Lately we’ve seen western governments being very vocal in their complaints about Russian propaganda. Even more recently, we’ve observed entities such as US, EU and UK adopting new laws and monitoring mechanisms for the explicit purpose of countering hostile propaganda, or any distributed information harmful to the objectives of the indigenous order, true or not. In President Obama’s most recent speech, he complained about the number of Americans who are supportive of Russia’s President Putin. Though they’re frustrated by the effects of Russia’s growing influence, they’ve yet to recognize that they have only themselves to blame.
Today’s modern incarnation of Market Globalism was formed in the United States following the second world war. Globalism is primarily a force which drives the ongoing integration of the economies of the world, facilitating the modern world’s ever-increasing international trade. As countries became increasingly integrated from an economic standpoint, the frequent interaction with and exposure to other nations and cultures gradually lead to the reduction of protectionist and prejudiced attitudes. The world seemed smaller every day, and our neighbors appeared less different from us with each passing moment.
While the philosophies of most western leaders today fall generally in-line with the free market and capitalist principles of Globalism, the merging of markets has also lead to the process of merging entire countries and cultures. In truth, economic Neoliberalism operates adjacent to political liberalism. Both are philosophies which intend to promote tolerance and equality in some sense, be it political or economic. The result of both forces produced a newfound tolerance for foreign countries and cultures, which was further advanced by the increased exposure and interaction which followed.
Xenophobia fell into rapid decline, with a trend of short-lived resurgences when international competition meant wide-spread loss of jobs or reductions in pay. The greater long-term trend however saw the world’s population become increasingly receptive to foreign people and alien ideas. After all, one could never have integrated that which clashes. If worlds are to merge, they must do so comfortably, and it was the increased exposure and interaction which facilitated that.
The Globalists saw great successes over their Mercantile counterparts, but the Liberal advocates of Neoliberalism are beginning to discover that progress can sometimes be disadvantageous. At the formation of modern Market Globalism, the American public was far more prejudiced and extraordinarily less tolerant and open-minded than today. Had the Russian government media outlet “Russia Today” existed at the dawn of the Cold War, very few Americans would have regarded RT as a credible source of information. Thanks to America’s newfound tolerance and open-mindedness, Americans are willing to give the Russian media a chance.
In fact, the xenophobia of the 1940s has transformed into xenophilia today. When many Americans first give RT that chance, they do so out of curiosity. They want to explore foreign cultures, and they wonder what the English-language Russian media has to say. It satisfies their curiosity, it’s easily accessed, and it doesn’t even require translation or subtitles. To an American’s surprise, RT is very comfortable. It seems very much like the cable news they’ve been exposed to for so many years. It’s even modeled after the BBC, a leader in western media. RT presents an alluring mirror image of the news outlets which westerns are already familiar with.
It doesn’t end there. RT’s signature color is a very soothing green. Everything from the logo to the sets are inundated with this powerful psychological influence. The production value is on-par with other major news outlets, furthering the crisp, comfortable image. Comfortable and still curious, Americans next find themselves pleasantly surprised by the content of RT’s programming. Russia Today is nothing like the early Cold War propaganda of the Soviet Union, which described such things as “American Bugs” causing famine across the USSR as part of a nefarious US plot.
RT presents factual information, reporting on the same world events which curious Americans are interested to learn about, but which western mainstream media often provides less coverage of. Globalism’s effect of reduced nationalism has also produced a sharp increase in disillusionment among Americans, and RT’s content frequently acts to cement that disillusionment as well. While RT will never report on any “nefarious plots” of the US government in absolute terms, it will more passively suggest US government malevolence. For example, RT won’t report that the US government is a state sponsor of terrorism, but it will certainly suggest this by pointing to America’s alignment with and material support for “moderate rebels” in Syria.
The suggestion is propaganda, as it’s intended to influence western beliefs and behaviors, to the detriment of the established order of the west. The suggestion is however also true, as terrorism is any act of politically motivated violence. To arm and support parties which are violently rebelling against the Syrian government, is to arm and support terrorists. RT doesn’t have to call America a state sponsor of terrorism, to call America a state sponsor of terrorism. Russia Today is insidious in that their methods prevent repelling American viewers and readers who would initially be weary of strongly-worded reports such as directly linking America to terrorism. RT instead presents the evidence void of any such definite conclusion, allowing the audience to eventually recognize the suggested connection themselves, by which point they’re likely to agree with it, thanks to the large quantity of evidence they’ve been saturated by prior to consciously recognizing the connection.
The audience is made sympathetic to RT’s position before they even know what RT’s position is. Yet, Russia Today’s system of comfortable fact-based conditioning isn’t most directly a product of the Russian government. If it wasn’t for western globalization, Russia Today would never have found a large audience in the west. If it existed at all, it would be an obscure media property with minimal influence. It was modern Globalism which prepared the west for the receptivity which enabled RT to influence the public. Without the increase of xenophilia and decrease in nationalism which globalization brought, the growing power of foreign media would never have developed into the very serious threat which it now presents to the established order.
By the time the western order comes to understand the catalyst for their current dilemma, the Russian government will have already prepared a strong defense for any future “America Today.” Russian censorship of both the media and the internet are on the rise, to include development of a sovereign Russian internet to better control the narrative. Western commitment to individualism and liberty will obstruct efforts to counter Russia Today, while Russian collectivism and unity will impair the effective development of an America Today. Given time, the Russian people could become as difficult to influence as the North Koreans, while the American people will become increasingly agitated, influenced by an increasingly prominent media outlet, which reports truth, and suggests damning truth. Most especially, where public awareness of that truth is to the severe detriment of the western order in the long-term.
An America Today, or reimagined Voice of America, might comfortably expose or suggest the wrongdoing and hypocrisy of the Russian government in the same fashion as RT exposes the US government. An AT could even build on RT’s model, overcoming American disillusionment and Russian prejudices by indirectly acknowledging America’s own faults through suggestion rather than absolute terms. Why read RT’s articles suggesting America’s misbehavior when AT would be perfectly willing to suggest the same thing? Disillusioned Americans and Russian citizens alike could be enticed by AT’s brazen reporting and by extension the US government’s new humble and seemingly transparent attitude. Having drawn the attention of both nations, AT could next report on Russia’s positive qualities while also suggesting Russia’s bad behavior and duplicity. To counter RT, an America Today must offer itself humbly and respectfully, establishing rapport and credibility with a naturally hostile audience.
In this world void of an America Today, conceptually antiquated efforts such as western sanctions serve to slow the development of Russia’s own receptivity-inducing globalization, while the constant barrage of insults directed at the Russian government only drives away the Russian people, who strongly identify with the state, as members of collectivist societies do. To publically insult Russia is to personally insult the Russian people. The obsolete thinking of the west’s established order suggests a coming Data Defeat in today’s Cold War 2. The question is: will the order replace its antiquated mode of thought, or will its now obtuse nature leave the order obsolete itself?