Local Government Essays

Local Government Essays-19
A new consensus is emerging that democracy is less a resilient political system than a free-fire zone in a broader information war.This despairing, technologically determinist response is premature.

A new consensus is emerging that democracy is less a resilient political system than a free-fire zone in a broader information war.This despairing, technologically determinist response is premature.

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We can begin to understand what the fundamental threats are, and how best to respond to them.

On the other hand, freely available information can also undermine an autocracy.

Our theories have mostly assumed that democracies are better off when there is less control over information.

The central assumption, which owes much to John Stuart Mill and Louis Brandeis, is that the answer to bad speech is more and better speech.

More recently, Margaret Roberts has explained how the Chinese government uses “flooding” techniques to maintain domestic stability.

Instead of just censoring people, they seed public debate with nonsense, disinformation, distractions, vexatious opinions and counter-arguments, making it harder for their opponents to mobilize against them.

Autocrats have addressed this dilemma with a variety of mitigating strategies that strike tradeoffs between the risks and benefits of free information.

Traditionally, authoritarian governments have tried to restrict access to most information and limit speech through a variety of censorship mechanisms.

This is Democracy’s Dilemma: the open forms of input and exchange that it relies on can be weaponized to inject falsehood and misinformation that erode democratic debate. Authoritarians are using these same technologies to bolster their rule.

The Internet would undermine authoritarian rulers by reducing the government’s stranglehold on debate, helping oppressed people realize how much they all hated their government, and simply making it easier and cheaper to organize protests.

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