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Agnieszka Płonka – Do not say “Russia”, say “the gang”

I have a friend who burnt his passport this week.

I know Russian emigres describing themselves as “rootless.” I know those who can only post from the free world – otherwise they would end up in a penal colony. And it wouldn’t have to be anything too provocative. Just playing computer games is enough–as you can read here, Russian teenagers were sentenced after blowing up a certain building in Minecraft.

What building is it, you ask? The answer is simple: the headquarters of THE GANG.

It is the gang that has been putting poison in your newspaper. Or in your coffee – if you are a really good person. It is the gang that has been controling, terrorizing and wasting Russian lives. The gang that froze any attempts at installing the rule of law, sabotaged trials, arrested citizens during conferences. They are sadly proficient in what they do. They stop at nothing. If there is propaganda to spread, dissidents to kill, students who ask too many questions to beat up–they will be there. And yes, I am writing about today, the Winter of 2022. With the current invasion, you should start to believe me. But every modern day requires some historical background, which I will give below.

The gang a century long tradition–they just underwent a number of rebrandings. They started in 1917 as CheKa, the Soviet political police. The people they tortured and executed–among others, the backbone of the Russian nation: their doctors, artists and scientists–soon outnumbered those killed by the Tsarist Ochrana. They could kill your parents, shave your head and send you to an orphanage, where you would be forced to be a number in the socialist state machine. At age 5.

Fast forward one or two rebrandings. They are now called the NKVD. Still terrorizing the Soviet Union, but also killing off the intelligentsia of other nations: the Finns or the Poles. The Katyń massacre was supposed to eradicate any possible highly educated citizens of Poland–they were preparing to take over Central-Eastern Europe already in 1940. After World War II, in the Eastern Bloc, dissidents accused of being fascist were locked up and tortured, some killed in fake processes. Yes, Stalin himself said “call them fascist.” Remember this accusation. It will be important later.

The terror lost its momentum just a tiny bit with the death of Stalin in 1953. Khrushchev opted out for a different kind of war with the free world. He realized the atrocities committed up to this point were too big to just whitewash, so he started a new brand of disinformation: that it was only Stalin who was the criminal. With the onset of the Cold War, the gang–now called the KGB–tried to minimize the horrors of communism by using youth newspapers, pop culture, infiltrating the institutions of learning, changing curricula. It took one or two generations, but they did succeed. The hammer and sickle is not treated like a swastika. High school textbooks are silent about the millions of lives lost and wasted in the East. Truth is relativized far too easily.

The soft cultural poison aside, they were still a gang of killers. However, the bulk of the killings was moved abroad–to kill dissidents, those a bit too outspoken. Terror reigned behind the Curtain, but you couldn’t talk about it. And if you did, people of the free world wouldn’t believe you, because the curriculum they learned from was a bit too close to one or two propaganda agents.

Why am I still writing about the Soviet Union though? It did collapse under its own weight. It had to go bankrupt–as Ludwig von Mises wrote already in 1920. And the gang went bankrupt too. This is probably the main difference between Russia and China: while Mikhail Gorbachev stuck to socialism, which brought economic collapse, Deng Xiaoping liberalized the markets just enough to stay in power. This is why the Russian criminals temporarily lost their grip over the country, while the Chinese did not.

The 1990s were very dark in Russia. Life stopped and turned into gang war–when THE GANG lost control, other mafias took their place. But power had to slowly consolidate again.

And guess who won? Yes, it was THE GANG again.

I realize many cultural experts say Vladimir Putin uses more Tsarist than Soviet symbolic. Yes, he has double headed golden eagles above his psychopath head. This does not matter so much in Russia. The country lost its identity in the course of their haunting history, and is now using many contradictory symbols, creating some weird post-modern fairy tale without any objective point of reference.

But I can tell you what matters. Putin, a KGB agent, is now ruling the FSB. The chief of SVR is reporting to him and stuttering like a child. What are these two other acronyms? Yes, it is the current brand of the gang: KGB turned to FSB/SVR (foreign/internal affairs, respectively).

Why am I certain of their continuity? They employ the same people. They meet every 20th of December to celebrate The Chekist Day or The KGB Day–because CheKa–THE GANG as it was then called–was founded 20th of December 1917. In 2000, after Putin got elected, he announced – during the Chekist day no less!–that “We took the power back and will never let go of it again.”

They are not even hiding. They are not even pretending. This is not the beginning of a new Cold War. The Cold War never left. It is just that THE GANG had to get out of bankruptcy and lure some naive Western leaders with the pretense of democracy. It took them a while. But now… Now the mask has slipped.

Putin has been testing your naïveté quite a lot. He has secured energy deals with the West, trying to create a base of common interest that will be hard to break once he goes into war. He tried to isolate the former Soviet republics, fuel ethnic tensions and use them in his own imperialist agenda. He did not stop from shooting down civilian airplanes.

Nobody would believe then he is this kind of killer.

Well, you better believe now.

He was testing the waters, creating false narratives about supposed oppression of Russian-speaking minorities, taking what is easy and trying to just figure out how much the West will let him have. One violation of international law after another, and here we are, with bombs falling on civilians.

I am deeply saddened by the stance of some American libertarians during this conflict. Now, we really do need NATO in Central-Eastern Europe. Why? Because some criminals are more criminal than others. And if you stop playing the game of war, it does not mean others will.

The Cold War never left. And yet, you are abandoning the Eastern Bloc just because your emotional pacifism blocks you from seeing reality clearly. I can see you are cherry-picking the narrative that goes against NATO… and I know why. You are dissidents in your own country. You are righteously against every war possible. Someone criticizes Washington? You are there!

But please. Stop and think. Stay rational. Your government is not the only one in the world. I bet you understand why the KGB was financing pacifist organizations in the 20th century. This time it is no different. Moscow is too spreading propaganda in your feed. And their propaganda is far worse, because their agenda is far worse. Do not believe anything about NATO expansion, keeping the interests of Russia or… yes! Neo-Nazi Ukraine.

Remember what Stalin said? “Call them fascist.”

Such claims are incredibly unfounded. I have visited Ukraine a number of times. It is a troubled, hard-working democracy, very much haunted by history and wanting to assert their identity.

One of the rules of propaganda is to use a grain of truth. There was indeed one Ukrainian battalion using neo-Nazi symbolics. One battalion. Just enough for Putin’s agenda. But there is nothing remotely neo-Nazi about the country, or about 2014. Nothing. Except maybe… Not wanting to be close with Moscow.

I am quite disgusted that such narrative gained followers in the States. But again – the further away you are from Moscow, the less you understand. And you can afford to be ignorant.

Do not negotiate with terrorists. Do not help the gang.

My heart goes out to my Ukrainian friends. Next week, I will go see the Polish-Ukrainian border myself and see how I can be of help. If not, I will go to my local volunteer center and work.

Meanwhile, please pray to Saint Michael.

Agnieszka Płonka

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