Because the culture of fear for some in the Soviet Union has shifted over to America, Tim Kirby writes.
As the dear regular readers of the Strategic Culture Foundation know the organization’s U.S.-based contributors have been threatened with substantial fines for creating material for it. Thankfully, I have not been “U.S.-based” for over a decade, so at least as of today I am excluded from this list. But, I think it is very important to explain why someone from the West, including some fairly prominent people with significant backgrounds, would regularly contribute to Russian media of any sort. Or to put the question bluntly in terms most journalists with their factory-made bachelor’s degrees can actually understand “Why would Americans work for the Russians?”
As in many cases the key factor is perception. To start with, when it comes to journalists, analysts and intellectuals no one who contributes to the SCF actually works “for the Russians”. Very often, you will see that people with a more “simplistic” worldview are convinced that those on the other side of the ideological line are all part of some grand conspiracy. They are certain that no one could actually honestly believe in and work to promote Communism, Fascism, Evangelical Christianity, Radical Feminism or any other belief system that you’ve ever heard of. When one is fanatical, and dimwitted, the enemy side can only be lying or being paid off as the truth is “obvious” to anyone.
The intellectual materials posted to the Strategic Culture Foundation are provided because we contributors like the freedom we have to present our works to a broad audience with zero censorship. We cannot forget that the 45th President of the United States was deplatformed from most Social Media. And if the POTUS can be silenced you’d better believe that people much further down the totem pole are feeling the censorship crunch in the Wild Woke West. This is especially true of people with big ideas who have political influence. There is an ever growing number of “canceled” people in the West like Alex Jones, Stefan Molyneux (I have a video interview with him here, which hasn’t been taken down yet which you may enjoy) and even harmless and chaotic Milo Yiannopoulos. But on Russian Social Media they haven’t been banned, so guess where all the downtrodden Western intellectuals are heading? The choice is obvious: Twitter says no, Telegram says yes.
The Overton window of acceptable ideas in America is shrinking. Trust me, I would have loved to have stayed in America, avoided all that immigration bureaucracy and foreign language learning, gotten a cushy job at Harvard writing white papers about various aspects of ideology and geopolitics for a few hundred thousand dollars a year. That sounds amazing, and surely only some kind of traitor would “go work for the Russians”. But the reality is that I know people who work in the Ivy league who are too terrified to publicly declare that they vote Republican. They used to use fake accounts on Social Media but have deleted even those just in case. They go to work, smile, tow the party line and go home to speak their actual minds over the dinner table just like during the darkest days of the USSR. You could imagine they are being paranoid but when the President gets canceled anyone is next. Ironically the culture of fear for some in the Soviet Union has shifted over to America. So, even as a teenager I could see that I was a square peg in a round hole and that if I wanted to have any kind of future, and become influential in the area of ideology (my dream as a young man) it was going to have to happen elsewhere. “Wokeness” hit the ghetto in Cleveland before it became cool some 20 years later. In shortб I can write for Strategic, they asked me to contribute and so I do. Stanford, Yale, and Brown have yet to call but I doubt I could meet their sensitivity standards regardless.
One other issue that needs to be addressed is that the contributors to the Strategic Culture Foundation write what they want. There are thousands of marketing agencies across the globe that are happy to promote one idea/product one day and then the opposite idea/product the next day or even promote both of these diametrically opposed positions at the same time if the money is right. The true whores’ den of ideas is the world of marketing. There is no one telling anyone what to write or think at the SCF and that is exactly the reason why people want to produce material for it. Journalists, analysts and intellectuals do not write material based on direct orders from the KGB, CIA or MI6 agents. This is paranoid simplistic fantasy reasoning. People who write, gravitate towards organizations that they more or less agree with. Radical Feminists write for Jezebel.com, Mainstream Republicans appear on Prager U, not because of some conspiracy, but because they more or less agree with the editorial line and these organizations are happy to have them onboard.
The idea that the Strategic Culture Foundation is some sort of evil Russian psy-op to attack America is mental. If America still offered the intellectual freedom that it used to then the SCF would have never gotten off the ground. No one from the SCF is telling us what to write, what to work on or what angles to push, and that is exactly the reason why so many people, now under potential threat, want to produce material for this organization. If this is a psy-op or propaganda weapon then it is a very highly disorganized one that often produces contradictory views on particular subjects. That is bad agenda pushing, my friends. Although we are all happy with getting tens of thousands of views of our work, let’s be honest, is any particular site that mostly writes about current events, aimed at a High IQ + Graduate Degree demographic going to be anywhere near as influential as the Hollywood machine or a popular video game? Even if the SCF were a psy-op, would it even be able to dent America’s armor? My guess would be no. But scapegoating Russia is the hip new cool trend in Washington that explains all failings of the Democrats, so why not pretend like the SCF is the God Hand of current events and geopolitics waiting to crush poor coal miner families in West Virginia.
The thing is that the West had the intellectual football after winning the Cold War, yet somehow managed to run back backwards, trip over a divot in the grass and fumble it into their own endzone. So you can’t blame the Russians for just falling on the ball. If all Conservative, Libertarian and overall Right-Wing views are going to be canceled, shadow banned or outright deplatformed, then they are going to go somewhere else. Ideas don’t die, they change ZIP codes. And if “the Russians” ever wake up to the fact that they need their own network of Ivy League universities with six-figure salaries to prop up their imported intellectuals then things will get even “worse” from a Beltway perspective.
In short, the answer to why Americans would contribute to the SCF is as follows…
- They can get their work published without being told (at all) what to write.
- Acceptable political beliefs in Russia (its Overton Window) have become vastly broader than in the modern West.
- People go where they are wanted and appreciated. They also gravitate to platforms they more or less agree with.
- The SCF is not a PR factory or marketing department where peons write what their masters tell them to. That is not how journalism and analysis work. It is an environment where intellectuals want to contribute, it is the exact opposite of copywriting for some master and this makes it very attractive.
There is no evil conspiracy, there is no psy-op, there are no orders from the KGB, and the fact that at least the U.S. government sees brainy articles as some sort of threat to American stability shows that its foundation may have a lot more deep cracks then we are aware of.
I have never produced anything (not just for the SCF) that I believe to be Anti-American. And to be absolutely clear the definition of treason for Americans is to either take up arms against the USA in war or work to deny Americans their constitutional rights. Both of these I have never done, and the latter is impossible as I, like 99% of the individuals out there, have no means of taking away the rights of Americans. That privilege is reserved to “the clowns in Washington”. In fact, I have written in Russian and English time and time again that one of the greatest strengths of America is having a Constitution that is sacred, that the population believes in and at least used to understand (unlike Russia).
Releasing state secrets is also a form of treason from an American perspective but unlike Snowden I have never had access to them and certainly never will. As a staunch advocate of a Multipolar world I should take this moment to remind you that a nuclear armed, economically powerful America is going to be one of those poles – meaning the United States had, has and will have the right to pursue a beneficial foreign policy. All I want out of Washington is for them to acknowledge that there are few other players who also have that same right.
I have never and will never argue for some form of breakup of the United States or for the disarmament of the American Armed Forces. I have never advocated against the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution.
The attacks on the SCF are based on a primitive tribalistic imagining of what “the enemy” is doing in conjunction with the overall decline of the West needing a juicy scapegoat. Interesting and diverse articles on a website with zero calls to violence cannot be considered a threat to U.S. national security on any level.