Friday, December 17, 2010

THE END OF BROADCASTING Reflections on the future challenges to democracy

There are obviously sources of unrest and confusion in contemporary political life which seem to challenge not only political parties but the entire political culture of parliamentary democracy in its entirety..The citizens of Stuttgart turn a city planning project,democratically decided since years, into a battlefield of violent demonstrations. The Sweiss cantons are in these years witnessing a continuos battle between direct and representational democracy,the continuos medial presentation of the Swedish health insurance system is that of an enemy of the people, devoted to the sole purpose of humiliating and impoverishing the citizens.

Let us assume that there are what might be called patterns of communication,caracteristic of different societies and technologies; fiffering in what type and number of participients we talk about.

One individual communicates to another individual and the exchange is symmetric.(Conversation ,private correspondence,lovemaking)

One individual communicates to another individual and the exchange is asymmetric. (Poetry,literature in general,the patient to the psychoanalyst )

One individual communicates to the many and the many are supposed to listen, which makes the situation asymmetric. (Broadcasting,the public speech,sermon,totalitarian leader speaking to his subjects)

The many communicate asymmetrically to one individual.Does the asymmetric case exist ? The relation between a parlamentarian and his constituence might be an example ?

Many individuals communicate with many individuals. This is the situation,made possible by the social media. The new situation,if you prefer.

Furthercombinatorically possible cases, the reflexive variant (one to herself) and the partially empty cases seem to lack practical interest.

Obviously something is lost. Two systems of communication,one embodied by the broadcasting of the Twentieth century - one speaking to the many - and the social media of the twentyfirst - where the many speak to the many - seem to clash and to give rise to competing or even adversial forms of public life.This might be the end of broadcasting in the sense defined above,and the beginning of a new realm,the realm
of densified political communication.

A political program, carefully planned and presented by a political party or its professional advisers ,can be scrutinized,punctuated,rejected practically in minutes. The number of perspectives has multiplied immensely .The obvious problems of political parties to define their own identity is related to the existence of cyberspace.

The strong nationalistic and often - by consequence - xenophobic, tendencies in Europe and outside are often explained as a consequence of the distributional welfare state reaching the limits of its effectivity.As Jayati Ghosh of New Delhi recently remarked : the explanation does not hold for the simple reason that the nationalisms are strongest where there is no welfare whatsoever to compete about. Obviously the crisis of identity goes much deeper.Exclusion - inclusion become the more or less artificial means of restoring a lost feeling of identity.This might be the place where ”religion”so much more a political than whatever else,comes into place.
A strikingly new phenomen, the flight from investors from the modern financial instruments to pure old gold, might serve as a metaphore for this new world. There is an urge for touchable,physical presence,nearness.

The crisis of the political culture is a crisis of identity, and itcannot be solved by adding more of the same sort.Inability to handle these new need will in the longer run provoke social changes of considerable proportions. Government which cannot handle the urge for identity in the present world is lost.

1 comment:

  1. It is to me dubious wether the notion ”symmetrical” is adequate in all the applications you make of it. Symmetry is in Chambers Etymological Dictonary defined as ”the state in which one part exactly corresponds to another in size, shape and proportion: harmony or adaption of one part to another”. Then it is misleading to equalize a relation between a poet and his reader or listener with the relation between a political leader or demagogue and the citizen. The latter is one-directed, its argument authoritarian, while the former, in the cases I now restrict myself too, is an offer of something, a possibility formed by the writer, which could be a possibility also for the reader. Literature, in this sense, is symmetrical in the potential meaning which the concept of cocreative reading imply.
    In the blogg-world, with personal literary texts thrown out in cyberspace, this symmetrical concept of literature, which has existed pronouncingly since the enlightment, is coming to surface, and, as for instance my commentary shows, generate a new area of communication. You can sit in a garden with a book of John Donne or Cervantes and it is the symmetrical relation which makes it contemporary. In the blogg-dialogues the contemporarity is given. This means a potential widening of its immediate political impact. The sense in literature of one individual’s personal, truthful, or truthfully acted, sometimes intimate message to another could both be maintained and so to say brought to the market-place.
    Dear Lars Gustafsson, I found your report from the nazi-exhibition of great interest. This new text is complementary: What could we do to avoid the emptyness in the Center? Which are the communicative infrastructures at hand, what do they imply? I think the basis for democracy, for to in an precise way make dangers and faults visible, for developement, is the symmetrical situation of dialogue and conversation. Theories without the forming of personal experience will always lead to new dictatorships. If the ”loss of identity” in our global world is collective, the solution could not be collective, that is too often the short run from chaos to fundamentalism or nationalism etc. I don’t know what the new communicative infrastructure involve; but I believe that our attitude, do I dare to call it our philosophy?, could be maintained, whatever the medium is, computer, mobiletelephone, or something else. Others argue that the medium is the message. They might in the long run if not be right at least have a point.

    Gunnar Lundin