Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

Panem, putas et circenses

One of the big steps towards political adulthood is to understand the relation between fascism and leftism. The eternal question of whether fascism is the antithesis of leftism, or just a flavor of it. The official view of the question is that fascism is the remnant of the Old Regime, the evil dark ages, who still lurk in the shadows to fight against Progress. Then there’s the occasional smartass who says that Fascism was a leftist movement. And they oppose modern capitalism to it.

Well that’s not it either. Mencius Moldbug made himself a name by reminding people that Fascism had nothing to do with the old aristocratic order. Fascism was a popular movement, a movement of the masses. It was all about public opinion. Mussolini grabbed power simply by getting a mob and walking to Rome. Hitler also made himself a militia, then mob-ilised the population. The old kings didn’t care about mob-ilising the people. They ruled because they had a right to do so according to ancient laws, and that was it. They neither needed nor expected the people’s consent.

Of course all that changed over the years. In the beginning the check was aristocratic privileges, but then arrived the printing press, the Reformation, later the railroad, the newspaper, the radio. In a manner of speaking, all there is to power, political power, is the ability to raise a mob, organise technology. It takes a particular type of man to properly raise and control a mob of people. They can be awesome men, say, Julius Caesar. Or they can be nasty psycopaths, say Ivan the Terrible. Or they can be sleazy horny conmen like modern cult leaders. Still the set of talents that put them in power is the same.

The advent of modern technology made the technical aspects of raising a mob exponentially easier. You didn’t need a ruthless and energetic man and an extraordinary chain of events. You just needed an obnoxious and manipulative man with a microphone or access to a printer. Hell, it could even be a woman. As such any person with a modicum of powerlust could get it by raising a small mob and make noise with it. That’s how we got universal suffrage, female suffrage, wealth redistribution. And if anyone can raise a mob, and with it destabilise government, the only way to maintain a stable power structure is to permanently raise the mob. There comes modern mass media. Mass Media’s work is to frame the message, feed them garbage so they are constantly agitated. Stir the people so they feel in charge.

So we have that our political structure, or that which we are told is our political structure, is but a theatre stage where actors spout some scripted crap to fool the people and preventing them from forming a mob. We don’t want that. So all our political life is based on plays and speeches and senseless drama. It’s a sign of how bad things have become when you see the present Presidential Campaign in Russia. It’s a funny thing that Communism was the most potent and blatant propaganda machine that the world has ever known. No organisation ever, not even the Christian Church, ever spat so much bullshit all around the globe. But Communist regimes never thought they could rely on propaganda to control their populations. They used the army for that. In that sense Communism was the last Ancienne Regime. But things have changed, and Russians learned the ways of modernity. It doesn’t seem so, and our priests constantly tell us that Russia is bad, because they have a dictator. And Putin does seem to be a premodern autocrat. But modernity is better defined by the theatricality of the political discourse; well Russia is no less modern than we are. They just are a bit tacky.

Of course the West hates Russia not because of its political system, but because Putin refuses to open the Russian economy to western financiers. And that’s all they care about. And the fact is that Russia’s political system is quite close to ours. It’s just the genre of the drama which changes. Adam Curtis’s blog had this article about the Russian avant-garde scene and its relation to politics. Fascinating stuff. It tells how Putin’s chief ideologue, Vladimir Surkov, set up the propaganda machine that supports Putin’s government. He has set up a bunch of youth organisations which spontaneously support Putin’s movement. Sounds familiar? There’s a huge amount of such small mobs, which are activated whenever its needed. Overall it’s pretty retarded stuff; stupid people spouting stupid slogans all the time. Putin is contesting an election today, and the QUANGOs have been busy these last months, so he’s feeling the heat.

So his team have been putting some extra hours at work, and using their control of television time to use some advanced methods of luring the Russian people into voting for their boss. I’ll embed three TV ads without commenting further.

Well the girls are hot indeed. Still, does it seem like the kind of advertisements that a dictator, sure of its hold on power, would make? No, these are desperate appeals to the base instincts of his (arguably poorly educated) population. Putin is putting a show for his people. Quite a vulgar show indeed. I like it better than the gay, moralising shows we have here in the west, but still.

It’s quite close to Ancient Rome. For all the sophistication of its political system, and the ostentation of the Senate, Rome had always a weakness: mobs. The plebeians had this talent for ganging up and scaring the shit out of the Patricians, who always ended up making concessions to their proles. It took the first emperor, Augustus, to come up with a solution. Just feed the bastards and put some show for them. Panem et circenses. 2000 years later, with all the wonder of modern technology, the Russians have just added some whores to the mix.


5 responses to “Panem, putas et circenses

  1. zhai2nan2 March 4, 2012 at 06:50

    Rome was the first Rome, Constantinople was the second Rome, Russia was the Third Rome – or so the Russians say.

  2. Vladimir March 6, 2012 at 07:34

    Of course the West hates Russia not because of its political system, but because Putin refuses to open the Russian economy to western financiers.

    As usual, you make some good points overall, but you overestimate the importance of the finance/plutocratic elements in modern Western politics, as opposed to ideology and non-financial sources of status and influence.

    The Western respectable opinion hates Putin primarily because he refuses to acknowledge their sacred hierarchy of status and influence and to push an ideological program that is in accordance with their left-liberal values. Imagine if tomorrow Russia gets a government headed by people who surround themselves with Ivy League-credentialed advisers, permit the domestic media to status-whore by toeing the New York Times line, pack the bureaucracies with members of EU/State Department-financed “NGOs,” march in gay parades and denounce the “hate speech” of the Orthodox Church on that issue, lament the lack of multiculturalism and promise to remedy it ASAP, etc., etc. The status of Russia would instantly zoom up, even if at the same time it became even less hospitable for foreign big business.

    Ideology and intellectual prestige matter, and it’s a mistake to try and reduce them all to some supposedly rational economic interests.

  3. Jim March 11, 2012 at 22:37

    The old kings didn’t care about mob-ilising the people. They ruled because they had a right to do so according to ancient laws, and that was it. They neither needed nor expected the people’s consent.

    Depends where and when. The Med and Mideast had a tradition of greater centralized sovereignty. Indigeneous northern European culture had a tradition of consent that was eroded relatively recently, possibly due to Christianization and encroaching “mideasternization”.

    “A medieval king had no means of collecting a regular revenue by taxation; he was only the chief of the free-men, and his estates were supposed to suffice for his expenditure. The revenue the land yielded consisted of men, not money, and to obtain men, the sovereign granted his domains to his nearest friends, who, in their turn, cut their manors into as many farms as possible, and each farmer paid his rent with his body.

    A baron’s strength lay in the band of spears which followed his banner, and therefore he subdivided his acres as much as possible, having no great need of money.”

    • spandrell March 11, 2012 at 22:45

      Feudal kings were primus inter pares, of course. But I’m talking about the mob here. Feudal lords are hardly “the people”.
      And medieval culture is Christian almost by definition. Did the old germanic tribes had a feudal hierarchy? Does that even matter?

  4. Pingback: It's good to be king... further reading

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