Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

The Cyberspace Myth and Political Communication, within the Limits of Netocracy

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

The Cyberspace Myth and Political Communication, within the Limits of Netocracy

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

The evolutionary matrix of political communication lies in Aristotle's concept of man as a "political animal," endowed with "articulated language" (Denton 1998, xiii-xv, Aristotle 1981, 51-477). This line of argument suggests that one of the definitions of political communication lies within the limits of communication - as a rhetoric of message transmission and information in post-industrial societies, at the end of the 20th Century (Denton and Woodward 1998, 3-17) - which is currently suffering a paradigm shift. Change that takes place with regard to communication in the information paradigm - as content, thought, action (Denton and Woodward 1998, 3-17) or symbolic communication (which may be mental, verbal, nonverbal or graphic, especially for cyberspace communication media (Graber 2003; 2005, 479-507)) - to cyberpower (Nye 2011, 113-153), where information becomes a means of control and authority (Jordan 1999). However, the myth, which has been intrinsically embedded in the structure of civilization and human nature prior to the emergence of political practice, is somewhat different. Although it no longer forms the basis of global social structures such as religion or society, either in terms of their formation or existence, when situated in the cosmogonic, cosmological, artistic, ritualistic or religious paradigms the myth has established for itself a comfortable and contemporary retreat within virtual space and consumer culture (Bottici 2007). For this reason, it is now possible to speak of a myth of cyberspace, one that fuels political communication yet cannot be reduced to the art of rhetoric, instead becoming a viral phenomenon of manipulation within the cybercapitalist panoptic system (Foucault 1995, 195-231). Or, if we are to be in Jordan's paradigm (1999, 197-200) and Poster's (1990, 93-98) theories, current societies are moving towards what they call a superpanopticon surveillance system of cyberspace cyberpower. That is mechanism which, for Poster (1990, 93-98), places post-industrial communication in a "...surveillance system without walls, windows, towers or guards" (Poster 1990, 93), an argument that leads Jordan to see in this superpanopticon system a ".myth of the electronic frontier" (Jordan 1999, 197-200). Namely, a myth involving "cyberspace hell", created by the "virtual imagination", based exclusively on information and computerization, as a consequence of total surveillance of the individual and society at the virtual level. This produces a paradigm shift in the concept of Foucauldian panoptic surveillance, from that based on the biopolitical and globalizing trajectory of the world, to that based on the cybernetic and digital trajectory of the world. This is an appearance that also produces a paradigm shift at the level of the netocratic mechanism action from Bard and Söderqvist's (2012) theory, which passes from that of the panopticism surveillance paradigm to that of the superpanopticism one.

Cyberspace itself is a postmodern cultural product comprising three main fields; the material (hardware), the symbolic (software) and the experimental (the individual's methods of information, communication and entertainment), where the mediation of the cultural world via the symbolic world results in the production of a simultaneous, hypertextbased culture and communication system (Bell 2001, 6-30). Cybercapitalism, on the other hand, refers to a new form of capitalism involving, and including, the Internet or virtual space. This, in conjunction with the globalization phenomenon, represents a new competitive market that aims to gather funds/information using such means. (Laxer 1998, 132). Thus, the modern world is therefore witnessing a conceptual metamorphosis of the myth as a consequence of historical, political, artistic, communicative and, above all, technological evolution. A characteristic currently identified within the realms of cyberspace, consumer society and cultural mass media, as well as in political communication, is that the myth is creating a series of behavioral patterns within in a panchoreography of netocratic superpanopticism. …

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