Information Wars in the Post-Modern World (Part 1)

“We’re not gonna have a war, we’re gonna have the appearance of a war.”

From a political comedy movie “Wag the Dog” (1997)

It has been claimed that the world of today has acquired an unprecedented unique shape. Mankind has witnessed a rapid and drastic change in the forms and structures that have defined its development for the last half a century. The world’s geopolitical surroundings have irrevocably changed within the twenty years following the collapse of the USSR. World resources, military and political tools have been redistributed, new power hubs have emerged. As a result, nation-states have faced a number of fundamental challenges that require development of brand new policies and responses.

One of such challenges has been posed by information wars. Information war can be understood as a series of attacks on the civil or military population of an opponent-state via disinformation and propaganda in order to achieve certain political or military objectives. While researchers and military experts distinguish several types of information warfare (IW) and IW weapons, it is essential to understand the concept of the information war in its broader meaning as defined above, which in this sense can be also referred to as a type of “soft war”. Information wars are closely linked to psychological wars which target, via various techniques, a population’s value and belief systems, as well as emotions and reasoning. With the two concepts combined, we can talk about information-psychological wars that are becoming an integral part of post-modern geopolitics, in additional to traditional warfare.

The term ‘post-modern’ is not mentioned here by chance. An opinion that is becoming more popular nowadays is that the on-going global economic crisis is not just another crisis of capitalism as before. This is a systemic crisis of the current industrial phase of development accompanied by systemic problems of the dominant Euro-Atlantic civilization. In other words, we are now witnessing signs of the end of the Modern epoch that has lasted for about five hundred years. We are witnessing an economic, social and political earthquake before the drastic changes brought about by a new phase of development. Mankind is in a new phase transition towards an epoch often referred to as the post-industrial or information one. The contours of the future can already be seen in the books of Alvin Toffler, Zygmunt Bauman, Colin Crouch, and many others. What is interesting is that each phase or technological mode correlates exactly with a wider philosophical epoch of the human history, namely Pre-Modern, Modern, and Post-Modern. This can be presented in a table as follows.

Technological Mode Ends with Epoch
Archaic (natural) 1st phase transition – the agrarian revolution Archaic
Agrarian 2nd phase transition – the industrial revolution Traditional
Industrial 3rd phase transition (now) Modern
Post-industrial (information) Post-modern

Phases and phase transitions

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