Category Archives: Trump

Thoughtlessness

 Hannah Arendt also wrote a book about the trial of Adolf Eichmann. She used that famous expression “the banality of evil” to describe him and his kind.  He was a man who facilitated horrid acts of violence against the Jews.  But Arendt said what set him apart was his “thoughtlessness.” To her he looked and acted like a boring accountant.

She had been shocked by how glib he was in court. He talked about exterminating millions of Jews as if it was nothing. What was there for him to admit to, he asked. He suggested, as did Himmler, that they could be reconciled with the Jews.  They had a sense of elation when they considered this possibility. But the feelings were not real. It was, in Arendt’s phrase, “an outrageous cliché.”  She said, “it was a self-fabricated stock phrase, as devoid of reality as those clichés by which people had lived for twelve years.”  As Carol Brightman said, “Clichés and conventional sentiments functioned as armor blocking the consciousness of the accused at just those painful junctures where painful intrusions of reality threatened.” These are some of the enemies of thought. In fact, during the trial Arendt had noticed how Eichmann was not perturbed by his starling contradictions. He was certainly not engaged in thinking. He was not stupid. He was just completely thoughtless.

Arendt was stunned that such horrific crimes could be committed without consciousness. She said she disagreed with Kant, who, according to her believed that stupidity was caused by a wicked heart. She contended instead that “absence of thought is not stupidity, it can be found in highly intelligent people, and a wicked heart is not its cause, it is probably the other way around, that wickedness may be caused by absence of thought.”

According to her teaching assistant Kohn, Arendt believed, as I believe, that “thinking conditions people to resist evildoing.”  Most ethicists do not accept this, but I find it profoundly compelling. I believe, like the American novelist Henry James, that ethics is high reason. Where there is no reason there is no ethics. this is what the sleep of reason is all about.

Arendt was clear when she said that everyone could think. Of course, that does not mean that everyone will think. You didn’t have to have an education to think. She was not elitist.

Arendt got mad when Jews accused her of being self-hating and anti-Jewish as a result of her book on Eichmann. She said that all she wanted to do was to think about what he had done. She wanted to understand him and that was not the same as forgiving him or being soft on the Nazis. It was her job as a philosopher to think about these things. And she thought that was very important. In the film about her, Arendt summed up her thinking this way,

“Trying to understand is not the same as forgiveness. It is my responsibility to try to understand. It is the responsibility of anyone who tries to put pen to paper on this subject. Since Socrates and Plato we have understood thinking to be a silent dialogue between me and myself. In refusing to be a person Eichmann utterly surrendered that single most defining human quality, that of being able to think. And consequently he was no longer capable of making moral judgments. This inability to think created the possibility for many ordinary men to commit evil deeds on a gigantic scale, the like of which one had never seen before. It is true I have considered these questions in a philosophical way. The manifestation of the mind of thought is not knowledge, but the ability to tell right from wrong; beautiful from ugly. And I hope that thinking gives people the strength to prevent catastrophes in these rare moments when the chips are down.  ”

 

For Hannah Arendt, what thinking meant was to train the mind to go wandering.  I love that concept. It brings me back to my concept of meandering.  I love to meander–physically and mentally. That is the essence of free thinking (and there is really no other kind) to meander through thoughts without regard to preconceived ideas, ideologies, or prejudices. Only the free mind can think. I said that. But that is a concept directly inspired by Arendt.

Arendt’s first major book was On the Origins of Totalitarianism. She thought there was something new or modern about totalitarianism. It was not like anything we had seen before. It presented profound change from everything that preceded it. It was much more than tyranny or dictatorship. It cut at individual will. It cut at our individual identity. In fact, according to one of Arendt’s most profound insights, totalitarianism cuts at our capacity to think.

As always, I ask myself how this is relevant to our times. There are not many totalitarian regimes around right now, but there are movements—various forms of populist movements—that tend in the same direction. I think often of the American near fascists—i.e. the Trumpsters, the insurrectionists on Capitol Hill that were looking to hang Mike Pence only because their leader told them that he had been betrayed by Pence.  That was enough to set off ordinary people looking to hang the vice-president of their country! Had they lost the capacity to think? To me it seemed that way.

Absolute Loyalty

 

As Hannah Arendt said in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism totalitarian movements required and received absolute loyalty. A member might have to let himself be tried, found guilty of any crime, cooperate with the authorities, without objection—all in the name of the movement.

Of course, not everyone is able to give such loyalty. As Arendt said,

“Such loyalty can be expected only from the completely isolated human being who, without any other social ties to family, friends, comrades, or even mere acquaintances, derives his sense of having a place in the world only from his belonging to a movement, his membership in the party.”

Notably, that was also the kind of loyalty Trump demanded of the Trumpsters, and usually got. That’s what he told James Comey who refused to give it. It did not take long and Coney was out of his job as Director of the FBI. That happened to countless others.

Arendt found it interesting who was able to give such loyalty. It was surprising. As she said,

“What is more disturbing to our peace of mind than the unconditional loyalty of members of totalitarian movements, and the popular support of totalitarian regimes, is the unquestionable attraction these movements exert on the elite, and not only on the mob elements in society. It would be rash indeed to discount, because of artistic vagaries or scholarly naiveté, the terrifying roster of distinguished men whom totalitarianism can count among its sympathizers, fellow-travelers, and inscribed party members.”

 

Again Trumpism found similar support among elite conservatives. Trump and Trumpsters expected Mike Pence to overthrow the votes of states despite the fact that courts had refused to do this, and despite the fact that there was no way this could be done and when he refused Trump immediately turned on him even though he had received 4 years of abject loyalty from Pence. And with only the vaguest of suggestions, the Trumpian mob marched to the White House with chants “Hang Mike Pence.” Later. even though his life had been endangered by Trump and his followers at his behest, Pence did not overturn the election results because he thought he could not do that, but after this devotion to the leader was stubbornly persistent

Loyalty is an astonishing thing. Absolute loyalty is incomprehensible. But it is real. It can persist long past what reason would suggest.

 

Hannah Arendt: Mass Support for authoritarians

 

Dictators live on mass support. To many people that seems strange, but it isn’t. Massive power comes from mass support. They can’t do it alone. That does not mean a democracy is necessary. Not at all. Tyrants realize that democracy is not important. Mass support is important and there are better ways to get it than messy elections. Hannah Arendt described it this way in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism:

“It would be a still more serious mistake to forget, because of this impermanence, that totalitarian regimes, so long as they are in power, and the totalitarian leaders, so long as they are alive, “command and rest upon mass support” up to the end. Hitler’s rise to power was legal in terms of majority rule and neither he nor Stalin could have maintained the leadership of large populations, survived many interior and exterior crises, and braved numerous dangers of relentless intra-party struggles if they had not had the confidence of the masses.

 

Often it is startling how brazen tyrannical leaders can be. Trump was not the first, though I acknowledge he was not a tyrannical leader-so far he is just a wanna be authoritarian, but he could easily tip in that direction if elected again. Arendt had another important observation here:

“Nor can their (totalitarian leaders) popularity be attributed to the victory of masterful and lying propaganda over ignorance and stupidity. For the totalitarian movements which precede and accompany totalitarian regimes, invariably as frank as it is mendacious, and would-be totalitarian rulers usually start their careers by boasting of their past crimes and carefully outlining their future ones.”

 

Trump did exactly that many times. For example, when he talked openly to Bob Woodward a reporter about how he minimized the risks of Covid-19 and told the American public they had nothing to fear. Later he kept saying, without evidence again, that “the end of the pandemic is around the corner.” He also bragged how he could stand in Times Square and kill someone and would not lose any support. He might have been right.

 

Trump trumps truth

 

I don’t know about you but I have been mesmerized by the House Select committee hearings into the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2020. The house committee members have been impressively methodical in their presentation. To me it is like watching a snake.

 

Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr, who had been a loyal Trump supporter right to the end when the lies from Trump became unbearable, said he was personally demoralized by what happened because in the past he had always been able to talk sense into President Trump when he got some crazy ideas. But this time, before January 6th he could not persuade Trump that he was wrong. As he told the House Select Committee, Barr reached the conclusion that Trump was “detached from reality.” Those are pretty strong words about the American president entrusted with the nuclear codes that could set off World War III and lead to the destruction of society. And those are words from one of Trump’s most reliable and loyalty Cabinet ministers!

 

Asha Rangappa is a Senior Lecturer at the Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and a former Associate Dean at Yale Law School who served as a Special Agent with the FBI was interviewed by Christiane Amanpour, disagreed with Barr, but what she said was perhaps even more alarming.  She said,

“I don’t think he was detached from reality, I think he understood the maxim that a lie can get half way around the world before the truth puts its boots on. His interest was in promoting a narrative as soon as he could, whether or not it was true.”

 

I agree. Trump is not a liar, he is a bullshitter. By that I mean, he actually doesn’t care if a statement is true or not, he just cares if the statement is useful to him. As Rangappa said, “In fact often a lie is more effective that the truth.” Trump has groomed the American public since before the election when he said if he lost the election it was rigged. He wanted the American public to be receptive to his Big Lie. And he was surprisingly effective. Millions of Americans came to believe it not only without evidence but against the evidence. That is why he told Department of Justice officials, ‘Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the other Republicans.” That is why he asked the Secretary of State for Georgia to “just find me 11,870 votes” which was one more than he needed to win the state of Georgia in the 2020 presidential election. Trump didn’t care about fraud, he didn’t care about the truth; he just cared about wining. For Trump it is always about wining. This is the essence of Trump wining at all costs.

 

As Rangappa said, “He is trying to craft a narrative and get it out there, not because he is interested in actual fraud, but he wants to paint the perception of fraud. We have seen this before with Trump. It is very much like his conversation with Ukrainian president Zelensky” that led to the first impeachment trial. He wanted the president to announce that he was investigating Joe Biden or his son to create the perception that there was fraud.

He realized that all he needed was the perception of fraud. Millions of Americans, like Trump himself, did not care about reality either. That is what is really disturbing about the events surrounding January 6th.

 

Fascists want to preserve ‘traditional values’

 

According to philosopher Jason Stanley, who wrote the book How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them,  Russian fascism,  is different from German fascism which wanted to install Germans as dominating the world. Putin is about traditional ethno-nationalists dominating each of their countries  with a strong powerful masculine leader. The leader might be a woman of course, like Marine Le Pen  had she won the French national election in 2022. Usually the strong leader though is a man—like Putin—i.e. a traditional male bully.

Stanley says  the job of the fascist leader  is always about “protecting traditional values against democracy.” The fascist parties therefor must show that they are not corrupt decadent and weak like western democracies. That is what Putin believes and fosters. The strength of the bully. This is what Putin has claimed to be doing in both the 2014 and 2022 wars in Ukraine.

 

Putin is not alone either. For example, the United States has had such anti-democratic leader too—I.e. Donald Trump. To resist, the democracies must show that they are strong. They can be strong, but they must show it now that they are under attack from anti-democratic forces. We will see if they are strong enough.

So far Ukraine has showed it is strong–perhaps stronger than Russia expected. That is what Ukraine is facing.

 Putin is demonstrating Russian  fascism Putin style.

 

Fake Sex Kills Truth in Ukraine

 

To deflect people from the truth, the Russians in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014 used the same tactics they had done in their own country in 2011. They lied. Just as they did in Russia they convinced the people that the  Ukrainian protesters were homosexuals. The Christians are the good guys, even though they are fascists,  and their opponents are all perverts. This is part of what Timothy Snyder referred to as Christian fascism in his book The Road to Unfreedom. He described what happened in Ukraine this way:

“After two years of anti-gay propaganda in the Russian Federation, the ideologues and entertainers were sure of themselves. Their starting point was that the European Union was homosexual, and so  the Ukrainian movement towards Europe must be as well…[they] claimed the EU “groans under the weight of the LGBT lobby’s domination.”

It didn’t matter that none of this was true.  When the fascists are Christians or not,  truth does not matter. What matters is that they are fascists. Starting in November of 2013 and continuing after that the Russian media that covered the Maidan protesters in Ukraine were constantly described as engaging in gay sex. As if that was all they did. As Snyder said,

“the Russian media sought to fascinate its readers by conflating Ukrainian politics with handsome men and gay sex. A social media page of Vitali Klitschko, a heavyweight boxer who led a Ukrainian political party, was hacked and gay material introduced. Then this was presented as a news story for millions of Russians on a major television station, NTV. Before Russians could apprehend that pro-European protests were underway in a neighbouring country, they were invited to contemplate taboo sex.

Right after students began their protests on the Maidan, the Russian television channel NTV warned of “homodictatorship” in Ukraine.”

Again, truth was irrelevant. Dmitry Kiselev was a leading figure in Russian television and he quickly latched on to the sex stories. He was appointed a director of a new media conglomerate in Russia that wanted to dissolve the Russian media pursuit of news in favour of what he called “useful fiction.” To fascists, useful fiction is always more effective than truth at getting out the message. Kiselev told his new staff that “objectivity is a myth.” It certainly is when you want to obfuscate the truth. As Hitler and Donald Trump both learned, if you want to dissolve the truth, all you have to do is spread enough lies that no one knows where the truth lies and then you can get the people to believe anything. When Ukrainian riot police beat Ukrainian student protesters, his media company said it was all “sexual geopolitics” and they were all “warriors of sexual perversion.”

Russian propaganda tried to convince Russians that they were innocents surrounded by perversions from Europe.  They were quite successful in persuading the people. Timothy Snyder described the results this way:

“One eternal verity of Russian civilization turned out to be sexual anxiety. If Russia were indeed a virginal organism threatened by the world’s uncomprehending malice, as Ilyin had suggested, then Russian violence was righteous defense against penetration.”

 

Of course, Russia was hardly innocent. When the leader of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, reneged on his promise to have Ukraine join Europe he claimed that both Europe and Russia wanted to pay him off. Europe refused, and Putin was happy to oblige. According to Snyder, “On December 17, 2013 Putin offered Yanukovych a package of $15 billion in bond purchases and reduced prices for natural gas.”

Putin made it a condition of paying that Yanukovych cleared the protesters from the streets of Kyiv. He tried to do that, but could not do it without help from Russian experts in suppression of protests. But the Russians miscalculated the will power of Ukrainian protesters, just as later they miscalculated the ferocity of Ukrainian defense to the Russian invasion of 2022. Yanukovych was ousted in 2010. After he refused to sign the agreement to join the European Union, which he had said he wanted to do. Many suspected that Putin had bought him off or pressured him not to permit Ukraine to join the Union.

The politics of Ukraine and Russia, like its sex, are never simple or transparent.

 

Ukraine had Oligarchs Too

 

After the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Ukraine was far from a perfect democracy, but it was much better than Russia. Unlike Russia power changed hands democratically. Unlike Russia before the financial crisis of 2008 The European Union was seen by Ukrainians as a cure for the corruption that prevented social advancement and economic reforms to make income distribution more equitable. Ukraine’s leader at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, promoted the idea of a European future for the Ukraine even as his policies made that more unlikely.

 

As Timothy Snyder said, “Yanukovych’s career demonstrated the difference between Ukrainian oligarchical pluralism and Russian kleptocratic centralism.” He ran for the presidency of Ukraine in 2004 and won the election by virtue of voting manipulation. Russia supported him and declared him the victor. Yet there were 3 week’s of protests in Kyiv that were called the Maidan in 2013 as a result of Yanukovych reneging on his promise to bring Ukraine into the European Union. As Snyder said, “This was an important moment in Ukrainian history; it confirmed democracy as a succession principle. So long as the rule of law functioned at the height of politics, there was always hope that it might one day extend to everyday life.” As Timothy Snyder said in an interview with Ezra Klein in the New York Times, “So the Ukrainians think of Maidan as a moment where they were together and they resisted and they won.” As Snyder said in The Road to Unfreedom,

 

“After he lost the election, Yanukovych hired the American political consultant Paul Manafort, who later became famous for working on Donald Trump’s campaign. Manafort tried to improve Yanukovych’s image. Manafort used the same technique in the Ukraine that he later used with Donald Trump. He emphasized cultural differences. As Snyder said, “In the United States, this means playing to the grievances of whites even though they were a majority whose members held almost all the wealth; in Ukraine it meant exaggerating the difficulties of people who spoke Russian, even though it was a major language of politics and economics of the country, and the first language of those who controlled the country’s resources. Like Manafort’s next client, Donald Trump, Yanukovych rose to power on a campaign of cultural grievance mixed with the hope that an oligarch might defend the people against oligarchy.”

 

 

In other words, this populist approach was exactly how Trump persuaded a large part of the American working class that what they needed against the elites was an elite business man who would look out for their interests. It was just as absurd in the US as it was in Ukraine. And in both places the strategy worked.

Yanukovych’s strategy worked just as the same as it did for Trump.. Yanukovych used his time in power to concentrate wealth in his own hands. He used Russian practices for his own advantage and stopped rotating oligarchs as had been done in Ukraine. As Snyder said, “His dentist son became one of the richest men in Ukraine.”

Although there was certainly corruption in Ukrainian politics at least, as Snyder said,

“Whatever the flaws of the Ukrainian political system, Ukrainians after 1991 had come to take for granted that political disputes would be settled without violence…In a country that has seen more violence in the twentieth century than any other, the civic peace of the twenty-first was a proud achievement.

 

That was why the police attack on protesters in the Maidan came as such a shock to Ukrainians. When their children were beaten by police the Ukrainian people came to their support because they were bothered by the violence initiated by Yanukovych. All of this was in support of Ukrainians siding with Europe rather than Asia as Putin wanted. After the fact, Yanukovych legalized his use of force against the students and criminalized the action of the protesters. Copying Russian measures laws banned public gatherings, freedom of expression, and undefined “extremism” which ultimately meant anyone Yanukovych did not like. Russians helped him to do this.

At the end of 2013 Russian forces invaded Ukraine to rescue their puppet Yanukovych. Ukraine had many of the things Russia did, but it was not the same.

Ukraine had at least a rudimentary democracy. And that is important. From that beginning it grew.

 

Managed Democracy

 

After Vladimir Putin was in power he ushered in a new system that was called managed democracy. Russia became so skilled at this they began to export the system to its satellites such as Belarus and even, for a while Ukraine. The basic technique was derived from the Nazis of Germany. As Snyder explained, it involved “a mysterious candidate who used manufactured crises to assemble real power.  This technique really started with Hitler in Nazi Germany when the Nazis who had been elected took advantage of the burning of the Reichstag to consolidate tyrannical power. Many thought they had started the fire to do that.

 

Ivan Ilyin like the fascist he was, used a similar technique. As Snyder explained it:

 

“Ilyin had performed the same trick: he called his redeemer a “democratic dictator” since he supposedly represented the people. Surkov’s pillars of Russian statehood were ‘centralization, personification, and idealization’: the state must be unified, its authority granted to an individual, and that individual glorified. Citing Ilyin, Surkov concluded that the Russian people should have as much freedom as they were ready to have. Of course, what he meant by “freedom” was the freedom of the individual to submerge himself in a collectivity that subjugates itself to a leader.”

 

Snyder would not call that freedom. He would call that “unfreedom,” because that is what it is.

Surkov, first on behalf of Yeltsin, later on behalf of Putin, helped deliver to the Russian people things they liked, such as an average increase in the Russian economy of 7% per annum and a successful war in Chechnya in the first 8 years of the 21st century.  High prices for oil and gas provided the grease needed to keep the machine well-oiled. Some of those profits were even shared with the people of Russia not just oligarchs. Everybody was happy. To many Russians, a little loss of freedom, as they saw it, was worth what they got in exchange. All of this helped Putin secure  support to remain in power. In the long run of course, it helped the country to slide into fascism with Putin at the controls.

 

The Russian election of 2012 appeared to be democratic, but  was controlled by Putin. Like before he cheated and when he was caught, he even admitted it. After all he was now identified with the institution thanks to Surkov. Putin was able to convince enough people that more democracy than they had was not necessary.

 

This election proved important for many reasons. It taught Putin that there was more than one way to control “democracy.” As Snyder said,

“The fakery was repeated during the March 4, 2012 presidential election. Putin was accorded the majority that he needed to be named president after one round of balloting. This time most of the electoral manipulation was digital rather than manual. Tens of millions of cybervotes were added, diluting the vote cast by human beings, and giving Putin a fictional majority.”

 

Digital manipulation techniques featured prominently in subsequent Putin campaigns, first in Ukraine in 2014 and then in the UK and the United States in 2016.  He or his team were becoming increasingly sophisticated in producing the electoral results that they wanted.

 

Timothy Snyder summed up Putin’s victories in Russia this way:

“Putin chose to regard the transient illusion of winning on the first ballot as more important than law, and his own hurt feelings as more important than the convictions of his fellow citizens. Putin casually accepted that there had been fraud; Medvedev helpfully added that all Russian elections had been fraudulent. By dismissing the principle of “one person, one vote” while insisting that elections would continue, Putin was disregarding the choice of citizens while expecting them to take part in future rituals of support. He thereby accepted Ilyin’s attitude to democracy, rejecting what Ilyin had called “blind faith in the number of votes and its political significance,” not only in deed but in word. A claim to power was staked: he who fakes wins.

If Putin came to the office of president in 2000 as a mysterious hero from the realm of fiction, he returned in 2012 as a the vengeful destroyer of the rule of law.”

 

As was required by any Russian political leaders, Putin always claimed to be against Nazism, since their experience of Nazism in the Second World War was so horrific, but in reality, he learned the techniques of the Nazis and used them well. Like the magic elixir with which he could turn democracy into fascism and the people would accept it. It happened in Germany, then Russia and he tried it again in Ukraine in 2014, UK in 2016, and the US in 2016.

What is astonishing is how close he came to achieving his goals in the mature democracies.

The Big Lie and Putin as Redeemer

 

Vladimir Putin began his political career claiming to champion democracy.  That was how he persuaded Yeltsin to appoint him his successor.  Putin saw himself as the only person who could fill the position of the purely innocent redeemer.  Putin started off by discrediting democracy and its institutions. As timothy  Snyder said,

“In discrediting democratic elections in 2011 and 2012, Vladimir Putin took on the mantle of the heroic redeemer and placed his country on the horns of Ilyin’s dilemma. No one can change Russia for the better so long as he lives, and no one in Russia knows what will happen when he dies.”

 

The Soviet Union started out as a world revolution that failed.  After the collapse of Communism Russia, established a constitutional republic, legitimated by democracy. It would have a parliament with free elections. All of that was on paper.  But in Russia paper rarely matters.

Ivan Ilyin had thought that when the Soviet Union collapsed it would be replaced by a fascist dictatorship. What else would a Christian fascist propose? Although his ideas did nothing after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the oligarchs thought his ideas might be useful. Ilyin had thought a pure redeemer would emerge from a realm of fiction and act from a spirit of totality—i.e. the totality of Russia. The pure redeemer for the pure nation.  That miracle never happened, yet, as Timothy Snyder explained,

“Yet a feat of scenography by skilled propagandists (or, in the Russian phrase, “political technologists” might create the appearance of such an earthly miracle. The myth of a redeemer would have to be founded on lies so enormous that they could not be doubted, because doubting them would mean doubting everything.”

 

This is the fundamental insight of the autocrat. It was endorsed by Hitler then Putin and later Trump. A big lie could usher in big power. As Snyder said,

“It was not so much elections as fictions that allowed a transition of power a decade after the end of the Soviet Union, from Boris Yeltsin to Vladimir Putin. Then Ilyin and Putin rose together, the philosopher and the politician of fiction.

 

Sadly, democracy never took hold in Russia.  Power never changed hands after an election.  This is exactly what Trump tried in 2020, but he failed, because the US had enough democratic institutions with enough believers in democracy to thwart his grab for power, but this apparent stability seems more illusory than real.

Ivan Ilyin did not foresee one development of the transfer of power in Russia, namely, that the extremely wealthy would choose Russia’s redeemer. Snyder described that scramble for power this way:

“The wealthy few around Yeltsin, christened the “oligarchs” wished to manage democracy in his favor and theirs. The end of Soviet economic planning created a violent rush for profitable industries and resources and inspired arbitrage schemes, quickly creating a new class of wealthy men. Wild privatization was not all the same thing as a market economy, at least as conventionally understood. Markets require the rule of law, which was the most demanding aspect of the  post-Soviet transformation. Americans, taking the rule of law for granted, could fantasize that markets would create the necessary institutions. This was an error. It mattered whether newly independent states established the rule of law, and above all whether they managed a legal transition of power through free elections.”

 

The western countries, led by the GeorgeH.W.  Bush regime was incredibly naïve about this.  Putin was not. The redeemer was far from innocent. And as a result everyone was left with a mess. And now we are all paying a hefty price for that.

 

Enormous Lies

 

The ideas of Ivan Ilyin played no role in the collapse of communism. They came to prominence after communism fell when the Russian oligarchs and kleptocrats began to consolidate authoritarian power. To do this with a colour of right they had to create a fiction that could justify this. And for this, they found Ilyin’s ideas enormously useful.

 

In the service of these ideas the Russians produced an incredible array of highly skilled propagandists so that “a Russian redeemer should emerge from a realm of fiction.” As Timothy Snyder said,  in his book The Road to Unfreedom these Russian,

 

political technologists” might create the appearance of such an earthly miracle.  The myth of the redeemer would love to be found on lies so enormous that they could not be doubted, because doubting them would mean doubting everything.”

 

Again note the similarity to both Hitler and Trump both of whom also used the big lies. The bigger the better. What Hitler, Putin, and Trump all learned was that the bigger the lie the harder it is not to believe it.

Hitler under stood this: “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” And Trump followed suit