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Mon Jul 1, 2019, 03:26 AM

All hail the hyperleaders - the bellicose insurgents using the web to seize control

Superficially, this might suggest a mere update of the kind of qualities seen in no end of politicians down the years. But hyperleadership represents something new, in so much as it is rooted online and based around a set of clearly identifiable and often very modern things: to quote Gerbaudo again, “an immaculate history of political engagement which gives the leader an impression of authenticity, ingenuity and honesty”, and “a down to earth attitude”, whereby the leader avoids complex language and presents themselves “as a common individual living like ordinary people do”. Obviously, not every hyperleader precisely reflects this template – Trump, for instance, affects to be something like a “common individual” in his mode of communication, but certainly doesn’t live like one. But by and large, the characterisation rings true, in plenty of countries.


But starting with the fact that all the current hyperleaders in national leadership positions are men – clearly, old-school alpha males are a big part of this story – there are also reasons to worry. A superbase exists outside the usual forums of representative democracy, and to some extent defines itself against them. It is usually sustained by passionate support for a hyperleader and collective loathing of traditional politics and the media. As a result, anything perceived as an attack on a hyperleader will be maligned as being entirely motivated by base politics, and therefore instantly dismissed.

Thus every new verbal and behavioural outrage perpetrated by Trump is picked apart in the press and on TV while his supporters go into defiant raptures. The Labour party is accused, with plenty of justification, of having a deep antisemitism problem, but the issue has not, and will not be, taken terribly seriously by many Corbyn supporters. Few political stories in fact now seem to have any lasting traction, partly because our online discourse ensures that politics and the media exist in a constant state of distraction, but also thanks to the way in which hyperleaders and superbases ensure that far too many things are reduced to a narrative of one noble individual versus their adversaries.


Really interesting thesis...
Yet another thing to be aware of and too guard against

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