CRF Blog

How to Resist Propaganda

by Bill Hayes

In How to Resist Propaganda for Slate, Yascha Mounk recounts his experience appearing on RT, the Russian network.

RT is the propaganda arm of the Russian regime. Financed by the Kremlin, the network acts as Vladimir Putin’s most eager cheerleader, politely declining to cover domestic repression. Its commitment to untruth is so dogged that it has also become an important breeding ground for the kind of cynical propaganda that is increasingly at the center of politics throughout the West. (On its website, RT claims that it reaches 36 million Europeans and 8 million Americans every week.) So when the network asked me to talk about my research, I immediately understood what its angle would be.

As a political scientist, I have argued that liberal democracy in countries such as the United States is much less stable than most people assume. Since the turn of the millennium, we’ve seen stagnating living standards, eroding trust in public institutions, and rising anger at the political system. Even in countries such as Sweden, where politics was once genteel and thoroughly, well, boring, far-right populists are rising rapidly. As I watched these changes over the past few years, I began to ask some unnerving questions: What if we are entering a period of real instability? Could political scientists who assumed that democracy had long since become “the only game in town” turn out to be wrong? [more]