Find me a single TV show from the last, say, five years, in which Russians are not the villains. I defy you. Fine me a pro Russian op-ed from a major newspaper.
In general my feeling is that Americans WANT a cold war. They WANT someone to hate. To fear. It is really a collective projection. The displacement of unaccepted feelings and anxieties outward.
Americans own feelings of inadequacy and of fear — and of a deep lacerating and crippling anxiety — are projected onto another, which in this case is Russia (and Putin). Im not sure why China fails to elicit this same degree of animosity. Maybe it is the basic Orientalism of the West that *expects* Asians to be devious or whatever.
But I suspect it is more that Russians are almost like us. Except of course they are not….not to Americans.They are not “really” European. In any case this projection takes the form of a constant obvious propaganda from the government and its entertainment wing, Hollywood.
And when a society projects outward in this way and manufactures a threat, there is a sort of closed feedback loop that occurs and which amplifies the original feelings. Hating and fearing Russia makes you hate and fear Russia more, and more and more…etc.
All those buried feelings of hatred and resentment which are denied and repudiated by the self, are given to Putin and Russia. I mean its really rather astounding to watch it grow and grow.
People are positively delirious with the joy of having someone to hate and thereby not examine themselves– or their society. And of course Trump, a walking narcissistic personality disorder, becomes the head of this nation and however much he is hated outwardly, he is also necessary and people have never so enjoyed being angry and hating someone as much as they do Trump.
But it is more; and if one wanted to be Jungian about this, Trump’s appearance on the national stage (sic) is one of those things that feel like synchronicity — because he embodies all the worst characteristics of American society. He felt like an accident, but he’s not.
That Trump has been compared to almost everyone, living and dead, real and fictive, suggests he himself just an empty vessel — a hologram, but one constructed of all the worst parts of US society and history.
But this obsession with Russia, which I fear is growing, is something I’ve not seen before. Pure invention and based on nothing except vague cold war memories, or kitsch histories of the USSR.
I saw a show the other night (well, parts of it) in which Russians were the main villains and then a secondary hit squad came on and killed someone, or tried to, and they were identified as South American. And guess which country….Venezuela. Of course. This desire for an enemy feels almost erotic.
Now, of course, having enemies paradoxically makes people, in general, feel safer. Its a containment mechanism. And Russia is a familiar enemy. It was an unfamiliar friend (during that ten minute bromance between Bush Jr and Putin).
John Mack wrote in a paper, on nationalism (1979) in which he described a phenomenon he called the egoism of victimization — meaning an indifference to reality and an indifference to the suffering of those not in your group. There is an indifference (and I think Orwell said this, actually) to even hearing information that goes against your needed belief system and picture of the world. But conversely an exaggerated sense of your own suffering.
Somehow I link this Russophobia with Harvey Weinstein AND Kevin Spacey (and remember spacey’s name came up with jeffrey epstein and those airplane parties and with bill clinton)….so, the exploitation of those with less power or no power is played out in sexual exploitation.
And the voyeurism of the US public knows no bounds and provides some comfort for people and enables an exercise of moral superiority. A self congratulation. An actor says oh, in 1986 i was attacked….if thats the right word..by this famous closeted movie star….and he, the NOT movie star, is applauded for bravery.
He also gets a lot of publicity…but Im sure that was no factor at all. Spacey rumors have existed for as long as weinstein rumors by the way. There was even a sit com or cartoon…forget which…where a kid runs through the room yelling ‘I just escaped kevin spacey’s basement’….(might be paraphrasing here). This was from 2005. So it wasnt a secret.
Anyway…for some reason these things are all linked in my brain. The need for enemies to feel that equilibrium is re-established (think rene girard and scapegoating) and US voyeurism and Puritanism.
And that somehow everyone knew about spacey and weinstein and everyone knows about college rape culture and military rape culture but oh, those realities muddy our hologram image of the world…so repress repress repress. And Putin is evil as are Kim Jong Un and Maduro and Assad.
Like Qadaffi was and Milosevic. So the one thing that seems true of the Trump era is that things are surfacing. Vietnam did that, too. Social trauma seems to bring out these things. Long held secrets are confessed. Never mind the motive.
I have no real conclusion to this. Perhaps only that Trump was a sort of psychic necessity — the embodiment of the corrupted corpse of western capital, or US exceptionalism. Obama was the affectless psychopath that KEPT things hidden. The avatar of secrecy.
Trump is the avatar of nakedness. Which reminds me of Bly’s poem the Teeth Mother Naked At Last.