The widely promoted idea that the internet is a catalyst for democratic values is, perhaps, the most salient example of how utterly dystopian our vision of democracy has become.
In the unconvincingly feeble argument over the democratic value of the internet some have pointed to the effects of online discussion and incremental small bit fund raising as a counter to big money influences on political campaigns as proof positive that the internet has been good for democracy.
In fact, what the internet has delivered is the final extension of global capitalism into every aspect of our personal and collective lives, the conflation of information with propaganda and the confusion of truth with the massive manipulation of fake news. The very idea of Local community crumbles beneath the weight of distant behemoth mail order goods and nearly innumerable volumes of special interest and commercially sponsored info. Human to human relations devolve into on line markets for sex, trivial pursuits and social belligerence. Even human contact/understanding becomes a digitized product under the relentless pressure of the algorithm.
The overwhelming effect of the internet has been to enable a wealthy few people/corporations to mold perceptions and, thus, policy. Companies like Google and Facebook, their subsidiaries and clients, have vast influence over decisions made in the real world, since they have become the defining intermediaries of information or, more fundamentally, perception. Even the perception of “public interest” is lost beneath the mountains of corporate/class based trolling and disinformation that is promoted as information.
The one thing that the internet is best at is milking petty, racial, class resentments into full blown, blind hatreds—Cambridge Analytica efforts in the US, the Brexit campaign, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, and Mexico being just some of more obvious/exposed political manipulations.
So let’s move away from generalizations and make this more substantial by looking at Caitlin Johnstone’s deeply researched analysis of the effect internet manipulated information had on the recent UK election. According to Johnstone, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn was targeted by billionaire-controlled media outlets, along with civil “intelligence” agencies and military propaganda expertise, as well as the BBC—a very big assertion but she documents it meticulously in her Consortium News Post .
I will leave you to read Johnstone’s full expose but Johnstone’s research substantiates the claim that under the power of the internet to manipulate information, Jeremy Corbyn has been the most smeared politician in history. In an effort almost beyond imagination military officials collaborated with business interests as well as domestic and foreign political interests to manipulate the digital smearing of Jeremy Corbyn.
According to Johnstone, Corbyn was smeared as everything from a terrorist sympathizer to a Communist to a Russian asset to an IRA supporter to a closet anti-Semite…Corbyn’s advocacy for the many over the plutocratic few saw him targeted by billionaire media outlets, his view of Palestinians as human beings drew fake news vitriolic attacks(exposed by Al Jazeera) from the Israel lobby despite his clear record as a lifelong opponent of anti-Semitism