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The best propaganda is not propaganda

Lobachevsky University focused on the current crisis in Venezuela

Before starting to talk about the interesting debate that the UNN students of International relations had about Venezuelan crisis, it is necesary to define the concept of "Soft Power".  

What is Soft Power ?  It has been defined in a number of ways.  For example, Soft Power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. A defining feature of Soft Power is that it is non-coercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies. Recently, the term has also been used in changing and influencing social and public opinion through relatively less transparent channels and lobbying through powerful political and non-political organizations.  It can be contrasted with "Hard Power", which is the use of coercion and payment.

"A country may obtain the outcomes it wants in world politics because other countries – admiring its values, emulating its example, aspiring to its level of prosperity and openness – want to follow it. In this sense, it is also important to set the agenda and attract others in world politics, and not only to force them to change by threatening military force or economic sanctions. This soft power – getting others to want the outcomes that you want – co-opts people rather than coerces them.


"Seduction is always more effective than coercion, and many values like democracy, human rights, and individual opportunities are deeply seductive."


On April 24, a meeting of the International Negotiating Club was held at Lobachevsky University. It was focused on the current crisis in Venezuela.  During the debate, UNN students from Mexico, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Estonia, Colombia, Turkey, Egypt and Uzbekistan divided into three teams, and each of the teams discussed the political conflict in Venezuela in accordance with its group role. The working language of the meeting was English.

International relations students analyzed the internal political situation in Venezuela, its relations with neighboring countries and the geopolitical context of the Venezuelan problem. The group of history students revealed the historical background and possibilities for resolving the Venezuelan crisis from the position of “Soft Power”. The team of economists reviewed the current economic situation in Venezuela and evaluated the ability of the Maduro regime to resist the sanctions imposed by the USA.

During the discussion, a teleconference with St. Petersburg State University was organized. Viktor Kheyfets, one of the leading Russian experts on Latin America, head of the Center for Ibero-American Studies at St. Petersburg State University, professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke about the current situation in Venezuela, the peculiarities of the Venezuelan crisis, and shared his experience of communicating with Venezuelan politicians. He also suggested several possible scenarios for the further development of the situation.0 International students of Lobachevsky University took the opportunity to ask the expert a number of questions on the latest events in Venezuela, and received his exhaustive answers.

In conclusion of the videoconference, the moderator of the discussion, Konstantin Kemaev,  Associate Professor at the UNN Department of University Management and Innovation in Education,  also answered students' questions, took part in an exchange of views and summed up the meeting.

Finally,  "the best propaganda is not propaganda", Josepth Nye  and in the digital age "credibility is the scarcest resource." "Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all possessed a great deal of soft power in the eyes of their acolytes, but that did not make it good. It is not necessarily better to twist minds than to twist arms." Nye also claims that soft power does not contradict the international relations theory of realism. "Soft Power is not a form of idealism or liberalism. It is simply a form of power, one way of getting desired outcomes”.


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