A pinboard by
Anna Firsova

Political discourses and their migration and colonisation were the foci of my PhD thesis.


Political propaganda throughout the time and countries as a tool to gain and keep political power

In ten seconds? Political propaganda has always been a a tool to gain and keep political power, and the propagandist rhetoric migrates from the past to the present and from one country to another.

Historically, political processes are different in Western and Eastern societies, but they are almost certainly accompanied by the propaganda in this or another form.

What does come to your mind when you think about the political propaganda? Is it a communist propaganda or advertising around the Trump (or anti-Trump) presidential campaign and Brexit and anti-Brexit?

When researchers analyse the political discourses they often see that the propagandist discourses migrate from one epoch to another and from one country to another.

Good examples are modern Russia claiming to be a new political and economic superpower similar to what the Soviet Union was, the famous slogan Make America Great Again stemming from the Reagan 1980 presidential campaign, and 1930s Nazi rhetorical methodology applied by the Labour Party in Norway.

The word propaganda for many of us has a negative connotation. Indeed, political propaganda most likely (with some exceptions) serves the politicians or other related players as a tool to gain and keep political power: to win elections or to distract people’s attention to external enemy from the national or regional problems.

by Anna Firsova


The Trump phenomenon, an explanation from sociophysics

Abstract: The Trump phenomenon is argued to depart from current populist rise in Europe. According to a model of opinion dynamics from sociophysics the machinery of Trump's amazing success obeys well-defined counter-intuitive rules. Therefore, his success was in principle predictable from the start. The model uses local majority rule arguments and obeys a threshold dynamics. The associated tipping points are found to depend on the leading collective beliefs, cognitive biases and prejudices of the social group which undertakes the public debate. And here comes the sesame of the Trump campaign, which develops along two successive steps. During a first moment, Trump's statement produces a majority of voters against him. But at the same time, according to the model the shocking character of the statement modifies the prejudice balance. In case the prejudice is present even being frozen among voters, the tipping point is lowered at Trump's benefit. Nevertheless, although the tipping point has been lowered by the activation of frozen prejudices it is instrumental to preserve enough support from openly prejudiced people to be above the threshold. Then, as infuriated voters launch intense debate, occurrence of ties will drive progressively hostile people to shift their voting intention without needing to endorse the statement which has infuriated them. The on going debate does drive towards a majority for Trump. The possible Trump victory at November Presidential election is discussed. In particular, the model shows that to eventually win the Presidential election, Trump must not modify his past shocking attitude but to appeal to a different spectrum of frozen prejudices, which are common to both Democrats and Republicans.

Pub.: 13 Sep '16, Pinned: 26 Apr '17

Poland's crisis and East European socialism

Abstract: We began this article by asking whether the Polish crisis is a “socialist” or a “Polish” disease. By citing the structural factors, we brought out the common difficulties affecting all East European societies in their political and economic development. These difficulties arose out of the transition from extensive to intensive economic growth and the consequent need to replace political mobilization of the population with their political integration. The structural contradictions occurred together with conjunctural developments in the world economy, the collapse of detente, the post-war demographic explosion, and natural calamities. Poland was least able to cope with these structural and conjunctural dynamics. The result was a society united on a national basis in its conflicts with the Party State apparatus. This conflict was never resolved by Solidarity nor by the subsequent military coup.While Poland and Romania had quite similar structural and conjunctural dynamics, it was only in Poland that the constellation of nation-specific factors yielded a societal reaction of system-threatening character. Looking at the rest of Eastern Europe, we do not see a similar constellation of factors. Rather, the combination of structural, conjunctural, and specific conditions has prevented the deeper contradictions from evolving into Solidarity-type mass movements of the Polish variety. Thus, we believe that the Polish developments will not be replicated in any of the other East European countries in the foreseeable future.Does this mean that the Polish experience is so unique that it is without relevance for the other East European states? On the contrary, the recognition of common structural problems points to fundamental conflicts in all the countries of “actually existing socialism.” The essence of these conflicts may be the same. It is the ability to identify and deal with them that distinguishes one East European regime from another. This ability varies with the specific and conjunctural factors as applied to each country. While there is little likelihood that the Polish “disease” will spread, this is partly because the other East European states are beginning to take “preventive measures.” In other words, they are “learning” from the Polish experience.There are several indicators that these regimes have learned from the Polish crisis. We can summarize them in the following predictions:First, we believe that state power and the repressive apparatus of the various East European countries will be reinforced and made more effective. This applies not so much to overt shows of force but to more sophisticated methods of social control and repression: e.g., limiting information channels, dispersing dissident groups, giving in to workers protests before they spread, taking practical measures to prevent consumer shortages from getting out of hand, and the like.Second, we can expect that oppositional forces, especially intellectuals, will be increasingly restricted in their ability to formulate and articulate system-threatening demands. The East European states will take any measures - jail, slander, internal deportation, cooptation, forced emigration - to make sure that intellectuals' contact with workers is weakened or at least strictly supervised.Third, we can expect the Eastern European states to take further measures to integrate potential system-threatening movements into the official system. We will see further attempts to improve the access possibilities for those social interests that have up to now been neglected, e.g. in physical and social infrastructures, neglected regions. Moreover, there will be renewed efforts to make the system of political socialization (education, propaganda, culture) more effective. Finally, we can expect anti-corruption campaigns within the State, Party, and industrial bureaucracies as the elites attempt to make these organs more legitimate in the eyes of the population.In recent months there seems to be considerable evidence that the East European regimes have taken all these measures. There have been attempts to re-invigorate the official trade unions. Yuri Andropov's succession was marked by a highly publicized anti-corruption campaign designed to win favor among rank-and-file workers. In Romania there have been exhortations towards more self-sufficiency and self-management, so that individual producers will be less dependent on State retail outlets, and the country less dependent on costly foreign imports. The reduction in East-West trade and decline of detente have also given more leeway for the East European repressive apparatus to crack down on dissidents and oppositional movements.With reduced trade, the economic benefits of detente no longer exist as a restraining factor on the authorities. The West now has reduced influence on domestic politics in East Europe. The combination of integration and repressive measures has so far prevented the structural contradictions from growing into true political crises of the Polish variety. Eastern Europe (and Poland) is remarkably quiet.With the broad enthusiasm fostered in the West by the rise of “Solidarity,” it is understandable that its brutal demise had generated parallel feelings of disillusionment. It would be erroneous to consider the Polish events as an archetype for Eastern Europe. The problems of East European regimes reflect a general system crisis (economic and political), each country's response depends on specific local conditions and fortuitous conjunctures. If the Polish events are to be understood, they must be explained as a variant in a larger East European context.Having concentrated on the crisis aspects in Poland and Romania should not blind us from the fact that these systems have an amazing ability to reproduce themselves - to “muddle through.” “Actually existing socialism” is more than simply brute force. Each of the East European societies exhibits a complex dialectic between the forces of functional stability and the forces of immanent contradictions. As such, in addition to their structural aspects, we must analyze each of these societies in their differing vulnerability to conjunctural events and in their specific political, social, and cultural characters.For those who seek to replace “actually existing socialism” with a more emancipatory socialism, the Polish crisis constitutes a key point of departure. It should be discussed both in terms of what it means for Poland, and for Eastern Europe. The Polish events provide further evidence that the tasks of social theory reside as much in explaining why societies “muddle through” as why they fall apart.

Pub.: 01 Nov '84, Pinned: 24 Apr '17

On the new Chinese literature as an interliterary community

Abstract: The aim of this essay is to point out the characteristic traits of the new Chinese literature as a “specific interliterary community” to some extent different from most of the “specific interliterary communities” of the world, for instance, Czech and Slovak literature, the Slavic literatures of Eastern Europe, or the literatures of the former socialist countries. Different from these and other communities of this kind, the new Chinese literature, especially after 1949, did not proceed with the interliterary process without points of friction, sometimes even with mutual attacks and mutual disrespect caused by political reasons: ideological differences, contradictory aims, neglect of human rights, democratic tendencies, and political propaganda. The interliterary process along which the new Chinese literature, or better to say “literatures,” is progressing, is here stressed together with “interliterariness,” the overstepping of one single literature and its coming into contact with one or more single literatures of the world. The interliterary community of Chinese literature within the whole set of its single literatures (from the mainland of China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and overseas Chinese literatures) presents an area where three different functions play their roles, of which at least one should be implemented: integrational, differentiating, and complementary. To understand the new Chinese literature in its relations within itself and the literatures of the world is a task to be fulfilled in the coming decades.

Pub.: 19 May '11, Pinned: 24 Apr '17