When the color revolutions began, I got pulled in. Followed a Tunisian blogger, and later, spent a night eagerly catching the tweets from Tahrir Square in Egypt. Man, did I get fooled! I owe Ukraine a debt for waking me in several ways to the profound malevolence of the Spectacle. Not just a show to distract and confuse, you understand… I now see it a psychopathic sleight of hand, aiming to harm.

I began to follow the Ukrainian Maidan out of boredom, over Christmas 2013. Things were going well for both the demonstrators and the regime; I figured that the peaceful protesters would get some concessions and Yanukovich would opt for reinforcing his ties to Russia as more profitable for the country. Was I ever wrong! I went back into Earthaven and stopped following politics. When I reemerged, Maidan had turned into a putch, Yanuk had fled the country, snipers had killed over 100 people both protesters and police, and the country took a pronounced turn for the worse. Huh? When flight MH-17 was shot down, I combed the news for an explanation. Only later did I come to understand that we’ll never know who did it and why, and that the Dutch, who were entrusted with the oversight of the investigation have long since ceased to be the staid paragons of trustworthiness they once appeared to be. That’s when my world changed.

So when I heard of the color revolution in Belarus this August, I was primed. Now, Belarus is not a place I know. I’d only vaguely heard that the Soviet system lived on in Belarus after independence, and that it had been heavily affected by the fallout from Chernobyl, many years ago. So I began to look for information close to the ground. The Saker has published a number of thoughtful pieces on Belarus, and I found a nonpolitical blog by a Belarus teacher — she reports on the desertification of agricultural land in her home region caused by local party people who thought cutting down windbreaks was a capital idea. Then I found a blog of a man who lives next to Belarus and reports on Ukraine and the Baltic states often. He occasionally posts on the situation in Belarus from fairly direct experience.

Belarus is noted for lack of mineral resources, and relies for its economy on the industry of its citizens and tourism, as well as heavy support from Russia, with whom it formed at independence a union of a looser sort. It is key in the sense that gas and oil from Russia is transported across it to the rest of Europe. President Lukashenko is managing the country along a latter-day version of the Soviet system. A number of freedoms are lacking. About 80% of the country’s assets are owned by the state.

It is understandable that there would be simmering discontent there. But a color revolution?! After the plunder of Ukraine?! Surely the people there know better, having watched what happened to the neighbors? Well, it’s more complicated than that. Apart from Tunisia, where the uprising was spontaneous and unexpected, a color revolution seems to be a very specific tool. It is a sneaky way to bring a country down, absent the possibility of an outright war of occupation.

Various non-profits supported by money from the West are established. Key people are trained in disruptive strategies that repeat from country to country. Propaganda against the current regime starts in earnest – X must go! Democracy must come in! Crowds of the disaffected are gathered through often misleading slogans. If successful, the state resources are privatized, bought for pennies on the dollar, thriving enterprises are taken over by new foreign owners who rob them from within, leaving a husk that eventually collapses. I figure the “effective managers” coming from the West get a bonus for eliminating what could be unpleasant competition. The country turns into a colony, to one extent or another. State gold reserve disappears. A country that once could feed its population largely from local farms turns into one where cheap food from elsewhere can be dumped. That’s the rough outline.

I am not a fan of Lukashenko. Nor am I a fan of Soviet relics. But at the same time, I am really really not a fan of bringing down functional countries. Do we need another Libya, another Ukraine? Fortunately, it seems so far that the country will hold. Perhaps it’s because, by now, everybody and their brother knows the color revolution pattern. Including Lukashenko and Putin. Luka tried to play it both ways, lured by western promises, but woke in time. He asked Putin for help, brought in supportive personnel from Russia, stopped the police brutality after a couple of days of regime panic, and is slowly steering the country toward stability. The demonstrations have not stopped yet but seem to be losing steam, organizers have been arrested or have fled, and foreign news outlets have resorted to lies.

What do the protesters want? I saw one small home-made sign that said, GOD EXISTS. I imagine that the people there want to be able to believe as they choose, and obligatory “scientific atheism” and other politically correct views stick in their craw. They’d want to travel more freely. They’d want to speak more freely and participate in governance. They’d want relief from the heavy-handed local apparatchiks. They’d want more of an entrepreneurial spirit. But not in exchange for ruining their comprehensive safety net and their economic and cultural self-determination, such as it is, at least such as it is.

What do MSM tell us? They say that the people object to the ruination of their safety net and increasing neo-liberalism. Huh? That’s what they’d get if they threw open the gates. They repeat the brutality of the first two days as though it’s ongoing. They cry that one of the top people openly organizing a “transition of power” (just after an election that did not go their way!) has been arrested. They denounce the elections. The elections, well, they are Soviet-like, but nobody cared all those 30 years. Why now?

Could one reason be the fact that Lukashenko refused to crack down and impose covid-related measures demanded by the WHO, along with a contingent loan from the IMF? Belarus, like South Dakota and Sweden, remains normal in the age of covid. Deaths are a minor blip on the radar (pop. 9.5 million, covid deaths 691, end of August). Nobody is wearing masks or distances. Life goes on as usual. Not a bad move for a country that would have been economically devastated by a shutdown and an unpayable loan.

The blogger I follow heard in MSM news that in Vitebsk, there were demonstrations and “gestapo-like” arrests. Since he lives near enough, he drove there. He found a group of couple dozen people on the far edge of town with signs and a woman dressed in voluminous white (good photo contrast, apparently). No bystanders, nobody else joining in. Eventually, the police arrived, and told the people to disperse. They did. It was a photo-op, after all.

Then there was a woman in the middle of the town collecting signatures for recalling local politicians. In full view, by the cathedral, near the police patrol. Not many signatures, but she did get herself arrested, and walks away between two policemen smirking victoriously. Another photo-op.

In this topsy turvy world, communist Belarus lives normally, while in shut down, democratic Victoria, Australia they are arresting people and confiscating their phones and computers for so much as mentioning compulsory-mask protests on the interwebs. Strange, is it not? I am rooting for a system I once fled, and on principle oppose. Because there are worse things that can come to a small naïve country. Like wolves in sheep’s clothing.