Russia and the Internet
As we’ve said before, we feel that the most pernicious lie being circulated by the Russian Kremlin and its Russophile apologists is that it doesn’t matter if the Kremlin crushes the life out of news reporting on television and in print because Russia’s Internet can pick up any slack there may be. Of course, such a position is illogical, since if it were true the Kremlin’s frenzied efforts to dominate TV and newspapers would be a laughable waste of time, and not even the Kremlin is that stupid. It isn’t, of course, because for two simple reasons hardly anybody in Russia can get their news from the Internet. First, it costs too much. When the average national wage is $3/hour and inflation is double-digit, people have better things to do with their money. Like eating and staying warm. Second, it’s under seige. Bloggers have been arrested and prosecuted, they’ve been threatened and attacked, and service providers have been shut down outright.
The data, even Russia data, proves this beyond the shadow of any doubt.
According to the latest data from the Levada Centre, the least incredible of Russia’s various state-influenced polling agencies, as of January of this year less than one in three Russian families has a home computer. That means that two-thirds of all Russian families cannot get their news from the Internet even if they want to. They must rely entirely on state-dominated television and state-controlled national newspapers. What’s more, when asked whether they can access a computer at work the percentage increases only slightly. 59% of Russians say they never have access to a computer either at home or at work.
As for that sliver of Russians who do have a home computer, the percentage with daily access to the Internet drops still further. A truly stunning 16% of respondents told Levada they use the Internet every day. The other 17% of Russians with home computers can only afford Internet access on a weekly (8%) or monthly basis. And the data shows that it is heavily skewed towards more highly-educated Russians, meaning that ordinary Russians have virtually no access to the Internet at all.
A whopping 74% of Russians never use e-mail, while just 12% use it more than once a week.
The ignorance that results from this is easy to predict and imagine. To make it vivid, we’ll just say this: The link to Levada’s data above was given to us by a Russophile commenter who thought it proved the Kremlin was right. This trash can’t read, it hasn’t learned how to, because reading implies substance and the Kremlin, just like the USSR before it, couldn’t care less about substance. All it wants is the right kind of lies, told often and loudly by people who have guns and knives and clubs and radioactive poison and aren’t afraid to use them.
This ignorance, of course, explains why Russia doesn’t rank in the top 130 nations of the world for adult lifespan, why it is quite literally going extinct. No industrial nation can survive this kind of ignorance, much less stay competitive in it. The USSR couldn’t, and neither can Russia.