Pascal Avot, publicist and devout Catholic, protests against the systemic lie which is the hallmark of Moscow. Because this lie infects certain circles in France and elsewhere, and in particular that of fundamentalist Catholics, who see in Putin the savior of Christian civilization fighting against “Western rot”.
Anyone interested in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is justified in concluding that the Putin regime is lying. And he doesn’t lie a lot, as one would expect from a country at war, nor a lot, as tyrannies usually do, but all the time. For ten months, have we heard the Kremlin utter a single clear and unambiguous truth? Never.
Since the outbreak of its war against Ukraine, Moscow has been issuing an endless stream of fakery, misinformation and untruths, to the point that it seems unable to recognize that two plus two equals four. An almost supernatural phenomenon, whose historical reasons should be defined.
Tsarist Russia was lying. The famous “Potemkin villages” have become textbook cases of state illusionism. It was just a start.
In the XXe century, Russia has gone through seventy years of pure and hard communism. The intensity of totalitarianism has varied over time, with more or less terror, mass deportations and summary executions, but there is one element of the system that has never changed one iota: the jargon . From the seizure of power by Lenin to the collapse of the system under Gorbachev, the only official political language, the only one authorized and obligatory, has been that icy, blind, mechanical language, of a rigidity of steel, from which all humanity, all emotion, all irony are excluded. Countless, the innocent people who ended up in the Gulag or were shot in the back of the neck because they refused to talk about it.
The language of wood is the language of ideology. As Orwell clearly saw in 1984, she is the soul of totalitarianism, the demon that possesses you and makes you a mutant, a zombie. Alain Besançon has this decisive formula: “The language of wood does not want to be believed, it wants to be spoken. » It does not matter whether you are sincere or not, loyal to the regime or secretly opposed: from the moment it comes out of your mouth, you belong to it, you participate in the fiction which wants to replace reality, you lend a hand to the destruction of the world. Russians have lived for seventy years under the yoke of this linguistic dictatorship. Their minds have been deeply contaminated by nothingness.
In Lenin’s metaphysical vision, truth as we conceive it does not exist: it is only a reflection of matter, which is pure movement and permanent self-contradiction. What is true one day may turn out to be false the next day and become true again the day after. Universal history leads inexorably to revolution, but the paths that can trigger the final and saving conflagration are infinite. In such a philosophical context, the lie in the Christian sense—of a participation in evil—does not exist either: the Bolshevik who lies to the capitalist participates in the truth.
The language of wood thus never tries to come into contact with the truth, nor, through it, with reality. It is an autonomous, abstract space, where what is and what is not are perfectly interchangeable. Reversibility admirably described by Orwell with the wars between Oceania, Estasia and Eurasia, the combination of which changes constantly, each one having to be accepted as the only possible one, immutable, by the slaves of Big Brother. But back to Putin.
He lies all the time for three major reasons. First, because, like Lenin, he did not believe for a moment in the existence of truth. He thinks that the taste for truth is the fad of the weak, the idiots and the suckers. He was brought up in the Brezhnev vice: the language of wood is his mother tongue. Then, a very diligent student of the KGB school, he learned all the Soviet techniques of the art of disinformation. He is much more than a simple vector of lies: he has learned to embody falsehood, it is inscribed in his flesh, in his ego. False identities formed his modus vivendi. Finally, he is surrounded by spin doctors who have incorporated the discoveries of Western psychology and marketing into lectures and practical work at the KGB. The result is a prodigiously effective lie factory.
The most lucid French people on Poutinism tend to consider our poutinolâtre compatriots as arrant imbeciles or licensed traitors. For most, that’s judging them too quickly. Because, for the twenty-two years that he has been in power, Putin has set up a political communication campaign on the dimensions of the continent, which is extraordinarily effective. In advertising, we judge the tree by its fruits and the facts are there: millions of Europeans look up to Vladimir the Great as a sage, a master of thought, a glorious conqueror. It suffices to look at the laurel wreaths thrown to him, with misty eyes, by traditionalist Catholic circles to judge the power of his intellectual hold on our country. Like it or not, some hope he will “save” them. They no longer even see that they are sinking into the idolatry that their Lord vomits.
Thus, this reader of the fundamentalist site Le Salon beige, who writes: “God bless Vladimir Putin and accompany him on his journey of conversion. May God send us a man of his caliber here in liberal hell. » Another responds: “May God convert Putin’s heart and strengthen his arm. Hooray! » On the same site, we talk about the “Wise Putin” who “assumes with pride its heritage and its Christian primacy” in “his speeches imbued with spirituality, because he does not want our satanic morals”. In short : “A providential man for his country, for the world and for Christianity, even if the decadent and apostate West does not understand him! »
As Alain Besançon says, “they believe they know, they don’t know they believe”. By unconsciously deifying Putin, they leave the orbit of Christianity: this is what the Russian lie is capable of. These poor people are not, however, mentally insane, but Moscow is capable of driving them momentarily insane, as it has done with Western communist circles throughout Soviet history.
Russian power is addict to lie. Without him, the deception of the “Eurasian power that will save civilization” would be seen with the naked eye and the crowds – not only in Russia – would bare their teeth at him. Without the systematic and systemic lie, Putin would be perceived for what he is: an XXL mafioso, a distinguished member of the most murderous secret services of the XXe century and an insatiable predator of its own people and its neighbours. Quite the opposite of the patriot and the man of order in front of which so many European rights put a knee on the ground. He probably wouldn’t survive the fall of his mask. He is the one who can no longer be himself.
And then, the ultimate reason, perhaps the most decisive, Putin lies all the time because he doesn’t know what universe he lives in. As pointed out by experts such as Galia Ackerman and Françoise Thom, he does not read newspapers, does not know how to use a computer or a smartphone: he only accesses local and global information via Russian television, which repeats over and over what he thinks, and the reports given to him by secret service officers, who fear him far too much to confront him with the accuracy of the facts. He never tells the truth because he doesn’t see her, doesn’t hear her, doesn’t associate with her in any way. And if by chance he heard her, he would punish her, because this megalomaniac, paranoid old man, multi-billionaire without merit, locked up in his bunker, at the heart of an absurd war that he should never have started and which makes he, a pariah, is no longer able to detect the ever more abyssal gap between his delirium and the verb to be.
We need to get rid of the Russian lie, much more than Vladimir Putin. It will be long and difficult: the painful mission of an entire generation, at the very least.