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Calm down, they just mistranslated the name of the ship that went... okay, sorry, they mistranslated "Moskva"

About the things that you've mentioned - yes, he's been doing that since the very beginning. I see that as a part of keeping his image.

As far as I know, even though in the modern world democracy often goes along with human rights and freedom of public speech and other things, it isn't necessarily defined by them.

When I mentioned democratic institutions, I meant the institutions through which the government can reply to the needs of the people, like the administrative (!!!) courts, or local small town and neighbourhood parlaments, or special development programs. Some oppositioners do use them as a way to influence the government and make the lives of ordinary people better. They target mostly economical questions and public services improvement (like the "CityProjects") and other things. I do respect those people, they've made a lot of good impact.

By democracy I mean the fact when people can discuss questions which are really important to them, like the wage sizes or the public services or education or other things like that with the government and work out solutions for those problems together.

But you are right, at a certain point the image of dictatorship becomes indistinguishable from the real thing. It's probably happened now.

Answer by CmrdeMar 20, 202200

Hello! I am Russian too, and I have a similar problem. However, I just try to avoid talking to my friends and family about politics. I know I won't make them change their mind. I'll just upset and probably hurt them by this.

About your question: it is weird how much you trust the Western media. Of course, they are an independent source. But they don't have any motivation to actually find out the truth. They have the idea that "Russia has unprovokedly and unlawfully attacked Ukraine. This war is inhumane and unnecessary. Ukrainians are brave people who defend their homeland", and then they align facts to that idea.

The idea is generally right, but that's not how you seek for facts.

Of course, I do not work for the Western media. It's just the impression their articles give me.

I'd advise you to pay attention to those telegram channels. Not only the ones controlled by Z-men, but also the Ukrainian ones. Especially the Ukrainian ones. If they agree on some fact, then you can be sure that it has actually happened. If Western media supports them, too, then it is solid fact.

And if there are disagreements, you can analyze them to understand different propaganda lines.

I understand why this post is so largely unupvoted.

Firstly, it looks like it suggests the idea that individual politicians who represent countries don't make any significant special impact, which if of course wrong. Also people might say that you are mixing two different things: war on cancer is not a war while war in Ukraine is very real, even though it happens to be not on the grounds of America or EU. But your post explains that this is a totally different kind of comparison.

Secondly, most lesswrongers don't seem to care about Russia and Ukraine anymore since nuclear war is obviously delayed.

In any case, I some ideas in the post and in the comments interesting.

Nobody's in charge, and still things somehow get going. Things that happen because many people think they will actually happen.

Let's take Russian political system, for example. Many people in the West think that Russian political system is an incredibly terrible dictatorship that inherits directly from USSR.

This is true in general, but not true in particular.

First of all, modern Russian political system does not inherit from the Soviet one.

After the fall of USSR in 1992, many Russian people got caught in a false dichotomy which stated that only one of the 2 scenarios can happen:

  1. Russia is a strong mighty dictatorship, feared and respected by the rest of the world. It also has great science, art and culture.
  2. Russia is an anarchist piece of nothing, powered by "democratic" values, despised by everyone. It has no science, no art and no culture.

It's a false dichotomy, of course. The 1990s weren't such a bad time, too, though it obviously was a time of chaos, anarchy and destruction of moral values which used to be proclaimed widely (including altruism and progressivism, too). Business developed, and there were attempts of building a democracy (good ones, too). But many people do live in the paradigm of viewing the destruction of USSR as a tragedy, and this thinking pattern is important.

Putinism was born on the verge of the millenium as a drastic attempt to "undo the damage". Therefore it is not based on any certain ideology. The core of it is grabbing on every "strong-looking" and "patriotic-looking" idea since ever. Communism? Let's take some! Monarchy? Why, that's good! Christianity? Looks fancy, give me more of this shit! Soviet Marxism, Atheism and Progressivism? We got a corner for those! Ancient pagan traditions? Why, they'll fit somewhere too!

Putinism is pure conservatism for the sake of conservatism itself. Unlike other forms of conservative, it is not spoiled by any actual system of beliefs. I'll put it this way: putinism is not a belief-in belief, it was born as belief in the belief-in-belief. Putin himself is not the inspirator of this but a product. Try to imagine that in your head, then go on.

But dressing up as a dictatorship is not the same thing as being a dictatorship. This is the key point. Putin started by selling an image of dictatorship to people who were tired of democracy which turned out to be anarchy. That's it.

Putin did start his career by closing down the independent media which was mocking him agressively. But then he didn't proceed with this policy. The dressing-up was done, he could get to business now.

Apart from this Russia still did have some democratic institutions ready for application. They still existed for sure until February 24th, though in a limited way. It is just the majority knows nothing of them. The majority expects Putin to be a dictator, and so he behaves like a dictator, making majority even more sure that he is one. Same way the West used to grab on old Soviet paradigms, calling Russia "an aggressor", therefore Russian government tries to behave like that, making Western media even more confident.

By the way, the "aggressor-like" pretense was primarily directed at the Russian population - probably because a Strong Dictatorship would behave like that.

There's nothing so "special" or "inhumane" in that which has to be explained by genetical/cultural impatience and aggressiveness of Russian people - this one is a statement especially funny to see on a website like Lesswrong. Just normal development of a country in specific conditions which has lead to... this.

All the role-play lead to the war which is a huge role-play too. Nations are putting on their century-old clothes (it's just that Russia took the German costume this time).

And eventually - I strongly agree with you - this has to stop. It has to stop right now. There must be a way for de-escalation.

God damn it, I'm always forgetting that "there must be a way" doesn't necessarily mean "there is a way".

Sanctions will not work this way, period.

It is obvious if you think about it for a while.

  1. Sanctions have been the main official justification for Putin's prolonged rule and his mistakes. They were the fuel and the proofs for his "The World Is Against Us" rhetorics. Now they enabled him to introduce some interesting laws, like 15 years of corrective labor colony for "spreading fakes about the special operation of liberating Ukraine from the Nazis"

  2. People whose well-being has been affected by the war will not protest. It is always better to be poor than to serve 15 years of corrective labor colony. Period. And just in case, life in Russia is still much better than life in Ukraine, at least because war is on the Ukrainian territory.

  3. There still were and probably will be people who protest and protested, not because of the money interests you've described but because of their genuine repulsion towards the war, especially this war. Well, many of them got or will get their punishments. Also, they'll be a good picture for a TV report on a Russian channel called "The Enemy is brainwashing our nation, this is exactly why we must focus on searching for traitors and disposing of them." That's how it all will end.

  4. Nobody will start an armed protest on the same reason why there've been almost no slightly armed protests in Russia for the recent decades. In 1917 a revolution led to the establishment of a totalitarian state, nobody wants that to repeat.

This is the reason why those sanctions aren't capable of giving a start to a revolution. If they do provoke something inside the target country, that's the unrest towards those stupid Westerners who interfere in things they don't understand.

Sanctions might have an effect, though. If they manage to completely destabilise the Russian economy. But the costs for the whole world might be huge. In any case, that's to be left for another speculation

And for god's sake, I'm not saying that sanctions should not be taken. Apart from sending weapons, sanctions are the only way the West can help Ukraine without actually deploying their troops. That's the reason for the sanctions, I suppose.

Wait just one minute.

According to everything I've seen here, you're not even supposed to pose a question like that. You're not supposed to ask "Are sanctions good or bad?" because you're not the ones responsible for imposing them in the first place and, let's be sincere, nobody here can make an actual, significant effect on the course of that war.

No, instead of that you're supposed to ask "Why exactly are the Western nations imposing those sanctions?" You can express moral judgement only AFTER you understand what's going on, or else your words will be an emotion-driven description of stuff going on in your head. And how can any of you be sure that your current picture of the war isn't biased or oversimplified?

And if you analyze the article with cold blood, you can immediately see that it doesn't give any explanation for the West's actions, apart from the fact that They Are Evil. Bad West!