Without This Advice on Propaganda, You Will Continue To Live in Fear and Division

Lessons for climate change drawn from Peter Pomerantsev’s fascinating book, ‘This is Not Propaganda”

J.R. Flaherty
4 min readMar 9, 2022


Sinitta Leunen on Unsplash

Lenin said there are decades where nothing happens and weeks where decades happen.

The latest IPCC report notes disinformation is slowing climate action in North America. In the same week, Putin shut media, jailed protesters and attacked Ukraine.

You may also be feeling all the information flying around. It’s a 24-hour news cycle dream. It had me thinking about war’s best friend, propaganda.

So I finally picked up the essential book by Peter Pomerantsev, This is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality.

Why we’re post-fact and how did we get here?

“But if the need for facts is predicated on a vision of a concrete future that you are trying to achieve, then when that future disappears, what is the point of facts? Why would you want them if they tell you that your children will be poorer than you? That all versions of the future are unpromising? And why should you trust the purveyors of facts — the media and academics, think tanks, statesmen?

And so the politicians who makes a big show of rejecting facts, who validate the pleasure of spouting nonsense, who indulges in a full, anarchic liberation from coherence, from glum reality, become attractive.” — Peter Pomerantsev, This is Not Propaganda

Pomerantsev was born in Kyiv, and he later worked as a reality TV producer in Russia, and then a journalist. Now he’s a disinformation scholar at Johns Hopkins University.

This Is Not Propaganda is one of the best looks at how the information ecosystem in Russia works. It also explores the global network.

He travels to the Philippines. Where “call centres full of people working twenty-four hours shifts, paid by the hours. With one person manning dozens of social media personas.”

He describes a Russian manual you can still buy online. It’s called “Information-Psychological War Operations: A Short Encyclopedia and Reference Guide” (2011 edition).