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Hierarchies would dissolve and peer-to-peer collaborations would take their place.
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.
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.
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.In the years before the Second World War, Americans were mystified as to how Germany, one of the most sophisticated nations in Europe, had tumbled down the dark hole of National Socialism.Today we’d likely blame Hitler’s rise on the economic chaos and political infighting of the Weimar era. When Hitler spoke to row upon row of Nazi soldiers at torch-lit rallies, the radio broadcast his voice into every German home. They are living in a Nazi dream and not in the reality of the world.Over the next two years, they would advise the Roosevelt Administration; produce pamphlets, news articles, and books; and set the cornerstone of our contemporary faith in decentralized media.The Committee began by defining national morale in terms of what they called the democratic personality.he Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip,” Ronald Reagan said in 1989.He was speaking to a thousand British notables in London’s historic Guildhall, several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall.On February 20, 1939, the Bund brought more than 22,000 Americans to New York’s Madison Square Garden to welcome fascism to American shores.When they gathered, a huge banner hung over their heads: media to do it would transform Americans into just the kind of authoritarians they were trying to defeat.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.