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Virilio and Heidegger: Attention-Based Politics of Speed in Central and Eastern Europe

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Political Theory
Populism
Communication
Robert Imre
Tampere University
Robert Imre
Tampere University

Abstract

The pattern for hostile mainstream media coverage of populist candidates is certainly not a new phenomenon. In Australia and Canada there are many precursors: Social Credit party in BC (Bill Bennett 1975-1986 and Bill Vander Zalm 1986-91), Country/National Party Queensland (Joh-Bjelke Petersen) 1968-87, as well as several mayors of major cities (Ralph Klein in Calgary from 1980-9 who went on to become a provincial minister and premier in Alberta). In all cases there was a major benefit to pursuing and maintaining hostile media coverage in an era that predates social media and the internet. This phenomenon continues to the present day and is not the result of ‘Trump-era’ politics, nor is it the technological shifts we currently experience. In Central and Eastern Europe, this same phenomenon is playing out, and we need to ask what the real danger to all of this is. If we examine the patterns of previous populist candidates in the 1970s and 1980s in Australia and Canada, then our clear and present danger becomes the ability to manufacture a crisis. In all of those cases negative mainstream media coverage aided the populist candidates, as long as some version of crisis could be conjured, and possible dangerous ‘other’ could be constructed: the homeless, unemployed, various versions of new migrants, interlopers from cities to the countryside and so on. None of these led to outright war, mass murder, or a proper crisis that could not be contained in a particular locality. The current danger that social media technology might provide us with is the speed at which consensus of crisis can be manufactured, thus leading to catastrophic consequences unseen in previous decades.