(PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
The New Public Square
Disinformation and the Decay of Nations

To deal with the rising Nationalist Internationale, we are first going to have to reimagine how we engage with each other.

Published on: October 20, 2017
Peter Pomerantsev is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics and the author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia.
show comments
  • Tom

    Someone seriously needs to calm down and stop freaking at bogeymen. The capacity of the extreme right to overthrow the current governments of Europe, for the foreseeable future, is considerably less than that of the Komintern during its heyday–and look how successful it was. (Hint: not very.)
    The only way the extreme right will gain that capacity will be if the centrist parties respond to the concerns of their citizens by taking the tack of Mr. Pomerantsev, which is to dismiss everyone who doesn’t believe in either the European Union or socialism as irredeemable deplorables. What on earth is a “cultural racist” anyway?

    • Muhammad Peace be Upon Me

      Hi, Tom:) A cultural racist is anyone that is white and sometimes Asian and not apologetic about it. Surely you know that diversity means bringing in specifically non-whites into NA and Europe. Not bringing whites and blacks and latins to china or nigeria. Surely you know that Asians and whites leaving ghettos is called “flight” but their moving in is called “gentrification.” Surely you know that speaking to color as a white means you’re racist. Not speaking to color is “color blind.” Surely you know there’s no way to win:)

    • Anthony

      You’re perceptive and precocious – keep an eye on “bot networks” (TAI has had injection since 2016).

      And this to undergird your intensity: A diverse America requires constant reminders of e pluribus unum and the need for assimilation and integration. The idea of Americanism is an undeniably brutal bargain in which we all give up primary allegiance to our tribes in order to become fellow Americans redefined by shared ideas rather than mere appearance.

      • Tom

        Where is this bot injection, besides the ones that cropped up every time TAI commented on the Ukrainian ruckus?

        • Anthony

          Keep an eye on posters since Nov. 2016 and private accounts – conscious or not you’ve engaged a couple. More importantly, they aggregate around specific threads. This heads up is no attempt to be alarmist just informative – God Bless.

          • Angel Martin

            Private accounts ? I knew FG was dodgy !

          • Psalms13626

            What about me? I change my handles every few months (keep them open, of course). And all my handles have the same theme, classic bot behavior. Well…. $%@#$%….. I guess I’m a bot now…. How do I get paid?

          • Angel Martin

            I trust you. The State of NJ has much too high costs for anyone to hire bots there.

  • Gary Hemminger

    I agree with Tom below. This whole thing is a complete joke. As if these far right loons have even a chance to affect national governments is some kind of kooky right wing conspiracy theory. And the same with the left. These are fringe groups. How a far right group attacking far left groups has any affect on national elections is beyond me. Everyone is seeing conspiracy theories because they are either on the far right or the far left. It is really sad how people like Peter have devolved into mindless hacks for either the far right or the far left. They need to get real lives and grow up and get serious. This is all a joke that just feeds that far right and far left narrative. I cannot believe TAI is allowing this kind of stuff on its site.

    • FriendlyGoat

      “Far, far right” groups affect elections and national governments by being part of the group which votes with the mere “far right”. In our country, everybody from the Freedom Caucus to Donald Trump to Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham are delighted to have such folks on board. This is not a conspiracy theory. It is the history of our immediate era.

      Recently it was thought that the far, far right would drive sensible voters away and there was a concern in the mere far right about a need for distancing from extremists for fear of backlash. The discovery of 2016 was that it didn’t matter. The mere far right could play in the sandbox with the far, far right and barely win anyway. What you have in this country is what you call “far right loons” having tipped America into an oligarchy which shall not be mitigated in our lifetimes.

      • Tom

        I’d love to know what you’re smoking, because I want some. Sorry, but if America’s become an oligarchy, your Democratic pals bear as much blame as those icky people who think that the Bible is inerrant.

        • Psalms13626

          It’s the fault of 81% of evangelicals. America is becoming an aristocracy. I belong to that class as a member of highly educated coastal elite. But I don’t want that. I want to be a citizen in a Constitutional Republic.
          Trump and the GOB bring me towards that, Democrats move me away from it. I know that from personal experience as I live in an indigo blue New Jersey and its suffocating one party rule.

      • Psalms13626

        “which shall not be mitigated in our lifetimes.” Is this a person who is aware of latest economic figures and stock markett gains? no it is not. It is a fanatic who sees wrong thinkers as far right loons. So next time they tell you to disarm yourselves, ask this question: Do you trust Comrade FG to protect your best interests? I prefer a gun.

  • Boritz

    Cue X-Files theme.

  • AnonymoussSoldier

    Flawed from the picture. Where’s Teddy Roosevelt? Where are many other presidents? Where’s Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist General Secretary, of today? Nationalism comes in all kinds of forms. Internationalism/globalism is a mixed bag too. The kind we’ve had thus far delivers vary uneven results. It helps some at the expense of others and in a big way. Not hard to imagine why those hurt would look to their own in-group preference and nationalism. By the way, alt-tech like Minds, Vidme, Bitchute, and Discord exist because of censorship. More censorship = more alt-tech. And we are just talking Clearnet sites here. Darknet discussion and organization is just as active if not more so.

    • Unelected Leader

      Yes, nationalism and globalism aren’t mutually exclusive. China is the best example. It promotes the former at home and the latter abroad. It’s a non-democracy, benefits greatly and disproportionally from ^others’^ globalization, yet the regime promotes nationalism, protectionism, and other smart policies at home. It’s a winning combo that, without democracy, has nonetheless brought the country out of abject poverty and filth and into second place. Sooner or later it’ll be in first (absent some kind of upset). Such an upset could be internal, or external like the US getting smarter on trade.

      • Muhammad Peace be Upon Me

        This isn’t about china. This is about displacing and replacing whites (and Asians) in Europe and NA. This is not about nationalism anywhere else. Civic or ethno. Diversity means bringing in non-white (usually poor or otherwise secure socialist voters) into Eu and NA countries. This is NOT about freedom, democracy, or diversity anywhere else. Know your place, Whitey. Give up. It’s not a debate. You’re not suppose to concede or win. You’re supposed to vote socialist and hate yourself or die. Got it?

        • Unelected Leader

          I get the pointed sarcasm. You want to change that? The conversation is very much about china, and the myths of globalization pumped out by the Chinese regime, other beneficiary regimes, and their useful puppets right here who actually benefit post Cold War (when the strategic gambit known as “free trade” usually a pretty one sided affair was used as a bribe to fight the Cold War). By then the corruption and entrenched interests were in place.

    • Monkish ن

      Don’t forget Abe. An unrepentant Nippon ultra-nationalist and WWII revisionist who receives very little flack for his views in the Western media.

  • Anthony

    Awareness of the purpose and various online strategies begins the counter of any “Disinformation and Decay….”

    A few takeaways:

    1) Members use special bots to spam the feeds of centrist or leftist politicians. They are given instructions on how to create fake accounts….

    2) A significant player in this new Nationalist Internationale is Russia.

    3) What’s clear from Sheklovtsov’s study is that for the Kremlin, the relationship is less about ideological closeness and more about usefulness. At the same time as it works the far Right, it also builds relationships with the far Left….

    4) We are going to have to reimagine how we engage with each other in a modern media space where concepts we have previously taken for granted, such as truth and authority, are increasingly difficult to agree upon. (Peter Pomerantsev)

  • Angel Martin

    Academics get distracted by the technology. And social media “manipulation” by the new right has become the latest bugaboo.

    It’s like blaming the French Revolution on pamphlets.

    If ordinary people were doing better economically, and the Western elite was not so incompetent and out of touch, none of this would be happening.

    I’m in Canada which has been basically immune from this stuff. Mostly since we haven’t had a serious economic downturn since 1991.

    • Psalms13626

      So let me ask you this. Canada is a lot more socialist than America. Does that bother you? It would bother me. I hate feeling like I’m everybody’s uncle Sugar, which as a resident of New Jersey,I am.

      • Angel Martin

        Sure Canada’s “progressive” trend line bothers me. Like any other conservative.

        But you have to pick your spots, and take advantage where possible.

        In the early 1990’s, with the bad economy, we defeated the Charlottetown Referendum (against all the elites of the country). Then in 1993 election we wiped out the “Progressive” Conservatives.

        The next downturn here will be particularly bad given consumer debt levels and the housing bubble. And the conservative populists here will be ready.

        Trump and Brexit has shown the way. They showed that populists can not only block progressive elite projects (like Charlottetown), but actually reverse the trend line.

        Btw, i’m pretty sure BC, AB and SK beat NJ on taxes and gun laws, if not overall socialism.

        • Psalms13626

          I heard of this mythical entity called BC bud. Never had it. As a libertarian, I’d love to sample it one day.
          NJ always ranks very low on any freedom index. It’s taxes and regulations are absolutely stifling. But a lot of wealthy people have to live there due to its proximity to Manhattan and to a lesser degree Philadelphia so we get to pay for everyone. I keep of dreaming of the day we will open an office in South Florida. A Miami office seems like paradise.

  • lovelymummer

    Since damage to the notion or practice of a ‘mutual public space’ occurred in the 60’s when media overtly embraced an ideological bias, delivering a mortal wound to ‘trust’ and leaving people with differing political views staring at each other with increasingly jaundiced forms of suspicion – or put another way, since the decisive break in trust occurred before the digital age came along to throw gas on the fire – I’m not sure how you fix the problem by simply addressing the digital symptoms of the malaise. If nausea is the symptom of the disease, treating the nausea will not cure the disease – and the above looks like nausea to me.

    Try imagining a ‘news source’ emerging that a conservative in Iowa could watch and a liberal in NY could watch where both would come away feeling they’d seen something truthful and effective at addressing their concerns – it’s impossible to imagine, almost laughable the idea – and that’s how badly damaged the trust required to maintain a ‘mutual public space’ is – and that damage began long before all the stuff mentioned above was even a dream in Russia’s deceitful digital heart – and I’m not sure there is a fix for a problem like that.

  • Tom Raquer

    Does the auhor have any room for those who simply want to protect their cultural heritage; the ones built around our Western Civilization?

    Or are those who do simply racists and anti-semites?

    It is nationalism that built the world’s nation state where a least in the those that are Democratic could/did have a voice. and not the globalizing “Davos Crowd”; who offer no beliefs, no virtues and could are less about those left behind!

    The Author is a wannabe “Davos” club member!

    • AbleArcher

      Precisely. To see someone like Chairman Xi Jinping give the keynote at Davos tells you everything you need to know. When you hear a European politician talking about human rights or values you need to do this. Step 1. Select favorite index finger. Step 2. Place that finger on your lips. Step 3. Proceed to rapidly move said finger up and down whilst making weird noises. That will be an appropriate response to their lies and other gibberish.

  • Jeff77450

    To paraphrase Douglas Murray, the “extreme” right is simply (belatedly) *reacting* *to* 60+ years of Leftist efforts to destroy/deconstruct Western Civilization and Enlightenment values. Don’t obsess with the reaction to the *real* problem—address the problem. Placing a cold wet washcloth on a fevered brow is no where near as effective as treating the bacteriological infection that is causing the fever.

  • Tom Johnson

    AfD will save Germany for NWO’s Angela Merkel.
    Trump will save America from the economic hate-crimes committed against Americans by “The Left” (Marxists, communists, socialists, anarchists, antifas, progressivists, Liberal Democrats).
    BRExit will save Britain from the NWO-inspired European Union, unelected officials ruling from far away.
    The Czechs are fighting back.
    Poland, Hungary, and other former Iron-Curtain countries are rejecting Soviet influence, Islamic invasion, the New World Order, the Rothschilds, and other equivalent evil-inspired organizations.
    There is nothing wrong with tribalism or nationalism.
    There is plenty wrong with world-wide, one-size-fits-all, centrally-planned, unelected-“officials”, and their New World Order.

  • Zardoz1

    The Nazis were national socialists & the Soviets were international socialists. The Nazis did not want to be ruled by the Soviets from the Kremlin, & the Soviets wanted to rule the world. The Nazis were a tiny half-step to the right of the Soviets.

    Goebbels discovered that the “Big Lie” tactic worked. And the Soviets improved upon it at Andropov Institute where KGB agents trained.

    Those on the right are capitalists that believe in economic freedom, free markets, & individual freedoms.

    Sure, the Nazis were slightly to the left of the Soviets. But capitalist were polar the opposites of both groups.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_measures

    Did Russia abandon “active measures”?

    No. Active measures was the curriculum Putin was schooled in. Active measures are at the heart of all Russian foreign policy, with the key strategic goal of dividing & conquering the West (or at least weakening the West to the point where it can’t effectively oppose Russian aggression in the world). Putin dreams of the day when he’ll be able to have his way (with everything & everyone).

  • mnemos

    The author’s main weakness in discussing the situation is that he cannot see his own location in it. He focuses on the alt-right, with only a brief mention that Russia has developed relationships with the far left and the “financial” elite. Note the use of “financial” with elite – it is an attempt to distinguish an elite “them” from the elite of which he is a part – in general a distinction without a difference since both are worshiping at the same Davos altar and pushing for the same globalization and technocratic policies. Russia has taken the author’s own side and worked it into their strategy.

    If he could see his own location he would realize that the “mutual public space” he thinks he wants is something he actively opposes. When voicing any opposition is met by a surging crowd shouting “racist” (or the Europhile version “xenophobe”) and being hounded out of the public square, that is not a “mutual public space”. That blindness of progressives to their own opposition to mutual public space is a weapon that Russia is employing here.

    • Zardoz1

      There are only a handful of white supremacists & neo-Nazis in America. And none of them have the GOP’s ear.

  • MikePM

    Catlonia just formally declared themselves independent from Spain, so ummm, yeah, good luck with that.

  • Beauceron

    Meanwhile, men like Peter Pomerantsev studiously ignore Leftist radicals who are far more powerful, far more numerous, far better financed, and far more dangerous.
    How can anyone take you seriously?

  • Curious Mayhem

    Hey, maybe TAI is another net bot, spewing pacific common sense and warping the minds of the young with reason.

  • You forgot to put on the photo of the American president. Harry Truman who threw on Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, atomic bombs.

    Вы забыли поставить на фото американского президента. Гарри Трумэна который сбросил на Хиросиму 6 августа и на Нагасаки — 9 августа 1945 года атомные бомбы.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.