The populism that isn’t: the weird history of Five Star

440px-v-day_bologna_02What happens when techno-utopians actually run a country?” asks this Wired article. The country is Italy and the techno-utopians are the Five Star movement, but they’re not really running the country; they’re a populist movement engineered by a single man, and now by those who’ve taken the reigns after his death. And, oh yes, a comedian.

This doesn’t seem very “techno-utopian” to me:

The original stated aim of the project was to observe how internal electronic communications worked, and then to sell the findings as a consulting service. But the experiment also had more far-reaching implications, Baffè realized. Casaleggio was interested in learning how consensus—on, say, whether people should be happy to work long hours—could be manufactured in a way that looked organic. Twenty years before trolls working for Russia’s Internet Research Agency would use similar techniques to steer debate on Facebook and other online forums, Casaleggio seemed to be using his own company as a laboratory to figure out how online discourse could be guided from above.

Fascinating account of big changes in Italian politics.

One comment

  1. Thanks for this! In the beginning the 5-Star Movement seemed like they really were a viable alternative to the usual Italian politicians. However…..

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