Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, SUNY 2003Frank Visser, graduated as a psychologist of culture and religion, founded IntegralWorld in 1997. He worked as production manager for various publishing houses and as service manager for various internet companies and lives in Amsterdam. Books: Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (SUNY, 2003), and The Corona Conspiracy: Combatting Disinformation about the Coronavirus (Kindle, 2020).


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From Russia with Hate

Ukraine in Russian War Propaganda

Frank Visser

Abstract by ChatGPT. "From Russia with Hate" delves into the aggressive rhetoric and propaganda emanating from Russia towards Ukraine. Dmitry Medvedev's tweet exemplifies this, suggesting that no one, including Europe, the US, Africa, Asia, and even Russia itself, needs Ukraine. The term "Little Russia" is highlighted as a derogatory term, reflecting an imperialist Russian view that diminishes Ukrainian identity. The article contrasts this with the Ukrainian perspective, emphasizing their desire for freedom and alignment with European values. The piece also critiques the realist geopolitical stance, which often overlooks the genuine aspirations of people in favor of power dynamics. The Ukraine-Russia conflict is framed not just as a territorial dispute but as a clash of values and worldviews.

Hate-speech from the Kremlin

In a recent post on Twitter Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president (2008-2012) and current Deputy Chair of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, wrote the following chilling and openly cultural—if not physical—genocidal message:[1]

Here's the full text of this tweet:

Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
1. Europe doesn't need Ukraine. The forced support of the Nazi regime, by the American mentor's order, has put Europeans into a financial and political inferno. All for the sake of bandera's unterukraine, that even the snobby, insolent Polacks don't take for a valid country, and time and again toss in the issue of its western areas anschluss. There's a nice perspective ahead: to permanently put the nouveau-Ukrainian blood-sucking parasites on the decrepit EU's arthritis-crippled neck. That'll be the final fall of Europe, once majestic, but robbed off by degeneration.
2. The US doesn't need Ukraine. True, the military and sanction campaigns are attempted for PR by political blabbermouths, who long ago attested to their impotence and imbecility. Average Americans don't understand what “Ukraine” is, and where “it” is. Most of them won't show this “power” on the map on the first take. Why won't the US establishment focus on inflation and job issues, or emergencies in their home States, instead of a country 404, unbeknownst to them? Why does so much dough go across the ocean? Sooner or later, they'll ask for that. Then, storming of the Capitol in January 2021 would seem like scout games.
3. Africa and Latin America don't need Ukraine. The hundreds of millions spent by US on pointless fights in Ukraine, could finance many development programmes for Latin American and African states. Latin America is gringos' backyard—that's what they've been rubbing in for decades. Africa's had its share of suffering from the genocide, and colonial dependence, imposed by former western slave traders. That's why the people of African huts and Latin American favelas ask a very reasonable question: for their former suffering and present-day loyalty, why is somebody else rewarded—very, very far away?
4. Asia doesn't need Ukraine. By Russia's example, they see “colour” technologies at work to eradicate the largest competing powers. They understand what scenario the America-led collective West has for them if they disobey. “Help us to overcome Russia, and we'll soon come to you”, the utterly brazen Western leaders tell them. Such gigantic countries as India, China, and other Asia-Pacific states face the big enough challenge of post-pandemic economic recovery, let aside the drugged clowns, with their whining for aid. “We are not interested in you”, Asia tells their messengers, responding to the calls to support Ukraine and confine Russia. The country, geopolitically many times closer to Asian powers, the one that historically has proven itself a reliable strategic partner. Do Asian giants need such headache coming from former colonisers?
5. Russia doesn't need Ukraine. A threadbare quilt, torn, shaggy, and greasy. The new Malorossiya ["Little Russia"] of 1991 is made up of the artificially cut territories, many of which are indigenously Russian, separated by accident in the 20th century. Millions of our compatriots live there, harassed for years by the Nazi Kiev regime. It is them who we defend in our special military operation, relentlessly eradicating the enemy. We don't need unterukraine. We need Big Great Russia.
6. Finally, its own citizens don't need the Nazi-headed Ukraine. That's why out of 45 million people there're only some 20 million remaining. That's why those who stayed want to leave for any place: the hated Poland, EU, NATO, to be America's 51nd state. Joining the Antarctic with its pinguins will also be fine. As long as it's quiet, and the food's good. The ruling junta's criminal ambitions forced Ukrainians to beg and roam around the countries and continents, searching for a better life. All that is for an obscure European perspective. Or rather, to let the harlequin in a khaki tricot and his band of thievish Nazi clowns to put the money stolen from the West into their offshore accounts. Would ordinary Ukrainians need that? Nobody on this planet needs such a Ukraine. That's why it will disappear

Wikipedia explains the loaded connotation of the term "Little Russia":[2]

Modern context
The term Little Russia (Rus' Minor) is now anachronistic when used to refer to the country Ukraine and the modern Ukrainian nation, its language, culture, etc. Such usage is typically perceived as conveying an imperialist view that the Ukrainian territory and people ("Little Russians") belong to "one, indivisible Russia." Today, many Ukrainians consider the term disparaging, indicative of imperial Russian (and Soviet) suppression of Ukrainian identity and language. It has continued to be used in Russian nationalist discourse, in which modern Ukrainians are presented as a single people in a united Russian nation. This has provoked new hostility toward and disapproval of the term by some Ukrainians. In July 2021 Vladimir Putin published a 7000-word essay, a large part of which was devoted to expounding these views.

Anachronistic, imperialist, disparaging—you get the idea.

The term "unterukraine" hasn't made it yet into the dictionaries, and seems to have been minted by Medvedev himself. Compared to these unhinged rants of Medvedev, Putin's speeches and essays seem measured—even though they are full of pseudo-history and myth. But then again, politicians in Russia have always revised history to suit their current power-hungry strategies with versions of their own liking.[3]

An even more paranoid anti-Ukraine and anti-Western diet is served up by the Russian sponsored state TV shows, that are viewed by millions of Russians, often as their only source of information about what goes on in the world. Julia Davis, Columnist at TheDailyBeast, and creator of the Russian Media Monitor on YouTube, frequently shows brief fragments with English subtitles on her Twitter account.[4] Here's a recent example, featuring the popular talk show host Vladimir Solovyov:

Propagandist claims that Russia is a weapon of God's judgment (4 apr 2023)

From the video:

Let's destroy the city of Kyiv, to hell with it... Wipe it off the face of the earth... This is it, jokes are over... You can fight the unclean only with a holy fire falling from the skies. Fire and brimstone, like Sodom and Gomorrah... They have to be destroyed, and that's it!
Because it would be a compromise with the Devil, which is being sought by Zelensky and his handlers, Biden Scholz, Van der Leyen and the rest. Precisely, they are trying to drag us into legal disputes. There can be no disputes! These are the devils and they must be destroyed!
That's right because God is not with those who persecute, but with those who are being persecuted. Their current government is not with God... This is how we will revise the Old Testament, and the New Testament. "I have not come to bring peace but a sword."... I think that now is the time for every religious person to ask himself: What did I do for the front, what did I do for victory?... When all of us think that way, we will win.
And then there will be a true Resurrection, of the Ukrainian land as part of a big, native Russia. But we have to realize: this is a Holy War.

What these quotes from Medvedev and Solovyov show is a worldview, deeply entrenched in absolutist, mythic-literal Orthodox-Christianity, in which good and bad are clearly set apart from each other. Moscow is seen as the Third Rome (after Rome and Constantinopel), and the home of "true Christianity". All who think differently are part of the world of the devil (remember Putin telling us he is fighting Satanism in Ukraine?). In Spiral Dynamics jargon this is, approximately, Blue (absolutist) with heavy Red (violence) undertones. When people who think like this have nukes, this creates an explosive and dangerous mix. Especially when a former super-power like Russia has the ambition to become a world-player again, next to the US and China.

The Making of Modern Ukraine

It's time to switch gears and present a voice from Ukraine. I give you Marci Shore, author of Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution, who featured as guest speaker in one class of the "The Making of Modern Ukraine" series presented by Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University Timothy Snyder, her husband. In class 23, the last of the series, he raised the following questions to his students:

Ukraine must have existed as a society and polity on 23 February 2022, else Ukrainians would not have collectively resisted Russian invasion the next day. What does it mean for a nation to exist? Is this a matter of structures, actions, or both? Why has the existence of Ukraine occasioned such controversy? In what ways are Polish, Russian, and Jewish self-understanding dependent upon experiences in Ukraine? Just how and when did a modern Ukrainian nation emerge? For that matter, how does any modern nation emerge? Why some and not others? Can nations be chosen, and can choices be decisive? If so, whose, and how? Ukraine was the country most touched by Soviet and Nazi terror: what can we learn about those systems, then, from Ukraine? Is the post-colonial, multilingual Ukrainian nation a holdover from the past, or does it hold some promise for the future?

In class 20, Marci Shore relates how she experienced the Maidan revolt in 2014, which is also known as "The Revolution of Dignity".[5] It followed up on the Russia-minded president Yanukovych's refusal to sign the trade agreement with the EU, which he had promised to do, much to the delight of the younger Ukrainian generation. Peaceful demonstrations resulted, that over time morphed into large crowds, both of younger and older people, opposing the government. Many European countries, and the US, supported this revolt, and the upshot was that Yanukovych fled to Russia and a new government was chosen. Russophile propaganda channels like to frame this as a "US coup", but the Ukrainian population obviously thought otherwise. It was a genuine longing for freedom and democracy, even if only in a very fragile form, and an equally strong desire to move away from decades of Russian and Soviet Union domination.

Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 20. Maidan and Self-Understanding [guest speaker: Marci Shore]

From the video:

Likes Don't Count
At that point, still, nothing might have happened. It's one of the lessons about historical contingency. People were very depressed, people were very upset, people were angry. Had not a 32 year old Afghan-Ukrainian journalist,named Mustafa Nayyem, not posted on Facebook, in Russian, a little note on November 21st, saying, "Hey, let's be serious. "If you're really upset, "come out to the Maidan by midnight tonight." And he said, "likes do not count." Interestingly, that "likes do not count"...
People come out to the Maidan that night. Mostly, although not exclusively,young people, students, people exactly your age, quite similar to yourselves, they go out to the square. It's November, it's cold, not as cold as it's going to get in January, but cold. They hold hands, they sing, they play music, they're completely peaceful. They're not interested in ethnic politics, they're not interested in language politics, they're not interested in opposition political parties, they're not talking about elections.
Their slogan is "Ukraine is Europe." That's it. "Ukraine is Europe."

What this fragment shows is a totally different mind-set and value system compared to the Russian examples I gave. This time, the dominant colors are, again, approximately, Orange (for individual freedom) and Green (for humanistic values). Obviously, the Ukraine-Russia conflict is a conflict between these meme-complexes. The question then becomes: what can a higher-meme country do when it gets invaded by a lower-meme but more powerful country? (Compare this to the two centuries that early Russia got invaded by the Mongols. And it was only when the Mongols retreated that Moscow could become the center of power, no longer Kyiv.[3]) It is helpless if not supported by like-minded Western countries. And this is exactly what we see happening now, with many European countries sending arms and funding to Ukraine, to supplement the support already given by the US.

GREEN (humanism)
ORANGE (freedom)
BLUE (religion)
RED (violence)

Clash of values of the Ukraine-Russia war (Spiral Dynamics).

The Case of Joseph Dillard

It is this legitimate vertical urge, for freedom and dignity, that is totally overlooked by those who are inspired by geopolitics, and are usually called "realists". Realists look down upon so-called "idealists", who talk about a rule-based order, but ignore the power-play of super-powers. They seem proud of their 19th century realism (subscribed to by Putin as well) and despise the "naive" 21st century idealism, championed (at least in name) by the West. Now, it is important to see that there is a big difference between Western ideals and how they have worked out in practice. Whatever the shortcomings of Western foreign policy have been, the ideals itself should not be neglected, at least that is how I see it. And in their zeal to criticize Western misbehavior, russophile commentators run the risk of missing out on this vertical dimension.

The basic questions are: was the Russian invasion in any way legitimate (at least from their realist perspective)? But equally: was the Ukrainian revolt of 2014 in any way legitimate (from their idealist perspective)? And how do we get out of this mess? The first step, indeed, is trying to understand the behavior of countries, especially those we are in conflict with. But the next step is aiming for some integration, or at least some common ground every party in this conflict can live with. Dillard has spent thousands of words explicating the Russian perspective, but relatively little on integrating this with other points of view.[6]

To be fair, geopolitical realists see a different kind of verticality, we can call it the "escalation ladder." From a regional conflict in the Donbas, it spilled over into a bi-national war between Ukraine and Russia, which in turn due to the Europe/US support for Ukraine threatens to widen itself further into a European or even a World War, with potential dire consequences. That point too must be honored.

GLOBAL (World War)
BI-NATIONAL (Ukraine-Russia)

Escalation ladder of the Ukraine-Russia war.

What hampers a constructive debate so far, as far as I can tell, is that geopolitics authors tend to focus on the upper two levels (multi-national and global), whereas those who specialize in the Ukraine-Russia historical relations are strong in the lower two levels (bi-national and regional). Both distrust the other and accuse them of being naive or lacking the proper expertise. For realists, it doesn't matter if you like the political system of your neighbor, as long as you can get along with him. For idealists might should not make right and we should stand for our (higher?) values.

On the other hand, the Maidan revolt is another example of many "color revolutions" all over the world, where the population protests against its dictatorial regimes, often at the risk of becoming imprisoned or even killed on the spot. Seeing all of these revolts as ever so many "coups" sponsored by the US "Empire" overlooks, again, the real and legitimate needs of the people involved for more individual freedom, especially where dogmatic religion dominates the state. It is a cynical stance that plays to the hands of exactly these repressive regimes.

Speaking of which, when multiple democracy (or press freedom or corruption) indexes by various research institutes show that Russia consistently performs worse than Ukraine, the facile reply by russo- or chinophiles is: these are all Western efforts sponsored by the state.[7] Well, show me Russian or Chinese reports that have an equally global and comparative scope, if there are any. Cultural biases are always possible, of course, but even if these indexes only measure how far non-Western countries have "progressed" towards Western ideals, it means something that these same Western countries, especially those in Northern Europe, consistently end up high in happiness indexes.[8]

When it comes to the question if the West has recklessly expanded NATO, supposedly breaking a promise to Russia, what is usually overlooked by russophiles is that these countries were not invaded by NATO but joined that organization by their own free will. That gives a message to Putin that is hard to swallow: none of the Warschaw Pact countries were, understandably, willing to stay within the Russian sphere of influence, and it has become very clear that Ukraine has expressed the wish to follow—for the very same reasons.

Not to get mired again in quotes and sources and their interpretations, my reply to Dillard's pro-Russian perspective would be (as I have argued on various occasions): transcending our Western group-think should not mean trading it for Russian group-think, least of all of the apocalyptic and aggressive variety we have encountered in Medvedev and Solovyov above. And even if the West has displayed hypocrisy by starting various wars abroad "to bring freedom and democracy", this should not lead to the cynical conclusion that these values cannot be realized. Autocratic rulers may laugh about the often messy and imperfect democratic processes in Western countries, but they avoid such at high costs for their own population. Ukraine, to my mind, has taken steps towards freedom and democracy, even if the war with Russia have now made harshly restrictive measures necessary.

Joseph Dillard has argued many times that we have to transcend our Western group-think and include the perspective of Russia in our multi-perspectivalism. As valuable as that can be as a first step, if group-think seems unavoidable, choose your group wisely, I would say.


[1] Dmitry Medvedev,, April 8, 2023. This tweet got 14 million views.

[2] "Little Russia",

[3] M. Galeotti, A Short History of Russia, Penguin, 2021/2022.

[4] Julia Davis,

[5] "Revolution of Dignity",

[6] But do check his series "Characteristics of Our Emerging Worldview",

[7] See: Ray Harris, "A Case of Gaslighting", and comments by Jan Krikke and Joseph Dillard.

[8] Marnie Hunter, "The world’s happiest countries for 2023",, March 23, 2023. Based on publication of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Dimensions investigated are: healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support, low corruption, generosity in a community where people look after each other and freedom to make key life decisions. So there is hardly a bias towards individualism and materialism. And relevant for our topic:

The Baltic nation [Lithuania] has been climbing steadily over the past six years from No. 52 in 2017 to No. 20 on the latest list. And the other Baltic countries, Estonia (No. 31) and Latvia (No. 41), have been climbing in the ranks, too. "It’s essentially the same story that’s playing out in the rest of Central and Eastern Europe," Helliwell said. Countries in those regions "probably have normalized that post-1990 transition and [are] feeling more solid in their new identity" as the years pass, he said.

Sounds to me that Ukraine aspires to follow that same post-Soviet trajectory.

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