Nationalist Propaganda has Many Progressives Demonizing ‘The Russians’


By Robert Barsocchini

Source: Washington’s Blog

Neocon and neoliberal war propaganda, as exhibited in the Washington Post, New York Times, etc., “has turned much of the liberal/progressive community” in the US “into a pro-New Cold War constituency willing to engage in a new breed of McCarthyism”, Robert Parry notes today.  (This author has personally witnessed similar displays.)

Leading Russia expert Stephen Cohen, a professor at Princeton, observes there has been a possibly ‘unprecedented’ ‘propaganda’ ‘tsunami’ occurring in the US targeting Russia and Putin and increasing the already high risk of nuclear war. (The Nation)  This predates the election and the “unproven allegations that Putin had intervened … to put Trump in the White House”, and largely stems from Russia’s intervention at the behest of the Syrian government to prevent the Western-sponsored overthrow of the Syrian state by what US officials privately say is an insurgency dominated by Islamic terrorists being funded by US-backed Saudi dictator Salman bin Abdulaziz’s cadre and similar parties.

Jeff McMahan, a philosopher at Rutgers, notes of the kind of propaganda observed by Cohen that “the powerful sense of collective identity within a nation is often achieved by contrasting an idealized conception of the national character with caricatures of other nations, whose members are regarded as less important or worthy or, in many cases, are dehumanized and despised as inferior or even odious.”  As Parry noted last week, another example of this is the Washington establishment doctrine, partially a holdover from eugenics scholarship and largely a PR tactic serving overtly stated goals of hegemonic expansion, that Russia as a nation is so inferior that any “equivalence” between it and the US is impossible.

However, the world outside the US doctrinal system sees the matter somewhat differently.  In a Western-run global poll taken during the height of the ongoing Ukraine crisis, the international community considered both Russia and the US, along with other countries, for the title of “greatest threat to world peace”.  The US was voted greatest threat by far, receiving twelve times more votes than Russia and three times more votes than the runner-up, Pakistan.

As author David Swanson recently noted in Foreign Policy Journal, in the 95% of the world that is not the US, it is scarcely a secret “that the United States is (as that Putin stooge Martin Luther King Jr. put it) the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. The United States is the top weapons dealer, the top weapons buyer, the biggest military spender, the most widespread imperial presence, the most frequent war maker, the most prolific overthrower of governments, and from 1945 to 2017 the killer of the most people through war.”

McMahan continues: “When nationalist solidarity is maintained” through the type of nationalism described above (which includes keeping much of what Swanson describes secret from or distorting it for the domestic population) “the result is often brutality and atrocity on an enormous scale.”  The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which includes respected thinkers and sponsors such as Stephen Hawking, notes the world is at an extremely dangerous moment in terms of the potential for nuclear war, and has set its “doomsday clock” to three minutes to midnight.

Somewhat similar to gang membership, nationalism, McMahan concludes, provides people with “a sense of security and belonging and, by merging their individual identities into the larger national identity, enables them to expand the boundaries of the self, thereby enhancing their self-esteem.

“[W]hile nationalist sentiment may have beneficial effects within the nation, these are greatly outweighed from an impartial point of view by the dreadful effects that it has on relations between nations.”*


Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter whose interest in propaganda and global force dynamics arose from working as a cross-cultural intermediary for large corporations in the film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. Updates on Twitter.

*McMahan, Jeff. The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life. 6th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp 221. Print.

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3 Responses to Nationalist Propaganda has Many Progressives Demonizing ‘The Russians’

  1. Yes, its sophisticated mind control effort. The multi-faceted propaganda operation has to hit all the bases for a variety of disparate audiences. Mostly using Trumps unpopularity to demonize Russia. Sewing doubt within Trumps nationalistic supporters by linking him to Russia. Moving the nation towards a belligerent stance with Russia. Also, taking focus away from neoliberal policies and the rising populist movements against globilization.
    I understand the power elite don’t subscribe to ideology, they use it as a means of control. They’re nihilists. Relativists, at the very least. Machiavellian Pragmatists. Propaganda only works on those who have an entrenched belief system. It puts them into a reactionary mode. Add reinforcement with Delphi. Stir in a little violence. Then simply apply your dialectic. Game Over.
    People need to realize they are being fed a line of shit. Folks might need to dump terms like nationalism for protectionism.

  2. I disagree. It is actually the loathing of nationalism that has the left frothing over Russia. And it is imperialistic doctrines that has the right demonizing Putin. Bringing Russia low has been the part of the New World Order doctrine for a long time. Syria, Iran, Russia are the dominoes to fall in the words of the neocons. Propaganda, be sure, has a lot to do with it. But it doesn’t seem like nationalist propaganda. It is almost an anti-nationalistic propaganda. State sovereignty is passe to the neoliberal and countries seen as nationalistic are perceived as brutish. That is what the MSM propaganda has demonstrated. In my world people don’t seem to understand why the US is not trusted and can’t fathom why foreign countries would worry about the West’s political and economic expansionist policies.

    • While true that state sovereignty is of no concern to those behind establishment propaganda, that doesn’t mean they aren’t above playing on nationalistic attitudes such as American Exceptionalism to achieve certain goals (ie. justifying geopolitical strategies and shutting down contrary views). We should remember propaganda is not always a reflection of the beliefs of the power elite but how they shape the beliefs of the masses for their own ends. Sometimes it can be so contradictory and inconsistent it causes cognitive dissonance.

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