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Digital Stalinism

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posted on 2023-06-09, 22:43 authored by Micheal O'ConnellMicheal O'Connell
Drawing on technology-art experience, Forensic Architecture’s investigations and touching upon the ideas of individuals such as Hannah Arendt, Amelia Gentleman, David Graeber and even Leon Trotsky, this short chapter considers whether the algorithmic landscape, apps and devices do not amount in fact to high-speed bureaucracy. It is worth recalling that much of the language associated with software development; terms such as application, code, instruction, method, procedure, program, and routine, along with script, existed before, and still have meaning beyond the realm of computing. If it is valid to make analogies between software in its multifarious forms and other extra-computational influencing codes, what about the thought then that the proliferation of apps and invisible algorithms fits with the late David Graber’s argument that we live in a highly bureaucratised world (2016)? And what would that mean? As a rule-of-thumb at least, bureaucracy and policing have always been connected; bureaucracy is in fact characteristic of particular kinds of totalitarian rule and, what’s more, often is reflective of shortage and a need to limit supply to certain groups. In other words, if the new coded systems, online tools, apps accessed through smart devices, equate to something comparable with the menacing bureaucracies of old, then, what presents itself as easy means of accessing services, resources and necessities, actually constitutes an opposite. The subject touched upon here relates to the nature of the economic and political system often termed neoliberalism, late capitalism, or even referred to as postcapitalism (Mason, 2015) but would Digital Stalinism be a better descriptor?


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  • Published

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Patrician Press

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Now This - Reflections on our Arts and Cultures

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Manningtree, Essex



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  • Media and Film Publications

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  • Centre for Social and Political Thought Publications

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Patricia Borlenghi

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