In recent years, the Swedish Armed Forces have produced and distributed highly edited video clips on YouTube that show moving images of military activity. Alongside this development, mobile phone apps have emerged as an important channel through which the user can experience and take an interactive part in the staging of contemporary armed conflict.
This article examines the way in which the Swedish Armed Forces, or, specifically, Sweden’s international policy on defence and security, are enmeshed with private defence industry groups when emphasising – through social media tactics and the aesthetics of the mainstream media – that an effective defence (materiel) is necessary in order to anticipate the potential dangers of tomorrow; for example, to prevent external threats and/or to secure (inter)national political-economic stability against global terrorism.
The communication of the nation’s security is imbricated with affective states such as ‘fear’ (of the Other), ‘bravery’ (of soldiers) and/or an overall sense of belonging (to a collective Western identity, articulated in difference). This runs through a repetitive compound of socio-cultural/political discourses that not only accumulate into a larger master narrative of protection – that the civil society should allow itself to be defended, be it through institutional surveillance or more physical (war) technologies – but also promises the reality of enjoyment and fulfilment for those within the community.
This produces an underlying affective narrative in which society is constituted through a lens of fear, and where the joys of life are framed as possible only after ‘the Threat’ is extinguished. Hence, in practice, this kind of affective political discourse involves an implicit economic spin-off in which technologically advanced defence equipment is aestheticized and mediated as essential to prevent external attacks. There is thus a thin line between the official discourses of security that are affectively and visually mediated – and which can be said to participate in the legitimation of military praxis – and particular economic interests.
Politics, pleasure, violence: Swedish defence propaganda in social media.
MedieKultur | Journal of media and communication research | 2013, 55, 21-42.
Rodrigo Ferrada Stoehrel.Read Article