zizek22_Eyal WarshavskySOPA ImagesLightRocket via Getty Images_amiramlevinisraelprotest Eyal Warshavsky/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

National Derangements

In both Russia and Israel today, the social pact is fracturing under the weight of history and disagreements about basic principles and national identity. These conditions lend themselves to increasingly absurd and extreme rhetoric, some of which speaks to the people's deepest fears and preoccupations.

LJUBLJANA – Whenever a country’s social contract unravels, conditions become ripe for rumors and absurdities to circulate. Even when these are outrageous and obviously nonsensical, they can give expression to a people’s deepest fears and prejudices.

Such is the case in Russia today, where Sergei Markov, a former adviser to President Vladimir Putin, has warned that Ukraine is creating “gay super-soldiers” to wage war against his country: “Military theorists and historians know which army in Greece was the strongest, remember? The Spartans. They were united by a homosexual brotherhood. They were all homos. These were the politics of their leadership. I think they are planning the same for Ukraine’s Armed Forces.”

Of course, this mixture of homophobia, fake history, and Marvel comic-inspired ideas of super-soldiers indicates that Markov is not interested in encouraging critical thinking and reasoned analysis. No matter: such idiotic statements apparently resonate with at least some important segments of Russian society.

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