War Layers of English
In ancient Rome, the slang Latin word collivertus differed from the formal Latin collibertus by a single letter, but a whole layer of meaning was embedded in this single symbol.
“Co” means together; “liberāre” means to liberate. Together, they are “one in whose company one has found freedom.”
Imagine a society where the repressive machine is gaining momentum, where there is an official point of view on all phenomena, the deviation from which is persecuted. Can a word like collibertus/collivertus be perceived equally by the masters of the information agenda and fellow escapees from the basement of the Colosseum arena? Of course not. They must have had two different words.
Off-Topic. Tales of gladiators are, of course, the fiction of historians. Up until the 19th century our civilization could not understand the purpose of Roman arenas. And then we figured out how to make money on sports betting in circuses and racetracks. Do you think we should blame the ancient managers and agents of sports teams for the fact that they would spend years raising and training racehorses and wrestlers, and then give them up for slaughter for the sake of a single fight?
Many centuries later, through the biblical accounts of priests, a variant of the word for commoners (“collivertus”) has migrated into the Russian language. Клеврѣтъ. Again, however, in a perpendicular direction (in relation to the former two). Now the word means follower, henchman, adherent, but only one who is worthy of contempt.
Language in an atmosphere of pluralism and language in a situation where there is an official point of view have a different number of dimensions. In outer space, where the world is isotropic, where there are no dedicated (“special”) directions — all three directions/dimentions are at your disposal. In conditions of strong gravity, on the surface of the Earth — you have only a plane at your disposal (two dimentions). And even this plane is available only in directions where there are no steep mountains. Similarly, without real freedom, in the presence of the “gravity” of the official point of view, the very topology of language changes.
In the Russian language, born of the empire, where the presentation of everything was often strictly controlled, the etymology of words related to the suppression of freedom is very deep. Take, for example, the very word “prisoner.” The word “zek” (зек) is widely used among the common people. It is derived from the official abbreviation Z/K (literally, prisoner-channel-army-warrior). The last three parts are the euphemism, which means “warrior fighting on the canal and for the canal” (referring to the construction of the Belomorkanal, which was carried out using prison labor). This euphemism was invented by the authorities to exploit the positive connotations of the word Red-Army-Warrior. So, “zek” has successfully migrated into the vernacular. And not many people know the origin of the word.
Likewise, during the Finnish War, the Finns were not just called Finns, but “White Finns.” The idea is the same: to use the negative image of the “White Guards” (белогвардейцы) as part of geurilla marketing. By the time the Finnish War began, most people remembered the Civil War in Russia in the 1920s.
Following Rome and the USSR, the U.S. empire is collapsing.
But Western conservatives are now actively awaiting the arrival of free speech! Elon Musk, they say, will save everyone. They enthusiastically share the confusion of the “progressive” public and the “democratic” establishment. They are excited by the panic on CNN and in the state apparatus. What grandiose stupidity.
For its part, the so-called progressive public insists that Musk’s control of Twitter could break the dam and allow a deluge of Trumpist lies to flood the country. And this is happenning on the eve of the most important event in the world: the fall elections! We hear slogans like “we must protect the truth in this country from populist apocalypse; we must impose regulation like in Europe.”
We are in an extremely interesting historical situation in which the so-called new media have ceased to be new and have become old media — split up into strictly geometrically complementary parts between states and lobby groups in the service of oligarchies.
This is not a new situation, but it is unusual for this generation. This generation has lived for thirty years with the feeling that there is at least something available beyond what is allowed. There was “the unconscionable.” It was possible to be a consumer of an disapproved worldview without going underground.
Now, this is no longer the case. There are no new spaces for non-prohibition, and Internet is already steadily mastered and managed by “decent” people.
The rigidity of official control of media space is inversely proportional to the extent to which private capital controls it. In European countries (they have no power over the Internet), you already break the law just by watching RT, and a security officer will come after you for it. In Russia, it’s milder, but a “Comrade Major” will still come after you if you RELAY ideas that coincide with enemy agitprop on the PARTICULAR topics.
In the U.S., until recently, all noteworthy media platforms were in the safe hands of “trusted comrades.” Now that there is even the specter of the possibility of enemies of the “progressive establishment” returning to the big stage and playing on an equal footing, hysteria has broken out, clearly signaling that “the time for playing the free speech amendment game is over.”
And as long as the vanguard has the power to pass laws and organize committees to defend the truth, it will use it. I even know what the name of the bill (passed in Congress by a narrow margin with the support of a number of particularly progressive Republicans) will be:
“The Free Speech Protection Act”
In just a couple of weeks of the “Russian invasion,” the Western press has managed to accuse thousands of prominent speakers of alternative views of Putinism and portray them as “useful idiots.” In many cases there was no shortage of absurdity. The aggression extended even to those who do not support NATO in its present form, but at the same time accuse critics of the alliance of supporting Putin.
Incompetent organizations engaged in “combating Russian disinformation” smelled blood and began flooding the Internet with graphs showing that any criticism of the West — whether its methods of fighting a pandemic, leniency toward “dictators,” intervention in Iraq, or solving the migration crisis — is mixed and peppered with Russian propaganda.
Observers have gone to great lengths to promote the idea that the mere mention of other (non-Ukrainian) ongoing wars in the world, the plight of non-Ukrainian refugees being pushed out of European doors, or the hypocrisy of the West must be inspired by the Kremlin. On the political scene, accusations of Putinism and pro-Russianism are heard with unprecedented frequency.
Suspicion of Putinism began to be translated into dozens of sometimes extremely different and mutually contradictory attitudes — left-wing pacifism and right-wing politics, support for coal but also Moscow-funded “environmentalism”, excessive “pro-Europeanism” (because Germany created Putin, sic.) but also “anti-Europeanism” (because the destruction of continental unity serves Putin).
A new cold war is here; a new McCarthyism is here as well.
We have been asked more than once why we do not always back up our words and even numerical statements with references, and do not sufficiently argue our often shocking statements. Why are we so unapologetic, while offering a quite practical framework for development?
The short answer is: When in Rome do as the Romans do.