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DIALOG Internet och social media är inga förutsättningar för förolämpningar och halvsanningar i dialogen mellan politiker eller medborgare.

pub

Detta skriver Mark Hailwood, författare till Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England, i januarinumret av History Today.

Senaste valrörelsen i USA må ha varit unik vad gäller den negativa tonen mellan Donald Trump och Hillary Clinton men var knappast speciellt unik i ett längre historiskt perspektiv.

Hailwood, verksam vid universitetet i Exeter, skriver t.ex. så här om pubarna i 1600-talets England:

Political debate is eternally fractious. In what has been a politically tumultuous period it has become an increasingly common assertion that we are witnessing a rapid deterioration in the decorum of public and political debate.

[…]

It is self-evident, though, that digital technology is not a prerequisite for fractious interpersonal political exchanges. Division and hostility were, for example, rife in the face-to-face world of 17th-century political discussion.

[…]

The growth of political awareness and discussion in 17th-century England – what we now call ‘public opinion’ – has been associated with the rise of the coffeehouse from the 1650s onwards, a place where urbanites could go to read that emerging product, the newspaper, and to engage in caffeinated chatter over the state of the nation in a civilised and rational spirit. But long before the coffeehouse came onto the scene both town and country dwellers of all classes had used another site of liquid refreshment as a place to gather and debate politics: the pub.

Commonly known as the alehouse, the local pub had enjoyed a period of growing popularity in the century between 1550 and 1650, with numbers more than doubling from around 25,000 to 55,000 – or one alehouse for every 90 inhabitants of England. Almost every village would have had at least one such establishment and part of its appeal was the opportunity to engage your neighbours in political debate.

[…]

A difference of opinion was likely to descend into the trading of insults, blows, drinks thrown in the face – or even with being hauled before the authorities for a capital offence. The anonymity and physical distance provided by the computer screen are neither necessary nor sufficient for the development of bitter and fractious cultures of everyday political discussion to emerge in times of political turmoil.

Bild: “Woodcut of a tavern scene, English, 17th century”, History Today.

Annonser

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Country Life

Drottning Elizabeth II, som fyller 90 år i år, är den regent som uppnått högst ålder och regerat längst.

Drottningen har lyckats bygga en positiv image genom att helt enkelt inte bry sig alltför mycket om vare sig media eller ”imagebyggande”.

Trots medias ständiga behov av konflikter och negativa infallsvinklar koncentrerar sig Drottningen istället på att göra det hon alltid gjort, och göra det bra. Kanske finns det en lärdom här för alla politiker och beslutsfattare?

Country Life, som kallar sig för ”The voice of the countryside”, gratulerar Storbritanniens statsöverhuvud i en ledare där man också summerar hemligheten bakom hennes popularitet.

She may wield no political power, but The Queen, at 90, still has an influence the world’s leaders can only dream of.

[…]

The Duke of Cambridge summed up his grandmother’s incredible reign, saying: ‘The Queen is someone who’s been there, done it, bought the T-shirt’ and his wife added: ‘I have no idea where she gets her energy from!’ Although she has lived her entire life in the media’s glare, she has never courted its attention or tried to use it to manipulate her image. Instead, she has built a foundation on the deep roots of her family and faith and dedicated herself unswervingly and tirelessly to duty.

Often accused in the past of being too traditional, it is now her old-fashioned values and steadfastness that have made her someone to be admired and emulated the world over. Her long reign and vast accumulated wisdom have helped to stabilize relations across the world, especially within the Commonwealth.

Detta omslag passar utmärkt vår serie ”Tidskriftsomslag vi gillar”. Bilden på framsidan (20 april, 2016) är Pietro Annigonis berömda porträtt från 1955.

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USA | Steve Bannon på Breitbart News har kallats USA:s ”most dangerous political operativ” och ”the vast right-wing conspirator”.

Bloomberg Businessweek

Och visst är det en spännande historia som Joshua Green berättar i Bloomberg Businessweek. Politisk påverkan? Visst. Men knappast konspiratoriskt. Snarare tvärt om.

Vad hans anställda ägnar sig åt är i princip vad alla journalister, politiska strateger och PR-konsulter alltid gör – försöker placera faktabaserade storys i lämpliga medier.

Hela hans idé går ut på att göra ett grundligt journalistiskt arbete som är grundat på fakta snarare än rykten och spekulationer.

Detta gör det möjligt även för media som traditionellt lutar mer åt vänster i den politiska rapporteringen, t.ex. The New York Times, att hänga på och driva storyn vidare. På så sätt når storyn även en publik som annars inte skulle ha varit mottaglig för informationen.

Det mest märkvärdiga med detta är varför ingen tidigare på högerkanten tänkt på det.

Det som möjligtvis skiljer Bannon från många andra är att han gör det utifrån ett politiskt perspektiv som primärt gynnar republikanerna. Men inte alltid.

Bannon har inte bara försökt påverka samhällsdebatten genom att fokusera på ena sidans politiker (Hillary Clinton m.fl.) utan också gett sig på republikaner (t.ex. Jeb Bush, John Boehner) som han finner mindre tilltalande.

Green skrev bl.a. följande i sin artikel om Bannon:

Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart News, the crusading right-wing populist website that’s a lineal descendant of the Drudge Report (its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, spent years apprenticing with Matt Drudge) and a haven for people who think Fox News is too polite and restrained.

[…]

As befits someone with his peripatetic background, Bannon is a kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde figure in the complicated ecosystem of the right—he’s two things at once. And he’s devised a method to influence politics that marries the old-style attack journalism of Breitbart.com, which helped drive out Boehner, with a more sophisticated approach, conducted through the nonprofit Government Accountability Institute, that builds rigorous, fact-based indictments against major politicians, then partners with mainstream media outlets conservatives typically despise to disseminate those findings to the broadest audience. The biggest product of this system is the project Bannon was so excited about at CPAC: the bestselling investigative book, written by GAI’s president, Peter Schweizer, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.

[…]

While attacking the favored candidates in both parties at once may seem odd, Bannon says he’s motivated by the same populist disgust with Washington that’s animating candidates from Trump to Bernie Sanders. Like both, Bannon is having a bigger influence than anyone could have reasonably expected. But in the Year of the Outsider, it’s perhaps fitting that a figure like Bannon, whom nobody saw coming, would roil the national political debate.

[…]

For Bannon, the Clinton Cash uproar validated a personal theory, informed by his Goldman Sachs experience, about how conservatives can influence the media and why they failed the last time a Clinton was running for the White House. “In the 1990s,” he told me, “conservative media couldn’t take down [Bill] Clinton because most of what they produced was punditry and opinion, and they always oversold the conclusion: ‘It’s clearly impeachable!’ So they wound up talking to themselves in an echo chamber.” What news conservatives did produce, such as David Brock’s Troopergate investigation on Paula Jones in the American Spectator, was often tainted in the eyes of mainstream editors by its explicit partisan association.

In response, Bannon developed two related insights. “One of the things Goldman teaches you is, don’t be the first guy through the door because you’re going to get all the arrows. If it’s junk bonds, let Michael Milken lead the way,” he says. “Goldman would never lead in any product. Find a business partner.” His other insight was that the reporters staffing the investigative units of major newspapers aren’t the liberal ideologues of conservative fever dreams but kindred souls who could be recruited into his larger enterprise. “What you realize hanging out with investigative reporters is that, while they may be personally liberal, they don’t let that get in the way of a good story,” he says. “And if you bring them a real story built on facts, they’re f—ing badasses, and they’re fair.” Recently, I met with Brock, who renounced conservatism and became an important liberal strategist, fundraiser, and Clinton ally. He founded the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America and just published a book, Killing The Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government. Brock’s attitude toward Bannon isn’t enmity toward an ideological opponent, as I’d expected, but rather a curiosity and professional respect for the tradecraft Bannon demonstrated in advancing the Clinton Cash narrative. What conservatives learned in the ’90s, Brock says, is that “your operation isn’t going to succeed if you don’t cross the barrier into the mainstream.” Back then, he says, conservative reporting had to undergo an elaborate laundering to influence U.S. politics. Reporters such as Brock would publish in small magazines and websites, then try to get their story planted in the British tabloids and hope a right-leaning U.S. outlet such as the New York Post or the Drudge Report picked it up. If it generated enough heat, it might break through to a mainstream paper.

“It seems to me,” says Brock of Bannon and his team, “what they were able to do in this deal with the Times is the same strategy, but more sophisticated and potentially more effective and damaging because of the reputation of the Times. If you were trying to create doubt and qualms about [Hillary Clinton] among progressives, the Times is the place to do it.” He pauses. “Looking at it from their point of view, the Times is the perfect host body for the virus.”

Tidskriftsomslag: Bloomberg Businessweek, 12-18 oktober 2015.

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IT Båda Barack Obamas presidentvalskampanjer utmärktes av ett maximalt utnyttjande av de teknologiska landvinningarna kring sociala medier.

Fast Company

Nu vill presidenten gå vidare och göra samma sak på den federala nivån. Nu skall myndigheterna bli mer tillgängliga för medborgarna.

Att det hela inte gått helt smärtfritt visade problemen vid lanseringen av Healthcare.gov. Det gäller nu att undvika tidigare misstag.

Fast Company har beskrivit det pågående arbetet i artikel ”Inside Obama’s Stealth Startup”. Till hjälp har han en lång rad personer rekryterade från bl.a. Google och Facebook.

Samtidigt med artikel intervjuades Obama av tidskriftens editor-in-chief Robert Saflan.

You know, the federal government is full of really smart people, with a lot of integrity, who work really hard and do some incredible stuff. And it’s on par with the private sector on all those measures. But technology [has been] terrible. And for me, given that our campaigns both in 2008 and 2012 were built on being at the very cutting edge of social media and technology and empowering people and speed and nimbleness, to see how lumbering this thing was, that was pretty distressing.

So I started working fairly quickly to say, This wasn’t good enough, how do we make it better? We started putting more emphasis on technology and IT in each department. But I’ll be honest with you. With all the crises we were dealing with—the economy collapsing, the auto industry on the verge of collapse, winding down wars—this did not get the kind of laser-focused attention until ­Healthcare.gov, which was a well-­documented disaster, but ended up anyways being the catalyst for us saying, ”Okay, we have to completely revamp how we do things.” The results there were so outstanding, and because we discovered that there are folks at Google and Facebook and Twitter and all these amazing firms who really wanted to find some way to engage in public service—and many of them could afford to do so because they had done very well . . .

[…]

So the stakes here are making the government more competent, more efficient, more impactful?

Absolutely. Well, look, here’s what we know historically: That societies where there is no effective functioning government don’t do very well. ­Societies where government is all-consuming and quashes the private sector, they don’t do very well either. What you want is a partnership between a robust market-based system where people are innovating, and it’s dynamic, and things are moving fast, but you also want a government that makes sure roads are built and schools are teaching the next generation what they need to know and are willing to invest in things like basic research that serve as the foundation for private sector success and discovery . . . and has enough basic rules of the road so they aren’t spilling a bunch of sludge into the water, and the air is breathable. And, you know, our private sector thrives because we historically have had a very effective government. Now, over the last several years that has become more ossified and stuck. And it hasn’t kept pace with changes in technology. And part of what we’re doing here is to yank government—upgrade it, patch it, and ultimately transform it so that it is responsive and can interface with this new private sector in a much more effective way.

[…]

Arguably the next killer app for tech would be online voting. That’s a state and local issue, but I wondered whether you think that it’s something that should be a priority for technologists?

Absolutely. So we’ve been talking about the U.S. digital team, and a lot of this is: How do we deliver services better to customers? But there are other aspects of this process that we are trying to ­develop. We want technology to help shape policy. Think about our big data projects. We know that in the same way that the National Weather Service or the development of GPS and satellites created entire new ways that people organized their lives, that in health care, for example, there are going to be transformations taking place because of the ability to collect and analyze data and then transmit it in very individualized fashion to people.

And so in our policy making, we’re trying to make sure that insights and knowledge coming out of tech are informing how we think about regulations, how we think about opportunities to solve big challenges. But there is a third part of this. And that is: How do people engage and relate to their government? You know, our constitutional design is remarkable; it has lasted for many years. But it’s no secret that many people feel alienated and distant from government. And I think the opportunities for us to think about how tech can empower citizens and make them feel ownership for their government is really important.

Tidskriftsomslag: Fast Company, juli-augusti 2015.

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RYSSLAND |Om kriget kommer” var en informationsskrift som förr delades ut till alla svenska hushåll. Men vad gör vi om kriget redan är här?

Axess nr 9 2014

Det har blivit alltmer uppenbart att Vladimir Putins propagandakrig är både effektivt och omfattande. Och som vanligt, är man böjd att säga, verkar Sverige ha tagits på sängen.

Innan man i den svenska samhällsdebatten är villig att ta hoten från Ryssland på allvar måste vi tydligen alltid genomgå en period av bortförklaringar och önsketänkande. Det kan väl inte vara så farligt? Putin är nog bara missförstådd.

Men nu har kanske naiviteten avlösts av en lite mer realistisk syn på regimen i Moskva. (Vi får kanske ”tacka” Putins invasion av Ukraina för det.)

Ett tecken i tiden är att denna månad släpper både månadsmagasinet Axess och veckomagasinet The Spectator ett nummer med exakt samma tema.

I Axess skriver författarinnan och dramatikern Sofi Oksanen om ”Putins finlandisering”.

Under den gångna hösten har såväl medier som statsmakt medgett att också Finland utsätts för det informationskrig som förs av Ryssland. Situationen är inte ny – det nya är att man erkänner det offentligt.

Verksamheten ger sig till känna på många sätt i vårt vardagsliv. Tidningarnas debattspalter har befolkats av en armé av internettroll som basunerar ut Moskva­vänliga åsikter och härjar till och med på babyforum som annars frekventeras av vanliga mammor. Den som följer nyheterna från Ryssland kan råka ut för betald Facebook-reklam där man hänvisar till sajter som driver Kremls agenda.

[…]

Mot finland använder sig Ryssland av taktiken piska och morot, välbekant från finlandiseringsåren. Då belönade man med handelsförmåner och skrämde med provokation. Så har också Aleksander Dugin, en av Putins chefsideologer, uppmanat Ryssland att hålla fast vid sina intressen i Finland just genom finlandisering. Det är inte konstigt, eftersom psykologisk krigföring alltid använder sig av förhärskande föreställningar och känslolandskap i det aktuella landet. Trots att Dugins läror på senare tid inte har uppmärksammats så mycket finns det skäl att minnas att hans verk Geopolitikens grunder (1997) tillhör den ryska arméns läroböcker. Finlandiseringen ligger Dugin så varmt om hjärtat att han skulle vilja sprida den över hela Europa.

[…]

Kärnan i det ryska informationskriget är upprepning och dess grundläggande budskap sprids ut över ett geografiskt vidsträckt område, under ett långt tidsspann. När dessa texter eller budskap citeras mångfaldigas de och slutligen ­försvinner den ursprungliga källan, men känslans sinnebild blir kvar. Och däri döljer sig desinformationens list.

[…]

Enligt den ryska krigföringsläran bör konstnärer, diplomater, sakkunniga, journalister, författare, förläggare, tolkar, specialister inom medier, internetplanerare och hackers ingå i de grupper som genomför informationsoperationerna. Om inte västerländska medier upphör att citera den ryska statsledningens tal eller börjar begränsa sina egna medborgares yttrandefrihet, så kommer budskapen från Kreml oundvikligen att tränga in i de fria medierna.

Ett sådant förfarande placerar västerländska medier i en svår situation och gör dem också sårbara: man kan inte kväva en medborgardiskussion och varje person med avvikande åsikter tillhör inte den ryska armén av internettroll. Enligt den ryska läran om krigföring ska informationskriget fortlöpande utkämpas i världens massmedier.

[…]

Eftersom ett varmt krig är kostsamt, utkämpar Ryssland sin kamp om lydländer och landområden med hjälp av ombud i andra länder och uppmuntrar lokala meningsskiljaktigheter, precis som i Ukraina, de baltiska länderna och i Finland. Ryssland kommer fortsättningsvis att använda sig av informativa och psykologiska medel även i framtiden, och med dessa medel fortsätter man att destabilisera väst – i väst. Hos oss och hos er.

The Spectator 6 December 2014

I “Moscow calling” är John O’Sullivan inne på samma tema i The Spectator. Hans fokus är på propagandakanalen RT som nyligen lanserat sin andra annonskampanj i landet.

Unlike rival broadcasters, Russia Today — or RT as it has rebranded itself since 2009 — has a growing -budget; President Putin himself is said to have intervened to protect it against cuts. The network now claims a worldwide audience of 700 million, a figure the old Voice of Russia could only dream about. It is widely present in social media, having 1.4 million subscribers on YouTube, for instance. And it has achieved a largish cult following on the fringes of the left and the right in the West. Its audience seems to believe in RT’s marketing message — that the network covers the stories which the mainstream media ignores, such as Occupy Wall Street or WikiLeaks scandals.

[…]

The turning point is generally agreed to have occurred in 2008, when Russia provoked the Georgian government into an attempt to recover its lost province of Ossetia and promptly responded with an invasion and occupation of parts of Georgia. RT gave Putin cover with a jingoistic campaign that denounced the Georgians as genocidal. That campaign in turn now looks like a dry run for RT’s reporting and commentary on the Ukrainian crisis, which depicted the Kiev government as bloodthirsty neo-fascists intent on ethnic cleansing etc. — while depicting actual bloodthirsty neo-fascists (and Russian soldiers) in eastern Ukraine as peace-minded democrats.

If that were all, RT would be as ineffective as Radio Moscow used to be. Simple ideological abuse alerts people that they are being manipulated. But as Peter Pomerantsev explains in his forthcoming book on modern Russia, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, what makes RT more insidious is that it has most of the external features of legitimate western journalism:

Russia Today began to look and sound like any 24/7 news channel: the thumping music before the news flash, the earnest pretty newscasters, the jock-like sports broadcasters. British and American twentysomethings straight out of university would be offered generous compensation packages, where in London or Washington they would have been expected to work for free. Of course they all wondered whether RT would turn out to be a propaganda channel. ‘Well, it’s all about expressing the Russian point of view,’ they would say, a little uncertainly.

[…]

Western journalism is sometimes biased, usually unconsciously, but it is actuated by some concern for the truth which in major news organisations results, for example, in formal rules about sourcing. These rules are constantly examined and updated. Complete cynicism about such matters is rare and punishable — see, for instance, the fate of Stephen Glass, who invented stories out of whole cloth for the New Republic. But when Pomerantsev met the managing editor of RT in his office, he was told: ‘There is no such thing as objective reporting.’ And that mission statement goes far beyond a humble acceptance that reporting cannot overcome every bias; it treats the truth as something malleable in theory and determined by authority in practice.

Tidskriftsomslag: Axess, December 2014 och The Spectator den 6 december 2014.

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POLITIK | Med annonskampanjen ”Political Face Swap” vill Social Economy Alliance uppmuntra politiker att tänka annorlunda.

Churchill-Gorbatjov --Social Economy Alliance

Winston Churchill – Michail Gorbatjov

Thatcher-Che--Social Economy Alliance

Margaret Thatcher – Che Guevara

Reagan-Castro--Social Economy Alliance

Ronald Reagan – Fidel Castro

Tankesmedjan vill att politikerna skall tänka bortom de traditionella vänster-höger argumenten som man anser bara vill framhäva motsättningar mellan företagande och samhället i övrigt.

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AFFISCHER | Storbritannien efter andra världskriget brukar allmänt kallas för ”the nanny state”.

Keep Britain Tidy and Other Posters From the Nanny State - Hester Vaizey

Begreppet – i betydelsen The Nanny Knows Best – myntades 1965 av Iain Macleod som var redaktör på tidskriften The Spectator.

Detta var en period när medborgarna förväntades följa alla hurtiga uppmaningar från myndigheternas informationskampanjer om vad man borde göra och inte göra.

Många av budskapen känner vi igen även från Sverige. Det var en tid när man här fortfarande talade om ”folkhemmet” utan vare sig nostalgi eller ironi i tonen.

Poster For Health's sake

Marcus Berkmann har recensenserat den nyutkomna boken Keep Britain Tidy and Other Posters From the Nanny State av Hester Vaizey

Governments of the times clearly saw it as part of their remit to wag a furious finger at the populace, to tell it to tuck its shirt in and stop dragging its feet. And no sweets before dinner. How many times have I told you?

[…]

For ‘Venereal Diseases,’ whispers a ministry of health poster in 1948, ‘Quack “cures” are useless. No self-treatment ever cured syphilis or gonorrhoea.’ There’s a photo of a man looking worried, as well he might. A few pages later, we see a nuclear family walking down to the beach with a picnic basket. They’re blond, they’re grinning and the little boy is carrying a beach ball. What could possibly go wrong? Look out for man-traps? Beware of the shark? ‘Holiday Health Depends on Holiday Hygiene’ yells the headline. ‘Wash Your Hands Before Eating.’ This was the Scottish home and health department talking, in the mid 1960s — their follow-up to the barnstorming number one hit, ‘Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases.’

[…]

There are two ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ posters, with paintings by Royston Cooper, I am very tempted to hang on the walls of my children’s bedrooms, for purely aesthetic reasons, of course. […] But collected together, they document a vanished age, when we were told what to do and sometimes even did what we were told. ‘Life is Better on the Land.’ ‘Be Really Cool, Man — Save.’ And above all, ‘Don’t Ask a Man to Drink and Drive.’ As though anyone ever needed to be asked.

Poster Yes I Smoke...

Den Royston Cooper som omnämns i den citerade texten har även fått bidra med en illustration till bokens framsida. Affischen ”Keep Britain Tidy” (översta bilden) kom i en lång rad olika versioner och av olika konstnärer.

Poster Wanted ... a hankerchief

Övrigt: Fler affischer i artikeln “That’s us told… posters from when the nanny state knew best – in pictures”, The Guardian.

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