Tag: Post-Democracy, Depoliticisation and Technocracy

  • Social ontology amidst the wreckage of techno-progressive orthodoxy

    I found this review of Trump and the Media by Nicholas Carr in the LA Review of Books immensely thought-provoking. His focus is on the book’s historical contribution, contextualising the enthusiasm with which social media was greeted in terms of long term concerns about the centralisation of mass media. We can’t understand the ideal of […]

  • When the populists inspire the ad men

    I came across this extract on loc 1342-1360 of Frenemies, Ken Auletta’s new book about the declining fortunes of the advertising industry, detailing an intervention made by thought leader extraordinaire Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategist at  Publicis groupe. It was in the context of a meeting between executives from a range of agencies and Bank of America to […]

  • The disjointed temporality of political life

    I’ve long been drawn to accounts of the everyday lives of politicians. This isn’t so much a matter of biographical curiosity, as much as a preoccupation with temporality. It is not that the temporal character of our lives moulds us but rather that the things which do are always inflected through temporality. I’m convinced you […]

  • The epochal tetchiness of Anglo-American centrists

    In his wonderful October: The Story of the Russian Revolution, China Miéville uses the phrase ‘epochal tetchiness’ to describe the political contribution of Russian liberals prior to 1917. Their angry, disjointed responses to events failed to influence the changes which provoked their outrage, leaving them acting frantically without consequence as they were superseded by history. […]

  • Social media as asshole amplification technology, or, the moral psychology of platform architecture

    This is Jaron Lanier’s memorable description of social media in his new book Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. Social media is a technology for asshole amplification. To be clearly seen in the fact that “since social media took off, assholes are having more of a say in the world” (pg 43). His […]

  • Post-democracy and the transformation of lobbying

    There’s a fascinating passage on pg 164-165 of The Unwinding by George Packer, talking about the evolution of lobbying in the United States: Quinn and Gillespie considered themselves the smart guys in the business. Lobbying was no longer about opening one door for a client—power in Washington had become too diffuse for that. It was […]

  • Call for abstracts: DQComm2018 The Deliberative Quality of Communication Conference

    #DQComm2018 The Deliberative Quality of Communication Conference 2018 Citizens, Media and Politics in Challenging Times: Perspectives on the Deliberative Quality of Communication November 8 – 9, 2018 Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), Mannheim, Germany Keynote Speaker: Kaisa Herne (University of Tampere) Roundtable on the Future of Deliberation Research with: André Bächtiger (University of […]

  • Can we have platform capitalism without computational politics? 

    Notes for week 2 of the CPGJ Platform Capitalism reading group  Both readings for this week treat utopian hopes of the internet bolstering democracy as anachronistic relics, looking in different ways to the murky reality of the politics which platform capitalism is giving rise to. Tufekci accepts some of the claims made about the affordances […]

  • The quiet revolution of deindustrialization

    One of the prevailing motifs of the Trumpist era has been the recognition on all sides of the social and political costs of deindustrialization, even if this recognition is typically subsumed into a prior political stance. There’a really powerful account on pg 52 of George Packer’s Unwinding which conveys the scale of this change and the curious […]

  • How do politicians understand their own status?

    How do politicians understand their own status? It’s a question I’ve often wondered about without being sufficiently motivated to explore what I’m certain must be a significant literature investigating this question. I was made to ponder the question again by a lovely extract in Unwinding, by George Packer, describing the meritocratic self-regard of politicians and how […]

  • The new old division at the heart of politics

    Earlier this week, a leading figure in Italy’s governing centre-left PD party explained how they were looking to Emmanuel Macron for inspiration in the pitch they were making to the electorate. Their prospects look rather bleak, as an internally divided party trails the populist Five Star Movement in an election most predict will lead to […]

  • The dangerous fantasies of defensive elites

    My fascination with the technological fantasies of billionaires might seem like a peculiarly nerdy version of a familiar preoccupation with the super rich. However as Yuval Noah Harari observes on loc 3304 of Homo Deus, the dreams of technological salvation which the rich and powerful invest themselves in have important consequences for the rest of […]

  • Post-Truth as Personal Incapacity

    The evidence would suggest I’m not alone in being somewhat gripped by Michael Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury. One of the central themes of the book is how no one, including the candidate himself, expected Trump would win and what we have seen since then has been a rapid adaptation, self-serving and bewildered in […]

  • The global fourth estate

    In his recently released book Collusion, Luke Harding briefly discusses the media cooperation taking place behind the scenes, as media organisations grappled with a rapidly changing landscape. On loc 898 he writes: At the Guardian we were pursuing leads from both sides of the Atlantic. Among them, how UK spy agencies had first picked up suspicious […]

  • The coming of neoliberal populism: comparing Trump and Macron

    One of the most obvious ways to read Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States is as the emergence of a neoliberal populism. The popular backlash against a socio-economic system unable to provide an acceptable quality of life for the majority of its citizens is harnessed by entrenched elites, with the intention of leveraging […]

  • The Simpsons on Social Justice Warriors

  • Alt-america and the epistemic confusion of liberalism

    In the conclusion to Alt-America, David Neiwert indites liberalism for its contribution to the circumstances within which Trumpism has emerged. These are circumstances within which, as he puts it on loc 5859, Trump “is simultaneously responding to and creating the conditions that could easily lead to the genuine growth of fascism”. From loc 5981-6001, he takes aim […]

  • How to trash the political rulebook

    A fascinating insight from Steve Howell, deputy to Seumas Milne, concerning how to kick back against the ‘political rulebook’ beloved of the centrists: In his interview, Howell, who is writing a book called How the Lights Get In – Inside Corbyn’s Election machine, also described how the team around the leader faced scepticism from other parts of […]

  • What Happened? The end of modernisation

    In the last few days, I’ve been reading Hilary Clinton’s What Happened and reflecting on it as an expression of a political centrism which I suspect is coming to an end. These self-defined ‘modernisers’ sought to adapt their respective political parties to what they saw as a new reality, necessitating that they be ‘change-makers’ while […]

  • The uncoupling of transgression from progress

    For a book of only 126 pages, Kill All Normies covers a remarkable amount of ground. Inevitably, the argument is underdeveloped at points and it perhaps offers less empirical detail about the alt-right than it promises, largely restricting its analysis to the study of (relatively) high profile cases and the inferences that can be made […]