Cambridge Analytica

“[Steve Bannon] got it immediately. He believes in the whole Andrew Breitbart doctrine that politics is downstream from culture, so to change politics you need to change culture. And fashion trends are a useful proxy for that. Trump is like a pair of Uggs, or Crocs, basically. So how do you get from people thinking ‘Ugh. Totally ugly’ to the moment when everyone is wearing them? That was the inflection point he was looking for.” [via]

According to our new Guardian whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, this is a central tenet of the so-called Breitbart doctrine: “If you want to change politics, you first have to change culture, because politics flows from culture.”

The Left has been saying as much for half a century too, if not longer, and yet remains surprised when, despite all its endless books talking about it, capitalism finds more effective and cunning ways to capture these flows.

Watching this interview has got me leafing through Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man again. Here’s some choice cuts:

Just as people know or feel that advertisements and political platforms must not be necessarily true or right, and yet hear and read them and even let themselves be guided by them, so they accept the traditional values and make them part of their mental equipment. If mass communications blend together harmoniously, and often unnoticeably, art, politics, religion, and philosophy with commercials, they bring these realms of culture to their common denominator — the commodity form. The music of the soul is also the music of salesmanship. Exchange value, not truth value counts. On it centers the rationality of the status quo, and all alien rationality is bent to it.

Describing to each other our loves and hatreds, sentiments and resentments, we must use the terms of our advertisements, movies, politicians and best sellers. We must use the same terms for describing our automobiles, foods and furniture, colleagues and competitors-and we understand each other perfectly. This must necessarily be so, for language is nothing private and personal, or rather the private and personal is mediated by the available linguistic material, which is societal material. But this situation disqualifies ordinary language from fulfilling the validating function which it performs in analytic philosophy. “What people mean when they say … ” is related to what they don’t say. Or, what they mean cannot be taken at face value — not because they lie, but because the universe of thought and practice in which they live is a universe of manipulated contradictions.

 

 

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