The New Observer Uncategorized Delusions take centre stage

Delusions take centre stage

It is surely alarming that the state of mind of 90% of the Western political classes, along with the entire management level of the mainstream media, not to mention any number of think-tank and academic “experts” thoughtfully maintained and/or curated by NATO and the corporate sector [1] is simply delusional.

1) This time last year any number of “experts” were given time by the media to gush about how the only question concerning Ukraine’s “counter-offensive” was how far they could go. People were seriously discussing how Ukraine could reach Crimea and then Putin would fall. Politicians appeared to seriously think that 200 German tanks and a handful of mine-clearing machines (and no air power) was going to defeat Russia’s vast army. I am not a military expert but I could see that that was pretty unlikely. [2] Why could these people; who are surely advised by military intelligence not see this? This writer could and he isn’t paid to make strategic decisions on which people’s lives depend.

2) The whole narrative on Ukraine is, of course, delusional. Like a severely mentally ill man who has just murdered his wife but completely blanked it out and is asking for a cup of tea. The political classes and the editorial level of the media classes simply blank out Russia’s obvious security concerns (an organisation whose main purpose is to fight a war with with them setting up shop in an unstable state on their borders) and the reality of the fractured visions of Ukrainian identity which lay behind the Donbas conflict. To be more accurate, what happens is that the State Department decides, as a matter of policy, not to give these factors any weight, because to do so would undermine their hegemonic project, and then the media produce a narrative which censors out these aspects of the picture. The final piece is that many politicians read this media and end up swallowing their own propaganda not realizing that the source is the State Department, not reality.

3) The story with Navalny shows precisely the same kind of delusion. Many Western politicians are producing a narrative about how a “fighter for freedom and democracy in Russia, Navalny, was murdered by Putin”. Only a minority have the wit to note that they don’t actually know if he was murdered or not. But, it is the idea of Navalny as a “fighter for freedom and democracy” and the leader of the opposition, that is uninformed to the point of being ridiculous. Navalny studied in the US at Yale. He returned to Russia. He seems to have had his own business interests. His political programme was not very radical. He accepted the current capitalist system in Russia with the following amendments: more independence of the judiciary, an anti-corruption Commission, more privatisation, some (possibly uncosted) plans to increase social spending, reduce the red tape for businesses, decentralisation and reduce state influence in the media (which, if the West is anything to go by, would mean handing it over to the corporate sector). [3] This is a vision of Russia as it might have been if, after Yeltsin, it had continued on its path of becoming more aligned with the West. This is the Russia which would be fully open to business for Western corporate and financial interests. It is no wonder at all the political classes in the West portray Navalny as the opposition in Russia. This is because Navalny represented precisely the kind of Russia they want. In Russia the appeal is to the middle-classes, perhaps especially those who felt that their business and professional opportunities were/are stymied by the state bureaucratic system and its alleged insider dealing, not the marginalised or poor. The reality, was that he was only ever a minority interest in Russia – appealing in particular to some urban middle-class people in Moscow and St. Petersburg who had exposure to the West, and a few pockets elsewhere, in Siberia in particular. (Navalny was something of a nationalist, which fact is now permitted in the narrative but it is being curated; the line, which I think springs from team Navalny, is that he only ever associated with nationalists in order to kick-start his political movement. That doesn’t explain “cockroaches”, but, more to the point; his recent political programme envisaged restricting the current easy Visa regime for people from Central Asian countries to work in Russia. Had he been successful this would have been a disaster for poorer countries like Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan). But, as always, the Western political and media classes produce delusions at a rate faster than any psychopath. They simply pretended that Navalny was the face of the “popular opposition” in Russia and represents a vast swathe of people crying out for liberalism and ‘democracy’. They certainly aren’t going to mention the Communist Party, which believes in a campaign of renationalisation and wealth redistribution or the Fair Russia party which has a programme of achieving social justice by regulation. (An idea the Labour Party in the UK used to toy with). Despite the Communist Party at least having much more widespread support than Navalny had. And, again, we see politicians parroting this narrative about Navalny, the “leader of the opposition” and a fighter “for freedom and democracy”, a “freedom fighter”, for the people of Russia, which they read in the papers, unaware that that they are simply chanting the slogans of their own state propaganda departments. Consider:

We have to send a message of support to Russian opposition… So on both fronts, the political one and the military one, we have to continue our support to Ukraine and to the Russian people who want to be living in freedom. [EU High Representative, Joseph Borrell]

Borrell has also promised to maintain support for “independent media” and “civil society” in Russia. And still they don’t see that from the point of view of the Kremlin this looks like a colour revolution in the making…

(None of which is not to say that I don’t find his death an occasion for sadness. I am just saying that the Western media figure of Navalny is a kind of caricature).

In the political and media classes in the West there is a truly alarming lack of intellectual rigour and capacity and willingness to analyse situations objectively and thoroughly, see the point of view of the other, understand historical context, understand the balance of forces in any situation, and so on. Literally, many politicians are no better than people who have turned up for a rally and are shouting slogans without having any idea why they are really there.


  1. Professionals in this area help formulate political strategies and recommendations by suggesting policy directives and plans of action for immediate and longer term solutions to strategic issues. This ensures NATO is able to integrate, optimise, and enable the use of national, multinational, and collective capabilities upon their delivery and availability. It is important to develop a network of contacts across and outside NATO, with capitals and subject-matter experts in academic institutions, as this allows proper monitoring of political affairs and drafting of inputs for policy development. [] +