Russia has hacked America and influenced the outcome of the US elections. Trump will make Russia great again. Russia has won elections in Bulgaria and Moldova. Such reports have been making headlines in recent days. Wherever the people raise their voice in favor of something that contradicts state propaganda, it is immediately taken up by the local and global media as a victory for the Kremlin. The phenomenon is multilevel and interesting and needs in-depth study.
First of all, the question arises whether the media outlets proclaiming Russia’s victory in Europe and the US automatically proclaim the decline of the West and the rise of Russia. With such statements they assume that billions of dollars of investment in the media and an army of cyber professionals are powerless in the face of self-taught Russian hackers, the Russian RT TV channel and the poor Russian propaganda machine which pales in comparison to the propaganda machine of the West.
So, according to the Western media, Russia is the greatest country in the world, the most powerful and the most influential as it successfully intervenes in the domestic politics of the United States and even influences the outcome of the US elections.
Such articles and commentary are becoming so numerous that there is a risk that the Russians will start believing that they are mighty and influential. Never in its history was Russia so praised and exalted by a usually hostile international media.
The victory of Donald Trump in the US is nothing else but a victory for nationalism. The win has nothing to do with Russia The Western propaganda machine has gone completely haywire. However, the fact that public opinion in many countries has stopped reacting to the impulses of major media outlets is a strong signal change in the media environment. This trend shows the absence of a monopoly by major outlets on public opinion, a monopoly that was completely ruined by social media and free access to information of any kind and from any source.
It could be that this wide access to information has raised the bar for critical thinking and minimized the possibility of manipulation. Also this trend shows the decline of trust in the state media as it is losing credibility in the eyes of its viewers. This is very noticeable in the case of the US elections. Practically all the media was against Trump. He even spent far less money than Hillary Clinton on his presidential campaign. Consequently, the result of elections was a national shock.
The vicious will to make people think a certain way and then to represent those thoughts as the will of the people is a principle and mechanism that does not work anymore.
Another trend that is visible is the growing power of nationalism. Nationalism, that in most cases is accompanied by xenophobia, racism and other types of disapproval of all that is alien, now attracts major stratums of societies and is becoming more popular. One of the major reasons behind the surge in popularity is the once ill-managed flow of immigrants and severe problems integrating newcomers into society.
Facing a lack of assimilation, some immigrant groups fall into trouble and cause disturbances which only leads to further alienation. Thus nationalism starts rising in reaction to the perceived over-tolerance which allowed for such groups to become a threat to society.
The victory of Donald Trump in the US, who has been promising to kick out illegal immigrants and to build a wall between the US and Mexico, is nothing else but a victory for nationalism.
The win has nothing to do with Russia. The victory of pro-Russian leaders in Bulgaria and Moldova can be similarly explained and even expanded upon as nationalism and nation state building are pillars of a multicultural and multi-confessional Russia and that is why Bulgarian and Moldavian nationalists are looking to be affiliated with Russia.
Russia can be blamed for many things but Russia cannot be blamed for the trends spurred exclusively by Western policies and the reactions they spark.
[Maria Dubovikova is a President of IMESClub and CEO of MEPFoundation. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations [University] of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia), now she is a PhD Candidate there. Her research fields are in Russian foreign policy in the Middle East, Euro-Arab dialogue, policy in France and the U.S. towards the Mediterranean, France-Russia bilateral relations, humanitarian cooperation and open diplomacy. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme]