Argumentation and Aggression: About Maps and Poems in the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

Holger Kuße

Abstract


Argumentation as a function of human communication, and aggression as a feature of communicative behaviour, seem to be contrary to each other. Argumentation should be understood as the regulation of dissent based on rational arguments, whereas aggression can be seen as the manifestation and intensification of dissent. But the boundaries between rationality and irrationality, as well as between the regulation and the manifestation of dissent are often vague. Therefore, not only hate speech but also seemingly rational argumentation can be motivated by aggression and can lead to aggression. In the present study, this intertwinedness of argumentation and aggression is shown in the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict, where we can find the use of aggressive theses, reasons, and aggressive arguments in different semiotic and textual expressions: not only in political statements, but also in poetry and in multimodal forms like political maps. Combining argumentation theory with a case study of aggressive argumentation in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the paper presents several forms of intertwinedness of argumentation and aggression. The research is mainly based on maps as a type of popular geopolitics, in which the aggressive thesis of the non-existence of Ukraine is provided. The study also considers the poeto-political war around Anastasiia Dmytruk’s poem “Nikogda my ne budem brat'iami” (“Never ever we will be brothers”). Responses to Dmytruk’s thesis provoke not only disagreement but also negative and positive-negative agreement, which means that the opponent agrees with the thesis but rejects the reasons of the argument, or s/he agrees with the thesis and the reasons but evaluates them in a contradictory way. Whereas the analysis of maps shows mainly the performing of aggressive theses, the analysis of the poeto-political war highlights how reasons are provided in an aggressive communication frame.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21226/ewjus418

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© 2014 East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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