Book Talk. This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality by Peter Pomerantsev

Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room, 1219 International Affairs Building (420 W 118th St)

Please join us for a book talk with Peter Pomerantsev, author of This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality (Public Affairs, August 2019).

This talk is supported by the University Consortium and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Perhaps the most important global trend of the last few years has been the rise—and transformation—of information warfare. In the digital age, real military engagement matters less than how it is broadcast. The result is a constant deluge of lies, shock humor, absurdity, and fear-mongering—a circus atmosphere created to disorient us and undermine our sense of truth.

In This Is Not Propaganda, celebrated and oft-cited “disinformation expert” Peter Pomerantsev takes us on a Pynchonian-like journey behind enemy lines of the endless, multinational information war. In his signature style—by turns analytical, poetic, lurid, and funny—Pomerantsev explores the contours of this new global order. He learns information tactics from Twitter revolutionaries and pop-up populists, trolls, “behavioral change” salesmen and Infowar charlatans, Jihadi fan-boys, Identitarians, truth cops, and bot herders, and, perhaps most surprisingly, the KGB officers who forced his own family into exile.

His previous book, Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible, is the best analysis to date of the propaganda tactics employed by Putin and increasingly exported to America and elsewhere. This Is Not Propaganda takes us outside of Russia and into the rest of the world where influence operations run amok, where dark ads, psyops, hacks, bots, soft facts, fake news, deep fakes, brainwashing, trolls, ISIS, Trump, and others seek to shape our reality.

The grand vessels of old media that had contained and controlled identity and meaning, who we were and how we talked with one another, how we explained the world to our children, talked about the past, defined war and peace, news and opinion, satire and seriousness, right and left, right and wrong, true, false, real, unreal—these vessels have burst open sending us into a disorienting spiral where words lose shared meaning.

PETER POMERANTSEV is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics, an author and TV producer. He studies propaganda and media development and has testified on the challenges of information war to the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the UK Parliament Defense Select Committee. He writes for publications including Granta, The Atlantic, Financial Times, London Review of Books, Politico and many others. His first book, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, won the 2016 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, was nominated for the Samuel Johnson, Guardian First Book, Pushkin House and Gordon Burns Prizes. It has been translated into over a dozen languages.