Peter Pomerantsev uses his deep insights into the nature of digital propaganda and the authoritarian threat to democracy to come up with a surprising and rather bold analysis of the way politics works. From Brexit to Trump and possibly soon in a parliament near you: It is politics as carnival, as he puts it, a constant form of campaigning that has changed with and through the internet how politics is done. It is no longer, Pomerantsev says, campaigning as a means for governing, it is campaigning as a substitute for governing.
Pomerantsev, a researcher at the London School of Economics, describes the “transgressive potential” that since the 1960s used to be most present in the subcultures of society, like pop music or film. It used to be more associated with the cultural and political left – but has now more or less completely shifted to the right. “Boris Johnson, Trump, they are all about talking about sex and using swear words and being the punkish, clownish characters”, he says. “That was what liberal democracy was all about, lots of free information, lots of freedom and all sorts of transgressive energy. And now they are using that much better than we are using it.”