A widely-used term not just in politics, “Trojan Horse” is also used in business to indicate how a company entices customers with offers only to entrap them to spend a great deal more on a contract (phone-internet-cable TV), or products. Whether in business or politics, the term “Trojan Horse” has negative connotations and refers to Homer’s Iliad where Greeks under the leadership of King Odysseus penetrated the city of Troy and destroyed it once they came out of the wooden horse and caught the Trojans by surprise.
The “Trojan Horse” analogy has been used so frequently lately by the mainstream Western media against Russia that some have elevated it to a theory in order to explain hostile intentions and schemes on the part of Moscow at the expense of the West. If we are to accept on face value the numerous “Trojan Horse” pseudo-theories, then Russian President Vladimir Putin has a stable of such mythological horses in the works waiting to cause havoc throughout the world. For example, Russia is using Greece as the latest “Trojan Horse”, according to the British press, as much as it has been using Hungary. That both Hungary and Greece have capitalist economies well integrated into the Western orbit of influence which is the real “Trojan Horse” is not an issue. That China has been using its considerable economic influence as a “Trojan Horse” not just in Greece and Hungary but in much of the world, is not an issue.
This kind of “Trojan Horse” propaganda reminds us of Cold War international Communist conspiracies to take over the world, a sort of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” analogy, to bring up a Cold War motion picture intended to depict exactly that theme. If the old USSR was working through Communist parties of various countries as “Trojan Horses” then why would not Putin, a child of the old USSR not engage in the same practices of infiltration under a capitalist regime? Long before the USSR existed, Western colonial countries sent missionaries, merchants and soldiers as “Trojan Horses” to non-Western countries that eventually became colonies or spheres of influence that the West exploited.
At the core of today’s “Trojan Horse” pseudo-theory’s promotion by the mass media rests the neoliberal Western integration model in its political, economic, military and cultural dimensions. Anything intended to counter the expansion and dominant influence of the Western integration model on a world scale is a “Trojan Horse”.
Of course, the real “Trojan Horse” is the neoliberal integration model under globalization that dilutes national sovereignty in the domain of economics, government finances, social and labor policy, defense, and culture. The role of the mass media is to portray any attempt to counter the Western integration model as a “Trojan Horse” that people must resist.
Although the media lacks credibility because it has been reduced into a propaganda machine for government and business while playing up the entertainment news angle to capture and keep its audience, the vast majority of the people rely on it for their information and to form opinions about issues. However, the issue is not about news manufacturing, or even mass indoctrination on the basis on disinformation as with the “Trojan Horse” pseudo-theory. The broader issue is that governments and businesses are behind the “Trojan Horse” pseudo-theory that distorts empirical facts so that there is preservation of the international power structure and social order within countries under capitalism.
The “Trojan Horse” theory has become popular especially among rightwing and centrist political propagandists who believe that anything disruptive of the neo-liberal status quo in the world, the same status quo that has one percent of the population owning about half of the world’s wealth, is perfect and must be preserved.
Opponents of multiculturalism and anti-Muslim European nationalists have argued that followers of the Islamic faith have been using the public schools system to influence and subvert. For example, in Birmingham, UK, Operation Trojan Horse is where Muslims have allegedly tried to introduce Islam into the schools, even though Muslims view this as an attempt to educate the local Christians about Islam against the background of countless anti-Muslim messages delivered every day via the media.
Besides using the theory as propaganda to promote neo-liberalism, the mass media also uses it in foreign affairs to demonize enemies of the West. Deflecting focus from the sharp rise in Western (US-NATO) military intervention as well as covert operations through various means from drone warfare to NGO’s used to bring about regime change, the mass media, highly paid consultants, and governments point to “the enemy” (Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Iran, etc.) as a disruptive if not imperialist force in the international order.
On 14 August 2014, Foreign Affairs journal published an article entitled Moscow’s Trojan Horse, implying that Hungary is serving such a role under Prime Minister Viktor Orban who was elected in 2010 on an anti-neoliberal platform. Two weeks after the Foreign Affairs article about Hungary serving as Putin’s “Trojan Horse”, the Foreign Policy or FP magazine published an article arguing that Russian humanitarian aid to Ukraine constituted a “Trojan Horse”, story that made the rounds throughout the mainstream media of the Western World.
On 13 October 2014, Forum 2000 published an article entitled: “Putin’s Trojan Horses? Russian Influence on the European Radical Right and Radical Left”. Ironically, a number of articles have argued that the European right wing is really Putin’s Trojan Horse because the Russian leader appeals to right wingers. Of course, the irony is that the mass media has to nuance the pro-West right wingers as in the case of Ukraine, from the enemy right wingers in Russia. In short, the Trojan Horse theory is applied selectively. Those promoting neo-liberalism and preserving the socioeconomic and political status quo under the Western globalization and division of the world into spheres of influences are acceptable even though they may be politically ultra-right. The same does not hold true for nationalist right wingers in Russia or any other nation for that matter.
Besides the glaring contradiction of applying the Trojan Horse theory selectively to right wing elements, the problem becomes even more complicated once the Western media attempts to apply the same theory to demonize centrist and leftist reformists. In late January 2015, both the British Daily Mail as well as The Times argued that the newly center-leftist regime of SYRIZA in Greece is really Putin’s “Trojan Horse”. Of course, one has to decide if Putin is rightwing, centrist, left wing, or just a nostalgic Communist, before attempting to analyze the stable of Trojan Horses he is using around the world to achieve influence and ultimately undermine the West.
The Times article was an elaboration of a previously published one by Business New Europe, a division of Intelli News that is a subsidiary of the investment firm New Sparta Holdings that owns a number of corporations in various sectors including media. The New Sparta Holdings Company has an interest in expanding throughout Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and sees Putin as a potential barrier. On 2 February 2015, Greek prime minister ruled out seeking aid from Russia, and reiterated a commitment to EU with possible compromise on the massive public debt that cannot possibly be serviced as it currently stands – 175% of GDP. The Strategic Culture Foundation ran an article arguing that billionaire George Soros was the Trojan Horse inside the Greek government of Syriza, which means that there must be multiple Trojan Horses running around without the unsuspecting public becoming aware of where they are headed. So much for the Russian Trojan Horse riding across the southern Balkans, at least for now.
Even after the revelations by Wikileaks and Edward Snowden regarding US spying on allies and enemies alike around the world and its own citizens, even after giant communications networks including GOOGLE that had been cooperating with US National Security Agency on surveillance, the advocates of the “Trojan Horse” pseudo-theory insist that Russia has been hacking into US computers. The Washington Times newspaper published an article on 6 November 2014 entitled “Russian Hackers’ Trojan Horse malware inside US critical infrastructure since 2011.” No doubt, computer hacking is an affair in which many countries are involved. If Russia is guilty of computer hacking as a “Trojan Horse” mechanism, what does this say about the US that has been even busier than Russia?
The old line that the best defense is offense really holds true when it comes to the “Trojan Horse” pseudo-theory that is nothing more than a recycled Cold War propaganda to demonize “the enemy” and win over the hearts and minds of the masses. The political and socioeconomic elites fear and loath any grassroots movement, any attempt by the people to formulate their own opinions on the basis of untainted information by the time the mass media is through with it. Fear of democracy forces the opinion makers working on behalf of the socioeconomic and political elites to manufacture pseudo-theories such as the “Trojan Horse” one.