The Parallax Brief


Unrepentant Subjectivity on Economics, Politics, Defence, Foreign Policy, and Russia

Putin and the Cult of Slothful Journalism

The western media is obsessed with the doings of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin. Virtually everything the former president does is lavished with newspaper coverage. But being firmly in rapacious anti-Russia mode, the western media seem to have turned his PR activities into something more sinister: the construction of a cult of personality.

It makes for a neat argument. Wrestling tigers, teaching kids judo, and fishing topless are all part of an attempt to build a cult of personality; cults of personality are unique to totalitarian regimes; therefore, Russia is necessarily a totalitarian regime, which – whoda thunk it? – fits neatly with the line currently peddled by much of the Western media that Putin’s regime is despotic, while simultaeously making mundane politicians’ photo-ops into something interesting enough to sell papers. Perfect!

The latest similar news item to be given the hysterical tint now commonplace in western coverage of Russian politics is word that the Russian PM has painted a picture to contribute to a charity auction. This time, nobody has explicitly linked the painting to the cult of personality theory, but they have done so with similar stories in the past and the implication is there this time.

But before neo-con knickers get in a twist about Putin leading another Red Scare, I’d like to ask whether this isn’t the kind of thing all politicians do everywhere? Their PR people try to cultivate a certain image, and invite journalists along to official trips that will show off their man or woman in an attractive light, do they not?

Such practice is considered normal practice in the West, but apparently when Putin does likewise it’s cast as some kind of nefarious retread of Stalinist propaganda.

I’m no apologist for Putin, but this is absurd. And let’s be honest, the idea of having an all-action hero as president proved incredibly popular in the US back in the day.

Filed under: Russia, , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. Russian Lad says:

    He is not a dictator per se yet, it is true, but if we take the historical perspective into account, true dictatorships with all the required prerequisites for such a system are only bound to spring up into existence under an extremely harsh economic situation: shortages of food supplies, energy blackouts, no work for the masses, etc. Russia is diving headlong into just such a state, and if it ever happens Putin will be just such a dictator. Democracy or any other Western bullshit will not save no country from dictatorship if the conditions are ripe for it, so Russia is not unique in that. Let’s live and see what happens.
    Congratulations on starting the blog, Carbo!

  2. parallaxbrief says:

    Russian Lad, thanks for the feedback. I hope I can maintain the output. As first poster you get a free… sense of accomplishment.

    As for Putin, I don’t particularly want to become some kind of apologist or defender of him or his comrades in arms — I really don’t think they’re the sort of people you can like if you have any kind of moral compass.

    However, that doesn’t excuse the Western media from lying and spinning like they were acolytes of Alistair Campbell or Karl Rove.

    I’ll be making this point more frequently in the blog.

    As it happens, Putin, as you pointed out, has given the Western press plenty of ammunition to fire. Unfortunately, they waste it on risible ‘stories’ about him trying to build a cult of personality or squash ‘democratic’ Georgia.

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