The European Parliament this week passed a recommendation calling Russia “the main source of disinformation in Europe” and appealed for increased funding for the EU’s East StratCom Task Force, which already received 1.1 million euros in 2018.
The East StratCom Task Force defines itself as a EU body focused on so-called proactive communication of EU policies and activities in the Eastern neighborhood (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) and beyond (Russia and further).
The passed document says that East StratCom Task Force as well as its two task-force subdivisions dealing with the southern neighborhood and Western Balkans, should get “adequate financial and personnel resources which are still required, aimed at the significant increase of their potential, effectiveness, professionalism, institutional continuity and quality of work, as well as safeguarding them against political meddling by officials and countries that back Russian disinformation.”
Furthermore, it called on EU member states “to ensure that electoral laws take into account possible threats stemming from disinformation campaigns” and urged them to “adapt their electoral rules on online campaigning and to monitor and evaluate the transparency features in relation to political advertising introduced by the online platforms.”
The suggestions also include support for “independent and diverse Russian-language media in the countries of the Eastern Partnership and beyond” and “to focus on the EU accession countries and partners in the EU neighborhood by assisting them in their efforts to counteract hostile propaganda and disinformation activities.”
The formal justification of the moves suggested in the document is based on the mainstream media narrative that Russia carries out disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks on a daily basis, aimed at increasing tensions within the EU and its member states.
The proposal passed by the European Parliament is another indication that the EU bureaucracy is steadily pushing the bloc towards media and political totalitarism. The principle of freedom of speech is becoming abandoned. Most critical positions and reports are labeled "Russian propaganda and disinformation" while grassroots initiatives not loyal to the European establishment or non-mainstream media outlets are described as Russian agents.
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An important factor behind the decision to adapt ‘electoral laws and rules’ and exploit the Russian threat is the upcoming election in the European Parliament as well as concerns of the European bureaucracy and financial circles ahead of them.
It should be noted that most of EU, US and NATO documents and declarations don’t bother themselves with providing specific examples of disinformation. Likely, the reason is that most of these ‘examples’ are reports which reveal information and viewpoints routinely hidden and suppressed by the Western mainstream media.
Topics described by the mainstream propaganda as ‘fake news’ vary in range from independent coverage of the 2015–16 New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne to facts provided by the Assad government and Russia regarding the Douma ‘chemical attack’ in 2018. The official Western propaganda and mainstream media outlets are hiding facts, which do not contribute to the ‘official’ point of view, and push the establishment narrative.
Recent hysteria over the so-called Russian threat will strengthen the already existing censorship further. The EU body created to combat ‘propaganda’ can and likely will be turned into the 1984-style Ministry Of Truth. The establishment does not care about the freedom, democracy, human rights and other ‘universal values’ if they run in contrary to its goals.
Interestingly, similar tendencies can also be observed currently in Russia. Authorities are limiting freedom of speech and civic rights of the citizens and fueling internal state propaganda under pretext of countering the ‘Western threat’.
The only and the key difference is that the scale of these Russian efforts has so far been much lower than those observed in the EU. Moscow simply has fewer resources for this.
One of the reasons behind this situation is the ill-structure and scapegoat mechanism inherent in modern society — whether intentional or not — created by the US, European states and Russia. They all exploit the foreign threat concept to justify actions of their governments, which in most cases are mainly designed to defend interests of the ruling elites only. The societies are divided and narrow elite groups and their close circles are exploiting most of the resources.
Socialists of 19th and 20th centuries used the term ‘class struggle’ to describe division of the society. While this term is no longer widely used in public discourse, modern societies (European, American, Russian etc) are now divided on an even more fundamental level.
This division between ‘capitalists’ and ‘working class’ was transformed into another field. Now, this division lies between two “new classes”:
I. ‘ordinary’ representatives of the society (small, medium and even big business oriented on the real creation of added value, real sector and office workers (blue collars), and a part of the 'clerisy', which aims at the headway creation of a new science, engineering, IT, art or culture);
II. the high and speculative financial capital, ‘new bureaucracy’, and self-proclaimed intellectuals, various kitschy and hyped artists defending interests of the previous two groups, as well as various groups of persons living on welfare despite having opportunities to get a job.
Therefore, the ongoing shift to a new technological paradigm has led to the creation of new “exploiters” and “exploited” distributed along the entire social hierarchy.
This situation is one more factor contributing to the further increase of state propaganda around the world. It is expected that rights and freedoms of the working part of the society, a trend will likely continue to gain momentum further until it reaches its expected result predetermined by the logic of social process.