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And the same networked methods of organizing that so many thought would bring down malevolent states have not only failed to do so—think of the Arab Spring—but have instead empowered autocrats to more closely monitor protest and dissent.If we’re going to resist the rise of despotism, we need to understand how this happened and why we didn’t see it coming.“I believe,” he said, “that more than armies, more than diplomacy, more than the best intentions of democratic nations, the communications revolution will be the greatest force for the advancement of human freedom the world has ever seen.” At the time, most everyone thought Reagan was right.
These were the kinds of one-to-many, top-down mass media that Orwell’s Big Brother had used to stay in power.
Now, however, Americans were catching sight of the internet.
Americans were more open, individualistic, expressive, collaborative, and tolerant, and so more at home in loose coalitions.
Whatever kind of propaganda medium the Committee promoted would need to preserve the individuality of American citizens.
Thousands of American fascists banded together in groups with names like the Silver Legion of America and the Crusader White Shirts.
The Amerikadeutscher Volksbund, a 25,000-member pro-Nazi organization commonly known as the Bund, ran a summer camp on Long Island called Camp Siegfried, where young men marched in Nazi-style uniforms as their friends and families cheered.
Even as they grant us the power to communicate with others around the globe, our social-media networks have spawned a new form of authoritarianism.
he political vision that brought us to this point emerged in the 1930s, as a response to fascism.
They believed that it would do what earlier media could not: it would allow people to speak for themselves, directly to one another, around the world.
“True personalization is now upon us,” wrote MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte in his 1995 bestseller Corporations, industries, and even whole nations would soon be transformed as centralized authorities were demolished.