Cold, Hybrid, Cyber War: the internet as a cultural battlefield


For those who experienced the beginning of the expansion of the internet around the planet, especially between the years 1995 and 2000 – when it was still very restricted to desktop computers – entry into the digital universe seemed like a VIP invitation to a great global party. All were headed for a general fraternization between different peoples and cultures, which would be more and more connected, mixed up.

The scenario started to change with the speculative economic crisis, caused by the so-called Internet Bubble, in 2000, as well as by the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. Even so, there was still a feeling that themes dear to civilization, such as Education, Health, Philosophy, Technology and Science in general, would end up triumphing in the long run. Reason would overcome ignorance, light would overcome darkness, and free knowledge would be carried everywhere. Several internet freedom projects seemed to support the human behind the machine, such as the open source operating system “Linux”, or Wikipedia (the so called “Free” Encyclopedia), gaining popularity among users.

131023-A-ZZ999-999Despite this feeling of euphoria at the end of Cold War, and good prospects for the future of humanity, it is interesting to remember that the internet emerged precisely as a tactical American response to combat and overcome its archrival Soviet Union in the race for political, economic and military supremacy in the world . Its development was sponsored by the Armed Forces, in parallel or in union with civil entities – mainly academics, researchers and universities that, having their embryo at the University of California, had the necessary creative freedom so that the so-called ‘Arpanet‘ had a gain of spectacular quality and growth.

According to the Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells, in his book ‘The Internet Galaxy‘ (2003, p. 22), “in spite of all the vision and all the competence that they expressed in their project, these scientists could never have had the level of resources needed to build a computer network and to design all the appropriate technologies. The Cold War provided a context in which there was strong popular and government support for investment in cutting-edge science and technology, particularly after the challenge of the Soviet space program has become a threat to US national security. In this sense, the Internet is not a special case in the history of technological innovation, a process that is usually associated with war: the scientific and engineering effort made around the Second World War constituted the matrix for the technologies of the microelectronics revolution, and the arms race during the Cold War facilitated its development ”.

All this financial and cultural investment in the concept of the internet ended up finally defeating the Soviet Union technologically, which, despite having excellent resources, scientists and universities, these did not have the same autonomy to develop civil projects as their North American peers. Thus, the excessive focus on the military area, by the Soviet bureaucracy, after a certain point in the race for world supremacy, ended up causing more losses than benefits. Gorbachev realized this situation of technological inferiority, which was already becoming evident, and sought to reverse the game domestically – through the policy of Perestroika (reconstruction) and Glasnost (transparency) – as well as externally, establishing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with his american peer, Ronald Reagan. However, none of this was enough to prevent the implosion of the Soviet power system in 1991. Could it be that Gorbachev was not so convinced of the benefits of communism? Perhaps.


The years passed and the internet became a truly global asset in the mid- 1990s, gaining almost complete independence from its military origins, and international projection. The culture of the Personal Computer, which had already become a fetish in the 1980s, had grown to become, in practice, ubiquitous in the lives of most families on the planet. However, what had flourished as a free project, made by intellectuals, soon became a private space, dominated by few companies, which knew how to position themselves in the new game of power that the reach of the internet had generated. These entities have become gigantic, like Google and Facebook.

Did I mention that Facebook was launched in the very same day the Pentagon ended an online surveillance project? Well, it is true. After all, as said Fred Reed, the “genius of America’s totalitarian system of government is that it is not totally total, and sometimes not very totalitarian at all. It is just total enough. […] Lincoln’s Principle of Sufficiency is the First Pillar of Practical Totalitarianism. The Second Pillar is reliance on the private sector for effectuation. This gives the government plausible deniability. For example, Google has all your email for decades back, This is annoying but not truly alarming. If the federal government (openly) collected emails, conservatives would shriek about…totalitarianism. But Google isn’t the government–is it? The Third pillar: A press not too noticeably controlled, with enough apparent difference of opinion to simulate savage debate of ideas–without touching on any important ones”.

To Sérgio Amadeu da Silveira, in his essay Digital convergence, cultural diversity and the public sphere (2008, p. 39), “ digital convergence in a capitalist scenario imposes the logic of monopoly competition. As convergence occurs in a network environment, it tends to concentrate and form huge oligopolies”. In this sense, Google has become a kind of octopus, through Alphabet, which houses numerous business branches, such as Android, Google Maps, and the on-demand video platform You Tube , which dominates the attention of billions of people daily , who both produce and watch their content.

In addition to Alphabet, social networks have also come to dominate almost all data traffic on the internet, in addition to the attention of consumers. Companies like Facebook , which in turn controls other networks like Instagram and WhatsApp, have contributed to the change in the way people relate. According to the English sociologist John B. Thompson, it is necessary to understand that the new communication networks have a gigantic impact on society, because they allow the “creation of new forms of action and interaction, new ways of relationship and even social relationships. ” (SILVEIRA, 2009, p. 44).

Citizen Cyber

In this way, we witnessed – especially after the launch of the Iphone in 2007, as well as 3G and 4G data networks, between 2000 and 2010, and finally the dominance of 5G by China in the last decade – not just a paradigm shift in the use of a free internet, not dominated by any specific company or country, since now users of the global network travel almost exclusively through the doors and windows of these great oligopolies, as well as a change of access, considering that the consumption pattern has ceased to be on the old PC and became popular in the hands of smartphones.

These new forms of interaction between people, in turn – often manipulated by individuals and funding in bad faith – have created toxic patterns of behavior around the world. Cultural barriers, which previously existed in physical and visual contact between human beings, have become tenuous, distant and almost nonexistent. Today we shout on the internet what we would not have the courage to say face to face with anyoneThe most affectionate ties dissipate in a cloud of hatred and bad intentions – feelings that are capitalized on by big companies, and even by governments. The warlike climate seems to be returning to the Internet, now in both civil and military society.

The United States has suffered major accusations of espionage, and numerous institutions and people have had their reputations compromised through the WikiLeaks scandals . The potential of the Deep Web and the Dark Web to shelter criminals of all kinds was discovered. The Silk Road website , which sells illegal products and services, surfaced, in addition to numerous other problems in the chain’s catacombs. Communities of hatred spread in the bowels of freedom and, like an onion, the internet hides several layers of deep feelings and grudges. Using the thought of Freud, the internet today causes a kind of malaise in civilization, and specifically in individuals, caused by the cultural environment.

Some countries take advantage of this chaotic situation in the world; like none other than the old “Mother Russia”, now free from the ties of the Communist Party. Living a new period of cultural, technological, political and military expansion, the Russian President Vladimir Putin puts even greater pressure on the world geopolitical scene, using the Hybrid War to face declining US hegemony in the West; for example, allegedly hiring hackers to influence elections and spread fake news, or creating panic and confusion operations, raising false flags to conquer valuable territory, such as Crimea.

Or… is it really so?


This was only the american/democrat version of the story. Today, the supposed Russian plot to taint the 2016 US elections (Russiagate) has been largely denied internally, and nothing really “over the line” has been found about Moscow advertising campaigns. In fact, unlike the russians, americans have extensive imperialist experience, especially in covert or disguised operations to overthrow governments in other countries, especially in Latin America, but also in Asia, Africa and now also in Europe, when they were known to fingers in the serious events in Ukraine (Euromaidan), which through the internet and social networks has led to a sharp political and cultural divide between Washington and Moscow. After the end of the Soviet Union, the US have notoriously advanced their network of pro-western allied territories around Russia (including with biological weapons laboratories). Moscow, of course, feels threatened, resorting to cyber, cultural or military defenses at its reach.

The russian attitude can be perceived only as a response to the Hybrid War practiced by the United States own Deep State – represented by the CIA, the Pentagon, and other “deep institutions” of the north american republic – which for many decades, especially after the consolidation of internet, uses rampant espionage, hegemonic cultural influence disguised on websites, content platforms, think tanks (thought centers) and social networks, mass propaganda shots, and other modes of interference to destabilize foreign nations that are in the process of internal and external strengthening, which cast any shadow on the political hegemony of the neoliberal economic doctrine of the United States, through the so-called Colored Revolutions, as in the case of the Arab Spring, Euromaidan and, more recently, in South America, as in Bolivia and Brazil.

In the book Cyber ​​War , the author Richard Clarke states that the United States created a military policy especially focused on cyberspace, a field in which they see themselves as dominant and, for fear of being overcome by an opponent, they should basically “shoot first and ask later”, that is, attack before they are attacked. “In a preliminary reading,” argues Clarke, “the strategy sounds like a mission statement with a hint of fanaticism . In further analysis, however, the strategy reflects an understanding of some of the main problems created by cyber warfare . On the geography of cyberspace, the strategy implicitly recognizes the sovereignty problem (the lack of geopolitical borders… allows operations to take place almost anywhere), as well as the presence of civilian targets. […] However, it does not suggest that these civilian targets should remain outside the limits of American attacks“.


In this sense, the United States also attacks by promoting political and economic sanctions against technology companies considered “enemies”, such as chinese Huawei, leader in 5G technology, whose biggest sin, as far as we know for sure, is to offer the world a technology not dominated by North Americans. Better explained, a communication network not developed by American intelligence and, therefore, without gaps in its programming (the so-called back doors) that would easily allow Washington’s spying on the world, as they use to do like… all the time? Looking to position itself defensively, China does what it can, or its own Hybrid War, to close its “cyber frontiers“, by blocking internal access to certain foreign sites, especially american ones, to prevent their people from being brainwashed by western media. Or else they could turn into democracy zombies waving american flags in the middle of Hong Kong (Lets hope this never… What? It did happen?)… Anyway, in addition, the asian country is also becoming a global leader in the development of Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing, which could, in the future, prevent any attempted hacker invasion .

Here in Brazil, the war culture that has been forged with this “new internet” has also opened space for the extreme right, or the ultra-conservative right, which before seemed restricted to certain niches, conquering little by little the minds and hearts of brazilian people, as in a battlefield. More conservative parts of the Judiciary and the Public Ministry, which in themselves already bring a more archaic and aristocratic culture in their ranks, also surfed this wave. Using the power and freedom conquered in the democratic period, they designed, more or less consciously, a kind of Lawfare, supposedly in the name of “fighting corruption”, but which aimed primarily at destroying the reputation of political opponents and leftist militants – all with secret links to US entities, as revealed by The Intercept Brasil. Sorry, Lula.

Finally, this theater took on the shape of an enormous cultural war in Brazil, and the internet has potentiated the construction of a strongly ideologized image of antipathy towards constitutional powers and traditional parties. Shots of fake news and conspiratorial memes, especially through Facebook and WhatsApp, reached in full the chest of many voters who, in turn, have chosen a radical (and virtually mistaken) response to the problems created by cultural, social and institutional mistrust in civilized values. The pawn Jair Bolsonaro is a kind of swan song of postmodern war culture, which was born with the Internet during the Cold War and now fusses again, reviving ghosts of torture and macarthism, as well as inciting a new fratricidal war in South America, at the behest of kings and queens on the chessboard of global powers nets.


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