Tuesday 20 August 2019 | 11:19

Experts: Criticizing the state isn’t enough; we should change the discourse of situation perception

02.12.2015  |  Politics   |  Sergey Kozhukov,  EuroBelarus
Experts: Criticizing the state isn’t enough; we should change the discourse of situation perception photo by the EuroBelarus Information Service

The real resistance - is the production of one’s own civilization product, not just a criticism of the authorities on the part of the regime fighters, who are frozen in time.

Within the frames of the conference “Political techniques in modern authoritarian regimes as a challenge to transformation” that took place on November 27 in Minsk a number of discussions following the reports of the participants happened. Let us recall that the organizers of the event are the Center for European Transformation(Belarus) with the support of the International Consortium “EuroBelarus” (Belarus, Lithuania), and Heinrich Boell Foundation (Germany).

The participants were especially interested why the presenters don’t give answers to concrete questions – how should opposition parties and organizations act in some particular case?

Belarus abounds in practical discussions where answers are given. There are tons of events, conferences, seminars that aim at giving specific answers, - noted Uladzimir Matskevich, the head of the Board of the International Consortium “EuroBelarus”, philosopher and methodologist. – But they are worth nothing”.

According to him, even small forces can win a big state apparatus. “But in order to do that, one should play and think strategically: to know the moves that the apparatus is capable of, know its weaknesses, don’t do what the machine instructs you to do. All today’s opposition that is thirsty for practical answers and recipes only does what Lukashenka tells it to do. He wants such behavior from the opposition. The opposition salutes and does it, because this is the only thing it understands. It doesn’t understand how the system created in Belarus works; that it’s harmful for it and so on. Therefore, the opposition mass media promote Lukashenka; opposition parties just do what he says. Being a performer you cannot win a strategist”, - Matskevich assumes.

Commenting on the speeches of the reporters, Andrei Yahorau, the head of the “Center for European Transformation” noted that he is becoming increasingly convinced of the impossibility of changing the modern political techniques reality in Belarus from within. "When the "scene" swallowed up the “arena", it eliminated all possibilities of social action, since everything is organized through the "scene", which is manipulated by the authorities. Therefore, the way-out from this situation is possible from the outside. For example, for me, for practical reasons, work with the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum means a way-out outside the country and establishment of a new regional context. Secondly, it is a way-out outside the existing discourses of "scene" and the cultivation of our own methodological, cultural and social discourse. Third, it is the formation of groups for the understanding of the current situation", - he said.

Philosopher and professor of Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas) Gintautas Mažeikis noted that the questions about the practicality of the conclusions of speakers are, of course, natural.

However, he said, the advice to criticise certain actions of the authorities doesn’t bring the desired effect in the fields of communications. "It is not correct to offer the opposition to voice even more criticism. It should use semiological weapon in the form of sign infection of an alien discourse; for example, in the form of memes. You can observe the competition of memes in the discussion of the war in Donbas. “Ukrop” (Ukrop (also, Ukr) literally means “dill” in Russian, but for those opposed to Ukrainian government, army, or even nation, it became (initially a derogatory) word for Ukrainians – “EuroBelarus” following “KyivPost”) is a meme. One side uses it derogatively, whereas the other makes it heroic. We should pay attention to the micro-battle at the level of the semantic field rather than criticize,"- Mažeikis assumes.

The professor advises Belarusian oppositionists to learn from cognitive linguists who can revise the semantic field. "Belarusian opposition has dramatically empty language. They need to revise it," - he stressed.

A representative of the Armenian-based Partnership Eurasia Foundation Mikael Oganesyan noted that Belarusan opposition might try taking the path of changes in the USSR. "Back then it was the matter of destructing the system of values that held up the entire Soviet Union. A situation emerged where the unwritten law was becoming predominant and swallowed up written laws, such as codes and the Constitution", - he said.

According to Oganesyan, the majority of the USSR Politburo members dreamed of living in New York, not in Moscow.

"A certain infection with semantic signs that bring a picture of another world and equitable existence happened. In order to know what to do, you should know where you are. It is necessary to analyze communication and communicative channels to see how they are connected. Unless it’s done it would be difficult to translate one’s own vision. The real resistance - is the production of one’s own civilization product", - he stressed.

Mažeikis turned to the experience of the Baltic countries. According to him, now every city in the region is undergoing processes that are alternative to those well-established by the government. "At first they were not very popular, but they have slowly started gathering people. Gradually it came to 5-10 alternative translations a day in Vilnius and Kaunas. Enormous process of opposition to the authoritarian broadcasts is taking place. During these events, everything that is connected with authoritarianism is not present at all; such kind of translations are not cultivated and do not proliferate there", - he said.

Time is measured differently, Matskevich noted. The most offensive thing for common people is to concentrate on the mono-time. "This desire to get everything now and today, ignoring the different measures of time causes concentration on certain kind of ideas that should lead to the desired changes right here and now. In this case, the prospect is not visible at all, and each particular action is planned as the one that leads to changes. As a result, time stops at all, and you live in a stopped time. You can perform certain actions consistently, believing that this is the valor of man. But these actions don’t last, they are devoid of activity, they are just marking time", - he said.

In this sense, the 21-year history of today’s Belarusian regime and the years of relative democracy prove that we don’t think about the time, Matskevich noted. "Being anxious about the good times to come here and now, we turn time into a point to make the history stop. And we live in this stopped time for decades without changing ourselves, leaving a completely pure consciousness with the same aims that led us to the establishment of this regime, and think that we can change it in the same way", - he emphasized.

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