Global media theories are not my specialty, obviously, but they are a interesting set of ideas. What happens when with social media and global corporate media in pluralistic world? Do you start to get erosion of specific cultures, and a subsequent hybrid? Heidegger viewed global communications with suspicion for that reason, though in his case it probably reflects a knee-jerk anti-modernism. In Athens, arguably, the cosmopolitan nature of trading city got people thinking about νόμος and φύσις–or man’s law, custom versus the laws of nature/universe. After all, if you are surrounded by different people from different places who do things differently, then which set of laws/customs is the right one? I think it’s fair to stay the west has struggled with that a bit. In a world of global media, it’s likely that similar questions might arise.
Alternatively, when media are customized and delivered according to taste like other consumer goods, globally, you might see global pluralism reinforced rather than any unity or standardization.
And I think that’s what I see. When I see Trump supporters shrugging their shoulders at the possibility of Russian influence, I get to thinking that allegiances are shifting in important ways. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not into getting too het up about Russian hacking unless we can show they did something to influence counts. I’m assuming that just about all our political enemies have tried to influence elections, and this was not the first time, just as we rather routinely do it to other places. And as a scholar interested in media (urban media, but still), my read of the influence literatures suggests to me that it’s harder than intuition suggests to influence political behavior, like voting. Just because people see a message or a story doesn’t mean they believe it, and even if they do believe parts of it, it’s hard to predict how they will interpret it and apply it to their voting preferences.
I am getting a little annoyed with people I normally respect like Corey Robin overstating the Left’s response to the Russian actions. No, “half of America believes the Russians fixed the elections” is not a fair read, just like half of Americans believe Barack Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya. I really have no idea what half of Americans believe and neither does Robin. Yes, people are upset, and yes there are people who are concerned–as they should be. But mostly, it’s another straw on the camel’s back of Donald Trump’s presidency. He won the election by a procedural vagary; I have hardcore Orange County Republicans telling me that they think it’s BS that a president can lose the popular vote and still become president. If those folks–Trump voters all–have their problems with procedure here, we got problems with procedure, no matter how long and loud Trump’s mob (distinct from Trump voters, some of whom undoubtedly did so with fear and trembling) yell “them’s the rules, so nyah nyah boo boo!”
I’m torn between wondering if the people who think the Russian thing is “no big deal” do so because a) reasoning not unlike mine; b) they just wanted him to win because they are so vested in what he represents to them (which, since nothing he says makes any sense, is likely a projection of what they *want* him to be) that even if the Russians put him in power they are ok with that; or c) there is a new global cosmopolitanism in play (which is not incompatible with either a or b) such that a certain brand of American conservative thinks that Russian conservatives are better, more worthy of power and political authority the despised American liberal. After all, Putin has repressed religious difference and promulgated anti-LGBTQIA laws. Speaking of the “real” America strikes me as a way of making people amenable to this type of cosmopolitanism; after all, if being an American citizen and serving in the army (John Kerry) is not sufficient to qualify as authentically American, and authentic Americanism is a set of values and cultural markers…then anybody who shares those gets in the club. If that’s the case, the world is becoming more integrated in some ways even as isolationism has reared its head again.
Or this is all bullcrap, and I don’t know what I am talking about. But that’s what I have been thinking about.