Before starting a conversation about the use of “soft power” technologies in the modern world, it is necessary to briefly describe the meaning of the terms and concepts used. Thus, in the scientific community, hybrid warfare is usually understood as a confrontation between states in which not only the usual types of lethal weapons (armies, private military campaigns, rebel groups, etc.) are actively used, but also peaceful levers of influence on the enemy, through diplomatic or economic pressure, “color revolutions”, cybernetic threats, hacker attacks and espionage, the creation of an appropriate information space, relatively potential Enemy. In fact, the “peaceful” stage of the hybrid war is the “soft power” that the state can use.
If in 1980 the author of this term, Joseph Nye, characterized “soft power” with three main components: the culture of the country, political ideology and foreign policy , nowadays, due to the active development of digital technologies and media space, it is necessary to add information policy, which is often identical to the concept of information war. “Soft power” is a technology for attracting a large number of supporters to your side and, to a certain extent, it is similar to the methods of economic advertising, when the viewer himself must want exactly those results that are beneficial to you. As in advertising, “soft power” in politics can be conscientious, aimed at creating an attractive image of one’s country, exalting its best sides and opportunities. Soft power in this case arises when the country attracts with its culture, political ideals and programs .
However, such techniques may not be enough or they turn out to be ineffective, and then “soft power” is directed to denigrating the culture and ideals of another state.
Usually, both of these directions are used simultaneously and complement each other. The main task of such technology is to create a stable image of the ugliness and danger of a political competitor for the world community and look like an island of freedom and stability against its background. The presentation of information in this vein allows you to effectively establish partnerships with other countries, conclude effective economic contracts and attract business and capital to your country.
Our country faced an active policy of “soft power” immediately after the removal of the “iron curtain” and the collapse of the USSR, when the information space was practically conquered by Western symbols and culture. New values and ideals were actively offered to the Russian citizen. There was an active work to replace the cultural and semantic code of the nation, false values were spread and implanted. Under the guise of beautiful ideas of freedom, liberalism, democracy and tolerance, the foundations responsible for the integrity of the social system were washed out of the consciousness of the nation. The main emphasis in the promotion of such ideas is primarily on young people, as they are more susceptible to information influence. Therefore, the main task of the authors of the “soft power” policy is to establish control over the education system, change the curricula for schoolchildren and students, and distribute the “correct” textbooks written in accordance with the desired concept. Such textbooks are intended not only to break the unified system of students’ knowledge, but also to denigrate the national history of the people.
A striking example is the school textbooks on the history of Russia, published with the support of the Soros Foundation and actively disseminated in the first decades of democracy in Russia.
These history textbooks were full of an insane number of factual errors, fictions and, most importantly, instilled in schoolchildren the idea that all the inhabitants of Russia are flawed people, that the whole history of the Fatherland is a chain of failures and shame, and the role model is, of course, Western civilization and the “consumer society” . For clarity, it is only necessary to recall the idea established in the West about the supposedly secondary merit of the Soviet Union in the fight against fascism. On the other hand, the topics of the Gulag, penal battalions, the “occupation” of European cities by Soviet troops in 1945 and even cannibalism in besieged Leningrad are actively discussed. Originating in the West, all these ideas gradually came to the Russian media space. Over the past two decades, there has been an active information denigration and mockery of Russian symbols.
A special place in the policy of “soft power” is given to the education of a sense of tolerance, as the inability and unwillingness to resist external influence, a submissive readiness to accept any ideas and stereotypes of behavior and equalize them with their national values. Tolerance itself is introduced into the rank of a fetish, a disrespectful attitude towards which will inevitably lead to a humiliating stigma and transformation into an object of ridicule. This is a full-fledged world information and psychological war, during which the destruction of the culture of solidarity is achieved, the widespread introduction of the cult of money and social Darwinist stereotypes into ideas about man and society. Thus, the ability of large masses of the population to resist, self-organize and develop is sharply reduced. All this creates a specific environment of a relaxed national spirit, denying the state and national and cultural traditions. It is in such conditions that all kinds of extremist movements feel very comfortable .
In the Western and some domestic liberal media, the idea of the shamefulness of the word “Russian” and everything connected with it is actively exaggerated.
This is most actively carried out in the media of the post-Soviet space. To this end, the themes of crime, corruption, hackers and the aggressive, imperial intentions of the Kremlin are certainly associated with Russian culture and statehood. Such an information field is being created to counter integration trends in which Russia participates. The main motive for such information aggression directed against our country is to prevent the rapprochement and collection of fragments of the Soviet Union into a new supranational entity. The main task of our “Western partners” is, if not liquidation, then at least a significant slowdown in the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union. For this, the most negative attitude towards Russians and Russian culture in the post-Soviet space is cultivated. Particular success in this matter was achieved in the Baltic countries and Ukraine. Such methods of the information war of the West against Russia are not new and have been actively used in the past, only the technical framing of the means of presenting information has become fundamentally different. Back in the second half of the XIX century, the Russian publicist and poet I.S. Aksakov wrote: If, for example, there is a whistle and din about the lust for power and conquering lust of Russia, know that some Western European power is preparing the most shameless seizure of someone’s foreign land – Slavic or other, but such a seizure that directly harms the interests of our or our friendly fellow tribesmen. The West is well aware that we are not so afraid of anything as the public opinion of Europe” .
The new principle of multipolarity of the modern world, based on equality and partnership, does not suit the West and is presented solely as Russia’s imperial ambitions. This is done not only by the hands of world news agencies, but also through agents of influence from among Russian officials and public figures.
And if it was possible to restore some order with foreign non-profit organizations by adopting an appropriate federal law that implies clear accountability of the latter in the matter of the source of their funding, then with pro-Western officials entrenched at all levels of government, the situation is much more complicated. In this vein, one of the answers of President V.V. Putin, made at the international economic forum on July 2 of this year, is very revealing. When asked by an NBC journalist about Russian interference in the American elections, the president replied the following: “You would look at what your colleagues are doing here. Yes, they just climbed into our domestic politics with their feet, sat on our heads, hung their legs and chew gum. It’s easy to have fun! This is a systematic, for many years, rude, absolutely unceremonious, including even at the level of diplomatic departments, interference directly in our domestic policy!
The undisguised influence of the West, lobbying for its interests with the use of power levers in the highest echelons of the state apparatus, was openly confirmed by the president. The actions of some members of the government, whose interests lie far beyond Russia’s borders and are directly integrated with the interests of global business, cause significant concern among our closest allies in the Eurasian Union – Belarus and Kazakhstan. Integration projects are hampered by various “milk” and “gas” wars, and the very idea of the “Russian world” as a cultural and system-forming principle is replaced by false meanings.
If initially the term “hybrid wars” was practically not used in relation to modern Russia, then after the events of 2014 related to the return of Crimea to the Russian Federation, they started talking about our country as an active geopolitical player in the world space, using the techniques of hybrid wars.
Almost all Western media began to create for Russia the image of a global aggressor who wants to change not only the political map, but the entire world order as a whole.
In the media space, Russia instantly turned into one of the main threats on a planetary scale. Thus, in the press and on television, ideas are being exaggerated that our country interferes in all spheres of life of other sovereign states, uses propaganda techniques and cyber technologies. For the next three years, the forces of Western journalists were thrown not only at creating a demonic image of Russia, but also at constantly “warming up” this topic. To achieve these goals, a variety of information stuffing from the field of various spheres of society was created. These are high-profile scandals with doping, allegedly used by Russian athletes and their suspension from the Olympics. The Western media actively covered the topic of the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria, the presence of which was never proven, but the fact of its use was invariably associated with the personality of the president of this country and it was necessarily noted that Russia supports him.
Thus, using the techniques of disinformation and incorrect analogies, the image of Russia patronizing the bloody dictator is formed in the mind of the viewer. The US presidential election came in handy to create a negative image of Russia, which simply could not help but be accused of hacker attacks on Republican computers. And the results of the elections in America do not matter. Whoever won this election race, the main culprit of the failures of one of the parties would still be Russia. It is for this purpose that President V.V. Putin is asked the notorious but obligatory question about Russian cyberattacks and their role in the American elections. The answer to this question and rational arguments are of no interest to anyone in the West, the main thing is to maintain an appropriate information image. The demonization of Russia, the conjugation of all the problems in the world with it, actually legitimizes in the minds of the world community any manifestations of aggression against our country and makes it a justified and convenient target for all opponents and ill-wishers.
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