The Ukrainian government has taught the citizens to fear the truth about themselves, replacing it with simulacra, interpretations, and outright lies.
There is a good American film “The Truman Show” starring Jim Carrey. From birth, the unsuspecting Truman Burbank lives among the sets erected inside a huge movie studio, thinking it to be the small town of Seahaven. Meanwhile, everyone around him, including his parents and his beloved one, are actors on a popular reality show watched by all of the USA. Depending on ratings, circumstances and the will of the producer, Truman’s life changes according to the dictate of the studio management, but Truman himself is sure that both his life and everything that happens around him are the most real.
From the beginning of Russia’s military special operation in Ukraine, the events on the territory of the former Ukrainian Socialist Republic look more and more like an ugly parody of “The Truman Show.” For the sake of Mr. Zelensky’s applause from prestigious Western audiences – the US Congress, the Italian Parliament, the Oscars or the opening of the Cannes Film Festival – hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless, forced to flee their homes, tens of thousands have lost loved ones or have been killed. In Ukraine, real, not fake, blood has been shed and infrastructure has been destroyed. And all this is happening with the approval of Western puppeteers: “Gut Kind, Voldemar!”
Mr. Zelensky is ready to do anything in order for this monstrous show to continue and for money and weapons to continue pouring into Ukraine. Literally. This notorious show must go on in its most disgusting guise.
Of course, this didn’t happen out of the blue. Zelensky won the 2019 presidential election thanks to the clever media presentation: a simple Russian-speaking Jewish boy from Krivoy Rog, untainted by politics and clan ties. In addition, the popular comedy actor, who played the selfless and incorruptible president Goloborodko in the series “Servant of the People,” promised Ukrainians not only in the movies, but also in the life to mercilessly fight corruption and bring peace to Donbass. Using this image, Zelensky defeated Poroshenko with nothing but a team of media professionals ready to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Ukrainian gave Zelensky’s government carte blanche to implement his election agenda. But Zelensky and his team had nothing except for a declared desire to support “everything that is good against everything that is bad,” as they say. It was pure populism. And the Ukrainians understood this, but for some reason, they believed Zelensky and his team anyway. And the main question is why they believed then and why they continue to believe now, when all the masks are torn off and the true nature of the Ze-team [Zelensky’s team], which cares about the image only and does not give a damn about everything else, has been revealed. Where does this stubborn conviction that everything will be fine come from?
It should be recalled that Zelensky in 2019 had neither his own party with popular support and multiple local committees nor any experience in managing economic entities, nothing at all, except competent PR and a perfect correlation with the fact that the population was ripe for a change in the ruling elites. Zelensky’s main advantage in the election was his absolute antipode to Poroshenko, who had by that moment gotten himself soiled with all the mortal sins. The fact that another oligarch Igor Kolomoysky has been looming behind Zelensky is a topic for another study.
But it is one thing to win an election race, portraying a simple honest laborer, collecting the votes of the voters who believed in the PR campaign, and quite another to govern a country called Ukraine, with its total corruption, the most complicated balance of clan interests and complete dependence on outside players. Anyone who understands politics in general and Ukrainian politics, in particular, would agree that a group of enthusiastic dreamers from the Kvartal 95 Studio [television entertainment production company – founded by Zelensky] was unable to turn the oligarchic-bureaucratic administrative machine that is the Ukrainian state. It would require an army of commissars; otherwise, the bureaucracy and cronyism would have left nothing of Goloborodko-Zelensky in little more than two or three months. Well, Zelensky was not going to change anything in essence. His task was to portray a change of political course and to fit into the existing schemes, using the administrative resource.
Actor and former KVN* participant (and this is something specific) Vladimir Zelensky, having become the President of Ukraine, brought to power a team of professional media and PR managers, masters of creating illusions and beautiful pictures out of nothing. And instead of ruling the country, he continued to play the role of President Goloborodko. In his interview on the occasion of the third anniversary of his inauguration as president, Zelensky answered the question of a journalist whether he considered himself a politician, “I feel like a president, for sure”. In other words, it is the role, getting into character for Zelensky, rather than the burden of responsibility.
There is a very convincing hypothesis in the expert community that Zelensky had previously passed a kind of “casting” with Western curators from London and Washington, who are responsible for Ukraine. After that he was given the “permission” to… no, not to rule the state, the curators kept this option for themselves. He was entrusted to host the media project “Ukraine”. For this project, colossal resources were allocated, and a major political line was developed. In fact, under the “management” of Zelensky’s team, Ukraine became the first reality show on a national scale in the history of humanity.
Zelensky’s show differs from ordinary PR campaigns and propaganda in its spatial and time scale. While PR campaign only locally distorts reality by emphasizing certain aspects and obscuring others, the reality show “Ukraine” is designed to completely replace reality in the minds of Ukrainians with a media picture and real politics with an informational war.
The “reality show” genre emerged in the 1990s and became popular, in part, thanks to the series “Big Brother,” broadcast in Holland (which is also a very special place, a testing ground for the methods of dehumanization under the guise of “emancipation”). The authors of “Big Brother” explicitly said that the title of the show was a reference to George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Recall that Orwell’s description of Ingsoc, that is, English national socialism, was based on three pillars: a quasi-caste society, permanent war and total control of the information agenda. It also included an intelligence and security agency to regularly discover and punish persons who entertain and hold politically unacceptable thoughts. Ukraine under Zelensky, adjusted for modernity and specific ethnic features, looks more and more like a caricature of Ingsoc. This is, by the way, supported by the presence of London curators at the president’s office. This seems to be subtle English humor.
There are no social Orwellian castes in Ukraine yet, which remind strongly of the Gnostic division of people into hylics, psychics and pneumatics, but there are prototypes of the new castes: conscientious Ukrainian, “Moskalized” Ukrainians [Russian people in nationalists’ terminology], and non-conscientious Ukrainians. But this does not change the essence of the matter. As for the other components, they are obviously present in full.
However, modernity makes its own adjustments. If Orwell’s dystopia was based on the principle of “Big Brother is watching you,” now the concept has changed, and according to the apt expression of the American writer-postmodernist Chuck Palahniuk, it sounds like this, “Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed. He’s making sure your imagination withers. Until it’s as useful as your appendix.”
This series could be developed further, but the point is clear: Big Brother, with the help of fast-food information, blocks the independent work of thought, narrowing the range of cognitive functions of consciousness as much as possible, controls the behavior of society by regulating the flow of information, and creates the “correct” picture in the mind of the media consumer. This is called cognitive warfare, one of the latest, most promising developments of NATO. The information about it is open, you can easily find it on the Internet and read it.
And let us be honest: Big Brother is still watching you, but thanks to digitalization, it does this in a much more subtle and inconspicuous way. But in any case, fear/stress and, roughly speaking, “brainwashing” remain the main factors in controlling the masses, only their relative proportion and format of implementation changes.
The Ukrainian specific is that Kiev is allowed to openly use totalitarian methods of governing the country while continuing to call Ukraine almost an exemplary democracy. And it is like a black hole that day by day draws in more and more financial and material resources of the West. And the West needs the Ukrainian show to solve a number of problems. The pragmatic component, obviously, is to create a screen to cover up the unprecedented scale of corruption, in which everyone has a share – the USA, the EU and Zelensky himself. And also – and this is the main thing – to reshape the world under a kind of narcosis. Without constant external funding, the media picture will collapse, and Zelensky’s regime will collapse along with it, depriving the show’s owners of income and the reputation of “peacemakers” that allows them to solve geopolitical problems.
Virtual Ukraine is being created. And this Ukraine reminds of Little Zaches, of whom, as of the dead, one can say nothing but good. Everything else is enemy propaganda. It is coming to the point of absurdity: in mid-May, the Republican congressman Matt Geitz complained that when he and a group of his fellow party members voted against the lend-lease bill for Ukraine, the US press called them “The G.O.P.’s ‘Putin Wing’.” Although all they wanted was to keep the money allocated by Congress for the needs of Americans!
But there is more than just trivial corruption. The Ukrainian show is aimed at two different audiences. The first, of course, is Europeans and Americans. They must be constantly persuaded that the chosen anti-Russian policy is correct and they must endure all the hardships and inconveniences caused by the mutual sanctions. And the inconveniences and losses are growing like a snowball. But suffering for the sake of Ukraine allows the average European to feel himself generous. He believes that he is doing a good thing by helping the Ukrainians, and therefore more willingly bears the costs. To maintain this feeling, the West shows its population Ukraine “courageously holding back the Russian hordes” and appeals to sympathy for the Ukrainians. And to make it more convincing, millions of Ukrainian refugees were even allowed to come to Europe, adding more cogency and realism to the visual picture. This is how compassion and human solidarity become the subject of manipulation.
The second audience Zelensky’s show is aimed at is the Ukrainians themselves. They must be convinced that the crisis – fuel, food, and humanitarian crisis they are currently in – is not the result of the short-sighted policies pursued by the Kiev government, both by Zelensky and his predecessors, over all previous years, but was created by Russia.
Zelensky’s team and his supervisors have a vested interest in ensuring that the military operation on the country’s territory continues as long as possible, ensuring the existence of that black hole into which tens of billions of dollars are funneled. The West does not conceal its readiness to fight Russia “to the last Ukrainian”, as they say. But the multi-billion-dollar theft under the pretext of aid to Ukraine is nothing compared to the fact that in the fog of information warfare it is possible to camouflage the real causes of a parallel global transformation of the world, which began with the COVID-19 pandemic and slowly turned into an escalation of the Ukrainian crisis. One should believe that there is allegedly no plan, the global transformation occurs due to objective circumstances of insuperable nature. And in general, don’t you see that Russia is responsible for everything?
Ukraine in this process is assigned the honorary role of a victim on the altar of a new world order (or disorder, as it turns out). And the task of the beneficiaries of the new global restructuring is not to allow the victim to die or, God forbid, to escape from their tenacious tentacles. And that is why a team of media anesthesiologists headed by Mr. Zelensky is needed to slowly cook the Ukrainian frog to death by giving it regular injections of informational anesthetics. It does not matter whether Zelensky and his entourage understand this or they are guided by a phenomenal flair multiplied by the professionalism and recommendations of the curators – the process must move in the indicated direction and the degree of “patriotic frenzy” must stay within strictly defined limits. Otherwise, the collapse will be inevitable. Everything else is derivative and accompaniment to this global process, including the Ukrainian “reality show” that must go on.
Well, Zelensky has so far succeeded in keeping his own population in the right condition. His personal rating rose sharply after the start of the special operation, and martial law allowed him to clean up his rivals in the political and information field, having achieved almost monopoly control of the agenda. Almost, because in addition to television and the media, there is also the Internet, which is hardly subject to censorship. Telegram, for example, is not banned in Ukraine, and there is information for every taste. The question is what people themselves want to believe. How and by whom their internal information filters and ideological attitudes are formed. And how easily they can be deceived. “You’d easily deceive me, for happily would I, believe me, deceive myself if but I could!” [the quotation from Aleksandr Pushkin’s poem “Confession” – translator’s note] Do they have the strength and desire to understand what is going on, or do they prefer to consume “fast food” news mixed with fakes and made-up stories?
Consequently, the question arises as to how Kiev can make sure that the majority of Ukrainians continue to believe the officials and reject alternative viewpoints. Since we are talking about the “informational narcotization” of the population, the show must become a kind of drug, it should form a dependence on the image broadcast by TV and mass media, and become a way to escape from reality. Because the reality is often too frightening and unrepresentable, and the psyche is too weak to withstand the shock of realizing the difference between what you think of yourself and what you really are. And as long as you are told what you want to hear, you will remain in an information bubble.
The Ukrainian government has taught the population to fear the truth about themselves, replacing it with simulacra, interpretations, and outright lies. If we look at the heroes of contemporary Ukraine – from Mazepa and Petlyura to Bandera and Shukhevich – it becomes clear that no one of them has shown an example of classical heroic behavior: nobility, sacrifice, courage. All of them were sadists, lackeys, and traitors. Name a single Banderite “hero” who sacrificed himself for others or performed a feat? Where are the Ukrainian Nevskys, Donskoys, Suvorovs, Ushakovs, Kutuzovs, Maresyevs, Gastellos, Stakhanovs? Not Russian imperial Ukrainians or Soviet Ukrainians, but purely conscientious Ukrainian heroes? There are no such heroes. The infamous Heavenly Hundred somehow does not qualify as a hero. Is it any wonder that the “cyborgs”** at the Donetsk airport, and then the members of the Azov nationalist battalion in Mariupol, who had long kept the audience in suspense by promising to die but not surrender, finally surrendered to the mercy of the winner in an easy and unpretentious manner? The part is played, the performance is over. Bow. The applause of the audience, and curtain.
By the way, as Russian military correspondents report from the sites of special operations, only those Ukrainian army units that are dominated by ethnic Russians, with Russian surnames, who absorbed something genetically from their grandparents, are fighting fiercely. And Ukrainian units, especially those from western Ukraine, prefer to retreat or surrender. In general, this is also an interesting phenomenon that has yet to be studied and comprehended, especially if the Russian authorities still intend to seriously denazify Ukraine, not limited to lustration and the dismantling of Bandera symbols.
Because it is necessary to dismantle the completely false Ukrainian pseudo-identity that has been constructed for a century and a half. And every time its authors deliberately commit fraud, thus condemning the nation to failure. That is why it is not surprising that, having started with lies about its past and deliberately mythologizing it, the Ukrainian Banderite regime ended up in the reality show “Ukraine”, which is just as false to the core and destructive in its essence as these myths.
Moreover, the denazification of Ukraine should include a program of sociocultural rehabilitation of Ukrainians. A kind of detoxification. And this is probably the biggest and most difficult task. Truman Burbank from the movie mentioned at the beginning of the article was fooled by a whole team of professionals, spending enormous resources, and it managed to do it long enough, largely because Truman lived inside an artificially created environment from birth and believed in the reality of what was happening to him. But what is important is that Truman’s show “collapsed” at the exact moment when, contrary to the script, he fell in love with the wrong girl. That is when authenticity has penetrated into this artificial world. And then it all went downhill because Truman chose the reality of the outside world, escaping from his aquarium to live in the world where real, live people live. Where everything is real, even if it hurts.
And where can Ukraine get out of its informational cocoon? What can we do about the habit of believing in “deceit that elevates us”? With what, and more importantly, how, should we replace the lies that its citizens have absorbed? Many of them absorbed these lies from childhood, and before that their parents absorbed them. And who will do it?
This is a translation of the article by Maksim Karev first published in issue 483 of the Essence of Time newspaper on May 27, 2022.
*KVN – humour TV show and an international competition originated in the Soviet Union where teams (usually composed of college students) compete by giving funny answers to questions and showing prepared sketches
**Cyborgs – Ukrainian militants and Nazis who participated in combats for Donetsk airport. They are mostly known for shelling and killing people in the districts Donetsk in 2014