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culture politics

The Z: Participatory Totalitarianism

It represents a strange and yet sadly common symmetry of politics and ideology that while the chaotically effervescing freedoms of a real world’s media and information systems find the totalitarian state almost entirely impermeable to difference or diversity and truth, the unrepentantly fictional narratives of deception and misdirection broadcast by the totalitarian quite easily emanate and infuse the broader world. What is particularly interesting about this symmetry is that the extreme nationalism on display represents a profoundly fragile and insecure assertion of identity that quite naturally and inevitably shapes its own future towards dissipation, dissolution and decay.

The autocratic gambit is, and almost entirely inadvertently, to generate the internal and external political (as system) states that recursively reproduce the visceral fears and perceived insecurities upon which their core messaging and tenured continuity of power critically depend. In rejecting the rest of the (free) world’s information and communications system narratives, the totalitarian thus becomes quite unwittingly dependent on, and imprisoned by, them. In this we can perceive the essence of a core pathological disconnect from reality that causes the adherence to a limited model of that Otherness that the world represents to assume all the characteristics (and costs) of an addiction.

Other questions might include as of why some – indeed many – people are so easily misled and swept away by such narrative hypnosis, of why there is a cyclical recurrence of such narrative tropes and the despots who ride them into political control, and of to what extent these narrative systems tend to acquire a life and agency of their own leaving dangling autocrats as nothing more than the manipulated puppets of the activity of complex information systems that they hardly even begin to understand.

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