Yesterday we talked about fables, about funny animal stories which have a little moral tacked onto the end. And, as Griboedov’s roguish character Zagoretsky noted, these fables are a type of propaganda: People pretend that they are just spinning some edifying or heart-warming story for children; but in reality the writer is hammering home an important political point.
Fables And Propaganda
And this was exactly the case when Westie propaganda rags such as the Guardian and Radio Free Europe (RFE) picked up the “heart-warming” story of 34-year-old Tomsk native Denis Karagodin and his quest to exonerate his ancestor. An “innocent” peasant who, during the “Great Terror” of 1937, was “falsely” convicted and executed for the “trumped-up” charge of spying for the Japanese. Denis Karagodin’s quest to
bring down the Russian state restore his family name to good coin was crowned with unexpected success. Through a type of Russian “Freedom of Information” act, the Bloody FSB (Successor Agency to the Bloody KGB) emailed Denis the names of the three villains who convicted his ancestor.
But then the story got even better: A descendant of one of those three NKVD villains contacted Denis, offering her soulful repentance on behalf of her dead ancestor. (Whose opinion was not requested, and who may well have vigorously stood his ground, if asked.)
And, by the way, I have an errata to my post of yesterday, in which I said that I did not know which of the three “butchers” was the “ancestor” of this mysterious “Yulia”. I am very ashamed of myself: If I had not been in such a hurry and had read the story more carefully: It is explicitly stated therein that “Yulia” is the granddaughter of NKVD officer Nikolai Ivanovich Zyryanov. Technically, I should go back and correct yesterday’s post. But I don’t want to, because I kind of liked my little joke about the NKVD lady twirling her moustache.
Anyhow, Yulia, in her letter to Denis, pleaded with him for Christian forgiveness and understanding. She begged him not to hate her for being
beautiful the descendant of an NKVD attack dog. For sure, she may be from the other side of the tracks, but in her heart she is a kreakl too, and an anti-Stalinist. And her family was not all bad: The domestic hearth warmed the cockles of “repressed” kulaks as well as their “butchers”. In fact, her great-grandfather (father of her grandmother) was also repressed, was taken away to be interrogated and never returned home; and this happened during roughly the same time frame that Yulia’s grandfather Nikolai was busy putting a cap in Stepan Karagodin.
All of this was an anti-Communist propaganda story just begging for a Hollywood treatment and storyboard. Although, to be sure, we have to add more conflict and struggle: Like Denis Karagodin’s life was threatened; some nameless men in black warned him to back off in his search for the truth; but he was able to enlist a jive-talking ex-con and safe cracker to break into FSB HQ and steal the archival evidence. Plus, we need to add a love angle: Denis and this mysterious “Yulia”, the descendant of one of the butchers… Except it would be more dramatic if she were a committed Communist Party member, until she delved into the archives and saw just what brutes those Chekists were. As Samuel Goldwyn might have said: “I want you to write me a kind of anti-Communist Romeo and Juliet love story, but something with Clark Gable in it.”
Let us take one step back, though: How do we know that the criminal charge against the peasant pater familias Stepan Karagodin was trumped up? Because RFE states that it was. It is not necessary for them to offer any proof. Everybody in the Western world just “knows” that every single person arrested by the NKVD in 1937 was innocent of all charges against them. QED.
For decades, as Westie media and Westie historians fought the propaganda war against the Soviet Union, it was never necessary for them to offer real factual proof of anything that they stated. And very few of their claims were ever challenged. Even those of peer-reviewed Cold War historians, such as Robert Conquest, who made a lucrative career off of Stalin’s “Great Terror”.
And the fact is, the Westie propaganda corps are still fighting the Cold War. Even though they technically won it. But they can never let it go. They still grasp at, and even construct their own, opportunities to flog this horse. They want every person on the planet to learn the lesson of their fable: That Communism is always bad, it never works, it always leads to millions of dead and repressed. That ordinary people were the main target, and that no justice was ever forthcoming under such a system.
Westie propaganda always based its attacks against Russia (and more, generally, against Socialism and Communism) by means of cherry-picking some facts, slanting others, gross exagerrations of negative phenomena; and mainly just telling one side of the story.
But in the 1950’s and 1960’s, at least some of the unrelenting propaganda attempted to address actual philosophical tenets and political ideologies. For example, Westie economists attempted to “refute” Marxist teachings and substitute their own ideas about the “free market” and all that jazz. There was an actual discussion of ideas.
That doesn’t happen any more. Westie ideology is so bankrupt nowadays, so bereft of ideas, that the only thing they can come up with any more are pointillistic “people stories”. About families, children in peril. Puppies and kittens in peril. The peril being the Eternal External Enemy. Usually Russia.
But unfortunately for Westie media, there are other “sources of truth” on this planet now besides them. And there are people who question their incessant narrative and expose it for the rancid bullshit that it actually is. Having stated which, let us return to Dmitry Steshin’s piece about the story behind the story of Stepan and Denis Karagodin.
Denis: “What is my Motivation?”
Steshin writes that Denis Karagodin renounced his Russian citizenship in November 2014. He still lives in Russia; still lives in Tomsk, as a matter of fact; but no longer regards himself as a subject of the Russian Federation. It is not known why Denis renounced his own citizenship, possibly out of disgust for the way Stalin’s NKVD treated his great-grandfather. What is known is that his quest to find ancestor Stepan’s “killers” divided Russian society into two warring camps. Well, frankly, it doesn’t take much to divide Russian society into two warring camps. Reds vs Whites. That division never goes away, and every little thing that happens, just continues to inflame it.
In Denis Karagodin’s letter to his new pen-pal Yulia Zyryanova, he wrote the following about his own political motivations: “In me you will not find an enemy or anyone who wishes to harm you, only a man who wishes once and for all to nullify this endless Russian bloodbath. This must be done away with once and for all. And I feel that you and I have it within our power to do this.” Denis clearly saw as his personal crusade to do away, once and for all, with the “Russian bloodbath”. But, as all Russia-haters know, the only way to do away with the Russian bloodbath once and for all is do away with Russia herself once and for all. Otherwise, Russians being such incorrigible barbarians, they will just keep on being bloody and uncontrollable forever. Unlike the civilized West, where nobody ever got killed or unjustly repressed.
Reds Fight Back
In this brave new world that we live in, the propaganda war is fought on the comment boards of online newspapers. And if Denis Karagodin thought that he and Yulia and their traveling road-show would receive the same ecstatic reception within Russia as they received in the West … well, remember that Russia is a divided society. Split pretty much down the middle between “Reds” and “Whites”. Anybody who comes out on one side or the other, has just made an enemy of the other 50%.
Steshin prints out some of the comments from readers to this story when it first broke. Some commenters approve of Denis and condemn the “butchers” of the past. Others wish for the long-awaited but ever-elusive reconciliation between Reds and Whites. Still others point out the sheer hypocrisy of the entire matter, for example this one:
“Why is it that in France people don’t repent to the descendants of those aristocrats who were executed, by the dozens, during the French Revolution?”
And a commenter named Viktor: “Should I now seek out the descendants of the Kolchak officer who ordered my peasant grandfather to be shot, because he refused to serve in the White army? All of these descendants consider their ancestors to be pure and fluffy. If the Whites had won, then you would have seen a Terror like no other…”
And it gets better: In the flood of commentary, it turns out that Denis Karagodin awoke a sleeping giant. By dragging the dust of his ancestor out into the public view, he subjected these ashes to historical scrutiny. And when one takes a magnifying glass to a pile of ashes, well, sometimes one seems something that one was not intended to see.
Because, bottom line, like every war the Propaganda War has its own rules of engagements. When Team A makes a big huge debating point, is Team B is allowed to question Team A’s motivations? As in: “Somebody is paying Team A to say these awful things about my team! Everybody knows that Denis Karagodin hates Russia and renounced his own citizenship. Your Honor: We suspect that Denis is just trying to score some cheap political points on behalf of our nation’s geo-political enemies.” And yes, the Judge may well allow that argument to be made to the jury. But, bottom line, Team B is still required to address the actual facts that are put out there, and not just the motivations for making those claims.
Bob the Fox declares to the police: “Bill the Crow is a thief. He stole a piece of cheese from me.” Bill retorts: “Bob is only bringing this issue up now, because he knows I am sleeping with his wife.” But, bottom line, Bill still has to address the issue of the cheese and either admit that he stole it, or prove that Bob is lying. He can’t just turn to the Judge with outstretched claws and declare: “Me steal cheese?? That is the most ludicrous thing I ever heard of!”
I think you know where I am going with that fable about Bill and Bob. Similarly in the propaganda war: Russian liberals always giggle when people mention such NKVD allegations as “spied for the Japanese”. The notion is as silly to them as the idea that a dingo could run off with an infant in its jaws. Anti-Communists believe that if they just chuckle sardonically then it shows how outlandish such accusations were. On the same level as “spied for the Martians”. Because, see, all the “repressed” were innocent, and all of the charges against them were just made-up nonsense, woven out of whole cloth.
And yet, with the ashes of Stepan Karagodin put out there for public view in the marketplace, certain facts inevitably came to light which make the “Japanese agent” conviction not quite so ludicrous after all. And we will discuss the Japanese angle and much more, in tomorrow’s installment of this story.
[to be continued]