Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Russia, the West and the Growing Gap between Narratives

Alisher Faizullaev,

uncaptioned image from article

States have always had differences, and sometimes sharp disparities, in their interests, values, aspirations and perceptions of the truth. Propaganda is not a new thing in international politics. The same applies to information warfare – using disinformation, manipulation of information and information technologies to demoralize the enemy and win confrontation. Nowadays, not just governmental propaganda and the traditional media but also social media are involved in developing, defending and promoting political narratives of international actors and the assertion of ‘the true truth’. Both traditional (intergovernmental) and public diplomacy [JB emphasis] as well as the media played a role in building up Russian and Western contrasting narratives regarding the Crimean Crisis in 2014 ... . Ever since, Russian and Western narratives related to many fundamental and urgent issues of world politics turned to be increasingly confrontational. ...

[It] is time for Russia and the West to discover something in common and create narrative bridges. To do so they need, first of all, to find a common language to speak and listen to each other. Currently that is extremely difficult. But it must not be allowed to be even more difficult in the future. It makes little sense to tell the opposite side that it is wrong, if the other side thinks otherwise. Alas, the truth would be hardly accepted as the truth if it contradicts the actor’s convictions, worldview, and understanding of what is right and what is wrong, i.e. his or her moral order. Cognitive dissonance may happen at state level too, and states tend to keep their systems of beliefs consistent by resisting any information that threatens to destroy their integrity. It would be more effective to engage the other side in dialogue, and that may allow the parties to discover the truth more clearly by being involved in meaningful interactions.

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