AMERIKA: Embarrassing Times – By Dimitry Orlov

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“… Russia went through such a soul-searching experience in the 1990s. It was made worse by Western political sadism and by traitors within who greatly exaggerated the extent of the excesses that had occurred during the Soviet period. But overall this process was beneficial, and Russian Federation now enjoys far greater good will and respect around the world than the USSR ever did”:

Embarrassing Times – By Dimitry Orlov

At this point, I am finding the task of commenting on what is happening to the United States less than enjoyable. The whole thing has become an embarrassment.

Having spent many years living and working in the US, I justifiably feel implicated in what it does. Once upon a time its many crimes—bombing, invading, destroying and undermining countries around the world, poisoning the environment, promoting every sort of injustice for the sake of short-term profits—made me angry. It was the anger of youth, borne of the unfounded, optimistic conviction that it is possible to effect change by voicing one’s negative opinions. I am not so young any more, and have become dead certain that no amount of political involvement on my part (or yours, for that matter) would change anything at all, and so what I have been feeling for years now is not anger but sadness.

More recently this sadness has been overlaid with a sense of embarrassment, which has most recently become quite acute. It is one thing to rail against evil—a heroic, youthful stance—and quite another to feel self-consciously awkward in the presence of extreme stupidity. This feeling is exacerbated by the fact that of the Americans—at least of those I see around me and hear and read in the press and the blogs—virtually none seem quite capable of experiencing or manifesting embarrassment about the sad state of their country.

Perhaps my ability to feel embarrassed by the actions (and inactions) of those around me comes from some place else—an exotic import that fails to thrive on the thin, toxified soil of American public life. The feelings that do thrive here are increasingly vicious: buckets of vitriol are being hurled across the political divide. The fact that this divide is nothing more than an artificial means of gaming a political system that has completely failed in its ability to express the popular will, or to harness it for any useful purpose, only serves to increase the embarrassment.

The ability to feel embarrassment is key to any possible new beginning, be it for a person, a group or a society as a whole. Allow me to explain…

For a society that is rushing headlong on a path of self-destruction, feelings of awkwardness, embarrassment, shame, remorse, regret, humiliation, contrition and so on offer a way to restore human contact with the rest of humanity and perhaps even a path to a new beginning, purged of the worst of the accumulated evils. Russia went through such a soul-searching experience in the 1990s. It was made worse by Western political sadism and by traitors within who greatly exaggerated the extent of the excesses that had occurred during the Soviet period. But overall this process was beneficial, and Russian Federation now enjoys far greater good will and respect around the world than the USSR ever did.

Russians being no better or worse than other people, by no means were all of them capable of elevated, positive emotions; plenty of them poisoned their minds with anger, bitterness, hopelessness and anomie. Many older Russians still live with a profound sense of betrayal—those of them that survived. Although statistics on this are hard to come by, my general feeling is that the angriest, the most bitter and the most hopeless and resentful got themselves killed or died off fairly quickly—a few million of them—while those who were able to come to terms with their Soviet past without losing their sense of belonging or their sense of self went on living and many of them are now thriving.

In the United States today there are plenty of things to be angry, bitter, resentful and hopeless about, and plenty of people who are poisoning their brain and body chemistry with these negative emotions. Perhaps this is too much to ask, but I would like to gently nudge those who are reading this, and who are stuck in this emotional trap, in the direction toward escaping from it, and toward embracing the far more positive and redemptive emotions of awkwardness, embarrassment, shame, remorse, regret, humiliation and contrition, because that way lies hope and the possibility of rebirth. To keep this short, I will only touch on just one of them. I hope that you will be able to see the basic pattern in this example, and extend it to others. Perhaps I will discuss some others in the future.

Right now lot of people are feeling particularly angry that Donald Trump is ensconced in the White House, and likely to remain so for at least the next 3.5 years. These people didn’t vote for him, and resent the fact that he won anyway.

I must confess that I too once voted in US elections, and I am quite embarrassed about having done so. I put it down to youth and inexperience. Since then, I have researched this subject, and have concluded that the political system in the US is not a democracy: public will has close to zero correlation with public policy. Public policy does, however, correlate rather strongly with private will expressed by extremely wealthy individuals and corporate lobbyists. It is a pay-to-play system designed for the well-to-do. Rest assured, I will never make the mistake of voting in the US again. Never again will I humiliate and debase myself in participating in this sham system of mock democracy! But I do feel ashamed that I once voted, and I do apologize.

A lot of people are angry because they feel that Donald Trump’s electoral victory is a fake: that he was put in the White House by Putin’s vile machinations. But I am sure that if they gave it some independent thought, they would see that they are tilting at windmills.

First, what difference does it make how Trump got in there? See above: the US is not a democracy but a collection of business and moneyed interests which remains unchanged no matter who occupies the White House. Only the rhetoric changes, to distract you from this fact. Given this fact, hacking US elections doesn’t even qualify as a crime. It is either a harmless prank or a even a useful one—showing up this mock democracy for the sham that it is.

Second, the Russians are keenly aware of the fact that it doesn’t matter who is president, and in one of Oliver Stone’s recently aired interviews with Putin he said as much: it doesn’t matter who is president; nothing changes. Given this understanding, why would the Russians even bother “meddling” in the US elections? They have nothing to gain and something to lose, that something being the fact that, unlike the US, the Russian Federations wants the world to believe that it does not meddle in other countries’ elections. This is a serious concern, and it negates the scant value of election meddling as a prank. But even if you are having trouble seeing presidential election meddling as a harmless prank, or a useful one, the Russians have no motive to engage in it.

Third, it bears asking whether there actually was election meddling? Yes, indeed there was! The two most egregious instances of meddling were by the Democratic National Committee, which used dirty tricks to slant the playing field in favor of Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders during the primaries, as evidenced by the emails leaked from the DNC email server and published by Wikileaks. The second most egregious instance of meddling was by the former FBI director James Comey, who inexplicably failed to prosecute Hillary Clinton for sending classified information via a private, unsecured email server—an act that should have disqualified her from all further public service and sent her to jail. As for Comey himself, he disqualified himself from all further public service by taking notes during his meeting with his Commander in Chief and then leaking their content to the press. So embarrassing!

Fourth, we have seen precisely zero evidence of Russian “meddling,” and yet heads of the various branches of the US intelligence apparatus expressed a “high degree of confidence” that such “meddling” indeed took place. But it bears asking, what is our degree of confidence in these US intelligence agencies and their assessments? Remember that test tube of baking soda Colin Powell shook at the UN, to justify a war that killed a million and a half Iraqis, cost the US over a trillion dollars, and then essentially handed Iraq over to Iran? Later, Edward Snowden’s revelations showed that much of what the NSA has been doing is illegal; if they have no problem with breaking the law, they certainly should have no issues at all with lying about it. Given these facts, your degree of confidence in these intelligence services should be precisely zero, and if it is then it doesn’t matter how confident they are about “Russian hacking” because any number multiplied by zero is zero.

Fifth, since public policy in the US (including foreign policy) is independent of who happens to be the political figurehead, but correlates strongly with who influences the political system using giant infusions of cash through political campaign contributions and lobbying, if the Russians wanted to influence US politics in their favor, they wouldn’t do that by meddling in elections but by spending money on lobbyists. And so, exactly how much money did the Russian government or Putin personally spend on lobbyists in the US over the last year? If they did spend any money on them at all, then clearly either they didn’t spend enough, or they somehow didn’t get their money’s worth, because Russia-US relations are now in much worse shape than they ever were during the Cold War. But this is all purely hypothetical theorizing, because it is a known fact that Washington lobbyists are barred from working on behalf of the Russian Federation, and so the Russian government spent zero funds lobbying the US government.

How does all of this make you feel? You could perhaps feel embarrassed by being in any way engaged with this sham political system, and remorseful if you have contributed to it in any way. But what is the usefulness of feeling angry, resentful or bitter? Being angry at the oligarchs and the corporations who run the political system for their private gain, or at their mass media mouthpieces, is like being angry at snakes for catching and eating mice—you being one of the mice. What are you going to do in protest? Quit shopping? Then what will you eat? Being angry at politicians is even sillier, because they are not in charge of anything and simply do what they are paid to do.

At this point much of the anger, bitterness and resentment is concentrated on the left, among the Democrats and other left-leaning types. But given the facts listed above they should not be angry; they should be glowing red with embarrassment and positively mortified over all the lies they have been gobbling up and regurgitating ad nauseam for close to an entire year now.

Those on the right could, of course, also feel embarrassed over electing someone who appears to be an incompetent buffoon and a grandstanding, bloviating vulgarian, but since it doesn’t matter who is president, why should they particularly care about that? Some of them feel angry that whoever they elected is clearly unable to fulfill any of his campaign promises, but in that case they seem to be forgetting that it doesn’t matter who is president. Just in case you haven’t yet fully taken on board this important fact, allow me to say it again: It Doesn’t Matter Who Is President.

What does matter? Well, there is the fact that they—be they on the left and on the right—voted at all, and this is the most embarrassing fact of all. I would like all of them to feel ashamed about it, and to promise to never do it again.


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