Friday, August 8, 2014

Social media, antisemitism, EU, Internet

Disturbing reports on antisemitism in The Guardian. antisemitism in EU  

There are indicators reported in the article that reflect the relationship between difficult social conditions and Jews as a target. Truly horrible historical tremors here as the article points out echos of the 1930's.

However, the anti-semitic incidents should not be essentialized to the detriment of a broader analysis about inequality and prejudice against all minorities in the EU - Roma, Turks, Africans... what a mess.  

My primary interest in this blog is in the role and impact of social media on attitudes and cultural life. In Uprising, I discussed how "ideological grooming" produces limited perspectives for users of the Internet by reducing a variety of counter-opinions. In the book I discussed how this grooming had enhanced jihadism. That helps explain how jihadists, now in the dozens, annihilate themselves by blowing themselves up and others alongside them.

I have discussed this in the light of the rise of fundamentalism more generally - fundamentalism among Christians, Jews, Tea Party members in the US for example - where one opinion is everything.

Liberalism - tolerance for others - can no longer be assumed.

In Uprising I theorized that the emergence of this singular perspective leads to proletarianization.

Here, unregulated speech circulating through media on the Internet generates values and ideas that are unmediated by Enlightenment values. Social advancement is no longer about European Enlightenment:  universal ideals of equality, liberty and fraternity (to take the French perspective). Social advancement in the fundamentalist system is now about a deep commitment to a narrow set of interests that are repeated over and over again through the Internet. Social advancement is seen as the realization of a community that is isolated from "the world," from evil and secularism, yet connected.  

Back to the EU and antisemitism.

The article includes this comment from Yonathan Arfi Crif, vice-president of Crif, an umbrella group for France's Jewish organizations:  
Almost every observer pointed to the unparalleled power of unfiltered social media to inflame and to mobilise. A stream of shocking images and Twitter hashtags, including #HitlerWasRight, amount, Arfi said, almost to indoctrination. "The logical conclusion, in fact, is radicalisation: on social media people self-select what they see, and what they see can be pure, unchecked propaganda. They may never be confronted with opinions that are not their own.".