Two very contradictory articles appeared in The Guardian 10/9/10 concerning Russia and its future prospects. The first was a Guardian Editorial 10/9/10 outlining both the grim economic prospects of post-Soviet Russia and also the autocratic nature of its power structures. On the economic front the editorial reads;

 

‘Russia itself is languishing. Its economy contracted by nearly 8% last year, its worst annual economic performance since 1994, and – despite being so dependent on the  stuff – it is producing less oil now than the Soviet Union did in the 1970’s. Russia’s economy has shrunk twice in the last decade, and deindustrialisation is making itself felt in Russia’s mono-cities – those reliant on a single industry.’

That’s funny. Weren’t the Western economists and their supporters in the media forever telling the world that the Soviet system was economically inefficient and that capitalism would be the answer to all their problems.  Ah, the ironies of history! No mention of that little detail in the editorial. No mention either that the US economy is also delivering its worst performance since the Great Depression of the 1930’s with ten million out of work, millions more forced into low paid, part time work and fore- closers on indebted home buyers at a record level. The least said about the US mono-cities like Detroit the better.

 

As for the autocratic nature of today’s Russia, well the US knows a thing or two in that department. The US media, like the British media, is run by a handful of all powerful media barons who know nothing of democracy and everything about how to manipulate it. They’re currently doing an excellent job in coordinating the right wing counter attack against the centre-left Obama administration.  The daily vitriol spewing out of Fox News is a joy to behold for those who dream of a speedy return to the neo-liberal, free-marketeering, war mongering days of the Bush era.

 

Meanwhile, in the sports pages of the same edition, a far more upbeat article appears outlining Russia’s optimism in winning the bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.  In the article, Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s minister of sport, outlines the national significance of Russia’s bid. Painting the historical implications of the Russian bid, Mutko explains,

 

“England had everything. You ruled the world. You invented football. You have the richest league. You are solid and strong as a cultural entity. For us the entire 20th century was an immense sacrifice. We are now building a new nation. For FIFA to give it to Russia would be a bold political gesture.”

 

Believing the World Cup would help overcome the negative image of Russia, Mutko adds,

 

“We would be perceived the way we merit to be perceived. It would eliminate this prejudice against us.”

 

The article, by Luke Harding, then goes on to outline the huge infrastructure projects that would help unite and transform the new Russia. It seems that FIFA are to once again be in the business of nation building as per South Africa. A heart-warming story, but what is left out of the narrative is far more revealing. No mention that, not once, but three times the Western capitalists sought to destroy the progressive ambitions of the Soviet Union during its short 70 year life; firstly by taking the reactionary side in a devastatingly bloody civil war; secondly, by failing to build a 1930’s anti-fascist alliance against Hitler despite repeated requests by Stalin; and thirdly, by entrapping the victorious Soviet Union in a Cold War that eventually proved decisive to the Western capitalists. No recognition of this ‘immense sacrifice’ in Luke Harding’s journalism.   

 

Whether a successful Russian bid would be a healthy step towards European and international integration or rather a reward for a bunch of oligarchs and their autocratic political partners is a mute point. Either way, don’t expect a whole lot of rigorous journalism from either side.

 

End JPK 10/9/10 Copyright

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