Mark Hurrell

mhurrell.co.uk/prospects

Week 1

Social media technology, combined with a world view in which all information is part of a war and impartiality is impossible, has helped undermine the sacrosanctity of facts. But the more I thought about the issue, the more it seemed to me I was asking the question the wrong way. Instead of questioning why facts had become irrelevant, I should ascertain why they had ever been relevant in political speech at all. And why were we seeing such similar tactics from both of the former cold war superpowers? Facts after all, are not always the most pleasant things; they can be reminders of our place and our limitations, our failures and, ultimately, our mortality. There is a sort of adolescent joy in throwing off their weight, of giving a great big ‘fuck you’ to glum reality. The very pleasure of a Putin or a Trump is the release from the constraint they offer. But though facts can be unpleasant, they are useful. You especially need them if you are constructing something in the real world. There are no post-truth moments if you are building a bridge.

p163. Peter Pomerantsev
This Is Not Propaganda, Adventures in the War Against Reality

The long-term implications (of thinking about propaganda on social media as information warfare) go deeper. If all information is seen as part of a war, out go any dreams of a global information space where ideas flow freely, bolstering deliberative democracy. Instead, the best future one can hope for is an ‘information peace’, in which each side respects the other’s ‘information sovereignty’: a favoured concept of both Bejing and Moscow, effectively a cover for enforcing censorship.

p113. Peter Pomerantsev
This Is Not Propaganda, Adventures in the War Against Reality

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