Felix Stalder on Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:56:19 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Troll factories in some shitty St Petersburg office?

On 2018-03-19 02:56, Brian Holmes wrote:
> I think that as that appeal ceases to be covert, the neoliberal period
> is ending.

It really depends how you define it. For Harvey, it was all about
restoration of class power. As long as ideas about free markets and
financialization helped this project, that was fine. Ideology is
important, because it gives a greater purpose for the many to what would
otherwise be naked interests by the few. I don't mean this entirely
cynical, this is also about hegemony and a sense of meaning. But,
interests are first, ideology is second, for all but intellectuals, so
let's not biker about words.

However you call techno-economic-political program that ran between 1970
and 2008, the "free market phase" of the restoration of class power is
now over, in part because China is beating the West at its own game, and
in part because contradictions -- usually exported --  are mounting at
home, in social and ecological terms.

Capital is changing its ideology accordingly, which goes, I assume,
hand-in-hand with an internal re-composition. However, the upshot of
this is a renewed focus on national (aka white) identity and the
resultant xenophobia/racism/patriarchy allows to deepen austerity. This
the core of Trump. Tax cuts for the rich, paranoia and racism for the
rest. In Europe, Austria is really, once again, at the fore-front. Here
we have a right-wing & far-right government that perfects this division
of labor and the willingness of the center-right to go along with
neo-Nazis -- as long as they can slash the welfare state --  is astounding.

What we get out of it is a kind of personalized police-state-capitalism.

All of this creates the confusion where propaganda can play its magic.
Partly based on a long history (see Levin's "surveillance valley"),
partly based on opportunistic profit seeking (see Zuboff's "surveillance
capitalism"), a new set of propaganda techniques and infrastructures has
been developed over the last two decades (surveillance capitalism) or
half century (surveillance valley). If you want, you can go all the way
back to Bernay's book on Propaganda (1928), in which he explains that
getting a country into war (US, WWI) is no different than turning
smoking into an act of rebellion and women's emancipation.

I totally agree that one way to address this is to regulate this
business. It cannot be that the most powerful companies are less
regulated than much less powerful ones. And the old bait-and-switch
between "we are just a telco platform" and "we are a media company"
needs to end. They are media companies and need to be regulated like
this. The Cambridge Analytica story could be useful, but only if we
manage to move the frame of the debate so that it brings into view that
what CA has been doing was very problematic and probably illegal,
Facebook and the rest of it are doing the same thing everyday. That's
their business model. This needs to stop, and then CA and the rest of
them will have much less of a tool.

As important as this is, FB, CA and Putin (and the CIA), did not create
the confusion, on which they thrive and which they deepen. The confusion
has been created by the breakdown of a large-sale social narratives --
of which the denial of large scale social narratives and the championing
of individuality and freedom was but the latest -- that creates a sense
of being in control of one's destiny.



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