Dissemination of the culture of hate; the symbols of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict

  • Symbols have historically proven to be more powerful than reality itself.

  • They shape identities and influences that are hard to unlearn.

  • In armed conflicts, symbols fulfill a political function which, on many occasions, propagates the culture of hatred.

Symbology in the formation and development of war conflicts had a political function, and in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict symbols became a determinant of the articulation and dissemination of a culture of hatred to perpetuate the clashes.

Symbols are a universal language and a powerful tool of visual communication, “a graphic expression that conveys briefly and simply the multitude of social, political and religious factors”, said Dr. David Docal Gil in his research “Hate Symbol Analysis”.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine with Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a “special military operation” to denazify Symbols and reinforcement of Russian ideology began to appear in the country, including the identification letter of the Z army, the exhibition of new technologies in weapons and speeches and the image of defense and nationalist protection of the Russian president.

Dissemination of the culture of hate; the importance of symbols in shaping identity in armed conflict

History teaches us that symbols are usually more powerful than reality itself, there are multiple examples that can be mentioned; however, the most representative and strongest due to the dimension of the conflict is the neo-Nazi symbolic representation whose objective went beyond the representation of the ideology of the German government regime from 1933 to 1945, where Adolf Hitler held the power within the National Socialist Workers’ Party. German.

The neo-Nazi symbol established an influence of fear and anxiety among the population and served as an element of belonging, that is, it reaffirmed the individual as part of “something important.

“Any Jew immediately shivers at the sight of a swastika image, and any Russian over 50 feels little alarm if he walks, even today, in Moscow’s Lubyanka Square, where once stood once the headquarters of the KGB,” said EFE journalist Fernando Prieto Arellano. in the survey “The symbols and counter-symbols of war: meaning and strategy of the offensives against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”.

The symbol linked to violence did not disappear with the end of the Second World War, but was perpetuated in clothing brands, greetings, films, but its use is characterized as a lack of historical awareness.

A second example was the war in Syria and Iraq. The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group was tasked with transmitting symbols through various means, be they technical, literary and political, and Muslims faced something beyond an armed group.

“The jihadist/terrorist group has a desire to survive, to configure a concrete, tangible, defined power structure, with precise and objective limits, with very specific approaches and criteria,” Prieto Arellano said in his research.

The new order proposed by the terrorist group was imposed by the presentation of new symbols of Islam.

Symbols of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict

Understanding the importance of symbols in the development of war conflicts and even in the founding of new states, in the case of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, they become a weapon of war.

Ukrainians are not only fighting a country that imposes a totalitarian ideology based on the centrality of the state, but a nation endowed with an ideological and symbolic corpus and for which propaganda messages are not a mere exposition of circumstances, but are approved and provoke the identity of the population that consumes them.

In all regions of Russia, the letter “Z” began to appear since the invasion of Ukraine, the origin of the symbol is still unclear to specialists, and even the media speculate about its meaning, until present, the conclusion refers to support for the soldiers and Russia’s victory in the confrontation.

The Russian Ministry of Defense uses the words of several messages on social networks: “Za Pobedu” (“For victory”), “Za Rossiyu” (“For Russia”).

The ideological body of Russia is made up of support for the military and its anti-Western rejection.

Weapons and technological advances are among Russia’s symbols of strength that promote “invincibility” and violence.

About a month ago, Putin put his nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, an arsenal that contains half of the world’s atomic weapons due to international sanctions that have limited the nation’s scope of action.

Similarly, DW has verified that Russia uses in its offensive a new generation of “hypersonic” missiles with unlimited range or invisible to radar as well as thermobaric weapons.

International organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights have spoken out against banned weapons because they have the scope of irreparable humanitarian destruction.

With this, Vladimir Putin has shown that he places the general interest of Russia above all else.

“Without any discussion and this is one of the keys to why the public supports him and appreciates his work”, explains Felipe Chica Ansino in “The Political Leadership of Vladimir Putin”. Situation that promoted him to third president with the highest approval ratings in the world.

In conclusion, in any war the symbols have a fundamental value to understand the reason for the conflicts of war and their perpetuation. In historical understanding, symbols acquire their own meanings that evoke belonging, influence and identity with a larger cause that gives meaning to the actions of the community.

In the collective imagination, they mark relevant moments for the formation of “character” and the learning of societies.

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