Vera Graziadei on how the seeing the west provoke and encourage carnage in her native Ukraine has led to her eyes opening to the phonines of western pretentions to maintaining morally-superior, liberal-humanist societies
It’s been a year since my rose-hued (though already stained) worldview crashed, a year of facing the bare harsh reality of the way things work in this beautiful cruel world, a year of peeling off my treasured illusions, one by one.
My comforting illusions about living in a morally-superior, humanist liberal society, which respects and cares for human lives around the world. My treasured illusions, which I would still cling to if I could, but which do not stick to me anymore.
I admit I’ve already had one eye-opening moment in my life (didn’t we all?) – when I protested on the streets, alongside hundreds of thousands of other citizens, against the war in Iraq, but this country, to which I swore my allegiance before God, went into the illegal war anyway, a war which cost millions of innocent lives, a war that no one ever repented for. War criminals lecturing and prospering, warmongers still writing and publishing – blossoming careers everywhere you look.
I felt physically sick and disorientated then and devoured Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, George Monbiot and whoever else was critical of the current world order and was selling in the politics section of LSE bookshop. I was reading to make sense of events, to see the bigger picture, to orientate myself in the world and to know where to go next.
And the conclusion I came to then after all this reading, after all this education? To escape. Escape from this horrible real world into the world of fiction, because I wasn’t strong enough to live with this brutal reality, to continue making sense of it, to continue tolerating it and interacting with it, to continue being aware of the blood on the hands that feed me and comfort me.
Entertainment. In the world of entertainment it is very easy to be…well, entertained. Even if somewhere far away drones are falling on people’s homes, you are in this cosy cocoon, feeling relaxed and cool. Things around you look good (carefully designed and built by set designers), people are beautiful (thank you, make-up and hair artists), words flowing are witty and/or meaningful (writers, you are the best). It’s all pleasant, enjoyable and fun, just as it is enjoyable and fun for the audience, and so it is easy to forget and ignore.
My achievement over the last few years is that I’ve managed several times to participate in the distraction of a few million people from the brutal reality of wars and poverty and injustice. Distracting myself by distracting others. Entertaining while being entertained. And being recognised and admired and pampered for it (when you get to do it).
During those years of forgetting, I’d probably spend far longer hours at my psychotherapist’s room, if IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh and *shameless plug alert* Peep Show didn’t exist. On the whole it’s much cheaper and easier to just laugh things off, than to really look at them critically and begin thinking about how to change them.
In fact, distracting people from things that must be changed is the key to maintaining a status quo. Just look at the wages that Hollywood stars get paid to get an idea how much the market values distraction.
Distraction is the glue that holds this society together. If not for proper distraction, quality entertainment, we would all be on the streets rioting. That’s it! Now I’ve got it. I can’t be distracted anymore. I was able to before, but now I can’t.
You might not be interested in politics, but politics is always interested in you. For a few years I could easily ignore news , not buy papers and scroll down past political posts of friends, because they didn’t directly concern me and because they were regarding events far away – Middle East, Africa, Asia.
Places where human rights are not respected, places that are less developed and more corrupt and, therefore, where wars are inevitable and where democracy must be enforced by more developed peoples like ourselves. Right? Something like that.
All you need to live comfortably in a world, where atrocities are initiated, supported or ignored by our governments is just a vague narrative in your head, supported by a few NYTimes/Guardian/Times/Independent/ articles and constant flow of BBC/CNN propaganda about corruption of some dictator somewhere, who (unlike our own benevolent leaders) is hungry for power and wealth, is envious of our good fortune, prosperity and liberated morals and who is actively plotting to annihilate or invade us.
The moment this narrative is embedded in our heads and is not questioned by us, the rest of the world can burn down in ashes and all we’ll feel is either indifference or a sense that, even if it looks a bit gory and messy, ultimately it’s for the best, that is for our own personal best, just like our papers tell us. Isn’t this the mindset of the majority of people? Wasn’t this my mindset before?
My maternal grandmother used to say: “There was no Truth, there is no Truth and there will be no Truth and so never endeavour to search for it”. She also dreamt of being an actress. One could think that I unconsciously assimilated her beliefs and desires in the first years of my life, while she was still alive and looking after me, and that this ancestral drive was ultimately stronger than my own personal inner drive, which was to search for the Truth, the drive that led me to start a Philosophy Society in Brighton College (sounds grander than it was – it was just a couple of geeky discussions) and then study it at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at LSE.
At some stage this ancestral drive kicked in, a valve switched in my head and I decided that I had enough of searching for the Truth (in the context of my masters it was the truth about sovereignty, rights, justice and morals), because it didn’t exist, just like my grandmother always said, and instead I went into the world, where Truth is more fluid and one month you can dwell into one Truth and next month, with a new project, into another Truth.
I remember often re-reading these lines in Dostoevsky’s “Notes from the Underground”:
“all plain men and men of action are active only because they are dull-witted and mentally undeveloped. How is that to be explained? Why, like this: owing to their arrested mental development they mistake the nearest and secondary causes for primary causes and in this way persuade themselves much more easily and quickly than other people that they have found a firm basis for whatever business they have in hand and, as a result, they are no longer worried, and that is really the main thing.
For starters being active you must first of all be completely composed in mind and never be in doubt. But how can I, for instance, compose myself? Where am I to find the primary causes to lean against? Where am I to get the basis from? I am constantly exercising my powers of thought and, consequently, every primary cause with me at once draws another one after itself, one still more primary, and so ad infinitum.”
I related to these words in so far as I, like an Underground Man, was unable to pursue any activity in the real world, because I could not sufficiently believe in any activity, because as a thinking person, my mind always found reasons for doubting the rightness of any line of action.
This intellectual position of inactivity worked very well with being in a profession, where ultimately I was told what to act. I did not have to commit to any line of action in the real world, yet, unlike the Underground Man, who was isolated from society, I was able to be part of society by acting in a pretend world and being ‘actively inactive’ (not all actors are, many combine their careers with other jobs and activism, but I wasn’t one of those people then).
First they came for Iraqis, and I did not speak out— Because I was not an Iraqi.
Then they came for Libyans, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Lybian.
Then they came for the Syrians, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Syrian.
Then they came for …. East Ukrainians and….
Never in my wildest nightmares have I imagined that the land that I was born in will be bombed and shelled with the support of the West. (Britain begins training Ukrainian soldiers, US increasing non-lethal military aid in Ukraine) I’m now deeply ashamed to admit that I’d probably continue being apolitical had this Ukrainian horror not started.
One year ago, on 2nd of June 2014, the Ukrainian Air Force struck central Lugansk (an event which was ignored and misrepresented in western media) killing completely innocent passerbys, mostly women, amongst them Inna Kukuruza, who’s death, captured on mobile phone camera and circulated on the internet on the same day, has struck me to the core and prompted me to start writing this blog, which was just my way to order my thoughts about the events that were unfolding. It was me getting back to searching for the Truth.
I discovered for myself that BBC, which I used to have high trust in, is as biased and propagandistic, if not more so, as many other state medias around the world, that the Ukrainian War, is related to US Energy War, that the Ukrainian government’s tactics of justifying, promoting and starting the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ are similar to the way other countries have initiated and promoted genocide in the past, that international humanitarian organisations are biased and sponsored by warmongers (Human Rights Watch connection to Soros).
I also tried to make sense of why East Ukrainian victims are ignored and officially complained to the BBC for misrepresenting events and received a polite reply, which ultimately changed nothing. Finally, I (very roughly) outlined for how the system works, what’s the problem with the people running them and what is the alternative way of being and resisting.
This was all a personal intellectual endeavour, which helped me to order my own thoughts and calm down my pain and grief. At some stage this blog had over 10,000 views per article and thanks to it, I dipped my toes into the world of journalism with my pieces published in BNE, Russia Insider, New Cold War, Signs of the Times,Global Research Centre for Research on Globalization and OpedNews. I’ve never accepted any payment for any of my work, even when it was offered, and I declined work for any media, which is state-funded. I am very grateful to everyone who’s been reading this blog and supported me and who found it an inspiration to write their own blogs and to join in the international debate.
I’ll continue searching for the Truth (even though I’ve paused writing for a while to deal with the illness and death of my father) as an independent thinker and will proudly continue doing what one media expert said of me as a criticism – “to wear my heart on my sleeve”.