martedì 2 settembre 2014

Obsolete Capitalism: The beginning of a Big Data Era in the Western political scenario (Pt. II - The Birth of Digital Populism)

The beginning of a Big Data Era in the Western political scenario

The early analyses of the explosion of the 5SM phenomenon appeared in February 2013 and weren’t satisfying. The vehement accusations of populism directed to Grillo’s anti-party by the center-left and left-wing intelligentsia above all, seemed to only partially grasp the historic success of the Five Star Movement; they hastily linked it to the crystal clear fragility of the political and institutional landscape and to the incessant work of deconstruction of the Italian society, which has been operated by Berlusconi’s vast authoritarian mediascape. The first innovative, engaged and somehow controversial analysis of the phenomenon was published shortly after the election result, on March 8 2013 by the writers' collective called Wu Ming. It was entitled Grillismo: Yet another Right-Wing Cult coming from Italy. We used this anti-5SM pamphlet as a basis for a major non-linear investigation that looks at very diverse authors, including Antonio Gramsci, Mario Tronti, Gabriel Tarde, Wilhelm Reich, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Fèlix Guattari among others. These thinkers had already examined the systematic penetration of fascism, irrational mass behaviour, collective hypnosis, national identity and capitalism, combining them with the similarly dense and controversial notions of people, crisis, organization, societies of control and data science. 
However, in our opinion, even the best post-electoral analyses of the Five Star Movement left a margin or a void, something that encouraged us to undertake a supplementary investigation; we felt the need for a revelatory study, one which could disclose aspects of the rising phenomenon of digital populism and of the future post-democratic system that seemed to appear on the horizon of the Big Data era. A disturbing question emerged among us: if an unlikely techno-couple of Italian cool operators caused such a big electoral tsunami, how would the champions of the Society of the Query, such as Google, and other social giants, such as Facebook and Twitter, actually affect democracy, were they to run for Western elections? Are we, perhaps, at the beginning of a huge political shift in the way the masses are governed and, ultimately, of representative democracy as we know it? Populism, in both its analogue and digital version, is a firmly European phenomenon with an extremely seductive English variation, namely the UK Independence Party, a party which is as dangerous as other anti-establishment right-wing organisations can be.

Therefore we have posed to Italian and British intellectuals – of varied political backgrounds and disciplinary skills – six questions which concern the foundations of digital populism and the relations existing between masses, power and post-democracy at the dawn of the 21st century. What you will read is the result of conversations with Tiziana Terranova, Luciana Parisi, Lapo Berti, Simon Choat, Paolo Godani, Jussi Parikka, Saul Newman, Tony D. Sampson and Alberto Toscano. (...)

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