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Machine Politics


Rather than creating a more equal society, the internet has given rise to a new age of authoritarianism

There is an exquisite irony about the rise of the internet and personal computing: although they were once hailed as safeguards against authoritarianism, that’s precisely what they now enable. In the January issue, Fred Turner explains how the challenge of these new modes of communication stems from historical narratives. “If we’re going to resist the rise of despotism, we need to understand how this happened and why we didn’t see it coming. We especially need to grapple with the fact that today’s right wing has taken advantage of a decades-long liberal effort to decentralize our media. That effort began at the start of the Second World War, came down to us through the counterculture of the 1960s, and flourishes today in the high-tech hothouse of Silicon Valley.”

For this episode, web editor Violet Lucca talks with Turner, a professor of communication at Stanford University, about how, in an era of disembodiment and disempowerment, we can reimagine collective action and reconfigure digital systems.

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