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NIGER INTER Hebdo

Interview with Salim Mokaddem on disinformation






In the current context of insecurity, since the putting on hold of democratic institutions in Mali and Burkina Faso in particular, and the intrusion of Wagner, we observe an “informational guerrilla warfare” aimed at weakening the authorities of Niger. How do you explain this situation when we know that Niger is doing better than its neighbors in the fight against terrorism?

We have to take things a little higher than simple fact-checking, which is very fashionable these days, due to the automation of information and communication, in order to better understand what is involved in “troll farms” and the spread of fake news. Ideological propaganda wars are not new and the Internet, let's not forget, was originally a military invention. This is to say that news agencies and human and technological sources of information and communications (SHTI) are realizing the program of Edward Louis Bernays (1891-1995) expressed in his book “manifesto”: Propaganda, written in 1928 and whose subtitle is already a whole program: How to manipulate opinion in a democracy), on the one hand, and that, on the other hand, the globalization of goods and services takes place in the digital world of algorithms which are the DNA of the knowledge carried by artificial intelligence and its robotic application. Chat-GPT is only one version among many others, general public, of what has already existed for a long time in terms of computer algebra and algorithmic narratives. I refer to my already old works on Democracy in the digital age (2019).

Informational warfare or guerrilla warfare is essentially based on the exploitation, in every sense of the concept, of one or more languages, and requires the presence (direct or not) of one or more transmitters, recipients more or less informed, of a historical context, of more or less symbolic codes. For the record, remember that there is a part of symbolism in any type of language because of the influence of the imagination and the imaginary in all exchanges between humans, even in the most trivial interactions. Language is not free from interpretation; this is often what is at the root of errors in mathematics (biased understanding of instructions) and misunderstandings (cognitive bias). Thus, when the European Union speaks of the West or of civilisation, it is not certain that, for example, Putin or a Sahelian or Asian politician understands or hears semantically in the same way everything that the word: West means. The same is true for many word families.


The word: money, kudi, money, dinero, etc., does not signify the same reality, does not connote the same referential field for a Hausa or for a World Bank official and even less, if one wants to be more precise, between a Hausa from Northern Nigeria and a Hausa from Doutchi.

The word: money, kudi, money, dinero, etc., does not signify the same reality, does not connote the same referential field for a Hausa or for a World Bank official and even less, if one wants to be more precise, between a Hausa from Northern Nigeria and a Hausa from Doutchi. I am always surprised to see how difficult it is for experts to break out of their imaginary language to speak the referential language of the other. Perhaps this is also, in addition to the cryptic and elitist aim, why expertise needs technical codes to avoid hermeneutical deviations and false senses, nonsense, absurdities or misunderstandings. Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian like Bernays (I don't think it's a coincidence) - I'm not sure he's in the best position to talk about clarity of utterance and intent of utterance, wrote in the Tractatus logico-philosophicus (1921) that language had to be cleaned up and dusted off to remove its almost structural ambiguity, thus returning to a sort of medieval nominalism close to Guillaume d'Occam. Humanity has always dreamed of a universal and unique logos, clear and universal, distinct and as coded as a symbolic language, to dominate beings, things, passions, the world. But this is impossible because polysemy, plurivocity, difference lies at the very heart of language; hence the need to pay particular attention to it because it allows access to thought and to reality itself. Overturning the nature of language, to make it say what it does not say or what it cannot say, is thus to ensure the mastery of the signifier and to govern by a language which becomes less a language. interpretative calling for critical thought than a code aiming in a performative way to engage in actions and ways of being that do not go through critical thought or reflective judgment. Thus, the battle for master signifiers or to impose a type of language aims to format minds, to subject them, to constrain wills to a certain order of discourse which imposes a type of vision of the world, of thought, of logic, of way of being and doing, in short, a discipline of bodies and minds which aims at the submission or the resignation of wills. to make it say what it does not say or what it cannot say, it is thus to ensure the mastery of the signifier and to govern by a language which becomes less an interpretative language summoning critical thought than 'a code aiming in a performative way to engage in actions and ways of being that do not involve critical thinking or reflective judgement. Thus, the battle for master signifiers or to impose a type of language aims to format minds, to subject them, to constrain wills to a certain order of discourse which imposes a type of vision of the world, of thought, of logic, of way of being and doing, in short, a discipline of bodies and minds which aims at the submission or the resignation of wills. to make it say what it does not say or what it cannot say, it is thus to ensure the mastery of the signifier and to govern by a language which becomes less an interpretative language summoning critical thought than 'a code aiming in a performative way to engage in actions and ways of being that do not go through critical thinking or reflective judgment. Thus, the battle for master signifiers or to impose a type of language aims to format minds, to subject them, to constrain wills to a certain order of discourse which imposes a type of vision of the world, of thought, of logic, of way of being and doing, in short, a discipline of bodies and minds which aims at the submission or the resignation of wills. it is thus to ensure mastery of the signifier and to govern by a language which becomes less an interpretative language summoning critical thought than a code aiming in a performative way to engage in actions and ways of being that do not pass through critical thinking or reflective judgment. Thus, the battle for master signifiers or to impose a type of language aims to format minds, to subject them, to constrain wills to a certain order of discourse which imposes a type of vision of the world, of thought, of logic, of way of being and doing, in short, a discipline of bodies and minds which aims at the submission or the resignation of wills. it is thus to ensure mastery of the signifier and to govern by a language which becomes less an interpretative language summoning critical thought than a code aiming in a performative way to engage in actions and ways of being that do not pass through critical thinking or reflective judgment. Thus, the battle for master signifiers or to impose a type of language aims to format minds, to subject them, to constrain wills to a certain order of discourse which imposes a type of vision of the world, of thought, of logic, of way of being and doing, in short, a discipline of bodies and minds which aims at the submission or the resignation of wills.

We then understand better why the "soft power" that is the manipulation of elements of language is a way of producing and shaping public opinion and of acting in an insidious and nevertheless direct way on the way of living and acting. populations. It is therefore a weapon of war up to and including in civil societies and at the heart of the daily life of the Cities. It is not only a conflict of interpretations: it is above all a logic of influence and manipulation which aims to persuade and convince that the truth and the good, the just and the real, are on the side of the one which uses master signifiers or the dominant language shaped by conflicts of vision of the world and the politics of the sensitive. The doxa is therefore manipulated by these master signifiers. The doxa which we want to make believe that it is all the more scholarly and intelligent that it handles in its most consumerist daily life objects with added high technology, does not see what is at stake in the way in which it expresses the world ; in fact, this doxa in no way participates in the intelligence of the process which continuously produces the habitus of its thoughtless passivity and embodied in the act of consuming so-called “intelligent” products (smartphone, application, AI, etc.). We are in fact caught up in nihilistic post-industrialized societies with strong ascetic ideals, to speak like Nietzsche, which are subject to the continuous flow (main stream) of surface communications (infobesity) and to manipulations of the most ordinary language. To be able to do this,

On the strength of everything I have just explained, one can then understand that Niger is not immune to this information war and that it too is stuck in the currents of continuous information on, through, the social networks. In fact, in a context of major conflict between the EU countries that have joined NATO and Russia, via Ukraine, which cannot help but, and in the frantic and now declared struggle between the USA and China in order to guarantee their reciprocal access to world energy stocks, among other things, but also, in a context of high-intensity financial war (inflation linked to the cost of transport and various fuels, captive over-invoicing of armaments by private industrial sectors including in the producing and selling countries concerned, switching of sovereign currencies, etc.),

The war of information, press releases, fake news, which some countries want to disseminate through social networks, among other things, is a viral war of manipulation of consciences and emotions. What is targeted and wanted is an emotional relationship to reality: it is a question of producing anxieties, feelings of instability, of insecurity, of conveying false information in a pathetic mode in order to weaken national consciences. and popular, and produce feelings of fear of all against all in order to dissolve civil society in an incoherent multitude of unjustified fears and thus better act on the social cement in order to destabilize Niger.


Niger is endowed with a free press and civil society takes the measure of true and false through instruction and education; you will then understand why it is important to have good teachers and educational programs that train critical judgment

However, despite what is said here and there, Niger has a free press and civil society takes the measure of true and false through instruction and education; you will then understand why it is important to have good teachers and educational programs that train critical judgment and call minds to the verification of sources, experimental rationality, the use of evidence and the scientific argument, to access to referenced and legitimate information, to the refusal of the immediacy of presentism to think and interpret the world.

We can also add that informational guerrilla warfare is all the more bitter because it indirectly affirms the weakness of those who wield it: because it undermines only weak states and fragile civil societies, and, above all, it indicates that speech truncated or doxic is no more than the refuge of those who cannot act to change the balance of power in reality. In this sense, the propagandist or the actor of the informational guerrilla betrays his lack of power and efficiency in the balance of power by an ideological compensation which is similar to a simulation of victory. I'm not saying it doesn't have negative and disruptive effects in the world; we see it everywhere on the planet. Even the financial markets are subject to the play of imagination and emotion; David Hume (1711-1776), in his time had already analyzed this passion for economic reason in a 1759 book that is still current: A Dissertation of the Passions. And we know that a minimum of trust is needed between the actors of social games for societies to work: I believe, for my part, in the boomerang effects in this tactical style of propaganda of false information. Sooner or later, the transmitter will have its source polluted by wanting to cry wolf. Because often, someone is caught who thought he was taking: by dint of saying everything and its opposite, the feeling of truth fades and confidence is lost in the one who is the guarantor of social and military cohesion. Silence in communication is not a weakness; between the secrecy of power and the chatter of the media forced to always “cuicuiter” (twitter) or to always make the background noise (buzz) of the world, there is a place for accuracy in the correct mastery of words and communication referenced and detailed information. Let's not fall into the trap of imitation which consists in wanting to be more woke than the digital world of communication guerrilla warfare: by dint of educating people in the handling of technè, and in questioning the sources of notifications, new Lights always come out of it. Let's bet on intelligence to avoid being in the escalation of mass propaganda. War is there in the world: the way to pacify it is not to give in to its reproduction and to come to its senses by providing targeted information. The illiterate and the illiterate are not necessarily the most deprived in this fool's game. I think we shouldn't give up on the elements of language and we shouldn't allow easy thinking, easy language, easy, sloppy analyses, to pass for what they are not. For this, the public, national and international press, the media, public and private, have a role to play in consolidating democracy, building up peoples and continuing to maintain a certain critical requirement, to maintain levels of debate, to provoke reflection in the social and political fabric, and not to put unnecessary binary tensions because dogmatic and unproductive in the public space. The press, the media must speak fairly without falling into the agreed language of presentist opinions. I think we shouldn't give up on the elements of language and we shouldn't allow easy thinking, easy language, easy, sloppy analyses, to pass for what they are not. For this, the public, national and international press, the media, public and private, have a role to play in consolidating democracy, building up peoples and continuing to maintain a certain critical requirement, to maintain levels of debate, to provoke reflection in the social and political fabric, and not to put unnecessary binary tensions because dogmatic and unproductive in the public space. The press, the media must speak fairly without falling into the agreed language of presentist opinions. I think we shouldn't give up on the elements of language and we shouldn't allow easy thinking, easy language, easy, sloppy analyses, to pass for what they are not. For this, the public, national and international press, the media, public and private, have a role to play in consolidating democracy, building up peoples and continuing to maintain a certain critical requirement, to maintain levels of debate, to provoke reflection in the social and political fabric, and not to put unnecessary binary tensions because dogmatic and unproductive in the public space. The press, the media must speak fairly without falling into the agreed language of presentist opinions. the public, national and international press, the media, public and private, have a role to play in consolidating democracy, building up peoples and continuing to maintain a certain critical requirement, to maintain levels of debate, to provoke reflection in the social and political fabric, and not to put unnecessary binary tensions because dogmatic and unproductive in the public space. The press, the media must speak fairly without falling into the agreed language of presentist opinions. the public, national and international press, the media, public and private, have a role to play in consolidating democracy, building up peoples and continuing to maintain a certain critical requirement, to maintain levels of debate, to provoke reflection in the social and political fabric, and not to put unnecessary binary tensions because dogmatic and unproductive in the public space. The press, the media must speak fairly without falling into the agreed language of presentist opinions. and not to put unnecessary binary tensions because dogmatic and unproductive in the public space. The press, the media must speak fairly without falling into the agreed language of presentist opinions. and not to put unnecessary binary tensions because dogmatic and unproductive in the public space. The press, the media must speak fairly without falling into the agreed language of presentist opinions.


We know that educated and well-informed citizens, via uncensored media, will always be, by definition, less sensitive to the informational guerrillas present in our neighbours.

Niger is currently doing better in terms of defense and security than its neighbours, and not only from a purely security point of view: the choices in terms of economic development, the attention given by the Renaissance III program to develop universal education, and, an important element in view of what is happening in the sub-region, the constant respect by the Government and the President of the Republic of public freedoms are truly pledges and convincing signs of a good state and democratic functioning. Finally, we know that educated and well-informed citizens, via uncensored media, will always be, by definition, less sensitive to the informational guerrillas present in our neighbours.


Today in Mali and Burkina, there is no security and public freedoms are threatened. Don't these countries face the objective limits of the populism of captains in command?

I think that coups d'etat are political and existential traps, today, for those who foment them: this worn-out strategy cannot make sense in "open societies", to speak like the epistemologist Karl Popper ( 1902-1994), also Austrian in his masterpiece: Open Society and its Enemies dating from 1945: democracy is an unsurpassable political horizon for our time. I am not naive and I am not saying that this world is perfect, far from it! But the regulative ideas of politics in Africa (and elsewhere!) do not stem from the belief in a militarized Party taking the reins of the country to bring it to harmonious and perfect development: military regimes have been obstacles to economic and social development on all continents and whatever form they took. This is documented and referenced; financial expert reports reveal that closed societies, excessively militarized societies (capturing public and private markets) destroy their “caste” and close themselves off to technical and entrepreneurial innovations. Understand: soldiers are often serious and conscientious people in their patriotic and nationalist will. There are examples of this all over the world; however, technical training to manage real estate, industrial assets, produce urban, architectural, agro-industrial projects, train teachers, understand the infrastructures of the business world and their own logic, knowing the state of the world in all sectors outside the security and defense sectors, being reactive in the complex game of new economies, etc., all these actions require specific skills that cannot be acquired structurally, except in exceptional cases , military. There are obviously exceptions to this: military engineers work in all areas of scientific, technical, public and administrative life. We saw it during the last Covid-19 pandemic; and if Napoleon created Grandes Écoles and grands corps in the State, it was also so that an officer would be able to build infrastructures, manage territories, administer regional economies and structure social spaces. being reactive in the complex game of new economies, etc., all these actions require specific skills that cannot be acquired structurally, except in exceptional cases, by a soldier. There are obviously exceptions to this: military engineers work in all areas of scientific, technical, public and administrative life. We saw it during the last Covid-19 pandemic; and if Napoleon created Grandes Écoles and grands corps in the State, it was also so that an officer would be able to build infrastructures, manage territories, administer regional economies and structure social spaces. being reactive in the complex game of new economies, etc., all these actions require specific skills that cannot be acquired structurally, except in exceptional cases, by a soldier. There are obviously exceptions to this: military engineers work in all areas of scientific, technical, public and administrative life. We saw it during the last Covid-19 pandemic; and if Napoleon created Grandes Écoles and grands corps in the State, it was also so that an officer would be able to build infrastructures, manage territories, administer regional economies and structure social spaces. There are obviously exceptions to this: military engineers work in all areas of scientific, technical, public and administrative life. We saw it during the last Covid-19 pandemic; and if Napoleon created Grandes Écoles and grands corps in the State, it was also so that an officer would be able to build infrastructures, manage territories, administer regional economies and structure social spaces. There are obviously exceptions to this: military engineers work in all areas of scientific, technical, public and administrative life. We saw it during the last Covid-19 pandemic; and if Napoleon created Grandes Écoles and grands corps in the State, it was also so that an officer would be able to build infrastructures, manage territories, administer regional economies and structure social spaces.

The reform that he carried out with genius of the French Civil Code was an example of this, no less than the creation of the Lycées d'Etat and the Grandes Ecoles. Previously, Alexandre had understood the role of philosophy, sciences (knowledge, knowledge, techniques and technologies) to conquer and develop Cities, countries, continents, multicultural worlds. His tutor and friend, Aristotle, was a great political thinker who founded as much as Plato the reason for public action and intelligence in the government of men and territories. Today, no modern army can do without civilian intelligence and the participatory role of actors from the scientific, academic and private worlds. The limits of the military governance of politics are structurally linked to its order, in the mathematical sense, to its discipline, to its intrinsic functioning: its role, its purposes, are protection, defence, security, intelligence, external operations, technical assistance within the framework of international missions under supranational legal mandate (AU, UN, among others ) and, possibly, a proportionate and proportional response in extra-national territories. The non-separation of powers, the endogamous nature of internal recruitment, the autocratic culture of military discipline, mean that societies governed by rank-and-file men are necessarily closed societies and not very conducive to democratically including actors not designated by a hierarchy structured around respect for order and discipline; within these formal frameworks, critical thinking, innovation, decision-making, openness to otherness, can endanger an institution whose essence is the preservation of the existing order, submission to command, and the absence of zetetic plasticity, of openness to anomie and 'invention. This is understandable: to ensure the defense and security of a country, the qualities required are not necessarily those that govern a republican-type democracy because the emergencies and the laws of war are those of constant balance of power and cunning. .


The populist simplifies the real and complex problems faced by people into simple questions, therefore apparently easy to solve, but in reality, totally disconnected from the daily reality of real social and political practices.

Populism consists in making believe since Machiavelli that one is always master of the situation and that one will protect in a patriarchal way the widow and the orphan. It therefore consists in flattering the shortcomings of the people and filling in the frustrations with gesticulations and simulacra by suggesting that the political, economic, financial and technical management of a country is a matter of good will and of a beautiful, well-intentioned soul. . The populist simplifies the real and complex problems faced by people into simple questions, therefore apparently easy to solve, but in reality, totally disconnected from the daily reality of real social and political practices. It is easier to wage war against one's people than against armed and powerful enemies; the second phase of the failure of populisms will be to announce that there are enemies from within financed by external powers (the fifth column) and thus to padlock the remaining public freedoms in the name of the good of the populations and of freedom itself. Vice taking on the clothes of naked virtue cannot hide its impotence for long: all populism collides with the principle of reality. A professional army is more effective than a levy of troops of volunteers, and patriotism is hardly exigible from mercenaries whose interest almost never coincides with the general interest of the sovereign country which employs them. Especially since it is a direct admission that the regular armed forces cannot therefore protect countries in danger by themselves and that they need private support to strengthen their capacity. There is a whole type of questions and problems here that I will not address here; let's say, to put it simply, that political populism essentially consists in diverting attention from what we are doing to invent a third party, more or less real, who would be at the origin of the validity of the action of the populists .

In this type of situation, as the other says, "the proof of the being of the pudding lies in the fact of eating it", and we must therefore look at the results: all populisms, in the political history of nations and peoples, have always led their country to rout because of a tendency not to analyze the conditions of its appearance and its determinations. In this case, the military in power cannot both apply logics of action specific to their DNA and foresee the development of populations, assuming to do so that they are free of body and in their daily expression. It is therefore contradictory to want to liberate peoples from the terrorist yoke by applying the limitations of freedoms and the servitude of tyrannies, and it is even more illogical and counterproductive to hand over one's territory to mercenaries greedy for material goods in the name of one's geographical liberation and sovereign reconquest. If populism is the art of designating a part of the population qualified as "illegitimate and predatory elite" to the vindictiveness of the popular courts of the doxa, then it is certain that populism will end up qualifying the human rights of the person as being subversive and "reactionary" and will thus prevent any political modification of the putschist order imposed in a violent way. Moreover, it is very difficult for the countries concerned, led by juntas, to respect the agendas of the electoral calendars, more or less concerted with international organizations, of the handing over of power to civilians: procrastination, even assuming that it is in good faith, only reveals the impossibility of legitimately organizing legitimate voting processes by illegitimate authorities resulting from coups d'etat themselves illegitimate and establishing power relations denying all democratic legitimacy . There is a vicious circle here from which it is difficult to get out. If populism is necessarily sophisticated and has to deal with the illicit to legitimize the illegitimate exercise of force against the law, then it must rely on myth or storytelling to justify the unjustifiable. only reveals the impossibility of legitimately organizing legitimate voting processes by illegitimate authorities resulting from coups d'etat themselves illegitimate and establishing power relations denying all democratic legitimacy. There is a vicious circle here from which it is difficult to get out. If populism is necessarily sophisticated and has to deal with the illicit to legitimize the illegitimate exercise of force against the law, then it must rely on myth or storytelling to justify the unjustifiable. only reveals the impossibility of legitimately organizing legitimate voting processes by illegitimate authorities resulting from coups d'etat themselves illegitimate and establishing power relations denying all democratic legitimacy. There is a vicious circle here from which it is difficult to get out. If populism is necessarily sophisticated and has to deal with the illicit to legitimize the illegitimate exercise of force against the law, then it must rely on myth or storytelling to justify the unjustifiable.


We find here the origin of the informational war or the guerrilla of communication: it is then necessary to deport the gaze of the populations elsewhere and to make them believe that "aliens", other, foreigners, invaders, if possible decked out in colors (white , yellow or red depending on the place and the time) want to contaminate the purity of the putschists' intentions and the hospitable generosity of the people deceived in their aspirations by these deceitful invaders. Just turn the rhetoric around and see that the populist speaks for himself when he describes the enemy of the people. In fear and constraint, people produce nothing, do not commit, do not give the best of themselves. This is why the separation of powers, a constitution recognized and protected by strong and republican institutions,


The legitimate establishment of a democratic regime and the exercise, protected by legitimate institutions, of a free press and media, validating the right to freedom of expression, are the only pillars capable of rationally and effectively rolling back the populism.

Any populism is a malevolent use of the emotional register to diminish the critical lucidity of the subjects and to make believe that the only salvation lies in a cohort, an oligarchy of providential men. This fallacious diagram can, perhaps, for a time, satisfy the need to be reassured for tried peoples; the desire for truth, for knowledge, is such in Humanity that no constraint of freedom can be exerted without there being counter-effects in return. This is why the legitimate establishment of a democratic regime and the exercise protected by legitimate institutions of a free press and media, validating the right to freedom of expression, are the only pillars capable of rolling back with reason and effective populism.

Education is an effective way to fight populism; it awakens by educated historical consciousness and the rigorous recall of the past to the tragic events that have made the present and it then shows us the voluntarist, ingenuous, clumsy and uncertain character of the authoritarian adventures of the messianist excesses of power by the examples and logics of the pass ; not that history repeats itself or that it gives us lessons, but it allows us to understand the logic of risky actions and to recognize the tragicomic figures of so-called providential men. Once again, we must bet on the critical intelligence and values ​​carried by the ethical-philosophical humanism of the bearers of peace and civilization against the dark and violent race,

Interview conducted by Abdoul Aziz Moussa



Niger inter hebdo S Mokaddem
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