Western media’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis has reached epic proportions of bias and despicable hypocrisy, and once more, the western liberal “left” media spectrum is busily laying the groundwork for imperialist-friendly narratives.
Having last year no-platformed a Syrian nun who had the audacity to protest against western-sponsored takfiri mercenaries in Syria, chief pseudo-dissenter of the British liberal “left”, Owen Jones, has kindly decided to educate the masses on the finer points of the Ukrainian crisis.
True to form, and synonymous with the vast majority of western media, Jones begins his narrative with crass revisionism, claiming that Western governments have been “restrained” in their response to what he describes as a “Russian invasion”. Yet, and quite obvious to most, the events in Ukraine did not commence with Russia adding to its troop numbers in the Crimean peninsular. In reality, the chain of events leading to this particular crisis began when state-members of the European Union, led by the United States and its NATO partners, instigated a violent coup d’etat, through the fomentation and manipulation of a disillusioned minority, alongside the overt sponsorship of Nazi-sympathising oligarchs and their fascist shock-troops. This is not to mention the equally relevant economic origins of the crisis, nor the decades of NATO-instigated war, ethnic division, and social antagonism in the former Soviet bloc in the desired aim of militarily “containing” Russia. When viewed in the wider historical context, Russia’s supposed “invasion” of Ukraine is in fact a muted reaction to the aggressive policies of the Western states. Jones and the liberal “lefts” blatant disregard of the historical process in turn bolsters the false portrayal of a “restrained” western Empire competing with an insubordinate lesser state, in this case Russia.
To omit such vital historical context, the consequent processes, interconnections and their correct chronology, and then duplicitously begin the narrative from the falsehood of a “Russian invasion”, is to engage in the most vile form of historical revisionism.
Moreover, by engaging in the semantics of western bourgeois media and falsely portraying Russia’s limited military manoeuvres in Crimea as an “invasion”, “leftists” such as Jones help to buttress western imperialisms false moral equivalence. In actual fact, the two principal geopolitical actors, the Russian state on the one hand, and the US Empire on the other, are nothing close to comparable in the context of the current crisis in Ukraine, or any other modern conflict. To equate Russia defending – arguably warranted – “interests” on its own borders and allied regions, with aggressive imperialism acting as the catalyst, is beyond stupidity, it is purposeful semantic trickery, propagated in order to demonize “them” and “their” actions, while legitimizing “us” and “ours”. Such use of poorly disguised social chauvinism to form bias narratives is but typical of the bourgeois British liberal, intrinsic within supposed “leftist” media.
Unfortunately, Jones’ muddleheaded sophism has only just begun. Having distorted the underlying historical processes and causes of the crisis, whitewashed the culpability of western imperialism thereby equating it to the lesser target state, in turn building a false moral platform for imperialist aggression, Jones now turns to fascist apologia. While correctly pointing out the “AK-47 wielding.. right-wing extremists” and the subsequent seizure of power via illegal and anti-democratic means, Jones then immediately attempts to mitigate their central role, and the equally important role the fascist shock-troops played in the “victorious uprising”, as he now calls it. “This was not a coup,..” claims Jones, “..but a genuinely popular uprising in the country’s western and central regions, if not in its east and south.” The contradiction is evident in this sentence alone; what exactly is a “genuine uprising” that only reaches the “western and central regions” of any state? Furthermore, what is Jones’ material evidence, let alone criteria, for determining an uprising in less than half of a country is “popular”? Further still, what is Jones’ legal, nay, logical reasoning behind avowing a coup with the title of “Government”?
Such slogans and terminology represent nothing more than liberal quackery of the highest order. Jones has no idea just how “popular” the heavily manufactured protests and opposition groups are, or ever were in Ukraine, or whether they amounted to a big enough demographic to be labelled as the crude abstraction of a “genuine uprising”. Contrary to Jones’ rosy portrayal, more than half of Ukraine totally ignored the Maidan anti-government protests, the eastern half of the country is almost universally opposed to the fascist coup regime in Kiev while local authorities are quite literally asking for Russian aid and protection, not to mention the further intricacies of what has for centuries been a Russian-aligned, virtually autonomous region of Crimea.
Does this sound like a “genuine”, or even “popular” “victorious uprising” of an entire state of forty-plus million people, or does it resemble a violent coup, verging on organised ethnic antagonism, orchestrated by imperialism?
Perhaps the (declared) $5 billion dollars the US State Dept has put towards engineering regime change via the fascist groups now seizing power may have helped the “uprising” become a “victorious” one. No doubt the US-EU bourgeoisie doling out cookies and hand-picking the “Governments” new leadership benefitted its domestic “popularity” in Ukraine enormously. Or perhaps the xenophobia, Nazi iconography and overt racism espoused by Svoboda’s henchmen became so “genuine” that there is no longer any room for a dissenting voice; effectively rendering the fascist vanguard and its acolytes “popular” enough to call a Government. Maybe the former Zionist occupiers leading various neo-fascist thugs in Ukraine helped them gain some “popularity”, or the snipers randomly killing both police and protesters – allegedly employed by the opposition – helped to align the disparate factions of dissent into a “genuine” grassroots unified movement. Then again, perhaps not. Regardless of all this reaction, fascism, thuggery, alienation and social antagonism, imperialism can surely rely on the empty phrases and liberal sophism of western bourgeois media to afford their proxies the veneer of respectability.
According to Jones, there have been no “systematic” attacks on Russian speakers, and although the coup regime are illegally seizing power, including every top position in the Duma and what remains of the military and police, they “do not own the whole revolt, and will only be strengthened by Russian intervention”. To suggest that no party “owns the revolt” is a meaningless abstraction. Does Jones seriously believe that no faction is leading, or “owns”, the coup? That no specific faction is currently enforcing its will unabated with the direct support of western imperialism?
It only takes a cursory glance at the tons of reports and prior documentation (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) that expose Ukraine’s “uprising” as being both led and dominated by reactionary fascists sponsored by imperialism. Yet Jones is either too stupid to see this vanguard long in “ownership” of the revolt, or he is deliberately marginalizing them from the reality of the situation to afford Empires’ proxies with unwarranted moral platform. Whats more, the insinuation that Russian “intervention” against said fascist proxies, will inevitably increase their power is completely bereft of the context of who actually empowered and sustained them up until, and no doubt beyond this very moment! In Jones backward narrative, it is as if these fascists came to power entirely of their own volition as a result of Russian provocation, forget the direct aid and sponsorship of western imperialism. Again, the historical context of the initial causes, and the western actors responsible for the ascendance of fascists in Ukraine has been erased, and replaced with the anachronism of a Russian reaction.
In the western liberal “lefts” moral equation, killing millions through decades of western Imperial aggression and Russia’s bloodless “invasion” of Crimea “are all symptoms of the same phenomenon”. There is of course some concrete truth in that, but for Jones to use the comparison in the Ukrainian context is fraudulent and deliberately misleading, it distorts the historical and material causes of this specific conflict. To then further posit the simplistic notion that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… would have undoubtedly happened anyway” in turn bolsters the skewed perspective of western imperialism, neglecting cause and effect and vital historical context that expose real culpability. It is to demand Russia’s hyped “invasion” should be judged minus the imperialist provocation that instigated it, while further neglecting the decades of western imperialist slaughter, expansion and provocation preceding the latest violent upheaval. Russia is therefore deemed equally, if not more so, culpable for the Ukrainian crisis, while the perception of the predatory western imperialists has been sanitized, and their massive culpability reduced dramatically from the equation.
A further example of the sophism and superficiality so inherent to the modern liberal media class came in the form of a pseudo-moralistic rant from RT “Journalist” Abbey Martin. Immediately lauded by western media liberals for her “principled”, yet ahistorical, and uninformed outburst denouncing the Russian Governments “military intervention” in Ukraine, Martin went on to explain that although she knew little of the situation – why would she? – she opposed “all military intervention”. Well, how principled one might say, but what exactly is the “principle” of non-intervention other than a utopian liberal absurdity? Moreover, what is the worthwhile principle behind denouncing a military manoeuvre you know little of, or can even attempt to explain? Such pandering to empty humanitarian slogans and simplification of complex sociopolitical processes can only be explained by the commodification and subsequent self-gratification that petty bourgeois liberals crave when chasing their individualist desires. Fight the man, doesn’t matter who, or why, just make sure people see you doing it.
Dumbing-down media coverage of complex issues and historical revisionism within all “sides” of the bourgeois media gamut is of course not exclusive to the recent coverage in Ukraine, precisely the same deceptive methods are employed on an endless scale for the same reasons listed above. Libya and Syria provide two further recent examples of how the media’s supposedly “left” and liberal outlets and pundits often fulfill a vital role in legitimizing imperialist aggression; western media’s almost overwhelming support for the imperialist plunder of Iraq arguably provides us with the definitive modern illustration.
Critical historical processes and the chronology of events have been manipulated, misinformed, diverted through false moral platform, or omitted entirely to form western-friendly narratives that remove imperial culpability. Demonization campaigns that effectively “other” peoples, governments and targeted leaders are commonplace in the liberal “left” spectrum of western media just as they are in the “right”. Perhaps the greatest example of the liberal media’s subservience to corporate power is provided by the Guardian newspaper. Its lurid role in promoting religious fundamentalist proxies of western imperialism in Libya and Syria, and the masses of misinformation and bias narratives propagated on their behalf, again exposes the almost complete lack of disparity between the “right” and “left” bourgeois western press. In both cases, and increasingly in Ukraine, media manipulation of timelines, and liberal apologia for what are essentially reactionary proxies of imperialism became critical tools in maintaining western public acquiescence, or worse still, ignorance and support of aggressive western provocations and covert war. Bar a few dissenting voices in the opinion pages, the Guardian’s supposedly liberal “left” coverage of western imperialism is now virtually indistinguishable to that of the shameless right.
No longer can overt militaristic imperialism be forced upon the western masses as it was in the immediate post-9-11 era, hence, covert proxy-war has taken center stage. A most crucial tool of the western bourgeoisie in achieving the concessions and acquiescence of the masses during this current period of covert imperialist violence, has once again exposed itself in the form of the petty bourgeois opportunists, the “social democrats”, the liberal “lefts” of the modern epoch and their corporate media lackeys.
Ominously, and without a shred of self-awareness it seems, Jones warns us: “there is a frightening tradition of conservatives and liberals helping fascists into power.” Indeed, here, Jones is almost correct, but curiously fails to analyse the definitive classes currently aiding fascists into power in Ukraine, ie: the petty bourgeois western liberal class and its bourgeois neoconservative counterparts, both essentially factions of western imperialism. Neither is there any attempt to analyse or distinguish the class which has played the pivotal role in aiding fascists into power in the service of the bourgeoisie throughout modern history, perhaps the result of such an analysis would be too close to the bone.