Editorial 1/2021

Christina Krakovsky, Josef Seethaler, Christian Schwarzenegger,
Valerie Schafer & Gabriele Balbi

Populism and populist politics were seen to be on the rise for several years and extreme ideologies as well as radical politics were striving for power in many European democracies and around the globe. With the end of the Trump presidency, with Brexit fulfilled and the right-wing populist FPÖ no longer being a part of the Austrian government, there is also some indication that this constant rise has partly been stalled. Nevertheless, the seed of putting democracies in jeopardy and enforcing divisive politics is still there. During the global Corona pandemic new fronts of populism may be in formation and new movements are set in motion expressing their discontent with the current state of political affairs.

Sensationalism, misinformation, rumors and conspiracy myths also in this context and time provide a fuel to populist agitation, which often is circulated or amplified by media in its diverse forms. Public debate and political pundits suggest that there is a link between the proliferation of radical politics, trenches of polarization between political camps and across societies on the one side and contemporary media environments on the other. The hope that media will save democracy and will be sentinel to democratic processes, serve as harbourers of a critical public sphere and deliberative discourse has changed over the last years. Of late the question whether democracy can be saved from the media, and social media in particular has been raised in discussed with increasing concerns (Sunstein, 2001; Swart et al., 2018; de Vries, 2020).


Merja Ellefson: Whose Nation?

Memories of the 1918 Finnish Civil War in Military Magazines

This article explores the ways military magazines remembered and made sense of the Finnish civil war both directly after the 1918-1919 war and during the centennial anniversaries of the declaration of independence and the war in 2017-2018. Military organizations and their magazines were journalistic and organizational memory-makers. Due to their size and popularity among the winning side, they shaped public opinion and perceptions of the war. The winners’ perspective was disseminated through organizational activities, commemorative rituals, and ideological upbringing. Magazines were an important tool in strengthening the feeling of togetherness and common destiny. Although the military interest groups no longer have the same societal impact, it is interesting to see the changes that occur as the winners tell the tale a hundred years apart. In brief, the aim is to examine which issues are highlighted or suppressed, and on which grounds people are seen as friends or foes, i.e., whose Finland appears on the pages of the magazines a hundred years later.

Balázs Sipos: How to turn an enemy into friend – and vice versa

Pro-Soviet and anti-Soviet extreme right propaganda in Hungary

Studies on the extreme right propaganda about the Second World War and the Soviet Union mostly focus on the anti-Soviet media outlets. These articles, caricatures, books, and movies followed the pattern of Mein Kampf and were about the “Jewish-Bolshevik-plutocratic alliance”. In general, the propaganda of the Hungarian extreme right movement (Arrow Cross Party) used the same simplistic image. The journalists and politicians created the antitheses of the Christian Hungarian ‘we-group’ and the ‘Jewish-Bolshevik’ ‘they-group’. But between the August of 1939 and the June of 1941, this situation changed and new patterns were needed. The Hungarian extreme right journalists and politicians knew nothing about the purpose of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and they thought that the Soviet Union would be a friend of Nazi Germany. They tried hard to explain this situation. It was difficult to construct a new image of the former ‘Jewish-Bolshevik’ enemy. The easiest way was to simply use the very opposites of the former statements. According to the new extreme right propaganda, the Soviet Union became a national socialist (nationalist and racist) state. The aim of this paper is to share the results of the analysis of the extreme right media outlets (their anti-Soviet and pro-Soviet propaganda) and interpret these shifts and the problem of the authenticity of the daily newspaper of the Arrow Cross movement.

Ely Lüthi: Media and Communication as Swiss Cohesive Forces?

The Role of Radio and Supercomputing in Gluing the Country

This paper presents how the Swiss government used media and communication as tools to foster national cohesion and glue the country in several historical times. In particular, focus of this paper is a precise approach Switzerland has to communication, using as case studies the role of radio during the Second World War and that of supercomputers at the end of the 20th century. Through governmental sources (Federal dispatches and official letters), this paper highlights the role and function the Swiss government attributed to these communication means. Following a political economy of communication approach, it underlines how Switzerland saw in communication the perfect instrument to protect the country, increase national unity and connect the various linguistic regions, attributing it a specific pattern of ideas and values, which remained very similar in different historical times although the global forces surrounding the country saw relevant changes throughout the whole 20th century. In particular, the paper shows how Switzerland responded to Nazi-Fasci propaganda during WWII with objective radio news bulletins and programmes vehiculating Swiss values and cultures, as well as how the establishment of the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre in the 1990s pushed the three linguistic regions to overcome their cultural differences and increase the collaborations among them.

Simon Ganahl: Mapping Austrofascism and Beyond

Report on the Digital Research Project Campus Medius

Campus Medius explores and expands the possibilities of digital cartography in cultural and media studies. In this article, I elaborate on the development of the project from a historical case study to a mapping platform. The first chapter presents the initial version (1.0/2014) of campusmedius.net, an interactive map with a timeline displaying fifteen events within twenty-four hours in Vienna on the weekend of May 13 and 14, 1933. The second part discusses the current version (2.0/2021) of the website that additionally focuses on the main event of this exemplary time-space or chronotope: an Austrofascist “Turks Deliverance Celebration” (“Türkenbefreiungsfeier”) in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace, which is imparted from a bird’s-eye perspective, panoramically, and in street view by five mediators each. The following chapter deals with the technological infrastructure and the data model of Campus Medius, which operationalizes the theoretical concepts of the dispositif and the actor-network. In conclusion, I outline our plans to establish a digital platform for describing and visualizing media experiences in everyday life.