The problem of information war in the framework of natural law

Goal: To asses the degree in which the definition of aggression can be altered for conscious wide-scale propaganda; Popperian paradoxes revisited

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Agnieszka Płonka
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In the framework of the natural law, only direct aggression or call to direct aggression may be legally punishable. However, the methods of information war and ideological subversion, while non-violent in the first stages of the long-term subversion process, are intentionally engineered to end in aggression (note: “information war” is here understood as conscious manipulation of cultural perception for future political gains, not cyberwarfare). The paper examines whether it is possible to extend the notion of aggression in the framework of the natural law to include self-defense against ideological subversion. We use the information war tactics carried out in the XX century by the KGB propaganda department (as described by Eastern bloc defectors) as the most incisive example. We show that in order to proceed with defense against such strategies, due to the subtle, stretched in time and mostly psychological nature of propaganda – we would necessarily have to break the natural law ourselves. However, we also argue that for such subversion strategies to be successful, they must be carried out in a society with an already overgrown political system where one group can exert power over another group. Therefore, to ask if we can extend the definition of aggression to information war in the framework of the natural law is meaningless, because for an information war tactic to be successful, the natural law must already be violated in the targeted society. We also examine the Popperian paradox of tolerance in this light and claim the clear demarcation line between “the tolerant” and “the intolerant” is impossible to be drawn. Finally, we propose maximum decentralization and mature culture of self-reliance as the only possible defense strategies against ideological subversion, which also ensure a sustainable, relatively free society. We must note though that there might exist trade-offs between defenses against an ideological and an energetic attack. Keywords: Natural Law; Propaganda; Information war; The paradox of tolerance; Cold War.
Agnieszka Płonka
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Video from the presentation at the Austrian Economics in 21st Century conference in Vienna:
Agnieszka Płonka
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Research background Karl Popper has published "The open society and its enemies" in 1945, when the scale, methods and extent of the upcoming information war launched by Moscow to subvert Western societies were impossible to conceive. Nowadays, dissidents from the propaganda departments of KGB (Bezmenov) or DIE (Pacepa) have disclosed some of the methods and aims of these organizations. Purpose of the article In this light, the paper examines how far the definition of "intolerant" in the Popperian sense-or, more generally, the definition of "aggression" within naturalism-could be extended, and whether such extenstions are possible in an open society. It also consideres the kinds of social organization that are maximally immune to subversion, and aims at drawing attention to the impact of Soviet influence agents on mass culture and perception. Brief description of the methodology used Starting from the notion of natural law, the paper argues that ethically, only direct violence, or an open call for direct violence, should be punishable. In this framework, we examine whether political subversion, as described by Eastern bloc defectors, could be considered a crime-and what kind of defense against such ideological assault does not violate the natural law. Most relevant findings of the research and value added by the research We state that with the extent and nature of information war as shown by the XX century, the paradox of tolerance (not tolerating the intolerant) is incompatible with a free society-and a true free society may be sustainable only under maximum decentralization, which supports the culture of self reliance.
Agnieszka Płonka
added a project goal
To asses the degree in which the definition of aggression can be altered for conscious wide-scale propaganda; Popperian paradoxes revisited