The war in Ukraine has brought into focus a strange belief among the ruling elites of the West that the world is controlled by narratives. If they can conjure a good story that seems to cover the facts in evidence, then the story is not only true, but it will control reality for the people in it. It is a form of abductive reasoning where they start with observations of varying degrees of plausibility, make sweeping conclusion and then declare war on anyone who raises doubts about them.
Formally, abduction is a form of logical inference. You begin with a set of observations and then look for the most likely conclusion from the observations. It is simply the best available explanation for what is observed. There is the possibility that some less likely or entirely unknown explanation is the correct one. This is where the ruling class logic departs from the formal definition. The explanation deemed most likely becomes an article of faith, often in support of some other belief.
Another difference from the formal definition is that the initial set of observations are never debated or reevaluated. The faith of the ruling class in their own ability to observe and define the world rules out uncertainty about their observations. Since many of the observations are part of this process, reconsidering these observations means questioning the reasoning behind them. More important, it means doubting the reasoner behind them and that is forbidden.
With regards to the war in Ukraine, Western leaders told the politicians that Russia was nothing but a big gas station with large land holdings. They could not sustain a large army in the field for very long. They lacked the capacity to make the ammunition and equipment needed for the war. Her economy was no better than Venezuela, so a boycott would bring it crashing down and before long it would lead to one of those mysterious color revolutions so popular these days.
This set of observations dates back to the post-Cold War days when the Russian economy was recovering from the collapse of communism. To whatever extent they were true at the time, no one has bothered to update them. They have become articles of faith, pillars upon which all relations with Russia are based. Over time, the new set of observations about Putin have been synthesized by the same crowd to fill in the gaps between the prior observations.
This mental framework with regards to Russia and the war in the Ukraine is so brittle and inflexible, it is forced to ignore facts on the ground. This story in a main Western media organ has become a standing head. In the old days of the newspaper business, a standing head was a headline used so often that it was made into a permanent block for the printer. For five months, Western media has been quoting regime experts claiming the Russians are about to run out of supplies.
The first quoted official is illustrative. “There will come a time when the tiny advances Russia is making become unsustainable in light of the costs and they will need a significant pause to regenerate capability.” This is true only within the logical framework of the belief set. The fact that Russia is obliterating the Ukrainian army and seizing large chunks of territory is ignored. The fact that the prior predictions have been false and the Russians show no signs of running out material is also ignored.
The undeniable truth of the war is that the Russians are using an expeditionary force of about 200,000 men from its professional army to systematically annihilate the Ukrainian army, which is larger and dug into fortified positions. This is possible because Russia is not a gas station with land holdings. In fact, it now has a military industrial capacity greater than the West. It can sustain its operations in Ukraine for as long as it takes to destroy the Ukraine and its ability to field an army.
None of this seems to register with the decision makers. This quote from retired Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. forces in Europe who is now with the Center for European Policy Analysis, is illustrative. “I remain very optimistic that Ukraine is going to win.” He then added, “Right now it sucks to be on the receiving end of all this Russian artillery. But my assessment is that things are going to be trending in favor of the Ukrainians in the next few weeks.”
The natural assumption by people in control of their faculties and aware of what is happening in the Ukraine is that these people are lying. Many of them, especially the ISW types, have a well known cultural affinity for lying. This general, and many like him in the decision tree, display no signs of sociopathy. They genuinely believe the narratives that they have played a role in creating. The fantasy world they have made for themselves is now more real than physical reality.
This disconnect between the world the elites imagine they control and the world that exists for everyone else is the crisis in the West. Four months ago, that general should have seen that their plan to bunkerize the Donbas and wait out the Russians was quickly becoming a suicide pact. The Russians are simply standing off and hammering these fortifications with artillery. This reduces their losses to the barest minimum, while it slowly and systematically destroys Ukraine.
That is reality, but for Western elites, this does not exist. Instead, they imagine a world where heroic fighters, who look a lot like them, are defending against an increasingly desperate horde of barbarians from over the horizon. It is the great battle for Middle Earth and the beautiful people are the elves and the Ukrainians are the humans, hobbits and other lower creatures of the world. Meanwhile, Putin is Sauron and his army are those vicious, bloodthirsty orcs.
The war in the Ukraine is but one glaring example. The gap between reality and the narratives created by the ruling class are everywhere. The energy crisis they created is not angry people paying five dollars a gallon for gas. It is the struggle to break free from hydrocarbons and transition to a world powered by fairy dust. Food shortages are just the price to be paid for transitioning to sustainable food created in labs using twigs and bugs so that the woodland creatures may be free.
No matter the problem, they have a story for it. They call these stories “messaging” but they are just stories to comport the bits of reality that interrupt the dream, with the larger narratives that define ruling class reality. This summer we will be awash in messaging in the run up to the election, which now works like an award show for the freaks that populate the political class. The best message wins. The winner then gets to spin some new narratives to please the Cloud People.
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