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Putin’s war: when lies are not just another version of the truth

Ideas

Putin’s war: when lies are not just another version of the truth

In Russia there’s only one point of view and, as such, no truth in the middle. Just ask Marina Ovsyannikova

Columnist

Who said: “There is no truth, only approximations of the truth by as many different voices as possible”? If you answered 1984’s Big Brother, Friedrich Nietzsche or the ANC, you’d be wrong, but only in the detail, not the spirit. The purveyor of this declaration of ideological convenience is none other than the editor of the Russian propaganda TV channel RT, Margarita Simonyan, elevated to head President Vladimir Putin’s very own Truman Show at the age of 25, in 2005.

When Simonyan says “as many different voices as possible’’, the emphasis is on the number and not what they actually say. In the shadowy make-you-believe world of propaganda and hollow political forms, quantity obscures quality. To give a local perspective, this numbers approach is to freedom of speech what the ANC government’s “public consultations’’ are to participatory democracy – a sham, allowing for the conspicuous ignoring not of a single informed voice, but of a choir of intelligent dissent.

Yes, yes, I know we’re all meant to stand trembling in something resembling serious respect for RT. We’re enjoined to employ the spirit of liberal freedoms in assessing a creature of authoritarian dictatorship. It’s our duty as modern cosmopolitans to see the opposing point of view and to take it for granted that it’s as good as one’s own. Better if your sense of charity stretches to giving the benefit of the doubt...

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