The geopolitical discourse

Image: Ricky Galvez


The Western press has learned to interpret the dominant geopolitical desires by simply changing the word president to dictator.

By connecting discursive practices with social practices, Norman Fairclough did not recall the most philosophical question asked by children in the past: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The context of such a question was not academic, it was to present a dilemma for those who knew that chickens lay eggs and that chickens were once hatched from an egg. A shift in context, followed by a semantic change to broaden the meaning of egg (any egg, including reptile eggs), may find an answer in the theory of evolution. A speech has a life cycle with production, distribution and consumption stages. At all stages, there is a direct or indirect presence of existing or required social practices. A discourse combats or reinforces such social practices.

When the interdependence between discursive practices and social practices is not clear, we can be faced with two different phenomena: (a) it is an experimentation of forcing the creation of a social practice from an intense discursive practice. The strategy of associating football with drinking is a successful example of such experimentation; (b) it is an ideological use that has lost its nexus nowadays, but that can still be reactivated by making the necessary change of context and the semantic alteration that is necessary. For example, the heroism of Leonidas, defeated at the battle of Thermopylae, recalls that the reason for such a fight was to contain Persian expansionism. However, there is not the same effort in making heroes in so many other fights against expansionism in the world.

Transformations of defeats into victories or into unmeasured heroism have anesthetized the public that watches in the cinema or learns at school some truly surreal narratives, when compared with the social practices or geopolitical strategies implemented. These discursive practices are experiments in leaving in the past what is observed in the present or in bringing into the present what did not happen in the past. Both movements must be the target of a critical analysis of the discourse in order to bring new interpretations to past facts that can determine current facts. To understand the discourses constructed in this way is to undertake an observatory of future actions.

In any war, the first and last battle is over the collective imagination of the parties. The monitoring of discursive practices, in geopolitics, precedes those of tactical actions. The Western press has learned to interpret the dominant geopolitical desires simply by changing the word president to dictator or through journalistic articles that show how long the ruler has been in power. Such news are not lies, they are selected truths. These are speeches that omit so many other totalitarian regimes with American and British support, for example.

The large amount of environmental crimes and the defeat in the Vietnam War by the USA were softened in several victorious battles shown in the cinema. The discourse on weapons of mass destruction[I] and the demonization of Saddam Hussein as an enemy laid the groundwork for social support for the war in Iraq in the US and UK. In both cases, only one part of the story, the most convenient in geopolitical terms, was disseminated to the public with intensity. The details that balance the narratives can only be accessed through critical geopolitics or anti-geopolitics.

Critical geopolitics or anti-geopolitics will say that there are other current narratives for various conflicts that exist internally or externally and that influence the destiny of nations. Critical geopolitics focuses on hegemonic discursive practice to show omissions, while anti-geopolitics focuses on presenting a non-hegemonic discursive practice, voices that have not been able to impose themselves in the present. Both critical geopolitics and anti-geopolitics articulate new discourses or metadiscourses. Because we are in Brazil, we are familiar with a unique and convergent narrative of various media that favor the hegemonic geopolitical vision of the NATO countries. Any different vision, even that of neutrality, must be fed through a discursive practice to be constructed.

*José Machado Moita Neto is a retired professor at the Federal University of Piauí (UFPI) and a researcher at UFDPar.



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