New politics of candor puts the public gaze before the ballot box


As shown by events around the world - notably in Russia, Italy and the United States - the practice of politics is changing before our eyes.

As shown by events around the world – notably in Russia, Italy and the United States – the practice of politics is changing before our eyes.

 

Perhaps it’s time to change the analytical lexicon we use to describe politics too.

One cornerstone of political theory for ages is that democracy – an a priori positive good – entails some kind of rule by the people and hence is a participatory system. Participation, in modern terms the vote, is considered a form of voice through which the citizen subject acts.

To be sure, the spatula-wielding women whose uprising in Burkina Faso led its president to flee can aptly be described as having taken direct political action and wrought change. More power to them.

On the other hand, weak electoral turnout in the U.S. midterms and recent Italian regional ballots suggest that the link between participation and voting risks becoming tenuous.

Plausibly, it can be argued that voting has become too distant and mediated a process to constitute action or voice, a feeling likely exacerbated by the high-speed access we have to interactive protocols through social media and the Internet in general.

That’s in line with the most nobly-pedigreed criticism of representative democracy, which is that its form is already a deviation from the Athenian idea of the demotic assembly. A challenging but lucid version of this argument has been made recently by Yanis Varoufakis in his essay “Can the Internet democratize capitalism?” which calls for more demos instead of representation.

Such earnest hopes have been held before. Indeed, Guy Debord’s legendary “Society of the Spectacle” almost 50 years ago pointed to the alleged commodization of social life and decried that “all that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”

But is it time to stop alluding wistfully to some ancient ideal of a city-state? After all, historians note that most Athenians had at least one slave – a sentence presenting severe mathematical confusion to the modern mind.

Questo contenuto è riservato agli abbonati

Abbonati per un anno a tutti i contenuti del sito e all'edizione cartacea + digitale della rivista di geopolitica

Abbonati ora €45

Abbonati per un anno alla versione digitale della rivista di geopolitica

Abbonati ora €20

- Advertisement -spot_img