Monday, June 26, 2017

Useful Credentialed Idiots

Putin didn't need Trump to undermine America and make America admire Russia. Our journalists do it willingly.

I despair when I read a Western reporter unable to recognize democracy:

Since becoming Russia's top leader almost two decades ago, Vladimir Putin has developed various methods of talking to the Russian public over the heads of other institutions and authorities, with the aim of establishing a problem-solving dialogue directly with the people.

Best known of these is his annual “Direct Line” telethon, the latest iteration of which happens Thursday. In the event, Mr. Putin answers questions from linked studio audiences around the country, as well as emailed and SMS queries. He often directly addresses acute social problems such as inter-ethnic relations, solves peoples' personal problems on-the-spot, and even discloses intimate details of his personal life.

But the TV spectacle is only the tip of the iceberg – one that the Kremlin is hoping to grow into a wired-up, ultra-modern open society in which citizens will be able to deliver their grievances, petitions, and legislative initiatives in person to their leaders without having to depend on the mediation of 20th century institutions like legislatures, opinion polls, or the media.

The journalist calls this cyber-democracy. Are you kidding me?

Rather than count on lower level officials to do their jobs, governance will be centralized?

Last month Putin moved to apply that approach beyond the telethon, by mandating the presidential service to collect and analyze all citizens' appeals and petitions, and then redistribute them downward with orders for lower levels of government to deal with them.

All flows from the center. Putin is the center. And I'm sorry if I'm drawing too much from word choice, but the identified appeals get pushed down to "deal with them" sounds awfully ominous.

And in an age when Internet trolls are large-scale operations designed to AstroTurf movements and popularity, how difficult would it be for Putin to simulate adoration from the cyber-masses.

This is not cyber-democracy. This is cyber-totalitarianism!

This is strongman rule reaching out more effectively to the people to put a yoke directly on them so the tyrant doesn't have to trust lower level minions to do the tyrants work of persuasion!

And if the direct line tells Putin to resign? You think he will or use the cyber-tools he builds to identify precisely who to arrest, who to bribe, and who to kill?

Oh, they'll be dealt with, all right.

How is it possible to see this is an exercise in democracy and not tyranny?

How can I urge people to defend the West when seemingly so many Westerners can't even recognize the distinctions that make the West free and worthy of defending?