This Is Not Propaganda:
Adventures in the War Against Reality
Author and TV producer Peter Pomerantsev currently works at the London School of Economics and studies propaganda and media development. This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality is not as mind blowing at Pomerantsev's first book Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia but in some ways it is more bone chilling, describing a world devoid of meaning with no facts. He jumps around, beginning with the Philippines and the Gulf of Finland where we learn how to break people with the new information. Then Pomerantsev takes us to the Balkans, Latin America and the European Union where we learn how new information tactics can undermine resistance movements. The ability of the new information to blur the distinctions between war and peace, domestic and international teaches us how one country can destroy another without touching it. Pomerantsev explores how the collapse of our ideas of progress and the future increases the possibility of mass murder and abuse. With the new information politics becomes a struggle over the construction of a identity. Pomerantsev looks for the future in China and the western Ukraine. Pomerantsev shows us how, after the collapse of the Cold War where freedom of speech at first looked victorious, an over abundance of information has pulled the rug out from under "freedom of speech" and turned it into a weapon to crush dissent while dissolving any responsibility. Throughout the book Pomerantsev balances the visions of voices for a positive future such as Serbia's Srđa Popović with those pushing the edges of dystopia such as Hungary's Viktor Orbán. Pomerantsev's experiences in different media - television, movies and writing gives him deep insights into information technology and its human impacts. He describes the internet as a battle between interconnectedness and disjointedness, love and hatred. He describes the Russian approach to information warfare as blurring the line between war and peace that establishes an arena of permanent conflict where the Kremlin seeks to "confuse, dismay, divide, and delay." Pomerantsev brings to us the thinking of many Western and Eastern European thinkers who are grappling with and creating the new information whose work deserves more notice in this country. He makes a case that individualism, eccentricity and originality of thinking are an important antidote to evil. Pomerantsev explains to us that "The joy of Trump is to validate the pleasure of spouting shit, the joy of pure emotion, often anger, without any sense." He reviews a variety of resources that progressives scholars are developing to inoculate us against "the joy of spouting pure shit." He points to the importance of developing a common language to analyze and discuss the problem. Pomerantsev believes we might have more success if we focus on the behavior of bots, cyborgs and trolls rather than the disinformation they disseminate. We need to begin to distinguish between information that belittles and information that allows the receiver to act on an equal basis. He cites studies where reading books encourages abilities to conceive of a world different from the current one. This book is important because in introduces us to cutting edge points of view on the new information that are not available in this country - some are dissidents in authoritarian countries whose names he needs to obscure. Pomerantsev gives us new perspectives on the information age. He is an engaging writer that will grab your attention from the first page to the last. I highly recommend this book.