the failed promise of ‘cyber politics’, the empowerment of defensive elites and the death of liberal democracy

I’m enjoying Evelyn Ruppert’s new book, co-authored with Engin Isin. On page 7 of Being Digital Citizens they write:

What is important to recognize is that although the Internet may not have changed politics radically in the fifteen years that separate these two studies, it has radically changed the meaning and function of being citizens with the rise of both corporate and state surveillance.

I’d go further and say that not only has ‘cyber politics’, the term used in the earlier of the two studies they refer to, failed to live up to the hope some invested in it, but that this corporate and state surveillance infrastructure has empowered elites with new capacities for intervention and control.

At a time when the are (mostly) more defensive than ever, for reasons largely extrinsic to the digital sphere, this poses a profound challenge to an already resolutely post-democratic system. One which, coupled with growing populisms of left and right, might come in retrospect be seen to mark the end of the era of ‘the third way’ and perhaps of liberal democracy itself.