The image of the enemy

Harold Lasswell already wrote in Propaganda Technique during the World War, a book published in 1927, that the first objective is to mobilize hatred against the enemy and that it is according to this purpose that the way of representing must be chosen the The replacement of the image of the illiberal autocrat Putin with that of an increasingly customary neo-Stalinist Putin responds to this principle.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
01 April 2024 Monday 11:23
6 Reads
The image of the enemy

Harold Lasswell already wrote in Propaganda Technique during the World War, a book published in 1927, that the first objective is to mobilize hatred against the enemy and that it is according to this purpose that the way of representing must be chosen the The replacement of the image of the illiberal autocrat Putin with that of an increasingly customary neo-Stalinist Putin responds to this principle. They are not conceptually contradictory profiles. But they offer different benefits. Taking this into account helps to understand the growing success of the second to the detriment of the first, which is not due to the greater fidelity of the representation it projects, but to the benefits it can bring to a certain discursive strategy.

The image of the illiberal and national-conservative Putin has become a burden in the face of the mobilization for Westernist politics of the increasingly numerous illiberal and national-conservative sectors of the transatlantic axis, which until recently tended to identify the Russian president as one of their own. And, at least on paper and at the stake of propaganda, although perhaps not on the streets of Budapest, the neo-Stalinist Putin serves to solve this problem because, to put it in the manner of Ernesto Laclau, it moves the antagonistic border between East and West towards more functional coordinates with respect to the current scenario and its foreseeable evolution. The growing weight of the extreme right in the party systems of European countries, the likely slide in the same direction of the EU after the next elections of its Parliament, which may lead to the alliance of liberal conservatism with national conservatism, and a possible new Trump victory explain that the same people who yesterday remembered the Munich Pact of 1938 now exploit the specter of communism and paint Stalin's mustache instead of Hitler's on Putin's photo. On the other hand, the role played by anti-communism in the new antagonistic frontier not only confers a leading role on maneuvers such as the “aggiornamento” of the old neo-fascist Westernism of Almirante’s MSI by the post-fascist “fratelli” of Meloni, but it also facilitates the incorporation of China into the new cold war discourse activated by the Russian threat because it allows the redescription of the rivalry between the US and China for world hegemony based on the same kind of ideological hostility with what is this threat argued for.

Everything seems to be advantages from the perspective from which this strategy is promoted, which also counts, to stoke the embers, with the historical memory of the old satellite countries of the USSR and those that emerged from its dismemberment. But historical memory goes by neighborhoods. And in the south of the Pyrenees, the launch of the Cold War par excellence, which the new Cold War aspires to clone, is still associated with the image of Franco as "sentinel of the West".