Rudy Giuliani Welcomes You To Eastern Europe

So much about the Trump administration seems pulled from the playbook of a post-Soviet kleptocracy.

Comments: 218

  1. There is hope though. That we can comprehend and discuss these issues means we can fix them. Trump serves to remind people what kind of world we want to live in. He reminds us what we want in our leaders. I’m hopeful that we will end up with a better world because DJT was President.

  2. Trump is showing what a clean sweep by Republicans can do. It’s encouraging that once Americans saw that in 2018, they voted for Democrats in droves.

  3. @Judith Evers Well, no, he's showing us what can be done holding just enough cards. He's showing up the presidency is tailor-made to harbor the worst criminals.

  4. @Billbo Keep hoping!! I will too.

  5. Much of western philosophy has been engaged in what Santayana called "the malicious theory of knowledge." In it's latest manifestations, what is commonly called knowledge is not knowledge at all, but "socially constructed" ideology designed to serve the interests of the powerful. Thus we see the retreat from an ideal of free speech on college campuses, to an ideal of all out battle for power. As described in this excellent piece, Putin, Trump, and others have shown us where we are headed if we cannot recover a spiritual allegiance to the truth, which is the only solid foundation for a decent society.

  6. @LewisPG That's a fairly cynical view of higher education -- I think the so-called retreat from free speech on campuses is vastly over-stated. It has been the purveyors of hate speech that have been the subject of campus protests, but otherwise college students seem more open to diverse experiences than in the past; interest in foreign languages for example is at an all-time high. And this is now one of the best-educated generations we've had in America.

  7. I believe the only solid foundation for a decent society is an interminable effort to attain and maintain sufficient resources and their broad allocation. That would be the "operating system" onto which apps can be attached and run such as rule of law, ethics, morality, etiquette and so forth.

  8. @LewisPG True, but you mentioned just Putin and Trump. The BLM/MeToo/Cancel/PC culture has far more to do with free speech suppression in the public arena.

  9. Now a near majority of Americans will believe almost anything. Trump is just the beginning. when there is no fixed truth anything can happen, and it will not be pretty.

  10. @Bill Metcalf Many can play at this game. Ultimately it gets leveled out. It's only dangerous when one side gets permanent power.

  11. @Bill Metcalf There are even millions of credulous people who think taking a salary of 50,000 USD per month, for years, at a foreign gas company in which you have no expertise only because the VP is your father, is ethical - and it's also ethical when that VP daddy uses foreign aid blackmail to halt an investigation into it.

  12. @Observer Of course the investigation story is untrue. I won't try to convince anyone because there is no point. It will be believed regardless of facts.

  13. We've ceased to value education. We don't ask our kids to question or think, nor do we expect our teachers to be able to do the same. We hire from the bottom third of the class. We get what we paid for.

  14. @otto Let's not use "we" too freely here. Most Americans value education and the folks hired from the bottom third of the class tend to get the lowest-paying jobs. People with high-tech skills get paid very well, and this will continue to be the case well into the future as we become more and more an information and technology-based economy. The folks who think higher education is simply a breeding ground for liberals will increasingly fall behind in the modern economy (and unfortunately will therefore be more motivated to vote for the Trumps of the future).

  15. @otto I certainly do ask my students to question and to think. EVERYDAY. And I didn't graduate from the bottom of my class, Otto. Furthermore, I discourage (and even penalize) students for making blanket generalizations like you have done.

  16. @otto And the few that do questions are led by the madness of conspiracy theory.

  17. It´s clear our political, cultural, moral, and government institutions- including how we determine political voting districts, the role of ¨dark money and corporations¨ in our elections, voting rights and enfranchisement, immigration, and appointments of judges to federal courts are in need of reform. In my, and other peoples opinion, the Trump administration has been elected by a minority of americans to support a plutocracy of a select few-namely the top 1% of the richest citizens of the USA(see recent tax cuts and changes to the federal tax code). In addition, the environmental and land use regulations and laws have been twisted and changed to benefit oil, coal and fossil fuel supporters of this president and his cronies. These changes go against the clean air act and also federal land conservation policies of past administrations-both republican and democrat. We must reform our insitutions so that they reflect the values of the majority of people in our country, not a select corrupt few.

  18. Mr. Pomerantsev speaks from experience--he grew up in a country where the leadership's lies were transparent, yet nonetheless effective in changing the beliefs of a significant portion of the citizenry. We are new at this game. It is still disorienting, which is part of its effectiveness. It works just as well here as it does in Russia. Perhaps better, due to America's lack of experience with the phenomenon. Ever read George Orwell's "1984"? An American reading that book before 2015 felt that it described somewhere else; a Russian felt that it described his own country. If you read it before 2015, read it again. It still describes Russia, and now it describes America, too.

  19. This article provides all the reasons to vote out Trump, Republicans, and BlueDog/Third way Democrats. It’s time to get our national affairs in order and legislate for the masses instead of the wealthy few.

  20. @Donna M Nieckula The article doesn't provide reasons to vote out any particular group. Which group(s) you think should be voted out depends on your own version of reality.

  21. @Donna M Nieckula If you think any political party is honest, you missed the point.

  22. @Observer Actually, it's you that has missed the point. There is truth but for those who are not served by it the hope is to create a society of people who believe like yourself, thus making everyone untrustworthy. And any lie plausible.

  23. Thank you for this essay. We need this perspective. We used to be different from Russia in many ways but now the Trump gang has used Russia as a model, a bad role model, to emulate. I just saw the documentary Meeting Gorbachev. It was worth seeing for more perspective on the Soviet system and how it collapsed but was resurrected in its new incarnation by Putin.

  24. I came here to comment that I find this essay to be one of the most illuminating explanations of our present political malaise that I have read. Upon reading the other comments, I find that most seem to agree with me. Thank you, Mr. Pomerantsev for your deep insight. I'd like to think that the way forward for our civilization should be to find a way to preserve the great strength of a free market system which is encouragement and support of innovation; while also finding a way to regulate it - curb it - so that it does not create such economic inequality that it destroys itself. The confusion sown by cynical disinformation frustrates that goal completely. Perhaps it is no accident that another silent but pervasive counter-movement has gained such popularity over the past decade: mindfulness - the Buddhist practice of calming the mind in order to remain in touch with the "direct experience" of our senses. So many are yearning to find a way of grounding themselves to get past the public confusion. So far this movement has been mostly local and private. It is hard to know whether it will ever be able to help recreate a positive political ideology.

  25. @mbkennedy: The problem will be the temptation for meditative practices to be a form of escapism, where we are told that all we can change is our own attitudes towards the world, not the world itself, where the privileged tell themselves that it is all a dream, and enjoy the serenity of their expensive austerity, and the unprivileged are told to let go of their resentment. Presumably it doesn't have to be like that.

  26. @John Bergstrom That has not been my experience. In the sojourns that I have taken to Buddhist monasteries, doing Sesshins and spending extended time, I have found that the objective has always been clarity. Not escape. With clarity can come more directed action, more focused and with more energy, since our minds are less cluttered, fearful and angry. I believe that the view of those that do not practice mindfulness on a daily basis - that it is some kind of upper-crust, shallow dalliance, is inaccurate. In fact it's very, very difficult work to quiet the mind. Maybe the most difficult. It is also far from dreaming. It is the opposite of dreaming. Those who have spent a lot of time sitting understand that those that spend zero time in that state are, in fact, living in a confused dream most of their waking moments. Practicing mindfulness will make you a better activist, a better organizer, and a more effective foil to the regressive forces that surround us at every turn.

  27. @O I agree with you, too! In fact, what you say has been closer to my experience with mindfulness.

  28. I've not yet read "This is Not Propaganda." But I did read "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible," which was superb. Whatever the new book contains, the last one is as apposite as the day it was published. As for equating corruption in the West with Russian corruption, it would help if academics didn't assist Mr. Putin in his legerdemain. Sadly, that's all we hear from the likes of Stephen F. Cohen. And it is regrettable when an Anne Applebaum, a fine historian and an ally in this fight, goes on an impulsive Twitter rant about how she's tired of hearing that Ukraine is corrupt and that we should look in the mirror. In truth, the two corruptions are very different beasts -- as she knows. One of the things that's producing cynicism about truth is the sheer volume of information, regardless of willful deception; though of course we must be more aware of the latter. I don't think the West has to tell everyone a story about how we're heading for a Great Future. In free societies, the future should usually evolve spontaneously, not be shaped by commissars and bureaucrats. It's a bit ironic that progressives grouse about state capture while calling for a far larger state, which is what has enabled so much of said state capture. Small states can be corrupt and large ones clean, but, generally, in a system like ours, the more opportunities for corruption, the more of it we will see. The dismissal of all concerns about the size of government as "reactionary" is imprudent.

  29. @David L, Jr.: For those, like me, who haven't heard the term, apparently "state capture" refers to how a corrupt small group of oligarchs can take control of agencies of a state, to direct decisions in their favor. Contrary to David L's view, "state capture" is not facilitated by a large state, but by a chaotic state with poorly functioning lines of democratic communication and control. It was seriously characteristic of the newly formed states formed in the break-up of the Soviet Union, leading to the corrupt oligarchies of today, and is found in many other areas of the owrld. I suspect you could make a case that it was characteristic of this country in the "Gilded Age", when corrupt public officials were pretty openly for sale, and vast fortunes came into being with the rise of the modern corporation. I wouldn't want to say we have gotten over it.

  30. Unless the Democrats can get an super-majority in both the House and the Senate in 2020, we are in for (more) serious trouble. The Republicans are busy disenfranchising potential Democratic voters and gerrymandering as if their lives depended upon it (which they do). The Republican bought and paid for SCOTUS has ruled that partisan gerrymandering as acceptable. None of this bodes well for our country. But we can still hope. (and Vote!)

  31. @Democracy / Plutocracy Yes! And support what Stacey Abrams is doing to help make the 2020 election resemble a normal democracy. Unlike so many of her political contemporaries, she is not running for either the Senate or the Presidency, instead choosing to devote herself to mitigating some of the most egregious voter suppression activity we have seen in decades. Helping her is maybe the one thing we can do that can actually make a difference, since she is focusing on the 20 states that need it the most. And in this electoral college nightmare era, it's all about the states.

  32. @Democracy / Plutocracy Is it intentional that obsequious terms "POTUS" and "SCOTUS" sound like some type of dematological condition?

  33. May be this is also disinformation, but would like to present a different version of Putin. Didn't President Bush look in his eyes and found him trustworthy? The only fair yardstick is what he did for Russia. He inherited a nation with inflation that drew parallels to Germany in 1929. There was anarchy on streets, CIS states were formed, China then allied to US against Soviet Union, claimed huge tracts of Siberia. Their only reliable friend was India. He brought order to streets, crushed terrorism in the oil fields regions with strong arm tactics. It was a matter of economic survival for them. Integrated economy with Europe, conjured an Asiatic vision. Strengthened relations with India, joined Shanghai Conference. Maintained semblance of democracy however imperfect, for rule of law within democratic norms to prevail. Crimea was transferred to Ukraine by Nikita Khruschev, who was from Ukraine, probably some internal political operation to maintain his grip. Crimea is the only all weather access for Russia. Without Crimea Russian Navy will have to hibernate in winter. Kissinger, the real-politic practitioner, and a former US Admiral have underscored legitimacy of Russian need. The neo-cons, once mainstream in pre-Trump Republican Party, have undermined free world security architecture by continuing with their cold war mentality. A policy of engaging Russia and weaning it away from "no-option inclination" towards China, termed "Reset" by President Obama is required.

  34. @second Derivative: I would hope for constructive engagement, but as long as Russia practices its current bullying colonialism toward former vassal states, this will remain difficult.

  35. @landraic Yes there are 'frozen conflicts' with several nations those which were in erstwhile Soviet Union. Russia has been using nibbling tactics to make illegal territorial gains, particularly in areas where ethnic Russians are present. According legitimacy on Crimea, given the military imbalance is fraught with grave risk to these much smaller nations. Fallouts of the dissolutions of Soviet Empire have had several consequences, and these have not worked out yet. It is necessary for US to be tough on Russia, but with stance of, as you put it, 'constructive engagement'.

  36. As someone who studies authoritarian regimes, I read this article with great interest. The author offers a penetrating analysis Putin's Russia and compares it with Trump. How conspiracy theories found their home in post-Communist Russia is really a lesson for all societies, particularly for the US. I applaud the author for giving us a very informative and convincing analysis of the history and links between Putin's Russia and Trump.

  37. I highly recommend Mr. Pomerantsev's book "Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible" for a ground-up view of how propaganda works in Putin's Russia. For me it was a real eye-opener and showed how public opinion can still be manipulated in a world where people have access to whatever information they want.

  38. If Pompeo was fully embracing these nonsensical conspiracy theories why did he and others try so hard to hide it from the public? Why not openly espouse it upfront and convince the public its appropriate, if this is really going to be our foreign policy?

  39. Has it occurred to anyone that these propagandistic outbursts and perturbations, while muddying the waters for most of us, also provide unique opportunities for hedge fund managers and other risky kinds of financial pursuits that cast bets on and/or profit from up-to-the-minute changes in political life?

  40. Yes, we need a new way forward. Specifically, I think we need a progressive politics that sits less in the head and more in the heart, so it appeals beyond elites to all beings human. In other words, a unifying spiritual revolution that connects us and points the way.

  41. @L.R. I like your perspective, and I happen to agree with it. A Spiritual Revolution is already underway, and has been for quite a few years. Why isn't it more visible? A few reasons. First, by its very nature, it is unlike the John Wayne prototype (hard on the outside, soft on the inside). Instead, it is soft on the outside and resolute within. Second, it speaks to the Spirit, not the Ego. The Ego fears everything. The Spirit fears nothing and no one. And third, it doesn't play in the Media because it doesn't promote the kind of Fear&Loathing that generates headlines and clicks.

  42. For a know-nothing so proud of his ignorance and famous for refusing to learn anything from anyone, Trump has become a surprisingly excellent student of Putinism. Clearly, the raison d’être of Trump’s White House political SWAT team is to insulate the President from the consequences of his actions and attack critics. Why, then, would they ever allow the partial transcript, which so nakedly revealed his shakedown of the Ukrainian leader, to be made public? Equally baffling is their continuing insistence that this document actually exonerates him, the same strategy employed following the release of the similarly incriminating Mueller report. In my view, what this reflects is the regime’s confidence in its ability to rewrite reality, and by extension, its belief in the Republican base’s dependable credulity. Until now, White House confidence in post-truth pixie dust has been justified. Trump supporters have predictably followed the mandate of their leader to mistrust what they see and hear and to use the President’s everchanging and incoherent utterances as their compass through the world. It’s not clear if that will change. Our only hope is that Trump and his enablers have overplayed their hand, at least with those voters who may not yet be members of the reality-based community but who might be, at minimum, reality-curious.

  43. @Stephen Ducat - I really have to wonder if Trump bowed before Putin with "please tell me how you do it, control your country," then received his coaching. This is why he abolished all records of his conversations with Putin. And Putin is more than happy to comply.

  44. @Stephen Ducat "...the regime’s confidence in its ability to rewrite reality" thanks to their cozy relationship with election software and hardware providers, especially in vulnerable districts/states and with the judicial capitulation, the authoritarian party struts like they know the fix is already in.

  45. "Nothing is true; everything is permitted." Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, III:24. Unfortunately, this manner of thinking is no longer limited to the hypothetical realm of the philosophical imagination.

  46. It’s time for decent Republicans to stand up and cut Trump loose. I used to admire how those on both sides of US politics respected the position of President. This seems no longer possible with a grub like a Trump in the seat.

  47. @Michael Where are the so called”decent” republicans? They no longer exist.

  48. @Michael The problem is, it seems there are not enough decent Republicans left (or are they a silent majority?). Too many have swallowed their morals and hitched their wagon to the careening mess that is Trump - they fear that to unhitch themselves would mean a rough tumble over the cliff edge of their political careers, never mind the good of the country. This may be an absurd analogy, but whichever decent Republicans are left should take a leaf out of the playbook of the aliens in the movie ‘Space Jam’. After being bullied, used and abused by their boss, they realized that not only did they outnumber him, they were also bigger and stronger than him. Thus, together, they were able to hand him defeat and liberate themselves.

  49. @Michael. Decent Republicans, at least the decent ones in leadership roles, are for the most part all deceased - dead and buried - turning over in their graves with (regardless of party) the likes of Washington, Madison, Jefferson and Lincoln.

  50. I couldn't agree with this op-ed more, especially the last paragraph. For this I blame the Democrats. This didn't happen over night and has been cultivated over decades in plain sight. By not feeding the electorate a steady diet of comparing and contrasting the two parties, Democrats are providing strength to the false equivalence Republicans like to employ lest say a disparaging word only about their beloved party. Believe it or not many folks think the only thing different about the two parties is that one is for abortion and the other is not. By Democrats not sounding off and educating the lost flock who are hopelessly clinging to Fox News as their personal misinformed political bible, they are every bit as complicit in dooming this country from inaction as the Republicans are from action.

  51. @David I hear you, and yet you blame the party that seems to still cling got human rights and integrity. We've been busy trying to do good while the GOP burned down the house. We were not really motivate to stand on the street corners telling everyone the other team was playing with a different rule book. We knew that, but we've been busy trying to be better people. So, let's not blame the one team that has a bit of dececy left.

  52. @Randy Buist For the sake of the country, Democrats, all Democrats, including and especially the 2020 contingent, need to be vociferous about comparing and contrasting. It seems the other side likes to be the first and last voice in the argument and Democrats concede with silence.

  53. @David I can understand the anger, as I also witnessed the Clinton years, where the shift was rightward in order to win the second term, great people like Robert Reich were encouraged to leave, and policies and trade agreements put in place that ended up gutting vast parts of the middle of the country. And through the Obama years, where the Huff Post had a headline in 2012 "Income Equality Worse Under Obama than George W. Bush." All of this is true, but when you compare those years against the Republican years starting with Reagan, there is no comparison between the parties in terms of raw destruction of the middle class. The apotheosis of this, of course, is the recent, massive tax cut for corporate America and the upper, upper classes. I do believe, though, that the last paragraph is speaking very directly to the Republicans, especially now. I don't think we can accuse the Democrats of complete inaction now, with Elizabeth Warren the front-runner, and Impeachment in full swing. And finally, it's much harder right now to reach the Fox News Lost Flock, who live in a bizarre echo chamber of nonsense, which was originally constructed by Roger Ailes as an alternate reality so that what happened to Nixon would never happen to a Republican president again. We shall soon see, but it may turn out to be a success in that regard.

  54. This article illuminates how the pronounced lack of effective political leadership in the developed world at present imperils liberal democracy and enables figures such as Putin. In the English speaking world, which leader aside from Jacenda Arden inspires confidence? Nope, Trump, Boris Johnson and Trudeau don't measure up well. If peoples of the west suddenly demand better political leadership, it further behooves us to become better informed ourselves. Rather than watch Fox News or CNBC for ideological affirmation, people must scrutinize what they read and hear. Remember, too, that the internet is only a portal for information, not a primary source itself. Until we ascertain this, America will be subject to a president who eschews actual governance while preaching to his congregation. Trump's appeal in this regard isn't grounded in facts, but blind faith and malicious lies.

  55. @Timberwolf999ds You say:"...it further behooves us to become better informed ourselves." But you did the opposite. Lumping Trudeau together with charlatans Trump and Boris shows your the total lack of being better informed. Trudeau was attacked not so much for his controversial but pragmatic political decisons on pipelines, and on legally handling a corruption charge against a major canadian company this is allowed and widely used under the guidelines of the international corruption treaty Canada has signed. Instead the atacks on him seem clearly to sew misinformation and mistrust of Canada governance and democracy altogether, the tactic Pomerantsev describes about by Russia in eastern Europe (and now by Trump in the Ukraine) . Of course Trudeau made some political decisions - pragmatic policy decisions that attracted the ire of politically correct hard-liners and extreme enviromentalists in Canada. But then lumping Trudeau together with Trump, whom Trudeau stood up to in the Trumps NAFTA debacle (Mexico partly caved on this), is ignorant and misinformed. These recent political attacks and false hysteria about Trudeau climate and pipeline actions, sound uncannily like what Pomernantsev describes about Russian media attacks in eastern Europe: repeated misinformation whose purpose is not to unseat Trudeau as much as to sew a perception that another western Democracy (Canada) is corrupt.

  56. This article illuminates how the pronounced lack of effective political leadership in the developed world at present imperils liberal democracy and enables figures such as Putin. In the English speaking world, which leader aside from Jacenda Arden inspires confidence? Nope, Trump, Boris Johnson and Trudeau don't measure up well. If peoples of the west suddenly demand better political leadership, it further behooves us to become better informed ourselves. Rather than watch Fox News or CNBC for ideological affirmation, people must scrutinize what they read and hear. Remember, too, that the internet is only a portal for information, not a primary source itself. Until we ascertain this, America will be subject to a president who eschews actual governance while preaching to his congregation. Trump's appeal in this regard isn't grounded in facts, but blind faith and malicious lies.

  57. Most people’s story arc follows a family pattern. Look closely at Rudy’s Dad’s work, and like Donald’s Dad, like father like sons.

  58. The following paragraph can also be concluded as follows: Seeing all rules and norms as mere facades for a vast conspiracy also legitimizes getting around them to exercise unlimited corruption. The cynicism implicit in conspiratorial thinking frees you up to indulge in anything ... Mr. Trump was, like many American businessmen, attracted to Russia in the 1990s and early 2000s, a time when rules — both logical and financial — were suspended. Throwing off the constraints of factuality goes together with throwing off political and legal norms, which for Mr. Trump means... NOT RELEASING HIS TAX FORMS and never ever acknowledging his drivel is completely false. To do so once would destroy forever the illusion of credibility that only the true believers claim exists... The analogies between the 2 societies apply insofar as it doesn't consider the audiences for whom the tissue of lies is intended. Putin's seizure of power consists of absolute control over almost all forms of public communication. This insures his propaganda unlimited distribution and zero pushback. So, he and his enablers feel free to say whatever with no pause given to how it'll play wherever. But trump can't eliminate an independent press, nor stifle other parts of civic society. He can only try to brand the press as fake hoping that the core swallows it and the press is supine. There are many other voices here. But cynicism can still work if it damps voter turnout. He's hoping for that.

  59. Hope so. But he’s promising civil war.

  60. You are very wrong about Russia. The same cynicism that pervades the official worldview prevents people from taking it seriously. And most young Russians don’t watch Putin’s TV, they get their news from the internet. And that is dominated by oppositional views. We Americans have institutions that may save us but individually we are more gullible. Since we take our views more seriously we are also more scary. Smart Russians laugh at the authorities.

  61. The problem isn’t the absence of an appropriate ideology, it’s idelogy, itself. Instead of seeking to solve problems, we devote our energies to confirming preexisting beliefs. Facts are tweaked to be consistent with our preconceptions, and what doesn’t fit is ignored. That’s true for all isms, period.

  62. @Jay, So ideology is the problem and the solution is pragmatic problem solving? I think that sounds like an ideology.

  63. I hope that we strive together according to our most basic cherished values- like truth, trust, justice, community, the common good. Let us enter the battle of ideas with those weapons and armor. We will have the greatest foundations supporting a struggle for victory. Life without this struggle will not be worth living.

  64. “The Soviet Union undoubtedly lost. But then there appeared a strange Western utopia with no alternative, ruled over by economic technocrats who could do no wrong. Then that collapsed.” It is fine to talk about effective political leadership. but if you accept the premise of the article then the real question is why the western utopia is not working. What is it about the west that has failed? Is it the nature of western capitalism with our "free market" system? Is it rampant individualism? Is it greed? Is it the dumbing down of general education? What people have lost is faith in the future and this has happened at a time when we desperately need to work together to deal with climate change, inequality and AI. Is our economic system going to deal with these without immense suffering and possibly the destruction of our our one and only world?

  65. @Brian There are good questions. We should break them out a little bit. Is it the nature of western capitalism with our "free market" system? I believe that for capitalism to work it must be restrained. It has been proven again and again empirically that markets do not provide the "self-correcting" mechanism that the Chicago School so confidently predicts. Over the past 40 years, administrations on both sides (although much, much more so on the Republican side) have worked steadily and tirelessly to reduce regulation to allow for completely free markets to dominate. That this has led to chaos and deep economic pain doesn't seem to matter to those who are less vulnerable. Is it rampant individualism? In terms of what social media has brought to our discourse and an almost complete breakdown of what trusted information is, with every person with a Twitter account shouting at the top of their lungs, I'd say yes, it has not helped. Is it greed? Most definitely, at every level, but especially at the top, and at the corporate/shareholder levels. Is it the dumbing down of general education? Yes, the path to stupidity and shallowness has been inexorable. I read the letters my parents and others of that generation wrote to each other - the things they discussed and the way they expressed themselves. A generation that read widely and thought deeply. We have .. the Tweet. Perhaps the future of humanity is in tiny stone-age pockets cleverly adapted to a harsh, hot world.

  66. @Brian It is always about the money and the power. Greed, oligarchs and kleptocracy are omnipresent in any society. The provide "leadership" under the guise of religion, or nationalism, or retribution, or many other such "worthy" mantles.

  67. @Brian Perhaps the current state of the world is what motivates Elon Musk to pursue the development of a spaceship to go to Mars.

  68. Needed perspective to our understanding of reality. The question is whether there can be a return to decency, progress, and responsibility. I have to hope that there can be.

  69. an intense read. a postmodern world, with no care for a comprehensive story that validates truth, perhaps has no real place for a democratic republic. if lies are equal to truth, it's just a matter of time before we have an authoritarian leader who will know no bounds. thank you for your honest perspective -- that speaks truth in the midst of a land that wants to hear none.

  70. Randy Buist, Millions of Americans want the truth to win out. Some of those Americans choose a corrupt propaganda medium, Alt-right talk radio, that dresses opinion and innuendo as fact. Limbaughisms, are opinions, innuendo and outright lies spun as facts. The fake news alt-right cynically peddle these alternate facts to a gullible and fearful fan base looking for answers. It beggars belief as to some of the things these people swallow. 9/11 is a good example. Some people believe the tower collapse could not have been accomplished with anything but planted explosives. Well guess what Rubes, I was in Manhattan on 9/11. There was no insider conspiracy, only a cowardly attack on thousands of innocent people by muderous fanatics. Jet fuel is highly explosive and the attack was planned for early in their flights when they would be fully loaded with that highly explosive jet fuel. Osama Bin Laden and his team were laughing at you on that one. Wake up people. You are trusting a cynical medium that is exploiting your fears to make money, not give you the truth.

  71. @Randy Buist "with no care for a comprehensive story that validates truth," You mean... Saddam had weapons of mass destruction!!?

  72. A great analysis followed by a non sequitur that ironically mimics the Russian disinformation technique: the US is not collapsed but working through the Trump stuff. It seems to be working.

  73. @Richard Brummel /True. But with emphasis of "seems".

  74. @Richard Brummel He is quoting a Russian spin doctor, in the line you plucked. There is much to read between the lines in this all too short essay, but some comments are cherry-picking, to what aim? To discredit the whole piece?

  75. I am 83 and spent a lot of years in an academic environment, but I am baffled. All of my advanced education was in studying engineering and physics, but I find myself illiterate in politics. I grew up thinking intelligence and integrity were good things. From this article, as I understand it, the only important thing is propaganda, or being an expert spin master. Are we heading towards a new chapter of the Dark Ages? HELP!

  76. In many ways, JSK, we have already entered it; the central question now is, How far into it will we go? “Integrity” is still found in the dictionary; to what extent, and where, it is found elsewhere remains to be seen. There are potentially very dark days ahead for the American Experiment.

  77. @JSK: At 77, and with a similarly academic background (though in the humanities), I share both your bafflement and your despair. I know this cycle will eventually turn, and I'm also fairly sure that "the long arc of the moral universe bends toward justice"; but you and I won't be here to see it.

  78. @JSK "A new chapter of the Dark Ages" may sadly be a very apt description of what we're headed for, considering that the original was named such largely due to a lack of contemporary written records that could cast "light" on what transpired in them. Though we certainly don't lack for written words in this era, we've only just begun to realize that the same effect can happen when lies become easier to create than the truth, and the signal of accurate information is drowned out in a noisy typhoon of untraceable disinformation. We got a taste of it in 2016 with the rash of fake news that spread virally through social media (before even the meaning of the term "fake news" itself was corrupted), but the worst may well still be to come with the predicted imminent rise of deepfake video, not to mention the chaos that could ensue if quantum computing is able to crack conventional encryption somewhere down the line. Actually, if history has some wit to it, perhaps they won't refer to the coming years as a new Dark Age after all. I think the name of "The White Noise Ages" might be much more apt. For now, though, please take solace in that while our journalistic and governmental institutions may be under siege, for the moment, they're still putting up a pretty good fight. The signal hasn't been lost quite yet.

  79. The Soviet Union undoubtedly lost. But then there appeared a strange Western utopia with no alternative, ruled over by economic technocrats who could do no wrong. Then that collapsed.” This is a fantasy of Western propaganda. The technocrats were constrained to follow the wishes of (to simplify slightly) billionaire people and companies by intense political pressure (read "money") and ideological propaganda (read "money"). Most of the technocrats were trained in the ideology and techniques of billionaire-favored capitalism, anyway.

  80. @Thomas Zaslavsky Once the Soviet Union fell and communism was discredited, capitalism became a monopoly in the US market of ideologies. Once people no longer had a choice of ideologies, unfettered capitalism ran rampant. I hope the coming election will give people a real choice again.

  81. I'm sorry, but this essay reminds me of "The End of History" by Francis Fukuyama, and we all know how that turned out. Just as history has reared its head again, so to will reality impose itself on society and on our species: nature will not wait for mankind to get its act together.

  82. Charming prognosis. But this muddled reader is not buying it. There's still hope here. Pomerantsev, bless his heart, is not above a little manipulation. Tens of thousands of citizens from a single Estonian city disappeared into the Soviet gulags. Only a handful ever returned alive. Did the surviving citizens of that city lose when the Soviet Union lost? Russians bemoan the loss of their preeminence within the Soviet Union and worldwide. Isn't that the source of the toxic nostalgia that Putin has invoked? Surely however some Russians also bemoan the lost opportunities vis-a-vis democracy, freedom, economic development. The Estonians and Ukrainians are doing a better job keeping their Putins at bay. Their societies are, to varying degrees, true democracies which are doing better than Russia economically. A parallel exists here. The Trumpies bemoan their own loss of preeminence. In their case, they would it appears do anything at all to preserve the unearned and unmerited entitlements and dominance of white conservatives. I don't recognize the "strange Western utopia" which Pomerantsev invokes. By our collapse is he referring to the 2016 election? What's happening now isn't old school propaganda. It also includes gaslighting, conspiracies, endless cynicism, both old media and social media. However, it serves the same masters. It's aims include the same subjugation and dominance. Pomerantsev's cynicism favors only the Trumps and the Putins.

  83. Let's be quick to add that it's not just Trump who's wallowing in corruption, but the American political system that does NOT have sufficient safeguards in place to thwart such criminal conduct from taking place and, worse, not punishing it. Our impeachment processes should be a last resort and in this particular case aren't going to stop a rampaging criminal from maintaining office at least until 2020 if not beyond. Our government is broken. Any pretense of having a representative democracy has been shattered. Democracy, by definition, is supposed to represent the will of the people which it is elected to serve. Nothing could be farther from the truth with our current defiler-in-chief leading a renegade administration, enabled by Republican senators representing swaths of this country that has it's head in the sand. While I gain some comfort in being a "citizen of New York State" which by and large represents my views and values fairly well, I take no pride or comfort in calling myself an American, although that IS what I am. Still, I ask myself: "am I the same type of American that lives in Alabama or Mississippi and flies the Confederate flag with pride?" Rhetorical question, ladies and gentlemen.

  84. Excellent analysis. We need to hear more from Russian Studies experts. Not because Putin is the mastermind behind our current disaster - he's just one piece - but because of the parallels in the breakdown. As America tumbles in the Maytag of our current politics, this article offers a coherent explanation--though we can barely hear it over the din-- that can help us save ourselves. Pomerantsev's parallels between Pavlovsky's machinations to get Putin 'elected' and the Trump campaign seem spot-on. I agree that these times call for an understanding of post-Soviet politics, as much as one of American history. We Americans with our inexhaustible optimism get frantic when faced with what we call Russian cynicism, but we need to find the deeper layer. It's a kind of realism that works like the First Step in AA. Once we accept that we are up against oligarchs who are waging a disinformation/confusion campaign while systematically undermining our democracy, we can fight back. As Masha Gessen says, essentially, "First, believe the autocrat," meaning that if they threaten to do something they may well do it. Elizabeth Warren gets it, and has plans that will help us. Last time we brushed up against something vaguely like it, Teddy Roosevelt did, too. I hope that Americans who believe our system will magically save us get up and vote, call, and picket instead. Treacherous times.

  85. @Bohemian Sarah , excellent comment!! Some comments here are article in their own right.

  86. Amazing piece. The cynics/dissemblers are running the show. The only hope is for good faith people with hearts to prevail, but we have to understand the mechanisms at work. The big lie, divide and conquer, etc...

  87. Great piece.I didn't fully understand what the Russians were doing to us during the 2016 election until I read your book.I was very disappointed that the Mueller report didn't attempt to explain the mechanisms used in by the Russians and others.Just saying that there were bogus Facebook pages etc. doesn't really tell the story of what actually happened.My only problem....how do we get out of this mess?

  88. @Iamcynic1 I think we get out by taking a broad approach to our problems and avoid the trap that Trump is the only issue. I think that if we give priority to ending Citizens United, gerrymandering and voter suppression we will go a long way towards restoring our democracy. Of course, impeaching Trump is the first step.

  89. @Bohemian Sarah While I agree with you on the issues you've mentioned,I think that we have a different type of problem.This is about language and messaging and it's effect on the rational brain.I used to debate my conservative friends over things like climate change or income inequality.I've stopped doing it because they don't come back with facts..they come back with beliefs and strong emotional responses.They will say "I don't believe what you're saying...I doubt what the true motivations of these climate scientists really are."They are, for the most part, well educated but have found that thinking rationally is not as satisfying as expressing emotion.Facebaook logarithms reinforce this reaction.When you're confused as to what to believe,you tend to turn to a way of thinking which makes you comfortable and less anxious.The rapidly approaching climate crisis might be the only event which will restore rational action to its rightful place.Once again it is the young who are our only hope.Otherwise, we're toast.

  90. @Iamcynic1 ...Changing public opinion and Voting would work. Public Opinion and Outcry caused many in Trump's Administration to be fired or resign. Public Outcry caused Ivanka to no longer have her clothing line! Public outcry ended the Government Shutdown !! Whenever Public pressure has grown...against a Trump Policy...it's been reversed ! Our Government is supposed to be for the people by the ...majority of the people! For too long Americans have just gone blindly along and not done enough to change our political system for the better.Too many of us Voted for this mess we are in today. Thankfully it wasn't the Majority of us who knew better !!

  91. This piece is worth reading for many reasons, but I take exception to the characterization of Western ideology as mere Capitalism. There are some who would like us to believe that democracy is capitalism, that freedom is capitalism and that capitalism is all America is about. But I don't believe any of that, just as I don't believe being a billionaire businessman or even playing a business genius on t.v. is qualification enough to become President. We've failed to protect ourselves as a country by failing to invest in it, in our communities and neighboring communities, in our future, and in our values beyond narrow definitions of economic self-interest. And yet, I still believe that if enough of us take an interest in our society as a whole, we can correct course and find our way by addressing our situation. I don't know that I'd have that hope if I lived in any number of non-Western countries. In that sense, rumors of our system's failure are greatly exaggerated.

  92. @Sachi G Couldn't agree more. US done in by Reagan-era trope "capitalism and democracy are congruent, marketplaces and politics operate along the same, self-interested principles." Democracy isn't necessarily about self-interest but the common good. It is the politician's job to lead the population towards acting in the common good. Something that has become exceedingly rare. Now we have figures some find charismatic (others loathsome) ruling from the minority and forcing programs on people that find them immoral and unpatriotic. At least the UK's institutions have defended themselves. The American Senate is happy to become a rubber stamp to the Kremlin's man in Washington.

  93. Excellent article. Very interesting. But it leaves me with one question: since when did capitalism die? I find it alive and thriving although we could all write for days about its many failings. But to unilaterally claim that it is dead, like communism, is a bit of a stretch.

  94. @David Capitalism did not die, what happened is what the article just mentioned, Trump brought together the loosers of capitalism that were left behind with the capitalist that did it to them and made the people working to keep stability and greater good growth the enemy of of both.

  95. @David I'm not sure if I misread, but I think the author doesn't claim capitalism to be dead. I think what he claims is that the ideology of capitalism, it's promise to deliver a better future, has died or at least isn't believed by most people any more.

  96. but capitalism in its current form will die as you cannot have too much inequality, you will end up with no one to buy the rich man's products from his factories

  97. The press has played right into Trump’s hands, headlining his every utterance on front pages and leading stories. They amplified his lies until they his alternative facts created the confusion he sought and still seeks. It’s time for our sources of news and information to isolate that confusion on a dedicated back page, labelling it for what it is. Maybe then some actual truth could be recognized on the front pages. Not so long ago he called the Press the Enemy of the People. He knew what he meant.

  98. @Chimes...I hear you...but..I think that Public Opinion is starting to shift. Fox Nation has only been hearing one side of the story...fortunately Trump and Rudy have shot themselves in the foot and have helped change some Public Opinion. The Truth must be told and sometimes repeated ..until finally...though maybe not all... at least some people may awaken from their Trump Delusion !! Can't wake them up from the Back Pages. Some people only read the ...Headlines !!

  99. Nice images of Putin and Medvedev marking end of world war II. Hope Americans and the western allies never forget the sacrifice made by Russia during world war II. Without Russia and the USA, UK would have been wiped out. Churchill's biggest contribution to UK was getting the USA and Russia dragged into the war with Germany. Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union before the break up of the Soviet Union. Since that time it was led by corrupt leaders. Trump came to power with a promise to end corruption and Trump and Guiliani wanted to hold Ukrainians to their promise and wanted to make sure that the US foreign aid does not evaporate into the corrupt hands and therefore the investigations into possible corruption by those in power in the USA who were aware of the flow of US tax payer cash from the USA to Ukraine at a time when the USA is the biggest debtor nation in the world with a sky high debt of over 20 T when Obama left office. Trump has been consistently against unaccountable foreign aid and has been a breath of fresh air. Either we stop all foreign aid that gets misused and given to countries who use it to buy weapons that end up in the hands of terrorists trained in countries that provide them safe havens or to corrupt leaders in 3rd world who pocket it leaving their masses to resort to mass migration or ensure that we give only humanitarian aid and no military aid. Trump is trying his best to ensure foreign aid is not misused and abused. Business as usual no more.

  100. @Girish Kotwal Unfortunately Trump did poorly in spelling during his primary education. He confuses prophet and profit because they sound the same. Corruption is biggest in absolute numbers and does more damage affecting the most people where there's more money, like in the U.S. and other large systems. These would seem to represent a richer target environment for Trump of Arc.

  101. @Girish Kotwal You have recent history about Ukraine backwards. It was during the Obama Administration that the U S and Europe mounted a major effort to uproot corruption in Ukraine and Biden was a point person in that effort. There was a united effort to bring about the dismissal of a corrupt state prosecutor This effort was bipartisan. Trump and Giuliani are pushing to corrupt the current reform government in Ukraine by requiring them to rewrite this history to find a nonexistent nefarious role for Biden. This is a perfect example of the author’s point. As in Russia, state T V (Fox) is working diligently to sow disinformation and confusion. They are not bothered by the known facts and are not bothered that they smearing a decent, patriotic American. The ends justify the means.

  102. @Joel Sanders from Mont., AL I have always said ethics and corruption are in the eyes of the beholder and at best perceptions based on what ever one is told. No one has monopoly over truth or the facts. Each of us have to search for the truth by not relying on a single source for news. I do not share your endorsement of Hunter Biden's innocence. I think a thorough investigation is in order.

  103. I appreciated the insightful explanation of post-Soviet Russian propaganda - something I knew little about. The author's discussion of the embrace of Russian-style corruption by American businessmen, starting in the 90's, is very interesting. Certainly it's impossible to believe that Trump is not consciously using these techniques himself. The popular explanation that he is simply out of control and believes in conspiracy theories, is unbelievable. But without the internet and FOX news, I don't think that Trump would have been elected. It probably did take Putin's interference to push him over the edge to win in 2016. Let's hope the Impeachment purifies the collective mind of voters in 2020.

  104. Pomerantsev’s observations on the use of propaganda to erode the public’s trust in state institutions ring true as a blueprint for GOP strategy since the Reagan administration. The Republican tribe live by the 17th century Jeffersonian ideal that the government that governs least governs best. They want, in the words of Reagan’s muse, Grover Norquist, a government small enough that you can drown it in a bathtub. While it is also true that the GOP has enjoyed some success attracting voters to this cynical view, the faceless technocrats that he falsely places as equal to Soviet apparatchiks have actually delivered value to American citizens: Social Security, Medicare, safe food, clean air and water, regulated financial services, etc. in my years living in former iron curtain countries, I encountered nothing that actually worked, other than the state security apparatus that kept people enslaved for half a century. We have a real election coming up in a year. Dems are discussing multiple policy initiatives to improve the lives, economic and otherwise, of a majority of American citizens. Pomerantsev sees the perpetual struggle between the plutocrats and the people as lost. I’m still betting on the people.

  105. We're in the age of post-truth. An era in which, incredibly, even the Ukrainian scandal is turning in favor of Trump. He asks the Ukrainian President to investigate his opponent. And who is in danger of not participating in the next elections? Trump? No, Biden. In this emergency situation (not only for the United States but for the whole world, because Trump is a threat to humanity) the Democratic Party should have sided with Biden in a united front. Emergency situations require emergency solutions. If I were one of the primary candidates, I would immediately withdraw from the race and give my support to Biden. That's because the only thing that counts is beating Trump, at any cost. Instead we are talking about (and fatally weakening) Biden. Good luck America. And good luck world until 2024.

  106. @Alfredo Let us all get one thing straight, Joe Biden is not a democrat. He is a Trump rival but hardly a democrat of any substance. The last thing the democratic party in America needs is Joe Biden. That is part of the reason why democrats in large numbers haven't gotten behind Biden. The other part is that many of us see the best hope of defeating Trump in more progressive candidates. Joe Biden was never going to beat Trump. On the other hand Elizabeth Warren will.

  107. @JW Thank you for your comment. Of course, the problem is not Biden or Warren. What I want to stress is that I do not see too much unity in the Democratic Party. Primary elections should not be a way in which democratic candidates weaken each other, but a way in which only one - the chosen one - and the entire party should come out strengthened. The Democratic Party cannot afford the luxury of making a mistake this time, because - I repeat - Trump is not only your problem but also our huge problem (see the catastrophic Trump decisions on climate change).

  108. @Alfredo The GOP playbook has been for some time, repeat the lie as often as possible; all members of the team "rowing together in the same direction" by taking as many press appearances as possible, so the same phrase is spit out by as many members of the party as possible, and pretty soon the fantasy becomes reality for the casual listener. And even if they say "gee I don't know" they will add "but I have heard XYZ about [Biden / Warren / etc.]. Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi - emails emails emails.

  109. "Both have now collapsed...Instead of being a beacon of hope, you accuse everyone else of being just as corrupt as you are. We are all post-Soviet now." Yes, but there is a big difference: Mr Trump can and most probably will be voted out of the office soon while Mr Putin, pending a miracle of another unlikely revolution, might stay in power forever. It remains to be seen. I find your article very interesting but the scepticism as far as "the thing once known as “the West”, rather peculiar. The West is not embodied by Mr Trump or merely the US. The West is many other democracies including the EU countries in which many Russian citizans nowdays choose to live rather their homeland Russia, for whatever reason. The coruption of this US administration, in which Mr Giuliani seems to play an important role, is especially appaling as they have taken on a very vulnerable country drawn into war by Russia, so much so that one ponders if this wasn't at the suggestion of Kremlin.

  110. @val "Mr Trump can and most probably will be voted out of the office soon". Perhaps you have not heard Trump talk about what might happen if he "loses" the election? Yes, he openly talks about a civil war. Trump is planning on going nowhere until he is dead. It is not clear how the US System will respond to the first President who refuses to step down as the Constitution dictates. So, as Trump often says: "Weeeeeel see what happens".

  111. @Michael The right wing was saying this about Obama when he was in office--that he wouldn't step down. Now the left is saying Trump won't step down. This is a good example of buying into the disinformation that is floating around.

  112. @val Yes, but the subtle strands of grievance and conspiracy are fueling “populist” movements in most of the great democracies. We are living in a new age in which the power of boundary free and instant media wreaks havoc. We are not out of the woods even if Trump is defeated and leaves office more or less peacefully.

  113. Everyone needs to get use to having Trump around 4 more years in office because no one is going to force him out, not the Senate, the Supreme Court or the Democrats. Unless people start filling the streets like they are doing in Hong Kong to demand action. Basically our citizens are too apathetic to help themselves.

  114. @Hello Only 4 more years??? let us hope!

  115. Thank you for writing this piece. This is an argument I've made to friends and family for the past few months noting that 40 years ago, the US used to go to war to overthrow guys like Trump.

  116. An excellent angle on where we've been and where we're at. I just wonder where we are going, much of the electorate doesn't care about being informed or actively participating in their democracy. They're happy to be led by an authoritarian, and it's terrifying for many of us Americans. I guess we're headed for a full circle back to some form of feudalism and aristocracy.

  117. @JP We are not heading back to feudalism and aristocracy, we have been there all along. The difference is that, despite the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, we have always had a multi-tiered system. That is has had the facade of equality, meritocracy and American myth ripped away revealing the raw truth underneath may ultimately be the savings grace of American democracy. For it is only now, with those in power no longer capable of pretending otherwise, can we see the inequality and corruption so clearly on display. Upon that we hope that there is a progressive train coming down the line. I know, I'm riding it.

  118. @JW The US system of government is constructed so that a small number of states with small populations get to elect the president and control the Senate. It is time for more populous states to start insisting on states' rights, so they can have more control of their own destinies.

  119. “When truth dissolves anything is possible.“ Not quite. Peacefully challenging ensconced power requires law, which depends on logic and facts to determine compliance. When we question the obvious, the legal system freezes, and the law becomes impotent in challenging the powerful. Like a cobweb, it catches the small, but the powerful crash right through.

  120. @Tim It would seem that we have arrived at the time you describe: the weak ensnared, the monied and powerful amnestied. The renaming of Freedom Tower struck me as a slip into totalitarian-speak and very Soviet in tone.

  121. You are right Peter, however your final sentence seems a little dramatic. Human progress has faced these political realities before and managed to move on. The digital age may complicate the process but I think the demand for more ethical governance will eventually return.

  122. @Charlie Wiles Unfortunately, moving on has often required that a lot of blood be shed. The American Revolution is one example.

  123. This is an excellent articulation of the Russian formula. This is also why saying the Trump administration is a Russian asset is appropriate. Trump's toxicity is precisely that he erodes, obfuscates, and generally ignores the truth. At the same time, as a Russophile, and also one who is beholding to the Russian oligarchy, he embraces the nihilistic, autocratic, and power-based logic of their political philosophy; one that is quite aligned to that of the Republican Party, and moves toward its implementation like a virtuoso of reflexive, seditious behavior.

  124. First, we have a president sending a private citizen (Giuliani) to conduct a shadow foreign policy outside of any oversight of the State Department, the CIA, the White House (other than Trump) and the Congress. What is he doing? Why? Who is paying him? Second, it is abundantly clear by now that Guliani, at Trump's direction, was essentially trying to get a foreign leader to launch an investigation into Trump's political opponent Joe Biden. For two years we heard Trump rail against the Russian 2016 election collusion allegations as "fake" and "a hoax". So after skating on those allegations, he takes it up a notch and does this? Third, it seems abundantly clear there was an express or implied quid pro quo, whereby the Ukranian leader was expected to launch this investigation in order to secure U.S. aid. And finally, Trump's story has evolved from "Didn't happen", to "Even if it did, it is not illegal", to trying to hide what he did by publicly calling for China to investigate Joe Biden, in order to show that asking foreign nations to investigate his political rivals is perfectly fine. This is a continuation of his common tactic, whereby he seeks to convince us that his immoral, unethical or illegal behavior is somehow normal and commonplace because he is doing it What would Republicans have said if Obama had done this? No need to answer.

  125. We need to stop asking. What would repubs do if Obama did. Rather we need to focus on the idea that this behavior or these actions are wrong and create long term damage to us and the world. Party and paritisonship should not matter. Anyone who finds this behavior or who engages in this behavior has no business in power. None. anyone who justifies this behavior or these actions is equally culpable.

  126. @steve Bravo for your analysis but what in the world can we do to stop our inexorable destruction?

  127. @affirm Maybe peaceful, but massive, protest in the streets

  128. This is the Long Game being played by enemies of Democracy and this is the part where we sell the rope. When the transaction is over WW 2 will officially end the Soviets and Germany win by default.

  129. It used to be communism vs capitalism. Now many of us are democratic socialists. We want to rein in the capitalists who are threatening to take the whole pie (and the world down with it) and share the wealth more fairly. It's hard to be heard through the miasma of propaganda and outright lies thrown out by the rich capitalists. But that is our mission, and we accept it on behalf of our country and the world.

  130. Excellent. As someone said, many years ago, at some point it is a choice between democratic socialism - an end to oligarchy - and barbarism. This essay is strong on the process of achieving barbarism. The question is, once posed by the great American philosopher and educator, John Dewey, how we achieve the opposite.

  131. This era evokes similar sinking feelings as when suicidal terrorist flew planes into physical buildings that ultimately collapsed. This time a suicidal person crashes metaphorical planes into societal norms, conventions, precedents and institutions. Its not a one time terrible yet tangible event, its intangible and ongoing and encouraged by 40% of population and 99% of national representatives of same party. That uneasy feeling is the implosion of edifices and foundations of American life the were built over the last 250 years, being destroyed in a matter of months.

  132. Zowie. Initially, I bristled at the seemingly overstated suggestion that the United States, for all its current problems, resembled Russia and Eastern Europe. But this is one of the most trenchant essays on our political plight that I have read lately. President Trump has never bothered himself with facts. He simply states that, "Many people as saying....," in order to suggest that his conspiracy theory du jour about Ukraine, or Hillary Clinton, or the Deep State must somehow be true. Alas, too many Americans also seem to have jettisoned facts and truth, and stubbornly insist on believing whatever they want, irrespective of evidence and logic.

  133. @Chris Rasmussen Go a step further and read Bill Browder's book "Red Notice". The Russians have the best laws money can buy. Sound familiar? There are numerous eery similarities to what we see in the USA that exist in name only.

  134. Unlike Russians during the Soviet era, many Americans have been schooled since earliest childhood to believe in and honor superstitions and inventions unsupported by facts or logic... and to understand the most honorable among us are strongest in their faith in the unbelievable.

  135. This is the most insightful article in today’s opinion section. Read and reread this to explain what is actually happening or has happened to our country. Wisdom is rare.

  136. Excellent column. Well reasoned and well written. Definitely going to look into your book!

  137. It seems that Trump uses the Putin playbook. It actually seems that Putin is Trump’s mentor. Could it just be a coincidence that what Trump does always benefit Russia?

  138. @Gary Ward Certainly a high likelihood - given the number of unmonitored communications, congratulatory meetings (including in oval office itself) and Trumps ongoing attacks on his own nations intelligence and cybersecurity apparatus and personnel.

  139. A long time back, at a conference of minerals and metals in Windhoek, where a lot liquor was consumed late in the night, an Eastern European attendee gobsmacked our small group. His theory: Why would the West accept the rise of an obscure official to the highest echelons of power of global rival with nuclear weapons? This essay connects some dots.

  140. Payback is sweet. What the Americans have done for decades, helping rig elections and arranging assassinations in other countries for decades, they're now doing unto themselves. Well, almost ... Hopefully Trump is not yet privately asking foreign leaders to commit the ultimate act against his political opponents. But there's plenty of room at the bottom still.

  141. @Max duPont He has come pretty close to asking his Right Wing White Supramacist militants, such as Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer, Oath Keepers, KKK and the StormFront - among others on the lunatic fringe who lurk online (remember the pipe bombs and Pennsylvania synagogue massacre?) to step up and do this dirty work for him - in only thinly veiled wording that he believes gives him all the "plausible deniability" he needs with his hand picked prosecutor. Calling for a civil war if he is even remotely threatened politically doesn't get more to the point. Given our own history of political leaders being gunned down, it isn't a far fetched notion to believe it is only a matter of time and rhetoric from the POTUS and his FOX crazies.

  142. As the corporate takeover of the US and indeed the world) has proceeded apace, it's quite clear that democracy is an inconvenient impediment to business. What's required is cheap labor, no pesky regulations and a strong military/police presence to keep the serfs in line. As Vonnegut used to say, "And so it goes."

  143. Excellent portrayal of one side of the fight. The other side is still alive and strong in many places. In Russia there is still an opposition and the next election will be telling. In England Parliament is rebelling against Boris Johnson. The EU has not collapsed and actually is fighting well against the internal and external onslaughts. Japan, Canada, Australia and many other countries are quite stable and on the watch for encroachment of false truth. In US the congress has started impeachment proceedings. So yes, clearly there is a post Soviet faction trying to gain control. However, the vision of Democratic socialism as a form of government is working in the EU and will come to the fore in the US. The same tools that allow fake news also permit billions to receive true news. Just look at the protests in Hong Kong. No amount of CCP propaganda is stopping the brave citizens from their aspirations for Democratic government.

  144. Not a student of history, I kept wondering why this administration was not interested in working to govern the country- working to improve lives of the citizens and building strong mutually beneficial alliances. Why were they just interested in spinning elaborate conspiracy theories about past events? (Theories that my inability to follow had me questioning my cognitive health.) Thank you for helping me understand the motive. Basically it is all an effort to destroy our American way of government . So much for making America great.

  145. The relentless deceptions are to mask and avoid consequences for past an ongoing criminality, both in post-Soviet Russia and in the post-Cold War US. The world is presented with a massive domestic and international law enforcement project. Law enforcement is in the interest of the masses, and can be made into a popular platform. The most potent dissident movement in Russia is a genuine anti-corruption campaign led by a new generation. The same can become true in the US. Young(er) people here and there own the future and are capable of understanding what they are up against and reversing course and undoing (a lot of) the damage.

  146. Best article I’ve read making sense of what’s going on. Concepts of Russian disinformation and kompromat thoroughly remaking American democracy. In a thousand years I’d never ever give it a chance but here’s where we are. Using capitalism’s tech titans and products and our party of business to boot as full fledged partners. Astonishing brilliance or the inevitable entropy and aftermath of capitalism itself. Breathtaking and unimaginable. Not sure it can get any worse but it’s only the first day of the week.

  147. I've always felt that rogue capitalism would collapse just as Soviet communism did. Perhaps we are at that point now given the overwhelming support for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. It's time to take the best of both communism and capitalism and put an end to the wild conspiracy theories that have dogged us through time. Perhaps we might build a special "hotel" in Siberia for Putin, Trump, Giuliani, etc. etc.

  148. There is a fundamental difference between Putin and Trump and that the US has a quarter Millenium history of checks and balances built into the system of Government. That Trump and Putin play the same game is one thing, that Republicans in Congress become complicit in this gangsterism is quite another.

  149. True, the US under Trump more and more recalls the most absurd aspects of Russian politics, you can’t argue with that, but the notion that the current “war on reality” is an altogether Russian invention that’s seeping into the West needs to be taken with a massive grain of salt. Case in point: the handiest model Putin had for his behavior in Ukraine in 2014 was the naked cynicism of the Bush-Cheney administration in the run-up to the war in Iraq. This isn’t meant to absolve the Russian government for what it’s done in Ukraine, quite the contrary. But the US radically betrayed its own values 15 years ago—and you can draw a straighter line between Trump and that betrayal than you can between Trump and Putin.

  150. @Mary Great point! An authoritarian regime will use similar tactics whether they are in the "west" or the "east." And that is the story of 1984, the bending of truth into a non-truth, all for the purpose of controlling a story so the regime can control the people. Though many Americans will say they do not trust the government, nor trust the media, there is a general willingness to accept what is reported to them on face value. To live in the midst of a "propaganda" campaign (as we do today) requires a mental vigilance, a rational review of story and information, an appreciation of human motivation and ambition, and an ability to find truth through the correspondence of seemingly unrelated facts. Americans have been lied to numerous times over the course of our history, the most glaring being the Warren Commission regarding the JFK assassination, other 1960s assassinations, most recently the 9/11 Commission report, and subsequent claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that you cite. The U.S. government's refusal to honor laws that call for full disclosure of documents concerning the JFK business, has conditioned the American people to accept an official explanation without question. When we are willing to live without knowing for sure what happened in the past, then we become vulnerable to further feeding of false news, and like the prisoners in Plato's Cave, we see shadows and believe them real.

  151. Great essay. The "dark joy" of Trumpism is something that exasperated Democrats really need to reckon with. I'm curious though if the emergence of that joy has anything to do with the dis-reality of Trump's performance of President, like how it's easier to cheer on the violence in pro wrestling because you know that ultimately it's just a show) And in that same sense, whether his support will finally collapse when the reality barrier breaks and people suffer real and factual harm. Or whether it's just darkness all the way down.

  152. This is a much-needed and sobering analysis. Americans love to rely on simplistic explanations e.g. our current political malaise is caused by a few bad apples like Trump, Pompeo, and McConnell. To suggest to the average American that "democratic capitalism had collapsed" would likely trigger a hand-wave of dismissal. But the proof lies in the forces that propelled Donald Trump into the Oval Office: the vast economic inequality produced by American style, share-holder maximized capitalism, the ascension of alternative truth, the hypocrisy of religion, and the hijacking of our election system. We are drifting in dark waters without a rudder.

  153. @Michael News flash: "democratic capitalism" WAS that alternative truth. To quote a post-Soviet Russian quip: "Everything they told us about Communism was a lie. Everything they told us about Capitalism was the truth." Folks like Putin got a jump on the West in figuring out what our system is really about, and how to manipulate it.

  154. A very cunning way to keep reality at bay. Somewhat like the children's game, "I know you are, but what am I?" The West is rotting itself out with the same techniques that are tried and tested in previous imperial systems. In the fog of the post-truth era, the suspense is in whether we can we'll get that "beacon of hope" or just be subjected to more and more noise.

  155. Unlike Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and most Americans, I lived in a Soviet-controlled Europe before the Wall came down and I never thought I'd see the same thing happening here when it comes to Communist-style information spin and mind control. And it's frightening. But even more so because it is all emanating from the President of the United States in his attempt to hold onto control at the expense of Democracy and the Constitution. There's never been any doubt about Mr. Trump's fascination with strongmen and dictators which explains in large part his attraction to Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and even Mohammad bin Salman -- all of whom keep a tight grip on the media and have shown a lethal willingness to prevent any form of dissent. This kind of manipulation of truth and facts by branding things as "false" and "fake" if they somehow contradict the approved narrative is the first step in dismantling a free and democratic society. And we are treading dangerously close to the point where the first Amendment will be a thing of the past and we are left as a People with no voice in an America that will never be great again. This is more than just a problem of capitalism, communism or corruption. It is an existential threat.

  156. Excellent article. "1984" cannot be far behind. I sometimes find myself questioning my concept of what is real - even though I know for sure that trump lives in a world of his own, now peopled with republicans who have bought into his world of disinformation and alternative facts.

  157. @mariamsaunders You might enjoy this Orwell quote: "Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right."

  158. @Ernest Montague Scary isn't it - that this seems to be in the works right now?

  159. Interesting piece. But one must also include the weaponization of the internet/social media as a major source of fuel for the fire that is consuming the truth. DARPA created the internet for command and control in the event of a nuclear war. Now it has been handed over to civilians. Not much different than permitting ownership of military assault like weapons by the ordinary joe.

  160. It is about time to enforce the Logan Act in regard to Mr. Rudi and his nefarious activities. IF he has been authorized to spread unsubstantiated theories by the executive branch, then that raises many questions inherent in the impeachment inquiries. However, the meat of this piece is much richer than le comedien Rudi. The strategy of obfuscating truth by a thousand cuts is a welcome explanation of the unfathomable morass of alternative falsehoods (Not Truths) swallowed whole by Donald's loyal base. Thank you...it helps a little to understand the dynamics at play.

  161. After reading this piece, full of cogent and interesting views though it is, I come away wondering why intelligent people don't just use their common sense backed up by our ability to check the truth of anything on the internet, to debunk all these theories, conspiratorial or otherwise. Why don't we search out the facts, weigh them up and come to a balanced, well informed opinion of what is true and what is false. We do not need to be hostage to the manipulating lies of greedy people. We do not need to be weakened by belief in false prophets and snake oil salesmen who have already brought our world to the brink of disaster.

  162. @RHR To check the truth of anything on the internet requires finding it amid dozens of competing, algorithmically better performing stories that say just the opposite. I have friends who never read. They get all their news online, Facebook feeding YouTube. And online, little lies beget bigger lies. Once you have stumbled onto Alex Jones, the internet will keep feeding you lies, slipping them under the door of your locked echo chamber. And from there it's only a short hop onto Fox News and into the Oval Office.

  163. @RHR Why? Because the majority of the U.S. population is uneducated and even those with higher education haven't been taught to think critically.

  164. @RHR Because real life is dull. Just as it is much more dramatic to say that god is dead rather than that he doesn’t exist, it is better to live a lie than have to face the truth.

  165. Such an insightful and illuminating essay. The GOP of law and order, the self-proclaimed bastion of objective truth against the alleged corrupting scourge of cultural relativism, has died a Nietzschean death. The new party is both nihilistic (both Barr and Giuliani have said "who cares about posterity, we'll be dead") and ruthlessly, shamelessly machiavellian. The ethical has not merely been teleologically suspended; it has been banished. Heads I win, tails you lose--the tautological guiding principle of the authoritarian. The guardians (DOJ, FBI) have been co-opted. I pray that it's not too late for our Republic. Winter is coming.

  166. The Republican Party has always been the representative of business/capitalism. And, they have conscientiously removed obstacles that, in their minds, restricted business, i.e., labor unions and government regulations. I think this was done disingenuously by claiming that "the marketplace" would be sufficient control over predictable greed. Wrong. So, we now have unsustainable wealth inequality, and folks believing rightly that there is no such thing as a "level playing field," i.e., that the system is rigged. Which it is. What's next?

  167. I expected this scenario from trump, he's always been without moral or ethical character. But, Giuliani used to be a functioning ;person of the law, a federal prosecutor, etc. My guess is that the type of slimy, fact-less antics he's involved in now could get him disbarred.. he gives lawyering a bad name.

  168. Welcome to the post truth era, friends. Now it's all about wild conspiracy theories, propaganda and confusion. We have a President who is peddling the entire package. Bad times, these.

  169. Countries like Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden seem to be a successful alternative to Capitalism and Communism.

  170. Back in the day Rudy Giuliani seemed a warrior for truth and justice as he prosecuted the war against corruption and organized crime in New York City. Credited with cleaning up the streets of the city he went on to become the famed "America's mayor " after 9/11. How can one fall as far and as fast as Rudy ? How has this mythic figure become such a low life ?

  171. I grew up thinking of my parents as, if not intellectual, at least reasonably sane and rational. Their ability to think has been undermined by the conspiracy mindset at FOX, which gathered its own tactics from fringe radio hosts. Trump channels them all with great effect. Please, Pomerantsev and those like you: tell us how to get out of this death-wish thinking. I am tired of having the dire straits merely described and anatomized.

  172. Why do Americans rejoice in murder and mayhem, especially if they are foreigners in a distant land? If they don't openly rejoice they certainly ignore and put out of their minds the existence of any such unpleasantness. There is no doubt, none whatsoever, that Putin's seizure of Crimea, legitimized with a public referendum voted on by the residents of that peninsula, prevented the spread of the civil war in eastern Ukraine. But that is meaningless to Americans. They couldn't care less about the residents of Crimea. Their ideology is more important.

  173. Ah, I finally get where Rudy Giuliani fits in. He's the equivalent of Nixon's Bebe Rebozo. Assuming, of course, that Trump actually gets along with him, which may nix (?) my attempted comparison. Trump may literally have no friends.

  174. Competently executed crime pays. It pays very well. But it's not the crime that gets you caught. It's the incompetence... and the inevitable betrayals.

  175. This op-ed is both true and depressing. Having dipped our toe in the waters of authoritarianism, we mostly sit in our homes fearing the next assault whether from Mother Nature or our broken government. Our shadow SecState, Rudy Giuliani, is less a diplomat than a reincarnation of Lewis Carroll's white rabbit guiding us into another realm. For all his clarity and rhetorical skill, our president might be helped by putting Jabberwocky on his teleprompter. Covfefe.

  176. Trump's base is made up of people who are the types that love pro wrestling not because they know it is just a show. Wrestling fans like my brother, father, friends, will seriously argue that wrestling is not fake. Here's the real problem. How can we reason with people who simply wont accept basic, common sense facts, like pro wrestling and lucha-libre are fake and merely a spectacle? You can't. You move on and leave them in their tiny universe and accept they are like the moms who believe wars are good for the economy and Nixon was the greatest president ever.

  177. “Western politics is just as rotten as President Vladimir Putin’s. We may have corruption, the argument goes, but so does the West; our democracy is rigged, but so is theirs.” Maybe this is a blessing in disguise in that politicians will think twice before breaking the law knowing that emboldened whistleblowers from here and abroad may expose them. Thanks Russia and Ukraine for helping to drain the swamp - starting with Trump!

  178. Why does Trump enjoy Putin's company and why does he give Putin a free hand to mess up American democracy and the world at large? Why is Trump able to enlist the dregs of society---like the maniacal Giuliani and the jailed Manafort or the jailed Cohen to do his corrupt bidding? Why does the Senate allow Trump to destroy our country's institutions and mores? It is difficult to understand why such evil succeeds without more people joining in protest. The whole world should rise up, but we see too many supporting the charlatans .

  179. This article sums up all I have witnessed since Trump uttered his now famous ‘Russia, if you’re listening....” I see this same disease of attacking truth in all liberal democracies across the globe. Being a world traveler with family and friends living around the world, I see it first-hand. When I see the disease that is Trump and Brexit and see their common pathologies and symptoms, even the same talking points and code words among infected people of different nations with nothing more in common than me, I look for a common source of the pathogen. That source is Putin. This destruction of democracy around the globe is not random; it is the way countries with less capable militaries are waging war on the most powerful military, country and alliances in the world. The medium for passing the infection is the internet, social media, and political punditry. Putin is settling a score with the USA for the humiliation of his country during the Reagan era. Lying is his warfare. Trump is his revenge. My clueless fellow Americans are busy attacking me, professional journalists, Democrats, democracy, our Constitution, truth, and facts instead of driving out the foreign invader that has taken over their thoughts, beliefs, and their President. Putin and his ilk are laughing as I cry and a large number of my fellow Americans are laughing with him.

  180. This excellent article should be required reading . Trump, Giuliani and Fox News opinion commentators have done more to undermine democracy than any group in modern history. They’re supporting Putin’s goal of GASSLIGHTIMG AMERICAN DEMOCRACY AND WESTERN VALUES. This underscores the importance for the NYTimes to be meticulous in factchecking it’s sources and not falling prey to ‘alternative facts.’ It’s a burden worth bearing.

  181. American media is not helping us to focus on the sleight of hand. There are conflicts of interest when there are stockholders. What is truth, it depends?

  182. This is one of the most interesting and helpful articles I've read in a long time. It explains the political uses of conspiracy theorizing in a way I hadn't thought of before.

  183. "Kremlin propaganda is not to showcase Russia as a beacon of progress, but to prove that Western politics is just as rotten as President Vladimir Putin’s." Clearly this is why Putin so loves and assists Trump. Americans following 2016 are coming to "appreciate" another truth, one that Russian President Boris Yeltsin used to say quite publicly - all Russians know that their news media are propaganda arms of the Kremlin whereas Americans mistakenly believe that their media are free and so Americans often follow it blindly even as those media are controlled by corporate interests with their own agendas - profits. In Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin can exploit both. Trump's criminality (despoiling Democracy) and big corporate media (misleading the gullible).

  184. Putin has been wildly successful in undermining Democracy in the US and Europe. By supporting the genocidal Assad in Syria and flooding Europe with Syrian refugees he has given rise to nationalistic autocrats. By swinging the US election to Trump he has a proxy who is doing everything possible to assure the erosion of the American voter's confidence in voting and decimating America's trust and influence in the world.

  185. I believe, we the people, should open an investigation into both parties and their involvement with the Eastern block. The so called leaders of both parties have made millions dealing with them. So, who, is going to represent the people of this country??? Right now, I do not see either party as innocent,

  186. The Soviet Union was once described as the nation ' where things that just don't happen happen.' Controlling the present and the future meant defining the past. History was always being remade to serve current partisan political interests by propaganda. People woiuld disappear from photographs, history books, newspapers and radio. George Orwell caught the essence of the system in ' 1984' and ' Animal Farm'. But the need for strong central brutal leadership predates the Soviet Union. The largest landmass nation with external and internal ethnic sectarian diversity was a tempting target for Vikings, Mongols, France, Japan and Germany. Donald Trump fights by tweeting and speaking nicknames and slurs while watching Fox News and playing golf while snarling and snarky. So does Rudy Giuliani. Donald Trump is overtly doing what would be innately corrupt, criminal and craven if done covertly. Vladimir Putin sends his foes to hospitals, mental institutions,prisons,urns and coffins with a smile and smirk. The absurdity and cynicism is embodied in a Cold War Soviet Union era joke. The Soviets were looking for another space race win. And they decided to be the first to land men on the Sun. When a scientist objected noting that they would be incinerated he was silenced when a commissar told them that they would be landing at night. What does Vladimir Putin have on Donald Trump?

  187. That Biden and his son may have some ethical baggage is not an issue. Politicians by definition are willing to do things your average American would not attempt. Who knows if Biden will ultimately be the candidate? The issue is trump going to foreign governments to get negative information about an opponent. Doing so creates a risk to national security - something the other government can threaten exposing to get what they want in the future. Withholding congressionally-approved aid as a lever to get that information is extortion. Plain and simple. Criminal behavior. And involving Giuliani - the clown prince of the legal profession - creates something on television that is neither news nor entertainment . It’s a sickening display of incoherent gobbledygook. It’s more confusing than anything else. It is anything but reality. Aren’t broadcasters supposed to adhere to some standards? I’m trying to picture Giuliani with sparkles and wings - a devious pixie more suited to fantasy than anything else.

  188. We (all of us) are living in a darkened America surrounded by imaginary fears bathed in a tsunami of lies. Both countries endured revolutions. Keep the faith. The commoner is stronger than the monarchy. We will rise again. Good "trumps" evil. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

  189. Communism and capitalism have been replaced wholly by a corrupt oligarchy that celebrates its ability to control the masses through carefully orchestrated chaos. And the oligarchy cares not one bit when its brethren commits genocide, murders journalists, poisons our air, land, and water, and exacerbates the threat of pandemic disease. For this group of comrades - loyal only to power and money - it's all in a day's work.

  190. There is truth. Insist upon it. The Republican Party is infected and Trump is the embodiment and proof of that infection. A person like Trump should have never even been a presidential candidate of a major political party in the United States.

  191. It didn't take too long after Putin took over, for him to move from a chance for true democracy, to imprisoning or murdering his opponents, and taking the spoils which should have belonged to the Russian people, for himself and his co-criminals, making him possibly the richest man in the world. The President of the United States, Donald Trump, admires and approves of this. The Republican Congress and 40% of the electorate seem to do the same.

  192. An excellent opinion piece but it is still a mystery to me why a portion of the American public, including some people I know personally, go along with the charade.

  193. Human nature doesn't vary much over borders or through time. Those in power tend to hold onto and abuse it. A lot more people are followers than leaders. The path of least resistance is well-trod. Tribalism allows us to believe the worst about those with whom we don't identify. Cynical figures like Putin and Trump will come and go, but ultimately others will emerge in their mold. Names change but people don't.

  194. You have good versus evil. Most of the time evil is getting over on good, which is what we see today, with Republicans versus Democrats. For those of us who believe in God, the Truth is utterly refreshing. We bask in it. It is our refuge from temporal affairs. Especially when falsehood and innuendo are so widespread, rampant and accepted by lesser minds. Therefore I am refreshed to understand that Putin has been baiting Republicans this whole time with the theory that ‘there’s something in Hillary’s emails that will vindicate both Trump and the Republicans,’ This is the rabbit hole. Now maybe there is substance there, I don’t know. But I strongly doubt. I am not surprised that this rabbit hole has reached Italy. But I am comforted to know that Mr. Mifsud works for Putin and is spreading innuendo. Since Mr. Comey believes Mifsud is a Russian agent, that’s good enough for me. Probably what I find more astonishing is the fact that evil is always surprised that good is truly good. Evil is always looking to tarnish good, to bring good down to its own level, but it never works. This is because good is always good for those who believe in God. And absolute Truth will always lead the Good towards its Source. Unfailingly. And evil will fight amongst itself, delude itself, fracture itself, self implode, and wither away.

  195. Hypernormalization A term coined in Soviet Era about the prevalence of propaganda and how everyone became used to it. Watch the BBC film of the same name which came out in 2016. It too predicted a lot of this.

  196. Frightening and sad. I don't know when average Americans will wake up.

  197. @Jonathan try never or after it’s too late.

  198. There is one difference - liberal democracy contains its own self-corrective mechanisms when things go wrong, whereas authoritarianism has to resort to even more of the same. That is why populists like Trump hate democracy - when they fail to deliver on their promises, they get thrown out.

  199. @RAD61 not if it’s no longer a democracy which is where the US is headed.

  200. Maybe the one silver lining in all of this is that corrupt players in politics (Paul Manafort for example) and politicians will think twice about behaving badly now that whistleblowers and foreign governments who wish to embarrass us may become more emboldened to speak out. Drain the swamp starting with Trump!

  201. Right wing radio and tv has a large segment of the voting population entranced with conspiracy theories. So we have a large segment of the population who half believe these falsehoods. They hang their beliefs on the ever ending opionated news from all corners. Since the news has become a mashup of opinions as to who did what, when, and why (especially the why), the Age of Conspirarcy has arrived and with a broken heart my opinion is democracy is slipping into the history books and Kings and Queens ( called dictators now ) are on their way back, just in a more subtle form.

  202. I’m so sick of hearing about Trump, impeachment is a requirement! I’m tired of grown seasoned men in the GOP putting party, teamwork and re-election ahead of what’s good for the country. Each day all I hear is What Makes America Fail. Their can be no pride in being an American given the current climate, only shame. The on rule of law is simply a chant, a punctuation point in some one’s narrative. Yes we’ve got those who would bring down america right where they want us.

  203. The premise of the first paragraph is one large reason why Donald Trump’s presidency should not continue into a second term. We need to show that our form of Western democracy is able to repair itself. That our constitution’s checks and balances are able to be exercised, and that we are a nation that eventually recognizes and rejects demagogues. “The message of much of Kremlin propaganda is not to showcase Russia as a beacon of progress, but to prove that Western politics is just as rotten as President Vladimir Putin’s. We may have corruption, the argument goes, but so does the West; our democracy is rigged, but so is theirs.

  204. "The media manipulation of the early Putin years didn’t try to convince you of a fabricated version of “truth.” Instead, it worked by seeding doubt and confusion, evoking a world so full of endlessly intricate conspiracies that you, the little guy, had no chance to work out or change. Instead of conspiracy theories being used to merely buttress an ideology as under Communist rule, a conspiratorial worldview replaced ideology as a way to explain the world, encouraging the public to trust nothing and yearn for a strong leader to guide it through the murk..." Yes. Brilliant. At the end of the cycle a decadent society cynically turns to conspiracy as a complete alternative reality. For elites and their apologists the collapse of the old order is too painful accept in an undiluted form. Conspiracy and denial go hand in hand. Denial of the existence of painful realities degrades the rule of truth. We subliminally understand that we have chosen comfortable myth over harsh truth, and this cowardly compromise has corrosive epistemological consequences. A wall has been breached. It is the Original Sin signalling descent into falsehood and corruption. Once the initial decision has been made to compromise the commitment to truth, the momentum becomes unstoppable. To escape fear we have willingly embraced a world of illusion. Pomerantsev provides greater insight into the official pervasive moral sickness of our age than all other impeachment pundits combined. More, please.

  205. Unchecked power, which is what the Founders sought to avoid in framing a system of checks and balances, will erode any system of government. Trump is following Putin's lead in fashioning a state that serves his ravenous individual thirst for more. Unchecked, he is even able to allow private citizen Giuliani to engage in the designation and execution of foreign policy. By confusing the masses with misinformation and overt, unrelenting lies, he increases his stranglehold. The successful war on truth has delivered us a GOP that falls into the web. How can any righteous legislator read, for example, the obviously distilled "transcript" (it's nowhere near an actual transcription of a conversation) that nevertheless reveals troubling extortionist language to the President of Ukraine, and simply say, "There's nothing there." November 2020 looms immense and critical.

  206. @Mike7 the future of the US is at stake and it doesn’t look good.

  207. I think all Trump and his friends, including Rudy, care about is money. This is a group that continually live above their means. So if the Russians shovel out the money, that's the direction to go. No ideology involved, except that they like authoritarianism because it means more money. The best that could happen to these people is to go cold stone broke, like Manafort, before they go to jail.

  208. I have a Facebook friend who turns to Fox for truth like religion. If I demonstrate with facts that the Fox information is hogwash, for him citing facts is itself suspect. I’ve come to think he’ll only believe in the truth when the consequences of the hogwash, like the end of democracy and clean nature, come to be. Then it will be too late and the truth won’t matter much to him anyways. He’ll be busy turning me over to the police.

  209. @Elliot Silberberg time to defriend

  210. Very needed article for the American voters to digest. Why was it so easy for many to see through the Trump's rhetoric during his campaign while others were so taken in with his pomposity. Putin is reveling in his joy at not only interfering with our 2016 election and the advantage it gave to Trump, but perhaps even more so, the divisiveness, the chaos, and the losses we, as a country, have already lost with trump at the helm. Our place in the world has diminished; we are no longer the leader of the free world. Just pause for minute and see what Trump has done on the world stage. Trump's presence in our day to day lives has caused much turmoil. Our sense of who we are as Americans as we see desperate people at our southern borders suffering and even dying because of a policy that is so un-American. He is destroying the essence of who we are as a nation.  He is unfit, unqualified, and really is a danger to our democracy.

  211. All nations are corrupt. It's simply a matter of which ones have the most solid checks and balances. Unfortunately, moneyed lobbies have overpowered those checks and balances in the U.S., by legalising influence-peddling, gerrymandering, politicisation of the Supreme Court and weakening virtually every other instrument of fairness and justice. I used to say that an honest judge in Iran is worth a thousand times more than an honest judge in the U.S.. I'm beginning to have my doubts.

  212. @Hamid Varzi the US no longer has checks and balances.

  213. “The Kremlin couldn’t have put together a better script.” With Trump and his minions trashing the Bidens, Putin wants to debunk the myth that Western democracy is built on moral principles and values. Giuliani has learnt how to delve into the Soviet playbook for disinformation and denial. Russia has a century-old experience of denying any wrongdoing, fabricating and disseminating rumours, confusing people and destroying trust and tenets. What's worrying is that Russia has been able to figure out what’s wrong with the American society and understand the Americans better than most Americans do about themselves. The Kremlin has taken advantage of its knowledge and exploited social and racial tensions in America, abused people’s emotions and sowed chaos. They succeeded in 2016. Now they have a stooge at their beck and call to carry on their mission.

  214. Yes, Trump was voted into power by disparate groups who lost out in the newly globalized world and alarmed by the hordes of immigrants invading their way of life. Nothing has changed in this regard since that election and no manner of argument will hold sway over these people who are voting their self interest.

  215. @Linus or actually against their self interest because of their abject ignorance.

  216. The same people pitching the Trump conspiracies and denying his malfeasance are the same ones that condemned Obama for: 1. Getting rid of Churchill’s bust this alienating our allies; 2. Wearing a tan suit; 3. Using a selfies stick. But Trump is just fine.

  217. @Andy Makar Dijon mustard....don't forget the Dijon mustard. What kind of 'Merican uses Dijon mustard?