A great deal has been made of our current President's apparent admiration of China's "Firewall" policies regarding the internet. These suggested crackdowns, coming in the wake of the recent Opposition demonstrations all across Russia, have the intelligentsia and Human Rights activists justifiably concerned — although I suspect that the noose they feel tightening around their necks is more imaginary silk than real rawhide — at least for now.
But perhaps just as significantly, our current President added that "regulations, in general, should correspond to the level of development of a society.”
What does he mean by that? Does he mean that, at this point in history, Russian people are not adequately prepared, or somehow or other not sufficiently evolved, to make rational, adult choices regarding their use of cyberspace?
Does he mean that Russian people require some sort of benevolent (of course!) interpreter (censor) to decide what is appropriate for their consumption (what they need to know and what should be kept from them) ??
Many people think so. Yet our President also added the following: “Callous quasi-freedom on the internet does not exist anywhere anymore. All countries in the world have certain content limitations. We have limitations and they are known. They are propaganda for suicide, child pornography, propaganda for terrorism, distribution of narcotics and so on. In my view, these limitations are enough at the moment.”
Now if we could take this at face value, you would not find anyone knocking about in Moscow who agreed more than I do. Maybe I am getting old, but I find myself rapidly disconnecting from those who insist on disguising mediocrity, stupidity, lack of self-discipline, and lack of integrity….as somehow representing 'Freedom'. Freedom in any meaningful sense, does not suggest indifference to self-sacrifice and meeting one's obligations, but rather it implies the willing forfeiture of absolute existential freedom ("I can get drunk whenever I want!") in exchange for meaningful 'servitude' as it might apply to one's devotion to a greater purpose, namely your work and those you love.
Russian people are more pragmatic in life-terms, more willing to accept basic realities than people in the West generally are. The Westerners are always screaming about Human Rights, and in their frequent hysteria and constant breast-beating, they convince themselves that they are sincere. And yet they, in practice, and in their business affairs especially, deceive the public and scorn these wonderful 'Rights' all the same. In Russia, there is no illusion. Russians understand that the government is against them, that almost everything is bullshit, and still Russians live, survive, celebrate.
In the West, the general blah-blah is idealistic, and many noble people work for it — but the result rarely lives up to the hype. The rich get richer, and…… Same old same old same old, just different jive. And, what is perhaps ironic, the Westerners know it just as the Russians do. They simply put a smiley face on it.
The intelligentsia in Russia is basically 'Wannabees' — like those acne-faced teenagers in America who once yearned to be like Madonna. They wanna be like the West. The are convinced that West is Best.
And they are not fools. I know plenty of these people because my work takes me into their homes, and, I would even admit that, at the deepest level, I share their liberal values. I mean, I know that the government here is irredeemably corrupt. But, having spent all those years in America and England, I also know that those guys over there rank just as high on the Asshole Richter Scale. They wear white hats and ride white horses, but they are rotten to the core. Do I approve of greedy hypocrites like Medvedev? Do I admire the fools that sit in the Russian Duma? No, but I understand that their counterparts in America are no better.
The treachery is achieved by different techniques. Here by silence, ambiguity, force, silence. In the West by noise, ambiguity, force, noise.
Our current President wants to do three things: 1. He wants to make Russia as mighty as possible on the international stage; 2. He wants to improve the country, but — in typical Russian tradition, I feel — he will sacrifice all which the West defines as Human Rights, in order to preserve the might and freedom of the nation; 3 (less admirably) he wants endless wealth for himself and his cronies (inner circle, if you wish to be polite.)
Our President is not a blockhead and he sees the internet as a possible danger in terms of future rallies, demonstrations, seeds of upheaval, etc. But I hope that he is not so mired in ancient Soviet thinking that he supposes the old censorship can really work anymore. It can't. There are too many other ways to get knowledge if knowledge is what you want. On the other hand, if you wish to remain ignorant, you can do that too, without having the axe of censorship looming over you.
I know nothing about Chinese culture. I used to think I did. Back in the day, when I was in America, we thought the Chinese were full of wisdom. Confucius said this, Confucius said that. Even Bruce Lee and Kung-Fu somehow represented, compared to us in America, an elevated form of combining violence with wisdom. (All we wanted was to learn how to kick somebody in the balls, so we could impress our girlfriends. We didn't care two monkeys about what Budda thought about it all.) But we had the Chinese down as wise guys in the purest sense.
So the Chinese have turned out to be a load of imposters. Producers of a plastic life — the Americans dreamed it up but it was the Chinese who supplied it. The Chinese: responsible for more state supported executions than any other country; the Chinese — the most repressive nation on earth this side of the North Koreans.
To hell with the Chinese.
No, for the moment I will go along with our President. The internet must be controlled, just as our airports and metro stations must be controlled. I am all in favor of porn films, but you just cannot have freaks poisoning the internet with recipes for making bombs, having sex with children, and how to kill all your neighbors.
If that is freedom, I will side, at least for now, with our President.
On the other hand, the idea of having government flunkies monitoring all our phone calls — I say haha and good luck guys!! Every day I walk around and watch people, women, in particular, blabbering away on their phones. God help the censor who was consigned to hours and hours (…and hours) of listening to this nonsense and trying to detect an anti-government plot. Likewise, I feel sorry for the porn detectives who must observe a blizzard of spunk flying everywhere in order to find Trotsky. Good luck, Duma !!
===Eric Richard Le Roy===
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