Book review: Darth Putin’s “How to Tankie: The Anti Imperialist’s Guide to the Modern World”
I started following @DarthVaderKGB on Twitter after his real life parody namesake annexed Crimea. At first I thought that his tweets were amusing.
Over the years, the Kremlin’s actions landed more and more often onto reluctant and then outraged headlines on western media, whose short memory makes them prone to involuntary self-parody. That made me realize the depth of Darth Putin’s “satire” on the Kremlin’s deeds, on Kremlin-linked kleptocracy, the conniving western elites and the continuity of Putin’s actions with the worst history of Imperial and then Soviet Russia.
When he finally wrote this book, I was not among the first ones to order it, because I thought that I knew already its content from his tweets, but I was wrong.
The book, as he explains breaking character in the final Author’s Note, comes straight from the tweets but it’s not a mere collection of them. On the contrary, it’s the fabric that finally puts together the views expressed in years of tweets covering Putin’s actions, Russian and Soviet long history and their even longer history of denials, admissions and denials of admissions. But the real protagonists of this book are those who in Britain are called “Tankies,” a peculiar category that Putin saved from the extinction they seemingly were doomed to by the end of the Cold War.
Darth’s masterwork aims to prevent Tankies from becoming an endangered species, or even worse, from stopping muddling otherwise healthy debates on Russia with arguments like “but what about Iraq?” or “NATO bombed Serbia!”
Capitalizing on his priceless experience in a decade of tweets and replies from angry trolls which inevitably prove Darth’s points, the author guides the reader into a dizzying mirror maze of repetitions and examples of real life absurdities. There, finally, the inexplicable arguments used to defend the indefensible and to disprove proven facts acquire an almost cathartic sense: they make none, but they win unwinnable debates.
Darth teaches how to bend logic the way the Kremlin and their sympathetic media do, with hilarious results, and he eventually proves that logic, much like proven facts, is merely an imperialist tool, and as such it needs to be disregarded to be right.
The quizzes at the end of each chapter are the icing on the cake: to answer the “right” way we need to disregard our own logic in favor of what Darth taught us. Such Orwellian capitulation and descent into complicity are Darth’s final victory, which exposes the level of collusion of real life hardcore fans of the Kremlin, be them media or pundits.
Last, but not least, in the best Cold War tradition the book holds a mystery: it has 21 chapters, but something is wrong. I tried to ask Darth himself in a direct message, but his only answer was “;)”
Probably there is a dark CIA plot to be exposed or a secret superlevel of tankie-ism to be unlocked, but I haven’t solved that mystery yet…