The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Friday, September 9, 2022

A Quick Note About Ukraine: when propaganda rhymes with itself


The above is from a previous post of mine, where I laid down some rules to evaluate the wartime propaganda of the media. If you have been following the situation in Ukraine, you noted how for a week, the Russian news had been reporting how the enemy attacks had been repulsed with heavy losses. Then, today, it seems that the Ukrainian army broke through the Russian lines: a perfect confirmation of rule #2, 

Nothing is definitive, of course, and the war is still ongoing. And that doesn't mean taking sides: it is just to note that propaganda is like history, it rhymes with itself (on all sides). It also shows how unreliable and silly are the military pundits who comment on the situation. Take a tour of them on the Web, and you'll see that rule #7 is valid, too. See more on "Moon of Alabama."


  1. Hello Ugo. "Truth is the first casualty of war" as you say.
    I will attempt to link to a Bloomsburg article about the effect of SMO on natural gas price rise. May be paywalled but it's pretty downbeat anyway.

  2. Yes the "war" or special operation is still ongoing. LOL.

  3. Here in NZ there are blogs where comments are divided into two hostile camps, name calling and insults abound. Neither side appears capable of discerning facts, both project outcomes they wish for. It is a sad commentary upon our inability to stand back, wait, and view rationally. The inheritors of Bernays and Geobbels are having a field day.

  4. Hugo stay in your lane. Military strategy, tactics, and especially how Russia does war is not your area of expertise. After 6 months of Russia running circles around the Hohol's and their western advisors, this little "action" is next to useless.

    1. You forgot the part that says, "and trust the authorities, they know better than you"

  5. If you genuinely want to figure out what is happening then the most important thing is to not get emotionally invested in one of the sides of the conflict. And the best way to avoid this is to follow sources on both sides. You might be temped to look for one impartial source, but those are about as abundant as unicorns and how would you even know if you've found one.

    Once you have two opposing source you can also compare them for reliability (against verifiable outcomes) and swap one of them out with another if necessary.

    As for mass media, they are so partial that they're really only good for a laugh.

  6. A timely comment in an address to the Trondheim World Festival, Norway by the journalist John Pilger, who has never once trusted nor accepted what the authorities told him.


    In the 1970s, I met one of Hitler’s leading propagandists, Leni Riefenstahl, whose epic films glorified the Nazis. We happened to be staying at the same lodge in Kenya, where she was on a photography assignment, having escaped the fate of other friends of the Fuhrer.

    She told me that the ‘patriotic messages’ of her films were dependent not on ‘orders from above’ but on what she called the ‘submissive void’ of the German public.

    Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? I asked. ‘Yes, especially them,’ she said.

    I think of this as I look around at the propaganda now consuming Western societies.

    Of course, we are very different from Germany in the 1930s. We live in information societies. We are globalists. We have never been more aware, more in touch, better connected.

    Are we? Or do we live in a Media Society where brainwashing is insidious and relentless, and perception is filtered according to the needs and lies of state and corporate power?

    The United States dominates the Western world’s media. All but one of the top ten media companies are based in North America. The internet and social media – Google, Twitter, Facebook – are mostly American owned and controlled.

    In my lifetime, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, mostly democracies. It has interfered in democratic elections in 30 countries. It has dropped bombs on the people of 30 countries, most of them poor and defenceless. It has attempted to murder the leaders of 50 countries. It has fought to suppress liberation movements in 20 countries.

    The extent and scale of this carnage is largely unreported, unrecognised; and those responsible continue to dominate Anglo-American political life.

    In the years before he died in 2008, the playwright Harold Pinter made two extraordinary speeches, which broke a silence.

    ‘US foreign policy,’ he said, is ‘best defined as follows: kiss my arse or I’ll kick your head in. It is as simple and as crude as that. What is interesting about it is that it’s so incredibly successful. It possesses the structures of disinformation, use of rhetoric, distortion of language, which are very persuasive, but are actually a pack of lies. It is very successful propaganda. They have the money, they have the technology, they have all the means to get away with it, and they do.’

    In accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature, Pinter said this: ‘The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.’

    Pinter was a friend of mine and possibly the last great political sage – that is, before dissenting politics were gentrified. I asked him if the ‘hypnosis’ he referred to was the ‘submissive void’ described by Leni Riefenstahl.

    ‘It’s the same,’ he replied. ‘It means the brainwashing is so thorough we are programmed to swallow a pack of lies. If we don’t recognise propaganda, we may accept it as normal and believe it. That’s the submissive void.’

  7. too much of this war continues to smell like it's 'made for TV', an enormous charade being played out more or less in cooperation by both 'sides'. yes the little people are as usual mere cannon fodder, but the whole thing continues to smell of something artificial, something contrived.