At the latest since a fascist political system justified a war by means of "denazification," it has been clear: the world is out of joint. Trust in institutions is dwindling, facts are interpreted as fiction even when confronted with them on a daily basis, autocracy is becoming dissidence and criticism is becoming censorship. But it is not only with Putin's autocratic regime, not only with conspiracy theories, corona and climate change denial, or Trump's attempt to exploit the leeway of democracy ever further for his own interests, that the perception of reality and the capacity of reception and criticism are under attack. As Sylvia Sasse demonstrates with a captivating view, history is rather full of political as well as media strategies for the creation of inverted worlds. It is therefore time to recapitulate the observable reversals, to understand their history(s), and to understand them as one of the fundamental procedures of disinformation. For the inversion into the opposite is not a subversive strategy "from below", but a means to consolidate and legitimize power and terror - and a direct attack on democracy.
Sylvia Sasse is Professor of Slavic Literary Studies and co-founder of the Center for Arts and Cultural Theory (ZKK) at the University of Zurich as well as editor of the online magazine Geschichte der Gegenwart. She is currently researching the relationship between the arts and disinformation in the Cold War and in the present.