answer: Yes. I know at least three in our neck of the woods.
Well, you have my sympathy. I usually take the position that leftist sectarianism and condemnation of others on the left over minor(ish) differences is self-defeating and futile, but WL is so far away from what I regard as leftism as to constitute a reactionary establishment spoof site. How they reconcile their positions on working-class leftism and with the Zionist Governments practices in Israel is beyond me.
And right on cue:
The arguments used by Mason and his cohorts here bears a striking similarity to the arguments used by certain supposed ‘left’ groups like the Alliance for Workers Liberty. The question arises as to exactly where such groups as AWL and their useful idiot activists receive their funding from and who is pulling their strings?
I’m lost for words at the behaviour of my former Workers Power comrade.
I don’t want to sound too fantastic but is it possible that the likes of Khan and Mason or more plausibly Bellingcat could with the assistance of Western Intelligence Agencies do a disinformation job on the Grayzone concluding to the satisfaction of the UK Government that the.Grayzone is publishing leaked information ‘which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy’ in accordance with the provisions of clause 1 of the new National Security Bill currently going through UK Parliament? Is it unimaginable that a duplicitous extradition of editor Max Blumenthal from the US could be concocted by the UK under this new totalitarian updated version of the 1911 “Official Secrets Act”?
On the basis of this line of argument, given the flexible nature of such legislation in its usage by those who concoct it for their convenience, it seems reasonable to anticipate a much wider list of people and web sites beyond the Grayzone who would fall foul of such an exercise.
Off the top of one’s head this could easily encompass any non-official narrative from The Saker to Strategic Culture; Andrei Martyanov to Gonzo Lira; Larry Johnson to Caitlin Johnstone; Scott Ritter to Paul Craig Roberts.
I doubt even this site and its denizens would pass muster on this criteria.