Happy MLK Day or Mind Wars

I wrote the following article on MLK day four years ago. It is now relevant to the situation in the US. Reposting with sadness — and hope.

“Yesterday I decided I will not go to the street protest against Putin and his policy, and here is why. As I am writing this, a few brave people in Moscow, those with free will and immune to brainwashing, are arrested or bullied by the criminals that usurped power in 1998.

66% of the population support the slogan “Russia for Russians.” [Equivalent in the US: MAGA — 2019.]

Putin’s rating as of March 2014 was 80%.

My friends saw a woman praying, on her knees, with a photograph of Putin, bare-chested, icon-like, in her hands during the last visit to St.Petersburg.

The anti-American sentiment is universal. All major cataclysms, from oil prices and the Russian economy crash to Charlie’s assassination in Paris are (very convincingly and passionately) blamed on the United States.

1. “Don’t see and don’t hear” poster. 2. “Shut your trap, chicken. We are against the US politics.” 3. “Banana-Obama. (Banana “Ukraine”). Don’t choke.”

“You can’t shoot everyone” claims a famous Russian slogan. True—but you can gradually brainwash most of them.

Putin and his KGB colleagues invented and utilized the new machine of mass control. It is a hybrid of classical historical models. Genghis Khan’s supposed descent from the god of the sky as the justification for invading neighboring countries and massacres. The Inquisition and Ivan the Terrible’s religious zeal, public trials a la auto-da-fé and promise of salvation and a better life. Hitler’s and Stalin’s nationalistic and xenophobic propaganda and brain-washing conveyor-lines. Tsarist imperial arrogance and oppression on demand. The KGB’s very own atmosphere of terror and paranoia. Modern Western sales and marketing techniques, with their appeal to all senses, neuro-linguistically engineered calls for actions, and psychological manipulation on a subconscious level.

What is a successful strategy for fighting a mind war?

Can one win by being out in the street, building barricades 60s style or marching peacefully like Dr. Martin Luther King or Gandhi? Both approaches bring the satisfaction of action and being involved, with occasional masochistic pleasures of assuming a martyr role and the joy of being involved with those like-minded. The self-indulgence of revolutionaries is nothing new in this world. It is, indeed, heroic and laudable to fall on the bloodied cobblestones with a banner in one’s hand or being thrown into jail for your convictions. My heart aches for those imprisoned for their beliefs, in Russia and around the world. The moral value is clear. The emotional drive is palpable. The compassion is visceral.

In a mind war, the dead, wounded or imprisoned do not change the course of events. They are just photo-shopped off the record, if they are lucky, or proclaimed to be traitors, murderers and child rapists over all channels of national TV-and that would be the only TV existing in the psycho-totalitarian state.

I do have a background in mind wars. During my studies at St. Petersburg State University as an English major, I had to attend the obligatory military course, “special propaganda.” I despised the forced and tedious course but I had to write propaganda materials in order to graduate.

In the age of psychological and information wars, the mind is the only weapon and the only defense.

Coming to the street with a loudspeaker and shouting is as efficient as shooting feathered arrows and throwing darts into the heart of a nuclear mushroom.

It might feel good but if we care about the fate of the world, we need to turn to books, documentaries, cartoons, films, high art. To education. To thinking passionately. [At this point, there is much more we need to do to counter the information warfare. There are various strategies. — 2019.]

We need to resist slowly and diligently, with poise and determination, keeping our feelings restrained, keeping our vocabulary precise and acute, using our minds and hearts, not fists, shooting words like bullets—to strip the Mind Monster of its imaginary power and open up the zombie-box that closed over Russia. [and the US — 2019.]

Zarina Zabrisky is the author of IRON and CUTE TOMBSTONE, EXPLOSION, a poetry book GREEN LIONS, and a novel WE, MONSTERS. More at www.zarinazabrisky.com.

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