Now that our media is full of reports and comments on Cambridge Analytica, a key feature of the affair is, as a rule, ignored: the context of Cambridge Analytica makes it clear how cold manipulation and the care for love and human welfare are two sides of the same coin. Tamsin Shaw recently pointed out the central role played by researchers into happiness, like “The World Well-Being Project, a group at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center that specialises in the use of big data to measure health and happiness in order to improve well-being,” then there is “Aleksandr Kogan, who also works in the field of positive psychology and has written papers on happiness, kindness, and love (according to his résumé, an early paper was called ‘Down the Rabbit Hole: A Unified Theory of Love’).”
Tag Archives: Politics
Cambridge Analytica didn’t abuse the happiness industry – it was used exactly how it was intended to be
La nazionalità è un concetto molto potente, è uno dei criteri principali che usiamo per definire noi stessi, ma non è sempre stato così”, dice il giornalista Max Fisher del New York Times. “Se ci pensate sentirsi vicini a milioni di estranei sulla base di confini geografici è un’idea molto bizzarra”.
L’identità nazionale è uno dei miti più diffusi costruiti dal mondo moderno, ma è anche un potente fattore culturale che ha contribuito ad alimentare il razzismo e a costruire le dittatura del novecento. Un video del New York Times spiega com’è nato e come si è sviluppato nel tempo il concetto di nazionalità.
Why do people find Jordan Peterson so convincing? Because the left doesn’t have its own house in order
The wide popularity of Jordan Peterson, a once-obscure Canadian clinical psychologist and university professor who has become beloved of the alt-right, is a proof that the liberal-conservative “silent majority” finally found its voice. Peterson, who has said that the idea of white privilege is a “Marxist lie” and theorised that “radical feminists” don’t speak out about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia because of “their unconscious wish for brutal male domination”, is fast becoming a mainstream commentator.
His advantages over the previous anti-LGBT+ star Milo Yiannopoulos are obvious. Yiannopoulos was witty, fast-talking, full of jokes and sarcasms, and openly gay – he resembled, in many features, the culture he was attacking. Peterson is his opposite: he combines a “common sense” approach and (the appearance of) cold scientific argumentation with a bitter rage at a threat to the liberal basics of our societies – his stance is: “Enough is enough! I cannot stand it anymore!”
At the trial of Antonio Gramsci in 1928, the prosecutor declared: “We must stop this brain from working for 20 years.” Gramsci, the former leader of the Italian Communist Party and a gifted Marxist theoretician and journalist, was sentenced to two decades’ imprisonment by Benito Mussolini’s fascist government.
Yet confinement marked the flowering, rather than the decay, of Gramsci’s thought. He embarked on an epic intellectual pursuit with the aim of an enduring legacy. His Prison Notebooks, as they became known, comprised 33 volumes and 3,000 pages of history, philosophy, economics and revolutionary strategy. Though permitted to write, Gramsci was denied access to Marxist works and was forced to use code to evade the prison censors. In 1937, having long been refused adequate health care (his teeth fell out and he was unable to digest solid foods), Gramsci died, aged 46.
As the geopolitical chessboard continues to be tossed around by ill winds, an exhausted West wallows in the mire of its own failings, and the planet faces a mounting existential crisis, we might do worse than to pause and reflect on how one of the great minds of a previous generation might help us make sense of these times of trouble.
Jean-Paul Sartre was one of the last towering giants of a Renaissance pantheon concerned with the whole spectrum of human existence. Sharp, independent minds have always enjoyed the Sartrean glow that permeates Western culture (or at least those particles of it not fossilized by academia).
Sartre, via his “protest” philosophy, was indisputably the preeminent moral voice and intelligence of the second half of the 20th century, with “protest” carrying the meaning it was imbued with by Martin Luther. And as with Luther, Sartre’s existentialism has a fulminating formula:
In September of last year, we noted that Facebook representatives were meeting with the Israeli government to determine which Facebook accounts of Palestinians should be deleted on the ground that they constituted “incitement.” The meetings — called for and presided over by one of the most extremist and authoritarian Israeli officials, pro-settlement Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — came after Israel threatened Facebook that its failure to voluntarily comply with Israeli deletion orders would result in the enactment of laws requiring Facebook to do so, upon pain of being severely fined or even blocked in the country.
The predictable results of those meetings are now clear and well-documented. Ever since, Facebook has been on a censorship rampage against Palestinian activists who protest the decades-long, illegal Israeli occupation, all directed and determined by Israeli officials. Indeed, Israeli officials have been publicly boasting about how obedient Facebook is when it comes to Israeli censorship orders:
Shortly after news broke earlier this month of the agreement between the Israeli government and Facebook, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Tel Aviv had submitted 158 requests to the social media giant over the previous four months asking it to remove content it deemed “incitement.” She said Facebook had granted 95 percent of the requests.
She’s right. The submission to Israeli dictates is hard to overstate: As the New York Times put it in December of last year, “Israeli security agencies monitor Facebook and send the company posts they consider incitement. Facebook has responded by removing most of them.”
What makes this censorship particularly consequential is that “96 percent of Palestinians said their primary use of Facebook was for following news.” That means that Israeli officials have virtually unfettered control over a key communications forum of Palestinians.
I have been an activist my entire life—but I have never felt accepted by the activist scene. I organized my first protest at the age of thirteen, achieved national attention for activism when I was seventeen and co-created the original idea for Occupy Wall Street, a social movement that spread to eighty-two countries, when I was twenty-eight. I coined the critique of “clicktivism” in 2010 and invented the debt forgiveness tactic used by the Rolling Jubilee in 2012. Yet after twenty-three years of protesting, I’m still an outsider.
I’m not blaming or complaining. I understand why I don’t fit in. I am unable, and unwilling, to goosestep behind the movement ideology. I didn’t vote for Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump. I am not a supporter of the Democratic Socialists of America or the Green Party. I don’t believe Occupy, Black Lives Matter, or Standing Rock were successful. I wrote a book, The End of Protest, arguing that protest is broken. And I speak out forcefully for the need to shift the paradigms of activism by overthrowing the failed leaders, tactics, and strategies of our movements. I advocate using the techniques of activism against the activist cliques that keep us mired in failure.
What if I told you that revolutions happen when people lose their fear? What if I told you that protest is broken, that the next revolutionary moment won’t spring from a vulgar “materialistic” strategy? What if I explained, as we stood atop a scenic vista, each of us striking a fearless yoga pose, that change in today’s world must be rooted in a contagious mood, a mood that spreads throughout the human community and makes people see the world in a different way? What if I revealed all of these deep truths to you—and more!—in exchange for a low, low introductory consulting fee of $10,000?
In Barcelona this summer, I was shown a protest sign written in English that said: “Why call it tourism season if we can’t kill them?” Anger over unhampered tourism is getting ugly, even in Barcelona, where the mayor, Ada Colau, is one of the few politicians dedicated to reining in the industry. Residents told me they have had it with skyrocketing rents, thousands of tourists from cruise ships swamping the city’s historic centre and partygoers keeping families up into the night. And they are increasingly sceptical about the economic benefits for the average citizen.
Today’s anti-fascist movement will do nothing to get rid of right-wing populism – it’s just panicky posturing
Marx’s formula of religion as the opium of the people needs some serious rethinking today. It is true that radical Islam is an exemplary case of religion as the opium of the people: a false confrontation with capitalist modernity which allows some fundamentalist Muslims to dwell in their ideological dream while their countries are ravaged by the effects of global capitalism – and exactly the same holds for Christian fundamentalism. However, there are today, in our Western world, two other versions of the opium of the people: the opium and the people.
As Laurent de Sutter demonstrated, chemistry (in its scientific version) is becoming part of us: large aspects of our lives are characterised by the management of our emotions by drugs, from everyday use of sleeping pills and antidepressants to hard narcotics. We are not just controlled by impenetrable social powers; our very emotions are “outsourced” to chemical stimulation.