Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Odd reactions around Putin and Russia / Problems with cancellations, freedom of speech, etc.

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That Putin tries to silence dissent within Russia is not unexpected, but what goes on in the West is not much better. Unfortunately, it is not very unexpected either, in light of the many demonstrations of anti-intellectualism, intolerance, pathological virtue signalling, and whatnot that I have seen in the last ten years or so—especially, during the COVID-propaganda storm and the success of far-Left hate groups during the last few years.

Today, I am met with the claim that Tchaikovsky is due a good canceling over being Russian. Let us see: He died in 1893, lived in Tsarist Russia, and never spoke in favor of Putin or his invasion. How could he? Putin was not even born when Tchaikovsky died. Indeed, no-one now living had been born by then. Considering both the replacement of the Tsar with a (nominally) democratic government and the intervening Soviet era, it can be disputed whether he even was a citizen of the same country as the current Russians. To boot, his music was sometimes criticized for being too European and not Russian enough. (Indeed, while classical music often show strong traces of its origins, it is inherently something internationally enjoyable and transcending national borders. I, e.g., greatly enjoy his music, despite being Swedish and despite Russia and/or the Soviet Union being our Great Military Threat since the days of Charles XII and Peter the Great, some three hundred years ago.)

Why then? Ethnic reasons? Pathological hatred of everything Russian? A need to stomp out everything even remotely Putin-related, in the style of “Nineteen Eighty-Four”? A sick and twisted virtue signalling to prove that “I am even more anti-Putin than you!”?

Other events include currently living Russians (or even White Russians) being fired or prevented from participating at sports events* merely for being of the “wrong” nationality. In some cases, a firing has followed because someone has not denounced Putin and/or Russia sufficiently sharply, which is highly troublesome. The step from here to someone like yours truly being banned/canceled/fired/whatnot for not condemning Sweden’s approach to COVID is not that large.**

*Not to be confused with the already existing complications around doping and mass bans of athletes who have not tested positive but happen to be Russian.

**I note that I, on the contrary, support Sweden’s take—but not because I am a Swede. Instead, I actually care about science, freedom of speech, the rights of the individual, etc., which cannot be said for a great many others, including Merkel, Biden, Trudeau, and Fauci, who deserve their own condemnation.

Companies like Netflix have canceled (or are in the processes of canceling) services in Russia. I can see the point behind various sanctions (or a “get out while we can” attitude) in some fields, but with e.g. Netflix those being hurt are the regular Russian civilians—many of whom oppose the invasion. Putin? Not so much. True, maybe such measures can increase internal dissent and make things harder for Putin domestically; however, they might equally antagonize the civilians against the West and increase Putin’s support. If in doubt, attacking civilians, even through cutting off entertainment, is highly ethically dubious, and shows an attitude that differs in quantity, not quality, from that of a WWII bomber of civilians. Then there are questions like potential breaches of contracts.

Or consider the current Chelsea debacle: In an act of cutting of their own nose to spite the enemy’s face, the Brits are punishing the club because it has a Russian oligarch as owner. Indeed, it appears that oligarchs are currently treated as outright criminals, with no court judgment or, even, a formal legal charge. Maybe, they all are close friends of Putin, standing by to pour Western money into the Russian war chest. Then, maybe they are not. What happened to due process? Take note: the U.K. is not at war with Russia. (Barring some last minute development, which would have taken place after these measures were installed.) Even if they were, would it actually be a crime? Where will the border be for other transgressions, like contradicting the government or donating to Canadian protesters?

At least Germany, maybe the EU as a whole, is trying to block Russian news, including RT, with motivations in the “prevent Putin from spreading his lies” family. But how is that better than what Putin might do with Western news sources in Russia? How would any lies by Putin be worse than the many lies told by Western media, e.g. around COVID or to spread Leftist hate and reality distortion? How can we regular persons make up our mind on what is or is not truth, when we are only allowed to hear one side of the story? Most importantly, with what bloody right do these twerps presume to dictate what news sources I visit or do not visit?!?!

To this, I note (a) that I have pushed the need to look at different takes of various issues, hear both sides of the story, etc., for more than ten years, (b) that I have to date never had any contact with RT, but am now very curious,* (c) have seen enough from other sources to know that there are two sides to this story, (d) journalistic ethics (nowadays near absent) would dictate a sufficiently balanced telling that we can make up our own minds. (The result might very well be the conclusion that “Putin is evil”. The point is not the conclusion but the opportunity to make up one’s own mind, instead of having to uncritically accept, even a correct, opinion that someone else shoves down our throats.)

*Note issues like the “Streisand effect”—chances are that such bans backfire.

All in all, recent events have told me more about Western politicians and whatnot than about Putin. Well, except that I already had a pretty fair idea after the last few years.


Written by michaeleriksson

March 10, 2022 at 9:21 pm

One Response

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  1. […] my recent text on Odd reactions around Putin and Russia / Problems with cancellations, freedom of speech, etc. ([1]), it seems that I run into examples of issues with freedom of speech everywhere, especially of […]

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