A Brussels, January 30, 2020 datelined AP report – “EU: Russia, China use ‘digital war’ to undermine democracies” – cites European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova: Russia and China are waging a “digital war” with fake news and disinformation to undermine democracy in Europe.

She said: “Digital war” is a favored method of Russia and China because “they see that it’s efficient, it’s cheap, […].”

Jourova, according to the AP report, leads efforts to preserve democratic principles across the bloc.

She told a conference of disinformation experts and policymakers in Brussels: Russia and China have “weaponized information”.

She said: “There are specific external actors, namely Russia and increasingly China that are actively using disinformation and related interference tactics to undermine European democracy.”

She said: Russia and China “will feel comfortable doing so until we demonstrate that we will not tolerate this aggression and interference.”

She suggested: Europe must find the best way to “defend ourselves and our territory and use the most efficient tools to do that,” including funding and new policies.

Experts at the January 30 conference said Russia’s aim is to sow confusion and to undermine western organizations like the EU and NATO, while China uses more subtle methods, combined with a lot of money, to persuade decision-makers and influence policy.

The issues Ms Vera Jourova forgets are:

[1] Are the democracies she mentioned so fragile that external interference can undermine those?

[2] Then, what about the interferences the EU and its member-states make in other countries?

[3] What about defending other selves and other territories, and dignity of other people in other countries?

Fragile democracy

Democracies as a political arrangement, a political system, and a process are always under the domination of a class(es) dominating an economy, and designed to serve that dominating class(es). Democracy was never class-neutral. It’s not even now above class interest. The system’s actions in all spheres, beginning either from legislating process or imposition of its rule bears the evidence. If the class(es) owning the political system can’t safeguard its system, then who to blame? It’s the system’s weakness or decay within its body, which is the determining factor in the system’s failure or getting undermined. The dominating class(es) uses the system to impose its rule, and, at times, it undermines it. It depends on the equation of power within the society, on the struggles different classes carry on in the system.

Factional fights within the class(es) also undermine the system. For safeguarding self-interests, the class(es) moves from democratic position to authoritarian/autocratic position; and the shift to later position takes different forms including assuming authoritarian/despotic power by a part of the state. The part may be the executive authority of the state. Bureaucrats, persons appointed with taxpayers’ money, define and decide a lot. By encroachment of space by the executive authority Montesquieu’s “separation of power” theory, the doctrine the bourgeois theoreticians love and refer all the time, gets lost.

Forceful acts for safeguarding of interests of the class(es), or factional fights undermines the system’s legitimacy among the taxpayers.

Sometimes, its acts expose it – the class interests it upholds; and the system’s trustworthiness shrinks.

Thus, the system undermines itself. It’s a long process, and, it takes time to stand stark. But, the process of undermining the system by the system goes on. It goes on slowly.

If external actors can undermine a system, then it’ll appear that the system has not been organized with sufficient power and force, the system is failing to gather its life-blood from its source, or, the channel for transferring vigor into the system has got snapped, it’s fundamentally weak. Thus, the problem is within the system.

And, there’s the interference issue.

Interference by big bourgeois democracies from Europe is an old story. The act of interference is carried out not only in countries in the Global South or the Global East – in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America. Countries in Europe also experience interference. What was the experience of Greece during its days of crisis, only months ago? Many have not forgotten the Troika. Was not there bankers’ interference, bankers’ dictation? What happens in countries in the central and eastern Europe – the economies smaller than the big brothers?

Reports of the organizations funding and carrying on these activities carry a lot of related information – size of funds allocated, types of activities carried on, names of organizations selected to act as conveyor belt of interference, equipments and stationaries supplied, types of trainings imparted, areas covered in the trainings, tours abroad, etc.

And, there are examples of interference that flagrantly violate sovereignty of countries. Venezuela is an example.

The bosses or big brothers, as they pose, define democracy, interference, electoral assistance, etc.; and they don’t look at their activities. They get annoyed whenever their system gets shock from reality. The bosses consider them as the sole master to define democracy and interference. They like regimes that extend the bosses wholehearted support. The bosses interfere for those friends, and that’s “cooperation”, “collaboration”, “democracy building project”.

Nevertheless, the bosses trample dignity and honor of the people of countries they interfere in and dictate. In addition, certain groups of “lefts” in countries in the East and West keep either mum to these acts of interferences, or, sometimes, support these acts. Lucas Koerner, editor and political analyst at Venezuelanalysis, recently discussed a part of these “lefts” in his “How Western Left Media Helped Legitimate US Regime Change in Venezuela” (FAIR, January 22, 2020). So, laughing at the “claim” by EU bosses – “Russo-China-acts of undermining European democracy” – are not enough; denouncing and resisting bosses’ acts of interference are needed, denouncing the “left” that turn them party to the interference by extending support or keeping mum is also needed.

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka.


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2 Comments

  1. Avatar David Kennedy says:

    Disinformation, fake news, democracy, and …… oh yes!, freedom.
    These are words thrown about with gay abandon. Who REALLY understands what is meant by such terms?

    Firstly, democracy is usually defined as ‘rule by the people’. In ‘representative democracies’ this is usually done by popular plebiscites at regular intervals. One of the priorities of a functioning democracy is a reliable and effective way of keeping the electorate fully informed on the issues at stake. Hitherto, this was the job of “the Fourth Estate”, i.e. the free press, or, nowadays, the media. Free speech and the right of assembly were also valuable ways of ‘being informed’. Sadly, these methods have proven woefully unreliable, leaving democratic systems “fragile”.

    Turning to the European Union, it has THREE Presidents, none of whom is directly elected by the peoples of Europe. The Commission (that sets policy and takes decisions) is NOT elected by the people. The powerful President of the European Central Bank is NOT elected by the people. The President of the European Parliament is NOT directly elected by the people, nor does it take any meaningful decisions. What is European democracy?

    Secondly, disinformation and fake news about which we hear so much and which is invariably linked to opponents. The “weaponising of information” has a longish history and is possibly best studied by reading the writings of Edward Bernays and his work on advertising, propaganda, and public relations. Basically, this is about controlling mass perception, or mass mind control. Joseph Goebbels was perhaps the most publicised exponent of this art, but the Central Intelligence Agence (CIA) of the USA is perhaps its greatest investigator and practioner on the planet.

    As for the application of digital technology to disinformation, the USA has led the world in such technology and its many applications. Remember its boast, “ We create reality and leave others to investigate it, while we press on creating new realities.” (Karl Rove) Nor should we forget a recent American president’s stricture concerning the Constitution as “goddam bits of paper.” Like many other agreements signed and broken by the USA and validated by the wholly-dependent EU.

    Farooque Chowdhury does a good job at exposing such hypocrisy.