The world which we think is real is maybe not a Truman Show, a great digital illusion, a computer simulation sketched out by a superior intelligence, as some fun-loving or paranoid philosophers have held for years. However, there is no doubt that the sharp rise of the web as a global environment has transformed the political picture. On the one hand, the web creates a deceptive perception of an uncontrolled communication domain in which the citizens’ freedom may find full right of expression. On the other hand, the web has enabled unscrupulous leaders to make direct contact with single citizens through social networks like Facebook or Twitter, or by organizing political consultations online. This is a way to manipulate them and to cultivate their illusion of being free. But in the triumphal era of web fake news, uncontrolled information, uncontrolled hoaxes, half-truths, content and context distortions, message transmission alterations are daily occurrences in visual, print and digital media. The central thesis of this book is that only the new authoritarian leaders take advantage of all that – Trump, Erdogan, Putin, Orban - or the aspirant leaders – Le Pen, Grillo, Salvini, Farage, Petry, Wilders. All of these people want to dismantle political parties and pursue a course of action toward a direct economic protectionism This is the reason why the rise of the new right wing may be defined as digital populism. Populism, because the people is conceived as a herd to adapt to, and digital, because all this would simply be unthinkable without the almighty web.
Alessandro Dal Lago, a foremost Italian sociologist, taught Sociology in Italy (Milano, Bologna, Genova) and other countries. His other books on political issues published by Cortina are Carnefici e spettatori (Perpetrators and spectators) and La nostra indifferenza verso la crudeltà (Our Indifference to Cruelty).
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