This is the first in a new series of guest blog posts on topics connected to our project. We are deliberately seeking a wide range of views and opinions, and we are encouraging authors to be as open and outspoken as they feel is necessary. Needless to say, the project team neither endorses nor rejects these views, but would welcome any debate they might provoke.
This commentary argues that if Western democracies really had faith in their own values, they would welcome, rather than demonise, Russia’s RT. With RT pursuing its self-proclaimed mission to “question more”, it is difficult to see why confident, healthy democracies should shut the door in its face. Isn’t asking pertinent questions – including about official versions of events – ultimately an indispensable function of the media in a free democratic society? What exactly are we afraid of?
I believe the hostile Western reaction to RT is an example of “something [being] rotten in the state of Denmark”. It suggests that we fear RT because it addresses issues that we would rather avoid.
Below I discuss the salient areas where RT is questioning more and thereby performing the vital function of responsible journalism, while our own media are patently failing us.
The West’s recent economic growth has been founded largely on money printing, all-round debt creation and the spread of negative interest rates. Mainstream media generally avoid serious analysis of this financial incontinence and its likely terrifying consequences. No-one is asking how all of this is going to end.
RT spells out the nature of the problem and its dire consequences. It makes us aware of the issues that our own media are ignoring.
A democracy’s rational response to the post-Marxist revival of Russia and China would be to welcome them as partners in mutually beneficial economic and security cooperation. After all, have they not just recently overthrown totalitarianism? But the West rejects such a win-win scenario because it regards these mature civilisations as “autocratic revisionists”.
Via its “propaganda arm”, Russia calls for pragmatic cooperation on the basis of genuine equality and mutual respect. Why would we want to obstruct the broadcasting of such a message?
Uncomfortable facts and alternative narratives
Recent years have seen tragic events such as the downing of the MH17 and the alleged poisoning of the Skripals. Western media and establishments have immediately blamed Russia, or even President Putin personally. Depicting the president of a superpower such as Russia as a terrorist is a very serious matter.
Adhering to the standards of professional journalism, RT points to inconsistencies in the official accounts of these events. Apart from helping to establish the truth, this stance shows full respect for the victims of these tragedies.
Then there is the West’s apparent common cause with Ukraine’s extreme nationalists or Syria’s “good terrorists”, all in the name of the struggle against the “autocratic” Putin and Assad. Are we sure that democracies should be enlisting a movement founded by an infamous mass persecutor of Jews and Poles?
And let’s not forget either the simplistic narratives about Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea and “Russian aggression” in general. Alternative narratives of this complex story – including that in 1953 Crimea was illegally transferred to Ukraine by a totalitarian Kremlin – are dismissed out of hand.
In tackling these – and many other – issues, RT steers clear of the simplistic narratives.
RT stands on the side of reason
And what about the West’s excessive political correctness and, more recently, the new-fangled ‘Woke’ ideology? Or the elevation of a troubled teenage environmental activist to the stature of a modern-day prophet?
The absurdities of PC undermine the principles of open society, the foundation stone of democracy, as famously formulated by Karl Popper. And we should recall that no lesser thinker than George Orwell warned against the consequences of language manipulation.
Is the Woke revolution not faux liberalism? Does its mindless radicalism not discredit potentially worthy causes? Legitimate concerns of minorities cannot be satisfactorily addressed by the violation of science and reason. A healthy liberal society can have no truck with obscurantism and the persecution of dissenters.
Once again, RT systematically debunks such damaging excesses. It offers viewers an oasis of sanity amid all the PC madness in the West.
Military balance: The Sword of Damocles?
Alarmingly, numerous influential individuals believe that the US is invulnerable. That it can fight and win a nuclear war. Obviously, this particular fantasy is extremely dangerous because the conviction of invulnerability can drive the delusional towards triggering the war.
Responding to this mortal threat to us all, Russia has engaged in the rapid and successful modernisation of its defences. Having surged a generation ahead, it possesses revolutionary precision weapons against which the Pentagon has no effective defence.
President Putin is not someone given to empty posturing. An accomplished strategist, he has repeatedly demonstrated that he means what he says. And he has warned that aggression against his country will be met with immediate devastating attack on the West. That there will never be another invasion of Russia’s territory.
More concerning, Putin has signalled that Russia’s posture is pro-active: should the Kremlin conclude that war is inevitable, it would be the first to strike, prioritising NATO’s command centres and missile silos. An entirely rational – not to mention “humane” – calculation: Decapitate the would-be aggressor before he can engage in a planet-annihilating escalation.
But consider this: Russia is prepared to be the first to strike, but no-one knows exactly how far the increasingly reckless West can/will “safely” push it. Where exactly is the point at which the Bear concludes it must start to bite? It will not tell us because the element of surprise is essential to its strategy.
With NATO apparently determined to “experiment” by pushing us all to the brink, we are, indeed, beyond MAD. Besides, accidents and/or mutual misreading of intentions can spark a rapidly escalating conflict at any time.
These alarming facts are either ignored by the Western media or incorrectly presented as evidence of Russia’s “aggression”.
For its part, RT performs the vital service of driving home these shocking truths about the deadly threat to us all.
The West must, indeed, become Woke
Organisations such as RT are dedicated to spreading these vital, multifaceted messages. Far from demonising and excluding them, Western establishments should wake up and listen.
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – President Reagan, 12 June 1982, Berlin.