Voltaire Network


The nature of political communication, positively referred to as the "art of persuasion" or negatively as "propaganda", has transmuted over the course of the two World Wars. The British (Lord Baeverbrook and Lord Northcliffe) were pioneers in creating a Ministry of Information, elevating deception to the rank of military strategy. Their example was followed first by the United States and subsequently by Germany (Goebbels) and the USSR (Tchakotine).
In principle, what was permitted in the throes of war was not tolerated in time of peace. But the in-between status of the Cold War was exploited by the two blocks to develop competing propaganda systems in their respective areas of influence. In the 1970s, the Non-Aligned Movement attempted to restore freedom of information by challenging the monopolistic stranglehold of the press agencies. Their defiance was nipped in the bud when the United States and the United Kigdom pulled out of UNESCO.
At the end of the 80’s, with the USSR on the wane, the United States spread their media hegemony on a global scale. They introduced a new model of consumption: round-the-clock televised news and information imbued with their self-serving contents. The fast broadcasting pace allowed them to circumvent any verification by journalists and thus impose their own narrative of events.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the Anglo-American governments set up common tools of "global communication" aiming to coalesce news commentary with an emotional charge and mass conditioning gambits. An example of this occurred on the occasion of the year 2000, with the fear-mongering announcement by the White House of a gigantic computer bug.
The hoax was tagged with various stories about its foreseeable consequences together with useful safeguard tips. The stage setting, which was conveniently backed by a temporary United Nations agency by the name of International Y2K Cooperation Center (IY2KCC), allowed the United States to sell 200 billion dollars worth of software equipment, turning Bill Gates into the richest man on earth.

«Current Concerns», n°29-30, December 31st, 2016
Freedom of expression
266. Freedom of expression Zurich (Switzerland) | 31 December 2016
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