Science is currently the guiding hand of humanity, helping in almost every field conceivable, from agriculture to entertainment. Genetically modified crops give a chance to supply immensely growing food demand driven by the demographic boom. Strides in medical sciences prevent the most notorious diseases, prolong the life expectancy and ensure quality of life. Most of us use technological gadgets on the daily basis for work, entertainment and communication. Despite the glories that science brings to human kind, it has a potential to be used for radically different ideals. Turning back to the past century shows us the scope of misery and destruction that scientific and technological progress can bring. It is a potent tool, but its ultimate use will depend on the one guiding it. World War II was the pinnacle of science application for destructive means – the nuclear weapon, developed by The Manhattan Project, or the infamous Japanese Unit 731, which was a perversion of scientific method. After the universal madness of the XX century, it is being reminded as a nightmare of human progress, a mistake never to be made again. Despite all this, science and technology is the driving force of the war machine. The methods are more subtle, but dangerous all the same. Science can still very well serve for the selfish, power-thirsty and destructive means of individuals and organizations.
I’d like to think that after humanity had witnessed the destruction caused by nuclear weapon the tendency of the XX century warfare is going to shift dramatically in the future. Even now we can see its evolution towards guerilla warfare, terrorism and propaganda. I imagine that common sense dictates to most individuals and their groups that nuclear warfare and the destructive power human progress currently holds will end up in a total annihilation if utilized. There will be no winning side. Every war brings casualties to both sides, but warfare methods of the XX century would leave them both completely crippled. It is not worth it. That conceives other ways of reaching superiority without direct combat and destructive force.
Information war is one such way. Considering the current availability of knowledge and information, and the reach of social media, sabotage of such aspects is one of the most proficient ways to control people. Thus the role of propaganda is more important than ever. George Orwell in his novel 1984 depicted a dystopian society, ruled by anonymous authoritarian figure dubbed only as the Big Brother. Author wonderfully describes the mechanism by which this society is being controlled and manipulated. The inspiration for him clearly was a plethora of historical – especially the XX century – examples of different countries and regimes that used similar methods, e.g. The Soviet Union. I once called this book a ‘Textbook for a dictator’, since almost every aspect of creating and maintaining the authoritarian regime is being described with striking detail and precision. And probably the most striking of all is the fact that such regime is not that difficult to replicate in practice! As such, different manifestations of 1984 methods appear in today’s world. Namely different types of surveillance systems and manipulations of the masses by use of social and other medias, i.e. propaganda. One such manifestation is apparent in Lithuania’s social and media environment. Recent Russian involvement in Ukraine has created tension in post-soviet states, conceiving anxiety in the general populace. Such social environment led to some metamorphoses in the national news websites and social networks. On one hand we have the so-called vatniks – pro-Russian jingoists (likely paid by Kremlin) spreading dubious claims, occupying the comment sections in social networks and establishing websites and Facebook pages. On the other hand is often fear-mongering popular national news media websites that compete for clicks by using exaggerated misleading headlines and current political tension to attract readers’ attention, thus creating emotionally biased society’s response to various events, especially concerning matters between Russia and the rest of the world. This form of media manipulation can be seen all around the globe. I used the latter example only because I am most familiar with it.