“Faces of Culture: Current Issues of History and Modernity”

   December 10, Moscow (RSTV)   


[English] [Русский]


On October 26, Konstantin Asmolov, Leading researcher at the Center for Korean Studies of the ICSA RAS and Member of the Scientific Committee of the DPRK ISG, spoke at the conference “Faces of Culture: Current Issues of History and Modernity” with an appeal to the activists of the Friendship Club with the DPRK at our organization at the University of World Civilizations.

Below is the full text of his report.

At a conference that is dedicated to current problems of history and modernity, we must begin the conversation with: what, in fact, are these problems; where are we going; what the contours of this future world look like, in which we should exist and which we should describe.

Now the term “global turbulence” is being introduced, but it is understood differently. Some people think that it will shake and the world order will return to normal. Some people think that we are entering a completely new security architecture, and here, of course, the unknown is more frightening.

Since my time is limited, I will only have to briefly, very concisely outline the main trends characteristic of the new world.

The first trend is the trend towards deglobalization. “The children came running into the hut. They call their father in a hurry: Fukuyama deceived us! There is no End of History!”

After the Cold War seemed to end, the “End of History” did not come. Instead of the confrontation between East and West, a confrontation between North and South was formed. And we, for example, have not seen a single decisive breakthrough of a third world country into the first.

Moreover, international institutions, which were planned as a kind of arbiter, began to finally turn into instruments of US hegemony. And the term “order based on rules”, used by the Biden administration and not only, turns into “order based on US rules,” and double standards turn into the norm, which greatly irritates those in relation to whom the well-known meme “this is different” is used.

And as a result, we, in fact, get a large group of new countries (primarily Russia and China) who are dissatisfied with the corresponding world order and want to change it.

Partly because of this, the second trend is the collapse of the existing space: political, etonomic, and, importantly, informational. The common space is disappearing in favor of formal and informal military blocs.

Censorship does not arise from the outside, but from the inside. And, perhaps, an advanced audience is familiar with the term “echo chamber effect,” when everyone exists in their own information bubble, and having a lot of technical opportunities to determine whether it is a fake or not, they do not use these opportunities because they have no desire.

News that fits into the usual framework is not perceived as fake, although it may well be fake and should also be double-checked.

And as a result, we have a very unpleasant trend towards clustering, when each block is in its own box and it learns about what is happening in the others from the “look what these fools came up with” remarks. This is bad, it destroys connections and it leads to a very unpleasant picture when reality is replaced by comic book ideas about it.

In fact, this can even be identified as a separate trend. As someone who studies North Korea, I am very familiar with this. Because the myths about “North Korea, where there is famine, people are shot from mortars and fed to dogs” is something that very often and very strongly sits in people’s heads, although even when asked “imagine being shot from a mortar, taking into account the characteristics of the mortar,” the consciousness starts to fail.

And, in fact, I want to note that many of the demonization techniques that were tested in North Korea today, against the backdrop of North Korea, we observe in relation to our country, when incomprehensible photographs of the category of some incomprehensible people carrying a dog somewhere turn into rumors about , that “500 thousand North Korean special forces, disguised as combat Buryats, are fighting in the Ukraine,” and the proof of this is that they seem to have “eaten all the dogs in the specified zone.” Now I’m not joking: such information was circulating in the Western media eight months ago, albeit in the openly tabloid press.

However, when a “comic book” displaces reality, this, as you yourself understand, is very bad. During the Russo-Japanese War, we were preparing to fight cartoon macaques, but we had to fight the Japanese. And as a result, we lost.

Future international affairs specialists, future diplomats must be able to analyze the situation well, possess the skills of source research, and be able, on the one hand, to conduct propaganda, and on the other hand, not to charm with their own voice. Moreover, the next trend I want to talk about is such an unpleasant thing as a “crisis of competence.” And it concerns not only the quality of decisions made, but also the quality of expert opinion.

Let me give you one sad example: how often do you see an Americanist on big television shows about, say, the United States of America? The problems of US foreign and domestic policy are discussed by everyone except subject matter experts, and as a result we get an unpleasant vicious circle, when the combination of the echo chamber effect and a crisis of competence leads us to what people who imagined big politics from Tom Clancy films , seized power and began to create this big policy just like that. A whole series of serious political science mistakes of the West, from my point of view, are based precisely on this.

And, since there is not much time, I will draw attention to another important trend - the return of war to big politics.

The distinguished colleague who spoke before me touched on some of these issues, but the point is that now, as Edward Luttwak said, the “give war a chance” approach is beginning to become more and more widespread. Yes, this will continue to be accompanied by double standards, when some are allowed, but others are not - and in this sense, it is likely that the Middle East conflict will simply remove a certain number of seals, demarginalizing certain trends.

I want to note that all these processes did not begin in 22 or even in 17. The trend for all this can be noted since the beginning of the 10s, but, unfortunately, my speech takes not 110 but 10 minutes, and at this point I am forced to stop permitted speeches only by drawing your attention to which direction you should look.

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