Twenty Years to Perestroika
The Evolution of Humanitarian Knowledge in Russia
The Materials of International Scientifically-Educational Forum
on 27 – 28 April 2005. Moscow: RSUH, 2005, pp. 327-331
PARTIALITY OF AN INFORMATION FIELD –
THE SOURCE OF MANIPULATION
(BY THE EXAMPLE OF M. GORBACHEV)
Kostov Sergey Viktorovich
Novosibirsk State University
Since birth and till death a man stays in a continuously changing information field , which finally determines his social behaviour, moreover, his social life would be impossible, if he was not able to perceive information, incoming from environment, was not able to process it, to conserve and to transfer it to other people. But as all information content, of which humankind has taken possession, is not available to him, then each separate individual actually stays in his limited, conditionally speaking, partial information field. An information code at genetic and social levels is known to create uniqueness of a separate human life.
Information content at various people is different by quantity and quality . Certainly, there are existed common places too. In this there is the essence of partiality of an information field, i.e. similarity and its difference at various people. Qualitative and quantitative composition of a partial field, and also its polarization, i.e. structure and order in relation to a value attractor, form the certain logic of thinking and, as the consequence, the certain logic of behaviour of an individual.
Information is a force, if to paraphrase F. Bacon’s well-known phrase; moreover, information is a power, if to paraphrase the well-known «authority-knowledge» concept of M. Foucault. The widespread presently phenomenon of manipulation on human consciousness  is generated by unavoidable partiality of information field of various individuals.
The separate ways of manipulation (in scientific community the term «information control»  is more common) can be showed by the example of the main initiator of perestroika. If to read the book of memoirs of E. Ligachev «Gorbachev’s Enigma» attentively, then in the political collisions stated by him, an eye-witness of which he has happened to be, it is possible to find out the quite concrete mechanism of formation of predetermined information field of an individual, and also the subsequent mechanism of influence of this field on the logic of behaviour of an individual. Covering the problem of awareness of Gorbachev, Ligachev writes about the possibility of the whole series of manipulations with the information streams, forming the information field of the general secretary, inadequate to the current situation in the country and, by virtue of this, determining the inadequate actions of the head of the state.
«The members of the supreme political leadership should be exhaustively informed on all internal and international questions, the very process of responsible decision-making is unthinkable without it... Incompleteness or narrowness of information – one of the main troubles, catching a politician… a “standard” set of reference and analytical sources, which were laid down on table to the members of the supreme political leadership… was not always unprejudiced» . What did this «standard set» of information consist of? First of all, it was «a constant set of references, surveys, bulletins, reviews, analytical reports and other official, confidential documents, which were directed to the Politburo and to the General Secretary by such departments as Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, KGB, Ministry of Internal Affairs, State Committee of Statistics and TASS». There is also concerned «the information from local party committees», and at that a rank of a party leader had determined both content, and confidence of the information, coming to the general secretary: «the higher, the more multifarious and more deeply it is» . This is an example, demonstrating the partiality of information field of a separate leader.
Further, «the “salt” of reference documents is in objectivity. But they are prepared and signed by people. And instead of strict equity someone tried to play up to moods of high leadership, forming the facts and conclusions in order to adjust them to dominating “at the top” point of view. This is an extremely dangerous and not always recognizable phenomenon, which is able to push a politician to a serious mistake» . It is one sort of deformation of an information stream, forming a partial field of a separate party leader.
There is also the other one: «The stream of information, intended for the General Secretary is so great, that necessarily requires a selection, a regulation. And at once the questions are rising here: who and how selects the information? In fact it can be formed in the quite definite way – both with regard to especially reference source (emphasizing or, on the contrary, camouflaging some facts), and from the point of view of estimations, analysis» .
There is one more way of informational manipulation on a party functionary. «Besides, there is an unwritten rule, based on the laws of psychological perception, which in use is sometimes called “the effect of the first information”. Its essence is in that the first estimation of one or another fact, event is perceived with the greatest completeness, and the subsequent ones, if they are contrary to the first, get already into conflict with it as though. The important practical conclusion follows from here: if there is a disputable situation, you should try to state to the leader your own version of events as soon as possible in order to set him in a definite way.
In this connection it is necessary to mention that advisers of a leader of a high rank – both official, and, so to speak, “on a voluntary basis” – are able to influence on a speculation of their “chief” noticeably. As long ago as ancient times, wise people in the East used to speak that many things depended more on a tolmach, i.e. on an interpreter, than on a very shah occasionally. And helpers, advisers are some sort of tolmach, interpreting facts. For this reason those, who struggles for influence on a leader, make a maximum of efforts on introducing their own people into his nearest company… An interpretation of facts and events, persons and phenomena, offered by the nearest company, – if it is tendentious, it can inspire a leader for erroneous notions about the essence of events in the country and the world» .
Next it is distinctly traced the mechanism of influence of already enough deformed information field of the head of the state of that time on his political behaviour, as the result of what the known historical process started moving: about 1987 «Gorbachev began more and more to be surrounded with people, who closed on Yakovlev in the personal plan. Besides, there was also easily viewed such tendency: the people, knowing the practical life of the country well, were gradually moved away from the General Secretary, and they were replaced by the scientists with academic thinking. Undoubtedly, helpers and advisers with academic thinking are necessary for a leader, moreover, they are indispensable. However, both in art, and in politics all point is in proportions. Gorbachev was evidently attracted by the aureole of “enlightened monarch”. In the final result the outlined academic turn gave rise to excessive enthusiasm for especially political problems in prejudice of practical work on the direction of the country… But this lack… is easily compensated by means of corresponding selection of helpers, advisers and colleagues. Ideally Gorbachev’s team should combine realists-practicians with people of academic thinking. But, alas, it was not fated to create a collective of people, combining political realism with scientific thinking. And such people had been available. To the share of the leader it remained to use this real potential for perestroika in the most rational way. But Gorbachev had chosen the other way. Nevertheless, perhaps it would be more correct to say otherwise: Gorbachev had been directed at the other way» .
Furthermore, «realist-practician» Ligachev states in detail how there had been performed the drift of Gorbachev’s politics from «socialism with human face» to «free market capitalism». This historical stage is known for all and does not demand the citations. However it is necessary to note that, staying in his partial field, Ligachev considered sincerely that he had been actively directing some «correct perestroika», so to speak, objectively ripened, but from the point of view of A. Jakovlev, into the hands of which there had fallen the international contacts of the party and Politburo and who had for that moment stayed in the partial field, enveloping the one of Ligachev, the activity of this «practician-realist» was regarded as manipulated participation in the other's game, temporarily useful, but only in the initial stage. Afterwards, when the process had already began to go thoroughly, Ligachev only hindered from «correct perestroika», and he was sent to write memoirs.
These memoirs have turned out to be an important artefact not only for historians, but also for systems analysts, because, unraveling the question on awareness of the general secretary in detail, Ligachev has thereby shown the practically working model of informational influence on a leader of the supreme rank (creation of an controller’s partial field, inadequate to the situation in the country) and, unraveling the conditions and methods of work of this leader in detail, he has shown the model of informational influence of a controller of the supreme rank on a controlled object – on the country (inadequate control of an object in view of inadequate awareness about it). More simply, in the system of «controller – controlled object» there have been deformed and broken both direct connections and feed-backs.
In addition, the degree of inadequacy of controlling influence on an object increases at decrease of time for thinking over it (a controller in the situation of time trouble, during which the efficiency of manipulating him increases sharply).
Here is how Ligachev describes such situation: «If to look through the newspapers of 1987-1990, the surprising thing is the inconceivable abundance of events, in which Gorbachev took part. In such conditions it was difficult to think deeply over the principle questions… Sometimes it was even seemed that Gorbachev’s nearest company set the inconceivable pace of work to the General Secretary intentionally» .
Ligachev illustrates such situation with the quite pertinent analogy: «When a driver goes on city at the speed of 60 km per hour, he chooses a convenient route easily. But if to force a driver to go on unfamiliar streets at the speed of 100 km per hour, he will have time only to turn a baranka in order not to crash to the nearest obstacle. It is hard to choose the best route in such conditions. A route will be suggested by a passenger, sitting alongside… And it seemed to me occasionally that Gorbachev was intentionally compelled to drive at the furious speed in order that all his energy was spent on prevention of immediate catastrophe. Gorbachev proved himself to be a masterly driver… But at that speed, what he had to race at, he couldn’t foresee tomorrow with real astuteness… it seems to me, he was hurried not without purpose» .
In other words, the high degree of inadequate control proved in reality to be the adequate manipulation on «the controller» to the same degree, by virtue of what all processes, «controlled» by him, turned out under control of the real controller, directing the process to the required direction by the given algorithm towards strictly defined purpose: to plunge the country into chaos, but into the controlled chaos, i.e. to move the object from the self-control mode in the mode of external control.
Thus, «Gorbachev’s enigma» presents the example of purposeful informational influence, the main task of which was to subordinate the internal function of state control to the external global control. According to the above-stated, the possibility of such informational influence is founded on the phenomenon of informational partiality.
1. Information field is to a variable degree structured set of various data and facts about phenomena and processes, occurring in the nature and society.
2. Information is subjective in a certain sense, because it is got, processed and presented by concrete people, consequently, information reflections of events in the world, executed by different people, can be so various that they will be contrary to each other. Objectivity of information is determined by its general significance.
3. See: Kara-Murza S.G. 2000. Manipulation on Consciousness. Moscow: Algorithm.
4. Information control is «process of making and realization of administrative decisions in a situation, when a controlling influence has implicit, indirect character, and the subject of control gives an object of control a determined information on a situation (information picture), being guided on which, this object chooses a line of the behaviour as though it were independently» (Information society: Information wars. Information control. Information security. 1999. St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg University Press. P. 78).
5. Ligachev E.K. 1992. Gorbachev’s Enigma. Novosibirsk: «Interbook», 1992. P. 71-72.
6. Ibid. P. 70.
7. Ibid. P. 72.
8. Ibid. P. 72.
9. Ibid. P. 73.
10. Ibid. P. 82-83.
11. Ibid. P. 298.
12. Ibid. P. 298.