Internet technologies are being used in ways that raise far-reaching questions about the resilience and sustainability of democratic systems. And they have fundamentally impacted on understandings of the political, transforming democracies from within.
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The internet is, as a medium, fundamentally changing our conception of the political. By removing speech from its social context, it has blurred our sense of the unsayable; by uncoupling us from our real-life community, it has made us shameless; and by fetishizing fact, it has undermined the legitimacy of shared reason. All help explain the extraordinary success of Donald Trump.
Nowhere is aversion towards transparency deeper than in the tech industry. The result of this corporate culture has been a massive breakdown of public trust. What management cannot fix, engineering must, argues leading privacy campaigner Simon Davies.
The mayor of Gdańsk has long been target of a smear campaign in national media. Yet the harsh reaction of state propaganda after his death surprised even some supporters of the government.
‘Sex work will disappear the day we abolish capitalism. Until then, let’s talk about labour rights.’ Amaranta Heredia Jaén calls to address the controversial results of anti-trafficking measures.
An idealistic Havel, a cynical Orbán, and a compassionate Walter
How can intellectuals of central Europe maintain their moral principles and independence, yet support democracy, in an age when the region is again traversing a rocky road paved with nationalism and populism?
An investigation by openDemocracy into the financing of the Brexit campaign in 2016 has raised far-reaching questions about connections between neoliberal elites, the tech industry and the private intelligence sector. Adam Ramsay, one of the journalists involved, summarises a story vital to understanding how Britain has ended up where it is today.
A socio-political charivari
The Romanian diaspora used their summer vacations to protest the government’s attempt to decriminalize corruption. They got tear gas from the authorities and belittling from intellectuals.
Security forces increasingly use data-driven crowd control techniques to pre-empt unpredictable situations. Unlike traditional prevention methods, pre-emptive policing actively engenders crowd behaviour – and in doing so interferes with the basic conditions for political agency, argues Krystian Woznicki.
Some thoughts on solidarity
The word ‘solidarity’ combines the double sense of independence and mutuality, writes Polish literary scholar Leonard Neuger. The Solidarity movement in Poland was the political manifestation of this paradoxical semantic.
While classical melancholy was defined by isolation and introspection, today’s tristesse plays out amidst busy social media interactions. Geert Lovink on ‘technological sadness’ – the default mental state of the online billions.
Poland and 1918
Poland regained its independence after the First World War. Despite developing multiple ambitious visions, it failed to recreate its former state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and to reconstruct the map of western Eurasia.
Was WWI really the beginning of the end of empires?
The Great War brought the end of some empires, while others expanded on the ruins of those that lost. Viewing WWI as the end of imperialism is too Europe-centric a concept and needs to be amended.
What could have happened had a local war for Lviv not drawn forces away from the Ukrainian revolution in 1918? Experimenting with counterfactual history allows us to reconsider simple questions and search for more precise answers.
For Czechs and Slovaks, the years 1918, 1938, 1948 and 1968 carry deeply mixed memories – an ambivalence reflecting anxieties about the past and the future of the two nations. Historian Jacques Rupnik reads the Czechoslovak ‘eights’ as a seismograph of the European predicament at crucial junctures during the twentieth century.
Why 20th-century communists couldn’t decide if they wanted to befriend the religious or blow up their churches
It is true that the Stalinist state treated clerics militantly. Communists, however, were never unified in their approaches to religion or its institutions. Some of them promoted patience and persuasion, others even allied with believers, sometimes despite the fierce rejection of the Catholic church.