From the very beginning, Lukashenko’s regime was aimed at creating the ‘television society’, in which the vertical unilateral communication should have resulted in the multitude of the obedient viewers deprived of political agency and mesmerized by the spectacle of power. 2020 protests in Belarus manifested that the internet model of horizontal community started to prevail over the television society. The main argument of the article is that the relative stability of the regime can be explained not only by total political control and loyalty of the state repressive apparatuses, but also by the interweaving of television and money flows. The concept of TV flow (elaborated by R. Williams, J. Fiske) reveals the imminent connection between mass media and authoritarianism (J. Habermas, P. Bourdieu), whereas the specificity of the post-Soviet network of money flows explains both the functioning of this connection and the adaptability of the semi-feudal political regime in the context of the postmodern global world. The state media employ the tools of marketing campaigns, promoting Lukashenko’s personalist regime as a specific brand. The rhetoric of the Belarusian authorities about building a social model of the state, protecting traditional values (which also includes Soviet ideologemes) in the face of world capitalism serves as a disguise, the analysis of which can clarify the specifics of the existing political regime.
Image credit: Andrei Gornykh