Propaganda against war fatigue
by Georg Rammer
[This article posted on 9/26/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.ossietzky.net/artikel/propaganda-gegen-kriegsmuedigkeit/.]
Soon, not only the room temperature will drop; the social and political climate threatens to turn icy. Hooray militarism (Helmut Scheben) prevails in the country, and the enemy is not only in the East, but also at home. According to dpa, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) warns of increased propaganda. Russia, it says, is using "questions of Europe's energy supply as a hybrid lever," stoking fears of looming energy and food shortages. And, "Russian propaganda is likely to increase in the extremist milieu, fueling conspiracy narratives with the aim of driving a wedge into our society." According to the BfV, the threatening economic situation harbors a high potential for instrumentalization by right-wing and left-wing extremists, but also by "enemies of the constitution who cannot be assigned to either category."
Germany is a war party, and the state is not only massively arming the Bundeswehr and Ukraine; it is also arming itself internally against all those who protest against this policy of militarization and systematic impoverishment. For them, the BfV has the stamp "constitutionally relevant delegitimization of the state" ready. It is not poverty and inequality that destroy social cohesion, not rearmament and the worldwide expansion of the military that create distrust, enmity and conflict, but the traitors in the country. The declaration of hostility is aimed at them. Federal Interior Minister Faeser: "Enemies of democracy are just waiting to abuse crises to spread doomsday fantasies, fear and uncertainty."
The Russian-funded broadcaster RTDE has been banned, the left-wing daily junge Welt has long been under surveillance by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and the critical website NachDenkSeiten (NDS) is coming under fire: The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs and the Federal Agency for Civic Education funded an "opponent analysis" by the "Center for Liberal Modernity," which intends to use it to analyze and monitor "systemoppositional" media, among which the NDS are counted (see NDS, 1.7.22). Their editor Florian Warweg was not admitted to the Federal Press Conference. Is a critical website to be discredited and possibly silenced here, which provides a comprehensive view of current issues on a daily basis with numerous links to various media?
The Federal Ministry of Economics defames critics of Minister Habeck's policies as conspiracy theorists and as "Putin trolls." They are lectured: "Fakenews are part of the Russian war" (NDS, 17.8.22). Media use methods of "wording" and "framing" ("Ukraine defends our freedom and democracy") in constant repetition, and their manipulative one-sidedness is escaped only by those who consult "alternative" media. Manipulation is also served by omitting events that could disrupt the hegemonic interpretation: The "concealment of essential facts" (Christian Müller on globalbridge.ch) serves the goal of narrowing our perception of reality. No wonder that the NachDenkSeiten come under fire, as they continuously publish articles like "Non-reporting in Germany" or "Ukraine and reality" (both on 8/29-22). People in this country learn about the influence of Western politicians on the 2014 coup, the role of oligarchs and international corporations, the desperate, desolate situation of the Russian population, the economy and democracy in Ukraine - not only since the war - almost only from alternative media. Systematic concealment is also propaganda.
Propaganda is by no means intended to inform, enlighten and facilitate a deliberative judgment, but rather to create a mood, to manipulate perception and feelings. Not only high armament (Baerbock: Ukraine needs "even next summer new heavy weapons from their friends"), also the aestheticization of militarism is supposed to help against "war fatigue" (Baerbock), for example in the photo series of the best-paid US photographer Annie Leibovitz about the warlord Selenskyj for the fashion magazine Vogue: Through the Aestheticization of Propaganda to Anesthetize the Masses (Siegfried Kracauer), as Susann Witt-Stahl describes in junge Welt this "manipulation of the senses and the emotions" (27. 8.22).
State propaganda this too: Federal Prosecutor General Peter Frank has announced a structural investigation against Russian military officers who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity; the political leaders are also being investigated. On the author's inquiry to the Federal Prosecutor's Office (BA), how it became active in such crimes on the part of NATO states, (see der Freitag, 19.7.22), the authority gave itself closed and referred to other investigations. When asked ("In which war crimes and crimes against humanity, which are to be blamed on the USA, the NATO states or Israel, has the BA carried out investigations?"), it said: "Also on your renewed inquiry I can unfortunately not give you any information." In this way, the BA allows itself to be instrumentalized for interest-driven geopolitical strategies or even warlike confrontations and loses its credibility. The reference to journalist Julian Assange, who is being persecuted, imprisoned and threatened with his life for exposing war crimes in Western democracies, was completely passed over by the BA.
Principles of war propaganda, described by pacifist Arthur Ponsonby as early as 1928, can currently be observed on a daily basis: Only the enemy is to blame for the war, we are the good guys and have noble goals in contrast to the devilish enemy. Politicians and the media have managed to make the population believe that military victory and Russia's economic ruin are the goals, not a ceasefire and negotiations on mutual security guarantees. These bellicists narrow the reality and completely hide prehistory, background and the interests of other parties involved. For them, the history of the war begins on February 24, and the only relevant fact is the Russian attack. Anne Morelli's observation ("The Principles of War Propaganda," 2001) applies to them: "The creation of an almost hypnotic state in which the entire population imagines itself in the virtuous camp of the offended do-gooder probably corresponds to a pathological need."
If until 20 years ago one could still observe a reserved attitude toward military expansion and conflict resolution in Germany, a narrowing of the field of thought and vision now dominates. Wilhelm Kempf ("War Propaganda versus Peace Journalism") described this narrowing to militaristic logic long before the Ukraine war, which inevitably leads to escalation. At such a time, people are outraged not by the war but by the enemy; they no longer perceive the suffering of the victims and the benefits of a peaceful solution. A psychological destabilization of the public takes place, which eliminates the ability to judge. This is currently shaping public opinion, which seeks to destroy the enemy by demonizing it, arming it and supplying it with weapons (and the new one is already in its sights) - and in doing so is not prepared to perceive the high economic and human costs. Nor, by the way, do the profiteers of this war, as of all wars, who have no interest in peaceful conflict resolution.
Fear is spreading, because this prevailing militaristic logic is destroying peaceful coexistence, democracy and social security. At present, all social and global problems and catastrophes, which as always primarily affect the disadvantaged, are excused with the Ukraine war, although this only exacerbates what has been fermenting for a long time and destroys any confidence in a just policy and a good future. Realistic concepts of various institutions for peaceful solutions were and are not even published, let alone discussed politically.
Without the "questioning of war and military logic, respect for the rights of the adversary and an undistorted representation of his intention" (Kempf), there can be no peace. The adversary also feels threatened, Kempf emphasizes; Putin has been trying to make the West understand this for 20 years, most recently in an article for Die Zeit on the 80th anniversary of the German invasion of the Soviet Union (see Leo Ensel, NachDenkSeiten, 6/29/21) - a war of extermination in which 27 million people fell victim. What price is to be paid in Ukraine for a military victory or Russia's economic ruin (Baerbock)? What peaceful alternatives and perspectives of reconciliation must we demand against the prevailing war propaganda? The remark of Nobel Peace Prize winner Carl von Ossietzky still holds true: "War is a better business than peace. I have never known anyone who would have thrown himself on the preservation and promotion of peace to satisfy his greed for money." So let us demand: cease-fire! Negotiations! Disarmament and mutual security guarantees!
12 theses for survival
by Bernhard Trautvetter
[These theses posted on 9/26/2022 are translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.ossietzky.net/artikel/12-thesen-zum-ueberleben/.]
The influence of economic, political and strategic leaders in the military sector is keeping humanity from averting threats to the future and preserving for descendants the areas of the Earth's biosphere that have not yet been permanently damaged. The words of U.S. President Eisenhower from his farewell speech in January 1961 have lost none of their relevance: "We (...) must protect ourselves from unauthorized influence (...) by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the catastrophic growth of misguided forces exists (...). We must never allow the power of this combination to threaten our freedoms or our democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted."
The Russian army's war against Ukraine violates the Hague Land Warfare Convention simply by its violence against civilians. Not only is it a crime against the local people plunged directly and indirectly into suffering and death, it also runs the irresponsible risk to Europe's civilization that comes from having 15 nuclear reactors online in Ukraine. If, due to the consequences of war, the cooling system of even one reactor fails and a meltdown begins, regions all over Europe are in danger of being engulfed by the radioactive cloud. Nothing justifies the thousands of civilian deaths and the destruction of large parts of the civilian infrastructure. The NATO policy of eastward expansion is responsible for the increase in tension in the run-up to the criminal war, insofar as it violates legally fundamental documents on common security such as the Treaty on German Unity and the Final Act of the 1975 Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
NATO's violation of international law does not take away from the Russian Federation's responsibility for the crime of war itself. The traumatization caused by the wars of the present for humanity already in the immediate future deprives humanity of a piece of its resilience to the threats of the future. The propaganda of the military lobby and its supporters in the face of civilian casualties is hypocritical and manipulative. It hides war crimes committed by Western militaries, such as in the anti-IS campaign against Mosul when heavy bombs fell on densely populated areas. Human rights are not to be selectively defended only in conflicts that serve one's own propaganda; they apply universally.
NATO, with its far more than 50 percent of world arms spending, is an alliance of the destruction of law, nature, truth, civilization and, in the final analysis, humanity. The Bundeswehr and the "Common Security and Foreign Policy" of the EU in cooperation with NATO, all this has a share in the threat to the future of human life. The officially according to SIPRI 2100 billion US dollars annual expenditure of the governments of the world result in a destruction of natural and social wealth in the amount of 2 million dollars per minute.
Peace policy instead of so-called security policy is directed to global partnership and cooperation, not to competition, rivalry, deterrence and high armament. Cooperation instead of rivalry is the basis of any ecology in the 21st century. Quote from the UN Secretary General in 1969: "I do not want to dramatize the situation. But according to the information which comes to me as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I estimate that the members of this body have about a decade left to forget their old quarrels and to begin a world-wide cooperation to stop the arms race, to improve the human habitat (...). If such a global partnership does not materialize within the next ten years, I fear the problems I have mentioned will have reached such proportions that their management will exceed human capabilities." The imperative of global cooperation is opposed by the susceptibility to crises and the economic laws of competition for market shares in capitalism.
Peace policy is directed toward overcoming the system against the future of humanity. The time to avert the socio-ecological threats to the future falls in the time before the end of capitalism, which will occur either as an ecological suffocation of humanity or through war, if alternative forces do not avert this scenario; sustainability of life exists only by means of its replacement by a social order of a planned and sparing use of resources based on cooperation.
A social-ecological market economy does not exist. According to a study by the ETH Zurich, not even 150 corporations control the global economy, and 100 corporations are responsible for over 70 percent of global industrial CO2 emissions. The term "market" draws attention away from the sphere of production of goods under the given property relations and human-human dependencies between wage labor and capital.
To begin with what? Without radical and rapid disarmament and without a change in the world economy and international politics as well as societies in all parts of the world to a consistent peace policy on the basis of the UN Charter, the threats to the future of mankind will grow to an order of magnitude beyond human capabilities to cope with. In order to enforce this, the peace, ecology and trade union movements must work together. These forces involve the majority of society and the socially committed spectrums aiming at sustainability.
A peace policy of equal security for all states, including Russia and Ukraine, is the basis for ensuring that humanity retains the chance to build a sustainable society.
A sustainable policy can only be implemented against the actors who still and for a while profit from the capitalist structure and who defend their privileges as well as their not yet imploded power with all means. It has to break the power of the military-industrial complex.
Whether a commitment to avert the threats to the future will be crowned with success is an open question. This is no reason to resign. The commitment of peace ecological forces makes sense as long as the fate of mankind is not sealed. As long as there are people, humanity is the better idea.
The Titanic effect is the surprising occurrence of the predictable. The forces for the future of life have the task to preserve life together as trustees of the children of our time. Side issues must not divide the movements. Focusing on the essential is focusing on the common intersection. And that is to prevent the poisoning of the atmosphere, soils, waters, and people's relationships with themselves and each other.
Ecological politics combines an anti-capitalist orientation with immediate action to improve living conditions even before overcoming the society that generates profit from destruction for the already rich few as long as it can.
Uncovering global references and undesirable side effects of current activities of individuals, groups, state and economic actors in communication with each other, casting doubt on the prevailing news management and overcoming destructive processes by life-sustaining processes opens the only remaining prospect of survival. The forces that are committed to the future will be more successful if they do not only focus on a few aspects of the threats to the future in each case, but if they work holistically and not only reactively and build up future viability through a therapy of society directed at causes. This construction combines a concrete overcoming of threats with the overcoming of their roots in a cooperative policy that is no longer focused on balance sheet periods but on the survival of civilization.