Masha and the Bear: How 'the Kremlin' set out to subvert our toddlers. By George Galloway

George Galloway
George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.
Masha and the Bear: How 'the Kremlin' set out to subvert our toddlers. By George Galloway
Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote: “Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.” I thought of this while reading what is surely the nadir of Russophobic balderdash about the cartoon Masha and the Bear.

As it happens I am a Russophile and have been for more than 50 years. But I have four children under the age of 12 and all of them have loved Masha and her friend the big protective bear quite without a single exposition from me on the State and Revolution or the limitations of Lenin's New Economic Policy. I usually wait until my children are 12 before explaining that Socialism = Soviet Power plus electrification.

In any case, Masha and the Bear don't live under Socialism – they live in a capitalist state, the new economic policy is the same as that of the rest of the world. Their Russia is already well-electrified, and revolution and Soviet Power are in the museum. More's the pity from my point of view, but there we are.

What is astounding is that all of that notwithstanding the fear and loathing of Russia continues unabated as if Stalin, the Comintern and the class against class party-line of the Third Period was still, a thing.

And thus anything nice or attractive which emanates from Russia must be attacked by the antibodies of the Western media as if it were a virus. Masha and the Bear, a virus.

Yet I have sat with four children in a row on my knee watching this cartoon entirely oblivious to a scintilla of politics of any kind being spread.

Unlike Masha and the Bear's Western equivalents.

When I was my children's age, I endured a daily diet of comic heroes flying straight out of the Western imperialist's camp (and lived to tell the tale).

There was Biggles, an imperialist airman, and there was the Englishman the Wolf of Kabul (and his Neanderthal Afghan guide “clicky ba” – so called because he smote the Englishman's foolish enemies with a cricket-bat). There was the urbane Lone Ranger and his long-suffering savage Uncle Tom – Tonto. There was Tin-Tin.

But soaring above them all, there was “Superman”, of course. “For Truth Justice and the American Way,” he strained every sinew (how differently things could have turned out if the baby Superman had landed on the steppes instead of the American prairie – and put his formidable shoulder into helping Stalin build Socialism!)

In a decade I have never heard either Masha or her Bear say a single word about “the Russian Way.” I have never seen either belittle, humiliate, orientalize or patronize a single native, anywhere. I have never heard either proselytize for empire, for racial supremacy or for their country's right to subjugate others. It’s all been just good clean fun. But perhaps I just don't have the eye for the subliminal method.

But some do.

Masha and the Bear has billions of views on YouTube and more than 4 million subscribers and few really knew that President Putin was behind them. Why the fiendish “Kremlin” according to my Sunday newspaper has "ramped up" its propaganda efforts by branching into Spanish! And going on to Netflix!

Last year a lecturer at Tallinn University Priit Hobemagi claimed little Masha (or perhaps her bear) were “a danger to Estonian national security.”

And now an English “intelligence expert” Anthony Glees from the University of Buckingham explains in my newspaper that “Masha is feisty, even rather nasty, but plucky” – just like Russia he implies.”She punches above her weight. It’s not far-fetched to see her as Putinesque,” the “intelligence expert” explains.

Though Masha and the Bear have nothing to do with the Kremlin or Putin and are a perfectly capitalist private sector affair who have (presumably) earned their creators a suitably filthy pile of roubles in private profit, the haters of Russia cannot escape their synonym that anything good out of Russia must be a Putin-plot.

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