Could language learning be used as a tool to help reduce global conflict?

Recently I had the honour of interviewing one of Britain’s most famous writers; the poet, novelist & playwright Benjamin Zephaniah. Not many people know that Benjamin has a deep interest in the Chinese culture and language, having travelled extensively through China to practice kungfu and learn Mandarin.

We discussed language learning, Chinese tones, & why he believes learning a new language can be a powerful force against bigotry and war. One sentence in practicular grabbed my attention:

“If I was Education Minister, first thing I’d do is make it mandatory for children to go & experience another culture. Why? You’re less likely to go to war with people you understand.”

Do you agree?

Full interview here: Benjamin Zephaniah on Learning Mandarin (Podcast) – I'm Learning Mandarin

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I believe it could be used for this purpouse for certain. And who knows all the other consequences of it!.. Most especially the long ones.

As fot the bigotry and war, it’s not so difficult for any new sort of a hatred to get catched on by the population. Whether you wear a mask or you don’t wear a mask, you’re a Democrat or a Republican, it’s in our nature, I guess, once required conditions being hit.
Existential dread joined the chat. :smiley:

No, I disagree a great deal, for the following reasons:

  1. I think language learning is a great tool for facilitating friendships and closeness in general. It is a catalyst for it, but is not a cause or trigger for it. Genuine interest in the culture and other people specifically is the reason for the closeness/friendship and the language learning.

  2. War specifically and conflict generally is caused by division. Division rooted in differences. Although it is a blessing to see ourselves as other see us, the differences that lead to conflict, especially serious conflict like war, is seldom because of misunderstanding.

  3. Mandating experiences especially on multicultural matters doesn’t work. Instead of asking what the Education Minister should do, we should be getting rid of such positions.

The rest of the interview and background on this is rather compelling.


“You’re less likely to go to war with people you understand.” ( Benjamin Zephaniah)
Sounds like a line from a Monty Python sketch :slight_smile:
The 1st World War broke out, although the royal houses of England, Russia and Germany were “family”, which knew each other all too well!

And does anyone really believe that the civil wars in the US (1861-1865) or in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution were due to an inadequate knowledge of the English or Russian language?

Or to put it differently:
The fundamental international conflict since 1914 has been between authoritarian regimes ( from the left and right of the political spectrum) and democracies.
And this is a multidimensional conflict based on fundamental value differences / ideological differences, geopolitical interests, etc., which will not disappear because people understand each other better.

PS -
If you want to know the “traditional” Chinese culture, you should go to Taiwan, not the People’s Republic of China…

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I do agree. I’m 68 and from one of the most conservative parts of the U.S. I credit my travel and living abroad to opening my mind and heart. I lived in France in 1976-77, and PRC (China) in the eighties. My French is quite good, but I also learned to appreciate Mandarin, Turkish, Japanese, and most European languages (meaning I know a few words and phrases in each). My wife was very critical of Moslem women and culture until we spent time in Istanbul. Connecting with people through travel and language can be life changing.

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Your comment misses the point. Whether or not Benjamin’s is correct, he’s not referring to the how much the ruling powers of different countries understand each other. He’s referring to the general public without whose consent wars would be much more difficult to wage.

Historically, wartime propaganda aimed at selling the necessity of war to the general public has consistently used racist caricatures and stereotypes to ‘manufacture consent’. It is more difficult to get a population to agree to go to war with other countries whose culture they understand and feel an affinity with.

Nor did Benjamin say that all war would be avoided if people understood each other better. His point was that it makes it less likely, which seems sensible.

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First, let me say that I completely agree that people should broaden their horizons through education, travel, language learning, and so on. But the problem starts with the rather simplistic understanding of how modern politics works in both authoritarian and democratic systems.

I) " It is more difficult to get a population to agree to go to war with other countries "
The general public is very heterogeneous (with different opinions, values, interests, etc.), so it´s “loosely coupled”, i.e., with a low degree of organization.
In contrast, organized groups (parties, lobbies, NGOs, etc.) are usually “tightly coupled”, i.e., they have a higher degree of organization, so they can influence politics much more easily than the general public.

Or to put it differently:
The political system observes tightly coupled groups (governments, state organizations, parties, interest groups, etc.) rather than a loosely coupled general public because the complexity level of tightly coupled groups is easier to process than the overly high complexity level of the general public.

The general public in democracies is therefore important in only three respects:

  1. In general elections, where voters introduce an element of “randomness” into the political system.
  2. In trends in mass media and opinion polls, where the variety of people’s opinions, interests, etc. is more concentrated (= a reduction of too much general complexity).
  3. Mass demonstrations or something similar (e.g. a general strike), but these are the exceptions, not the rule!

Apart from that, the general public remains usually in the role of spectators of the political system.
This means when it comes to political conflicts and esp. war, it´s not the general public that is the deciding factor!

To give you a few examples:

  1. In World War I, a few hundred people (military, political, diplomatic and economic elites) on all sides decided to go to war - and this despite the fact that the interdependence of modern economies had reached the highest level in human history before 1914 (a level not reached again until the 1970s!).

In retrospect, the problem wasn´t so much that the French, the Germans, the British, etc., didn´t understand each other, but that a hegemonic struggle for Europe (and its colonies) was underway in which the power elites, e.g., in Germany, saw a “window of opportunity” that was rapidly closing.

In addition: The vast majority of people on all sides (both the general public and many of the elites) had no clue what a total and highly machinized war with scientific support, huge economies, etc. really meant. So their views of modern war were simply some romanticized and idealized nonsense.

Would a better understanding, let´s say of the French and the Germans, have changed that fundamental “miscalculation of modern war”? No, probably not one bit!

  1. The last war in Afghanistan, where the US and its allies left the country a few months ago and the country was quickly taken over by the Taliban.

This war was a completely stupid idea - right from the start!
In Germany, the vast majority of the population (probably more than 90 percent) was against sending German troops to Afghanistan. Nevertheless, German troops went there because Germany is the junior partner of the U.S…

  1. The increasing conflict with the People’s Republic of China.
    You can love Chinese people, the culture, the tradition, whatever. At the same time.,as a Westener, you can detest the Chinese communist party and its model of digital dictatorship.
    See, for example, the instructive case of the Youtuber “serpentza”: serpentza - YouTube

This conflict between the U.S. (and its allies/democracies in general) and China is multidimensional, i.e., it takes place in the political, technological, economic, diplomatic, etc. areas.
A better understanding of the Chinese people won´t change that.

  1. West Germany and East Germany during the Cold War.
    Germans spoke the same language, shared many of the same traditions, many had family ties…
    and yet the political and economic systems, the basic values and ideologies, etc. were so different that in the case of World War III Germans would have killed Germans. A better understanding wouldn´t have changed that, because we already understood each other quite well :slight_smile:

II) “His point was that it makes it less likely…”
A better understanding of each other often doesn´t resolve fundamental interest, value and ideological conflicts!
This doesn´t mean that communication isn´t useful in these cases. It just means that conflicts don´t disappear because of better communication and a better understanding of each other.


Your analysis is interesting but (I think) wrong.

After listing several ways in which public opinion can be the deciding factor - elections, organised public pressure etc. - you write: “It’s not the general public that’s the deciding factor…”

The first example you give is the first world war. The British Prime Minister George LLoyd had a slightly different take, famously stating in 1917:

“If the people really knew [the truth about the horrors of war] the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and can’t know.”

Here he’s alluding to the danger that an educated public could pose to a project led by “a few hundred people”. Yes the public are spectators, but keeping them as spectators requires maintining their ignorance.

I’m not arguing here that Benjamin Zephaniah is right. I’m arguing against your idea that the public can “never be the deciding factor” and that their levels of ignorance or education on a particular conflict are irrelevant because they can only ever play the role of spectators.

Whether language learning can help remains an open question but nothing you’ve said has convinced me it can’t.

“If the people really knew [the truth about the horrors of war] the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and can’t know.”
There was definitely the problem of censorship (and propaganda) in all warring parties in World War I (but that´s the case in many wars). See:

After World War I, however, it was absolutely clear to anyone who wanted to know that modern mechanized warfare was capable of creating “hell on earth.” (Woods in Wartime - Trees on the Front Line - Picturing the Great WarThe First World War Blog from Mary Evans Picture Library).
But did this stop World War II? No, it didn´t because there were other factors at play here beyond public opinion!

" Yes the public are spectators, but keeping them as spectators requires maintining their ignorance. "
No. Not being a “permanent” political actor is a key feature of a complex representative democracy where the large majority of people have other things to do than being politically active all the time!

Or to put it differently: Being well informed about a political issue is a full-time job these days. And even professional politicians are usually only generalists who have to resort to experts when they need specialized knowledge. Most regular people don’t have time for that. That’s why they elect political “representatives”!

Moreover, the general public is much too “disorganized” (and complex) to be an influential and homogeneous political actor. For this reason, “filters” for reducing this socio-political complexity are used, i.e. elections, parties, the foundation of NGOs (like LobbyControl, Greenpeace, etc.), demonstrations, opinion polls, etc.

This means further that the idea that “power emanates from the people” isn´t in line with the complexity of a modern representative democracy… But, this doesn´t mean that the general public is completely irrelevant. It simply means its only a factor among other factors in a complex political constellation.

Apart from these “filters” mentioned, the general public, esp. the milieus of the middle and lower (income) classes, and their interests tend to be systematically ignored (!) by the political system (keywords: “unequal policy responsiveness”).

So the thesis is:
Democratic governments are often little interested in the interests and needs of the broad mass of the population (i.e. the general public).

  • See the case of Germany (from an empirical study of 2016 for the German federal government itself!):
    “According to the study, the situation is similar when the views of the middle class are taken into account. Their demands are ignored by the government to almost the same extent as those of the poor. In concrete terms, this means that it is practically irrelevant to politicians how many people from the middle class want a certain change. In any case, there is virtually no measurable correlation between the approval rate for a demand among the middle class and its implementation. Such a correlation can only be demonstrated for the wishes of those with the highest incomes, but there it is very clear.” (translation with Deepl; the original article is in German: "Westliche Demokratie" ist hohl: Reichtum regiert | Telepolis)

  • See the case of Spain:

  • See also a more general (forthcoming) study by Noam Lupu / Zach Warner: “Why Are the Affluent Better Represented Around the World?”, in: “European Journal of Political Research:”, URL:

“I’m arguing against your idea that the public can “never be the deciding factor” and that their levels of ignorance or education on a particular conflict are irrelevant”
It is certainly a factor, but the “deciding” factor? Normally, it´s a combination of factors that lead to regime change, for example. But “the public” as a loosely coupled and unorganized mass of people is definitely not enough on its own!
For a regime change to occur, you need the support of some organized groups / elites, a failure of state organizations (the military, paramilitary units, the police, secret services, etc.) and / or some external factors like a lost war.

In sum:
Citizens who want to change something in a complex representative democracy should leave the disorganized state of the general public, because without a higher degree of organization (like an NGO à la Greenpeace), the political system lacks a reliable communication partner.

Or even more succinctly formulated (as an insight from organizational research): Organizations prefer to deal with other organizations! That is: they like to avoid idiosyncratic individuals and an amorphous general public :slight_smile:

PS -
A related book to what I wrote above is, for example, “Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government " (ÅMÅŽÕÑ&keywords=democracy+for+realists&qid=1637434272&sr=8-1):
" Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels deploy a wealth of social-scientific evidence, including ingenious original analyses of topics ranging from abortion politics and budget deficits to the Great Depression and shark attacks, to show that the familiar ideal of thoughtful citizens steering the ship of state from the voting booth is fundamentally misguided.
They demonstrate that voters— even those who are well informed and politically engaged —mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues.
They also show that voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties.
When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents’ control; the outcomes are essentially random.
Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly.” (highlighting by me).

If voters in general don´t control the course of public policy, voters who learn foreign languages, travel and have a better understanding of foreign cultures, don´t control the course of public policy either :slight_smile:

In addition, if these voters belong to middle / poor classes, their needs and interests are often overlooked.

"Whether language learning can help remains an open question but nothing you’ve said has convinced me it can’t. "
Language learning has many benefits, but creating world peace isn´t one of them

“Chinese youths have been traveling to the United States for higher education since the 1970s, though it was only in the 2000s that the student population surged from 50,000 to more than 350,000. Parents sent their children to study courses that they thought the United States was dominant in, like computer engineering or finance, or to graduate into an economy that they thought was more advanced. Peer pressure took hold among middle-class families experiencing upward mobility, casting an American education as, among other things, a status symbol.” (

From your point of view, the millions (!) of Chinese students in the US and the further millions of young people/adults who studied English but stayed in China since the 1970s should have had at least a “tiny” moderating effect on the conflict between the US and China.

However, since Xi JinPing took power in 2012, the conflict between China and the US has been steadily increasing.

And I doubt this would change if many more students from the US learned Chinese and studied in China :slight_smile:

“From your point of view, the millions (!) of Chinese students in the US and the further millions of young people/adults who studied English but stayed in China since the 1970s should have had at least a “tiny” moderating effect on the conflict between the US and China.”

When did I say that was my point of view? I said it remains an open question. I don’t think it’s something that’s easy to measure.

Moreover the fact that people learn languages and yet conflicts still happen does not constitute evidence for or against the notion that better language and culture education make conflicts less likely to happen.

The most critical thing I’m willing to say about the hypothesis is that it’s untestable.

“If voters in general don´t control the course of public policy, voters who learn foreign languages, travel and have a better understanding of foreign cultures, don´t control the course of public policy either :-)”

I understand the argument but the extent to which voters control the course of public policy is a complex, not simple, question. One can easily make a strong argument that public action/ opinion has played a big role in shaping many conflicts past and present.

I don’t know about that. The US us a divided country right now and it truly feels like it’s going down a horrible path. I feel we’re going into a civil war in the next 5 years. We of course all speak the same language here.


I´d say we both agree that broadening our horizons, which inludes less bigotry, less prejudices, etc., is a good thing in itself. If language learning, traveling, or studying / living abroad contribute to that - wonderful!

However, every communication can reject another communication and hence become a conflict. For example, we´re having a conflict right now about the moderating effect of “language learning” on conflicts :slight_smile:

Or another example:
I love my family. But there have been many conflicts in the past (about my behavior at school when I was young, what I should study at university, what I should do with my life, etc.), even though we are very close! New conflicts pop up from time to time, and there are a few (unsolvable) conflicts that have been going on for decades.

Does this have anything to do with language learning and a better understanding of each other? Not at all. We´re all native speakers, almost all of the children have an academic background, we share many of the same values and traditions - and we love each other.

Conflicts are a completely normal part of “all” communication processes - beyond politics! In other words, there are conflicts everywhere and all the time in families, in and between organizations, in everyday interactions, etc.

Complexity research even attributes a very positive role to conflicts because they enable social systems to learn and better adapt to a changing environment!

Unfortunately, conflicts are a “dangerous” social learning mechanism because they can easily turn violent (violence being understood here as a “solution” to end conflicts that have intensified and are permanent).

We´ve known this for tens of thousands of years. And that´s why societies all over the world have developed more peaceful conflict management mechanisms like hierarchy (that is able to absorb conflicts, esp. in organizational structures), a highly complex legal system whose basic societal function is “conflict management” (!), the state´s monopoly of force in modernity, diplomatic negotiations, etc.

When many or all of these social/societal conflict management mechanisms fail, and therefore conflicts become increasingly intense, violence (including war) becomes more likely.

"The most critical thing I’m willing to say about the hypothesis is that it’s untestable. "
I don’t see how “language learning” can be part of the mix of reliable conflict resolution mechanisms that have evolved over the last tens of thousands of years, because compared to the effectiveness of the principle of hierarchy, the legal system, the state monopoly on the use of force, etc., its potential for preventing / managing a conflict is almost negligeable.

“the extent to which voters control the course of public policy is a complex, not simple, question”
Yes, and the topic of “uneven policy responsiveness” is an ongoing research effort in the social sciences.

On the other hand, we know from complexity research that (adaptive) complex systems tend to produce Pareto distributions (e.g. 80-20, 90-10, etc.) in the long run. And this seems to be the case also in the economic and political systems of our time.

This isn´t restricted to democracies, but includes all kinds of regimes (monarchies, democracies, and authoritarian regimes).

"One can easily make a strong argument that public action/ opinion has played a big role in shaping many conflicts past and present. "
Well, the career of “public opinion” started basically in the (early) modern era (let´s say in the 17th / 18 th centuries). And then mainly in democratic societies. In contrast, authoritarian and dictatorial regimes usually suppress and control public opinion.

To make things easier, we could focus exclusively on the 20 / 21th century. Let´s say the War in Vietnam between the US and the Vietcong / North Vietnamese.
A simplicistic narrative here might be: Public opinion in the US was against the Vietnam War - and that´s why the war ended in 1975.

However, there are many more factors at play in this complex constellation:

  • The US military itself:
  • It could never break the supply lines
  • It couldn´t attack China (China in the Vietnam War - Wikipedia)
  • It couldn´t use limited nuclear weapons
  • They US Army´s decline itself: “Racial incidents, drug abuse, combat disobedience, and crime reflected growing idleness, resentment, and frustration… the fatal handicaps of faulty campaign strategy, incomplete wartime preparation, and the tardy, superficial attempts at Vietnamization.” (Shelby Stanton, Vietnam War - Wikipedia)
  • The misconception that the U.S. Army could help build nations (as it tried in the last war in Afghanistan, too!)
  • The use of false statistics (body counts!) and war game simulations based on unreliable data
  • The ambivalence of US tactics itself. For example: " This policy of attempting to win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people, however, often was at odds with other aspects of the war which sometimes served to antagonize many Vietnamese civilian " (Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War - Wikipedia)
    etc. etc.


In brief: Is public opposition to the war in Vietnam a factor here?
Definitely (and the Taliban learned this lesson well during the protracted war in Afghanistan!)
However, a disgruntled (disorganized) public opinion alone would never have been enough to end this war in an instant (see your quote from Lloyd George)!

To sum it all up:

  • I think the main problem I have with the statement that language learning can make conflicts (and then wars) “less likely” is a complete misunderstanding of the (positive) role of conflicts in many communication processes/interactions!

  • And the higher the level of language mastery, the more effective people can be in communication processes - and create conflicts quasi instantaneously. In short: This means language learning / acquisition doesn´t lead to less conflicts, but is the basis for creating more conflicts in communication! Or even more succinctly: The more one talks / writes, the more conflicts are possible / likely! :slight_smile:
    (BTW, Goethe already wrote more than 200 years ago: “Jedes ausgesprochene Wort erregt den Gegensinn.” = “Every word spoken arouses the opposite sense.” So he was well aware of the contradictions and conflicts in modern communication processes!).

  • The real problem doesn´t start with conflicts, but when conflicts intensify and the reliable socioevolutionary conflict management mechanisms (i.e., hierarchies, the legal system, etc.) fail. This is the point at which violence (including military conflict) becomes likely as a dangerous solution to end the spiral of conflict.

  • However, believing that “language learning” can be an effective mechanism for conflict management is, at least from my (social science) perspective, simply “wishful thinking” without any basis in our social realities.

Well, American society was already highly polarized in the 1960s (with regard to the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam). Nevertheless, it flourished and won the Cold War.

I m confident that the U.S. is capable of reinventing itself again!
However, a larger vocabulary in English or a better understanding of English grammar among native speakers of AE won´t help much here, of course :slight_smile:

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What I’ve noticed over your comments is that I can hardly distinguish, where you’re talking about people, society or governments. What do you mean by “American society flourished and won the Cold War” or by “stayed in China since the 1970s should have had at least a “tiny” moderating effect on the conflict between the US and China.”

Conflicts between the major economic powers and conflict between people or society aren’t the same parts of the Global Conflict. And obviously enough today’s governments tend to take the will of their citizens for the opportunity to take advantages of this and justify external and internal agression, corruption and violence. Whatever, my main point here is that one shouldn’t confuse people with the system so quick.
We’re just guessing shoulda-woulda here anyway, but imo with the worse understanding of English grammar and smaller vocabulary, the civil war would be already ongoing. It’s even more applied to border conflicts, when one can escalate conflict and provoke the other side into preemptive fire. What military and governments did back then was to try to get their citizens reeled up against the “bad others”. It’s difficult even today, thanks to the accessibility of information. If others speak the same language you won’t believe in such silly patriotic shit, like they’re gonna devour your kids.
Not that language couldn’t help, it’s just no signle one thing which would be enough to sort out all the problems of the System. I imagine the world that has about at least 100 years speaking English, for example. Would it be possible to get born and rised for such personalities as Hitler. Who would get bought into fascism propaganda anymore? What do you think?

Hi, S.L!

Based on my experience in the social sciences / in social complexity research, I understand society as a multiplicity of socio-emergent communication processes, in which human beings (esp. their minds, sensu: their sign-processing consciousness systems) act as impulse generators.

This leads to the counterintuitive perspective that only emergent social systems (i.e. families, organizations, all kinds of near- and tele-interactions, function systems like politics, the economy, science, etc.) can communicate, i.e. they are able to connect one communication with another communication, but not human beings.
However, for this to work, the consciousness systems and the social systems have to be structurally coupled by the use of media (esp. language).

In this sense, where there is human communication, there is also human society.
And the reason why communication emerges is because people have to coordinate their behavior all the time.
But when you are alone in the bathroom brushing your teeth, for example, there is no communication because there is no behavior of different people to coordinate.

From this socio-emergent point of view, human beings (“people” / “individuals”) aren´t the same as social systems, but at the same time they aren´t completely independent of societal or social communication processes.

"American society flourished "
I was refering to different processes:

  1. The severe polarization of U.S. society since the 1960s didn´t end in a civil war as it did in 1861.
  2. The political, economic, and cultural playing fields for African Americans were leveled, resulting in a more equal and inclusive US society (however, the protests surrounding the death of G. Floyd made it clear that much remains to be done).
  3. “Other groups [P.B. apart from African Americans] marginalized by discrimination have organized to assert their rights. Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, disenfranchised Americans have used it to challenge discrimination and harassment based upon race, national origin, religion, gender, and more.” Immediate Impact of the Civil Rights Act - The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom | Exhibitions - Library of Congress
  4. The digital revolution (esp. the PC revolution) since the 1970s with the big tech players (Apple, Microsoft, IBM, HP, etc.) is mainly an US product.
  5. Digital entrepreneurship made in the US (esp. the Silicon Valley ecosystem with its mix of VCs, top research universities like Stanford, young tech entrepreneurs who aren´t scared to think “big”, tech companies like Intel, etc.) started to dominate many consumer and enterprise software markets (and this is still the case today - with the exception of China with its own big tech players like Alibaba).
  6. After the recession of 1979 - 1982, the US economy recovered: " By the middle of 1983, unemployment fell from 11 percent in 1982 to 8.2 percent. GDP growth was 3.3 percent, the highest since the mid-1970s. Inflation was below 5 percent. When the economy recovered, Ronald Reagan declared it was Morning in America. Housing starts boomed, the automobile industry recovered its vitality, and consumer spending achieved new heights" ( History of the United States (1980–1991) - Wikipedia).
  7. The arms race between the Reagan adminstration (esp. Reagan´s “Star Wars program”) and the Soviet leadership, the oil glut of the 1980s (1980s oil glut - Wikipedia), and the inherent structural weakness of the the planned economy model led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the states of the Warsaw Pact.

However, instead of saying that the US “won” the Cold War, it´s probably more accurate to say that the USSR “lost” the Cold War because it couldn´t keep up economically.

"I imagine the world that has about at least 100 years speaking English, for example. Would it be possible to get born and rised for such personalities as Hitler. "
Yes, English has been the world’s “lingua franca” in politics, business, science, sports, culture, etc. since the end of the Cold War, and most people think Adolf Hitler is a psychopathic caricature of a top populist politician.

Unfortunately, “populism” is always an option - in “all” societies. And the digital revolution offers modern states a wealth of surveillance possibilities that the Nazi Gestapo, the Stasi or the KGB couldn´t even dream of.

Digital authoritarian / dictatorial regimes with the corresponding ideologies and deceptions are therefore not imagined dangers of some conspiracy theorists (en passant, greetings to China and its social scoring system!).

“Who would get bought into fascism propaganda anymore?”
Well, right-wing parties around the world have adopted modernized racist, fascist, etc. positions. Combine this with the aforementioned threat of populism, and you get an “explosive” mixture.

Or as I prefer to say:
Ideology isn´t dead. It has only changed its appearance.

By the way, the “human rights discourse” is also nothing natural or self-evident, but only one ideology among other (sometimes more sinister) ideologies. But if I have to choose between the ideology of human rights and the ideology of social harmony à la China, I immediately know which one I prefer :slight_smile: