I see articles about dissent in Russia after the mobilization, about protests, and about hopes that Putin's regime will "fall on its own" because of sanctions, or that China is drifting out of its orbit. These beautiful dreams of the just revolution that wipes out the wicked, or of the bobbolo that overthrows the tyrant, would be worth much less if someone explained how the psychology of the citizens of a totalitarian system works.
First of all, also because here in Germany there is a debate on “welcoming the deserters and sending them back to Russia”, one thing needs to be clarified. Whoever is taking to the streets TODAY against the mobilization wanted by Putin is neither a "conscientious objector" nor a "deserter".
If your conscience forbids you from killing or forbids you to participate in a war because it is unjust, you would have left when the Russian "soldiers" raped children to death in Ukraine in Bucha kindergartens. But until then, these gentlemen walked around with the Z on their shirts. They had no objection. They were winning.
Only when they called them, then they discovered deserters, or conscientious objectors: but it is a fiction. They are neither deserters nor objectors without conscience, they are vulgar cowards. I'd rather know that they were mowed down by Ukrainian machine guns.
Having said that, the question you are probably asking yourself by observing the various Lavrovs and the various Russians and pro-Russians who appear in the interviews is "but how is it possible that in that country they are all miserable, little pieces of shit?".
There is a reason, and that is the particular psychology of totalitarianism.
First of all, those who believe that "totalitarianism" is something that the dictator does to the country, using political police, violence and propaganda, did not understand a shit. The dictator first and foremost is a leader. And being a leader, as Weber says, he does nothing but transform the group by changing its culture. The most immediate consequence is that citizens participate in the dictatorship. ALL. (except for the politically persecuted, who however have a short life).
We must therefore ask ourselves how a totalitarianism changes people.
Living in totalitarianism means that only what the state decides needs to be said. Since it is usually different from the truth, telling the truth becomes dangerous. The state punishes those who speak the truth.
When the human mind lives for many years in this situation, it begins to associate truth with danger. Consequently, the brain begins to feel safe when the person lies, while it feels in danger when he tells the truth.
As a result, even in everyday life, lying becomes endemic AND pathological.
It means that in a totalitarianism, when Ivan comes home after being at Bar Igor with Andrei, he tells his wife that he has been at Bar Vlad with Michael. You will say: what difference does it make? What does it gain? Why is being at Bar Igor with Andrei better than being at Bar Vlad with Michael?
No reason. What happened is that Ivan's brain got used to thinking that telling the truth is dangerous. When he tells the truth, Ivan gets nervous, he feels uncomfortable, in danger, his brain releases dopamine and adrenaline.
Conversely, when his brain lies, it releases serotonin, oxytocin is added, and all of this rewards him with a feeling of security. So he lies, even when he doesn't need it, when he doesn't make a profit, when there is no point in doing it and he has nothing to hide.
The first thing to understand is that after years of totalitarianism,everyone is always lying to everyone.
Psychology changes, and with it the daily behavior of people. It doesn't matter who you talk to: they'll tell you bullshit, always. At least a little, to feel better.
The second point of a totalitarian system is “social life as a zero-sum game”.
It means that if you hear the political police coming into your apartment building one night, your first problem is “are they coming to get me? Has anyone reported me? Did I miss the truth? ”.
When the political police take away your neighbor from the landing, you will feel a sense of relief: better him than me. And you will do nothing to avoid the same end.
The problem with a brain that feels relief when something bad happens to another is that the suffering of others slowly fills you with relief. Not of joy: but of relief, yes.
It means that when you hear that your army bombs cities in Ukraine or massacres people in Bucha, then you think "better of them than of me". This behavior becomes a reflex, and the result is that you stop feeling empathy. In fact, seeing someone to whom something bad happens makes you feel relief.
In a totalitarian regime, citizens' minds change and suffocate empathy: no one ever helps others.
The third effect has on self-esteem, that is one of the characteristics that underlie the so-called "dignity"; self-consideration.
The problem operates as it does with truth: just as truth is dangerous because whoever says it is punished, dignity is dangerous because totalitarian regimes are extremely hierarchical and exercise power visibly, harassing the citizens.
This makes dignity itself a danger, as happens in truth. Rebelling is a danger, while bowing your head saves your life. The ass-lickers go on, the ones who submit go on. Don't submit, don't lick ass, it's dangerous.
People's mind, as it does with the truth I described above, begins to associate dignity with danger. When the possibility arises of having to choose for one's dignity FIRST, the mind begins to look for a way out.
Those born and raised in a totalitarian country normally see nothing strange in losing their dignity, flattering, licking asses, submitting.
The human mind is made to FORESEE the dangers. When I say that people associate truth and dignity with danger, I mean that people then behave like those who associate the wolf with danger: at the slightest trace, they change course. In advance, BEFORE you see the wolf.
Obviously, the result is that the person raised in such a place takes on characteristics that we consider very despicable.
Those who grew up in a totalitarian country appear to us, inevitably, as a miserable pathological liar, who has no dignity or self-love, and lacks the minimum requirements of humanity and empathy.
This is the effect we notice when we hear Lavrov, or the Kremlin propagandist, speak: the reason is that their mind, growing up in a totalitarian system, has changed psychology and adapted behavior to the environment.
On the other hand, Putin is right to say that Russia has the best prostitutes: put two and two together, and you immediately understand why.