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Jacques Ellul's “Anti-Democratic Economy:” Persuading Citizens and Consumers in the Information Society


Matos Alves, Artur. "Jacques Ellul's “Anti-Democratic Economy:” Persuading Citizens and Consumers in the Information Society." triple-C 12(1): 169-201, 2014. Web. http://www.triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/article/view/465

p.1: Jacques Ellul's thoughts on the increasingly conspicuous role of persuasion techniques bring to the fore the persuasive and normative effects of new communication techniques at the core of contemporary consumer/citizen culture, as well as the limits of that instrumental stance towards mediated human communication. By drawing insights from authors who shared some of Ellul's concerns, such as Frankfurt School theorists, Vance Packard and Ivan Illich, this paper explores this “normative invasion” of human life by technique as a feature of contemporary information technology politics, specifically in (1) the historical context of normative and material technological colonization, and (2) the intertwining of propaganda and information warfare in the current reshaping of information politics. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

“Technique is the boundary of democracy. What technique wins, democracy loses.”

Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society

p.1: One of Ellul’s tenets is the preservation of the individual’s moral autonomy vis-à-vis an increasingly hegemonic technical rationalism that delegitimizes political, economic, cultural and spiritual alternatives. Technical rationalism, or technique, is seen as a centripetal force, gradually replacing all alternatives with the efficiency principle and technical expertise based decision-making. Propaganda plays a fundamental role in this system by conditioning the ideological content of symbolic culture, while also affecting the perception and use of alternative discourses within what Ellul calls “the technological society”. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.1: This paper will couple the contemporary role of propaganda with the struggle to control communication channels, seeking to assess whether, and to what degree, the current debates about the balance between freedom and security in cyberspace can be viewed as instances of shifts in propaganda and technological myths. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.2: Ellul is usually labelled as a conservative, antitechnological thinker. He did indeed grapple with ideological, social and political issues throughout his whole life, refusing what he saw as an uncritical adherence to the generalized technological optimism of the 20th century. He explored technology’s ambivalent influence as a material and, more importantly, ideological juggernaut with pervasive effects upon the physical and symbolic worlds. As such, his use of the term technique points to a phenomenon that must not be confused with technology, since it is more akin to Weber’s concept of rationalization and its focus on instrumentality. For Ellul, technique’s dominion over society is all the more in need of critical analysis as its outputs are unanimously hailed as tools for human progress or emancipation – and its failings presented as human inability in letting technology and experts share their blessings with humanity. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.2: These essential points of Ellul’s work make him relevant in a time of finance-driven austerity, when technical expertise and technical imperatives seem to override human wellbeing and social progress, and indeed to go directly against them, intensifying repression, rather than regulation and redistribution, in order to supress the effects of its internal contradictions. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.2: Ellul understood that the installation of the mythology of technique needed a wider apparatus of indoctrination and persuasion, in the form of systematic myth-building and strong training and education systems that produce trained personnel amenable to the workings of the technical order. Given the current powerful institutional meshing of these phenomena, revisiting the French thinker – without disregarding recent contributions or the critiques his ideas have received along the years – may contribute to shed light on the entrenchment of technical rationalism in our political regimes, and their capture by the injunctions of the economic, financial and technological realms. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.3: In a time when the hegemony of technique was taking root, Ellul’s originality resides in disputing the possibility of exclusively technological solutions to social problems, and in emphasising the need to prioritize well-being over the demands of technical rationalism, so as not to exert the extreme costs of technological change on society without compensatory measures that allow for the furthering of human goals (personal fulfilment, family life, cultural and spiritual needs, health). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.3: In this regard, he rejects Hayek’s famous injunction of economic planning as evil (Ellul 1973a, 178), but rather alerts to, first, the double difficulty of prioritizing and balancing needs and, second, a “planning creep,” whereby technical expertise indefinitely extends its internal logic of quantification and efficiency. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.3: For Ellul, since all aspects of human activity are subject to technical imperatives (at odds with natural or even social factors), it does not remain within the individual's power to alter the direction of social, political or even economic matters, much less to evaluate the criteria implied in the notions of progress: “all these different kinds of 'progress' become feasible only to the degree that men are subjected in advance to the action of technique” -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.3: Therefore, he assigns little relevance to the particular political system, whether it is democratic or centralized in nature, or even to the property structure of the means of production. These constitute formal or institutional mediations for a specialized body of knowledge, converted by technical elites into actions directing the economic and social systems towards maximum efficiency, thereby tightening control over State apparatuses and communication channels. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.3: Ellul's sceptical stance contrasts with 20th century technological politics, which welcomed technological progress as one of the paths towards democratization and emancipation. Opposing his Christian humanism to the technocratic imperatives of the industrial mode of production, Ellul argues that social controls of technical and political processes are, in fact, forms of legitimizing the imposition of industrial production norms upon worker, citizen, and consumer. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.4: The lack of purpose, of a plan articulating means and ends, indicates that technique evolves through combinatorial, opportunistic tactics of self-adaptation, rather than a global strategy (Ellul 1973a, 97). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.4: K. H. Karim states that “[t]echnique is the overarching feature of contemporary western civilization, according to Ellul; it describes not only the modalities of technology but also the nature of present-day social, political and economic organization” (2001, 116). The individual's social role is bestowed on him through several mechanisms. The specific contents of the messages that circulate and “are reproduced” are determined by context and history, but also by the more straightforward logic of necessity. According to Ellul, the particular forms of that logic are a direct result of the structuring of means and ends brought about by technique. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.4: The role of propaganda is, for Ellul, that of a “human technique” – techniques for reshaping behaviour and beliefs in order to adapt human beings to the conditions imposed by the continual restructuring of the life world through technique. As such, it is a necessary part of the technical system (1973a, 394; Porquet 2004). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.4: As C. Christians puts it, “[t]he issue is the psychopolitical imaginary universe which humans constitute and reinforce” (1995, 166). In this regard, propaganda has an essential role to play in the organization of modern life. Not only does propaganda contribute to maintaining the technical system by ensuring an efficient, continuous flow of information), but it also conditions audiences through the mobilization of symbols and practices, charging them with the hegemonic contents of the technical system. One of the main concerns in Ellul's work is the perceived devaluing of life’s material and spiritual dimension by propaganda, skewing them towards the values of technique. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.4: The word “propaganda” acquired much of its current sense during the Catholic Counter Reformation movement, with the establishment in 1622, by Pope Gregory XV, of the Sacra Congregatio Propaganda Fide. As a strategy for countering the Reformation movement in Europe, as well as spreading the Catholic faith in the newly accessible parts of the world, it created the basis for systematizing opinion control. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.4: Mythology, currency, writing, sculpture, inscription, architecture, poetry, all were deftly used as vehicles for the instrumental shaping of culture by Greek city states, by Hellenistic rulers and Roman emperors, European monarchs, religious leaders and proselytizers, as well as revolutionary pamphleteers. Throughout history, then, “propaganda is an instrument to be used by those who want to secure or retain power just as much as it is by those wanting to displace them,” as Philip M. Taylor argues (2003, 5). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.5: Propaganda achieved a very high degree of sophistication during the two world wars, pursuing the same objectives of mobilization, control and demoralization of previous centuries with more powerful technical means. The intensity of propaganda deployment, particularly in Europe after World War I, underlined the urgency of its study as an intentional and systematic form of persuasion, first, in the large-scale forms seen during the conflict (Curnalia 2005, 238), and, later, as a more generalized management methodology for social belief-systems. Ellul dated the rise of modern propaganda to World War I (still “incoherent and temporary”) and the Revolution of 1917, when propaganda became “systematic and enduring” (1976a, 104, translated from the French edition). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.5: Besides the Lusitania case, the execution of Red Cross nurse Edith Cavell by the German army, as well as other incidents, played an important part in reinforcing pro-war attitudes in American public opinion and demonstrated two aspects of modern mass propaganda: the effectiveness of mass communication messages as psychological weapons (especially demonization tactics and atrocity propaganda) and the value of a professionally organized war propaganda machine. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.5: The United States set up its war propaganda efforts around the Committee on Public Information (CPI), directed by the journalist George Creel. One of the priorities was “converting” the internal audience to President Woodrow Wilson’s idea of a civilizational “war to end all wars.” The CPI’s work enlisted advertising companies, the film industry and the press to such an efficient degree that it began to raise concerns about the future of democracy and individual freedom. The role of propaganda had been well established: in the face of total war at a global scale, popular support and morale were to be managed in order to mobilize maximum acquiescence, productivity and efficiency for the war effort. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.6: Early studies on propaganda were developed by the same experts who had participated in the war effort and developed the apparatuses of modern state propaganda. After the Great War, authors such as Creel, Lasswell, Lippman or Bernays tackled the phenomenon as an integral part of contemporary public communication. In doing so, they launched the basis for communication studies. The first of these four authors retold, in 1920, his experience as head of the Committee on Public Information and acknowledged the role he had played in influencing domestic and foreign public opinion. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.7: Lasswell viewed propaganda as a tool for emotional manipulation that could be deployed to change attitudes and behaviour. The same concern about mass media power over public opinion had been voiced by Walter Lippmann in Public Opinion (1922), as advertising techniques started to develop. While these authors mainly focused on media effects, they shared the view that the coupling of psychological techniques with mass media technologies created a strong force that served the interests of whatever masters happened to wield it, with the potential to make political communication more efficient in mass democracy. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.7-8: In Dialectic of Enlightenment, Horkheimer and Adorno analysed the culture industry as a generator of false social consensus and one of the sources of the hegemony of instrumental logic. The consequences of its workings were dire: alienation, loss of critical reasoning, atrophy of imagination and spontaneity, mediocrity, maintenance of the status quo and the promotion of novelty for its own sake. The culture industry and mass media linked social uniformity (conformity) to economic necessity: “freedom to choose and ideology, which always reflects economic coercion, everywhere proves to be freedom to be the same” (Horkheimer and Adorno 2002, 135–136). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.8: Kellner (1984, 264-265) argues that, for Marcuse “the problem in advanced capitalist society is not that people are enslaved by technology, but that it functions in many instances as an instrument of class domination”, which contradicts the emancipatory deployment of technology. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.10: For Habermas, the normative colonization of the “public sphere,” first by the early mass media, and then by the professional cohorts of propagandists and promotional experts, presented a serious threat – or, at least, a “strange element” – to its independence from political institutions (Silva 2002, 59). Media hegemony and the corresponding commodification and massification created serious limits to autonomous political reasoning, especially since internal democracy and independence of the media receded into secondary matters. “Scientization” conditioned public communication, transforming most of it into a commercial venture more concerned with its own performance than with its social role (Habermas 1989a). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.10: Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model (HC), laid out in Manufacturing Consent (1988), remains a powerful framework understanding how changes in the public sphere reflect the political economy of capitalist societies. By focusing on the organization and structure of the media – particularly their sources of funding – and not on their effects or the contents of media products, this model proposes a systemic view of propaganda as it develops in a specific media environment. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.10: The model presents five “filters” that determine how commercial media “filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and private interests to get their messages across to the public” (Herman and Chomsky 2002, 2), namely: (1) size or ownership of the dominant mass media firms; (2) sources of income, particularly advertising; (3) sources of information used by the media, particularly regarding their reliance on “information provided by government, business, and ‘experts’ funded and approved” by them (Herman and Chomsky 2002, 2); (4) “flak”, or responses to media content that feed back into its content as self-censorship; and (5) originally “anticommunism”, following the Cold War logic, replaced with “faith in the market” (Herman 1996; 2000) or “the provision of an Enemy or the Face of Evil” (Herman, Chomsky, and Mullen 2009, 14). These five filters produce a consistent bias which is favourable to institutional allies and to corporate interests. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.10-11: In fact, the political sphere itself seems to have been colonized by multinational corporate interests to a very high degree. If, as Herman explains, the power of propaganda stems from the coordination of an elite, then the global reach of that “elite consensus” of the group of owners of private media translates into generalized constraints to public debate, even as the global reach of the digital media seemed to promise the exact opposite (2000, 104; Sparks 2007, 72–73; Herman, Chomsky, and Mullen 2009, 12). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.11: Baudrillard considered that the pervasiveness of mass communication conceals propaganda's effectiveness while taking advantage of it: persuaders do not create from scratch. They explore society's ideological constructs from a centralized (and only superficially pluralistic) power structure, even if in the process they become devoid of referential value (Baudrillard 1988, 141). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.13: Ellul distinguishes several categories of propaganda. The first two are political and sociological propaganda. The first consists in “techniques of influence employed by a government a party, an administration, a pressure group, with a view to changing the behavior of the public” (1973b, 62). In turn, sociological propaganda is defined as “the penetration of an ideology by means of its sociological context” (Ellul 1973b, 63), that is, the conditioning of society through its circumstances, especially material conditions (economy, political system) generating a more diffuse set of messages. Sociological propaganda also promotes changes of habits, even though it comes from custom, social judgement, selfcensorship and the micro disciplinary apparatus of everyday life. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.13: It is precisely because of human resistance to the modern way of life that technological societies require propaganda – it establishes praxis, preferably weeding out destabilizing, revolutionary or even excessively conservative positions. Following Bernays, Ellul concludes that society needs propaganda to fulfil a definite role: integration of the individual and the masses into the technological system. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.14: Propaganda “provides the social glue that modernity otherwise tends to dissolve, but [Ellul] points out as well that propaganda also contributes to the alienation it exploits” (Wollaeger 2008, xiii). In a word, it fosters adjustment. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.14: On the other hand, the individual needs propaganda to help him face his condition (Ellul 1973b, 138). This condition is characterized by an outward defence of one’s own autonomy and independence, while actually an unconscious need is at work. Citizens cannot bear feeling powerless, but neither would they wish to make critical decisions: the modern individual needs to have a certain degree of information in order to function and participate. Information is often complex, hard to get or just too much for individuals to formulate autonomous judgements in a rapidly changing environment. For Curnalia, “propaganda offers the justifications individuals need… a sense of righteousness in complying… [and] crystallizes individuals’ opinions so that they reject alternative perspectives and ideas (2005, 238). Jay Black adds that even a “fully functioning democratic society” cannot presume to work without propaganda, despite requiring pluralism, along with a critical and concerned media audience (2001, 135). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.15: Propaganda hence helps to convey ideology and accelerates the processing of social information. As Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse concluded, this creates the illusion of freedom by limiting the available positions (and actions) within a given social system. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.15: A non-instrumentalist form of propaganda is difficult to envision: insofar as it fulfils a role in the communication system of modern societies, propaganda is not entirely replaceable by traditional forms of information exchange and opinion formation, such as everyday conversation and assemblies, which lack mass reach. But nor must propaganda necessarily entail the reduction of communication to the instrumentalization of individual or social action. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.16: In Ellul’s framework, democracy, information, and technology are morally independent both as concepts and realities. Even though they often appear optimistically tied together, their value has been transferred to their representations, as signs that remain in place as means (for propaganda) after their loss of meaning on the path to current society models. By displacing knowledge and information to the realm of simulation and artifice, propagandistic practices perpetuate the myth of the necessary link between democracy, economic growth, and information. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.16: All that matters, in this sense, is organizing the symbolic sphere to ensure the decoding of the aspirations of the individual into the measurable material practices of the consumer-as-body that signal economic growth: exactly the kind of methodology that suits the technical system. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.16: In order to accomplish that, the symbolic realm needs to undergo a permanent refashioning: consumption as economic activity is tied to the creation and manipulation of meaning affixed to the affective world of mass consumption. The flow of consumption is ensured not only by responding to the needs, but also by allowing a great deal of plasticity of identity through the creation of desire – the saturation of the symbolic sphere with constantly changing and contradictory, i. e. meaningless, signs. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.16: However, Ellul's arguments can be seen as trapped in the same circular logic as the technological society itself. While acknowledging the existence of technique as an epistemic extension of the technological imperative – or, more precisely, of the progressive ideology that underlies the Enlightenment project – he does not contradict the fact that technoscience sustains people’s lives in the most straightforward sense, and that propaganda is embedded into socialization. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.16-17: In this section, Ellul’s linkage of propaganda with the processes of creation or exploitation of shared culture and of indoctrination will be further explored. Drawing on the contributions of authors that shared the concern with technocratic domination and technical thinking, I will look, first, into how they analysed that integration, and secondly, into how advertising positioned itself in that system as a technocratic tool for persuasion in the economic and political realms, a phenomenon fostered by a pervasive indoctrination system. This mythbuilding and myth-exploiting system is then related to the emergence of a globalized consumerist technocracy based on digital networks. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.17: Ellul made numerous references to Marcuse, most of which are critical of the German author and show a fundamental divergence over the possibility of liberation from capitalist technocracy. In The Technological Bluff (1990), a convergence between the authors surfaced, specifically around the idea of technological ambivalence, that is, the open possibilities of positive and negative uses of technology that must not be confused with any form of technological neutrality (Ellul 1990, 38, 76). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.17: In the book The Ethics of Freedom, the French philosopher highlights the self-reinforcing, “self-evident” beliefs that, stemming from technological complexity, impinge upon the human making it “a creature of external determination” (Ellul 1976b, 42). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.17: In both cases Ellul criticized Marcuse, charging him of wishing to transform modern society while maintaining industrial technology and methodologies as if the two were independent. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.17: For Ellul, Marcuse’s critique of capitalism also appears as still too focused on the role of the ruling classes, its appropriation of technique, and how new forms of authority might regain control of technology. Jacques Ellul was, as already noted, sceptical of the possibility of opening spaces of resistance within the sphere of technology. He ascribed propaganda an important role in the naturalization of alienation, that is, of creating internalized beliefs that prevented a real alternative from emerging. Because of that, he viewed technological appropriation and rationalization as an idealization of the democratic potential of technique. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.18: As his work progressed beyond One Dimensional Man, Marcuse identified the countercultural movements of the 1960s as important fractures in capitalist societies that gave reasons to be optimistic about radical social change. Marcuse’s approach to the problem of technological authority and domination places the instrumental ambiguity of technology as an opportunity for social change. The French author preferred an ethically grounded resistance to the technical system, refusing to ascribe technology a neutral role in the construction of freedom, while also entertaining very low hopes for radical mass movements that might reverse technical totality. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.18: In Alternative Modernity, Andrew Feenberg agrees that Herbert Marcuse “proposed the reconstruction of the technical base of society” (2010, 200). Feenberg states that “in drawing us into its orbit the system has exposed itself to new forms of resistance”, which demand the exploration of possibilities for political and individual action (1995, 2). In fact, the periodical emergence of alternative movements, and the liberating potential often assigned to new widespread technologies – particularly as the reach and scope of communication technologies has expanded in the last century – disprove the idea of a totalizing, closed society. In a sense, individuals and societies are permanently experimenting with sociotechnical arrangements that are not necessarily circumscribed by the technological system. Those ruptures offer – often missed – opportunities for reconstruction or change around shared social and cultural purposes that are disregarded in instrumental approaches to social relations. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.19: That should not overshadow several points of convergence between Ellul and the work of critical theorists that often go unnoticed: the problematic emergence of the technological society in modernity (that is, a society driven by expertise, quantification and the “efficiency principle”), and the way “technique appears to be satisfying human needs and, in fact, is not doing so” (Sklair 1971, 221). Hence the importance of a philosophy of technology that is not overly focused on material technologies and also brings to bear expert processes and the ideology of technique as it permeates society: materiality is blended with social practices and analysing them as independent entities is an over-simplification. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.19: In his book, Packard describes how professionals made it their job to understand fundamental drives individuals themselves did not know they had, mobilizing techniques from the study of political propaganda and the psychological sciences. In short, they became exploiters of the masses’ psyche. Their objectives were set by anyone with something to sell; subsequently, the plan of action was developed by technicians with the expertise to arouse the interest of the individual (as citizen and/or consumer) on any given product. By the late 1950s, persuasion techniques had already reached strategic status as indispensable tools of the industrial system. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.20: Vance Packard presented modern humans as being at risk of being defined, or manipulated, by a trend towards “other-mindedness, group living, and consumptionmindedness” (1962, 192). This re-engineering would take place through the preparation of citizens, consumers and workers by the institutions of the industrial society. Behavioural studies generated the data that would later be used to adapt institutional architectures, in order to foster compliance and consent with ideological programs, usually under the guise of economic trends and planning. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.20: Ellul agreed that the symbolic world of modern man – immersed in mass communication, social and horizontal propaganda – lends itself to instrumental uses. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.21: Illich points out some misunderstandings in the integrationist or progressive discourse that regards ICT (information and communication technology) as part of a desirable and constant technological progress. Information technology, the myth goes, would restore citizens' control of the production and consumption cycle, relieving the masses of some of their cognitive burden. At the same time, the penetration of ICT in the scientific and social milieus would accelerate organizational, managerial, and epistemic processes, broadening the realm of technology into the foundations of matter and information. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.21: For example, the aims of the “hidden curriculum” in education and learning are to maximize the efficiency of human resources in order to provide the industrial structure with all the means necessary for their maintenance and expansion (Illich 1972, 106). This standard is deployed as an institutionalization of efficiency values, for which the school system (a rather revealing expression) becomes a hegemonic instrument: “[a] society committed to the institutionalization of values identifies the production of goods and services with the demand for such. (...) School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is” (Illich 1972, 163). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.22: The persistence of the expansion of the production and consumption cycle as measure of quality of life raises increasing doubts about the sustainability of the global consumer society, as resource scarcity strains the ability to develop new technological solutions. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.23: For Ellul, this is the most salient problem with the alliance between technique and the symbolic world that propaganda represents: it locks human beings in a cycle of social and psychological dependence from the totalizing system that engulfs modern existence. The denial of possible alternatives is the main target of Ellul’s outrage against consumer capitalism, and the propagandistic apparatus of economic technique. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.23: This systemic perspective on propaganda, technology and consumption incorporates important observations on the organization of modern societies. Firstly, it integrates propaganda and consumption as factors in the economic system, showing how they participate in the promotion of efficiency in all sectors of society. Secondly, it shows how the technological and economic systems appropriate the symbolic world and, through socialization, refashion it into a flexible control mechanism. Thirdly, it highlights the dependency of the economic and political systems on the communication structure of modern societies. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.23: This section is an overview of the current ideologically laden framing of arguments for stronger securitization of cyberspace, i.e., for more state and corporate control over the global digital telecommunication infrastructure and contents. It intends to reflect upon the colonization of cyberspace as an instance of the extensional logic of technical thinking, control and domination, and how propaganda helps that process by mobilizing myths congregating both individual and social needs. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.23: Ellul also pointed out, as critical theorists, that systematic propaganda was a response to the complexity of the modern world. However, as Herman and Chomsky discussed, it reinforces the current status quo and power relations and, in itself, reveals the links between economic power, politics, and importance of shaping public opinion. Illich added a stronger emphasis on indoctrination and adaptation to what he termed “industrial methodologies” which, in his view, were in the process of being augmented by a “computerized Leviathan” (1974, 5), that is, information technologies. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.24: One of the most important aspects of politics in our time is the use of disasters as catalysts for propaganda. Either real – technological catastrophes, natural and humanitarian disasters, wars – or in the form of moral panics, they are purposefully used as occasions for intensifying efforts for behavioural change. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.24: It presents cybersecurity as social need, a field where only a technical apparatus can succeed in restoring stability. The promises of a democratic cyberspace (or of cyberspace as tool for democracy) have been overshadowed by the promises of technique as security. While information technologies have been hailed for its emancipatory and decentralizing potential, new risks and threats developed new challenges to the online ecosystem. Today, responses to these threats have reframed the status of the digital sphere as a locus of conflict, the more extreme form of which – the development of cyber warfare capabilities – can be seen as a military colonization of cyberspace. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.24: On the one hand, there is a persistent belief in the political potential of network technologies, which maintains that they have a liberating and individuating potential which will ensure a “democratic rationalization” (Bakardjieva and Feenberg 2002) and allow the emergence of a generalized, communitarian critical stance towards technology. This view adopts the idea of the emergence of spaces of openness with the technological system and dominant propaganda. If those spaces can be used to promote a new form of social construction, it would also be possible to revert some of the negative effects of technology and propaganda. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.25: This is a propagandistic move that normalizes certain uses of technology and hyperbolically defines threats to ‘condoned’ activities. In other words, this kind of discourse frames Internet freedom within what Herman and Chomsky have defined as “faith in the market,” thereby creating rules within which ‘the market’ can operate with minimal disruption. But this form of Internet freedom discourse also creates an enemy, or “faces of evil:” hackers, cyberspies, whistleblowers. By reducing dissent to criminal activity, espionage, and sabotage, it fits squarely into a form of propaganda that exalts the economic or even emancipatory potential of the Internet, while also defining patterns of acceptable uses and behaviour. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.25: The time for peaceful coexistence of conflicting perspectives, if there ever was one, seems to be over. In sum, this new discourse aims to establish a deterritorialized non-border of nation-states bent on economic mobilization to maintain geopolitical leadership. Of course, this also includes using the network as an agent of adaptation, or as a conduit thereof. Power shifts are played out as virtual warfare, either as diplomacy, or in new forms of low-intensity conflicts over intellectual property and disruptions of organizational processes. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.25: As the Internet is transformed into the locus of sabotage, propaganda and a permanent struggle for valuable information, the outlook becomes less favourable to the democratization in online governance. These developments signal a new stage of maturity of the virtual world – namely, its colonization by nation-states. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.26: The most powerful myth of the modern age presents history as a linear process of amelioration in the conditions of the existence of humankind. Science and technology are seen as the driving forces of the betterment of the human condition. Industrial methods, themselves related to historicist ideologies of progress, exacerbate the risks of the extension of a single method to all areas of human activity in a process of generalized rationalization. According to Illich (and Ellul, as previously stated), the institutions of the nation-state were inspired by the industry and its methods: education, health, army, transportation and communications follow the organizational paradigm of the factory and perpetuate its methodologies (Illich 1972). -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.26: For Ellul, technique as a system depends on the ability to accelerate and streamline information exchanges. In fact, planning and forecasting have become increasingly harder (Ellul 2004, 298ff). As new technological forms emerge, and with them more sophisticated products and methods to master, adapting the existing structures is more than a competitiveness problem: it is a matter of systemic continuity. ICT, in particular, are put in place as a synthesis of technique, reunifying the plurality of elements and functions of the technological systems already in place. The general drives for automation, of efficient production, alongside the increased efficiency in distribution, marketing, and organization, underline the importance of the management of abundance through information processing – an idea encapsulated in Henri Lefebvre’s expression “bureaucratic society of managed consumption” (Lefebvre 1996, 147). Ivan Illich referred to the resulting system as the “computerized Leviathan” (1974, 5). Propaganda, as part of the technological system, has taken the task of adapting societies to this new paradigm, “seducing” and “tempting” (Van der Laan 2004) individuals with the power of disembodied access. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.27: Democracy and consumption are part of the ideological structure of the new cyber-utopia. “Contemporary propaganda implies that technological improvements within information society will ultimately lead to the arrival of the perfect state in which all desires of consumers will be fulfilled” (Karim 2001, 118). Not only does that discourse depend on a difficult to prove correlation between democracy and information, but it also invokes the allure of the Edenic myth of painless progress towards wealth and well-being. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.27: Here, innovation is rhetorically construed as the path to utopia because of its hypothetical potential to mobilise individuals and groups for the task of closing the gap between the political, economic and technical systems. Something that Ellul and Illich rejected as a mirage ascribable to functional distortions of the organic, evolving macro-system of technique, as already noted. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014

p.28: Jacques Ellul believed that the desire for efficiency and positivistic scientific credibility gave rise to new elites, different from the engaged public intellectuals of the humanist liberal arts tradition, and more committed to private gain. -- Highlighted apr 20, 2014