Novorossiya: Analysis of the Propaganda War – Methods and Framework
Among ostensibly pro-Novorossiyan analysts, bloggers, and activist-journalists, blaming Putin’s lack of bellicosity for the real crimes of the Kiev Junta has become increasingly popular since the tactical withdrawal from Slaviansk. This is bound to have disastrous results and is itself the product of an intentional disinfo project from NATO’s ‘alternative’ media establishment.
The information or ‘propaganda’ war is a critical element in all conflicts. Conflict is one of the primary motor forces within societies and civilizations, and between them.
We assume that any reader of this article is intimately familiar with most of the pertinent facts and moments of significance which relate to this situation, going back at least to November 2013, and the to a lesser extent the somewhat broader context.
That means this piece is aimed at a limited audience, particularly those involved directly in the work.
It also means that many things will be referred to, taken for granted, and not referenced. Most of the facts can be checked on a search engine when in doubt, and most readers will already be familiar with the data.
In this brief we will attempt to:
1.) Review an error in our prior assessment of the Russian ability to recognize Novorossiya. Two sections and conclusion
2.) Characterize some of the disastrous errors in an emergent propaganda approach which is technically incorrect.
3.) Proscribe the features of technically correct propaganda.
4.) Give ways that frustration can be redirected towards the right target
1.) Assessment Problems: We had wrongly assessed that the Duma would move quickly to accept the petition submitted by the revolutionary governments in Donbass and Lugansk (or together ‘Novorossiya’) to be recognized as autonomous republics and integrated into the Russian Federation, the Eurasian Union, or at least as a full member of CSTO, back in early May. Some were quick to issue pronouncements as being indicative of significant Russian weakness and compromise, or consistent with the view that Russians either had no general plan or that they had been foiled. There are any number of reasons why these were premature, wrongheaded, and perhaps even based on wishful thinking. Rather, most reasonable was to step back from those developments, and then place a better analysis at the heels of more developments. From the vantage point of July 9, we can see now that:
The error was based primarily in two areas.
a.) One area was based mostly upon a misapproximation of the degree and success of the anti-war and pro-Eurasian sentiment in western Europe (it is still growing), and the push-back from two sectors of oligarchs within Russia. We were unable to predict this combination of two sectors of the oligarchy lining up in combination with the retardation of the European discourse and in combination with the successful and prudent co-option of this problem and its development into a strength by Putin.
First there is a shortsighted sector of the oligarchy in Russia (and as an aside, similar to those Oligarchs in east Ukraine which had supported party of regions and fears property destruction in the east). This Russian group, which is invested in European enterprises and banks and would suffer in the result of a European version of US level sanctions. They are not opposed to Putin and generally accept the limits on power he has placed upon them, and have accepted some small (though still insufficient) amount of social responsibility. They believe wrongly that there is a general desire to bring peaceful and amicable closure to this project on the NATO side. They pressure Putin to play everything safe, but could be said to have benign, though self interested, intentions.
Second, they are being led in this instance by another power group in Russia: those remaining oligarchs in Russia who saw Yeltsin as their puppet, but since the rise of Putin have refrained from gross violation of law and/or have avoided prosecution, and still maintain enough of their wealth and their power in the Duma and in other important levers of power and pressure. Today they often see Medvedev, when he acts most liberally, as somewhat representative of their interest but in general would like to see a complete reversion to the Yeltsin period. Those clearly working against the interests of a Eurasian big space also work closely with the liberal 5th column and the organizers of the failed ‘Occupy Moscow’.
Together, the knowing with the unknowing, pursue a line of ‘moderation’ and avoidance of any increase in the conflict which would bring about an erosion of their material interest. They are wrong here; rather their material interest will be destroyed if the Novorossiyan position is destroyed. Others more treacherous among them – the second group – believe (as experience had shown) that NATO will reward them and grant them a subordinate but powerful new role as controlled ‘masters’ of a small, weaker, divided post-Russian space.
They would increase their own wealth by a few billion to enjoy for their remaining twenty or thirty years on earth; something which they cannot take with them after their life; in exchange for the destruction of a civilization, its people, and history. This is a kind of selfishness and relativistic nihilism which can be taken to world-ending proportions, one of the primary dangers of liberalism.
b.) The other area was a failing to accurately foresee the strategic value of not over-committing to a new land-border that divides former Ukraine, prematurely. All actions which can neutralize the opponent without committing to a new position, thus changing the facts on the ground, ought to be avoided according to prudence. This is the track that the Russians are clearly taking and which also explains not accepting the petition in the Duma to incorporate Novorossiya in some capacity.
A premature action would see immediately a restoration of peace, and creation of a new border. But the propaganda discourse in the West, that equally important war, would be lost. There would be no more conflicting reports and the successfully growing meme showing Russians as the victims would not be. But worse, this peace would be temporary. It could give the US a clear argument to the essentially two sectors among the EU elites, mostly industrialists, who presently are either supportive of the Russian initiative or are taking a wait and see approach. They would argue coherently that Russia is the aggressor, and would push the ambivalent group to join the already pro-NATO financier group towards a program of scorched earth, regional war, and beyond.
The concept of the ‘just war’ still prevails today, and despite the loss of property and regrettable destruction of lives and the increasing casualties, the cementing in the European (and internally, Russian) discourse that the Russians are the victims is more valuable in the near term and long term, and ultimately will save more lives than would be otherwise.
Putin must (create the discursive spectacle of having to*) finally act when he is pushed from below and from the sides by all; rather, by all who are outraged and upset by the crimes committed by the KJ campaign. To act before this, conversely, is to draw the ire both in Europe and in Russia of the liberals. Of course their ire will be there at any rate, but the critical question is the language of the liberals. The primary appeal of their linguistic and conceptual arsenal is ‘human rights’.
Thus, if the discourse is shaped and built up into a solid construct, in the target audiences, around concern for a lack of Russian intervention, then later or more public intervention will officially come as a response to that. It will be in the name of ‘human rights’, and the liberals the world over will have been de-fanged on this critical point.
Rather than being able to support the KJ in opposing the ‘human rights’ abuses of the Russians, the orientation of the discourse will be the opposite: Russia must act in the name of opposing ‘human rights’ abuses. Russian and Ukrainian liberals will thus be divided from their western ideological counterparts. That is a critical step.
The other area is related to the first (a.), as explained in the section after this. Of course we understood before that the Russian state (”Putin”) is not simply interacting with the situation as it evolves, as we had made clear in any number of press releases and public talks. Rather Shoigu and other leaders, planners, and advisers, have developed numerous contingencies, flexibly used within various strategies, all pointing to the same position.
But the news cycle is not leading their general schema. The news cycle is not within the Russian sphere of total control, and thus being led by it is to be led by a foreign entity. This may be a serious error that analysts can make. The news cycle and the contingency planning are not the same thing, and are related in ways outside of the purvey of poor analysis.
The pragmatist bourgeoisie must see the practical and applicable, realizable nature of the vision. This is a tendency which defines the pragmatist. Their role can be constructive or destructive. Those who cannot see the realizable nature of the project (Eurasia), once significant work has been done (and when other pragmatists have seen the feasibility), they must be entirely overthrown and their assets nationalized. Allowing them now to have their treachery come out in the light, in at least a controlled way, will create further legal and moral pretext to pursue a course of marginalizing them ever further in the near future.
Conclusion: Work of the Russian state (”Putin”) was clear: they have connected these two factors. The problem has been transformed into a strength. Until the opportunity arises, placate the pragmatists and continue to pursue the line that Novorossiya is not supported. Keep them in line in that way, but in fact continue to increase support through the proxy channels. Reports from the front should continue that the situation is bad and without good supplies. NM soldiers in the field must be inoculated from such propaganda as it ramps up. They will be told what to expect from their commanding officers, and will rely more on that trust than the various and conflicting reports coming through the internet and MSM. Units will be held together by the charisma of the immediate officer, and the positive development of the growing cult of personality around Strelkov and Gubarev.
Reports of weakness are used in the following way: It entices the Kiev Junta (KJ) to attack insufficiently and prematurely, or cause delays based in false confidence which results in delays in following up on actions. Those delays give time for NM to take further initiative. Resulting defeats of KJ on increasingly significant scale while Russia is maintaining sufficient relations with EU bring the pragmatists over to the now newly realized practical approach – support for further escalation of the pressure on the Junta in general.
Still we were consistent and correct in tying the success of the Eurasian initiative in Novorossiya to the success of the intel/info war in Western Europe. At the same time, it is also true that Russia is succeeding in the information war. This is in part also because significant elements of the Western European bourgeoisie have strong business and political ties with their Russian counterparts.
Again, Novorossiyan supporters and activists in the alternative media have been parroting the line into echo chamber proportions that Russia is not intervening to help. Because NATO analysts and western media chiefs are looking at the ‘buzz’ in pro-Russian alternative media to discern ‘inside’ or critical information, they are facing extreme difficulty in exposing covert and proxy Russian backing of Novorossiyan militias. That has been a success.
At the end of the day, when covert and proxy support through Russian use of the arab spring/color revolution (combined) tactic reaches full crescendo, it will have been seamless. We will be confronted with many months of propaganda from pro-Russian/pro-Novorossiyan activists and journalist bloggers saying nearly uniformly that Russia did not get involved, and berating the Russian state and Putin for not assisting.
Then the final ‘victory’ of the nationalist and socialist revolution in the east of Ukraine, resulting not in federation of Ukraine but in recognition of a new state, will be presented to history as a self-determined act made possible not by invasion, intrigue, or occupation by Russia, but rather by the self-organization and sacrifice of a beleaguered NM David in the face of the KJ-NATO Goliath. This is how it must be both recorded and realized to be legitimate not only tomorrow, but in the following decades and centuries. History must remember it this way.
Thus, delay in moving to accept the Novorossiya Republic into the Russian Federation is the most prudent course. An armed uprising supported by the people along Orthodox Christian, Nationalist, and Communist lines was not enough. That is only part of the solution. The position must be used to solidify its existence in the long term, and a heavier price must be paid. Like the Zionist creation of Israel, Novorossiya will have to be premised upon their own spilt blood and creating the global perception having had to go it alone. That is a painful truth.
2.) Disastrous errors in an emergent approach: Initially there was much benefit, as it still remains so, in presenting to certain audiences that the NM is both unable to protect innocents and is lacking support from Moscow. The nature of those audiences has already been covered, and why that line was important. The life-cycle of the meme followed a somewhat predictable course. In its development, the 6th column was able – as we briefly disclosed in our July 5th briefing – to essentially hijack and redirect this meme in a dangerous, potentially catastrophic direction.
The core implied meme was that “Putin isn’t doing enough”. While there may be an element of truth here, writers with larger audiences have a particular responsibility based upon their target audience to give a more nuanced and wholly accurate picture. Here Putin for the foreign audience is short-hand for the Russians. In a sense this is also true because should Putin be deposed at the present time, it would be a catastrophic victory for the Atlanticists and would result within the matter of a few short years in the fracturing of the Russian federation into half a dozen or more client states of a resurgent NATO.
As stated, originally this was useful to the extent that it helped create the necessary perception that the Russians were not involved. It also produced the idea that Putin was exercising the reasonable restraint necessary to save lives, solve the conflict, and maintain important relationships (EU/RF trade totals some 500 bln EUR annually, plus nordstream, now southstream/OMV/Austria, Serbia-Germany etc.). Signs early on indicated though that this was increasingly becoming simply an attack on Putin which also means an attack on Russian sovereignty and Russian interests. At first this should have been considered as a solvable problem that had been encountered along the way, but nothing devastating.
But the meme was mirrored by the NATO side (meaning all infowar assets, blogs, editorials, etc.), the mirroring was amplified until the mirrored source attracted primary attention, and then the switch was made towards simply blaming the Russians and Putin for not ‘acting’ quickly and decisively enough. This became no longer a plea for help in the form of further intervention, but another piece of evidence in an assembly of evidences that Putin is self-interested, cowardly, inept, etc. and so on. All of the latter are pretexts for his removal, and subsequent destabilization of the entire Eurasian project.
This is not to say that Putin is omniscient or hypothetically irreplaceable later on by someone more suited to future developments as they unfold moving forward. But there is a difference between an internal and evolutionary process of selection of new leaders vs. the railroading of a more than competent leader at a critical time when such a process cannot take place free of foreign meddling and intrigue.
In the evolution of this meme, this wrong direction was taken up by trusted sources and popularly read public analysts in both the Russian and English speaking spheres.
Some mechanisms behind why pro-Russians have succumbed to this are fairly easy to understand. From this it can be untangled. Putin’s competency is being used against him in this vulgarized meme. Those calling for him to ‘do more’ are premising this in having built up his abilities to such a degree that it is unfathomable that he is acting upon a trajectory that is both complex and constrained by reality: he is dealing with 5th and 6th column detractors within the power structure, and he is also pursuing a long term plan which does not succumb to the news cycle and the recency effect that takes hold among the various target audiences of all forms of media.
Finally there are just a considerable core of people who are pro-Russian and anti-Putin for either nationalist, pseudo-liberal or communist reasons and cannot understand that now is not the time to take the opportunity to point out that Putin is insufficiently nationalist, insufficiently communist or insufficiently liberal (or too nationalist, too communist, or too liberal) under the guise of journalism or tweets about Ukraine and Novorossiya.
Putin’s and Russian strategy, while involving being able to manage the news and information cycle, isn’t based upon having a disarmed approach to that cycle. This is why there is an observable disconnect between what is actually strategically important and what various target audience members and journalists think is important.
The KJ is engaged in a war of aggression against a people pushing towards national liberation. Rather than blaming NATO, the KJ, and those 5th and 6th column within Russia who are in fact responsible for the repression of Novorossiyans, instead the protective ‘father figure’ is blamed for inadequately fulfilling his role as protector. This dynamic is possible through a manner of perception one might characterize as childlike.
This is a known Achilles heel that competent larger-than-life leaders like Putin often face. This is why it was the chosen target of the NATO side which is struggling (with now increasing success) to employ the age old tactic of transforming the opponents primary strength (competence, power) into his primary weakness. There is also an element of abstraction based on this ‘all powerful father’ view of Putin which suddenly forgets certain facts: Putin is not an absolute dictator and must navigate through and better organize any number of power blocs within Russian society at large. He must do this in a careful way which builds consensus, can be seen as acting decisively and within adequate time-scale but not rashly or reactively. The pragmatists must come to see that supporting the Novorossiyan side is the rational thing which will have enough support from the so-called ‘international community’ (minus the US, Israel, and Guam).
Indeed there has been increasing success in isolating the US, or rather in exposing the direct connection between the US and Poroshenko – NATO’s named asset in their OU (Our Ukraine) project. The US has been relatively silent about the developments over the last few days, and Europeans are increasingly irritated at the degree of bellicosity demonstrated by Poroshenko, and they rightly see him as being responsible for breaking the cease-fire agreement unilaterally.
This is similar fashion to Syria, where Putin gave Obama an out by having Kerry claim success in the removal of chemical weapons while in fact the Russians were able to maintain their own ‘red line’ with regard to opposing a humanitarian corridor or no-fly zone in that very much related conflict. Those results have been quite good, and Syria has been able to save its civilization and even act proactively to aid Iraq in its similar struggle against the same faction within ISIS that is US dominated through its Saudi proxy.
Again though, Putin’s success in Syria adds to the perception that he is free to do the same at any time in Ukraine. That can work against him, for reasons laid out in the above.
There is also an element of hubris which is typical among western journalists and intellectuals, even those sympathetic to the Russian struggle to build multi-polarity. This involves ‘back-seat driving’, ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’ and ’20/20 hindsight’. Western liberal society produces within its intellectuals and advocates a false sense of expertise on subjects which they are merely conversant in. The western intellectual will produce ‘corrective’ advice for figures they in fact admire for any number of reasons which may be related to self-worth or self-esteem. The primary defect is a conflation of their personal desires, or maximalist goals for that which, on the other hand, is actually possible.
But instead the fact remains that these leaders are operating upon information and implementing plans outside the real scope of knowledge and apprehension of the western journalist or intellectual in question.
These factors, in combination with others, including a concerted pro-NATO alternative media spin effort, are producing this disastrous anti-Putin meme. It is meant to undermine his support: Kill the head and the body dies, Novorossiya and all.
At any rate, it is ineffective propaganda. Negativistic or low-vibrational memes about Putin’s actions, or lack thereof, will not affect let alone coerce the Russian apparatus into a different course of action. It only whittles away necessary support at a critical time. From the well known subject of basic political messaging 101, responding obediently to criticism is generally an admission that said criticism was true.
3.) The features of technically correct propaganda
Technically correct propaganda, then should not produce the effect of destabilizing the Russian effort in any way, regardless of intentions. It is important to maintain the pervasive belief at the targeted audience that Russia is not involved while not attacking Putin or the Russian effort. There is an exception however, if your efforts are directed at an already liberal audience, it is acceptable to make some anti-Putin gestures which are a-temporal and vaguely critical of his ‘power’ in order to gain the credibility of the reader, and then going on to make the intended point in support of the entirely native self-determination struggle of ethnic Russians in former Ukraine.
When writing about the atrocities which the KJ is doing, it is important to make the following critical points when they are relevant, and based upon the target audience. The following is primarily oriented towards a western audience:
a.) The European and Russian brokered ceasefire, and any possible peace-plan have been frustrated by Poroshenko who has been revealed by wikileaks to be a purely US asset in their OU program. This shows Europeans that the US cannot act in good faith or as a reliable partner.
b.) Poroshenko is being controlled by the US from the outside, and also being pressured by other US proxies from within Ukraine like the Pravy Sektor as a ‘check’ to keep him from being able to do what saner heads within Ukraine, or within the EU.
c.) Because Putin is not a dictator, but a constitutionally elected president of a republic based upon the rule of law, which respects international norms, he is not free to act in accordance with his own desires to actively assist the ethnic Russians in former Ukraine
d.) The Kiev Junta is wholly responsible for all atrocities and hardships which Novorossiyans face, and working against Putin’s desires to provide needed help in this are a combination of US interference and NATO pawns within Russia.
e.) Novorossiyans have never launched any incursions or attacks on the Ukrainian side, but the KJ is presently involved in a hostile occupation of a distinct people who have formed their own republic.
f.) Putin is acting with great restraint, and while the the emerging doctrine in international law of R2P and similar allows and even compels Russia to act on behalf of ethnic Russians in their own region, Putin is seeing each and every other possibility to its end that could avoid the potential of an even greater escalation to the conflict which would be to the detriment of all innocents.
g.) Each and every loss of innocent life is a tragedy, and numbers do not matter to the families and friends directly affected by the crimes against humanity being committed by NATO and the KJ. But states which represent the collective interest, and who must responsibly represent tens or hundreds of millions of people, and whose well intentioned actions may have the inadvertent affect of triggering a much larger and uncontrollable conflict of world ending proportions must first exhaust every possible option to resolve the conflict before a war can be considered just.
h.) It is important for Putin and Russia, as they are already doing, to continue to create and expand the arena of activity by which Russians can further and better assist their relatives and friends in Novorossiya, and this means that those Russians working tacitly or overtly for NATO must be outed, purged, and face prosecution.
i.) The Russian Duma retains the right to recognize and accept the petition by Novorossiya and recognize them as members of the Russian Federation or related. Republics established of, by, and for the people native to a region do not require international consensus to exist. Their right is de facto and their reality is ipso facto.
j.) Russian leadership has never taken a direct intervention of the table, and established precedents and norms in international grant Russia this right.
k.) Putin isn’t perfect, and he’s made mistakes before, but it would blind to put the blood on his hands for wounds inflicted by the Kiev Junta and NATO
l.) Putin isn’t doing enough, because disloyal Russian oligarchs are interfering.
The following is a template of technically correct propaganda where the target audience are both Eurasianists themselves and Russian insiders. This one comes from Alexander Dugin. In light of the above, you will take note of the patterns and phrases which are particularly instructive.
” There is information that Khodakovsky refuses to participate with Strelkov in the preparation of the defense of Donetsk.
I apologize for the link to the enemy resource.http://korrespondent.net/ukraine/politics/3389730-v-d..
The situation is the following: Strelkov got to Donetsk to streamline the military and resolve the political situation in DNR and in the whole of Novorossiya (most capable units LNR -in particular, Mozgovoy also stood under the command of the Bureau).
Strelkov began preparations for the defense of the city. This is the last frontier of Russian spring. This is our last battle. We win, we start a counter-offensive. If we lose, it is the end of everything. Not only Novorossiya, but also Russia. This includes a junta attack on the Crimea and what Putin wanted to avoid: war with Ukraine.
To avoid a larger war, must win the battle for the Novorossiju, to defend and regain control over the whole territory of the DNI and the LNR. And here at this critical juncture, Khodakovsky, former head of the SECURITY SERVICE of UKRAINE in Donetsk region and loyal man oligarch Akhmetov refuses to defend the city and report to Commander-in-Chief of the DNI. He is hiding like a rat and calling for changes is Kurginyan, sent as the sixth column. Clearly today those who sent him now regret it -apparently they had not expected that treacherous plan to drain Novorossiya is so fast and so clearly revealed. Unable to keep quiet, Kurginyan desperately offered up everything and everyone, trying to get out of the situation.
The one who sent Kurginyan now will do everything possible to put the blame for this apparent failure on the other. Whoever it was that sent him …
The whole picture of betrayal is clear: to discredit Strelkov, disrupt the defense of Donetsk, return Novorossiya to the junta. That was constructed under the most idiotic and ridiculous conspiratorial fantasies.
Against this background, the position of Prosvirnin calling to postpone all ideological disputes between the Patriots and Communists look completely correct. Let us stand for Novorossiya, then we’ll see.
Kurginyan is finished.
But Khodakovsky still tries to manage a battalion East, most of which, however, are real and sincere Russian people. But war is war. And this happens to be war. Therefore, all must understand only one thing: whether we are Orthodox Christian Patriots, monarchists, Communists or legitimists, United struggle against the junta for the great Russia, our man and banner is Igor Strelkov. And Putin on our side. If it is, of course, the real Putin.
Here is another example of good visual propaganda for those keeping up with the military angle. It is clear, and makes use of well established themes. It leaves the viewer with a sense of excitement, solidarity, and progress.
4.) Redirecting Frustrations
Another reason people may be more upset and frustrated with either Russia or the defenders of Novorossiya is that they identify more closely with it. When our opponent and real culprit – in this case NATO and the KJ – appear to be winning, we have a healthy tendency to first examine within ourselves what we can be doing better. When we identify closely with Eurasia, this can dysfunctionally result in emotively based and irrational attacks on the Eurasian initiative when we perceive it or them to be an extension of ourselves.
It is not bad to see the Eurasian effort here to be an extension of ourselves – it is an example of collective existence, and works to dismantle the atomized and individualist system of liberalism. Solidarity is one of humanity’s saving graces. But there are healthy and productive ways for this to be expressed.
There are several ways that those so moved can help the Novorossiyan resistance. There are a number of charities presently getting in important ”supplies” into the region which are of both tactical and humanitarian significance, and it is important to raise this with your readers or within your circle. People in any place should organize vigorously for support groups, taking donations, raising the issue to pass resolutions in support at their church, mosque, trade union, political circle, reader’s group, school or university, or community organization.
But for the most driven and noble, this is not enough. Ideologically solid people of all ages of good health and stamina should consider making a three to six month pilgrimage to Novorossiya in order to aid directly in the various activities connected to the self defense of the people. But criticism of the Russian leadership for not fulfilling our best dreams or hopes neither compels them to act in the way we desire, nor does it help the situation in any way.
The final and take away concept to carry forward when making good propaganda is to keep in mind the target audience when constructing your language and arguments, and to place blame on those actually responsible for the crimes which we oppose.