Timothy M. Denton

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Why the elites are beginning to hate social media

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This tidbit from Spiked on Line:

From an elite perspective, a key danger of social media is that it allows political trends outside of the mainstream to spread their arguments more easily. Yascha Mounk, a politics lecturer at Harvard and executive director at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, has expressed this fear in relation to the decline of traditional media ‘gatekeepers’ in the US.

Mounk’s reasoning is worth quoting at length because it makes clear both the issues at stake and the anti-democratic nature of the argument. He describes the traditional elite conception of democracy as telling the people that ‘as long as you let us call the shots, we will pretend to let you rule’. He then goes on to argue: ‘It’s a deal that has proven phenomenally successful for 250 years. Today, that deal is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain, and the reason is both unlikely and counterintuitive: the rise of the internet and social media is making the ideological foundation of liberal democracy – which has had a tight hold over our imagination for the better part of two centuries – look increasingly brittle.’

As Steve Bannon puts it, the party of Davos likes elections as long as they produce results they agree with. When the electorate fails to produce the results that they favour (Trump, Brexit, Austria, Hungary, Italy - the list is growing) then something is the matter with democracy, and the way to fix the problem is to get even more control of the media.

That, my friends, is what I perceive to be going on.

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Timothy Denton is a lawyer by training who practices principally in telecommunications and Internet policy and domain name issues, with a strong concentration on explaining what the technology is and what it means.

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Guest Wednesday, 19 September 2018
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