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I’ve got a story to share with you. Don’t take what I’m about to say here on blind faith. Think about what I’m saying and consider if it squares with your conception of observed reality. I know I did, and, after some deliberation, I decided that it was worth sharing.
The story begins when I was a foreign exchange student in Russia. There, I got an invitation to meet with a professor that had heard about me from other professors along the grapevine. I paid him a visit and he ended up inviting me over to have chats and coffee in his office and to talk about politics regularly.
Our talks probably had a more profound influence on my view of the world than any other one event.
Also, I know I referred to him earlier as a professor, but the professor never actually taught any classes and did not seem to be involved in research. From what I gathered, he was there keeping an eye on the school.
At the time, the students were involved in some stupid protest action because one of the professors had decided to come out swinging against the Crimea thing and publicly called on Russia to return the territory. Questioning the territorial sovereignty of Russia was made illegal later on, although the law was rarely enforced, with social pressure and threats on the government channels being the main enforcement mechanism, really. Anyways, the dissident professor decided to make a big stink about being against the return of Crimea in the early days and this was the first topic that I talked about with the fake professor over coffee.
“His opinion on Crimea is largely irrelevant, in fact, I doubt he really even has one,” he said.
I didn’t understand what he was driving at. In my naive conception of the world, people generally said what they thought i.e., expressed their opinions because of firmly-held convictions. Why else would this dissident intellectual take such a principled stand even though he knew that he risked his salary and his seat in the department?
“He’s making a play,” the fake professor explained. “He wants be noticed in the West, by making himself a martyr against the regime. And he’s willing to use the students to achieve his ends.”
I’ll spare you my confused protestations and let you just imagine the cynicism of the fake professor forcing the scales to fall from my eyes over a period of several meetings on your own.
I asked him if he was going to come down hard on this professor. He said: “No, that’s just what he wants. His students go out protesting, they reach out to the liberal media, his personal image gets a boost and then he gets noticed in the West and scooped up by an NGO or university.”
This was the first inkling I ever got of the “game” and how it was played in Russia by the Liberal Opposition and I felt pity for my fellow pawns who thought that they were out there protesting for something meaningful and principled.
Eventually, I got confirmation of the fake professor’s thesis.
The dissident professor reached out to the foreign exchange students and began asking for help pleading his case at various universities. From what I understood, he wanted a letter written in his defense with which he could then approach the US State Department or something of that nature. He eventually succeeded in getting an invite to teach abroad with a well-connected American grad student.
I began to berate the fake professor soon after. “Why do you not take active measures to prevent this indoctrination and manipulation of the students? I’ve spoken to the students and they all hate Russia and they’re all Liberal. They skip class to protest and their teachers encourage them. Surely, you could stop this?”
At this point, the fake professor began to let his guard down, and began explaining to me that Russia does not engage in “active measures.”
“You’ve probably noticed that there are plenty of agents of American influence in Russia, at least in the university system,” he began. “But the same cannot be said about Russia abroad. This is because we no longer engage in active measures.”
I mulled what he was saying over in my head and concluded that there was a very good chance that he was telling the truth. After all, one cannot go to the Russian embassy to petition for funds to stage protests against the federal government. There are no Russian NGOs working in America to promote …. whatever it is that the Russians would like promoted. This is in stark contrast to the US policy of funding Protestant missionaries, separatist leaders, student protests groups, “democracy-building” institutions and funding opposition media. Russia appears to be totally and completely inert and on the defensive in the culture and subversion wars.
“America has a brand and ideology that it promotes around the world. People are easily convinced by the power of American advertising and branding to start supporting the American ideology. We, in contrast, have nothing comparable to speak of. During the Soviet Union, we would have people working for us in the governments and cultural institutions of the West because they believed in Marxism or Communism. Now, this is no longer the case.”
So, because Russia was unable to sell people an ideology about itself abroad, it now had a dearth of volunteers willing to work with Russia against their own governments, basically.
"What about conservatism?” I protested. “Many people are attracted to the conservative image of Russia and traditional Orthodoxy, patriarchy and all that. I know that it’s mostly exaggerated, but couldn’t that be the new brand that Russia markets to win sympathizers abroad?”
The fake professor expressed interest in my take on the rising populist right in America and Europe to a lesser extent, but he was nowhere near as optimistic as I was.
“These aren’t people that matter,” he said. “They do not occupy the universities or the newspapers or any institution that enjoys prestige and power within their respective nation. They are useless. Inert. There may be a wave now, but it will subside tomorrow and the same people who actually matter and control society will remain in their positions when the mob goes home.”
The problem then, or the goal of subversion efforts was to target people of influence and the Russians had largely given up on that. That is, they weren’t even trying to beat the West anymore.
“But if you don’t do anything, Russian society will continue liberalizing and the government will be overthrown eventually, and a pro-Western puppet state built in its place,” I pressed.
The fake professor wasn’t as dramatic as I was, but even he seemed inclined to agree with my general prognosis.
“The Russian government has decided to start from scratch and build its internal platform on three planks: Orthodoxy, Sports and WWII. This is the proto-ideology that Russia is working with. The West knows this and attacks Russia on all three of these points. They attack Orthodoxy by promoting factionalism within the Orthodox Church, by influencing the Constantinople Church, the churches in Ukraine, and by promoting Protestant missions in Russia. They are trying to ban all Russian athletes from competing abroad. This means that they are ruining the entire sport industry in Russia, which is built on securing the large cash prizes and lucrative contracts that fund the programs, facilities, coaches and athletes. And finally, they are promoting a historical narrative in which Stalin was just as bad as Hitler and may even start promoting Suvorov’s ‘Icebreaker’ hypothesis about the USSR starting the war if it helps them destroy Russia’s WWII narrative. We see them encouraging the bans on WWII marches in Eastern Europe now.”
I chewed on that one for a bit before I opened a new line of inquiry.
“But what about the self-destruction of the West that we see unfolding before our eyes?”
To this, the fake professor also had an original answer.
“Those Muslims are going to be trained in Europe and then deployed against Russia. They are incubating an army in Europe. Do you know what the Hegelian dialectic is? Good, so you have an action - flooding Europe with Muslims. Then you have a reaction - the rise of right-wing movements in Europe. The synthesis will be taking these pent-up energies and unleashing them on Russia. They will do this by offering the right and the Muslims a deal - offering them something for working together to fight against Russia.”
I told him that I could not agree with his original explanation for Europe’s embrace of multiculturalism.
“I think the elites actually believe in multiculturalism and that White Guilt is real. They’re killing themselves because the Jews made them feel bad about WWII.”
But the fake professor insisted that things do not work this way in the real world. I suppose we will have to see who is right in the coming years. Perhaps the weapons bound for Ukraine that keep disappearing really will end up in the hands of Europes’ Muslim gangs.
Eventually, I finally worked up the courage to ask the fake professor if the Russians had any spies or agents of influence in America at all.
He shrugged and shook his head. “Nowadays, the only way to gather information is either through hacking or by bribing Israelis in the US government. They will work with anyone if the price is right. But their information is unreliable. And there are Israelis in our government as well.”
At that we had a chuckle. Whoever lost in the coming showdown between Russia and the West, the Israelis were guaranteed to win. I was reminded of the prophecies in the big book of Jewish bullshit known as the Old Testament where the prophets predict that the empires of Gog and Magog would destroy themselves in a war, opening the door for the Israelis to swoop in and inherit the entire world.
“Is there any hope for Russia?” I almost pleaded with him.
“To answer that, you must first understand Russia’s goals. Russia is not capable of taking on the West head-on like the USSR was. Putin’s goal has always been to negotiate for a better place for Russia in the New World Order. Being reduced to a vassal state was unacceptable, so Putin decided to force the West to the negotiating table. Everything he does is intended to win better terms for Russia in the New World Order, not to completely overturn that order. Instead of being a gas station, he insisted that Russia be incorporated into the world order as an equal. The Soviet Union and the West made a deal to merge and to split the world amongst themselves around the time of Andropov and Gorbachev. But then the West reneged on that deal. Putin has spoken about this and demanded redress. He holds out hoping that the price that he can inflict on the West for bringing Russia down will force them back to the negotiating table. He is working to figure out ways to raise that price. To show them that cooperation is better than confrontation. He must demonstrate Russia’s strength otherwise they will never negotiate with him. Georgia, Syria, Crimea - all demonstrations of Russia’s power intended to force the West to the table.”
If the fake professor was right, it would certainly explain a lot of Russia’s actions over the last decades. The aborted attempt to join NATO. Playing footsie with the West and doing so little to curb their influence within the country, as if afraid to provoke their enemies and afraid to confront them head-on. It would also explain why Russia refused to engage in “active measures” against the West.
More than anything, this is what makes me so grateful for the war in Ukraine.
If Putin was hoping to gain some leverage with the West with another demonstration of Russia’s strength, he certainly got more than he bargained for. Bridges have been burned and Russia’s back has been put to the wall like never before. Because of the war, for the first time in decades, Russia has stopped ignoring the threats growing unchecked with her society. It’s almost as if Russia is getting serious about fighting the West for the first time.
Where this will lead, I do not know.
I have copied and passed off the fake professor’s words many times on this blog as my own. I don’t think he’d mind, but I will give him credit where its due and share this one quote of his that always stuck with me.
“Russia is not a nation that looks forward because Russia is a nation that cannot come to terms with its own past. We are unable to make sense of the events that occurred in the 20th century. We have been unable to draw lessons from them. We cannot move forward until we do. Why did the revolution occur, really? Why did World War II happen? Why did we surrender during the Cold War? There is no consensus on any of this. All we can vaguely postulate is that the West is somehow to blame for all of this. That is the closest thing to a lesson that we can draw from the 20th century. The West is our enemy and will not stop attacking us until we are destroyed. More and more, this consensus is being understood by Russian society. This is not a positive consensus or anything resembling a vision for the future. But it is something, at least.”
And on that note, I packed up my bags and we left his office.
Conversations with that fake professor always left me feeling light-headed and uneasy. Thankfully, he always shared a cigarette with me outside, which helped bring me back down.
I never found out what agency he worked for, although I suspected the GRU and FSB, respectively. A member of the FSB, being an outgrowth of the KGB, and therefore aligned with the ‘Convergence’ agenda, might be privy to this information. But beneath his cynicism, I detected a disdain for the things that he was sharing with me. This led me to assume that he might be part of a more patriotic organization like the GRU. Maybe he was both. Or maybe he was just a sharp conspiracy theorist who had figured it all out on his own. Furthermore, he always warned me about not expressing my pro-Russian views around the university or too vocally in society. He seemed to be hinting at the fact that there would be no one in my corner if I did so and that I would only be inviting trouble and attention on myself from on high. He also never had a good word to say about the FSB and always steered the conversation away from them no matter how cleverly I tried to corner him on the topic.
Maybe I’ll reach out to him someday and we’ll have another cup of coffee together. I’d be interested in hearing what else he has to say. Although I’m sure that I won’t like it.