Initial Thoughts about the Mueller Report (Social Inequality Edition)

As I’m working my way through the Mueller Report a few things stand out to me. The first is how firmly our deep mediatization era is characterized by plutocrats like Prigozhim (of IRA fame) using their wealth to try shape discursive micro-realities.* Murdoch may have started this kind of process with broadcasting, but with platforms and personalized streams it seems clear now that in this iteration everyone who can afford to play will play.

Another is the extent to which transnational capitalists and their agents explicitly barter and bargain territory. (ex. Manafort and Kilimnik, Prince and Dmitriev,  Flynn and Kislyak meetings.)

* True, Sides, Vavreck, and Tesler (2018) do show that the IRA had little measurable impact on the 2016 US election, while Howard et el (2018) show that most of the IRA efforts were poorly executed memes and clickbait content. Still, my thinking here is that it may just a matter of time before someone ‘does get it right.’ Granted, depending on the kind of exercise the the chance of success doesn’t always always increase as the attempts accumulate, but at the moment I don’t think the shaping of discursive micro-realities is principally that kind of problem.

Sides, John, Vavreck, Lynn, and Tesler, Michael (2018) Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America, Princeton: Princeton University Press

Howard, Philip N., Ganesh, Bharath, Liotsiou, Dimitra., Kelly, John, and François, Camille (2018) The IRA, Social Media and Political Polarization in the United States, 2012-2018. Working Paper 2018.2. Oxford, UK: Project on Computational Propaganda. comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk.

 

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Author: Scott Timcke

I’m a Lecturer in the Department of Literary, Cultural and Communication Studies at the University of the West Indies. I use Marxist methods to study social inequality, the digital mode of production, the causes and consequences of imperial violence in the early 21st Century.

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